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Four Color Politics

Mainly the Quotes of the Morning, with occasional Other Crap.

Monday, July 31, 2006

Quotes of the Morning: And I Feel Fine

"This moment of conflict in the Middle East is painful and tragic, yet it is also a moment of opportunity for broader change in the region. Transforming countries that have suffered decades of tyranny and violence is difficult, and it will take time to achieve. But the consequences will be profound for our country and the world."
-George ‘Dubya’ Bush, July 29, 2006

“He is, of course, referring to the ongoing conflict between Israel and Lebanon. Everyone seems to have forgotten about our little vanity war in Iraq (you know, in the Middle East).
Apparently a war between Israel and its neighbor is a moment of opportunity for broader change. Now someone is just going to explain to me how a ‘broader change’ is possible without more shake-ups in the power structure of the Middle East. Is he advocating that the war spread, or just hoping that this will somehow scare the other countries of the region into democratic reform? I’m voting on the second one, but I also know that democracy at gunpoint certainly hasn’t worked out too well for us recently.”

“Haass, the former Bush aide who leads the Council on Foreign Relations, laughed at the president's public optimism. ‘An opportunity?’ Haass said with an incredulous tone. ‘Lord, spare me. I don't laugh a lot. That's the funniest thing I've heard in a long time. If this is an opportunity, what's Iraq? A once-in-a-lifetime chance?’"
-Washington Post, July 31, 2006

“And when the times are the toughest you sometimes just have to ask yourself, is this the end of the world?”

Q: Do you believe this, that the war in Iraq and the rise of terrorism are signs of the apocalypse? And if not, why not?

DUBYA: Hmmm, uhh, hah -- ummm -- I, the answer is -- I haven't really thought of it that way, heh, heh. Heh. Here's how I think of it. Ummm -- heh heh. First I've heard of that, by the way, I, ah -- uhh -- the, uhh -- I, I guess I'm more of a practical fella. Uhh. I vowed after September the 11th that I would do everything I could to protect the American people. And, uhh -- my attitude, of course, was affected by the attacks. I knew we were at a war. I knew that the enemy, obviously, had to be sophisticated, and lethal, to fly hijacked airplanes, uhh, into -- facilities that would, we would, killing thousands of people, innocent people, doin' nothing, just sittin' there goin' to work.
-Question and answer with George ‘Dubya’ Bush, March 20, 2006

“The Quotes will be going on a one-day hiatus (I think). Sudden business travel. Back on Wednesday unless good things happen.”

Friday, July 28, 2006

Quotes of the Morning: We Don't Need Your Civil War

“Occasionally I get a little ahead of the news. For instance, yesterday I was talking about this line…”

“In other words, if you find somebody who's kidnapping and murdering, the murderer ought to be held to account. It ought to be clear in society that that kind of behavior is not tolerated.”
-George ‘Dubya’ Bush, July 25, 2006

“I talked about how American troops operating in Iraq were already exempt from international and Iraqi law. I joked about how we policed our own and then pointed out Abu Gharib. Little did I realize that the Administration was already one step ahead of me.”

“An obscure law approved by a Republican-controlled Congress a decade ago has made the Bush administration nervous that officials and troops involved in handling detainee matters might be accused of committing war crimes, and prosecuted at some point in U.S. courts.
Senior officials have responded by drafting legislation that would grant U.S. personnel involved in the terrorism fight new protections against prosecution for past violations of the War Crimes Act of 1996. That law criminalizes violations of the Geneva Conventions governing conduct in war and threatens the death penalty if U.S.-held detainees die in custody from abusive treatment.”
-Washington Post, July 28, 2006

“Yep. Troops should be immune from prosecution in any way, shape or form apparently, no matter who they torture. Makes you proud doesn’t it?
I didn’t want to talk about this particular item today though. I wanted to talk about Rummy. You may remember this Golden Oldie from last spring. The perpetual question: What do we do in case of civil war in Iraq?”

“’Secretary Rumsfeld,’ Mr. Byrd said a moment later, ‘what is the plan if Iraq descends into civil war? Will our troops hunker down and wait out the violence? If not, whose side would our troops be ordered to take in a civil war?’
Mr. Rumsfeld replied that the ‘sectarian tension and conflict’ in Iraq do not constitute a civil war ‘at the present time by most experts' calculation.’
The secretary went on to say that he believed the unrest in Iraq ‘while changing in its nature from insurgency toward sectarian violence’ was still ‘controllable by Iraqi security forces and multinational forces.’"
-New York Times, March 9, 2006

“Well, it is almost five months later and civilian casualties of sectarian violence are adding up to about 100 a day. Surely, you think, this must me a civil war. Hmm… Let’s find out.”

“Q: Is the country [Iraq] closer to a civil war?
SEC. RUMSFELD: Oh, I don’t know. You know, I thought about that last night, and just musing over the words, the phrase, and what constitutes it. If you think of our Civil War, this is really very different. If you think of civil wars in other countries, this is really quite different. There is - there is a good deal of violence in Baghdad and two or three other provinces, and yet in 14 other provinces there’s very little violence or numbers of incidents. So it’s a - it’s a highly concentrated thing. It clearly is being stimulated by people who would like to have what could be characterized as a civil war and win it, but I’m not going to be the one to decide if, when or at all.”
-Press Conference with Donald Rumsfeld, July 25, 2006

“Ah yes. I remember reading in my history books about the fierce battles in Maine and Florida during the American Civil War. And who could forget the war raging in Minnesota? Good lord, are we really still letting this man control the Pentagon? He doesn’t even have a grip on elementary school military history. I expect more from the guy guiding the most powerful military force in the history of the planet.”

"Did we have perfection with our first airplane, our first rifle, our first ship? I mean, they'd still be testing at Kitty Hawk, for God's sake, if you wanted perfection."
-Donald Rumsfeld, on the Missile Defense System, August 2004

“Perhaps, but this isn’t even our first war in Iraq. That was back in the 90s. We got out ok in that one, primarily because we didn’t do the lame brained things that we did this time. We could have at least looked at our reasoning from back then. I mean, we could have just asked the President’s dad…”

“Trying to eliminate Saddam, extending the ground war into an occupation of Iraq, would have violated our guideline about not changing objectives in midstream, engaging in ‘mission creep,’ and would have incurred incalculable human and political costs. Apprehending him was probably impossible. We had been unable to find Noriega in Panama, which we knew intimately. We would have been forced to occupy Baghdad and, in effect, rule Iraq. The coalition would instantly have collapsed, the Arabs deserting it in anger and other allies pulling out as well. Under the circumstances, there was no viable ‘exit strategy’ we could see, violating another of our principles. Furthermore, we had been self-consciously trying to set a pattern for handling aggression in the post-Cold War world. Going in and occupying Iraq, thus unilaterally exceeding the United Nations' mandate, would have destroyed the precedent of international response to aggression that we hoped to establish. Had we gone the invasion route, the United States could conceivably still be an occupying power in a bitterly hostile land. It would have been a dramatically different — and perhaps barren — outcome.”
-President George Herbert Walker Bush, A World Transformed, 1998

“But they thought that they could do better. This time Rummy knew that our faster, more mobile military could do the job.”

"I can't tell you if the use of force in Iraq today would last five days, or five weeks or five months, but it certainly isn't going to last any longer than that.”
-Donald Rumsfeld, November 15, 2002

“When five months passed (a couple of years ago) Rummy simply moved the goalposts.”

“To be responsible, one needs to stop defining success in Iraq as the absence of terrorist attacks,”
-Donald Rumsfeld, December 5, 2005

“But no matter how blatantly he’s wrong it doesn’t seem to affect his support.”

"You're doing a superb job. You're a strong secretary of defense and our nation owes you a debt of gratitude,"
-George ‘Dubya’ Bush to Donald Rumsfeld, May 10, 2004

"As a former secretary of defense, I think Donald Rumsfeld is the best secretary of defense the United States has ever had.”
-Dick Cheney, May 9, 2004

“Hume: Secretary Rumsfeld, how does he stand with you?
Bush: Ahh-good, he's done a heck of a job.
Hume: Is he here to stay as far as you are concerned?
Bush: Yes, end of my term is a long time, but I tell you, he is doing a heck of a good job. I have no intention of changing him.”
-Brit Hume interview with George ‘Dubya’ Bush, December 14, 2005

“You see, war crimes and a civil war in a volatile region of the Middle East are apparently what they were looking for. That is really the only explanation that I have. And if that doesn’t work then I guess that they can just blame the troops for what has happened.”

"You go to war with the Army you have, not the Army you might want or wish to have."
-Donald Rumsfeld, December 8, 2004

“And I guess that that is the point. We ‘had’ a certain military, and that was a given, but the ‘go to war’ portion was entirely a matter of choice. They were wrong to send the military to war if the military wasn’t configured to handle the way the Administration wanted to wage it. The buck has to stop somewhere, and that somewhere is Rumsfeld and Dubya. Just sayin’.”

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Quotes of the Morning: Double Your Standards

“I would be very worried if a Prime Minister came to talk about his country and did not mention, first and foremost, protecting people's lives. That's, after all, the most important responsibility of government.
And he believes, and I believe, that the -- there needs to be more forces inside Baghdad who are willing to hold people to account. In other words, if you find somebody who's kidnapping and murdering, the murderer ought to be held to account. It ought to be clear in society that that kind of behavior is not tolerated.”
-George ‘Dubya’ Bush, July 25, 2006

“Dang straight. We need to take these murderers and kidnappers to task. We need to let them know that no one is above the law.”

“Since 2003, Washington has shut down Pentagon programs to train and equip militaries in a handful of African nations because they have declined to sign agreements exempting American troops from the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court in The Hague.
But the policy, which was designed to protect American troops, has instead angered senior military officials, who say the cuts in military aid are shortsighted and have weakened counterterrorism efforts in places where the threat of international terrorism is said to be most acute.
Under the terms of Article 98 agreements, which the Bush administration has pressed more than 100 nations to sign, nations pledge not to surrender American citizens to the international court without the consent of officials in Washington.
The Bush administration has refused to endorse the court, contending that overzealous prosecutors could charge American soldiers or civilian officials with war crimes for their roles in carrying out American policies abroad.”
-New York Times, July 23, 2006

“..except for U.S. troops, who obviously can’t be held accountable to the International Criminal Court. I mean, that would be silly.”

“The United States ambassador and the top American military commander here together issued an unusual apology on Thursday for the rape and murder of a young Iraqi woman and the killing of her family, saying that the crime, in which at least four soldiers are suspects, had injured the ‘Iraqi people as a whole.’
The statement came just hours after Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki said at a news conference that he might ask the American military to scrap a rule that grants foreign soldiers here immunity from Iraqi prosecution. Such a move would be a direct rebuke to the Bush administration, which has fought tenaciously to ensure that American soldiers are exempt from local or international laws when serving on foreign soil.”
-New York Times, July 6, 2006

“And letting the Iraqi people hold us accountable for the actions of our troops would be pretty silly too. I mean, how can you have a decent war if you have to abide by stupid things like laws and the Geneva Conventions? There isn’t anything to worry about anyway. When the United States sees a problem within our ranks we immediately fix it, so we are actually tougher than those so-called international courts. We police our own..”

“A new report by US pressure group Human Rights Watch says American forces in Iraq continued to torture and abuse detainees after the Abu Ghraib prison scandal in 2004.
The report flies in the face of claims by the US Defense Department that abuse of detainees was the work of a few bad apples acting on their own initiative.
Human Rights Watch senior researcher John Sifton says the findings are the result of direct testimony from three former US soldiers about prisoners in American custody in Iraq between 2003 and 2005.
‘The soldiers described detainees being routinely subjected to beatings, painful stress positions, severe sleep depravation, exposure to extreme cold and hot temperatures, very serious abuses,’ he said.
‘And it shows that abuses in Iraq were not isolated events by independent actors but rather, they were routine and authorized.’"
-ABC News Online, July 23, 2006

“It doesn’t matter.. Dubya wasn’t talking about US. He was talking about IRAQIS. What he really meant is that in society that kind of behavior isn’t tolerated from non-Americans. We live by a different standard.”

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Quotes of the Mornning: Oops

“Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on Wednesday expressed ‘deep regret’ after an Israeli bomb destroyed a U.N. observer post on the border in southern Lebanon, killing three observers and leaving another feared dead.
U.N. chief Kofi Annan said Israel appeared to have struck the site deliberately, but Olmert said the strike had been a mistake. The Israeli premier spoke on the phone with Annan, expressing dismay over Annan’s accusation and promising a thorough investigation, according to Olmert’s office.
The bomb made a direct hit on the building and shelter of the observer post in the town of Khiam near the eastern end of the border with Israel, said Milos Struger, spokesman for the U.N. peacekeeping force in Lebanon known as UNIFIL.”
-Associated Press, July 26, 2006

“Oops. Sorry about those three or four dead U.N. observers. Just a little goof. So sorry. It isn’t like Israel would deliberately target the people who are there to try to help people.”

“The Israel Defense Forces said last night that Israeli fire hit an ambulance during fighting in the Qana area, east of Tyre. ‘The IDF never intentionally targets civilians, much less ambulances,’ a spokesman said. ``It should be noted that the area in which the incident took place is one from which there is intensive missile fire" directed toward Israel.
Lebanese officials have complained that Israel has bombed indiscriminately, struck fleeing civilians, and targeted trucks carrying aid. Bomb craters have left many roads impassable south of the Litani River, a region that is home to 400,000 people. Roads leading out of cities including Tyre, Nabatiyeh, and Tebnine have come under fire.
‘We are obliged to go out and save people,’ said Imad Hillal, 38, the second-in-command at the Tyre branch of the Red Cross. ‘We count on Israel to respect the neutrality of the Red Cross, but they don't.’
Israel says it is attacking Hezbollah militia targets in southern Lebanon that have fired hundreds of Katyusha rockets at civilian population centers in Israel over the 13-day conflict.”
-Boston Globe, July 25, 2006

“Hey, they aren’t targeting ambulances. They promise. They’re just targeting the civilian centers where ambulances tend to be because of all of the casualties.”

“Israel has used artillery-fired cluster munitions in populated areas of Lebanon, Human Rights Watch said today. Researchers on the ground in Lebanon confirmed that a cluster munitions attack on the village of Blida on July 19 killed one and wounded at least 12 civilians, including seven children. Human Rights Watch researchers also photographed cluster munitions in the arsenal of Israeli artillery teams on the Israel-Lebanon border.”
-Human Rights Watch, July 24, 2006

“See? That’s probably it. They are hitting the ambulances because they are firing cluster bombs. The type of cluster bombs used contain about 88 explosive devices in each one, so one of those is bound to hit an ambulance once in a while. They weren’t targeting the ambulances. They were targeting the civilian population. Completely different. It isn’t like these civilians weren’t warned. They knew the dangers when they decided to be Lebanese.”

“Hezbollah guerrillas fired a barrage of rockets into northern Israel on Tuesday afternoon, killing a man in the town of Nahariya and setting fire to the top of a two-story apartment building.
At least 100 rockets fell into Israel, hitting a string of towns, including the city of Haifa.
More than 750 rockets have hit Israel since the violence began, forcing hundreds of thousands of Israelis to take cover in underground shelters.
Some 500,000 people have been displaced in Lebanon by the violence, according to the U.N.'s most recent estimate.”
-Associated Press, July 19, 2006

“And the violence continues on both sides. Idiots. Stupid, murderous idiots.”

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Quotes of the Morning: Loves Me, Loves Me Not

“President Bush has ordered helicopters and ships to Lebanon to provide humanitarian aid, but he still opposes an immediate cease-fire that could give relief from a 13-day-old Israeli bombing campaign.
Announcing the assistance program, White House press secretary Tony Snow said Monday there was no reason to believe an immediate cease-fire would stop violence in the Mideast and said instead the world should confront the destabilizing force of Hezbollah and its practice of using the Lebanese people as ‘human shields.’”
-Associated Press, July 24, 2006

“Wow. Fantastic. We can finally help the Lebanese people who are stuck in the middle of an Israeli assault and ongoing Hezbollah violence. We’ve got to feel good about that, even if we are saying that Lebanese civilians dying by the busload are just an unavoidable oopsie at this point..”

“Q: On humanitarian supplies really quick. If this administration already knew of the severity of the situation with evacuating of Americans from that area, why not begin humanitarian supplies then instead of now?
Tony Snow: Well number 1 April you have to ah, I mean, I love the second guessing. The United States is first to the scene and the question is why not earlier. Ah the fact is we're the first to the scene. And we are actively encouraging allies throughout the region and throughout the world to join us because we do think it is important. You have to find out ways in which you safely can transport it. We have been working on developing what they're referred to as humanitarian corridors. And I don't want to be second guessing the operational, ah, sort of the operational time table under which people have proceeded here.”
-Press Gaggle with White House Spokesman Tony Snow, July 24, 2006

“Yep, we’re first on the scene to help out a mere 13 days after the conflict begins. No one was more on top of things than the United States. How dare the Press question Fearless Leader.”

“A French cargo-plane carrying humanitarian aid for Lebanon took off from Paris Roissy Charles-de-Gaulle airport on Thursday morning.
Some 50 emergency doctors and Red Cross staff were aboard the Boeing 747-300, which also carried medicines, surgical equipment, water-purification units, food and field generators in the first dispatch of aid to the Arab nation.”
-Xinhua, July 20, 2006

“Well, except for the French. Doggone French probably only went in there with humanitarian aid before us just to make us look bad, just like they did when they tried to talk us out of going to war with Iraq. I think we showed them who was on the right side on THAT one! That isn’t to say that we haven’t been trying to help out before now in the Israel / Lebanon conflict. We’ve done a lot there trying to figure out how we can pitch in.”

“The Bush administration is rushing a delivery of precision-guided bombs to Israel, which requested the expedited shipment last week after beginning its air campaign against Hezbollah targets in Lebanon, American officials said Friday.
The decision to quickly ship the weapons to Israel was made with little debate within the Bush administration, the officials said. Its disclosure threatens to anger Arab governments and others because of the appearance that the United States is actively aiding the Israeli bombing campaign in a way that could be compared to Iran's efforts to arm and resupply Hezbollah.”
-Chicago Tribune, July 21, 2006

“Yep. Kind of like Iraq. We manage to supply the bombs that are killing innocent people and still claim moral superiority. American Freedom™ is on the march!”

Monday, July 24, 2006

Quotes of the Morning: The Classic Blunders

“Remember when we invaded Afghanistan to stop Osama bin Ladin? Remember how we deposed the horrible Taliban and liberated the poor Afghani people from the Taliban rule and put elective democracy in its place? Don’t worry… They probably don’t remember it anymore either.”

“The most senior British military commander in Afghanistan yesterday described the situation in the country as ‘close to anarchy’ with feuding foreign agencies and unethical private security companies compounding problems caused by local corruption.
The stark warning came from Lieutenant General David Richards, head of Nato's international security force in Afghanistan, who warned that western forces there were short of equipment and were "running out of time" if they were going to meet the expectations of the Afghan people.”
-The Guardian (UK), July 22, 2006

“First Lt. Ryan Edwards, 1st Platoon leader for the 2-4, said Taliban fighters advanced within yards of defensive positions in this northern section of Zabul province. At one point, U.S. soldiers were taking fire from five directions.
Pvt. Robert Bobbin of the 4th Infantry’s Company A, said the unit has seen firefights in the area before, ‘but never this intense.’
The area has become dangerous in recent months, according to base officials, with local villagers recently announcing a jihad against coalition forces.
Edwards said patrols routinely search nearby villages and find few people left living there. But at night, Taliban forces often take control of those areas, leading coalition commanders to believe they are receiving help from locals.
Thursday’s Taliban attack force was larger, better armed and better equipped than past fighters, Edwards said.”
-Stars & Stripes, July 23, 2006

“Afghanistan is apparently falling to pieces. We apparently fell into one of the classic blunders.”

“Ha ha! You fool! You fell victim to one of the classic blunders! The most famous is never get involved in a land war in Asia…”
-Vizzini, The Princess Bride

“Luckily even with Afghanistan going badly we have a second war to fall back on, so we’ve doubled our chances of winning one!”

“Bombs killed more than 60 people and wounded more than 200 Sunday in Baghdad and the northern oil center of Kirkuk — a dramatic escalation of violence as U.S. and Iraqi forces crack down on Iraq's most feared Shiite militia.”
-Associated Press, July 23, 2006

“Ok, so that one doesn’t seem to be going all that well either. Hey, that isn’t our fault. Those people just don’t seem to want peace. What they need is to follow our example. America is a beacon of freedom and liberty for all the world. If they just tried to live up to our example things would be going great.”

“Four U.S. soldiers accused of murdering suspected insurgents during a raid in Iraq said they were under orders to ‘kill all military age males,’ according to sworn statements obtained by The Associated Press.
The soldiers first took some of the men into custody because they were using two women and a toddler as human shields. They shot three of the men after the women and child were safe and say the men attacked them.
‘The ROE (rule of engagement) was to kill all military age males on Objective Murray,’ Staff Sgt. Raymond L. Girouard told investigators, referring to the target by its code name.
That target, an island on a canal in the northern Salahuddin province, was believed to be an al-Qaida training camp. The soldiers said officers in their chain of command gave them the order and explained that special forces had tried before to target the island and had come under fire from insurgents.
Girouard, Spc. William B. Hunsaker, Pfc. Corey R. Clagett, and Spc. Juston R. Graber are charged with murder and other offenses in the shooting deaths of three of the men during the May 9 raid.
Girouard, Hunsaker and Clagett are also charged with obstruction of justice for allegedly threatening to kill another soldier if he told authorities what happened.”
-Associated Press, July 23, 2006

“No, no, no! Not that example. The one where we weren’t committing war crimes! Do as we say, not as we do! At least things are better than under that ogre Saddam.”

“We know there was a corrupt regime in Saddam, but a regime should be removed by surgery, not by butchering. The U.S. occupation is butcher’s work under the slogan of democracy and human rights and justice.”
-Iraqi Parliament Speaker Mahmoud al-Mashhadani, July 22, 2006

“Many thanks to First Draft and Americablog for most of today’s Quotes.”

Friday, July 21, 2006

Quotes of the Morning: Spinning on a Dime

“Q: NAACP -- the President has been President for five years now, and he told them that he regretted the fact that many African Americans distrust the Republican Party. What has he done for five years to change that?
Tony Snow: Well, for one thing, the President has done consistent outreach with African Americans. Look, this is a President, you take a look at his political career, what has George W. Bush done, he's tried to do outreach. He understands that there was a history in which the Republican Party was seen as the active enemy of black voters in this country. It's one of the reasons why you have such lopsided Democratic majorities.
[H]e put together an economic program that's designed to create jobs for Americans. You also aim tax breaks at those in the lower income levels...
Q: You just said that the majority of the President's tax cuts have actually been geared towards lowering --
Tony Snow: The President's tax cuts, if you take a look at what the President has been doing -- and this has been going on for a while here -- is shifting the tax burden. And, as a matter of fact, if you take a look at it, again, the upper brackets are carrying more of the burden and he's been reducing taxes. And you take it as a proportion of overall income, it is larger at the lower ends of the income scale.”
-Press Gaggle with White House Spokesman Tony Snow, July 20, 2006

“Ok... One quick one here. Tony Snow is accurate in that the upper income brackets are paying more of the overall tax burden than they used to. The rest of the statement is, well, a snow job. The reason that the wealthy are paying proportionally more is not because Dubya is cutting taxes for the poor in order to help them out. It is because the wealthiest people are, thanks to our economy, making a LOT more than they used to, so they actually just have a lot more income to be taxed. The percentage of their income that they are paying is not going up, it is the overall income that they are paying a percentage of that is rising.”

“Inequality has always been part of the American economy, but the gap between the rich and the poor has recently been widening at an alarming rate. Today, more than 40 percent of total income is going to the wealthiest 10 percent, their biggest share of the nation's pie in at least 65 years.”
-New York Times, June 25, 2006

“See? Tony has to know this. After all, this just came up the very same day in the most recent discussions with the Chairman of the Federal Reserve.”

“During the hearing, Democratic Rep. Barney Frank of Massachusetts protested that an ‘evolution of diminishing expectations’ was setting in as rising living costs ate into real wages.
‘Not only have wages lagged inflation, they've lagged productivity,’ Frank said, referring to strong growth in average hourly output per worker, which is generally considered to add to wealth without generating inflation.
Bernanke said average hourly earnings for factory workers, measured by payroll surveys, have not gained in real terms.
‘One of the key problems is the increase in energy prices so that what people get in the pay stub they lose at the gas pump,’ he said.”
-Washington Post, July 20, 2006

“And it isn’t like this wasn’t on the radar before that…”

“The average worker hasn't seen a meaningful pay increase in three years, despite the economy's rebound, according to U.S. Labor Department data.
Declines in real pay have moderated in recent months as the job market has tightened. Even so, the average worker's hourly pay in May was $16.62, down 1.7 percent from the inflation-adjusted rate of $16.90 per hour in June 2003, bureau data show.”
-Baltimore Sun, July 18, 2006

“The federal minimum wage of $5.15 an hour hasn't been raised since 1997; the latest effort to increase it was defeated in the Senate last month.”
-Associated Press, July 17, 2006

“$5.15 an hour is under $11,000 a year if you were working the job 40 hours a week with no time off for sickness or vacation. At the same time government programs for healthcare and education meant to help the poor are being cut right and left to fund our military excursions in Iraq and Afghanistan. Tell me again how Dubya is helping the poor.”

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Quotes of the Morning: Just Wait

“I don’t know how closely some of you follow the news, but things are pretty much taking the short route to Hades in a hand basket in the Middle East. A while back a terrorist organization in Lebanon took a few Israeli troops hostage. In response Israel invaded the country and is currently opening a can of Whoop-arse on the Lebanese people… You know, the ones that we were so hopeful about a while back with that whole ‘Cedar Revolution’ thing back when they were voting in their last democratic election.”

“Israel steeply escalated its military campaign against Hizbollah in Lebanon yesterday with a series of air strikes that left more than 35 civilians dead, including a single strike on a convoy of families fleeing the fighting in a village near Tyre in the south of the country that killed more than 20 people, most of them children.
Israel's campaign has so far killed at least 100 people, all but three of them civilians, and choked off Lebanon's economy, including its growing tourism industry.”
-Observer (UK), July 16, 2006

“Hey, at least there were hostages taken by someone in Lebanon. That means that the Israeli military is at least more justified in their invasion than we were in Iraq. That is the part that truly galls me. Not only was the invasion of Iraq stupid, but it has cost us the moral ‘high ground’ for a while... Sigh. I’m just glad that we can’t make the situation worse.”

“In the midst of last Friday's onslaught, in which Israeli bombers killed dozens of Lebanese civilians, the Pentagon announced the export of $210m of aviation fuel to help Israel ‘keep peace and security in the region.’"
-Guardian (UK), July 17, 2006

“Oh… I guess we can make it worse. I guess that this is how we spread democracy. Soon we’ll spread it to everyone and the rapture.. um.. I mean peace on Earth, will come.”

“George ‘Dubya’ Bush: ‘It's not the first time that Vladimir and I discussed our governing philosophies. I have shared with him my desires for our country, and he shared with me his desires for his. And I talked about my desire to promote institutional change in parts of the world like Iraq where there's a free press and free religion, and I told him that a lot of people in our country would hope that Russia would do the same thing…’
President Putin: ‘We certainly would not want to have the same kind of democracy as they have in Iraq, I will tell you quite honestly.’ (Laughter.)
George ‘Dubya’ Bush: ‘Just wait.’”
-George ‘Dubya’ Bush and Vladimir Putin, Press Conference, July 15, 2006

“The Quotes of the Morning will be going on a brief (2 day) hiatus as I will be traveling for business. We shall return on Friday.”

Monday, July 17, 2006

Quotes of the Morning: Military Standards Issue

“Army recruiters found 8,756 new recruits for active-duty service last month, surpassing their stated target of 8,600 — marking the 13th consecutive month the service met or exceeded its target. The active Army now has 51,612 new recruits, and it hopes to sign up a total of 80, 000 new recruits by the end of the 2006 budget year on Sept. 30.
The Navy in June met its goal of 3,961 recruits for that month. The Marine Corps and the Air Force exceeded their recruiting objectives, signing up 4,357 and 2,564 service members, respectively. The Reserve and National Guard components of the services met or surpassed their recruiting goals last month, except for the Navy Reserve, which recruited 95 percent of its target.”
-San Francisco Chronicle, July 15, 2006

“Fantastic! Back on track. The American people understand the mission and support Fearless Leader in his endless War on Terror. Excelsior!”

“Pentagon officials announced Monday that the Army has managed to achieve its latest recruiting goals, while admitting that they have lowered some standards that had been set to ensure the quality of the force.
-San Francisco Chronicle, July 15, 2006

“A few standards lowered. That is practically the definition of Fearless Leader’s Administration. No big deal.”

“He said if the Army can reach its goal in July, the rest of the recruiting targets for the fiscal year ending Sept. 30 should be easy to reach.
The Army had been having trouble meeting recruiting goals, reportedly because of extended tours of duty in Iraq.
To reverse the decline in enrollment, the Army has boosted enlistment bonuses, added thousands of recruiters and raised the maximum enlistment age to 42.”
-UPI, July 10, 2006

“And sure, the new troops may be a little bit older than in previous years, but that isn’t saying much.”

“To allow more recruits to join, the Army last fall amended its rule that it can sign up no more than 2 percent of recruits who score between 15 and 30 out of 99 on the Army’s aptitude test. Now, up to 4 percent of Army recruits can score under 30 on the aptitude test, which measures such things as the applicants’ knowledge of mathematics and command of the English language, said Lt. Col. Bryan Hilferty, an Army spokesman.
He said the Army will have ‘less than 4 percent’ of recruits who scored under 30 by the end of the year, but did not elaborate. In 2005, 1.8 percent of the soldiers the Army signed up scored between 15 and 30 percent.
‘We’re being held up to an impossibly high standard,’ Hilferty said.
At the same time, in the first four months of this year, the percentage of recruits whom the Army otherwise considers fit for service but who required special waivers to join rose to 15.5 percent. The waivers were for misdemeanor offenses, drug- or alcohol-related violations or medical problems, Hilferty said. In 2004, 12 percent of recruits required such waivers; in 2005, 15 percent needed them.”
-San Francisco Chronicle, July 15, 2006

“Hey, those are just statistics. The troops are, on average, becoming older and with greater crime and stupidity issues, but so what? It isn’t like this kind of thing really has any impact on the real world. Just because 4 percent of recruits can’t get a 30% on a test (I’m assuming that this is roughly a percentage since it is out of 99). I mean sure, in school a 60% is an ‘F’, but only one in 25 of our troops won’t be able to get at least half of that. I can’t think of why that would cause any problems. And heck, only 15% need special dispensation for their previous criminal behavior. Just numbers. Nothing to get upset about.”

“On the last day of January 2005, Steven D. Green, the former Army private accused of raping a 14-year-old Iraqi girl and murdering her family, sat in a Texas jail on alcohol-possession charges, an unemployed 19-year-old high school dropout who had just racked up his third misdemeanor conviction.
Days later, Mr. Green enlisted in a soldier-strapped Army, and was later assigned to a star-crossed unit to serve on an especially murderous patch of earth.
He arrived at the very moment that the Army was increasing by nearly half the rate at which it granted what it calls ‘moral waivers’ to potential recruits. The change opened the ranks to more people like Mr. Green, those with minor criminal records and weak educational backgrounds. In Mr. Green’s case, his problems were emerging by junior high school, say people who knew him then.
Mr. Green’s Army waiver allowed a troubled young man into the heart of a war that bore little resemblance to its original declared purposes, but which continued to need thousands of fresh recruits.
Now, there is shame and rage in the Army — from the ranks of the enlisted to the officer corps — over the crimes attributed to Mr. Green, who was discharged in April on psychiatric grounds, and four other soldiers charged with a rape and four killings in March in Mahmudiya, a town about 20 miles south of Baghdad.
The share of Army recruits who received ‘moral waivers’ for criminal records increased last year and through the first half of 2006 by 15 percent from 10 percent or 11 percent before the war, according to statistics released this week. (According to the Pentagon, the number of waivers in 2001 totaled 7,640. The figure increased to 11,018 in 2005, and for the first six months of this fiscal year totaled 5,636.)”
-New York Times, July 14, 2006

Friday, July 14, 2006

Quotes of the Morning: You'll Be a Woman Soon

"Why should we hear about body bags and deaths? Oh, I mean, it's not relevant. So why should I waste my beautiful mind on something like that?"
-Barbara Bush, March 18, 2003

“Love you so much, can’t count all the ways

I’d die for you girl, and all they can say is
He’s not your kind.”
-Neil Diamond, “Girl, You’ll be a Woman Soon”

“Defense attorneys for a former Army private accused of raping and killing a young Iraqi woman requested a gag order Tuesday to stop just about everyone involved in the case from discussing it.”
-Associated Press, July 11, 2006

“They never get tired of puttin’ me down
And I never know when I come around
What I’m gonna find
Don’t let them make up your mind
Don’t you know?”
-Neil Diamond, “Girl, You’ll be a Woman Soon”

“Four more soldiers have been charged with the rape and murder of a young Iraqi woman and her family, the most explosive of the five war crimes investigations currently under way in Iraq.
A fifth soldier was charged with dereliction of duty for failing to report the events of the night of March 12 when a group of soldiers are alleged to have abandoned their checkpoint to enter the home of an Iraqi family in the town of Mahmudiya. They allegedly raped and killed a young woman inside the house, and shot dead her parents and young sister.”
-Guardian (UK), July 11, 2006

“Girl, you’ll be a woman soon
Please come take my hand
Girl, you’ll be a woman soon
Soon you’ll need a man”
-Neil Diamond, “Girl, You’ll be a Woman Soon”

“Two sergeants are among five American soldiers charged in the alleged rape-murder of a young Iraqi woman and the killing of three of her relatives, the U.S. military said today in releasing the identities of the suspects.
The soldiers drank alcohol, abandoned their checkpoint, changed clothes to avoid detection and headed to the victims' house, about 200 yards from a U.S. checkpoint in the ‘Triangle of Death,’ a Sunni Arab area south of Baghdad known for its violence, the affidavit said.”
-Associated Press, July 10, 2006

“I’ve been misunderstood for all of my life
But what they’re sayin’, girl, just cuts like a knife
The boys no good”
-Neil Diamond, “Girl, You’ll be a Woman Soon”

“Green is accused of raping the woman and killing her and the three other family members, including a girl estimated to be 5 years old. An official familiar with the investigation told The Associated Press that Green set fire to the rape victim's body in an apparent cover-up attempt.”
-Associated Press, July 10, 2006

“Well, I finally found what I’ve been looking for
But if they get the chance, they’ll end it for sure
Sure they would
Baby, I’ve done all I could
It’s up to you”
-Neil Diamond, “Girl, You’ll be a Woman Soon”

“A video showing the bodies of two U.S. soldiers kidnapped and killed last month south of Baghdad claimed they were killed in retaliation for the alleged rape of the young woman in March.
The U.S. military has said no evidence links the incidents and on Tuesday it condemned the video, saying ‘it demonstrates the barbaric and brutal nature of the terrorists and their complete disregard for human life’"
-CNN, July 11, 2006

“Girl, you’ll be a woman soon
Please come take my hand
Girl, you’ll be a woman soon
Soon you’ll need a man”
-Neil Diamond, “Girl, You’ll be a Woman Soon”

“Fourteen-year-old Abeer al-Janabi was raped and killed. Her parents and 6-year-old sister were also slain.”
-Reuters, July 11, 2006

“The ‘woman’ who was raped was not a woman. She was 14 years old. In the United States she wouldn’t even be in high school yet.
She wasn’t a woman. She was a girl, and she was brutally raped and killed by people who, like it or not, represent the United States of America in a foreign land. A hundred new schools and a thousand flowery speeches will not erase what was done here in the eyes of the people living in Iraq. The terrorists don’t need to fight us. All they need is for this to happen and they will win.”

“Rumsfeld spoke with 700 U.S. troops at a military base in Balad, about 40 miles (64 kilometers) north of Baghdad, before moving on to the capital to see Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki.
‘Each time I come to Iraq, I see progress,’ Rumsfeld told the soldiers. ‘You're making progress. ... You're making history.’”
-CNN, July 12, 2006

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Quotes of the Morning: Democracies Do Not War

"I believe liberty is universal. I believe people want to be free. And I know that democracies do not war with each other."
-George ‘Dubya’ Bush, April 24, 2006

“A year ago, Bush made expanding peace and democracy in the Middle East a priority, as a way to counter Islamic terrorism and improve economic prospects for Arabs.”
-Bloomberg News Service, July 13, 2006

“All the world is witnessing your great movement of conscience. The American people are on your side. The momentum of freedom is on your side, and freedom will prevail in Lebanon."
-George ‘Dubya’ Bush, March 8, 2005

“And so the elections happened, and a new leadership was found in free, democratic, Lebanon. Yeah, democracy works. Fearless Leader was right again.”

“President George W. Bush and U.S. diplomats, distracted by threats from North Korea to Iraq, are playing a minor role as an escalating confrontation between Israelis and Arabs risks wider Middle East violence.
David Welch, U.S. assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern affairs, and Elliott Abrams, deputy assistant to the president, only arrived in the region yesterday, 17 days after the abduction of an Israeli soldier in the Gaza Strip set off the crisis. Bush hasn't spoken to any Middle Eastern leaders in the past couple of weeks, according to National Security Council spokesman Frederick Jones.
‘Up until now the administration's been on the sidelines,’ said Dennis Ross, the senior U.S. Middle East broker for President Bill Clinton. ‘They've made a conscious decision to let this play out and let others take the lead. The administration is preoccupied.'”
-Bloomberg News Service, July 13, 2006

“Hey, what’s a little rising pressure in the Middle East? I mean, if Iraq isn’t enough to bring things to a boiling point, what makes you think that a little tension from Lebanon and Israel will make a difference.”

“Israel struck Beirut's airport and Hezbollah’s television station on Thursday and killed 22 civilians in raids on south Lebanon, intensifying its reprisals after Hezbollah captured two Israeli soldiers and killed eight.
The Israeli military later said it had imposed a sea and air blockade on Lebanon to cut off supply routes to Hezbollah via Syria. Israel maintains Hezbollah is financed and equipped by Iran, with backing by Syria.
Hezbollah retaliated for Israeli “massacres” by firing 60 rockets at Nahariya in northern Israel. The Israeli army said Katyusha rockets had hit the city, killing one civilian and injuring five.
The violence was the worst between Israel and Lebanon since 1996 when Israeli troops still occupied part of the south. It coincided with an major Israeli offensive into the Gaza Strip to retrieve a captured soldier and halt Palestinian rocket fire.
An Israeli helicopter fired a missile at the headquarters of Hezbollah’s al-Manar TV in the Beirut suburb of Haret Hreik, wounding six people, witnesses and a security source said.
One of the wounded was an al-Manar employee, the station’s director said. The building, in a Shiite neighborhood where Hezbollah leaders also have offices, was slightly damaged.
After the morning strikes, the Israeli army has warned Lebanon to evacuate all residents from a southern Beirut neighborhood where it believes Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah lives, Israeli media reported.”
-MSNBC, July 13, 2006

“But I made the right decision and we will succeed in Iraq, unless we decide to quit. And success in Iraq will be really important for the world. It's important for there to be a democracy in the heart of the Middle East.”
-George ‘Dubya’ Bush, interview with Larry King, July 6, 2006

“There are actually already two democracies in the Middle East sir. One is currently at war with the other one.”

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Quotes of the Morning: Be Afraid!

“Be afraid. Be very, very afraid.. No, really. If you aren’t really afraid then all of the hard work that the administration has done to scare the daylights out of you in order to get you to give up your Constitutional rights doesn’t make any sense. They need you to be scared enough to give up your freedoms so that you can, well, protect your freedoms. And that is understandable. I mean, there are terrorists out there. People who want to kill you. People who want you to suffer. Hard core terrorists like this..”

“A federal judge denied bond Wednesday for six men accused of plotting to blow up Chicago's Sears Tower and other federal buildings.

The six, who have pleaded not guilty, were arrested June 22 in Miami as part of an undercover FBI sting. They are accused of seeking to support what they thought was an al Qaeda operative's effort to bomb FBI buildings in Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami, New York and Washington.”
-CBS News, July 5, 2006

“See? These men are fierce killers who would stop at nothing to kill Americans. Be afraid!”

“From the indictment it is clear that the men had no shortage of ambition, asking for al-Qaeda training to wage a ‘full ground war’ to ‘kill all the devils we can.’ To his end, the group asked the undercover agent for a wish-list of equipment that included boots, uniforms, machine guns, bullet-proof vests, radios and vehicles — as well as $50,000 in cash. The group's leader also provided the government agent with ‘a list of shoe sizes for the purchase of military boots for his 'soldiers'.”
-Time.com, June 23, 2006

“They had an al-Qaeda Christmas list? And it included boots? This was a dangerous terrorist threat from guys who couldn’t afford shoes? Hmm.. Maybe we should try again. The Chicago plot probably isn’t our best example. Let’s talk about the New York Holland Tunnel plot instead. Those guys were ruthless and ready to take out hundreds of Americans in one fell swoop.”

“A terrorist plot to set off explosives in the PATH railway tunnels under the Hudson River in October or November was disrupted in its planning stages, and several suspects in the plot have been apprehended, law enforcement officials said today.”
-New York Times, July 7, 2006

“See? We got the terrorists that time. All of our fears about terrorism were justified. Those people were hard-core.”

“One U.S. official called the plot ‘largely aspirational’ and described the Internet conversations as mostly extremists discussing and conceptualizing the plot. The official said no money had been transferred, nor had other similar operational steps been taken. […]
[CBS News correspondent Jim] Stewart reports his sources say that no one in the United States ever took part in the Internet conversations and that no one ever purchased any explosives or scouted the transit system.”
-CBS/AP, July 7, 2006

“Oh.. Apparently that dangerous plot was entirely took place in an internet chat room and had never made it past that level. There were no explosives, and no one had actually, you know, looked into actually blowing anything up. Other than that it was a serious threat.
Don’t worry though.. When the terrorists attack America will be ready. No matter where they attack us we will be prepared.”

“It reads like a tally of terrorist targets that a child might have written: Old MacDonald’s Petting Zoo, the Amish Country Popcorn factory, the Mule Day Parade, the Sweetwater Flea Market and an unspecified ‘Beach at End of a Street.’

But the inspector general of the Department of Homeland Security, in a report released Tuesday, found that the list was not child’s play: all these ‘unusual or out-of-place’ sites ‘whose criticality is not readily apparent’ are inexplicably included in the federal antiterrorism database.”
-New York Times, July 11, 2006

“Just remember: Be afraid and forget the words of one of our founding fathers.”

“Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.”
-Benjamin Franklin

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Quotes of the Morning: A Week of Freedom

“So what have you been up to since the 4th of July? Enjoying the summer? Kicking back a little in the warmth and sunshine? Let’s take a quick peek at the last seven days in the capital city of the nation that we liberated and see how they are enjoying their new found independence..”

“Sectarian violence rocked Baghdad again on Tuesday, as gunmen ambushed a minibus as it drove through a Sunni neighborhood bringing Shiites from a funeral and killing 10 of those aboard, police said.
A suicide bomber blew himself up outside the fortified Green Zone government compound, killing five people and wounding 10, as parliament prepared to meet a few hundred yards away.
The minibus attack in the violent southern Doura district comes a day after Iraq’s prime minister pleaded for Iraqis to ‘unite as brothers’ following a fresh spasm of violence over the weekend that pushed Iraq deeper into communal warfare.
-Reuters, July 11, 2006

“The war in Baghdad took a turn for the worse Sunday as masked gunmen pulled at least 40 Sunni Arabs from their houses, cafes, and cars and executed them in cold blood. Iraq's President Jalal Talabani said it brought the country to a ‘dangerous edge.’ I thought it was already there.
The slaughter took place in a neighborhood called ­Jihad. The raid is believed to be retaliation by extremist Shiite groups, according to reports from Baghdad. Any Sunni who had the misfortune to be in the environs was killed on the spot, reported witnesses. Units of the newly U.S.-trained Iraqi security forces stood by without intervening. Their silence and failure to intervene speaks volumes about the future of Iraq and just how much trust can be placed in these nascent security forces.”
-UPI, July 10, 2006

“At least 15 people were killed and 35 were wounded today when two car bombs went off near a Shi'ite mosque in a Sunni district of the Iraqi capital, Baghdad. Police said the bombings took place in the Qasra neighborhood of the largely Sunni district of Al-Adhamiyah.”
-Radio Free Europe, July 9, 2006

“Iraqi troops backed by US jets raided a Shi'ite stronghold in the capital yesterday, killing and wounding dozens of people in a crackdown on militias blamed for much of Iraq's worsening sectarian violence.
At least 17 others died in a wave of bombings and mortar attacks against mostly Sunni mosques in the Baghdad area and northern Iraq. A Sunni cleric was also kidnapped in the capital, a Sunni official said.”
-Associated Press, July 8, 2006

“Bomb blasts rocked two Sunni mosques in Baghdad shortly after noon prayers on Friday, killing at least five people and wounding nine, police said.
Seven people were wounded when a roadside bomb exploded outside a third Sunni mosque in Baquba, a town 64 km (40 miles) north of Baghdad in Diyala province, police said.
Three people were killed and two wounded when a mortar round landed on a mosque in the capital's northern al-Wazeriya district, while two people were killed and two wounded by a car bomb near a mosque in the western al-Jihad district.”
-Reuters, July 7, 2006

“A suicide car bomber blasted two coaches carrying Iranian pilgrims outside a Shi'ite Muslim shrine in Iraq at dawn on Thursday, killing 12 people and wounding 41, police and health officials said.”
-Reuters, July 6, 2006

“Baghdad's central morgue said it received 1,595 bodies last month -- the highest monthly total since the February bombing of a Shi'ite shrine sparked a wave of sectarian killings.
The figures show the pace of killings has increased, even after a U.S. military strike killed al Qaeda in Iraq leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi on June 7.
U.S. and Iraqi troops scoured Baghdad for a kidnapped Sunni legislator on Wednesday. A group claiming to have abducted her contacted her party to set demands for her release, including the withdrawal of U.S. forces and an end to attacks on Shi'ites.”
-Reuters, July 5, 2006

“Ah yes. Our great success. We have brought freedom to these poor oppressed Iraqis. Under that ogre Saddam these people would be suffering, but under American Freedom ™ they have the ability to make their own decisions and live lives of personal and religious fulfillment. Makes you feel good to have been a part of bringing this kind of happiness to them, doesn’t it?”

Monday, July 10, 2006

Quotes of the Morning: Happy Monday

“Ok. It is Monday. Work is piled on my desk up to my eyeballs. The internet is [was] down. I cannot go looking for Quotes. It is Monday. So I give you the Quotes from the books on my desk.. Enjoy.”

“It is not real work unless you would rather be doing something else.”
-J.M. Barrie

“Most people work just hard enough not to get fired and get paid just enough not to quit.”
-George Carlin

“Work was made for man, and not man for work. Work is man’s servant, both in its results to the worker and the world. Man is not work’s servant, save as an almost universal perversion has made him such.”
-Josiah Gilbert Holland

“Men for the sake of getting a living forget to live.”
-Margaret Fuller

“business business business
grind grind grind
what a life for a man
that might have been a poet.”
-Don Marquis

“Arbeit macht frei. [Work makes free]”
-Inscription over the main gate at Auschwitz

“Happy Monday.”

Friday, July 07, 2006

Quotes of the Morning: The King and W

“I think that's what he [Kim Jong-il] wants. I think he does want people to fear him. My response to him and the response of our partners is to be that, you know, ‘It's very important for you, leader of North Korea, to make rational decisions, because the United States is not alone in making these demands.’
The demand, of course, is to give up his weapons programs in a verifiable fashion. There's a better way for the people of North Korea, by the way. I mean, these people are hungry, they're starving. There are concentration camps there.
And I just hope at some time he gets some sense, because the human condition in North Korea is totally intolerable. I mean, one threat, of course, is a proliferation threat, which we're dealing with through what we call the proliferation security initiative, which is a group of nations that say, ‘We're not going to allow this country to proliferate.’”
-George ‘Dubya’ Bush, interview with Larry King, July 6, 2006

“Like the harsh way we dealt with Pakistan when we found out that they were selling nuclear secrets.. What? We didn’t do anything to them?”

“Another threat, of course, is something on a rocket, which we're watching very carefully. And the third threat is just the terrible condition of the people living in North Korea. And it grieves me to know that.”
-George ‘Dubya’ Bush, interview with Larry King, July 6, 2006

“Yes.. The third ‘threat’ is that the people of North Korea are suffering. Using that logic we will be invading Ethiopia very soon.. or maybe, dare I say it, the Sudan.”

“The decision to remove Saddam Hussein was the right decision and I'm absolutely convinced it was.

Where I get down is when I, you know, that some grieving mom or wife or dad has lost their loved one and that's the agony of war. And I've met with enough families to know how it's broken their heart to lose a loved one.”
-George ‘Dubya’ Bush, interview with Larry King, July 6, 2006

“Families are strange mutant beasts comprised of multiple people but only a single broken heart.”

“But I made the right decision and we will succeed in Iraq, unless we decide to quit. And success in Iraq will be really important for the world. It's important for there to be a democracy in the heart of the Middle East.”
-George ‘Dubya’ Bush, interview with Larry King, July 6, 2006

“Apparently he has forgotten that Israel exists.”

“Things don't happen quickly when it comes to helping a nation go from a tyranny to a democracy. But the Iraqi people were given a chance to vote and they did overwhelmingly. And now we're working with a new unity government, to help succeed.

And when we succeed, I think they'll look back at this moment in history and say it's the beginning of changing the conditions that caused there to be such resentment that people would be willing to commit suicide, acts of suicide against U.S. citizens.”
-George ‘Dubya’ Bush, interview with Larry King, July 6, 2006

“Yes, that seems likely. They’ll call it the great ‘Beginning of the changing the conditions that caused there to be such resentment that people would be willing to commit acts of suicide (acts of suicide?) against the U.S.’. Hmm.. Let’s break that down a little. The voting was the changing of conditions. The resentment was apparently caused by the fact that things were getting better? And people ‘resented’ that enough that they were willing to commit suicide (or, as Fearless Leader stated, ‘acts of suicide’)? Wow, I’d hate to see how badly they’d have taken it if the invasion had gone poorly.
So let’s finish up with another reality-buster.”

“Larry King: So there is no doubt, if you had it to do over again, knowing the WMDs weren't there, you'd still go in?

George ‘Dubya’ Bush: Yes. This is -- we removed a tyrant, who was a weapon -- he was an enemy of the United States who harbored terrorists and who had the capacity, at the very minimum, to make weapons of mass destruction. And he was a true threat. And yes, I would have done the same thing.”
-George ‘Dubya’ Bush, interview with Larry King, July 6, 2006

“Amazing. Apparently Saddam was, himself, a deadly weapon. Just like Chuck Norris. No wonder we couldn’t find them. Like General Zod in the old Superman movie, Saddam apparently had superhuman powers and could single-handedly pose a threat to the United States. Not only that but he harbored terrorists (despite all evidence showing that he was unaware of terrorists working in Iraq and that he had no working relationship with Al Qaeda) and he had the CAPACITY to make weapons of mass destruction. Of course using that logic every westernized nation on the face of the Earth is a direct threat to the safety and well being of the United States. I mean think about it.. All those Canadians just north of the border. They have the technology. The COULD make weapons of mass destruction. We must invade!
Not a d**n thing this idiot says makes any sense..””

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Quotes of the Morning: Mere Coincidence

“From deteriorating security in Afghanistan and Somalia to mayhem in the Middle East, confrontation with Iran and eroding relations with Russia, the White House suddenly sees crisis in every direction.”
-Washington Post, July 6, 2006

“We are winning! Obviously things are heating up because we are fighting them over there so that we don’t have to fight them over here. Things are going splendidly with Fearless Leader’s master plan.”

“Even in the context of a post-Sept. 11, 2001, world, the array of tough, seemingly intractable foreign problems is spreading. Renewed violence has expanded to major cities throughout Afghanistan, as Afghan rebels adopt tactics of Iraqi insurgents and as President Hamid Karzai's popularity has plummeted. Iran is balking at demands to come clean or compromise on its nuclear program, despite new U.S. and European incentives. Palestinians launched longer-range missiles into Israel, while Israel has authorized its army to invade part of northern Gaza.
Meanwhile, an Islamist militia in Somalia seized control of the capital, Mogadishu. Mexico's future is uncertain after a close and disputed presidential election. And yesterday, the price of oil hit a new high of $75.19 a barrel.”
-Washington Post, July 6, 2006

“Hey, those problems have nothing to do with us. Afghanistan would have been a problem even if we hadn’t invaded, removed their government, and installed a puppet regime without adequate security measures. Iran would have been developing their nuclear program even if we hadn’t placed them on our ‘Axis of Evil’ and shown through our treatment of North Korea that the only nations we won’t threaten are those with nukes. Israel and Palestine would still be fighting even if we hadn’t given up on brokering a working peace deal between them. Somalia would have fallen even if we weren’t so distracted. Mexico would have had voting issues even if immigration weren’t such a huge deal right now, and oil would still be expensive even if we didn’t stir the pot in the Middle East with high explosives.
The fact that this is all happening now is just coincidence. Just like global warming. The fact that the United States has not tried any form of international diplomacy except at the barrel of a gun for years now has nothing to do with any of this.”

“I'm worried about over committing our military around the world. I want to be judicious in its use. You mentioned Haiti. I wouldn't have sent troops to Haiti. I didn't think it was a mission worthwhile. It was a nation building mission. And it was not very successful. It cost us a couple billions of dollars and I'm not sure democracy is any better off in Haiti than it was before.”
-George ‘Dubya’ Bush, October 12, 2000

“The cost of the war in Iraq will reach $320 billion after the expected passage next month of an emergency spending bill currently before the Senate, and that total is likely to more than double before the war ends, the Congressional Research Service estimated this week. […]
Even if a gradual troop withdrawal begins this year, war costs in Iraq and Afghanistan are likely to rise by an additional $371 billion during the phaseout, the report said, citing a Congressional Budget Office study. When factoring in costs of the war in Afghanistan, the $811 billion total for both wars would have far exceeded the inflation-adjusted $549 billion cost of the Vietnam War.
‘The costs are exceeding even the worst-case scenarios,’ said Rep. John M. Spratt Jr. (S.C.), the ranking Democrat on the House Budget Committee.
Such cost estimates may be producing sticker shock on Capitol Hill. This year, the wars will consume nearly as much money as the departments of Education, Justice and Homeland Security combined, a total that is more than a quarter of this year's projected budget deficit.”
-Washington Post, April 27, 2006

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Quotes of the Morning: Something Completely Different

“The justice minister demanded Tuesday that the U.N. Security Council ensure that a group of U.S. troops are punished in the alleged rape and murder of a young Iraqi and the killing of her family, calling the attack ‘monstrous and inhuman.’
Two female legislators also called for Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to be summoned to parliament to give assurances that justice would be done.
Meanwhile, gunmen in camouflage uniforms kidnapped Deputy Electricity Minister Raed al-Hares, along with 11 of his bodyguards in eastern Baghdad, but he was released after several hours, officials said.
Green is accused of raping the woman and killing her and three relatives — an adult male and female and a girl estimated to be 5 years old. An official familiar with the investigation said he set fire to the rape victim's body in an apparent cover-up attempt.
Iraqi authorities identified the rape victim as Abeer Qassim Hamza. The other victims were her father, Qassim Hamza, her mother, Fikhriya Taha, and her sister, Hadeel Qassim Hamza.”
-Associated Press, July 4, 2006

“Just a fairly typical day in Baghdad. A few people kidnapped (even with eleven bodyguards). The United States accused of atrocities and war crimes. You know.. the basic stuff. As you can see from the story though, there is nothing to be worried about. This was just one bad apple who apparently killed four people and raped someone while trying to cover up the crimes by burning the corpses. That old chestnut. Hey, ‘bad apples’ were behind Abu Gharib, the other civilian slaughter the other week and the incendiary bombing of Fallujah too. Heck, the whole war was probably dreamed up by some ‘bad apple’. You can’t blame Fearless Leader for what a few ‘bad apples’ do.

“Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said Wednesday he wants an independent Iraqi investigation, or at least a joint investigation with coalition forces, into the alleged rape and murder of an Iraqi girl by U.S. troops.
Al-Maliki's comments during a visit to Kuwait were his first on the case, in which a former Army soldier was charged Monday in federal court in Charlotte, N.C.
At least four other U.S. soldiers still in Iraq are under investigation.
The girl's father, mother and sister were also killed in the March attack on their house in Mahmoudiyah, south of Baghdad.
‘We are going to demand an independent Iraqi investigation or at least a joint investigation between us and the multi-national forces,’ al-Maliki said.
He said crimes against Iraqis were not acceptable and that coalition troops' immunity from Iraqi prosecution should be reviewed.
‘We believe that the immunity given to members of coalition forces encouraged them to commit such crimes in cold blood - the thing that makes it necessary to review it,’ he said.
-Associated Press, July 5, 2006

“Um.. Just a couple of points here.. One, there are four other soldiers under investigation? I followed up on that. Apparently that whole ‘rape and murder’ thing was premeditated by a group of soldiers, not just a single bad apple. Two, coalition forces have immunity from Iraqi prosecution. Yep, nothing to get the rule of law established in a country like immediately making the troops immune to it. You can shoot people in the streets and not have more than a little military investigation. And the military, as you might imagine, has little interest in making US troops look bad, so a lot of little stuff (you know, shy of the rape and murder of a family) can kind of be brushed under the rug.
Someone want to explain to me again why this isn’t at all like Vietnam?”

“In three years here the Marine Corps and the Army have tried nearly everything to bring this provincial capital of 400,000 under control. Nothing has worked.
Now American commanders are trying something new.
Instead of continuing to fight for the downtown, or rebuild it, they are going to get rid of it, or at least a very large part of it.
They say they are planning to bulldoze about three blocks in the middle of the city, part of which has been reduced to ruins by the fighting, and convert them into a Green Zone, a version of the fortified and largely stable area that houses the Iraqi and American leadership in Baghdad.
The idea is to break the bloody stalemate in the city by ending the struggle over the battle-scarred provincial headquarters that the insurgents assault nearly every day. The Government Center will remain, but the empty space around it will deny the guerrillas cover to attack. ‘We'll turn it into a park,’ said Col. Sean MacFarland.”
-New York Times, July 4, 2006

“Not at all like Vietnam. In Vietnam they had to burn the village in order to save it. Here they are simply leveling the center of the city in order to.. um.. save it. Totally different.”

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