Wednesday, October 31, 2007

The War Drums

I read something online last night that was like a punch in the stomach. It was painful to read because it shows how much Americans really haven't learned anything from the run up to and the war in Iraq.

It said:

"A majority of likely voters – 52% – would support a U.S. military strike to prevent Iran from building a nuclear weapon, and 53% believe it is likely that the U.S. will be involved in a military strike against Iran before the next presidential election, a new Zogby America telephone poll shows."

Of course, the Administration would have you to believe that they want to work this out by "vigorous diplomacy". Are there any Americans who still believe that they (the Administration) want to try to work this out by diplomacy?

To me, these numbers are not surprising. The Administration constantly says that we are "a nation at war". We aren't a nation at war. We are a nation that keeps sending back essentially the same 1% of the population repeatedly and without regard to their long term health to the war zones. Those people are in fact in a war. The people who love them and worry about them every day are in fact in a war. The rest of us? No way. This one percent shouldering the burden, plus a healthy dose of Hessian's (mercenaries such as those working for Blackwater) and massive amounts of borrowed money (so we don't feel the pain of war in the pocketbook) make it so the war is not at all apparent to the general public.

In essence, this poll means that they support what the Administration is going to do without even giving so much as a passing thought to the consequences - and there are very REAL consequences - these are not original thoughts on my part. These have been spread all over on sites such as and - go there and read about it for yourself. They report YOU decide as Fox News likes to lie about.

Our economy, as I have said before several times in this blog is built on the idea that energy will always be cheap, and energy will always be plentiful.

Oil is already at $90 a barrel. Do you think, as the supply shrinks due to conflagration in the middle east that the price is going to remain static? There may be a time coming where Americans cannot get gasoline no matter how much they are willing to pay. Do you think that there will be no retribution world wide against Americans - including those Americans in Iraq and Afghanistan, right on the borders of Iran?

And what about the homeland? Do you really believe that Iran won't practice Asymmetric war against us once it starts to go south? How do IED's on Main Street USA sound to you?

How soon we forget. They said the same tired things before we went to Iraq. They wanted to try diplomacy (but their patience wasn't limitless), and after what they thought was a suitable time, the war started.

They were wrong about Iraq, and they are wrong now. Why on earth, knowing what we know about their terrible intelligence pre-Iraq war would we believe them now? I'm reminded of that Drew Barrymore and Adam Sandler movie 50 First Dates, where Drew Barrymore gets amnesia during the night, every night. She simply cannot remember Adam Sandler the next day.

I read a piece the other day in which the author said that 5 to 20 people forcefully speaking out could stop the coming war against Iran. Who are those people? Why aren't they speaking out? NOW is the time. I personally don't believe those people exist. I also don't think they would make a difference. Our leaders are going to do what they want to do. We are going to stumble blindly, madly into another war.

We have lived fairly luckily for a long time in that none of our recent foreign adventures have cost us in the way that history cost the Roman Empire or other empires. I believe realistically that this event could be the event that could change that.

52% of my fellow Americans think an attack is a good idea. I don't even know why I'm bothering trying to write about this. I believe fervently that the future of the United States is dim if we rush recklessly into this war.

I hope that those folks are smarter than me, and I'm just paranoid.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Change or Die

Most folks who know me, know that I am a voracious reader, and I like to read a lot of different things - history, biography, management books, etc. One of my favorite things to read are Psychology books. I like to think that I am a student of human behavior - although it is mostly perplexing, irrational and confusing. It is still interesting though.

I just finished reading a great book called Change or Die by Alan Deutschman.

This is a book where the author studies the major macro problems of our time on a case-study micro basis.

The main case studies of the book are the work of Dr. Dean Ornish with heart patients (macro problem health care), Dr. Mimi Silbert of the Delancey Street Foundation which turns criminals into productive members of society (macro problem prisons, crime, rehabilitation) and the case of the Nummi Automotive plant in Fremont California - a supposedly unmanageable plant taken over and managed by Toyota (macro problem competitiveness, malaise in the economy, supposedly unmotivated American workforce).

He also has some bonus case studies where he studies Gore-Tex company, a Probation Officer in Iowa who uses some different techniques in his work and one called "Changing the Schools, Knowledge is Power Program (KIPP)" (macro problem - the education system).

The author's three keys to change are:

1. Relate. You form a new, emotional relationship with a person or community that inspires and sustains hope.

2. Repeat. The new relationship helps you learn, practice, and master the new habits and skills that you'll need.

3. Reframe. The new relationship helps you learn new ways of thinking about your situation and your life. (Change or Die, pgs 14-15)

The author also weaves in 9 "Psych Concepts" of Change through each of the case studies.

These 9 "Psych Concepts" are:

Frames (how we view the world), Denial and other Psychological Self-defenses, Short-term Wins, The Power of Community and Culture, Acting as if, Recasting a Life's Story, Walk the Walk, The Brain is Plastic, The "Solution" Might Be the Problem (Change or Die, pg xi).

Anyone who is familiar with change scenarios will recognize some of these, others may be new.

As I was reading this book, I read an article on the efficacy of different treatment strategies for PTSD in Iraq war veterans, and how it is believed that a lot of the treatments don't seem to be very effective, especially in the long term. As a country, we own this problem. The people who led us into a war planned for a quick, painless, low casualty war. What they got was a war that had a lot of casualties involving the brain (both physical through TBI - or Traumatic Brain Injury, and not physical, PTSD and other psychological problems).

I think this will be a significant issue in the years to come, especially as we try to make these veterans productive members of society. I believe that there is, somewhere out there, the Dr. Dean Ornish, or a Dr. Mimi Silbert of this particular problem (taking care of these vets). They will be people who are working outside of the "system" and what "works".

When they come along, I only hope that we have the brains to listen to them, instead of saying, "no, that will never work, we've always done it THIS way" (and never mind that THIS way doesn't work at all - it is the SAFE method).

Honorable mention of a recent read is Napoleon's Egypt, Invading the Middle East by Juan Cole. Be prepared to have the hair on the back of your neck stand up when you find some of the parallels of the French experience in Egypt and ours in Iraq (also good is Professor Coles blog

Friday, October 26, 2007

Talk about a case of the obvious

This article was in the Washington Post, the headline of which is "Strike on Iran Would Roil Oil Markets, Experts Say"

The first question is does it really take an "expert" to know that this will be the case? I think a high schooler with a good grasp of world events (if there is such a thing) could have made this prediction. If this is the work of so-called "experts", how stupid and ill informed have we become?

This line below suggests that the supposed "experts" haven't really been paying attention to the Bush Administration and their penchant to take action without regard to history or geopolitical realities over the past six years:

"A U. S. military strike against Iran would have dire consequences in petroleum markets, say a variety of oil industry experts, many of whom think the prospect of pandemonium in those markets makes U.S. military action unlikely despite escalating economic sanctions imposed by the Bush administration."

U. S. military action unlikely. That is rich.

In the last post, I had mentioned sayings by the President on WWIII (a supposed rhetorical flourish), and comments by the Vice President warning of extreme consequences to Iran. Now within the article above is this little gem from the Secretary of State:

"Yesterday, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said that Bush is "committed to a diplomatic course on Iran," but she added that U.S. patience is "not limitless, and allies need to know that."

All of the key players are telling you it's going to happen. The only matter is when. When it does happen, they can say, "we built our case, we got "approval" from Congress, we have "tried" diplomacy and sanctions and they haven't "worked". Now the only option is military action.

Then, this piece of doublespeak that George Orwell would truly be proud of. The headline is "Iran Sanctions Are Meant to Prevent War, Bush Aides Say".

A gem from this article is:

"Both publicly and privately, White House and other administration officials have expressed frustration over the talk of war, emphasizing that Bush remains convinced that his strategy of nonmilitary pressure can work. They described yesterday's actions as essential to that approach."

I think what is most frustrating is that this time, there are people who are actually making the connections in the signs to a run up to war this time, and the signs to a run up to war with Iraq. And in asking those questions, they are turning on the lights, and hopefully making people think, and ask the questions for themselves.

The truth of the matter is that all this has nothing to do with Iran having nuclear weapons and everything to do with regime change. Same as Iraq.

Are we so far gone that we can't put all this together to know that the two current ongoing wars are unmitigated disasters and quagmires, and one more war might be the knockout punch to this country? This knockout punch will come in the form of the toppling of our economy (which I have mentioned before is based totally on the premise that energy will always be cheap and plentiful). It could also come in blowback to our military forces in close proximity to Iran.

Certainly, only a very few courageous representatives in Congress are asking the questions (even though in their votes on Iran, they may have given the Administration "permission" to attack Iran if it ever comes down to it), very few in the mainstream media (mostly the questions are being asked on sites like and - which of course the Administration, Fox News, et al will say aren't "real" media outlets).

Now we remember from high school reading Nineteen Eighty Four that the parties motto was: "War is Peace; Freedom is Slavery; Ignorance is Strength."

War is peace. Sounds about right.

Is there anything that can stop this madness?

Monday, October 22, 2007

What is wrong with us?

This country is careening towards another ill-advised war, and Americans don't seem to really care.

Maybe it's not that they don't care (or maybe they don't realize how close we really are), but they are resigned to the fact that the Administration is going to make war when they want, and on who they want without any regard to Congress (and Congress certainly didn't help by giving them a blank check by designating the Revolutionary Guard a terrorist organization - I bet Dick Cheney cackled with glee like a mad man when he found that out), or any regard to the desires of the American people.

The President intimated that we were on the brink of WWIII (oh, right, sorry, that was just a "rhetorical flourish"). Then, in the speech below, the Vice President said there would be "serious consequences" if the Iranians continue on this course (reminds me of the movie A Few Good Men where there is the exchange with Tom Cruise and Jack Nicholson about "Grave Danger" and then he says "Is there any other kind")

The thing Americans seem to forget is that THIS IS NOT RHETORIC with the Vice President. He said what he meant before we went into Iraq, and he's saying what he's meaning now. These aren't idle threats or saber rattling.

They are carefully and meticulously building a case, then at some point they will say "we tried diplomacy and it didn't work" so now we have to take action.

It is absolutely amazing how closely this parallels the run up to the war in Iraq. For instance, the Vice President is sure that the Iranians are pursuing these weapons. He said the same thing about the Iraqi's pre-war (of course a lot of Conservatives believe the fiction that those weapons somehow disappeared into Syria - hey, maybe that's what the Israeli's were hitting last month? The missing WMD's?)

Well, they were wrong about Iraq - of course in their twisted logic, they were not wrong - true Saddam didn't actually have any weapons (except of course the ones that are now in Syria), but, you know he had the CAPABILITY to make the weapons. Even the capability was enough, and the VP said on several occasions (I have the quotes on this blog) that even if he knew then what he knew now, he'd STILL have done it (invaded Iraq).

WHY ON EARTH WOULD WE EVER TRUST ANYTHING THEY HAD TO SAY AGAIN???? Are there actually Americans who still believe the Administration?????

Let's project forward to when the attack happens. It will have to be a massive sustained campaign to make a difference. Dropping a few bombs on a few targets will do nothing to dissuade the Iranians from doing anything, and after it's over, they'll just go right back to whatever they are allegedly doing. So, the real issue, in my opinion is NOT about weapons at all, but about attempting regime change.

A lot of Neocons have this fantasy (much like we'd be welcomed as liberators in Iraq with wine and flowers), that if we attack Iran, the dissidents will rise up against the government. Right. What usually happens when your country is attacked? Usually, no matter what your political affiliation, when YOUR country is attacked by foreign forces you are going to usually rally to your country. This, incidentally is what's going on in Iraq too.

The economy will be a shambles. Remember, our economy is TOTALLY based on the idea of cheap, plentiful energy. That will change very quickly. If you can even get oil, it will be very expensive. But hey, what does the VP care? He won't have to wait in line (or endure the violence because of the scarcity), or scramble around for a few gallons of gas just to get to work. He gets chauffeured around, and someone buys all of his gas (actually, you do).

The scariest thing is what might happen to the troops in Afghanistan and Iraq. Bill Lind (and everyone should read Bill Lind at, he is simply writing the best, most coherent analysis on the war, and has been for quite some time) has said that we could actually lose the ENTIRE Army in Iraq because of an inability to fight our way out through Shiite country. Shiites who are going to be plenty upset when you topple the government in Iran.

It is interesting how both Afghanistan and Iraq say all the time how the Iranians are a positive force in the region. You know that has to drive the Administration NUTS.

Is there anyone who can stop this war? Is there anything that can be said to stop it? I really believe literally that only God can stop it. And, according to the President, John Hagee and some of the other Left Behind believing characters, God is on our side, loves us more than all the worlds other peoples, and talks to the President and tells him what to do.

These are certainly scary times for rational thinking people.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

I thought.......

....the most repulsive thing I had seen lately was the Presidents veto of SCHIP, and the hilarious idea that he said he vetoed it because it was fiscally irresponsible, and there was no way to pay for it (oh, and it was "socialized medicine", whatever that means).

Never mind that they didn't care that there was no way to pay for the Iraq war (nor is there yet, except by borrowing massive amounts of money from the Chinese, and mortgaging our financial future). Never mind that billions of dollars have disappeared into Iraq with zero accountability, and continue to do so.

Anyway, I thought that was the most repulsive thing I had seen. Until I viewed the Westboro "Baptist" Church website today. I found out that these repulsive characters were coming to my hometown, and a friend sent me their website. Their link itself is derogatory - I'm not putting it on my blog. If one is interested, one can google it.

They have listed on their main page, what they call their "Love Crusades". The first one on the list is a memorial for a PFC from Spalding Nebraska at Saint Michael's Catholic Pigpen (nice touch) that happened today. When you click on the link, it is a PDF document that actually says "Thank God for IED's".

This is one of the most repulsive, disgusting, horrible things I've ever seen. Picketing at the funerals of soldiers. This is despicable. The REAL Christian thing to do would be to ask that soldiers family if they needed anything, or if anything needed to be done, because didn't Jesus say that we should love our neighbors as ourselves?

They are going to picket recently deceased Congresswoman Jo Ann Davis' funeral tomorrow, and the PDF link on her document says that she is "already in hell". Interesting. Then they cherry pick some bible verses to "support" their case. I can do that too.

Matthew 7 verses 1 and 2 say JUDGE NOT (my emphasis), that YE be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.

I cannot say that these people are going to hell. I can't judge like that. Only God can judge like that. All I can do is call attention to this perverse, sick, twisted, evil version of "Christianity".

This type of thing gives Christians really trying to do the right thing, and live their lives as a witness a bad reputation. Those who are looking from the outside in, would be more likely to say, why on earth would I want to be a Christian if all they do is hate like that?

Their contention (Westboro Baptist) is that we are losing in Iraq because God turned against us because we have tolerated homosexuals.

No, we are losing in Iraq because we invaded and tried to occupy a country that didn't need to be invaded and occupied with too few troops, non-existent post war planning, incredible arrogance and hubris, and a complete lack of understanding of the people and culture. Homosexuals have absolutely NOTHING to do with it.

If you want to be angry at someone, be angry at President Bush. Vice President Cheney. Donald Rumsfeld. Paul "Wildly off the Mark" Wolfowitz.

And, while you are stewing over that, remember that they want to attack ANOTHER country (Iran). This will give these lovable folks (Westboro Baptist) more opportunities to protest the funerals when the bodies start coming home from the Iran campaign (including lots of casualties from blowback in Iraq and Afghanistan).

Monday, October 8, 2007

I was just looking for ideas on something to write

I was perusing blogs that I hadn't posted yet, and saw that I wrote these words on 10 August 2007 (but did not post them), then saved them in the place where you go to edit your blogs. I essentially believe the same depressing thing that I did 2 months ago. It is extremely discouraging to understand that nothing in essence has changed in two months (except for the fact that the Administration and the US military (along with a compliant, despicable, spineless Congress) has been beating the war drums to start a DIFFERENT war with Iran).

I wrote:

"The Iraq war is a great model and example of complexity. Most Americans do not want to understand this, and have thrown their faith in with President Bush and the Surge.

The Surge may make a difference in a neighborhood here or there, but there is so much more going on.

At the top of the list is the Iraqi government. Until this body is able to administrate the "state" that is Iraq, nothing is going to change. A government has to do those routine, mundane things that a government does: provide security, laws, infrastructure, etc."

Today, I read this article ( about the Iraqi's pulling back from reconciliation and talking about some different goals. The article talks about:

"Instead of reconciliation, they now stress alternative and perhaps more attainable goals: streamlining the government bureaucracy, placing experienced technocrats in positions of authority and improving the dismal record of providing basic services."

Since the main reason for the surge was to supposedly make the violence stop long enough for political reconciliation to occur, one has to come to the conclusion that the surge did not do what it was supposed to.

Certain media outlets keep trying to say that no "good news" is coming from Iraq. Good news to them may be something like schools being opened, or that less people were killed last month (even though they think the reduced numbers are proof that the surge is "working", that doesn't help the soldiers who WERE killed last month (or their families), or the Iraqis killed last month or their families).

But here is the sad truth. Our soldiers can ply the streets of Iraq for 1000 more years, and if the Iraqi's don't get it together and do these things, it simply will make no difference. And, we're running out of troops to ply those streets (and money too).

So, we need to keep asking the hard questions. Why on earth are we still in Iraq at the levels that we are? If are troops are not getting any closer to making Iraq into a functioning country (and reconciliation is nowhere in sight), what are our troops doing there?

General Petraeus, when asked by Senator Warner, if the Iraq war made this country safer tried first to answer with some Orwellian Doublespeak (he felt it was the best course of action, blah, blah, blah, blah). Senator Warner to his credit, simply would not let him get away with this, and asked him point blank again. He confessed that he didn't know, and hadn't given it much thought.

Obviously, if the guy in charge of our forces in Iraq doesn't know, and hasn't given it much thought, the questions really aren't being seriously asked. I don't know why (other than the probability that very few people saw that exchange) this doesn't anger the hell out of us and scare the hell out of us at the same time!!!!

And the most important questions of all: What are our intentions toward Iran (that is somewhat of a rhetorical question - despite howling protests to the contrary, I believe that our governments intention toward Iran is war)? How can we, as Americans stop our government from attacking Iran?

Is there any way that this can be stopped? There are a lot of pieces out there that predict what will happen in a war with Iran. None of them are pretty. Bill Lind has said repeatedly that because of the dynamics in Iraq (having to escape through Shiite country, and Iraq bordering Iran) and Afghanistan, we could literally lose whole Armies in those countries - defeats like this are incomprehensible (right now) to Americans.

But the sad fact is that they've happened to other empires who have believed that they were indestructible and unbeatable. 200 years from now, are they going to read about us the same way that we read about the Romans?