Saturday, October 28, 2006

The Weekly Rewind

Hey there folks it’s that time of the week again. Yes that’s right it’s time for a little thing we like to call the weekly rewind. But first let me take this opportunity to give a shout out to all the fans of the Redbirds following last nights World Series win. Great job guys! But I digress….

We are now less than two weeks to the mid-term elections and you know that the parties are both making mistakes. You know saying and doing things that in hindsight they wish they could take back, but alas they can’t. So let’s see what’s going on in this wonderful world…..on to the rewind.

Heckle: as if the problem in Darfur wasn’t bad enough already. This week came word of problems with the previously signed Sudan peace agreement. Well, the hardening conflict is increasingly taking place along porous borders among some of the least stable countries in Africa, threatening to ignite a wide conflagration in the heart of the continent. Why is this a problem? Well, if the fighting intensifies the U.S. would be forced to either participate in or take the lead in some type of peace-keeping effort. As if our military was not stretched out enough already.

Applaud: to breaking with the administration. Senators Richard Lugar (R-IN) and Arlen Specter (R-PA) called yesterday “for direct talks with North Korea aimed at easing a nuclear standoff.” Direct talks are “inevitable,” Lugar said. Specter added, “I think we ought to use every alternative, including direct bilateral talks.” The Senators are correct in that we would eventually end up in direct talks, why prolong the inevitable?

Heckle: to opening your mouth and scaring the wrong people. Former German chancellor Gerhard Schroeder writes in a new book that Bush’s frequent references to God in their meetings before the Iraq war had made him wary. “What worried me, despite a relaxed atmosphere to our talks, and to a certain degree what made me skeptical was how much it came through that this president saw himself as ‘God-fearing’ and saw that as the highest authority,” he said. Whatever happened to separation of church and state?

Heckle: to hearing it from the horses mouth. According to a poll conducted by the State Department, majorities of Iraqi youth in Arab regions of the country believe security would improve and violence decrease if the U.S.-led forces left immediately . Hmmm let’s see this is the current or up and coming generation of insurgents telling us that they don’t want us there…. Are we going to listen?

Heckle: to I told you so. Gen. George Casey, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, said yesterday that he “might need to call for an increase in American troop levels in Baghdad” to stem the violence there, and that Iraqi troops would not be able to take over combat operations for 12-18 months. For all those who have forgotten, let’s review, 1) if you are going to go invade Iraq make sure you go in with not only enough troops, but also a winning strategy. 2) Don’t plan on Iraqi troops meeting any of our pre-determined piss poor planning deadlines.

Applaud: to people finally waking up to reality as represented by the number 19. That is the percent of Americans who believe the United States is winning the war in Iraq, an all-time low. Another poll showed that fifty-four percent of Americans believe the U.S. economy is getting worse. Hmmm, wages have remained stagnant, prices have gone up, gas costs as much as a gallon of milk, and the housing market is beginning to regurgitate. Yep seems like it is getting worse. Gee George I guess that $600 tax advance and the cuts that accompanied it were a good idea. I almost forgot, the deficit is large enough that our great-great grandchildren will be paying for our bills. Nice job George.

Heckle: to a consequence of the worsening economy. 36 percent of Americans have reduced the amount they save for retirement due to the burden of rising healthcare costs, up from 25 percent in 2004. In 2006, healthcare premiums for employers and their workers climbed two times faster than both wages and inflation.

Heckle: to yet another slap in the face to parents and students. The College Board reports that the cost of obtaining a four-year university degree continues to outpace inflation. Tuition and fees at four-year public universities rose 6.3 percent from 2005 to 2006. At the same time, the amount of federal financial aid available through Pell Grants declined to a new low. I fear what the situation may be like when my son and Kemp’s children are ready for college.

Heckle: to getting deeper. The House ethics committee spent more than six hours Monday grilling Scott Palmer, who has been Dennis Hastert’s chief of staff for more than 20 years. Kirk Fordham, who was Mark Foley’s former chief of staff, said he “alerted Palmer several years ago to his concerns about Foley’s friendships with pages.”

Heckle: to leading by example. “Several governments around the world have tried to rebut criticism of how they handle detainees by claiming they are only following the U.S. example in the war on terror,” U.N. anti-torture chief Manfred Nowak said yesterday.

Heckle: to signing a bill that has no teeth. At a public signing ceremony on Thusday, President Bush signed a bill authorizing 700 miles of new fencing along the U.S.-Mexico border. The decision to have a public ceremony is a reversal for the Bush administration, which had appeared reluctant to tie itself so publicly to the enforcement-only measure. Ok let’s dig a little deeper into this new bill that the Republicans wanted signed with lots of hoopla. First, the measure offers no money for the fence project that would only cover one-third of the 2,100-mile border. And second, Senators John Cornyn and Kay Bailey Hutchison, both Texas Republicans, had wanted to amend the fence bill to give local governments more say about where fencing is erected. What happened? They lost that battle, but Republican leaders assured them the Homeland Security Department would have flexibility to choose other options instead of fencing, if needed. This looks to be Republican pork-barrel politics at it most obvious.

Heckle: to taking it right out of our pockets and into theirs. $10.49 billion: Exxon’s third-quarter profit, its second highest total ever.

Applaud: to standing up and telling Rush to shut-up. Responding to accusations made by Rush Limbaugh, Michael J. Fox said he was neither acting nor off his medication for Parkinson’s disease. “The irony of it is that I was too medicated,” Fox told CBS’s Katie Couric, adding that his jumpy condition as he spoke to her reflected “a dearth of medication — not by design. I just take it, and it kicks in when it kicks in.”

Finally a very sad comment that I will not disgrace with neither an applaud or a heckle. As of Thursday the total number of troops who have died so far this month in Iraq is 96. Which makes this month the bloodiest since October 2005. Five American troops were killed during fighting in Anbar Province on Thursday. Our elected leaders need to wake up and accept the fact that no matter how long we were to stay in Iraq, the minute that we pull out troops and leave the running of Iraq to the citizens of Iraq, the violence will erupt until one tribal faction dominates the others and takes hold of the country. We have become the occupying force that the President insisted that we would not, and this is quickly beginning to be this generations Vietnam. It’s time we either do the job right or get out before more Americans die.

Be good, stay informed….later.

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