- Peace Garden: 11/01/2008 - 12/01/2008

Not too early...

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Where Is the Change?
Is it too early to criticize Barack Obama for his program, his appointments, and his policies? He is not yet president but he is dominating the news and influencing markets and foreign-policy as though he had already been inaugurated. At the same time, he tells us that we have only one president at a time and that president is George W. Bush.
Personnel indicates policy, often determines policy, and Obama's appointments are from the establishment on both domestic and foreign affairs. Yet Obama's prime message during his meteoric rise to power was "change". How can establishment figures from both parties install significant change?
Obama's foreign and military policies will be developed by four power centers: Vice President Joe Biden, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, and National Security Adviser, Marine General James Jones. All supported the invasion of Iraq; none advocate immediate withdrawal from that country or revision of US world-wide military involvement.
Let's hope his recent statements that he is the decision maker ring true.

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Invade India?

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Intelligence chiefs were expecting Al-Qaeda spectacular

Western intelligence services have been expecting an al-Qaeda spectacular terrorist attack in this crucial period between the end of President George Bush’s administration and the succession of Barack Obama.

Signals intelligence “chatter” in recent weeks indicated that Osama bin Laden’s terrorist organisation might be plotting an attack “to grab the headlines” before Mr Obama takes over in the White House on January 20.

Counter-terrorist experts last night said that India would have been selected for the latest spectacular “probably because that’s where al-Qaeda has sufficient resources to carry out an attack on this scale. They don’t choose for the sake of it, they look to see where they have the greatest capability and then order an attack,” a counter-terror expert told The Times.

So why are we hearing about the potential attacks on subways, the LIRR, Amtrak. Seems the "experts" cannot agree on the "soft targets" versus "targets." Or is it just fear?

But who really is al-Qaeda?

Although an unknown group claimed responsibility last night, the taking of Western hostages and the deliberate seeking out of American and British citizens indicated a “typical al-Qaeda-style activity”, according to security sources. Other sources said India was the home of a complicated network of terrorists and it might be too early to jump to the conclusion that it was an al-Qaeda operation. “It seems to be a highly opportunistic attack,” one source said.
Rather than pointing the finger at one group or the other, shouldn't we focus on the root causes of the anger?

Now if we begin hearing that India is a hotbed of terror cells - is India the next target for drone missiles?

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Afghan 1,000 Year War?

Karzai Wishes He Could Shoot Down US Planes

But today the Afghan President took his complaints to a new level, publicly lamenting that he was unable to shoot down the US planes which have been bombarding Afghan villages. Karzai added that if he had a rock attached to a piece of string, he’d use it to try to down the planes, “but that’s not in my hands.”
Hitting out at the war on terror as “unclear,” Karzai criticized “a war which is unclear what it is for, and what we are doing.” Addressing the media after today’s meeting with NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer he called for a firm timeline for withdrawal, insisting “this war cannot be endless and forever and the Afghan nation cannot burn in a war of which the end is not clear,” and adding “we did not welcome the international community in Afghanistan so that our lives get worse.”
Karzai touches on a major issue - what really is our goal in Afghanistan. After 9-11 we heard that we must invade to rid the world of al-Qaeda/bin Laden. Then we shifted focus to Iraq. Now back to Afghanistan & Pakistan. But is it because of al-Qaeda, the Taliban, Shiites, radical muslims?

This lack of clarity has annoyed our own puppet Karzai. Let us step back and think what it (and our military presence) does to the common citizen who is just trying to survive day to day.

So many other invaders found their Afghan adventures fail (think Soviet Union). Shouldn't we be learn from history?

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Disappointing

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Officials: Obama asks Gates to stay at Pentagon
Seeking experience in a time of war, President-elect Barack Obama will keep Defense Secretary Robert Gates in that job — if only temporarily — and he has chosen a retired Marine general to be his national security adviser, officials said Tuesday. Gates and retired Gen. James Jones bring years of experience to the Cabinet of a 47-year-old commander in chief with a relatively thin foreign policy resume.
Obama, who rolled out the key components of his economic team this week, plans to announce his foreign policy braintrust after the Thanksgiving holiday.
Gates, who has served as President George W. Bush's defense chief for two years, will remain in the Cabinet for some time, probably a year, according to an official familiar with discussions between the two men. A Democratic official said Jones was Obama's pick to head the National Security Council, the part of the White House structure that deals with foreign policy.
The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because Obama has not authorized anybody to discuss the deliberations.
Along with the expected selection of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton to head the State Department, Obama's latest moves solidify a national security team with star power, but also strong centrist and establishment ties that run counter to his campaign calls for change and a speedy withdrawal from Iraq.
So it looks like we will be blogging and ranting about our wars for a long time. Definitely time for the streets it seems.

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Too high a price

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Hillary plays hardball

Before Hillary Clinton has been formally offered the job as Secretary of State, a purge of Barack Obama's top foreign policy team has begun. The advisers who helped trash the former First Lady's foreign policy credentials on the campaign trail are being brutally shunted aside, as the price of her accepting the job of being the public face of America to the world. In negotiations with Mr Obama this week before agreeing to take the job, she demanded and received assurances that she alone should appoint staff to the State Department. She also got assurances that she will have direct access to the President and will not have to go through his foreign policy advisers on the National Security Council, which is where many of her critics in the Obama team are expected to end up.
Her Iraq stand was troubling during the campaign. With this price, it may come back to bite us again.

Oh those pre-election hopes are slowing dimming as each Clintonite is announced.

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Circle jerk...

Saturday, November 22, 2008

CIA steps up drone hits on Pakistan
Strikes by Predator drones in recent months have been concentrated on the North and South Waziristan tribal agencies. Attacking targets well outside the tribal areas marks an escalation of the US assault.
Okay, I hear the calls: National Security, get the rats who perpetrated WTC.... But how many of the Five in North Wazirstan were involved?
US drones have struck again, this time hitting a house in North Waziristan, killing five and injuring at least six others. The attack consisted of two or three missiles and struck in a small village called Ali Khel. Among those reportedly killed was a British citizen named Rashid Rauf, who was arrested in Pakistan in 2006 in connection with the infamous “liquid explosives” plot in Britain. Some reports also suggest that an al-Qaeda operative was among the dead.
So everyone should cheer the report that this bastard was "droned". right... Pakistan Army Practices Shooting Drone Aircraft
Today, they successfully tested a short-range surface-to-air missile capable of downing the drones as part of a broader military exercise in central Punjab for the Army Air Defence.
Ah yes, the big Circle Jerk. We bomb you, you bomb us, we bomb you back... So what if a few friends or innocents are killed, or international laws broken. It's war (undeclared war but war)!

Time to outlaw war!

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Next Iraq War?

Latest Anti-Pact Protest Prompts Warnings of New Insurgency

Thousands of Shi’ites took to the streets of Baghdad today in the latest public expressing of opposition to the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) between the United States and Iraq, presently the subject of contentious (and occasionally violent) debate in Iraq’s parliament.
In one particularly dramatic moment, an effigy of President Bush was hoisted onto the parapet that was once the home of a Saddam Hussein statue infamously toppled in a scripted “spontaneous” action during the 2003 invasion. The crowd pelted the effigy with shoes and water bottles, before it tumbled into the crowd and was set ablaze.
But beside being one in a long series of anti-SOFA protests organized by influential Shi’ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, comments at the rally by Mahdi Army veterans may portend a return to a violent insurgency against the US occupation if and when the SOFA finally does get out of parliament.
Brings back the image of those shoes hitting the toppled statue of Saddam. Solution: Don't waste time on effigies, come and use your shoes on our own little despot.

Now for the threat... Solution: It is simple - We Leave Now!

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Iraq, Please Don't Sign!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

US Official: GIs to Leave if Iraq Won’t Sign Pact

The Iraqi parliament continues to debate the contentious Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) with the United States which would govern the operation of US forces in Iraq when the current UN mandate expires at the end of the year. Both the Iraqi and US governments had previously been reported to be exploring approaching the UN Security Council to extend the mandate if the SOFA was not agreed to in time. Now, the US seems to be taking that option entirely off the table, in a sign they are putting even more pressure on Iraq’s parliament to OK the SOFA as presently worded.

State Department adviser David Satterfield is quoted in the Iraqi press as saying the United States not only isn’t exploring an extension, they would reject the extension of the UN mandate and would withdraw all troops from Iraq if the Iraqis don’t approve the SOFA.

I don't believe Satterfield but wouldn't it be great if this is how it all ends? End of year present.

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Iraqis Decide Our Future

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Iraqi Cabinet approves security pact with US
Iraq's Cabinet on Sunday approved a security pact with the United States that will allow American forces to stay in Iraq for three years after their U.N. mandate expires at the end of the year, the government said.
But we want them out now. When do we citizens decide? In theory it is on election day, but the "war-hungry" always seem to win.

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Dirty diapers

Thursday, November 13, 2008

A great 'toon from John Waski.

So what do we do with those loads? How much detergent will get those diapers clean?

I wouldn't put those in my compost pile. Those stunk up the world - my little garden can't work with those.

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Say it ain't so O

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Obama Mulls Keeping Gates on Board
As Obama’s aides continue to try to stifle hopes for the radical policy changes that were a cornerstone of his sweeping electoral victory, the surest sign thus far that little is going to change after the January 20 inauguration is swirling reports that he may ask Secretary of Defense Robert Gates to remain in his position.
Clinton retreads, now Gates? Am I dreaming? If I am, it's starting to look like a nightmare.

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Sobering thoughts

Don't Let Barack Obama Break Your Heart

On the day that Americans turned out in near record numbers to vote, a record was set halfway around the world. In Afghanistan, a U.S. Air Force strike wiped out about 40 people in a wedding party. This represented at least the sixth wedding party eradicated by American air power in Afghanistan and Iraq since December 2001.

And while the new president turns to domestic matters, it's quite possible that significant parts of his foreign policy could be left to the oversight of Vice President Joe Biden who, in case anyone has forgotten, proposed a plan for Iraq back in 2007 so filled with imperial hubris that it still startles. In a Caesarian moment, he recommended that the U.S. -- not Iraqis -- functionally divide the country into three parts. Although he preferred to call it a "federal system," it was, for all intents and purposes, a de facto partition plan.

f Iraq remains a sorry tale of American destruction and dysfunction without, as yet, a discernable end in sight, Afghanistan may prove Iraq squared. And there, candidate Obama expressed no desire to wind the war down and withdraw American troops. Quite the opposite, during the election campaign he plunked hard for escalation, something our NATO allies are sure not to be too enthusiastic about.

Finally, President-elect Obama accepted the overall framework of a "Global War on Terror" during his presidential campaign.

What to do?
...pitch your own tent on the public commons and make some noise. Let him know that Washington's isn't the only consensus around, that Americans really do want our troops to come home, that we actually are looking for "change we can believe in," which would include a less weaponized, less imperial American world, based on a reinvigorated idea of defense, not aggression, and on the Constitution, not leftover Rumsfeld rules or a bogus Global War on Terror.

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End It!

Sunday, November 09, 2008

US Military Admits to Afghan Civilian Killings
While stressing their allegations of Taliban complicity in the deaths, the US military admitted yesterday that it had killed 37 civilians in an air strike on a wedding party in Kandahar Province early last week.
Tip of the iceberg.

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Let's convince Obama

Transforming Obama's Campaign into a Movement for Change

For the first time in history, Americans elected a former community organizer as their President. Barack Obama is going to need all those organizing skills to be an effective leader. To achieve a progressive agenda, Obama will have to win over some reluctant Democrats and a few moderate Republicans. Like Franklin Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan, Obama can use his bully pulpit to inspire and educate Americans to help move the country in a new direction. But like those two transformational presidents, Obama will also need to get the ground troops mobilized, in key states and Congressional districts, to put pressure on members who might otherwise sit on the fence.

Obama can learn valuable lessons from FDR, who recognized that his ability to push New Deal legislation through Congress depended on the pressure generated by protestors and organizers. He once told a group of activists who sought his support for legislation, "You've convinced me. Now go out and make me do it."

Let's hope the folks he is bringing in, or rumored to be bringing in, will not just try to bring about Clintonian-era policies (not a fan of all). Let's make sure we "make him do" the things he promised" end the wars, create a new foreign policy based on diplomacy, move to green us all...

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The Task Ahead

Thursday, November 06, 2008

The Transformational Moment - Progressive Democrats of America
Our job, now, will be to work with Obama, to transform the transformational man into a true progressive: to help him see that we will never have a workable health care policy until we remove the insurance companies from the equation; to remind him that another quagmire awaits us in Afghanistan, and to support his declarations that diplomacy can be more effective than military action; to convince him that no meaningful environmental policy can include any amount of nuclear or fossil fuel, no matter how "clean." As FDR's Works Projects Administration jump-started America out of the Depression, President Obama may find that a totally green Apollo-like project for energy may be the jobs program that saves our economy--and our planet.

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Fight on!

Cindy Sheehan: I Will Never Concede Defeat

We will still have to fight the establishment with everything we have.

This is not the time to give up and give in to the politics of blinding amounts of money shrouded in "hope."

On November 5th, we still have millions of people sleeping on our streets and without jobs and health care. We still have our troops mired in two unconscionable wars that Obama has not promised to end. Our economy is still on a very precarious footing and oil, the lifeblood of the elite, is running out. There are many people in this world, and yes, this country that are food insecure and the next resource wars may be over water.

There are still many "fights" and "races" ahead. Take a few days to celebrate, mourn, reflect and then jump back in with both feet into the struggle for peace and justice.

It is not the end - only the beginning. End the wars!

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The Work Ahead....

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

From Progressive Democrats of America

Now we have work to do, to assure the Obama administration listens to his "better angels" and adheres to his progressive record--and PDA will need your help in this effort.

“Our long national nightmare is over”--so declared Gerald Ford upon taking over the presidency after Richard Nixon's resignation (Nixon choosing that disgrace over imminent impeachment--there's a lesson there.)

Would that our current crisis be awakened from as easily.

But we ring in change and dare to hope.

At least we know, for the first time in eight years, the person on whom so much planetary security depends has a solid intellect. Former Secretary of State Colin Powell called Obama, "a transformational figure." We may need no less than that to address the challenges ahead. If tremendous damage has been done to America's reputation, tremendous healing may come from having as president a man who extolled the need to engage even with one's enemies, whose extraordinary, world-wide upbringing embodies the maxim “think globally, act locally," and will present a new face to a planet that has become wary of the nation which not long ago was its ideal.

PDA can have a huge role in what is to come. At this year's annual PDA conference, we were particularly struck to hear John Nichols, Washington correspondent for The Nation, describe Franklin Roosevelt's less-than-progressive roots, and the degree to which FDR was swayed by the great Fiorello La Guardia and other progressives. This should give us plenty of hope about what is possible in moving an entire administration.

Our job, now, will be to work with Obama, to transform the transformational man into a true progressive: to help him see that we will never have a workable health care policy until we remove the insurance companies from the equation; to remind him that another quagmire awaits us in Afghanistan, and to support his declarations that diplomacy can be more effective than military action; to convince him that no meaningful environmental policy can include any amount of nuclear or fossil fuel, no matter how "clean." As FDR's Works Projects Administration jump-started America out of the Depression, President Obama may find that a totally green Apollo-like project for energy may be the jobs program that saves our economy--and our planet.

Now the work must begin. Let us hope that his picks for cabinet and administration posts are the right ones. A few I have heard are not too encouraging, in my opinion. Time will tell, but we don't have too much time.

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The Palin Mob

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Imagine these guys running our nation.

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Looking back to 2005

A 'New' New Deal is an article from 2005 (post-Katrina).
The catastrophe, as many seem to grasp, is one of those big moments that jolt public consciousness and alter the course of national history. I would go further and describe it as an exclamation point that marks a dramatic breakdown for the reigning right-wing orthodoxy, the beginning of its retreat and eventual demise. This by no means insures the restoration of progressive alternatives, but events have at least reopened the argument conservatives thought they had won.

A profound political question is suddenly on the table: Must the country continue to give precedence to private financial gain and market determinism over human lives and broad public values? Or shall we now undertake a radical restoration on behalf of society and people? New Orleans, strange exception though it seems, is actually an extreme microcosm of the nation's general afflictions and social inequities. It's the place where reform politics can launch its long-deferred counteroffensive.

The conservative mindset is flummoxed by these tragic new circumstances. Republican ideologues acquired governing power by promising to liberate Americans from the government's intrusive powers, but they succeeded all too well. If "market forces" are allowed to design the recovery program, much of New Orleans and environs will be plowed up (think no-bid contracts for Halliburton and Bechtel) and reduced to a theme park for hot jazz, good restaurants and grubby jobs.

Newt Gingrich, always a reliable bellwether for the right-wing zeitgeist, is preaching that the right must change its tune "quickly" or face big losses. The old politics--provoking culture wars about "moral values"--will no longer suffice, he explained in a memo circulated among Republicans and the press. The new politics is about "performance," in which GOP government has to deliver. But while Gingrich's rhetoric is different, his ideas are the same old, same old. He urges George W. Bush to create a huge tax-free zone along the Gulf Coast where business enterprise will be subsidized and the oil industry relieved of meddlesome environmental regulation. The President's first noble gesture after the flood was to cut wages for construction workers on public projects.

More encouraging evidence of changed politics comes from the left. Some bold Democrats are doing what they haven't dared to do for many years, even decades: They are invoking their New Deal legacy and applying its liberal operating assumptions to the present crisis. In the totality of the Gulf Coast destruction, the economy and the society have been collapsed. As New Dealers understood, you cannot fix one without fixing the other. And only the federal government has the resources and authority to lead such a complex undertaking.

A New New Deal is what we need now. It has been invoked in this election - let us hope it becomes a reality.
This new ferment is only just beginning, but the crisis is young, and the hunger for big reform is rapidly gaining momentum. The media haven't paid much attention so far because the New Deal proposals probably sound like historic relics. But the aptness of the ideas--aggressive government intervention, integrated across many fronts--will become clearer to people if Democrats re-educate the electorate. That re-education can begin if progressives first provoke a big argument among Democrats themselves. What do they now believe about government's obligations to society? This is a good fight to have and, besides, intramural political spats are always newsworthy. This one will be substantive as well. Terrible events have handed Democrats the material for a strong and enduring governing agenda.

George Bush, meet "Dr. New Deal." Reactionary Republicans loathed FDR and sneered at his corny slogans, while he wickedly ridiculed them in return. The voters understood his spirit and forgave the mistakes. They laughed with him and loved him for caring.

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Admitting we are at war with Iran

This one clip should be all that is needed to keep her as far away from the Oval Office as possible. As a matter of fact, Alaska may even be too close.

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