.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

 

Barhorst: These are people, not commodities to warehouse

.
I'm begining to believe that the men, women, and children dispossessed by Katrina are going to be placed into long term warehousing. Almost nothing is being done about placing them with volunteer families where they might have some semblance of normality.

Money is the word now-a-days -- not, caring for anything beyond bodily needs. I'll quote a definition of warehousing directly from the American Heritage Dictionary:

To institutionalize (people) in usually deficient housing and in conditions in which medical, educational, psychiatric, and social services are below par or absent: “has felt forced to warehouse hundreds of children in temporary shelters”

They say they're going to send the children to local schools. I say, "what's the point, if these children have to carry their homework or books into rooms holding 500, a 1,000, or even 10,000 other people?" Where will the children play? Playing is a serious part of growing up.

There has to be, at the very least, 300 families in Austin that will accept families with children into their homes. Just using an average of 2 children, that would be 600 children who can move from horror and herding to an environment that holds some semblance of normality.

I'm begining to get the message that this isn't going to happen because no one on high has given the order for it to happen -- that there is no political profit or photo ops out of families spread all over the place.

It was a wonderful experience to explain to my daughter what we were going to do, talking out her fears from the scenes she had seen on TV, and finally getting an enthusiastic acceptance. Now she is losing that acceptance in an honest skepticism that what I was telling her is real.

-Terry D. Barhorst Sr.
Moderator Lone_Star_Democrats


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AFP: US military finally arrives to help victims - Sept. 3

.
Belated US reliefThe US military
distributes water
and food to the
victims of Hurricane
Katrina.
 
As National Guard
troops finally waded
into flood and storm
stricken New Orleans,
the US military fended
off angry criticism
of its slow response
to the worst natural
disaster in US history.
 
(AFP/Pool/David J.Phillip)
 

Friday, September 02, 2005

 

Barhorst: Taking in a family

.
We offered to take in a Gulf Coast refugee family days ago. We haven't heard a word since. The TV says the refugee centers are full, but no one knows when the "adoptive" families will be "released." There are over a thousand families in Austin alone who are slowly spending the last of their money, even though the motels and hotels are giving "discounts."

The only word out of any officials has become a cliche--"we're going to take care of it as soon as we can."

-Terry D. Barhorst


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Spier: This head of fish stinks

.

Congressional Appropriations for Katrina Victims or Corporations?  The Head of This Fish Stinks

 

Bill SpierBy Bill Spier, Ph.D., left

 

Dennis Hastert may have provided a hint on how congressional appropriations for storm victims and re-building might be doled out over the long term.  As reported in the Baton Rouge Advocate,   “Hastert said in a transcript that the people of New Orleans would rebuild their city, but said "we ought to take a second look" at federal insurance and other federal aid involved.” Baton Rouge Advocate.   Since a $10 billion appropriation is a mere pittance of what will be required, most of us are asking: where will the money for adequate relief come from?  Of course, congressional Republicans will take credit for this first “generous” gift for relief. In reality though, their real attention will not be drawn away from the permanent $trillion plus giveaway to the rich soon scheduled for a vote.  Look for plenty of congressional news conferences as soon as the Republicans coalesce around safe harbor talking points.  Sacrifice, help the needy, rebuild, etc and new framing should soon air on Fox. 

 

But the head of this fish stinks and it cannot be buried. While Americans watch this tragedy unfold, Condie Rice goes shopping at Ferragamo. Republicans will send blame downstream to the states and victims regardless of what Mayor Ray Nagin says.  But his voice will be heard.  We will find out why all these people had to suffer and die.  And these questions will churn in millions of voter’s heads:

 

  1. Where is the billions needed for rebuilding going to come from?  (Print money, of course)
  2. Will this affect interest rates?
  3. Who is going to re-build and where are people going to be housed and schooled?
  4. Why was FEMA reduced to an ineffective agency?
  5. Can we afford to stay in Iraq any longer? 
  6. Congressman: have we spent $300 billion in Iraq for a lie.  I don’t remember, did you vote for going there?

The economic consequences of the storm should reverberate throughout the economy. Banks are holding mortgage notes on hundreds of thousands of destroyed properties.  People who have no place to go, and no jobs to go to will not pay mortgages.  Bankers, who always live on the side of a hill, will scream for relief-- as will the chemical industry, trucking and energy industries. (Trucking costs along the gulf coast and Florida will soar.) Tack $20 plus billion onto the relief aid for this bunch; you can bet they will get it.  Interest rates should rise up as government borrowing goes berserk.  Fortunately for those really affected, John Conyers and Sheila Jackson Lee will introduce legislation to give homeowners relief from the provisions of the new bankruptcy laws. (You remember that: only corporations can get way from bankruptcy).  They said yesterday,

 

“We are concerned that just as survivors of Hurricane Katrina are beginning to rebuild their lives, the new bankruptcy law will result in a further and unintended financial whammy. Unfortunately, the new law is likely to have the consequence of preventing devastated families from being able to obtain relief from massive and unexpected new financial obligations they are incurring and by forcing them to repay their debt with income they no longer have, but which is counted by the law.”

 

(Since recent growth in the economy is in the form of inflated housing costs, higher interest rates will slow this growth down.)

 

Bush will be asked over and over if this, the largest human and economic loss in a century, will impact on his Iraq adventure.  Anything he will say should result in an even angrier citizenry.  There is nothing he can say.  His mistakes and the cupidity of his legions have brought this nation to its knees.  He is a failed president.

 

Expect some really slick talk from congressional Republicans and duplicitous Democrats in days to come as they look for cover.  There is nothing they can say.   

 

-Bill Spier - New York


 

Moore: Vacation is over

.
Moore on book promoVacation is Over ... an open letter from Michael Moore (shown at right on book promo) to George W. Bush

Friday, September 2nd, 2005

Dear Mr. Bush:

Any idea where all our helicopters are? It's Day 5 of Hurricane Katrina and thousands remain stranded in New Orleans and need to be airlifted. Where on earth could you have misplaced all our military choppers? Do you need help finding them? I once lost my car in a Sears parking lot. Man, was that a drag.

Also, any idea where all our national guard soldiers are? We could really use them right now for the type of thing they signed up to do like helping with national disasters. How come they weren't there to begin with?

Last Thursday I was in south Florida and sat outside while the eye of Hurricane Katrina passed over my head. It was only a Category 1 then but it was pretty nasty. Eleven people died and, as of today, there were still homes without power. That night the weatherman said this storm was on its way to New Orleans. That was Thursday! Did anybody tell you? I know you didn't want to interrupt your vacation and I know how you don't like to get bad news. Plus, you had fundraisers to go to and mothers of dead soldiers to ignore and smear. You sure showed her!

I especially like how, the day after the hurricane, instead of flying to Louisiana, you flew to San Diego to party with your business peeps. Don't let people criticize you for this -- after all, the hurricane was over and what the heck could you do, put your finger in the dike?

And don't listen to those who, in the coming days, will reveal how you specifically reduced the Army Corps of Engineers' budget for New Orleans this summer for the third year in a row. You just tell them that even if you hadn't cut the money to fix those levees, there weren't going to be any Army engineers to fix them anyway because you had a much more important construction job for them -- BUILDING DEMOCRACY IN IRAQ!

On Day 3, when you finally left your vacation home, I have to say I was moved by how you had your Air Force One pilot descend from the clouds as you flew over New Orleans so you could catch a quick look of the disaster. Hey, I know you couldn't stop and grab a bullhorn and stand on some rubble and act like a commander in chief. Been there done that.

There will be those who will try to politicize this tragedy and try to use it against you. Just have your people keep pointing that out. Respond to nothing. Even those pesky scientists who predicted this would happen because the water in the Gulf of Mexico is getting hotter and hotter making a storm like this inevitable. Ignore them and all their global warming Chicken Littles. There is nothing unusual about a hurricane that was so wide it would be like having one F-4 tornado that stretched from New York to Cleveland.

No, Mr. Bush, you just stay the course. It's not your fault that 30 percent of New Orleans lives in poverty or that tens of thousands had no transportation to get out of town. C'mon, they're black! I mean, it's not like this happened to Kennebunkport. Can you imagine leaving white people on their roofs for five days? Don't make me laugh! Race has nothing -- NOTHING -- to do with this!

You hang in there, Mr. Bush. Just try to find a few of our Army helicopters and send them there. Pretend the people of New Orleans and the Gulf Coast are near Tikrit.

Yours,

Michael Moore
MMFlint@aol.com
www.MichaelMoore.com

P.S. That annoying mother, Cindy Sheehan, is no longer at your ranch. She and dozens of other relatives of the Iraqi War dead are now driving across the country, stopping in many cities along the way. Maybe you can catch up with them before they get to DC on September 21st.

Source:  Michael Moore's webpage.


 

Hancock: Sheehan's bus tour visits Little Rock

.
Kirsten HancockBy Kirsten Hancock, SD24 Committewoman, Texas Democratic Executive Committee, left
 
Little Rock, Sept. 2 - The Central Tour of Veterans for Peace rolled through Little Rock last night.  I took some Popeye's Chicken, & was particularly inspired by the fact that First Presbyterian Church opened their doors to feed & listen to these people.  There was an enormous representation of clergy & people of different faiths, as well as the Green Party Candidate for Governor.

This on top of the war zone in New Orleans & the hurricane victims starving to death in Mississippi & Louisiana has got to turn a few heads of the idiots who put Bush back in office.  Where's the National Guard?  Oh yeah, we sent all our spares to Iraq to
fight a war based on lies & stay the course (though we have no clue what the course is) and then, oh yeah, National Guard can't recruit people because they don't want to go to Iraq.

I am pleasantly surprised by talking heads like Joe Scarborough & Bill O'Reilly openly criticizing the government response to the catastrophe of Katrina as of tonight.  I can't believe the Astrodome is already full.  Where the hell are they going to take the other 200,000 people who still need out?  

We are on the verge of community revolution that is beginning on a local level.  I am happy & blessed to have my job (doing WalMart opposition research in Arkansas) where I feel like I am part of the solution to the disorganization that plagues our opportunity to instigate accountability & change.

Hope some folks from Texas are planning to make it to DC for the Peace March on Sept. 24.  I might be in Arkansas, but if I'm in DC, I'm sure going to be marching.  Enough is enough.  

-Kirsten
(submitted with Kirsten's permission by Dave Haigler, Abilene)

 

CNN: New Orleans awash in water, sewage, desperation & recriminations - Sept. 2

.
Friday, Posted: 9:13 a.m. EDT (13:13 GMT)


Daring rooftop rescues continue in New OrleansNew Orleans (CNN) - Daring rooftop rescues, right, continue in New Orleans.

President Bush told reporters on Friday that millions of tons of food and water are on the way to the people stranded in the wake of Hurricane Katrina -- but he said the results of the relief effort "are not acceptable."

"A lot of people are working hard to help those who've been affected, and I want to thank the people for their efforts," Bush said before leaving the White House for a tour of the devastated areas in Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana. "The results are not acceptable."

He is scheduled to take part in a briefing in Mobile, Alabama, before taking an aerial tour of that area and nearby Biloxi, Mississippi.

Bush then plans move on to view Louisiana hurricane damage from the air, flying over the city of New Orleans. He is scheduled to make a statement at the Louis Armstrong International Airport in New Orleans before returning to Washington Friday night.

Frustration, anger and despair pervaded New Orleans and the Gulf Coast as authorities promised help would arrive soon to thousands of people stranded without food, water or relief from the heat.

Mayor, Councilman & Governor (L-R)New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin (seen at left, flanked by Councilman Oliver Thomas and Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco), lashed out at state and federal officials saying they were "thinking small" in the face of the massive crisis.

Nagin said he needs military troops to provide security and 500 buses to take people stranded by Hurricane Katrina out of the city. (See video on the military response -- 2:40)

So far, he said, the promises are unfulfilled.

"I keep hearing that it's coming. This is coming. That is coming. My answer to that is B.S. Where is the beef?"

Nagin called for a moratorium on press conferences "until the resources are in this city."

"They're feeding the people a line of bull, and they are spinning and people are dying," he said. (Full story)

Thousands of people have been stranded at the Ernest Morial Convention Center with little help and surrounded by corpses, trash and human waste. (See video of the desperate conditions -- 1:56)

"They've more or less corralled us in two places: The convention center and the Superdome, with no food, no water, you could say almost 90-degree heat inside," said evacuee Alan Gould.

"We've got small children and sick and elderly people dying every day, small children being raped and killed, people running around with guns -- I'm scared for my life, my wife and my 5-year-old daughter's life. We don't even want to live here anymore."

Gould said he has been in the convention center for three days. "They keep telling us 'Buses coming, buses coming,' and nobody's showed up yet ... We need help. We need to be out of here today."

A National Guard helicopter began to drop food and water to the refugees Thursday afternoon.

PhotoFederal Emergency Management Director Michael Brown (seen second right in this photo Tuesday with Gov. Blanco, center, surrounded by, from left, Louisiana National Guard Major General Bennett Landreneau, U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La, FEMA director Mike Brown and U.S. Sen. David Vitter, R-La.) told CNN that federal officials were unaware of the crowds at the convention center until Thursday, despite the fact that city officials had been telling people for days to gather there. (D.H.: If he didn't know that until Thursday, what did they discuss at this photo-op on Tuesday -- hair and makeup?)

Overnight, police snipers were stationed on the roof of their precinct, trying to protect it from gunmen roaming through the city.

Police officers told CNN that some of their fellow officers had stopped showing up for duty, cutting manpower by 20 percent or more in some precincts. Before night fell, police were stopping anyone they saw on the street and warning them they were not safe from armed bands of young men.

Adding to the chaos, at least one explosion sparked a chemical fire about 4:35 a.m. (5:35 a.m. EDT). It initially was thought to have originated in the city's southwest district near Chartres Street, but was later determined to be across the Mississippi River in a building.

Video footage of the fire showed towering flames and huge clouds of smoke. Authorities were trying to get a hazardous materials team to the area, a police officer told CNN.

Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco told CNN Friday morning that she hoped the level of needed aid would begin arriving Friday.

"I think we're finally seeing the response," she said, adding that she hoped the remainder of New Orleans hospital patients would also be evacuated Friday.

"We have to get order so that we can proceed with the orderly progression, with getting people out of there, and that is our first order of the day," she said.

On Thursday she warned lawbreakers that extra troops had arrived in the city -- with more on the way.

"These are some of the 40,000 extra troops that I have demanded," Blanco said. "They have M-16s, and they're locked and loaded ... I have one message for these hoodlums: These troops know how to shoot and kill, and they are more than willing to do so if necessary, and I expect they will."

She told CNN Friday that "anybody needs to get food and water wherever they can find it," she said. "I'm not talking about people who are trying to get survival items. I'm talking about people who are threatening other people."

Blanco said she had ordered buses from all over New Orleans to report to the Superdome and the convention center to help transport those who sought shelter there. Shelters all over Louisiana are filling up, she noted, along with shelters in Texas and Arkansas.

Full CNN story.


 

Salon: politics and hurricanes

.
Hurricane Katrina determined to strike in U.S.

LimbaughRush Limbaugh, left, warned his listeners this week that "the left" would find a way to "politicize" Hurricane Katrina.

We wouldn't want to disappoint him, so here goes: Think Progress has dredged up a report showing that the Bush administration proposed to cut $71.2 million from the 2006 budget for the New Orleans district of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. According to the report, the cuts mean that "major hurricane and flood protection projects will not be awarded to local engineering firms," and that a study to find ways to protect the region from major hurricanes has been shelved.

How much is $71.2 million? Enough to fund about nine-and-a-half hours of war in Iraq.

Submitted by Alice Spier.

 

Reuters: Bush's funding cuts left New Orleans levees unrepaired

New Orleans unfunded broken levee.
A crane is seen near a broken levee in New Orleans, right, September 1, 2005.

Bush administration funding cuts forced federal engineers to delay improvements on the levees, floodgates and pumping stations that failed to protect New Orleans from Hurricane Katrina's floodwaters, agency documents showed on Thursday.

The former head of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the agency that handles the infrastructure of the nation's waterways, said the damage in New Orleans probably would have been much less extensive had flood-control efforts been fully funded over the years.

(David J. Phillip/Pool/Reuters)

 

AFP: Biloxi help

.
Biloxi helpPeople receive water
and ice yesterday at
a distribution point in
the wake of Hurricane
Katrina in Biloxi,
Mississippi. President
George W. Bush
prepared to tour areas
ravaged by Hurricane
Katrina and named
former presidents
George Bush and
Bill Clinton to head
private fundraising
efforts for the storm's
victims.

(AFP/Stan Honda)

Thursday, September 01, 2005

 

NYT Co: US Clout Seen to Weaken Amid Clash over Iraqi Constitution

.
Published on September 1, 2005 in The Boston Globe - by Farah Stockman

WASHINGTON -- The firestorm over the Iraqi constitution -- and whether it will be adopted over the objections of the Sunni minority -- has underscored just how little control the United States has now over the rapidly changing political events in Iraq.

''They still have great influence but they don't have meaningful control," said Anthony Cordesman, right, a former Defense Department analyst now at the Center for Strategic & International Studies. What power they once had to determine the outcome of negotiations, he said, is ''limited and it's diminishing."

US officials said yesterday that they are still hoping that the proposed Iraqi constitution will be amended to satisfy disgruntled Sunnis who have vowed to defeat it in an Oct. 15 referendum.

''It can and will change," said one Washington-based official closely following the developments who spoke on the condition of anonymity, pointing out that Sunnis have not yet walked away from the bargaining table.

But the Bush administration's attempts to shepherd the process have had mixed results at best. US officials pressed Iraqis to finish the constitution by Aug. 15, and hoped that the rollout would be a moment of celebration that would unify the country and highlight the political compromises made by all sides.

Instead, the debate over the constitution has polarized the country, at least in the short term, with many Shi'ites arguing for the need for their own semi-autonomous region in the oil-rich south, as the Kurds have in the north, and with many Sunnis fearing that federalism will herald the breakup of the Iraqi state.

The US government official said that one option for the administration now is to try to convince the Sunnis that they would also benefit from the new federalism in the constitution, perhaps by creating their own semi-autonomous area. Sunnis have worried that such an ethnic Sunni enclave would lack access to the oil resources in the north and south.

But he acknowledged that Americans have limited ability to shape what happens next, noting, ''We can say something . . . and then, 20 minutes later, it could go off in another direction."

The outcome of the constitutional debate will have huge consequences for the United States. For instance, if the constitution is adopted, its federalist arrangement could mean that Iraq will have powerful regional security forces and a weak national army, increasing the challenge of training and supporting Iraqi forces to enable a drawdown of US troops.

''The idea of a national army would virtually be dead," said Kenneth Katzman, a Middle East specialist for the Congressional Research Service, which provides analysis for members of Congress. ''De facto, the way federalism is likely to be implemented, which is that these three communities go their separate ways and cooperate to a limited extent . . . the idea of a national army would fall by the wayside."

Cordesman said that regional specialists already are worried that the Iraqi army is showing signs of ''Lebanonization" -- or fracturing along religious or ethnic lines as happened in Lebanon prior to that country's devastating civil war.

If the constitution is rejected outright next month, it will force Iraqis to start over from scratch and almost certainly delay any US exit.

''It would be tremendously costly to the Americans," said Daniel Serwer, vice president for peace and stability operations at the US Institute of Peace, a nonpartisan government organization. ''What's striking is how devastating it would be to the claim that things are moving ahead."

But if Iraqi Kurds and Shi'ites vote in favor of the constitution over the vociferous objections of many Sunnis, the outcome could be even worse, potentially leaving Sunnis feeling that joining the insurgency is the only way to make their voices heard, several specialists said yesterday.

For months, the Bush administration has been trying to coax Sunnis, who make up the backbone of the insurgency and held power under Saddam Hussein, to join the political process.

Last week, President Bush himself called Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, a Shi'ite cleric who represents the largest voting bloc in parliament, to ask him not to alienate the Sunnis who had raised concerns about the draft. But days later, Kurds and Shi'ites presented the draft to the assembly without Sunni endorsement, and are now hoping to defeat the Sunnis who publicly reject it.

Zalmay KhalilzadThe US ambassador to Iraq, Zalmay Khalilzad, left, an Afghan-American, is working ''around the clock" to try to broker a compromise, and has tried to convince Sunnis that federalism could be good for Sunnis, according to Qubad Talabani, the representative of the Kurdistan regional government in Washington.

''There have been informal efforts to try to educate certain members of the Sunni negotiating team as to the benefits of federalism," he said. ''Local government for them, a better equitable distribution of Iraq's wealth . . . rather than have everything centralized."

But he acknowledged that Sunnis had not expressed much interest in the idea.

Yesterday, State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said that federalism continues to be ''a topic of active debate among Iraqis, including the Sunnis," and that nothing prevented the Iraqis from opting to change the draft constitution before the October referendum to include any changes that Iraqis want to add.

McCormack underscored, as he has for the past two weeks, that this is an Iraqi process and Americans are not calling the shots.

''Ambassador Khalilzad is on the ground there, along with his team at Embassy Baghdad," McCormack said. ''We continue to remain engaged with all different Iraqi groups concerning the important political issues that are before them.


Source: Common Dreams Newsletter.

 

Haigler: Sheehan leaves few volunteers in Crawford

.
Crawford, Texas, Sept. 1 - Yesterday after Cindy Sheehan and most of her peace protestors left Crawford Peace House and Camp Casey 1 & 2 on Prairie Chapel Road near President Bush's ranch here, the scenes of the past three weeks' hordes of visitors are now quiet with few volunteers left.  The big tent on the Mattlage ranch called Camp Casey 2 was deserted lone lantern at Camp Casey 2last night except for one camper and a lone lantern, shown at right.
 
A few campers remained at Camp Casey 1, located on the side of the road -- which the media have been referring to as a ditch, at least those media who have not been there.  These campers were served with a notice to vacate yesterday by the county commissioners, and consulted a Texas bankruptcy attorney and a Louisiana civil rights attorney about the prospects of a civil-disobedience challenge.  Client confidentiality precluded reporting on what advice they got.  One of these campers was heard telling friends at the Peace House that the commissioner said, "Texas hospitality is wearing thin."  He also was overheard saying he had a call into Cindy Sheehan and her advisor, Ann Wright, and would defer to them about whether to abandon the campsite.
 
The scene at the Peace House was one of diligent attempts to clean up after the hordes of visitors, where the flies outnumbered the volunteers, yesterday and this morning.   Three large U-Haul trucks had been rented to retrieve all the equipment at Camp Casey 2.  The kitchen kitchen crewcrew, headed by Silvia Brandon, left, a university Spanish professor and poet from Pennsylvania, fed the hungry volunteers and staff.  Yesterday evening's recipe was a vegetable curry dish by Cristobel, right, a staffer who is from India.  Cooking was by an Abilene attorney, not pictured, who followed Cristobel's recipe to the letter, at least while she was watching. 
 
One of the more active volunteers was a man named Dickie from Alabama, who spoke a lot about Christ, the 7 commandments and reincarnation.  He didn't say which 3 were omitted. 
 
Rick Burnley & Bush cuckoo clockEntertaining poetry recitations were provided by Rick Burnley of Placitas, N.M., pictured to the right with his Bush cuckoo clock.  Rick said he had not worked for pay in over 40 years and had learned a simple lifestyle, keeping his spirit in line with karma.
 
Dove of peace at Peace HouseThe Crawford Peace House is a peaceful place, with the most aggressive activity being the shooing of flies.  A dove of peace, shown at left, graces the east side front of the house.
 
The house is located at 9142 E. 5th St., Crawford, Tx, and its phone number is (254) 486-0099.  It is a 501(c)(3) non-profit charity to which gifts are deductible.  It's email address is: crawfordpeacehouse@yahoo.com.

 

Barhorst: We are waiting too

We are waiting, too, but, we are comfortable and have plenty of food and water. We are waiting to get any information on the refugee family we have volunteered to take into our home.

Like those waiting on the Gulf Coast who aren't getting any reliable information, neither are we.

By their own count there are already 50,000 refugees in Houston, a couple hundred in Austin, and a few thousand in San Antonio. Each bus convoy is bringing in nearly 4000 to Houston. There are still 30,000 in the superdome and convention center in New Orleans alone.

That's 84,000 people who will not be going home soon. If they're screwed up by trauma now, think what there going to be like after being packed into refugee centers like the Astrodome. Think of the children and babies.

I told the gentleman taking names and telephone numbers we were set for long term.

I didn't mean a long term wait for a response.

Terry D. Barhorst Sr.


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Barhorst: "bad intelligence"

Why is it that people in the Bush administration, when speaking of the Gulf Coast, always speak in the future tense of relief and security and always mention that they're going to "get the looters" -- even if they're looting milk for a child.

Why can't the administration talking heads just admit they're slow in reacting and have screwed up constantly since? (Sort of like the situation in Iraq.) I wonder if they're going to blame this mess on "bad intelligence" from the meteorologists.

Terry D. Barhorst


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Reuters: Helicopter over Superdome - Sept. 1

.
Helicopter flies over stranded in New OrleansA helicopter flies
over residents
waiting to be
evacuated from
the Louisiana
Superdome in
New Orleans
September 1,
2005.

(David J. Phillip/
Pool/Reuters)

 

Barhorst: Morning Questions

.
1. Why are babies and old people dying in the Superdome and New Orleans convention center?
2. Why are parents having to become looters to feed their children?
3. Why can't the adminstration efficently move refugees from New Orleans and the rest of the Gulf coast when they can move thousands of troops across the world to Iraq?
4. Why haven't Navy ships arrived the off Gulf Coast with supplies, helicopters, medical care and vehicles such as the marine landing vehicles that are being used in the Iraq desert when they are built to operate in the amphibian enviroment of New orleans?
5. Why aren't there tent hospitals on the Gulf Coast?
6. Why are the poor being treated like trash to be ignored or disguarded unless they get angry or begin looting?
7. Why have the networks begun self-censoring their coverage of some of the horrors and death caused by the slow reaction of Bush's administration?
8. Why won't the administration admit that they've weakened the National Guard so much that there is no longer the capacity to meet a catastrophy like Katrina?
9. Why can't the administration provide basic communication or military communication centers for those on social services and security?
10. Why is Slidell being ignored?


-Terry D. Barhorst Sr.


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AFP: Disabled man waits on roof

.
Disabled man waits on roof for rescueA disabled resident waits
on a roof top to be rescued
from the floodwaters of
Hurricane Katrina in New
Orleans.

The US government,
under fire for the slow
rescue operation in New
Orleans, insisted help
was at hand for thousands
of stranded victims of the
catastrophe.

(AFP/POOL/David Phillip)

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

 

Barhorst: Tonights Questions.

.
1. Why did the tax cut and the Iraq war take precedence over repairing and renovating the water levies?
2. Why are preemies caused by Katrina dying in hospitals without utilites?
3. Why are people being shoved on buses with no plan but "temporary refuge" at the Houston Astrodome when they may not be able to leave for months?
4. Why are parishes north of New Orleans crying "Someone help us, you're dumping people on us and no supplies?"
5. Why are gulf coast towns such as Gulf Port and Biloxi saying, "Your water and food shipments are late, but welcome. Nevertheless what are we going to do for the year or so it's going to take to rebuild?"
6. Why, when you offer to take in a family already in a Texas motel, are you told that the social agencies would rather have cash?
7. Why shouldn't I believe that Bush wouldn't truthfully respond to Cindy Sheehan and he won't truthfully respond to Katrina?
8. Why doesn't Bush call for a halt in Labor Day travel, so resources needed on Gulf coast are available?
9. Why can't we say, "Let the Iraqis get their own act together," while we get our own people home to help the gulf coast?


-Terry D. Barhorst


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Reuters: Bush looks out AF-1 window

.
Bush looking out AF-1 windowU.S. President
George W. Bush
peers out the
cabin window of
Air Force One
as he surveys
the damage along
the Gulf Coast
states of Louisiana, Mississippi and
Alabama, August 31,
2005 after Hurrice Katrina hit.

(Mannie Garcia/Reuters)

D.H.: I hate to sound cynical, but unless he was flying at 300 feet or in a 90 degree bank, he wouldn't be able to see anything on the ground looking straight to his right out the window. Maybe this is his good side. And how much does Air Force One cost per hour to ride around for photo ops?

 

Barhorst: More Questions.

.
1. Why aren't there Navy helicopter carriers on the way?
2. Why aren't the Navy CBs putting in runways for fixed wheel aircraft anywhere there is dry land?
3. Why aren't marine landing vehicles being used to evacuate people?
4. Why are these "desperate times" and why isn't Bush explaining and apologising?
5. Why can't one of those runaway oil rigs be floated to the holes in the dikes and sunk as an infrastructure for sand and earth bags dropped by Air Force and Navy flying cranes?
6. Why aren't women with babies in their arms an automatic helicopter pickup?
7. Why isn't congress being called into emergency session to vote money and resources for the Gulf Coast?
8. Why did FEMA's "prior distribution of resources" fail so badly?

-Terry D. Barhorst


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Reuters: New Orleans flooding - Aug. 31

.
New Orleans floodingAn aerial view
of homes in
New Orleans
shows widespread
flooding after
Hurricane Katrina
struck in a photo
taken August 31,
2005.

(Marc Serota/Reuters)

 

Barhorst: Question that need an answer

.
1. Why can the administration spend millions of dollars a day in Iraq, but not enough to get food and water to the gulf coast without Bush saying the public must give the money?
2. Why are there enough National Guard Units to send to Iraq, but not enough to flood the Gulf Coast with security and rescue units?
3. Why did Bush stay on vacation instead of immediately going to the Gulf Coast?
4. Why are people starving and dying on the Gulf Coast?
5. Why can personnel be flown to Iraq every day, but people are not being flown out of the gulf coast?
6. Why can tent hospitals be flown to Iraq, but not to the Gulf Coast?
7. Why can tent cities be given to other countries when there are natural disasters, but not to the gulf coast?
8. Why isn't Bush capping gasoline prices so the expense of getting relief to the gulf coast isn't prohibitively expensive?
9. Why aren't hospitals being supplied with water and diesel (to keep electricity generators going and patients alive) by National guard helicopters?
10. Why the hell isn't Bush doing more than give speeches that tell us to give?

I'm sorry, I'm just too angry to think of more.


-Terry D. Barhorst Sr.
Moderator, Lone_Star_Democrats


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AP: Sheehan says Bush's refusal to meet galvanized peace movement

.

SheehanBy ANGELA K. BROWN, Associated Press Writer

CRAWFORD, Texas - Cindy Sheehan, left, hugs a tent pole as the camp breaks down near President Bush's ranch in Crawford, Texas, Tuesday, Aug. 30, 2005. Sheehan and her anti-war supporters are taking their protest on a cross country tour. (AP Photo/LM Otero)

A woman who led an anti-war protest for nearly a month near President Bush's ranch said Tuesday that she's glad Bush never showed up to discuss her son's death in Iraq, saying the president's absence "galvanized the peace movement."

The massive response has transformed her life, she said.

"I thought our country was going down, down, down. I thought nobody cared about our children killed in the war, but millions care, and millions care about our country and want to make it better," she said. "The love and support I've received give me hope that my life can someday be normal."

The protest also sparked counter rallies by Bush supporters who accused Sheehan of using her son's death to push the liberal agenda of groups supporting her. Critics also said the anti-war demonstration was hurting U.S. troop morale while boosting the Iraqi insurgency.

After leaving Crawford, protesters will spread their message on a three-week "Bring Them Home Now Tour" with stops in 25 states. Buses on three routes will meet in Washington, D.C., for a Sept. 24 anti-war march.

Sheehan will leave the tour next week to spend time with her family, including her mother who recently suffered a stroke, which caused Sheehan to miss a week of the protest. She plans to attend the march in the nation's capital, hoping to reunite with people who converged on the Texas roadside that came to be known as "Camp Casey."

"When I first started here, I was sitting in the ditch thinking, `What the heck did I do? Texas in August, the chiggers, fire ants, rattlesnakes, uncomfortable accommodations' — but I'm going to be sad leaving here," Sheehan said. "I hope people will say that the Camp Casey movement sparked a peace movement that ended the war in Iraq."

Full AP-Yahoo News story.


 

WWL-TV-New Orleans: More Updates as they come in on Katrina

.

06:27 AM CDT on Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Tom Planchet

6:27 A.M. - (AP) Conditions in New Orleans hospitals deteriorate. Click for story.

6:22 A.M. - (AP) No time to count the dead as rescue efforts Click for story.

Gov. Blanco6:20 A.M. - Governor Kathleen Babineaux Blanco, right: Estimated 20,000 people in dome and they will be dispersed around the state to rescue centers being set up. Situation 'unteneable' in Superdome.

6:13 A.M. - Governor Blanco: Essential personnel will stay in city, but general public needs to go. Logistical nightmare to bring in food and water.

6:11 A.M. - Governor Blanco: We have found places around the state to house the refugees, we just need to get them out.

6:10 A.M. - (AP) -- Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman says the Bush administration will release oil from petroleum reserves to help refiners affected by Hurricane Katrina.

5:55 A.M. GOVERNOR BLANCO: Stopping the looting is important, but saving lives a higher priority right now. Not sure where looters think they are taking the stuff since city may soon be under water.

Source:  WWL-TV blog.


 

Abilene Democrats Book Club meets, discusses Lakoff book

.
Abilene, Texas, Aug. 31 - Taylor County Democratic Book Club met last night to discuss George Lakoff's seminal book, Don't Think of an Elephant. 
 
Stan & Alice listen to RogerClub President Roger Spier, M.D., chaired the meeting and led the discussion, as member and precinct chair Stan Treanor, left, a math teacher in Merkel, looked on.
 
The progressive Rockridge Institute says this book is the essential guide for progressives, the antidote to the last forty years of conservative dominance of the national public policy debate.
 
Author George Lakoff explains how conservatives think, and how to counter their arguments. He outlines in detail the traditional American values that progressives hold, but are often unable to articulate. Lakoff also breaks down the ways in which conservatives have framed the issues, and provides examples of how progressives can reframe them.
 
Lakoff's years of research and work with leading activists and policy makers have been distilled into this essential guide, which shows progressives how to think in terms of values instead of programs, and why people support policies which align with their values and identities, but which often run counter to their best interests.
 
The meeting was held at Mezamiz, and attended by 17 local Democrats.  Stan Treanor asked how he could answer his Republican buddies at the coffee shop who say liberal Democrats don't have values.  Roger Spier said, "Read the book."
 
Club members debated at length how best to articulate Democratic Party values.  John Pettit complained that Republican Party policies squeeze out the middle class economically.  Stan Treanor asked how to stop the outsourcing of jobs.  Allen Glenn said American companies cannot afford to pay their workers' medical costs.  Roger Spier said we need a single-payer medical care system.  Treanor said the Republicans won't fund education.  County Chair Dave Haigler said we never will until we face the need for a state income tax.  Allen Glenn said it would be simple if figured as a percentage of our federal income taxes.
 
Haigler pointed out that that kind of debate is the very thing Lakoff's book says defeats Democrats -- endless discussion but no cohesive theme. But Haigler critiqued the book for making its major premise a vague moral abstraction -- that progressives follow a nurturing model, while conservatives follow a strong-male model -- instead of something personal and practical, like having a gay or lesbian family member and not wanting them to be discriminated against.   
 
Members Jim & Jewel Halford sported their new T-Shirts from Texas Democratic Women saying "Had enough?  West Texans vote Democratic." 
 
All were invited to the Democratic Club's executive committee meeting Sept. 6 at the party headquarters at 453 Pine Street, and to participate in the party's booth at the county fair Sept. 9-11. 
 
The next book club meeting will be Sept. 27 and the book to be discussed is What Would Jefferson Do, by Thom Hartmann.  The club was invited to meet then at the Center for Contemporary Arts.
 
-Submitted by Dave Haigler, http://demlog.blogspot.com

 

AFP: Global arms-control system has mixed success

.
Nuke plant workers in IranTwo Iranians, right, work at the zirconium production plant, part of the nuclear facilities (UCF) in Isfahan, 295 km from Tehran.
 
International arms-control systems have produced only mixed results, with success toward disarming Libya shadowed by dangerous weapons programs in North Korea and Iran, the US State Department said.
 
(AFP/File/Henghameh Fahimi)

 

Reuters: Bush speaks to sailors on V-J Day commemoration

.
BushU.S. President George W. Bush waves to the crowd.
 
Bush spoke during a ceremony to commemorate the 60th anniversary of V-J Day at the Naval Air Station in San Diego, California August 30, 2005.
 
(Jeff Mitchell/Reuters)

 

WWL-TV blog: Updates as they come in on Katrina

.
12:19 AM CDT on Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Tom Planchet

12:17 A.M. - Emergency search and rescue phone lines for those in distress: (225) 925-7708 | (225) 925-7709 | (225) 925-3511 | (225) 925-7412

To inquire about those in the area who did not evacuate: American Red Cross, (866) 438-4636.

12:12 A.M. - Info on parish and road access - Click here for WWL-TV's latest blog.


 

Slate-Papers: Katrina aftermath - Aug. 31

.
By Eric Umansky - Posted Wednesday, at 3:43 AM CT

All U.S. newspapers today lead with the unfolding disaster in New Orleans, where two levees were breached, there was major looting and a few reports of looters in New Orleans WalMartgunfire; the picture at right shows looters at an un-staffed New Orleans Wal-Mart; the mayor guesstimated that 80 percent of the city is under water. Louisiana's governor said everybody still in the city should leave - nobody is sure how that's going to happen. There are at least 10,000 people in the Superdome and about waist-high water outside it. Early yesterday, a New York Times reporter stopped to interview a top city official who responded, "Get out. I mean it." The city government itself has moved its HQ to Baton Rouge for now.

The casualty count is also rising quickly in Mississippi's Harrison County. The Washington Post says there are now "more than 100" confirmed dead. "We are very, very worried that the figures will go much higher," said one local official. "The death toll rises each time we go out." Knight Ridder says that during the height of the storm in Harrison, "35 people swam out of their emergency operations center with life jackets on." ''We haven't heard from them,'' said an emergency services manager.

The NYT and WP both front reports from Biloxi, where police were short of everything, including gas. "We need a ton of help. We could use National Guard units," said one officer. There's also extensive damage in Alabama, though only two reported deaths.

The Army Corps of Engineers is trying to plug the biggest levee break, but - there are conflicting reports - either the first attempt wasn't successful or there was a communications breakdown and authorities haven't tried. The mayor said if the holes aren't patched, the water will keep rising until this morning, at which point they'll be level with Lake Pontchartrain. The most up-to-date info is coming from a blog set up by local TV station WWL. The station also has a feed of its live coverage. Last night, a city official told the station that the water is subsiding in a few neighborhoods, a point the NYT briefly echoes.

Everybody covers the city's hospitals effectively shutting down. "We are in absolute complete darkness," said the administrator of one major hospital that lost its backup power. Choppers were picking up critical patients, but it's slow going since even the helipad has no lights. The Pentagon announced that it's sending five ships to help with relief efforts, including a hospital ship.

The NYT plays up the possibility of an outbreak. But the Post plays it down, calling epidemics of cholera and typhoid "impossible because the microbes are not present in the population."

Everybody notes that gas futures jumped 20 percent yesterday. Katrina was "not so much a straw," said one analyst, "but rather a large log on top of an already fully laden camel." It's still unclear how much damage refineries took. But with the going rate for gas futures, said another analyst. "We already have built into this market retail prices of more than $3 a gallon, that's a certainty. The question is how quickly we get there and how long they stay there."

In other news...

Five current and former top Lebanese officials were detained by Lebanese police - at the behest of U.N. investigators - in connection with the assassination of former president Rafik Hariri.

The Post got ahold of draft federal regulations that would, according to the WP, allow power plants to pollute more. The proposed position is the opposite of the one taken by federal lawyers in a series of current lawsuits originally initiated by the Clinton administration.

Everybody notes new census figures showing the percentage of the population living below the official poverty line inching up a bit again and household income stagnated for another year. The NYT calls it the "first time on record" that household incomes failed to increase for five years in a row.

Eric Umansky (www.ericumansky.com) writes "Today's Papers" for Slate. He can be reached at todayspapers@slate.com. Full Slate Magazine story.


 

NYT: U.S. Poverty Rate Was Up Last Year - Aug. 31

.

WASHINGTON - Even as the economy grew, incomes stagnated last year and the poverty rate rose, the Census Bureau reported Tuesday. It was the first time on record that household incomes failed to increase for five straight years.

Jack Reed"The growth in the economy is not going to families," said Senator Jack Reed, left, Democrat of Rhode Island. "It's in stark contrast to what happened during the Clinton administration."

The portion of Americans without health insurance remained roughly steady at 16 percent, the bureau said. A smaller percentage of people were covered by their employers, but two big government programs, Medicaid and military insurance, grew.

The census's annual report card on the nation's economic well-being showed that a four-year-old expansion had still not done much to benefit many households. Median pretax income, $44,389, was at its lowest point since 1997, after inflation.

Though the reasons are not wholly clear, economists say technology and global trade appear to be holding down pay for many workers. The rising cost of health care benefits has also eaten into pay increases.

After the report's release, Bush administration officials said that the job market had continued to improve since the end of 2004 and that they hoped incomes were now rising and poverty was falling. The poverty rate "is the last, lonely trailing indicator of the business cycle," said Elizabeth Anderson, chief of staff in the economics and statistics administration of the Commerce Department.

The census numbers also do not reflect the tax cuts passed in President Bush's first term, which have lifted the take-home pay of most families.

But the biggest tax cuts went to high-income families already getting raises, Democrats said Tuesday. The report, they added, showed that the cuts had failed to stimulate the economy as the White House had promised.

The main theme of the census report seemed to be the lingering weakness in compensation and benefits, even as the ranks of the unemployed have dwindled. Fewer people are getting health insurance from their employers or from policies of family members, while raises have generally trailed inflation.

Last year, households kept income from falling by working more hours than they did in 2003, the data showed. The median pay of full-time male workers declined more than 2 percent in 2004, to $40,800; for women, the median dropped 1 percent, to $31,200. When some people switch to full-time work from part-time, they can keep household incomes from dropping even when the pay of individual workers is declining.

"It looks like the gains from the recovery haven't really filtered down," said Phillip L. Swagel, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative research group in Washington. "The gains have gone to owners of capital and not to workers."

There has always been a lag between the end of a recession and the resumption of raises, Mr. Swagel added, but the length of this lag has been confounding.

In addition, the poverty rate rose last year for working-age people, those ages 18 to 64. The portion of people age 65 and older in poverty fell, while child poverty was essentially flat.

Over all, the poverty rate increased to 12.7 percent, from 12.5 percent in 2003. Poverty levels have changed only modestly in the last three decades, rising in the 1980's and falling in the 1990's, after having dropped sharply in the 1960's. They reached a low of 11.1 percent in 1973, from more than 22 percent in 1960.

In the same three decades that poverty has remained fairly steady, median incomes have grown significantly, lifting living standards for most families. After adjusting for inflation, the income of the median household, the one making more than half of all others and less than half of the rest, earns almost one-third more now than it did in the late 1960's.

But income inequality has also risen in that time and was near all-time highs last year, the bureau reported. The census numbers do not include gains from stock holdings, which would further increase inequality.

In New York, the poverty rate rose last year to 20.3 percent, from 19 percent, making it the only city of more than one million people with a significant change. The reason for the increase was not obvious.

Among populous counties, the Bronx had the fourth-highest poverty rate in the nation, trailing three counties on the Texas-Mexico border.

Source:  NY Times.


Tuesday, August 30, 2005

 

Lacey & Lopachin smooze with Rhodes at Crawford

.
Crawford, Texas - Air America talk-radio host Randi Rhodes interviewed Abilene Randi Rhodes with Pierce & TaraDemocrats Tara Lacey & Pierce Lopachin, right, on their recent visit to Camp Casey 2 in Crawford, Texas, near President Bush's Prairie Chapel Ranch.

Lopachin said, "I can't believe she actually put this picture on her website."

She did indeed.

D.H.: Wipe that silly grin off your face, Pierce!

 

WashPost: Slight Majority Say Bush Should Meet With Sheehan

.
 
By Richard Morin - Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, August 30, 2005; 7:00 AM

Sheehan receiving Native American warrior awardSlightly more than half of the country says President Bush should meet with Cindy Sheehan (left, shown crying as Anishinabi elder Dennis Banks of the American Indian Movement puts gold stars on her warrior shawls presented to her at Camp Casey 2 yesterday), the mother of a soldier killed last year in Iraq, who is leading a protest against the war outside Bush's ranch in Crawford, Tex., according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.

The survey found that 52 percent of the public says Bush should talk to Sheehan, who has repeatedly asked for a meeting with the president, while 46 percent said he should not. Fifty-three percent support what she is doing while 42 percent oppose her actions, according to the poll.

Like the war and Bush's overall handling of the situation in Iraq, attitudes toward Sheehan divide along sharply partisan lines. Seven in 10 Democrats say they support Sheehan's position on Iraq while an equal proportion of Republicans oppose her.

In the three weeks since she began her protest, Sheehan has quickly become the most visible symbol of the anti-war movement. Fully three in four Americans say they have read or heard about Sheehan and her protest.

The survey also suggests, however, that Sheehan's anti-war vigil has failed to mobilize large numbers of Americans against the war. If anything, her opposition has done as much to drive up support for the war as ignite opponents, the survey found.

Eight in 10 Americans--including overwhelming majorities of Democrats, Republicans and political independents--say Sheehan's protest has had no impact on their attitudes toward Iraq. While one in 10 say she has made them less likely to support the war, the same proportion say she has made them more likely to back the conflict.

A total of 1,006 randomly selected adults were interviewed by telephone Aug. 25 through 28 for this national survey. The margin of sampling error for the overall results is plus or minus 3 percentage points.

Chief DittoheadFull story:  Washington Post.  D.H.:  The take of Rush Limbaugh, right, at 12:10 CDT on his Aug. 30 radio show, related to the 80% on each side who remain unchanged in their views, is to quote that part alone and say 79% of Americans remain unmoved by her protest, implying 79% disagree with her.  He did not mention that 52% think Bush should meet with her and 53% support her.  Mr. Morality, Truth & Just Say No to Drugs did it again. 


 

Letters from 2 Vietnam veterans

.
Dave CollinsBy Dave Collins, left

Folks,

For those who believe that public opposition to the war at home undermines the morale of troops in combat, here is a point of view from someone who knows what he is talking about. For the record, many I served with in Viet Nam were angry about the protests in the US (in no small part because we were demonized in the process), but they were not demoralized by it. They, like those of us who thought as the writer of this letter does, were demoralized by incompetent, careerist leaders, a lack of rational strategy and politicians who play the game for their benefit with our lives. THAT was demoralizing.

Please pass this along, particularly to those who, without benefit of war time experience, claim that protesting the war demoralizes the troops.

Honor the warrior, not the war
Bring our troops home, now
Take care of them we they get home

-
Dave Collins
Austin contact, Viet Nam Veterans Against the War

http://www.lodinews.com/articles/2005/08/29/opinion/ltr_neely_050829.txt


Support our troops by keeping them out of war
By George Neely

I am a retired Army captain. I fought in Vietnam with the 196th Light Infantry Brigade. In Vietnam, I walked the jungle carrying an M-16. I know about anti-war protest, as I grew up in California during the 1960s.

Some people think that because someone does not support the war, that they do not support our troops. That is just not reality. There might be some soldiers who believe that protest equals lack of support, but the vast majority that I served with knew protesters were trying to end the madness.

Yes, we went over there, and yes, we fought the war, but almost none of us wanted to be there. But we stayed there and we fought, because that is what soldiers do.

Thank God that while we were there doing that, some brave people back here had the courage to stand up to say that war was wrong.

Thank God they were brave enough to act on their convictions and stand up to a government that had lied to us.

I applaud you! Maybe you could have treated me a little better when I got back, but that's another letter.

However, I do find incredibly offensive those who have never fought a war, never fired a shot at another human being, never been shot at or hunted, or never had to listen as a good friend screams in agony, sending or supporting the sending of our brave soldiers to war for lies.

Look at the facts. There were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. There were no connections with the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. There were no reasons to go to war. You should be outraged.


You want to support our troops?

Keep them out of war and get rid of those who would put them in harm's way, unless absolutely necessary.

Maybe we can't leave Iraq immediately because of the mess we created, but we should get rid of those responsible for the current situation.

God bless our troops. I do not support the war, but I do support you.

-George Neely
Lodi
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