The bitterness, the folly and the pain

Another day another conservative cover-up, Follow the Money — If You Can …

Remember that $9 billion that somehow got “lost” in Iraq? Boxes of cash were shipped from the Federal Reserve to Iraq, where a former Coalition Provisional Authority official testified that our guys were playing football with blocks of $100 bills and an investigator described the atmosphere as “a free-fraud zone.” The U.S. government was supposed to follow up on that somewhat dismaying discovery with an audit — but that has now been nixed by President George W. Bush, who recently issued a presidential “finding” that heads off an investigation at the pass:

Congressional Pay .vs. Federal Minimum Wage

– The current minimum wage of $5.15, is the lowest minimum wage since 1949 (In 2005 Dollars)
– The highest ever minimum wage was $8.85 /hr in 1968 (2005 dollars)
-In the 20 year period between 1961 and 1981, U.S. workers making minimum wage made an average of $7.76 / hr (2005 dollars). During the past 11 years, since the Republican “Contract with America” began, U.S. workers making the minimum wage made an average of $5.58 / hr (2005 dollars)

This is just a snip, there is quite a bit more with analysis and charts at the link.

Less Housing for Residents of Average Pay, Report Says

The number of New York City apartments considered affordable to hundreds of thousands of moderate-income households — with incomes like those of starting firefighters and police officers — plunged by 17 percent between 2002 and 2005, according to a new report by researchers at New York University.

The report, to be released today, for the first time puts hard numbers on a cost squeeze that has intensified with the real estate boom. The researchers found that the number of apartments affordable to households earning about $32,000 a year, or 80 percent of the median household income in the city, has dropped by 205,000 in just three years.

Senate Rejects Call for Iraq Withdrawal

House Republicans depicted the conflict in Iraq as part of a worldwide war against terror and "radical Islam."

This is a dangerous delusional narrative that conservatives continue to sell. The war in Iraq has done nothing to bring down the number of Islamic terrorists in the world. By continuing to make that argument conservative risk a majority of Americans putting the pieces together and realizing that if Iraq was the front of the so-called terror war and Bush couldn't win it in four years with America's vast military power that would mean that Bush is a total failure at fighting terror. There were no terrorist in Iraq before Bush invaded. They poured in after the invasion. The insurgents make up the bulk of the military opposition in Iraq. Conservatives can't decide who the enemy is so they've decided to create some monster that is just out there and if you're not yelling the sky is falling along with the stiff backed chorus you're against America,

"Many — but not all — on the other side of the aisle lack the will to win," said Representative Charlie Norwood, a Georgia Republican. "The American people need to know precisely who they are." He added, "It is time to stand up and vote. Is it Al Qaeda, or is it America?"

Why is he conflating the war in Iraq with Al-Qaeda. We know that Al-Qaeda came into Iraq after the invasion because Bush and Rummy didn't use enough troops to seal the borders, but even now they only make up a minority of the oppostion forces,

The numbers vary wildly and cannot be authenticated accurately but one point must be reiterated: the number of foreign militants represents a small percentage —

A related point is that the expansion of the American "war on terror," particularly the invasion and occupation of Iraq, radicalized a large segment of Iraqi society and Arab public opinion and played directly into the hands of Al Qaeda and other militants. "Our policies in the Middle East fuel Islamic resentment," U.S. Vice Admiral Lowell E. Jacoby, director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, told the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence in 2005.

This was written before Zarqawi's death and we've since heard about the documents that suggest that Al-Qeada feels that it is losing the battle in Iraq. Norwood, Bush and the conservative movement has created history's biggest cluster fuck: they merge Iraq and Al-Qaeda into one monster, instead of concentrating on Al-Qaeda they make a side trip into Iraq, they don't use enough troops to keep out foreign fighters, Al-Qaeda enters Iraq because of the invasion killing Americans and Iraqis, this further merges Iraq and Al-Qaeda into the psyche of America, we've destabilized the region, Al-Qaeda and affiliated groups are still thriving. If we are losing its not because a few Democrats have dared to shake their heads in disgust about how conservatives have turned bungled into an art form, its because conservatives have been a combination of incompetent, blind and arrogant. Where we had a problem with terrorism before, conservatives have magnified the problem by declaring war on an inflatable doll of terrorism; they keep blowing it up by way of a deep ineptitude making it bigger and bigger. Conservatives are clinging desperately to Iraq because that seems to be the only thing they understand. There are easily imagined sides with our troops on one side and everybody else on the other. Bush and conservatives have said that this is not like a conventional war and its not, but they keep trying to fight it as though it were. More then once over the last few years I've read Bush supporters on the far right sites talk about bombing Iraq into dust. We could do that and terrorism would still be out there. Its like saying that there are gangs in America and we decide that Detroit is the worse place for gangs and bomb Detroit into rubble, we'd still have gangs. Conservatives have taken this strange scatter shot approach to terrorism where what is needed is a plan that is more focused and effective. Sure some terrorists have been killed, but we're not getting the kind of return we should be getting considering the amount of lives and tax dollars that have been spent. (update from WaPo today, Terrorist Attacks Rose Sharply in 2005, State Dept. Says

The number of terrorist attacks worldwide increased nearly fourfold in 2005 to 11,111, with strikes in Iraq accounting for 30 percent of the total, according to statistics released by U.S. counterterrorism officials yesterday.

Although only half of the incidents resulted in loss of life, more than 14,600 noncombatants were killed, a majority of them in Iraq alone and 80 percent in the Near East and South Asia. American nonmilitary deaths totaled 56.

The figures were compiled by the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC) and released with the annual State Department Country Reports on Terrorism.

Unlike those of previous years, the 2005 report included a "strategic assessment" of the war on terrorism, which concluded that while "al-Qaeda is not the organization it was four years ago," the group was "adaptive and resilient . . . and important members of its core cadre remained alive and were adjusting to our operational tempo."

"Overall," the 262-page report said, "we are still in the first phase of a potentially long war. The enemy's proven ability to adapt means we will probably go through several more cycles of action/reaction before the war's outcome is no longer in doubt. It is likely that we will face a resilient enemy for years to come."

The assessment was somewhat more grim than those offered by the White House in recent months. Although the struggle against global terrorism is far from over, President Bush said in a February speech at the Naval Academy that "we're winning."

With 70% percent of terroists attacks outside of Iraq that would mean that Iraq has not turned out to be the flypaper that would occupy all the terrorists and that Iraq is hardly the "front" in the battle against terrorism.

His head is bowed. He thinks on men and kings.
Yea, when the sick world cries, how can he sleep?
Too many peasants fight, they know not why,
Too many homesteads in black terror weep.

The sins of all the war-lords burn his heart.
He sees the dreadnaughts scouring every main.
He carries on his shawl-wrapped shoulders now
The bitterness, the folly and the pain.

from Abraham Lincoln walks at Midnight by Vachel Lindsay