Archive for January, 2009

Iraq voting ends, ‘no security breaches’

January 31, 2009


A man shows his election ink stained finger after voting in Sinjar, 390 km (240 miles) northwest of Baghdad, January 31, 2009. Iraqis held their most peaceful election since the fall of Saddam Hussein on Saturday, and voting for provincial councils ended without a single major attack reported anywhere in the country. REUTERS/Erik de Castro (IRAQ)


A resident shows her ink-stained finger to the media after voting in a polling station in Baghdad on Jan. 31, 2009. Iraqis voted behind barbed wire and rings of police on Saturday in an election that tested the war-battered country’s fragile security gains and which may ease lingering sectarian resentment still fuelling violence. Photograph by: Thaier Al-Sudani/Reuters, Reuters

Iraqis held their most peaceful election since the fall of Saddam Hussein on Saturday, and voting for provincial councils ended without a single major attack reported anywhere in the country.

“No security breaches took place during the election. Things went as we planned and as we hoped,” Defence Ministry spokesman Major General Mohammed al-Askary said.

“I consider it a great success, like a wedding.”


Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki is looking to use the election to build his own power base in the provinces before national polls later this year. Thanks to George W. Bush. No thanks to Obama.

From AssociatedPress

Iraqis vote in provincial elections under tight security. The vote is seen as a test for the nation’s stability as the U.S. weighs dialing down its troop presence here. (Jan. 31)


Víctor Jara

January 30, 2009


Víctor Jara

La Población is a music album recorded by Víctor Jara and released in 1972.

It was recorded in homage of the struggle of people living in the poorest working class districts of Santiago de Chile, sometimes referred to as “shanty towns”.

The album included the collaborative work between Jara and the Chilean writer Alejandro Sieveking.

The other artists included on the album were, Isabel Parra (on the opening track, “Lo único que tengo”), Bélgica Castro, Huamarí, and Cantamaranto .

  1. “Lo único que tengo” (The only thing I own)
  2. “En el río Mapocho” (In the Mapocho River)
  3. “Luchín”
  4. “La toma – 16 marzo 1967” (The takeover – 16 March 1967)
  5. “La carpa de las coligüillas” (The tent of the local hookers)
  6. “El hombre es un creador” (Man is a creator)
  7. “Herminda de la Victoria” (Hermindra of Victory) (Alejandro Sieveking, Jara)
  8. “Sacando pecho y brazo” (Rolling up your sleeves)
  9. “Marcha de los pobladores” (March of the town folk)

His death

On the morning of September 12, Jara was taken, along with thousands of others, as a prisoner to the Chile Stadium (renamed the Estadio Víctor Jara in September 2003). In the hours and days that followed, many of those detained in the stadium were tortured and killed there by the military forces. Jara was repeatedly beaten and tortured; the bones in his hands were broken as were his ribs.

Fellow political prisoners have testified that his captors mockingly suggested that he play guitar for them as he lay on the ground. Defiantly, he sang part of a song supporting the Popular Unity coalition. After further beatings, he was machine-gunned on September 15 and his body dumped on a road on the outskirts of Santiago, and then taken to a city morgue.

From Straccio

Closing credits of the East German film “El Cantor”(1977) directed by Dean Reed.The film is dedicated to the well-known Chilean singer Victor Jara who was killed during the military coup in 1973.

“Vaterunser An Einen Bauern”/”Plagaria A Un Labrador”

Victor Jara’s song, German lyrics: Gisela Steineckert


Do we need another “Gang of 14″ solution?

January 30, 2009


The “Gang of 14” announced a deal in May 2005 to avert a Senate crisis over judicial filibusters.

History Lesson

The “Gang of 14” compromise in 2006 displeased many conservatives. Republicans controlled both houses of Congress at the time, and those involved in the compromise group agreed to take some of the party’s power options off the table in exchange for Democratic promises not to filibuster Bush’s judicial nominees except under “extreme circumstances.”

John McCain Answers Tough Question on Gang of 14

(This entry was posted on Monday, November 12th, 2007.)

Tough Question from Mike’s America

Q. Following Senator McCain’s remarks he invited questions from the group. I introduced my question by saying: “Many conservatives in South Carolina were disappointed because you and Senator Graham (McCain’s SC Co-Chairman) 1. participated in the “Gang of 14″ to block the “nuclear option” and break the filibuster of President Bush’s judicial nominees, 2. highlighted the “torture” of terrorist detainees weeks before the 2006 election and 3. Your previous stand on immigration.” I also mentioned that many conservatives felt that they “could not trust” Senator McCain and I asked: “What can you say to them so they give your campaign another look?”

His answer was direct and clear:

“If you don’t agree with the “Gang of 14″ solution then I am not your candidate and you should vote for someone else.”

Senator McCain went on to highlight the fact that under the Gang of 14 solution, the Senate did confirm conservative judges like Alito and Roberts.

He went to say “I shudder to think what would happen if we had pulled the trigger on the nuclear option and one day Hillary Clinton was appointing judges.”

He asked me: “would your blogging friends still want to blow up the Senate” if Hillary Clinton was in charge? If so, I am not their candidate!

Senate ‘Gang of 14’ may pounce on stimulus bill

Fox News has this story about how Senate Republicans and some Democrats met this morning to seek common ground on how they can improve the $819 billion economic stimulus bill.

According to the story, the lawmakers aren’t happy that the bill, passed by the House on Wednesday, contains billions of dollars for programs that arguably won’t spark much job growth.

They met in the office of Sen. Ben Nelson, D-Neb., a moderate Democrat who has brought his colleagues together in the past on the issues of judicial appointments and energy policy.

Nelson famously gathered Republicans and Democrats in a so-called “Gang of 14” to avert a shutdown of the Senate over judicial nominations and is aiming for similar bipartisanship in the stimulus debate, Fox News reports.

Ben Nelson

One item that likely will be discussed is an amendment that would add billions of dollars to infrastructure projects. Nelson is crafting that measure with Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash, and Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif, both on the Appropriations Committee.

And Nelson doesn’t want to stop there. He wants to pluck out what he says are extraneous projects in the stimulus bill to pay for the amendment. Providing hundreds of millions of dollars for prevention of smoking and sexually-transmitted disease — though they may be worthy causes — does not create jobs. Nelson even is willing to remove popular Pell Grant increases, saving them for annual spending bills later in the year.

“We need to sit down and see who owns these projects,” Nelson said, and see if they can be removed from the bill. “We need to keep (the bill’s cost in check) and see if we cant change around what’s underneath that to create more jobs.”


Politically I am a centrist, and when I see moderates from both sides of the aisle coming together and attempting to reach some sort of a compromise, I generally see that as a good thing.

Given that Democrats did win and control both houses and the White House, perhaps a “Gang of 14” solution is the best we can hope for.

From thinkprogress

Asked on Fox News today if he knew “of any Republicans on the Senate side that will vote yes” on the stimulus plan “as it stands,” Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NE) said he didn’t “even know how many Democrats will vote for it as it stands today. “A lot of my colleagues are not decided,” said Nelson. “They’re undecided on the bill as it is right now.”

Ride The Wind

January 29, 2009


Ride The Wind











letting go

RIDE THE WIND hear it whisper low



And ride the wind

The Silence

Listen to the silence,
Hear it whisper low,
Feel it all around you,
See it softly glow,

Taste its sweetest moment,
Devour its tender kiss,
Bathe in all its glory,
Wallow in its bliss,

Touch it like a tendril,
Greet it with a sigh,
Listen to the silence,
As it gently passes by.

Linda Harnett


GOP defies Obama overtures By: Mike Allen and Jonathan Martin

January 29, 2009


Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY) Photo credit: John Shinkle


And later today, MoveOn, Americans United for Change, AFSCME and SEIU will be announcing a new ad campaign targeting moderate Republican senators who might support the stimulus — Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe of Maine, Judd Gregg of New Hampshire, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Charles Grassley of Iowa.

The ad, which will run in the Washington market and in those states, consists of clips of the president talking about the stimulus, followed by the male voiceover, “Tell Congress to support the Obama plan for jobs, not the failed policies of the past.”

Letters on the screen say: “Tell Congress to support the Obama Plan.” The president met privately with House Republicans at the Capitol, Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel had a private White House dinner for House GOP moderates, and the President had members of both parties and both chambers over for cocktails last night.

But they did not peel off a single Republican.

“The Fed Is Doing Its Job, Though I Can’t Say as Much for Washington[Larry Kudlow]


I’m not even gonna mention the goofy stimulus package in Congress, because it’s not gonna stimulate much of anything except a zillion Democratic political-interest groups. This package is completely porked up with massive social spending and other political targets — none of which will create any jobs or growth. It’s just a massive resource transfer.

And the infrastructure bailout turns out to be vastly smaller than originally advertised. In the 1950s, Ike launched a $550 billion highway-building plan. Today’s stimulus package has $30 billion in highway-related projects, and perhaps another $40 billion way down the road for broadband and electric-grid-type developments.

The public expected an infrastructure build-out that actually made some sense. That’s not what they’re getting. And if Republicans keep hammering away at this they are going to make important political points and slow down the Obama train.

In the meantime, the Fed is doing its job. So is the big energy tax cut. As free-market indicators suggest, the economy may well be healing faster than Washington can cobble together the most unmanageable fiscal activity anyone has ever seen.

“Senate GOP unlikely to vote for President Obama’s stimulus bill”

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell blasted President Barack Obama’s Recovery and Reinvestment plan on Capitol Hill this morning.  The highest ranking Senate Republican says Obama needs to go back to his original plan to offer “40-percent tax relief, no wasteful spending and a bipartisan approach” to get McConnell’s support.

McConnell says the economy is the top issue on the mind of all Americans.  Just this week several company’s such as Starbucks and GM announced more job cuts and the unemployment rate reached an all time high of more than four million. Republican leaders say Obama’s Recovery and Reinvestment plan will not strengthen the economy or create jobs in it’s current form.


Rush Limbaugh talks to Republican Congressman Eric Cantor from Virginia about Stimilus!

Phil Berg Barack Obama Ron Polarik Jeff Schreiber

Say Your Peace!

January 28, 2009


May I ask of you just one thing?

Believe me, I know better than most the depth of animosity you righteously harbor against Obama.

Should I try to the count the ways, I fear I would find the task too wearisome.

This is what I ask.

Remember, like it or not, Obama is our Commander-in-Chief.

And until and if that fact changes, let’s remember that he is prosecuting our war in Iraq and in Afghanistan. And elsewhere we are fighting the War on Terror, or whatever you wish to call it.

Let’s not make the same mistake those on the left made.

I believe, and I will believe it until my dying day, that the left just went crazy, and diminished Bush’s capacity to prosecute a war that had to be fought, that has to be fought.

It is amazing to me that Bush was as successful as he was, all things considered, and he will ever possess my undying gratitude.

So fight the good fight, I’m not asking you to put aside your core beliefs.

But if standing up for your core beliefs becomes diametrically opposed to supporting our Commander-in-Chief at a time of war, I’m asking you to put aside your differences if it means that is what is best for our fighting men and women around the globe.

Never forget to put them first.

And let’s not let Obama forget that the people of Iraq and Afghanistan are also Children of God.

He gave them the gift of free will, and we have spent our blood and treasure trying to return their Creator’s gift to them.

So, Obama, please don’t screw it up!

Well, I’ve said my peace.


He Loves Gold

January 27, 2009


Trumpets blare and recording studio stuff are doubtless deafened as Dame Shirley gives her traditional restrained vocal performance. So brilliant she was periodically invited back to squawk much the same tune over more Bond titles.

From daanemartina

He’s the man, the man with the Midas touch
A spider’s touch

Such a cold finger
Beckons you to enter his web of sin
But don’t go in

Golden words he will pour in your ear
But his lies can’t disguise what you fear
For a golden girl knows when he’s kissed her
It’s the kiss of death …

From Mister Goldfinger
Pretty girl, beware of his heart of gold
This heart is cold

Golden words he will pour in your ear
But his lies can’t disguise what you fear
For a golden girl knows when he’s kissed her
It’s the kiss of death …

From Mister Goldfinger
Pretty girl, beware of his heart of gold
This heart is cold
He loves only gold
Only gold
He loves gold
He loves only gold
Only gold
He loves gold


(1964) 21st April 1964: Sean Connery sitting beside his co-star English actress, Shirley Eaton, covered in gold during the filming of a scene from the James Bond film ‘Goldfinger’, directed by Guy Hamilton.

US Military Concerned Over Rapid Iraq Withdrawal — Obama Haste Could Renew Violence

January 27, 2009


Nouri al-Maliki and Barack Obama

“One of the concepts we embraced in Iraq was recognition that you can’t kill or capture your way out of a complex, industrial-strength insurgency” David Petraeus

By David Bedein, Middle East Correspondent

JerusalemThe Middle East Newsline has learned U.S. military commanders have been concerned that a rapid troop withdrawal could renew ethnic violence as well as the al-Qaida network in Iraq.

Several of the commanders, who refused to identify themselves, warned that any decision by President Barack Obama to accelerate plans for a pullout in 2009 could destabilize the Iraqi government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.

They said Iraq’s military and police were not ready to fill the vacuum left by any U.S. troop withdrawal.

“Everybody here would love to go home and fast,” a U.S. field commander said. “But if we begin packing up now, then we can kiss two years of relative stability goodbye and watch the disintegration of this country.”

On Jan. 21, President Obama, who envisions a full withdrawal by July 2010, directed defense and military officials to draft a plan for “a responsible military drawdown in Iraq.” The presidential session included Defense Secretary Robert Gates, Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and U.S. Central Command chief, Gen. David Petraeus.

“In the coming days and weeks, I will also visit the [Defense Department] to consult with the Joint Chiefs on these issues,” Mr. Obama said. “And we will undertake a full review of the situation in Afghanistan in order to develop a comprehensive policy for the entire region.”

The commanders said the U.S. military has received appeals from senior Iraqi politicians and officers to preserve the current withdrawal schedule.

Under a 2008 agreement, the U.S. military will leave Iraq by 2012. Senior American diplomats have echoed the U.S. military concern in Baghdad. On Jan. 22, outgoing U.S. ambassador Ryan Crocker, who participated in the session with the president, warned that Iraq was not ready to counter the insurgency and other threats.

“I think Iraqi security forces have made enormous progress during my time here, both quantitatively and, more important, qualitatively,”  Mr. Crocker said. “There is still a ways to go. And clearly, still a continuing need for our security support.”

The ambassador, who oversaw the U.S. surge strategy, which significantly reduced al-Qaida and the Shiite insurgency, stressed that Iraq required a major American military presence. He said the Iraqi parliamentary and provincial elections on Jan. 31 would mark a major test of stability. “If it were to be a precipitous withdrawal, that could be very dangerous,” Mr. Crocker said.

U.S. commanders say that Mr. al-Maliki has come under pressure to endorse and even exceed Mr. Obama’s deadline for a U.S. troop withdrawal. Worries also surround the possibility a hasty withdrawal could encourage neighboring Iran and al-Qaida to escalate operations.

“Like it or not, the Iraqis continue to look to us for day-to-day security and stability,” the field commander said. “Once the Iraqis understand that we’re on our way out for good and soon, they will change  our attitude toward us and the whole picture will change.

David Bedein can be reached at

“New Iraq Emerges from Tyranny and War”

While cynics are fascinated with a thrown shoe, the real story is Iraq standing on its own and building a bright future.

From DODvClips

U.S. Ambassador to Iraq, Ryan Crocker, dedicated the new American Embassy in Baghdad January 5. See more DoD videos at


Iraq‘s Purple Finger Of Democracy

Phil Berg Barack Obama Ron Polarik Jeff Schreiber

“No urgency for quick pullout of Iraq troops”

January 26, 2009


Obama with General David Petraeus

The welcome tone of pragmatism that President Obama conveyed during his transition and in his inaugural address seemed to carry over, during his first day in office, to one of the issues for which he will most need it: Iraq. Fulfilling an oft-stated campaign promise, the new president met with his defense secretary and senior military commanders and, according to a statement he issued, asked for “additional planning necessary to execute a responsible military drawdown from Iraq.”

Accounts of the meeting suggested that Obama spent much of the time listening to reports from those who know Iraq best — Gens. David Petraeus and Ray Odierno and Ambassador Ryan Crocker. In addition, the president’s statement did not cite the 16-month withdrawal timetable that became one of the signal slogans of his campaign — though his spokesman mentioned it. We hope that’s evidence that Obama will not repeat one of President Bush’s greatest mistakes — allowing ideological and political considerations to trump good military judgment.

There is broad agreement in Washington and Baghdad that U.S. troops should gradually be withdrawn, consistent with the goal of preserving Iraq’s fragile and relative peace. Late last year, the outgoing administration concluded a formal agreement with the Iraqi government, laying out a plan for redeploying and withdrawing U.S. troops over the next three years. Both Iraqi leaders and U.S. commanders have made clear that they do not believe a pullout of all combat forces in 16 months is compatible with that strategy, and some U.S. officers have questioned whether, in purely logistical terms, it could be safely accomplished.

Odierno, who commands U.S. forces in Iraq, reportedly favors only a modest drawdown of troops this year, when Iraq will be staging two crucial elections and trying to resolve still-volatile questions of how to divide territory and power among regions and sectarian groups. The prospect of American forces leaving at the rate of a brigade a month, as required by a 16-month timetable, is regarded by leading Sunni, Shiite and Kurdish politicians as a potential catastrophe — though their public statements sometimes suggest otherwise.

Wednesday’s briefing should have underlined those facts for Obama, if he did not know them already. The president can certainly be expected to press for the quickest U.S. withdrawal that logistics and conditions in Iraq will allow. But Iraq’s continuing improvement and the low and declining rate of U.S. casualties — four soldiers have been killed in hostile action so far this month — ought to decrease the urgency of a quick pullout. Pragmatism calls for working within the agreed U.S.-Iraqi plan, and for allowing adjustments based on positive and negative developments in Iraq, rather than on any fixed and arbitrary timetable.


A soldier on patrol in Afghanistan last week. Up to 30,000 more US troops may be sent in by the summer

Is Afghanistan going to be Obama’s Iraq?

The arrival of American reinforcements in southern Afghanistan is likely to mean that, as in Iraq, the British will play a more subordinate role. Since they arrived three years ago in Helmand, the country’s largest province and main heroin producer, British troops have never been deployed in sufficient numbers to gain control of more than a small central area around the provincial capital, Lashkar Gah. Now the main British base, Camp Bastion, is preparing to receive an influx of US troops.

Command of Afghanistan’s southern military region used to rotate among Britain, Canada and the Netherlands. But with the arrival of some 20,000 US troops, doubling the present international deployment, an American major-general will take over a tighter command structure. US officers regard the current situation as a stalemate, with Nato forces until now having been too thinly spread to do more than hold their ground. They expect that to change once the reinforcements are in place.

Mr Langton of the IISS said some British officers welcomed a more unified command structure, in which they would work more closely with American commanders, but it could appear to the public at home that the British force had not succeeded in its mission. This he blamed on the Ministry of Defence, which he said had made no effort to explain what British troops were doing in Afghanistan, “when in fact this is a positive development which could have a dramatic effect on the counter-insurgency campaign”.

Rusi’s Mr Smyth, who is preparing a study of the Taliban’s progress in 2008, said its greatest success had been in “creating the impression it did well”. Despite a high rate of attacks, he said the Taliban was NOT “a homogenous, unified group whose ability to cause violence extends across the country”.

Letter: Bush will be remembered like Lincoln

I am writing about a former president. He had a low approval from some because his presidency was during an unpopular war. He was re-elected for his second term when he ran against a Democrat with military experience. When things weren’t going so well during the war, he changed direction, and generals, and things improved. Some say he abused civil rights and the Constitution, but he did things he felt were right for the country. He imprisoned war combatants and sympathizers without trial. Let’s face it, he was a soft spoken Republican President during tough times.

If it sounds like I am inferring to George W. Bush, well, you could be right. But actually the above paragraph describes our 16th president, Abraham Lincoln. He won his re-election vs. Gen. George McClellan (D) as Bush beat Lt. John Kerry (D). The Civil War started turning for the better when Lincoln inserted Gen. U.S. Grant, as things did for Bush when he inserted Gen. David Petraeus in Iraq. Bush strengthened the role of the chief executive for which our Sen. Russ Feingold called for his censure. (That idea floated like it was tied to an engine block.) Lincoln suspended habeus corpus and actually jailed some anti-war Democrats for impeding the war effort, something I think President Bush should have implemented.

For those who celebrate what they think is the demise of the Republican Party due to the last elections, keep in mind that Democrats have a tendency to over-reach. Yes, we now have our first black president, who was elected for “diversity” more than anything else. President Obama has invoked the name Lincoln during many of his speeches, but the only thing they have in common is that both are from the same state. Lincoln was the first Republican president and he fought southern Democrats to end slavery in this country. The party itself was born in Wisconsin and still believes that all men are created equal, and in smaller government, lower taxes and a strong defense.

Soon Abraham Lincoln’s 200th birthday will be upon us. I would like to say Happy Birthday to him and thank you, and farewell to George W. Bush, for they both served their country and the American people in a time of need.

From DODvClips

According to GEN David Petraeus, the situation in Afghanistan is very different than that in Iraq. He said a carefully designed approach must be appropriate for the specific situation. See more DoD videos at

Phil Berg Barack Obama Ron Polarik Jeff Schreiber

Perfect Love

January 26, 2009

Miles Away

My friends will ask me how I`m doin`
But I just can`t lie to `em
Not feeling fine today
I saw my dreams they were a
Ship on the ocean now it
Looks like they`re miles away 

Miles away
Hey, hey -- they`re miles away 

I know there`s always something
We have to go through
That has some deeper meaning but
Right now I just can`t say
I know there`s gonna be a lesson somewhere
I`m gonna think a lot about it later
But right now I`m miles away
Miles away
Hey hey I`m miles away
Hey hey hey I`m miles away 

I`m a million miles away
Where I don`t have to think at all
Don`t have to listen to you whisper
Your little secrets in the hall
Yeah I`d really love to talk about it
But I think I hear my mama calling me...
Miles away