Archive for April, 2008

I feel so sad and ashamed that our country – a shining beacon of freedom, supposedly – has fallen to the ranks of those that sanction and use torture on individuals it deems are enemy combatants. What is even worse is they can actually grab up a U.S. citizen and claim they are also and enemy combatant and there is no one to stop them.

I have been afraid our President is a war criminal by Geneva Convention Standards but it has came to light that efforts were taken by Vice President Dick Cheney and other members of the Bush administration to insulate President Bush from meetings where CIA interrogation methods, including waterboarding, which simulates drowning, were discussed and ultimately approved.

The meetings were held in the White House Situation Room in the years immediately following the Sept. 11 attacks. Attending the sessions were Cheney, then-Bush aides Attorney General John Ashcroft, Secretary of State Colin Powell, CIA Director George Tenet and national security adviser Condoleezza Rice.

How much deeper do we need to go before the Congress decides they finally need to investigate?

At what point do we say that we are successful in Iraq? Successful enough? That is the point that Barack Obama tried to pin General Petraeus down to. Hillary Clinton showed how smart she is and how well versed she is in the language and planning of the war and in my opinion John McCain basically said “hurrah, hurrah anything you say general” in his questioning and statements that we should not have any timetable to leave Iraq. Obama showed his intelligence and the thought that had gone into his line of questioning when he tried to pin General Petraeus down as to “what constituted good enough for us to draw down troops”. I really liked his line of questioning. He asked repeatedly without a real answer given?if we had a sloppy status quo with only 30,000 troops would he consider that a success. I myself would feel like that was a huge progression from where we are. Plus we would then have the man power we need in Afghanistan to battle the resurgence of al Qaeda and the Taliban there. We have blown it in my opinion as far as the war on terror goes. before we attacked Iraq there was no problem with al Qaeda there and now there is. The al Qaeda and the Taliban are as strong as ever in Afghanistan and we don’t have the troop levels to contain them all. In 6 years time since 9/11 we have spent less in Afghanistan than we currently spend in Iraq in only 3 weeks. That is absurd.

Yesterday in the east room of the White House President Bush posthumously awarded the Medal Of Honor to U.S Navy Seal Michael A. Monsoor. The president while blinking back tears recognized the bravery of Monsoor who was part of a was part of a sniper team in Ramadi when he died on Sept. 29, 2006 after throwing himself on top of a live grenade to save his fellow comrades. Bush presented the highest medal in the land to Monsoors parents Sally and George Monsoor before approximately 250 guests. This had to be a selfless man of great courage to give away his life for his friends. No greater sacrifice can be made in my opinion. This is the caliber of men and women who serve our country and we should be proud of all of them. If you know my blog and its writings you will know I am no fan of Bush or his administration but he gave an eloquent speech at the ceremony. I am grateful for that as this young man was of the highest character and deserved the very best.

Recently ( April 1) the Pentagon released a previously secret document authored by John Yoo – a lawyer for the Justice Department – that provides more evidence that we ran and probably still are running a torture system with the so called enemy combatants being systematically tortured. The document by Yoo, who was a key player in the legal policy of the Bush Administration after 9/11 dismisses several legal impediments to the use of interrogation techniques that have been classified by the Bush camp as “harsh” and the world as torture. Even Presidential candidate John McCain was against it at first but has been since won over by Bush.

In the memo he says the Constitution was not in play with regard to the interrogations because the Fifth Amendment (which provides for due process of law) and the Eighth Amendment (which prevents the government from employing cruel and usual punishment) does “not extend to alien enemy combatants held abroad.”. It goes on to explain that federal criminal statutes regarding assault and other crimes against the body don’t apply to authorized military interrogations overseas and that statutes that do apply to the conduct of U.S. officials abroad pertaining to war crimes and torture establish a limited obligation on the part of interrogators to refrain from bodily harm. It also defines the United States’ obligations under the United Nations Convention Against Torture and other international treaties prohibiting torture to be confined to ensuring that interrogators do not apply “cruel and unusual punishment” as defined by American constitutional law, regardless of differing international standards. All the while stating the oft repeated view that the Geneva Convention does not apply to members of al Qaeda and the Taliban.

If an interrogation led to the physical harm or death of a purported al Qaeda member the defendant ( the interrogator) would have been acting under the executive branches constitutional authority to protect the nation from attack. This is ludicrous, but who would decide if the person was actually al Qaeda or not? Of course if the subject were to die he automatically became a terrorist.

Read the memo for yourself. (.pdf)——— Part 1 ———– Part 2

Listen to Keith Olbermann about it.

It seems that Republican candidate John McCain is planning on following directly in President Bush’s footsteps. At least where the war is concerned he is. He was a very vocal advocate of the troop buildup and now he is proclaiming it to be a huge success. In either Hillary or Obama he will face an adversary who will dispute the success of the buildup and both seek a swift troop withdrawal.

The debate will intensify this week as Gen. David H. Petraeus, the top commander in Iraq, and Ambassador Ryan C. Crocker testify in front of Congress. Overshadowing their testimony is the fighting that erupted late last month as U.S.-trained Iraqi forces attempted to oust Shiite militias from Basra in southern Iraq. When McCain visited Iraq he claimed the violence fell by 90 percent, and deaths of civilians and coalition forces fell by 70 percent. Despite the positive numbers he cited, 2007 – the year of the troop buildup – was the deadliest yet.

I myself am scared of too fast a troop withdrawal turning into something reminiscent of Vietnam in its last days. Chaos all around as we fled the country with our tail tucked between our legs. As much as I am against the war – and feel it was a mistake to believe the lies that got us into it – I would hate to see our exit turn into that type of debacle.

Unemployment rates rise as ninety eight thousand employees lose their jobs in March. The official tally is supposed to be eighty thousand but that takes into account the gains made by labor in education, health care, leisure and government hiring.? A new look at the job market released by the Labor Department Friday underscores the damage that is causing the crises in our economy. Housing, credit and the financial sectors have inflicted a huge set back to our economy. “The labor market has indeed turned south,” said Joel Naroff, president of Naroff Economic Advisers. “That was the one last bastions of hope to stay out of a recession. Now the question is how deep and how long will it last?” To me the numbers just don’t add up. One says we lost 98,000 jobs another says 80,000 and one more totals up to 173,000. Add them up for yourself. In March, construction companies cut 51,000 jobs, factories eliminated 48,000 positions, retailers cut payrolls by more than 12,000. Professional and businesses services lost 35,000 jobs and temporary help firms cut nearly 22,000 jobs. Financial firms chopped 5,000 jobs. Either someone can’t count or someone is lying to mislead the country as to how bad this recession is. They now say we have 7.8 million people unemployed. that is 5.1%, not real high by historical standards but still the highest in the past 2 years. Actually our economy has been steadily going south since we got into the war. Boat loads of money are leaving our coffers, and the investors that jump start our economy are naturally concerned ?by this. All of us should be. Government borrowing money from foreign investors to prop up our outlandish spending and companies gaining financial incentives and tax breaks to leave our shores can’t do the average citizen any good and if they have lost their jobs to outsourcing like that how can they pay taxes and purchases goods to keep our economy going? Free trade may be all well and good if everything was on the same playing field. We can not compete with countries that use next to nothing pay, child labor or follow environmental and safety concerns that we must meet with our workers. Plus we give most favored nation status to a country that actively is engaging in corporate espionage, and routinely is accused of human rights violations against its own citizens. When we fought WWII we had a huge advantage over the Germans and Japanese and that was our manufacturing base. We could build ships faster than they could sink them. We could build airplanes faster than they could be shot up beyond repair or shot down. We could build anything and we could do it on a grand scale. Now we are outsourcing all those jobs and factories overseas. What would happen if we were embroiled in another war of global proportions? Where would we get the materials that would be needed? Hopefully that will never happen but if it did we would be crippled in that respect and we are crippling our economy today as more and more workers are added to the growing list of those who have lost their jobs to plant closings and moving away. Hopefully our next President will work with Congress to help insure that we no longer subsidize companies moving from the U.S. to other countries and give those tax breaks to companies that are investing in American plants and jobs. I can’t see this happening under a Republican led Congress or White House.

Though I did not go on to college like I should have, instead joining the U.S Army at a young age I should have went to college and every young person who can should go. We have a terrible track record at the present with huge drop out rates for high schools especially in big cities. Do not be one of them.

Are you thinking of going back to school or continuing your education? If not you should be. For a University that teaches with a hands on approach you can’t go wrong with Kettering University. They have made the “A Best Midwestern College ” by the Princeton Review. They have also garnered an award from U.S News and World Report. They are the number one ranked University in the nation for Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering according to its [
U.S News and World Reports] annual “America’s Best Colleges Guide for 2008″. This is a great school with outstanding engineering co-op programs. Just the place to get you started off on the right foot and on your way to success in the business world and life. There is little opportunity for drop outs anymore.

They have college level cooperative education programs. This type of program has existed since 1906 and was first instituted by Kettering University in 1919 when the school first opened its doors as the School of Automotive Trades. Co-op programs are unique in the fact that you get hands on training with actual companies and you can make money from them as an employee while you are still learning. Sometimes as much as sixty five thousand dollars to keep and use as you see fit. Kettering is unique amongst colleges that offer co-op programs in the fact that they place students in their freshman year in companies and rotate them between school and their co-op job every three months. This insures that you won’t be bored and can apply what you learn in the classroom on the job almost immediately. You are encouraged to stay with the same company throughout your undergraduate career so you have plenty of time to hone your talents and skills thus increasing your value to the company and your seniority with them.

A degree from Kettering University can be the first step to a lifetime of ?success with great pay and benefits. A degree in industrial engineering from Kettering will take you a long way in life. Industrial engineering is not the only choice you have either. You should visit their home page and contact them for more information. You will never regret having an education, something no one can ever take away from you.

I no longer keep up with professional baseball or any pro sport any longer as it makes me sick to see the way these over paid players act. But I am not going to get off on a tirade about the public spectacle that baseball has been going through with all the steroid and allegations of steroid use and who knows what else. As I understand it the expanded the leagues by two teams one of which is the Washington Nationals. For opening day the first pitch was thrown out by President Bush who had been exercising his throwing arm on the south lawn in anticipation of the opening pitch. A sign of the times and dissent amongst common Americans was the reception he garnered as he strode to the pitchers mound. He was greeted with throngs of boo’s and cat calls. Not exactly what he had anticipated or hoped for. No he was boo’ed. I don’t think a President has ever been treated like that at a public gathering before. They were booing because the war and occupation of Iraq has taken over a million Iraqi lives and sent 4,000 U.S. soldiers and marines to their graves. They were booing Bush because of the loss of millions of jobs, with nearly two million people facing foreclosure of their homes. They were booing because of the massive secret spying campaign against the American people and the violation of First Amendment rights and other criminal acts. Our representatives in Congress should listen to the voice of the people. There is a valid point being made that we are viewed as war mongers and war criminals abroad and it should be investigated and stopped if necessary.

Today marks a milestone for me. Today is the twelfth week that I have gone without anything to smoke. I know I posted earlier about smoking cessation, and I have not had a cigarette in those twelve weeks. Three whole months it is today that I have smoked nothing at all. I know I told y’all that I had quit once before and went over twenty years without a cigarette and that is true. What I didn’t say was that I was not smoke free during that time. I smoked marijuana and cigars to cover the smell, and a lot of both. I would smoke cigars and chew on them as I worked. I worked outside or was driving to the location most of my adult life so I seldom if ever experienced a place I could not smoke. Now I would respect other peoples homes and never smoke in a customers home. So you see me being smoke free for these 12 weeks is really a milestone for me. I was sneaking my first cigarettes before I hit my teen years and never quit smoking something except for about 8 weeks during boot camp in the Army, and even then I got in trouble for sneaking and smoking so it wasn’t even a complete eight weeks there either. I do still have some trouble not smoking something. It just seems so natural to me to reach for a smoke. The keyboard I use is a natural one so it is too big to fit the little slide out drawer beneath my desk that a normal keyboard would reside in. I had a half pack of cigarettes in there up until yesterday. I was sitting here waiting on my ftp program to work and slid the drawer out and was pulling one out of the pack when I decided to just throw them away. Even after twelve weeks of no smoking the moment my hands were free and I saw them I was ready to light one up. I know several of you have been reading when I wrote of quitting smoking, and struggling with your own demons tugging away at you trying to make you smoke again. Don’t give in. You will not only feel and breath better, but you will have the satisfaction of knowing that you held out against the most insidious and addicting drug in the world. Best of luck with your quitting yourself and if you need someone to talk to drop me a line as I understand how difficult it really is to quit.

Those of you fellow bloggers who use WordPress for their blogs may already know that on Saturday they released the newest version, WordPress 2.5. There has been a lot of comments and complaints on the message and help boards at wordpress. It seems there are a lot of people having troubles with their upgrades. I myself did not have much trouble at all. The very first thing I did was make backups of all the files on my blog. I then went into my blog and deactivated all?plugins. There is a button that will deactivate all plugins towards the bottom of your plugins page. After that it all went rather smoothly, except for me not following directions to the letter. But thats me as I usually go by the adage, “When all else fails read the directions”. Well I then decided perhaps reading the instructions might be a good idea when I got an error and it only showed one line of error code for my entire blog. When I had tried to simply overwrite files it caused an error. Good thing I had backed up first. I always back up anything before making changes to it. This way you have a fail safe fall back and can restore at least to what you had before. What I had done was go into my root directory (the main folder your blog resides in) and overwrote the wp-includes and wp-admin directories (folders) DO NOT OVERWRITE YOUR WP-CONTENT FOLDER ever when updating. You only have one file in there that needs updating and that is the index.php file. If you do you will lose all the changes you have made to your blog and the themes you have added. Well anyhow I had overwritten the files in the root directory (make sure you do not delete your wp-config.php file) Then I had overwritten the index.php file inside of wp-content. That worked ok but what would not work was overwriting the wp-includes and wp-admin directories (folders). So as soon as I saw I had an error I started deleting those files getting ready to ftp my old files back onto my site. I then decided to attempt it one more time after having read the instructions finally and everything worked. So basicly here it is I overwrote all the files in my root directory, overwrote the index.php file in my wp-content directory, then deleted the two folders/directories wp-admin and wp-includes. Once you do that ftp the new folders intact onto your site and if succesful you will get a message saying that you need to update your database files. Don’t be alarmed all you need to do is check through the ok buttons and you will be ok and ready to go. You will find some changes to the dashboard that I am not crazy about but I can live with them. I am hoping that someone will fix the widgets.php file soon so you can have more text widgets on your site. Before I upgraded I had 20 available but feel I will have them again soon. Either ?I will finally wade through the code and find the correct entries to change or hopefully someone more knowledgable than I will fix it and share with us all. Other than that I see nothing wrong with it. Hopefully we will start to enjoy the fruits of their labor and enjoy this version better than the old ones.