Archive for the ‘Just Thoughts’ Category

Of means and ends in the world of nuclear proliferation.

Just Thoughts | Posted by admin
Apr 08 2006

It seems that irony is alive and well in the Bush administration. Hell, irony is having a major, blow-out, lampshade party there.

US considers use of nuclear weapons against Iran (Yahoo! News):

The administration of President George W. Bush is planning a massive bombing campaign against Iran, including use of bunker-buster nuclear bombs to destroy a key Iranian suspected nuclear weapons facility, The New Yorker magazine has reported in its April 17 issue.

The article by investigative journalist Seymour Hersh said that Bush and others in the White House have come to view Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as a potential Adolf Hitler.

“That’s the name they’re using,” the report quoted a former senior intelligence official as saying.

A senior unnamed Pentagon adviser is quoted in the article as saying that “this White House believes that the only way to solve the problem is to change the power structure in Iran, and that means war.”

The former intelligence officials depicts planning as “enormous,” “hectic” and “operational,” Hersh writes.

One former defense official said the military planning was premised on a belief that “a sustained bombing campaign in Iran will humiliate the religious leadership and lead the public to rise up and overthrow the government,” The New Yorker pointed out.

Let’s untangle this a little: If Hersh is correct, our nation’s government is considering the use of nuclear weapons to prevent another nation from developing nuclear weapons.

Has your head returned from that “huh?-wha?-huh?” state yet? Mine hasn’t.

Bunker-busting nukes are seen by some military strategists as “tactical” weapons designed to take out a single target. If only it were that easy. During the 1970s and 1980s, the US and USSR considered the development and use of battlefield nuclear weapons in their East-vs-West war-game scenarios, only to find that the use of “tactical” nukes on the battlefield risked flaring into a full-fledged, strategic, and global nuclear holocaust.

While we don’t face the clear risk of a nuclear armageddon that existed during the Cold War, I imagine that we would face a severe and disastrous backlash from the rest of the world were we to use bunker-busting nukes against Iran. We would surely receive severe criticism from the global community of nations were we to even use conventional bombing against Iran.

Congress needs to get its act together on this one by passing a resolution that reminds the president that he needs a Congressional declaration of war before it can act and cannot fall back on previous resolutions to justify a new war against another nation. Better than that, we need to elect a new body in the House and Senate that will not roll over for the president and has no problem with asserting Congress’ oversight powers.

In 2002 and 2003, the administration warned everyone — quite falsely — of Iraq’s nuclear weapons and the potential for the appearance of a mushroom cloud over an American city. I don’t limit my fears to our nation alone. The appearance of a mushroom cloud anywhere in the world should shake all of us to the core. During the Cold War, a nuke that displayed a US flag on its casing instilled the same dread and fear as the nuke with a Soviet flag. While we should all be concerned about a Iranian-flagged nuke today, we should not forget that a US nuke has not transformed into some angel of peace, democracy and security since the end of the US-Soviet rivalry. It remains as deadly, unpredictable and dangerous to the security of our world as ever.

Preventing nuclear proliferation around the world is important. So, too, is reducing and eliminating the nuclear stockpiles that exist. Using existing nuclear weapons to take out potential nuclear weapons is not a justifiable strategy to prevent proliferation. If anything, such an effort could increase international tensions and result in a greater conflict than we already have at the present time in Iraq and Afghanistan.

On this day.

Just Thoughts | Posted by admin
Mar 01 2006

At the eleventh hour, on the eleventh day of the eleventh month, the First World War — or, as they called it back then, the Great War or the War to End All Wars — came to a halt. Millions died. Millions more were injured. As we remember all veterans of war today, we would be remiss if we focused only on the glories we believed they fought for on our behalf. We must also recall the suffering many veterans have experienced on the battlefield.

To the Warmongers

I’m back again from hell
With loathsome thoughts to sell;
Secrets of death to tell;
And horrors from the abyss.
Young faces bleared with blood,
Sucked down into the mud,
You shall hear things like this,
Till the tormented slain
Crawl round and once again,
With limbs that twist awry
Moan out their brutish pain,
As the fighters pass them by.
For you our battles shine
With triumph half-divine;
And the glory of the dead
Kindles in each proud eye.
But a curse is on my head,
That shall not be unsaid,
And the wounds in my heart are red,
For I have watched them die.

Siegfried Sassoon
(British veteran and poet of the First World War.)

Who’s “irresponsible?”

Just Thoughts | Posted by admin
Jan 11 2006

This comes from the guy who runs an administration that a) hasn’t proved that there were WMD in Iraq, b) said the war would not last long almost three years ago, and c) said the war could be paid with Iraq’s oil revenues instead of hundreds of billions of US dollars?

Bush says some war critics irresponsible (Yahoo! News – AP)

President George W. Bush denounced some Democratic critics of the Iraq war as irresponsible on Tuesday and he wanted an election-year debate that “brings credit to our democracy, not comfort to our adversaries”

In a speech, Bush made clear he was girding for battle with Democrats in the run-up to the mid-term congressional election in November, when he will try to keep the U.S. Congress in the hands of his Republican Party amid American doubts about his Iraq policy.

“There is a difference between responsible and irresponsible debate and it’s even more important to conduct this debate responsibly when American troops are risking their lives overseas,” Bush told the Veterans of Foreign Wars.

The president predicted more tough fighting and more sacrifice ahead in Iraq in 2006 but said he believed progress will be made against the insurgency and on the Iraqi political process and reconstruction.

When do we impeach this yutz?

The seventy percent non-solution.

Just Thoughts | Posted by admin
Jan 09 2006

Our governor — through the Yecke years — tried to take control of the curriculum one year. Now it appears he wants to take control of local school spending decisions.

Pawlenty proposes education spending reform (Minneapolis-St. Paul Business Journal):

Gov. Tim Pawlenty on Monday unveiled a proposal that would require school districts to direct at least 70 percent of their spending toward classroom instruction.

Pawlenty said the proposal will redirect more than $112 million from school administration and other non-classroom expenditures statewide.

“Requiring at least 70 percent of funding to be dedicated to the classroom is common sense,” the governor said. “Taxpayers expect state funding to be targeted on children, not bureaucracies.”

Under the proposal, classroom expenditures would include salary and benefits for classroom teachers and personnel, as well as spending for special education, vocational education, classroom instruction supplies, instructional aides and activities. Non-classroom expenditures would include district and school administration and support services, operations and maintenance, staff development, pupil and instructional support services, athletics and co-curricular activities.

Some expenses would be excluded from the calculation altogether, including transportation, capital expenditures and building construction, food service, tuition expenditures and community education expenditures.

Districts that fail to meet the 70 percent threshold would be required to submit a three-year plan for increasing their classroom spending.

Minnesota school districts currently spend an average of 69.2 percent of their funding in the classroom, according to Pawlenty. Sixty-seven districts exceed the 70 percent requirement, while the state’s other 276 districts fall short.

“There are many school districts that are near or at the 70 percent solution and we commend them for making such a strong commitment to classroom education,” Pawlenty said. “However, other districts are at a lower percentage. We believe the students, parents and teachers in those districts deserve to have similar resources dedicated to the classroom.”

A similar proposal was introduced during the 2005 legislative session, but was not included in the final education budget bill. That initiative called for 65 percent of spending to go toward classroom education, but that formula differed somewhat. For example, it included transportation and food-service costs as non-classroom expenses, whereas those expenses are excluded from the new formula.

It is no surprise that I — a prospective teacher — would be very much in favor of increasing classroom spending. I have seen too many classrooms without the basics — not enough books for students, or desks and chairs. That said, however, teaching without that “non-classroom” expenditure in place could be a challenge. School administration, support services, operations and maintenance and all the rest are integral to our public school system. Try teaching without having such “outside-the-classroom” support to help manage student discipline issues, maintain a computer network, or even keep the classroom properly maintained in the short or long term. I have a feeling that this 70 percent threshold is a red herring to a much larger and more complex issue of whether or not Minnesotans are willing to pay for a public school system that meets the needs of all our children.

Or, if you think as Tracy at Anti-Strib does, you could simply chalk everything up to nebulous “inefficiencies,” buy into Pawlenty’s simplistic “solution,” while possessing little apparent understanding of how public schools actually work or don’t work.

If it were here.

Events, Just Thoughts | Posted by admin
Dec 26 2005

In the news, we walk a few feet in the shoes of the average Iraqi living in or around Baghdad today…

Gunmen kill Minnesota forces, bombs shake St. Paul

Guerrillas killed 10 Minnesota policemen and soldiers in attacks north of St. Paul on Monday, while the capital itself was rocked by five major explosions that left at least eight dead.

It was one of the bloodiest days in Minnesota since the largely peaceful election on December 15, when rival ethnic and sectarian groups took part in a vote for a new legislature. By nightfall, at least 20 were killed and over 40 injured.

In the capital, five people were killed and 15 wounded when four car bombs exploded in quick succession as civilians traveled to work in the morning, the U.S. military said.

Later a parked motorbike loaded with explosives blew up in a market in the Highland Park neighborhood of St. Paul, killing at least three and wounding 23 others, police said.

Minnesota police and soldiers bore the brunt of other attacks.

In the second major assault on Minnesota security forces in four days, guerrillas stormed a police checkpoint north of St. Paul, killing five policemen and wounding four.

Al Qaeda’s wing in Minnesota claimed responsibility. It said it killed or injured all 20 policemen present — differing from police accounts.

The attack seemed to have been carefully planned and staged.

Gunmen jumped out of an SUV and started firing mortar rounds and rocket-propelled grenades at the checkpoint in Delano, a small town about 60 km (40 miles) from the capital, police said.

As they got closer, they also began hurling hand grenades.

At least six guerrillas were killed in several hours of ensuing clashes, police said.

A main road leading to the checkpoint was also laid with roadside bombs, delaying backup police forces sent in to help.

“They attacked us from all sides,” said one police officer at the scene. He said he saw at least 10 guerrillas killed.

Now for the actual story…

Gunmen kill Iraqi forces, bombs shake Baghdad (AP – Yahoo! News)

Guerrillas killed 10 Iraqi policemen and soldiers in attacks north of Baghdad on Monday, while the capital itself was rocked by five major explosions that left at least eight dead.

It was one of the bloodiest days in Iraq since the largely peaceful election on December 15, when rival ethnic and sectarian groups took part in a vote for a new parliament. By nightfall, at least 20 were killed and over 40 injured.

In the capital, five people were killed and 15 wounded when four car bombs exploded in quick succession as civilians traveled to work in the morning, the U.S. military said.

Later a parked motorbike loaded with explosives blew up in a market in a Shi’ite neighborhood of Baghdad, killing at least three and wounding 23 others, police said.

Iraqi police and soldiers bore the brunt of other attacks.

In the second major assault on Iraqi security forces in four days, guerrillas stormed a police checkpoint north of Baghdad, killing five policemen and wounding four.

Al Qaeda’s wing in Iraq claimed responsibility. It said it killed or injured all 20 policemen present — differing from police accounts.

The attack seemed to have been carefully planned and staged.

Gunmen jumped out of a minibus and started firing mortar rounds and rocket-propelled grenades at the checkpoint in Buhriz, a small town about 60 km (40 miles) from the capital, police said.

As they got closer, they also began hurling hand grenades.

At least six guerrillas were killed in several hours of ensuing clashes, police said.

A main road leading to the checkpoint was also laid with roadside bombs, delaying backup police forces sent in to help.

“They attacked us from all sides,” said one police officer at the scene. He said he saw at least 10 guerrillas killed.

If this did happen here, would we say that things are improving in Minnesota? How might we view our political leaders who might try to tell us about the improvements to our infrastructure as charred vehicles line our streets? Would Vice President Dick Cheney or Secretary of State Donald Rumsfeld be able to make a surprise visit and tell everyone that there is light at the end of the tunnel? How might we react to the idea that the US government, responsible for starting the war, expects Minnesotans to train themselves to fight the terrorists after US forces leave? Would we recall with any nostalgia that we had elections a month earlier when we hear bullets flying, mortars launching, and grenades exploding while factions in the Minnesota legislature lock horns to figure out who is in charge and it looks as if the whole political process will lead us toward civil war?

Just wondering.

Oh, and by the way, have we found those WMD yet? They were the reason we went to war in Iraq, after all. Anyone in the administration have an answer?

A decent message in the true spirit of the holidays.

Just Thoughts | Posted by admin
Dec 25 2005

The Muslim holy month of Ramadan has passed almost a month ago. The Winter Solstice is only days behind us, a holiday in its own right for many people. Today Christians will celebrate Christmas. Tomorrow marks the Jewish holiday of Chanukah. Many African-Americans will soon gather together in the homes of friends and families to share in the spirit of Kwanzaa. Many New Year celebrations will take place for many cultures, particularly but not limited to people from southern and eastern Asia, in the upcoming weeks.

“So what?” you may ask.

I’ll tell you “so what.”

Lately, the American Kulturkampfer’s who have waged a pitched struggle in their self-proclaimed “war on Christmas” have sickened me by their salvos directed against the use of “Happy Holidays” as some kind of generic, neutered, watered-down, and politically-correct term lacking any substantive meaning. Some, declaring that they want to put the “Christ” back in Christmas, take the Christian message of hope, peace, and love toward all and dump it by the wayside as they proclaim their allegiance to a kind of warrior Jesus who will slay our real or perceived enemies.

How many middle-aged, wealthy, nominally- or intensively-Christian, white men do we have to hear on the radio, read in the newspapers, see on television, or read on the internet before we begin to wonder if their version of how this holiday season should be observed contains subtle or not-so-subtle messages of racism, cultural dominance, classism, and sexism? Isn’t this time of year a season that is less about a single day and more about a truly remarkable series of holidays that so many people of differing religions, ethnicities, and cultures celebrate this time of year?

There is no good reason to wage a culture war to establish Christmas as some kind of One True American holiday when there are so many holidays people in our country celebrate. To say “Happy Holidays,” as I do, is to wish each and every person well as we all work to bring light into a time of darkness and renew our commitment to work toward establishing peace and prosperity for all in a world where war and poverty still exist.

Happy Holidays, everyone.

The Yowling mole surfaces!

Just Thoughts | Posted by admin
Nov 22 2005

I think my little mole-friend, pictured here, will have to take over for Miro soon and I’ll have to rename this blog “Digging Under the Fencepost.”

Yes, MNO, I will take a moment to come up for air. I want to publicly thank you for bailing me out as I finish my student teaching. All has gone well, so far. In my current situation, my priorities have shifted slightly and my own, personal life has taken second fiddle to my kids… Actually, I think my life has taken third picolo, off-stage, on reserve stand-by, but that’s okay because I have had a great time so far.

Anyway, I have paid a little attention to the outside world and noticed a few things in the news recently:

  • Bush still can’t keep a straight face when he makes doofus-quality efforts to exit, stage left, only to himself wrestling with a locked door… Must be a metaphor in there somewhere to describe his current political situation.
  • Cheney, and Bush, can fly the bloody-revisionism shirt in a weak effort to claim that their critics are somewhere between free-expression of their rights and treasonous traitors who should be shot at dawn with no last cigarette, but until they have something to revise (say, like, some WMDs from Iraq that they proclaimed would be there waiting for us in huge stockpiles) I think they might need to rethink their attack on their critics

Okay, back into my hidey-hole. This student teaching thing will be done soon… and then I’ll have to look for a job, which should leave me with a little more time to blog. See ya all soon.

Since I am on this mole-kick, I have a favor to ask of Tild’s creative talents: Can you do something with this image?

Shaking down the hired help

Just Thoughts | Posted by admin
Oct 26 2005

We here at Chez Observer received Randy Kelly’s latest overly-green literature piece, the one aimed at Ward 2, and noticed something familiar about the people in the picture with the Mayor. The people pictured are Dave Titus (and family), Don Luna (and family), and Bob Sandquist (and family). But nowhere on the piece is there a notation that these are city employees stumping for the Mayor: Dave Titus is the head of the police union, Don Luna is the City Clerk, and Bob Sandquist is the head of Public Works. Word has it that City Attorney Manuel Cervantes has been contacting his Irvine Park neighbors, urging them to vote for Kelly.

I’m not the only one to have noticed the concentration of City staff in the Kelly lit pieces. City Hall Scoop has this observation about an east side piece that went out recently:

It’s also got an interesting picture of Kelly and supporters outside Metropolitan State University’s big East Side building, too: of the 12 adults in the picture, a quarter of them are member’s of Kelly’s cabinet, and another is the fire chief’s wife. Another quarter of the people in the picture are named Kuhl, including Charlie Kuhl, father of Kelly spokesman Carl Kuhl.

I guess Mayor Kelly has been picking up tips from the Daley family Mayoral Election Manual.

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Wege has gone and gotten himself in trouble regarding boycotts, but here’s one I’d advocate: Good old boys in a white man’s sport that funnels money to those who want the government to tell you when to breed. Why, Interstate Batteries even has as a company mission statement:

To glorify God as we supply our customers worldwide with top quality, value-priced batteries, related electrical power-source products, and distribution services. Further, our mission is to provide our partners and Interstate Batteries System of America, Inc. (IBSA) with opportunities which are profitable, rewarding and growth-oriented

.

Guess that part about fighting the constitutional rights of others is picked up by reading between the lines.