Category Archives: bush

For the Children

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One of the radio stations I listen to does a weekly “soldier salute”, where they talk to a relative of a soldier about them. It’s a nice feature – solders deserve recognition – and they usually send a care package as well. All in all – great. But one thing that annoys me is that, occasionally, they talk to a person who feels the need to preach about how great it is that we are in Iraq. They’ll go on about all the wonderful work we are doing there.

The main thing you hear from these people is about the kids of Iraq – how happy they are to see the soldiers and how we’re helping them. OK, that’s probably true. It’s great that we are helping kids. But I can’t help but think that much of the reason that these kids need help is based on the direct effects of the US having invaded their country, leaving 500,000 of them orphaned, and many more without homes or schools or churches, which have all been bombed. And I may sound callous about this next part, but while I do care about the Iraqi children (and children all around the world), I have a hard time justifying our occupation of a country, based on false claims of weapons and warfare, by saying “the kids need help.” Because here in the US? Lots of kids need help, too. We have 13,000,000 children who do not get enough food. There are 3,300,000 children who are being abused or neglected, with close to 2,000 of them dying each year. There are 100,000 children each night who sleep in a shelter, or a park bench or a car, since they are without a home. There are approximately 3,000 children a year being killed by gun violence. There are more than 8.7 million children without health care. And there are the ones without adequate schooling – in 2005, the majority of 4th graders in the US could not read or do math at their grade level. The majority! (I’ll bet they could take the fucking PSSA, though). There are thousands of children still displaced by Katrina. Or should I say, by Katrina and the completely unacceptable and morally offensive lack of giving a shit by our government. So don’t tell me about what we’re doing “for the children.”

Today, they talked to a woman who, in addition to mentioning the children, talked about the wonderful work her soldier was doing building Christian churches. Not churches – Christian churches – she made that distinction. And I couldn’t help but thinking, yet again, how egocentric we are. This country is predominately Christian (80-90%), so we automatically assume that everyone else should be. So we go into a country that we have bombed and ravaged, leaving many, many mosques in rubble – a country with a Christian population of about 2%, and we build Christian churches. What about the other 98%? I’m sure Jesus would allow us to forgive them for being underwhelmed. Look – I can sign on to the helping kids and the building schools and safe living quarters. But the building of churches, no so much. I mean, if we bombed one – then rebuild it. but to attack and invade and bomb a country, then attempt to rebuild it in our image is not only ego-centric, but offensive. Offensive to me and probably to the hundreds of thousands of Muslims that have nowhere to worship. If you want to give something back – give exactly what you took, not something else entirely. It’s like someone knocking down your house and then saying, it’s OK, here’s a swimming pool, a shovel, and some cheese.

I’m not saying we shouldn’t help other countries – we should. But we should help our own, too. And we need to stop patting ourselves on the back for helping rebuild a country that we ourselves demolished. And we need to take our damned blinders off and decide that if want to help people, we need to help them with their actual needs and not what we think they should need. And we damned well need to stop telling ourselves that “we are there for the children,” just because it sounds prettier than “we are there as a distraction and because our president is a scrotum.”

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Three Trillion Dollars, Four Thousand Dead, Five Years, One Man

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3,000,000,000,000 = Projected dollars we will have spent on the war by the time we get out of Iraq.

20,000,000,000 = Dollars paid to KBR, a former Halliburton division, to supply U.S. military in Iraq with food, fuel, housing and other items.

9,000,000,000 = Dollars lost and unaccounted for in Iraq.

3,200,000,000 = Dollars of the $20 billion paid to KBR that were deemed “questionable or supportable.”

1,000,000,000 = Dollars in missing tractor trailers, tank recovery vehicles, machine guns, rocket-propelled grenades and other equipment and services provided to the Iraqi security forces.

303,664,728 = People in the US who are affected directly and indirectly by the Iraq war.

270,000,000 = Dollars the U.S. spends each day in Iraq ($12 billion in 2008).

5,000,000 = Iraqi children orphaned since the US invasion.

2,630,880 = Minutes that mothers of soldiers have spent worrying and praying about their children’s safety.

1,189,173 = Iraqis killed since the US invasion.

190,000 = US guns in Iraq, including 110,000 AK-47 rifles.

180,000+ = Private contractors currently in Iraq, working in support of US army troops.

166,895 = Troops in Iraq.

157,000 = US troops in Iraq.

70,000 = Single parents deployed between June 06 and March 07, leaving their children without them.

43,848 = Hours that soldiers have been at risk in Iraq.

29,395 = US soldiers seriously wounded in the Iraq War (many more with less serious injuries).

20,000+ = Number of soldiers with traumatic brain injuries who were not classified as wounded during combat.

3990 = US soldiers killed in the Iraq War.

1,827 = Days that husbands and wives have been alone while their spouses have served in the Iraq war.

1783 = Days since Bush stood on the deck of an aircraft carrier and declared “Mission Accomplished.”

1600 = US children who have lost a parent in the war, as of 2006.

1,150 = Active-duty troops that were deployed at the same time as a spouse in December 2006 only.

308 = US non-troop casualties.

202.7 = Cents that the average cost of a gallon of gas has increased since before the Iraq War began.

127 = Journalists killed (84 by murder and 43 by acts of war).

68 = US military helicopters downed in Iraq.

64 = Percentage of Americans who oppose the war in Iraq.

57 = Percentage of Iraqis who think it is acceptable to attack American soldiers.

30 = Percentage of US soldiers who develop serious mental health problems within 3 to 4 months of returning home.

28 = Percent of Iraqi children suffering from chronic malnutrition.

14 = Journalists killed by US forces.

5 = Years since we invaded Iraq on the word of our current administration – one with ties to the oil community.

1 = Man that put us there, claiming the need to protect the US from Iraq’s Weapons of Mass Destruction.

0 = Number of WMDs found in Iraq.

*If you have any stats that I missed, let me know (with citations) and I’ll add them to the list

Vote

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Tomorrow is Super Tuesday – the day that 24 states have their primaries. And even though Pennsylvania is not one of them, I can’t pass up the chance to tell people what to do, so I’m telling you – if your state has it’s primary – vote. I’m pulling a previously published entry out of the vault, dusting it off and updating it. Partly because I’m lazy and any shortcut is a good one to me and partly because – sadly – little had changed since I first posted this. Regardless of my motivation or lack thereof, you should vote. Here are a few reasons why:

1. Because someone is talking about raising your taxes or reassessing your property or cutting your benefits or taking your land or raising your energy costs or lowering your wages or eliminating your job. Vote.

2. Because you love to run your big fat mouth about the government, and the problems in your country or state or city or borough. Vote.

3. Because we all should have the right to get married. Vote.

4. Because you’re sick of making 77 cents on the dollar (or 66 or 55) compared to your white, male counterpart.

5. Because even though you believe in God (or not), you understand that he doesn’t belong in our schools. Besides, if he’s in your heart, you don’t need someone to lead you to him during recess anyway. Or because you think he does belong there. Vote.

6. Because you have no social life and fucking with the last-minute campaign workers is fun. As they thrust their literature at you, hand them your card. Or a losing lottery ticket. Or a playing card. Or a tootsie pop. Or a scientology brochure. Have fun with it. Vote.

7. Because pretty soon it might be your city that has an official who wants to ban dancing because it’s a “social ill” that leads to indecent behavior and violence. Or it already IS your town. Vote.

8. Because your local sheriff thinks it’s OK to fire you because you are ‘living in sin’. Vote.

9. Because there’s nothing on TV at that time anyway. Vote.

10. Because you’re damned sick and tired of hearing about more and more (and more) casualties. Vote.

11. Vote.

12. Because voting is HOT! Vote.

13. Because you can. Vote.

14. Because you should. Vote.

15. Because the notion that blind allegiance = patriotism needs to abolished once and for all. Vote.

16. Because Sayid is foxy. OK, this one had nothing to do with voting, but still, when you watch Lost on Thursday, you can enjoy the hotness of Sayid even more knowing you voted. And think about it – after 9/11 there are a lot of people who would have shipped him “back home” for being an “Ay-rab”, even though he was born in the UK and is of Indian descent. Vote.

18. Because regardless of what you thought of the outcome, Election 2000 should never happen again. Vote.

19. Because way too many people are still displaced in the southeast US. Vote.

20. Because poverty is still a huge problem in the US. Vote.

21. Because I said so. Vote.

22. Because breathing other people’s smoke sucks. Vote.

23. Because you want control over your own body. Vote.

24. Because no book should ever be banned. Vote.

25. Because not many of us can afford college. Vote

26. Because 46 million Americans are without health care. Think this doesn’t affect you? You’re wrong. These people end up using emergency rooms for basic healthcare, which clogs up the system, resulting in inferior care and increased costs for everyone. Vote.

27. Because over 13 million children in the US (and 300 million worldwide) go to bed hungry every night and don’t know when their next meal will come. Vote.

28. Because that Native American from the 70s? Still crying. Vote.

29. Because you do not need an AK47 to kill a deer. Vote.

30. Because 44 years later, we’re still not judging people by the content of their character. Vote.

31. Because you, unlike your president, can pronounce nuclear . Vote.

32. Because the suffragettes and the civil rights workers didn’t their bust their asses for you to sit on yours. Vote.

33. Because so very many children are being left behind. Vote.

34. Because as much as it sucks, picking the lesser of the two evils is better than letting everyone else pick for you. Vote.

So, in case you didn’t get me: Please Vote.

Big Bad Wolf

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I overheard some people talking recently about the possible tax rebates that are being considered by the Bush administration. One person, in particular thought that it was proof that Bush is a fine president, what with giving us money and all. The other wasn’t quite as enthusiastic about Bush, but was happy to get the money. It took everything I had to keep from yelling, “Blood Money!” But then I realized that if I did, I would be a hypocrite. Because if ol’ Dumbya sends me a check for $800 or $1600 or $1800, I’ve got carpet and trim and insulation and furniture to pay for, so I won’t wait a minute before cashing it. I’d like to say that I’d donate it, or burn it on the White House lawn in protest, but 1) it’s money I’ve paid in taxes, and 2) furniture.

So I’ll take the money if it comes but I’ll be damned if it will mesmerize me into thinking that Bush is doing something right. Because first of all, they are considering this rebate because the economy is in the shitter. And whose fault would that be? Well, let’s think back. During the last administration, the economy was in better shape than it had been in years. So what’s changed since then? Oh yeah – Georgie boy! So his handing out a tax rebate and expecting us to join in on the back patting is a little like expecting your grandma to shower you with praise you for having perfectly super-glued together the 12 place settings of her grandma’s china that you used for target practice.

And it does feel like blood money. You think it’s a coincidence that this is happening in an election year? An election year following years of lies? A wilting economy? Job after job being taken from the working class and sent overseas? The environment falling apart right before our eyes while the Bush administration sits back and denies the scientific proof right in front of them? Non-existent weapons of mass destruction? Thousands of troops killed? Millions of Americans living in poverty? Our president can barely speak English! Our vice president shot someone! What a better way to go out than to leave us citizens with a big, fat check in our hands. Coincidence? I think not. I realize that Bush can’t run again (thank god), but his republican cronies are shaking in their shoes, whispering, “They hate us – quick – throw money at them!” So while I’ll skip merrily to the bank, check in hand, there’s not a chance in hell that on the way, I’ll be thinking about what a great president and all around super cool guy Bush is.

Sure – I know that my vote for a democrat is likely a vote for higher taxes. I know it and I don’t care. Because there are a lot of other things that are more important to me and they’re worth paying for. If I’m shopping for a car, I know I can get an old clunker pretty cheap. But do I really to give up safety features in exchange for a better price? Or would I rather spend more and get something that will protect my family?

I could buy my prescription drugs online and save money, but I really don’t think I want to risk mr b’s health by taking a chance on d1ovan or lip1tor? No, I think I’ll spend the extra money for the extra vowels, thank you very much.

When we started the addition, we decided it was very important to us to use the most energy efficient and environmentally friendly products we can, and we know it would cost is. Tankless water heaters and bamboo floors are not cheap. But the long term effects on the environment are worth it, as are the long term saving in energy costs. Hell, even the third little pig understood that while using brick was more time-consuming and expensive, it was a hell of a lot better than straw or sticks.

If I’m willing to pay a little more for these thing, why not for a government that works? Anyone you ask will surely say that yes, they want to end poverty and yes, they want to increase jobs and yes they want to keep the earth clean and yes they think everyone deserves a hot meal and a warm bed and good medical care. But how many of those people are still around when they find out they have to pay for it? It’s funny how so many of those people that like to say that freedom isn’t free (it isn’t), don’t seem to understand that nothing else is, either.

Sure, I’d like to have more money in my pocket, but I look at the extra expense as the same getting the safer car, the medicine that works or the earth friendly house. I see it as keeping the big, bad wolf away.