Saturday, March 29, 2008

Iraq Government Powerless To Stop Malitias.

So here is a good idea of the problem in Iraq, Muqtada Al-Sadr, in an interview aired Saturday by Al-Jazeera television, said his Mahdi Army was capable of "liberating Iraq" and maintained al-Maliki's government was as "distant" from the people as Saddam Hussein's.

Now before you go assuming that Al-Jazeera is the problem, they are only the messenger. The message is that the major factions of the resistance in Iraq believes that the Al-Maliki government is impotent and not in touch with the Iraqi people. That is a signal that the government will have a big problem regaining any sense of authority in the country.

Al-Maliki’s threats against the Mahdi Army had no teeth. Fighting continues and in fact much of Baghdad and Basra are under Mahdi Army or other militia control. The prime minister’s threats aside, there seems to be no real plan other than to resist the militias with force.

Now the original 72 hour ultimatum has been extended to April 8. IN other words, the government is admitting they cannot stop things, so they change the ultimatum. That is a sign of weakness and what I suspect will end in failure.

Blogging From 16th Democratic Senatorial Convention In Dallas

The convention continued without a hitch until the reports from the credentials committee regarding several challenges to delegate counts. Most of the specific cases involved either a miscount or someone voting in the wrong precinct caucus. Some precincts shared a caucus location and that led to confusion.

The real problem came from the credentials committee trying to explain the majority report of a challenge. The majority report found that the delegate count for a particular precinct was off by 2 delegates, though in the end it still wouldn’t change the overall total. Then a minority report was read and people misinterpreted the minority report as a continued challenge. The hall erupted in boos and cheers.

After several minutes a few of us managed to get the chair to explain exactly what the reports meant, and once they were explained, most people voted to accept the reports as read.

BY now unrest had permeated the hall and the crowd had to be silenced by the sergeant at arms several times. Finally someone moved to adopt the recommendations of the bipartisan credentials committee and after a few parliamentary maneuvers that made no difference at all, the motion carried and we could begin the business of the convention.

Now the precincts held caucuses and signed in for each candidate. We elected delegates for the state convention and then waited for the various committees to report.

After a couple of hours of eating bad nachos and waiting, we heard the resolutions submitted by the resolutions committee at 5:45pm just 15 minutes before we had to clear the hall. Since there were 42 different resolutions a movement was made to at least read the titles of the resolutions. Most were cheered, but a few were vague and objections were raised. After SMU agreeing to allow us to continue in the main coliseum, the resolutions were clarified. I had another appointment and had to leave, but I assume they passed with minimal drama since most would be debated again at the State Convention.

After the long day I have to agree with Otto von Bismarck who said there are two things you don’t want to see made, sausage and laws. Well in my lifetime I have seen both and I would still prefer seeing laws made to sausage!

Live Blogging From 16th DIstrict State Senatorial Convention - Speeches and More Speeches

Things at the 16th District State Senatorial convention are a bit scattered, but not much more than any other convention. There have been a few speeches including a number of local officials who advocated one or the other presidential candidates. Both Obama and Clinton have had people speak for them.

The opening invocation and first speaker was Shannon Bailey. Shannon was a controversial figure after his arrest in White Rock Park last year for lewd behavior. He still maintains his innocence and has yet to be prosecuted. In his opening remarks he took time to give a personal note.

Shannon addressed his arrest and the issues surrounding it. He also stated that he was innocent of any lewd behavior, yet he admitted his intentions may have been less than admirable. It took a lot of strength to stand in front of the convention , some 3000+ people and state that, and I applaud him for his candor.

Right now the speeches are continuing and I am hoping for some progress toward the precinct caucuses where we will actual elect delegates and do the business of the convention.

More later.

Maliki Calls Sadr Followers "Worse Than Al Qaeda"

So now Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki is trying to demonize the militias by calling them “worse than Al Qaeda." For a man whose strategy to win the country has been stubborn resistance, and a prime minister whose credentials are questionable, since he is primarily a US puppet, this incendiary rhetoric makes no sense. I would think a great leader would be trying to unify the country not alienate huge sections of the population.

His intransigence and inability to govern really speaks volumes about the team we have decided to back in Iraq. Now, I don’t approve of any violence, but to resist negotiations and dismiss a very powerful enemy as “worse than Al Qaeda” is nonsense.

Basra is a mess, the battle there is not going wel for the Iraq government and most of Baghdad is still under a curfew. Now would seem to be the time to try to make peace, noty stir the already angry hornets nest.

Live Blogging From 16th State Senatorial District Convention in Dallas

I am sitting in the bleachers in Moody Coliseum in the SMU campus here in Dallas. The building is slowly filling with excited and already weary Democrats for the 16th District Convention.

For most of us it is a new experience, and that makes it fun, though I suspect in a few hours it will be getting a bit old. Waiting outside for a couple of hours just to clear the credentials check was frustrating but the camaraderie was high.

I am here with the Obama delegates from my precinct and hope to be blogging throughout the day of the goings on. More later.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Breasts Dominate The News - Where Was Iraq?

The news was full of stories about breasts today instead of the chaos in Iraq. Breasts?

First was the tale of a woman who was forced to remove her nipple rings before boarding a plane. According to CNN reports the woman, Mandi Hamlin, was forced to remove the rings in Houston Texas by a TSA agent. The problem is that there is no requirement to remove jewelry before boarding a plane. Additionally the rings required a pliers to replace. Well that is certainly more important that the war going south in Iraq.

Then there was the story about the other woman tossed off a plane for breast feeding. The problem is that it is legal and besides she was in the rear of the plane sitting next to her husband. Oh yea that’s definitely more important than chaos in Iraq.

Our news organizations suck!

More Video From Iraq Today

Here is some of the video you won't see on CNN. (From LiveLeak) It is raw footage of militia members fighting and celebrating.

Pentagon Defrauded By 21 Year Old Arms Dealer!

So here’s a funny story. This 21 year dude in Miami gets a $300 million contract from the Pentagon to provide Hungarian-made ammunitions to Afghani troops. And here’s the really funny part. Turns out the stuff is really made in China! Ain’t that a knee slapper?

How the f#*k does a 21 year old get a $300 million contract? More importantly, his company had a web site that was selling this stuff to anyone who signed on. The site called AmmoWorks is no longer online after the news blog, began investigating it. The fraud case is still under investigation by the Pentagon.

So here is a little advice Pentagon guys, at least do a little research before you throw money around. You could have Googled the guys company and found enough suspicious crap that you would have run in terror. Geez!

It's Time For Hillary To Concede!

Someone has finally had the guts to say it, and not just one person, quite a few. This time has come for Hillary Clinton to concede and help the Democratic Party win in November. Her insistence in continuing a no-win battle through the summer is hurting the party . The latest voices calling for her to bow out are Patrick Leahy of Vermont and Chris Dodd of Connecticut. Even Howard Dean says the contest has gotten way too personal and should be settled before July and I couldn’t agree more. She has no chance of gaining the nomination in a fair manner, and can only hope for a trick or back room deal.

That kind of win would alienate so many voters that the Democrats would hand the Presidency to McCain in November and kill any enthusiasm and momentum for change. If she is picked through machinations of the system, through gaining delegates in Florida and Michigan, where the state parties broke the rules, the American public will see that she is just another Washington politician willing to do anything to win.

Personally I think an Obama-Clinton ticket would be unbeatable, but I doubt if Ms. Clintons ego would allow that. Barring that, she could really help the party by moving to the sidelines and helping defeat McCain and the faltering GOP machine.

Come on Hillary! Step up to the plate and do something for the team not just yourself!

Video Glimpse Of Baghdad

From an Iraqi blogger, this video was made back in June of last year. Seeing the destruction and desolation I can only imagine what it is like today.

Parts Of Baghdad Under Militia Control - Basra In Flames

Get ready for the big thud, the sound of the other shoe dropping in Iraq.

Nouri al-Maliki’s bluster sounds a bit muted now as his push-back in Basra has stalled and areas of the capitol, Baghdad are under militia control. Al-Maliki gambled everything on the success of Operation Saulat al-Fursan, or Charge of the Knights, to sweep illegal militias out of Basra. That operation, even with US assistance seems hopelessly stalled right now.

Meanwhile in Baghdad the Mahdi Army took over neighborhoods of the city one by one. In some areas resistance was so mild that the militia simply ordered police to leave and they complied. According to one report, a witness saw Iraqi Shia policemen rip off their uniform shirts and run for shelter with local Sunni neighborhood patrols, most of them made up of former insurgents wooed by the US military into fighting al-Qaeda.

The developments continue to be virtually ignored by the US press. I have to wonder why? Are they affraid to report on how badly things are going or are they being bullied by the Bush administration to censor the news?

US Forces Bomb Basra - Fighting Escalates Throughout Iraq

And so it begins, again! US forces bombed sites in Basra overnight. We are bombing Shiite militias or at least that is the idea. The problem with this is we are enforcing the Iraq Prime Ministers threat of "no retreat" in the fight against militias in Basra. The other problem is a growing anger among followers of radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr and his Mahdi Army. Now we are backing one side in what is fast becoming a civil war.

Unlike conventional civil wars, there are three factions here. The Shiites lead by Muqtada al-Sadr, the Badir brigade under Al Hakeem and the Iraqi government forces. We are siding with the government, even though we have been trying to build coalitions to end the violence and that will destroy any good will.

For the average Iraqi, their world has become chaos. Baghdad is under a curfew, yet fighting continues and other cities such as Basra and Nasiriya have erupted in pitched battles. The Green Zone in Baghdad is not even immune to attack and has become the focus of repeated rocket fire and mortars. US Embassy personnel are being told to stay in shelters and wear protective clothing when traveling outside.

In a vain attempt to quell the violence the Prime Minister is offering a cash for weapons trade, but with things being so volatile, it seems to be an impotent deal.

The press in this country is preoccupied with the election and has under reported the whole mess. They are simply saying there are some clashes, but it is much worse than that. If you remember the scenes in Vietnam just prior to the fall of Saigon, you might have an idea of the scene in Baghdad. From the messages of bloggers there, it sounds pretty hopeless. I will keep them in my prayers.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Iraq In Meltdown - News From Iraqi Bloggers And It's Not Good

I received this information from a friend and blogger in Iraq. I have posted his information several ties here and will continue to do so whenever possible. He is a dentist in Baghdad and blogs irregularly whenever there is power and an available phone line or computer.

I was getting in my car to get home from the clinic when I saw one of the clinic's guards running toward me…"Doc. Leave now and try to get home as fast as you can…it's getting really dangerous" he said. I was so surprised and I asked him "what's wrong? What happened?" he said" It has gone really bad in Sadir City, it has really gone out of control… and it's spreading everywhere and it's spreading pretty fast…there are fierce confrontations between AlMahdy army and Badir brigade".
He was witnessing the beginning of the Iraq meltdown that is happening as I write. In Sadir City the confrontations are taking a bloody turn. Factions loyal to Muqtada are fighting other factions and the Iraqi government troops are fighting both. Our troops are caught in the middle of the whole mess trying to maintain order as chaos spreads.

AlMahdi Army have taken control over the police and army checkpoints and they are using their tanks and armored vehicles!! AlMaliki in Basrah leading the battle against AlMahdi Army announced from his position that anyone who will not attend his work will be considered with and loyal to AlMahdi Army.

While Muqtada ordered his followers to distribute copies of Quran with olive branches to every police or army checkpoint they meet!!! What a controversy with the civil disobedience! But that was what he said in public and god knows what his real orders were.

It is Friday in Iraq and by morning here in the United States I fear things will have changed greatly. At the end of his post he state the same fear and frustration.

I'm so sad that these things happened; I knew it was coming but I hoped that it will not or it will at least be delayed.

Only god knows what will happen next…I'm sure there are so many things coming on the way…And we have AlMaliki saying that who will not go to work will be considered loyal to AlMahdi army…what could the civilians do? Go to their work and get killed by AlMahdi army…or put themselves in big troubles and might be killed if they don't go to work? It's a real mess.

"Green Zone" Target Of Continued Attacks - Emergency Session Of Iraq Congress Called

The Green Zone in Baghdad has come under such intense fire today that diplomats in the US embassy have been told to stay in reinforced structures or wear protective gear outside. At night they are warned to sleep in underground shelters.

This renewed attack is coming from factions of Shiite militias loyal to Muqtada al-Sadr. According to some reports some of the weapons came from Iran, but there is no confirmation as of now. It would not be a surprise since Iranians have encouraged the Shiite factions in the past.

The attacks are targeted at the Green Zone for a reason. That’s where the Iraqi Government is and that’s where the US operations are based. That shows the real enemies of the militias are not Sunnis but us! The Iraqi government is perceived rightly or wrongly as a puppet administration manipulated by the United States. I had previously characterized this as a civil war, but I may have to eat those words.

Our presence and the bolstering of the Iraqi government is exacerbating the conflict, and though it may have elements of a civil war, it also has elements of a populist movement trying to drive invaders out of the country. I am reminded of Vichy France and how that government ran for cover as soon as the invasion of D-Day began. I suspect if things go very bad, the present government will be looked upon as collaborators.

My sincere hope is that things will improve, but I feel that our government has no clue as to how to solve the problems caused by our invasion.

UPDATE: As I post this the Iraqi Government is calling a special emergency session to figure out how to end the problem. According to Reuters:

U.S.-backed Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki vowed on Thursday that security forces would battle Shi'ite militia in Basra "to the end" despite huge demonstrations to demand his resignation.

Bush Thinks The Rebate Checks Will Cure Our Economic Problems And Other Myths

OK, it’s time someone took President Bush by the hand and took him into a nice, safe asylum somewhere. The man is either a complete and pathological liar, or off his rocker. His latest unbelievable statement comes in an assurance that though the economy is going through a rough patch, if we just wait for people to spend their $600 checks from the government it’s all going to get better!

Those "economic stimulus" checks are not even a drop in the bucket for people strapped by high gas prices and ever more expensive food. The economy is on the skids and in a full-blown recession and a $600 check may pay one bill, but it won’t jump start the economy. That will take a sound economic policy, something the Bush folks have never understood.

And as far as stimulus is concerned, according to a CNN survey most people will use the checks to pay down debt, not go out on a spending spree. Besides, with the exception of a few tanks of $3.35 per gallon gas, what the heck can you buy for $600 that will make a damned bit of difference?

California Utility Announces Massive Solar Project!

Finally a utility company gets it! Southern California Edison will announce plans today for an $875 million solar project in the Greater Los Angeles area. The installation will cover 65 million Square feet of rooftops in the LA area and will provide enough power for 162,000 homes.

The project comes as a result in the lower price of solar panels in recent months. As cost decreases more and more companies will find solar a more attractive option. The power company also sees the measure as a stop-gap for the peak use days of summer.

Turning sun into a natural resource is something we Texans should be seriously considering. The wind farms in the western part of the state are a great start to solving our power problems, but a diversified and renewable source is needed.

Bush Delusional Again, Calls Renewed Violence In Iraq, "Very Positive Moment"

If you ever needed proof that our current Commander in Chief is delusional, take this quote about the current explosion of violence in Iraq. “It was a very positive moment in the development of a sovereign nation that is willing to take on elements that believe they are beyond the law.”

Positive moment? I guess he would call he fall of Saigon a positive moment as well. Rockets are raining down on the Green Zone, Muqtada al-Sadr is calling for the overthrow of the US-backed government and any calm in Iraq is over.

More delusional words come from the Pentagon who calls the violence a “by-product of the success of the surge." Those guys over at that building must be drinking the same Kool-Aid as Bush.

The Iraq Mess - Pipeline Explosion & General Strike Threatens Stability Of The Country

And so in further proof that the “surge” is working, Muqtada al-Sadr, the cleric who has titular command of the Mahdi Army, a Shiite militia, has called for a general strike. From the looks of Baghdad and other major cities it’s working.

The strike is in response to the Iraqi government demand that all fighting cease in 3 days. That has fallen on deaf ears as fighting rages in Baghdad proper and the Green Zone is target to continued shelling from militia forces. Fears are running high that a strike would close hospitals and other basic services and bring life in the country to a standstill.

Add to this problem the explosion this morning at one of the two major pipelines for Iraq oil in the Zubair area west of Basra. Despite the huge interruption the blast caused, the Iraqi Oil Ministry insists that it will have no effect on oil production and shipments.

If you believe that one you have been inhaling too many fumes from the burning infrastructure in Iraq. But hey, the surge worked!

What Does Leather Do To You? Satire

OK, so most everyone who knows me will get this wonderfully witty commercial from Danier Leather. If you don't know me, perhaps this will give you a bit of insight!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Will Condi Run As McCain VP?

So I’ve said it before and I will say it again. Condi Rice will run as McCain’s VP. Just a prediction I know, but she is again making noises, she protests yet she is speaking before Grover Norquist’s Wednesday "powerhouse gathering".

My previous prediction was that Cheney will step down sometime in the near future and she will be appointed as VP to fill out his term. Nice position to become the VO nominee and perhaps a Presidential nominee in 2012.

Keep watching the skys!

Another Fightin' Dem - Iowa's William Meyers

Gotta love those veterans who are running as Democrats against the war!

Here in Texas we have Rick Noriega, a veteran of the Afghanistan war and a serious contender against the well entrenched John Cornyn. I was chatting with a friend in Iowa this morning and fond he was working on the campaign of another "Fighting Dem".

Up in Iowa a real grass roots fight is being waged by William J. Meyers, an ex Marine. His campaign is being supported through individual contributions and it’s an uphill fight. Still, Meyers is waging a pitched battle against a big money candidate, Tom Latham. Though Latham puts on the country farm-boy act he gets his support from big money.

Wouldn’t it be nice to see a real patriot, a veteran and a progressive win that seat for the Democratic Party? Click here to contribute or get involved, even if you are not from Iowa!

Huge Ice Shelf Breaks Off Antarctica - More Global Warming Proof

Imagine the island of Manhattan.

Now imagine that it is actually a huge mass of Antarctic ice.

Now imagine that mass breaking off from the huge ice shelf that surrounds the Antarctic, and you have an idea of what is happening right now. The Wilkins Ice Shelf just lost a 160 square mile section of ice. The huge shelf broke off as a result of global warming and should serve as further proof that the global warming deniers are full of hot air, more precisely hot CO2.

Satellite imagery from the National Snow and Ice Data Center at the University of Colorado at Boulder reveals that a 13,680 square kilometer (5,282 square mile) ice shelf has begun to collapse because of rapid climate change in a fast-warming region of Antarctica.

Read more about it here.

Heavy Fighting In Iraq, Baghdad A Ghost Town

I have to hand it to President Bush, the surge seems to have worked…in exactly the wrong way!

Today, Baghdad is a ghost town. Shiite militias have laid siege to the city as well as the southern city of Basra and the Prime Minister has issued an ultimatum. It seems that Moktada al-Sadr either will not or cannot control his groups and they are fighting regardless of a cease fire. The government is mounting a counterattack and things look like they are about to blow up big time.

So exactly how does this make things better? There seems to be no explanation from Washington on the latest dramatic events and their relationship to our surge. Indeed, though the surge had a limited effect, it did nothing to address the root cause of the violence. The Iraq government is still a mess and the Iraqi congress seems impotent.

Sure looks like a civil war to me.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

The End Of The World, Or Something Like It. (Video)

I got this viral video from a friend and it really made my day. Fun and poignant. Damn Kangaroos! (watch and you'll understand.)

New "Obama Girl" Video

OK, so it's not nearly as clever as some of the viral videos going around but there are funny moments.

Pentagon Accidentally Ships Nuclear Fuses To Taiwan - 2 Years Ago!

So funny story. You know those fuses used to explode nuclear weapons? Well, you’re gonna love this, we accidentally shipped a case of them to Taiwan back in 2006. Even funnier, we just discovered it last week!

Ain’t that a knee slapper?

So the Pentagon has such a sure fire control system over nuclear components that we accidentally ship them to other countries thinking they were helicopter batteries. No fooling!

The Pentagon is investigating. THE PENTAGON IS INVESTIGATING? The Pentagon should be shipped to Taiwan! Come on people, get the idiot political operatives out of the military and get someone who understands the gravitas of having the world’s largest arsenal of nuclear weapons. Sheesh!

We're Number 21! Hooray!

Myths die hard. First there was the myth that our country had the most free press in the world. A study released last year showed that to be a myth. Who would have thought Finland would top the list? The US came in at a paltry 56th.

Then there was the myth that we are the freest country in the world. That one dies hard as well with Estonia, Ireland, Canada, Switzerland, Iceland, The Bahamas and United Kingdon all ranking higher on the liberty index than the USA.

Now comes the news that we aren’t even the most stable country in the world. 21 countries are ranked more stable than the United States. What can we excel at anymore? Well we are the world’s leader in debt!

So next time you hear a politician make grand pronouncements about the state of our country, take them with a large helping of salt. The truth is, we are a very large country with our share of problems like everyone else. We need to start behaving like a member of the world community instead of its self-glorifying bully.

State Department Contractors A Symptom Of A Bigger Issue

The problem with the snooping into the passport records of presidential candidates that recently popped up is a red flag for a bigger problem facing American workers. The government has systematically been replacing or augmenting employees with “contract” workers. For someone not familiar with this little ploy, let me explain.

Major corporations a few years ago figured out how to reduce costs of employee benefits, hire fewer employees. I worked for a company for a short time that practiced this technique. The scenario goes like this. You contract a “staffing” firm to provide personnel to fill positions that would otherwise be held by full time employees. Because they are not technically on your payroll, you are not obligated to provide benefits for them, nor do you have to keep the requisite paperwork in your HR departments. These contract workers are someone else’s employees who are just on site fulfilling a contract.

That means that they sit beside full time workers doing the same jobs but without any of the benefits of full time employment at the company. Because of the tight job market, they agree to work for an hourly wage far below that paid by the company and as an employee of the staffing firm, their taxes and other paperwork is handled by that firm.

The staffing firm makes its money on the difference between the benefits costs of full time employees and the amount paid them per hour by the primary corporation. In other words, they buy low and sell high, but not so high as to reach the level of a full time employee.

Why would a company do this? Well to save a few bucks, but also to free it from obligations it would have to a full time employee. Contract workers can be terminated without penalty or question. They show up on the P&L reports as outside expenses and through creative accounting make the company look more productive than it really is. More specifically, they avoid any obligations regarding unemployment payments or insurance or pensions, and in a company that may have a union, this is a way to circumvent the union regulations as well.

The other sneaking trick is that many of the staffing firms are actually owned by the companies they provide “contract workers” for. In other words it’s a scam and the people who pay for it are the contract workers, who get no benefits but all the responsibilities of working for the corporation.

Well the State Department figured this trick out and now hires lots of contract workers to handle the “overflow” of work. That translates into a conscious understaffing by the State Department in order to pass off some of the cost to a private company who reaps the profits that would otherwise go to pay for insurance and benefits.

Ain’t deregulation grand?

Monday, March 24, 2008

Hillary Clinton & Peter Paul - The Campaign Contribution Scandal You've Never Heard About!

I have no doubt that most politicians have a few skeletons in their closet, but here is an interesting documentary showing a really big one in Hillary Clinton’s closet. It is a long video bite from a larger documentary, but it is well worth watching. Stay with it and you will understand what the ruckus is about.

The documentary details litigation against Hillary and Bill Clinton by the people behind Stan Lee Media. Peter Paul, one of the principals in the company contributed large amounts of money to her Senate Campaign. Today she claims she knows nothing about it, even though there are video clips and audio clips clearly showing Hillary thanking Peter Paul and acknowledging the contributions.

Pat Buchanan - "Black Folks" Should Be Grateful For Slavery

Just when I thought I had seen it all, Pat Buchanan manages to surprise me.

In commenting on Barack Obama’s call for a dialogue on race in America, Buchanan has added his most ill conceived and blatantly racist rant to that dialogue. He actually states that slavery was good for “black folks” because it brought them to America. He cites crime figures that themselves speak volumes of the unequal enforcement of the law when it comes to race. He even goes down the overly tread road of reverse discrimination.

Buchanan clearly shows his ass in this essay and instead of disputing the statements of Barack’s minister, he actually justifies them, though I suspect Pat won’t see it that way. It’s time for Buchanan to retire and go live in a nice white gated community where he can live out his fantasyland version of America.

It's Raining McCain? - OMG! (And Special Music Video Surprise)

OK, I know it is a parody, or at least it should be, but this rip on the Weathergirl's 1980's hit cracks me up. The really sad thing is that though the original song was a great disco track, the original music video sucked almost as badly as this parody. Well at least it isn't the Hillary song.


And if you survived that parody, consider this one made from the film "300". Personally, this one speaks to me much better than the other.

A Grim Milestone - 400 US Deaths In Iraq

I was driving back from Austin, Texas when I heard perhaps one of the saddest songs I have ever heard. Sad songs are just not too popular in today’s world, so when one comes along it usually sticks out. The country group Blue Highway recorded the song “Two Soldiers” on their latest album. It is not the “Two Soldiers” son made popular by Bob Dylan, rather it is a ballad about the grim duties of the two soldiers who carry the news that a loved one has died in battle.

As I listened tears welled up in my eyes. I am not usually so emotional, but I had spent the day with friends, some of whom will most likely be going back to Iraq and the seemingly endless war. Today, that song ran through my head again as I saw the latest death toll in Iraq for American Soldiers reached 4000.

Milestones are interesting, but in the great scheme of things they have little meaning. The true meaning is buried in the numbers. It is the names and lives of the men and women who died serving their country. My sadness is compounded by the thought that this war is the wrong war.

That brave soldiers had to die fighting the wrong enemy is doubly tragic. Their loss is not diminished. Their service is not tarnished, rather it is the acts and judgments of the people who sent them into the wrong battle I question.

My hope is that these latest deaths which we can so conveniently toss off as simple numbers will give the American people pause. The number 4000 should send shivers down our collective spines as we see the tragedy of the misguided leadership in our country. The additional deaths of Iraqi’s both civilian and military should be no less daunting. All could have been prevented had our leaders chosen to fight the “right” war.

In reality, there probably is no “right “ war, there are only wars with more compelling explanations. War in itself creates no clear winners or losers, only chaos and brokenness. Afterward, it is always left to the survivors the grim task of rebuilding the peace and burying the dead.

Perhaps someday, we will listen to the lyrics of that song and wonder what does it mean? Until then, it is up to all of us to insist that our government no longer wage war in the wrong place for the wrong reasons.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Another Company Recalls Poisoned Heparin From China

Oh boy! More contaminated Heparin, just what we wanted!

Yep another recall of contaminated Heparin with ingredients from China! B. Braun Medical Inc. has recalled its Heparin products in the US and Canada. These contaminated drugs join the Heparin already recalled by Baxter Pharmaceuticals last week.

Chine is making noises about stepping up regulation, but so far all their regulations have done little to keep counterfeit and contaminated products from US hospitals and stores.

The US FDA has announced that it has identified the mysterious substance contaminating some lots of the recalled blood-thinner heparin sold by Baxter International Inc. It is a compound known as over-sulfated chondroitin sulfate which is much cheaper than heparin. The safety of millions was sacrificed on the altar of profit. Time to start really inspecting anything from China, REALLY!