U.S. President, George W. Bush, “Declares Peace” after Oval Office seance with John Lennon, conducted by former First Lady, Nancy Reagan! A Merry Christmas to all!!! :)

U.S. soldiers may be home for the holidays this year, as ‘Someone’ reported today that U.S. President, George W. Bush, has “declared peace.” -In what has been described as a “seance” that purportedly involved the former first lady, Nancy Reagan channeling the late John Lennon as he spoke to Richard Nixon from his honeymoon bed in 1969, saying, “[President Nixon] should just ‘declare peace’…he’d be far more popular…and it’d be much more economical…just declare peace!”

As a result of the President’s declaration of peace, his approval rating is expected to hit it’s highest levels in years, the U.S. government is expected to save billions of dollars, and Thousands of American families are expected to have regained the privilege of enjoying the rest of their Childrens’ lives!

(“Mission Accomplished!”)

For purported footage of the event, hit play below:

“…AN EYE FOR AN EYE MAKES THE WHOLE WORLD BLIND…” –MOHANDAS KARAMCHAND GANDHI

“…if teachers teach you to do to others that which is bad for yourselves, -teach violence, execution, wars- know that they are false teachers.” -Jesus Christ (Lk. vi. 45)

“In the former law it was said: “Do good to men of your own nation, and do evil to strangers.” But I tell you, love not only your own countrymen, but people of other nations. Let strangers hate you, let them fall upon you, wrong you; but you speak well of them, and do them good. If you are only attached to your countrymen, why, all men are thus attached to their own countrymen, and hence wars arise. Behave equally towards men of all nations, and you will be sons of the Father. All men are his children and therefore all brothers to you.” -Jesus Christ (Mt. v. 43)

Thomas L. Freidman’s Op-Ed in today’s New York Times, a lucid appraisal of an absurd VP selection for McCain and Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes: “I like paying taxes. With them I buy civilization.”

The following is an Op-Ed piece by ‘From Beirut to Jerusalem’ author, Thomas L. Freidman, published today in the New York Times: (see the original by clicking here.)

Criticizing Sarah Palin is truly shooting fish in a barrel. But given the huge attention she is getting, you can’t just ignore what she has to say. And there was one thing she said in the debate with Joe Biden that really sticks in my craw. It was when she turned to Biden and declared: “You said recently that higher taxes or asking for higher taxes or paying higher taxes is patriotic. In the middle class of America, which is where Todd and I have been all of our lives, that’s not patriotic.”

What an awful statement. Palin defended the government’s $700 billion rescue plan. She defended the surge in Iraq, where her own son is now serving. She defended sending more troops to Afghanistan. And yet, at the same time, she declared that Americans who pay their fair share of taxes to support all those government-led endeavors should not be considered patriotic.

I only wish she had been asked: “Governor Palin, if paying taxes is not considered patriotic in your neighborhood, who is going to pay for the body armor that will protect your son in Iraq? Who is going to pay for the bailout you endorsed? If it isn’t from tax revenues, there are only two ways to pay for those big projects — printing more money or borrowing more money. Do you think borrowing money from China is more patriotic than raising it in taxes from Americans?” That is not putting America first. That is selling America first.

Sorry, I grew up in a very middle-class family in a very middle-class suburb of Minneapolis, and my parents taught me that paying taxes, while certainly no fun, was how we paid for the police and the Army, our public universities and local schools, scientific research and Medicare for the elderly. No one said it better than Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes: “I like paying taxes. With them I buy civilization.”

I can understand someone saying that the government has no business bailing out the financial system, but I can’t understand someone arguing that we should do that but not pay for it with taxes. I can understand someone saying we have no business in Iraq, but I can’t understand someone who advocates staying in Iraq until “victory” declaring that paying taxes to fund that is not patriotic.

How in the world can conservative commentators write with a straight face that this woman should be vice president of the United States? Do these people understand what serious trouble our country is in right now?

We are in the middle of an economic perfect storm, and we don’t know how much worse it’s going to get. People all over the world are hoarding cash, and no bank feels that it can fully trust anyone it is doing business with anywhere in the world. Did you notice that the government of Iceland just seized the country’s second-largest bank and today is begging Russia for a $5 billion loan to stave off “national bankruptcy.” What does that say? It tells you that financial globalization has gone so much farther and faster than regulatory institutions could govern it. Our crisis could bankrupt Iceland! Who knew?

And we have not yet even felt the full economic brunt here. I fear we may be at that moment just before the tsunami hits — when the birds take flight and the insects stop chirping because their acute senses can feel what is coming before humans can. At this moment, only good governance can save us. I am not sure that this crisis will end without every government in every major economy guaranteeing the creditworthiness of every financial institution it regulates. That may be the only way to get lending going again. Organizing something that big and complex will take some really smart governance and seasoned leadership.

Whether or not I agree with John McCain, he is of presidential timber. But putting the country in the position where a total novice like Sarah Palin could be asked to steer us through possibly the most serious economic crisis of our lives is flat out reckless. It is the opposite of conservative.

And please don’t tell me she will hire smart advisers. What happens when her two smartest advisers disagree?

And please also don’t tell me she is an “energy expert.” She is an energy expert exactly the same way the king of Saudi Arabia is an energy expert — by accident of residence. Palin happens to be governor of the Saudi Arabia of America — Alaska — and the only energy expertise she has is the same as the king of Saudi Arabia’s. It’s about how the windfall profits from the oil in their respective kingdoms should be divided between the oil companies and the people.

At least the king of Saudi Arabia, in advocating “drill baby drill,” is serving his country’s interests — by prolonging America’s dependence on oil. My problem with Palin is that she is also serving his country’s interests — by prolonging America’s dependence on oil. That’s not patriotic. Patriotic is offering a plan to build our economy — not by tax cuts or punching more holes in the ground, but by empowering more Americans to work in productive and innovative jobs. If Palin has that kind of a plan, I haven’t heard it.”

Re-reading the Gettysburg Address with today’s world in mind…

The Gettysburg Address, by Abraham Lincoln
Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.
Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.
But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate — we can not consecrate — we can not hallow — this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us — that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion — that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

Mr. Smith Goes to War With KBR

Published as a New York Times editorial : June 19, 2008

In the annals of Iraq war profiteering, put Charles Smith down as one of the casualties. Four years ago, Army auditors notified Mr. Smith, a Pentagon contract manager, that KBR, the Bush administration’s most favored defense contractor, could not adequately explain more than $1 billion in war billings.

Mr. Smith, a career civilian employee, did his duty: He confronted KBR and warned that unless they supplied credible justification, he would levy penalties of 15 percent on future work payments while also, needless to say, blocking any performance bonuses for the company.

Whoops. Mr. Smith was replaced suddenly by the brass in overseeing the contract and the Pentagon took the unusual step of second-guessing its own auditors by hiring an outside contractor to reconsider the claims from KBR. Such is the clout of the Texas-based company and largest Pentagon contractor in Iraq, once part of the Halliburton conglomerate so dear to the heart and wallet of Vice President Dick Cheney.

Sure enough, KBR’s claims were soon unblocked. The contract Goliath got performance bonuses, too.

The risks of bucking KBR from inside the defense establishment were disclosed by Mr. Smith to James Risen of The Times. “Ultimately, the money that was going to KBR was money being taken away from the troops, and I wasn’t going to do that,” said Mr. Smith, now retired. The Pentagon insists that it had good management motives in reversing Mr. Smith and heeding KBR’s warning that penalties would erode basic services for the troops. The military dares to maintain that Mr. Smith was not taken off the job because of political pressure.

Nothing much seems to have stood in the company’s way since Mr. Smith was purged. KBR just snared a big piece of a new 10-year, $150 billion Iraq contract.

A BBC investigation on U.S. war profiteering estimates that $23 billion of taxpayer funds has been “lost, stolen, or not properly accounted for in Iraq.”

A BBC investigation on U.S. war profiteering estimates that $23 billion of taxpayer funds has been “lost, stolen, or not properly accounted for in Iraq.” The figure, which uses U.S. and Iraqi government sources, is meeting resistance from the Bush administration, which pushed through a gag order in dozens of court cases involving the alleged mismanagement of funds by private contractors.


The BBC:

The BBC’s Panorama programme has used US and Iraqi government sources to research how much some private contractors have profited from the conflict and rebuilding.

A US gagging order is preventing discussion of the allegations.

The order applies to 70 court cases against some of the top US companies.

To date, no major US contractor faces trial for fraud or mismanagement in Iraq. Read the rest of this article here.

sorry about your children...

New York Times reports U.S. government is splitting up KBR/Halliburton military contract monopoly in Iraq due to mismanagement and wasteful spending, rape, and electrocutions

Controversial Contractor’s Iraq Work Is Split Up

Published: May 24, 2008

WASHINGTON — Sometime soon, a group of American corporate executives and military leaders will quietly sit down and divide Iraq into three parts.

Their meeting will not have anything to do with Iraq’s national sovereignty, but instead will involve slicing up billions of dollars in work for the defense contractors that support the American military’s presence in the country.

For the first time since the war began, the largest single Pentagon contract in Iraq is being divided among three companies, ending the monopoly held by KBR, the Houston-based corporation that has been accused of wasteful spending and mismanagement and of exploiting its political ties to Vice President Dick Cheney.

Yet even as the Pentagon begins to pull apart the enormous KBR contract, critics warn that the new three-company deal could actually result in higher costs for American taxpayers and weak oversight by the military. In fact, under the new deal, KBR and the two other companies could actually make more than three times as much as KBR has been paid each year since the war began.

Last month the Pentagon awarded the companies pieces of a new contract to provide food, shelter and basic services for American soldiers, a 10-year, $150 billion deal that stretches far beyond the final days of the Bush administration. KBR will still get a sizable chunk of the business, but now it will have to share the work with Fluor Corporation and DynCorp International.

Army officials and executives of the three companies are planning to meet in the next few weeks to start the complex process of breaking up KBR’s sprawling operations in Iraq.

KBR, previously a subsidiary of Halliburton, once headed by Mr. Cheney, has collected more than $24 billion since the war began. It has 40,000 employees in Iraq and 28,000 more in Afghanistan and Kuwait.

But KBR has come under fire from Congress and Pentagon auditors for complaints ranging from making more than $200 million in excessive charges, including meals never served to soldiers, to delivering unsafe water to American troops to doing little to prevent sexual assaults of its female employees, often by their KBR co-workers.

Army officials acknowledge that they were under intense pressure from Capitol Hill to give KBR some competition, yet leading Democratic lawmakers and other critics say the new contract will merely paper over the fundamental problems that stem from the Pentagon’s heavy dependence on outside contractors in Iraq.

“This is just another verse in the same old song,” said Senator Byron L. Dorgan, a Democrat from North Dakota who is one of the leading Congressional critics of KBR and other major defense contractors. “It appears to me that this is a broken process.”

Critics also say they doubt that the new contract will result in significant cost savings or better services for soldiers in Iraq. The Army has built into the deal the potential for larger profits for the contractors than existed under the prior contract, and it plans to outsource much of the management and oversight of the contractors to yet another company, Serco Inc., for $59 million.

“This new contract sounds good, they are splitting it up, but there are serious flaws, including what looks like outsourcing oversight,” said Dina Rasor, an investigator and co-author of a book about contracting in Iraq. “And the size of the contract is enormous. When you think of these big, multibillion-dollar defense contracts and contractors, you think of companies like Lockheed, and you can see their big airplane plants. But what is KBR doing for all this money? They are slinging hash, washing laundry.”

Army officials said that they would not be able to actually shift work from KBR to the other companies until late this year, meaning that the change would be under way just as Americans are choosing a new president. The Army officials said the huge new multiyear contract for Iraq would not commit any new presidential administration to paying billions of dollars to defense contractors for services in Iraq if the new president decided to withdraw American troops.

It is not clear how the Pentagon will try to untangle KBR’s operations in Iraq to share them with DynCorp and Fluor. Lee Thompson, the executive director of the Logistics Civil Augmentation Program, as the program is called, said the Army would first try to split work in Kuwait among the three companies, and would then move on to Afghanistan and Iraq.

Even if the United States remains in Iraq long term, the contract could ultimately cost much less than $150 billion over 10 years, Mr. Thompson said. But after being caught off guard by the scale of the spending at the start of the war, the Army is building in a cushion this time, he said.

Army officials have been working for two years to undo KBR’s monopoly on business in Iraq.

US soldiers repeatedly die of electrocution in improperly grounded U.S. army base showers from 2004 to 2008

Ryan Maseth, 24-year-old Green Beret, died of electrocution in army base shower on Jan. 2, 2008Ryan Maseth, a 24-year-old Green Beret, died in his shower January 2.

This is the saddest thing I have read in a very long time. It is the story of a woman who had three sons serving in Iraq, one of which was accidentally electrocuted in his army base shower due to “improper grounding.” And he is not the first to have died in this manner on our bases in Iraq. It makes me sick for our brave young men and women to know that this was allowed to happen for the past several years. Our soldiers are true heroes, they deserve better. 😦