Monday, September 08, 2003
   Bush's Speech

I'll give him credit. He obviously practiced a lot for this one, but given the importance of the occasion, one would of course expect that. It was however quite sloppy of him to end "Afghanistan" with a "D" (Afghanistand? He said that twice. You'd think he'd know after almost two years of war there what the name of the place was.) Several other points:

  • Most preliminary estimates suggested that Bush would ask for an additional $60 billion. A few suggested as high as $80 billion. I estimated $90 billion. He asked for $87 billion. Why was my estimate closer? It wasn't that at all. The $60-80 billion figures were obviously floated my the administration in advance. I knew that they would ask for a bit more than the top end estimate in order to delay the time when they will have to come back and ask for more. That's not cynicism either, by the way. I would have done the same were I in their shoes.

  • They will come back and ask for more. Of that $87 billion, only $20 billion is earmarked for reconstruction, and some of that will go to Afghanistan. The total estimate for rebuilding Iraq is in the $100 billion range, but Bush did not mention that. Bush did refer to several upcoming donor conferences, and certainly they are hoping for some substantial help from these. Some will definitely be coming, but not anywhere near enough. Bush will be back for more.

  • Bush also made references to a number of active (and proper) programs designed to help Iraq along, but again cited no specifics as to numbers and timeframes. This of course is not what one would expect in a 20 minute speech. These glowing references however belie the numbers beneath them. Training Iraqis to provide their own police services, for example, is essential, but Bush is referring to a program to train 20,000 police officers or about one policeman for every 1,200 Iraqis. But this is hardly the half of it. This effort is scheduled to take two years!
Enough for the details (as they were) that were there, because there was one detail missing: the exit plan. Bush did mention that turning over power to the Iraqis was essential to this, but this was hardly a revelation. The real problem here is that other countries in the UN were watching this speech for exactly that, and it simply wasn't there. For them, this speech was nothing more than business as usual from the Bush administration.

The conclusion from all of this is that this speech had only one purpose: to bolster Bush's very sagging poll numbers. Nothing was offered to the UN nations we are now appealing to for help, and little more than hype was offered Congress, which must now vote on this $87 billion supplemental appropriation. No doubt, this will serve to give Bush a boost in his polling, but the total absence of any indication of even a moderate policy change will insure that this boost is simply temporary. The Bush administration is simply attempting to buy time, and they likely have bought some. Unfortunately, it will not be enough.

  This is big:  
If you have not yet read This war on terrorism is bogus, do so right now. Even with all of my own personal studies on this, it has dates I've never found, and quite important ones.

Consider this one passage from this very long article:

The catalogue of evidence does, however, fall into place when set against the PNAC blueprint. From this it seems that the so-called "war on terrorism" is being used largely as bogus cover for achieving wider US strategic geopolitical objectives. [Emphasis added.]
This article from The Guardian (UK) is not to be taken lightly. This is our first chance to get a lot of our anti-war case published in a major international news provider. That The Guardian would publish this is a major victory for us. If The Guardian can publish this, it will start appearing elsewhere, and that will include our own United States.
Saturday, September 06, 2003
  Blair tells Bush:    No more!  
It's not very surprising when the American media "misses" a story, but this time the rest of the world has seemed to follow. This is the story that they have:

As is well known by now, Colon Powell took the President's request for UN involvement in Iraq to the Security Counsel in the form of a preliminary draft of yet another US-sponsored resolution. The usual suspects (France and Germany, with assists from Russia and China) have thrown cold water on it. France, though the most vocal, is in agreement that with some refinement (a lot, actually) it might be willing to support the resolution. This tentative support is important, as France has veto power in the Security Counsel, but it is consistent with their on-going desire after the fall of Baghdad to have some significant input [read: control] regarding the reconstruction. While Germany's objections are softer and less significant because of their lack of Security Counsel veto power, their objection is in at least one sense stronger: They are not even making preliminary plans for the possibility of deploying troops, and simply may not at all.

That's the extent of the story that everyone has, but it is hardly the real one.

The real story (the one they all missed) is that the response from the Great Britain is probably the biggest slap of all. While British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw had suggested the addition of an additional 5,000 British troops, the response from Tony Blair himself is far more important:

Unless there is a recommendation ... from our military commanders
that they require more troops, we don't provide them.
Given the fact of the trouncing Blair has recently undergone with the Hutton Inquiry and the fact that over 60% of British voters now believe that British troops should withdraw entirely, Blair's seeming caution in this statement can be understood. Except, is this really caution or is it something more? A closer examination of Blair's statement shows quite clearly that it is something more.

Blair says that he will not send additional troops unless his on-site commander requests them. But why would this on-site commander initiate such a request? Two reasons, and only the first reason matters: If he needed additional troops to complete his current mission successfully.

The second reason would be if his mission was to be expanded, and if it was, Blair would initiate the discussion of how many more British troops would be needed to the expanded mission.

Compare Blair's answer back to the administration's request for new and expanded presence of international support and especially troops, and Blair's answer comes into far better focus: No expansion of the British mission in Iraq. No "mission creep". Great Britain has had it. They are done.

And this is the story that was missed; that Tony Blair, Bush's greatest supporter, has just sent him a vote of "No Confidence". Now if only Bush will get the message.

Thursday, September 04, 2003
  Ken Goti died:  
A good while ago actuallly. I didn't know because I had left my "homeless period" a good while back also. Kenny was with me during those years. You didn't hear about this because when someone like Ken Goti dies, it isn't newsworthy.

My "homeless period" lasted perhaps eight years. Though I was frequently homeless during that time, it was perhaps only a quarter of that time that I was actually homeless. I refer to it as my "homeless period" because during this time I was required to submit to outrageous demands simply to have a roof over my head. It might have been a motel room with cockroaches that took 90% of my minimum wage takehome pay, or it could just have been half the rent for one tenth of the benefits of where I stayed. It did not matter. Mostly, it beat sleeping under a tree. Not always, however. Once in a while, the demands got so outrageous that I would simply pack my stuff and go back to that tree.

I met Ken Goti early on during this time when I first went to a labor poll. Kenny had actually been a pilot on an aircraft carrier during his service years. He actually had steered one of those big ships for several years.

In a labor poll, most of the people you work with are not that good. That is perhaps why they are there. Others, however, are quite extraordinary. Kenny was one of these. He was the one that everyone else wanted to work with.

Though I knew nothing of the trades when I first when to these pools, I quickly became one of these few desired work partners. It's simply called getting the job done. A few of us (like Kenny) seemed to instictively know how to do this. That's why people followed us. People like us however needed to be spread across different contracts to quiet the protests of those who had hired our labor pool, and both of us were often sent out on a contract simply to quiet these protests. The hiring company would see that they had gotten someone who was real good, and they would be happy.

It was for this reason that it was actually many years before I ever got to work with Kenny. In fact, he requested me on his assignment. It was a great experience. Working with Kenny made working for minimum wage seem easy. There was a real sense when you were working with Kenny that your work actually made a difference. I've held many higher paid jobs since then, but none with more satisfaction that those few days provided. I was very good, and thought myself the best, but after those days working with Kenny, I understood that I was merely second best. Not below Kenny by much, but below just the same. I didn't mind it a bit though. Neither Kenny nor I were ever ones to make such comparisons back then, and I make mine here only in requium. But let me back up a little here.

By the time this had happened, my homeless period was ended. By this time, I knew quite well the almost insurmountable difficulties of escaping homelessness. I took it upon myself to try to provide that escape on many occasions to many people. A roof and no rent, and use it wisely. This was a disaster. I was being ripped off left and right. Until Kenny came along.

I was walking home one night when I encoutered him with his posssessions on his back. "What's up?" I asked. He also couldn't stand his roommate, and was going to the trees as I had often done before. I certainly by this time understood his sentiments, but I said no, come stay with me.

I told Kenny that I would not charge him rent; that to do so would only delay his exit from my offer. I also told him that I would not place a timelimit on the offer, knowing by this time how very difficult it is to escape homelessness.

Kenny took me up on my offer, and it was two weeks later that he said that he had gotten a place and was moving out. My only success in offering the help that I wanted to provide.

You have to understand what Kenny was. Kenny was forever reaching out. He was forever reaching out to his coworkers, inspiring them to be better. He was forever reaching out to his superiors, trying to show them that he was really that much better. And he really was that much better.

Ken Goti was reaching out as he always did when the scaffolding he was working on collapsed. Ken Goti died in that collapse. When he did, our country lost one of the best citizens it had.