Tuesday, March 15, 2005


Well according to a story that was front page of The New York Times last week, there indeed was WMD in Iraq and it was stolen as U.S. troops moved in to secure to occupy the country. According to an eye-opening article featured in today's Slate.com:

"Looting at Weapons Plants Was Systematic, Iraqi Says." This was how the New York Times led its front page on Sunday. According to the supporting story, Dr. Sami al-Araji, the deputy minister of industry, says that after the fall of Baghdad in April 2003, "looters systematically dismantled and removed tons of machinery from Saddam Hussein's most important weapons installations, including some with high-precision equipment capable of making parts for nuclear arms."

...It was eye-rubbing to read of the scale of this potential new nightmare. There in cold print was the Al Hatteen "munitions production plant that international inspectors called a complete potential nuclear weapons laboratory." And what of the Al Adwan facility, which "produced equipment used for uranium enrichment, necessary to make some kinds of nuclear weapons"? The overall pattern of the plundered sites was summarized thus, by reporters James Glanz and William J. Broad:

The kinds of machinery at the various sites included equipment that could be used to make missile parts, chemical weapons or centrifuges essential for enriching uranium for atom bombs.

My first question is this: How can it be that, on every page of every other edition for months now, the New York Times has been stating categorically that Iraq harbored no weapons of mass destruction? And there can hardly be a comedy-club third-rater or MoveOn.org activist in the entire country who hasn't stated with sarcastic certainty that the whole WMD fuss was a way of lying the American people into war. So now what? Maybe we should have taken Saddam's propaganda seriously, when his newspaper proudly described Iraq's physicists as "our nuclear mujahideen."
So there were no WMD in Iraq yet a "munitions production plant that international inspectors called a complete potential nuclear weapons laboratory" was found by the terrorists and looted of its contents. Interesting...

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Terri Schiavo To Begin Starving To Death On Friday

Political commentator David Limbaugh (brother to Rush) writes an "all you need to know up till now" article that can be read here.

Just a few of the questions Limbaugh asks but receives no answers to:

Do you really believe that Terri's husband, Michael, who is living with another woman with whom he sired two children, is refusing to relinquish guardianship of Terri to her parents because he is irreversibly committed to carrying out Terri's wishes?

Do you believe that disabled, but conscious and self-breathing people who can't physically feed themselves or verbally express their desire to live, but who have left no written legal directions as to their destiny in such circumstances, should be starved to death?

How likely is it that Terri, now only 41 years old, would have discussed her wishes as to life support with her husband in 1990, when she would have only been in her mid-twenties and with no inkling of life-threatening or disabling medical conditions?
Mel Gibson came out on Friday is support of saving Terri from this horrible death. His statement was as follows:
"I fully support the efforts of Mr. & Mrs. Schindler to save their daughter, Terri Schiavo, from a cruel starvation. Terri's husband should sign the care of his wife over to her parents so she can be properly cared for."
I believe, based on the evidence I have seen, that Terri does not qualify for the "persistent vegative state" lable that she has been given. More info can be founf here and here.

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When Is "At All Costs" Too High A Price To Pay?

Here is an interesting scenario. You have the fuel you need to keep things moving in Iraq but it is in Kuwait and in order to get it to the troops and Iraqi people that need it, you will lose lives and spend 150% more in travel costs as than you would if there was no security risk involved.

Iraq needed fuel. Halliburton Co. was ordered to get it there quick. So the Houston-based contractor charged the Pentagon $27.5 million to ship $82,100 worth of cooking and heating fuel.

In the latest revelation about the company's oft-criticized performance in Iraq, a Pentagon audit report disclosed Monday showed Halliburton subsidiary KBR spent $82,100 to buy liquefied petroleum gas, better-known as LPG, in Kuwait and then 335 times that number to transport the fuel into violence-ridden Iraq.

Pentagon auditors combing through the company's books were mystified by this charge.

"It is illogical that it would cost $27,514,833 to deliver $82,100 in LPG fuel," officials from the Defense Contract Audit Agency noted in the report.
This looks bad for KBR. The numbers simply don't add up. But are we looking at these number in context?
Halliburton spokeswoman Wendy Hall said the figures were taken out of context.

"The implication is definitely misleading," Hall said. "Transporting fuel into Iraq was a mission fraught with danger, which increased the prices that firms were willing to offer for transportation."

Halliburton has seen 61 of its workers and subcontractors die in Iraq and Kuwait, many while delivering fuel.

Army officials were desperate to get fuel into Iraq, fearing the lack of such basic necessities as cooking and heating fuel would lead to greater unrest and support for the insurgency.

But efforts to truck in fuel were hampered by repeated attacks on fuel convoys, delays organizing military escorts, supply route closures and changing delivery points, company officials said. Security was so dicey, in fact, that tanker trucks were lucky to make two round trips per month.

And because neighboring Kuwait had few trucks available to transport fuel, Halliburton had to bring in trucks from neighboring countries and contract for a barge, Hall said.
So although the numbers still don't add up, it is hard to say for sure that Haliburton/KBR spent more money than was necessary based on the risks involved at the time.

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You No Longer Have To Wonder Why Labor Unions Have Become Irrelevant

As I always pause to say before I blast the process of organized labor, they had their place in history and are responsible for many reforms to labor pay and conditions. But the Unions have outlived their usefulness and when something is no longer useful, it becomes useless or worse, dangerous. Today labor unions are simply political workhorses for the Democratic Party. Case in point:

The United Auto Workers union waved a white flag Monday in its parking skirmish with neighboring reservists, but the 1st Battalion, 24th Marines are not accepting surrender.

Facing intense criticism, UAW President Ron Gettelfinger reversed his decision to ban Marine Corps reservists driving foreign cars or displaying pro-President Bush bumper stickers from parking at the union's Solidarity House headquarters in Detroit.

"I made the wrong call on the parking issue, and I have notified the Marine Corps that all reservists are welcome to park at Solidarity House as they have for the past 10 years," Gettelfinger said in a statement.

Wounded by what they consider an unpatriotic ambush, the Marines rejected the union's olive branch and secured an alternative parking lot.

"I talked to Ron; I let him know that I understand he has rescinded his decision," said Lt. Col. Joe Rutledge, a top-ranking officer at the reserve infantry rifle battalion. "However, I've made my decision -- either you support the Marines or you don't."

The Detroit News reported the controversy Sunday.

The UAW has a longstanding policy prohibiting nonunion-made vehicles from the parking lots at its plants and meeting halls.
STOP RIGHT THERE! They ban vehicles not made in conjunction with organized labor? What kind of fascist regime are these unions trying to emulate anyway?
Until last week, the union made an exception for the Marines who parked at Solidarity House on the weekends. The battalion's headquarters is nearby on East Jefferson.

While both sides say the dispute has been overblown, it revealed the depths of the UAW's antipathy toward the Bush administration and its concern over the rise of foreign automakers in the U.S. market.
Ok. So what we have here is a failure to agree with President Bush. As is the tell-tale sign of any good left-wing organization, a loathing of President Bush is the key indicator of their ideology.
UAW leaders backed Democratic challenger John Kerry and his running mate John Edwards in last year's election.

The UAW's reversal Monday followed a barrage of criticism from both union members and nonunion members. The dispute became instant fodder for such Web sites as The Drudge Report and various radio programs.

The News received hundreds of e-mails Sunday and Monday about the controversy, the majority criticizing the UAW's decision.

"I have never belonged to the unions, but I've always bought (domestic) brand cars," Jenny Pulcerm 74, of Harrison Township. "Right now, I'm driving a Chrysler. But the next car will definitely not be union-made."
And just like the Democrats, the Union leaders continue to institute processes and policy that, in the end, make them less popular. This affair is proof that we need to separate politics from the workforce more than we need to separate church and state.

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Those That Are Against Free Elections Continue To Belittle Them

I just wanted to point out these quotes from An Associated Press story talking about Egypt's attempts to create free elections:

But experts at a three-day conference on Arab reform warned that putting the amendment into practice may be difficult. For one thing, Egyptians are not used to having a voice at the ballot box and may not see it as a civic duty, said Osama el-Ghazali Harb, editor of the quarterly International Politics magazine at Egypt's Al Ahram Center for Strategic and Political Studies.

"The family, the school, the mosque all emphasize obedience. Many people are too busy to make ends meet, and for them voting is a luxury," Harb said Monday at this Mediterranean gathering, which ends Tuesday.

Others may be unconvinced that their vote will count, which could also lead to a low turnout that could discredit the election, scheduled for September.

"Most elections in the Arab world are rigged," said Al Ahram center analyst Mohamed el-Said Idris. "More people will go to the polls when they feel they can bring down the government or can bring a government to office."
Yet despie the same being true in Iraq, half the voting population came out to cast their ballot. When are the purveyors of tyranny going to learn that they can not "talk down" the desire for Democracy?

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