Another Statement Of The Obvious

How long will this continue? This is very old news, but yet they just keep firing away at it. Is there any intelligent people left that does know how badly the Iraq situation was handled? If there are, please, just leave them under their rock, we do not need them out and about.

A nearly 700-page study released Sunday by the Army found that “in the euphoria of early 2003,” U.S.-based commanders prematurely believed their goals in Iraq had been reached and did not send enough troops to handle the occupation.

The report said it wasn’t until July 16, 2003, that Franks’ successor, Gen. John Abizaid, said coalition forces were facing a classic guerrilla insurgency.

Even so, the coalition made some progress, only to have its optimism dashed after the insurgency boiled over in April 2004, when Sunni Arab insurgents and Shiite militias launched violent assaults in many parts of Iraq, the report said.

The authors said the Army had considerable experience and training for guerrilla wars but had not been in one like Iraq since 1992 in Somalia. They said former Secretary of State Colin Powell warned Franks “that he thought too few troops were envisioned in the (invasion) plan.”

Some commanders told the authors they asked about plans for making the country stable and got no answers.

The “post-war situation in Iraq was severely out of line with the suppositions made at nearly every level before the war,” the report said.

Its writers said it was clear in January 2005 that the Army would remain in Iraq for some time, the writers concluded. The report covered the period from May 2003 to January 2005.

OKay, we now know that the invasion and occupation were f*cked up! Can we please move on to solving the problem? Restating the obvious, over and over and over, does nothing to stop the killing of Americans in Iraq.

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Obama and Patriotism

Stanley Crouch writes in the NY Daily News on this subject.

The most interesting, even thrilling and inspiring thing about what Barack Obama has done to American political discourse is to redefine patriotism. He has taken the definition beyond the familiar body of platitudes that the phoniest of our conservative broadcast journalists and talk show hosts have made their stock in trade. As an extremely sophisticated man and law school graduate, Obama has mastered the basic skill of those in his profession. That is, the ability to create an easily comprehended narrative with compelling facts whenever possible

Instead of bridling at the question, Obama has remade patriotism with the proof that remains in high profile and is easily accessible to those who would like to know or to challenge it. He embraces all of the tragic elements of American history instead of pretending that they are either exaggerated or no more than radical distortions. Obama steps up to them with examples of tough-minded goodwill, courageous action and optimistic foresight that are right there on the historical record.

Yes, we had slavery, but we also had the abolition movement, Abraham Lincoln and the Civil War. Yes, we had the terrible treatment of blue-collar workers by fat cats who were not above hiring ruffians and killers to either assault or murder the men who complained about working conditions and bad pay. Yes, the right to unionize and use collective bargaining also emerged, as did women getting the vote, the defeat of European fascism during World War II and the destruction of unconstitutional law.

Memory of our social tragedies or those periods when our most despicable beliefs perverted our national principles is a subject that conservatives don’t like to talk about or even hear brought up. Those who do will be accused of being unpatriotic, ungrateful or hating America.

Such people will never understand the new patriotism of this startling Democrat who has snatched the flag from them and is waving it in a new way. As I have said before, doctors who either have a cure or are on the verge of discovering one never fear public discussion of a terrible disease. They know that they can either handle it right now or will soon be able to. That is what makes Barack Obama so impressive at this moment.

ConEd Workers Ready For Strike

This report from the pages of the New York Daily News:

Con Edison ushered workers out of some power plants early Sunday when a strike deadline passed with no deal, even as heated labor talks continued, the union says.

“They had already started the process at about 12:05 [a.m.] of escorting our people off Con Ed properties,” said Joe Flaherty, spokesman for Utility Workers Union of America Local 1-2. “Almost immediately, they got calls out to people to escort our workers back in.”

The strike deadline for 9,000 union workers has now been pushed back until early Wednesday morning, after Gov. Paterson late Saturday night asked ConEd boss Kevin Burke and union President Harry Farrell for a three-day cooling-off period.

The union says Con Ed has proposed a minimum 0.5% wage increase in the first year of a new contract, as well as putting new workers in a 401(k)-style retirement program instead of a traditional pension plan.

Con Ed has declined to talk about specifics, but spokesman Michael Clendenin said both sides were exchanging proposals as the clock struck midnight – and that no workers were led off the job.

“We’ve worked past midnight deadlines before,” Clendenin said. “Constructive negotiations were going on. But people thought they should take advantage of some time off.”

Paterson said substantive talks were scheduled to resume at 9 a.m. Tuesday, although both sides will meet today to discuss logistics.

The last walkout was in 1983 and lasted nine weeks. Con Ed managers slept on cots in power plants while keeping the system running, including repairing the damage from a three-day blackout in Manhattan‘s Garment District.

Wesley Clark Slams McCain

Retired U.S. Gen. Wesley Clark, a supporter of Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama, on Sunday questioned whether Sen. John McCain’s military experience qualified him to be commander-in-chief.

The dust-up began with Clark’s appearance Sunday on CBS’ “Face the Nation,” where moderator Bob Schieffer asked him about his interview with the Huffington Post earlier this month.

In the interview, Clark said McCain, the presumptive Republican nominee, was “untested and untried.”

“I certainly honor his service as a prisoner of war. He was a hero to me and to hundreds of thousands and millions of others in the armed forces, as a prisoner of war. And he has traveled all over the world. But he hasn’t held executive responsibility,” said Clark, a former NATO commander who campaigned for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2004.

“He hasn’t been there and ordered the bombs to fall. He hasn’t seen what it’s like when diplomats come in and say, I don’t know whether we’re going to be able to get this point through or not,” Clark said.

Recently I was interviewed on Sirius Radio channel 110, The Blog Bunker, and when I was asked about McCain as president, I made similar points, only Clark was much better than I, but I was said to have “bitch slapped” McCain; I would say that Clark had a much more precise “bitch slap” than me.  You go Wes!

Professor’s Classroom

Monday….Monday…So good to me……(cannot you just hear the Mamas And Papas singing in the background?)

Another Monday…another quiz…….Today’s quiz is from the American Civil War days……

General Order #38 which made it an offense to criticize the government over the war and was used to arrest a former US Congressman from Ohio, who in 1863 said that the war was being fought, not to save the Union, but rather to free the slaves and to enslave the white race.  What was this person’s name?

Good luck…good Googling…and good day.

What About The Alternative Minimum Tax?

Congress is finishing work begun in 2006 to remedy an unintended consequence of the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT)–the treatment of a form of employee compensation called incentive stock options (ISOs).

The House of Representatives passed legislation in May 2008 as part of the Renewable Energy and Job Creation Act of 2008 (HR 6049) fully restoring the economic incentives and benefits Congress intended for ISOs when it allowed companies to offer them beginning in 1981.

Under AMT, thousands of workers who received ISOs have faced enormous unintended tax liabilities. (See “Taxpayers Cry Foul as AMT Affects Millions of Americans,” Budget & Tax News, May 2007, and “Congress Moves to Fix Tax Penalties Against Incentive Stock Options,” Budget & Tax News, January 2008).

Due to an unintended flaw in the tax code, ISO AMT victims–employees of small and large companies across America–were forced to pay taxes sometimes exceeding 300 percent of their annual salaries, based on phantom “income” they never received. In many cases, families were unable to pay, leading the IRS to seize their houses and savings and garnish their wages.

The ISO correction and relief provision in HR 6049 was based on the AMT Credit Fairness and Relief Act, HR 3861, introduced by Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) and lead co-sponsor Rep. Sam Johnson (R-TX), with original co-sponsors Reps. Richard Neal (D-MA) and Jim Ramstad (R-MN).

“The goal of this legislation is to restore a basic sense of fairness to a provision in the tax code that has gone tragically awry,” said Van Hollen in a press statement. “While everyone should pay a just and proportionate amount of tax on money they actually make, no one should lose their homes, savings, and retirement to a wildly disproportionate tax on phantom income they never saw, because our tax laws failed to anticipate the circumstances in which a number of our citizens now find themselves.”

Looking For A Martian Brother

Scientists have discovered that Martian soil is rich in nutrients.

NASA researchers want to determine whether the planet could support, or ever has supported, life. The nutrients are among a few positive indicators they have gleaned since the Phoenix Mars Lander began collecting and testing soil samples last month. Early findings, including ice crystals and nutrients, point toward water — the chemical basis for life.

NASA’s Phoenix Mars Lander began its first wet chemistry experiment on Martian soil this week. NASA said the experiment went “flawlessly” and produced data that, for Phoenix scientists, “was like winning the lottery.” On Friday, some work remained before the first wet-chemical analysis was complete. This is the first such experiment done on any planet other than Earth would be complete, according to Phoenix co-investigator Sam Kounaves of Tufts University, who serves as the science lead for the wet chemistry research.

Kounaves said the soil appears similar to that found in Antarctica’s dry upper valleys and the salts it contains are another indication of the presence of water.

The soil about one-inch into the surface layer is alkaline, with a pH between eight and nine, and it appears to contain magnesium, sodium, potassium, and chloride, according to Kouvanes.