Thursday, December 13, 2007

I Am Progressive

I believe in the separation of Church and State.
I believe in the power of the individual voter.
I believe that, when run effectively, social programs are a vital part of a thriving society.
I believe that the free market needs some regulation, although perhaps not as much as it currently has.
I believe in stronger state's rights.
I believe in labor unions.
I believe in evolution.
I believe that marriage doesn't have to be between a man and a woman.
I believe in a woman's right to choose and that stem cells are not babies.
I believe in government transparency.
I believe in three separate but equal branches of government, not in a unitary executive.
I believe there is too much special interest money in government.
I believe the War on Terror is not a war but should be a police action, as it is in the rest of the world.
I believe in a progressive tax code and the estate tax.
I believe that a strong middle class is the key to a strong economy and that ours is shrinking.
I believe that politics in Washington are very partisan and combative but that is a sign of strong democracy.
I believe the Federal government does have a lot of waste and can be run more effciently, but a certain amount of red tape is desireable.
I believe in some common sense gun control measures but am undecided where to draw the line.
I believe universal healthcare is not socializim and that our society could benefit greatly from it.
I believe that a strong, questioning press corps is vital for a successful democracy and that ours is anything but strong and questioning.
That is what being a progressive means to me.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007


Yes, another one. However, I'm going to endeavor to keep away from the snark and just lay down some general history here.

Long before Iraq was Iraq, there were the Shia and Sunni tribes, or Islam denominations. The differences between the two are religious and have been for a very long time. There is no love lost between the two.

Before WWI the two tribes were at something of an uneasy peace. I believe they existed within the vast Ottoman Empire so there wasn't a lot of competition for resources and the like. I'm not totally sure on this, they may have been beating on each other then as well but it was an internal matter within the Empire.

Anyway...after WWI, the Ottoman Empire was split up into the Middle East as it is now. The borders were drawm up by the western powers and were mostly drawn around oil supplies. The peoples culture was not taken into account (see Israel and Palestine for another example). This is when it all started to go to hell.

Artifical borders were placed around the Sunni and Shia and they were made to inhabit the same land. It is like taking blood rivals and sticking them in a cage match.

Iraq went through a variety of attempted monarchs and other puppet governments of Britain before the Brits gave up and a dictatorship was born. The dictators were able to keep the Sunni's and Shia's from tearing each other apart through some pretty nasty means and by regulating one tribe to second class citizens.

In steps Saddam. Saddam was a Sunni. The Sunni sect is the majority in Iraq and is indeed the largest denomination of Islam. Saddam brutally repressed the Shia minority for years.

Then we step in and kill Saddam. This is where it starts to get messy and ironic. By killing Saddam and attempting to force a democratic government in Iraq, we take the Sunnis out of power and put the Shia minority in power. This happened because the Sunnis did not believe the elections were fair and boycotted them, thus assuring themselves a minority in the new government despite being the majority of the population. Without someone to brutally enforce order the Shia and Sunnis start to shoot at each other. The Shia minority wanted revenge for being stepped on al those years and the Sunni, well who knows. I guess they didn't like being shot out or being kicked out-of-power.

Here is where the irony comes in. The Shia are more-or-less in power in Iraq. Iran is supposedly the next immenient threat. Guess what most of Iran's population is and their entire government? You guessed it, Shia. You see despite Saddam's faults, and there were many, his Sunni Iraq was a counter-balance to Shia Iran. With the Shia now in power in Iraq, and the Shia in control in Iran, and Sunni's running the show in most of the rest of the Middle seems a pretty sure thing that once we leave Iraq there will be a Iran/Iraq alliance of some sort.

That is the pickle we have gotten ourselves in. The deal was done as soon as we invaded. The only thing staying in Iraq does at this point is delay the inevitable and just gets our people killed. There is no way to leave without all hell breaking loose but that was a given the moment we envaded. It is not a justification for staying there.

Dread Then Not

So for the past few months I had this unsettling feeling of dread regarding 2008. I don't know why. It bothered me for a while, even though I tried not to focus on it.

Last week, it went *poof*. It is no longer there. Now I feel excited about 2008.

The changed happened about the same time I decided to stop letting my life continue on its little downward spiral. I have just been going through the motions for sometime now. Heck, not even all the motions. My house is a wreck, bills were piling up, etc. So one day last week I finally got tired of it. I sat down, made a budget that will put me in the black by the end of January (don't expect anything expensive for x-mas this year), made appointments with my shrink, psychologist and a medical doctor (haven't seen one in years) for a general checkup. And I started cleaning the house last night.

This is a general cycle for me but this time it went deeper than usual. That bothers me but at least I feel like I'm on the up swing finally.

Yay me.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007


So I was coming into work today and I was listening to CSPAN Radio because they sometimes have some testy stuff that is interesting to me. Today they were listening to the testimony Mark Denbeaux, a professor at Seton Hall. What he and some of his students did was to take the official DoD files on all of the Gitmo detainees and analyze them. Their premise was to take whatever the files said as fact and try to categorize what the population at Gitmo actually looks like. The findings were surprising, to say the least.

There are two statements that are put out into the public discourse that are taken as fact regarding Gitmo. First, that the majority of the population in Gitmo were captured on the battlefield firing at US Troops. Second, that 30 prisoners that have been released have rejoined the fight on the battlefield. The study speaks to the first point, the second he addressed in his testimony.

Regarding the first point - and remember, this is all from the official DoD files - only 5% of the detainees were captured by US Forces. 55% of the total were found not to have committed any hostile acts against US or coalition forces. He testified that only 21 of the combatants were captured on the battlefield. Of those 21, only 1 was actually engaged in a hostile act against US Forces.

Pretty remarkable.

Regarding the second point, 15 of the 30 released cannot be located. Of the 15 that they know of, 3 made a documentary in London which somehow equates to returning to the fight. 7 are in a refugee camp which somehow equates to returning to the fight.

Seems the message and justifications for Gitmo may just be a little misleading.

Here is the report. The testimony should be available at Congresses website sometime later this week. It was in the Judiciary Committee.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Product Lifecycle

This more or less accurately describes the product lifecycle.