Saturday, February 23, 2008

Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-PA)

Rep. Patrick J. Murphy, D-PA8) He served as a captain in Iraq in 2003-2004 as a member of the 82nd Airborne Division. He was interviewed on NPR's onpoint radio Thur. Feb. 21 and it is worth your time to listen to him.

Rep. Murphy clearly describes why we should leave Iraq. He says the military has met it's original objectives (1) capture and get rid of Saddam, (2) get rid of the weapons of mass destruction (there were none) and (3) allow the Iraqi people to form a new government. All of those things have been done. But US soldiers continue to die for Iraqi's because the Iraqi's cannot get their act together after 5 years of US presence. Rep. Murphy points out that the US Army is still doing most of the heavy lifting in Iraq. Weird thing is that Murphy was elected from a primarily Republican district.

How Scared are You?

Friday, February 22, 2008

Support the Military?

I didn't listen to last nights debate between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton but it seems Obama related a story told to him by an army captain who served in Afghanistan. It was about the lack of sufficient training before going to Afghanistan with only 2/3's of a rifle platoon and the lack of equipment when they finally got to Afghanistan. These happen to be guys from our own Fort Drum, NY.

In any case, the wingers are having a field day saying how this must be all wrong. This just can't be correct say the wingers. Lefties just make this stuff up. Besides, rifle platoons are led by Lieutenants not captains. See the wingers are up on the make-up of army units. The fact that the story was told to Obama by an army captain just doesn't ring true. I guess Wingers don't understand that military people get promoted (the captain was a lieutenant at the time the story was happening).

Fortunately, Jake Tapper, of ABC news called and actually spoke with said army captain. The captain stands by his story related to Obama.
I called the Obama campaign this morning to chat about this story, and was put in touch with the Army captain in question.

He told me his story, which I found quite credible, though for obvious reasons he asked that I not mention his name or certain identifying information.

Short answer: He backs up Obama's story.

The longer answer is worth telling, though.

[click on the above link]

Phillip Carter of Intel Dump agrees with Obama.
I talked this morning with two friends who led rifle platoons in Afghanistan. Both confirmed to me that they did, at times, use captured or found weapons or ammunition. One relayed the story of mounting a Soviet 12.7mm heavy machine gun (the equivalent of a U.S. .50 caliber machine gun) on his HMMWV because it was too difficult to get the spare parts needed to fix their G.I. (government issue) .50 cal. Another told me his platoon carried AKs anytime they patrolled with their Afghan counterparts, and that it was always much easier to get 7.62mm ammo for the AKs than to go through the U.S. bureaucracy for ammunition requisition.
The wingers always seem to want to attack the soldier telling horror stories like the one above rather than actually supporting the military.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Chameleon Bunny

Which is the real bunny?

Saranac Lake School Board Appoints New Superintendent

The Saranac Lake School Board made an excellent choice for school district superintendent by appointing Gerry Goldman. Gerry certainly knows the District as he was High School principal for many, many years. He is also a "local", residing in Tupper Lake. I hope the School Board doesn't get silly and insist that Gerry move to Saranac Lake. I have had many personal interactions with Gerry Goldman and I can vouch for his sensibilities. Whenever I've had a disagreement with Gerry he has almost always convinced me of the error of my ways. Good Luck Gerry.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

John McCain You Old Dog!

The NYT makes a case that old Senator McCain was screwing around with a lobbyist back in 2000 when he was running for president.
A female lobbyist had been turning up with him at fund-raisers, visiting his offices and accompanying him on a client’s corporate jet. Convinced the relationship had become romantic, some of his top advisers intervened to protect the candidate from himself — instructing staff members to block the woman’s access, privately warning her away and repeatedly confronting him, several people involved in the campaign said on the condition of anonymity.

A Sen. McCain spokesperson replies:
"John McCain has a 24-year record of serving our country with honor and integrity. He has never violated the public trust, never done favors for special interests or lobbyists, and he will not allow a smear campaign to distract from the issues at stake in this election.

Ok, so McCain has never done favors for special interests (we can forget the Keating 5 scandel). But are you going to deny the romantic interest part of the report. Sen. McCain were you cheating on your wife while running for president 8 years ago? I don't care if he was messing around or not, that's his personal business in my opinion. But, I'm pretty sure some conservatives would like to know just exactly what was going on.

A good example of poor judgement by the Republican nominee for President.

UPDATE: John McCain says the above accusations are not true.
"I'm very disappointed in the article. It's not true," the likely Republican presidential nominee said as his wife, Cindy, stood alongside him during a news conference called to address the matter.

Fine, I'm willing to take his word for it.

Congratulations G.W. Bush

G.W. has finally arrived. He has broken a record. Bush now has the lowest approval rating of any US President EVER. The American Research Group, Inc. reports an approval rating of 19% for old Georgie. Seventy seven percent of Americans disapprove of the way G.W. is handling his job. Only 14% approve of the way Bush is handling the economy. At least G.W. has finally beat his old man at something.

USS Lake Erie to Shoot Down Satellite

The Ticonderoga Class Aegis cruiser USS Lake Erie will be the ship that fires the Standard SM-3 missile at an ailing US spy satellite sometime around 10:30 AM this morning. It probably would have been cheaper just to send China an email that the USA can shoot down a satellite. And, let's hope the shot is successful because what message would that be sending to the world.

UPDATE: The military is claiming that they have successfully hit the satellite. The SM-3 missile was launched around 10:30 PM EST.

Good-Bye Musharraf - Hello Democracy?

Good-bye President Pervez Musharraf of Pakistan. I guess even the billions of dollars provided by the USA and the support of G.W. Bush couldn't keep your military-dictator ass in power. We now have two groups of political moderates to deal with. The question is, will Pakistan be treated like another Cuba or will we move forward and deal with representatives of the Pakistani people rather than with a military dictator. We now actually have to convince the Pakistani people that dealing with the USA is a better option than supporting Al Qaeda and the Taliban. Given recent US history that may not be the easiest thing to do.

UPDATE: Oops, spoke too soon, looks like G.W. want Musharraf to stay in power.
But administration officials say Mr. Musharraf remains the administration’s preferred Pakistani leader, considering his record of cooperation with American-led counterterrorism operations. Until the day of the elections, administration officials were still hoping that Mr. Musharraf’s party would eke out enough votes to allow the power-sharing plan to go forward.


Being anti-war doesn't mean being anti-military. Besides, I have a regard for military technology, especially Naval ships. So it's nice to see that money for the first two DDG-1000 Zumwalt Class destroyers has been awarded. These ships are a giant step forward in technology and not just in looks. The tumblehome design reduces the radar signature of these ships by 50-fold. They are also designed to push through waves rather than ride over them. The ships have an all electric integrative power system meaning that even the propulsion system is electric powered. The ships are capable of operating in much shallower water than previous destroyers and have an advanced gun system that can provide support fire up to 100 miles away. They also carry about 80 vertically-launched missles of various types The ships are designed to be operated with a crew of 140 persons, less than half of the usual 300 plus crews of current destroyers. This provides a significant cost savings in operating costs. There is, however, a debate on the stability of the hull design.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Protect America Act Unconstitutional

Andrew P. Napolitano, a FOX News legal analyst, writes an op-ed in todays Los Angeles Times claiming that the "Protect America Act" is unconstitutional.
The administration wanted, and Congress has begrudgingly given it, the authority to conduct electronic surveillance of foreigners and Americans without even a FISA warrant -- without any warrant whatsoever. The so-called Protect America Act of 2007, which expired at the end of last week, gave the government carte blanche to spy on foreign persons outside the U.S., even if Americans in the United States with whom they may be communicating are spied on -- illegally -- in the process.
I've always wondered why conservatives, who espouse a smaller, less intrusive, hands-off government, are willing to ignore such clearly unconstitutional laws simply because "their guy" is doing it.

So Long Fidel - Hello Raul

The revolution in Cuba led by a young, bearded Fidel Castro in the late 1950's is one of the first international events that I can recall. I don't recall at the time that many people seemed upset by Castro's revolution in Cuba. But, no one can argue that Castro has been good for Cuba as he quickly became a dictator, no better than Fulgencio Batista. I will admit to a grudging admiration for the way Castro has stood up to the crazy US foreign policy towards Cuba. It was never obvious to me why relations between the USA and Castro failed after he deposed Batista. Although surely it had something to do with complaints by the United Fruit Company as Castro took their land without appropriate compensation. Castro probably didn't much care for the USA influence in the Batista government either. To top it all off, Castro was denied a personal visit with President Eisenhower. Unfortunately, Nikita Khrushchev was only too glad to meet with Castro.

It's doubtful anything in Cuba will change now that Castro's brother, Raul is in charge. But it sure would be nice if the USA had a reasonable foreign policy towards Cuba. Our policy of the last 40 years certainly hasn't been very successful. Cuba is on my list of the top 3 countries I'd most like to visit. It would be like going back to the fifties.

Monday, February 18, 2008

SL Skateboard Park

A group of dedicated parents and citizens has been working for years to build a real skateboard park for our kids in Saranac Lake. Finally, last year the Village Board donated a parcel of land on which the park will be built. Now it's a matter of raising a significant amount of money to make this park a reality.

The skateboard park organizers have applied to "hamburger helper" for a $10,000 donation. Comments sent to "hamburger helper", from community citizens, help show support for the skateboard park project. Please click here or go to and click on "Find a Project" in the menu. Search for Saranac Lake, NY and then write a comment supporting the skateboard park project. Our children and parents thank you.