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It is time to get things straight about Iraq.  In the longer historical sweep of things there is no nation of "Iraq."  It was cobbled together by European colonialists to accommodate and make convenient some way to carve out the former colonial enterprises into some semblance of nationhood for the people in the area.  It is not an Arab nation, because the Kurds in the north are not of the same racial-ethnic stock as the Arabs.  It is not a Sunni state or a Shiite state because those two branches of Islam do not get along anywhere and for 13 or 14 centuries they have been fighting each other for territory and other things. 

In sweeps George W. Bush, a man who knows as much about history as a third grade student, and makes some broad decisions about what he thinks [or Dick Cheney thinks] is good for the people living within the boundaries of the cobbled-together nation of Iraq.  Oh, by the way, this plan in Iraq will bring billions and billions of dollars into the coffers of Halliburton Corp., where Dick Cheney had served as CEO before becoming the puppeteer to puppet George W. Bush.  Oh, by the way, breaking Saddam's back is exactly what Saudi Arabia tells Bush it desires, and keeping the Saudi family happy and its trillion-dollar hold on the Arabian Peninsula's oil has been a Bush family mantra since Grandfather Prescott Bush illegally traded with Hitler's Germany and made the Bush family fortune in Saudi oil.  George W. Bush's father today sits on the board of Saudi business enterprises.  Oh, by the way, ascending to the White House allows George W. Bush to hand out more favorrs to his family's buddies in many corporate enterprises, including health care, pharmaceuticals, energy, ad infinitum.

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With the recent announcement that the latest budget deficit for ONE YEAR is 1.2 trillion dollars, the atrocious legacy of George W. Bush adds another chapter to his sordid presidency.  It is easily the worst administration in U.S.  history.  Even the most hate-filled right-wingers couldn't possibly bring themselves to wish this list on any incoming president.  Obama's burden in this office will be overwhelming.  In order to try and fix the U.S. we shall need an extraordinary president.  Nobody can overcome this sordid legacy, let's hope Obama corrects some of it.

We have an ill-conceived and illegal war in Iraq that is draining the treasury at a time when we need all the assets we can muster just to keep our financial head above water.  In the process we have damaged the image and legacy of the United States of America.  To say the "surge" is working is a little like saying we should lock up everyone convicted of every crime for life and the crime stats will go down.  Sure they will, but that is illegal, immoral, and would be a human disaster.   We are in Iraq ILLEGALLY!   But the Bush family has had a history of doing that via their coziness with Hitler and the Saudi family, from 1941 to the present.  The image of the U.S. in the world is at a low point historically.  [search: bush.nazi] 

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Comments here from two highly respected and objective journalists about Iraq.  How refreshing to read truth.  Remember, please, that the American media, even the liberal media, jumped on the bandwagon with Bush about invading Iraq...

"This uncertain situation is now encased in an incredible amount of concrete--the blast barriers that have become one of the signature images of Baghdad.  There were plenty in place when I was last here a year ago.  Now there are even more and journeys take longer than ever.  There are checkpoints with heavy machine-guns every 300 meters on many roads now--far more than you ever saw under the police-state rule of Saddam Hussein.  Baghdad is a city under complete military occupation.  So the relative quiet here may be deceptive.

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As H.L. Mencken stated, I respect all religions, but to the extent that I feel compelled to say a man's wife is beautiful or his children are smart. 

We just finished two terms of a President of the United States who paraded his religion, broadcast its merits, and generally acted as a concerned, devout Christian.  So much for honesty.  But George W. Bush had a habit of telling lies.  So it is somewhat understandable that he would invade another country with another religious heritage without the approval of the international community ...and lie about it.  The Middle East is full of lies and wars.  The Middle East is also the home to religious sites, religious leaders, religious foundings, religious artifacts, religious myths, religious obedience, etc.  In other words, the Middle East is a mess.  Can anyone deny religion is a big part of the cause of this mess?

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As we go through these days of honoring the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., and the  inauguration of the first African-American president, it is time for me to reflect on a man who did much to bring about the rise of these two stellar men.  I met him in Atlanta some years ago.  He was a humble man with a strong, low voice that could shake the  rafters, but with empathy and compassion in it.  He was the pastor of a then-modest red brick church near central Atlanta.  His congregation loved him.  His family played an important role in his ministry.  I only saw him wear an old, shiny, blue business suit, worn from long and modest years in the Baptist ministry.

Some called him "Daddy King," to distinguish him from his famous son, Martin Luther King, Jr.  After his son's ministry in Montgomery, Alabama, and his growing fame and recognition for his civil rights leadership, Daddy King called his son to serve with him at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta.  As the senior pastor, Daddy King could allow his son to be free to pursue his worldwide leadership and still have a home of employment.  It worked out well.  And the members of Ebenezer glowed in the spotlight of this star in their midst.  Daddy King was barely known outside Atlanta.  I met him shortly after meeting Martin, and it was clear to me the influence that Daddy King had on his son...very clear.  Yet the world pays the father little notice. 

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Yes, closing Guantanamo is absolutely necessary.  Now comes the hard part.  Cleaning up the horrible mess created and left by Reagan-Bush.  And though Clinton left Bush a surplus in the federal budget, he was not up to straightening things out because of the time given over to defending his immoral private activities.  But the disasters now facing us began with Reagan's "trickle down" economic policies that the first George Bush called "voodoo economics" until he, too, was bought out by the corporate behemoths who benefited so greatly from right-wing hand-outs.

To begin to climb out of this right-wing morass will require each of us to have a reality check and change the way we perceive and conduct our lives and philosophy.  We bought into the failed idea that give to the rich and it will trickle down.  All that did was give the rich more benefits and the poor sought the good life via credit hocus-pocus offered by financial institutions.  It all has exploded in our face.  To put things in more proper perspective...

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Today's local TV stations use weather broadcasting as hype for the station and its advertisers.  Yet the weather is programmed as a part of news.  As such, it needs to follow some objective, honest, journalistic principles.  The problem is that local news itself is used to hype broadcast revenue.  Objective news reporting, including weather, no longer exists.  Edward R. Murrow must be turning over in his grave because of the way news reporting has "evolved."

Weather is now presented as though we are constantly on the verge of some cosmic catastrophe.  When dire forecasts do not develop as warned, we all give an appreciative "whew."  Standing next to a weather map are not journalists, these people are part of the station's promotion team.   Weather is not REPORTED, it is hyped.  Therefore the more ominous the forecast, the better audience numbers are.  At least that is the thought-process instilled by the ever-present broadcast consultants.  Locally, these consultants decided that the only real quality journalist broadcasting news in the Milwaukee market, Mike Gousha, had to go so a more malleable-for-profit cast could replace him.  Look at what has happened to that TV station's ratings.  And their amazingly emotional weather predictions have lost any sense of proportion or integrity.  But they are not alone. 

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As the great Roman Empire wound down and collapsed, it could look back on its great cultural contributions to the world and its powerful military.  Finally, all it really had was a military.  Fast forward to current America...

The U.S. has had a few cultural moments in the sun, but has proudly strutted its economic and military power.  What's left now?  Even as we hold onto the world's most powerful military functions, these are tied down in the midst of a backward area of the world where the military might of terrorists with hand grenades and rifles make a mockery of our "might."  And  our greed-capitalism has fallen on its face begging for a socialist-like government life preserver.  America's moment in the sun has not been long-lived, has it?  Or has it?

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