Sunday, May 27, 2007

Cheney Ignored The Constitution, Again

Dick Cheney addressed the Graduates of the United States Military Academy, West Point, Friday and delivered a speech that was was largely forgettable but had some odious passages thrown in. The speech was front paged by BarbinMD on DailyKos Friday and received considerable attention. There was one thing that was not mentioned in the article but that picked up by several commenters that continues to churn inside me. Cheney forgot to mention the Constitution.

The Vice President's speech concluded with this passage.

On your first day of Army life, each one of you raised your right hand and took an oath. And you will swear again today to defend the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic. That is your vow, that is the business you're in.

There is one huge problem with what he said. No member of the military or, for that matter, no civilian Federal employee swears an oath to protect the United States. Not Dick, not Bush, and certainly not these new Army officers. All military personnel take the following oath contained in 5 USC 3331.

“I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office upon which I am about to enter.”

"Support and defend the Constitution of the United States. The Constitution. The critical word in the oath of office, the word that gives meaning to the oath, the entire focus of the oath was nowhere to be found in Cheney's speech. It is unlikely Cheney's omission was a mere oversight. However, before discussing that, the following background information regarding the oath will make clear why every Federal office holder swears an oath to protect and defend the Constitution, and not the "Nation", the 'People" or the "President."

There are two provisions in the Constitution relating to the oath of office. Article II, which establishes the Office of the President, requires each President to swear an oath to -

"preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States."

Article VI contains the oath requirement that applies to all other government officials, whether in the legislative, executive, or judicial branches or the military. That provision states simply that each Federal official "shall be bound by oath of affirmation to support the Constitution." That Article VI requirement was implemented in the first law passed by the first Congress which contained the following simple oath: "I do solemnly swear or affirm (as the case may be) that I will support the Constitution of the United States." While that initial language has been amended over the years the language adopted in 1884 is the same as we have today.

It has been written on more than one occasion, including here, that Bush does not remember or maybe never knew that he swore an oath to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution. But most of his statements were off the cuff remarks or answers to questions, where his inarticulateness is legend. Such was not the case with Cheney. His misstatement was deliberate. We know that because it is contained in the written text of his remarks that are posted on the White House web site. It is possible that he is the victim of incompetent staff work or his own incompetence in failing to recognize the mistake in his text, but there is ample reason to believe otherwise.

Cheney's words seems to be another affirmation of his disdain for the Constitution. We have seen that disdain in his disregard for the basic liberties enshrined in the Constitution. Provisions such as the guarantees of due process, habeas corpus, freedom of speech and assembly, and prohibitions against warrantless searches and seizures are alien to him. Similarly the checks and balances in the Constitution, particularly those that subject the powers of the President to the will of the people as expressed through their Congressional representatives carry no weight in his mind, a mind that sees all power consolidated in a unitary executive.

His vision would be anathema to the Founders and is repugnant to any patriot today. The founders rebelled literally and figuratively from a country where we would owe allegiance to a ruler, or his party, or to the administration in power. Their feelings on this score were clear and unambiguous. They required that those who swear the oath, owe their allegiance to only one thing, the Constitution. That allegiance requires them to ensure that the rights of the people enshrined in the Constitution and the duties and responsibilities of the governmental institutions created by that document are protected from any person who would seek to deny those rights or subvert those institutions. It is a simple oath, but its significance cannot be overstated.

We do not serve the government or this Administration, we serve the Constitution. And only by doing so can we ever hope that the government will be true not only to the letter of the document, but also to the principles embodied in the Preamble.

We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

All of those principles are important. But in this era, three stand out - Establish Justice, Promote the General Welfare, and Ensure the Blessings of Liberty to Ourselves and Our Posterity.

Dick doesn't agree with that and by deleting the Constitution from his speech he is hoping we will forget.

Crossposted at Never In Our Names.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Please Support Senator Harkin's Bill To Close Guantanamo In 120 Days

The ACLU just sent an advisory that Senator Tom Harkin has introduced a bill that would require the Guantanamo prison/torture center, also known as America's Shame, to be closed within 120 days after enactment.

Now is a more critical time than ever to have our voices heard on the question of torture and America's Shame. At the last Republican Candidates Presidential debate only one candidate, McCain, spoke out against torture and he was greeted with thunderous silence. Those who spoke in favor of torture were greeted with deafening applause accompanied whoops and hollers. These sniveling traitors to the Constitution included Guiliani who said he would do "anything" to get information, Romney who would  "double the size of Guantanamo, and Tancredo who pleaded for help from Jack Bauer.

Here’s a summary of what the bill does:

• It requires the President to close the Guantanamo Bay detention facility within 120 days of enactment.
• Within 120 days of enactment, the detainees will be either sent to the United States Disciplinary Barracks at Fort Leavenworth to await trial or serve their sentences or transferred to another country that will not torture, abuse, or otherwise persecute the detainee.
• For each detainee being held at Guantanamo Bay, the government will have 120 days to either charge the detainee with a federal crime or transfer him to his home country or another country, provided they will not engage in tortured, abused, or persecuted. The government may have an additional renewal period of 120 days to hold the detainee if it is preparing charges and has a logistical need for additional time.
• The bill ends the practice of indefinite detention without charge of hundreds of detainees--most who have been held more than four years, and many who have been held more than five years without charge and without even knowing the reason that they are being held.
• The detainees who are charged will be detained in the military prison at Fort Leavenworth while awaiting trial, during trial, and during their sentences.  This is the military's prison specifically designated, designed, and built by the Defense Department to hold national security prisioners.

The bill will provide additional funds to prosecute and defend cases brought against the detainees, and for costs incurred by the government or the region in transferring or detaining prisoners.

Please go to the ACLU website above, or any other place, to urge your Senators to support this bill.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Bush's Bodacious Band Of Buffoons

Ever wonder why Muqtada al-Sadr doesn't seem to care much for our Iraq policy or our occupation? An article in the Independent gives us a pretty good hint. In 2004, we tried to asasinate him.

It all started back in August 2004 when Mr Sadr and his Mehdi Army militiamen were besieged by US Marines in Najaf, south of Baghdad. The story is told by the current Iraqi National Security Adviser, Dr Mowaffaq Rubai'e

Dr Rubai'e had gone to Najaf in August 2004 to try to mediate an end to the fighting. He met Mr Sadr who agreed to a set of conditions to end the crisis. "He actually signed the agreement with his own handwriting," said Dr Rubai'e. "He wanted the inner Najaf, the old city, around the shrine to be treated like the Vatican."

But when Dr. Rubai'e returned to Bahgdad, Prime Minister Alawi instructed him to return to Najaf to get a final document signed and the signing was to occur in a particular house.

As told by Rubai'e,

It was agreed that the last meeting would take place in the house in Najaf of Muqtada's father Mohammed Sadiq al-Sadr who had been murdered by Saddam's gunmen with two of his sons five years before. Dr Rubai'e and other mediators started for the house. As they did so they saw the US Marines open up an intense bombardment of the house and US Special Forces also heading for it. But the attack was a few minutes premature. Mr Sadr was not yet in the house and managed to escape.

Although Dr Rubai'e, as Iraqi National Security Adviser since 2004 and earlier a member of the Iraqi Governing Council, is closely associated with the American authorities in Baghdad, he has no doubt about what happened.

He sees the negotiations as part of a charade to lure Mr Sadr, who is normally very careful about his own security, to a house where he could be eliminated.

Every time we hear of Bush's incompetence in beginning and prosecuting this Fiasco we think we've heard the last of it. But as of today, this may take the cake. Anyone who knew his butt from first base knew that al Sadr had taken on the mantle of his father, a powerful Shiite cleric, who, along with two of his sons, had been assassinated by Saddam in 1999. Those murders by Saddam had provoked widespread civil unrest in Iraq. And small wonder. The Sadrist movement was a powerful force that was a blend of "nationalism, religion and populism proved highly attractive to Iraqi Shia, particularly to the very poor." That movement surfaced out into the open after Saddam's overthrow.

Unfortunately, Bush and his bodacious band of buffoons didn't know any of this. So, like Saddam before him, Bush decided the Sadr organization had to be crushed, either by defeating it militarily or killing it's leader. To our great leader this would have sounded like an easy task. After all, we had overthrown Saddam a year earlier in a "cake walk" and only had a few "dead enders" to deal with before we could complete the building of Iowa on the Euphrates. Clearly the Iraqis loved us, and all this silly talk of inter-sectarian rivalries and animosity was the talk of people who were far two negative. And the idea of intra-sectarian rivalries, for instance between different Shia factions, was too preposterous to contemplate. The leader of Iraq was our guy Alawi, who was a Shia just like Sadr. That was good enough for us. Sadr or anyone else who opposed him was obviously a marginal figure and traitor who had to be dealt with forcibly. If he died, all the better. His coterie of hangers on would soon disappear.

It is possible that the plan to kill Sadr did not originate with the Americans but rather with Alawi. But that is almost a distinction without a difference since Alawi was our hand picked interim President. What is undeniable, given the role of the U.S. military in this botched episode, is that we actively tried to kill him. Some suggest we may have wanted to capture him, but the weaponry we used doesn't suggest that.) In any event, we failed and Sadr laid the blame at our doorstep.

And the consequence of this botched assassination attempt are still with us.

Dr Rubai'e said: "I know him very well and I think his suspicion and distrust of the coalition and any foreigner is really deep-rooted," and dates from what happened in Najaf. He notes that after it had happened Mr Sadr occupied the shrine of Imam Ali in Najaf as a place of refuge.

There is little doubt that if the U.S. had succeeded in killing Sadr in 2004, the civil war would have begun in earnest much sooner than it did. But since Bush was too dumb to see what he had set in motion when he unleashed the dogs of war in March, 2003, he could not possibly understand the consequence of killing a major Shia leader right after overthrowing the Sunni leader, Hussein. Might as well have the whole country hate us.

When, oh when, will we be rid of these morons?

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Federal Taxes And Spending-We are Losing The Class War

Few people in this country have much of a clue about the Federal Government. Where does it get it's money? How does it spend that money? How big is it? How many people work for it? And many other questions.

Readers of this site are smarter than the average bear, for sure. Even so, the subject is pretty dense and maybe all of us are in need of a little refresher. So here are a few questions. If you answer them correctly, you are awarded a gold star. But if not, you might want to read further.

I) In 1962, the Federal civilian Executive Branch workforce contained 1.8 million employees. What was the size of this workforce in 2006? a) 1.1 million, b) 1.8 million, c) 2.5 million, d) 3.4 million. In answering that question remember that the population of the country grew from about 180 million to 300 in that time period. (The Executive Branch does not include the Post Office, Congress or Courts.)

II) In 2006, what percentage of Federal expenditures came from income taxes paid by individuals? a) 39%, b) 45%, c) 68%, d) 81%

The answer to the first question is b) 1.8 million employees. Yes, even though the population has grown by 40% since 1962 the Federal workforce has stayed the same. This number does not include contract employees, whether working individually or for large companies. I hope to get to that later or in another article.

The answer to the second question is a) 39%. Less than two fifths of what we spent last year came from your and my income taxes. The rest came from other sources which are discussed below.

The source materials for this article are the 2008 Budget of the United States from the web site of OMB. This is an invaluable document which you can download or read on line. Ignore all the propaganda about how Bush is making life better and go to the charts and tables in the Analytical Perspectives. The Congressional Budget Office historical tables provide forty-five years of comparative data. The Office of Personnel Management has a treasure trove of employment data. Lastly, the Congressional Budget Office is a great resource that also cuts through some of the bloviating coming from the Administration.


The government gets income from hundreds of sources. They are grouped in seven major categories - Individual Income Taxes; Corporate Income Taxes; Social insurance Taxes, which are largely social security and medicare; Excise taxes, like the gas tax; Estate and Gift taxes; Customs Duties; and Miscellaneous. In addition to knowing how we collect money now it is really interesting to see how the burden of these taxes has changed over the years. This chart tracks changes in those numbers starting in 1962, to the height of the Viet Nam War, the last years of the Carter, Reagan, GHWB, and Clinton administrations, and 2006, which is the last year for which we have data.

Revenues by Major Source, 1962 to 2006 (Billions of dollars)
Sources: Congressional Budget Office; Office of Management and Budget.

Ind. Corp. Soc.Ins. Excise Est. & Gift Customs Misc. Tot. Tot.

1962 45.6 20.5 17.0 12.5 2.0 1.1 0.8 99.7

1970 90.4 32.8 44.4 15.7 3.6 2.4 3.4 192.8

1980 244.1 64.6 157.8 24.3 6.4 7.2 12.7 517.1

1988 401.2 94.5 334.3 35.2 7.6 16.2 20.3 909.3

1992 476.0 100.3 413.7 45.6 11.1 17.4 27.3 1,091.3

2000 1,004.5 207.3 652.9 68.9 29.0 19.9 43.1 2,025.5

2006 1,043.9 353.9 837.8 74.0 27.9 24.8 45.0 2,407.3

Many things jump out of that data, but there are two really noteworthy thing for me. In 1962 corporate income taxes represented 20% of Federal income, by 2006 they had dropped to 14%. Social insurance taxes increased from 17% of income to 34.8% of income in 2006. Keep in mind, those are the taxes paid largely by working people because they only apply to wages below $97,500 this year and don't apply to dividends or capital gains.

Deficits and Debt

This is one of the most confusing parts of the budget. Not only are they two different things but there are two kinds of debt and two types of deficits.

As of the end of 2006 the federal government had accumulated a debt of $8.42 Trillion. That is what is referred to as the National Debt. It is a monster number but also a misleading one because there are two different national debts. The Government owes $4.829 Trillion to the public, which is people who bought government bonds. But it also owes $3.622 Trillion to itself. How can that be one might ask?

The complexity stems from the fact that the government collects general revenues, such as income taxes, which can be spent on anything. But it also collects money that can only be used for specified purposes. The most familiar of those sources are Social Security and Medicare taxes, but they also include gas taxes and airport taxes. Those revenues go into "trust funds" and must be used for designated purposes. Every year that less money is spent on Social Security benefits than is collected in taxes, the surplus amount is added to the fund. That has been the case with Social Security for all but a handful of years, which has accumulated $2 Trillion.

A problem arises, though, when the Government doesn't collect enough general revue in a given year to cover it's general expenses. At that point it needs to borrow the difference. It has two choices - issue bonds to the public or borrow from it's own trust funds. It does both. It borrows from the trust funds first, giving them notes with a specified interest rate, and then borrows from the public for the rest. It makes sense for the government to do this, otherwise it would have to increase public borrowing which would drive up rates. But because this is not well understood, the public does not get a clear picture each year of our revenue shortfalls.

That gets us to the deficit. The deficit is the difference between what the Government takes in each year from all sources and what it spends in that year. But in reality, here are two deficits. There is the one the public sees each year and then the real deficit. In 2006 we were told that the deficit was $284 Billion But in truth, it was $434 Billion The difference was $185 Billion that was borrowed from excess Social Security taxes. It is important to remember those taxes came only from wage earners making less than $97 thousand. They did not come from people earning millions of dollars or whose income is from dividends and capital gains.

This also means that every time we cut income taxes for the wealthy or eliminate the estate tax, we are shifting that tax burden onto the shoulders of wage earners who pay Social Security taxes.

Federal Spending

The Federal Budget is comprised of thousands of programs. For an overview those expenditures are aggregated into the following "functions', as described by the Center on Budget And Policy Priorities. Here is the percentage of the total 2006 budget that was spent on each of these categories.

Defense and security - 21%: The largest component of the “defense and security” category is the national defense function. This category also includes expenditures for activities that OMB has designated as homeland security activities but that fall outside of the defense function.[4] In addition, this category includes the international security assistance subfunction of the international affairs function.

Social Security - 21%: This category consists of all expenditures in the Social Security function.

Medicare, Medicaid, and SCHIP - 19%: This category consists of the Medicare function, as well as the “Grants to States for Medicaid” account and the “State children’s health insurance fund” account.

Safety net programs - 9% : This category of programs includes all programs in the income security function except those that fall in the following two subfunctions: the federal employee retirement and disability subfunction; and the general retirement and disability insurance subfunction. The latter contains the Pension Benefit Guarantee Corporation and also covers programs that provide pension and disability benefits to certain small groups of private sector workers.

Interest on the national debt - 9%: This category contains the net interest function.

Everything else - 21%: This category includes all federal expenditures not included in one of the five categories defined above. The subcomponents of this category that are displayed in Figure 2 are defined as follows:

Benefits for civilian retirees and veterans - 5%: This subcategory combines the veterans benefits and services function and the federal employee retirement and disability subfunction (which is part of the income security function).

Education - 4%: The education subcategory combines three subfunctions of the education, training, employment, and social services function: elementary, secondary, and vocational education; higher education; and research and general educational aids.

Scientific and medical research - 3%: This subcategory consists of the general science, space, and technology function and the health research and training subfunction of the health function.

Transportation - 2%: The transportation subcategory consists of the entirety of the transportation function.

Non-security international - 1%: This subcategory consists of the international affairs function with the international security assistance subfunction removed.

All other -5%: This subcategory consists of all expenditures that fall in the “everything else” category and are not included in one of the five subcategories described above.

This "all other" category, which spends only 5% of the budget is much of what most people think of as the Government. It includes the Federal Courts and prosecutors; FBI and ATF; USDA, which includes the Forest Service, farm programs, rural development programs like the Rural Utility Service which used to be the REA, and meat inspectors; Department of interior, which includes the National Park and BLM; all the regulatory agencies like the Consumer Product Safety Commission, Food and Drug Administration, FDIC, and Federal Reserve Board; the Congress whose largest expenditures are for the Library of Congress, Government Accountability Office and other research arms, and the list goes on and on.


The Wealthy are Winning the Class War. Income taxes are supposed to be progressive. The principle is that a wealthy person can afford to pay a larger percentage of his income in taxes than a poor person. The system is supposed to require the wealthy to pay a higher tax rate and provide deductions and exemptions to benefit the middle class. In contrast Social Security/Medicare taxes are designed to be regressive. You pay a flat rate up to the income limit, with no exemptions or deductions. As a consequence, most families earning less than $70,000 pay more in Social security/Medicare taxes than income taxes. And they actually pay more than they think. They pay 7.65% from their wages, but their employer also pays 7.65%. Since the employer could have increased the employees salary by that amount, each of us is effectively paying 15.3%.

So how has this played out in the last forty four years? From 1962 to 2006 individual income taxes slipped from 45% to 43% of revenue and social insurance taxes jumped from 17% to 35% of revenue. And as an added benefit to the wealthy, during that same time period Corporate income taxes dropped from 20% to 14% of revenue. While the stocks of those companies has increased in value 140 fold, their contribution the government and citizens that enable them to prosper has dropped by 30%.

Middle Class is Subsidizing the Wealthy. In 2006 22% of the Social Security and Medicare taxes ($185 Billion), which were collected only from poor and middle income wage earners, were used to fund the military and other expenses of the Federal Government. Expenses that should have been payed with corporate and individual income taxes. That robbing of Social security has been going on for virtually every year since the program's inception and really picked up the pace after 1984. In that year the last major "reform" was made to the program that raised contribution rates and delayed retirement dates. As of right now income tax payers and corporations have "borrowed" almost $3.6 Trillion from Social Security and other trust accounts.

There would be nothing wrong with that in principle except that people like Bush threaten to never pay it back. Remember our President saying that all those Government notes in the Social Security Trust Fund were just a bunch of pieces of paper. Whenever you hear someone advocating "Social Security reform," look close at what they are saying. They are not advocating that the wealthy pay more income taxes so that the trust funds can be repaid. Remember Gore and his "lock box.' He wanted to end the raiding of the trust funds. But the Republican right made that into a joke.

Return to the Reagan Era. We just finished watching the Reagan Love Fest, AKA Republican Presidential candidates debate. Remember those glory days of yesteryear when there were four cars in every garage, prime rib in every oven and an economy humming to perfection. I think we should go back to something from that era, which would go a long way towards making our tax structure more progressive and solving our fiscal problem. Today, the top tax rate is 35%, applied to income over $338,000, and the capital gains rate is 15%. In the heyday of Reaganomics, between 1982 and 1986, the top tax rate was 50%, it applied to income over $215,000, and the capital gains rate was 20%. If it worked miracles then imagine what it could do for us now.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

One, Two, Three, What Are We Fighting For?

Country Joe & The Fish asked that question back during the Viet Nam War

And it's one, two, three,
What are we fighting for ?
Don't ask me, I don't give a damn,
Next stop is Vietnam;
And it's five, six, seven,
Open up the pearly gates,
Well there ain't no time to wonder why,
Whoopee! we're all gonna die.

It was easy to ask that question back then because the Viet Nam War was so clearly pointless. But that is hardly the case today with Iraq. Now, our reasons for sending soldiers to die are clear.

At this point our soldier are fighting and dying for whatever reason anyone wants to put forth. Saddam revenge, kill the 9/11 attackers, free the Iraqis, bring democracy to the middle east, oh yes, and my favorite, to prevent the chaos in the region from becomming more chaotic.

But there's more. Here's a glimpse of what we are really fighting for. We are fighting so that a group of men belonging to the Yakidi religion can stone to death a 17 year old girl who converted to Islam, the religion of her boyfriend.
But we also want to be sure it doesn't end there, so our fighting in Iraq insured that

On April 23, gunmen stopped a bus carrying workers to her community, the village of Beshika 10 kilometres (six miles) outside Mosul, dragged out 23 Yazidis and shot them dead.

We all know that it is absolutely imperative that we allow religious bigotry to flower in Iraq and that the victims of such bigotry have ample opportunity to exact their revenge.

That's not all, though. Our troops are also fighting, bleeding and dying to insure that the Iraqi government can mimic Saddam, Bush's favorite nemesis, by preventing Iraqi doctors from leaving the country. That's right. What was good enough for Saddam is good enough for al Maliki and is certainly something worth our troops dying for. As reported by the Post

Iraq is hemorrhaging doctors as violence racks the nation. To stem the flow, the Iraqi government has recently taken a cue from Saddam Hussein: Medical schools are once again forbidden to issue diplomas and transcripts to new graduates.

Hussein built a fine medical system in part by withholding doctors' passports and diplomas. Although physicians can work in Iraq with a letter from a medical school verifying their graduation, they say they need certificates and transcripts to work abroad.

It is a common refrain among war-weary Iraqis that things were better before the U.S.-led invasion in 2003. Electricity in Baghdad was more reliable; sectarian hostility was rare; Iraq was safe -- except for the many victims of Hussein's tyranny. But rarely has the government embraced a policy that so harshly evokes the era of dictatorship. To some students and doctors, the diploma decision, like Iraq's crumbling medical system, provides clear proof of the government's helplessness and the nation's decline.

But that isn't all we are fighting for . No, we also want to make our troops die for a country that thinks reporters should be killed and press offices destroyed if the press has the audacity to criticize religious leaders.

Hundreds of angry Shiites poured onto the streets of two cities south of the Iraqi capital Friday to protest what they considered insults by Al-Jazeera television against Iraq's most revered Shiite cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani.

The protesters were angered by an Al-Jazeera talk show this week in which the presenter questioned al-Sistani's leadership credentials.

* * * *

"Yes, yes to al-Sistani," read banners carried by some of the 1,000 protesters in Basra, Iraq's second largest city. They gathered outside the local offices of Iraq's largest Shiite political party, the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, or SCIRI, which has close links to al-Sistani.

In the holy Shiite city of Najaf, where al-Sistani lives, several hundred protesters marched in the city's old quarter in solidarity.

"Today, we burn down Al-Jazeera," chanted the protesters who carried portraits of al-Sistani. Others demanded that the channel as well as Qatar be sued. One Najaf protester carried several pictures of Qatar's emir, Sheik Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, with a shoe hoisted on the images to show contempt for him.

Now that's certainly worth fighting and dying for. I bet we could increase recruiting if we put that on a poster.

Uncle Sam Needs You To Protect Imams By Killing The Press

That would sure go over big in the Bible belt. Of course everyone knows that these are only some of the reasons we are fighting. These are important but not nearly as important as what this war does for our economy. If we we weren't fighting and dying over there we couldn't sell nearly as much ammunition as we need to to keep the economy humming.

The Bush administration told Congress on Friday of plans to sell Iraq about 400 million rounds of small arms ammunition, 170,000 grenades, demolition explosives and other military gear and services valued at up to $508 million.

Now that's a cause everyone can embrace. You can't sell bullets if you don't shoot bullets. Sure some of those bullets are going to wound maim or kill our soldiers, but everyone has to do their part to keep the economy humming.

Besides that, if we didn't keep fighting we wouldn't see the kind of progress we are seeing in Iraq. How could things be going any better? Friday: 6 GIs, 71 Iraqis Killed; 89 Iraqis Wounded Six American soldiers killed is proof positive that we are winning and everyone knows that winning is the ultimate goal. If you stop fighting, you lose.

So that must be it. The administration has finally arrived at the seminal reason for the war. We Fight So That We Can Win.

This conflict is so utterly pointless and tragic that it has become a bloody parody of itself.