Friday, March 04, 2011

Don't they teach math in Indonesia?




This week on Raising Hope (episode "Snip, Snip," written by Mike Mariano, Fox, Tuesday nights, streams online), Virginia (Martha Plimpton) and Burt (Garret Dillahunt) have a pregnancy scare. When their adult son Jimmy (Lucas Neff) finds out, he holds a family meeting in the living room. Also present is Maw Maw (Cloris Leachman), Virginia's grandmother, who appears off in her own little world as she examines a remote control.
Jimmy: How could you be so irresponsible?
Virginia: We're responsible. We're also passionate and spontaneous.
Burt: Those would be our gladiator names if we were on American Gladiator. Which we still might do!
Virginia: Because we're spontaneous.
Jimmy: Okay, first of all, Gladiator sounds awesome. But no babies. One of you has to get fixed or spayed.
Burt: No way.
Virginia: You cannot decide that, Jimmy. That is a personal decision.
Burt: She's right. I think we should take a family vote. All those in favor of everyone keeping their original plumbing?
Virginia and Burt raise their hands.
Virginia: Sorry, Jimmy, you're out voted two to one.
Maw Maw: I vote with Jimmy!
Jimmy: Hold on! Two to two!
Burt: Only if she's lucid! She's only allowed to vote if she's lucid!
Virginia: Maw Maw, we are currently at war with what country?
Maw Maw: Iraq and Afghanistan.
Jimmy: Is she right?
Burt: I think so but I'm not sure.
Maw Maw: It's right, you morons. One more reason why you shouldn't have another baby.
Burt and Jimmy aren't the only ones who appear to have forgotten the wars. Yesterday the Commission on Wartime Contracting in Iraq and Afghanistan issued a [PDF format warning] press release
Asking if Iraq is "a forgotten mission," the bipartisan Commission on Wartime Contracting in Iraq and Afghanistan has released a special report to Congress warning that the U.S. Department of State faces large funding and contract-management challenges in Iraq once the U.S. military completes its agreed-upon withdrawal by the end of 2011.
To deal with Iraq's long-standing ethnic, religious, and regional rivalries, the State Department is working to set up two permanent and two temporary stations remote from the U.S. embassy in Baghdad. The department is also working with the Department of Defnse to deal with hundreds of functions currently provided by the U.S. military in Iraq.
State's taking on security, facilities management, air transport, and other tasks will require thousands of contractor employees. "Yet State is short of needed funding and program-management staff," the report says. "Very little time remains for State to develop requirements, conduct negotiations, and award competititve contracts for work that must begin at once. Inadequate support risks waste of funds and failure for U.S. policy objectives in Iraq and the region."
The report recommends that:
"1. Congress ensure adequate funding to sustain State Department operations in critical area of Iraq, including its greatly increased needs for operational contract support."
"2. The Department of State expand its organic capability to meet heightened needs for acquistion personnel, contract management, and contractor oversight."
"3. The Secretaries of State and Defense extend and intensify their collaborative planning for the transition, including executing an agreement to establish a single, sneior-level coordinator and decision-maker to guide progress and promptly address major issues whose resolution may exceed the authorities of departmental working groups."
Nathan Hodge's article in today's Wall St. Journal opens, "U.S. officials are beginning to talk about the possibility of keeping some troops in Iraq beyond 2011, complicating the Pentagon's plans to rein in military spending." Hodge also notes the new report from the Commission on Wartime Contracting which Mark Bruce (ABC News) covers as well as the hearing:

The State Department is not ready to assume leadership for the U.S. role in Iraq as the military draws down its mission there, Commissioners Grant Green and Michael Thibault of the Commission on Wartime Contracting in Iraq and Afghanistan argued before lawmakers today.
"Is the State Department ready? The short answer is 'no,' and the short reason for that answer is that establishing and sustaining an expanded U.S. diplomatic presence in Iraq will require State to take on thousands of additional contractor employees that it has neither funds to pay nor resources to manage," Green testified before the Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

Mike Kellerman (Press TV -- link has text and video) adds: "Another couple hundred billion is estimated to pay for diplomats, CIA workers, para military advisors, embassy security, and tens of thousands of contractors. AT this Congressional hearing, several lawmakers balked at the projected price for Obama's long-term scheme to keep the American presence strong in Iraq indicating the government can no longer afford it. The US special inspector general for Iraq testified not only will it cost a lot at a time when budget cutters in Congress are slashing the State Department's budget but also the State Department is far from ready to take over the occupation of the country from the US military." If you want to end something, you work to end it. You don't, a few days after an election -- say, one in 2008 -- post a pathetic message on your supposed peace website that all is well and you're off. The Iraq War continues. Those of us who said "Out of Iraq Now!" need to figure out whether we meant it or not -- specifically "NOW!" -- or whether we were just lying to try to help Democrats do better in elections. I'm not sure what conclusion most will form but I was opposed to the Iraq War and meant it which is why I remain opposed to the Iraq War. Opposed -- not posing. There's a difference. Non-posers will gather across the country this month on the anniversary of the Iraq War with the biggest protest planned for DC. A.N.S.W.E.R. and March Forward! and others will be taking part in this action:

March 19 is the 8th anniversary of the invasion and occupation of Iraq. Iraq today remains occupied by 50,000 U.S. soldiers and tens of thousands of foreign mercenaries.

The war in Afghanistan is raging. The U.S. is invading and bombing Pakistan. The U.S. is financing endless atrocities against the people of Palestine, relentlessly threatening Iran and bringing Korea to the brink of a new war.

While the United States will spend $1 trillion for war, occupation and weapons in 2011, 30 million people in the United States remain unemployed or severely underemployed, and cuts in education, housing and healthcare are imposing a huge toll on the people.

Actions of civil resistance are spreading.

On Dec. 16, 2010, a veterans-led civil resistance at the White House played an important role in bringing the anti-war movement from protest to resistance. Enduring hours of heavy snow, 131 veterans and other anti-war activists lined the White House fence and were arrested. Some of those arrested will be going to trial, which will be scheduled soon in Washington, D.C.

Saturday, March 19, 2011, the anniversary of the invasion of Iraq, will be an international day of action against the war machine.

Protest and resistance actions will take place in cities and towns across the United States. Scores of organizations are coming together. Demonstrations are scheduled for San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, Washington, D.C., and more.

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