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Monday, February 27, 2006

...In a Handbasket

Defenseless

United States President George Walker Bush has been widely blamed for his lack of response to Hurricane Katrina, which devastated the Gulf Coast not too awfully long ago. Part of his reasoning was that our nation's resources have been drained by the war in Iraq, which is dragging out longer than expected. Why is the war in Iraq taking so long? Well, it's because we didn't send quite enough troops because we were committed to the War on Terrorism and we needed to have people in Afghanistan. Why do we have people in Afghanistan? Because terrorists killed thousands of American citizens in the September 11, 2001 attacks, that's why we need troops in Afghanistan. Why were we attacked in the first place? Many have said it's because Mr. Bush was caught unprepared and wasn't ready. The continuing trend here being "we didn't have enough people to do the job right."

Mr. Bush's response to all this? He's cut spending for the National Guard. source Makes sense to me. He's already crippled the regular military through budget cuts. (There's a good article in the Army Times about this subject - you can read it here.) In a time when we're seeing massive amounts of money flowing out of our pockets to feed the military machine it seems odd that our soldiers don't have adequate equipment (body armor, for example), military benefits are being cut, soldiers' pay is woefully inadequate, hazard pay is being cut, even funeral pay is being slashed. We need to take care of our troops.

I've said it before - I was against the war in Iraq simply because of the timing and the reasons given. (Had Mr. Bush simply come out and said, "Hussein's a bad guy - he's violating international law, we're gonna go get him, as soon as we get this bin Laden fella," I would have been okay with it. But instead we shifted our focus from the people who actually hurt us [al Qaeda] to Iraq, and went to war under false pretenses.) But we're there now. Our troops have been there for years. They're tired. They're doing their job. We need to take care of them. Our current leadership is creating an environment where Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay can happen. We need to stop abusing the Geneva Conventions, we need to start listening to the United Nations, and we need to start helping our soldiers. Sadly, I don't think it's going to happen under the current administration.

In an odd twist of events, and a slight change of subject, our President pushed through his infamous "No Child Left Behind" act, and simultaneously cut educational benefits for the children of our servicemembers (Impact Aid). source Aye, that Mr. Bush, he's got brass 'uns, I tell ya.


Closer to home...

My beloved Austrian bride, Dagmar, and I got to see our nieces yesterday (the nephew was off with grandparents somewhere doing something fun). To the right is a nifty photo indeed of my brother, Cory, hoisting niece #1, Peyton, and niece #2, Maddie (our beloved goddaughter) being whisked aloft by my Viennese snowflake.

The kids played in the little kiddie-zoo thingy playground doohickey they have there at the mall whilst my brother and I talked about guitars. I nodded knowingly every now and then so he'd think I knew what I was talking about. I don't think he bought it.

Then we carried/dragged/chased the kids to Younkers, where they rode the escalator for a bit. Up, then down. Then up again. That was fun. I'd be a bad parent - I was half-scared to let Maddie go on the escalator. So I just kinda carried the poor child half the way. I don't think she liked that much. I made it up to her, though, by letting her play with my hair.

We bought them shoes. If you look close, you can see Peyton's got her boots on backwards.

They're such good kids. I can't say enough about them.


Iowa Politics

Sioux City has a lot to be proud of - but we've sent several embarrassing politicians off to the state level lately. (Notably embarrassing Representative Chris Rants. As I commented on Who's Makin' Bacon [a good blog], it's my studied opinion that Sioux City elected Mr. Rants to the state legislature simply to get him out of town for a while. I can't think of any other reason he could possibly have been elected.) Steve Warnstadt's doing a great job, by the way, near as I can tell.

But the politician that currently worries me is republican Sioux City businessman Bob Vander Plaats. He's running as Jim Nussle's second for the Iowa Governorship. I hope he doesn't embarrass us. It worries me a bit that he's always referred to as a "Sioux City businessman," but from what I can learn on the Interweb, Mr. Vander Plaats is actually from Sheldon. I can't figger out how long he's been in Sioux City, nor can I pin down quite what business he's into. I've been in town long enough now that I've met, seen, ran into, or recognized most of the politicians around - Mr. Warnstadt, Wes Whitead, etc. But not only have I never seen Mr. Vander Plaats, I've never even heard of anyone around here talk about him. Eerie.

At this early stage in the game I'm leaning toward Mike Blouin for governor. This is strictly by hearsay at this point - I've heard some bad things about Chet Culver, good things about Mr. Blouin, and from what I've heard of Mr. Nussle (the republican) I would never consider voting for him, regardless of party affiliation. Again, it's all hearsay. I did notice, though, that Mr. Blouin went outside Iowa to find a web design firm. That disappointed me; there are a LOT of talented designers in the state that would have done just as good a job. Why not keep the money local, eh? Oh well.

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