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Ehren Watada is a beautiful, beautiful (Did we mention beautiful?) Hawaii native who graduated magna cum laude from Hawaii Pacific University in 2003, and was subsequently commissioned by the Army’s Officer Candidate School–ultimately rising to the high military rank of First Lieutenant. His motivation to serve arose from a reaction to the September 11 attacks and his resulting “desire to protect our country.“
What happened in between? When Watada learned that his unit would be deploying to Iraq, he did some real homework on the conflict. Ultimately convinced that the war he was being asked to lead troops into was illegal, he attempted to resign his commission–this was refused. He offered to instead serve in the “unambigious war linked to the September 11 attacks” in Afghanistan. The Army–and then-President of the United States–did not budge.
And so a different war began as a result of Watada’s stand, with the Army proffering multiple charges against him under the Uniform Code of Military Justice, including that of “Conduct Unbecoming of Officer and Gentleman” (for denouncing President Bush and the war) and “Missing Movement” (for not deploying). For these charges he faced a court martial, as well as potential (dishonorable) Dismissal and years of prison time. But Watada did not back down.
On September 26, under the Obama administration, the Army agreed to allow his resignation.
So why is Watada such a babe? Well, look at him, for crying out loud. And then take into account that he’s a man willing to think rather than blindly follow, to stand up for what he feels is right even when the scariest and strongest machine is out to silence him.
Asked by TruthOut in ’06 how he felt facing the serious consequences for his controversial stand, Watada said plainly:
“When you are looking your children in the eye in the future, or when you are at the end of your life, you want to look back on your life and know that at a very important moment, when I had the opportunity to make the right decisions, I did so, even knowing there were negative consequences.“
He may no longer be an officer, but if you ask us, his conduct certainly is one of a gentleman. And, for that matter, a total babe.
China, dear Mother Ship, you bring me great shame.
The LA Times reported Thursday that George W. Bush remains a popular president in the PRC. Excuse me, China, but are you high?
A photographic exhibit documenting 30 years of Sino-U.S. relasians is currently up in Beijing, and it depicts Bush in a flattering light. Nixon, too. One exhibit attendee, Mao Baoshu, a retired nuclear (that’s nuke-a-lar, natch) specialist, was quoted as saying:
“Bush made some mistakes in foreign policy, especially with Iraq, but for the Chinese, he had been a true friend…We will never forget that the leader of the most developed country in the world stood up to pressure to come to the Olympics.”
My Hardass Chinese Dad used to love telling me when I was growing up that the problem with us Americans is that we’re arrogant–and he’s not alone in that perception, is he?–but damn if y’all aren’t doing a fine job of following our lead.
Now pee into this cup. Because I know you’re on drugs. Or pregnant. Maybe both.
Hails from: Hawaii
Occupation: Retired four-star general and Secretary of Veterans Affairs nominee
Known for: Becoming the first Asian-American four-star general in the U.S. Army. Getting an MA in English literature(!) after graduating from West Point. Stepping on a landmine while fighting in the Vietnam War and losing part of his foot. Famously clashing with Donald Rumsfeld and Paul Wolfowitz before Congress at the start of the Iraq War, when General Shinseki was Army Chief of Staff, because he believed that a post-war occupation of Iraq would require way more troops than Rumsfeld had estimated. After that, he was iced out of the Defense Department, even though–like so many other Bush administration critics–he turned out to be right.
Rumsfeld & Co. can suck it (like Tina Fey haters) because General Shinseki’s confirmasian hearing for Veteran Affairs Secretary is this Wednesday, and he’s going to sail right through, finally getting the respect he so deserves.
Filed under: Barack Obama, Donald Rumsfeld, General Eric Shinseki, George Bush is a Dick, Hawaiians, Obama's Cabinet, Paul Wolfowitz, Secretary of Veterans' Affairs, Vietnam Vets, We Love Being Right, West Point
Occupation: Army Man and Truth Teller
Known for: Man-ing up, blowing the lid off of human rights abuses at Abu Ghraib, getting unceremoniously forced into retirement for doing the right thing, accusing the Bush administration of war crimes, looking really damn studly in uniform.
Our short answer to that is a question: would you rush to put that photo (above) up on your blog? We don’t think so!
But we could resist no longer after reading the White House transcripts of Bush’s recent meeting with Filipino President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, which occurred on Tuesday amidst her country’s recovery from this month’s devastating typhoon.
From (to avoid linking you directly to the White House site–it’s for your own good) the Huffington Post:
PRESIDENT BUSH: Madam President, it is a pleasure to welcome you back to the Oval Office. We have just had a very constructive dialogue. First, I want to tell you how proud I am to be the President of a nation that — in which there’s a lot of Philippine-Americans. They love America and they love their heritage. And I reminded the President that I am reminded of the great talent of the — of our Philippine-Americans when I eat dinner at the White House. (Laughter.)
PRESIDENT ARROYO: Yes.
PRESIDENT BUSH: And the chef is a great person and a really good cook, by the way, Madam President.
PRESIDENT ARROYO: Thank you.
My word, what a gentleman! And what an ice breaker. But we wonder… in Dubya’s head, does the transcript look more like this?: Our cook is Flip-a-penes American, howdy hoo! Do ya know her? Aw, y’all eat rice or grape leaves or somethin’. Aw, my brain sure is tired.
All we know is the Prez seems like a really nice, really aware guy. Rest assured that me ‘n my ladies–that is, nail ladies–can’t wait to have our own chat with him some day.
Thanks, Eliza and Jasmine!
Hails from: Honolulu, Hawaii
Occupation: U.S. Senator
Known for: Being the first senator of native Hawaiian ancestry and the only Chinese-American to currently hold that position, serving in the Army Corps of Engineers during WWII, chairing the Senate’s Veterans Affairs Committee, co-sponsoring the new bipartisan GI Bill that promises to provide college educations to Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans after three or more years of service (which Bush is threatening to veto), sporting a bitchin’ silver coif.
President Bush said in an interview on Tuesday that he gave up golf in 2003 because of the Iraq War.
“I don’t want some mom whose son may have recently died to see the commander-in-chief playing golf,” he said. “I feel I owe it to the families to be in solidarity as best as I can with them.”
Other sacrifices Bush made out of respect for our soldiers include giving up the following:
hard-shelled tacos, watching VH1′s The Flavor of Love, cufflinks, using a battery-powered nose-hair trimmer instead of tiny scissors, aromatherapy candles, learning Spanish, silk boxers, Velveeta dip, having sex with Laura, retractable Sharpie pens, and, the hardest of them all…having the White House chefs cut the crusts off of his sandwiches instead of doing it himself.
Poor, poor George!
On the first of this month, under pressure from the ACLU, the Pentagon declassified a 2003 Justice Department memo authored by John Yoo, then Deputy Assistant Attorney General of the Office of Legal Counsel, which interprets the law for the executive branch. In what is now being called “The Torture Memo,” Yoo wrote that, in U.S. military interrogations of prisoners of war, anything short of causing “death, organ failure or permanent damage” was not considered torture. The memo also gave the Bush Administration the power to bypass the Fifth Amendment (due process) and the Eighth Amendment (cruel and unusual punishment) when it came to “alien, enemy combatants held abroad.” Though the memo was revoked nine months later, many believe that it laid the groundwork for prisoner abuses at Abu Ghraib. It also gave President Bush absolute authority above our Constitution, the Geneva Conventions, and international treaties the U.S. has signed regarding torture of war prisoners.
Then ABC News broke a story this week that top Bush advisors–Cheney, Condi, Rummy, Colin Powell, CIA Director George Tenet and Attorney General John Ashcroft–held several secret meetings at the White House to approve the use of “enhanced interrogation” (i.e. torture) in the interrogation of al Qaeda suspects.
According to one source, Ashcroft expressed his doubts about what they were doing and said during a meeting, “”Why are we talking about this in the White House? History will not judge this kindly.”
For once, we hafta agree with Ashcroft.
[The June issue of Esquire publishes an interview with John Yoo, currently a Berkeley law professor, where he defends his actions. Read excerpts here.]
So much has already been said about the assassination of former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto that we’re pretty sure we don’t have anything earth-shattering to add about the sad sad news.
Occupation: Sculptor and artist
Known for: Reprznting for women at Yale by designing the campus’ Women’s Table, offering her artistic sense and architectural expertise to Washington State’s ongoing Confluence Project, and, most famously, designing the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in D.C.
As we honored our past and present troops this weekend (which includes Diana’s cousin Victor–big upz), we thought a lot about her vision and contributions to our country. We’re so grateful to have her on our team.
Oh, and yes, we’re just trying to get your brain off of this image:
Yesterday marked the 2nd anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, our nation’s biggest domestic disgrace. The Washington Post reported these alarming statistics about the current state of affairs in the Big Not-So-Easy:
Still, only two-thirds of the pre-Katrina population of New Orleans has returned to the city, and storm damage remains visible. Only 40 percent of the city’s public school students have returned, although sales tax receipts have climbed to 84 percent of pre-storm levels, according to a new Brookings Institution report.
…The Louisiana-run Road Home program, which provides rebuilding grants to homeowners who had inadequate storm insurance, has sent checks to 44,000 hurricane victims, despite having received more than 184,000 applications and having billions of dollars in the bank.
…More than 1,600 people died in the storm along the Gulf Coast and 1.5 million people were scattered. Almost as much as the war in Iraq…
Here are photos I took 9 months after Katrina, in and around the Ninth Ward:
From all reports, the city is not that much better off today. New Orleans still needs your tourism, your money, and your help. Click here to view a list of disaster relief organizations, and help rebuild NOLA.