According to the United States Constitution, the President is the Commander-in-Chief of the military, but only Congress may declare war. It's never been too clear whether the President had the authority to use military force if war is not actually declared. For a while George W. Bush was considering invading Iraq without asking for Congress' permission, but the resulting outcry caused him to change his mind and promise that he would seek Congress' permission before any invasion.
Well, now he's asking for it. In Bush to Court Congress on Iraq, the Associated Press says:
President Bush summoned congressional leaders to a White House breakfast meeting Wednesday as aides worked on legislation allowing him to use "all appropriate means" to force Iraq to dismantle its weapons programs.
Bush previously threatened to invade if Iraq didn't invite back the weapons inspectors unconditionally. When, to his surprise, Iraq conceded, Bush claimed it was just a clever ploy and continued with his plans for war:
President Bush wasn't backing down from his tough speech to the U.N. General Assembly last Thursday threatening action against Iraq if it did not allow the inspectors back. He urged the Security Council not to be "fooled" by Iraq's about-face, and his administration disclosed plans for moving B-2 bombers closer to Baghdad, preparing for possible war to remove President Saddam Hussein.
Why does Bush want war? Because the mid-term congressional elections are coming up soon, and the economy, which looked hopeful for a while, is now in a wreck because of the "accounting irregularities" at such bankrupt companies as Enron, WorldCom and Adelphia, the same kind of accounting irregularities that Bush and Vice President Cheney indulged in at their texas oil companies before they got elected.
In addition, Bush was elected by a minority of the voters due to the strange way Presidential "electoral votes" are allocated among the U.S. States. His approval rating was very low before the September 11th attack, and with the war in Afghanistan winding down and receding from the public consiousness, he needs something new to distract the minds of the peasantry from so he and his cronies can continue to loot the public coffers.
How legitimate is Bush' Presidency? In a dissenting opinion in the Bush vs. Gore case, Judge Stevens wrote:
The endorsement of that position by the majority of this Court can only lend credence to the most cynical appraisal of the work of judges throughout the land. It is confidence in the men and women who administer the judicial system that is the true backbone of the rule of law. Time will one day heal the wound to that confidence that will be inflicted by today's decision. One thing however, is certain. Although we may never know with complete certainty the identity of the winner of this year's Presidential election, the identity of the loser is perfectly clear. It is the Nation's confidence in the judge as an impartial guardian of the rule of law.
I think anyone who claims that the Supreme Court decided the Bush vs. Gore case impartially is deluded.
What's the punch line? We may already be at war! The prevous rules of engagement for the enforcement of the no-fly zone over Iraq only allowed pilots to shoot back if they were attacked first. The Pentagon just announced they had issued new rules of engagement authorizing pilots to attack without provocation. Pilots have been ordered to attack command and communication facilities that are part of Iraq's air defense.
I think that's an obvious provocation to goad Iraq into war. Also attacking the air defenses has been the Pentagon's first step in making war on a country, at least since the first Persian Gulf War.
If you are an American citizen, please write to both your Senators and your House Representative to ask them to oppose the use of military force in Iraq. The life of even one Iraqi is too dear a price to pay to keep President Bush in power. If you don't know who your Congressional representatives are, or you need their addresses, put your zip code into the search box at www.congress.org.
Don't waste your time sending them email or using those convenient web forms. Congress gets spammed so much that they don't pay attention to email. If you're in a hurry, call their offices and speak to a staff member.
If you're not an American citizen, please write to the government officials in your own country and ask them to oppose the U.S. war in Iraq. This is especially important if your country has a seat on the U.N. Security Council, as Bush is attempting to use the Security Council to legitimize his war. Any of the permanent council members - Britain, Russia, China, France or (heh) the U.S. may veto a Security Council resolution. There are also a number of other countries that hold temporary seats on the council and could outvote the permanent members if they agreed to help Bush out.
If you're wondering how a country like America could have gotten to be this way, you haven't read George Orwell's 1984. Remember:
War is Peace
Slavery is Freedom
Ignorance is Knowledge
If you're afraid to speak out in these troubled times, I urge you to read Make a Bonfire of Your Reputations.
Thank you for your attention.
I'm greatly enjoying my first contract doing embedded systems programming. So far it's everything I hoped it would be, and nothing that I feared.
I'm fortunate that the hardware I'm working with is well documented. I know that's often not the case. Also the existing source code, which I'm modifying, is well written.
I'm sorry but it's very closed-source. I'm not even certain I should say what chip I'm working on, except that it has an embedded ARM core.
It's been a challenge. Nothing worked right to start with. I had a real scare at first that turned out to be a problem with delivering adequate power to the eval board I am working with - the thing sort of worked but was acting really brain-damaged, so I feared I had damaged the hardware somehow.
Then I couldn't get the source to build, and when I could get it to build, the resulting firmware would just hang the chip. But finally I got it to work and I am able to make modifications to the firmware and see the results happen in the behaviour of the thing.
An unfortunate problem is that I have only primitive debugging support. There is a bank of 8 LED's and I can turn each one on and off individually. That's it! The eval board comes with a serial port and the firmware source has an API for sending messages out, but unfortunately that doesn't work.
So that's tonight's project, getting the full debugging support to work. I got the vendor's support guy to send me the datasheet for the UART and now I'm going to be blinking LED's on and off until I figure out what the problem is. There is still some possibility that the board is damaged.
I have an unfortunate problem in that I don't posses any kind of electronic test equipment. The best I could come up with was a simple RS-232 breakout box. I've just been browsing Jameco looking for test equipment to buy. I will probably start with a good multimeter and a logic probe.
I want to get a digital storage oscilloscope ($$$) and a logic analyzer. A logic analyzer is like an oscilloscope but with lots of traces, and it only measures binary logic levels rather than continuous voltages.
The ultimate embedded debugging tool is an In Circuit Emulator (ICE), which plugs into mircroprocessor slot and acts just like a real microprocessor except that you can set all kinds of weird breakpoints, like breaking when a particular value is read or written, and you can get a trace of the data and address values for the last little while.
Unfortunately it wouldn't help me for this job because the microprocessor sits entirely within an I/O chip! The data and address lines of the ARM CPU do not come outside the chip.
My initial project is a very simple modification to the existing code. But my next project will be to write a great deal of new code to have the chip serve a completely different purpose. Likely it will take up so much space in the flash rom that there will be no space for the serial port debug.
What I plan to do for much of it, at least the parts that do not depend on real-time performance, is write simulation testbeds that will run as normal user programs on Linux.