June 30, 2006

Bush Admin. - Shoot The Messenger / Shoot Own Foot

One of the top stories this week involves the New York Times (NYT), as well as several other major media outlets, having published a story about the Bush Administration's 'secret' banking surveillance program. Of course... they're only snooping for terrorist's banking transactions... or so we're led to believe.

When I first heard the story, I was a little concerned about whether the government was obtaining warrants and implementing this terrorist surveillance program within the law. After all, we've heard plenty about the government's eavesdropping on our phone conversations & email withOUT obtaining warrants (the burden of exhibiting 'probable cause', as the Bill of Rights dictates), and we've heard about their data-banking of phone records. Now, here's yet another 'secret' surveillance program we're led to believe is keeping us save from terrorism.

But then the story morphed into an attack on the media as the Bush Administration (and their lock-step Hound Dogs*) went after the New York Times for 'leaking' the story of this 'secret' terrorist surveillance program. How dare the NYT compromise national security and inform the public! So, here's my take on this issue....

Wasn't So Secret

The Bush Administration never hid the fact that they were fighting the 'war on terrorism' in many different ways, and Bush himself said publicly many times that he would use "...every means necessary..." to wage this 'war on terrorism', including the attack on terrorist funding & banking. This footage from Keith Olberman's Countdown certainly gets that point across. So, where's the breach in national security when the NYT published what everyone already knew? Did NYT let-the-cat-out-of-the-bag that Bush was monitoring specifically SWIFT transactions? Did the terrorists NOT know that Bush was monitoring specifically SWIFT transactions?

Gimme a break. This was no secret revelation, this was not 'classified' information, and the terrorists didn't learn anything new that would be considered endangering our national security. Who am I to determine what's classified, and what's not? I'm certainly not qualified to determine that. But Victor Comras is. He's a retired diplomat and a consultant on terrorism financing:

"I can understand why people are upset when any classified information is leaked, but I wouldn't call this a major damage to our national security or to the war on terror.... A terrorist would have to be pretty dumb not to know that this was happening."

And speaking of what's classified and what's not...

Again, I'm no expert on what is or isn't classified. But 'splain me this... Why is it that many of Reagan's and George Herbert Walker Bush's presidency's records are classified? And why are many of George W. Bush's records from before he was Governor of Texas classified? Why are Dick Cheney's Energy Task Force records all classified?

There's no secret that this Administration is THE most secretive in history. I think that the litmus test of 'classified' is more a matter of whether it will embarrass the Bush Administration, rather than whether it will endanger national security.

And speaking of leaks that compromise our national security...

Oh yes.... you knew I was going to get to Valerie Plame, didn't you? If you reeeeeeealy want to indict those who leaked classified information that compromised our national security, you HAVE to go after the Bush Administration for the outing of Valerie Plame. Ms. Plame was a deep cover CIA agent (a NOC in Mission Impossible terms) who was working on WMD's. As we all know, the Bush Administration leaked her undercover identity as a retaliatory action against her husband - Joseph Wilson - for his OpEd publication exposing the administration's pre-war intelligence fabrications.

This, ladies & gentlemen, is a true compromise of our national security. Please feel free to read my article of July 15, 2005 which articulates that in detail. The Bush Administration compromised Valerie Plame, every agent ever associated with Valerie Plame, her under-cover front company - Brewster Jennings, every agent ever associated with Brewster Jennings, AND most importantly, the mission she was on, which involved WMD's in the Middle East. Talk about a breach in national security - this one's the Whopper!

So, go ahead Bushies... keep shooting the messenger. Continue to attack the New York Times for exercising the First Amendment's freedom of the press. We didn't notice that you've been decimating the Constitution, breaking all sorts of laws, and turning our country into a fascist state. We didn't notice that you've been invading our privacy, draining our treasury, and destroying our democracy. We didn't notice the utter hypocrisy in how you blamed the New York Times for 'leaking' something that wasn't a classified secret or anywhere's near a compromise in national security, long after you leaked something that certainly was a classified secret and certainly did compromise our national security.

Well... maybe some people didn't notice.

But I did.

* My apologies to Hound Dogs everywhere. I didn't mean to insult you by comparing you to vermin the likes of O'Reilly, Hannity, Carlson, Limbaugh, & Coulter.

June 26, 2006

Al "Inconvenient Truth" Gore.... For President!

This past weekend I had the pleasure of catching Al Gore's new documentary - "An Inconvenient Truth". Actually, the 'truth' is, it certainly was NOT a pleasure. It was unnerving and very concerning. I've heard many stories about the impact of global warming and climate change, but haven't really grasped the magnitude of the looming catastrophe until now.

Mr. Gore presents a plethora of compelling scientific evidence which clearly concludes that global warming is real and deadly on so many levels. Every American, every European, every Asian, every African, every Australian, EVERYONE should see this film. Global warming affects everyone, and in so many ways. Last year (2005) was the warmest on record, and it's no coincidence that 2005 was also the most catastrophic, flanked by the tsunami in southeast Asia and hurricane Katrina out of the Gulf of Mexico.

As I was watching the documentary, there was one thing that sickened me the most - knowing that the one person who needs to get this message the most, arrogantly refuses to watch it. Yes, when President Bush was asked whether or not he would see Gore's film, his response was "Doubt it". He further went on to clarify...

"...in my judgment we need to set aside whether or not greenhouse gases have been caused by mankind or because of natural effects..."

And that, ladies & gentlemen, says it all. The President of the United States - the one person in the world who has both the power and the responsibility to forge change that would address the impact of the pollution we cause - just doesn't get it. He's so intent on pacifying his big-business base, that he's willing to risk the future of our planet. But hey... what's a few million lives as long as the energy companies can continue to make record profits.

My Plea

Mr. Gore, your presentation is undeniable and your message is getting out. When I saw you interviewed on 'The Tonight Show' you said that you wanted to continue to communicate your message and do all you can do for your causes. Well, let me recommend to you the best way to affect your causes - Run for president in 2008.

More than half of this country recognizes that you not only won the popular vote in 2000, and you not only would've won Florida had the recount been allowed to continue, but that the presidency was stolen from you by the Republican's dirty trickery. In the time since, we've seen 5 1/2 years of tragedy, fear, recession, divisiveness and extremist policies which have driven our country in the wrong direction, bankrupted our treasury, and killed or maimed hundreds of thousands of innocent people.

Mr. Gore, you are the most electable figure in the Democratic Party. Even though Hillary Clinton may be the frontrunner, I don't think she is electable given her negativity factor. You, on the other hand, have continued to perpetuate a very favorable presence with the American people, as well as with the international community. Your common sense, articulate manner, and progressive ideology have always been right on the money. But above all that, the American people trust you. Your name has always been synonymous with integrity & character, despite the Republican's sleazy tactics to try to 'SwiftBoat' you with that "... invented the Internet..." smear.

Mr. Gore, if you really want to do the most you can do to forge change to reverse the global warming/climate change problem, you must be President of the United States. Only then will you be in the position to make the decisions, instead of cheerleading from the fringe. Only then can you lead our country in the 'right' direction and reverse not only the causes of global warming, but the loss of America's respect, dignity & integrity.

I believe that our country would not have been attacked on 9/11 had you been our president at the time. I believe that you have the vision to lead us from this terrible period of darkness. And, I believe you have the unique power to win the election in 2008, far above any other figure in the Democratic Party.

Mr. Gore, I urge you to run for president in 2008. I further urge you to select Wisconsin Senator Russ Feingold as your running mate. Pleeeeeease save us!

June 19, 2006

Presidential Pardons (i.e. How the President Becomes Superman)

This article in Newsday.com literally defines corruption and the reason why our Constitution has to be amended.

"Pardon Me..."

As talk about President Bush pardoning "Scooter" Libby starts to emerge, one has to ask one's self "Where are the checks and balances in our government?" How could it be that the president is totally free to excuse from scrutiny those who would be potentially damaging to himself/herself, thereby covering up his/her own wrongdoings?

What To Do

The answer to this one is easy. Every potential Presidential pardon should be ratified by the Supreme Court, whose criteria should include whether or not the pardon might suppress damaging information on the President. It is utterly ridicules that the President could commit high crimes and treason (as many of us feel he has) and cover it all up by pardoning the underlings who could finger him/her.

This is essentially the definition of 'Unchecked Power', and it goes against the essence & spirit of our Constitution, our democracy, and everything we stand for in terms of truth, justice, & the American way.

Then again, after reading that article, sadly I'm thinking - maybe this IS the American way.

June 13, 2006

Good Riddance, Tom Delay

"Tom Delay's name is synonymous with corruption in the Republican Congress."

As most of you are probably aware, Friday (June 9, 2006) was Tom Delay's last day in Congress.

Why was this Tom Delay's last day in Congress?

Because he resigned.

Why did Tom Delay resign?

Because he needs to use his campaign war-chest for his legal defense.

Why does Tom Delay need a legal defense?

Well, that's a good question. It's a long, long story, but I'll try to summarize so as not to bore the crap out of you...

Tom Delay's name is synonymous with corruption in the Republican Congress. His long and illustrious career of kickbacks, money-laundering, redistricting, and a multitude of unethical actions have finally caught up with him. Now he must face the music, and if we're just a little bit lucky, he'll end up with Duke Cunningham, Jack Abramoff, Scooter Libby, and many other inherently corrupt politicians & lobbyists - in prison. So, let’s take a brief look at why Tom Delay is one of the most corrupt politicians of the last two decades…

1) Illegal Redistricting. Tom Delay was instrumental in altering the boundaries of Congressional districts in Texas to the advantage of the Republican Party. He used his influence (you know, they call him “The Hammer”) to shove his redistricting schemes through the Texas legislature, even in an off-census year. By ‘gerrymandering’ large numbers of Republican voters from districts considered ‘strongholds’ to districts with weaker representation, he was able to turn more districts into Republican majorities, and hence send more Republicans to Congress and control The House of Representatives. This redistricting practice is equivilent to stuffing ballot boxes.

2) Money-Laundering. There is a law in the Texas state legislature that forbids campaign contributions from outside corporations. However, it permits financing from the Republican National Committee (RNC). So, Tom saw an opportunity to subvert the legal system and kill two birds with one stone. He arranged for out-of-state corporate campaign donations to go straight to the RNC, and then arranged for the RNC to donate that same amount to the Texas state political races.

3) Bribes, Kickbacks, & Paid-for Politics. Even if our system of government & democracy and all its checks-and-balances, were working ideally to evenly distribute the power and provide sufficient oversight, we’d still have the situation where our lawmakers are essentially governing themselves. That’s right, our legislature, which makes the laws we all must abide to, makes their own laws as well. That’s why they can vote themselves pay raises, and that’s why they can choose to accept campaign contributions from special interests.

And they have.

Time after time, over and over, they have chosen NOT to (truly) reform the campaign finance laws. Instead, they've chosen to accept gifts from lobbyists and perpetuate the cycle of corruption. Tom Delay’s association with Jack Abramoff is well documented. His lobbyist-paid-for vacations are well documented. And his resultant legislative initiatives are also well documented. It’s corruption, pure and simple, and don’t let them complicate the issue. He accepted gifts & money, and he returned political favors.

4) Hypocrisy. Of course, hypocrisy itself is not a crime. Politicians are constantly telling the public (and I suppose you could say parents have been telling their children) to “Do as I say, not as I do”. The scandal involving Saipan, the capital of the U.S. Territory of the Northern Mariana Islands, could easily have been added to my “Bribes, Kickbacks…” section, but I’ve chosen to include it under “Hypocrisy” because of what it represents. Sure, Tom accepted free vacations involving lavish accommodations & golfing in return for favorable legislation, but that’s only part of the story. It’s the nature of that ‘favorable legislation’ that will make you hurl.

Classified as a ‘U.S. territory’, clothing and products manufactured in the Mariana Islands are entitled to carry the “Made In U.S.A” label, as well as avoid import tarrifs & duties. However, US labor laws do not apply, and the labor practices that go on there are utterly stomach-wrenching. The terms 'sweat shops' and 'labor camps' don't even begin to describe the conditions, as accounts of forced abortions & sex slavery have emerged. While Tom Delay & Co. would profess religious fervor against American women's abortions, apparently they have no problem with Saipan women's abortions. That my friends is hypocrisy, and unfortunately, it's not even the worst part of this story... When certain Congressmen stepped in to extend the US labor laws and protections to the Mariana Islands to stop the human trafficking, sweat-shop conditions, & involuntary servitude, Tom Delay openly obstructed it.

There are so many, many more instances of back-door, back-room, back-stabbing, strong-armed, under-handed, sleazy, slimy, scummy, shadowy, dealings involving Tom Delay. If you want to learn more, and I certainly suggest that you do, simply Google “Tom Delay scandal” (finding results with ALL THREE WORDS) and you’ll get over 4.4m hits. Just imagine… you could start reading about Tom Delay’s scandals and never ever finish.

Good riddance Tom, and here's my advice for the next phase of your career... don't bend over in the shower.

June 08, 2006

Does the death of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi mean success in the US War on Terror?


June 05, 2006

It's Getting Foggy Out There!

You might think from the title that I was driving through one of those weather anomalies where a cloud broke ranks with its brethren and came down to earth.

Not exactly.

I'm thinking more along the lines of that old reference - "The Fog of War". Some may think of 'The Fog of War' as the lack of visibility which inadvertently causes 'friendly-fire' casualties. And that's absolutely true, but I'm thinking more along the lines of the atrocities of war, which emerge out of bitterness, anger, hatred, frustration, and revenge.

I didn't serve in any military capacity so I wouldn't begin to pretend to be any kind of expert on the mental state of our soldiers. However, I've read, heard, & seen enough to know that our soldiers fighting in conflicts, for extended periods, are certainly over stressed. They are very likely in a fragile mental & emotional state having to do their jobs in a foreign land, all the while fearing that they could be wounded or killed at any moment. I praise their courage to serve our country by risking their lives.

There may or may not be a 'full investigation' about the tragedy of Haditha from last November. I'd venture to assume however, that the 'full' investigation will find the American soldiers completely absolved of any wrongdoing, much like the soldiers involved in the Ishaqi incident from last March. Either way, the trust of the Iraqi people has long since been dissolved if there ever was any in the first place. But the trust of the American people may now be in doubt.

I'm not going to wait for this 'full investigation' to complete before assuming fault in the American soldiers in either of these incidents (Haditha & Ishaqi). Quite frankly, I don't trust the American government (our military, which is lead by our liar-in-chief, George W. Bush) to 'fully' investigate anything. They'll say they're doing an investigation, but in the end, come up with their own pre-determined results. They may throw a few pawns under the bus, but never lay any blame on the king, queen, bishops, castles, knights, or anyone of real responsibility.

So let me direct the blame...

The people who should really take responsibility for these disasters are the neo-cons who got us into this mess in the first place (Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, Pearle, etc.) These chickenhawks didn't take into consideration the atrocities and fog of war that would ensue when they rolled out their evil, imperialistic agenda. These dipshits didn't read the pre-war analyses that clearly said Iraq would deteriorate into a bastion of civil war after destabilization. This asshole didn't even listen to his own father when George Herbert told junior why HE didn't try to conquer Iraq. Does anyone seriously believe that these putzes cared for one minute how many innocent people would die or be maimed?

Noooooooo.... Dubya, Darth & Company went ahead and cooked up fake intelligence about the threat of WMD's, and linkage to our 'real' enemies, and then attacked not just Sadaam Hussein, but his whole country!!!! They screwed it up every step of the way, and now we're stuck with this mess the next president will have to deal with.

But before that next president tries to clean up Dubya's mess, we've got 2 1/2 more years of this asshole's arrogance to endure. We've got 2 1/2 more years of listening to this chimpanzee telling us how he's fighting the war over there so we don't have to fight it here. We've got 2 1/2 more years of watching the world-wide level of violence and terrorism incidents skyrocket. We've got 2 1/2 more years of watching our treasury systematically drained to support this never-ending, nonsensical conflict. We've got 2 1/2 more years of lies, deception, and psychological warfare trying to convince us about how well things are going both here and abroad. We've got 2 1/2 more years of having our civil rights taken away and our privacy invaded. We've got 2 1/2 more years of living in fear.... not from Osama or Sadaam, but from George.

But ya know what's reeeeeeally threatening the almighty United States of America?

Gay marriage.

June 02, 2006

One More Sign Our Government Is Moving Towards Fascism

In the spring of 2003 Dr. Lawrence Britt, a noted political scientist, published an article which the blogosphere found astoundingly compelling. He studied historical fascist governments such as Germany (under Hitler), Italy (under Mussolini), Spain (under Franco), and several others, and published his findings of 14 characteristics of fascism.

If you haven't read this article I stongly urge you to take a few minutes to do so. It is an absolute must, because it clearly shows how the United States government, in the 21st century, under neo-conservative, Republican rule, is certainly moving in a fascist direction.

At this point I'd like to draw your attention to item #6 on his list:

A controlled mass media.
Under some of the regimes, the mass media were under strict direct control and could be relied upon never to stray from the party line. Other regimes exercised more subtle power to ensure media orthodoxy. Methods included the control of licensing and access to resources, economic pressure, appeals to patriotism, and implied threats. The leaders of the mass media were often politically compatible with the power elite. The result was usually success in keeping the general public unaware of the regimes’ excesses

Over the past several weeks we've learned of two stories which I find utterly and completely dispicable, and very reminiscent of Dr. Britt's fascism point #6. First we learned that the NSA is spying on domestic news organizations to find out who's leaking to them. Then, we learned that Attorney General Alberto Gonzalas (I love how Rachael Maddow refers to him as "The Torture Guy") has threatened to prosecute media individuals and organizations who leak (i.e. 'Report') on the illegal activities of the NSA.

As Randi Rhodes would say... "This is just amazing to me". Make no mistake, Ladies & Gentlemen... the Bush regime....er.. Administration, in their evil attempt to 'shoot the messenger', have gone on the offensive to suppress the publication of, and effectively the public's knowledge of, their illegal activities. We live in a fascist state!

A Message to the Right Wingers

Here's a message to all you right-wingnuts out there who are now calling me a Michael-Moore-loving-liberal. No one has said that the National Security Agency should not be able to conduct surviellence in order to protect America from terrorists. It's about Oversight. It's about checks and balances in our government and our society. Listening to people's conversations, without their knowledge, is a clear-cut invasion of privacy and a violation of the United States Constitution. NO ONE, not even the President of the United States, is entitled to violate these laws without judicial and/or congressional oversight. All we're saying is GET A WARRANT, so that at least one judge knows who you're wiretapping.

The President not only continues to violate the Constitution (he swore to protect & defend), he tries to suppress the leaking of these violations by intimidating the press. I can just see those National Guards troops goose-stepping their way to the Mexican border.