September 28, 2006

Would the Capture of Osama bin Laden Mean Victory in the War on Terror?

Tuesday evening on CNN I was watching "The Situation Room" and I couldn't help but notice that there were a significant number of minutes dedicated to the hunt for Osama bin Laden. First there was Wolf Blitzer's interview with the president of Pakistan (Pervez Musharraf, the entire interview was about capturing OBL), then there was a story about the newer technologies being used along with an alleged sighting of OBL within the last month. Hmmm... I wonder why there's all this talk of Osama bin Laden now?

It's election season

Following the emotional surge of the 5-year anniversary of the biggest tragedy on American soil since Pearl Harbor, our country is now headed into an election season. This is the most significant mid-term election of my lifetime. This election will determine whether or not our Congress continues to rubber-stamp the incompetent, unchecked, arrogant, imperialistic agenda of the Bush Administration, OR impose true oversight and checks-&-balances on BushCo's grab for power and hegemony. Should we stay the course in Iraq and continue to throw bodies into the fire while inciting global anti-American sentiment? OR, should we give Iraq back to the Iraqis and stop raping their country?

Over the last month or so there's been a lot of talk & controversy about which presidency (Clinton or Bush 43) is more responsible for 9/11 and for not capturing Osama bin Laden. I've already chimed in on that question, so I'm not going to address it this time. Instead, I pose a different question. What if Osama bin Laden is captured now? Think about it. There's a crucial election around the corner, and we're all expecting/anticipating some kind of sleazy "October Surprise" from Karl Rove & Co. Then, mysteriously on CNN, I start seeing news footage about the hunt for bin Laden that eerily seems like his capture is imminent. Clearly, the Republicans need some kind of major event to make themselves look tough (and successful) in the 'War on Terror'. Barring that, it's quite conceivable that the Democrats will take control of one or both houses of Congress (that is, IF the polls ring true and the Republicans don't steal the election again).

If we capture or kill Osama bin Laden have we won the 'War on Terror'? Is this the same thing as cutting the head off the snake? Is this like destroying the central computer in "I, Robot" or "Star Wars II" and all the rest of the robots (i.e. the rest of the Islamic militant population) will simply wander aimlessly?

I don't think so.
  • First of all I think it's questionable at best if OBL is still a leader in the al Qaeda organization, even if he IS still alive.
  • Secondly, we already know that not only is al Qaeda highly decentralized and volatile, but there are a myriad of factions, armies and organizations with 'charters' to hate & attack Western (i.e. American) interests.
  • Thirdly, let's reverse the scenario and assume for a minute that al Qaeda captures or kills George W. Bush. Does that mean THEY'VE won the "War on United States' Aggression"? Obviously not. Our beloved Vice President would step into the president's office (God help us).

Miracles can happen

If by some miracle our military just happens to capture or kill OBL in the next 6 weeks, don't for one minute think that our 'War on Terror' is over or even lessened. Almost every expert on this subject has repeatedly stated that our actions in the Middle East have aggravated & agitated the Islamic community and "...fueled the spread of the jihadist movement..." to quote the recent National Intelligence Estimate. George W. Bush has stirred up the jihadist's hornet's nest and this 'War on Terror' can only worsen. Furthermore, the 'War on Terror' can only be won after we've killed all the terrorists. Nice strateegery, George!

To all you right-wingnuts out there who keep saying "...we're fighting them over there so we don't have to fight them here..." I say "Suuuuuure... now send YOUR son over there to fight that fight and keep us safe here at home." And when he's tragically killed over Bush's senseless / arrogant / unethical / imperialistic / hegemonic / conquest, on his tombstone write:
"He died for a comma"

September 26, 2006

Keith Olbermann - An Honest American

I am so thankful to have Keith Olbermann on MSNBC as one of the lone voices of truth in television-based politics. While Faux News inevitably 'spins' the truth with programming such as "The O'Reilly Factor" and "Hannity & Colmes", Keith Olbermann continues to tell it like it is. Honest, eloquent, and ruthlessly direct, Olbermann is one of the few media personalities, along with Air America Radio and Bill Maher, who call a spade a spade and point out the elephant in the living room.

Over the past few weeks the vast right-wing conspiracy has been attempting to re-write history, trying to blame President Clinton for 9/11. First we were barraged with the Disney/ABC piece of garbage known as "The Path to 9/11" which was admittedly fiction yet just realistic-looking enough to sway ignorants. Then, we saw an interview of President Clinton by Faux News' Chris Wallace attempting to sandbag him for not getting bin Laden when he had the chance.

If you haven't seen Keith Olbermann's "A Textbook Definition of Cowardice", I urge you to watch it now. It's amazing, it's powerful, it's truthful, and I certainly could not have said it any better myself.

Mr. Olbermann, thank you so much for giving us truthfulness in television media. If you ever decide to run for president, you've got my vote!

September 22, 2006

War Or Not War?

Just this past Wednesday (September 20th) I was watching this video posted on which showed Wolf Blitzer interviewing President Bush, insisting that Iraq is NOT is the throes of a civil war. Of course the balance of the video was clear evidence to the contrary, including the fact that the people Bush is talking to, are completely insulated and “… divorced from reality…”. So today I pose the obvious question…

Is there or isn’t there a civil war going on in Iraq?

Of course there’s a civil war going on in Iraq. If there were any doubt, then this AP article highlighting the record civilian deaths certainly puts that question to rest. Here’s a small snippet:
According to the U.N., which releases the figures every two months, violent civilian deaths in July reached an unprecedented high of 3,590, an average of more than 100 a day. The August toll was 3,009, the report said.
When more than 100 people a day are being slaughtered in violent killing sprees, how can anyone in their right minds say there isn’t a war going on? Sure… there’s no “war” going on… it’s just a little “Sectarian violence”. Riiiiiight.

Denial or Deception?

Clearly the Bush Administration is way off base, as they inevitably always are. Either they’re in complete denial, which would mean they’re utterly and profusely incompetent because everyone else in the world can see it, OR they’re just trying to deceive and mislead us into believing there isn’t a war going on. After all, it was THEIR trumped-up decision to start this whole thing by invading Iraq in the first place. Suuuure… the world’s better off with Sadaam Hussein out of power. However, now 3000 people (mostly civilians) are dying each month in Iraq, and you can’t blame that on Sadaam.

Bush and his cronies are absolutely trying to deceive us about the horrible state of conditions in Iraq. Here’s another snippet from that article:
The U.S. military had initially claimed a drastic drop in the death toll for August, but the estimate was revised upward after the United States revealed it had not counted people killed by bombs, mortars, rockets or other mass attacks.
This is yet another example of how the Bush Administration manipulates the truth (of course, we know ‘the truth’ is always the first casualty of war). Here we see our illustrious government trying desperately to make it look like things are going well in Iraq… by not counting all the bodies. Gee, isn’t that kind o’ like fixing elections by not counting all the votes?

The Irony

Every day we hear about the “War on Terror”. Terror. Yes, we’re at war… against… an emotion. A faceless, abstract, enemy. But over in Iraq, where literally hundreds of people are killed each day, that’s not a war. That’s just a little “Sectarian violence”. After all, we’re not seeing all the good things going on over there! Yeah… we’re spreading Democracy! Freedom’s on the march!

The Torture

This is something I find particularly disturbing. In our country we’ve been going through tremendous internal strife around the level of torture we can apply to our prisoners. While the Bushies would love to torture as much as they feel is necessary, most of us are bending over backwards to show that we’re a nation of laws, rights & protections. Most of us believe in the humane treatment of prisoners because that’s how we would expect our own men & women to be treated should they fall prisoner to our enemies.

That doesn’t mean we advocate for the pampered treatment of dangerous terrorists we’ve captured. What it does mean is that our laws SHOULD guarantee prisoners of due process. Our laws SHOULD ALSO guarantee oversight and checks-&-balances to ensure that the government doesn’t get out of control. Without oversight, how do we know the government isn’t detaining progressive bloggers and dissidents?

As much as I despise the Bush Administration, I wouldn’t think for a second that they’d brutally torture any detainee for entertainment value. I’d like to believe that any ‘brutal’ torture they’ve carried out was in the interest of obtaining information, while any torture for the sake of entertainment (not condoning it, mind you) was somewhat less than brutal. They may have piled the detainees up naked or put undies on their heads, but that torture was largely psychological.

The aforementioned AP article refers to a report from the U.N.’s Assistance Mission in Iraq’s Human Rights office. Here’s one more snippet:
"Bodies found at the Medico-legal Institute often bear signs of severe torture including acid-induced injuries and burns caused by chemical substances, missing skin, broken bones (back, hands and legs), missing eyes, missing teeth and wounds caused by power drills or nails," the report said.
First of all, I don’t think our torture methods are nearly this brutal (although I’ll gladly admit I’m wrong if someone proves otherwise). Secondly, whether this is a civil war or sectarian violence, how much information can either side expect to obtain from captured civilian prisoners? Probably not much. Unfortunately, I think it’s more likely the case that it’s their culture to capture, mutilate for maximum pain, and then kill. I don’t know if it’s more sad or pathetic.

So there you have it…. Iraqis committing horrendous and unspeakable atrocities on other Iraqis. And WE started it all because… well… we all know why…. because Iraq attacked us on 9/11.

September 18, 2006

The Big Lie - "Our Economy Is Strong"

Here's another one of those disgusting Bush / neo-con / GOP lies that they keep repeating to the point where the ignorant people in this country actually believe it. Here's a quote from a recent article in Yahoo news about Bush touting our "strong" economy as an accomplishment:
In Washington, the economist in chief encourages GOP candidates to embrace the economy as a stellar accomplishment. "I'd say 'Look at what the economy has done. It's strong. We've created a lot of jobs,'" Bush said recently.
Of course the balance of the article goes on to pick apart the 'strength' of our economy. I believe every word of this article, but that's not the point of my message today. The fact that they can even claim that the economy is strong and cite specific statistics & metrics is completely absurd.

My Home Metaphor

Humor me for a minute. I like to think of the government's budget as kind of like my family's budget. We have income just like the government (tax revenues), and we spend money just like the government (appropriations). Let's make a comparison, shall we?

My wife and I try not to spend more money than we take home. We understand that too much debt is going to haunt us in the future, so we try to keep the debt down to a minimum. But if we didn't understand that, we could take out a loan at a bank (perhaps it's a Chinese or Saudi bank) for... say... $1,000,000. Gee, with a million dollars there's lots we could do...

We could hire a full time cook, housekeeper, gardener, trainer, AND tutor for our kids. Yes, unemployment would go down as we just put 5 more people to work for a year!

Next, we would upgrade our vehicles, upgrade our appliances, upgrade our house, send our kids to private schools, and join that expensive golf course we couldn't have otherwise afforded.

Then, I would hire a bunch of thugs to kick the crap out of some brown people who live across town and take over their house too. After all, they have a lot more sunlight on their property... and I want it!

And, since we're afraid of evil-doers out there who hate our way of life, we'll have to hire a team of round-the-clock security guards. They won't be standing around our house, though. Nooooo... Instead, they'll be out-and-about town, looking into other people's houses, listening in on their phone calls, intercepting their email, and finding out what library books they've checked out. If they see anyone who looks even remotely suspicious, my boys will beat the crap out of them until they tell us what we want to hear, whether it's true or not.

Finally, I would go to my boss and ask for a huge cut in pay!

Sounds realistic, doesn't it?

No. It doesn't. It's not realistic at all, but that's what I see going on in our government. Anyone can pump an EXTRA $450b into our economy (deficit) to bring unemployment down, bring GDP up, and make our economy appear artificially strong.

But all they're really doing is piling on the debt for the next administration, and generations to come. Sure.... the Democrats will be the bad guys having to reign in the Republican's overspending and tow the line on fiscal conservatism. Just like Clinton did, after 12 years of Reagan & Bush (41), overspending to fuel the military-industrial-complex. They'll have to raise taxes to bring the budget & deficit under control.

Ladies & gentlemen, please don't buy it. This is the same, neo-conservative, misleading bullcrap they've been selling us for 6 years. Our economic condition is dire, though not necessarily immediate. Our national debt is fast approaching ten TRILLION dollars (pinky on upper lip). And our president is running our country into the ground, just like he ran his private business ventures into the ground before he sleazed the Texas governorship away from Ann Richards. And he continues to use the Saudis, Chinese, and other rich nations & families to bail him out.

This time, it's U.S. who needs to be bailed out.

September 12, 2006

Brace Yourself for Swift Boat Season

Autumn is such a lovely time of year. The kids are back in school, the trees are starting to turn, and the sights & sounds of football fill the air. I love autumn. The holidays are around the corner, the pennant race is heating up (although not for the Red Sox), and harvests are everywhere.

However, this autumn will be a little different because it's an election year. On November 7th many of us will be going to the polls to vote for who will be representing us in this bastion of freedom and liberty we call 'Democracy'. We'll be (s)electing the individuals who will be advocating for us, making decisions in our proxy, and communicating on our behalf to the rest of the world. Although we're not voting for president this year, we are voting for a good portion of the Congress (both Senate & House of Representatives) and this has every bearing on how effectively the president can execute his agenda.

As you know, for the entire George W. Bush presidency, both houses of Congress have been a Republican majority, giving George the green light to follow through with much of his neo-conservative ideals. You know - tax cuts for rich people; big-business / anti-regulation / anti-union / anti-environmental / anti-protection / anti-gay legislation; stacking the courts with ultra conservative judges; and all the rest of those things which have ballooned our deficit & debt, eaten away at the fabric of our Constitution, and reverberated anti-American sentiment worldwide.

Yes, it's the rubber stamp, Republican-controlled Congress that has given George (and his neo-con cabal) the green light to rev up the military-industrial-complex, unencumbered by pesky oversight, accountability, or competition (remember no-bid contracts?).

Yes, it's the lapdog, Republican-controlled Congress that sets the agenda, chairs the committees, and has the subpoena power. This is why the Downing Street Memos - clear and decisive evidence that Bush (and the neo-con cabal) lied us into war in Iraq with fabricated intelligence - didn't go anywhere. John Conyers tried to hold some hearings in the basement of the capital building, but that was it.

Oh, but I digress....

The point of my article today is to warn you. For those of you who haven't seen this Washington Post article, the next two months will be rather unpleasant if you watch any television or listen to any radio. I thank Jim Vandehei & Chris Cillizza for bringing this to our attention. Here's a small snippet:

The National Republican Congressional Committee, which this year dispatched a half-dozen operatives to comb through tax, court and other records looking for damaging information on Democratic candidates, plans to spend more than 90 percent of its $50 million-plus advertising budget on what officials described as negative ads.

And that says it all. Our airwaves will be filled with personal attack ads by Republicans in a desperate effort to retain control of Congress. Just as they did with the so-called "Swift Boat Veterans for Truth" - a trumped-up, Republican-backed organization which lied profusely to discredit John Kerry (a veteran with 3 purple hearts) in the 2004 election. This was so blatant and disgusting that "Swift-boating" has become an adverb.

My message

Ladies & gentlemen, please don't get caught up in this right-wing, neo-conservative, Republican spin cycle. When you see and/or hear a personal attack on a Democratic candidate this fall, think not of that Democrat's ability to represent you in the light of their personal baggage. Instead, think of the slimy Republicans who drained special interest coffers to try to discredit their opponents in a desperate attempt to save their jobs, because they couldn't stand by their own merits to get (re)elected.

September 08, 2006

More Lies - Bush Finally Comes Clean On Secret CIA Prisons

For months now, possibly years, I've been reading various accounts of secret CIA prisons, 'rendition', and the torturing of detainees. All along the Bush Administration and their mouthpieces have been elusive about the existence of these secret prisons and categorically denying that our detainees have been tortured.

This week the chimp finally admitted that the secret prisons existed, only because he wanted to use the information for political gain. He had to admit to the existence of these prisons in order to move some of the prisoners to Guantanamo and publicize the fact that the US has these "terrorists" in custody and have gleaned valuable information from them (all a secret of course). This was, of course, all designed for painting himself and the Republicans as strong on terra, and the Democrats soft on terra. There's an election on the horizon, ya know!

So let's take a step back and analyze what just happened.
  • First of all, Bush instantly pissed off what few European allies he had left, because he told them that the secret prisons didn't exist.
  • Bush once again painted himself as a liar. He might as well be wearing a sign reading "I cannot be trusted".
  • Not only did he lie about the existence of the secret prisons, but he must have also lied about the torturing of detainees. He has denied all along that "we don't torture", but the only reason for shipping them off to non-US territories is to have them out of the bounds of US laws & protections. Bottom line - of course they're being tortured.
  • In the process of admitting to secret "black-site" prisons, and having 'renditioned' these detainees for 'special interrogation', Bush is also pushing for congressional action to allow for a change in the Geneva Conventions and military tribunals. The Supreme Court has already ruled against this, but now Bush is trying to change the laws... right now... in a hurry... in time for the November election. Gee, could it be that Bush is politicizing his tough-on-terrorism rhetoric for GOP advantage?

Ladies & Gentlemen, please do not fall into this trap again. Stay focused. You've been doing so well this last year and a half. Keep these important points in mind as you go forward, and particularly as you go to the polls in November:

  • George W. Bush (and his neo-con cabal) has/have repeatedly and consistently proven that they cannot be trusted. Their lies and deceitfulness have been a hallmark of this administration and tenure as President of the United States.
  • Despite what you may see in this weekend's ABC 'docudrama' - "The Road to 9/11", the attacks on September 11th happened on George W. Bush's watch! There were over 50 blatant warning signs, and he chose to ignore them. When the attacks did occur, he froze. And after the attacks he obstructed the investigation and (ab)used the attacks to carry out a fascist agenda of American imperialism abroad, and constitutional decimation at home. (btw... Don't buy the implication that it's all Clinton's fault because he didn't kill bin-Laden when he had the chance. That's another blatant right-wing lie.)
  • George W. Bush (and his neo-con cabal) lied us into the conflict/occupation/quagmire in Iraq, which has drained our military, our treasury, and our economy, and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future, since we simply MUST "stay the course".
  • The Republican-controlled Congress (both the Senate & House of Representatives) has acted as a rubber stamp allowing Bush (and his neo-con cabal) to get away with illegal & murderous crimes, all under the (dis)guise of "protecting America". For the entire Bush presidency there has NOT been a balance of power in the United States government. There has been a gross IMbalance, and that has resulted in disaster.
  • The Republican-controlled, rubber-stamp Congress has also allowed Bush (and his neo-con cabal) to carry out a domestic agenda which has ballooned our deficit & debt, rewarded companies which ship jobs overseas & invest in gas-guzzling vehicles, decimated environmental, constitutional, and worker's rights & protections, and driven a much bigger wedge between the wealthy and the non-wealthy in our country. Virtually all of the legislation over the last 6 years has been to the advantage of big business.

These are just the tip-of-the-iceberg of the many important things I want you to walk away with. Now go vote! And when you do vote... vote with your heart... vote with your head... and vote with your conscience. But please, DON'T vote with your fear.

September 01, 2006

From A Glass House, Rummy Throws Stones

Once again the leadership of our country has shown us the very definition of the word - 'chutzpah'. On Tuesday August 29th, the Washington Post ran a story about Donald Rumsfeld's speech to an audience of Navy personnel. Apparently our beloved and so-very-competent Secretary of Defense is frustrated with the cleverness of "... our enemy...".

Here are a few jewels from that speech (quoted in this article):
  • "They [the enemy] are actively manipulating the media in this country..."
  • "The enemy lies constantly - almost totally without penalty..."
  • "The enemy is so much better at communicating...{snip}... I wish we were better at countering that because the constant drumbeat of things they say - all of which are not true - is harmful. It's cumulative. And it does weaken people's will and lessen their determination, and raise questions in their minds as to whether the cost is worth it..."

First of all Donny, if you had read my last blog entry, you'd know that continuously calling them "...the enemy..." is part & parcel of the problem. You've never made the effort to take a step back and even attempt to figure out WHY these people are our adversaries. Instead, you just keep labeling them "... the enemy..." and that just keeps perpetuating the cycle of hate. But let's face it - that's been your objective all along, hasn't it? Fuel perpetual, permanent conflict and keep the Military-Industrial-Complex fat, dumb & happy?

Oy, The Hypocrisy!

What really disgusts me in your speech is the blatant & utter hypocrisy in your comments. Has not the Bush Administration manipulated the media to the fullest extent? How many of those MSM (Mainstream Media) outlets covered in detail the theft of the 2004 election? Or the Downing Street Memos and subsequent John Murtha hearings?

Have you read "The Book on Bush: How George W. (Mis)leads America" or "Lapdogs: How the Press Rolled Over for Bush" or "Fraud: The Strategy Behind the Bush Lies and Why the Media Didn't Tell You" or "All the President's Spin: George W. Bush, the Media, and the Truth"? How can you stand there, in good conscience, point your finger at other people, and accuse THEM of not telling the truth? Didn't you say:

"We know where they [WMD's] are. They're right up here in the area around Tikrit."

That one was a whopper, Rummy. You helped Darth & Dubya launch the most costly & catastrophic blunder in the history of the United States. So, If you reeeeelllly want to point your finger at a liar, you need only look in a mirror.

Attention diverted

Finally, your pathetic attempt to divert attention away from your own incompetence, is beyond reproach. Was it really "our enemies" who tortured our detainees in Abu Ghraib & Guantanamo Bay? Was it really "our enemies" who slaughtered innocent civilians in Haditha and Ishaqi? Was it really our enemies who raped and killed a young woman and her family in Mahmoudiya?

I could go on endlessly about the atrocities alleged by our military in Iraq, Afghanistan, and beyond. But, that's not the purpose of my message today. Nor is the purpose of my message a condemnation of our men & women in uniform. I have no doubt that these atrocities are the exception and not the norm, and that the vast majority of our soldiers behave within the 'rules of engagement' (a great movie, btw).

I do however take issue with your claim that it's "the enemy's" manipulation of the media and their lies which have shaped American's public opinion against your war effort. While it is true that the American public is squarely against your campaign in Iraq, is it really "the enemy's" lies that have caused that? I don't think so. In fact, can you tell me anything at all "the enemy" has lied about? Did Sadaam lie about not having weapons of mass destruction?

Better yet - can you even tell me WHO "our enemies" are? Is it the "Islamo Fascists"? Is it anyone with brown skin and a lot of consonants in their name? Or, perhaps it's anyone who has the chutzpah to resist as we rape & pillage their people & homeland?

And the chutzpah continues...

Ya know... if I had an extra $20m sitting around that needed a home, I could probably find some worthy causes. Perhaps I'm security conscious and I want to put a little extra into strengthening our borders. Or perhaps I'm sensitive to the millions of Americans without adequate health care, homes to live in, or access to quality education. Or perhaps I'm concerned about climate change and want to do something about carbon dioxide emissions or alternative, renewable energy sources. Or perhaps I use it to help prevent the spread of cancer or other debilitating diseases.

One thing I WOULDN'T waste my money on is ensuring positive press coverage for our debacle/quagmire in Iraq. Once again we're shown the difference between the unconscionable Republicans and the rest of us. See.... us Michael-Moore-loving, Cindy-Sheehan-supporting, mainstream liberals would rather see $20m put to good use providing help where help is needed, instead of fueling the Bush crime family's propaganda machine.

But then again, "the enemy" manipulates the media with lies so cleverly, why shouldn't we?