October 27, 2006

Bush Changes His Rhetoric, But Continues To Ignore The Genocide

As I sat down to write my column for the week, I looked back at what the big news stories were this week. Sure, there were more Republican sex scandals & corruption that surfaced, as well as Michael J. Fox's plug for candidates supporting stem-cell research along with Rush Limbaugh's asinine reaction, but it wasn’t enough to tickle me to write. Then, on Wednesday October 25th, I had the opportunity to catch President Bush’s entire press conference. This was the “We’re getting away from the ‘stay-the-course’ rhetoric” news conference.

So here we are less than two weeks before the mid-term election, and Bush is finally talking about his plan for Iraq. We all knew that ‘stay-the-course’ was not a plan – it was an excuse for not having a plan. But now the president has a plan. And what’s the plan? Victory! Winning! Defeating the enemy! Essentially Bush’s big plan for victory is to make adjustments because that’s what the enemy has done.

A lesson in project management

I’ve done my share of project management over the course of my career. One of the basics of PM is to have a timeline with milestones. Milestones act as goals that need to be achieved within a specific timeframe. Milestones act as metrics for measuring progress. Milestones act as motivators for the resources (workers) to meet their goals.

This week’s big Bush story is that the President is finally using the rhetoric of “benchmarks & timelines”. His previous ‘stay-the-course’ rhetoric was unspecific as his tagline was “when they stand up, we’ll stand down”. And without specific benchmarks (another term for milestones) all he had to do was say there was progress and spit out some numbers of Iraqi troop readiness. Of course we all know that his statistics of Iraqi troop readiness in the past were pure fabrications as his own generals debunked them almost immediately. But now he’s going to define and look for specific benchmarks of progress. Right. I'll believe that when I see it.

The wrong rhetoric

So, it’s no longer “stay-the-course”. Instead it’s “adapt to win with benchmarks & timelines”. Either way this is not the rhetoric that needed to change. What needs to change is Bush’s use of the words “Victory”, “Winning”, “Prevailing”, “Killers”, “Evil”, “Defeat”, “Enemy”, etc.

These are the words of someone who thinks in black-and-white terms. Bush thinks that all he needs to do is "win" this war, and everything will be fine. But this war is NOT about winning or losing. This war is about fixing a problem that WE created. These people are NOT our enemies. They’re people who live in the country that WE invaded and now occupy. The sooner Bush stops thinking of this problem in terms of winning & losing, and stops thinking of Iraqis as enemies & adversaries, the sooner this conflict can move on to diplomacy, negotiation, treaties, and peace.

What is actually happening?

Granted, I’m not directly in touch with the “generals on the ground” in Iraq like the President is. I don’t have debriefings with General Casey and hear second-hand about what’s happening. But, I can still see what’s happening. And what I see happening is that many of the very same Iraqi troops we’ve trained are now acting as rogue Shiite militias and killing as many Sunni’s as they can find. So, let’s think about this. We have one religious/ethnic faction brutally killing another, strictly because of their religiousness/ethnicity. Gee, that sounds like genocide to me.

And speaking of genocide, what has President Bush done about Darfur? If I recall, it was at least two years ago that then Secretary of State Powell said that there was genocide going on there. We’re talking numbers in the hundreds of thousands, either killed or displaced from their homes. Has the Bush Administration even lifted a finger to do anything about this? Nooooooo! But they’re awfully quick to blame President Clinton about Kosovo. Why aren’t we blaming Bush for his inaction in Darfur?


And there you have it. Today in the 21st century, right under our very noses, genocide is happening. Entire races of peoples are under attack, and one of those attacks is happening in the very same country George invaded & now occupies, by the very same troops he’s trained.

After nearly six years Bush still hasn’t learned that he’s not part of the solution – he’s part of the problem.

October 19, 2006

Iraq for Sale - Another Referendum Against Republican Control

I had the opportunity to catch this new documentary this week. Like "Fahrenheit 911" and "An Inconvenient Truth", this is another film that every American should see. It's an exposé on the egregious and gratuitous privatization of America's effort in Iraq, collating the hypocrisy, fraud, waste, corruption, & mismanagement under the Bush Military-Industrial-Complex ... er... Administration.

What I COULD talk about...

There has been plenty written about this documentary already, so I'm not going to simply give a review. Arianna Huffington's blog has a particularly good synopsis. My readers know that when it comes to a particular issue/scandal/story, I like to attack a specific angle.
  • I could talk about how the private contractors in Iraq are earning far greater wages and living far more lavishly than our own troops. This is a microcosm proving the relationship between accountability and benefits in the Bush Administration is inversely proportionate.
  • I could talk about Halliburton's KBR subsidiary grossly overcharging for their services, coupled with their failure to provide them sufficiently (some of these accounts are astonishing).
  • I could talk about the animosity built up by the Iraqi people because the jobs and contracts are going to American companies instead of Iraq companies, leaving them with unemployment rates in the 30's. Gee... what's an out-of-work Iraqi to do?
  • I could talk about the conflict-of-interest in Dick Cheney's Halliburton (yes, he's still receiving compensation) and the fact that Halliburton received no-bid, multi-billion dollar contracts. Why let pesky competition get in the way of free enterprise?

But I don't want to talk about those... heh, heh, heh

And now for MY angle

Quite frankly, the war profiteering in Iraq is not news. It's been going on since the conquest started in March of 2003. Nothing is new. Nothing has changed. And those of us who HAVE been paying attention were not surprised by this film's content. Those of us who have been paying attention know that this same profiteering is also going on in the Gulf coast following Hurricane Katrina. Those of us who have been paying attention know that this same profiteering has been going on from the moment George W. Bush stepped into the White House and handed the keys over to the big business interests by deregulating every industry, nominating lobbyists from the industries to positions of oversight of those industries, and de-funding the teeth out of governmental protection agencies.

What I really wanted to call attention to is the fact that it's the rubber-stamp, Republican-controlled Congress which has allowed the Bush Administration to get away with all of this. Not only have they completely backed Bush in almost every dirty, sleazy, slimy, power-grabbing move he's made (except privatizing Social Security, of course), but they've also thwarted every effort the Democrats have attempted to add oversight to the process.

This is the two minutes of "Iraq for Sale" that bothered me the most - footage of Democrats raising amendments to the war appropriations bill to investigate the profiteering & oversee the contract bidding process, and they were shot down by the Republican majority, largely along party lines. SIX YEARS - NO ACCOUNTABILITY. This is the message that really needs to get out.

My soapbox moment

Ladies & gentlemen, this is the reason to vote Democratic on November 7th. This is the best reason to shift Congress over to the Democratic Party: to restore checks-&-balances in our government. The first six years of this Bush Administration have been unchecked and unbalanced. There has been NO legislative oversight and there is so much evidence and reason to believe that our world is so much more damaged under the Bush Administration and Republican control.

We live in fear. We live in fear from terrorists. Terrorists - both foreign and domestic. Terrorists - both Muslim and American. Terrorists - both Middle Eastern and Washingtonian. After falling asleep at the wheel and allowing 9/11 to happen, the Bush Administration has gone on a campaign to alienate our allies, escalate the arms race, and deteriorate the very fabric of our democracy - the freedoms, liberties, & rights afforded to us by our Constitution & Bill of Rights. And through it all, the rubber-stamp Republican-controlled Congress has allowed it to happen, because of the lack of balance in our government.

Our only chance to fix this problem is on November 7th. Otherwise, it's two more years of the same.

October 12, 2006

Trying to Understand the North Korean Nookular Crisis

This whole North Korean thing puzzles me. I'm watching the news, reading the blogs, and trying to follow along with what's been going on, but some things just don't make sense. So, let me try to reset things with a bulleted timeline:

  • During the 8 years of peace & prosperity of the Clinton Administration, there were direct talks & negotiations with North Korea. Although prominent Republicans such as John McCain tried to blame Clinton, this Slate article clearly debunks those typical Republican-blame-Clinton-for-everything lies.
  • December, 2000 - George W. Bush is appointed to the US presidency by the conservative-leaning Supreme Court.
  • January to September, 2001 - President George W. Bush does everything he can to negate any progress Clinton had made on terrorism and international ally-building. He completely ignores mounting evidence of an impending terrorist attack, and goes on vacation for the entire month of August.
  • September 11, 2001 - The United States is attacked. President George W. Bush continues to read "My Pet Goat" with a class of schoolchildren for 7 minutes after being informed of the 2nd plane flying into the World Trade Center. Then, he cuts-and-runs for some shelter until the coast is clear.
  • Fall & Winter of 2001/2 - President George W. Bush wakes up from his deep sleep of ignoring national security and starts espousing patriotic & retaliatory rhetoric. In the process he offends North Korea by lumping them with Iran & Iraq as the "Axis of Evil".
  • (Timeline unclear) - President George W. Bush refuses to hold direct talks with North Korea. Instead, he decides to put all his marbles in the 6-nation strategy, trying to get Russia, China, Japan, & South Korea to do the hard work. He also decides not to honor the agreed framework that was negotiated between the US and North Korea. I thought this snippet from the Slate article was particularly interesting:
    "...when President George W. Bush entered the White House in January 2001, he made it clear, right off, that the Agreed Framework was dead and that he had no interest in further talks with the North Korean regime; his view was that you don't negotiate with evil, you defeat it or wait for it to crumble...."
  • (Continued) - Kim Jong Il is offended. He kicks the noocular inspectors out of his country, and proceeds with his noocular defense program.
  • (Continued) - George W. Bush is offended. He starts imposing sanctions against North Korea. For some reason Bush thinks that pissing off countries is the way to get them to kowtow to his will. Call it Bush's usual cowboy diplomacy.
  • March, 2003 - President George W. Bush launches a pre-emptive attack on Iraq, supposedly because of the threat of weapons of mass destruction (some noocular). Later, after WMD's were not found, he changed his rationale to, amongst many things, that of spreading Democracy.
  • (Continued) - Kim Jong Il, the dictator of a communist nation in the process of nurturing a noocular weapons program, plows right ahead with that program for fear of Bush invading HIS country too.

Does that pretty-much tell the story in a nutshell? Gee... it sounds to me like George W. Bush is the one who screwed this whole thing up. It sounds to me like it's George W. Bush's heavy-handed, imperialistic, arrogant foreign policy that has escalated this arms race. It seems to me like George W. Bush's complete disdain for foreign leaders and cultures has brought us to where we are now - in a world that is utterly less safe and more volatile - then when he took over the presidency of the United States. Yet he and his cohorts never pass up an opportunity to blame Clinton, when time and time again it's just not Clinton's fault.

And what about the latest test?

All I've heard in the media is the whole world's harsh reaction to North Korea's test of their noocular program. So, I'll play "the devil's advocate" for a minute. Let's approach this from a purely logical perspective. Like a Vulcan (call me Spock), purely logical with NO emotion:

  • The test was underground and no one was harmed as far as we know
  • Seven or eight other countries in the world possess noocular weapons, including US. Is it not hypocritical of us to say to North Korea they can't have them? Didn't we just give a green light and a whole lot of technology to India?
  • Seems to me that the bigger issue is that of trust. We don't really trust Kim Jong Il with noocular weapons. However, when it comes to trust, it's George W. Bush whom I trust the least. After all, he's never been honest, he's completely screwed up everything he's ever touched, and he's made every attempt to undermine the United States Constitution and every international treaty.
  • Does not North Korea's prospective possession of noocular weapons act successfully as a deterrent to US attacking them? Clearly, George wouldn't attack North Korea and risk an all out noocular war. Or would he? I suppose that would bring the Rapture that much closer - yet another reason not to trust George W. Bush.

I'm not saying that I'm comfortable with rogue nations possessing 'the bomb'. What I am saying however, is that I'm a big believer in a balance of power. Following the end of 'the Cold War' there was a huge IMbalance of power in this world, and certain power-hungry assholes in the conservative movement (the Project for the New American Century) saw that void as an opportunity to seize world-wide dominance (i.e. American Imperialism).

And that brings us to where we are today - arguably a world wide mess. I believe that if Iraq truly possessed noocular weapons in 2003, and if George W. Bush truly believed that, then he would not have risked the pre-emptive attack and a potential noocular war. That would've been many times more catastrophic then what we have now. And with North Korea sitting on the 4th largest military in the world and the potential of noocular armament, perhaps George will think twice before 'liberating' that country too. Then again, there's no oil there, so that was never really a consideration. Too bad Kim Jong Il doesn't realize that.

The next step - Sanctions

What our dear leaders fail to understand is that sanctions against rogue nations do not succeed in manipulating that nation. What it succeeds in accomplishing is denigrating that nation and making their citizens even more impoverished then they were before the sanctions. Bush's ignore-and-slap approach, as it has in the past 6 years, will only raise tensions and escalate the arms race. It will not solve this crisis.

October 06, 2006

Foleygate Analyzed - The Conservative Response & Reaction

I so much wanted to talk about Bob Woodward's new book and the continued exposure of BushCo's lies and deception around 9/11. But nooooooo.... yet ANOTHER Republican scandal surfaced and dominated the headlines over the last week which is even more repulsive & disgusting. Can you imagine that? More revelations about how the Bush Administration deceived us into an unnecessary war which has cost over 2700 American lives, over 100,000 Iraqi lives, and over 15,000 American injuries, and that's NOT the biggest story in the news this week.

Nope. It's another Washington SEX scandal. Of course SEX always gets people's attention more than death and war. This past week it was publicly revealed that Republican Congressman Mark Foley from Florida was engaging in inappropriate sexual behavior with an under aged male congressional page. So much of the blogosphere has already chimed in on nearly every aspect of this story, so of course I will too.

Where to focus?

I'm not going to focus on the fact that he carried on sexually explicit dialogue over the Internet with a minor.

I'm not going to focus on the fact that he's a homosexual.

I'm not going to focus on the irony that he chaired the Caucus for Missing & Exploited Children.

I'm not going to focus on the fact that he was carrying on a sexually explicit instant messaging conversation WHILE WAITING FOR A HOUSE VOTE.

Instead, my focus today is on the Republican/GOP/Conservative response & reaction to the surfacing of this scandal. This is where the slime really hits the fan. Here are just a few tidbits:

  • Linda Harvey, WorldNetDaily: "...Open or suspected homosexuals should never be elected..." {snip} "...sex with youth are built into the 'gay' sub-culture..."
  • Fox News, during "The O'Reilly Factor", thrice displayed Mark Foley's image with the graphic of his name connected to "D-FL". One can only imagine why they did this. Either it was complete incompetence on the part of Fox News, OR they intentionally tried to mislead this SEX scandal towards the Democratic party.
  • Several conservative talking heads compared this scandal to Bill Clinton's Monica Lewinsky, or homosexual Democratic scandals of the past including Gerry Studds and Barney Frank.
  • Several conservative talking heads and GOP Congressmen have blamed the Democrats for politicizing this scandal and arranging the leaking of it in an election season. For the record, this was NOT leaked by the Democrats.
  • Several conservative talking heads have blamed the pages themselves for seducing the congressmen.
  • Dennis Hastert, the Speaker of the House on the hot seat for not acting on this much earlier (yes, he's been aware of Foley's abhorrent behavior for a long time) blamed "...ABC News and Democratic operatives for the mushrooming scandal...". Clearly the Republican House leadership was well aware of Mark Foley's inappropriate behavior and did not act on that knowledge.
  • Ann Coulter, never one to keep her rabid thoughts to herself, of course turned this into a Democrat-bashing opportunity: "WHO KNEW CONGRESSMAN FOLEY WAS A CLOSETED DEMOCRAT?" {snip} "The object lesson of Foley's inappropriate e-mails to male pages is that when a Republican congressman is caught in a sex scandal, he immediately resigns and crawls off into a hole in abject embarrassment. Democrats get snippy."

This is only a small sample of conservative reaction to the latest scandal to rock the Republican party. The party of bringing accountability, responsibility & dignity to Washington spent quite a bit of effort doing exactly the opposite.

On the other hand, there were a number of Republicans actually doing the right thing. They called for an investigation, even issuing a multitude of subpoenas, to ferret out the facts and get to the bottom of who knew what and when. This was also the Democratic reaction as well, although you wouldn't know that if you actually listened to the conservatives blaming the Democrats for politicizing this scandal.

Here's where I start asking questions...

Where were these Republicans with their subpoenas when evidence surfaced that Bush DELIBERATELY lied to take us into war in Iraq (the Downing Street memos). You remember... that whole pre-war intelligence thing? Where was the investigation? Where were these Republicans with their subpoenas when evidence surfaced that Bush was DELIBERATELY wiretapping Americans withOUT a warrant, against the edict of the FISA laws? Where was the investigation? Where were these Republicans with their subpoenas when a wealth of evidence surfaced of election fraud and anomalies in 2004? Where was the investigation?

These were egregious offenses that were borderline treasonous and impeachable and there were no investigations and no subpoenas. The theft of the 2004 election put the United States democracy and foreign credibility in shambles. How many subpoenas were issued to get to the bottom of these scandals? How much effort was made by the Republicans to get to the truth? Nada. Zilch. Zippo. Nyet. One Congressman sends inappropriate emails and instant messages to an under aged boy, and all-of-the-sudden the subpoenas start flying.

And here's my point...

If I was a Republican, I'd be ashamed, disgusted and embarrassed for my party right now. The party which said they stood for accountability & dignity now stands for scandal, cover-up, corruption, deceit, hypocrisy, division, torture, destroying constitutional rights, warrant-less wiretapping, gay-bashing, swiftboat-politicing, record deficits & debt (i.e. fiscal mismanagement), no-bid contracts, media-consolidation, etc. I could go on-and-on, but you get the point. The party that stands for all those things should NOT be the party in power.