December 28, 2006

My Birthday Wish List (2006)

This Saturday is my birthday. Last year at this time my column was all about my birthday wish for 2005. I referenced Jim Carry's "Liar, Liar" movie and wished for honesty from our political leaders. So in that same spirit here's my birthday wish list for 2006.

I wish...

  • ...that the Democratically elected majority in both the House of Representatives and the Senate find the cajones to take on the Bush crime family. It's starting to look that way, but I want to give them my extra special birthday wish list support.
  • ...that progressive talk radio returns to the Boston area.
  • ...that Turd-Blossom Rove gets fingered in the Jack Abramoff scandals. Is there anyone else who deserves to be in prison more?
  • ...that Darth Cheney gets shot by one of his own friends on a hunting trip. He could easily be mistaken for a pheasant.
  • ...that Tom Delay becomes Mark Foley's bitch in prison.
  • ...that the new Congress makes sweeping strides in stemming the tide of corruption in Washington. Can you say "Publicy-funded Elections"? How 'bout "Lobbying Reform"?
  • ...that whomever wins the Democratic nomination selects Sen. Russ Feingold of Wisconson as their veep. There isn't a person in Washington I trust more. I'd rather see him as our president, but if that can't be, I'll settle for him as our Vice-President and hope that he can have a strong influence on our national policies.
  • ...that the media wakes up from their 6-year slumber to do their jobs. You know... investigate, probe, and research. Some of them don't realize that they're supposed to be our political watchdogs. Take your queues from Keith Olbermann, people - don't just parrot the talking points & press releases. That's what the pundits are for.
  • ...that religious blow-hards like Pat Robertson and the like get struck by lightning and meet their maker a lot sooner. C'mon boys - make your own rapture! And while I'm at it...
  • ...that religion would just stay the f**k away from government. Do your own thing on your own time... believe what you want about God & the afterlife... but keep it out of our politics! We have enough dipsticks in the White House without them using God as an excuse for their misdeeds.
  • ...that one of Mitt Romney's children would 'come out'. Perhaps if someone he loved were gay he might have a little more compassion & understanding for people who are different than him. And if you don't buy the 'compassion & understanding' stuff, how about civil liberties and equal rights? Why is it okay to openly discriminate based on sexual orientation?
  • ...that those ignorant sheeple who continue to support Bush finally learn how to read and get access to the Internet. Anyone who still stands behind the Bush crime family clearly isn't paying attention.
  • ...that George W. Bush is stricken by an illness that could've been cured by stem-cell research. Then we'd see how fast he'd be willing to kill embyos in order to advance science.

Well, that's my birthday wish list for now. Next I'll work on my New Year's resolutions.

December 22, 2006

Once Again Bush Gets It Wrong. Who'd O' Thunk?

It is inconceivable to me that our Idiot-in-Chief in the White House is even THINKING about sending MORE troops into this hell-hole in Iraq where we have absolutely no chance of fixing this problem by military means. I guess he really didn't get the message on November 7th that our country is NOT behind this occupation.

But... I'm sure we have plenty more troops to throw at the problem, even though our National Guard forces are already over-extended there and barely able to secure our own homeland (good thing we didn't have another Katrina this year). So, with our all-volunteer military, having been volunteered for many more tours then they signed up for, we're going to send tens of thousands more targets.... er... troops into Baghdad, and stick them right in the heat of this civil war between the Shiites and the Sunnis.

That's just brilliant. I'm sure the level of violence won't go up, and the body counts won't go up, and in two to three months we'll win the war on terror! We'll declare victory in Iraq and our girls & boys will come home victorious!

Psssssst. Can I interest you in a bridge?

What's going on...

So let's take a look at what's going on here (by the way, if you haven't read Cenk Uygur's piece on December 18th, this would be a good time to take it in... he puts it in a wonderfully frank and candid perspective). There's a civil war going on in Iraq between the Shiites and the Sunnis, the neighboring countries are taking sides, and the U.S. is sitting smack-dab in the middle of this war getting shot up in the crossfire. Bush and his cabal thought we were simply going to force Democracy down their throats and support the democratically-elected (Shiite-dominated) government as we trained their police & military. But... that has led to Shiite militias carrying out genocide on the Sunnis (euphemism: Sectarian Violence), and the Sunnis carrying out their own form of violence (euphemism: Insurgency).

Meanwhile, George Bush has that deer-in-the-headlights look of "What the f**k do I do at this point now that I've royally f**ked this whole thing up? I know... I'll send in MORE troops to get shot up! Who cares what the American people want. That November 7th mid-term election was just a guideline... I'M THE DECIDER!!!! AND I WANT VICTORY!!!"

So, let's summarize...

  • The Bush Administration hasn't gotten ANYTHING right in this entire foreign policy debacle. They were wrong at every juncture, and they continue to misjudge EVERYTHING.
  • Not only has the Bush Administration been wrong, but they've been maliciously wrong. They've lied, fabricated, omitted, cajoled, and intentionally mislead the American people every step of the way. There is absolutely NO reason to trust ANYTHING they say, predict, or promise. "Temporary", my ass!
  • The Bush Administration has no incentive to end this conflict.
    • This perpetual war fuels the military-industrial-complex (Halliburton's profits contributes to Dick Cheney's wealth).
    • This perpetual war also keeps the price of oil high, which lines the pockets of George and all of his friends. Thank you red-staters for helping to elect & re-elect an oil man as president.
    • Ending the conflict would insinuate failure in George's mind, but his pride & arrogance won't settle for anything less than total victory, which is unattainable. Therefore, the only option he has to prevent "defeat" is to keep the conflict going.
    • The Bush Administration needs the 'war-time' presidency and threats of terrorism in order to carry out its fascist agenda of subverting the Constitution, spying on Americans, torturing whomever they please, and keeping the American people living in fear.
  • There's no reason whatsoever to believe that sending more troops into Baghdad will help this situation. Colin Powell, the Joint Chiefs, and many experts have said that this strategy will only worsen the already-volatile situation. Even if Baghdad is finally secured by our martial law, we'll be stuck there indefinitely to keep it secure.

What is the U.S. interest?

This is a question I've been asking myself for a long time. We keep hearing that we're there to protect our interests, but what ARE our interests?

Is our interest that of spreading Democracy? Nooooooo. If we were reeeeally interested in spreading Democracy, we wouldn't have ousted a democratically elected president in Iran (who was going to nationalize the oil industry) in favor of installing the Shah of Iran as a dictatorship. If we were reeeeally interested in Democracy perhaps we would've stayed in Vietnam, accepting nothing less than total victory, at the cost of a few more hundred thousand young American soldiers. If we were reeeeally interested in Democracy we'd be taking on Saudi Arabia and China, instead of jumping into bed with them.

Is our interest humanitarian? Nooooooo. If we were reeeeally concerned about people in other countries we'd be doing a lot more to quell the genocide in Darfur, Rwanda, and many, many other genocidal hot-beds around the globe. If we were reeeeally concerned about people in other countries we'd be doing a lot more about slave trading, poverty, tsunami victims, and hunger in third world countries. If we were reeeeally concerned about people in other countries we wouldn't have cut off funding for health clinics just because they involve planned parenthood. You know... those same clinics which provide invaluable treatment for Aids and Breast Cancer prevention & screening.

Our interest is oil, of course. They have oil, and we have gas-guzzling vehicles and homes to heat.

What would happen if we pulled out?

Of course this is one of those $64,000 questions. Why don't we just pull all our troops out of the region? Some say that would throw the region into chaos (or KAOS if you're a 'Get Smart' fan). Civil war would break out! Oh Noooooo!!!!

Let's face it.... The region is ALREADY in chaos, and civil war has ALREADY broken out. The American presence only makes things worse, gets a lot of our children killed, and fuels anti-American hatred.

Our best bet is to pull our troops out of this region and let the dust settle. We could be building our homeland security infrastructure while this civil war is taking its course, the centerpiece of which would be the development of alternative & renewable sources of energy so that we're not so dependent on foreign oil. And with all those troops coming home we could secure our borders and inspect all cargo entering at our ports.

With all the money we'd save by not having to fuel unnecessary wars, we could actually provide healthcare for our veterans, elderly, and children. We could actually fund 'No Child Left Behind', after school programs, and college tuition assistance. With all the money we'd save by not having to fuel unnecessary wars, we could legitimately lower taxes withOUT ballooning the national debt.

And... in the process... we might even STOP pissing off the rest of the world.

December 14, 2006

Did The Holocaust Really Happen?

I’m a huge fan of free speech. It’s the very first amendment in the Constitution of the United States of America and for very good reason. When our forefathers were seceding from England in the 1700’s, and laying down a foundation of self-governance, they felt it was paramount to provide protection for dissent. Theoretically, all people should have the right say what they want, without fear of retribution. In reality however, there are always limits and constraints. As they say - “Free speech doesn’t give you the right to yell ‘FIRE’ in a crowded theater”. The question is always one of balance… ‘Where do you draw the line?’

Mahmoud mouths off

In this article from CNN, the President of Iran held a conference in his own country, questioning the validity of the Holocaust. Here’s a small tidbit:

“His words received warm applause from delegates at the Holocaust conference… [snip]… who argue the Holocaust was either fabricated or exaggerated.”

Even though Iran is one of the “…worst violators of free speech…”, I’ll still defend his prerogative to make whatever comments he wishes, simply in the spirit of protecting the freedom of speech for ALL mankind, both foreign & domestic. It’s unfortunate & pathetic however, that the leader of a country couldn’t set a better example than to spew hate-filled, provocative, inciting, and destructive rhetoric. Then again, when it comes to setting examples, I guess our own leader pretty much takes the cake.

In that same spirit of free speech, I give myself the prerogative to dissent to his comments…

My take on history

I’ve always believed that ‘truth’ and ‘facts’ are nebulous things. Each of us has our own version of truth & reality, and it really all comes down to beliefs. What do you believe to be real?

When it comes to history we have a number of sources that paint a picture of what really happened, a.k.a. the official account. While many of those accounts take the form of audio & video evidence, all accounts from before the advent of that technology are solely eyewitness depictions, documented as best as possible. Whether it’s from books/articles published or scribbling on cave walls, the bulk of the earth people’s history beyond 100 years is known through other people’s eyes. And don’t forget - each person sees things through their own perspective and hence their own filters.

Let’s take the Bible, for example. I think that the Bible consists of a collection of stories which have to be taken ‘with a grain of salt’ per se. I think it’s possible that some of the stories may have some roots in realism, but I also think that we can’t rely on all of them as absolute fact. Let’s face it – the stories of Adam & Eve, Cain & Abel, and Noah & the ark are little more than fairy tales. I’ve always believed that these stories are largely vehicles for teaching our children righteous values.

The persecution of Jews is genuine

On the other hand, there are some things we can genuinely glean from the multitude of Bible scriptures. One of those gleanings is that Jews have been persecuted for generations. And even if you didn’t believe the Bible stories of being enslaved in Egypt (Passover & the book of Exodus) and the like, the persecution of Jews from the Holocaust is thoroughly documented with evidence well beyond eyewitness accounts. And the plethora of eyewitness accounts, some people still alive to this day, is utterly overwhelming.

One such account is the true story by Elie Wiesel entitled ‘Night’, a non-fiction account of his survival of the German concentration camps. And if that doesn’t completely affect you, then this will… As a child in religious school I saw a very disturbing documentary called ‘Night And Fog’, which depicted actual accounts of the Auschwitz concentration camp. The film was in black & white with actual footage. Seeing the thousands of bodies being bulldozed into mass graves is scarier than any horror film. When you’re watching Freddy, Jason, or Chucky mutilate some teenager, you can convince yourself it’s only a movie. This film was made in 1955 and it’s very, very real.

Jews aren’t the only ones persecuted

I don’t want to diminish or belittle the persecution of other races & cultures. In fact I’d go so far as to say that Jews, in this day & age, are not nearly as persecuted as some other peoples. While Jews continue to experience some measure of Anti-Semitism, I think the Jews and Israel have at least reached the point of being defensible. The Israeli military is widely respected as one of the most skilled and capable in the world. Much to Ahmadinejad’s delirious prediction, Israel isn’t going anywhere and the “Zionist regime” will never be “wiped out”.

On the other hand there are complete races/cultures of peoples who continue to suffer the hatefulness of genocide. My heart goes out to the people of Darfur. Over two years ago I remember (then Secretary of State) Colin Powell saying that there was genocide going on in Sudan. Two years later the Bush Administration continues to ignore the problem. Not everyone has, however. Yes, it’s the American Jewish World Service which founded the “Save Darfur Coalition” as a measure of “…coordinating like-minded humanitarian & advocacy organizations”. I urge my readers to follow the link above and see what American Jews are doing in this effort. Here's one snippet from that web page:

“As Jews, we have a particular moral responsibility to speak out and take action against genocide. We must respond and save as many lives as we can.”

So, what have we learned?

Well, first of all we’ve learned that the President of Iran - Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, in typical Iranian fashion, is ignorantly hateful of Israel. He’s clearly delirious to think that Israel, with or without the support of the US, wouldn’t be able to defend itself.

We learned that the Holocaust isn’t a myth – it really did happen – and there are literally millions of descendants with millions of dead ancestors to prove it.

We learned that there continues to be genocidal killing going on in various parts of the world.

And, we also learned that American Jews are taking the lead in addressing the genocide in Darfur.

December 08, 2006

Will Bush Listen? Do Pigs Fly?

So here we are closing out 2006 after two glorious years into George W. Bush's second term as President & Commander-In-Chief of the United States of America. Kudos to those red states and Republican strongholds who worked tirelessly to defame that tyrant John Kerry attempting to unseat our beloved leader. "Thank God we have George Bush as president" Rudy Giuliani said at the RNC convention, recalling the days immediately following 9/11/01. Yes, we have a leader who's resolute and unwavering! We have a leader who stands on principle! We have a leader who will continue to believe on Thursday, the same thing he believed on Tuesday, no matter what happened on Wednesday (thank you, Stephen Colbert).

Okay... enough of that crap...

Newsweek’s Question

Newsweek posed the question, “Will Bush Listen?” in their latest issue. After maliciously, ignorantly, and arrogantly attacking a sovereign nation on fabricated premises, the Bush neo-con cabal has been "resolute" on "staying the course" in Iraq, thus keeping our troops in harm's way with targets on their backs, caught in the middle between warring ethnic, cultural, & religious factions. Our foreign policy has been so misguided, and so errant, and so out of step with mainstream American values, that it took a mid-term election to send our president a clear message for a change-of-direction. Along with that referendum from the majority in this country are a number of other sources with a similar message of course correction, not the least of which is the Iraq Study Group headed up by daddy’s man – James Baker.

But when the Democrats take control of Congress on January 4th, the President, until & unless he's impeached, will continue to set America's foreign policy. Will George W. Bush listen to these urges for tweaking foreign policy? Or, will he ignore them and continue to "stay the course"? Or, perhaps he'll listen to John McCain & Lindsey Graham and make the situation worse by throwing more fuel on the fire (i.e. sending in thousands more troops)?

Victory for the Legacy

Is Dubya so concerned about his legacy that he needs to “stay the course” so he can declare victory and not be blamed for a(nother) failure? After all, changing the course would effectively be an admission that he made a mistake. Since he keeps talking about “victory” I can only assume he hasn’t listened to everyone in the world telling him that any chance for “victory” vanished with the WMD’s.

George W. Bush still thinks our mission in Iraq is to train the Iraqi military & police to protect & secure the country. I guess he hasn't been reading the blogs, and he certainly doesn't listen to Air America. If he did he might realize there's a horrific civil war going on in Iraq and that our troops are caught in the middle of it. He might also realize that we've just been training one faction of Iraqis to kill another. He might also realize that everything we've done, every decision we've made, and every action we've taken in Iraq has been wrong, has irritated the situation, and has caused more death & destruction then Sadaam ever could. But the Iraqi people can take solace that freedom and democracy are on the march! Gee, I can't wait to liberate Iran.

So, to answer your question Newsweek…

No, George W. Bush will not listen. He doesn't have the mental capacity to listen. He doesn't have the wherewithal to accept feedback, criticism, or competing ideas. He doesn't have the aptitude to analyze conflicting alternatives and make intelligent decisions. He doesn't possess the intellectual prowess to understand the history, complexities, issues, & personalities. He doesn't have the patience & fortitude to use diplomacy and negotiate with foreign leaders who AREN'T kissing his ass for aid & recognition. Instead, his policy is to simply overthrow unfriendly regimes. He is pure arrogance. He might SAY he'll listen, but we can't just take him at his word. We need to watch his actions, because we already know he's a pathological liar.

Even though everyone in the world is talking re-deployment (with the exception of McCain & Graham), my guess is that George has no intention of withdrawing our children from the heat of the crossfire. He still thinks Iraq will become a haven for terrorists from which they will attack America. As if there weren't already enough hot spots in the Middle East for recruiting and training America-hating mercenaries.

Yes, this is the 'leader' who we allowed to steal the 2004 election to extend this dark period for 4 more looooong years. This is the 'leader' who bankrupted our treasury, demolished our constitution, and allowed big business to write all its own toothless legislation. This is the 'leader' who abandoned Afghanistan to attack & occupy Iraq under false pretenses, and now both countries are in peril more so than ever.

The Epitome of 'The Peter Principle'

George W. Bush has managed to fail his way through every endeavor he's undertaken, yet he's continued to ascend to larger, and certainly more critical, roles & responsibilities. After failing at each of his business ventures (and then getting bailed out by daddy's friends), and after screwing everything up in Texas as governor (I highly recommend Molly Ivin's astonishing account in 'Bushwhacked'), he's spent the last 6 years dragging not just our country, but the entire world, down the toilet. ‘Listening’ to the Baker-Hamilton commission (the Iraq Study Group) would basically insinuate that daddy’s friends are bailing him out again.

Sure George - don't bother listening to the experts or the American people. Just keep on sending our children into harm’s way, escalating the ‘nookular’ arms race, and provoking foreign dictators. Just keep on contributing to global warming, ignoring presidential daily briefings, and ballooning the national debt. Surround yourself with 'Yes Men' who tell you what you want to hear, validate the decisions you and your neo-con cabal have already made, and then fix the intelligence around your policy.

George W. Bush is “The Decider”. He’s not “The Listener”.

December 01, 2006

John McCain Just Doesn't Get It

Now that we've made it through the mid-term election cycle it's time to start thinking about the 2008 presidential election. Over the next two months, and particularly after the New Year, you're going to see a flurry of activity in this area. Whether it's prospective candidates declaring their intentions, or just pundits speculating, everyone's words and actions will be under the microscope if they have any inclination of seeking the top office. On the Republican side there is already a frontrunner who deserves special mention - Sen. John McCain.

He Knows War

Having spent upwards of 5 years as a prisoner of war in Vietnam, John McCain has earned special attention. While his voice in matters of war and torture carry a special weight, lately I've found his perspective disturbing.

John McCain initially stood up to President Bush on the use of torture. He championed against the use of torture and breaking from the Geneva Convention, until it finally came before the US Congress. Then, in a surprising move, he succumbed to Executive pressure and settled for something well below his principled stand. The 'Military Commissions Act' was subsequently enacted, effectively negating the bulk of what McCain stood for. Did John McCain sell his soul to the devil (GOP base) to get his ass into the White House in '09?

He Knows Smear

In the run up to the 2000 election, Bush & Rove threw John McCain under the bus with their patented dirty trickery. Karl Rove perfected the 'Push Poll' technique of calling voters under the guise of a survey and asking how they felt about McCain if they knew that he fathered an illegitimate black child. Of course the object was not to collect data, but to smear a war hero. Rove continued to employ various smear techniques on other war heroes as well (Sen. Max Cleland and Sen. John Kerry).

What I find truly astonishing is that even after Bush & Rove utterly decimated McCain in 2000, he came back in the 2004 election and supported Bush for reelection, even after turning down an opportunity to run with Kerry as Vice President on what would've been an historic bi-partisan ticket. A Kerry-McCain team would've defeated Bush-Cheney handily and poised McCain for his own presidential bid in 2012. Instead, he chose to toe the party line in an effort to posture himself for 2008.

He Knows MORE War

Even more disturbing is John McCain's posture on the conflict in Iraq. It seems that just about everyone in the country got the message from the 2006 election - that we need to redeploy our troops, instead of continuing to be caught in the middle of this civil war. Just about everyone in the country knows that we shouldn't have precipitated this conflict in the first place, and our being there as an occupying force continues to deteriorate the situation. Just about everyone has the common sense to realize that we're not going to fix this problem on a military basis. Just about everyone knows there are complexities and intricacies way beyond the scope & handling by military might. Just about everyone knows about the deceit, pilfering, & squandering of the Iraq reconstruction projects which have added to Iraqis animosity of the United States.

Just about everyone except for two people... George W. Bush, who arrogantly insists on "staying the course" because he won't admit he made a mistake, and John McCain who thinks that the answer lies in sending in MORE troops. I'm assuming that he feels the U.S. can control the region under Martial Law with a massive force of strength. And once the country is stabilized, then law & order & Democracy can simply take its course. Just like that. And if I believed that, I'd probably also believe that Britney Spears will win Mother-of-the-Year, Wife-of-the-Year, AND Entertainer-of-the-Year all in the same year!

Clearly, Mr. McCain just doesn’t get it. He thinks (just like Bush) that setting a deadline (i.e. timetable) sends a ‘wait-it-out’ message to our enemies. This is the argument that Bush has been using to keep us in Iraq... indefinately. However, the message a deadline/timetable would REALLY send to the Iraqi people is that we don't intend to forever occupy THEIR country. As long as we're there, we're targets.

If we elect John McCain in ’08, it’ll be more of the same – staying the course and perpetuating the conflict. To some short-sighted / arrogant politicians it doesn’t really matter how many innocent people die from our mistakes, as long as the military-industrial-complex continues to thrive.