January 24, 2007

Underneath The "Surge" Strategy

In this week's article I contrast my earlier premise that Bush's surge will be a good thing in the long run. As you'll recall, in my previous article of 1/10/07, I articulated my vision of how the Democrats will take the White House in 2009 after this ridiculus strategy is affixed to John McCain's presidential bid. As likely as that may happen, I think there are deeper and more serious ramifications to Bush's strategy that will be globally damaging in the process. The next two years of BushCo may be catastrophically pivotal if Congress doesn't pull in the reigns.

The broader implications

What has become abundantly clear from Bush's speech and subsequent actions is that he is green-lighting his overall strategy, not just to escalate the efforts in Baghdad & Anbar Province, but also to expand the war (i. e. the neo-con's conquest) into Iran & Syria. Here's a pertinent excerpt from his 'surge' speech of January 10th:

"Succeeding in Iraq also requires defending its territorial integrity — and stabilizing the region in the face of the extremist challenge. This begins with addressing Iran and Syria. These two regimes are allowing terrorists and insurgents to use their territory to move in and out of Iraq. Iran is providing material support for attacks on American troops. We will disrupt the attacks on our forces. We will interrupt the flow of support from Iran and Syria. And we will seek out and destroy the networks providing advanced weaponry and training to our enemies in Iraq."

For a while now BushCo has been issuing threats & accusations to goad Iran into conflict. With absolutely no evidence whatsoever, the Bush Administration continues to accuse Iran of fostering its "nookular" weapons program, while Iran has steadfastly claimed its nuclear aspirations are for energy purposes only. It remains to be seen which one is lying more.

Over the last few months BushCo has made a number of significant moves to provoke a confrontation with Iran:

  • They've increased the practice of kidnapping. Yes, BushCo kidnaps foreign nationalists in case you weren't aware. (Some might even call that terrorism, but I guess that all depends on your perspective.) The difference is that BushCo labels the people they kidnap as terrorists and calls the kidnapping "detainment". Saying they've been "detained" doesn't sound quite as bad - kind of like they were held up at the airport but they'll be home soon - right? Not quite. When the U.S. detains someone they're locked away indefinately, stripped of all rights (forget about 'habeas corpus' and due process), and likely tortured.

    Anyway, in December U.S. troops arrested a number of Iranians they claimed were suspected of planning attacks on Iraqi security forces, including diplomats who were later turned over to Iraqi authorities.

    More recently, after storming the Iranian Consolate in Iraq, U.S. troops "...detained five Iranians and confiscated vast amounts of documents and computer data...".
  • They recently ordered the deployment of the USS John C. Stennis as a second carrier ship in the Middle East, joining the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower. The deployment of carrier ships is clearly posturing for conflict.
  • They pressured the UN to impose sanctions on Iran for persuing nuclear ambitions.

Which camp are you in?

  • Some of you are squarely on the right-wing fringe. You're utterly evil because you're profiting from war & conflict and want it to continue as long as possible regardless of the amount of bloodshed. You look at this debacle as a big chess match - our troops are pawns available for sacrafice. You're the neo-cons responsible for the disinformation & propoganda campaign(s) eminating from the White House and all of those decisions which propogate the economic divide in this country. The rich are getting richer WHILE the poor are getting poorer, but you don't care because you're on the 'right' side of that equasion. You people disgust me.
  • Some of you are ignorants who think this "surge" (i.e. neo-con euphamism for "escalation of the war") is all about gaining the upper hand for victory. Sadly, you've been watching too much Fox (Faux) News or listening to any of the right-wing shills and still think this whole debacle is a matter of winning and losing. You've fallen into the neo-con trap of framing foreign policy with binary thinking. Sure - it's us vs. them. Good vs. evil. You're either with us or you're with the terrorists. You're part of that 30%-40% who still think Saddam had WMD's and attacked us on 9/11. To those of you I say wake up and smell the bullcrap. Start paying attention because our democracy is dependent on you being more intelligent.
  • Some of you who ARE paying attention (somewhat) may think that this whole escalation is Bush's warped, idiotic, arrogant attempt to leave a legacy. You think he really does want to 'win' in Iraq, but of course you're smarter than him and realize there's no way that's going to happen given the current situation. You know this conflict can only be resolved with political and diplomatic solutions - not military solutions. You also understand that the Iraq invasion was largely blood-for-oil and that BushCo lied us into this conflict with phantom WMD's and links to al Qaeda. To those of you I say you're on the right track -perhaps 80% there - but keep digging because there's much more.
  • The rest of us understand the deeper evil underneath the neo-con cabal. It's all about profit and conquest. And this "surge" is about BushCo posturing for Iran and Syria, which has been on their list from the very beginning.
The question now is whether or not the new Democratic Congress has the cajones to stop this train wreck. No pressure here, but the future of the world depends on it.

January 12, 2007

Mr. Bush, Put Your Presidency Where Your Mouth Is

January 12, 2007

Dear President Bush,

So many politicians, respondents, reporters, pundits, and bloggers have chimed in on your new "Surge" strategy, including yours truly. Just after your speech on Wednesday night I published my blog articulating my vision of what will be happening over the next two years, the culmination of which will be the Democrats taking the White House in 2008 after Sen. John McCain's reputation is further tarnished by being associated with this plan.

Instead of just reaching out to my readers, I'd like to take an opportunity to reach out to you directly. Here's my message.

Mr. Bush, everyone in this country and abroad knows that you've leveraged your presidency on your conquest of Iraq. After nearly 4 years of the initial shock-&-awe and subsequent occupation, after losing over 3,000 American lives, after spending nearly one half trillion dollars we don't have, and after losing countless hundreds of thousands of Iraqi lives, you've finally admitted that your strategies thus far have failed. However, you expect us to trust you for yet another ill-advised decision. A decision which will essentially escalate the conflict in Iraq. A decision which has & will most assuredly escalate the conflict in America as well.

What are the benchmarks?

I've heard it said so many times that the mission must have a clearly defined objective. But thus far, all I've really heard of your objective is to succeed, win, obtain victory, and avoid defeat. When asked of your definition of success, you've essentially articulated that success entails:
"...a free Iraq which can defend itself..."

So here's what I don't get. Firstly, how are you working towards a "free Iraq" by essentially declaring Martial Law in Baghdad? Do you really think that after nearly 4 years of this American occupation, the people of Iraq are free?

And secondly, the country of Iraq able to defend itself, by definition, means that if U.S. troops were not there, Iraq's own defense and police could maintain order. How does sending tens of thousands more troops into Iraq lead to that country able to defend itself? Seems to me you're making them more dependent on US.

Mr. Bush, you've hedged your presidency on your conquest of Iraq, and you've hedged your conquest of Iraq on this escalation of the conflict. As Commander-In-Chief you've already started the troop build-up, and I'm sure you'll get the 'surge' you're asking for. At the same time, I'm hoping the Democratic-controlled Congress will deliver a vote of no-confidence. You and your right-wing, neo-con shills will be all alone on this.

Impeachment or Resignation - it's up to you

Let's revisit this in November. Let's take a look then at the frequency of violence, the casualty count, and the ability of Iraq to "govern itself, sustain itself, and defend itself". Let's take a look at what a difference this 'surge' decision has made over all the other disastrous decisions you've put us through.

If by November this situation has not shown signs of improvement, I expect you to hand in your resignation. Between now and then, I anticipate the Senate and House of Representatives will be holding all sorts of hearings to ferret out the origins of this conflict, as well as many other questionable decisions you've made to subvert the U.S. Constitution.

Some have suggested Congress should cut off funding as a means of ending this senseless conflict. I'd rather see a regime change.


Scott Shuster
American Citizen

January 10, 2007

How Bush's Surge Will Be A Good Thing

The United States' foreign policy in the Middle East is coming to a crossroads. There isn't a person on the planet, including all of the right-wingnut shills on Fox News, who think our strategy in Iraq is going well. We've endured 3+ years of these neo-cons trying to tell us how well things are going, and how the liberal media is overlooking the positive advancements being made. Who should we believe - our lying leaders or our lying eyes?

Over the last few months new milestones have been reached. The war's duration has surpassed that of WWII and the American casualty count has surpassed our losses from the attack on September 11, 2001. Furthermore, the conflict's statistics have not shown any sign of improvement, and in fact have deteriorated. The happy talk neo-cons are pulling their shoes out of their mouths.

But, even as they concede that things are not going well, they continue to espouse rhetoric of winning, victory, defeat, and the need to continue. Even after the Iraq Study Group has recommended re-deployment, even after the generals on the ground have recommended re-deployment (now of course they're being replaced), and even after the November 7, 2006 mid-term election clearly delivered the message for a change in strategy (i.e. re-deployment), George W. Bush has decided to do exactly the opposite. After all we've put up with from this schmuck who stole two presidential elections, Dubya has thumbed his nose at the American people and the rest of the world by ordering a further build-up of troops in Iraq.

That's right... after completely misjudging everything, after utterly screwing up this section of the world, after making the wrong decisions every step of the way, Bush ("The Decider") has decided to throw gasoline on the fire. He says he doesn't listen to public opinion polls, which is just another way of saying that he's ignoring the will of the American people. And with the Democratic majority in Congress squarely against an escalation of this war, he's also ignoring the will of the Legislative branch of our government.

Bait & Blame

Part of me thinks that this whole 'surge' thing is just a ploy to bait the Democrats into taking a stand. He knows he's in for a fight with Congress, he knows the American people disapprove of his handling of the war in Iraq, and he knows support for this troop strength escalation is very unpopular on so many fronts. So, what gives?

Well, if the Democrats win this fight, then Bush has a scapegoat to blame for losing the war, and McCain has fodder for saying he had the right plan to win the war. However, if Bush wins this fight and sends an additional 20K troops to Baghdad, then the Democrats are complicit in f**king this war up even more, and the profiteering by Halliburton continues.

So, let's look at the likely scenario if Bush gets his way.

Here's my vision...

  • Bush, acting basically on John McCain's advice, will increase troop strength in Baghdad.
  • Those who expected their tours were finishing will be extended... AGAIN. And, those who thought their tours were a little further in the future will be surprised that they're called up sooner. All-in-all, the US military will be stretched even thinner, and even more distraught & fed up. All along America's military readiness erodes.
  • An additional 20k+ troops in Baghdad will also require a surge in infrastructure and supply lines (i.e. more targets to be hit by roadside IED's).
  • More U.S. troops in Iraq will certainly mean more U.S. deaths. Look for an increase.
  • If U.S. troops do manage to quell the violence in Baghdad, they'll be stuck there indefinitely to keep the peace. Don't believe for one minute any talk of temporariness by the Bush Administration - you know that won't be true even if they really do think it's true.
  • Meanwhile Anbar Province and other insurgent hot beds will heat up.
  • Sectarian violence will increase, as well as the incidents of Shiite Militia Death Squad hits. Kidnappings and killings will either maintain or increase.
  • The situation in Iraq will not remedy under the Bush Administration, and certainly will not improve over this surge of troops. One way or another Bush will find a way to f**k it up because he never gave any credence to win the war over the hearts & minds of the Iraqi people. They see through the lying propoganda just like we do as evidenced by the rise in anti-American sentiment.

    (Hold on.... I'll be getting to the 'good' part in a minute...)

  • Look for more incidents of American atrocities. Abu Ghraib, Haditha & Ishaqi were just the beginning. As we send more & more soldiers who are barely trained and barely equipped into a situation which is heated, explosive, & volatile, tensions will rise over the fog of war.
  • The cost of maintaining these additional 20K troops will pile up as well, the profits of which will go to Halliburton.
  • By the end of 2007, after another thousand or so troops are laid to rest, the 2008 presidential election will heat up and John McCain's name will be attached to the surge strategy that failed.

    (Okay, here's the 'good' part)

  • With the Republican frontrunner crippled by this strategy debacle, Democrats will take the White House in January '09.
  • With a Democratic White House and Congress, the country will be back on track with progressive ideology, constitutional protections, civil rights, and a roadmap for peace in the Middle East.

Things are going to get a lot worse before they get better. If we don't impeach them, we'll be suffering this reign of (BushCo) terror for two more years. But then there's hope this will all turn around in 2009. It's unfortunate that so many more people will have to die.

Update from last week's article

In my article from January 5th "No Progressive Talk Radio? Try Podcasting!", I discussed Podcasting as an alternative to progressive talk radio, since Boston's only progressive talk radio station flipped its format to Latino music. I was pleased to learn that there is a movement to petition Clear Channel to restore progressive talk radio in Boston. For all who are interested, go to http://www.bostonsprogressivetalk.net/ for more information. Many thanks to the folks there who already added me to their blogroll without me even asking.

January 05, 2007

No Progressive Talk Radio? Try Podcasting!

A sad day befell the Boston area last month when our only progressive talk radio station flipped its format to Latino music. Where I used to listen to "The Young Turks", Stephanie Miller, Al Franken, Ed Schultz, and Randi Rhodes I can now listen to "Rumba" - Orgullo Latino!

I don't really understand why progressive talk radio could not succeed in the most progressive state in the nation, but it sounds like the vision, plan, and/or management of the station was not driven for success. I can't deny that the commercials were absolutely nauseating and I hit the button on my car stereo every time I heard "Hi, I'm David Oreck" or "Are you losing your hair?". Obviously, running a radio station is a lot more than finding the right sponsors.

The biggest problem I had with "Boston's Progressive Talk" was the quality of the signal. This is the same problem I have with AM radio in general. (Quite frankly, I really don't understand why we even have AM radio anymore in this technologically driven day & age. The powers-at-be should have dumped AM radio years ago in favor of an expanded FM dial.) The stations broadcasting "Boston's Progressive Talk" must have been constrained to low wattage because you couldn't pick them up more than 15 miles away from one of their broadcast antennas. And their signal in the evenings was noticeably weaker than in the mornings. I found myself constantly searching for another station because I couldn't put up with the noise.

Enter Podcasting

When "Boston's Progressive Talk" went bye-bye, I had to scramble for something else to listen to in my car to & from work (I know some of you may be surprised to learn I have a 'real' job in addition to this blogging gig). After checking out some of the other talk radio offerings, I finally took a friend's advice and looked into Podcasting.

I already have an MP3 player where I've been listening to my collection of music all along. And, I've already purchased an MP3 interface for my car, so I can hook my player directly in to my car's stereo system. Podcasting was a natural direction for me to turn. So, let's take a step back...

What is Podcasting?

For the uninitiated, Podcasting is essentially the downloading of content from the Internet, to be played later, on a mobile device. If your mobile device is a phone or PDA such as a Blackberry or Palm Pilot, then you may be able to download content directly from the Internet. However, today most MP3 players such as iPods don't have a direct Internet connection, and instead connect to a computer to download their content.

The merging of MP3's and telecommunications devices will continue to progress over the next generation of handhelds, just as we've already seen in Verizon's Vcast phones. However, there's a cost factor that they need to get over... If I'm already paying for high-speed Internet access at home, why should I pay for it AGAIN for my wireless device?

Podcasting Software

What makes Podcasting particularly easy is the software that's out there. And, along with the content, it's usually free. Through PodcastAlley.com I was able to download some simple software to manage my Podcast 'subscriptions'. Now all I have to do is launch my Podcast software and a few clicks later, I've started the download process to update my subscription content on my computer. It downloads the latest episodes automatically.

Granted this is a little extra work, but it's worth it. Actually, to be honest, there's even more work. Once I've downloaded my new content, I need to move it over to my MP3 player. While I'm moving over new content to my MP3 player, I also need to houseclean the older content I've already listened to. Finally, when I'm in my car and ready to listen, I need to attach my MP3 and navigate over to select the content I want to listen to.

There are several reasons why all this extra work is worth it:

  • Firstly, there are no commercials in Podcast content that I've seen so far. I've heard an occasional "Sponsored by" message, but not much more than that.
  • Secondly, like TIVO or DVR (Digital Video Recorder) at home, since everything is stored electronically, I can stop & start the content according to my own needs. That means I won't miss some of the conversation just because I have to stop for gas.
  • Thirdly, I've discovered a whole new dimension of content that I wouldn't have gotten in commercial radio. And it's not all political. There's so much out there to satisfy virtually anyone's appetite for content.

A rare plug

Speaking of political content, at this point I'd like to take the opportunity to highlight one source in particular. A retired attorney, Jack Clark produces a Podcast called "Blast The Right". On a weekly basis Jack espouses a well-researched and informative dissertation exposing the radical right-wing agenda. As well read as I thought I was, I learned quite a bit from just a few episodes I downloaded from his archives.

So that's my message this week, dear readers. Fret not that progressive talk radio is dead in the Boston area. And no matter what your preferences, orientation, shtick, or passion is, you can probably find some worthwhile content on the Internet. If you already have an MP3 player (and who doesn't), you too can Podcast.