Thursday, June 29, 2006

How Wrong Can Repubs Be?

And let’s be crystal clear, the Supreme Court is as Republican as Fox News. If ever there was doubt that the United States Supreme Court will hand down pro-Republican decisions whenever possible, yesterday’s ruling that the major portion of Tom DeLay’s redistricting plan in Texas would not be challenged was proof positive. It was DeLay’s redistricting scheme that won the Republicans six more House seats in 2004. The Supremes also ruled that the Texas Legislature violated the Voting Rights Act in redrawing a certain district in southwestern Texas in 2003. However, by shooting down the Democrats’ gerrymandering claim, the highest court in the land has now said, in effect, it’s okay for all states to adopt the Texas model of redrawing districts when Republicans need more House seats. But an even worse sin than corrupting the Supreme Court is the Republican Party’s stance on global warming. The GOP has been wrong wrong wrong about global warming for decades and now we are reaping the damages of its willful blind stupidity fueled by greed. New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania have been experiencing torrential rainfall and flooding for the past week. Ten people have died due to the floods. The Schuylkill River overflowed its banks yesterday. In Philadelphia, both Kelly Drive (on the east side of the river) and Martin Luther King Jr. Drive (on the west) were closed. The main road to the Benjamin Franklin Bridge also was flooded. One woman being interviewed on KYW Radio said she believed all this strange weather was due to global warming. Finally, thanks to Al Gore, the man-in-the-street is starting to realize global warming is a very real threat to our lives, our well-being and our economy. But what are the Republican Party’s most important issues in an election year? Flag-burning. Gay marriage. Denying women the right to an abortion. Giving illegal immigrants amnesty. Cutting back money for food stamps and student loans. Increasing funds to kill our soldiers in Iraq. Denying a raise in the minimum wage. Protecting the schemes of indicted criminal Tom DeLay. There is no end to how wrong the Republican Party was, is and continues to be.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Repubs Use Flag as Diversionary Ploy

And it almost worked. Yesterday the Senate rejected by one vote a constitutional amendment to ban flag burning. A two-thirds majority (67 votes) is required to amend the constitution. The flag-burning ban got 66 votes in favor of the amendment. This kind of grand-standing to keep our attention off the real problems in the Bush administration will keep coming up the closer we get to elections: Gay marriage, flag burning, amnesty for illegal immigrants--anything to keep the news off the news. Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT) was the main sponsor of the flag-burning amendment. He said the minority who opposed it would be held accountable in November. "I think this is getting to where they are not going to be able to escape the wrath of the voters," were his exact words. Voters are going to be WRATHFUL over flag-burning, an offense that seldom occurs? I doubt it. The wrath of voters is already focused on Republicans who have backed the Bush administration and its fascist aims. Republicans like Orrin Hatch whose term ends in 2007. Following is the Hatch record on a few political issues. Sudan: civil war not a US threat; terrorism is. McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform is unconstitutional. Soft money gets out the vote; against banning it. Voted NO on negotiating bulk purchases for Medicare prescription drug. Voted NO on allowing importation of prescription drugs from Canada. Voted NO on allowing patients to sue HMOs & collect punitive damages. Voted YES on funding GOP version of Medicare prescription drug benefit. Voted YES on reauthorizing the PATRIOT Act. Voted YES on allowing more foreign workers into the US for farm work. Voted NO on investigating contract awards in Iraq & Afghanistan. Voted YES on authorizing use of military force against Iraq. Rated 0% by APHA, indicating an anti-public health voting record. Rated 0% by the ARA, indicating an anti-senior voting record. Rated 0% by SANE, indicating a pro-military voting record. Orrin Hatch, who is 72 years old, is like so many Republicans who love war and all things military. Hatch has never served in any war and has no military record whatsoever. But give Hatch a flag to wave and he’s out in front of any parade. How about enacting a law that all American flags, regardless of size, have to be manufactured in the United States? How about enacting a law that requires that all people who make American flags in the US have to be paid at least $10 an hour? The July 3 issue of The New Yorker has a great cover called “Dependence Day”. It’s a drawing of Asian workers toiling in a flag-making sweatshop.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Prez Says “Disgraceful”; Cheney Is “Offended”

Were they talking about the illegal and unnecessary war in Iraq that was engaged in without Congress declaring war? Were they talking about the illegal wiretapping of Americans? Were they talking about using the war in Iraq as a political issue to get votes for Republicans? Were they talking about killing 2524 American soldiers in Iraq for no reason other than to steal Iraq’s oil and to begin pre-emptive strikes on the entire Middle East? Were they talking about the GOP policy of enriching the rich while victimizing the poor and elderly? Were they talking about Cheney getting contracts for his Halliburton Company in Iraq and becoming a war profiteer? Were they talking about FEMA and the Red Cross’s fraud and waste in the Katrina debacle? Were they talking about corruption in the Republican Party? No. None of the above. President Bush said “It’s disgraceful” and Vice President Cheney said “I’m offended” because the New York Times and other newspapers had disclosed that the White House had been tracking Americans’ financial transaction since 9/11 as part of a secret program to find terrorists. And the White House had not sought legal authority to do so. The President, in his patented way of assuming that terrorists are as stupid as he is, opined that, "If you want to figure out what the terrorists are doing, you try to follow their money…and that's exactly what we're doing. And the fact that a newspaper disclosed it makes it harder to win this war on terror." So terrorists wouldn’t have figured out that spooks were following their money unless they read the New York Times? It’s the illegality of it that the Times (and other newspapers) questioned, you moronic numnut. The fact that it was going on was no surprise to terrorists. "Congress was briefed," Bush said, “And what we did was fully authorized under the law.” Not true. Most members of Congress were not briefed until the White House found out the program was going to be revealed to the public. And no, it was not fully authorized under law any more than the NSA wiretaps were fully authorized under law. They were only authorized in the dream world of the Bush administration, where all wildass fantasies of Republicans are deemed authorized the minute they are conjured up. Disgraceful? You bet. Every day since the GOP overthrew the US government and made George W. Bush dictator has brought new disgraceful acts to light. Offensive? How can one count the ways? Legal? Not a chance. Very little the White House has done, including the 2000 election, has been legal.

Monday, June 26, 2006

And After Everyone is in Jail, Then What?

The New York Times reports this morning that Congressman Peter T. King, (R-NY) is outraged that the NYT divulged US government surveillance of confidential banking records. King said on Fox News on Sunday "I'm calling on the attorney general to begin a criminal investigation and prosecution of The New York Times, its reporters, the editors that worked on this and the publisher." King later explained in a telephone interview why he hadn’t mentioned the LA Times and The Wall Street Journal, which had also written about the surveillance of banking records. It was because “The Times is more of a recidivist”, King said. That is, the NYT had published an article last year about NSA wiretapping. Senator Arlen Specter says the White House and Congress are this-close to reaching a resolution and to submitting the NSA wiretap program to judicial review. Most people on the Democrat side of things want to see Karl Rove in jail immediately. Soon to be followed by President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney being frog-marched to the nearest pokey. Libby, Abramoff, DeLay and assorted other politicians already are being fitted for orange jump-suits. The Republicans want to put those who disagree with the Bush administration in jail. The Democrats want to put those who disagree with the Bush administration in political office and the whole Bush administration in jail. Is jail a deterrent for anyone? No. Even career criminals believe they can beat the rap. And certainly, the criminals in our three branches of government believe they can beat any rap. The biggest problem we have right now is that the folks who vote would rather vote for criminals than for honest people. Sociologists could probably explain why…I certainly can’t. But we will have decent people in government and we will have decent government when the people of the United States decide to vote for the “reasonable man/woman” that the law is so fond of citing as being the arbiter of legal issues. As long as folks want unreasonable pious-sounding fanatics and assholes running the government, that is exactly what we will have. And that is exactly what we do have.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Yes Indeedy, Iraqis Must Be So Grateful to US

This morning, the LA Times reported some grim statistics coming out of Iraq. In addition to the fact that the US has NOT restored the most basic services like heat, water, lights, security, health care or oil production in Iraq, here is the real devastation the US has wreaked on Iraqis while feeding them bullshit about bringing freedom and democracy to their land. LA Times: “At least 50,000 Iraqis have died violently since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion, according to statistics from the Baghdad morgue, the Iraqi Health Ministry and other agencies — a toll 20,000 higher than previously acknowledged by the Bush administration. “Many more Iraqis are believed to have been killed but not counted because of serious lapses in recording deaths in the chaotic first year after the invasion, when there was no functioning Iraqi government, and continued spotty reporting nationwide since. “The toll, which is mostly of civilians but probably also includes some security forces and insurgents, is daunting.” The LA Times puts it in perspective, saying: “Proportionately, it is equivalent to 570,000 Americans being killed nationwide in the last three years. In the same period, at least 2,520 U.S. troops have been killed in Iraq.” And to top it off, now that the war has failed, the lies have failed, the bullshit has not been believed, the Iraqis hate us, the world thinks we are craven bastards and Americans are fed up and want the troops out of Iraq, the Republican Party has decided to get Republicans elected by using the fear of terrorism as a can’t-fail platform. There is a kind of Bush administration Rovian logic at work: Who better to trust where terrorism is concerned, than the people who caused the terrorism to break out in the first place? It’s kind of like a psychopath telling his relatives, “I killed my mom, dad, and sisters and brothers, so I’m the only psychopath in the family who can save you from me.” But you’d have to be crazier than George W. Bush to believe it.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

That’s the Best the Spooks Could Dig Up?

Yesterday, while waiting for the Miami FBI press conference to reveal the details of the arrest of terrorists who planned to bomb Chicago’s Sears Tower, CNN’s so-called security analyst Clark Kent Ervin ramped up the boo-scare quotient with some statistics and his own gaudy rhetoric. Ervin: “The FBI, we're told, knows of about 1,000 al Qaeda sympathizers here in the country, and about 300 extremists are under surveillance. So it's a very big threat indeed. And of course this comes against the backdrop of what the London authorities thought was a homegrown terror plot a few weeks ago, turned out not to be the case, and there certainly was a homegrown terror plot in Canada a few weeks ago.” More Ervin: “The FBI apparently believes that this was a homegrown radical Islamic terrorist program intent upon attacking the homeland, a political target, the FBI building in Miami, and an economic symbol, the Sears Tower in Chicago.” Then Attorney General Alberto Gonzales got on-camera and said, “The convergence of globalization and technology has created a new brand of terrorism. Today, terrorist threats may come from smaller, more loosely defined cells who are not affiliated with al Qaeda, but who are inspired by a violent jihadist message.” Then Gonzales introduced FBI Deputy Director John Pistole who led the investigation and the eventual indictment of the seven young men. Then dweeby, ineffectual, nerd-of-the-year Pistole got on camera and said, “Today's indictment is an important step forward in the war on terrorism here in the United States…The investigation reveals outstanding work by the law enforcement community. It also reminds us that we have much more work to do.” And now today we’re told that the seven who were arrested and were highly touted as a homegrown terrorist cell were more “aspirational than organizational” and that the boys’ club never got farther with a terror plan than yakking about it. If there are a thousand sympathizers and 300 extremists being surveilled by our crack spooks and moles with their state-of-the art technology, how come a bunch of young men who wore homemade turbans were the only terrorists that could be found by a swat team that “swarmed” around their clubhouse and broke in with a blowtorch? It’s obvious that the White House demanded Attorney General Gonzales arrest some terrorists somewhere somehow because the Prez desperately needed a show of strength in his fight against terrorism. But since the Bush administration is so sure that Islamists and jihadists have the organizational capability to attack the US right here and right now, why were teenage wannabes with no weapons and no plan the best the FBI could come up with? The answer is either that the President needs terrorists to be in this country more than terrorists have a need to be here. Or, the Attorney General, Homeland Security and the FBI are useless impotent assholes who couldn’t find a terrorist if he had a glow-in-the-dark target on his back.

Friday, June 23, 2006

News From the Clowns in Charge

FBI agents “swarmed” outside a warehouse in Miami yesterday. They removed a door with a blowtorch and arrested seven American men in their teens and twenties with no ties to Al-Qaeda or any other terrorist organization. The FBI believes the group was “hatching a widespread plot” to attack the Sears tower in Chicago, an FBI office in Miami and other US buildings. The group which calls itself “The Seas of David", sometimes wears things on their heads that resemble turbans, occasionally cover their faces and have been seen exercising outside the warehouse at night. Residents who live near the warehouse say the young men seem to be brainwashed and talk about Allah. “More details will be released today,” the FBI says. More arrests may occur. At the same time yesterday, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee Senator John Warner (R-VA) defended the Republican stand that there should be no pullback of troops in Iraq by saying, "Future generations of Americans will look back upon this very moment to determine how two branches of our government, the legislative and the executive, today stand side by side, honoring those who've given their lives." So there you have it. Republicans say Iraq is the center of the war on terrorism and we have to stay there because that’s where terrorists come from. The FBI has arrested seven American teenagers in Miami who wear turbans, exercise a lot, seem brainwashed, talk about Allah and want to blow up the Sears Tower in Chicago. John Warner says we have to honor the Americans already killed in Iraq by killing more Americans in Iraq. And Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) says it would be shameless to bring out troops home. You tell me, who is crazier and more dangerous? The kids in that warehouse? Congress? The FBI?

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Republicans At Work

The Republican-dominated Congress has voted down a rise in the Minimum Wage from $5.15 to $7.25. The Minimum Wage has not been increased since 1997. However, members of Congress have given themselves a $30,000 increase in salary. Yesterday, House Republicans canceled a vote to renew the Voting Rights Act that goes back to 1965 and protects minorities from discrimination at the polls. Chairman of the House Intelligence committee Peter Hoekstra (R-MI) and Pennsylvania’s Rick Santorum, the third most powerful Republican in the Senate, claim they have found WMD’s in Iraq. Intelligence officials say, No you haven’t. When Spc. Patrick R. McCaffrey Sr., and 1st Lt. Andre D. Tyson were killed in June 2004 the military told their families they had been killed by insurgents even though the officials knew at the time the soldiers had been killed by Iraqi civil defense officers recently trained by the US. White House flacks say it would be political suicide for Republicans to scale back the war in Iraq. Press Secretary Tony Snow says the deaths in Iraq are “just a number”. The number of American soldiers killed by George W. Bush and Company has now reached 2,511. Those wonderful folks who gave us a war in Iraq in order to gain control of oil-rich countries and to show the world who is boss failed in both aims. Now they have decided to use their failed war to get themselves re-elected. Can such insanity prevail? Did Hitler kill six million Jews?

Monday, June 19, 2006

GOP Says Cow Pies Are Chocolate Pudding

Yesterday, the top men in the oil biz said our gas prices are cheap. And besides, it’s not greedy oil companies who are to blame for oil prices being high, which they aren’t. It’s global competition for supplies that makes oil prices seem high. In fact, oil prices are quite low. The price for fuel only seems high when we buy gas. This is an illusion caused by having so much less money in our wallets when we leave a gas station. George W. Bush visited the totally safe Green Zone in Iraq last week. He stayed in the Green Zone because guerillas, insurgents and Al-Qaeda members that the US supposedly has vanquished will shoot anyone venturing out of the Green Zone. The Prez said the war is going really good and we will be victorious if we stay the course, and presumably, stay in the Green Zone. Karl Rove, who has avoided ever serving in the military in peacetime or wartime, called decorated Vietnam War vets John Murtha and John Kerry “cowards”. The GOP says its amnesty plan for illegal immigrants is not an amnesty plan. And the amazing part about all of this dissembling is that the Bush administration is convinced the public buys it. The reason the White House thinks its lies have been accepted is because Congress has demonstrated it believes everything the White House dishes out. Congress is in its own Green Zone. And the Prez has been kept in a Green Zone ever since his first term. They all talk only to each other. In the political Green Zone the only thing that is of the slightest importance is getting re-elected. And Karl Rove and big business have absolute faith that the public is so stupid we believe anything we’re told as long as we’re kept frightened and off-balance. The GOP’s plan for keeping everyone frightened is to threaten us with what “the others” will do to us. The others will force us to become gay, they will force us to burn our flags, and terrorists will take over our land and rape our women and kill our men. And if that weren’t bad enough, the others will take money from god-fearing honest citizens and give it to the elderly and the undeserving poor. Funny thing. With all this loud rhetoric about how tasty the GOP diet of mud, horseshit and garbage is, the people still are overwhelmingly against the war in Iraq. The people who live in the world and not in a Green Zone don’t much mind gay unions, cannot stand the sight of George W. Bush, believe that people who break the law to live in the US should be punished, and think the entire Congress has its head up its ass.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

What’s Wrong With Blogs?

1 Most blogs are boring 2 Most daily posts are too long 3 Bloggers tend to be wretched writers 4 Bloggers identify themselves with adolescent and silly names 5 Bloggers tend to be prissy and self-righteous 6 The layout of most blogs is ugly 7 Blogs have too many typos 8 Most bloggers are ignorant about syntax and grammar 9 Bloggers don’t read their own copy or they would fall asleep reading it 10 Bloggers argue with the people who make comments on their blogs

Friday, June 16, 2006

That Was No Debate, That Was A Mockery

“Members, this is not the time to go wobbly,” Gil Gutknecht (R-MN) said yesterday during the Republican rally for the war in Iraq, which was being billed as a House and Senate debate. “Give victory a chance,” Gutknecht added. On March 31, 2003 Gutknecht said, “Periodically the tree of liberty needs to be nourished with the blood of patriots.” The man is 55 years old and he has never served in a war. "This sends a good message that the U.S. Senate overwhelmingly opposes a cut-and-run strategy in Iraq," Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) said. Cornyn is 54 years old and has never served in a war. “It is a battle we must endure and one in which we can and will be victorious,” Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-IL) said. Hastert is 64 years old and has never served in a war. Musn’t go wobbly. We will be victorious. We oppose cut-and-run. What cynical hogwash. The GOP doesn’t give a damn about the war in Iraq. The GOP wants to win votes by using the war in Iraq as a ploy. This so-called debate in Congress is the most blatantly contemptuous tactic the Republicans have ever used, and they are masters at sly, sneaky, scornful methods. There is no way the US can score a victory in Iraq. And these men know it. And what do these guys call a victory, anyway? Would it be a victory if all insurgents, guerillas and members of the Al-Qaeda were killed? How is that going to be accomplished? Would it be a victory if three-quarters of the enemy were killed? How do we do that? How do we find them? What manner of death do we mete out? Should we kill all Iraqis just to make sure? Or maybe we should take all Iraqis prisoners? And just to ensure that no one is lying and aiding and abetting insurgents or members of Al-Qaeda, shall we torture them all? Would that bring us victory? What about Afghanistan? Is victory in Afghanistan part of the “we will be victorious” slogan? Come to that, when and how do we start having a victory in Afghanistan? Will we be victorious in Afghanistan when every poppy plant and every guerilla, insurgent and member of Al-Qaeda is dead? I want just one chickenhawk asshole dickwad to tell me in twenty-five words or less: What constitutes victory in Iraq and how do we accomplish it? A much easier plan to accomplish is to vote out all the chickenhawk asshole dickwads in Congress and to get out of Iraq as soon as possible. Two thousand five hundred American soldiers have been murdered by delusional men in the GOP trying to effect total and complete power over the lives of everyone in the world. And it hasn’t worked. It’s time to call a halt on this whole fascist operation.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Bush’s Born-again Speechwriter is Leaving

It’s a very big deal that George Bush's main speechwriter Michael Gerson has decided “to pursue new career options”. People come and go all the time in the Bush administration. Some can’t wait to get out. Some are pushed out. Nearly all are replaceable with identical clones. But two Bushmen are not replaceable: Karl Rove and Michael Gerson. Gerson is the man who has made our ignorant, insensitive, crass, psychotic and confused president sound like a thinking human being. Gerson is the man who turned our president’s grandiose delusions about God’s personal intervention in his life into thoughtful prose with poetic cadences. Michael Gerson is what has passed for George W. Bush’s soul. Gerson actually believes what he writes because he has put God in the center of his own life. What on earth Michael Gerson was doing in the Bush administration is a deep mystery. Although Gerson is only 42, he had a heart attack a couple of years ago. He says he has been thinking of making a career change for some time. The New York Times reported this morning that Gerson chose now to announce his departure because “the White House is having a run of good news and the time seemed right”. If what is going on now can be called a run of good news, it shows how demoralized the White House has become. Gerson must have been referring to Karl Rove narrowly escaping going to jail and the president having popped a happy pill to act upbeat about the lost cause in Iraq. There are no plans to replace Michael Gerson because he cannot be replaced. He is the best speechwriter the godless White House could have found. There is no other like him. He’s a true believer not a posturer. He has faith in a transforming God. He has heart, ethics and character. And he has faith in the Republican Party. The White House will make noises about its sadness at Gerson leaving. Then we will be let know that although Gerson will be missed, there are speechwriters galore who will step into Gerson’s post. Chief among them, of course, is Karl Rove. It will be clear only to outsiders how irreplaceable Michael Gerson is. The White House, particularly George Bush, will see no difference between the speeches written by Gerson and those written after Gerson steps down. Only Michael Gerson knows what working in the Bush administration has cost him. He obviously thought he could make a difference. And except for making the president sound moral, ethical and intelligent for the time it took to read a speech, Gerson has made no difference. Only Michael Gerson knows what it costs a man to work day after day with soulless men whose very lives mock those who are God-centered. I wish Michael Gerson well. He’s a good man. He deserves a good and rewarding life.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Bush Says Plame Investigation is Over

Wilson/Plame say: Not by a long shot. What we know for sure is that Rove’s attorney Robert Luskin is the one who made the announcement that Rove will not be indicted. We have not heard from special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald. We know that Luskin quoted from the letter he got from Fitzgerald and that Luskin said Fitzgerald said he “does not anticipate” charging Karl Rove. We know that, according to the NYT this morning, “a lawyer for the Wilsons, Christopher Wolf, indicated that the couple was considering taking civil action against Mr. Rove. ‘The day still may come when Mr. Rove and others are called to account in a court of law for their attacks on the Wilsons,’ Mr. Wolf said.” We know that says it stands by its May report that Rove was under a secret indictment. We know that Rove’s spokesman Mark Corallo felt it was necessary to state this morning that, “Mr. Rove had made no deals to cooperate with the prosecution in any way, and that the decision was based purely on Mr. Fitzgerald's findings.” We know that Fitzgerald’s spokesman Randall Samborn had no comment And we know the Prez said, "It's a chapter that has ended. Fitzgerald is a very thorough person. I think he's conducted his investigation in a dignified way. And he's ended his investigation." Considering Bush’s other statements, like “Mission accomplished”, “We found the weapons of mass destruction”, and “Brownie, you're doing a heck of a job", the brouhaha over the Plame leak is a long way from being ended. And if Rove’s people say Rove made no deal, Rove made a deal. Fitzgerald has declined to comment on his letter to Luskin about Rove, or whether he will continue to pursue the investigation. However, there are loose ends. Who was Robert Novak’s snitch? And what was Dick Cheney’s role in the whole affair? Is it over? Has the fat lady sung? It may not be over but Diva Rove has no doubt sung very long and very loudly indeed.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Karl Rove Off the Hook (Most Likely, Probably)

What does it mean, in the words of The Washington Post, that Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald “does not expect to seek charges against” Karl Rove? Or, alternatively, in the words of Rove’s lawyer Robert Luskin, that Fitzgerald “does not anticipate seeking charges” against Rove. Is that a door Fitzgerald left ajar? “Does not expect to” doesn’t sound like “absolutely will not” to me. And Fitzgerald isn’t talking. Nor is his spokesman, Randal Sanborn. Sanborn said he would not comment on Rove’s status. Interestingly, the New York Times said, “The prosecutor in the C.I.A. leak case on Monday advised Karl Rove, the senior White House adviser, that he would not be charged with any wrongdoing, effectively ending the nearly three-year criminal investigation that had at times focused intensely on Mr. Rove.” Huh! Is that what Fitzgerald said? Didn’t sound like he said, “Rove would not be charged with any wrongdoing” to me. Sounded like he said, “does not expect to seek charges”. Am I making a distinction that makes no difference? Luskin said Rove “did everything he could to cooperate" with the investigation. Oh, I’ll just bet he did! Has Rove gotten a deal for ratting out his cronies? We can only wait and see. But odds are that Robert Novak soiled himself when he read the news this morning.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Americans Have a Romantic Idea of War

And true stories coming out of Iraq are trampling that romantic idea. The American idea is that soldiers are not only fierce, loyal and brave, but they have a code of honor that keeps them from engaging in ungentlemanly behavior such as shooting people in the back, raping and killing women, killing children and torturing the enemy. However, the men who train our soldiers have to teach them that in the heat of battle you do what you have to do. And doing what you have to do may involve shooting people in the back, killing women and children and torturing the enemy. The raping of women is left to the soldiers’ discretion. The top American commander in Iraq, Gen. George W. Casey Jr., has been given the unenviable job of perpetuating the American romantic idea of war. Casey said on Fox News yesterday that the allegation that our soldiers had beaten Abu Musab al-Zarqawi was “boloney”. I have no idea if Zarqawi was beaten or not. But I do know for a fact that it is absolutely within the realm of possibility that Zarqawi was beaten. And I know that because the fascists in the White House started a war in Iraq, and our soldiers have been trained to fight this war in the way all wars are fought: DO WHATEVER YOU HAVE TO DO in order to win the battle. If there were the remote chance that Zarqawi was alive and that he had information that the Americans wanted, of course they would try to beat it out of him. And why not? That’s war. That’s what the insurgents and members of Al-Qaeda would do to Americans and that’s what Americans have been trained to do to insurgents, guerillas, Al-Qaeda and the enemy in general. It may be that General Casey is denying in good faith the fact that Zarqawi was beaten. But since the idiots in the White House have put the United States and our soldiers in the position of fighting an unnecessary war, at some point Americans are going to have to grow up and understand what fighting a war means. The lily-livered Bush administration wanted to play soldier. And the ones who wanted to play soldier the most were men who had avoided serving in any war. Let us never forget, the following list of men never served in any war: President George W. Bush Vice President Dick Cheney Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert Former House Majority Leader Dick Armey Former House Majority Leader Tom Delay House Majority Whip Roy Blunt Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist Majority Whip Mitch McConnell Rick Santorum, third ranking Republican in the Senate Former Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott Former Attorney General John Ashcroft Florida Governor Jeb Bush White House Senior Advisor Karl Rove We’ve been forced to fight a stupid war by men who never fought in a war. And our men are being trained to fight this war the way all wars are fought. It is ridiculous for military men to deny how wars are fought in order to pander to the romantic, unrealistic and childish ideas of Americans, most of whom have never known war. And by the way, all you people who want us to keep on fighting in Iraq and want more soldiers to go to Iraq, you do know what war does to men, right? Not only may they come back horribly wounded and broken physically, but also they will be forever damaged by what they’ve seen and what they’ve been required to do.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

The Big Question

The New York Times has a long article this morning (“At Site of Attack on Zarqawi, All That's Left Are Questions”) about the airstrike on Zarqawi’s hideout. Much of it was based on a briefing for reporters with Army Maj. Gen. William B. Caldwell IV, a U.S. military spokesman. The article neglects to address the allegations that Zarqawi had the crap beaten out of him before he died, except to assert that a military official said “(Zarqawi) had suffered no gunshot wounds, trying to dispel suggestions that someone had delivered a coup de grâce at the scene.” However, the LATimes, also basing an article on the Caldwell briefing (“Questions Remain About Zarqawi's Final Minutes”) reported, ”An Iraqi police lieutenant who said he was among the first people at the scene told The Times on Saturday that after Iraqi police had carried Zarqawi to the ambulance on the stretcher, U.S. troops took him off the stretcher and placed him on the ground. One of the Americans tried to question Zarqawi and repeatedly stepped on his chest, causing blood to flow from his mouth and nose, said the lieutenant, who spoke on condition of anonymity. “A man identified only as Mohammed, who said he lived near the Zarqawi hide-out, told Associated Press Television News that he had witnessed Americans beating Zarqawi. "They stomped on his stomach and his chest until he died and blood came out of his nose," he said.” As to the observation that there have been several versions of the details of the bombing and its outcome, Maj. Caldwell said, "There is no intention on anybody's behalf to engage in deception, manipulation or evasion." If that’s true, it’s the first time the military, the White House and the Associated Press have not intended to deceive, manipulate and evade. Two 500-pound bombs turned the Zarqawi house into rubble last Thursday and left a 40-foot-wide deep hole. How then, is it possible that Zarqawi's head and upper body were intact enough to be shown on television around the world? By Saturday, the result of the airstrike on Thursday had been removed and the hole filled in. There will be an autopsy of this body that escaped the devastation of 1000 pounds of explosives soon, we are told. And at that time, it will be disclosed exactly where Zarqawi was when the bombs fell. To count on no deception, manipulation or evasion regarding this autopsy and any further disclosures would be naïve in the extreme. As those disgusting, manipulative, deceptive and evasive Army ads say, “This is the Army”. First, the military knew that if Zarqawi were in that house there would be nothing left of him after the airstrike. Therefore, it was imperative for him to be out of the house (and dead) because he had to be fingerprinted so that it could be claimed a positive identification had been made. So, if any sane fugitive is out of his hideout and hears planes roaring overhead, does he stay rooted where he is or run like hell? He runs like hell unless it’s the same idiot who was purported to be Zarqawi who didn’t know how to shoot the gun he was holding when the homemovie was made of him in the desert, which was probably a desert in the United States. For sure he runs like hell unless, could it be? he’s already dead. Or he starts to run, is apprehended and beaten to death and then the bombs fall. Choose your scenario: 1. Zarqawi is inside his hideaway. He’s eating a crunchy candy bar and doesn’t hear the planes overhead. The house gets bombed, everything, including women, a child and other occupants are blown to smithereens but Zarqawi’s body remains intact. However, he dies. He’s videotaped and fingerprinted and taken away for an autopsy. 2. Zarqawi is outside of his house, he stands like a statue while planes drop bombs, he’s badly injured but lives long enough to be placed on a stretcher. He tries to get off the stretcher, he says a few words and he dies. He’s fingerprinted and videotaped. 3. Zarqawi is outside of his house, he hears planes, he starts to run, military personnel who have been waiting, apprehend him, beat him to death and leave him far enough from the house so that he’s not pulverized when the bombs fall. He’s fingerprinted and videotaped. 4. A Zarqawi-type is beaten and taken to the house that Zarqawi’s spiritual adviser is known to inhabit. The look-alike is left outside the house and planes drop bombs. After the airstrike the patsy revives and tries to stand up. American soldiers beat him to death. Fingerprints and videos are taken because who the hell knows what Zarqawi’s fingerprints may look like. Whatever. But you can be assured that what really happened is not going to be in the final cut of the White House/Military version. If Zarqawi ever existed in the first place. If his fingerprints exist. If identifying scars and marks exist. If there is an autopsy. If the military and the White House ever tell the truth about anything.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Two Media Creations

1. Ann Coulter 2. Abu Musab al-Zarqawi Ann Coulter and al-Zarqawi are no more real than a George Bush photo-op. It’s amazing to me that the people who foam at the mouth and rant about Coulter don’t realize that they have created her. Coulter fine-tunes her next appearance by measuring what enraged the public about her last appearance. Next time out, she takes the outrageous remarks and hatred a step farther. And she fine-tunes her physical appearance as well. Whatever pisses off the public most about the way she looks will be made more distinct next time. If you noticed on the Lou Dobbs segment last week, Coulter not only made no attempt to hide her prominent Adam’s apple, she flaunted it. Whatever ramps up the outrage gauge, Coulter will kick up to a higher level next time around. Even including the transgender question. As soon as it was made public that her voter registration had no Female/Male preference checked, that topic got a big play and we started seeing Ann Coulter putting her Adam’s apple on display. Coulter’s act has been carefully honed, measured, calibrated and rehearsed. She has given the public exactly what it wants. She has created herself according to the creature the public clamored for. Zarqawi is not all that different, except it is unclear whether he was a total construct or whether he was simply a boob whose picture was used to shore up a myth. What is clear about Zarqawi is that the Bush administration and the Associated Press are still in the process of creating his persona. The AP and the White House haven’t completely written Zarqawi’s death yet. First he was just killed. Then he lived after the airstrike. Then he said a few words while he was living after the airstrike. Then he tried to get away after he said a few words while he was living after the airstrike. I expect we shortly will get the translation of the few words he spoke while he was still living when he tried to get away before he died after the airstrike. But like Ann Coulter, Zarqawi’s personality evolved according to what the public wanted. The Bush administration divined that the public needed a bad guy to hate in Iraq, other than George Bush and the Americans. Bush had badly screwed up the presentation of Osama bin Laden dead or alive to the folks--so badly that the scenario had to be re-written. And the White House opted for Zarqawi. They assiduously researched the bad-guy attributes that the public wanted. And they produced Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. What happens when the public gets bored or wised-up? Joe McCarthy literally shriveled and died. H. Ross Perot disappeared from public view. And then there was Mary Shelley’s Dr. Frankenstein who fooled around with nature. His creature provoked hatred and revenge and finally committed suicide. No doubt about it, those who are created by the public are destroyed by the public.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Seven Articles in New York Times Re Zarqawi

And that was only the count in the online NYT. God knows how many stories are in the print edition. But, as one article said, “It was the most purely good news out of Iraq in months”. The Prez’s top henchmen, Karl Rove, Dan Bartlett, Nicolle Wallace and Joel Kaplan, were all “smiling and jovial” as they postured for the big announcement. AOL’s Welcome Screen could hardly contain itself. “Is al-Zarqawi’s death a turning point in the war in Iraq?” it shouted. And 53% of responders said "Yes". However, terrorism expert Michael Clarke was quoted in the Washington Post saying, “If Zarqawi had been killed a year ago, I would be much more positive about the effects of his death than I really can be now." Regarding that “turning point” question: What on earth do those folks who said “Yes” expect will come from Zarqawi’s death? It won’t turn our president into an intelligent leader. It won’t make the insurgency any less intent on killing American soldiers. It won’t change Iraq into a self-sufficient and secure nation. Zarqawi’s death means only that Zarqawi is dead. But the civil war in Iraq and the killing of Americans will go on as intense as before. There is one thing that the death of Zarqawi will do. It will further convince the Bush administration that Osama bin Laden should never, no never, be caught and/or killed by the US. The much-anticipated demise of Osama, in reality, would be just another empty victory signifying nothing. Zarqawi was shown to be a warrior who couldn’t shoot straight and Osama is a sick and prematurely old man. Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, Osama bin Laden and George W. Bush all qualify for being latter-day examples of The Great Oz. They do not lead, they are symbols of leadership. And their realms are run by others.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Zarqawi Dead? And This Means What?

The Washington Post reported this morning that Iraq Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad and Gen. George W. Casey announced at a mid-day (Iraq time) news conference that most-wanted terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi had been killed by a US air strike near the city of Baqubah along with seven of his aides. First, is it true? Second, what difference will it make? As to the first question, General Casey says we know it’s Zarqawi by fingerprints and facial and body scars. However, I personally, would not take General Casey’s word for anything. As to the second question, it won’t make any difference whatsoever. If in fact it turns out to be true that Zarqawi is dead the insurgency will proceed unabated. One small change is that after more than three years of fighting an unnecessary war and killing 2,484 American soldiers, the US can now say it accomplished one thing. A couple of interesting quotes: “This is a message to all those who use violence killing and devastation to disrupt life in Iraq to rethink within themselves before it is too late," PM Maliki said. “We killed him, and it's always great when you can remove someone that has caused this much harm," public affairs officer Maj. Frank Garcia said. The American military, Pentagon and White House should take Maliki’s message seriously. The US has continuously used violence, killing, devastation and the disruption of life in Iraq to affect its aim to own Iraq. And Maj. Garcia hit the nail on the head. Prez Bush and his army should be removed from Iraq. It's questionable whether George W. Bush or Abu Musab al-Zarqawi has created more harm. It’s the US that should rethink its presence in Iraq. It’s the US that should get out before it’s too late for Iraqis to put to rights the damage the US has caused.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Marriage Protection Pledge

The conservative Family Research Council has a plan to ask lawmakers to take "a marriage protection pledge". It will then publish the names of the people who sign the pledge and those who don’t sign. According to Family Research, this public announcement will make it clear to voters who is supportive of the family and who isn’t. No one has sufficiently explained how banning same-sex marriage protects man-woman marriage. Nor has anyone explained how same-sex marriage threatens man-woman marriage. However, statistics tell us that the marriages of far-right Christians are in serious trouble. George Bama is a born-again Christian who heads up the Bama Research Group. Bama Research does surveys among faith groups. Bama has found that twenty-seven percent of born-again Christians have been divorced, as opposed to 24 percent of other Christians. Massachusetts allows gay marriage and its divorce rate is the lowest in the nation. The divorce rate in Massachusetts is about half the divorce rate of Texas. Other low-divorce rate states are New York, New Jersey, Maine and Vermont. The Bible belt has the highest rate of divorce. The percent of Northeasterners who have been divorced is 19% while the percent of Midwesterners and Southerners who have been divorced is 27%. So yes, it looks like the people who want to stamp out gays and gay marriage are definitely the group that should take a marriage protection pledge. Not to mention, they would benefit from marriage counseling and joining marriage support groups. They might even seek advice from gays about how to keep long-term commitments alive with grace and affection. And since the marriages of so many born-agains have either ended or are in jeopardy, maybe they should seek out same-sex partners. An alternative life-style might work better for them.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Oh Yes! We Do Know Who Knew What When

Three mainstream newspapers have unloaded the same pile of garbage about the Haditha scandal. Wapo: "The real issue is how far up the chain of command it goes," said one senior Marine familiar with the case. "Who knew it, and why didn't they do something about it?" NYT Editorial: “We still do not know how high up the Marine Corps chain of command the original cover-up went, nor do we know how the president, the defense secretary and other top officials responded when they first learned of the false reporting.” LA Times: “The investigation by Army Maj. Gen. Eldon Bargewell is expected to cover whether any of the Marine higher-ups knew of the intelligence photos and, if so, what actions they took, including whether they shared them with officers at the battalion, regiment and company levels.” Hogwash! The White House knew, the Pentagon knew, Rumsfeld knew, the Generals knew and the way they responded was to order a cover-up. How do we know they knew? Because that’s how it‘s done. The White House, the Pentagon, Rumsfeld and the Generals know how soldiers are trained. They know how soldiers will react in extremis because that’s how they must react in extremis and that is fine because that’s how it’s got to be. The cover-up was in place before the Haditha scandal occurred because when soldiers do exactly what they’ve been trained to do and a scandal ensues, it’s covered up. That’s the way it’s done. That’s the way it’s always been done. And that’s how we know who knew what when. All the guys in positions of power knew everything about everything as soon as it happened. But the weasely part, the part that our soldiers and their parents are having a hard time understanding is that the men in charge won’t take responsibility for the scandals they have caused. When the shit hits the fan and a military scandal comes out into the open, the higher-ups who endorsed, promoted and okayed the actions taken are such cowardly, fainthearted, lily livered putzes that they cower and say the guys in the trenches devised the action all on their own. Our guys are told to do unspeakable things and they believe it’s okay because the wonderful he-men who’ve battled evil all over the world and who know where it’s at in the big-muscled he-man world say it’s the way things have to be done. And then these he-men who talk so tough and say such macho things, run and hide. That’s the weasely part and it stinks.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

But What About That Story In THE GLOBE?

The White House has scheduled a media event this coming Monday with planned words from the Prez about the holiness of marriage between men and women and against gay marriage. The show of White House support for holy-hetero-wedlock is an effort by the GOP to stop the Senate debate next week on a proposed constitutional amendment regarding gay marriage. However, getting the necessary 60 votes to force an up-or-down vote is not likely. Now consider the coincidence that a front page exclusive appeared in the Globe tabloid on May 25th that George and Laura had broken up and that she had moved into temporary quarters at the Mayflower Hotel. The Globe story reported that Laura had given an ultimatum to George because of escalating fights over his drinking. One more fight/drink and she’d move out. She moved out. However that story may have gotten planted in the Globe, it was perfect timing for throwing mud on the first couple and their less-than-perfect marriage. But on June 1, the online Madsen Report turned up with a story saying that Laura Bush had moved into temporary quarters because of an on-going affair between George and Condi. I am laughing so hard I nearly fell off my chair. Let me compose myself. Okay...duly composed...almost. First, is it a coincidence that the Prez is getting revved up to fully support heterosexual marriage while a frenzy to discredit his own marriage is showing up all over the blogosphere and in the tabloids? Second, how come the second media blast about the Bush’s marriage going belly-up is in fact an expose about Bush and Condi having an affair? Oops...I’m falling off my chair again. Could it be that it is more important for the White House to plant a story that both George W. Bush and Condoleezza Rice are heterosexual than to refute stories of the Bush’s break-up? Could it be that Laura moved out because she’d had it up to here with George being gay? Could it be that rumors about Condi and her preferences were getting impossible to squelch? Just asking. But really, can’t help doing little mental pictures in one’s head about rumored alliances. One can’t help picturing George Clooney with just about anyone and thinking, Oh my! How nice! How pretty! And one can’t help picturing Condi and George and thinking of the revelatory scene in “The Crying Game”. Because that’s the only way that liaison is going to work. George and Condi? Please! Sooner Ken Mehlman and Mary Cheney.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Afghanistan, Opium, and a Silly NYT Editorial

Yesterday a New York Times editorial told Washington how to solve the increasing problems in Afghanistan. The editorial reported that, “Unless Washington starts correcting its mistakes, parts of Afghanistan could start tumbling back toward the kind of anarchic chaos that once made such areas an attractive sanctuary for international terrorists like Osama bin Laden.” The NYT’s solution: “What Washington needs to do is fight a lot smarter. It should begin talks at once with Afghanistan's government to arrive at a mutually satisfactory agreement on basic ground rules governing American military personnel in their interactions with Afghan civilians. It should reinforce its anti-narcotics drive with development programs that allow farmers to find adequate replacement livelihoods in more constructive lines of work.” NEWSFLASH TO THE NEW YORK TIMES: Afghanistan has already rocketed back into anarchic chaos. Read the newspapers once in a while. Even the deaf and blind NYT editors conceded that, “Armed militia commanders still rule many areas. Some provincial cities and villages are back under the control of the same corrupt officials the Taliban won cheers for chasing out a decade ago. Farmers have fallen victim to a poppy eradication program unaccompanied by realistic plans for alternative economic development.” So how do you “begin talks” with the same corrupt Taliban officials that you supposedly kicked out ten years ago? And furthermore, the poppy eradication program has not worked. The opium industry in Afghanistan decreased in 2004 but soared again in 2005, even surpassing 2003 levels. Afghanistan’s production of opium declined only by 10% in 2005. It is still the world’s largest producer of opium. Eighty to ninety percent of Europe’s licit and illicit opium comes from Afghanistan There are not now, nor ever have been, realistic plans for economic development of replacement livelihoods. There are only plans to have plans. The UN reports, “The total committed funding for alternative livelihoods for 2005/06 has been estimated at US$ 490 million (which would roughly be US$ 100 million short of the target investment). For the next ten years, a total of US$ 1.2 billion has been allocated to date for alternative livelihoods activities.” But the alternative livelihood activities have only been studies about alternative livelihoods. Nothing has actually been done. There have even been studies about paving roads so that when the studies about alternative livelihoods come up with a plan for a plan, then the studies about paving roads can study whether the plan for a plan would need better roads. The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime put out a brochure in 2005 called “Mapping Alternative Livelihood Projects in Afghanistan”. It’s full of pictures and pie charts and lists and statistics. But there are NO alternative livelihood projects in the works. The “mapping” simply details plans for plans, should projects ever be devised. Think about it. What “alternative livelihoods” could be developed for any of America’s large cities that would entice drug dealers to stop dealing drugs? It’s the same in Afghanistan. What crop or cottage industry would bring in the same earnings as poppy cultivation? NOTHING! NADA! ZIP! The US has always turned a blind eye to drug trafficking in dictatorships that have consented to aid and abet the overthrow of regimes the US didn’t like. But now that the US has put the Taliban back in power, the US is the regime in Afghanistan the US doesn’t like. Talks and studies for studies and charm school for the military aren’t likely to solve the problems in Afghanistan or Iraq or Iran. A regime change in the US would be helpful though.