Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Why go 3rd Party?

Some thoughts on why more politicians would but probably shouldn't if they want to get elected: http://www.newsweek.com/id/81597

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

The "new" history of war

It's disturbing the increase we've seen in propaganda. What was once taken for granted as scientifically established, credible, historical fact, and long held standards of basic decency, i.e. evolution, global-climate change, the disaster that was the war in Vietnam, and forbidding the use of torture is now being ridiculed, denied, revised or undecided.

One would think that torture just wouldn't be accepted by our society, but nope, there are plenty of folks not only in our government and in law-enforcement and secret intelligence that support it, but quite a few so-called "freedom loving" American patriots support it too, as long as it's used on the people that are really bad. Of course on shows like 24 we know who the bad guys are, it's obvious, in the real world this isn't the case at all, but who has time for reality these days?

As an article in the Nation magazine written by Rick Perlstein pointed out this past week, the hows and whys of Vietnam and the debacle that it was are still up for debate, apparently neoconservatives can take a fresh, revisionist look at history and find shit that no one else noticed before. Using claims by the Communists — you know the people who embrace that "evil ideology" that led to the Korean/Vietnam/Cold War, the Cuban Missile Crisis and of course the infamous blacklistings of the 1950's by Sen. Joe McCarthy — some are able to concoct a new history of Vietnam, in which it was a necessary war that we lost only because of defeatist Democrats {or liberals depending on who you ask} and not following through with our commitment to win...

I'm getting very concerned about the attitudes we have to look forward to in the future. Today, in spite of rampant apathy and faux patriotism there is still a lot of opposition to the hype of the "global war on terror", the use of torture, unilateral wars based on bogus intel, gross incompetency in government. I worry how little opposition there will be in the future when an entirely new history has been written, when science has been dismissed for metaphysics, philosophy replaced by theology, and blind, radical jingoism is a substitute for national pride.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Constitution in crisis

A very good article in Newsweek this week about how the Constitution is in peril.

It brings up a lot of scary stuff, about how the U.S. Constitution has been under siege since 9/11, why, and just why this isn't a good thing, as if it needed explaining, but apparently as far as most people are concerned in this country it isn't a big deal.

Some excerpts:
"The administration's impassioned defenders, meanwhile, grow strident. Norman Podhoretz, the dean of neoconservatives, writes in "World War IV: The Long Struggle Against Islamofascism" that the Bush administration is up against "a domestic insurgency" led by "journalistic devotees of the Vietnam syndrome," isolationists, "liberal internationalists" and (heaven forbid) "realists."
"In fact, the situation is far from a "civil war," as Podhoretz (an adviser to Republican presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani) would have us believe. But this is a good moment to take stock of the more subtle narrative in these books: stories of score-settling at home, a new kind of enemy abroad, righteous intentions, grand visions and bad information. And if there is a recurrent theme, it's that this administration set out to create its own reality, whether approaching the Bill of Rights like a classified document to be redacted or girding itself for war in Iraq with a steady diet of dubious intelligence."

""Democracies die behind closed doors," federal appeals court Judge Damon Keith said in 2002. "The Framers of the First Amendment did not trust any government to separate the true from the false for us. They protected the people against secret government.""

Absolutely true! Couldn't agree more.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Tax the poor; free healthcare for the middle class

I read an article by George Will in Newsweek magazine in which he talked about the SCHIP program. I agreed with much of what he had to say about it.

Sleepwalking Toward DD-Day

Some excerpts of particular interest:
"SCHIP was created in 1997 by a Republican-controlled Congress. Today's Democratic-controlled Congress wants to transform its mission. It began as a program whereby the federal government would subsidize state governments in providing health insurance for children from households not poor enough (generally 200 percent above the poverty line) to qualify for Medicaid but not affluent enough to afford to buy insurance. Were it to become law, the new SCHIP would be a long stride toward unlimited federal funds working as incentives for states to expand eligibility to more and more affluent families.
"It would immediately include some with incomes 400 percent of the poverty line ($83,000 for a family of four). Over time, its "mission creep" would continue. Mike Leavitt, secretary of Health and Human Services, says that the new SCHIP would enroll 2.8 million more children, but 1.1 million of them would be from families for whom SCHIP had become an incentive to drop their private insurance. To that, some liberals say, sotto voce: Good."
Yeah, not so good. I believe that entitlement programs, like SCHIP, are necessary for poverty-class and lower-class families, but middle class people shouldn't be dependents, they shouldn't be supported by the system, they should be able to tend to their own needs. More needs to be done to make health care more available and more affordable. I think that's the solution to the healthcare problem, not more socialist programs.

"The president proposed a $5 billion increase for SCHIP over five years. In a familiar Washington folk dance, the Senate voted a $35 billion increase, and the House endorsed a $50 billion increase but receded to the Senate sum, which was therefore declared moderate. The increase supposedly would be funded by a 61-cent increase in the cigarette tax.
"So, this health legislation depends on a constantly large and renewable supply of smokers—22 million new ones. This "progressive" measure requires a regressive tax (smokers are predominantly and increasingly lower class) levied to expand subsidized health insurance ever upward into the middle class."

It's really disgusting the way liberals keep wanting to push more and more of the tax burden onto certain people deemed to be engaging in legal but "bad" {read: sinful} behavior. Smokers are an excellent example of this. The crusade against smoking has gone on for decades, but rather than just rely on educating the public about the harm involved and letting people make up their own minds, as things should be in a FREE society, the liberals keep wanting to use the government as a nanny to punish people for personal behavior deemed unhealthy for them. It reeks of socialism, and socialism destroys personal freedom and inflates government dictatorship.

Back in 2006, in my state of Missouri, certain groups tried to push through legislation that would put a substantial tax increase on tobacco. Fortunately this legislation didn't pass the voters. A point for libertarianism. But the bleeding hearts certain tried. These efforts amount to what Pat Buchanon recently said on Hardball with Chris Mathews a "sin tax". And a sin tax placed on people that, for the most part, are lower-class people. These are the majority of people that smoke.

The ironic hypocrisy hits me like a ton of bricks, while the liberals are the first to bitch about about social conservatives trying to outlaw and punish people for their personal choices, it is the liberals that push such things as seat belt laws, high taxes on smoking and even banning smoking outright from any and all public places.

Lastly, I still haven't figured out the logic that these liberal operate from in their supposed agenda to rid the world of smoking. They claim to place these tax burdens on smokers in order to get smokers to quit smoking, and so I wonder where are they going to get the revenues for all the entitlement programs they've been paying for via tobacco if they accomplish their so-called goal?

"For philosophic reasons, Democrats wish the bill would become law. For political reasons, they welcome the president's promised veto, which will preserve for them the issue of Republican beastliness toward "the children."
"It has become a verbal tic for politicians to say that everything they do is "about the children." This rhetoric of pathos reflects the de-intellectualization of public life—the substitution of sentimentalism for reasoned persuasion. Bill Clinton carried this to comic lengths when, in his first State of the Union address, he noted that "not a single Russian missile is pointed at the children of America."

What, no mention of the Republican's misuse of children for propaganda purposes? I think, coming from conservative George Will, that particular omission was deliberate. The Republicans are notorious for outlawing every manner of "immoral" behavior for benefit of "the children".

Here is my opposition to expanding the SCHIP program in a comment on the Newsleader Forum.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Freegans or freeloaders?

Thank you! Someone finally pointed out the absurdity that can generally be found among the new age, hippie-types that think they're actually doing the world a big favor by living like capitalist-consumers by mooching off of capitalist-consumers:
The Noble Scavenger on the Living-room couch

"The reason American Indians had no horses before Europeans arrived was that their ancestors ate them all—along with numerous other large mammals, whose extinctions coincided with the spread across the Western Hemisphere of the humane two-legged foragers with their commitment to sustainability. And that's not all they killed (and sometimes ate); as Jared Diamond notes succinctly in "The Third Chimpanzee," genocide, far from being an invention of the industrial nation-state, "has been part of our human and prehuman heritage for millions of years.""
This sums it up nicely right here:
"The freegans' Edenic myth is seductive, but there is no way to put the technological genie back in the bottle, or the demographic one either. Six billion people, however much we may deplore their impact on the environment, cannot sustain themselves by foraging for nuts and tubers. The way out isn't backward, but forward, by using our wisdom, and even our much criticized technology, to forge a better and more humane society."
Also see this Newsweek article

I've had encounters with this type before. No job, no income, no car, no money, nowhere to stay once you get there but still wanting to travel about 2000 miles to go 'be free' with like minds. Or whatever it is that those 'free' from the capitalist-lifestyle do. Such a thing is not a big deal, though, when you can catch a 'free' ride with someone who does have the transportation and the money to afford the gas it takes to drive such a distance.

He and I didn't see eye to eye on the fact that, whether it's hitching a ride with an acquaintance, a trucker, or stowing away on a train, someone has to pay for this mode of transportation. It doesn't, in fact, come for free. And without capitalists like us, people like him wouldn't be getting from A to B in less than 3 days, virtually for free...

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Suck it, William Donahue!

E! News story on Kathy Griffin

article in Newsweek

That pontificating Irish Catholic bigot, William Donahue barked, "Hollywood laughs when she says 'Suck it, Jesus,' but if she'd said 'Suck it, Jews,' or 'Suck it, Muhammad' ... they wouldn't be laughing, would they?"

"Around that same time, a group of college students in Hawaii, sitting around voraciously reading the news, "got a giggle," as 20-year-old Carlos Uretta puts it, out of the controversy. So they did what any atheist-minded group of 21st-century college students would do: they registered suckitjesus.com as a domain name and, a few days later, put up a petition in support of Kathy Griffin, which now has more than 2,500 signatures. "We got an e-mail from someone in Italy, and we thought—really? People are concerned about this in Italy?""


Monday, September 24, 2007

New effort at welcoming more qualified citizens

Interesting article in Newsweek

Some excerpts:
"Gone are many of the old trivia-style questions such as "How many stripes are on the American flag?" They've been replaced by queries that focus on concepts rather than facts—for instance, "Why does the flag have 13 stripes?" The new test, 10 years in the making at a price tag of $6.5 million, will also cover subjects such as "checks and balances," "inalienable rights" and other constitutional ideas."

"Driving the change is the Department of Citizenship and Immigration Services, which wants to create "patriots" and not just naturalized residents out of the more than 500,000 immigrants who become citizens each year. "What's at stake is really the survival of our democracy," says Alfonso Aguilar, head of the Office of Citizenship. "If we don't strengthen our assimilation efforts, then 20 or 30 years down the road we may have a dysfunctional society." The rationale behind the test tweak is that immigrants who understand the most appealing qualities of life with Lady Liberty are more likely to fall in love with her—and less likely to turn into security threats. "After 9/11 we realized even more the importance of these kinds of efforts," Aguilar says."

"But some people are already nervous that the test will discriminate against applicants with weaker educational backgrounds. "You can get most people to learn the colors of the flag, but getting someone with an eighth-grade education in a language other than English to answer conceptual questions makes me worry that this will reduce the pass rate," says Columbia University professor Michael Schudson, author of "The Good Citizen," a history of American civic life."

This isn't about the "pass rate" or passing as many people as possible, it's about welcoming in only qualified people to become citizens. If they can't learn English and the basics about our government and our society then they shouldn't be becoming citizens. That's being practical & prudent. It has nothing to do with xenophobia.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Republican mayor supports same-sex marriage!

Mayor of San Diego supports same-sex marriage

I thought that this was a very principled stand. Especially coming from a Republican! My hat's off to Jerry Sanders, Mayor of San Diego, for overcoming his own personal quandaries with same-sex marriage, as well as bucking with his party to take the side of equality for same-sex couples. We need more of this sort of soul-searching among our political leaders.

If one has/had any questions about the sincerity of the mayor's conclusion, one need look no further than the level of emotional response he gave. The feelings that he feels, and the personal wrestling he obviously has done over this issue is apparent.

I'm not sure about the rest of the man's political stances, but after this I would personally find it difficult not to vote for him if I were his constituent.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

If today were election day...

I think I would vote for a Joe Biden and John Edwards ticket. Biden clearly has the most experience and best ideas when it comes to foreign policy. I also like John Edward's for his domestic notions about cleaning up the corrupting influence in politics, the special interests, and doing more for the middle/working class. Well, that's my thoughts for now, anyway.

I do like Barack Obama, I'm just a bit concerned about his lack of experience & that his ideology might be too socialist for my tastes.

One thing is mostly certain — I will not vote Republican. They've screwed up too much already, they've been completely hijacked by the neocons & theocons. Even John McCain has sold his soul. I also will most likely not vote for Hillary Clinton. Of course, I suppose I might depending on the Republican nominee. Some of these guys are pretty scary.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Go get 'em, George Will!

I am no fan of bowtie wearing George Will, he's often too conservative for my tastes and he can be very, very anal retentive about some things, like proper grammar for instance. I thought he was off base when he blasted Jim Webb for displaying the testicular fortitude to make it known to Bush, in person, that he has no desire to suck up to him and firmly requesting that Dubya bring the troops home.

Nonetheless, there are times that I do strongly agree with him, and one example of this is his recent article in Newsweek, where he detailed some examples of indecency, lack of respect and integrity to be found these days, particularly among certain folks in the GOP.

Some excerpts:
"he presidential candidate he supported quickly pounced, issuing a statement devoid of human sympathy. Craig, said Mitt Romney, seizing yet another opportunity to stroke social conservatives, "reminds us of Mark Foley and Bill Clinton" and, "frankly, it's disgusting."

"If Romney fails to translate his intelligence and accomplishments into the Republican nomination, one reason will be the suspicion that there is something synthetic and excessively calculating about every move in his increasingly embarrassing courtship of those who are called "values voters." If they can be courted that way, their values need a tuneup."


"speaking of the tone-deaf, Alberto Gonzales could not even leave high office without advertising his unfitness for it. As he habitually has done, he reminded the nation that he has "lived the American Dream," which he evidently thinks is epitomized by his success in attaching himself to a politician not known for demanding quality in assistants. Gonzales then demonstrated how uncomprehending he is of essential American values. He said: "Even my worst days as attorney general have been better than my father's best days."

"Well. His father married and had eight children—nine wonderful days, days even better, one would have thought, than any of the days his son spent floundering at the Justice Department. Furthermore, Gonzales's father had the fulfillment of a lifetime spent providing for his family. But what is any of that, Gonzales implies, compared with the satisfaction of occupying, however unsatisfactorily, a high office? This implicit disparagement of his father's life of responsibility and self-sufficiency turns conservatism inside out. It is going to take conservatism a while to recuperate from becoming associated with such people."

Friday, August 31, 2007

It is a love that can more openly speak its name...

Something we don't think about very often is people from older generations who are also homosexuals. But, as last week's 'My Turn' column from Newsweek magazine illustrates, there are indeed older Americans who are very much homosexual and many around them may not have known or even seriously suspected. While not so much the case 20-30 years ago, we are finding out more and more in this new century, as homosexuality becomes less taboo and gay people take the brave step of coming out, homosexuals really do include all demographics.

The GLBT community needs a lot more poignant stories like this one. Some excerpts:
"And then I met a woman: a teacher on campus, who helped me see beauty in the whole world. At 28, for the first time, I was loved and knew love, for myself, for the person I really was.

"But while glorying in my never-before-experienced happiness, I knew it had to be hidden. She was married. Often, the only way to see her was with her husband. I was also dating her brother, and we all would sometimes go dancing.

"That relationship ended after a few years, when my loved one's husband intervened. I didn't see her until years later, when I stood in line at her book signing at USC. She was alone, cordial; she asked about my mother. But no, she couldn't join me for coffee afterward."


"Finally, after almost nine years since my beloved partner's death, I am able to do what I could never have braved in earlier years: pre-sent myself herewith to the world as a lesbian, along with all the women who ask to be judged by the full facet of our characters.

"Why am I now able to speak the unspoken? A friend at the retirement community where I live recently came out in the local and national newspapers. When I saw her do that, I thought, for heaven's sake, nobody can fire me, I'm 88 years old, my parents are gone.

"Still, I was frightened. It took me several days to put this essay in the mailbox. I owe a lot of credit to people who are comfortable enough in their own skins to say, "This is who I am.""

Yes, this is who we are, and we're not going to hide in shame in anymore. We're going to demand our rights to equality like anyone else would, and no amount of Republican huffing & puffing, conservative pontificating & demonizing is going to stop us.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

The environmental holocaust deniers?

It is amazing that there is still such a concerted effort of denying humankind's effects on our environment in spite of the obvious evidence to the contrary and just good old fashioned common-sense. Ah, but money changes everything...

A recent Newsweek article really put a lot of this denial movement into perspective:

"Through advertisements, op-eds, lobbying and media attention, greenhouse doubters (they hate being called deniers) argued first that the world is not warming; measurements indicating otherwise are flawed, they said. Then they claimed that any warming is natural, not caused by human activities. Now they contend that the looming warming will be minuscule and harmless. "They patterned what they did after the tobacco industry," says former senator Tim Wirth, who spearheaded environmental issues as an under secretary of State in the Clinton administration. "Both figured, sow enough doubt, call the science uncertain and in dispute. That's had a huge impact on both the public and Congress.""

"The reaction from industries most responsible for greenhouse emissions was immediate. "As soon as the scientific community began to come together on the science of climate change, the pushback began," says historian Naomi Oreskes of the University of California, San Diego. Individual companies and industry associations—representing petroleum, steel, autos and utilities, for instance—formed lobbying groups with names like the Global Climate Coalition and the Information Council on the Environment. ICE's game plan called for enlisting greenhouse doubters to "reposition global warming as theory rather than fact," and to sow doubt about climate research just as cigarette makers had about smoking research."

"Groups that opposed greenhouse curbs ramped up. They "settled on the 'science isn't there' argument because they didn't believe they'd be able to convince the public to do nothing if climate change were real," says David Goldston, who served as Republican chief of staff for the House of Representatives science committee until 2006. Industry found a friend in Patrick Michaels, a climatologist at the University of Virginia who keeps a small farm where he raises prize-winning pumpkins and whose favorite weather, he once told a reporter, is "anything severe." Michaels had written several popular articles on climate change, including an op-ed in The Washington Post in 1989 warning of "apocalyptic environmentalism," which he called "the most popular new religion to come along since Marxism.""
Hey, this environmental "religion" is much more rational than the same old 'Jesus will fix it all' religion that got us where we are now, up to our polluted lungs in 'climate-change is cyclical'...

And last but not least:
"Those who doubt the reality of human-caused climate change have spent decades disputing that. But Boxer figured that with "the overwhelming science out there, the deniers' days were numbered." As she left a meeting with the head of the international climate panel, however, a staffer had some news for her. A conservative think tank long funded by ExxonMobil, she told Boxer, had offered scientists $10,000 to write articles undercutting the new report and the computer-based climate models it is based on."
Yep, and apparently Alexander Cockburn collected his 10 grand and then some for publishing a series of climate-change denial articles in the, oddly enough, liberal Nation magazine. Nothing really surprises me about this pay off other than how low it allegedly was...

Friday, August 10, 2007

A Democratic Ron Paul?

I read this article in Newsweek magazine today and found it to be a good one. To hear George Will tell it Democratic candidate Chris Dodd might actually be a good choice, well at least as far as protecting the Constitution is concerned.

An excerpt:
"Contrary to the Supreme Court's rejection of President Truman's 1952 claim of an inherent power as commander in chief to seize steel mills to prevent a wartime strike (Justice Jackson concurring: "No penance would ever expiate the sin against free government of holding that a president can escape control of executive power by law through assuming his military role"), this administration claims not merely inherent but exclusive presidential powers to:
  • Treat all of America as a battlefield on which even American citizens can be declared "enemy combatants," seized and held indefinitely, and intelligence can be collected by any means the president orders.
  • Disregard—or interpret into nullities—provisions of the Geneva Conventions, the Convention Against Torture or U.S. law that inhibit the president from acting as "sole organ" of the nation regarding national security.

""There is," Dodd says, "a hollowness to this campaign." If, however, Dodd distills his anger into a message about how a swollen presidency threatens the constitutional balance between the two political branches of government, that message might resonate. Certainly prosecuting the case against presidential aggrandizement would give the son of the Nuremberg prosecutor a distinctive theme. It also would give him a seriousness largely lacking in a campaign that is indeed hollow because its pervasive subtext—loathing of this president—is more visceral than intellectual.

"With his support measured in little amounts, Dodd has little to lose and a large role to gain. It would be the role of a constitutionalist candidate who promises that, as president, he would prune from his office much of the grandiosity it has acquired from audacious recent assertions of uncircumscribed powers."

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

The quiet revolution

Here is a good op-ed piece written by Thomas F. Schaller for the Baltimore Sun. He discusses the struggle of equality for gays and lesbians and how it is simply one among many civil rights struggles that is inevitable. He makes some excellent points.
"The movement for sexual orientation-based equality is part of a proud, progressive tradition that includes abolition, women's suffrage, the ending of child labor, racial integration of the armed forces, the civil rights movement and anti-miscegenation reforms."

Though we've certainly had some setbacks, I believe that we are making progress on the equality front. I believe that ours is a struggle that will be won. Just as so many minorities in the past who have been denigrated, stereotyped, and second-classed they eventually won equal recognition to the point that eventually most people look back and question how such bigotry could have ever existed against an entire group of people who didn't deserve any such stigmas. Some day we too will be seen as equals. But it's going to be long struggle. It will take decades. But it is inevitable nonetheless...
"Three patterns hallmark this long tradition: a defiant insistence by conservative doom-and-gloomers that the proposed reforms will undermine the fabric of American life; the inevitable rally by progressive and altruistic-minded Americans to the cause of expanding to others the protections they already enjoy; and, finally, widespread agreement a generation or so thereafter that conservative hysteria was not only misplaced, but America was stronger for having ignored their pinched, wrongheaded warnings."

Thomas Schaller points out how much coming out of the closet has been the real catalyst for winning more recognition for homosexuals.
"Previous generations were not blind, of course. But they were either more oblivious or chose to avoid the reality that some of their neighbors, co-workers, bowling team members and relatives were gay. By outing themselves, gays and lesbians forced the rest of us out of our closet of collective obliviousness."

And here is another article from a few weeks back by Michael Kinsley in Time magazine. While I didn't care for this article as much, Kinsley made some good points too:
"On no issue is history moving faster than on "gay rights" [...] The work is not finished, of course, but what took black Americans more than a century, gays have accomplished in two or three decades (thanks in no small part to blacks, who designed the template for this kind of social revolution)."
Quite right. Of course some criticize us for having the "audacity" to stand up to those who demonize us, and demanding that we be given equal status under the law with heterosexuals...

"We still argue about it, but the whole spectrum of debate has moved left. A right-wing thug like Tom DeLay or Newt Gingrich probably has more advanced views about homosexuals than dainty liberals of the past century like Adlai Stevenson or Hubert Humphrey."
Yes, a lot of conservative folks, at least publicly, aren't as fire breathing with their condemnation of homosexuals.

"The notion that gays must be segregated out of the military for the sake of our national security must strike Americans younger than, say, 40 as simply weird, just as we of the previous generation find the rules of racial segregation weird. (O.K., run that by me again: they needed separate drinking fountains because ... why?)"
Exactly! This is the sort of logic that some of us, myself included have been arguing for years. I've been bringing this sort of no-brainer to the people in rural Missouri where I live via letters to the editor and comments on the online forum provided by the newspaper online. The only thing that I disagree with here is that it must seem weird to everyone under 40. I'd put the number at those under 30 would find it rather absurd to expel homosexuals from the military, except for social conservatives of course {read: the flat Earthers and Creationists}.

"[the GOP] can 'affirm' anything they want, but homosexuality is obviously not incompatible with military service. There have always been gays in the military. The question is what conditions they serve under."
Like Barry Goldwater said, "You don't need to be straight to fight and die for your country. You just need to shoot straight. " It'd be nice if those who claim to care so much about supporting the troops lived up to that and included those soldiers who just happen to be homosexually oriented.

"When opponents of gay rights talk ominously about a "gay agenda," they are not completely wrong. There has been an agenda in the sense of a long-term strategy, not unlike the carefully plotted strategy of Thurgood Marshall and others in the civil rights movement that ended formal racial segregation."
Yep, and just like the struggle for racial equality, we too shall overcome...

The only thing I can say of the Time magazine article that I didn't care much for was the picture that was provided. It was a drawing which includes a soldier in pink camouflage. I think that kind of caricature just perpetuates the notion that homosexual men are marked by effeminacy. It's a bit like arguing for racial equality by using a black man in slave-like clothes eating watermelon surrounded by Klansmen. I think we've had enough of the stereotypes, even from those who support us.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Kennedy conspiracy? Two viewpoints, same conclusion... Yes

For a long time I've always wondered about the Kennedy assassination. I've long believed that there is FAR more to both John and Robert Kennedy's assassination. I admit that some of the conspiracy notions are pretty outrageous and clearly made up by people who just want to believe in such things, but there are some theories that aren't so outrageous, that are credible but certainly disconcerting because they involve elements of our own government. I certainly don't believe there was a massive government cover-up, but I do believe some people in our government wanted rid of both John and Robert, and they did so.

Recently in Time magazine there was an article of opinion about the assassination of President John Kennedy and whether it was a conspiracy. One says yes, the other says no. They're brief but worth reading. The writer in the positive, David Talbot brought up some very interesting facts and dilemmas attached to the assassination and what followed. I think he posited his claims well and raised some interesting questions.

The writer that argues in the negative, Vincent Bugliosi, offered a truly weak rationale for his reasoning which relies mostly on it just seeming unbelievable to him that our government would have done such a thing and would have employed someone like Lee Harvey Oswald in any part of it.

He starts right off with this misleading statement, "After 44 years of investigation by thousands of researchers, not one speck of credible evidence has ever surfaced that groups such as the CIA, organized crime or the military-industrial complex were behind the assassination, only that they each had a motive."

While there apparently isn't enough known evidence to indict anyone, there most certainly is a great deal of credible evidence that Oswald did not act alone, that people within the government and the Mafia had a hand in it and in covering up a great deal of the evidence surrounding it.

The author claims, "I have found there are 32 separate reasons for concluding there was no conspiracy." Believe it or not he starts off with something as lacking in substance as:
"Moreover, the very thought of members of the military-industrial complex (Joint Chiefs of Staff, captains of industry) or the CIA or organized crime actually plotting to murder the President of the U.S. is surreal, the type of thing that only belongs, if at all, in a Robert Ludlum novel."
You really have to question a person who uses a feeling he gets as part of his "case" against something. This guy actually has wrote a book about the Kennedy assassination. Surely his book isn't filled with specious gems like this...

He goes on to argue that Lee Harvey Oswald was clearly guilty of involvement in the assassination, I'm not sure of anyone claiming otherwise, but he seems to operate under the assumption that since Oswald clearly was involved and had no reasonable claim of innocence, that therefore there must not have been a conspiracy... Not sure how one equals the other, but he attempts to make that leap.

"Oswald's efforts to construct a defense [...] turned out to be a string of provable lies, all of which show an unmistakable consciousness of guilt. Only in a fantasy world can you have 53 pieces of evidence against you and still be innocent. Conspiracy theorists are stuck with this reality."
Yes, I think there is no denying that Oswald was involved in the assassination and that he shot the president, the point here is that he did not act alone.

"Even assuming that the CIA or Mob or military-industrial complex decided 'Let's murder President Kennedy,' Oswald would be among the last people in the world those organizations would choose for the job. Oswald was not an expert shot and owned only a $12 mail-order rifle—both of which automatically disqualify him as a hit man."
Again, Mr. Bugliosi relies on his quite limited assumptions, that since Oswald wouldn't qualify as a good hitman then he couldn't have possibly been used by organizations who were conspiring to kill the President as their assassin. So if Oswald doesn't seem like the perfect hitman therefore there must have been no conspiracy... What a weak sense of logic he's got going on here.

This is actually a very interesting point that he brings up though, not only does it not help his argument it actually hurts it. First of all, Oswald was tested during his earlier service in the Marines just above the minimum qualifications as a sharpshooter. So while he wasn't an expert he wasn't a bad aim either. But okay, so the claim here is that he wasn't an expert shot and that he only owned a $12 mail-order rifle. Then just how in the hell did he manage to shoot the President of the United States from over 65ft away as he was traveling 15mph in a motorcade with only 2 shots, the fatal one being a shot to the head?

But, apparently this doesn't matter, Bugliosi does in fact want us to believe that someone who toward the end of his brief service in the Marine Corps only scored as a marksman and who accidentally shot himself in the arm with a pistol was able to pull off this remarkable feat, what Bugliosi himself refers to as "the biggest murder in American history"? I find that to be far less believable than the theory that there was a second, far more qualified gunman...

"If the Mafia leaders, for instance, decided to kill the President of the U.S.—an act that would result in a retaliation against them of unprecedented proportions if they were discovered to be behind it—wouldn't they use a very professional, tight-lipped assassin who had a successful track record with them, someone in whom they had the highest confidence?"

Yes, they might use someone like that... In fact, I'd say they did. I contend that Oswald did not act alone. There was a professional involved, and he wasn't about to get caught. If I were the professional, there is no way in hell I would be counting on just slipping away from that place unnoticed. He needed a distraction, a fall guy. Afterall, there was no way that the assassin of the President of the United States was just not going to get caught, ever.

Since Bugliosi is framing his arguments about what he thinks government officials and mob bosses would or would not do then how about this: Oswald was chosen because he was a loser who was easy to manipulate, he would be easy to villainize what with his past including his ties to communism, and he would be a believable assassin since he had been a Marine and had qualified as a sharpshooter... In short, he was an ideal fall guy that few would suspect wouldn't have motive and capability to shoot the President. If you were going to pick someone to shoot the President who could be a lone gunman, a loser like Oswald would seemingly make a very good choice. And if this is true then it was obviously a very wise decision, because officially Oswald acted alone and the conspiracy deniers still abound.

Of course, as a side note, I think it is worth mentioning that the government and the mob during that era had used incompetent hitmen before, like the miserably failed attempts to kill Fidel Castro.

Again Bugliosi continues on with his all too convenient assumptions:
"let's assume, just for the sake of argument, that the CIA or Mob decided to kill Kennedy and also decided that Oswald should do the job. It still doesn't make any sense. After Oswald shot Kennedy and left the book depository, one of two things would have happened, the less likely of which is that a car would have been waiting for him to help him escape down to Mexico or wherever. The conspirators certainly wouldn't want their killer to be apprehended and interrogated by the authorities. But the more likely thing by far is that the car would have driven Oswald to his death. Instead, we know that Oswald was out on the street with $13 in his pockets, attempting to flag down buses and cabs. What does that fact, alone, tell you?"
This all tells me that Bugliosi isn't very clever. Ok, so let's assume that the CIA and/orMob did decide to kill President Kennedy and that they did use Oswald. Unlike this guy though, I'm not going to rely on his convenient premise that Oswald was the lone hitman. Instead, Oswald was the stooge. He was the guy that would throw everyone off the scent, someone the authorities could catch and convict. Case solved, the country will move on. And if this were true, then no there was not going to be a car waiting for Oswald, there would be no escape to Mexico.

As for his last comment about Oswald flagging down cabs and only having $13, Bugliosi wants us to believe this proves the Mob wasn't involved. Quite the contrary, those details certainly do not sound like the description of a man who was planning to shoot the President and then escape on his own to mingle back into society... Nope, it sounds like someone who was expecting a set up getaway that, to his surprise, wasn't there afterward and so he was desperate to improvise an escape.
"Three people can keep a secret but only if two are dead. Yet we are asked to believe that in 44 years, not one word of the vast alleged conspiracy, not one syllable, has ever leaked out."
The fact that Oswald was killed soon after he was in custody by Jack Ruby, who also died soon afterward, seems to have totally escaped him... Yes, those that wanted Kennedy dead certainly didn't want Oswald to talk, and they made sure he didn't.

As for there not being a word leaked out about this conspiracy {which doesn't have to be as vast as he claims}, that is yet another bogus claim on his part. The many conspiracy theories that exist weren't just created in a vacuum. They have been based on evidence, albeit much of it circumstantial, and there have been claims made by people which it remains to be seen if their claims are true or not. There is no basis for Bugliosi's claim that there is no evidence that there was a conspiracy, and there is no basis for his claim that nothing has been leaked about it. But Bugliosi doesn't want there to be a conspiracy and so anything that would substantiate that conspiracy is rejected.

Of the so-called 32 reasons not to believe there was a conspiracy, Vincent Bugliosi didn't give a single one that was even remotely convincing. Mostly it amounts to it not making sense to him... He can't conceive of it and therefore it just can't be so. Really, he is a major embarrassment to the anti-conspiracy movement.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Dissenters In Uniform

I read a good article of opinion in Newsweek by Anna Quindlen about the attitudes of military personnel about the war in Iraq. It makes the sort of points that pro-war advocates like to ignore or deny.

Here are some of the highlights:
"On the one hand, there's a form of government that is supposed to glory in free speech and support it zealously, even when it incites or offends. On the other, there is the organization designed to protect democracy from its enemies, with one of its guiding principles a monolithic devotion to duty that seems antithetical to individual opinion."
Yes that is the ongoing quandary between a free and open society, a liberal democracy with constitutional guarantees, and the citizen military that is supposed to defend and uphold those very ideals...

"Lt. Ehren Watada has become the first officer to face court-martial for refusing to return to Iraq. 'My participation would make me party to war crimes,' he said at a news conference. Others have applied for conscientious-objector status, including one young decorated combat veteran who described being approached by an elderly Iraqi, who asked, 'Why are you still here?'"

"Unflinching and unthinking obedience may be ideal for commanders, who need soldiers to do what they're told no matter their own opinions. But civilians have learned that it can lead to the worst sort of atrocities. Following orders was the defense in the My Lai massacre, and in the prisoner-abuse scandal at Abu Ghraib. It's now commonly known as the Nuremberg defense because it was used at trial by defeated Nazis."
I've noticed in the excuses offered by the hardline anti-terror/pro-war crowd that it all revolves around the claim that what we do is right and just, yep even when civilians die, even when we use torture, detainment camps, holding people indefinitely without trial, without being charged, suspending justice like in the case of the writ of habeas corpus. But these same people are so quick to condemn the war crimes, the injustice, the treatment of POW's in other country. Talk about moral relativism... If principles like justice are absolute, then why the selective application of it?

"One young man said before his deployment that he was going to Iraq to help those who lacked 'the freedoms that we are afforded every day.' Two years later he said Americans had 'a lot of misconceptions' about the war, adding, 'They'll just say 'freedom.' They'll just spout ... something they've heard that's easily repeatable.' Reminded of his own earlier words, he described himself as having done 'a 180.'"
I've noticed this same old cliche being uttered over and over, that we're 'bringing freedom to the people of Iraq', ah but as it's become more and more obvious that what we have brought to Iraq is ruination we're hearing dissent from more and more former pro-war apologists and soldiers who wanted to believe they were following justified orders and were accomplishing something good for America and the people of Iraq. They wanted to believe the typical propaganda line, and as this soldier serves as an example, they swallowed that line taking comfort in it, but reality has set in and the truth has become too inescapable to deny any longer.

I have been thinking for some time now that in the next several years when things wind down some and a large number of the troops that have been stationed there are civilians again we're going to hear the truth come out. Sure there will still be the apologists, but we will hear from legions of these troops who will confirm what many of those opposed to this war have been saying all along. Bush and his cadre of lieutenants and apologists will eat the lies they've been selling us. There is a time coming, a lot of people are going to be coming back home and they're going to talk...

"There are those who argue that such a conclusion is above the pay grade of anyone but the commander in chief, and that discipline overrides dissent."
Yeah, I've had dealings with those who hold such convoluted views before, one of them is the homophobic Catholic bigot that I've dealt with on the Newsleader Forum...

"it's the guys in the field who are best able to judge whether the mission is right and just and is working on the ground. They are the ultimate embeds. As one man said on a posting to the IVAW Web site, 'When the people who fought the war are speaking out against it ... maybe you should listen.'"
Yeah, you'd think that these people who claim to "support the troops" which actually give a damn whether they were giving their lives for a worthy, justified endeavor or not, that they would care whether the tactics being employed in the war effort were competent, and that they would care what those soldiers think about the situation they know first hand. But they don't, they just deny the inconvenient truths, make apologies for those responsible, and shout down those who dissent. Both those in and out of uniform.

Speaking of dissenters in uniform:
Veterans Against the Iraq War
Iraq Veterans Against the War
Vietnam Veterans Against the War
Veterans For Peace

Oh yeah, and other critics of the war or the incompetence it's being operated with:
Army Four Star General, former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs & Secretary of State Colin Powell (retired)
Army Four Star General Wesley Clark (retired)
Army Maj. Gen. John Batiste (retired)
Marine Corps Gen. Anthony Zinni (retired)
Army Maj. Gen. Paul Eaton (retired)
Army Colonel Jack Jacobs (retired)
Marine Corps Lt. Gen. Greg Newbold (retired)
Army chief of staff Gen. Eric Shinseki (retired)
Air Force chief of staff General Merrill McPeak (retired)
Vietnam Vet, former Secretary of the Navy, Senator Jim Webb (retired)

Saturday, June 09, 2007

The gay is, da bomb!

Oh, this is rich — Pentagon Confirms It Sought to Create a 'Gay Bomb'.

No homosexuals allowed to serve their country and show their patriotism but we can sure make homosexuality into a weapon!!!

I've heard this nonsense before and didn't believe it, but apparently there really was something to it after all...

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Out of What 'Shadows'? Indeed

Here's a good article in Newsweek magazine about immigration by George Will. I don't often agree with him, but this time I did...

Some excerpts:
"Utah's Sen. Robert Bennett has been told by representatives of the county's construction industry that if the flow of illegal immigrants comes to an abrupt halt, so will the county's growth."
If these business people can't make it on paying documented workers decent wages then they should consider getting into a new line of work...

"America's economy would suffer substantially without immigrant labor—including much of that which is already here illegally."
It seems to me the same argument was made in favor of keeping slavery in the Antebellum South. No thanks. Indentured servitude isn't something this country should accept, not even for economic prosperity.

"The government, however, has no cognizance of those who are here illegally. They have proved by their presence here that they have limited regard for U.S. legal niceties. So, what is to prevent those who have arrived since Jan. 1, and those who will continue to arrive by the millions, while—"while" means years—the border is supposedly being secured, from fibbing about when they arrived?"
Exactly! Illegal immigrants have entered this country illegally, they are undocumented. We don't know anything about their being here or when they arrived but from what they tell us. And can we really trust those people that sneak into the country in violation of the law for their own benefit to be honest? Especially if they think they are going to be getting something out of being dishonest? Hell no!

"Sensible immigration policy must arise from more than monomania about the disturbing fact that at least 12 million immigrants are here illegally. Affirming the rule of law is, however, where to begin because when a large and somewhat cohesive cohort succeeds in living in defiance of the law, the scofflaw spirit can have myriad manifestations."
I don't think it can be overstated in the least that it is a very serious problem when 12 million plus people have entered this country illegally and are still living and working here, now demanding citizenship or the next best thing, amnesty, and at least 100 million more bleeding-heart overreactionaries will label anyone that doesn't support this endeavor as "racists" and "xenophobes".

We must not stand idly by as so many people are living in defiance of the law, a very necessary law at that, which protects both the security of the country by controlling who enters it, but also protects the system by ensuring jobs are going to citizens and documented workers, and that benefits aren't given out so widely that it breaks the system.

"Protecting one form of lawbreaking may require protecting others as well. The city of Maywood in Los Angeles County declared itself a sanctuary zone for illegal aliens this year. Then it got rid of its drunk-driving checkpoints, because they were nabbing too many illegal aliens. Next, this 96 percent Latino city, almost half of whose adult population lacks a ninth-grade education, disbanded its police traffic division entirely, so that illegals wouldn't need to worry about having their cars towed for being unlicensed."
That's something you don't hear from the pro-amnesty crowd. It sounds just like the sort of accommodations that have been increasing though for the past several years. Anything to make life easier for those who are not legally supposed to be here... Even if it comes at the detriment of the whole country. think this sums it up all too well:
"although some data suggest that many Hispanic immigrants live in increasing cultural and linguistic self-segregation, clearly some have assimilated in the sense of acquiring one of the nation's unpleasant current attributes, the entitlement mentality: We are here, therefore we are entitled to be here."

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Falwell has fallen...

...and he isn't getting back up. That's right, Jerry Falwell is dead. Good riddance! The hateful, intolerant, homophobic, socially conservative Christian evangelizing bigot has finally went to his 're-ward'. Boy is he going to be in for a surprise!

I can just see it now though, all the documentary specials they'll run on his sorry ass about all the so-called "good" that he accomplished. It certainly wasn't good, but he definitely did accomplish quite a bit for uptight bigoted social conservatives and did a lot of damage to freedom and diversity in this country in the process. And that's just the beginning. He helped to set the pieces in place to continue this assault on liberty, diversity, freedom of speech, separation of church & state, progressive ideals, and pluralist society in general. Because of him and others, the struggle against intolerance, prejudice, primitive dogmas, radical ideologies, social, religious, gender, and racial bigotry will continue for at least one more generation.

Falwell is certainly to blame for a lot of disastrous things in this country, like helping to get Christian conservatives organized and politically active — similar to Hitler forming the Nazi party. He set the wheels in motion for the modern social conservative movement.

His sadly misnamed 'Liberty' University will go on for generations helping to give college educations accompanied with right-wing conservative Christian brainwashing, all so that there will be more socially conservative Christian minions to be unleashed on the country, enacting their anti-liberty, Dominionist agendas.

Falwell was always shooting off the mouth with absurdities. Like blaming liberals, homosexuals, and pro-choice advocates for the 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina. He was also a major hypocrite, quick to judge others, he HATED homosexuality and depicted it as a grave sin against GOD that must be rejected by society. Apparently gluttony wasn't so much of a sin as it never stopped his corpulent self from becoming, well, more corpulent. No doubt the overeating contributed to his dying when he did.

McCain was right the first time, Jerry Falwell and his ilk are "agents of intolerance". I cringe when I think about the disgusting lies that are to come, the hero of conservatives that he'll be made out to be in the following days.

Well, now that he's dead he can go to what lies beyond and finally see for himself just how foolish, misguided, and wrong his life's work has been. One thing I'm sure of, he won't find the afterlife anything like he'd expected it to be. It's just too bad he can't tell his followers about the TRUTH.


Christopher Hitchens said of Falwell on Anderson Cooper's 360, "The empty life of this ugly little charlatan proves only one thing: that you can get away with the most extraordinary offenses to morality and to truth in this country if you will just get yourself called Reverend.

Who would, even at your network, have invited on such a little toad to tell us that the attacks of September the 11th were the result of our sinfulness and were God's punishment if they hadn't got some kind of clerical qualification?

People like that should be out in the street, shouting and hollering with a cardboard sign and selling pencils from a cup."

Well said...

The Cult

A few days ago it came to my attention that a reporter for the BBC, John Sweeney, had a verbal blow up at Tommy Davis, a Scientologist who was hell bent on defending Scientology and harassing anyone who opposes the "church".

After Mr. Sweeney was followed around and hounded by this Tommy Davis character, the Scientologist nut finally went off on Sweeney while he was interviewing someone else about Scientology, "You have no right whatsoever to say what is and what isn't a religion. The Constitution of the United States of America guarantees one's right to practice and believe freely in this country. And the definition of religion is very clear and it's not defined by John Sweeney."

Whine, whine whine... This guy is certainly conflating a lot of things here. First of all, as a matter of fact the constitution of the United States of America guarantees the citizens of this country the freedom to exercise their religious beliefs without government persecution, it says nothing whatsoever about any or all religions being respected, nor that any of the rest of us have to make accommodations for any religions or cults, nor that any of the rest of us have to give any respect whatsoever to any religion, and most especially it does not in any way, shape or form minimize the other guarantees found in the First amendment of the United States Constitution — a right to freedom of speech and a freedom of the press... In other words, Davis is waaay off the mark!

Secondly, no, religion is not defined by John Sweeney, nor is it defined by Tommy Davis nor Tom Cruise nor Bruce Willis nor John Travolta, nor L. Ron Hubbard. As far as myself and most other people are concerned, Scientology is a cult. But that doesn't matter, no one is stopping Tommy Davis or any of the rest of the Scientologists from believing in whatever lunatic space-alien cult fetish they want to. No one is violating their rights. Again, Davis and his kooky friends are WAAAY off the mark!

Sp little Tommy goes on to rant further, "And for you to repeatedly refer to my faith in those terms is so derogatory and so offensive and so bigoted and the reason you keep repeating it is because you wanted to get a reaction like you're getting right now. Well buddy, you got it! Right here, right now! I'm angry, real angry."

Oh, now he's angry. "Real angry"... Who gives a damn? I suppose the truth hurts. Even Davis here must realize at times that his "faith" feels more like a cult and so he is easily upset by a journalist even mentioning the fact that some people do refer to it in such a way...

All through this little diatribe John Sweeney has listened intently, coolly, calmly with no interruption to this rant and he is now ready to do some talking of his own, oh, but little Tommy just won't have that, "So we're done, because if you use that term one more time... I can't be responsible for my actions. So John, goodbye."

Tommy {he thinks he's Tom Cruise} Davis here is dead wrong. Like anyone else he most certainly can be held responsible for his actions and would be. His cult may have him believing he is somehow above the law but in the real world he isn't.

Here is the actual video of the Scientologist nut, Tommy Davis, defending his cult and having his indignant rant.

Well, Mr. Sweeney wasn't about to let this nonsense slide on by without a response. He continued on after Davis making it clear that it was now his turn and Davis needed to listen. At some point they had this little exchange.

Now I certainly agree that the reporter, John Sweeney was out of line, but then in dealing with these crazy lunatics and Davis' earlier rant, I probably would have lost it too. I'm sure he had enough of being harassed by these gestapo thugs that go around intimidating anyone who investigates or is critical of Scientology. As Sweeney seems to have found out, they will pull out nearly any tactic to discredit or otherwise silence critics of them.

So I saw the outburst video on Keith Olbermann and then looked it up online to find out more about it. I watched it several times and to me it seems obvious that these thugs from the Church of Scientology were trying to intimidate John Sweeney because he was investigating them. Mr. Sweeney lost his cool because he was being hounded by people from the "church" {because that's how they protect themselves, harassing anyone who questions their belief system} and he was trying to get his point across to this little Scientology twerp just kept rambling on and on and on and on...

When watching the video one can see that Mr. Sweeney raises his voice to talk over the man who won't let him get a word in edgewise and even quiets down when he's finally allowed to speak but then this Davis creep continued his blabbering on so Mr. Sweeney started screaming again. To me it seems obvious that his point was as if to say, 'I CAN TALK LOUDER THAN YOU SO SHUT THE HELL UP AND LET ME MAKE MY POINT' and to prove to him that he could. He was trying to get the little shit to shut up long enough so he could make his point. Again, it's not the right way to handle things but understandable nonetheless. In fact, I'd say good job, Mr. Sweeney, at not letting these cultist nutjobs get you to back down.

Here is an article by John Sweeney in which he explains his side of the story.

Now I know that these people are upset about having it revealed that their "church" is akin to a cult. That is understandable, but as I said before people are entitled to their opinions and journalists have a right and a duty to investigate. And while religious tolerance is a good thing, not all beliefs are equal — truly. Most importantly perhaps, read my lips, Tommy Davis, and let me make sure that this crystal clear: THE CHURCH OF SCIENTOLOGY IS A CULT!!! It is a creepy, scary, dangerous, lunatic fringe, new age CULT.

But don't just take my word for it...




Los Angeles Times series on Scientology
{copy} Time Magazine article on Scientology

Yep, a krazy, kreepy kult...

Monday, May 14, 2007

Guiliani: the next Neocon puppet?

There is so much hype going on about Rudy Giuliani. I think so much of it seems so undeserved. Just what is it that he did which was so extraordinary after 9/11? It appears to me that he didn't do much of anything that any other even slightly competent public official wouldn't have done after such a disaster. While it is certainly understandable from a psychological and sociological standpoint, nonetheless it seems to be all too often overlooked that the instant skyrocketing of the public's approval rating for both Giuliani and Bush was based on pure emotionalism not merit.

Now I'm not completely opposed to Rudy Giuliani. Not at all. He says he believes there are, "sensible, commonsense things you can do that will make government once again look to people like a functioning, problem-solving organization." He also thinks that "[he] can make government more like a business...a problem-solver rather than a problem creator." Sounds great! But talk is cheap. Just how he plans to achieve all this remains to be seen, but it does sound good. A fresh approach perhaps.

There are some more interesting aspects of Rudy. I like the fact that he is much more sensible in his approach to gay equality and women's rights than his Republican peers. But then I am concerned about his cozying up to social conservatives, though admittedly he has not done so to the disgusting level of pandering that the flip-flopping Mitt Romney has. And I also admit that he did clean New York City up, no minor accomplishment in the least. Of course, he used some rather draconian tactics to achieve this. One must ask themselves in such situations: does the ends justify the means? Is being a sort of tyrant in order to improve law and order really an accomplishment, or is it taking the easy way out at the expense of the citizenry and their liberties?

I think progressive moderates would actually seriously consider the question posed here. But on the other hand, most conservatives would probably totally dismiss such notions; to many the motto is 'whatever reduces crime and improves "morals" is justifiable'. Conversely, the Liberals might say that such ends NEVER justify the means. Such absolutism is why results are so seldom seen from any government ran by partisan hacks and ideologues. Was Rudy being pragmatic or dogmatic?

Well, there are his tantrums and other tyrannical behaviors to consider. Like his dictating what is art and what is not, making threats about cutting funding to art museums who depict art which he believes is offensive to Catholics... Or his assault on a New York magazine, taking their ads off of city buses because they poked fun at his vanity {taking credit for EVERYTHING good in the city}. Clearly this was a personal affront to him, and so he decided to use his official powers to send them a message. Someone that reacts like that might as well be a mob boss with the key to the city. If he doesn't like you, you could have hell to pay... Do we want to give this guy the key to the country? I don't think so.

I think that all of this coupled with the way he has seemingly profited from the superstar status which 9/11 gave him, when just before this he was surrounded by scandal and was becoming increasingly irrelevant, reveals a man who is not only undeserving of the accolades he is given, not only is he not suitable for the job, but he might very well be the type of person that would abuse his power much the way Bush & Co. has done for the past 6 years. As a country we definitely do not need more of the same.

And then there is the security of the free-world to consider as well. Not only is it imperative to protect civil liberties from governments, but to keep governments from dragging us deeper and deeper into open warfare based on ideologies, not necessities. I must say, I think it is a very legitimate concern just how severely Giuliani might overreact to the next inevitable terrorist attack in this country. Undoubtedly there will be neocons who will weasel their way into influential positions in a new administration. Considering what happened as a reaction to 9/11 under Bush, it seems quite plausible that if some more Saudi jihadists trained in Talibanistan were to attack the U.S. with a WMD, President Rudy might just invade North Korea on the advice of Neocons like William Kristol and his cabal of war-mongering ideologues who say it is necessary as part of the "broader global war against extremist Islamic fundamentalists and terrorism".

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Incurious George

Former CIA Director George Tenet was on Chris Matthew's Hardball yesterday. Chris really went after him, trying to nail him down on how the war was sold to us on bogus info, the justifications for the war have proved untrue, the planning for dealing with Iraq after Saddam seems to have been non-existence, and how George Tenet seemed to have done little about any of this. A good interview. This is the kind of Hardball I remember...

Full transcript of the show

While George is making the rounds on the various programs 60 Minutes, Tim Russert, Jon Stewart, et al. he's been passing the buck to save his own ass and promote his book. Now that things are going down in flames and he has nothing to gain from staying silent, I guess he figures it's time to save his own image by putting this off on the hawkish and inept Bush & Co. and perhaps creating some semblance of a legacy that doesn't include helping to sell the Vietnam war of the 21st century.

He's been getting a lot of criticism for not doing more when he had the chance, especially now that he seems to be critical of how things were handled. Of course it makes perfect sense why he's taking so much heat right now, not only because he was right there when so much of this bullshit story was being sold to us, but also because he is among the few from the Administration that has stepped forward to talk about things. The American public, indeed the world would love to take it's anger and frustration out on this reckless administration, especially the incompetent little dictator Bush, but alas, we can't. People in the administration are very quiet about all this, they're keeping their distance, staying where it's safe and will mostly get the softball questions throw at them. The public at large would like to have a stoning in the public square, but for that a warm body is needed, George "slam dunk" Tenet just happens to fit the bill.

I actually think he deserves every bit of the criticism that is coming to him and then some! He should have stood up when he had the chance. If we were being mislead by the administration and he knew it then he should have went public with it then, damn the consequences of his job. As a public servant he is supposed to be serving the American people, not the President, not a political ideology or party. Instead of taking a stand he took the coward's way out. Fine. Then he should remain a coward. No pat on the back, no newfound respect, no forgiveness, and definitely no wealth from his exploitative book.

Monday, May 07, 2007

The First debates...

So now after having seen both the Democratic and Republican debates I can say more assuredly, Yep, we're screwed!

First the Democrats. The surprise was former Sen. Mike Gravel. I didn't even know who this raving kook was, and he was way out there on some stuff, seemingly disconnected from the reality the rest of us live in. He certainly seemed to be a man of very passionate conviction, though he seemed angry most of the time. I suppose frustration over the lack of integrity in modern politics can do that to a person. Perhaps the most memorable moment from him was when he said, "I gotta tell ya, after standing up with them [other Democratic candidates on the dais], some of these people frighten me!" Yeah, me too!

Sen. Hillary Clinton seemed a bit phony, as usual, but she did answer a lot of the questions rather well. For the most part she seemed informed and as if she'd given these issues some thought. Of course she also seemed as if she was pandering. She seemed too polished and often used her alloted time without going over. A bit too rehearsed it would seem.

Really, I don't think she made any serious mistakes. However, one thing did catch my attention though, something which I found all too telling, the issue of her having voted in favor of the war with Iraq, even though she talks as if she opposes our having gone there now. .

"I take responsibility for my vote. Obviously I did as good a job I could at the time. It was a sincere vote based on the information available to me. And I've said many times that if I knew then what I now know, I would not have voted that way." When the topic of her having voted for the war with Iraq was brought up, as usual she put the blame on Bush & Co. having mislead us on the justifications for this war instead of owning up to her own errors in trusting him. She first claimed to "take responsibility for [her] vote," saying yet again that "if [she] knew then what [she] now know[s], [she] would not have voted that way." Hmmm... And just why did she not know then what a lot of us did, that this war was based on bogus info and trumped up rhetoric?

She also said, "Obviously I did as good a job I could at the time." That was a really, really bad answer... First of all I think it showed a lack of integrity in not admitting she made a mistake and instead just continued to be bullheaded, refusing to admit her error and putting the blame on someone else. But it also shows incompetence on her part. If deciding 'yes' to the question of whether or not to vote for this unjust and unnecessary war was "her best" I'd hate to see her worst! For some time now I've felt that if laypersons like some us could see through the lies and propaganda by Bush & Co., then why in the hell didn't politicians like Sen. Clinton see this? Where was her objectivity and caution? Where was her ability to make good, sound decisions? When it comes down to it I think it clearly shows that she is either being dishonest here or she is totally incompetent to not have been wiser. Either way she isn't fit to be senator, let alone president.

Sen. Barrack Obama, was perhaps the biggest disappointment of all. Of course this could be that I had big expectations for him. He seemed to evade some of the questions, not offering a very good explanation or even avoiding them altogether but going off on a tangent about something else. I really wanted to find a lot of things to approve of him. For some time now I've been somewhat impressed by the guy but just unsure of what he stands for exactly. I figured once we got to the debate stage he would start to better articulate his plans but he really didn't.

Perhaps the biggest blunder on his part was when asked very directly, "[if] we learned that two American cities had been hit simultaneously by terrorists, and we further learned beyond the shadow of a doubt it had been the work of al Qaeda, how would you change the U.S. military stance overseas as a result?" Rather than his answer sounding Presidential, like one whose priority is protecting the country and taking a solid defensive stance, he sounded perhaps more like a mayor, "the first thing we'd have to do is make sure that we've got an effective emergency response, something that this administration failed to do when we had a hurricane in New Orleans. And I think that we have to review how we operate in the event of not only a natural disaster, but also a terrorist attack."

Joe Biden sold his ideas fairly well. I like Joe Biden and have for a long time. In fact, I recall hoping strongly that he would run as talk of 2008 increased... That would be pretty much after the shock and dejection of Bush managing to hijack the country for another 4 years. I think he's very intelligent, has a lot of great ideas about how to make changes in government. Of course, because of this alone he'll never win. It was so amusing when Brian Williams commented about how Biden has been accused

Christopher Dodd
did alright as well, I find myself agreeing with him at times and at other times not. He doesn't seem like the left-wing liberal type but then I'm also concerned he might be too conservative.

Bill Richardson was a bit of a disappointment, he just isn't very commanding. His stance on issues and his ability to express himself doesn't reach me. He just doesn't seem presidential, he seems more like a diplomat.

John Edwards did rather well, I think. I must say, the more I hear of the guy the more I'm impressed with him, but also disillusioned. He talks of their being "two America's" an apparent allusion to the have's and the have nots, yet Edwards is filthy rich, he has a huge house, and pays $400 for hair cuts... I will say this for him, I do think he's honest. I've listened to his interviews, and have come to the conclusion that he's either a very, very good actor, or he's speaking from the heart most of the time. I don't get that feeling from much of the others.

Another of the candidates, probably the most honest of all, is Dennis Kucinich. He's too liberal for my tastes but he does have a lot of interesting ideas and fresh perspectives. Most folks right it off as too radical of a change in how we look at war, our place in the world, social programs, etc. but then maybe some "radicalism" that doesn't involve perpetuating the same old cycle of exploiting the majority for the benefit of a very select minority.

Full transcript of the Democratic debate

When it comes to the Republican debate, one of the things I noticed was how someone had sure went out of their way to give them a fancy set up. They were in the Reagan Presidential Library and even had the backdrop of an older version of Air Force One... There was plenty of talk about Reagan, everyone was invoking his name, attempting to channel his spirit, or at least show themselves to idolize the guy. I'm still trying to figure out, what is this obsession with Ronald Reagan? Just what is it that he did that was supposed so fantastic. You'd think he was George Washington to these Republicans. I guess that explains why I am not and never will be a Republican.

As for the debates, Mitt Romney was slick, scary, definitely a flip-flopper, and to be perfectly frank about it, why vote Mormon? These folks have some really bizarre beliefs and I'm not so naive to believe that a person's political or religious ideologies won't interfere with their ability to lead the country. The man is so plastic, so phony. I must say I'm really concerned about him winning the nomination. I refuse to vote for Hillary Clinton, but if she runs against Mitt I'm afraid I'd have to...

John McCain was really hung up on rhetoric, he's trying to be the tough guy hoping it will help his image. I used to have a lot of respect for McCain, but he sold himself out soon after he lost the party nomination in 2000 and he's mostly been singing Bush's praises since then. And he's certainly too pro-war. He's just not the maverick he used to be. If he could genuinely bring that back and show some independence instead of sucking up to the neocons and the theocons I'd seriously consider voting for him...

Ron Paul is certainly too libertarian for my tastes, I cannot support eliminating the income tax {unless it was replaced with a sufficient revenue stream}, completely getting rid of social programs like social security, medicare, medicaid, welfare, and needed agencies like the FDA. Still, Ron Paul is a very refreshing change. I'm wondering just where this guy came from. I didn't think they made guys like this anymore. We could certainly use a lot more of this small-government mentality from candidates. Ron Paul is like the true conservative, isolationist, non-interventionist, limited government, fiscally conservative.

Paul wants us out of the UN and NATO, which is certainly radical, dangerous even. But he not only opposes the war and our having ever gotten into it, he also opposes the imperialism we've seen in this country for years. He wants to get rid of NAFTA, of course he also wants so-called "free trade". He seems to be a State's Rights kind of guy, so when it comes to social issues I think he'd leave it up to the states, like abortion law. As far as gay issues are concerned I think he wants the government out of people's personal lives and he might be indifferent to same-sex marriage but would probably never push for homosexual equality.

Tommy Thompson first he says employers should have a right to fire gays, then says his "hearing aid" failed. Brilliant, jackass. Either he's a bigot or he's full of shit, either way we don't need that sort of leader.

Evolution became and interesting topic, 3 out of 10 of the Republican presidential candidates say it's bogus. This, of course, came from the socially-conservative religious fundamentalists of the line-up — Mike Huckabee, Tom Tancredo and Sam Brownback...

Rudy Giuliani thinks overturning Roe vs. Wade would be "okay". Lost more moderate votes with that stance than conservative votes that he may have gained from it. Other than that I think Rudy is a thug, he think he lead NYC like a little dictator, and he's certainly too hawkish on the war, on all war, on the so-called "Global War On Terror". I think this guy would give us more of the kind of neoconservative war-mongering that we've seen from little Bush. I do, however, like his stance on social issues

Full transcript of the Republican debate

I think we all know that this will be the most important election in at least a generation, but it looks like this will also be the most polarizing and heated of them. The red vs. blue ever divide widens...

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

4 years later...

Mission still unaccomplished. Today marks the 4th year since the man who holds the office which is officially known by the acronym PoTUS, George W. Bush declared an end to major combat operations in Iraq whilst standing below a huge banner of "Mission Accomplished" while partaking in a little photo-op moment.

Clearly there was no "Mission Accomplished" at that point, well unless you count the mission of getting Bush reelected, and keeping Republic* politicians in control in the 2004 election. Officially, however, according to repeated statements from Bush & Co. the mission in Iraq hasn't just been to topple Saddam, eliminate WMD's, or open up a front against Islamic terrorists. Nope, it was to spread democracy, to see a free, stable and Democratic Iraq become a reality.

Well, it is some 4 years, nearly 3,400 dead American soldiers, and 50,000-55,000 dead Iraqis since Bush's photo-op, and that mission is beyond any doubt not even close to being accomplished. In fact, as time has gone on and more has been learned about the history of Iraq and the ancient hostilities there, and of course the worsening realities there now, it seems more like mission impossible.

Keith Olbermann gives a really good rundown of Bush and his Mission Accomplished

So here we are four years later, and Bush is still giving his same old line that we just need to give it more time, one last surge. As if this time, just like all the rest, this time is going to make the difference. How long will we go on with this?

While I opposed the Iraq war back when Bush & Co. and seemingly everyone else was saying it was absolutely necessary; something we had to do and had every moral justification in doing. I knew that Bush and worse still his Neocon backers —Dick Cheney, Don Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, et al.— had been planning years before Bush came to power. I knew that the so-called intelligence on Iraq having WMD's and connections to al-Qaida was bogus. I knew it was bogus all this talk of spreading democracy. Of course, I also felt that it wasn't the responsibility of our country, nor ethically right to "spread democracy" through force of arms. I also felt that it was wrong for this nation to declare war preemptively, and it was unethical to attack and destroy a country in order to force regime change. In short, I never supported this war.

I also have been opposed to many of the tactics this Administration has used in Iraq, with the incompetence of Rumsfeld and others. But while I have always been opposed to the war, nonetheless, for a long time, until the past year as a matter of fact and even more specifically until Bush's weak troop surge, I have disagreed with the war but have been opposed to pulling out because of the chaos that it would likely leave behind. While the liberals and anti-war crowd has insisted we leave now, I felt that we had a duty and responsibility to try to fix what we fucked up. Now I think the situation has become one in which repairing our mistakes is not a possibility. Bush & Co. are too incompetent. I have no faith in their ability to do the right thing in Iraq.

So as this situation has continued to deteriorate, and this troop surge has been far too low to accomplish much of anything, I've decided that we are not working to correct past mistakes, we are simply prolonging the inevitable. As such, I do believe we need to start to withdraw our forces. What will be left behind, now that Bush's war has created first a magnet to draw terrorists in, but also ultimately a vacuum for them to prosper in? Likely Iraq will be a haven for terrorists. Maybe the government and local factions will take control and kick the extremists out of their country. I don't think that is likely. I'm sure it will be years, decades even of work to get the upper hand on these groups. But I am positive that the desire to destroy the West among the common people will continue to be reinforced the longer we occupy and wreak havoc on Muslim countries.

I think a pull back and a new strategy diplomatically is in order. As well as doing our best to contain the civil war that is Iraq today. And it cannot be stressed enough that we the United States, via our President, his war, their incompetence, and our consent of it are to blame. Another 60,000 to 100,000 troops, with the proper strategy might have turned the tide. 20,000 to even 30,000 isn't going to do it. A continuation of the al-Maliki government and their divisive policies is not going to see a positive change in Iraq.

Keith Olbermann talks with Paul Rieckhoff, founder of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America in an interview in which they discuss the cover-up of the killing of Pat Tillman by friendly-fire as well as the strain on the military.

Here is an article on the Huffington Post that Paul Rieckhoff wrote about the 4th anniversary of Bush's "Mission Accomplished" moment.

When it comes down to it, there was one crucial failure from the Administration. Outside of being lied to about the justification of war, and outside of the gross incompetence the administration used in waging this war {improper planning, not enough occupation forces, not enough reconstruction, disbanding the government}, perhaps the biggest failure was Bush & Co. not being honest enough to make it clear that this war was not going to be a "cake walk", it was going to be a long, painful, arduous, costly battle that would wage on for a decade or more. An insurgency from regime change in a nation such as Iraq, and the ensuing occupation was inevitable. Poor planning ensured it would be a major insurgency. Major insurgencies take years, decades perhaps to vanquish. This could not be accomplished in 4 years, it can't be accomplished in 8.

They didn't tell us that, of course, and now they are paying the political price for that and more. But Bush keeps claiming that "stay the course" means support the troops, while looking for a solution beyond the military is "admitting defeat". Bush and his gang gave us defeat when they committed us to this war and turned it into the fiasco it has been for over 2 years now.

I applaud the Congress for standing up to Bush, FINALLY, and trying to put a stop to his insanity. I'm afraid it won't last long, though. Before long I'm afraid the Dems will give up and let Bush has his way, yet again, as the easily dissuaded America public buys the same old "support the troops" canard.

Bill Maher was on Hardball with Chris Matthews discussing Mission Accomplished, as well as the "gay" obsession with Reagan. Hilarious! Chris really needs to have Bill on the show more often. The public could use more straight-forward talk about the lunacy, perhaps even criminality of Bush & Co. and their apologists...

* An increasing number of Rethuglicans, even Bush insists on using what is to them a pejorative term like "democrat" party, "democrat" congressman, etc. I must say that it is so fitting that they would find the word and concept of "democratic" as something to be avoided....... Because of this, I figure one good turn deserves another and therefore I apply their logic in response by depicting Republican politicians as "Republic" politicians, and of course the "Republic" party. Sounds extremely petty & ridiculous right? Yep, my point exactly!