Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Criminal Acts of the Confuser in Chief

Dick Cheney is now acting in a grey zone. Despite attempts by right wingers to try and wrench some sense out of his idiotic statements regarding his non-executive and non-legislative position, Cheney's role is now murkier than ever.

Whether it's the 2000 Energy Bill that Cheney managed with energy company CEOs behind closed doors and which resulted in fake rolling blackouts in California and the Enron bust, or the Iraq war which Cheney pushed for, or the Abu Ghraib scandal which Cheney seems to have had his hand in, Cheney has managed himself into the personification of evil during his Vice Presidency.

It comes therefore as no surprise that it now comes to light that Darth Cheney has placed his dark mark on yet another sensitive area: The Environment. Whilst the alleged president flip-flops about Global Warming, Cheney has been the architect of some of the most environmentally damaging legislation the country has ever seen. The following is just a short excerpt from an article by Jo Becker and Barton Gellman in the Washington Post from a litany of environmental transgressions:

Because of Cheney's intervention, the government reversed itself and let the water flow in time to save the 2002 growing season, declaring that there was no threat to the fish. What followed was the largest fish kill the West had ever seen, with tens of thousands of salmon rotting on the banks of the Klamath River.

Characteristically, Cheney left no tracks.

Cheney and Bush together have raped this country's environment from the banal - insidiously changing legislation to allow snowmobiles to be driven in Yellowstone again - to the criminal - overriding the Clean Air Act to allow energy companies to modify and clean plants without adhering to the letter of the law in terms of pollution control:

A federal appeals court has since found that the rule change violated the Clean Air Act. In their ruling, the judges said that the administration had redefined the law in a way that could be valid "only in a Humpty-Dumpty world."

A Humpty-Dumpty world it is - and the right may attempt again to defend these actions but it will never cease to amaze me that the same people who are so intent on being anti-abortionist, protecting human life, who are all about law and order and who proclaim to be family oriented are the ones willing to sacrifice the future of the country, the future of the world for the sake of money. We are creating a bleak world for future generations, but it's OK because the energy giants are turning a profit today.

The current administration has been a disaster for this country in absolutely every respect. It’s high time it became history.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Thoroughly Confused

That would be Dana Perino according to her own words but I'd say it probably extends to the 26% president and Dick “Torture Man” Cheney as well, who recently proclaimed that he was not part of the executive branch.

Reporters peppered Perino with questions about what Cheney was exactly but Perino, who ended the discussion by exclaiming: "Okay, you have me thoroughly confused as well," was unable to get anywhere near a plausible explanation as to why her boss would shred 200 years of constitutional law in the United States. The discussion has its highlights such as Keith Koffler's little gem in the Washington Post:

"You can't give an opinion about whether the vice president is part of the executive branch or not?" Koffler pressed. "It's a little bit like somebody saying, 'I don't know if this is my wife or not.' "

The whole confusion as to why Dick and George would ignore US Law is actually simple - I mean, they've been ignoring it for six years - why would they start adhering to it now.

Illegal wiretapping and torture were things one only imagined from countries like China or the former Soviet Union, but they've become so every day and mundane here in the US now that people just shrug when they are mentioned. So the next step towards a dictatorship, that of elevating the leader of a country to a position above either the legislative or the executive branch is only a logical one.

This will drive Neocons barmy but the last time I can recall reading about a leader doing that was none other than Adolf Hitler in Germany back in 1936, when he declared that he was above the judicial and parliamentary branches.

Anyone who has an ounce of patriotic fervor left in them should be asking for Cheney's resignation.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

What is a Liberal?

It would appear that in the wake of the disastrous Bush administration's catastrophic policies, Bushies and conservatives alike tend to just about make liberalism responsible for everything that has gone wrong in the past six years. Now just to make sure everyone understands, conservatives and the right wing block in the US has had control of every aspect of the executive and recently judicial branches of government. The presidency, the Senate, Congress and the Supreme Court were, until the mid-terms in 2006 firmly in the hands of the Republicans and conservatives.

That doesn't stop them from accusing liberals for every wrong turn the Bush administration had made and no doubt, they will continue to do so. They've finally found a recipe for success in the Iraq war, yes my friends, I say success, because this epic faux pas is doomed to failure, and what better way to snatch some kind of victory, than by blaming that failure on Democrats who say it like it is: "the war is lost." Reid is now the giant Satan following closely on Murtha's footsteps. But it doesn't stop there. Everything that is not functioning is laid firmly at the feet of liberals including, more recently, the Virginia Tech shooting spree. You have to do mental summersaults and back-flips in order to accomplish the feat: "Cho was a liberal." Thus one has to hand it to conservatives, they possess a kind of mental agility I would not have thought possible.

Then there's the whole gun debate and so on and so forth, but wait. It gets better: conservative minds are now also calling liberals "sheep" and "afraid to think for themselves" and "government subordinates". So I thought I would take a minute to educate our fellow conservatives a little on what it means to be liberal minded and please note, that American liberalism, is still a good chunk to the right of European liberalism. we liberals are an animal apart - we don't think in catch phrases that mean one thing whilst happily living its diametric opposite, such as conservative's love of the phrase "family values" which they hug preciously like a security blanket whilst ignoring its true meaning. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

1. Liberals consider themselves to be "free thinkers". We don't automatically assume that when government says "X", that "X" is right. Nor is "X" necessarily true. This does not only apply to government but to anything that may have a dogmatic background. One could say of liberalism that its motto is "question everything." More importantly, we accept that others may think a different way - this does not make them unpatriotic, nor does it make them crazy. But we do not follow the beaten path just because we belong to a certain party or support a certain group. In this respect, if we are sheep, we are the worst sheep you've ever encountered because we wander off in different directions on a regular basis. And this, our strength, is also our weakness because we will not follow a mantra.Some here may say "what about global warming" or "immigration". But the fact that millions of liberals agree on both these issues is not born out of a follow-the-leader mentality, nor is it that we are just gullible. They are born out of other liberal concepts which I will get to (if you are conservative you have probably stopped reading at this point anyway).

2. Liberals are compassionate. We don't believe in "me first and screw the rest." We feel that many of us are genuinely lucky to be born intelligent, capable, physically or mentally sane and that there are many out there not so lucky. We feel it is only right and it is only human, to try and help those less fortunate than ourselves. To do this, we support something called a social conscience which we believe a government should have. This social conscience should be supported financially by those fortunate enough to be better off and it should help those who are not able to get a footing in society for any number of acceptable reasons. Sure, we understand that this system has flaws and is not perfect and we understand that it will be abused. But we also think that the cases of abuse are outweighed by the real values gained in helping people. To give an example, someone may be supported by such a program to receive a decent education far above what his or her family might be able to provide for them and may go on to repay the system many times over once they are successful. These cases are more common than you might think and we as liberals feel that there is nothing wrong with wanting to earn enough money and nothing wrong with capitalism, but that those of us who are slightly wealthier can afford to share a little more.

3. Liberals want a market economy that supports free private enterprise. We neither want government controlled enterprises, nor do we want enterprise controlled governments, the latter being pretty much where Bush's US is headed.

4. Liberals believe in individual rights and freedom of the individual. We don't want government interference on a micromanagement level. "But!" I hear you say, "how can that be true when you want government to decide what happens with my tax dollars and who gets them?" Well, I said micromanagement for a reason. Because of the rights of the individual and that fact that we truly believe that all humans are born equal, we wish to make sure that all humans are enabled in being as free as possible. In this respect we are prepared to say: "government, I want you to aid those less fortunate than myself so that they too are able to enjoy some of the individual freedoms I believe in and I enjoy.I don't want you, government, to decide whom I can and cannot have sex with as long as we are dealing with consenting adults, how I have sex with that person and what I wear whilst having sex with that person. Nor do I want you, government, to be over inquisitive with regards to other aspects of my private life. What I expect from you however, is to use the massive resources at your disposal to identify those people in our country who are most at risk, starting with the elderly and the weak. To do that, I expect you to use every means available and not waste your resources listening to my neighbor Bob's telephone conversations with his mistress because she happens to be Middle Eastern, nor do I want you to deploy resources finding out who eats which meals on planes. Please redirect these resources at taking care that real cases of needy people, are taken care of and as little abuse happens as possible."Furthermore, we believe that individuals are the basis of law and society, and that society and its institutions exist to further the ends of individuals, without showing favor to those of higher social rank. This is an important point in guaranteeing our individual freedoms and liberties.

5. Liberals are brave. We are not afraid of every person who is ethnically not identical to ourselves. We are neither afraid of African Americans, we are not afraid of Muslims and we are not afraid of Central and South American immigrants, legal or not. We don't like to see laws brought into place that curb our freedoms because others fear being overrun by illegal immigrants or blown up by foreign terrorists. We feel that laws brought into place which curb our freedoms for these reasons mean, for example, that the terrorists have won because they've instilled fear into our society.

6. Liberals like tax cuts. But we prefer a balanced budget. Because Republicans don't know what a balanced budget is, this point is hard to make, but remember back in the day when Clinton was president and there was a surplus an...oh never mind.

7. Liberals are patriots. Liberals love their country, but are prepared to questions made by their own governments because government is not only made up of people, the people are the government. As a Republican you may have forgotten this. You may believe you are a nothing, a mere pawn in your king's kingdom, but you are not. Government works for you and expects you to make sure it does its job, not the other way around.

8. Liberals believe in family values for those who are interested in having a family. That includes gays. For others, who are less interested in having a family but want to spend their lives swinging, exchanging partners and want to have wanton sex with all sorts of people we also have understanding. It's fine with us. We don't have a moral compass that tells us having sex is wrong, unless we are the ones having sex and cheating on our wives and husbands. If we did, we would be referred to as conservatives.

9. Liberals feel that war is a last resort. We think it is inopportune to wade into war when all the facts are not on the table. We feel that could have disastrous consequences at home and abroad and could lead to situations which could be referred to as a quagmire.

10. Finally, liberals believe that defense is an important part of government spending. However, we feel that education is as important if not more important. We feel that an educated society is less likely to blunder into conflicts with other societies, an educated society will further the human race and an educated society will be beneficial to the entire nation. When we talk about an educated society we don't mean the top 5% Ivy league crowd, we talk about educating the entire country. We believe that this is an area worth dedicating a considerable amount of the fiscal national budget to.

We understand that Republicans think that the poorer Americans can be educated "a bit" and that a concept like "no child left behind" which has been a total flop was a worthwhile exercise and proves that even conservatives care about education. But actually, you see, conservatives tend not to. Liberals feel that instead of starting useless wars in far away places for obscure reasons which cost many billions of dollars, more money should be pumped into educating the next generation so that these types of useless wars will no longer be deemed necessary by anyone in society.

Of course, there will be some liberals that disagree with one point or another, I'll give you that, but I hope, on the whole, to have put you back on track as to what a liberal is, and what a liberal is not: namely a treasonous, lying, scared warmonger who doesn't much care about anyone apart from himself and, if pushed, those who will benefit him if their causes are advanced.

You have to look the other way for one of those.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Making Room for "Good" Americans

Total control of all branches of government is something that every despot wants. It's what Saddam Hussein wanted, it's what Doc Duvalier wanted it's what one wants if one wants to rule a country absolutely. So it comes as no surprise that we've been reading of the present US administration's infiltration of the Justice Department and the attempts to purge those that didn't toe the line.

We've also all followed Gonzalez' precipitous fall from grace and, although he squeaked by in avoiding a vote of no confidence, everyone knows that he is politically dead. He'll have trouble finding a job washing dishes when he leaves the DoJ. Schlozman is another candidate for the booby prize however and this week more revelations surfaced about the sorts of things Schlozman did or said and they should make anyone's eyebrows arch. From an article in The Washington Post:

Karen Stevens, Tovah Calderon and Teresa Kwong had a lot in common. They had good performance ratings as career lawyers in the Justice Department's civil rights division. And they were minority women transferred out of their jobs two years ago -- over the objections of their immediate supervisors -- by Bradley Schlozman, then the acting assistant attorney general for civil rights.

Schlozman ordered supervisors to tell the women that they had performance problems or that the office was overstaffed. But one lawyer, Conor Dugan, told colleagues that the recent Bush appointee had confided that his real motive was to "make room for some good Americans" in that high-impact office, according to four lawyers who said they heard the account from Dugan.

Now you know the truth - some of you are not regarded as "good Americans" anymore. Not because you called for more government control, not because you said the government should wiretap anyone it wants whenever it wants, not because you were opposed to the unilateral invasion of one country by another, not because you find torture acceptable, not because you find it OK that habeas corpus was thrown out of the window, not because you believe in the separation of church and state and not because you were fine with the Constitution being shredded, but because you did not accept that these things were happening in your country.

Another quote from the article:
"When he said he didn't engage in political hiring, most of us thought that was just laughable," said one lawyer in the section, referring to Schlozman's June 5 testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee. "Everything Schlozman did was political. And he said so."

That Schlozman was able to fire two minority women in the Department of Justice tells you everything you need to know about where this country was headed and in fact, how far along the line it had gone.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

The Destruction of Iraqi Women

Abortions are an issue for the right. Nine out of the Ten Republican candidates said they opposed legalizing abortions and only Rudy Giuliani flip-flopped around about the Roe vs. Wade issue. It’s doubly ironic then that the Iraq war, touted by the Neo-Con right, has resulted in a giant spike in abortions in Iraq as reported today on The Raw Story:

Pregnant Iraqi women who have been forced from their homes by worsening violence are obtaining illegal abortions because they are unable to get medical care for themselves and their unborn….

A record number of Iraqis -- most of them women and children -- are fleeing their homes to escape the bloodshed of sectarian violence and anti-U.S. attacks, according to a new report by the Iraqi Red Crescent organization, the largest aid group operating in Iraq.

"Rape, theft and drug addiction have also become "commonplace" among the displaced, who live in government buildings, at relatives' homes, tents, or squat in abandoned homes or makeshift huts on empty land……

… The number of "internally displaced persons" -- refugees who leave their homes but remain in the country -- has quadrupled since January

The utter destruction of Iraq and the very fabric of society that made up Iraq is something that the United States and Britain should be ashamed of. Their incredible ardor in thinking they could pull off something like this and actually make it work flew in the face of so many experts’ opinions and yet they forged ahead. As Iraq spirals downwards towards an abyss we can only imagine, one has to ask oneself what the long term consequences will be.

Radical fundamentalist Islam is always condemning the West for its loose morals and lewdness in society – a view absurdly close to the Christian fundamentalist groups in America – and is proclaiming the downfall of Western civilization as a direct result of our pandering to greed and our lack of prudery, our marriage with the devil which is evident in our need for ostentatiousness and our evident and open lust for sex. They see themselves confirmed in their condemnation of our society through the mirror of Iraq, which has, for their purposes, taken on our values and embraced Western culture and is now paying the price.

The Iraqi population can only wistfully look back to a time when drugs and abortions were not the norm and these new victims, the poor women who have sought out an illegal abortion as their only way out of this hell, the drug victims and their families who have to deal with this new scourge will be the first to embrace a new vision offering them succor and the only ones in place to do that at this time, are fundamentalist Islamic Mullahs and the Iranian model of ascetic living.

The purple thumb of democracy is insignificant in the face of daily bombings and the lack of safety, the availability of drugs and the need for abortions, the continuing conflict and an entire generation growing up in a war torn and ineffective country. The failed democratization of Iraq is nowhere more evident than the plight of these women who grew up in a society that adulates children, but have to destroy their own prospective offspring, because their future has been robbed.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

The Irrelevance of President Frankenstein

Recently as I tried to assess the state of our world today. Whilst I did that I noticed how I was looking at it always in the context of the Bush presidency. In 2000, when Bush took over, the world seemed very close to the united Ms. World contestants' dreams – world peace seemed almost within our grasp. Of course there were little conflicts here and there but it really looked like the major fires had been reduced to small glowing embers which would turn to ash at any moment. Israelis and Palestinians seemed on the verge of being able to resolve their fifty year old crisis to some degree, at least enough to recharge the failed peace talks, North Korea was quiet, Russia was our friend and Africa had the fewest conflicts since the fifties.

September 11 is often seen now as the point where everything escalated as if that was the trigger, but it wasn't. 9/11 was simply an occurrence on a political event horizon. The world, after 9/11, was actually more united than ever before. Muslims and Arabs joined in the condemnation of the worst terrorist attack in history and the United States was flooded with offers of help. It could have been the beginning of a new era of reconciliation, an era of joining hands and an era of a united globe.

The Bush administration and President Bush himself soon made it clear that retribution would be had – and I cannot argue with the wish to have retribution, only with the logic – when he uttered the famous “with us or against us” quote. That, my friends, was the turning point.

The Taliban in fact did not perpetrate 9/11 but were accused of harboring Al Qaeda who were accused of being the masterminds behind the September 11 attacks. The Taliban however were probably more in a position of being unable to contain and control the Mujahedin, who morfed into Al Qaeda under Osama Bin Laden. Be it as it may, the United States attacked Afghanistan and the Taliban regime on 07 October 2001, four weeks after 9/11. Had everything stopped there, we may still have been on the cusp of a true New World Order, one where the world was united in its resolve to fight terrorism in ways more creative than simply trying to bomb terrorists and those who allegedly harbored them back to the Stone Age. But it didn't.

Now, six years after 9/11, we are staring at a world where Palestinians are locked into a civil war in Gaza, the Russians and the United States are threatening a new escalation of their weapons programs, Africa is on fire and the Middle East, well, the Middle East is on the verge of self destructing.

There has been enough written about Iraq to fill the Library of Congress. What however has changed is not the context of the Iraq war, but its point of reference. Americans, indeed almost everyone in the world has analyzed the war in Iraq with President Bush as the point of reference and until now, that may have actually had a purpose. What has however now happened is that the media hardly mentions him with regards to Iraq. He has become a politician's worst nightmare: he has become irrelevant.

Like Dr. Frankenstein who created his monster and unleashed him upon the world, Bush too can only sit on the sidelines and watch his monster destroy its surroundings before being destroyed itself. “I am the decider,” he proclaimed recently. But actually, he is not. General Petraeus is not a man defending the actions of the Bush administration and his Commander in Chief. General Petraeus is turning to Congress and effectively saying: 'stop talking about WHY we are in Iraq, start deciding WHAT you want to do with Iraq.'

Bush has been sidelined and the reason is, that it has become evident to everyone, friends and foes, that he can no longer control the situation. Iraq is literally out of control and with it, slowly, the other global neuralgic points are slipping into chaos as well. With just under 18 months to go, Bush's Presidency is not a lame duck Presidency, it isn't a despised and hated Presidency, it isn't a debated Presidency – it is an irrelevant Presidency. Americans, as I recently noted, in an opinion poll conducted by Newsweek, overwhelmingly just wanted his term to end. They didn't want to impeach him, didn't want him for another four years, didn't want to hear about how he was going to solve this or that – they just wanted him to go away.

Great politicians are not just loved by people – they are always controversial figures. They are successful, powerful and effective leaders and many people adore them and many dislike them, sometimes intensely. But Bush is not that kind of material. He is just painful to watch. This quote sums up the way he is viewed today:

"He is the not-too-bright brother-in-law who is employed doing something, you're not sure what, and meanwhile he's totaled your car four times."
--Garrison Keillor

Now some of you might say: “he isn't irrelevant at all – Bush can still veto any plans the Democrats have for ending the war.” You would be right. Bush, because he is acting President, can do just that. But stop for a moment and think; this is not what it means to govern – this is akin to just turning over the monopoly board every time you think you are losing. This is about calling the game off every time you are not winning. It isn't about fighting, it's about shutting down the shop – it's about running away. These are not the actions of a President in power – these are the actions of a five year old who is trying to sway a party of grown ups into doing what he wants – it's the action of one who knows that he is no longer relevant.

Go home Mr. Bush, go home and clear some shrub until your miserable, irrelevant Presidency is over whilst those in power attempt to swing this super-tanker of a nation back on track.