Monday, December 31, 2007


Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Every-where-else-stan. It seems that every time the United States sticks its nose into other countries affairs, we inevitably get the unanticipated blowback. It matters not whether our self-serving intentions are good or not. We never learn.

At best we stomp around like a bull in a china shop. At worst we are blood-stained rabid wolves.

If we start demanding that our politicians back off, we are labeled isolationists. Like that is in itself a bad thing. How’s that empire thing coming along? And how well are those trade agreements working out for us?

If we get too critical about what our government has done to other countries, we are accused of being “Blame America Firsters.” Gimme a break, already!

I will cut short my endless rant on this matter and just refer you to a Washington Post column from last July. It is up for the vote for best column of the year. It’s by a Pakistani guy who grew up both here and in Pakistan.

Why Do They Hate Us? by Mohsin Hamid, published July 22.
A Muslim novelist who split his childhood between Pakistan and California seeks to answer the question.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Good Cop, Bad Cop

A Pakistani woman was murdered the other day. Almost immediately after she was killed, American politicians began to sound the chicken hawk cluck and squawk about her death being a reason to vote for them. Yes, they are the ones we need to protect us from the evil-doers. It was as if they were saying, “I, President (Jerk-of-choice’s name here) shall wield our military might to bomb and slaughter all those who don’t like us. And even the ones who look like those who don’t like us.” Yup. Our next President Blood and Guts shall courageously lead us to victory over the scary foreign tribesmen once and for all.

The assassinated woman had more courage than all these egotistic power seekers combined. How many of them would dare to face crowds with the minimal or non-existent security she had? How many of these would-be guardians of America would speak openly at rallies with all the death threats made against them?

Benazir Bhutto knew her life was in danger when she went back to Pakistan. She was attacked immediately. She continued with her campaign, knowing fully the intentional lack of security by the Musharraf regime could contribute to her death. Her doom was sealed when she played into the cruel and merciless arena of Bush’s neo-con inspired meddling in her country’s affairs.

It was nothing short of tragic for Bhutto to get mixed up in the game of empire. She had the best of intentions to restore hope and democracy to her people. She should have known that her efforts were seen as being associated with the United States. At least seventy percent of Pakistanis have a low level of approval toward us, to put it mildly.

The Bush administration wanted to use her as a façade of democracy and reform in order to maintain the dictatorship of General Musharraf. Although admired and loved by much of the country, the poor woman was hopelessly caught in the meat grinder between the radical Islamists and the tyrannical regimes of Musharraf and Bush. She didn’t stand a chance.

It has been heartbreaking to watch such promise and hope reduced to utter destruction. She deserved a far better fate. I remember the time when she first came to our attention.

Back in the dark days of Reagan/Bush America we glimpsed an inspiring vision of possibility. Not here, though. In our country we saw the beginning of the end of America’s middle class. It was unfolding with all the corporate deregulation and union busting ever dreamed of by a greedy CEO. From under the clouds of corporatism gathering over us, we caught a glimmer of light over the eastern horizon.

Something happened in Pakistan that has yet to happen here. A woman was elected to a high national executive office in the government. In an Islamic country, no less. Benazir Bhutto was elected, not once but twice, as Prime Minister of Pakistan.

I was impressed, and wished that such an event would bring hope to the entire world. I also felt the apprehension that this could be too good to be true. Soon enough, it became clear that she wasn’t welcome in the Old Boy’s Club after all. She was accused of corruption and forced out of office in both terms.

I wonder, was this alleged corruption as serious as having a vice-president agitating for a war for the profit of his military contracting company? Or was she lying about something that could have resulted in the deaths of thousands of innocent people? Naw, nobody could be that corrupt without being executed for treason.

Her position of Prime Minister had serious weaknesses. Like a Democratic Congress with a Bush White House, her power and influence were constrained.

Peter W. Galbraith, a former U.S. ambassador and friend of Bhutto from their days at Harvard said, "She had been prime minister twice, and had not been able to accomplish very much because she did not have power over the most important institutions in Pakistan -- the ISI [intelligence agency], the military and the nuclear establishment. Without controlling those, she couldn't pursue peace with India, go after extremists or transfer funds from the military to social programs.”

She would have been the perfect prop for Bush to point to and claim another “victory for democracy.” No matter. He will continue to give his “General General” our money anyway.

And so ends the latest Bush Administration game of good cop, bad cop. And so ends the life of one more bright light of humanity.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Friendly Conservative Feedback

I have to admit it. Thanks to a conservative’s friendly feedback to one of my comments, I have learned something. I’ll explain in a minute.

For some reason, I like chatting with people with a different outlook than mine. It’s not like I expect either one of us to be converted. After all, it’s really about the types of belief systems that we hold onto. The radical right believe (and believe in) their authority figures. And they always repeat the party leaders’ official line. I’m speaking primarily of the authoritarian type of conservative.

Traditional conservatives are closer to liberals by occasionally embracing open-mindedness and having more tolerance for ambiguity. Liberals and traditional conservatives share many other views, values and opinions.

Almost everyone holds some kind of traditional conservative sentiment, such as wanting acceptable and consistent living conditions with predictable daily routines. We know most of us truly value happy and healthy families, friends and communities. We want education and opportunities to be available for bettering ourselves and our children. We like having clean air to breathe and safe water to drink. Change isn’t always a desirable event in these circumstances.

Regarding my personal patriotic values, I label myself a Constitutional Conservative. I want to preserve and keep what is best about our country.

Differing views on religion, sex, politics, economics, race and culture begin to separate the opinions of liberals and conservatives. These can become contentious and heated wedge issues but are not insurmountable barriers to civility. There’s room for cooperation, compromise, and even honesty and mutual trust. Efforts toward increasing acceptance, tolerance, understanding and education reduce prejudice, and often bring about positive change. Traditional conservatives and liberals can and do get along.

The serious divergence occurs in matters of safety, security and conflict resolution. Authoritarians find little value in cooperation, compromise and tolerance. They reject the ideals of human rights and equality if they see these as impediments to their goals. They exploit religion, sex, politics, economics, race and culture as divisive wedge issues to win over people who don’t share their extremist ideology.

Others are given the ultimatum of being “with us or against us.” And the authoritarians will decide for someone, if they can’t do so themselves. They believe that only their kind know what is best for all of us. They want total control of the military and law enforcement. To further empower themselves, they seek complete and unchecked access to all information concerning anyone else, yet shroud themselves in secrecy.

The authoritarians then attempt to impose their will on others. They demand conformity and obedience. They will apply intimidation and coercion to get compliance. If those tactics fail, they will use force and violence. They will strip away legal protections and constitutional freedoms. They quickly accept the notion that the ends justify the means, up to and including torture.

They trust no one, and always resort to dishonesty. They must control or manipulate the media in order to push their agenda. The corporate media, profiting by their cooperation, unquestioningly convey the propaganda. If a news organization reports anything contrary to the radical right’s message, or exposes the leadership’s lies or outright criminal acts, we will hear them denounced as treasonous “liberal media.” And, of course, the “liberal media” promptly report the accusations, and in some instances, even apologize.

Since the authoritarians’ military aggression has resulted in extended chaos and unending bloodshed, the corporate media figured out there is still profit in questioning the regime.

Not all the corporate media, though. Their propaganda outlet at Fox Noise continues to beat the war drums for them.

The right wing talk radio still blares their message, too.

And then there is the right wing blogoshphere.

Remember Dan Bartlett, Former Bush Administration Counselor and long time inner circle member? He was discussing conservative bloggers with a Texas Monthly interviewer. He stated what we have already known, but it clears the smoke and mirrors for a second, He said, “That’s when you start going, ‘Hmm . . .’ because they do reach people who are influential…. It’s a very efficient way to communicate. They regurgitate exactly and put up on their blogs what you said to them. It is something that we’ve cultivated and have really tried to put quite a bit of focus on.”
Regurgitate, indeed.

This brings me back to my little exchange with a fellow of the conservative persuasion.

I was attempting to illustrate how politicians play the “God card” with their citizens. We know Bush has a history of this tactic. So did Hitler. I presented a quotation from each of them as examples. These were the quotes:

"The National Government will regard it as its first and foremost duty to revive in the nation the spirit of unity and cooperation. It will preserve and defend those basic principles on which our nation has been built. It regards Christianity as the foundation of our national morality, and the family as the basis of national life."
- Adolph Hitler, Berlin, February 1, 1933

"God told me to strike at al-Qaida and I struck them. And then He instructed me to strike at Saddam, which I did. And now I am determined to solve the problem in the Middle East. If you help me, I will act. And if not, the elections
will come. And I will have to focus on them." - George W. Bush, June 2003

The conservative gentleman simply told me. “The Bush quote is quite bogus.”

He must have been told that somewhere. He just didn’t bother to explain it.

I searched through ten pages of Google links to find the quote disputed. Sure enough, The Sydney Morning Herald had an article saying Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas denied that Bush made the remark.

I also found an article at the BBC where Abbas said, "President Bush said that God guided him in what he should do, and this guidance led him to go to Afghanistan to rid it of terrorism after 9/11 and led him to Iraq to fight tyranny," he said. "We understood that he was illustrating [in his comments] his strong faith and his belief that this is what God wanted."

OK. It was from a translation. It was both confirmed and denied by the same man. Since the quote is clearly disputed and unrecorded, I conceded the point and thanked my conservative friend, telling him, “As to the God quote from Bush, I stand corrected. I got it from the Washington Post, who reported it from the Israeli paper Haaretz (online). My point was to be wary of politicians who claim the Almighty’s endorsement. Thank you for helping my research. Believe it or not, critics of this administration want the truth. And there is very little of that commodity coming out of Washington.”

I learned my lesson. I should only use verifiable, documented, and ideally, recorded quotes from our Dear Leader. I don’t think I’ll suffer from lack of material.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

The Big Con

Remember back in the good old days of all those conservatives' self righteous glory? Limbaugh, Drudge, Fox Noise, and the whole brassy bandwagon of Clinton bashing right wing mouthpieces had their field day. Their propaganda was so effective that calling someone a liberal was the worst possible insult in their hateful little world.

How times have changed. With the calamitous effects of Bush conservatism crashing down upon our nation and our world, liberals sound like our last best hope for us yet. Whatever those liberals were accused of doing, there's a whole lot more ugly things they didn't do.

It wasn’t a liberal Supreme Court that nullified a presidential election.

It wasn’t a liberal administration that took power with half a million fewer votes than their opponents, and then claimed to be “spreading democracy.”

It wasn’t a liberal administration that cut taxes for the rich and then borrowed and spent a country into bankruptcy.

It wasn’t a liberal administration in power when the "Bin Laden Determined to Strike in US" memo was ignored.

It wasn’t a liberal administration in power when the towers and pentagon were hit.

It wasn’t a liberal administration in power when the campaign against al-Qaeda in Afghanistan was botched because the president wanted a war with another country.

It wasn’t a liberal administration in power when lies and fear-mongering were used to frighten people into voting for republicans.

It wasn’t a liberal administration that lied to us about Saddam having connections to al-Qaeda.

It wasn’t a liberal administration that lied to us about Saddam building “nucular” weapons.

It wasn’t a liberal administration that lied to us about Saddam having anthrax, chemical weapons, and unmanned aircraft to attack us.

It wasn’t a liberal administration in power when our nation invaded a country that was no threat to us and had nothing to do with al-Qaeda.

It wasn’t a liberal administration whose vice-president provoked a war that generated obscene profits through no-bid contracts for his company.

It wasn’t a liberal administration that turned world opinion against the US.

It wasn’t a liberal administration in power when the Press Secretary said “Americans need to watch what they say.”

It wasn’t a liberal administration that shredded the Bill of Rights when they spied on Americans without warrants.

It wasn’t a liberal administration in power when a president claimed the power to call someone an “enemy combatant,” jail him without charges, and deny him the right to defense counsel.

It wasn’t a liberal administration that treasonously exposed a covert intelligence operative’s identity.

It wasn’t a liberal administration that protected those guilty of betraying the intelligence operative.

It wasn’t a liberal administration in power that failed to rebuild New Orleans

It wasn’t a liberal administration that politicized the Justice Department in order to crush opposition and suppress voting rights.

It wasn’t a liberal administration in power when oil went from around thirty dollars a barrel to almost a hundred dollars a barrel.

It wasn’t a liberal administration in power when the Canadian dollar became stronger than the US dollar.

It wasn’t a liberal administration who overturned the Posse Comitatus Act, claimed the power to declare martial law, and use the National Guard as a political police force against the American public.

And on and on it goes. How much more can we take before the public wakes up to the big con in conservatism?

Monday, December 3, 2007


It was labeled HR1955, the `Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act of 2007'

Naturally, we don't hear a lot about this piece of governance from the corporate media. Our politicians in the Big Shop of Horrors on the Potomac are at it again. This one is a real nightmare for the remaining freedom-loving American people.

It calls for a commission to be appointed by party leaders. The commission will gather information on what it believes causes "Violent Radicalization".

Then a "Center of Excellence for the Study of Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism in the United States" will be set up to tell the government what to do to about it.

It has passed the House almost unanimously and is now up to the Senate.

The potential dangers lie in vague or loose definitions. We can see them in excerpts from HR1955. Ironically, it is worded so that the president and vice president have already violated this imminent act. Among many others, of course. But we all know by now those tyrants are above the rule of law. Look how numbers 2, 3, and 4 all describe Bush, Cheney, and the neo-cons as they lied us into war.

`For purposes of this subtitle:
`(1) COMMISSION- The term `Commission' means the National Commission on the Prevention of Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism established under section 899C.
`(2) VIOLENT RADICALIZATION- The term `violent radicalization' means the process of adopting or promoting an extremist belief system for the purpose of facilitating ideologically based violence to advance political, religious, or social change.
`(3) HOMEGROWN TERRORISM- The term `homegrown terrorism' means the use, planned use, or threatened use, of force or violence by a group or individual born, raised, or based and operating primarily within the United States or any possession of the United States to intimidate or coerce the United States government, the civilian population of the United States, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives.
`(4) IDEOLOGICALLY BASED VIOLENCE- The term `ideologically based violence' means the use, planned use, or threatened use of force or violence by a group or individual to promote the group or individual's political, religious, or social beliefs

The Congress finds the following:

`(1) The development and implementation of methods and processes that can be utilized to prevent violent radicalization, homegrown terrorism, and ideologically based violence in the United States is critical to combating domestic terrorism.

`(2) The promotion of violent radicalization, homegrown terrorism, and ideologically based violence exists in the United States and poses a threat to homeland security.

`(3) The Internet has aided in facilitating violent radicalization, ideologically based violence, and the homegrown terrorism process in the United States by providing access to broad and constant streams of terrorist-related propaganda to United States citizens.

"Belief system" will be what the government says it is. Not what you personally believe. If you are noticed reading politically incorrect literature, or visiting the “wrong” web site, they may say you are adopting an "extremist belief system".

"Planned use...of force or violence" could mean anything. They could say you are "intimidating or coercing" by simply carrying a protest sign on a public street or sidewalk. Or someone could be charged with “Homegrown Terrorism” simply by being accused of thinking about it, as in "planned use". And notice how “force” is not even defined.

We know that peaceful protest, and the right to assemble, and petition the government for a redress of grievances are not terrorism, but they will have the law to say what they want it to say. This will give them power to silence any opinion, or person, they dislike.

"Thoughtcrime" from the book 1984 has now made the transition from fiction to fact.

It will be passed. I highly doubt the right wing courts will object. American Fascism rises another step.

People don't want to be bothered, or just don't care anymore. We are getting what we deserve when we abandon our duty to democracy. Our ONLY hope is for EVERYONE to vote, if it's not too late already.

It seems the entire federal government is now openly hostile to the Constitution. DemocRATS and ReTHUGlicans. Criminals and their accomplices are in charge now.

I leave you with these remarks.

"The price of freedom is eternal vigilance. Whenever the people are well-informed, they can be trusted with their own government." Thomas Jefferson.

"When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag, carrying a cross."- Sinclair Lewis (1935).

"God told me to strike at al-Qaida and I struck them. And then He instructed me to strike at Saddam, which I did. And now I am determined to solve the problem in the Middle East. If you help me, I will act. And if not, the elections will come. And I will have to focus on them." - George W. Bush, June 2003