Saturday, January 15, 2005

Friday, January 14, 2005

Altruism or some other -ism?

I don't know, but to me any religion, Christian or Muslim or any other, that uses the entree that is provided by the needy's need arising from the tsunami for prosetylizing is worthy of disgust and outrage and more.

This is really unpleasant for me to realize

but there are few things going on the United States today that I approve of. On the eve of MLK's day celebration, I don't think we've come very far from the early sixties, the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Have blacks and browns and other nonwhites gained in income, in status, in fundamental equity? A look at the stats says no. The persons of color are woefully over-represented on death row, in prisons, in poverty, in lack of insurance and income. They're still doing our most onerous, least rewarding (income-wise and otherwise) jobs. They're still not able to participate meaningfully in many social events--not because of laws, but worse, by ongoing social custom, something harder to amend.

Internationally, the US is at its nadir. We've never been so misguided, so hated. We're the evil empire, so regarded throughout the world, including among many of our traditional allies.

Economically, we're headed into an abyss of excess spending, due to an orgy of defense spending and a loss of income. We can't support our own, much less others', infirm and helpless. We've misspent our resources on wasteful adventures that cause wreckage of the planet and distrust throughout the world.

The inequities of earnings and wealth in the world are increasing; the waste of resources is profilgate; the lessons of these are unheeded. We are lost and have no desire to find our way. Is it time to bail out of America?

Why not?

Fallujah failure

By now, no one reading this blog is other than a Bush-bashing, Cheney-loathing leftist. But even those must read this evaluation of the US actions in Fallujah.

Isn't there anything we can do to save these people, and ourselves, from these evil warmongers?

No comfort at all

Now that Bush won the election, he's publicly eating his words--expressing regrets over the phrase "Bring 'em on!" for example--but meanwhile he's packing his administration with yea-sayers and proceeding along with his announced agenda of "staying the course" in Iraq, privatizing Social Security, limiting lawsuits and so forth.

So if he's doing precisely what he said he'd do, why has his approval rating plummeted? His approval numbers, which hovered in the 52% range in the weeks before the election (as opposed to Kerry's 48%), are now in the mid-40's, as low as any president's on the eve of inauguration.

Could it be that a majority of us hate this asshole, but that at least he's an asshole we know, as opposed to one we never learned to know?

Did you know this?

That some of the prisoners being held in the abu Graib prison are being taken to a courthouse to be tried in court? Apparently some escaped while being transported, otherwise I sure didn't know that was happening.

What court is trying them? What are the charges? Is there coverage allowed of the trials and if so, why aren't we being clued in by any media? And if the trials aren't public--as Saddam Hussein's trials were not--what's that about it the "democracy" that's being showcased in Iraq?

And the rope handcuffs? Does this story give off a bit of an odor to you?

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Don't let Bush get away with it

Here's the deal. The Bushies have lately been downgrading expectations for the election, and will soon be downgrading the expectations for the occupation itself. After the January 30 election, chaos will reign in Iraq, we all know that--even the administration predicts it--but what will happen is that our troops will withdraw into the many bases we've built in Iraq and will therefore suffer fewer deaths while they watch what plays out in Iraq. Craziness, of course, but our forces will intrude only when the craziness begins to impinge on the actions of the pro-US government that is bound to be elected.

Bottom line: Bush will claim victory in Iraq by the establishment of a large US force in the nation to watchdog its government and police its politics so that it remains loyal to the US. What this will look like, precisely, is the Vichy government of France, where the Nazis allowed the southern French to run their domestic affairs with Nazi oversight, largely because the Nazis couldn't afford the money and troops to be full-time enforcers in the region, but they nevertheless maintained fierce control.

There won't be anything like "democracy" in Iraq. It will be a cauldron of conflict and misery--but it will be our cauldron. We'll be in place, wedged into and in control of the country and its assets and its politics.

Bottom, bottom line: This is, of course, why our soldiers died: so we could control Iraq. The same reason Caesar's legions and Alexander's armies died. Not for democracy, for empire.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Now wait a little minute here, buddy

The resolution by which Congress (including Kerry, to his eternal discredit) authorized Bush to wage war in Iraq does not, by its terms, allow Bush to take a whack at Syria, as is now under discussion. A careful reading of the resolution delimits Bush to action against Iraq and requires periodic reports to Congress about his actions. Clearly, unless Bush seeks additional authority his actions will be in violation of the US constitution, not to mention international law. Maybe, if Bush does seek authority from Congress, the Democrats can find the guts to stand against such an outrageous extension of this mad adventure.

Up from the canvas

Here's a piece I wrote to the editor of the SB News-Press. Don't know if they'll print it. I must say, though, this Gonzales is a slimeball, bigtime.

To the Editor:

Remember less than three months ago when we Americans faced the most
momentous election—our gravest political choice--in memory? How could we
forget? How indeed?

It was billed “The Battle for the White House” and it was the longest, most expensive pre-fight promotion in history. The marquee carried their names as a tag-team: Bush/Cheney vs. Kerry/Edwards. Each contestant was skilled, both teams well-fitted. The promoters and pundits touted the match ceaselessly and as the election neared the pollsters called it a toss-up. Interest in the outcome was keen.

The incumbents’ handlers proclaimed that the election pitted principled patriotism against squishy internationalism, determination against equivocation, traditional values against unrestrained license. The opponents countered, claiming that the battle was between truth and falsehood, reason and force, greed-driven inequity and fairly-apportioned means, peace and war. Each side had its ardent,
well-publicized proponents: FoxNews/Clear Channel faced off against “the
liberal media”; Limbaugh/Hannity against Moore/Franken; Christian
Evangelicals against Hollywood Heavyweights. Each team had its unquestioning,
unswerving supporters: Nascar dads and Born-agains for Bush/Cheney; eggheads and alienateds for Kerry/Edwards.

The divisions of fan-base therefore couldn’t have been clearer—this was no Tweedle-dee/Tweedle-dum election—and the stakes couldn’t have been higher. Everybody—the pundits, the contestants, even the voters, agreed: The Battle for the White House was indeed The Battle of the Century, the twentieth as well as the twenty-first.

The match went the distance. The incumbents won fair and square (maybe). But
by no means was it a one-sided bout. The electors of a single populous
state, or a combination of two smaller states out of fifty, were the difference.
But nevertheless, in the intervening weeks, here’s what the incumbents have

First, even before all the votes, by punch or tap, were finally tallied, they declared that they’d handily pinned the opponents (or knocked them out, depending on your choice of metaphor), and thereupon claimed a mandate to rule. Next, they cleared out their Cabinet, moving all but those most solidly in their corner out into private (and very gainful, no doubt) employment, and elevated or retained those who’d been most loyal, regardless of merit, thereby consolidating their power. Third, they announced a series of programs—limiting consumer lawsuits, perpetuating tax reductions for the wealthy, opening national parks to mining and logging, entrusting Social Security funds to private investment, cutting back on international aid to
developing nations—to make certain their intentions are clear: They’d won the
battle for the White House and meant to claim the spoils.

That includes the spoils of war—that is, wars. The war in Iraq and the war on terror.
Remember them? Those are the wars that have gone so well, according to the
incumbents, that they had the temerity recently to award their planners—Tenet,
Bremer and Franks—the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Meanwhile, Iraqi
cities lie in ruins and the country remains a shooting gallery for our
soldiers—1350 of whom have died there, and 10,000-plus have been wounded—and a haven for insurgents. Afghanistan is also largely a wasteland, its peoples
destitute, that has deteriorated into heroin-heaven run by warlords. And
by all accounts—including those of the State Department, the CIA and the
Pentagon—the standing of the United States in the world—Europe, Eurasia, the
Middle East, even South America and Africa—has deteriorated significantly since
the US began its recent reign as world tyrant.

So here’s the question. Given that the election was a tough bout with high stakes and that the winners are claiming and wielding their power with the obvious—indeed, announced—purpose to effectuate their odious (to the losers) agenda, what do the losers do now? Do they remain forever on the canvas, allowing the
incumbents to dance around the ring in celebration? Do they let the
incumbents kick them while they’re down? Or do they, acting out the
American ideal of courage and perseverance in the face of acknowledged
adversity, rise up and say enough!

Well, here’s their chance. The incumbents, flushed with the arrogance of victory, have designated as their choice for the next Attorney General—the nation’s chief law enforcement officer—a man who has in writing presented a legal case to justify
the use of abuse and torture of prisoners, and in the process has belittled the
humanitarian provisions of Geneva Convention, a treaty that the US sponsored,
has rigorously observed and adhered to for decades. The man, Alberto Gonzales,
whom the incumbents seek to have serve as enforcer of our federal laws and
arbiter of their scope, must not be allowed such power.

The opponents must now rise from the canvas, wipe off the sweat and raise their
gloves. So too must any citizen of the United States, supporter of the
Bush/Cheney card or not. We must defeat Gonzales’ nomination. This nation
cannot stand among those who make up the civilized community with him in charge
of our laws. Our troops abroad will pay the price—an horrific price of
fear and flesh—because our most vicious enemies will believe, with Gonzales as
our Attorney General, that we are like them. We ask enough of our soldiers
to send them off to endless, meaningless battles. We can’t strip them of
the one protection they have from desolation and horrible death: The sense that
the nation on whose behalf they serve is the finest nation on Earth, a nation
that in all extremities is a nation of laws.

Do we do this one thing? Do we rise up and defeat Gonzales?

Or are we punchdrunk?

Sunday, January 09, 2005

End of empire, continued

My post about the end of the American Empire, in particular my welcome farewell to it, wasn't unAmerican, it was anti-empire. Not just this kind of empire--although it sickens me--but the expansionist, grandiose use of technology and arms to attempt to take over the world. I spent many summers in Sweden, a fine nation of fine folks, which was once an imperial power in the northern climes but has apparently learned its lesson and now rests comfortably on the benefits of its peaceful position in the world.

Could the US ever assume such a role? Certainly not with the Bushies in charge.

Yeah, we gotta watch out for those chisling Marines

We wouldn't want them to get away with any cheap medals.