Friday, June 30, 2006

"How gullible does the administration take the American citizenry to be?"

Richard Clarke and his fellow terror error expert Roger Cressey have an op-ed in the NY Times today that examines the recent blow-up about monitoring money. That revelation has the entire GOP at war with the NY Times. The answer to the question is that Bush and company think the American people are incredibly gullible:

"Terrorists have for many years employed nontraditional communications and money transfers including the ancient Middle Eastern hawala system, involving couriers and a loosely linked network of money brokers precisely because they assume that international calls, e-mail and banking are monitored not only by the United States but by Britain, France, Israel, Russia and even many third-world

"While this was not news to terrorists, it may, it appears, have been news to some Americans, including some in Congress. But should the press really be called unpatriotic by the administration, and even threatened with prosecution by politicians, for disclosing things the terrorists already assumed?"

And Clarke knows why the Bush team is playing this game. Too bad most of the reporting class (and that means you, CNN) haven't clued in:

"There is, of course, another possible explanation for all the outraged bloviating. It is an election year. Karl Rove has already said that if it were up to the Democrats, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi would still be alive. The attacks on the press are part of a political effort by administration officials to use terrorism to divide America, and to scare their supporters to the polls again this year."

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Senator wants IRS to chase after pimps

Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa), chairman of the tax-writing Senate Finance Committee, wants the Internal Revenue Service to chase after pimps and sex traffickers with the same fervor it stalked gangster Al Capone for tax evasion.

Grassley would hit pimps with fines and lengthy prison sentences for failing to file employment forms and withhold taxes for the women and girls under their command.

"The thugs who run these trafficking rings are exploiting society's poorest girls and women for personal gain," Grassley said. "The IRS goes after drug traffickers. It can go after sex traffickers."

Michael Horowitz, a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute, said the change has the potential to put pimps out of business without difficult trials that require women to testify to abuse and mistreatment.

Ed.: Is this a critical issue? While I'm all for coming down on pimps, this is just more election year pandering to the holier-than-thou crowd.

Gay Marriage: Turning Up the Heat on Fundamentalists

“In the upcoming months, the flames surrounding the cultural battle over gay marriage will once again blaze as Republicans continue to promote one of the greatest political hoaxes of modern times. Resorting to worn-out but stalwart methodologies to rile up their fundamentalist base, it’s time to turn up the heat in debates and expose their hypocritical platitudes on the topic of gay marriage.”

Ed.: Read all of Kirk Snyder’s excellent post on He’ll give you some insights into the historical perspectives on marriage and some of the current studies on genetic-based sexual orientation.

What We Need is a Murrow Moment

It is bad enough to demean a hero who came home from Vietnam in a wheelchair; bad enough for those who never wore the uniform to demean the service record of an authentic hero awarded the Bronze and Silver stars; bad enough to call a decorated Marine and lifetime brother of the troops a coward on the Floor of Congress; bad enough to demean hispanics who sing our anthem in Spanish, bad enough to treat gays as an enemy of Christ; bad enough to mock and slander the widows of 9-11.

It is bad enough for the President of the United States, the commander in chief of our military; the man who boasts of being a war president in a nation he believes is permanently at war, to host a National Political Convention, as George W. Bush did in 2004, handing out toys that make fun of the Purple Heart, a sickening spectacle of a partisan without conscience.

Our President claims the inherent, unilateral and pre-emptive powers to abrogate the Bill of Rights and the Constitution claiming some authority as commander in chief; he claims the inherent, unilateral and pre-emptive power to violate Federal laws on his own decision. He claims the power to violate time honored international laws such as the Geneva Convention, which is supported almost unanimously by the military who's advice he falsely claims to always follow.

Remember: the articles of impeachment against Richard Nixon included the charge that he failed to faithfully execute the laws of the land, which had put his hand on a bible, and swore to uphold.

LSB: Please go to to read Brent Budowsky’s post in its entirety.

Arkansas Supreme Court Unanimously Overturns Ban on Foster Parenting by Gay People

LITTLE ROCK, AR - In a unanimous decision cheered by child welfare advocates nationwide, the Arkansas Supreme Court today struck down a regulation that banned lesbian and gay people from serving as foster parents. The decision ends a seven-year legal battle by the American Civil Liberties Union.

Pointing to the findings of a lower court that overturned the ban, the Court criticized the Child Welfare Agency Review Board's reasons for enacting the regulation, writing, "These facts demonstrate that there is no correlation between the health, welfare, and safety of foster children and the blanket exclusion of any individual who is a homosexual or who resides in a household with a homosexual." The Court went on to say that the state's argument to the contrary "flies in the face" of the scientific evidence about the suitability of lesbian and gay people as foster parents. The Court added that "the driving force behind adoption of the regulation was not to promote the health, safety, and welfare of foster children, but rather based upon the Board's view of morality and its bias against homosexuals."

More information on the case, Howard v. Child Welfare Agency Review Board, including today's decision, can be found online at

Is the Middle East on the Brink of War - Again?

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (June 29) - Israeli forces arrested one-third of the Hamas-led Palestinian Cabinet and 20 lawmakers early Thursday and pressed their incursion into Gaza, responding to the abduction of one of its soldiers.

Israeli warplanes also buzzed the summer home of Syria's president, accused by Israel of harboring the hard-line Hamas leaders it blames for masterminding the kidnapping.

Palestinian witnesses told The Associated Press that Israeli tanks and bulldozers entered northern Gaza before daybreak Thursday, adding a second front to the Israeli action in Gaza that began early Wednesday when thousands of Israeli troops crossed into southern Gaza.

... No deaths or injuries were reported in the Israeli actions. But the warplanes knocked out Gaza's electric power plant, raising the specter of a humanitarian crisis. The Hamas-led government warned of "epidemics and health disasters" because of damaged water pipes to central Gaza and the lack of power to pump water.

... In a clear warning to Syrian President Bashar Assad, Israeli airplanes flew over his seaside home near the Mediterranean port city of Latakia in northwestern Syria, military officials confirmed, citing the "direct link" between his government and Hamas. Israeli television reports said four planes were involved in the low-altitude flight, and that Assad was there at the time.

... Anxious Palestinians pondered whether the incursion, the first large-scale ground offensive since Israel withdrew from Gaza last year, was essentially a "shock and awe" display designed to intimidate militants, or the prelude to a full-scale invasion.

... "We won't hesitate to carry out extreme action to bring [19-year-old captured Israeli soldier, Cpl. Gilad Shalit] back to his family," [Israeli Prime Minister Ehud] Olmert declared.

As for Khaled Mashaal [the Hamas leader exiled in Syria], Israeli Justice Minister Haim Ramon said the hard-line Hamas leader, who appears to be increasingly at odds with more moderate Hamas politicians in Gaza, is in Israel's sights for assassination.

"Khaled Mashaal, as someone who is overseeing, actually commanding the terror acts, is definitely a target," Ramon told Army Radio.

Israel tried to kill Mashaal in a botched assassination attempt in Jordan in 1997. Two Mossad agents injected Mashaal with poison, but were caught. As Mashaal lay in a Jordanian hospital, King Hussein of Jordan forced Israel to provide the antidote in return for the release of the Mossad agents.

... Gaza's economy was already in the doldrums before the Israeli assault, a result of five years of Israeli-Palestinian violence and an international aid boycott that followed Hamas' parliamentary election victory in January. The Israeli assault threatened to turn a bad situation into a disaster - underscoring the extent to which hopes have been dashed following the optimism that accompanied Israel's pullout.

Palestinian plans for high-rise apartments, sports complexes and industrial parks in lands evacuated by Israel have given way to despair, with rising poverty, increasingly violent relations with Israel and a looming threat of civil war.

Ed.: Despair, rising poverty, and increasing violence - never a good combination. Could this incursion be the tipping point for an all-in war in the Middle East? Or will tensions simply simmer until the next "event?" Given this President's standing and influence with world leaders - especially in the Middle East, - who will take the lead in negotiating some sort of peaceful de-escalation of tensions in the region? And with our troops stretched to the limit in Iraq and Afghanistan, what role will the world's last remaining "super power/world's cop" play should tensions continue to escalate?

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Congress is pushing a law that would abandon the Internet's First Amendment – a principle called Network Neutrality that prevents companies like AT&T, Verizon and Comcast from deciding which Web sites work best for you – based on what site pays them the most. (For more on Net Neutrality, watch this short video.)

The Senate Commerce Committee fell a single vote short this afternoon of passing an amendment to safeguard the free and open Internet as momentum builds toward a full Senate vote on Net Neutrality. The amendment failed by a tie vote of 11-11. All ten Democratic committee members voted in favor with Senator Olympia Snowe (R-ME). The eleven remaining Republican members voted against the amendment.

If the public doesn't speak up now, our elected officials will cave to a multi-million dollar lobbying campaign. Urge your senator to vote NO on the COPE telecom law. It is important that you contact your Senator ASAP and urge others on your email lists to do the same.

Big Lie of the Week #1

Big Lie of the Week #2

Big Lie of the Week #3

Big Lie of the Week #4

UPDATE: Wyden to Block Telecom Bill Without Net Neutrality. U.S. Senator Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) threatened to place a “hold” on major telecommunications legislation recently approved by the Senate Commerce Committee until clear language is included in the legislation that prevents discrimination in Internet access.

Immediately following the Commerce Committee’s vote against a Net Neutrality amendment, Senator Wyden marched onto the floor of the Senate to demand that the legislation include stronger safeguards against phone and cable company discrimination.

Watch the video of Wyden’s speech at the Agonist.

Things I Don't Care About (and never will!)

Jerry Falwell: "You know, you almost got to be a homosexual to be recognized in the entertainment industry anymore." [Verily I say unto you, Jerry, in words taken from the Bible – "(1) Judge not, that ye be not judged. (2) For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again." – Matthew, Chapter 7]

TomKat: Baby Suri's Photo Didn't Sell [Apparently the price for the pictures only got to $3M - $1M less than the price for the Pitt-Jolie ankle-biter pics. Some charity is $3M poorer today because TC’s ego got in the way. Boycott MI3!]

Nicole Kidman's Wedding: Nicole Kidman wasn't really married to Tom Cruise, at least according to the Catholic Church in Australia. [So that explains how she was able to get married last weekend to What'sHisName (that overly-highlighted country singer) in a Catholic ceremony. Maybe her 10-year union with Cruise was like a gay marriage and only Massachusettes recognized it.]

Star Jones Reynolds: Erased from "The View" [Great! – another lawyer is back on the streets!]

Katie Couric: "Unemployment is highly underrated." [I recognize this was supposed to be funny, but as someone who's been under-employed for the past 18 months it is a little hard to find the humor in this statement. Perhaps if I were sitting on a pile of money like KC I'd find this a bit more humorous.]

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Which War on Terror?

Ari Emanuel isn't the only one confused!

I’m confused. President Bush thinks The New York Times keeping the public informed is “making it harder to win this war on terror” and Dick Cheney says the Times has “made the job of defending against further terrorist attacks more difficult.”

So what exactly does the phrase "war on terror" really mean? Does it mean we can't have freedom of speech or freedom of the press anymore?

Does it mean that our phone calls have to be monitored? Does it mean that the government has to look at our bank accounts or our lives will be in danger?

How long before the definition of “war on terror” means that we can't demonstrate -- or even congregate? What other things are we not going to be able to do in the future? Where will the definition of the “war on terror” ultimately take us?

Mr. President and Mr. Vice President, please let us know the precise definition so we can vote on it in November. Then again, maybe in the “war on terror” you can't actually vote. Or you can vote but it doesn’t count. We’ve already seen how that works in Florida and Ohio.

Note to Liberals: Stop Waiting for a Hero

By Rev. Jim Rigby, pastor of St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church in Austin, TX, as posted on The Huffington Post.

As we get closer to the presidential elections, a conversation will be heard all across America. "Who can liberals choose that will save this country? Is he the one, or is it her?" Lists are being compiled and a debate held over which of the names is America's savior. For liberals, the correct answer is "none of the above."

I say this without knowing who will be the nominee. I say this not because the individuals in question are inadequate. I say this because liberal values cannot be saved by heroes. Liberal values can only be saved by ordinary citizens living up to their principles.

In the biblical story of the Exodus, Moses dies just before Israel can enter the Promised Land. The story is told as a way of making a point. Leaders can only take you so far. At some point it's up to the people to govern themselves. Eugene B. Debs used to tell his listeners, "I would not lead you into the promised land even if I could, for, if anybody leads you in, someone else can lead you out."

When George W. Bush named his first cabinet I announced from our pulpit that America was going to war. I am no prophet, but I can read the writing on the wall. If you see a robot with guns for hands you can be pretty sure it will not be planting many flowers. A presidential cabinet consisting of corporate lobbyists with ties to oil and weapons makers, but having no ambassadors or diplomats can only produce war and economic rapine.

"President" means someone who presides over the democratic process. That may seem mundane. Often it is. But the flashier title "Commander in Chief" is our leader's title in a time of war. Can anyone imagine Jefferson or Lincoln wearing a jacket and hat emblazoned with "Commander in Chief" as has our current President? When people came to make George Washington king, he put on spectacles so they could see his human frailty. That is what a patriot looks like in a peace-loving democracy.

This President occasionally says he took an oath of office to protect the American people. Actually, he took an oath to protect the constitution. It may not seem as exciting as fighting terrorism, but the day-to-day work of participatory democracy is the life blood of our nation.

The flipside of not having heroes is not having demons either. Liberals must stop fixating on George Bush. Corporations took over America using politicians as sock puppets. It certainly makes a difference who sits in office, but we have not solved our problems if we impeach one of the socks. We must change the system. And the way to do that is from the bottom up.

The Howard Dean campaign suggested how grassroots campaigns can be successful, but liberals must stop focusing on personalities and start focusing on the one thing reactionaries do not have, which is principles. If a future candidate happens to shout in a microphone or cry in public we must not let that disqualify her or him from public service. We are choosing a President, not a stuntman for a Rambo sequel.

The American people have chosen reactionary leaders lately because they show their backbone. True, it is a reptilian backbone, it is cruel, ignorant and selfish, but for most voters a spinal column is a requirement for the job. I would suggest that the backbone of a liberal candidate must be a commitment to improving the human condition.

Liberals must not let ridicule or even political defeat trick them into betraying these values: universal health care, livable wages, civil rights for all people including gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender persons, reproductive choice for women and a planet governed by people not by corporations, religions or armies.

"But what if those principles cost us the election?" you may ask. We need to remember that the religious right rose to power by losing elections. They ran candidates with very strong views using those elections to identify loyal blocks of voters. They then brokered those voting blocks into swing votes in tight elections. Over time they produced a voter base with unshakable loyalty because they gave people something worth voting for. Lovers of democracy can take back this country the same way.

Bertold Brecht in The Life of Galileo has a character say, "Unhappy is a land that breeds no heroes," to which Galileo responds "Unhappy is a land that needs heroes." It is a truism of history that heroes usually lead to war whereas peace and democracy are preserved by an informed and involved citizenry. There is no question about it, America will grow tired of the cruelty and ignorance of the current administration. The only question is whether liberals will be at their posts when she does.

Bush Still Questions If Global Warming Is Man-Made...

A Perfect Storm Descends on the Nation's Capital
By Bill Blakemore, ABC News


The massive downpours this morning shorting out government buildings with flooded basements, seizing up legislative communications, snarling traffic access to white columned buildings, fit exactly the pattern predicted decades ago as a consequence of global warming.

It's a simple fourth grade science lesson: the warmer the air, the more moisture it can hold.

Winds suck up more water vapor from oceans and farmlands — leaving more agricultural drought behind — and when they finally do dump that moisture out as rain, the downpours are much heavier.

Not just in the United States. Worldwide, such downpours have been increasing markedly over recent decades — exactly as predicted by scientists.

In the 1980's, leading American climatologists stood in front of Congress, trying to get across the reality of this planetary threat.

One of the world's most respected climatologists, NASA's James Hansen, even used a dice metaphor to make it clear.

If you paint one side of the die red, you'll roll red about one in six times. Paint four red, and you'll roll red on average four in six times.

Manmade greenhouse gas emissions, Hansen explained, were loading the dice so that we'd have such extreme weather far more frequently. And, exactly as predicted, we and the world have — well above what the frequency of any natural weather cycles can explain.

"I have said consistently," answered Bush, "that global warming is a serious problem. There's a debate over whether it's manmade or naturally caused. We ought to get beyond that debate and start implementing the technologies necessary … to be good stewards of the environment, become less dependent on foreign sources of oil…"

[Blog Ed.: This from the man who assaulted the environment with legislation named – ironically – “The Healthy Forests Act" (which deforests pubic lands) and the "Clear Skies Initiative" (which allows even more pollution in our skies).]

The President — as far as the extensive and repeated researches of this and many other professional journalists, as well as all scientists credible on this subject, can find — is wrong on one crucial and no doubt explosive issue. When he said — as he also did a few weeks ago — that "There's a debate over whether it's manmade or naturally caused" … well, there really is no such debate.

At least none above what is proverbially called "the flat earth society level."

Not one scientist of any credibility on this subject has presented any evidence for some years now that counters the massive and repeated evidence — gathered over decades and come at in dozens of ways by all kinds of professional scientists around the world — that the burning of fossil fuels is raising the world's average temperature.

Or that counters the findings that the burning of these fuels is doing so in a way that is very dangerous for mankind, that will almost certainly bring increasingly devastating effects in the coming decades.

Meteorologists predict more heavy rain this week along the mid-Atlantic seaboard.

Climatologists predict much the same for the coming decades.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Rush with a Hard On? EEEEWWWW!

And this just in...

Monday, June 26, 2006 – West Palm Beach, FL: Rush Limbaugh was detained for more than three hours Monday at Palm Beach International Airport after authorities said they found a bottle of Viagra in his possession without a prescription.

Customs officials found a prescription bottle labeled as Viagra in his luggage that didn't have Limbaugh's name on it, but that of two doctors, said Paul Miller, spokesman for the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office.

Hey, what a minute… why was Rush returning from the Dominican Republic, a country known for its thriving sex trade, with a bottle of Viagra that didn’t have his name on it? Does possessing prescription medication in another patient's name mean he violated his parole? Did he have a judge's prior approval to take a vacation out of the country since he's on probation? Why isn't this drug addict in prison?

And more importantly will any of his wingnuts, dildoheads and/or holier-than-thou listeners even bother to ask why a thrice-divorced, unmarried man needs a prescription for Viagra anyway? Did the customs agents find any condoms, too, or just the Viagra? (Wouldn't a responsible adult have condoms in one pocket if they had Viagra in the other?)

You decide: a 'mea culpa' or simply no mention of this incident on his talk show? I'm guessing the latter. (As Scott McClelland would say in the face of overwhelming evidence, 'We don't comment on an on-going investigation.') Can you just imagine the tirade he would have delivered on-air had Bill Clinton come back from one of his overseas visits without Hillary and been found to have Viagra (prescribed for someone else no less) in his possession? Admit no guilt, find a scapegoat and somehow blame Clinton for this will be the M.O. for Rush.

So, the little fucker needs his blue pills – who cares? Let's "Rush" this little fucker right out of the building!

Imagine if Iraqis Had Caused the Deaths of 570,000 Americans

The LA Times ran a story this weekend that calculated the number of violent deaths in Iraq since the US invasion. The conservative estimate based on morgue counts was over 50,000 dead.

This number did not include deaths in the Kurdish area, deaths anywhere outside of Baghdad in the first year after the invasion, any non-violent deaths related to the war and it significantly underestimated deaths in the Anbar province, which is the Sunni stronghold where a lot of the fighting has taken place.

Still, the number is over 50,000 violent deaths.

And, oh yeah, it doesn’t count the American dead, which is over 2,500. Or the American injured, which is over 18,000. Or the Iraqi injured, which is God knows how many.

The LA Times pointed out that proportionally that would be the equivalent of 570,000 Americans killed in this country. In other words, since their population is much smaller, the 50,000 deaths in Iraq would have the same impact as 570,000 dead here.

Now imagine if Iraq had invaded the United States and caused 570,000 Americans to die, either through their actions, the insurgency that rose up to fight the Iraqi occupation or through foreign terrorists that poured in over our border to fight the Iraqis but killed so many more Americans. Now, how do you think we would feel about those occupiers?

Do you think after 570,000 dead Americans, we would accept the Iraqi line about how they wanted to help us by instituting regime change in our country and convert us to their form of government? Do you think perhaps we would have fought back?

I’m not going to even get into the American natural resources they would have given to Iraqi companies, the billions of dollars of our government money they would have lost, their gross mismanagement of the country and the ensuing chaos, churches blown up in every city, race wars they wound up triggering here, etc., etc.

Do you think we would have fought back?

Somehow this is not supposed to be a kosher question. I can’t quite understand why. I am not supposed to disturb your pleasant morning in paradise with the idea of the rage we would have if a foreign power occupied us and caused 570,000 Americans to die here. So go on about your pleasant lives and pretend we didn’t do that to all those people.

How long can we stomach this? How many more Iraqis have to die before we think we did some think morally reprehensible? And then I think of politicians like Joe Lieberman, John McCain and Hillary Clinton who still defend this war and refuse to call it a mistake. It makes me sick.

Cenk Uygur, on The Huffington Post

Friday, June 23, 2006

Did George Bush deface American flags?

From John in DC: The Associated Press caught Bush defacing American flags in 2003. [Seems] it happened again this week in Vienna. Reportedly, a slew of conservative Republican Bush supporters wanted to get Bush's autograph on US flags. And Bush signed them. Right on the flags.

What does current law say? US CODE > TITLE 4 > CHAPTER 1 > § 8 > Respect for flag(g): The flag should never have placed upon it, nor on any part of it, nor attached to it any mark, insignia, letter, word, figure, design, picture, or drawing of any nature.

The Democrats need to offer an amendment to the flag burning amendment that says writing on the flag is also illegal. Then let the Republicans decide if they're going to vote that George Bush defaced the flag, or whether they're going to defend defacing the flag.

UPDATE from Dana Milbank of The Washington Post (06/27/06): "The Citizens Flag Alliance, a group pushing for the Senate this week to pass a flag-burning amendment to the Constitution, just reported an alarming, 33% increase in the number of flag-desecration incidents this year. The number has increased to four, from three." [Ed.: Our tax dollars at work!]

Sorry, PA – Sen. Santorum is a Bigger Ass than TX Sen. Cornyn

Sen. Rick Santorum was on FOX-TV this week hyping a newly declassified document that describes degraded, pre-1991 munitions. [Sen. Santorum: "We now have found stockpiles." – Wednesday, June 21, 2006.]

Stephen Elliott blogs: “It turns out there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq after all. Up to 500 canisters of degraded chemical weaponry that, according to David Kay who headed the U.S. weapons-hunting team in Iraq from 2003 until early 2004, is about as hazardous as what the average American household has under their sink. They can cause burns but are unlikely to kill anyone. The canisters pre-date the first Gulf War.”

Crooks & Liars added, “ took one phone call by Jim Angle of FOX News to debunk Santorum's WMD claims today. That's pretty embarrassing when the Dick Cheney network [ed: FAUX-TV] undermines him.”

Bob Cesca has a GREAT opinion blog about Sen. Rick Santorum on The Huffington Post. Here are a couple of my favorite parts of Cesca’s blog:

“Senator Santorum is my kind of guy. Not only did he make a complete ass of himself on the national stage, but he perfectly exemplified the specious, delusional fearnauts currently occupying our government.

“In case you missed it, the senator found weapons of mass destructions (WMDs) in Iraq. These canisters, left in the desert decades ago and armed with depleted and useless mustard and sarin gas, could cause deadly harm to countless people if used in conjunction with a time machine powered by a 1.21 gigawatt flux capacitor set for Hill Valley, 1988.”

“Now if only Senator Santorum could also go back in time and prevent his parents from meeting, well then, bonus! Look out for that poop truck, Senator!”

And this next part makes you just wanna go, “Hmmm….”

“For without the ability to incite irrational fear in American voters, the Republicans are rendered powerless. Sadly, these fear props are often as ridiculous as Senator Santorum's 20-year-old Iran-Iraq War relics. Ban same-sex marriage because it'll destroy hetero marriage, but sue for divorce as much as you want. Spy on Americans to fight the war on terror, while voting in favor of the pardoning of insurgents who attacked American soldiers. Round up illegal immigrants, but continue to allow corporations to send American jobs to Mexico. Wheel out breaking news stories about ancient terror plots, but ignore the recommendations of the 9/11 Commission, leave our ports vulnerable, and act surprised when North Korea unveils its Taepodong missile. And if none of it works, and a majority of Americans recognize that it's all mostly horseshit Karl Rove thought of while glazing his forehead, just rig the elections.”

Way to go, Bob!

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Happy Father's Day – Now, Let's Get Out of Iraq!

To all of the fathers out there -- Happy Day! Enjoy your cards, special meals and Home Depot gift cards. I wish my dad was here for a big bear hug! (FYI: my dad is "here," he just isn't here.)

I was thinking this morning about all of those fathers with sons or daughters serving in Iraq, and most especially the 2500+ fathers whose children have made the ultimate sacrifice for their country. My prayers today are with the fathers of the two soldiers presumably kidnapped by insurgents a couple of days ago. Can the fear and uncertainty of what is happening with your child (even if he is a soldier) be a worse situation for any parent?

I've never been a father, so I don't know what it feels like to have a child much less lose a child. I am, however, reminded of an episode of the HBO series SIX FEET UNDER in which a baby dies. One of the characters asks (and I’m paraphrasing):

If a child loses a parent, he or she is said to be orphaned. If a woman loses her husband or a man loses his wife, they are said to be widowed. But what is it called when a parent loses a child? Is the concept so terrible that there is no word to describe it?

For someone who has been vocally against the war in Iraq from its inception – even when it was called “unpatriotic” by many to do so – I want all of those fathers (and mothers and wives and husbands and brothers and sisters and grandparents and other family members and friends and colleagues…) who have lost their soldier overseas to understand that I grieve with you. This may be a personal loss for you, but the potential your son or daughter might have brought through a life well-lived diminishes us all.

I also want you to know that I will continue to advocate a complete and immediate withdrawal of our troops from Iraq. And I do so in the memory of all our fallen service men and women.

We do not serve our country or the memory of our fallen war heroes by continuing to put young people in harm’s way simply to preserve an unjust war – and make no mistake, this is an unjust war. Why is the Iraqi conflict an unjust war for the US? For starters: (1) It was not waged as a last resort to all other non-violent options, as weapons inspectors from around the world were already engaged in Iraq in a search for any possible WMDs and should have been allowed to continue their work; (2) it is not being fought with the moral authority of a willing coalition of world leaders, but rather by one nation and a small contingent of a few troops coerced by foreign support payments; and (3) it is not being fought to redress a wrong suffered, as Iraq had nothing to do the 911 attack (which our leaders did know, but chose not to acknowledge, at the time of the start of the war). [For more on a Just War, see]

Don’t give me the “cut and run” argument – that’s just a convenient sound bite to keep the meek and clueless at bay. And it is dumb. If the widgets a company is making aren’t selling, they stop making widgets and start making something that will sell; when a broadcast network has a show no one is watching, they change the programming; and when a restaurant has a menu item that makes their patrons turn their noses up, they replace it. Are these businesses “cutting and running” on their business plans? Aren't businesses supposed to respond to market forces in the best interests of their investors?

Why shouldn’t we expect our government leaders to make the same kind of informed decision that any responsible business leader would make? If we had a President with any balls he would do what is right – discontinue his failed Iraqi policies and deploy our finite number of troops to the true hotspots around the world. Given enough time, the captain of the Titanic would have tried to steer clear of that iceberg. Should we expect less from our President in the two and a half years left in his term?

Besides, Iraq is on the cusp of a civil war. Why are we pretending that it is not so? And why are we attempting to put together a puppet government that will for years require our presence and money to prop it up? (Remind me again of the oil income that will offset the costs of this war!) It may be politically incorrect to say so, but maybe we should let just let the Iraqis fight it out. Let’s not fool ourselves; it is going to happen at some point anyway. Let there be a huge number of casualties, a great deal of suffering, and then let it be over. Because in the meantime there are tens of thousands of Iraqis being murdered and terrorized without a resolution and our service men and women are sitting ducks in this desert shooting gallery. Enough!

Bottom line: Continuing the deployment of troops in Iraq foolishly wastes our resources – human and financial – and does not give meaning to the lives and memories of those soldiers already killed. Staying the course is simply inflicting an unnecessary tragedy on another soldier's family. I’d like to think that next Father’s Day fewer new families will be suffering the loss of their loved one. Let’s leave Iraq now!

Another Day, Another Trial

Love my PC! Love the Internet! So why can't the two of them, in the immortal words of ‘90s-beating-victim-turned-folk-philosopher Rodney King, “just get along?”

Yesterday, after stupidly opening an email from a questionable source, I got infected with a Trojan virus. (How ironic – all this time I thought Trojans were a form of virus protection.) All the bells and whistles suddenly went off – pop-ups starting popping up all over the place: ‘You’ve been infected! Your emails, passwords and credit card info are at risk. Click here for a list of anti-malware software programs.’

Huh? "Anti-malware?" What happened to "Virus Protection" or "Security" programs? (A Republican must have named this new category of software protection programs – they are good at naming things to scare the masses.)

I know better than to open mysterious emails, so what was I thinking? I was not thinking – quite apparently! That little lapse in judgment (and, apparently, a crappy virus protection program) set me back $29.99, PLUS my browser is now permanently set to ____. (Initially I was going to put a web address here, but I decided that I didn't want to give this site the satisfaction of promoting their webpage on my blog. They know who they are, and they’ll have to just be satisfied with irritating me and not my readers.) Yes, I’ve been to Tools / Internet Options / Home Page Address and it is set to, so I don’t know why this other page comes up whenever the browser is opened. Just a continuing reminder of my momentary lapse in judgment, I guess. If you know how to eliminate this unwanted home page, please let me know!

There will be a special place in Hell for all of those computer hackers that write destructive, invasive and/or annoying computer programs and pop-ups. You’ve been warned!