Saturday, May 01, 2004

Some other things you should look at today

Two voting companies & two brothers will count 80 percent of U.S. election using both scanners & touchscreens

After publication of the shocking pictures of Iraqi prisoners being tortured and degraded by their American prison guards, who can disagree with them if Iraqis feel they have simply exchanged one tyranny for another?

Bush's policies are a threat to all citizens


Can you handle the truth, people

OK, so let's cut the bull and talk about the real reasons why we attacked Iraq. We now know for sure (well, most of us knew this a long time ago) that attacking Iraq had nothing the do with "Weapons of Mass Destruction". Paul Wolfowitz stated this explicitly. I will try to find the quote, but earlier this year or late 2003 he was quoted (and taped) saying that for political reasons the admininstration settled on WMD as the main issue to push on the American Public.

We also know, as we knew all along, that Iraq and Saddam Hussein's regime had nothing to do with 9/11, al Qaeda, or Osama bin Laden. Bush has stated this explicitly on camera, despite Cheney still trying to get mileage out of this.

And of course, I personally think it had nothing to do with bringing democracy to Iraq. That is a farce, though I think that Bush himself has started to believe in hindsight that this was the reason he attacked.

Richard Clarke in his book "Against All Enemies" lists five reasons, all attributed to Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld or Wolfowitz, that probably contain most of the true reasons we went to war. They are the following:

- To clean up the "mess" left by the first Bush Admin in 1991 when it left Saddam in power

- To improve Israel's strategic position in the Middle East

- To create an Arab democracy that could serve as a model for other friendly Arab states now threatened with internal dissent.

- To permit the withdrawl of U.S. forces from Saudi Arabia where they were stationed for 12 years to counter the threat of the Iraqi military.

- To create another friendly source of oil for the US market and to reduce the reliance of the US on Saudi Arabia which might face overthrow of their regime one day.

Of all those reasons, I think the last one is the most important. This is because I think that Cheney was the real driver behind the war, and energy is his pet project. His secret Energy Task Force presumably was looking at maps that were war maps generated by the Pentagon. However, most of what that commission looked at has not been seen by the public - I think there are real reasons for this.

Additionally, many policy strategists think overthrow of the ruling family in Saudi Arabia by religious extremists, similar to Iran, is likely. Securing long term supplies of oil for our oil-thirsty economy seems like a real reason these guys would go to war. The other things listed by Clarke, I believe, were laniappe to these guys.


Friday, April 30, 2004

Paul Krugman - Reality in Iraq

For those of you who don't know Paul Krugman, he is one of the clearest thinkers and writers on the left side of the political spectrum today. As a Princeton Economics Professor, he was originally pegged by the NY Times to write opinion columns about economic and monetary issues. However, since The Times hired him, he has refused to keep his expressed opinions within those narrow boundaries. As we all know, economics and politics are inextricably linked. In any case, Krugman raises the hackles of the RNC with almost everything he prints. Here are some exerpts from todays column.

"We are all capable of believing things which we know to be untrue, and then, when we are finally proved wrong, impudently twisting the facts so as to show that we were right. Intellectually, it is possible to carry on this process for an indefinite time: the only check on it is that sooner or later a false belief bumps up against solid reality, usually on a battlefield." That's from George Orwell's 1946 essay "In Front of Your Nose." It seems especially relevant right now, as we survey the wreckage of America's Iraq adventure.


All the information I've been able to get my hands on indicates that the security situation in Iraq is really, really bad. It's not a good sign when, a year into an occupation, the occupying army sends for more tanks. Western civilians have retreated to armed enclaves. U.S. forces are strong enough to defend those enclaves, and probably strong enough to keep essential supplies flowing. But we don't have remotely enough troops to turn the vicious circle around.


But bear in mind that right now the U.S. is still planning to hand over "sovereignty" to a body, yet to be named, that will have hardly any power at all. For practical purposes, the U.S. ambassador will be running the country. Americans may believe that everything will change on June 30, but Iraqis are unlikely to be fooled. And by the way, much of the Arab world believes that we've been committing war crimes in Falluja."


Thursday, April 29, 2004

USA Patriot Act - Catcha twenty-two

Or how I too learned to love Big Brother.

This is another frightening story brought to you by Attorney General Ashcroft (and channeled to you by the good people at the WaPo) about one of the interesting provisions of the USA Patriot Act (AKA the "We're going to put a listening device up your colon and there is nothing you can do about it" Act).

Senor Eggen at the Post has disclosed that "The American Civil Liberties Union disclosed yesterday that it filed a lawsuit three weeks ago challenging the FBI's methods of obtaining many business records, but the group was barred from revealing even the existence of the case until now."
Anyway, what do you think? Bubba is dying to know.


Against All Enemies

So, I've been neglecting my faithful readers the last few days (all 1.5 of them). Being a committed blogger is tough when you have a real job, a family (including two teenagers), a dog and two cats. Moreover, when the temp is 80 deg and sunny it doesn't feel right to sit here and commiserate with the other malcontented digerati who are freezing their keesters off in Minnesota.

Anyway, I have been wading my way through Richard Clarke's book "Against All Enemies", and it is crystal clear to me why the Republican attack machine could not let what this man wrote stand up without a full frontal mud smear attack. In Clarke's book Clinton comes off mostly as a hero, with almost glowing praise. The Bush Administration and the Boy Emperor comes off as everyone else has written about him and his "Clan of Cave Bears" - misguided, skeptical to outright disdainful of anything that was created in the US Government prior to 1/21/2001, ideological, ill informed, politically motivated etc. Moreover, Clarke stresses that most of the Bush moves on the National Security front, both pre- but especially post-911, has made the US a less-safe place from terrorism and from other enemies too.

Of course, most of the people who voted for Dubya don't read (as he doesn't read). They get their world view pumped directly into their brains from hours a day listening to Limbaugh and viewing the "Fair and Balanced" assholes at Faux News (see article below about Sugarland Republicans).

Anyway, read this book! I highly recommend it,


Franz Kafka is alive and well and serving in the US Army

OK, here we are in the Land of the Free, Home of the Brave, except for some freedom is kind of a myth and being brave in the face of potential criticism is something the US Military Brass has shown little of in quite some time. Anyway here is what happens if you happen to be the wrong person, at the wrong place and the wrong time, and are in the US Army.


Monday, April 26, 2004

Hold the Presses

I just got this urgent alert from one of my many adoring readers:

The Leader of the Free World by Divine Right of Whatever has gone and pissed off (someone we will call English Bubba) to the point where English Bubba has commanded I write to tell you about it, in hopes that your all powerful blog might alert other to this great travesty of justice.

This came to us by way of our monthly sailing mag, Crusing World, May 2004 (I was going to send you a link, but unfortunately it is not online yet. The online site is still on April). I will now paraphrase the Editor's Log entitled Bushwhacked:

On Feb 26, 2004 Pres W , "citing his all-encompassing war on terror... granted the Secretary of Homeland Security the immediate power to seize any vessel, at any time, anywhere in the territorial waters of the US, if for any reason officials believe it may be used, or is susceptible to being used, for voyage into Cuban waters."

That's right, if anyone at anytime reads Old Man and the Sea and pauses to think it might be fun to follow in Hemmingway's wake, bye bye boat. And it doesn't matter if you are American, Canadian or European, if you have that thought in AMERICAN waters, fuhgetaboutit.

And why is W taking aim at sailors. The editor mentions a March 15th article in The New Yorker and wonders if it might be a political move meant to appeal to anti-Fidel Cubans in Florida, ground-zero in Karl Rove's War on the American Electorate, um, I mean Election Campaign.

Help us Bubba, you are our hope for Cuban Vacation Tomorrow, damn, there goes our boat!

All I (Texas Bubba) can say is Hallelujah! (I never spelled that word before - harder than I thought). If the yacht owners of this world are turning against the Idiot Boy Emperor then he doesn't stand a chance. All he has left are the Sugarland Repuplicans who you can commonly hear saying "And then I realized that I loved Big Brother."


For All You Texans (and Texan Wannabes)

The Washington Post has sent down one of its most pussified correspondents to interview a real, honest-to-Gawd, Tom DeLay, Texas Republican. This Washington panty-waste did his best to besmirch what it means to be a proud citizen of Sugarland, but we showed him the glory of it all. Our hero is one Britton Stein (Hey, cut out the jokes about his name. He can't help it if his mother gave him a fairy's name).

Britton is a Gawd-fearing Texan who describes George W. Bush as "a man, a man's man, a manly man," and Al Gore as "a ranting and raving little whiny baby." His story just brings tears to my eyes.


Sunday, April 25, 2004

MoDo's Manifesto - Bushworld Defined

Maureen Dowd is someone I read, but sometimes I think she is so in love with her own metaphors that her message gets lost. At times it seems like she is participating in a creative writing competition rather than writing Op Ed. However, today she hit the bullseye. Check out her NY Times Column here about Bushworld. Below are some exerpts.

It's their reality. We just live and die in it.

In Bushworld, our troops go to war and get killed, but you never see the bodies coming home.

In Bushworld, flag-draped remains of the fallen are important to revere and show the nation, but only in political ads hawking the president's leadership against terror.

In Bushworld, we can create an exciting Iraqi democracy as long as it doesn't control its own military, pass any laws or have any power.

In Bushworld, we can win over Falluja by bulldozing it.

In Bushworld, it was worth going to war so Iraqis can express their feelings ("Down With America!") without having their tongues cut out, although we cannot yet allow them to express intemperate feelings in newspapers ("Down With America!") without shutting them down.