COSMIC CABDRIVERS' GUIDE TO THE UNIVERSE Presents:
MY 360 BLOGS From August, 2006 through January 2009
Yahoo 360, once a great blog-page site, closed July 13, 2009. May it rest in peace.
Page Views Since Jul 2006: 5,679
January 20, 2009 Inauguration|
January 01, 2009 It's half full, and that's final.
October 6, 2008 McCain, McKeating, and beyond
September 4, 2008 DEEP IN THE HEART OF TAXES
August 17, 2008 BUSH WAS WRONG ABOUT GEORGIA
July 5, 2008 Afghan Abuse, Fraud, and US Invasions
June 10, 2008 ARTICLES OF IMPEACHMENT
April 30, 2008 Not the Wright Time?
April 25, 2008 SMALL-MINDED OFFICIALS IN TEXAS
April 22, 2008 vote for the 'lesser of two evils'.
April 02, 2008 BLOOD MONEY
March 15, 2008 New Media Bias?
March 01, 2008 Thoughts on the Campaign
February 15, 2008 Warrant-less Wiretap
February 05, 2008 THE CAPTAIN VOTES
January 20, 2008 the Wrongness of Reagan
January 05, 2008 ARE YOU EXPERIENCED?
December 25, 2007 Tree Trimmed; BUSH ISN'T PRUNED
December 19, 2007 Weird Truth
Depleted Uranium is the gift that keeps on killing
December 06, 2007 THE NUCLEAR LIE
November 27, 2007 TRICKY TREATY
November 20, 2007 OUR OWN TERRORIST SCHOOL
November 14, 2007 Iraq: A War to Remember
October 23, 2007 Priorities
October 06, 2007 BEWARE THE CORNERED PREDATOR|
September 24, 2007 Blackwater Exposes Bush
September 18, 2007 DO WE HAVE A FREE PRESS?
September 05, 2007 Impeachment
August 18, 2007 don't exaggerate!
July 22, 2007 still waiting for impeachment.
July 12, 2007 ADVERTISING DEATH
June 27, 2007 Does America have democracy?
June 11, 2007 How do politicians convince us to start a war?
May 22, 2007 What does 9/11 really mean?
May 06, 2007 PAY ATTENTION!
April 20, 2007 Insanity As a Natural Disaster
April 08, 2007 Decoding Obfuscation
March 15, 2007 Unnecessary wars
February 17, 2007 Controlling the power
February 08, 2007 Constitutional Ammendment
January 15, 2007 Bush plans to defy the will of the people.
December 31, 2006 Augusto Pinochet,Saddam Hussein
December 18, 2006 CUT THE FUNDS
December 09, 2006 The Baker Report
December 02, 2006 US foreign policy
November 20, 2006 anti-BIRTH CONTROL Eric Keroack
November 18, 2006 Forced Freedom
November 16, 2006 BEWARE THE BURNING BUSH!
November 15, 2006 To the rest of the world...
November 11, 2006 The people have prevailed.|
November 07, 2006 election results
November 05, 2006 Arizona propositions
November 04, 2006 replacing Senator Jon Kyl
November 03, 2006 ARIZONA PROPOSITIONS II
October 29, 2006 ARIZONA PROPOSITIONS
October 23, 2006 SENSELESS AMERICAN VIOLENCE
October 19, 2006 a serious problem in Washington
October 18, 2006 Air America
October 12, 2006 Have I got a proposition for you!
October 05, 2006 Political Labels
October 03, 2006 CUTTING THE CHEESE
September 19, 2006 sometimes, we overcomplicate
September 16, 2006 THE TORTURE ISSUE
September 12, 2006 LESSONS OF DECEPTION
September 09, 2006 WORD FUN
September 06, 2006 immigration
September 01, 2006 TIME
August 28, 2006 freedom of speech and press
August 27, 2006 You might not be reading this
August 24, 2006 TV commercials
August 20, 2006 SARA BELLUM
August 17, 2006 Depleted Uranium in Ammunition
August 15, 2006 THE COSMIC CABDRIVER
Pete Stark, a congressman from California, expressed it strongly and well:
You don't have money to fund the war or children, but you're going to spend it to blow up innocent people if we can get enough kids to grow old enough for you to send to Iraq to get their heads blown off for the President's amusement.
That's right-- a President who has spent over 462 billion dollars and plans to spend much more attacking and occupying an innocent nation has NO RIGHT complaining about spending. Yet he vetoed children's health care.
Meanwhile, the State Department doesn't know what it received for a billion-dollar contract with DynCorp International to provide training services for Iraqi police. And it doesn't seem likely it can find out.
As if civil liberties and privacy were not threatened enough, the Governator of California has gotten a law passed against people smoking in their own cars if their children are riding with them. How idiotic! Have they never heard of opening a window? Does that apply to open convertibles too? This law will do nothing except divert police from real crime and harrass innocent citizens.
DON'T BE A TURKEY
Intolerance can happen anywhere, including right here in America. But in Turkey, it seems to be a national pastime. The Kurds, a 20% minority, are not even allowed to speak their own language or speak of their national identity. They can be charged with crimes of opinion. And Turkey not only refuses to admit its past genocide against Armenians, but doesn't want anyone else to acknowledge it either. If their regime has any use, it is to show the world how ugly a bigoted police state can be. Congress should recognize officially the genocide, and call the Turks what they are.
TRUTH IS WHERE YOU FIND IT
Putin, the Russian president, has publicly pointed out the international crime of of the US attack and occupation of Iraq, for control of the oil.
That was a simplification, of course. It was the petro-dollar, and the neocon drive to control, conquer, and profit. But, essentially, he was right. The world knows it, and the American people know it.
Putin, of course, is no angel himself, but that does not mean that Russia does not have a valid concern about US interference in other nations' affairs. And, if Bush will not listen to the American people, perhaps he will pay attention to the head of a still-powerful nation.
Ironic, isn't it, that the people of a supposedly democratic nation may need the help of another nation to stop our own warmongering President?
BEWARE THE CORNERED PREDATOR
The human predators who prey on human rights, who feast on power and hunger for more, who spend human lives as easily as they spend tax dollars, can be especially dangerous as the tide turns against them. As they become desperate to avoid a disgraceful exit from public life and impending prosecution for their crimes, they may seek to again re-make reality.
An ominous sign is the increasing anti-Iran propaganda spewing from the Bush administration, complete with false 'intelligence' reports. We must clearly remember that the same tactic was used to deceive Congress into allowing the invasion of Iraq. It would be wise to anticipate the staging of a terrorist attack to be blamed on Iran, and/or to be used as a pretext for declaring a national emergency, and possibly martial law.
Though this may seem to be an extreme scenario to consider, there have been so many unprecedented and outrageous deceptions and violations in the last six years that we should be on guard for more. Can you say 'I won't get fooled again'?
It will be interesting to see how the Burma repression is handled. Though Bush has spoken against it, one suspects that he secretly admires the power of the military government. He should order Chevron to shut down its part of the natural gas operation there, and request that Total, the French company, do likewise. But will he? If not, Congress should.
It is not yet time to relax. We must stand firm on denying Iraq war/occupation funding, restoring the Constitution, and watching out for new deceptions. Remember the 2-word lesson of history we should know well: Bush lies.
The press, as we call it, consists of all media that report news, not just in printed form. Free people need a free press. Perhaps freedom is not enough, though, if major news sources simply decline to do their job.
In years past it would have been unthinkable that major news outlets would ignore or minimize any event of national significance. On September 15 there was a very large demonstration in Washington DC against the occupation of Iraq. Estimates run from 10,000 to 100,000 people, though there is no official count. Although it was shown on CSPAN, it was not even covered by the major networks. Articles in various newspapers implied that about 1000 'pro-war' counter-demonstrators were a significant confrontation, though they numbered only 1% to 10% of those in the main event.
On network TV, including CNN, instead of live coverage of the demostration, or investigative reporting exposing the recent phony reort on Iraq, or analysis of the latest threat to our civil rights...what we get is O.J. Simpson, or another naughty celebrity of the week-- endless repetitive trivia.
Whether this is a result of an orchestrated corporate muzzle or just the sum of many instances of corporate thinking: a don't-rock-the-boat attitude, it amounts to an abdication of the responsibility, and a breach of the trust that should belong to the bringers of news, the searchers for truth, that should be an indispensable link between the people and democracy and freedom.
At least we got the story on Blackwater, though I'm sure the administration would like to supress that, too. Just the initial facts raise some interesting questions. Would the Iraqi government want Blackwater out if this latest incident were the only grievance they had about the mercenaries? If they are not subject to Iraq law, and they are not in the military, who are they accountable to? If Iraq now has a soverign elected government, why is the US decree exempting the mercenaries still valid? Doesn't that mean that Iraq is much more of a puppet state than Bush would like to admit? And what, besides being bodyguards for the State Department, is an army of mercenaries being used for?
Oh, yes, and we might be interested in knowing just how much of that 'support the troops' funding goes to pay Blackwater salaries. Let's see what the press does with that.
Recently I wrote my Congressman, Ed Pastor of Arizona to urge him to help with the effort to impeach George Bush and Dick Cheney. I had hoped that as a Democrat he would favor impeachment and understand the importance of doing so. His response was disappointing. Although opposed to Bush administration actions and policies, he stated he didn't think there was sufficient 'proof' of impeachable crime.
I believe that what he meant was that there are not enough votes to impeach yet. That may be true, but that should not be allowed to impede the effort. It should only result in the highest priority on gaining more support for it, and in publicizing and presenting the Articles of Impeachment to the American people and to the entire world.
It is understandable to be cautious about the use of impeachment, so that it is not used for frivolous and entirely partisan reasons, as the Republicans did against Clinton. But no President has ever committed as many, and as serious, criminal acts as has George W. Bush. No previous President has ever been as dangerous to our Constitutional system of democratic government and justice. The danger continues and increases as long as Bush and Cheney are allowed to hold office.
A description of the wrongs done by the Bush administration could, and will, fill many books. Many of them may not yet be clearly known, and will require years of investigation. But there are several known and well-defined crimes that form an unquestionably valid basis for impeachment and conviction.
 Providing false information to Congress in order to gain approval to conduct an unprovoked war of aggression against Iraq.
 Conducting illegal surveillance on Americans in violation of the FISA Act and contrary to Constitutional protections against search and seizure without warrants.
 Detaining and imprisoning Americans and others and depriving them of the rights to an attorney and a speedy and public trial.
 Subjecting detainees to physical and mental torture in violation of both US and international treaty law.
 Conducting an unprovoked war of aggression against Iraq in violation of international treaty law.
 Willful failure to uphold the oath of office by not only failing to defend the Constitution, but striving to subvert and weaken its provisions. This may be defined as treason.
 Criminal neglect in failing to properly respond to a natural disaster, hurricane Katrina, causing many needless deaths and continued hardship of the victims long after the event.
 Providing false information to the American people regarding the danger from and intentions of other nations and organizations, in order to spread unreasonable fear and in order to suppress criticism.
Each of these charges involve both individual acts and conspiratorial acts between the President, Vice President, Attorneys General, and other members of the Bush administration.
International treaties signed by the United States carry the full force of Federal law.
More charges can certainly be added to these.
Some Democrats seem to believe it is enough to wait until January of 2009 when Bush's term will end. That is far too dangerous. Bush has assumed more power for the Presidency than the Constitution prescribes, and he has already shown that he will act without regard to the will of Congress, the people, or the law. He has already began propagandizing about Iran, laying a groundwork of fabricated intelligence which could easily lead to another war, one that would be devastating to our own country as well as the middle east.
The Bush administration's offenses are so reprehensible that we have nothing in our history to compare them to. To allow them to go unchallenged is an insult to the American people, and an affront to the principles of justice and liberty that we proclaim to the world.
Seriously, when conveying information about the current US political situation, the truth is enough. Adding exaggeration or speculation doesn't really motivate more people, and only detracts from credibility.
Certainly there are more than enough provable facts to justify impeachment of both Bush and Cheney, and every reason to proceed in order to prevent further crimes.
Speculation, of course, is a useful tool in investigating connections and motives, but it must be separated from the resulting factual conclusions. One often finds that there are many small conspiracies, but not one big one. Some like the idea of a physics-style unified field theory, and others have biases that lead them to unjustified conclusions.
Studying history in detail is extremely valuable. The point is not to prove a continuity of control of events over a long period of time, but to establish the tendencies of certain types of groups and individuals to behave in certain ways given similar motives and opportunity.
It enables us to see how much the neocons and their manipulations are like the Nazi party in Germany. Recognizing the symptoms, as they become more evident and ominous, perhaps we can act to stop it. That the Bush family has been involved in both says much about Bush 'Family Values', but does not explain the causes.
Is the NAU part of a plot? Certainly if is controlled by the Bush administration or any group of neocons, or if it evolves into a governmental entity without democratic control, it could be dangerous. But the Bush administration is already dangerous and proven to be harmful. For that matter, the US government has proven to be harmful to many foreign nations and people for decades, especially, but not only, under Republican Presidents. The answer is not to dismantle the US government, but to repair and restore it to work as it was designed.
As for non-governmental organizations, we need to investigate and determine their influence, but it is ultimately our elected officials who must make decisions, and regaining popular control of them is the way to remove undue corporate power.
To concentrate too much attention on side issues, especially with the irrelevant speculations about highway width and international currencies, only distracts from and impairs the credibility of the main focus.
I especially appreciate those like Cosmic Rose who research and report the details of history that have been under-reported, hidden by government secrecy, and left out of history textbooks so as to give young people an unrealistic positive view of the past and the resultant present. Millions of people who never went beyond high school and never became curious enough to seek out the truth are still viewing political issues with inadequate and inaccurate information.
In analyzing information, it is best not to be too ready to make logical leaps beyond what the facts prove. There are those who encourage such theories in order to sell divisive messages of hate. We should avoid such traps.
Every time I hear the army recruiting radio and TV ads I feel angry. 'If your son or daughter wants to talk about joining the army, listen...'
At least they're right about that part--listen, and then try your very best to talk them out of it!
People join the military for various reasons: education, training, experience; financial need. But most of them also believe they are serving an honorable purpose, whether in peacetime or war. They, like most Americans, are willing to defend our country if need be.
When, instead, they find themselves misused to attack another nation without provocation and attempt to keep them in subjugation, not to defend America but to further the imperial aims of authoritarian leadership and secure huge profits for corporate interests, they have little choice but to obediently betray the very principles and ideals they pledged to defend.
This is no time to join the military. It is no time to stand by complacently while your sons and daughters join the military. It is not a matter of the danger they would face-- it is that their lives are being risked for wrongful purposes.
The recruiting commercials speak of 'making them strong'. What is more important than physical strenth is the belief in the principles of freedom and justice and the moral courage to resist authority when necessary. If you have taught your children that, then they know the answer already: JUST SAY NO!
How do politicians convince us to allow them to start a war?
Normally, despite any prejudices some people have, I think most people have at least a vague realization that people everywhere are very much like us in the basic important ways, wanting peace and opportunity to earn food, clothing, and shelter for themselves and their families. Most of us have no desire to disrupt the lives of people elsewhere, and if we think about them at all, would wish them well. In fact, when there is a natural disaster, many throughout the world offer to help.
Few of us are unaware of the effects of a war on the people of a country where it is being fought. Although we have not experienced it in our own time, we can imagine how we would feel, and perhaps what we might do, if we were invaded by a foreign power.
So, how is it that we are talked into doing this to other people? Of course, we are not asked directly whether we approve. Our elected Congress is there to approve or disapprove, thoretically to represent us in that decision. Does election to office somehow separate many of those representatives from their humanity?
What happened to the principle that war is a last resort, a response only to actual military aggression from the other side? Evidentally that was forgotten by a majority of Congress.
This is not just because a majority were Republicans. Though they have been stupidly loyal to the Bush administration, and they tend to favor the rich over the working class, the Republican party is not always pro-war. And many Democrats who should have been much more skeptical, weren't.
Two major factors that resulted in allowing the invasion of Iraq were a carefully orchestrated climate of fear and a finely-tuned campaign of anti-Muslim propaganda.
From the beginning, in the response to 9/11, repetitive use of the words terror and terrorist, and exaggerating the threats posed, the Bush administration promoted and maintained a high level of fear in the public. This helped enable the dilution of Constitutional rights and principles of justice in the 'Patriot Act', and made it much easier to portray an already defeated and weakened country as something to be afraid of.
Sowing prejudice against Muslims was tricky. Violence against Muslims domestically had to be minimized, but most foreign Muslims could be painted as part of an evil anti-Christian violent conspiracy. They were said to be against freedom, and it was implied that they had no rational motive for hating us, leading to the conclusion that the only solution was to attack and destroy them.
It is frightening to think that a nation of people can be so easily manipulated to accept authoritarianism and war against their natural inclinations.
One wonders if the results might have been different if the people directly had to decide on such very important matters as permitting a war or allowing their freedom to be curtailed.
If we personally had to vote to send bombers and soldiers to kill hundreds of thousands of strangers, might we put more thought into it?
As it is, many more people, Americans and Iraqis alike, are dying every day that the occupation continues. As it is, the Congress we elected to end the occupation is not doing enough to stop it.
Many of us are already paying close attention, but I said that because, more than ever before, we are being constantly lied to by the neoconservative Bush administration. Despite the election of and efforts by a Democratic majority, the struggle to restore peace and the American Constitution is not over.
The Bush administration continues to mischaracterize the violent and unwanted occupation of Iraq as a war on terrorists. It never was, nor is it now. Even some Democratic Congressmen are confused. The willingness of the neocons to lie in the face of obvious truth is an insidious tactic. It often works.
They are even trying to defend the Vietnam war, which was a disastrous mistake like Iraq, though far more deadly. Some 50,000 Americans and even more Vietnamese died because of that unnecessary war. Hundreds of thousands of Americans struggled long and hard to end it. When we did, we thought 'Never again!'
Vietnam was escalated mostly as a series of mistakes, but Iraq was planned and fabicated well before September 11.
The administration still speaks of winning and losing, though those concepts are totally irrelevant to Iraq. The Iraqis did not invite us, do not want us, and resent us more than ever for what we did to their country. We have inflicted more harm there than Sadaam ever did. We need to leave. It is not a matter of losing. It is admitting a mistake, and doing the only thing we can do to correct it.
The other part of our struggle must be to restore our Constititution. We have been told that those denied the right of habeus corpus, denied attorneys, denied fair trials, and tortured are only dangerous terrorists. This is another lie. Many of them are innocent. We won't know how many until they are allowed fair trials. As long as unconstitutional treatment of suspects is allowed, none of us are safe from mistaken injustice. And, America will still be known, not as a just and democratic nation but as a danger to liberty and justice throughout the world.
Those of us who try to inform others, and those in Congress who are trying to make things right-- some of us may be liberals, some libertarians, some true conservatives like Barry Goldwater, some Republicans like Dwight Eisenhower-- none of that matters. We just want our country back. We've always been proud of America's freedom and justice for all. We want it back.
Those who consider themselves conservative Christians-- America is the land of religious freedom. Let us agree to keep it that way.
You, too, have been lied to. You can see how little the Bush administration values human life; how little it values honesty. It is not about spiritual values of any kind. It is about the money, and the power. Whatever else we may disagree about, I don't believe that any real Christian can be in favor of killing many thousands of innocent people needlessly, based on lies.
We need to make clear the difference between supporting the troops and supporting the occupation. It may be necessary for Congress to refuse funding in order to end the occupation. Bush has vetoed the recent funding bill because it threatens his power to disregard the will of the people. Something must be done to stop him.
Yes, we would like this all to go away. But never in our nation's history have the people faced an administration so determined to defy the Consititution and to ignore the laws and principles of our nation. We must continue to pay close attention. And remember.
In the aftermath of the mass killings in Virginia, we all agree that the victims and their loved ones deserve all the sympathy and support we can extend. Such events bring extreme media attention, and inevitably questions begin about whether such events can be prevented. While improved knowledge and a better mental health care system might help, we cannot absolutely control potentially violent insanity while maintaining the liberty that the rest of us have the right to expect.
When a disaster of insanity occurs, action is taken to stop it immediately. The deaths of 32 people is a tragedy, but that event is over. The deaths of over 3000 American soldiers and hundreds of thousands of Iraqis is also a tragedy, and that event continues. The insanity responsible for that is disguised by the status of power and money.
Calling it insanity is neither hyperbole nor exaggeration. I believe Kurt Vonnegut was correct when he pointed to psychopathic personalities in positions of power, perpetuating policies that have dangerous and devastating results for most of mankind. These are individuals without consciences. They are mentally incapable of caring about the consequences of their actions on others.
Those of us with a normal sense of empathy are at a disadvantage. We expect everyone to have a conscience, especially our leaders. When we encounter those who are only pretending to have one, we might assume, when they lie to us, steal from us, and send thousands to their deaths, they are doing it for our own good, or at least that they mean well.
We may feel sorry for these people, but we must pry their hands away from the reins of power, before it is too late.
In discussing issues, I may sometimes assume too readily that others are equally aware of the complete falsity, logical flaws, and irrelevance of the Bush administration's propoganda with which it seeks to promote and defend its military aggression in the Middle East and its assault on Constitutional liberty and justice in our own country.
I should occasionally reiterate, because out of the mouths of authoritarian neocons and unrepentant Republicans flow a steady stream of words intended to disguise the truth. Obfuscation, otherwise known as bullshit.
Even as we point out the absurdity and injustice of attacking and occupying Iraq because of what appeared to be a terrorist attack on September 11, 2001, we hear them saying, 'But we must fight the war on terrorism. If we withdraw, our enemies will think we're weak.'
First, let us remember what it was that initially enraged us about 9/11. It was that it was a seemingly unprovoked attack on innocent civilians. It violated the rules of war. It was against international law, which we, as a civilized nation, believed we supported.
Despite his inability to pronounce the word correctly, Bush labelled the perpetrators 'terrorists'. Since few of us understood their motivation at the time, we went along with Bush's plan to hunt them down wherever they were. Yet soon we saw our own government blatantly breaking the same international law by mounting an unprovoked attack on another country, Iraq, one of the least likely suspects among Muslim nations. We see our government imprisoning people for years without trial and torturing them, also against international law and the US Constitution.
Because of this, it has become hard for the Bush administration to credibly say that we are fighting for freedom, democracy or justice. Of course, they say it anyway.
Fighting terrorists and fighting terrorism are phrases often used interchangably, but they are not the same. Terrorism is a form of warfare used by (1) groups who do not have the resources and numbers to fight a conventional war or (2) governments that want to control or change people in other countries, often covertly, without the expense and committment of conventional warfare.
The first type can be reduced only by learning which of our actions and policies so enrage and frustrate others that they are driven to perpetrate violence that is often self-destructive. In most cases we could eliminate or modify the motivations.
The second type, we must realize, has been a tactic of our own government, and is equally reprehensible no matter who uses it. We must set an example by stopping its use, so we can be credible when we oppose it by others.
When we speak of fighting terrorists, it is often entirely too general. Many divergent groups with quite different agendas and motivations, become labeled terrorists. Those who commit or plan terrorist acts should be pursued, arrested, and tried in a legitimate court. To use the term 'terrorist' meaning 'someone we don't like', and changing the rules of law regarding them only confuses the issue. Of course confusing us, exaggerating the threats; instilling fear, is exactly what the Bush administration has been intentionally doing.
So who is the enemy that we are supposedly fighting in Iraq? Terrorists? If they are attacking our military, they are not, by definition, terrorists. It's called guerrilla warfare. We are the foreign occupying power, and they are Iraqi resistance fighters. The majority of Iraqis want us to leave and believe it is acceptable to kill us. That is exactly the way we should expect them to feel.
It is absurd for us to make demands or set benchmarks for Iraq. The sooner we withdraw, the sooner Iraqis themselves can begin solving their own sectarian and economic problems. All we can do by staying is continue to kill more of the Iraqis that Bush once claimed we were there to help. Since we have already caused the deaths of well over 600,000 of them, how many more will be enough?
Why, in the midst of a struggle to end America's destructive occupation of Iraq, do I write of a Constitutional amendment for a national referendum that would take many months to ratify?
Indeed, we, the Congress and the people, must act NOW, with all the strength and determination we can summon, to force our misguided President to cease pursuing his harmful and abrasive course in the Middle East. We must use the tools we have at hand, such as withholding funds for the occupation, and preparing to impeach both Bush and Cheney.
At the same time, we must look further ahead to devise ways to prevent future Presidents from pursuing agendas based on their lust for power, the influence by corporate greed, or their allegiance to extreme and inhuman ideologies.
The power of the President was not as much a danger when the US was not a major world power, and when weaponry was less able to end life on Earth in a day.
The hazards of executive power are not only that a President can start a major war, but that covert actions can be ordered against foreign governments, secret shipments of arms and money can be made, and economic policies can be wielded with devastating effects. Many of the Presidents since WW2 have been guilty of these tactics. In most cases neither the action nor the purpose have been consistent with the principles and sense of justice of most Americans. As a result of these many actions, often unnoticed by Americans but strongly injurious or humiliating to the foreign victims, the level of resentment and hatred toward the US has built up over the years to a critical level. In other words, America has created enemies for itself, not because they threatened us, but because they were inconvenient for influential large corporations.
This is why the people must take control of American foreign policy. The Executive branch has been out of control for decades. This one is just more blatant.
Those who hesitate to cut the funds for the Iraq occupation fear the fictitious Republican rhetoric about not 'supporting the troops'. We must not let that impede us. When funds are cut, the intention of Congress is clear: bring the troops home. It is not to leave the troops there lacking supplies and protection. Perhaps some may think that Bush would do exactly that in an attempt to portray Democrats as betrayers. His record thus far shows he is capable of such tactics, but that would immediately place him outside his Constitutional powers, and I believe even many Republicans would then favor impeachment and conviction.
We must wage peace as vigorously as the warmongers wage war.
On December 10, 2006, Augusto Pinochet, former military dictator of Chile, died. Saddam Hussein, who needs no introduction, was executed December 30. The two men have some interesting things in common.
Both of them rose to power with the effective assistance of the United States government.
In 1970, Salvador Allende was elected President of Chile in a 3-way race. Two of the candidates, Allende and Tomic, liberals with similar platforms of economic reform, received 36% and 27% respectively. The third, Allesandri, was a right-wing conservative who got 31%. As a non-majority winner, Allende needed confirmation by the Parliament, which he received, 153 to 35.
Under orders from Richard Nixon, the CIA immediately began plotting to overthrow him. At first they were unsuccessful, and the Chilean economy began to grow and prosper. However, US economic sabotage soon effectively ruined that, while the CIA worked behind the scenes to arrange a military coup. A coup finally succeeded in the fall of 1973, and General Pinochet, the CIA's favorite, appointed himself absolute commander, ending democracy in Chile for the next 16 years.
The junta headed by Pinochet abolished civil liberties, dissolved the national congress, banned union activities, erased Allende's agrarian and economic reforms, imprisoned and tortured at least 29 000, and executed close to 3,200 Chileans.
Though it publicly denounced its abuses, the US supported the Pinochet government with economic and military aid, and the CIA continued to work closely with the Chile secret police, suppressing dissent and carrying out targeted assassinations abroad.
The attitudes expressed by Nixon, Kissinger, Richard Helms, and Gerald Ford were that the Chilean people, because they chose a socialist leader, were not entitled to democracy or human rights.
Saddam began his involvement with the CIA in 1959, in a US-backed attempt to help the Ba'ath Party assassinate General Quassim, of whom they disapproved due to 'Communist ties'. When the attempt failed, the CIA helped Saddam escape, gave him training provided him an apartment in Cairo, where he attended college while in exile. In 1968 the CIA-backed Ba'athists came to power in a coup, and Saddam soon rose to leadership.
Unlike Pinochet, Saddam built a socially progressive economy in Iraq, nationalizing oil production, providing free health and social services, agrarian reform, education, and industrial diversification. In fact, his programs were much like those begun by Allende in Chile.
But despite some success in building a sense of national unity, his popular support was threatened by a growing number of Shiites who opposed the secular nature of his government, and of course the Kurds, who wanted independence, and all the other factional tensions, that we, the American Liberators, have managed to release into unprecedented levels of violent chaos and bloodshed.
Saddam, as we know, suppressed any threat or perceived threat to his power ruthlessly, often with excessive force and cruelty. Like, Pinochet, as long as his rule served American interests, he got our military and economic support. In his case ideology was less important than his secularization of government, which, it was assumed, would make Muslim nations easier to deal with.
The Shiite majority, however, wanted more theocracy in their autocracy. Saddam feared the influence from the Shiite-led revolution in Iran, which was the motivation for the eight-year war. The war was Saddam's first great blunder. It accomplished nothing, and depleted Iraq's economy severely. He might well have lost the war if it were not for US assistance.
The economic problems from the war led to the attempt to annex Kuwait, Saddam's second major mistake, though it was partly due to a US diplomatic blunder. He was led to believe that the US would remain neutral. It was not until after he had invaded that he learned of the strong opposition.
True, when faced with an obviously superior force, he should have backed down, saving his nation from over a decade of poverty and humiliation, and probably from the even worse, though unpredictable, disaster to follow. Why didn't he? If he had, would he still be in power today? One cannot say.
Two dictators dead in December 2006. Both were brought to power by the US to serve American interests. Pinochet died of natural causes, which disappointed many Chileans who wanted him tried and convicted of his crimes. Saddam was deposed and captured by the US and obediently tried and hanged by the government we created to replace him.
In the Iran-Iraq war 500,000 Iranians and 375,000 Iraqis were killed or wounded. In Desert Storm 378 of the coalition forces (not including 235 American non-battle-related deaths),and 25,000 Iraqis were killed, and 1000 (not including the 183,000 Americans disabled by Gulf War Syndrome) and 75,000, respectively, wounded. That is a total of 1,159,613 casualties, as a result of American intervention in just one country, Iraq, not counting Iraqi victims of Saddam, well before the current invasion/occupation.
Is anyone still surprised that much of the world despises America as a terrorist nation? Can we finally see that we must STOP trying to control the world?
We need to leave Iraq post haste, but we must also change our foreign policies and the past and present means of implementing them in order to permanently improve our relationship with the world.
Proposition 107 does nothing to protect marriage. its purpose is to deny equal rights to gay citizens. It is motivated by homophobia. Intolerance and discrimination are never justified.
Why should I, as a heterosexual, fear or hate a gay person, or want to deny him or her the same rights that I enjoy? Gays do not threaten me, nor do they threaten the institution of marriage.
It should also be noted that 107 says no legal status for unmarried persons shall be created or recognized by this state or its political subdivisions that is similar to marriage This would affect unmarried male-female couples as well.
Those who have restrictive religious beliefs are free to practice them, but they do not have the right to use law to force them on others.
THE ARIZONA PROPOSITIONS
100, 102, 103, and 300
This group claims to deal with illegal immigration. None of them would actually reduce it. There is very little that could be done at the state level to do that.
These propositions are merely mean-spirited attempts to classify illegal immigrants as less than human.
It needs to be clearly recognized that the illegal immigrant issue is a magnet for those motivated by cultural bigotry, whether concious or not; whether admitted or not.
There have been wildly exaggerated and entirely false arguments attempting to prove that illegal Hispanic immigrants are a serious problem. Despite the fact that immigrants from Mexico and Central and South America have a much lower crime rate than do American citizens, the immigrants are accused of being a crime problem.
Proposition 100 denies bail to undocumented immigrants. 102 denies them punitive damages in a lawsuit. 103 is an English-only law, and 300 seeks to deny any adult education, literacy program, or child care assistance.
Immigrants come here because there is work for them, not because they think our legal system and government will be just and fair to them. But to make such laws as these would show the world that we have no true respect for either liberty or humanity.
It would also mean a victory for the xenophobic bigots who seek to divide people along lines of culture and race. America needs to combat intolerance, not promote it. We should change Federal law to allow legal immigration for those want to come and work.
Increasingly people have been getting the message that there is a serious problem in Washington, one that directly endangers liberty and democracy in our own country, and which has seriously harmed America's relationship with the rest of the world and threatened to plunge us into a series of aggressive wars with other countries.
Normally it would be sufficient to have an informed citizenry who are motivated to vote to change what is necessary, as is their right and responsibility. But in this case we have reason to believe that the election process itself is in jeopardy.
In addition to strong evidence of manipulation of ballot counts and of voter intimidation and disinformation in the last two elections, there has been an intentionally biased purge of voter registrations in Ohio, targeting areas around universities and apartment dwellers, presumed to be likely Democrats. Since this has become known, there is hope that it can be reversed, but some believe purges are planned in 3 other states.
If, unlike in Ohio, the Republicans are able to do this undetectably or unprovably, they could again get away with stealing elections in crucial areas.
In the past, political parties as a whole were seldom so ruthless as to tamper with the very basis of democracy, so high security in the election process was not necessary. It is evident that we must now devise better protection for voter rolls, the voters themselves, and the ballots.
Not only must we vote, but in numbers and margins that will overwhelm attempts to alter the result, and we must be vigilant against any signs of fraud
We cannot oust the perpetrators in this election, but we can make sure they are closely watched and opposed in their wrongdoing.
Have I got a proposition for you!
Actually, Arizona has 19 of them on the ballot. Some of them are just as indecent as the ones you might hear on East Van Buren, Phoenix's traditional street of streetwalkers, though much less pleasurable and more expensive.
The first 207 pages of the voter pamphlet are devoted to their explanation and arguments for and against. Perhaps the proposers hope we'll get tired halfway through and start flipping coins.
Please don't do that. Some of these are positively diabolical.
Four of them, 100, 102, 103, and 300 are attacks on the human rights of undocumented immigrants
Three of them, 201, 203, and 206 are anti-tobacco.
One, 107, wants to ban gay marriage and deprive any unmarried couple, gay or straight, of any benefits.
One, 301, tries to force jail time for non-violent drug possession, reversing the progress of a previous referendum, if the drug is speed.
Proposition 302 is to give the undeserving Arizona legislators a raise in pay.
For the above 10, the ballot should have a third optional answer labeled HELL, NO! Among the remaining 9, some may be good ideas, or not, subject to further study.
I'll be returning to each of these in greater detail, but right now, I must comment on an international issue: North Korea.
It seems that Bush refuses to learn anything from his past mistakes, even when the evidence slaps him in the face. It should not take a genius to figure out that threats, failure to keep agreements, and refusal to negotiate are not effective diplomacy.
Obviously, that tactic has failed, if the object was to keep North Korea from building nuclear bombs. In fact, it insured that they would do so, by giving them every reason to fear a US attack.
Now, millions of South and North Koreans are in danger, not only from possible military actions and reactions, but from the risk of airborne radiation from this and future weapons testing.
It is time for Congress to speak out strongly and take independant action to begin real negotiation with North Korea. They need to be assured of our peaceful intentions, and to make it clear that Bush will not be permitted further idiocy regarding their country.
The risks of an unchecked Bush bad attitude are too great to justify partisanship any onger.
When a business wants to sell a product or service, its label is extremely important. Whether we like it or not, political ideas and candidates are sold in much the same way. In politics, however, you not only label your own product, but try to label (or re-label) your competitor's as well. If you can get either label to stick in the mind of the voter, you have the advantage.
This multi-labeling often makes politics more difficult to understand. It may be part of the reason why so many eligible voters do not vote.
Labels often twist the meaning of the words they use. Take RIGHT TO WORK for example: a right-to-work law does not give anyone the right to work. They already had that. It is a law which puts labor unions in a weak bargaining position in negotiation with employers. It results in lower wages in states that have such laws.
The terms LIBERAL and CONSERVATIVE are often used too generally, and applied incorrectly. One who wants to change the justice system to reduce civil rights is not being conservative. The liberal, who wants to preserve the Constitution, is actually being conservative. The two words are not exact opposites. More accurate labels might be LIBERAL and AUTHORITARIAN or PROGRESSIVE and CONSERVATIVE, depending what issues are being discussed.
LEFT and RIGHT as applied to politics can also be misleading. Regarding freedom, the left stands for more; the right wants less. But in economic systems, the extreme left is Marxism. which in practice affords less liberty, and the far right amounts to economic anarchy.
None of these labels really apply to the most important of current issues: whether the US should pursue military aggression in order to control and change other nations, or whether we should use diplomacy to pursue friendly relations with the rest of the world, avoiding the intimidation, meddling, and harmful economic exploitation that results in the hatred and distrust we face in many parts of the world.
The traditional labels of HAWK and DOVE have not been used much lately. These, too, oversimplify the issue. Those favoring a peaceful course are not saying that we should ignore actual attackers, terrorist or otherwise, Most people seem to agree that we want justice, and we want strong defense against real enemies. The question is whether we want to be the American Empire; whether we want to make more enemies with unprovoked attacks, or to choose to become an example of just and honorable behasvior in the international community.
Labels are no substitute for actual thinking about each issue. However, there is one set of labels about which there should be no confusion, nor hesitation on which to prefer. Those are: HONESTY and DECEPTION.
Political ideology can be a fascinating subject for the semanticly inclined. Many, however, do not enjoy wading through the often obfuscating forests of verbage in order to know what it is they think.
That doesn't make them anti-semantic, of course. It's just that political party promoters package politicians like products for popular consumption. Convenient labels replace thinking about individual issues.
The traditional two big labels are liberal and conservative. Everyone may think they know what they mean by those words. The question is, liberal or conservative about what?
Economics comes to mind. Conservative implies a balanced budget. In this respect, Bill Clinton was conservative, and George Bush Jr. is quite liberal.
Regarding the Constitution, one might say that those who wish to keep it the way it is and follow it are conservative,while those who want to change it or interpret it loosely are liberal. By this logical definition, it doesn't matter whether the liberal wants the change to be more authoritarian or to increase freedom.
`Over the years, liberals have ammended the Constitution to end slavery and allow blacks and women to vote. Now, a different sort of liberal wants to ignore parts of the Bill of Rights and the separation of powers.
This is only a part of political terminology, but already it seems that when examined, it may not mean what we thought it did.
As we look back on the last 5 years and reflect on what we have learned since then, we are also looking ahead to a primary election, followed by a general one. We have an opportunity and a responsibility to use what we have learned.
The important lessons we have learned did not come on September 11, 2001, but from what has happened afterward. They were not easy to learn, nor were they pleasant.
It is not truly surprising that those who consider themselves our enemies would attack us, though the attack itself may have been unexpected. What brings real shock and dismay is the fact that our elected leader has used that attack, and the fear and anger it caused, to manipulate us into supporting and allowing him to pursue his own agenda.
Despite the growing number of his lies, many Americans did not want to believe that he meant to deceive. They assumed that his intent was to protect us. They were wrong.
Rather than concentrating on bringing the perpetrators' organization to justice, the Bush Administration launched an invasion on another country, one which was not involved in terrorism, and which had not attacked us. Predictably, this has turned into a long and bloody occupation, has destabilized the entire region, and multiplied exponentially both the numbers and the motives of potential terrorists.
In his unprovoked attack on Iraq, Bush has cost the lives of thousands of Americans and tens of thousands of Iraqi civilians. In his attack on the Bill of Rights and the Constitutional separation of powers, and his disregard of the law, Bush has placed our own liberty and democracy in jeopardy
Unfortunately, Bush himself is not up for reelection this year, but many of those who enabled and approved his outrageous acts are facing the voters. To get the Bush administration under control and restrain it from even worse abuses and deadly mistakes in the future, we must replace as many of Bush's co-conspirators as we can.
The primaries may be just a warm-up, but in many places we can make choices that will affect the outcome in November. And, if we turn out in record numbers, the authoritarian neoconservatives who thrive on the fear and apathy of the voters will be quaking in a fear of their own, a fear of well-deserved political oblivion.