A Long Way to Go Feb 27, '08 8:47 PM
The verdict on computerized translation is...far from perfect, though
still useful. There is much more to good translation than individual
word equivalents. The differences in syntax, grammar, style, and
commonly used phrases also need to be factored in, and that will be a
huge and complex task. But imperfect as they are, web translations such
as Foxlingo and Babelfish are valuable tools for expanding our world of
understanding, if used intelligently.
It is important that we in America not only stop being aggressive and imperialistic toward other nations, but also that we reduce our cultural isolation so that we can truly comprehend that people elsewhere are not so different as they are portrayed, not to be feared, and just as deserving of respect and fair treatment as our next-door neighbors.
Obama said in a speech that every child should learn at least 2
languages. That is an excellent idea, one that is already practiced in
most other nations. It doubles the potential for learning about the
world beyond our borders.
We must not overlook the urgent tasks of the moment-- to end the Iraq
occupation, to assure the election of a President and Congress who will
pursue peace and justice, to prevent the current administration from
doing more harm until then...but as we look forward into the future we
must continue to be involved, not leave it to others, in reaching out to
know the entire world so that peace comes naturally to us.
Progressives, Unite! Feb 11, '08 5:37 AM
Among those of us who have been strongly objecting to Bush's foreign and domestic policies from the beginning, involved in speaking out and seeking truth and closely examining the politicians involved and the candidates who promise to change things, there are some who are now voicing despair at not having their perfect candidate still in the running for President. I can understand their disappointment. Dennis Kucinich was my first choice.
Still, I believe the two candidates we have left, Clinton and Obama, would both make good Presidents, with acceptable positions on the issues and no real reason to doubt their good intentions. All of us have had to hone our skepticism sharply to deal with the most dishonest and self-serving administration in American history. It is understandable to wonder if every candidate is lying as well, and to suspect the worst at any provocation.
We need to remember that, however imperfect one considers the Democratic choice, he or she will be 1000 percent better than the Republican, which will probably be McCain. McCain has left any principles and honesty he may once have had far behind. His support for, and echoing of Bush policies reveal him to be equally dangerous, equally influenced by the corporate interests that control the Republican party.
Although signs point to overwhelming defeat of the Republican neoconservative agents of disaster, we must remember the election-rigging they were able to pull off in the last 2 Presidential elections, and their capability for staging 'terrorist attacks' to promote fear to support their deceptions.
Seemingly stuck in positions which only repeat Bush administration lies that have already been exposed, one wonders how Republicans can hope for any votes at all beyond the actual corporate heads and the extremely wealthy, who benefit from the world-exploiting aggressive foreign policy they support. It would not be surprising if they attempt to manipulate public opinion with an engineered disaster, and/or more false intelligence.
We cannot afford to let down our guard and divide ourselves over small differences.
The public must be made aware of their ruthlessness, and it is vital that we remain united in the effort to remove every neoconservative possible from office and elect Democrats.
The Presidency is paramount, of course, but given the huge task ahead of repairing the damage, rebuilding American foreign policy, restoring Constitutional liberty, and getting the corporate subversive influence under tight control, the President will need all the help we can give him or her.
To those who like the idea of conservativism in economics, it is important to know that neoconservates are not the fiscal conservatives they would like you to think. One need only look at the enormous deficits and record budgets of the Bush administration. Their 'tax cuts' for the rich were irresponsible. The vast amounts of military spending in Iraq and Afghanistan have artificially propped up the economy, but will inevitably worsen the recession already underway. The only thing Republicans DON'T want to spend money on are programs that actually help people.
And those who still think in terms of winning and losing wars must realize that our military forces can defeat any nation on Earth that could wage war against us. But we call it the Department of Defense for a reason. It has always been a principle that we do not attack a peaceful nation, that we are not aggressors. First, it is wrong. Second, to enter another nation's territory and occupy their homeland is a monumental task requiring vastly overwhelming numbers of troops. People will fight fiercely and ceaselessly to defend their homes and families, just as Iraqis are doing.. History is full of examples of invaders being repelled by smaller weaker nations that would not accept defeat. Even when it is possible, there is absolutely no HONOR in a strong nation crushing a weak one. Quite the opposite: it is a shameful thing to do.
It is true that some Democrats are guilty of not doing enough to try to stop the Bush criminal acts and policies. Some may even be on the payroll of corporations just like most of the Republicans. They need to be weeded out eventually, but the first priority must be to establish a majority in Congress that actually represents the interests of the people.
Some are concerned over the role of super-delegates in the Democratic convention. We want the Democratic party to be absolutely democratic. But the party is not actually part of the government. Those who want to improve its procedures would need to get directly involved in its organization. As a whole, I think the Democratic party wants to embody what it stands for, but it also needs to insure that it is a strong and practical entity capable of competing with the opposition which is both richer and more ruthless.
As one who, as a child, remembers when Eisenhower had to send federal troops into Little Rock to enforce school integration; as one who knows that the ideals of sexual equality and racial equality still have not been fully realized, I feel elated at the knowledge that a black man and a woman are the two most popular candidates for President. And that is important not because either will help his or her race or gender more than the other, but that there could no better example showing that racial or sexual bias is wrong, and because their success means that bigotry exists much less in the minds of Americans than it once did.
935 Jan 23, '08 5:45 PM
That's the number of LIES told by Bush administration officials about Iraq between 2001 and 2003 in order to convince Congress and the public to allow the invasion. The number has been documented by the Center for Public Integrity: and the Fund for Independent Journalism:
Bush himself was the leading liar, with 259. Colin Powell came in second with 254. Cheney, Rice, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, and Press Secretaries Fleischer and McClellan were the other major liars.
There were two basic kinds of lies (1) Sadaam had weapons of mass destruction and (2)Iraq was linked to al-Qaida. These lies were told over and over in an orchestrated propaganda campaign. Most of the press, unfortunately, failed to question and investigate.
A Pentagon official, Richard Perle, who advocated the invasion, has admitted in a speech that it was illegal by international law.
Plans were made well before 9/11/2001 to attack Iraq. The Bush administration just needed a plausible excuse.
An estimated 151,000 Iraqi civilians have been killed in the violence that has engulfed the country from the time of the US-led invasion March 18, 2003,until June 2006,
Perhaps the reason Bush and Cheney have not yet been impeached is that many are still in shock from their extreme criminal behavior. The Bush administration has gone so far beyond the worst of previous bad Presidents, that we're still trying to comprehend. The Bush Presidency is the moral equivalent of the 9/11 attack.
Those 935 lies were just the ones about Iraq. It doesn't count all the lies about everything else, including the one George Bush told when he swore to support and defend the Constitution of the United States.
DON'T PANIC Jan 20, '08 2:48 AM
The world will NOT end in 2011 or 2012, or anytime in the near future.
Of course, if US voters ever again elect a neoconservative Republican as
President, there is a greatly increased chance of stumbling into a
nuclear war while trying to intimidate the rest of the world, thus ending
life on Earth as we know it. And if we don't get the greedy corporations
under control, we will certainly pollute and global-warm ourselves into
some real hazards to human survival.
But those are preventable problems having nothing to do with any
religion's prophecy or anyone's calendar. Those who promote
predictions to the naive and undereducated, based on superstition
and imagination, are irresponsible and unscrupulous.
There are only two ways to know the future:
(1) Develop a means of forward time travel, and go to the future.
(2) Wait for it to happen.
Until someone manages to achieve #1, that leaves us with #2.
The Problem With Ron Paul Jan 18, '08 7:25 AM
Ron Paul has gained a lot of popular support-- not enough to get him nominated or elected President, of course, but unprecedented numbers for a libertarian. He is the only Republican candidate to oppose the Iraq war and occupation, and that is the main basis for his popularity. He is the only hope for those who want to vote conservative, not neocon. The other Republicans are a dull bunch of Bush clones without an original idea among them.
Libertarians are right about a number of things. They support the Bill of Rights absolutely. They oppose all the wasteful and harmful victimless crime laws. And they believe the military is for defense, not aggression against other nations. These are impressively intelligent positions, and they are almost enough reason to vote for Ron Paul. Almost.
There is also a dark side. Libertarians believe in absolute capitalism, without the regulation needed to protect the people from corporate greed. There is already much too little control over the power of the wealthy and multinational corporations to corrupt our democratic process to give themselves free rein to exploit the working majority. Already the government does too little for health care, education, and to maintain a safe infrastructure.
We cannot afford a President in favor of doing even less.
THE BLAME Jan 8, '08 2:38 AM
When things go wrong, nobody wants to take the blame. A truly honest
person will admit mistakes anyway, and will deserve and probably get more
respect by doing so than by trying to blame others. Yet some so-called
leaders, in positions of responsibility, seem not to have learned this
Musharraf of Pakistan, in an outrageously offensive public statement, blames Bhutto for her own assassination. Blaming the victim for the crime has been done before, and it is almost always despicable.
Perhaps he is trying to obscure the fact that his despotic behavior
created the potential for violence. Perhaps he is even more directly to
blame. Obviously standing up to wave at her supporters wasn't a good
idea. Obviously JFK shouldn't have ridden in an open car in Dallas.
Such speculation is pointless. When a group of people are determined to
kill someone, they will probably keep trying until they do it. Find out
who was really behind it, and who failed to stop it--that's the important
Some politicians have attempted to blame Iraqis for not behaving properly under US occupation. That is also outrageous and idiotic. The US ATTACKED Iraq, devastated their infrastructure, killed hundreds of thousands of their people, created chaos in their society, dictated how
they were to govern themselves, and REFUSES TO LEAVE. What do we expect?
Added to that is the fact that we previously attacked them in 1991 and
imposed economic sanctions that kept them in financial hardship right up
until we attacked them again. Does any sane person think this is a way to make friends and influence people?
Let it be perfectly clear. It is not the Iraqis' fault. It is the fault
of the President of the United States, and those who voted for him, those who went along with his actions, and those who did not do enough to stop him.
And that brings us to the blame for the ENABLERS. Many say: Bush lied to us--how could we know? Yes, it is absolutely true that BUSH LIED-- many times. But we are supposed to be a democracy, and we are supposed to be an intelligent nation with a tradition of questioning our leaders and thinking independently.
I am a private citizen, with no special access to secrets, and I KNEW BUSH WAS LYING. I knew invading Iraq was wrong and pointless. Some in Congress knew it too, but not enough. Not enough American voters were paying attention.
Yes, the administration is to blame. We, the people, were not expecting that much dishonesty nor that much incompetence, but we should have recognized it much sooner. Let us accept our portion of the collective blame, and learn from it. This is our country-- we cannot afford apathy, or unquestioning trust. We cannot afford to ignore corporate greed and its undue influence. And we cannot afford for America to be a bad
citizen in the community of nations.
VOTERS BETRAYED Dec 20, '07 2:04 AM
American voters have been betrayed by the Democrats they elected to end the war in Iraq. There is absolutely no excuse for any Democrat to have approved funds for the Iraq occupation. It is incomprehensible. They know a large majority of Americans want the war ended. They know the occupation is wrong. They know the invasion was wrong. Many of them got, or kept, their jobs in 2006 because we, the people, finally woke up and recognized that we had been lied to and that our government was committing unacceptable acts and even crimes in our name, and we wanted it stopped. We still want it stopped.
With only 2 major parties, who can we elect to get the job done? One party openly intends to continue the reprehensible and stupid course it is on. The other party promises change, but betrays us. What now?
Perhaps it is time to take to the streets and march. And we need to investigate each of those politicians we thought were on the side of the people, and find out what they are really about, and who is paying their bills. When there is a crime, there is usually a motive. The people need to know.
Misunderstood Issues Dec 13, '07 2:45 PM
Issues that have been spun by the media or by Republicans directly.
if it IS an important issue outside the minds of the xenophobes and bigots, there is only one reason, and the important
question has yet to be answered conclusively: Are the immigrants taking
American jobs away from American workers? Employers claim the jobs would
otherwise go unfilled. If so, then the aliens should simply be
legalized. If not, then employers need to be closely monitored and
punished for hiring aliens to avoid paying minimum wage and benefits to
Republicans avoid mentioning the main reason for the
defecits and the huge national debt: MILITARY SPENDING. Compared to
spending in the civilian sector, which benefits the heath, education, and
welfare of the American people, sums spent on military hardware and
personnel even in peacetime are staggering. In addition, trillions are
wasted in Iraq, billions more in military aid and military operations
both covert and overt throughout the world. Very little of this actually
has to do with 'homeland security. Most of it benefits only US and
multinational corporations, both as the protected entities and the
suppliers of weaponry. We need to stop trying to control the world and
learn to live peacefully with the other nations. Then we don't have to
be in such fear that we think we need to be able to destroy the world
many times over.
The Two Border Guards:
Tried, convicted, and sentenced for illegally shooting a fleeing suspect in the back, these two are far from heroes. We don't need to condone any law enforcement using unnecessary deadly force.
Those who protest injustice should look at the hundreds of people
detained and imprisoned without trial, many of whom are innocent, others
whose guilt is unprovable.
A Speedy and Public Trial Dec 6, '07 6:11 AM
Amazing, isn't it, that we have a Presidential administration, each member of which has sworn to uphold the Constitution, making obscure and convoluted arguments to the Supreme Court to try to circumvent the
Constitution and deny civil rights to detainees in Guantanamo?
Is an American base within a foreign country that didn't invite us to be there, American soil? If not, it's Cuban soil, so perhaps the prisoners should be tried in Cuban courts. Now, that would be interesting.
No one in government in the US should EVER be arguing against civil rights for an accused person, nor against a fair trial in a civil court.
By providing the fairest possible justice, a government proves its legitimacy and its dedication to truth. Only then can its citizens trust it.
It is not just principles at stake. Any American could be falsely accused of being a terrorist conspirator. Normal court proceedures, including habeus corpus, protect us from serious consequences of this, whether the cause is mistaken identity, political persecution, or a lie
by someone with a grudge. But if you are imprisoned without trial, your innocence, or reasonable doubt of your guilt, will not set you free.
Do we want our government to set an example of justice we can point to with pride, or must we admit that we have no more freedom and justice than the people in Saudi Arabia or Sudan or Turkey?
If the Supreme Court does not decide rightly, we should insist that Congress act to end the despotism of the Bush administration.
TRICKY TREATY Nov 27, '07 1:36 PM
In a transparently obvious attempt to perpetuate policies of occupation, intimidation, and empire beyond his tenure in office, Bush and his co-conspirators have concocted a treaty with their own puppet government in Iraq that calls for large numbers of US troops to stay.
Not satisfied with leaving a huge war debt for future generation to pay off, Bush wants to use a sham treaty to obligate us to continue to kill Iraqis and risk American lives. It is a reprehensible ploy-- another outrageous act in a long series of lies and betrayals of the American people.
Treaties, however, must be ratified by Congress to be valid, and we can certainly hope --and demand-- that they reject this abomination. It should offend not only Congressmen who want to end the occupation and obey the will of American voters, but also all those who believe that international treaties should be honorable agreements between nations, not cheap political tricks by ruthless, power-mad Presidents.
The fact that the Bush Administration has even tried this should show everyone that we need to impeach Bush and Cheney, because we do not know to what other extremes they might go to impose their will on the world. Martial law? Suspend the election? Are we SURE it can only happen in places like Pakistan?
I am concerned about the people of Iraq, upon whom our President has brought undeserved destruction and hardship and humiliation. They are people like us, who yearn to be free to run their own country and to rebuild it, to live in peace, to live without invaders in their midst. We need to let them. It will probably be a long time before most Iraqis will be friends of America, because of what we have done to them. But it is never too late to do the right thing...and stop doing the wrong thing.
Because I am an American, I am even more concerned about our own people. What does it do to us, as a nation and as individuals, to know that in our name our government is committing atrocities in other lands, that it is torturing and imprisoning people without trial, that it attacks and occupies without provocation; that it lies to us and seeks to curtail our freedom?
We were taught as children that we have a fair and equal system of justice, that our inalienable rights are guaranteed, that our nation stood as an example to the rest of the world for honor and for the protection of human rights for all. As we grew older we learned that, although those were our ideals, our country has not been perfect in following them, and it needs the help of many of us to correct its errors and and stay on the right path.
Now, we look around and wonder, 'How did this happen?' Did we turn into a nation of cowards, willing to blindly give up our freedom for a promise of security? No, we are not cowards, but too many were manipulated into fear and hate, and then into accepting ruthlessness. The propaganda was intended to confuse and misinform and maintain fear. It worked.
But though we were victims, we cannot escape the fact that we let it happen. If we don't fix it, how are we going to explain freedom and justice to our children? How do we teach them to treat one another with kindness and respect when our government kills, maims, tortures, and intimidates without reason or logic?
Thanksgiving, 1621 Nov 18, '07 3:27 AM
Thanksgiving approaches. It is a day of feasts, thanks, and ironic twists in its tales. Like other bits of popular history, there are contrasts between myth and reality.
Humans have had harvest feasts since the beginning of agriculture, rewarding themselves for their hard summer's work, fattening themselves up for cold weather, and paying tribute to whatever gods they believed brought them good luck with the crops.
It's a valid concept, though now we prefer heated homes to added body
fat, and many of us have learned that it is one another that we should thank, not imaginary deities, when we prosper and make progress.
After the first recognized American Thanksgiving in 1621, with the
Pilgrims and the Wampanoag native Americans, it was 242 years before it
became a yearly official holiday, declared by Abraham Lincoln in 1863.
Along with a possible wild turkey or two, the 1621 menu probably included
geese, ducks, partridges, cranes, swans, eagles, and deer.
The fact that this feast was celebrated in friendship between early settlers and native Americans is indeed worth thinking about.
Unfortunately, that friendship did not last through the centuries to follow, as the European immigrants began to attack and dispossess the natives, perpetrating a massive genocide.
The fact that many gestures of friendship and peace over the years, and
the efforts of many thousands of dedicated proponents of human rights and justice have not stopped the insanity of war and greed should not discourage us. The more of us there are who think about the meaning of what we do and what we celebrate; the more of us who seek the whole truth rather than accept official myths, and who are willing to speak and act against war and authoritarianism, the closer we come to the day when humankind can live in peace.
-- captain rat
Lawyers with Principles? Nov 7, '07 5:29 AM
It seems odd to hear that the Pakistanis marching in the streets against their president's martial law/military coup, are lawyers. Thousands of them.
Who could imagine America's greedy ambulence-chasers and fat corporate attorneys marching to protest anything. Maybe they would come out against no-fault insurance, because it would reduce their incomes, though it would be good for the rest of us.
But it seems there is a different breed of lawyer in Pakistan: people with principles, and the courage and commitment to risk injury and arrest to stand up for their ideals.
I salute them. I wish we had more lawyers like that here. We might need them before it's all over with.
Friends of Tyranny Nov 4, '07 11:29 AM
The Bush-Cheney neocon plan to create chaos in the middle east has
succeded quite well. Of course, chaos is not hard to achieve. You just
think of everything that might increase peace and stability, then do the
In yet another unfortunate effect of the Iraq occupation, we are ending
up on the wrong side regarding the Kurds and Turkey. We should be
strongly advocating human rights and autonomy for the Kurds in Turkey,
and opposing any Turkish military action against the PKK. But because
we're using Turkey as a land route in and out of Iraq, we're stuck having
to pretend to like the Turks.
The Bush administration has declared the PKK terrorists, probably to
please Turkey. Thus we are flipping the proverbial finger at the Kurds,
the one peaceful group in occupied Iraq.
The name-calling approach to international relations is
an inane tactic. It is bad for diplomacy. You can condemn a terrorist
acts while recognizing that an organization using them may have valid
It was Ronald Reagan who may have started this childish policy by calling
the USSR an 'evil empire', while engaging in a significant number of evil
acts himself. It should be remembered that, before Bush, Reagan
conducted one of the most vicious and anti-democratic foreign policies
ever, while domestically he attacked and weakened labor unions, caused an
economic recession, and tried to ignore the growing AIDS epidemic. Yet
some Republicans will hold him up as a shining example, hoping that
people forget history.
Now another of Bush's convenient friends, the President of Pakistan, has
declared martial law in order to ignore his country's supreme court and
illegally remain president. Like Bush, he preaches democracy but
doesn't practice it.
In two recent speeches, Bush boasted that he
refuses to listen to the American people when forming policies. We
already knew that, but it's good to hear him admit it.
Saudi Unsacks Feline Oct 29, '07 3:02 PM
Saudi Arabia's King Abdulla has let the proverbial cat out of the bag. On a visit to England, he accused the British of not taking terrorism seriously enough. Why? Because the Saudis sent information before the London subway bombings that might have enabled them to stop it, but the British did nothing about it.
Shocking, perhaps, but not surprising. The British government needed a terrorist attack to maintain the people's fear level, in order to retain just enough popular assent to their unholy alliance with the Bush administration.
Of course, King Abdulla may be accused of lying. He is not exactly a popular figure. But there have already been so many lies told to the people of both England and America by our own governments over Iraq that I would tend to believe the Saudi King.
The fact that we have, in theory, democratic governments, is no guarantee that our leaders will not ruthlessly manipulate and deceive us. We need to constantly watch them, and make them accountable.