Monday, July 31, 2006
Me? An extremely simple man.
Saturday, July 29, 2006
"The operation is codenamed "Samson's Pillars", a collective punishment of the 1.4 million Gazans, subjecting them to a Lebanese-style offensive that has targeted the civilian infrastructure by destroying water mains, the main power station and bridges.
Before Israeli tanks moved into northern Gaza, yesterday, 12-year-old Anas Zumlut joined the ranks of dead Palestinians, numbering more than 100. His body was wrapped in a funeral shroud, just like those of the two sisters, a three-year-old and an eight-month-old baby, who were killed three days ago in the same area of Jablaya."
Complete and utter FUBAR, and I think that anyone who's picking a side in this is dead wrong. Sullivan's right to criticize the left-wing for not addressing the issue (Crooks and Liars should be ashamed for not even touching on the situation) but to say that Hamas and Hezbollah are the ONLY ones who target or hide behind women and children is just a conscious censoring of the truth.
Tuesday, July 25, 2006
Of course the same WT study also claims that:
"Seventy-two percent of respondents said the Iraqi people are better off now than under Saddam Hussein's regime -- a figure similar to that of 2004, when it stood at 76 percent. In addition, 64 percent say Saddam had "strong links" with al Qaeda, up from 62 percent in October 2004. Fifty-five percent said that "history will give the U.S. credit for bringing freedom and democracy to Iraq." And although the response is tepid, American confidence in the Iraqis has improved: 37 percent said Iraq would succeed in creating a stable democracy, up five points since November."
Who knew so many people watched Fox News?
Senator Arlen Specter, Republican and former GOP primary candidate for President is leading the fight to pass a bill that would allow Congress to sue the President for signing defacto rules into bills that Congress previously passed.
Hey George, with friends like these...?
But before we all go praising Specter's obviously political maneuver we ask the question, if you were so adamant about this why didn't you support Russ Feingold's Censure resolution? [Only supported by Sens Harkin, Boxer, and Kerry] Why did it take you so long to publicly criticize the President for actions that he had no legal power to enforce? You don't need to be a Supreme Court judge to know that he has absolutely no right to write his own laws into action. And finally why go through the actions of suing him, when it seems pretty obvious that signing statements is against the law, and is a criminal--not civil--offense? Hell, even OJ had to go through a criminal trial before he was civilly sued.
Of course I support any and all non-violent legistation and actions that would bring the downfall of this President, but I'm going to support these actions with my eyes wide open. You, Sen. Specter, are an opportunist of the worse sort. And far getting praise from this blog you get the wave of the finger. After all, no one deserves a reward for kicking a dead horse.
Word of the People's main man mayor Bloomberg has astonished this blog by backing NYC's power provider Consolidated Edison claiming that,
"Kevin Burke [CEO of Con Ed] deserves a thanks from this city. He's worked as hard as he can every single day since then, as has everybody at Con Ed."
Shocking words coming from the usually populist politician, although the looks from his supporters in the rear during the press conference were priceless, as their stoic faces morphed into gazes of confusion and disbelief. Afterward the Assemblyman for Astoria, Michael Gianaris said,
"Has he not seen what's been reported about the lies they told both to him and to the rest of the city about how many people were affected for days and days and days? This is just astounding to have stood there and heard that."
While this writer admits that Con Edison's continued response has been slack, I'm not so quick to pin all the responsibility on our power company. All across the US there has been a record breaking demand for power, and our current system is not prepared to handle it. It was only two years ago that New York had a blackout which encompassed all of the state and extended into Canada, sparking rumors of terror attacks. In the aftermath there had been discussion about inherent problems with the grid--problems that would only get worse as demand increased, and yet, without significant raises in prices these changes cannot be made unless the federal government helps out. Nuclear power, solar energy and other methods of alternative fuel have not recieved the funding and attention it deserves. When you compare America's policy to that of England and other Western nations (and I'm not even about to discuss Iceland, which makes us all look like cavemen warming ourselves by a fire) you can see that we are extremely far behind.
The continued funding of alt fuel sources is important not only for the environment but for our defense against terrorism. Can anyone imagine what would happen if there was an attack during a power outage? The resulting chaos would reach a biblical, nearly apoplectic level that would make 9/11 look like the first World Trade Center bombing. It is of vital importance that we build new structures before the old ones collapse upon our heads.
Saturday, July 22, 2006
Why do I bring this up? Well, beyond the fact that I like to hear myself talk I was wondering about this whole issue of calling the Israel/ Hamas/ Hezbollah thing World War III. Bill Berkowitz has a great review of the World War III label here, from Newt Gingrich on Meet the Press last week, to how the Project for the New American Century (or as I like to say, Nazis) used the term to rile up support for their Iraq war dream that became our nightmare. Personally, I'm sorta hyped for a World War III. One, it would simplify things tremendously. No longer would I have to say "the Israel/ Hamas/ Hezbollah thing," but I could just say World War III. Two, the little demonic neocon I have in my heart would like to have a World War just to feel like something great has happened in my generation. We lack goals. We shrug our shoulders when we hear about going to Mars, we sure as hell don't wanna end poverty, hunger, or AIDS, and our biggest challenge seems to be not keeping idiots in the White House. Truly this is a worthy goal...but it just doesn't have enough bombs and explosions and bullets to hold American interest which is roughly the span of a fruit fly. We want a Michael Bay extravaganza, not an Al Gore let's-all-recycle-and-save-the-planet hippyfest. Speaking of which, where the hell is he about what's going on? You know a lot of friggin pollution goes into the atmosphere when you're dropping twenty ton bombs on hospitals. What's the greenhouse gas emissions on that? Then again, at least the bodies of the children are bio-degradable.
What I find particularly funny about the neocon use of the the World War III label were that these are the same guys who tried to convince us that the Cold War was WW III. Course now they wanna roll that back because if they started calling it WW IV they'd have to explain to our poorly educated youth about the Cold War, and what that was ,and when it happened, and Lord knows you can't go educating people while you're trying to scare the holy ghost crap outta them.
Here's a rule of thumb to get you through the day: when ever you hear these guys trot out the terms "World War," or "War" in general, remember they are trying to get us involved. War to these folks doesn't mean death and bloodshed and suffering, but denotes opportunities for exploitation and corruption. That's why they're so goosed about World War III--but deny that Iraq is in the midst of a civil war. We've drained all we can outta there, and regardless of their tough talk about 'staying the course,' and 'cutting and running,' they would love to leave Iraq like a coyote ugly girl they picked up at a bar the previous night who's wearing their t-shirt, and cooking them breakfast the next morning.
Regardless folks, don't believe the hype. This isn't World War III; and, if you ask me, World War II should have been World War I. Their use of the WW label demeans and degrades what should be something of global importance. Hitler was the greatest challenge this planet ever faced and there is no doubt in my mind that should he have won every man, woman, and child on this planet would have been affected. No matter who wins in this minor scuffle in the Middle East our lives in America will not be directly changed. Just like the Iraq war has not profoundly changed the face of the US, nor the first Iraq war, or Granada, or Panama. Call it small thinking, call it tunnel vision, but this idea of Team America: World Police has worn out its welcome, and its time that we get back from fighting World Wars, and get back to improving our country that we have neglected for far too long.
Besides, we should really save that next World War tag from something real juicy; like in 2015 when we get invaded by aliens. TO SERVE MAN! IT'S A COOKBOOK!!!!!!!
Wednesday, July 19, 2006
"Son, you don't understand. The last time I was in a precient they had thrown me down a flight of stairs. Then picked me up and tossed me down again. Over and over till my mom came and got me. He was about 19 at the time. Younger than me.
"I know folks who's gone in a cop house and come out in body bags. All black, all dead, and no questions asked. No news at eleven, no special report."
Think its an exaggeration? Think again.
According to special prosecutors in Chicago, nearly 150 black suspects during the 1970's and 80s were tortured.
“It is our judgment that the evidence in those cases would be sufficient to establish guilt beyond a reasonable doubt,” [Prosecutors]Robert D. Boyle and Edward J. Egan wrote."
Of course the statute of limitations has lapsed, and so those accused of his horrendous crimes are beyond prosecution. Our bad, sorry about beating you, using electric shocks, and playing mock russian roulette with you...but you know, it's all in a day's work.
Looking back at me, with tears in his eyes and rage in his voice, my dad said, "People say that there's just a few bad apples, but can't they see that the whole fucking tree is rotten?"
I'm sorry dad. You see--it's not that they can't see it, they just won't.
Standing with the so-called "snowflake families," fifteen men and women who have adopted frozen embryos which would have been destroyed or used for stem cell research, Bush claimed that:
"America was founded on the principle that we are all created equal and endowed by our creator with the right to life...We can advance the cause of science while upholding this founding promise. We can harness the promise of technology without becoming slaves to technology. And we can ensure that science serves the cause of humanity, instead of the other way around."
Then he supported Israel's decision to blow the crap outta Lebanon, breaking step with the rest of Western nations who are attempting to negotiate an immediate cease-fire. Instead, Bush stands with Israel's demand that they conclude military operations before talking peace. So far the civilian death toll in Lebanon is over 300, with 1,000 wounded and 500,000 displaced.
President Bush is a very sick man. I don't know how else to explain a person who says one thing and does another. His actions are schizophrenic if they are unconscious, and sociopathic if not. On one hand he vetoes a bill that could save millions of peoples lives, and explains he does this for "morality, and an inherent right to life," and on the other he supports a war that is completely one sided, the brunt of its violence shouldered by the innocent. If you knew a man like this you'd tell him to get some help. Unfortunately, it is we who need the help the most.
Well, at least Americans evacuated from Lebanon won't be charged for their rescue.
Tuesday, July 18, 2006
Mission accomplished my ass.
Yes, the man who was mysteriously able to diagnois Terri Shiavo via videotape from hundreds of miles away (and you know, like break medical tradition and ethics and stuff...) has now created his own blog, which seems to be either a carefully plotted parody of mediamatters.org, or a carefully plotted proproganda machine.
Still, he does support stem cell research. Don't worry Bill, the Right will forgive you.
"Just weeks after a national government and a major effort to pacify Baghdad, Iraq is witnessing sectarian massacres on a new and terrifying scale. 150 dead in three days. One recent massacre was by Sunni militias wearing Iraq national army uniform. The great danger of such unfathomable savagery is that, fueled by revenge killings and the lack of any credible government authority, it feeds on itself. This is why sufficient troops were such an important factor in the post-invasion plan. And why we - and thousands of murdered innocents - are now paying so brutally for Don Rumsfeld's pride." (Italics mine)
Ok, we've been seeing this for years from the Democratic side, but now even the most die hard conservatives; Buckley, Sullivan, Will, have taken the side that, at the least, the war was planned with incompetence and arrogance. My question to any one out there is, do we punish those people on the top for 1) a sense of justice and retribution, and 2) to deter anyone from following down this path of hubris? I mean when you think of it, alot--not all--but alot of this mess is from people like Bush committing these kind of acts, and not only getting away with it, but being defended and rewarded by the American government, in the form of political and financial retribution (pensions, connections with lobbyists, etc), and the continuing of the American cultural corpus that says that whatever we do is correct, footnoted with the phrase "and if it wasn't they had it coming for not being civilized in the first place"
Imperialization in Latin American countries, the rise of Cuba, the Islamic revolution in Iran, the rise of Saddam and Bin Laden, the rise of the Taliban, and much of the violence in the Middle East have roots in America. Now let me make this clear, I am not saying that America was the sole or main cause of these events. What I am saying is that America--in some respective fashion-- played a role in helping these events come into maturity, and denial of this role helps to maintain an atmosphere where these type of events can breed.
Thus, if we can come to the agreement that the Iraq war plan was shoddily devised, and fought for invalid reasons (and please, can we finally face the fact that Bush could have never sold a war to democritize a Middle East country? We didn't even care about the Rwandian genocide, so don't hand me that crap that all of a sudden, in Iraq, we were so worried about getting them voting that we needed to send 100,000 troops over there. If you believe that then you should send me one million dollars so I can build a starship that runs on the power of my smile.), then shouldn't these people be tried for war crimes? I just wanted to know your feelings.
Hezbollah continued their bombardment of Israel today, killing one person in the town of Nahariya and destroying buildings in Haifa.
However there is promising news on the diplomatic front. From MSNBC.com:
"Earlier on Tuesday, Israel's deputy army chief estimated that an offensive against Hezbollah would end within a few weeks.
"We will not take months," Israel's deputy army chief, Major-General Moshe Kaplinsky, told Army Radio.
"We need more time to complete our very clear goals. When we fight terror it is a war that needs to be very accurate, very schematic and it takes time."
Meantime, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni said the time for diplomacy was at hand, though she added that Israel's military operations would not end until its goals are reached."
Seems like this basically means, "we'll have peace, after we've blown them to kingdom come." This is the sorta rhetoric that gets Kristol and Wolfiwitz sweating with anticipation--pure neo-conservatism. I've said it once, I'll say it again. The war against terror is a war of conscious and wars of conscious cannot be won at the barrel of a gun. Of course this is different when it comes from Israel versus the United States. Truly, living on the border against the very people who want to see you destroyed breeds this type of vindictive attitude. And yet, someone said that with great power comes great responsibility. The time for diplomacy is at hand, but the longer Israeli military strikes continue, especially against civilian targets, the harder it will be to achieve true peace in the region. My continuing flustration and cynicism stems from the reality that no one wants peace, only annihilation.
I don't even know why I post this stuff anymore. My mental state would be better served writing about Brittney and K-Fed.
Monday, July 17, 2006
"Bush: Yo, Blair. What are you doing? Are you leaving?"
Yo, Blair...he said, yo, Blair...
"Bush: See the irony is what they need to do is get Syria to get Hezbollah to stop doing this s--- and it's over. "
Yo, Bush--it's not that simple!
Thursday, July 13, 2006
My friend is a handsome guy, who was pretty well liked with the ladies, and needless to say he liked them back, and didn't let the small details of a girlfriend burden him down. Things were going pretty well until he met another girl...oh let's just call her Madam X. X was sorta like Iraq: the package was tempting, defenses were weak, but right under a thin veneer was a host of problems, and needless to say, after being there for three weeks you would most likely want to cut-and-run yourself. My friend however decided to stay the course, and after seeing her for a year or so, was busted by his girl, who gave him the ultimatum; drop her, cheat no more or I'm ghost. In the end he complied, and eventually they married.
Yet on cold nights, as we sit and drink beers, he tells me his shortsightedness, knowing full well that he used up all his chips with Madam X--chips that he could have used on flings, and one nighters with much more desirable, less troublesome ladies. He banked it all on Iraq, and he came up bust.
Can you blame Bush for sliding back into multilateralism? It's not a choice dummy, it's a necessity. As a country we have neither the manpower, the resources, or the will to play Team America: World Police. He cashed in all his chips to make a play for Iraq, and it failed. Calmer heads called for a multilateral approach, but, flinging his middle finger at the UN, Bush dived head first into a pile of crap. Now he's used up all his chips, and when a unilateral approach is needed he's left like Wimpy, begging for burgers that he'll repay next week.
The moral of the story? Try not to cheat, but if you do better go for the girl with the great legs, J-Lo booty, and lack of sectarian violence.
Note: I am nominating this quote as undertstatement of the year.
Hearing of my nomination, and not to be out done, the EU has pulled their thumbs out of their asses just long enough to call Israel's response "disporportionate."
"The Middle East –the entire world– has changed since 1982. There is no Cold War, there is no Saddam. Lebanon has also changed. Many Lebanese are ready for Hezbollah to enter history’s dustbin. The Lebanese have also experienced twenty years of Syrian occupation and thuggery. Hezbollah remains a creature of Syria– a Syrian tool bought and paid for by Iran."
"The diplomatic component of this scenario: the Israelis make the case that in the post-Saddam, post-Beirut Spring Middle East, proxy wars are no longer tolerated. The Iranians will not be able to respond to Israeli strikes in kind. They will be exposed as weak hotheads and they will have lost at least part of their nuclear investment."
Both cases would call for some type of grass roots revolution, the thing that right now seems possible in Iran (the White House stresses it enough, then puts no money into fleshing it out), and the Lebanese might hate Syria more than Israel. Question to me is, will Israel bomb just enough to incite conflict between these nations' respective leadership and populations without going overboard and pushing the people into the arms of their tyrants? Only time will tell.
The only real criticism I have with Gib is with his statement:
"...Yet Israeli collective punishment only strengthens our collective resolve to work together. [Quote from Palestinian PM Haniyah]
Personally, dude, I've never doubted that you speak for a majority of Palestinians. I find the clarity refreshing. That Palestinians are united is good. That they are united behind a medival terrorist organization dedicated to Israel's destruction is less good, although it has the secondary benefit of making us less sympathetic."
This is likely the center of our disagreement. I refuse to believe that--currently--Hamas speaks for the majority of Palestinians. Hell GWB doesn't speak for the majority of Americans (fact last time I checked he only speaks for about 28%) and he was selected the first time by the Supreme Court. (Sorry, but as a Democrat I'm required to mention that at least once a day). Yes Hamas was elected by a majority vote but there were extenuating circumstances beyond their stance on Israel. Many people voted for them hoping they would get rid of the corruption that plagued Arafat's regime. A hope that Hamas has failed miserably to fulfill. But now the people are stuck with them, completely magnetized by their inertia of hate. It wouldn't surprise me a bit if Hamas politicians were using the 'cut-and-run' argument to silence critics who would like to see Shalit returned. We just don't know. It isn't the first time people in a nation made a bad decision, but to judge a nation completely by its rulers I think is a mistake. Frankly, one of my biggest fears is that when I travel abroad, people judge me by George Bush, or Dick Cheney, or Don Rumsfeld. I'd rather them just judge me by my bad writing and get it done with.
Regardless of my opinions on the general situation, Gib's post is some dammed interesting writing, worth a serious read.
"The Reverend Dr. Bill Lawson compared Lay with civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. and Jesus Christ, and said his name would eventually be cleared. "He was taken out of the world right at the right time," he said. "History has a way of vindicating people who have been wronged."
Sullivan's having a titty attack, but what would you expect the minister to say?
"Here Lies Ken Lay, father, son, husband, and dirty rotten thiefing bastard! May you rot in hell you sorry son of a bitch!"
Far as I know, the church is only good with the dammnation thing when it comes to sex and evolution.
PS: Did ya see? Did ya see? I made like a link, in like a word...only took me about three years to learn that. Yet another reason why I need a face full of buckshot.
"BEIRUT, Lebanon - Israel expects to carry out a prolonged offensive against Hezbollah guerrillas in Lebanon and will enforce an air and sea blockade until the conflict ends, a top officer said on Thursday.
Israeli forces intensified their attacks on Thursday, imposing a naval blockade on the country and pounding its only international airport and the Hezbollah TV station in Israel's heaviest air campaign against Lebanon for 24 years. Nearly three dozen civilians were killed, officials said."
I really do need some birdshot in the face.
Wednesday, July 12, 2006
"Under the deal, Halliburton had exclusive rights to provide the military with a wide range of work that included keeping soldiers around the world fed, sheltered and in communication with friends and family back home. Government audits turned up more than $1 billion in questionable costs. Whistle-blowers told how the company charged $45 per case of soda, double-billed on meals and allowed troops to bathe in contaminated water."
Guess it's time for Cheney to go on another hunting trip. And this time he's inviting everyone from the Pentagon's budget committee.
There's no denying that Vlad Putin is a pretty funny guy, in a bitter bitter Russian way.
Of course it's easy to be funny when you're getting your material from the US government.
In an interview with Today Show's Matt Lauer, Putin, when asked about VP Cheney's comments that Russia was, "cracking down on religious and political rights and of using its energy reserves as "tools of intimidation or blackmail." Putin retorted,
"I think the statements of your vice president of this sort are the same as an unsuccessful hunting shot. It's pretty much the same."
This isn't the first time Putin's been able to deflect US criticism of his policies by commenting on the American state. During a 60 Minutes interview a year ago(http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2005/05/06/60minutes/main693422_page2.shtml), Mike Wallace asked Putin whether his policy of appointing regional governors was un-democratic. Putin's response:
"In the United States, you first elect the electors and then they vote for the presidential candidates. In Russia, the president is elected through the direct vote of the whole population -- that might be even more democratic...And you have other problems in your elections. Four years ago, your presidential election was decided by the court. But we're not going to poke our nose into your democratic system because that's up to the American people."
Russia correctly criticizing US democracy. Now that's so funny I want to commit an unsuccessful hunting shot to my face.
...if this is what replaces them.
"MARJAYOUN, Lebanon - Hezbollah militants captured two Israeli soldiers in a cross-border raid Wednesday and dozens of Israeli troops crossed the frontier with warplanes, tanks and gunboats to hunt for the captives.
Israeli jets struck deep into southern Lebanon, blasting bridges and Hezbollah positions and killing two civilians, Lebanese security officials said...At least six Israeli soldiers were killed in the Hezbollah attack and Israeli response, the Lebanese officials said. The Israeli army confirmed casualties among its troops."
If you've been following the pages of Word Of The People for the last week or so, you'll notice that I haven't made too many postings in regards to the capture of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, who has been held by Hamas since June 25. I wasn't ignoring the story, but figured that this was nothing but a part of the endless cycle of violence in the region that inflates and deflates with the sound of air leaving peoples' bodies for the last time. It feels sometimes that when the Middle East is mentioned it is like a football game, where the body count is the score: December 17th, Iraq vs US, 21-7. November 21st, Hamas vs Israel 7-3 and so on. For the most part I like to concentrate this blog on topics that in some way profoundly change the field of play, and even then I like to focus on events that seem to move the situation in a positive direction. Last time Hamas was brought up (ironically enough, it was only days before Shalit was captured) it looked as if there might have been some sort of acknowledgement by Hamas of Israel's existence. Sadly, that opportunity has come and gone through the hostility of Hamas, and the hot tempers of the Israelis.
Oh and now this just in:
"GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip - Sharply escalating its military campaign, Israel dropped a quarter-ton bomb on a Gaza home Wednesday in a failed attempt to assassinate top Hamas fugitives. Nine members of the same family were killed, including seven children." (http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/13165159/)
See what I mean?
The addition of Hezbollah seems well choreographed, and beyond both organizations denial of collusion, this seems to be a massive ploy to attack Israel, and the Syrians, who fund Hezbollah, have very limited time before they come into Israeli sights. I usually believe that all people can be reasoned with, but these Islamic fundamentalists groups seem fanatical and irrational. Add that to the fact that they have now become part of the political system, and multiply that by the fact that the US, which used to be a leading ref in these disagreements, are now more than happy to let them all have a go at it to distract us from our shoddy war in Iraq (and a nice Hamas/ Hezbollah/ Israel war also helps their underline case that Islamic countries need policing and enforcement from Western countries) and what we have on our hands is a recipe for FUBAR. My solution? In the short run, every one else should step outta the way and let Israel deal with it. 1) It would distract insurgents in Iraq, and maybe even pull some of them out. 2) Israel will defeat its opponents in the region. Hamas, Syria, Hezbollah, and a host of imams won't be able to pray that fact away. If they really do want a fight, and no one is willing to reason, then give them the no-holds barred steel cage match they want. (And yes, I do feel sorry for their civilians, just as I felt sorry for the victims of Saddam, but a sad truth is that adding other forces to a hostile situation will only escalate the casualty count). 3) When Israel stands victorious, then we can let the lame ducks of the UN in to mediate the truce, with full cooperation of the US (This is of course, if we (the US that is) really want this thing to end).
Unfortunately even in my best dreams I can't see how this mess won't escalate again eventually. In fact, I really don't know what the hell I'm talking about. I've never seen so many people who are willing to drown themselves so they can cross a river to kill someone else. I think at this point the best plan for the rest of the world is to tie a boundary around the zone and let them, ironically, fight it out in peace.
But what the hell do I know? I just write a blog.
Tuesday, July 11, 2006
Friday, July 07, 2006
"NEW YORK - Authorities have disrupted planning by foreign terrorists for an attack on New York City tunnels, officials said Friday.
NBC News has learned from a senior counterterrorism official that U.S. and New York City authorities had known about a plot to blow up a tunnel in the city and flood the downtown area for a year and a half, but the plan was not advanced and never moved beyond the discussion stage.
According to a counter-terrorism official with knowledge of the plot, the plotters never cased the tunnels, never had any bomb-making materials to pull off the job, and were not even located in the U.S, but rather overseas. "
In fact the only way they knew about this was from monitoring an Internet chat room, and Professor X. What's funny about this to me, is that they knew about it for a year and a half, waiting, and then what? Was one of the "plotters" going out for a pizza and that's when the authorities decided to make their move? Something sounds oddly political about the timing of this whole thing. Either way, its nice to know that they're keeping their planning in their day dreams rather than putting in the man power. Sounds like they have alot in common with the guys who drafted up the Iraq war.
The scene comes towards the end of the book, as the hostages are about to be released. Sheikh-ol-eslam, one of the student guards who had taken the American embassy hostage, has come back to say goodbye to the hostages, and one in particular, CIA station chief Tom Ahern. Discovering that Ahern was CIA, Ol-eslam had previously tortured him, by hitting the soles of his feet with a piece of stiff cord.
They meet in a small room, and when Ahern is brought in he finds Ol-eslam sitting at a desk with a cord. He thinks that he is going to be tortured one last time, and as he's given one last "lecture" on Islam, all he can do is prepare himself for the worse. Then he's given a surprise:
"Instead, Sheikh-ol-eslam started explaining that the beatings that Ahern had received were really not indicative of his own values or those of Islam.
"As a token of my sincerity in this, I invite you to use this rope to do to me what I did to you."
Ahern looked at the rope and then at Sheikh-ol-eslam.
"We don't do stuff like that," he said."
It amazes me how Americans who have been tortured like Ahern and McCain can adhere to decency and morality, but those who haven't like Bush and Rumsfeld can so willingly toss out years of American protocol, and ethics in their crusade against terror. Though frustrated, I know that their side will lose, because they will never inspire the world in the way that Ahern's one simple sentence can.
Thursday, July 06, 2006
"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."
So its a wonder that the country founded on these words could so repeatedly, casually, and wantonly violate other countries' rights to be self-determining, and sovereign.
Now I'm not going to restate the history of American interventions in other countries. If you're interested check out the book Overthrow, by Stephen Kinzer. But what I will say is that in every single case, with perhaps the exception of Grenada, our interference has been disastrous for both the country and America. Just look at what's going on in Iraq right now and you'll get a taste of our bitter arrogance.
But isn't it good to know that we're staying the course?
This according to the Daily News:
"...the so-called Commission for Assistance to a Free Cuba, has come up with something of a master plan for Cuba's destiny. Go figure.
"[The report] is born of the idea that Washington knows better than the Cuban people in deciding what kind of government, economy and civil society Cuba ought to have," said Sarah Stephens, the editor of Cubacentral.com, a newsletter promoting free travel to Cuba.
Not a good idea, as anybody with a little knowledge of the Cuban people's history of proud nationalism can tell you.
The report urges Bush to allocate $80 million to end Cuba's Communist government. It says that the U.S. should get ready to intervene once Castro dies.
Washington, the document says, should prepare to usher a speedy transition toward "democracy and political freedom" in Cuba. The U.S. must make sure that there is not a "succession" but a "transition.""
Sound familiar? The fact is our policy towards Cuba is an abysmal failure. Cuba continues to thrive, and its drive comes from its hatred of the United States. If after the Spanish-American war we allowed the nationalist rebels, who were pro-democracy, to take control of the country, and not propped up dictators like Baptista, we wouldn't have guys like Castro. Our methods of intimidation and opression make the people of countries like Cuba open to leftist, and radical leaders who will "defend" their people against America. When we get aggressive all we do is fuel the fires of people like Kim Jong-Il and Saddam Hussein. Sure they know they have a dictator, but, by God they'd rather have a dictator, and their own nation, than have a protectorate and give away their home.
Gore Vidal said it best. The reason that we suck so much at the Empire game is that we're a Republic, not an Empire. Empires are built to invade, and once invaded, to set up provisionary governments that oversee their terrain. But with us we invade and then cut-and-run, propping up the worst warlord we can find, and wrapping them in an American flag on our way out. Then we spend half our time disguising our dictators greed and indecency from the rest of the world, including ourselves. And in the end the only thing we become are a pack of split-personality headcases, who tout liberty on one hand, and crack the whip with the other.
There is a time and place for foreign intervention, and that was World War II. People like Bush claim that true evil is hard to find, and that it sneaks up on you like a snake in the grass. But I think that analogy is only true when you're a person like Bush. We understand that the greatest gift we can give our neighbor is to treat them as we would like to be treated, and follow the Golden Rule. When your soul is free of corruption, then evil can be spotted like a speck of pepper in a bowl of milk. But when you're blackened by deceit and malice don't be surprised when you go blind.
From the Daily News:
"PHILADELPHIA - Congress will have "one heck of a battle" on its hands if it withholds terror funding from cities that don't help the feds catch illegal immigrants, Mayor Bloomberg warned yesterday.
At an immigration hearing held by Sens. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) and Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.), the mayor said city agencies can't become an arm of the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency.
"If Congress attempts to cut off all of our homeland security funding . . . I promise you will have one heck of a battle on your hands," Bloomberg said. "We are not going to let Congress cut and run from New York City.""
In this age of sterilized, packaged, refried, poll tested politics, Bloomberg is a refreshing change. I remember when Ross Perot ran the first time, and I thought, "sure he's a bit off kilter, but the fact that he's wealthy enough to run his own campaign allows him to stand on his own two feet." The fact was, whether you liked him or not, you knew where he stood. Well Perot was a bust, but Mayor Bloomberg seems to prove my thesis. During his tenure he's been one of the few politicians who's broken party lines, and tradition to get things done...World Trade Center not withstanding.
Of course many of the fights Bloomberg takes on are no-brainers. Sure, as Mayor of NY your job is to get as much terror funding as possible, and the fact that NY received less than many other cities...well let's chalk that up to Bush irrationality. But how he fights those battles; the fuel, and the carefully worded rhetoric is what makes Mike captivating, and should be a lesson to Democrats. Mike, who happens to favor a guest worker program, and who's made statements to the effect that illegal immigration is the foundation that supports the American economy (an correct pragmatic judgment), effectively tackles two topics in one. Yes, we want the funding, and no we won't concede to your demands of using our (city) resources for your (Federal) policies. And as far as his flipping of the cut-and-run phrase...pure Clinton bliss.
I really hope guys like Shrum are out there taking notes, because come the Fall elections the people will be demanding guys like him, and right now the Democrats aren't delivering. There's got to be more to their platforms than simply saying, "I'm not Bush." There has to be pragmatic, and innovative plans. The GOP has opened up their own holes, now you just need someone to run the ball to the goal line.
Wednesday, July 05, 2006
In fact Kim isn't fashion savvy, people savvy, economically savvy, war savvy, or savvy in just about any way possible. He must not be after test firing at least six missiles yesterday, on the Fourth of July, which included one long range ballistic missile that failed some 40 seconds after takeoff.
"Hey folks," he said in a press briefing, "not only am I an asshole, but I'm an incompetent asshole! So why don't you put that in your pipe and smoke it!"
Truer words haven't been spoken since President Bush told Saddam he'd have 48 hours to get out of Iraq.
Needless to say, the administration's response has been quick, efficient, and a happy relief as Rove and co. has been running out of things to distract the American population from the Iraq war. Unfortunately, this is a topic that runs nearly at the top of our currently failing foreign policy. Unlike immigration, the Dubai ports, and the VP shooting his friend in the face, the precarious NK situation threatens millions of lives and possibly could trigger a major war. From MSNBC.com:
"The political reaction was swift. The White House called the tests a "provocation,"while the U.N. Security Council scheduled an emergency meeting for Wednesday and Tokyo warned of economic sanctions against the impoverished, communist country."
"NATO condemned the tests, saying the move threatened the stability of the region and beyond, and Russia expressed "serious concern"."
There's tons of speculation regarding the timing of NK's testing. Some believe that they wanted to take the spotlight away from Iran's nuclear program, while others believe that this was aimed directly at threatening the US. But, regardless of any explanation, the latter is exactly what Jong-Il accomplished. This is exactly the type of incident that GWB prays for every night, and expect to see his poll numbers jump in the next couple of days. It doesn't matter whether the tests were successful or not, and so far it sounds like it was a foul tip rather than a home run, it won't take much to reignite the fires of fear that had been smoldering for the last couple of months, and you can be sure that Bush and Cheney will be there to fan the fire with an abestos blanket of tough talk, and aggressive rhetoricic. Of course, the problem with this strategy isn't the damage it will make with their political numbers, but rather the damage it will make to the American psyche, and human life. For the last five years or so we have needed to engage NK and Iran in a serious diplomatic dialogue that has been substituted for mere saber-rattling. Jong-Il has decided to rattle his own, but what he doesn't understand (besides the fact that it doesn't look good when your sabers shatter when they shake) is that this administration is more than ready to escalate any issue into violence.
Then again, maybe he does. We may think of Bush and co. in many negative lights, but simply because they're inept and a tad evil don't think that the world is lacking others with the same, and perhaps more intense traits of their own. Our foreign policy has encouraged the worse in peoples' nature rather than the best, but when that happens we shouldn't be surprised when you bring out a couple of demons. Hopefully a settling breeze will blow through and cool these hot heads.