Archive for the ‘Events’ Category

Now it’s Republicans putting our nation “at risk?”

Events | Posted by admin
Mar 01 2011

Just how close is Bush willing to take us toward a government of the Decider, by the Decider, and for the Decider?

Bush Says G.O.P. Rebels Are Putting Nation at Risk – New York Times (New York Times):

President Bush made an impassioned defense on Friday of his proposed rules for the interrogation and prosecution of terrorism suspects, warning that the nation’s ability to defend itself would be undermined if rebellious Republicans in the Senate did not come around to his position.

Speaking at a late-morning news conference in the Rose Garden, Mr. Bush said he would have no choice but to end a C.I.A. program for the interrogation of high-level terrorism suspects if Congress passed an alternate set of rules supported by a group of Senate Republicans.

Those alternate rules were adopted Thursday by the Senate Armed Services Committee in defiance of Mr. Bush. Setting out what he suggested could be dire consequences if that bill became law, Mr. Bush said intelligence officers — he referred to them repeatedly as “professionals” — would no longer be willing and able to conduct interrogations out of concern that the vague standard for acceptable techniques could leave them vulnerable to legal action.

“Were it not for this program, our intelligence community believes that Al Qaeda and its allies would have succeeded in launching another attack against the American homeland,” he said. “But the practical matter is if our professionals don’t have clear standards in the law, the program is not going to go forward.”

The administration has said the Central Intelligence Agency has no “high value” terrorism suspects in foreign detention centers, having transferred the last of them this month to military custody at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. But officials said they considered the program crucial to efforts to foil attacks.

“This enemy has struck us, and they want to strike us again,” Mr. Bush said, “and we’ll give our folks the tools necessary to protect the country. It’s a debate that, that really is going to define whether or not we can protect ourselves.”

It was also a debate Mr. Bush had hoped to have this week exclusively with Democrats as he and his party’s leadership set out to draw unflattering distinctions between Republicans and Democrats on fighting terrorism for the fall elections.

Instead, Mr. Bush spent Friday in a second day of heavy debate, casting some of the most respected voices on military matters in his own party as hindering the fight against terrorism. As of late Friday there seemed to be no break in the impasse, even as White House officials worked behind the scenes to build new support in the Senate for the legislation the president wants.

So now it is some Republicans who are getting in Bush’s way of bypassing the Geneva Conventions to allow his administration to compel our troops and intelligence officers to torture people.

Bush is trying to convince people that Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions is vague and fuzzy, that all he is trying to do is clarify it. For your information, take a look at that article:

Article 3 (Geneva Convention relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War, UNHRC)

In the case of armed conflict not of an international character occurring in the territory of one of the High Contracting Parties, each party to the conflict shall be bound to apply, as a minimum, the following provisions:

1. Persons taking no active part in the hostilities, including members of armed forces who have laid down their arms and those placed hors de combat by sickness, wounds, detention, or any other cause, shall in all circumstances be treated humanely, without any adverse distinction founded on race, colour, religion or faith, sex, birth or wealth, or any other similar criteria.

To this end the following acts are and shall remain prohibited at any time and in any place whatsoever with respect to the above-mentioned persons:

(a) Violence to life and person, in particular murder of all kinds, mutilation, cruel treatment and torture;

(b) Taking of hostages;

(c) Outrages upon personal dignity, in particular, humiliating and degrading treatment;

(d) The passing of sentences and the carrying out of executions without previous judgment pronounced by a regularly constituted court affording all the judicial guarantees which are recognized as indispensable by civilized peoples.

2. The wounded and sick shall be collected and cared for.

An impartial humanitarian body, such as the International Committee of the Red Cross, may offer its services to the Parties to the conflict.

The Parties to the conflict should further endeavour to bring into force, by means of special agreements, all or part of the other provisions of the present Convention.

The application of the preceding provisions shall not affect the legal status of the Parties to the conflict.

“Vague” my fuzzy cat’s backside. Take another look at Section 1, parts (a), (c), and (d) and tell me that Bush and his backers aren’t trying to make an end-run around them to rationalize and legalize inhumane treatment and remove due process. Is it any wonder why old warhorses such as Senators McCain and Warner and our military’s legal eagles are digging in their heels? Bush may see them as rebels in his party, but it is he who is rebelling against customs, rules, and laws that keep our democracy healthy.

Why does this president hate America’s self-professed values of human rights, civil rights, due process, and constitutional checks and balances?

Oh, and some advice to the president, who firmly believes the Congress will stay in Republican hands after the election despite the crappy economy, the wars, the federal deficits and debt, and the degradation of individual civil rights and even civil political discourse: Don’t bet on it. Five years of a War President running amok with no Congressional oversight is five years too many. Get ready to be called to account for your actions.

You can’t make this stuff up

Events, Just Thoughts | Posted by admin
Aug 29 2007

Like something out of Kafka, the families of the trapped and likely dead miners in Utah are being denied the right to appoint the United Mine Workers as their representative in upcoming federal investigations. Not because this is a non-union mine, of course, but because the trapped and likely dead miners did not sign the forms themselves:

The federal agency tasked with investigating the Utah mine collapse denied a request by the families of six trapped miners that the United Mine Workers represent them in the probe of the matter, the union said Monday.

All six of the families had signed documents designating the union as their representative in the investigation, UMWA spokesman Phil Smith said. The Mine Safety and Health Administration told the union’s attorneys on Monday that the agency would not heed the request.

“MSHA requires that miners sign these papers, but the miners in question were unable because the are trapped inside the mine,” Smith said.

Of course, if the trapped miners could get out and sign the papers themselves, there wouldn’t need to be an investigation.

In defense of the free market. Sort of. Ok, not really.

Events | Posted by admin
May 30 2007

“I aimed at the public’s heart, and by accident I hit it in the stomach.”
– Upton Sinclair, “The Jungle”

E coli conservatives and their ostensible devotion to the free market strike again:

WASHINGTON: The Bush administration said Tuesday it will fight to keep meatpackers from testing all their animals for mad cow disease.

The Agriculture Department tests fewer than 1 percent of slaughtered cows for the disease, which can be fatal to humans who eat tainted beef. A beef producer in the western state of Kansas, Creekstone Farms Premium Beef, wants to test all of its cows.

Larger meat companies feared that move because, if Creekstone should test its meat and advertised it as safe, they might have to perform the expensive tests on their larger herds as well.

We knew that this administration sheds its purported principles whenever it suits their supporters, but to prohibit a small meatpacker from testing for a deadly disease when the small business wants to do so at its own cost is simply insane and shows what the true agenda is. Rick Perlstein offers this comment:

First, observe the contempt for liberty. When E. coli conservatives say self-regulation is preferable to government, they’re even lying about that. Second, observe the contempt for small business. When a small company want to – voluntarily! – hold its product to a higher standard, the government blocks it, in part because bigger companies have to be protected from the competition, in part because a theoretical threat to the bottom line (false positives) trumps protection against a deadly disease.

There’s your conservatism, America: not extremism in defense of liberty. State socialism in defense of Mad Cow.

And in case you’re wondering, you can buy Creekstone Farms meat locally at Kowalski’s.

Not going to attack Iran? Yeah, sure.

Events | Posted by admin
Feb 01 2007

To paraphrase an old saying, it ain’t paranoia if the Bush administration is really out to attack another nation.

US ‘Iran attack plans’ revealed

US contingency plans for air strikes on Iran extend beyond nuclear sites and include most of the country’s military infrastructure, the BBC has learned.

[Wait! Don't run away. There's more. Come back...]

Hey, we are only a month away from marking a fourth year of US military occupation in Iraq. What better way could Bush Company celebrate the occasion?

Well, yeah, they could refrain from making an even bigger mistake.

They could have refrained from invading and occupying Iraq, too.

And my students wonder why I am so grouchy. I shouldn’t read the paper before going in to work. I shouldn’t listen to the news on the radio while driving in, either. Where’s the medical gauze, because I’ll need to wrap up my head to keep from those morning routines of mine (or maybe I could move out to some gated community in the ‘burbs and start a cheap cigar habit).

Iraq: A very bad day.

Events | Posted by admin
Nov 12 2006

This is horrible. I can’t say more than that.

Sunday: 3 GIs, 4 UK Troops, 212 Iraqis Killed; 3 UK Troops, 146 Iraqis Wounded (AntiWar.com):

Sunday’s casualty tally quickly rose to 212 Iraqis either killed or found dead and another 146 Iraqis injured after a suicide bomb attack in Baghdad and the discovery of 75 corpses in Baqouba. Foreign servicemembers were also subject to violence. Today, four British servicemen were killed, three injured, in an attack on their boat in Basra, and the U.S. military also reported that three American soldiers were killed in Anbar Province on Saturday. In other news, an official at the Baghdad morgue reported that approximately 1600 bodies were delivered to the morgue during the holy month of Ramadan. That averages out to over 50 a day.

In the volatile Anbar Province, three U.S. soldiers died from wounds sustained during enemy action on Saturday. Four British servicemembers were killed and another three were seriously injured when their boat came under attack today in Basra; it was hit by an “improvised explosive device” while they were on routine patrol in the Shatt al-Arab waterway. Coalition forces also came under attack in Hit yesterday. Although no casualties were reported among Coalition and Iraqi forces, three militiamen were killed and residents reported that U.S. forces also killed eight civilians.

In west-central Baghdad, two suicide bombers walked up to a police recruitment center in al-Nusur Square before detonating their cargo; at least 35 people were killed and another 65 injured. Gunmen killed a senior official and his driver, and 25 unidentified bodies were discovered on Sunday morning.

Also in the capital, a roadside and car bomb combination killed six people and wounded ten near the Iraqi Interior Ministry’s offices. Five more Iraqis were killed and 11 wounded in the al Fanahra neighborhood. In the Karadah district, a car bomb killed two and wounded seven. A roadside bomb in the southwestern Radhwaniyah area killed three and wounded 13. In the nearby Um al-Maalif neighborhood, another roadside bomb killed five people. Yet another roadside bomb, this one in Amariyah, killed three and wounded three others. Two more roadside bombs were left on a highway in central Baghdad, killing four and wounding ten. One civilian was killed and four people, including two policemen, were injured by an explosion in the Mustansiria neighborhood.

In Baquoba, Iraqi troops discovered 75 bodies behind a regional electric company. It was feared that the bodies might be rigged with explosives.

GOP campaign strategy: When all else fails, resort to gay-bashing.

Events | Posted by admin
Oct 30 2006

Let’s see… What to do… what to do… It must be “hard work” having to find a “strategery” that will help Bush’s party maintain a majority in either house of Congress. They have tried almost everything:

  • Run on the “great” economy? (That’s not convincing many people.)
  • Emphasize the “success” and “good news” from our war in Iraq? (Hard to do with all that bad news — deaths, traumatic woundings, destruction, debt, and the rest — sitting on top of it.)
  • Roll out bin Laden from Cheney’s undisclosed waterboarding location? (Be careful. The Veep might have brought his shotgun along and he looked to be in a crabby mood the last time he popped up for air.)
  • Call for more tax cuts? (Tough to do right now. Most people are still reeling from the past rounds of tax cuts that actually left them with higher taxes — who did those tax cuts go to, anyway? Don’t forget that many, especially fiscal conservatives, are mad enough to spit at the trillions of dollars worth of federal debt those cuts has left.)

Golly-gosh-gee, Mr. President, none of these seem to be working for your party this election cycle. It’s looking more and more as if the Dems are going to take away your Congressional poodle pen.

Well, there’s still one more card you can play:

Bush seizes on gay marriage (Independent, UK):

President George Bush is seizing on a New Jersey Supreme Court ruling this week offering full marriage rights to gays and lesbians in hopes of galvanising the dispirited conservative base of the Republican Party just 10 days from crucial mid-term congressional elections in the United States.

Ripple effects of the ruling, delivered on Wednesday, were being felt in election battlegrounds all across the country yesterday with several independent analysts predicting that it may have given an unexpected boost to many struggling Republican candidates and change the outcome of several key races.

Within hours of the ruling, Mr Bush signalled his intention to highlight the issue during a campaign visit to Iowa. Bringing up the subject unprompted by anyone, he declared: “Yesterday in New Jersey, we had another activist court issue a ruling that raises doubts about the institution of marriage.” Reminding voters of his position that marriage can only be between a man and a woman, President Bush added: “I believe it’s a sacred institution that is critical to the health of our society and the well-being of families and it must be defended.”

Earlier this year, Mr Bush abandoned attempts to force a constitutional amendment through Congress blocking gay marriage because it was falling short of the necessary two-thirds majority.

Whereas gay marriage and family values were centre-stage in the 2004 presidential contest, they had largely faded from view in this campaign season, replaced by deep popular discontent with Mr Bush and in particular the relentless bad news coming from Iraq. The re-emergence of the gay marriage question gives Republicans a chance to change the focus. “Hot button social issues have come alive again. The Iraq issue had taken away from the social issues that religious conservatives wanted to focus on,” said Scott Keeter, research director at the PEW Research Center. “This decision at least gives them a news hook to restart that discussion.”

It could lift the heavy gloom that has settled over the White House in recent weeks as even leading members of the Republican Party have acknowledged that a voter rebellion on 7 November could rob the party of control of the House of Representatives and possibly the Senate as well, a sea-change that would put a crimp on Mr Bush in the last two years of his second – and final – term.

[full article here]

That’s right, Mr. President, play the homophobia card, emphasize the Democrats’ “homosexual agenda” (What is that “agenda,” anyway? Those Republicans; never much for details or explanations, are they?), and declare that the very fabric of American society will be ripped to shreds if our nation gives the civil and legal rights heterosexual couples enjoy to gays, lesbians, and bisexuals who want to commit to a lifelong, monogamous relationship with others (Eee! Run for the hills! Adam and Steve tied the knot and are as happy as all-let-out! Eee!).

There could be one small problem with this tried-and-true strategy of yours, however, Mr. Bush. This year, people are not willing to be easily swayed by your divide and conquer methods. It could be that they are pre-occupied with more pressing personal matters (y’know, like their credit card debt, sky-high student loans, job insecurities, friends and/or family in Iraq, their children’s futures, the degradation of the world’s environment, their loss or reduction of health care benefits, and so on…)

Don’t fret, though. If gay-bashing doesn’t work, you can always have your Republican lackeys and your friends at Diebold engineer yet another stolen election in Florida, Ohio, Georgia and other states to preserve the GOP’s majorities in the House and Senate. (Better be very, very careful this time, because people are watching the polls likes hawks.)

The GOP’s cognitive dissonance.

Events | Posted by admin
Oct 24 2006

I have a theory on why I now believe the Republican party faces a high probability that they will get a shellacking at the polls this November.

Call it CCD: Campaign Cognitive Dissonance.

I kicked back after a long day today and treated myself to an evening of reading, watching some television, and giving Miro (that strange cat you see in the upper left side of this page) and Yoshi (the dachshund) each a spot to curl up and take naps. The reading went well enough, but the television sucked rocks. It wasn’t so much the shows; standard-fare whodunits and whatnot. It was the campaign commercials.

At this point, you might be thinking, Who isn’t sick of these commercials? True enough, but somewhere along the way, I watched a few GOP and Republican candidate ads in quick succession. The first one, Mark Kennedy’s Iraq ad, basically talked about how bad things are over there yet we need to stay the course and keep the GOP in power. Next up was a Tim Pawlenty ad more or less suggesting that he’s done a lot of great things for the economy and will make things even better for us. Finally, the Republicans had an ad up about how terrible Mike Hatch is and that, if we were to elect him, he would only make things worse.

That little LED light in the back of my brain flicked on that moment. Waitaminute, I thought, Republicans screwed up the war in Iraq from the get-go, but they want us to back them anyway? The Republican party claims that the economy is hunky-dory, yet I have yet to meet anyone who isn’t seriously concerned about their financial well-being, and they promise to keep doing what their doing? How is it that Democrats — out of power and for all intents and purposes shut out of the legislative process for over a decade — have simultaneously screwed up the economy and will make things worse if they get into power?

There those questions sat, like a nine trillion dollar bar tab after a lost weekend. None of that makes sense, right?

So here it is: The Republicans are suffering from a collective case of Campaign Cognitive Dissonance. They can’t run away from the mess they started and have sustained for now over thee years in Iraq. They aren’t convincing people that the economy is in great shape and will only get better under their watch. They aren’t succeeding in their efforts to convince voters that the Democrats are vile, evil creatures who will drag our nation down into the black pits of national despair. Despite all these things, they still campaign as if the voting public has no memory of the past two, four, or six years.

Over that time, it has been reported that poverty has increased in this country. More people are without health insurance and those entering the workforce are finding themselves either without health benefits or offered jerry-rigged programs such as health savings accounts that don’t provide enough coverage or indirectly compel a person to put off necessary treatments for their ailments. Thousands have died, tens of thousand have been wounded, and hundreds of billions of dollars have been lost in Iraq over the past three years and no end is in sight. This nation’s deficit is at its worst ever and yet our social and public infrastructure looks increasingly frayed and tattered. Still, with no hint of guilt or shame, nor even the slightest acknowledgment that they bear the bulk of the responsibility in these matters, still the Republicans ask for your vote.

I believe it is the cognitive dissonance generated by the GOP’s campaign rhetoric in their speeches, debates, and especially in their advertisements that is making this year’s election very competitive and may produce net gains for the Democrats on November 7th. I dare suggest that this is a year where many people have become very politically aware and are looking for a different path. How else can we explain why more and more Republican candidates find themselves facing tough, competitive campaigns in places they thought would be clear sailing for them?

Look at what is happening with the party’s rhetoric on Iraq: Earlier this year, Republicans planned on making the war on terror and Iraq into an issue that would benefit them and hurt the Democrats. They trucked out slogans such as “Stay the Course” (good) for themselves and “Cut and Run” (bad) for the Democrats. It backfired, however, and forced them to drop the issue. Now the Bush administration is trying to shift the party’s rhetoric to something akin to Iraq setting timetables for stepping up to the fight, theoretically so we can step out, but they are finding that both labels — and their corresponding value judgments — they slapped onto themselves are hard to remove and asked questions about how they can make such a major, contradictory shift in policy and expect people to suddenly accept those changes.

This year, 2006, may prove unique in many ways. It may be a year for one of the highest turnout of voters — we’ll see about that, but I have a sneaking suspicion. This year may see a sea change in who holds the reins of power in Congress. Most importantly, though, may be that this could prove to be the year when a party tries to play the public for suckers and the public refuses to buy into it.

We’ll see. There are only two more weeks until those damned commercials are off the air.

Adventures in diplomacy.

Events | Posted by admin
Oct 22 2006

You and I might rightfully think that diplomats should be experts at recognizing “inside thoughts,” which makes the following statements even more curious:

We were ‘arrogant and stupid’ over Iraq, says US diplomat (Telegraph, UK):

A senior US diplomat has said that his country showed “arrogance” and “stupidity” in its dealings with Iraq, and admitted Washington had made “many mistakes” in foreign policy.

Alberto Fernandez, director of public diplomacy at the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs, told the Al-Jazeera news channel: “We tried to do our best, but I believe that there is a great room for strong criticism, because – undoubtedly – there was arrogance and stupidity in US (dealing) with Iraq.

“We should practise some humbleness in the question of Iraq. Undoubtedly – and as the United States did acknowledge – there have been many mistakes in the foreign policy in Iraq.”

Mr Fernandez added that the US was ready to talk with all factions in Iraq – except for al-Qa’eda – to try to end sectarian bloodshed.

His remarks came in response to a statement read on al-Jazeera allegedly from a representative of the Ba’ath party – the party of Saddam Hussein – offering to negotiate a US withdrawal from Iraq based on “recognition of the resistance … as the sole representative of the Iraqi people”.

Mr Fernandez said a dialogue with the Ba’ath party was “too far from reality”. However, the US was ready to talk with “those who care for Iraq”, and there had probably been some contact with people linked to Ba’athists.

Mr Fernandez said: “We are open to dialogue. We all believe at the end of the day … that the solution to the inferno in Iraq is completely linked to an effective national Iraqi reconciliation.”

A US State Department spokesman responded to Mr Fernandez’s comments, which were made in Arabic, saying: “the quote as reported is not accurate.”

Yeah, uh-huh, “not accurate.” Good luck to whoever draws the short straw to explain what Fernandez “really” meant. Personally, I think it is way past time someone in the administration called it like it is.

Now for a little comic relief via Canada. That nation’s Foreign Minister is currently enjoying the taste of shoe leather:

Layton urges MacKay to ‘fess up (Toronto Star):

New Democratic Party leader Jack Layton is calling for the resignation of Foreign Affairs Minister Peter MacKay over his failure to own up to an alleged “dog” slur against his old girlfriend, Aurora MP Belinda Stronach.

Layton was part of a panel discussion in Quebec about women in politics on Friday night and heard again all the reasons potential female politicians are turned off by the whole business.

MacKay has given them yet another reason, Layton said in an interview yesterday, and the women at the Quebec event had “quite a reaction” to the whole furor, he said.

“I’ve got to wonder whether he’s fit to be in a position like foreign affairs minister,” Layton said. “Because that’s a position where wisdom and gesture and single-word selection is critical. If he’s not willing to understand the impact of his words, and make amends … then, he should resign. And if he’s not going to do those things, the Prime Minister should be the one to ask him to resign.”

Layton’s wife, Olivia Chow, was subjected to a dog slur when she was running for her Trinity-Spadina seat in the Commons during last winter’s election. A Liberal blogger who compared Chow to a Chinese chow-chow dog was forced to step down from an executive position in the party’s Ontario wing after doing so.

Recalling that incident Friday, Layton said, “This kind of thing is very hurtful and women are expected, I suppose, to put on a brave face and brush it off as though it is some kind of a joke.”

The current furor revolves around some heckling in the Commons on Thursday, when Liberal MP David McGuinty was poking fun at MacKay and his famous interview after his May 2005 breakup with Stronach, in which he appeared with his family dog at his side.

McGuinty asked if MacKay was worried about the environment’s effects on his dog. “You already have her,” MacKay reportedly said, gesturing toward Stronach’s seat in the Commons.

No record of the remark appears on the official Commons transcript and MacKay has said he never mentioned the word “dog.” But that hasn’t quelled the outcry, because at least 10 Liberal MPs said they heard the slur and New Democrats have also said there is no question the remark was made.

Stronach formally asked MacKay to apologize to the Commons and to women in general on Friday.

So far MacKay isn’t budging.

“The Speaker and his staff have carefully reviewed the audio and found nothing. There is nothing to add,” MacKay’s spokesman Dan Dugas said yesterday.

Isn’t there a chapter in the Diplomacy 101 textbook that covers, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything?” It sounds as if someone is overdue for a refresher course.

MacKay might deny saying it, but the recording of the exchange strongly suggests otherwise. Judge for yourself.

“Milestones,” or millstones?

Events | Posted by admin
Oct 22 2006

What do you do if you have the world’s largest, most powerful, hi-tech military and can’t stop an insurgency that you, for all intents and purposes, started in another country? It seems Bush and Company have one idea: Make the people whose country you invaded and occupied figure out how to stop it and punish them if they can’t:

U.S. to Hand Iraq a New Timetable on Security Role (New York Times):

The Bush administration is drafting a timetable for the Iraqi government to address sectarian divisions and assume a larger role in securing the country, senior American officials said.

Details of the blueprint, which is to be presented to Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki before the end of the year and would be carried out over the next year and beyond, are still being devised. But the officials said that for the first time Iraq was likely to be asked to agree to a schedule of specific milestones, like disarming sectarian militias, and to a broad set of other political, economic and military benchmarks intended to stabilize the country.

Although the plan would not threaten Mr. Maliki with a withdrawal of American troops, several officials said the Bush administration would consider changes in military strategy and other penalties if Iraq balked at adopting it or failed to meet critical benchmarks within it.

A senior Pentagon official involved in drafting the blueprint said Iraqi officials were being consulted as the plan evolved and would be invited to sign off on the milestones before the end of the year. But he added, “If the Iraqis fail to come back to us on this, we would have to conduct a reassessment” of the American strategy in Iraq.

In a statement issued Saturday night, a White House spokeswoman, Nicole Guillemard, said the Times’s account was “not accurate,” but did not specify what officials found to be inaccurate.

To recap: The administration makes up an excuse to go to war with Iraq, conducts that war, and sets up shop in the center of that country’s largest city. We don’t make plans for a post-war situation and get caught flat-footed when an insurgency develops. After three, going on four, years of “hunting down the terrorists” and making claims that all is well (despite what that wicked Librul Media says), they finally admit that maybe, just maybe, all is not going quite exactly according to their half-baked plans.

Now, instead of admitting that they really screwed up in Iraq and setting about making things right, the Bush administration appears ready to hand the whole mess over to the barely breathing, clearly divided government of Iraq to resolve using a police force that is already up to its eyeballs in insurgent fighting and holding itself together with spit and gum.

Wow.

Just… … … wow.

Bush and his underlings are truly living in some strange dreamworld if they think they think they can pull this one off successfully.

It may be the case that there is no “Pottery Barn Rule,” as Colin Powell asserted some years ago, but there is no doubt this administration broke Iraq. They should be the ones responsible for fixing it.

Bad ideas.

Events | Posted by admin
Oct 19 2006

With Election Day closing in fast, I think it presents a good opportunity for everyone to exercise their political muscles. So, with an eye on today’s news, let’s take a look at a few really bad ideas that have made headlines:

Execute Saddam Hussein: It sure sounds nifty if you are the revenge-seeking type, but there are two problems with this idea. First, of course, is that the death penalty does not provide the closure people seek. That’s my typical anti-death penalty argument here in the states, but think of it this way: How could his death make up for or provide a sense of justice for the thousands killed and the millions oppressed by his rule? He might have been at the top of Iraq’s Ba’athist food chain, but Hussein had a large number of people do his bidding. If a person were to believe that executions provided justice, then a lot more people who did his bidding should find themselves in front of a noose. This begs the question, where does justice end and mass killings begin?

Second, and more importantly here, executing Hussein is probably the fastest way to make things even worse in Iraq than they are at the present time. Keep him locked up. Have him spout his whacked-out thoughts. Retain him as a shining example of a crazy old coot who fell from dictatorial power. Do anything, but don’t make him a martyr for pro-Saddam supporters to rally around.

Have South Korea put pressure on North Korea over its nuclear program: Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice thinks it’s a good idea, but I think it ranks as one of the worst ideas out there today. Someone should tell her that these two nations are, technically, still in a state of war. If something went wrong with this strategy to compel Pyongyang to end its nuclear program it could set back the tenuous relations between the two nations at best or result in a full-blown war that could end in the deaths of hundreds of thousands at worst.

I should note that South Korea’s people and government are not particularly thrilled with Rice’s suggestion and will continue with their policy toward reconciliation between the divided peninsula.

Give the president the power to arrest you, try you, and execute you for no particular reason: Naturally, the Bush administration will say that they are arresting, trying, and executing people from foreign lands who mean to do harm to the United States; they will also say that the public doesn’t need to know about it. Yeah, okay, whatever, but what would happen if a president “decided” that we needed to arrest, try and execute people from the “homeland” (what an awful term – sounds like the fascist ideas of the 1920s and 1930s have come back to life) who mean to do harm to the United States and that the public doesn’t need to know about it?

It’s not as far a leap as most people might think. Once we begin to rationalize the treatment of any person in a manner that violates the most basic principles of human rights for some people, we open the door to rationalizing it for other groups of people. Maybe this president or a future president might “decide” that it is not enough to arrest foreigners from nations that are predominantly Muslim and seek to expand his or her powers to Muslims in America? Maybe Muslims in America aren’t enough and that president expands it to people who disagree with his or her policy on this inhumane treatment of people by arguing that dissent gives aid and comfort to the terrorists? It sounds far-fetched at first blush, but it is possible to see such developments upon greater reflection. Human rights are meant for all, for the best and the worst among us. To deny the basic human rights to anyone weakens it for everyone.