Or, Why the Entire Bill for Iraq Should Be Paid by the Republicans

They demanded we trust them because they, and they alone, knew best.

They proclaimed they, and they alone, could and would keep us strong and safe even though it turns out it was them foolishly pushing us into danger with their international chest thumping and posturing. They then proceeded to jeopardize us further with their laxity and inattention to the very details needed to actually keep us safe and strong.

When the almost inevitable blowback came, they expressed dumbfounded surprise, but still insisted we trust them, and them alone, because they were supposedly the only ones capable of bringing to justice those attacking us. Worse, they were secretly delighted because they believed it gave them a blank check to seek fulfilment of their hearts’ fondest desires, things they could never achieve otherwise in a sane society. In a cosmically comic irony, the violent response of others to our earlier ignorant arrogance was declared an excuse for new egregious excesses of our own, excesses unrelated to the real task at hand, catching criminals.

Reason, rationality, research, and reflection were all declared useless baggage. Common sense? How quaint. Something apparently to be ridiculed.

Impatient to proceed with their secret agendas, they then proceeded to lie about the most critical aspects of what they were doing and why. Heedless of possible consequences, they surged forward unprepared for future needs or end games or contingencies for the usual glitches and unintended effects that plague all wars. After all, according to them, they and they alone knew best. Plans? “We don’t need no stinkin’ plans” seemed to be their operating motto or at least their modus operandi. God was on their side or at least they declared it was. 9/11 - the violent precipitating event of our current troubles was perceived almost as a “gift from God” encouraging them to indulge in their own previously stalemated lust for violence against Unbelievers.

In any event, it became clear they had absolutely no trust in the rest of us at all, we who would have to carry out and bear the burdens of the policies they declared. Interestingly, they alternated between being terrified of us and dismissive of us. They certainly did not trust us with the truth having no confidence at all in their own persuasiveness to win any debates on the merits. They still don’t trust the courts, the Constitution, the Congress, the voters or the small portion of the press they could not isolate, intimidate, mislead, or bribe with perks.

Astonishingly, they lied about even things they did not have to lie about. They became almost textbook cases of the pathology known as “pathological liars.” Aided by their exclusive possession of all the nation’s “Top Secret” rubber stamps, they could lie with almost impunity.

Secrecy became an end in itself, especially useful to cover up mistakes and lies. Their cone of silence was broken only when revealing a state secret might prove useful to attack anyone who disagreed with them or might have proof of lies. This is yet another in the cornucopia of ironies they have gifted us. Having loudly declared secrecy was imperative and inviolate, they felt free to ignore or sacrifice it at whim. It did not seem to matter the cost to the country of the secrecy violations by themselves. That was somehow “different” and legal solely because they were the ones doing it.

When their lies or inconvenient and contradictory facts are ultimately discovered, they pretend it did not matter. It is sometimes so obvious they are wrong, they appear to be downright delusional. Their grasp on reality is becoming increasingly questionable at best.

Nevertheless, they successfully seized the carte blanc they demanded after 9/11 to do exactly what they wanted even before. They began diverting resources, bodies and money. They got all they claimed they needed. But, although a massive hemorrhaging of blood and money continues to pour out and has never stopped or slowed, about the only thing they have shown is that success in seizing power and deluding their own country is not necessarily a predictor of success in doing so in others. Beyond the subversion and perversion of this country’s former ideals, none of their stated goals, except the most minor of ones, one that could have been accomplished in other ways, were successfully accomplished.

That was probably because they tended to fire the people who understood the problems. They replaced those who knew how with liars, self aggrandizers, incompetents, zealots, crooks and even traitors (assuming the word “traitor” includes those who blatantly ignore the words in their oath of office about swearing to defend the Constitution). Many of the flunkies installed by them seemed to see it only as an opportunity to line their own pockets.

All of them, the ones in charge, the ones responsible for where we are today, repeatedly told us the task was almost finished. They told us so often that the phrase “mission accomplished” is now officially an oxymoron, an antonym for the words “success” or “completion.” Yet, what they really did was make the problems far worse, perhaps now unsolvable thanks to them. Plus, they irresponsibly cost our treasury and our grandchildren trillions. They cost thousands of our finest young dead, thousands, possibly hundreds of thousands, more maimed mentally or physically. That doesn’t even begin to count the totally innocent women and children diminished as “collateral damage.” They cost us our morality, our good word, our trust, our unity, our ability to respond to disasters or future threats, and possibly even our future. They immeasurably weakened us in so many ways. They strengthened those who resolutely hate us, for good reason it turns out. So far the only things they have “accomplished” are to fulfill the fondest dreams of terrorists and those who wish us harm.

There is no end in sight as long as they are in charge. They have screwed it up so bad that thanks to them, and them alone, we can no longer “win” Iraq by any conceivable meaning of that word and the results of getting out are now almost as bad as staying. It is being to appear the only person who might have been able to do as much permanent harm to us would have been for the partisan Republicans sitting on the Supreme Court to have put Osama bin Laden in the Oval Office instead of Bush.

Yet, somehow when everything goes horribly wrong, as it has, they blame others, never ever themselves. For a religious person, the plagues we have been saddled with might make it appear that God is so irritated at those in Washington, he is aiding the other side.

Despite all that, despite the mounting evidence of stupidity and wrongdoing and costs, they still refuse to allow genuine debate and routinely refuse to listen to anyone who might disagree, no matter how conclusive the arguments or proof. They certainly never actually change their core tactics or use other tools. They cannot see anything of value in approaches except using force to get their way.

They seem incapable of cost/benefit analysis. Like a spoiled petulant child, they are utterly incapable of being sufficiently adult to admit when they are wrong so that it can be fixed. They are a party of rich white boys who continually cry “Wolf!” Worse, they have been downright thuggish in attacking anyone who disagrees even mildly on anything. They want to continue forever doing what clearly does not work.

On top of being steadfastly, unchangingly dishonest and/or outright stupid, many have turned out to be unbelievably corrupt. It can probably be said with little exaggeration they have never been right on any subject except how to steal elections, let alone any decision having anything to do with Iraq. It can probably be said as well that all the bank robbers plus all the welfare cheats of all of our history put together have not stolen, wasted or broken as much as this particular gang.

Why then are we still listening to anything they have to say? Why aren’t they impeached or already in jail? Why would anyone consider voting for any of their crowd? Not one is fit to be elected dog catcher, let alone run the country.

Granted, the Democrats have been the brightest of bulbs and they have their shares of liars, gutless wonders, cheats and moral degenerates. Yet, occasionally one or two of them break ranks and decide that their country and their oaths of office are more important than merely obtaining re-election. We can no longer assume that of Republicans.

They demanded we trust them because they alone knew what to do. Well, they got the honor, the power, the money, the volunteers, the opportunity, and year after year to do exactly what they wanted and what they said would work. The bill for Iraq is now due and rightly it is theirs and theirs alone. Let’s make them pay.



Or, the Danger in Counting the Republican Imperialists Out

Many Progressives and Liberals are gleefully pointing to evidence suggesting a truly deserved disintegration of the Republican Party. We should not be so sanguine however.

Regardless of the disarray their titular headless horseman delivers, he and his Neocons are not the only Republicans. After all, . . .
  • Who owns or controls most of the ever decreasing number of mainstream media news outlets? (It doesn’t matter what the reporters find or want to say if they are not allowed to say it or can’t get a paycheck.)
  • Who not only admits to secretly spying on Americans, but thinks it is a good idea? And, how likely it is they wouldn’t also use it to find potential blackmail of opposition candidates? (If someone thinks the other side is traitorous, then it is but a short step to believing that justifies any means to stop them.)
  • Who builds and supplies most of the electronic voting machines and won’t allow inspection of the software codes or encourage paper duplicates of the ballots? (It doesn’t matter if you get the votes if they are not counted or reassigned.)
  • Who currently appoints the investigators and prosecutors looking into voter fraud? (If potential voters or candidates can be intimidated, it matters little who they favor.)
  • Who seeks out for appointment the most partisan possible judges, the ones who seem to care more for electing their fellow party members than honoring their oath of office? (If protecting those who put them in power seems more important than abstract principles, kiss the Constitution and its safeguards goodby. The number of them is going to increase between now and the election, not decrease.)
  • Who had control of most of the legislatures after the last census which allowed new gerrymandering to take place? (With the next census still years away, a close to majority of seats in Congress still may be unassailable. And, the “coalition” of elected Democrats remains what only could be described as fragile given the diversity of opinions within that party. Anything less than a veto proof, filibuster proof, legislature means gridlock.)
  • Who is master at exploiting the gullibility and irrationality of voters? (If lies or re-labeling are shouted loud enough, long enough and with a straight face, belief or at least confusion ensues. The fact that one person out of every four still is stating Bush is doing a good job and that one out of every two thinks Saddam had something to do with 9/11 speaks for itself.)
  • Who still insists that “terrorism” or other diversions can only be handled by a dictator permanently in charge? (For most people, if theyare kept scared, they tend to be willing give up all to be safe even if the safety is an illusion, especially if there is no inference with their shopping or tv schedules. Too bad, the track records are never closely examined or compared against the rhetoric.)
  • Who has been the prime beneficiary of the transfer of trillions of dollars from the lower and middle classes to the ultra rich over the past few decades? (Money still buys elections and the fact that some Democrats allegedly are drawing more openly disclosed campaign contributions prior to primaries reveals little about what can be tapped by Republicans once the post convention battle begins.)
  • Who controls the stock market, the banks, and most of the means of production still remaining in this country? Who can impoverish traditional Democrat workers and their families simply by changing interest rates or moving factories or money overseas? (It used to be that there were penalties attached to such things. Now there are profits to be made and as a “bonus” organized opposition is crippled.)
Am I paranoid? Yeah. Why aren’t you? (It doesn’t even matter if the above results were unintentional. The consequences are the same.)

Combine all that with the unending incompetency and fearfulness of the Democrat “leaders” selected. If you need any further evidence, merely re-examine the results of the last two presidential elections and how different the outcome seemed at the time given the demographics. The Republicans probably cannot be blamed for the abysmal choices Democratic Party members made on who to run, but they do get a large share of the responsibility for resolutely shifting the arguments from the issues to unrelenting and unfair personal attacks. Maybe no voter bothers to listen to the issues anyway, but it is still depressing.

In any event, the current crop of Democrats in office astonishingly seem to have positioned themselves for getting tagged with both “losing” the Iraq fiasco and, if the coming recession doesn’t happen quick enough, that too. How is that even possible when Bush and his boys controlled every choice along the way? Doesn’t anyone remember anything? Yet, here we are.

Worse yet, some of the Democratic contenders seem to harbor envy of the exercise of unconstitutional, even criminal, powers exercised by the current occupants of the White House.

So, what solution? Maybe none, but here are at least a few thoughts.

1. Start writing. Write your local and national newspapers and magazines. Single out reporters by name. The addresses are easily available. Ask your local librarian for assistance if needed. Write your friends and relatives too. Remind them how critical the situation has become. Write your politicians, the agency heads and even CEOs. Remind them you are watching and shining a light on what they are doing. E-mail, snail-mail, text, handwritten notes. It doesn’t matter. What matters is you contacted them. Surprisingly, so few actually do contact others that even a few dozen letters can seem like a tsunami. Sometimes literally a handful can sway legislation as evidenced frequently by the FCC actions. We have millions of residents in Oregon, yet only about a thousand people on average write in each week of which about a hundred are published. The odds for you are one in ten at a large paper. At a small local paper, the odds of getting published start to approach 100%. Cost to you? A little time and stamps.Better yet, do all those things in person.

2. Start calling and visiting. You will be amazed how easy it is to speak to even the very top people in most organizations. Think it’s not possible? I have had governors, CEOs of large corporations and even Mike Wallace of “60 Minutes” fame returns calls direct without even having their secretary on the line first. Your local representatives will often fall all over themselves welcoming you. Just be brief and to the point. Seek a specific action and follow up to see if it is accomplished. Let them know you care enough to be persistent. If nothing else, attend the meetings and carcases. Cost to you? A little time and gas for the car.

3. File complaints. For instance, if the wrongdoer is a lawyer like the Attorney General and he suggests, say, that torture is constitutional, file a complaint with the state Bar Association and demand to know why he should be allowed to direct federal attorneys in Oregon. File a complaint with his home state’s bar to seek disbarment. Similar tactics are available for other licensed professionals. Contact their licensing agencies depending on who the miscreant is and what he does. The Better Business Bureau, numerous consumer protection and investigative agencies, the Ombudsman for the paper if it has one, the Postal Inspector if mail is involved, these are but a few of the possibilities. Filing a complaint usually cost nothing (unless it is a court complaint). Get on the agencies websites and get the forms. Remember, if the wrongdoers are tied up defending themselves in court or elsewhere, they have less time to get into mischief. Cost to you? A little time and stamps.

4. Before you start suggestions 1 through 3, do your research first. Have the facts and figures already at your fingertips when you talk to others. If they ask you a question or have an alleged fact contrary to your position, say you’ll get back to them and do more research. The answers are there. Get informed and stay informed. There is plenty of hard, convincing, downright indisputable evidence available on just about every issue in contention.

5. Suggestions for reading and listening material include The Nation, The Atlantic, “Counterspin,” mediamatters.org, truthdig.com, truthout.com, buzzflash.com, and commondreams.org. The latter two have links to others. If you need occasional levity to relieve the almost unrelenting bad news, try “The Daily Show” and dilbertblog.typepad.com.

Will it help? Don’t know, but it can’t hurt.



An open letter to the Editors and Owners of Newsweek Magazine Upon Learning Karl Rove Has Been Hired to Write for Them

Dear Newsweek Editors and Owners:

I have been a long standing subscriber to Newsweek, but your announcement that, of all people on earth, you plan to hire Karl Rove appalled me beyond belief.

Conservatives deserve a voice. I may not agree with all they say, but they have an important viewpoint that should be part of any debate. And, there are plenty of honest, moral, open, courageous Conservatives. There are intelligent, insightful, witty Conservatives capable of debating on the facts, the law and the issues rather than personalities and ego. In fact, there are even some genuinely conservative Conservatives left on the scene.

Why then have you chosen a proven ethics-abusive, narrow minded, dismissive, dishonorable, even vicious partisan who is a self avowed antagonist to many of our most precious Constitutional principles? Why have you given a formerly respectable outlet to someone who has been systematically attacking our way of life? Mr. Rove has not only been proven consistently wrong on most of the important issues (other than getting Bush elected), but probably should have been indicted in one or more of the scandals deservedly plaguing his boss’s administration.

Frankly, you have done enormous harm to Journalism. Your judgments are not longer to be trusted or given the benefit of the doubt. Therefore, please cancel my subscription with the first issue of your magazine that gives Rove a new forum for lies.

I doubt anyone other than one of your interns will ever read this, but God help America. Surely, Newsweek no longer will.



Or, The Alternative Torture Scenario

The Neocons’ favorite justification for legalizing torture is the now infamous “we’ve captured a terrorist who won’t tell us where the bomb is hidden.” That rationalization is popular and persuasive to some probably because it contains an unstated false premise - that we actually have captured a genuine terrorist who has useful information. This "Jack Bauer Scenario" also presupposes guilt, a determination our founding fathers insisted should be determined in a more methodical process, notwithstanding the brilliance of "24" tv scriptwriters in eternally ferreting out all terrorists.

Given the Keystone Kops the Neocons tend to put in charge of things, the likelihood of them really catching a competent terrorist who has hidden a bomb somewhere rather than just setting it off immediately is probably less than you being eaten by a shark in Kansas. Moreover, both studies and anecdotal information from professional interrogators indicate that physical torture seldom produces reliable information. It is not that the torturee won’t talk, it’s that he or she will say absolutely anything to stop the pain or drowning, true or not. In addition, other techniques, including drugs, have proven more productive even in the short run when circumstances frighten those who say all our rights must be violated.

Nevertheless, for the sake of argument, let’s grant the Neocons their fantasy scenario, but change one aspect of it. Let’s suppose there is a genuine terrorist and he personally hid a bomb under the White House. Hmmm. On second thought, maybe we should say it’s hidden elsewhere since many wouldn’t mind it going off there unless it was big enough to take out the Smithsonian and National Museum of Art as well. No, let’s say instead the bomb is buried under an orphanage somewhere and we discover proof positive (as opposed to this Administration’s usual mere suspicions, assumptions and ideology). Let’s assume for once we got lucky and traced the unknown evildoer who buried it to a high rise residential building with a thousand people in it, 666 of which are innocent women and children and 332 of which are innocent men. We don’t know who among them is the bomber, but let’s say Jack Bauer has discovered the secret bomber has been residing on that particular street.

What do you do now Neocons? Torture everyone in the building? The Neocons insist it is okay to abandon the Constitution if it is just one foreigner. Is it okay to abandon it for a thousand people? Or, should we torture just the men? (Yeah right. No one under 21 ever was recruited to cause harm and no woman ever had a grievance against our society.) Torture just those who are of a darker skin tone or foreigners with an accent on the assumption that only they would bomb a building? (Oops, forgot about Timothy McVeigh, didn’t we?) Torture only the non-Christians? (I don’t think any of our abortion clinic bombers though claimed they were Muslim.) Torture just those wearing turbans? (That’s going to irritate pretty badly the entire country of India and all its Hindus and turban wearing Siekhs, not to mention everyone of that religion living in this country.) Torture only those who have guns in their homes? (Wow, that would be a tough one for the Neocons who also tend to be almost pathological when it comes to defending the portion of the Constitution regarding freedom to have guns. Their willingness to abandon almost all other Bill of Rights Amendments is almost amusing considering that Neocons insist even one regulation or hinderance of the right to own armor piercing 50 caliber rifles capable of bringing down passenger liners puts us on a “slippery slope.” ) So, what about torturing only those who have a two days growth of beard and non-blond hair? In other words, Central Casting’s concept of villains?

Remember, this scenario leaves 999 maimed and scarred on their bodies and/or their minds trying to find the one terrorist hidden among them. Neocons though seem to be saying that torture is still a good idea even then because we save more lives than will be lost. That is an unproven conclusion, but okay, suppose we know the bomber is somewhere in a city of a 100,000 and we know the bomb is a nuclear one which might kill 100,001? Still a good idea? The cost/benefit ratio is greater on the side of benefits by one. (Remember, this scenario leaves 999 maimed and scarred on their bodies and/or their minds trying to find the one terrorist hidden among them.)

Heck, let’s say the bomber is in Portland and the nuclear bomb is a hydrogen one shipped into the port of New York or LA. Now the saving ratio is perhaps ten to one. As to Portland, should we say . . . too bad? That’s the risk you take of living in a “war zone?” Collateral damage so to speak?

Neocons would probably gleefully wipeout liberal Portland given the chance although they might not be too energetic considering that only savings New York and LA rather than, say, Houston.

Neocons would probably gleefully wipeout liberal Portland given the chance although they might not be too energetic considering that only savings New York and LA rather than, say, Houston. The way to combat such nonsense is to counter with something Scott Adams suggested in his blog as a possible way to negotiate a settlement with Iran to prevent them from getting the bomb. He suggested we offer Iran the testicles of Bush and Cheney in exchange for a permanent inspection right to insure no bombs are being made. IF THERE IS EVEN A 1% CHANCE THAT IT WOULD WORK, WE MUST TAKE IT!