Pat Tillman May Have Been Murdered

July 26, 2007 at 10:45 pm | Posted in Afghanistan, America, American politics, Bush Administration, corruption, Military, Pat Tillman, secret combinations | 2 Comments

Woah…say it ain’t so! No wonder Bush is doing all he can to keep this under “Executive Privilege.”

Army medical examiners were suspicious about the close proximity of the three bullet holes in Pat Tillman’s forehead and tried without success to get authorities to investigate whether the former NFL player’s death amounted to a crime, according to documents obtained by The Associated Press.

“The medical evidence did not match up with the, with the scenario as described,” a doctor who examined Tillman’s body after he was killed on the battlefield in Afghanistan in 2004 told investigators.

The doctors – whose names were blacked out – said that the bullet holes were so close together that it appeared the Army Ranger was cut down by an M-16 fired from a mere 10 yards or so away.

Wow…

The Real Fake Hero

July 23, 2007 at 9:54 pm | Posted in America, American politics, Bush Administration, Cheney, conservatives, corruption, Foreign Policy, Iran, Iraq, King George, Lord of the Rings, Media, Middle East, Military, nationalism, neo-conservatives, Republicans, secret combinations, Thoughts, War, War on Terror | 14 Comments

This past Saturday my wife and I went and saw Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. The movie was pretty well done, though I do wonder what the “Order of the Phoenix” actually had to do with the plot of the movie—the actual Order members appear at the very beginning and then at the end to save the day (but that’s another story). In any case, the movie was pretty good. I got thinking about a particular aspect of our modern fictional heroes and villains. See I’m also reading Hugh Nibley’s books on the Jaredites and their origins in ancient Asiatic cultures and kingdoms. Absolutely fascinating stuff! Mr. Nibley has opened a window to a world I did not really know about but have been quite curious about for the longest time. The steppes of ancient Asia were quite a bloody, violent, and unstable times, with ruling kings dueling with rivals, capturing kings, having them live in captivity all their lives, so on and so forth. These ancient Asiatic and Jaredite kings were unafraid of battle. In fact, it was their culture that the king took the lead in the battle. They reveled in besting their rivals on the field of battle. In fact, in the account of the Jaredites the two remaining kings, Coriantumr and Shiz battled to the ultimate death and destruction of the Jaredite nation.

In any case, I’ve noticed quite a trend in our stories of late regardless of medium, be it film, television or book. The hero (and the villain too) usually takes the lead, usually is willing to go through hellfire and damnation to achieve near impossible tasks. (These same heroes apparently come out rather unscathed psychologically, but again that is also another story). Jack Bauer takes the lead on “24”. Harry Potter leads the ragtag children of Hogwarts against far more advanced Death Eaters at impossible odds. Maybe their young age makes them not think twice about the fact that they could die very easily at the hands of a Death Eater. And let me just say, if I were a Death Eater, I doubt I would let little kids get in my way of things. But that would ruin the story, wouldn’t it? Leonidas takes charge of the 300 Spartan warriors against one million Persians. Leonidas and his men die in their efforts but their efforts were able to weaken the Persians enough that a few years later they were defeated. Aragorn charges wildly into the mass of orcs in Return of the King, even though it is a foolish move if you think about it. He doesn’t though, because dramatically speaking, charging against the mass of orcs is a far more powerful scene than sitting back strategizing the perils of the kingdom of Gondor at large if the king were to die in battle.

Reality is that when the king leads the battle, the kingdom has a good chance of completely failing, of complete collapse. This is what we learn about ancient Asiatic kingdoms. People wait around until a strongman appears who takes charge, quickly amassing a powerful army that takes control of half of Asia. In no time at all, upon the king’s quick death in battle, the kingdom falls. Modern nations are a vastly different institution, where the ultimate leader stays in the back of the battle sending off the underlings to die for the cause, the homeland, for the state.

I wonder what it is doing to our culture and our mindset when we tie in our hearts and culture the worship of the hero, the soldier, the warrior, the one who, risking all, darts off to battle “evil”, coming back conqueror. Even the most insanest of us all tends to be quite realistic when it comes to his or her own survival. Thus I am befuddled when I see for example this video of College Republicans who speak so easily of our cause against terrorism, but who they themselves do not wish to pick up a weapon and fight.

I don’t mean to pick necessarily on Republicans with this point, it’s just that their example is the most blatant right now. Who do they expect to do the fighting for the cause they speak so proudly of?

We see so many examples in our entertainment, in all mediums, books, television and film, of a worship of the warrior that I really do think it has clouded our understanding of both warfare and tolerating situations we really have no power to control. So many speak of doing “something” about Iran, for example, as if it were not tolerable to have an Iran with nuclear technology. When we speak of not tolerating a nuclear Iran, what does that mean? Do we really have the power to 1) stop Iran from learning nuclear technology? 2) and not further decay our own power?

Reality bites hard. We may have deposed Saddam Hussein. Few doubted our military might and our ability to defeat someone as weak as Saddam. But I wonder if the fakery of fictional characters has so clouded our vision that we think taking massive risks means the risks won’t actually take place? I was watching “A Bug’s Life” with my daughter the other day and I thought some more about this. Flick made a grave mistake when his contraption caused the offering to fall into the river below. That’s fine, a big problem, but fixable. But Flick does not learn the lesson of his mistake, and that is that taking risks could be destructive to the whole tribe. It was quite opportune for Flick and the ants that a bird lived close by, because really, without the bird, something Flick could not control, all his plans were doomed to fail.

Pundits favoring the actions in Iraq talked so often and frequently about how this action would utterly change the Middle East that one really has to wonder how they were believed. Then again no one really asked these pundits just what evidence they had that forcible invasion of a very nationalistic tribalistic state would magically create a pro-Western democratic haven right smack in the middle of a whole slew of other ultra-nationalistic tribalistic states whose influences were and still are far greater and more powerful than the invading army’s influence. We took a high priced risk. We were the hero who rushed wildly at the mass of orcs thinking that, hey it worked in the fictional account, it should work in reality. Aragorn won’t die. He can’t. Frodo will somehow magically make it to the Mount of Doom to melt the ring of Sauron’s power. And more importantly that action would somehow make all the orcs stop attacking to kill Aragorn. Or that Han Solo would appear at the right moment to “surge” and deflect just enough of Vader’s ship to give Luke the opportunity to shoot his guns into the plot-appropriate hole that magically destroys the entire Death Star. We hear plenty in real life from war supporters who say, hey “bomb them all to hell.” “Just nuke the place, that will solve all our problems.”

I used to think that we should restart a draft into American culture, because I used to believe that forcing Americans to serve in defense of their country would make them wisen up about risking so much in wars of choices. After all, interestingly, many of today’s leaders did NOT fight in Vietnam (Dick Cheney had five deferments for “other priorities” for example). But I now don’t think the problem with our rush to wars is lack of fighting by Americans. I think it is our worship of the hero, the warrior, the soldier. Ironically, the Army’s new slogan is an “Army of One.” Heh, it couldn’t be more fitting for our culture of hero worship.

This is not going to change soon. In fact, it will probably get worse before it gets better. Which is too bad, because we’re now in decline in the world around us. The risks were not neutralized, but instead materialized as we were warned. We’ve got many problems ahead of us.

The REAL Reason Gas Prices Are So High

July 22, 2007 at 5:26 am | Posted in America, American politics, corruption, oil | 20 Comments

It is because oil companies control oil refineries and they have had no incentive to do anything about their crappy refineries over the past thirty years. What incentive do they have to make better refineries? Certainly no competition forcing them. Certainly no governmental pressure to force them. So we get a corrupt and degrading market that forces Americans to pay higher prices, not because the free market wills it, but because oil companies have no market pressure to improve their product.

Compare the oil industry, specifically the refinery section, to the computing industry, specifically the highly advanced software/internet section. Note the vast difference in competition levels. Really anyone in the world can create software. What does this do for the industry? Why there is no better competition, and no stronger, more advanced and expansive industry that I can think of.

You want lower prices, America? Perhaps it is time to talk about breaking up these massive oil companies, particularly break them from the oil refinery business. They obviously suck at it, to put it mildly.

“There is a lack of investments in modern equipment,” Ms. Merritt said. “The overwhelming preponderance is that if you have inadequate engineering and equipment, poor process safety management, and poor staffing, you’re set up for a catastrophe.”

Ms. Merritt, who was appointed by President Bush and will retire after her five-year term ends in August, also said the Occupational Safety and Health Administration does not conduct enough inspections. “There is no enforcement,” she said.

OSHA defended its record and said it had inspected almost 500 refineries from 1994 to 2004. The agency also said it would inspect all refineries under its jurisdiction within the next two years. “OSHA inspections of refineries have proven to be effective,” the agency said.

Meanwhile, demand has been rising relentlessly, providing little respite to the nation’s aging energy infrastructure. Even as consumers complain loudly about high prices, they show no signs of scaling back. Gasoline consumption reached 9.66 million barrels a day in the first week of July, the second-highest level on record.

“The cushion that used to be available five to seven years ago for these unplanned perturbations is no longer there,” said Jeet Bindra, Chevron’s president of global refining. “When a refinery has a hiccup, there are consequences on supplies.”

Part of the problem, analysts and refiners said, stems from the hurricanes two years ago. In Louisiana and Mississippi, many refineries were flooded, and about a quarter of the nation’s refining capacity was shut for weeks.

“Since refining has become such a wonderful business, refiners have delayed maintenance,” Mr. Robinson said. “But when they do go down, they stay down for longer and they discover all sorts of problems.”

In late March, for example, a fire at a large compressor at a BP refinery in Whiting, Ind., caused a hydrogen-treating unit that removes sulfur from some oil products to shut. That meant BP had to turn off a crude oil unit for early maintenance. Two weeks later, a brief power disruption damaged another distillation tower. And in July, a third crude oil tower was shut briefly so operators could fix a small leak. Since the first incident, the 405,000 barrels-a-day refinery has been running at about half its capacity.

Not all refining disruptions are the result of similar incidents. Refineries typically schedule yearly maintenance that sometimes requires them to halt production entirely. But even these long-scheduled shutdowns can now take longer to complete.

No refineries have been built in the United States in over three decades, because refiners say they are too costly. Instead, they have been expanding their existing refineries.

All this is happening as the industry goes through another golden age. After 20 years in the doldrums, the refining business has never been so good for oil companies. Refining margins — the difference between the price of crude oil and the value of refined gasoline made from it — have shot up as much as $25 a barrel for some types of crude oil, compared with about $5 a barrel just a few years ago.

So let us review:

1. Lack of investment in modern equipment
2. No enforcement
3. Relentlessly driving demand
4. Refiners delay maintenance, stay down longer
5. Long maintenances take even longer to complete
6. No new refinery in THREE DECADES! Reason: Too costly…but
7. Refining business has never been so good to oil companies.

Is this right?

Bush Admits Ordering the CIA to Torture Prisoners

July 20, 2007 at 9:14 pm | Posted in America, American politics, Bush Administration, CIA, corruption, Jose Padilla, secret combinations, Torture | 1 Comment

else why would he just now, six years after the program began sign an executive order banning some vaguely defined “cruel and inhuman” treatment? I mean, the standard should have been all along that we treat people with respect no matter who they are. By signing this executive order, Bush is admitting that by his orders the CIA engaged in illegal actions.

My guess is that some court ruling is fast approaching that will go against the Bush administration yet again. The Bush administration has backtracked before just moments before a defeat at the Supreme Court, in such cases as Jose Padilla and Hamdan.

Then again, it is Friday and Fridays are Bush’s bad news dump time…

Raw Power vs The Rule of Law, or Why Democrats Can’t Do a Single Thing About Bush

July 19, 2007 at 9:49 am | Posted in America, American politics, Bush Administration, Cheney, Congress, conservatives, corruption, Democracy, Democrats, Foreign Policy, George W Bush, Iran, Iraq, King George, liberals, Media, Military, nationalism, neo-conservatives, Republicans, Scooter Libby, secret combinations, Thoughts, Torture, violence, Voter Suppression, War, War on Terror, Washington DC, World Events | 8 Comments

I have closely observed the goings on of my government (as best as I can seeing how secretive they want to be) these past five years, ever since Bush decided to go to war with Iraq back in the summer of 2002. (Read Bill Schneider’s “Marketing Iraq: Why Now?” where you can read Andrew Card’s comment: “From a marketing point of view, you don’t introduce new products in August.” They decided over the summer to attack Iraq. The rest was all a matter of marketing, selling it to the American public). They got the war rammed down Americans’ throats, with an extremely complicit media rooting the Administration on, damned be anyone that stood in their way.

The corrupting influence of raw power began immediately after 9/11. I’m sure in the very first seconds of realizing the potential power the Executive could yield, the Administration probably had good intents, but those were just a few seconds. They realized just how much power they really had: raw power. And they realized they must keep it a secret, for if it really got out, they would be forced to follow the rule of law, and not the rule of raw power. They took advantage of all the support (90% approval ratings and support from many nations around the world) and ran with it as far as they thought they could go. Karl Rove told Republicans in January of 2002 to run with the war in the November elections and they would win seats. They did and they won seats. They got the war they wanted, on the cheap, small force, shock and awe military might that defeated a ragtag worn down Iraqi military in three weeks. No surprise there. No wonder so many neo-conservatives and their allies chortled after the war, and drank in their wine of success.

Reports and studies, however, were there from the beginning that all was not well, and that continuing down this path would lead to serious problems for America. The most serious is the raw power employed by the Bush administration. Unchecked, the Bush administration began, right from the start, right from 2001 and early 2002, to employ power beyond what is written in the Constitution. Why? Because they saw what raw power there was in the Executive Branch and they took it. Even so, they knew they were doing wrong, or they wouldn’t be so secretive about it. Only those with something to hide, hide something. So right from the start, the United States of America began torturing people, employing techniques learned from the Soviets and the Nazis. They kept this as much of a secret as they could. For they knew if this were to get out, they would be in trouble. The American public still had more raw power over the administration, at least until after the 2004 presidential election. Once that election passed and Bush won, their raw power achieved the ultimate. For the next four years, no one could stop them. So some of their secrets could get out. In fact, by slowly getting out, the secrets became acceptable. Like any watcher of pornography, you can justify the soft porn at first, but you cannot justify the hardcore. Once you get enough of the soft porn, the hardcore becomes acceptable and even desirable. It soon becomes a part of who you are.

In 2006 something wonderful happened. America broke out of the spell of this administration and its evils. A lot of Democrats and liberals (and many independents) were hopeful to see a change.

Unfortunately that is not going to happen. You see, the Bush administration has tasted of raw power and they will not let go. In fact, even if the Democrats get a veto proof majority in these next 18 months, there is nothing to hold back the Bush administration from simply defying the veto overrides of Congress. Note with what impunity the administration is telling private citizens not to show up for Congressional subpoenas! They even claim executive privilege over documents related to Pat Tillman’s debacle. Why? Because they can. There is no raw power above them, so why should they listen to anyone or do anything for anyone? They answer to none but themselves.

We must realize that there is only one thing that can actually end this raw power by this administration over these next 18 months and that is a full on revolution where the American people rise up and kicks this administration out of power. Congress has no raw power to impeach this president. He will simply defy their will. Why should he bother with Congress? He has no incentive. He has nothing to lose.

America has not been in as dangerous and precarious position as it is today. We must go back to the rule of law. For the rule of law to have any real effect, those who broke the rule of law must be punished and held accountable. Otherwise, what is the purpose of law? Without any punishment, there is no law. Unfortunately this will not happen, and we will have to deal with the administration as currently constituted for the next 18 months. We will have to deal with a possible military strike on Iran. We will have to deal with attempts by this administration to fix the next election so that they ensure a Republican president and a security and secrecy over what they have done these past six years. What Republican candidate today is going to actually hold anyone in the Bush administration accountable for their crimes? What Republican candidate today will punish anyone in this administration?

For that matter, what Democrat will truly do what needs to be done? I bet that even they will come up with some rationale about healing the wounds of Bush’s divisiveness and let them get away with it. Again, if there is no punishment, can there really be a law? If there is no law, what do we have?

Jack Balkin writes about why this is so important:

At this point in Bush’s Presidency three things matter above all others. They motivate this final round of constitutional hardball: The first is keeping secret what the President and his advisers have done. The second is running out the clock to prevent any significant dismantling of his policies until his term ends. The third is doing whatever he can proactively to ensure that later governments do not hold him or his associates accountable for any acts of constitutional hardball or other illegalities practiced during his term in office.

If the NSA program and the Torture Memos were examples of the second round of constitutional hardball, the Libby commutation and Harriet Meiers’ refusal to testify before Congress are examples of the third round. Although his Presidency now seems to be a failure, Bush’s third round of constitutional hardball may be every bit as important as the first two. That is because if Bush is never held accountable for what he did in office, future presidents will be greatly tempted to adopt features of his practices. If they temper his innovations and his excesses only slightly, they will still seem quite admirable and restrained in comparison to Bush. As a result, if Congress and the public do not decisively reject Bush’s policies and practices, some particularly unsavory features of his Presidency will survive in future Administrations. If that happens, Bush’s previous acts of constitutional hardball will have paid off after all. He may not have created a new and lasting constitutional regime, but he will have introduced long-lasting weaknesses and elements of decay into our constitutional system.

This administration is by far the worst that America has ever seen. But it is far more dangerous than that. Their policies and their use of raw power has done serious and potentially permanent damage and harm to the rule of law and the Constitution. Note for example the audacity of Sara Taylor claiming her oath to the president rather than to the Constitution. When corrected, now how smugly she replied:

Leahy: And then you said, I took an oath to the President, and I take that oath very seriously. Did you mean, perhaps, you took an oath to the Constitution?

Taylor: Uh, I, uh, yes, you’re correct, I took an oath to the Constitution. Uh, but, what–

Leahy: Did you take a second oath to the President?

Taylor: I did not. I–

Leahy: So the answer was incorrect.

Taylor: The answer was incorrect. What I should have said is that, I took an oath, I took that oath seriously. And I believe that taking that oath means that I need to respect, and do respect, my service to the President.

Leahy: No, the oath says that you take an oath to uphold and protect the Constitution of the United States. That is your paramount duty. I know that the President refers to the government being his government — it’s not. It’s the government of the people of America. Your oath is not to uphold the President, nor is mine to uphold the Senate. My oath, like your oath, is to uphold the Constitution.

This was an unscripted moment showing the reality of the raw power employed by the Bush administration. Loyalty is NOT to the Constitution, but to the president. Because the real raw power is not in the Constitution, but in Bush and Cheney. Note also Cheney’s ludicrous claim that is was not part of the executive branch, and thus cannot be held in check by any rules or regulations. These are but a few examples of the raw power employed by the Bush administration. (Heck, let’s not even bring up Scooter Libby!).

What can be done? At this point we must continue to reveal the secrets, show Americans just how much the Bush administration is not for the Constitution they took an oath to uphold. Continue forcing them to explain themselves. History will be the judge. If the administration attempts to start a fight with Iran, we must take to the streets and say NO! It won’t do much to actually stop them, but that’s all we can do, unless we’re riping for a real revolution.

The Decay of the Constitution

July 15, 2007 at 9:10 pm | Posted in America, American politics, Bush Administration, corruption, Democracy | 1 Comment

Jack Balkin writes about a very disturbing point regarding what the Bush administration has done to the Constitution.

At this point in Bush’s Presidency three things matter above all others. They motivate this final round of constitutional hardball: The first is keeping secret what the President and his advisers have done. The second is running out the clock to prevent any significant dismantling of his policies until his term ends. The third is doing whatever he can proactively to ensure that later governments do not hold him or his associates accountable for any acts of constitutional hardball or other illegalities practiced during his term in office.

If the NSA program and the Torture Memos were examples of the second round of constitutional hardball, the Libby commutation and Harriet Meiers’ refusal to testify before Congress are examples of the third round. Although his Presidency now seems to be a failure, Bush’s third round of constitutional hardball may be every bit as important as the first two. That is because if Bush is never held accountable for what he did in office, future presidents will be greatly tempted to adopt features of his practices. If they temper his innovations and his excesses only slightly, they will still seem quite admirable and restrained in comparison to Bush. As a result, if Congress and the public do not decisively reject Bush’s policies and practices, some particularly unsavory features of his Presidency will survive in future Administrations. If that happens, Bush’s previous acts of constitutional hardball will have paid off after all. He may not have created a new and lasting constitutional regime, but he will have introduced long-lasting weaknesses and elements of decay into our constitutional system.

A Realistic Assessment on Progress in Iraq

July 14, 2007 at 5:23 am | Posted in America, American politics, Bush Administration, corruption, Democrats, Foreign Policy, George W Bush, Iran, Iraq, King George, Media, Military, neo-conservatives, Republicans, Saudi Arabia, secret combinations, Thoughts, violence, War, War on Terror, World Events | 3 Comments

Whatever you do, if you want a real assessment about the situation in Iraq, do NOT listen to the President of the United States. Read Patrick Cockburn instead, for example. What will you learn? You’ll learn that, yes, Iraqis did progress on a few of the 18 benchmarks, but all the areas where they improved were insignificant, and the areas where Iraqis must have improved, about six benchmarks, Iraqis made absolutely no improvement at all. Things like security and politics. The very important stuff. No improvement at all.

The White House yesterday sought to suggest possible change for the better in Iraq by saying that there had been satisfactory progress on eight of the 18 goals set by Congress. Unsatisfactory progress is reported on six, unsatisfactory but with some progress on two and “too early to assess” on a further two.

The picture it hopes to give – and this has been uncritically reported by the US media – is of a mixture of progress and frustration in Iraq.

The wholly misleading suggestion is that the war could go either way. In reality the six failures are on issues critical to the survival of Iraq while the eight successes are on largely trivial matters.

Thus unsatisfactory progress is reported on “the Iraqi security forces even handedly enforcing the law” and on the number of Iraqi units willing to fight independently of the Americans. This means that there is no Iraqi national army but one consisting of Kurds, Shia and Sunni who will never act against their own communities. Despite three years of training, the Iraqi security forces cannot defend the government.

Set against these vitally important failures are almost ludicrously trivial or meaningless successes. For instance, “the rights of minority political parties are being defended” but these groups have no political influence. The alliance of Shia religious and Kurdish nationalist parties that make up the government is not keen to share power with anybody. This is scarcely surprising since they triumphantly won the election in 2005.

There have been some real improvements over the past six months. Sectarian killings in Iraq have declined to 650 in June compared with 2,100 in January. So-called “high-profile” bombings, including suicide bomb attacks on Shia markets, fell to 90 in June compared with 180 in March. But it is doubtful if these are entirely or even mainly due to the US surge.

The fall in sectarian killings, mostly of Sunni by Shia, may be largely the result of the Mehdi Army militia of Muqtada al-Sadr being told by their leader to curb their murder campaign. It is also true that last year, after the attack on the Shia shrine in Samarra on 22 February 2006, there was a battle for Baghdad which the Shia won and the Sunni lost.

Baghdad is more and more Shia-dominated and the Sunni are pinned into the south-west of the city and a few other enclaves. As Sunni and Shia are killed or driven out of mixed areas, there are less of them to kill. Some 4.2 million people in Iraq are now refugees, of whom about half have fled the country.

The real and appalling situation on the ground in Iraq has been all too evident this week. Thirty bodies, the harvest of the death squads, were found in the streets of Baghdad on Wednesday. The figure for Tuesday was 26 and, in addition, 20 rockets and mortar bombs were fired into the Green Zone killing three people. This was significant because they were fired by the Mehdi Army, who had been upset by criticism made on them by the Iraqi Prime Minister, Nuri al-Maliki. By way of gentle reproof they shelled his offices in the Green Zone.

What does this mean? It means that the surge is not having the intended effect. That is, if the intended effect was indeed a progress in security and political resolutions in Iraq, the surge has not succeeded, and probably will not succeed no matter how long we continue pressing this surge. The problem we are facing here at home is two fold. The public is now dead set against the war, and the military does not have any new fresh troops for the fight. A government cannot go to war without the nation behind it. Once it loses the nation, it will fairly quickly lose the war. The reason is that the soldiers come from the nation. Now, the military will run out of new soldiers to send to Iraq next April. Once April comes around what is the military going to do? They don’t say. Why not? Because their civilian bosses at the White House order them to remain silent. Why? Because it would hurt them politically.

Listen guys, the Republicans, by continuing this charade will lose badly in the November 2008 elections. They don’t seem to realize this. They believe that the American public will somehow never ever consider dropping them all. They figure that the more they filibuster Democratic legislation the more they can paint the Democrats as unable to rule. But this time the Americans will not forget (as they usually do with their massively short term attention span) that it was the Republicans who pressed for this war. This is important because if it were not for the Republicans, we’d get more honest assessments about this war and about what to do with our dear soldiers who fight for us. Instead, April will come around and well, we’ll still be living in denial while our soldiers come home wounded and weakened, stretched to the limit, and not the fighting force that can or will win our battles for us. This is very dangerous. Republicans would rather not talk about that. Neither their cohorts who control the media (see for example this latest evidence that even the New York Times would rather portray a political situation in Republican light—liberal media indeed).

What should happen?

In the real world, what should happen, especially when it comes to war, is to end the politicization. Republicans must stop using the soldiers as political fodder against Democrats. It must end. Were regular Americans to realize just how much the soldiers have been used by Republicans for political points, well, maybe many of them, the conservative kind, don’t mind the hypocrisy. In any case, it must end. It won’t unfortunately. But this is what should happen. We should look realistically at our situation now. We should assess just where this war has taken us, just what the costs have been. Will we actually do that? Not likely. Why not? Because partisan politics has gripped our nation at just the wrong time. Who is to blame for that? Karl Rove of course. As long as he is still employed we will never get an honest assessment.

The best solution for America right now in regards to Iraq is to begin talking about a way out of Iraq. The British were able to do so. We could learn a lot from the British it seems. One of the lessons is that you have to plan a good escape from the situation. The problem with Vietnam, and unfortunately the problem we will face with Iraq, is that we did not have a good plan of escape. So in the end you had a helicopter on top of the embassy with thousands of people trying to take it. What a shameful way to leave. Who is to blame for that? None other than Nixon of course. He orchestrated the ending of the war so that it would cast a bad light on the Democrats. But it was he, in the end, who left Vietnam the way he left it. George Bush does not wish to talk about how to leave Iraq. He would rather punt that on to the next administration (at this point assuredly a Democratic one). The moment the next administration withdraws the troops, he, from the sidelines, will criticize and demonize the next administration for failing in Iraq, and for not continuing his “grand crusade—er mission.” Why would he do this? Because in his heart, George W. Bush does not care about the troops as much as he cares about scoring political points for his Republican party.

The British withdrawal from southern Iraq also opens a window into our future for us to see what would happen with a withdrawal of foreign occupying troops. The Shi’ite militias turn on each other. This is the expected outcome. Why? Well, we go back to our realistic assessments. We keep pretending to believe that somehow the new Iraqi “army” will be loyal to the “government.” But please, let’s be honest. The real power lies in the militias, and will do so until the Americans leave to let the militias work it out on their own just how to run a large country the size of Iraq. What may really end up happening is that Iraq breaks down to tribal groups, as before World War I. Who knows, that may be what is actually best for a region like Iraq. The problem is that our world today prefers the nation-state. How would tribal organizations manage in such a system? Especially one like Iraq with all those lucrative resources?

In any case, Iraq will not fall to Al-Qaida. Al-Qaida’s presence in Iraq is small, and homogeneous. Their power is nowhere near that of the Shi’ite militias or the Kurdish militias. Will the Shi’ites try to murder all the remaining Sunnis? Not if the Sunnis have their own militias who protect their own. Also, if Iraq goes tribal, it won’t remain so for long. Here is where you get into the danger of a possible regional conflict. Iran will most likely eat up the Shi’ite south and east while Saudi Arabia will take in the Sunnis in the west. Will Saudi Arabia (or the United States) allow Iran to take possession of such a large amount of land with oil? Of course not. What about Turkey and Kurdistan? Turkey does currently have 140,000 troops on the border with Kurdistan. Turkish leaders have to think more of domestic politics than their obligations to foreign powers. The domestic politics demand action against the Kurds.

It really is unfortunate, and very tragic that we cannot have a realistic assessment about our actions in Iraq. The American people deserve to know the entire situation so they can make a realistic decision on whether or not to follow the president’s plan or some other. Whipping up the frenzy of Al-Qaida does nothing to solve the problem. I really hope Republicans can understand this. At this point, I am not holding my breath.

On Lies, Credibility Gaps, Friedman Units, Good Christian Conservatives Gone Bad, and Approval Ratings

July 10, 2007 at 12:51 pm | Posted in America, American politics, Bush Administration, Cheney, Congress, conservatives, corruption, Democracy, Evangelicals, family values, friedman units, George W Bush, Iraq, King George, Republicans, Revising History, secret combinations | 3 Comments

For any but the hardcore conservative, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales is nothing but a proven liar. Well evidence has come to light showing just how badly he has lied to the American people and under oath to Congress. You see, in April 2005 he testified to Congress the following:

“There has not been one verified case of civil liberties abuse.”

When talking about the FBI’s new powers under the Patriot Act. Well, that was a lie.

As he sought to renew the USA Patriot Act two years ago, Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales assured lawmakers that the FBI had not abused its potent new terrorism-fighting powers. “There has not been one verified case of civil liberties abuse,” Gonzales told senators on April 27, 2005.

Six days earlier, the FBI sent Gonzales a copy of a report that said its agents had obtained personal information that they were not entitled to have. It was one of at least half a dozen reports of legal or procedural violations that Gonzales received in the three months before he made his statement to the Senate intelligence committee, according to internal FBI documents released under the Freedom of Information Act.

The acts recounted in the FBI reports included unauthorized surveillance, an illegal property search and a case in which an Internet firm improperly turned over a compact disc with data that the FBI was not entitled to collect, the documents show. Gonzales was copied on each report that said administrative rules or laws protecting civil liberties and privacy had been violated.

The reports also alerted Gonzales in 2005 to problems with the FBI’s use of an anti-terrorism tool known as a national security letter (NSL), well before the Justice Department’s inspector general brought widespread abuse of the letters in 2004 and 2005 to light in a stinging report this past March.

This is America’s top law enforcer.

Next comes General Kevin Bergner, a Bush administration operative who is now the spokesman in Iraq who said the following:

The U.S. command in Baghdad this week ballyhooed the killing of a key al Qaeda leader but later admitted that the military had declared him dead a year ago.

The incident shows the eagerness of the command to show progress in dismantling al Qaeda at a time when Democrats and some Republicans are pressing President Bush to withdraw troops from Iraq. Army Gen. David Petraeus, the top U.S. commander, has declared al Qaeda enemy No. 1 in Iraq.

Brig. Gen. Kevin Bergner began his Monday news conference with a list of top insurgents either killed or captured in recent operations. He said they had been eliminated “in the past few weeks” and were “recent results.”

“In the north, Iraqi army and coalition forces continue successful operations in Mosul,” he told reporters. “Kamal Jalil Uthman, also known as Said Hamza, was the al Qaeda in Iraq military emir of Mosul. He planned, coordinated and facilitated suicide bombings, and he facilitated the movement of more than a hundred foreign fighters through safe houses in the area.” All told, Bergner devoted 68 words to Uthman’s demise.

Uthman was indeed a big kill, and the military featured his death last year in a report titled “Tearing Down al Qaeda.”

The Bush Administration wishes so badly to inform us that we’re fighting “Al-Qaida in Iraq” that they are willing to tell us that they’ve killed the same guy again a whole year later. Anybody wonder why some of us do not trust a single word that comes out of the mouth of a military spokesman?

Friedman Units. Those fun six month periods so generously created by Mr. Tom Friedman of the New York Times, where the most vital period in our conflict in Iraq is always the “next six months.” Well, today is July 10. Six months ago, Bush unveiled his “surge” strategy. Let’s see what proponents said six months ago about this new strategy. (Courtesy of Atrios):

Senator Kerry and Michael O’Hanlon:

So my question to each of you, in sum, is if there isn’t sufficient evidence of this kind of summitry and diplomacy — if there isn’t a sufficient political process in place — and I want your judgment as to whether or not there is — will more troops have any chance of, in fact, getting what we want, or is it going to make matters worse? And if it does, where are we after putting them in in six months if it hasn’t worked? Mr. O’Hanlon?

MR. O’HANLON: Senator Kerry, very tough question. I like your idea of a ledger. On the positive side of the troop surge proposal, I would say we all know tactically there have never been enough troops in Iraq to clear and hold. So that’s the tactical argument for this case. It would have been a much more compelling argument three and four years ago than it is today, but I think it remains at some level in the plus column. On the negative column, of course, we know that there is no political resolution of these very sectarian divides —

Brigadier General James “Spider” Marks:

FOREMAN: Six months from now, are we going to look at this area right here where most of them are going to go and say we’re better off or worse off?

MARKS: We need to say we’re better off.

ZAHN: We need to, but will we?

MARKS: There are ways to achieve that. And it’s not mutually exclusive. It’s not a political solution better than a military solution. All of these are essential ingredients to a solution. So it’s not a military strategy.

CBS News:

Pentagon officials expect US troops to stay in the streets for about six months before turning security over to the Iraqis. `If it hasn’t happened in six months,’ one official said, `we’ll know it’s not working.

Tim Russert:

Unless considerable progress is made in Iraq in a relatively short time, you will see Republicans crossing over and joining Democrats in challenging his Iraq strategy in a bipartisan way. This is a dead serious six months we’re approaching.

Chris Matthews:

MATTHEWS: Well, I don`t think it`s his last stand. I think it`s the second to the last stand. I think asking for more troops suggests hope that if we try a little harder, it will work. I think the next go-around, six months from now, or a year from now, perhaps, you`ll see the president come back to the American people and say, give me one last shot at this. I think he has one more chance after this. It`s not the end of the game.

This is the second to the last battle, I believe, of this war politically. But I do believe his numbers will continue to go down. I think we`ll see casualties in the streets of Iraq, Baghdad. It`s going to be a bloody campaign and I don`t think it`s going to yield stability.

Michael O’Hanlon:

He has one last shot, and that’s the way to look at it, I think. It’s Hail, Mary time.

Mary Matalin:

But we will be able to know in the next six months, although the sustained effort has to take longer than six months.

David Kerley:

You know, we’ve talked about that before here, Sam, on this program, that this is, the President believes, his last shot.

Pat Buchanan:

BUCHANAN: He has said it this time. The last test is right now.

This is why I`m saying, look, this is the last chance for Maliki, the last chance for the Americans. The acid test is whether they go after the Mahdi army, which I think knows we will go after them. And that`s why I think it may very well run to earth for the next six months.

SCARBOROUGH: We have to — we have to do that. We have to go after al-Sadr. We have to go after the Mahdi army. And, if we are, in fact, trying to start a democracy over there, and bring justice to Iraq, then, we have to arrest or kill al-Sadr.

Who still believes these bamboozlers?

Next, Good Christian Conservatives Gone Bad. I give you Senator David Vitter of Louisiana. He is a person found on Deborah Palfrey’s list of persons seeking, uh, companions, yeah, that’s what they are called…

Funny thing is that Senator Vitter has been one of the most outspoken people on banning same-sex marriage, because it is destructive to the family and all. Blah Blah Blah. It’s truly a Shakespearean comedy of errors, especially when you put into perspective what his wife said back in 2000 when talking about President Clinton’s West Wing escapades with one intern named Monica:

Asked by an interviewer in 2000 whether she could forgive her husband if she learned he’d had an extramarital affair, as Hillary Clinton and Bob Livingston’s wife had done, Wendy Vitter told the Times-Picayune: “I’m a lot more like Lorena Bobbitt than Hillary. If he does something like that, I’m walking away with one thing, and it’s not alimony, trust me.”

Heh, the good Senator should probably get a good iron chastity belt ready.

The ironic thing is that Senator Vitter got his position after Senator Livingston resigned after his affair was disclosed. Senator Livingston, as some may recall, was one of the strongest voices against Clinton’s White House escapades with one intern named Monica. Ironic indeed.

Finally, the news gets good for those who dislike Bush. His disapproval rating is as bad as Nixon’s. That’s right, no presidents have been as disliked than George W. Bush and Richard Nixon. Both have disapproval ratings at 66%. Nixon was lucky to have resigned when he did. Assuredly his numbers would have tanked even worse with impeachment proceedings going on. It is indeed a wonder how impeachment proceedings have not begun yet on George W. Bush, with all that has been said and done. But no worries, Bush still has 18 months to go even lower than Nixon and become America’s most hated president ever.

Rove: Troops to Come Home Before 2008 Election

July 9, 2007 at 12:09 pm | Posted in America, American politics, Bush Administration, corruption, Iraq, Military, Republicans, violence, War, War on Terror | Leave a comment

Karl Rove has revealed once again the White House’s strategy for the 2008 elections, just like he had revealed the strategy for the 2002 elections. What is the strategy? Well, according to THE math (as opposed to the real math), Iraq will not figure in to the 2008 elections because, according to him, troops will be home before then. Or at least begin the “post-surge redeployment”, the Bush administration’s new catchy phrase that totally avoids describing what in actuality it really is: a withdrawing of troops from the field of operations. See, Bush is vetoing any such actions now because they are not on HIS timetable. His timetable is timed perfectly with November of every even year. That’s the timetable of most concern to the Bush White House. Whatever works to make Republicans stay in power is what works for Bush. They assume many things wrongly because of this. For example, the surge is a failure, not complete, but a failure nonetheless. Violence continues. Political solutions are somewhere at the bottom of the dank Euphrates that runs through Baghdad.

But none of that matters. It is all a matter of perception. This is why the public face is what it is. They are selling a story. They have to follow the script.

REPORTER: Mr. President, if you decide…

BILL MOYERS: But the White House press corps will ask no hard questions tonight about those claims. Listen to what the President says:

PRESIDENT BUSH: This is a scripted…(laughter)

REPORTER: Thank you Mr. President–

BILL MOYERS: Scripted. Sure enough, the President’s staff has given him a list of reporters to call on.

PRESIDENT BUSH: Let’s see here… Elizabeth… Gregory… April…Did you have a question or did I call upon you cold?

APRIL: No, I have a question (laughter)

PRESIDENT BUSH: Okay. I’m sure you do have a question

ERIC BOEHLERT: He sort of giggled and laughed. And, the reporters sort of laughed. And, I don’t know if it was out of embarrassment for him or embarrassment for them because they still continued to play along. After his question was done. They all shot up their hands and pretended they had a chance of being called on.

APRIL: How is your faith guiding you?

PRESIDENT BUSH: My faith sustains me because I pray daily. I pray for guidance.

ERIC BOEHLERT: I think it just crystallized what was wrong with the press coverage during the run up to the war…I think they felt like the war was gonna happen. And, they– the best thing for them to do was to get out of the way.

PRESIDENT BUSH: Thank you for your questions.

Be on the watch, America. The Bush administration will try once again to pull the wool over your eyes. Please see through their muck.

Redeployed to Iraq and Afghanistan for the FIFTH Time

July 9, 2007 at 11:48 am | Posted in America, American politics, Bush Administration, corruption, George W Bush, Iraq, Military, War on Terror, World Events | 5 Comments

An Army Reservist in Miami is being ordered back to Iraq for a fifth time. He’s not upset at being sent back, as he finds his duty to his country honorable. But he is suing the Army to hold off his redeployment so he could finish up his degree in engineering, and to make sure he doesn’t lose his house (which he would if he were redeployed).

The United States military, as currently designed, an all-volunteer force with only so many, can only handle so much continuous fighting before they become a “broken” military. Apparently that end will come next April when the military will basically run out of soldiers. This is scary stuff. Our military is so badly weakened by our actions in Iraq that, well, if we are tested by a truly powerful enemy, we really won’t have the capability to defend ourselves.

General Michael Rose wrote: (h/t Hellmut at Headlife)

It is hardly an overstatement to say that had Britain not ended the American War of Independence when it did, it could never have been in a position to defeat Napoleon.

Today, of course, the United States finds itself in much the same position as Britain in 1781. Distracted and diminished by an irrelevant, costly and probably unwinnable war in Iraq, America could ultimately find itself challenged by countries like China and India. Unless it can find a leader with the moral courage of Pitt, there is a strong probability that it will be forced to relinquish its position as the global superpower — possibly to a regime that does not have the same commitment to justice and liberty that the United States and Britain have worked so hard to extend across the world over the past two centuries.

The sound of the first shot fired at Lexington in 1775 echoed across the world. So too did the firing of the last shot six years later at Yorktown. That second echo brought salvation for Britain, and ultimately great benefit to the entire world.

Smart thinking says that we should be far more concerned about our national security than the national security of another nation. The greater threat lies not from the cave-dwelling terrorists, but from other nations who might just take advantage of our weakened position to increase their power vis a vis us.

There really is nothing more we can do in Iraq right now that is worth the cost we are incurring. We must reduce our costs if we are to ensure our position in the world stays the way it is. Otherwise in perhaps just a few years, we will find ourselves no longer in charge of the direction of this world. And that is a far scarier position for us to be in than with an unstable Iraq.

High School Presidential Scholars Tell Bush to Stop Torture

June 26, 2007 at 5:49 am | Posted in America, American politics, Bush Administration, Education, George W Bush, Gitmo, King George, secret combinations, Torture | 3 Comments

Ouch, this must have stung! High schoolers who visited the White House signed a letter to President Bush urging him to stop his administration’s torture policies. He apparently was unaware that they were going to present this letter.

President Bush was presented with a letter Monday signed by 50 high school seniors in the Presidential Scholars program urging a halt to “violations of the human rights” of terror suspects held by the United States.

The White House said Bush had not expected the letter but took a moment to read it and talk with a young woman who handed it to him.

I wonder what was going on through his mind. He was live to the world, probably couldn’t step out of the scripted scenario.

These students are Presidential Scholars, the top of the top high schoolers in the nation. They probably prepared this before the Washington Post’s amazing section on Dick Cheney’s torture regime. Future Americans will look back at our generation and be embarrassed.

The handwritten letter said the students “believe we have a responsibility to voice our convictions.”

“We do not want America to represent torture. We urge you to do all in your power to stop violations of the human rights of detainees, to cease illegal renditions, and to apply the Geneva Convention to all detainees, including those designated enemy combatants,” the letter said.

The designation as a Presidential Scholar is one of the nation’s highest honors for graduating high school students. Each year the program selects one male and one female student from each state, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Americans living abroad, 15 at-large students, and up to 20 students in the arts on the basis of outstanding scholarship, service, leadership and creativity.

Well done, young men and women. Well done. The future is looking brighter than before.

Saving All

June 19, 2007 at 11:16 am | Posted in America, American politics, Antonin Scalia, Bush Administration, Christianity, conservatives, corruption, Torture, War | 8 Comments

Conservatives these days use the security of our nation and our lives to justify a lowering of their standards and morals. It is their justification for some of the harsher practices we have employed against prisoners we have captured or arrested, regardless of whether they were legally here in America (like Jose Padilla) or found elsewhere (like everyone down in Gitmo). I just quoted Justice Antonin Scalia a Supreme Court Justice and hard-right wing man who said:

“I don’t care about holding people. I really don’t,” Judge Scalia said.

Even if a real terrorist who suffered mistreatment is released because of complaints of abuse, Judge Scalia said, the interruption to the terrorist’s plot would have ensured “in Los Angeles everyone is safe.” During a break from the panel, Judge Scalia specifically mentioned the segment in Season 2 when Jack Bauer finally figures out how to break the die-hard terrorist intent on nuking L.A. The real genius, the judge said, is that this is primarily done with mental leverage. “There’s a great scene where he told a guy that he was going to have his family killed,” Judge Scalia said. “They had it on closed circuit television – and it was all staged. … They really didn’t kill the family.”

Everyone is safe. Saving all. Any Mormon who reads that, who is familiar with his scriptures, should cringe. Who else believed in “saving all,” especially at the cost of certain freedoms?

Let’s read from Moses 4 in the Pearl of Great Price:

1 And I, the Lord God, spake unto Moses, saying: That Satan, whom thou hast commanded in the name of mine Only Begotten, is the same which was from the beginning, and he came before me, saying—Behold, here am I, send me, I will be thy son, and I will redeem all mankind, that one soul shall not be lost, and surely I will do it; wherefore fgive me thine honor.
2 But, behold, my Beloved Son, which was my Beloved and Chosen from the beginning, said unto me—Father, thy will be done, and the glory be thine forever.
3 Wherefore, because that Satan rebelled against me, and sought to destroy the agency of man, which I, the Lord God, had given him, and also, that I should give unto him mine own power; by the power of mine Only Begotten, I caused that he should be cast down;
4 And he became Satan, yea, even the devil, the father of all lies, to deceive and to blind men, and to lead them captive at his will, even as many as would not hearken unto my voice.

So, what exactly is wrong with saving or redeeming all mankind, “that one soul shall not be lost?” The Lord said what is wrong with that two verses later: “because that Satan rebelled against me, and sought to destroy the agency of man.” That’s why. The greatest irony of conservatives and their lowering standards and justifications for torture is that they do it for “safety” and “security” but don’t mind that the cost that arises with it are a drop in “freedoms” and “agency.”

In regards to priorities in this life, the safety of our lives does not actually take precedence over other more important priorities, the top being, agency. People are going to do stupid and evil things. That is their agency. We must do our best to ensure the safety of our nation and our people, but NOT at the cost of the very things we are fighting for. Let me share another scripture from the Book of Mormon. This is found in Alma 14. The situation is that Alma and Amulek, prophets and missionaries of the Lord go to a town called Ammonihah and preach. The ruling people reject them, take Alma and Amulek and bind them. They set them up to observe the following evil, which the ruling people do to those who believed in Alma and Amulek’s words:

8 And they brought their wives and children together, and whosoever believed or had been taught to believe in the word of God they caused that they should be cast into the fire; and they also brought forth their records which contained the holy scriptures, and cast them into the fire also, that they might be burned and destroyed by fire.
9 And it came to pass that they took Alma and Amulek, and carried them forth to the place of martyrdom, that they might witness the destruction of those who were consumed by fire.
10 And when Amulek saw the pains of the women and children who were consuming in the fire, he also was pained; and he said unto Alma: How can we witness this awful scene? Therefore let us stretch forth our hands, and exercise the power of God which is in us, and save them from the flames.
11 But Alma said unto him: The Spirit constraineth me that I must not stretch forth mine hand; for behold the Lord receiveth them up unto himself, in glory; and he doth suffer that they may do this thing, or that the people may do this thing unto them, according to the hardness of their hearts, that the judgments which he shall exercise upon them in his wrath may be just; and the blood of the innocent shall stand as a witness against them, yea, and cry mightily against them at the last day.

If ever there were a situation where violence or torture would be justified (by today’s conservatives’ standards), surely the ruling people of the town of Ammonihah deserved violence and torture. No? Amulek even asks if they could employ the power of God to save the people from the flames. After all, according to today’s conservatives’ standards, saving lives is of the utmost priority. What does Alma say? He says that the Spirit constrained him, that the innocent must suffer these things “that the judgments which he shall exercise upon them in his wrath may be just; and the blood of the innocent shall stand as a witness against them, yea, and cry mightily against them at the last day.”

How does that apply to our day? First of all, it shows that the protection of life is not the utmost priority of this life. Following God’s laws and principles is of greater priority, even if it comes at the loss of life. (Remember that the greatest sacrifice had to be done; God had to lose His Son in order for the plan of salvation to work).

Would today’s conservatives save Jesus from certain death at the hands of the Jewish ruling class?

The principles we supposedly hold dear to our hearts are actually on the ground, underneath our trampling feet as we scurry on to “save all.” We have most certainly lost our way.

Failed States, the Legacy of the Bush Administration and Republicans

June 19, 2007 at 9:20 am | Posted in America, American politics, Bush Administration, Christianity, condoleezza rice, conservatives, corruption, Foreign Policy, George W Bush, Hezbollah, Iran, Iraq, Israel, King George, Middle East, Military, nationalism, neo-conservatives, Pakistan, Religion, Republicans, Revising History, secret combinations, Somalia, Syria, Thoughts, violence, War, War on Terror, World Events | Leave a comment

Republicans and the Christian Right should be well familiar with this particular verse from the Bible, Matthew 7:15-20:

15 Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.
16 Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?
17 Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit.
18 A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.
19 Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.
20 Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.

By their fruits, ye shall know them. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit. A corrupt tree brings forth evil fruit. Any Christian knows this parable. What does this mean for our world today? Let’s look at the fruits of the Bush administration and the Republican party.

Iraq

A failed state. The Fund for Peace and Foreign Policy magazine have released their annual report of the world’s failed states. Iraq is the second worst failed state in the world, only two points better in the rankings than the world’s worst failed state, The Sudan. We’re now well over four years into our war in Iraq. Let’s put that in perspective. World War II, if started on March 20, 2003, would have ended last December or so. What is worse about this is that unlike The Sudan, America has pumped billions of dollars into Iraq with so little to show for it.

That is not to say that all failing states suffer from international neglect. Iraq and Afghanistan, the two main fronts in the global war on terror, both suffered over the past year. Their experiences show that billions of dollars in development and security aid may be futile unless accompanied by a functioning government, trustworthy leaders, and realistic plans to keep the peace and develop the economy. Just as there are many paths to success, there are many paths to failure for states on the edge.

So I ask you, Americans, and especially Christian conservatives, what do these fruits tell you about the tree from which they come? Now some of you may say, the tree really is terrorism. The answer to that is, no. The tree is America. We entered Iraq with the supposed intent to recreate the Middle East, and Iraq itself. After four years, what are the fruits of our labors? An utterly failed state. Jesus said, evil fruit cannot come from good trees.

By their fruits, ye shall know them.

Afghanistan

Recently a US airstrike killed seven children along with many others. More than one hundred die in three days of heavy fighting. The Taliban (living over in neighboring Pakistan) continue to plague the Americans now SIX YEARS after we attacked them. Six years. And they are still around? Afghanistan is ranked as the 8th worst failed state in the world, behind only The Sudan, Iraq, and a bunch of African states.

By their fruits, ye shall know them.

Pakistan

The Bush administration continues to support the highly corrupt and repressive military dictator, Musharraf, regardless of how much he punishes reformers in Pakistan. Pakistan is ranked as the 12th worst failed state in the world. Only Haiti, Central African Republic and Guinea separate Pakistan from her neighbor Afghanistan.

By their fruits, ye shall know them.

Lebanon

Poor, poor Lebanon, the world’s pawn, played by all parties against her own will. Israelis bomb her to the stone age. Hezbollah is a parasitic virus, destroying the country from within. Syria assassinates her leaders. The United States sacrifices her democracy on the altar of supposed Israeli preference (though if the United States were smart, they would have reined in Israel last summer, because it is in Israel’s best interest to have a stable country to her north. Now because of their idiotic bombing campaign, Lebanon is failing). Lebanon is ranked as the 28th worst failed state in the world.

Palestine

Not a state (and apparently not ever going to be a state), this is probably the worst of Bush’s failures. Is it really in the best interest of our ally, Israel, to have a failed non-state as her neighbor? Is it really in Israel’s best interest to have 1.4 million starving raving lunatics in a 25 mile strip of land right on her border? Is this Condoleezza Rice’s idea of “birth pangs?”

Why are these failed states so important to the world? The Foreign Policy magazine states it well in their introduction:

It is an accepted axiom of the modern age that distance no longer matters. Sectarian carnage can sway stock markets on the other side of the planet. Anarchic cities that host open-air arms bazaars imperil the security of the world’s superpower. A hermit leader’s erratic behavior not only makes life miserable for the impoverished millions he rules but also upends the world’s nuclear nonproliferation regime. The threats of weak states, in other words, ripple far beyond their borders and endanger the development and security of nations that are their political and economic opposites.

These are the fruits of the Republican philosophy to the world. These are the fruits of neo-conservatives. These are not the fruits of good trees. These must be cast into the fire, metaphorically speaking. We must do what needs to be done with these kinds of philosophies, let them pass the way of the dodo bird, to be a relic of history, never to be seen again. At least, if Americans want a better world.

A Terrorist’s Children, Leverage For Information

June 9, 2007 at 10:49 pm | Posted in America, American politics, Bush Administration, Cheney, corruption, family values, George W Bush, Gitmo, Middle East, neo-conservatives, Pakistan, Religion, Republicans, secret combinations, Torture, violence, War, War on Terror | 23 Comments

This is the newest low of the Bush administration, and obviously one big reason why they’ve wanted to keep the black sites in Europe as secret as they could. Because one of the things that the Bush administration authorized was the capture and interrogation of children of terrorists (such as Khalik Sheikh Mohammed), to be used as a leverage against the terrorists, because hey, who likes to see their children suffer? This is the level to which our country has fallen, where we now torture children.

Andrew Sullivan quotes the CIA about KSM’s sons:

“His sons are important to him. The promise of their release and their return to Pakistan may be the psychological lever we need to break him.”

Hilzoy at Obsidian Wings has the details.

Today, six human rights groups released a report (pdf) on 39 people who they think the US government might be holding in undisclosed locations, and whose location is presently unknown. (Thus, they are not counting anyone known to be at Guantanamo or Bagram; just people who are missing.) That we have disappeared anyone is shocking, and a violation of treaties we have signed and ratified.

This report has gotten a fair amount of play, but in all the coverage I’ve read, only the Philadelphia Inquirer has mentioned what is, to me, the most awful allegation: that we disappeared young children. The report (pp. 24-26) lists five groups of family members; those who are discussed at greatest length are the sons of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.

She then quotes the article from the Philadelphia Inquirer:

“In September 2002, Yusuf al-Khalid (then nine years old) and Abed al-Khalid (then seven years old) were reportedly apprehended by Pakistani security forces during an attempted capture of their father, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was successfully apprehended several months later, and the U.S. government has acknowledged that he was in the U.S. Secret Detention Program. He is presently held at Guantánamo Bay.

In an April 16, 2007 statement, Ali Khan (father of Majid Khan, a detainee who the U.S. government has acknowledged was in the U.S. Secret Detention Program and is presently held at Guantánamo Bay) indicated that Yusef and Abed al-Khalid had been held in the same location in which Majid Khan and Majid’s brother Mohammed were detained in March/April 2003. Mohammed was detained by Pakistani officials for approximately one month after his apprehension on March 5, 2003 (see below). Ali Khan’s statement indicates that:

Also according to Mohammed, he and Majid were detained in the same place where two of Khalid Sheik Mohammed’s young children, ages about 6 and 8, were held. The Pakistani guards told my son that the boys were kept in a separate area upstairs, and were denied food and water by other guards. They were also mentally tortured by having ants or other creatures put on their legs to scare them and get them to say where their father was hiding.

After Khalid Sheikh Mohammed’s arrest in March 2003, Yusuf and Abed Al Khalid were reportedly transferred out of Pakistan in U.S. custody. The children were allegedly being sent for questioning about their father’s activities and to be used by the United States as leverage to force their father to co-operate with the United States. A press report on March 10, 2003 confirmed that CIA interrogators had detained the children and that one official explained that:

“We are handling them with kid gloves. After all, they are only little children…but we need to know as much about their father’s recent activities as possible. We have child psychologists on hand at all times and they are given the best of care.”

In the transcript of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed’s Combatant Status Review Tribunal, he indicates knowledge that his children were apprehended and abused:

“They arrested my kids intentionally. They are kids. They been arrested for four months they had been abused.””

Hilzoy states this correctly. This is something two-bit dictators would do. Is this something a supposed “Christian” democratic country does? Apparently. She asks at the end:

And note this: the only people who were included in the report are people whose whereabouts are presently unknown. These kids were captured over four years ago. They would be thirteen and eleven now. Does anyone know where they are? Does anyone care?

Not Americans. We’re too concerned about Paris Hilton’s latest sob story about prison. Andrew Sullivan adds:

One of the eeriest aspects of the Bush administration’s conduct of the war on terror has been the inversion of previously held assumptions about the meaning of the West. We fought a war to end torture; we then occupied Saddam’s own torture prison and tortured people there. We fought a war to bring democracy to the Middle East and to show Arabs and Muslims how superior it is as a system; we then spawned chaos, civil war and genocide to brand democracy as a nightmare for an entire generation of Muslims and Arabs. But I recall one moment when I felt most secure about our rationale for the war: we liberated a prison full of children who had been targeted by the monster, Saddam. If ending a regime that jailed children was not right, what was?

Except now we know that the U.S. has itself detained, imprisoned and interrogated children.

He then quotes John Yoo, the mastermind behind the torture regime:

“Cassel: If the president deems that he’s got to torture somebody, including by crushing the testicles of the person’s child, there is no law that can stop him?

Yoo: No treaty

Cassel: Also no law by Congress — that is what you wrote in the August 2002 memo…

Yoo: I think it depends on why the President thinks he needs to do that…”

Weren’t we supposed to be fighting AGAINST people like Mr. Yoo? Additionally Michael P.F. Van Der Galien is trying to find out what has happened to those children. To this point, he has not found any information.

What kind of nation makes children disappear?

Enhanced Interrogation Techniques, Borrowed from the Soviets

June 4, 2007 at 9:33 am | Posted in America, American politics, Bush Administration, George W Bush, McCain, Mit Romney, Mitt Romney, secret combinations, Torture, violence, War, War on Terror | 2 Comments

I’ve written before about Vershärfte Vernehmung, German for “enhanced techniques” used by the Gestapo on prisoners. Note in that evidence the language, how similar it is to the Bush White House on these enhanced interrogation techniques. Well, now more information comes out showing that the CIA has “borrowed” these same techniques from the Soviets. As we >read here, the Soviets also tried to justify their perverse actions through legalistic mumbo jumbo. Read:

The article describes basic Soviet N.K.V.D. (later K.G.B.) methods: isolation in a small cell; constant light; sleep deprivation; cold or heat; reduced food rations. Soviets denied such treatment was torture, just as American officials have in recent years:

The effects of isolation, anxiety, fatigue, lack of sleep, uncomfortable temperatures, and chronic hunger produce disturbances of mood, attitudes and behavior in nearly all prisoners. The living organism cannot entirely withstand such assaults. The Communists do not look upon these assaults as “torture.” But all of them produce great discomfort, and lead to serious disturbances of many bodily processes; there is no reason to differentiate them from any other form of torture.

Interrogators looked for ways to increase the pressure, including “stress positions”:

Another [technique] widely used is that of requiring the prisoner to stand throughout the interrogation session or to maintain some other physical position which becomes painful. This, like other features of the KGB procedure, is a form of physical torture, in spite of the fact that the prisoners and KGB officers alike do not ordinarily perceive it as such. Any fixed position which is maintained over a long period of time ultimately produces excruciating pain.

Overt brutality was discouraged, as it was at American facilities:

The KGB hardly ever uses manacles or chains, and rarely resorts to physical beatings. The actual physical beating is, of course, repugnant to overt Communist principles and is contrary to K.G.B. regulations.

Closed trials and military tribunals were standard, as at Guantánamo:

Prisoners are tried before “military tribunals,” which are not public courts. Those present are only the interrogator, the state prosecutor, the prisoner, the judges, a few stenographers, and perhaps a few officers of the court.

The Bush administration concluded that the Geneva Conventions did not apply to Qaeda detainees. Similarly, the Soviets argued that international rules did not apply to foreign detainees:

In typical Communist legalistic fashion, the N.K.V.D. rationalized its use of torture and pressure in the interrogation of prisoners of war. When it desired to use such methods against a prisoner or to obtain from him a propaganda statement or “confession,” it simply declared the prisoner a “war-crimes suspect” and informed him that, therefore, he was not subject to international rules governing the treatment of prisoners of war.

Communist-style interrogation routinely produced false confessions:

The cumulative effects of the entire experience may be almost intolerable. [The prisoner] becomes mentally dull and loses his capacity for discrimination. He becomes malleable and suggestible, and in some instances he may confabulate. By suggesting that the prisoner accept half-truths and plausible distortions of the truth, [the interrogator] makes it possible for the prisoner to rationalize and thus accept the interrogator’s viewpoint as the only way out of an intolerable situation.

Andrew Sullivan writes about it changing a few words here and there to put it in perspective:

“The effects of isolation, anxiety, fatigue, lack of sleep, uncomfortable temperatures, and chronic hunger produce disturbances of mood, attitudes and behavior in nearly all prisoners. The living organism cannot entirely withstand such assaults. The Republicans Communists do not look upon these assaults as ‘torture.’ But all of them produce great discomfort, and lead to serious disturbances of many bodily processes; there is no reason to differentiate them from any other form of torture…

The CIA KGB hardly ever uses manacles or chains, and rarely resorts to physical beatings. The actual physical beating is, of course, repugnant to overt Republican Communist principles and is contrary to C.I.A. K.G.B. regulations…

Prisoners are tried before “military tribunals,” which are not public courts. Those present are only the interrogator, the state prosecutor, the prisoner, the judges, a few stenographers, and perhaps a few officers of the court…

In typical Republican Communist legalistic fashion, the O.L.C. N.K.V.D. rationalized its use of torture and pressure in the interrogation of prisoners of war. When it desired to use such methods against a prisoner or to obtain from him a propaganda statement or ‘confession,’ it simply declared the prisoner an enemy combatant a “war-crimes suspect” and informed him that, therefore, he was not subject to international rules governing the treatment of prisoners of war,” – “Communist Interrogation,” The Annals of Neurology and Psychology, 1956.

This is what the Republicans stand for today, America. This is what Mitt Romney believes we should double. This is what Rudy Giuliani thinks is okay. The only Republican candidate intelligent enough to know better is John McCain. Unfortunately, he caved into political pressure last fall and allowed this kind of Soviet action to be legalized here in America. Welcome to the Republicans, America. Do you really want these kinds of people continuing to ruin run America? Is this what America stands for? Exactly what are we fighting for?

There Is No “Right of Secession” Guaranteed by the Constitution

May 22, 2007 at 11:28 am | Posted in America, American politics, Civil War | 171 Comments

Back in March, I wrote a post about the American Civil War. I titled it The American Civil War, Fought Over Slavery, Begun by South Carolina. This has garnered many views and plenty of comments. One point that seems to be made quite frequently by those who support and defend the South is that somehow the Constitution of the United States allows a right of secession, to secede from the Union at will. Most take the Tenth Amendment as their justification. The Tenth Amendment is:

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

On the face of it, it would seem to, if you stretch logic, justify a state choosing to leave the Union, but that is not the case. The annotations at Findlaw, for example give no indications that it was so.

More importantly, beyond the Tenth Amendment, the Founding Fathers were attempting to create a “perpetual,” “more perfect union,” and not just some voluntary contract between states. Mackubin Thomas Owens writes for the Claremont Institute:

That the American Republic was both federal and national was the dominant view among statesmen of the antebellum period. For instance, in his reply to Calhoun on Feb. 16, 1833, Daniel Webster observed that the state conventions, including that of South Carolina, did not accede to a league or association when they approved the Constitution, but ratified and confirmed that Constitution as a form of government.

Andrew Jackson made the same point in his “Proclamation to the People of South Carolina” during the nullification crisis. The Constitution, said Jackson, derives its whole authority from the people, not the States. The States “retained all the power they did not grant. But each State, having expressly parted with so many powers as to constitute, jointly with the other States, a single nation, can not, from that period, possess any right to secede, because such secession does not break a league, but destroys the unity of a nation.” And Madison, who presumably knew something about the constitutional theory of the American Founding, was horrified by the idea that the coordinate sovereignty retained by the States, as stated in the Tenth Amendment, implied the power of nullification, interposition, or secession.

Lincoln argued that the Union created the States, not the other way around and that the States had no other legal status than that which held in the Union. Harry V. Jaffa has demonstrated beyond reasonable doubt that the Revolutionary generation universally understood the separation of 13 colonies from Great Britain and the union among them to have been accomplished simultaneously. Colonial resolutions called for both independence and union. According to Jefferson and Madison in 1825, the Declaration of Independence constituted an “act of Union of the States.”

The Articles of Confederation (a document that begins and ends with the assertion that the Union is perpetual) was an unsuccessful attempt to govern the Union created by the Declaration of Independence. It failed because the central government lacked the necessary power to carry out its obligations. The Constitution was intended to rectify the problems of the Articles — to create “a more perfect Union.” As George Washington wrote in his letter transmitting the Constitution to Congress, “In all our deliberations we kept steadily in our view that which appears to us the greatest interest of every true American, the consolidation of our Union, in which is involved our prosperity, felicity, perhaps our national existence.”

In my previous post on the Civil War, I quoted both Andrew Jackson and George Washington, who understood the importance of the Union over the priorities of the individual states, and I recommend their words in the strongest terms. I shall quote them here again:

From George Washington’s Farewell Address:

The unity of government which constitutes you one people is also now dear to you. It is justly so, for it is a main pillar in the edifice of your real independence, the support of your tranquility at home, your peace abroad; of your safety; of your prosperity; of that very liberty which you so highly prize. But as it is easy to foresee that, from different causes and from different quarters, much pains will be taken, many artifices employed to weaken in your minds the conviction of this truth; as this is the point in your political fortress against which the batteries of internal and external enemies will be most constantly and actively (though often covertly and insidiously) directed, it is of infinite moment that you should properly estimate the immense value of your national union to your collective and individual happiness; that you should cherish a cordial, habitual, and immovable attachment to it; accustoming yourselves to think and speak of it as of the palladium of your political safety and prosperity; watching for its preservation with jealous anxiety; discountenancing whatever may suggest even a suspicion that it can in any event be abandoned; and indignantly frowning upon the first dawning of every attempt to alienate any portion of our country from the rest, or to enfeeble the sacred ties which now link together the various parts…

The name of American, which belongs to you in your national capacity, must always exalt the just pride of patriotism more than any appellation derived from local discriminations…

But these considerations, however powerfully they address themselves to your sensibility, are greatly outweighed by those which apply more immediately to your interest. Here every portion of our country finds the most commanding motives for carefully guarding and preserving the union of the whole.

With such powerful and obvious motives to union, affecting all parts of our country, while experience shall not have demonstrated its impracticability, there will always be reason to distrust the patriotism of those who in any quarter may endeavor to weaken its bands.

In contemplating the causes which may disturb our Union, it occurs as matter of serious concern that any ground should have been furnished for characterizing parties by geographical discriminations, Northern and Southern, Atlantic and Western; whence designing men may endeavor to excite a belief that there is a real difference of local interests and views. One of the expedients of party to acquire influence within particular districts is to misrepresent the opinions and aims of other districts. You cannot shield yourselves too much against the jealousies and heartburnings which spring from these misrepresentations; they tend to render alien to each other those who ought to be bound together by fraternal affection.

To the efficacy and permanency of your Union, a government for the whole is indispensable. No alliance, however strict, between the parts can be an adequate substitute; they must inevitably experience the infractions and interruptions which all alliances in all times have experienced. Sensible of this momentous truth, you have improved upon your first essay, by the adoption of a constitution of government better calculated than your former for an intimate union, and for the efficacious management of your common concerns. This government, the offspring of our own choice, uninfluenced and unawed, adopted upon full investigation and mature deliberation, completely free in its principles, in the distribution of its powers, uniting security with energy, and containing within itself a provision for its own amendment, has a just claim to your confidence and your support. Respect for its authority, compliance with its laws, acquiescence in its measures, are duties enjoined by the fundamental maxims of true liberty. The basis of our political systems is the right of the people to make and to alter their constitutions of government. But the Constitution which at any time exists, till changed by an explicit and authentic act of the whole people, is sacredly obligatory upon all. The very idea of the power and the right of the people to establish government presupposes the duty of every individual to obey the established government.

Andrew Jackson’s Proclamation Regarding Nullification:

The ordinance is founded, not on the indefeasible right of resisting acts which are plainly unconstitutional, and too oppressive to be endured, but on the strange position that any one State may not only declare an act of Congress void, but prohibit its execution- that they may do this consistently with the Constitution-that the true construction of that instrument permits a State to retain its place in the Union, and yet be bound by no other of its laws than those it may choose to consider as constitutional. It is true they add, that to justify this abrogation of a law, it must be palpably contrary to the Constitution, but it is evident, that to give the right of resisting laws of that description, coupled with the uncontrolled right to decide what laws deserve that character, is to give the power of resisting all laws. For, as by the theory, there is no appeal, the reasons alleged by the State, good or bad, must prevail. If it should be said that public opinion is a sufficient check against the abuse of this power, it may be asked why it is not deemed a sufficient guard against the passage of an unconstitutional act by Congress. There is, however, a restraint in this last case, which makes the assumed power of a State more indefensible, and which does not exist in the other. There are two appeals from an unconstitutional act passed by Congress-one to the judiciary, the other to the people and the States. There is no appeal from the State decision in theory; and the practical illustration shows that the courts are closed against an application to review it, both judges and jurors being sworn to decide in its favor. But reasoning on this subject is superfluous, when our social compact in express terms declares, that the laws of the United States, its Constitution, and treaties made under it, are the supreme law of the land; and for greater caution adds, “that the judges in every State shall be bound thereby, anything in the Constitution or laws of any State to the contrary notwithstanding.” And it may be asserted, without fear of refutation, that no federative government could exist without a similar provision. Look, for a moment, to the consequence. If South Carolina considers the revenue laws unconstitutional, and has a right to prevent their execution in the port of Charleston, there would be a clear constitutional objection to their collection in every other port, and no revenue could be collected anywhere; for all imposts must be equal. It is no answer to repeat that an unconstitutional law is no law, so long as the question of its legality is to be decided by the State itself, for every law operating injuriously upon any local interest will be perhaps thought, and certainly represented, as unconstitutional, and, as has been shown, there is no appeal.

If this doctrine had been established at an earlier day, the Union would have been dissolved in its infancy. The excise law in Pennsylvania, the embargo and non-intercourse law in the Eastern States, the carriage tax in Virginia, were all deemed unconstitutional, and were more unequal in their operation than any of the laws now complained of; but, fortunately, none of those States discovered that they had the right now claimed by South Carolina. The war into which we were forced, to support the dignity of the nation and the rights of our citizens, might have ended in defeat and disgrace instead of victory and honor, if the States, who supposed it a ruinous and unconstitutional measure, had thought they possessed the right of nullifying the act by which it was declared, and denying supplies for its prosecution. Hardly and unequally as those measures bore upon several members of the Union, to the legislatures of none did this efficient and peaceable remedy, as it is called, suggest itself. The discovery of this important feature in our Constitution was reserved to the present day. To the statesmen of South Carolina belongs the invention, and upon the citizens of that State will, unfortunately, fall the evils of reducing it to practice.

If the doctrine of a State veto upon the laws of the Union carries with it internal evidence of its impracticable absurdity, our constitutional history will also afford abundant proof that it would have been repudiated with indignation had it been proposed to form a feature in our Government…

I consider, then, the power to annul a law of the United States, assumed by one State, incompatible with the existence of the Union, contradicted expressly by the letter of the Constitution, unauthorized by its spirit, inconsistent with every principle on which It was founded, and destructive of the great object for which it was formed.

These words are of great importance, because the South’s actions were really unconstitutional and a detriment to the nation of America. If allowed to gain legitimacy, they would have destroyed the Constitution and the Union so carefully brought together by the Founding Fathers.

Finally, I offer a final arbiter on what is Constitutional, the Supreme Court of the United States. In Texas v White, the Supreme Court was faced with actually having to interpret the Constitution on whether or not the state of Texas was Constitutionally allowed to secede. As a commentator on a related post on Stubborn Facts writes:

I’m really surprised you haven’t gotten to Texas v. White yet, though. The question of secession has actually come before SCOTUS. While many may (and do!) disagree vehemently with that decision, it does, nonetheless, stand. Barring a new ruling from the court, there is no Constitutional right of secession.

Here is the relevant section of the case Texas v White:

Did Texas, in consecuence of these acts, cease to be a State? Or, if not, did the State cease to be a member of the Union?

It is needless to discuss, at length, the question whether the right of a State to withdraw from the Union for any cause, regarded by herself as sufficient, is consistent with the Constitution of the United States.

The Union of the States never was a purely artificial and [74 U.S. 700, 725] arbitrary relation. It began among the Colonies, and grew out of common origin, mutual sympathies, kindred principles, similar interests, and geographical relations. It was confirmed and strengthened by the necessities of war, and received definite form, and character, and sanction from the Articles of Confederation. By these the Union was solemnly declared to ‘be perpetual.‘ And when these Articles were found to be inadequate to the exigencies of the country, the Constitution was ordained ‘to form a more perfect Union.’ It is difficult to convey the idea of indissoluble unity more clearly than by these words. What can be indissoluble if a perpetual Union, made more perfect, is not?

But the perpetuity and indissolubility of the Union, by no means implies the loss of distinct and individual existence, or of the right of self-government by the States. Under the Articles of Confederation each State retained its sovereignty, freedom, and independence, and every power, jurisdiction, and right not expressly delegated to the United States. Under the Constitution, though the powers of the States were much restricted, still, all powers not delegated to the United States, nor prohibited to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people. And we have already had occasion to remark at this term, that the people of each State compose a State, having its own government, and endowed with all the functions essential to separate and independent existence,’ and that ‘without the States in union, there could be no such political body as the United States.’ 12 Not only, therefore, can there be no loss of separate and independent autonomy to the States, through their union under the Constitution, but it may be not unreasonably said that the preservation of the States, and the maintenance of their governments, are as much within the design and care of the Constitution as the preservation of the Union and the maintenance of the National government. The Constitution, in all its provisions, looks to an indestructible Union, composed of indestructible States. [74 U.S. 700, 726] When, therefore, Texas became one of the United States, she entered into an indissoluble relation. All the obligations of perpetual union, and all the guaranties of republican government in the Union, attached at once to the State. The act which consummated her admission into the Union was something more than a compact; it was the incorporation of a new member into the political body. And it was final. The union between Texas and the other States was as complete, as perpetual, and as indissoluble as the union between the original States. There was no place for reconsideration, or revocation, except through revolution, or through consent of the States.

Considered therefore as transactions under the Constitution, the ordinance of secession, adopted by the convention and ratified by a majority of the citizens of Texas, and all the acts of her legislature intended to give effect to that ordinance, were absolutely null. They were utterly without operation in law. The obligations of the State, as a member of the Union, and of every citizen of the State, as a citizen of the United States, remained perfect and unimpaired. It certainly follows that the State did not cease to be a State, nor her citizens to be citizens of the Union. If this were otherwise, the State must have become foreign, and her citizens foreigners. The war must have ceased to be a war for the suppression of rebellion, and must have become a war for conquest and subjugation.

Our conclusion therefore is, that Texas continued to be a State, and a State of the Union, notwithstanding the transactions to which we have referred. And this conclusion, in our judgment, is not in conflict with any act or declaration of any department of the National government, but entirely in accordance with the whole series of such acts and declarations since the first outbreak of the rebellion.

The South never really understood the Union, never really understood what The United States of America meant. It took a Civil War, the suppression of a rebellion, and even then, even today actually, many still do not understand, or we wouldn’t be talking about it.

Voting Fraud Fakery

May 18, 2007 at 8:51 pm | Posted in America, American politics, Bush Administration, conservatives, corruption, Republicans, secret combinations, Voter Suppression | Leave a comment

Read this excellent article. This is Karl Rove’s baby. Voter Fraud. His bogeyman. The impetus behind the firing of the US attorneys in battleground districts. Unfortunately for America it is a fake. There is no voter fraud. Unfortunately, Rove was successful in convincing enough Americans that there is. So sad.

What Would the Founding Fathers Do? and Other Matters

April 19, 2007 at 7:58 pm | Posted in America, American politics, Bush Administration, Cho Seung-Hui, Congress, Democrats, George W Bush, Iran, Iraq, liberals, McCain, Middle East, Military, nationalism, Republicans, secret combinations, violence, Virginia Tech, War, War on Terror, World Events | 9 Comments

( Updated )

Many things in the news today that are noteworthy. The first is the foolish childish John McCain joking about bombing Iran. Continue Reading What Would the Founding Fathers Do? and Other Matters…

Gates on the Debate of Withdrawal from Iraq

April 17, 2007 at 3:59 pm | Posted in America, American politics, Bush Administration, Iraq, Military, War | 2 Comments

( UPDATED )
Defense Secretary Robert Gates said today, regarding the debate of withdrawal from Iraq something quite interesting:

“I’ve been pretty clear that I think the enactment of specific deadlines would be a bad mistake,” Gates said.

“But I think the debate itself, and I think the strong feelings expressed in the Congress about the timetable … probably has had a positive impact _ at least I hope it has in terms of communicating to the Iraqis that this is not an open-ended commitment,” he said.

So let me get this straight, Mr. Gates. You think the debate itself is good because it shows the Iraqis that we are short on patience and we will pull out if they don’t do what we want them to do. Yet, backing up that talk with credible action is NOT good? I mean, what good is the talk if it is all a bluff? Our enemies will see right through it.

If, as you say, Mr. Gates, that the debate over withdrawal is actually having positive effects, just imagine what kind of effects it would have if you were serious about the withdrawal, Mr. Gates. Just imagine how the Iraqis ask “How high?” when you command them to jump with an actual threat of withdrawal.

In the end, Iraq cannot be anything but what Iraqis make of their country. In the end, we will be withdrawing. In the end, Iraqis are going to have to face up and answer the question: “What is an Iraqi in a post-Saddam world?” Americans cannot answer that question. Only Iraqis can. It is time we hold their feet to the real fire. No more half-talking, Mr. Gates. We’re out of there.

(Update)
The Carpetbagger Report has a great take on this particular line of thought:

For the last several months, the White House and its allies have had a consistent message: debating the merit of the war in Iraq is an inherently bad idea. In February, when lawmakers were considering (and passing) a non-binding resolution criticizing the escalation strategy, Tony Snow went so far as to suggest that the debate itself brought “comfort” to terrorists.

A month later, when the House and Senate took up spending measures that included timelines for withdrawal, conservative war supporters said the very discussion sent a dangerous signal to the world, undermined the troops, and “emboldened the enemy.”
………
For literally months, the White House and its congressional sycophants have been arguing the exact opposite — that dissent is dangerous, that our enemies are listening, and that our troops are undermined when there are political divisions over war policy. But in reality, Dems are doing what the president refuses to do: pressuring Iraqis to step up.
………
It’s awfully convenient, isn’t it? Dems do all the heavy policy lifting, Republicans question their judgment and patriotism, and when push comes to shove, it’s the Dems who are giving the administration leverage to push for progress in Iraq.

Apologies can be sent to: Congressional Democratic Caucus, Capitol Hill, Washington, DC 20515.

Terrible Violence at Virginia Tech University

April 16, 2007 at 12:34 pm | Posted in America, American politics, violence | 2 Comments

This is a sad day in America. At least 22 people are dead. A gunman went on a rampage at Virginia Tech. Not all of the story is known yet, most importantly, why this gunman decided to take so many lives at a university, especially one in such a quiet neighborhood. I pray the families of those dead find the comfort and solace they will be needing through this terrible ordeal.

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