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Friday, September 29, 2006

A Week in Bush World

It stands to reason that among the most notable leaks this week, if you want to call it that, is the fact That President Bush is being advised on the Iraq war by none other than ex-Secretary of State Henry Kissinger. As if Kissinger were the most qualified person to render advice on any military conflict. Kissinger still lives in a world dominated by Vietnam and the Cold War, therefore his prism lense is tainted by the failure of Vietnam and his frame of mind crafted in a Cold War era long gone. To Kissinger this is a golden chance to fight Vietnam all over again. In Bob Woodward's new book, "State of Denial", Woodward quotes Kissinger in his advice to Bush: "victory is the only meaningful exit strategy". Is it? Can it be won? I suppose the United States has the military power to sustain the conflict, but it would bankrupt itself financial, morally, militarily, and politically. In essence, we, the people, would end up paying the price for an arrogantly misguided policy. You cannot rely on advice from someone living in the past. You rely on someone who has lived the past and learned from it. The common denominator in all the mistakes this administration has commited is a flat learning curve. This Administration thinks it can do the same things that have been done in the past and not make the same mistakes. Well, it's been proven that the have made the same mistakes and compounded them. How arrogant to think that you are so much better than your predecessors, that you ignore the lessons of the past.

In other important events, a congressional report states that Jack Abramoff, the crooked D.C. lobbyist, had more than 400 confirmed visits to the White House. Remember the W.H. said that Abramoff only went a few times, and even then the President didn't remember meeting him? Well, Abramoff had hundreds of meetings and quite a few of them with high ranking W.H. officials. At least 10 were with Karl Rove. More than 400 times? To me that is astounding. Would someone without anything to offer be let into the W.H. 400+ times? The W.H. claims that you cannot believe the report because its source is Abramoff and his records. Hmm... they are going to have to do better than that. He's a liar is not a good defense. Then again, when you are caught with your pants down, good defenses are hard to come by.

Bob Woodward's book also makes some very disturbing claims. It sates that the violence in Iraq is much worse than the public has been led to believe, and that the number of casualities is much higher than the Pentagon has released. U.S. troops are being attacked on average every fifteen minutes. As disturbing as the assertion is, it is not all that surprising, if it is true. During the Vietnam war the Pentagon was caught red handed when they were releasing the number of enemy kills. The number of kills exceeded the entire population of Vietnam. Hence, this weeks claims are not surprising, though no less disturbing. If the claims are true, how long can the Administrtion expect the public, what is left of it, to support this conflict. It is already a major point of dissent in the publics mind.When I say if the claims are to be bellieved, keep in mind that Bob Woodward is one of the most reknowned and respected journalists in our country, and is known for having the deepest inside access to our government.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Bomb Pakistan?

According to Pakistani President Musharraf, the U.S. threatened to bomb Pakistan back to the stone age unless it cooperated in the war on terror. This message was supposedly relayed by deputy secretary of state Richard Armitage. President Bush says he was taken aback by Musharraf's statement, and that he was unaware of it. Armitage has disputed the language that Musharraf describes, but does not deny that the message was a strong one. Was Bush aware of the message or was he really in the dark? The latter is the scary one. The thought of a U.S. government official using the military prowess of the United States to coerce cooperation without the approval of higher ups is an extremely disturbing finding. I do not think anyone can deny that having Pakistan cooperate after 9/11 was essential, whether they were forced to or not. But if an Administration official makes that sort of assertion on his own, it reflects a level of disorganization in an area were power is so concentrated that the results of such an irresponsible comment could possibly be catastrophic. The issue here is not whether Pakistan was coerced or not, the issue is if a U.S. offical threatened military action without the consent of the highest ranking official in the nation. What would have happened had Pakistan's reaction to the message been an aggressive one? I would hope that Bush takes Armitage to the cleaners on this issue.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Not Black and White: Grey!

It is funny, but scary, how Bush sees the world. To him it is like a video game: good vs. evil. What a misguided concept. Yes, there are forces out there that wish to cause harm. But to simplify the issue as good vs. evil reflects Bush's ignorance of the geopolitical realities that have created a clash between the U.S. and the Arab world. Democracy cannot be forced onto a civilization that has never practiced it, and democracy cannot be dismissed when the outcome was not what was desired. That has happened in Palestine with the democratic election of Hamas to power and in Iran, though Iran's democratic process is somewhat restricted. Hypocrisy is not part of democracy, but we have become very good at it, preaching one thing and practicing another. You cannot have it both ways and expect the world to respect you for it. The again, respect is not among the top things the Bush Administration cares about. A black and white approach has gotten us where we are today. When is enough enough?

Is the White House for Sale?

Recent reports released by the Seceret Service show that Bush political allies Grover Norquist and Ralph Reed had access to the White House over 100 times in the last 6 years, possibly more, but those records have not been released. These meetings included more than ten with the President himself. To put this in perspective, it is extremely difficult to gain access to high level officials inside the White House and even more so access to the President. In six years, Reed and Norquist averaged more than twenty visits a year. Twenty. A White House spokesperson said of Norquist's visits: "He is one of a number of individuals who worked to advance fiscal responsibility, which is one of the key aspects of the president's agenda," to describe the visits. Well, we all know how fiscally responsible this President has been, with the record deficits and all. I'm sure the President's schedule is very tightly controlled, so it begs the question: what did these to have to offer that they were given such free access to the halls of power in the White House. On the other hand, maybe they are pals with Bush and were in the neighborhood.

The White House did not want these records released and argued in front of the judge that it would not be a good idea to release the records "because the information was privileged and might reveal how Bush and his staff get private advice". Huh?? Maybe the records just reveal how many times two individuals were able to access the White House begging the question why?

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Bush's Moral Compass

It is increasingly clear that the political arena has become a very predictable cycle. Republicans use fear as a tool, Democrats run for cover. Or is it? Will the wimpy democratic party pull defeat from the jaws of victory again? Or will hey actually win this coming November? Bush has started touting the terrorism drum once again. This time though, it is about the only drum that he can beat, seeing as he is viewed as incompetent on every other issue. Still, terrorism is a very powerful issue, the most powerful actually. This is due not so much to the threat it presents (yes, there is a threat, but like the rest of the world, we now have to manage and learn how to live with it) which is exacerbated completely by the Republicans, as it is to the fact that most Americans are ignorant about the nature of terrorism and what creates it. The Bush Administration would have you believe that terrorists hate us for our freedom. That is a blatant distortion of the issue and means one of two things: either our political leaders, Republicans mostly, are incredibly stupid and lack an understanding of terrorism, or they are lying about it to further their political agendas. I don't know which one is worse, but I know that they have camps in both.

Terrorists do not hate us because of our freedom. That is a load of BS tidied up nicely for you to swallow without tasting it. The idea of freedom to Muslim extremists is to wrap their women in clothing and keep them uneducated, pray five times or more a day, eat no pork, drink no alcohol, punish the infidels, among others. That is their belief, that is their freedom. That they do not agree with our idea of freedom, does not mean they hate us for it. They hate us because of the foreign policies we have had in the middle east for decades. And in the last five years, those policies have become more inflaming. They hate us because the U.S. supports Israel unconditionally, and they hate Israel becuase it was created in 1947 on land taken from Palestine, they hate us because the U.S. has established a military presence in an oil rich Arab country (Saudi Arabia) after an invasion of an Arab country, Iraq in 1991, they hate us because they believe the only interest the Big Satan has in the Middle East is black gold. Just to name a few.

But now, the new generation of Muslims doesn't hate us because of foreign policies. Young Muslims hate us because they are taught to hate us. They see reinforcement in their belief by the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. They view the western world as an agressor. It has become much easier to recruit a terrorist than to recruit a soldier. How did we get to the point where it is easier to find someone willing to kill innocent people indiscriminately, than someone who will fight for their country and its people? Terrorists are bad people. They twist their religious belief to suit their extreme view of the world. They give the Muslim religion a bad image. But there is something to say about the fact that the majority of the Muslim world, though not sharing the extremist's view, is no longer publicly condoning terrorist acts. Their hatred for the west, particularly the U.S., is greater than their moral compass. How did we get to this point? Then again, how good is our mortal compass when we invade a country on a pretense, a pretense that has cost the lives of tens of thousands of Muslims?

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