Saturday, April 16, 2005

What happens when you're losing the war on terror? Suppress the evidence... 

Can't say it surprises me, that terrorism is increasing around the world. Still a more than 250% increase in 2004 from 2003 is shocking:


These three short paragraphs say it all:

According to Johnson and U.S. intelligence officials familiar with the issue, statistics that the National Counterterrorism Center provided to the State Department reported 625 "significant" terrorist attacks in 2004.

That compared with 175 such incidents in 2003, the highest number in two decades.

The statistics didn't include attacks on American troops in Iraq, which President Bush as recently as Tuesday called "a central front in the war on terror."

Not counting the hundreds of attacks on US troops that--when he needs to make light of US troop deaths--Bush classifies as "terrorist attacks" in Iraq, the number of significant terrorist incidents has still gone up by 450--a 257% increase year over year.

That's even more than the 50% increase in Halliburton stock price! Seems our loquacity-challenged President actually meant he was fighting a "War for Terror".


Friday, April 15, 2005

How not to knit an Afghan 

In case you'd forgotten, Afghanistan is still a bloody mess...


It was the first day of Afghanistan's new opium eradication programme and the quiet town of Maiwand in Kandahar province had been chosen for action.

Hundreds of Afghan eradicators under the command of American private security contractors were going to head into the fields around the town and destroy the beautiful red and white blooms days before they could be harvested for their narcotic sap.

But instead of the peaceful, model operation that was promised as an example to demonstrate the Kabul government's serious intentions, Maiwand and its surrounding villages exploded into violence in what could be a foretaste of resistance to Western-backed efforts to bring Afghanistan's opium industry under control.

By the end of yesterday four government soldiers had been wounded by gunfire from farmers, American security contractors were said to be sheltering behind razor wire in a protected camp, and Afghan police and counter-narcotics forces had fought fierce battles which local people said left five dead. Plans to eradicate poppies were temporarily shelved in the area as political bigwigs shuttled to and fro trying to ease tensions and broker some kind of deal with the angry opium farmers.

Dense clouds of black smoke hung over the town from burning barricades, hundreds of shots rang out from gun battles, and American helicopter gunships flew low overhead.
One policeman said he had seen five bodies, but it was difficult to tell from the ambulances speeding out of the town towards hospitals one hour away in Kandahar how many had been injured in the disastrous operation.

All in day's work for the Bush America. Gosh, let's focus on Schiavo, Social Security, Bankruptcy, Class-Action Suits, Drilling the ANWR and destroying poppies in Afghanistan, while the economy is tanking, the war is being lost, and China and India's economies are leaping over that of the U.S. It's as if the Captain of the Titantic went down with the ship, folding his socks.

Given the offshoring of jobs, purposely induced by an overvalued dollar and an artificially undervalued yuan and rupee, this leads to the extermination of the middle class and the end of America as anything but a third world nation. And a damned dangerous one, at that.

But not because Bush & co. doesn't want this to happen. Don't buy any of that CRapture when it comes to Bush. They don't believe the end of the world is coming, they're way too busy amassing worldly wealth. Rather that run the country, Bush and his fellow multi-millionaires have decided to ruin it. Pillaging and looting, they rightly figure there's plenty there for them to steal. The problem is, what will they do with their money when they have it? They're not going to like living here.

What can be done? Impeachment is a start, but imprisonment is more suitable. The World Court should try them in absentia. All I want is a reasonable investigation of just ONE, pick one, of the following dirty dozen:

1. Why the Pentagon was hit with a missile, not a large passenger plane
2. Why the 2004 election was allowed to be stolen
3. Why the planes hitting the twin towers had no windows
4. Why the lack of WMDs has not led to an apology to the world, let alone an impeachment
5. Why the economic indicators are being cooked--11.3 million less jobs than unemployment rates indicate
6. Why Osama bin Laden hasn't been captured
7. Why no one has followed up on Bush's military "service" record
8. Why the Patriot Act was ready-written come 9/11
9. Why ANWR and Iraq rebuilding contracts are clearly linked to Bush supporters--for that matter, anything with Halliburton in Iraq and ANWR
10. Why Bush was wired for all three debates and the story was killed
11. Why Bush has spent 40% of his presidency on vacation, another 20% campaigning
12. Why the deficit and foreign trade imbalance keep shattering records

This doesn't even mention other environmental crimes--oh, and by the way, how do you like your fuel prices?

Clinton would have been impeached for any of these...after all, his Lewinsky shenanigans only ruined a dress, not the world.


Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Ducat on Buzzflash! 

Today on Buzzflash, Ducat sums up the Schiavo case on Buzzflash (copied here):

Losing Our Heads Over the Brain-Dead: A Psycho-Cultural Post-Mortem on the Terri Schiavo Case
A BUZZFLASH GUEST CONTRIBUTIONby Stephen J. Ducat, author of
The Wimp Factor

Brian H. Darling, a former gun industry lobbyist and, until his recent resignation, legal counsel to Republican Senator Mel Martinez of Florida, has just admitted authoring the memo that declared Terri Schiavo’s tragic predicament “a great political issue” for his party. As we have seen, this turned out to be an assessment shared by many of his colleagues, including those in the White House. How can we make sense of the right wing view that the debate over whether to keep a feeding tube tethered to the living ghost of Ms. Schiavo was a situation ripe for political exploitation? There are some obvious explanations that come immediately to mind. As the infamous memo openly stated, Republican lawmakers saw her case as an opportunity to shore up their Christian Right base – fundamentalist “pro-lifers” who viewed the dispute between Ms. Schiavo’s parents and her husband as a surrogate for the debate over whether the state should intervene in other private medical decisions, namely abortion. For one GOP Representative, Tom Delay, the family’s anguished and bitter conflict was a coveted chance to play a brazen ethical shell game – directing the public eye away from ongoing investigations into his own sociopathic conduct. For Bush there was the prospect of reversing his sliding approval ratings – the worst of any second term president in seventy years – by striking his most heroic pose since the infamous aircraft carrier “victory” strut.

Then there is the obvious hypocrisy of the claim by Ms Schiavo’s would-be Republican rescuers that they were driven by a “reverence for life.” It may be instructive to recall that George W. Bush, when he was Governor of Texas, signed legislation allowing hospitals to discontinue a patient’s life support against the wishes of the family, and permitting them to cite inability to pay as an acceptable rationale. This was the same state politician whose administration made the death penalty a virtual sacrament. He couldn’t kill people fast enough – whether the condemned were mentally retarded, schizophrenic, juveniles, or represented by ineffectual, drunken attorneys widely observed to have slept through trials. Now, as CEO of a neo-conservative federal regime, he has presided over the deaths of tens of thousands of Iraqi civilians, and an ever mounting toll of American soldiers – all in a quixotic and manic pursuit of global domination spurned on by a grudge match with his daddy’s nemesis, Saddam. This is the same White House that has officially sanctioned the torture of prisoners of war, and promoted those whose policy memos gave the green light to the actual perpetrators. Last but not least in this curriculum vitae of hypocrisy is the Republican’s slavering enthusiasm for developing a new generation of exterminationist nuclear weaponry.

While all of the above are clearly true, it still leaves one puzzling question unanswered: why was a woman in a persistent vegetative state cast as the main character in this histrionic morality play? Can we really imagine a man in the same condition playing such a role? A moment’s reflection would tell us that, except in the case of slavery, a male’s value is rarely reduced to his limbs and torso. Without a functioning brain, the physiological locus of selfhood, a man would be seen as already dead – just as Tom Delay’s father was viewed when the life-revering Congressman elected to pull the plug on his brain-dead progenitor.

A woman’s value, on the other hand, seems to be assessed by other criteria. More specifically, conservative and misogynist men, especially of the fundamentalist variety, have always had a special affection for women without minds. The history of patriarchal cultures is saturated with ambivalence about the talking, thinking, and self-authorizing female head – women who can speak and act for themselves. We can trace this back to one of the earliest feminine images of cephalic malevolence, Medusa. According to ancient Greek myth, she was a warrior queen and unwed mother, traits which by themselves already rendered her a gender outlaw. She had a hideous face, with giant boar’s teeth in her gaping mouth and writhing fanged snakes for hair, and all men who beheld her repulsive visage were turned to stone – immobilized and thus impotent. Not even after she was decapitated by the invading Perseus could her danger to men be eliminated – the severed head still had the power to frighten and paralyze males who had designs on the virginity of the goddess Athena.

Men’s fear of women who have a head on their shoulders has not been confined to mythic worlds. Fundamentalist versions of most patriarchal religious traditions mandate that women cover there heads, with special concern directed at exposed hair, which in many cultures signifies wild female sexuality (i.e., out of male control). The bible itself is replete with warnings against the unfettered expression of woman’s voice. The apostle Paul insisted “Let a woman learn in all submissiveness. I permit no woman to teach or have authority over men; she is to keep silent.” One reading of Islam asserts that female speech is “awra [pudenda] and should not be heard.” A passage in the Talmud warns, “Do not engage too much in conversation with a woman, for this will lead you to illicit intercourse.” The notion of a woman’s voice as a dangerous beguilement brings us back to the mythological and calls to mind the ancient sirens, creatures with the bodies of birds and the heads of women, who by virtue of their seductive song lured sailors to their rocky doom on invisible reefs, and then ate them.

Terri Schiavo was the paradigmatic case of woman who “knew” her proper place – in bed, without agency or any sense of self. She had no will to interfere with the desire and plans the men in her life, and especially her would-be saviors in Washington, had for her. Forever voiceless, she could put up no resistance to those who sought to hitch their ideological and political wagons to her pale star, one in which the light of personhood had faded into oblivion fifteen years ago.

--Well said, Ducat! Schiavo had to be saved because she could NEVER be a threatening woman. Brain dead, supine and submissive, she was simply a "dream date" for the anxious male Republicans, who like moths to the flame simply could not help themselves.

Now we know why "life-loving" Republicans willingly torture and kill prisoners, Arabs, and men on life support. They are a threat to their impotent worldview. But a brain dead woman with no ability to sass back, well we just can't have enough of them, now can we? Just ask Bush's Stepford wife.

This cuts through every aspect of the Republican far right. No one likes abortion, but the anxious males fear choice more, because the woman is an agent. What better way to keep women down than to force them to have more children? After all, rights and quality of life for women have long been proven to correlate with reducing the number of children they bear. Every unplanned child helps tip the balance toward the anxious men.


Tuesday, April 12, 2005

More on Stephen Ducat's "The Wimp Factor" 

Apologies...I loaned the book out tonight to a supersmart friend, so I'll have to summarize from memory. First and foremost, read the book. The Wimp Factor, in spite of its somewhat whimsical title, focuses on the emasculation fears of a large chunk of American men. It explains why, in general, men are more conservative than women (and his coverage of the exceptions--particularly, Ann Coulter--are well worth the read). It explains a large set of our "common language". It explains the difference between sodomizing and being sodomized. It's "not gay" in the macho culture of the US (or in Ancient Greece, for that matter) to sodomize, but to be the one sodomized is to be a woman (Not in the book, but in the Icelandic Sagas is the same tired double-standard: these former Vikings, now sedentary farmers, glorify "manly men"--love that redundancy!--and the worst insult, told by for example Skarphedin in Njal's Saga, is that some man was "a woman to a troll"). Hate to tell you, he-men (note the reassuring--to anxious masculinity--redundancy of this term), but it takes two men to commit a "gay" act.

As an aside, we're seeing more and more of the Bushniks coming out of the closet these days. Gannon, Arthur Finklestein, Karl Rove--more and more each day. Obviously, Ducat is on to something. People in glass houses always throw stones.

Excellent analogies to Ancient Greece and America of the late 1800's abound in "The Wimp Factor". An interesting comparison of the Spanish-American War to the current Iraq War is made (Teddy Roosevelt, like Bush and Bush senior, had to "invent" a western image for himself to smokescreen his true effete Eastern prima donna background).

Did I mention? Stephen Ducat really, really does not like Bush. However, unlike many books (Al Franken's "Lies and the Lying Liars who Tell them" comes to mind) and movies (Fahrenheit 911, for example) that expose Bush and his Orwellian right wing agenda for what it is, Ducat's book exposes the underlying cause, and in so doing provides a path forward and a means to end the horror that is Bush's America.

Read the book, and then take action.


Monday, April 11, 2005

When enough is enough... 

(More on The Wimp Factor shortly).

Today's brief blog is to celebrate some excellent people out there who are telling Bush, "thanks but no thanks", on his tax cuts....


Here is an excerpt from the article on Common Dreams:

Taxpayers who made more than $1 million received an average federal income tax break of $123,592 in 2004, according to the Tax Policy Center, a joint project of the Urban Institute and Brookings Institution think tanks. This compared to $383, the average tax break in 2004 for the two-thirds of taxpayers who made less than $50,000 per year.

''The next time a politician says we can't afford to fund something you care about, ask yourself if $69 billion per year would help,'' said Scott Klinger, Responsible Wealth's co-director. ''When you hear that the only choices we have are to cut budgets, increase the deficit or increase your taxes, remember that $69 billion in tax breaks went to people who made more than $200,000 last year.''

Bill Gates Sr., co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation--the largest foundation on Earth--and father of the Microsoft Corp. co-founder, has spearheaded Responsible Wealth's campaign to oppose regressive changes to the tax code and to reform and preserve the estate tax.

The tax is levied against estates of more than $1.5 million where assets are not transferred to a surviving spouse and thus applies to about 2 percent of all inheritance cases, Responsible Wealth said.

Even so, permanently repealing the tax as Bush has proposed would cut federal revenue by $1 trillion over two decades and have the effect of depressing charitable giving by $12-24 billion per year, Responsible Wealth said, citing Congressional Budget Office figures.

The elder Gates for years has argued that individual wealth is a product not only of hard work and smart choices but also of a society that provides economic development, education, health care, and property rights protection. Such an economy's top dogs benefit the most from tax-funded institutions and programs and therefore should not resent or seek relief from having to pay taxes, he has said.

Bill Gates. You may be no big fan of Microsoft, but at least he understands how his wealth came about. And he is definitely practicing "Responsible Wealth" with his & Melinda's foundation. Not surprisingly, the Walton family, who did not even create their own wealth, are fighting this.


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