Factinista Archives, May 2006
May 29, 2006
Memorial Day, it seems an appropriate way to commemorate our
soldiers who have served and those who have died in service to our
country by reminding people how my generation promised to never
fight another wrong war in the wrong way - ever again. We swore that
soldiers would never again be sent into battle under false
pretenses, and certainly not with too few troops, ill-equipment to
do the job.
US military failure in Vietnam, Colin Powell formulated the modern
US military strategy appropriately named The Powell Doctrine, which
stated that future US wars would be fought with properly equipped
troops and overwhelming, combined military force. This new approach
would ensure that the US would not get bogged down in lingering
insurgent wars, and would not take heavy casualties in future
conflicts. The military would not lie about how wars were going, and
would not lie about enemy casualties to make the case that things
were going well.
Colin Powell's UN speech. Somehow it seemed like a complete reversal
of his earlier stance on when and how the US should engage in
military conflict. He was now talking about preemptive action with a
relatively small, unilateral force against a country that did not
threaten the United States. It made no sense in the context of the
know this as “Rumsfeld's Doctrine”; do it small and on the cheap,
and try to make up for the lack of troops and equipment on the
ground by using high tech gadgets. He ignored the generals and did
it his way. The Rumsfeld doctrine states that a small, relatively
lightly armed ground force, preceded by large air strikes, could
accomplish the task of taking and holding the entire country of
Iraq. Don't even bother retaining captured ground by keeping troops
there; Rumsfeld's Doctrine states that you can take it, and then
head back to the Green Zone or forward fire base, and thus give
captured territory back to the enemy.
The same mentality that failed in Vietnam.
attempt to prosecute the war on the cheap backfired, and has now
ended up costing almost 2500 troop's lives, over 15,000 troops
seriously wounded, and almost $300 billion. It would have been far
cheaper in both blood and money to put in twice as many troops on
the ground for six months, put the Iraqi army and police under new
leadership, have elections, and then turn the country over to the
Iraqis so our troops could come home.
doctrine was right? Apparently Colin Powell’s was. Secretary Powell
has now resigned from the Bush administration and has admitted
publicly that his speech at the UN was one of the most regretful
things he had ever done in his life. Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld never
spent a single day in the military. They sat out the Vietnam War,
while brave draftees were suffering and dying overseas. Some of
those troops who survived the Vietnam War are now generals in the US
military, but Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld believe they know better
despite having never served in the military themselves.
Congressman John Murtha
said last week that our troops are so
strained and under such constant pressure that some units are
cracking under the weight. War crimes like those committed against
civilians in Vietnam are starting to occur in Iraq, and the country
is now inflamed in a civil war that may not end for years, or even
decades. Keeping our troops in this pressure cooker indefinitely
will only cause continuing pain and suffering for everyone involved,
and will certainly cost more lives on both sides.
best way to support the troops on this Memorial Day? Work to impeach
Bush and Cheney, and put Rumsfeld in jail for war crimes (Abu
Ghraib, Guantanamo, faked intelligence for war, botched war plan,
etc.). Our troops deserve far better civilian commanders, ones who
actually know what they are doing, rather than faking it.
US Drug Policies
May 26th, 2006
Tens of thousands of US service members who are serving, or have
served in Iraq and Afghanistan, suffer from stress disorders and
depression. When the stress or depression become too severe and
soldiers seek help at the infirmary they are often given drugs,
including antidepressants, and sent back to the front lines. An
alarming number of soldiers who have been prescribed antidepressants
have committed suicide.
article at Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America web site
claims that this practice is increasing due to pressures to maintain
troop strength. According to the report, antidepressants which can
have serious side effects are given to troops who are then not
monitored for bad reactions. Indeed, the type of antidepressants
prescribed, serotonin uptake inhibitors, often have negative side
effects for the first few weeks that they are taken. The beneficial
effects only show up weeks later. Therefore, prescribing such
medications to troops on the front line without monitoring their
reactions may be partly responsible for some of the associated
the Iraq war the US military has evaluated the success of its mental
health programs based on how many troops are retained in or returned
to combat. The numbers of troops sent home for mental disorders and
depression have dropped significantly since the first year of the
war, as medications have become more accessible. We are not doing
our over-extended troops any favor by handing out Prozac like candy
in a war zone. It is irresponsible in the extreme, and must be
stopped. If a soldier has substantial mental health issues, they
must be removed from the battlefield.
completely different note concerning deranged US drug policies, the
results of a large
study were released recently showing that moderate to heavy
marijuana smoking did not increase lung cancer rates, and in fact
may have provided a mild protective effect against lung cancer. The
results completely surprised the researchers who expected that heavy
marijuana use would be similar to heavy tobacco smoking. Instead,
they found that smoking two packs of cigarettes a day was associated
with a twenty-fold increase in lung cancer, whereas heavy marijuana
smoking was associated with a slight decrease in lung cancer rates.
list below shows the estimated number of deaths associated with
various drugs and activities each year in the United States.
Poor Diet and Physical Inactivity - 365,000
Alcohol - 85,000
Microbial Agents (germs) - 75,000
Toxic Agents - 55,000
Motor Vehicle Crashes - 26,347
Adverse Reactions to Prescription Drugs - 32,000
Suicide - 30,622
Incidents Involving Firearms - 29,000
Homicide - 20,308
Sexual Behaviors - 20,000
All Illicit Drug Use (excluding marijuana) - 17,000
Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (aspirin, etc) - 7,600
Marijuana - 0
usage by far tops the list at 435,000 deaths per year, with alcohol
a fairly distant third in the list at 85,000 deaths per year.
Marijuana usage was at the bottom of the list with zero deaths
reported per year. And this is almost certainly not due to a lack of
marijuana usage in the United States. According to the numbers,
marijuana is far safer than aspirin.
that our government is still attempting to prevent doctors from
prescribing marijuana to terminally ill patients in order to allow
them to hold their food down during chemotherapy is inexcusable. It
is perhaps the most misdirected medical policy in our country. The
results are now in that marijuana smoking is not harmful, removing
any excuse for prohibiting doctors from prescribing it when no other
medications are available.
May 25th, 2006
Progressive patients arrive at the doctor's
office with a variety of symptoms including disorientation, mental
confusion, and political aphasia. These are clear signs of Attention
Democrat Disorder (ADD). Currently there is no known cure, so
symptomatic treatment with focused Democratic talking points is the
only remaining option.
incidence of ADD has been increasing in recent years, and is now
reaching epidemic proportions in the United States. The cause has
been well documented; a constant onslaught of conservative talking
points from every news outlet, dozens of Republican scandals swept
under the rug, unchecked executive powers and a colluding White
House press corps. The result is that Democrats are dazed and
confused, and constantly distracted from the actual problems facing
point; 1) the immigration debate - why exactly is immigration such a
pressing problem all of a sudden? 2) gay marriage - what does this
have to do with anything affecting the country right now? 3) bird
flu pandemic scare, is this really the most pressing health issue
facing the world today?, 4) Iran nuclear threat - so what? North
Korea and Pakistan have nuclear weapons and we’re not going crazy
about that, 5) Moussaoui trial - the guy probably didn't even have
anything to do with the attacks on 9/11.
you do if you think you might be coming down with symptoms of ADD?
Simple, focus on these easy to remember topics:
Bush lied us into war in Iraq and people
are still dying over three years later
Bush, Libby and Cheney outed a CIA agent
for political payback purposes
Jack Abramoff and the Republican bribery
Dismantling of FEMA and the resultant
death of over a thousand people in New Orleans due to the Katrina
Bush never found Osama bin Laden, and
now we see the return of the Taliban in Afghanistan
Bush and Cheney ordered the torturing of
$9 billion of your taxes have gone
missing in Iraq
Halliburton still getting no-bid
contracts in Iraq
Bush and Cheney's energy policies have
led to the current price on gas
Republicans control everything and
govern like drunken sailors
Republicans are going into overdrive in their distraction campaign.
Don't let them give you a case of ADD. Fight back by focusing on
their malfeasance, and ignore their distractions and fear tactics.
If they raise the terror alert, laugh it off and think about Scooter
Libby going to prison. It works every time.
the Killer Chickens
May 23rd, 2006
They are not 50 feet tall with a taste for
human flesh. But considering the level of media attention and fear
mongering from our government, you would think that chickens could
be the doom of us all. Is all this bird flu brouhaha just common
sense preparedness by the Department of Health and Human Services?
Is it a timely Bush administration preemptive attack on the next
human pandemic disease?
Not to my
way of thinking, and I have been a biologist for almost 30 years. In
ancient times there were many human pandemics ranging from bubonic
plague to smallpox. In the last century there has only been one
worldwide pandemic known as the Spanish flu, which occurred in 1918.
Soldiers from World War I were shipped all around the world and
carried the flu virus with them infecting millions of people in many
countries. Tens of millions of people died in a single year from
current concern over a bird flu pandemic a prescient stroke of
genius meant to deal with a deadly virus, or a devious stroke of
propaganda meant to distract the news media and public from
government malfeasance and exceptionally low popularity levels? I
suggest that it is the latter, and others are
starting to agree with me.
scientific evidence to date suggests that the current bird flu virus
unlikely to mutate in just the correct way that it can easily
infect humans, and transfer by air from one human to another.
Currently, only poultry workers who are in constant contact with
birds, and bird droppings, are getting the so-called bird flu. It is
not passing from person to person, and in fact, it seems to be
spreading through the
wild bird population far more slowly than predicted.
rate the chances that this particular virus will be able to mutate
in just the right way that it could easily infect human beings at
about one-in-a-thousand. That might be a generous overestimate of
the danger, but it sounds like it's in the right ballpark. As such,
I believe it would be far better for our government to prepare in
general terms for any type of disease outbreak rather than
concentrating on one unlikely suspect. Disease outbreaks occur with
little or no warning and cannot be predicted ahead of time because
of the nature of mutation and its relation to viral evolution. You
can't prepare for a future unknown pandemic by making vaccine to a
known virus, because in the end a completely different virus might
be the one that mutates to become deadly to humans. All of the bird
flu vaccine would be worthless in such a circumstance.
that the excessive focus on a possible bird flu pandemic has more to
do with politics, and an attempt to make it look like the
administration is doing something, rather than actually being a
serious focus on human health. One good reason for believing this is
the excessive public hand-wringing surrounding the issue. Most
public health issues are dealt with behind-the-scenes without
dramatic press releases pumping up the fear level in the populous.
Warning the public for months on end that a virus might mutate and
might cause problems in the future seems to be a dubious method of
keeping the public abreast of important health issues. It seems more
like the terrorist color code alert system, both brought to you by
the always comforting Bush administration.
there is an ongoing human pandemic that is receiving very little
attention from the civilized world. Millions of people die every
year from malaria, and hundreds of millions suffer from the ravages
of this terrible disease. Pharmaceutical companies will not touch
malaria research because most of the victims are too poor to pay for
expensive drugs. The one person to step forward was the world's
richest person, Bill Gates who has donated $400 million to malaria
research, by far the largest donation for such research in history.
Other human pandemics ranging from AIDS to cholera also get less air
time on the news nowadays than the bird flu, despite the fact that
they infect millions of humans every year.
that the bird flu scare will evaporate much in the same way that the
SARS scare dissipated several years ago. It was difficult to turn on
the news or open the newspaper several years ago without hearing
about this new deadly human disease that was supposedly going to
kill thousands, maybe millions. It did no such thing, and now SARS
is just a footnote in medical history.
be a terrible human pandemic arising sometime in the next few years,
but I'll wager that it has nothing to do with the bird flu.
Preparedness is a good thing, but medical preparedness needs to be
geared more towards mobilization and response capabilities than
towards stockpiling vaccines to specific viruses. Of course it's
always more lucrative for pharmaceutical companies to lobby the
government to pay for and stockpile huge quantities of vaccines,
even if they are vaccines for non-existent diseases. But this is not
a sound public health policy; it is just a sound business policy for
of the Reverse Domino Effect
May 22nd, 2006
Anyone who lived through the Vietnam War era
remembers talk of the domino effect. The domino effect was why we
were in Vietnam, supposedly, in the first place. Forget about the
Gulf of Tonkin incident, which was the “weapons of mass destruction”
ploy used on the American public to sell the war in Vietnam. That
had nothing to do with the war in Vietnam, just as “threatening
weapons” had nothing to do with the current war in Iraq. Anyone who
thinks Iraq was actually a military threat to United States needs to
re-examine the evidence.
effect was the name given to the theory that communism would spread
like a virus throughout the world. Soon, every Third World country
would be communist, and the “free nations” would dwindle to just a
handful. Communism was the boogieman coming to get all of us, and if
we didn't make a stand, then we would all be doomed as free
countries toppled like dominoes. There was never any evidence of
this, and certainly the countries that fell prey to the Soviet Union
in the 1950s and 1960s did not go gently into that union. Indeed,
after the fall of the Soviet Union many of those countries, ranging
from Czechoslovakia to Yugoslavia, broke away from the Soviet Union,
which we now know again by the name of Russia. The domino effect did
not seem operative, it seemed more like a propaganda tool to keep
the public in support of a massive military buildup.
curious that Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld, two early proponents
of the domino effect theory, have now decided that they can
institute a reverse domino effect on the Muslim world. Despite the
failure of communism to initiate any domino effect throughout the
world, Dick and Don decided that maybe a “reverse domino effect”
might work - perhaps forcibly toppling a Middle Eastern country and
instituting a puppet democracy could spread democracy throughout the
Muslim world. Not exactly what you would call brilliant
international policy, more like rehashing old unworkable ideas in a
new, perhaps more dangerous context. I suppose what they say about
old dogs may be true.
sectarian violence escalates in Iraq and as the puppet government,
sheltered within the heavily fortified Green Zone, tries in vain to
settle age old disputes, you have to wonder how long it will be
before the administration realizes that the reverse domino effect is
a fantasy? Rather than spreading democracy throughout the Middle
East like falling dominoes, we instead see Islamic fundamentalism
spreading there like wildfire. In countries from Iran to Saudi
Arabia to Egypt, anti-Western sentiment is at an all-time high. If
the violence in Iraq persists for six more months, or continues to
escalate further, will the Bush administration stay the bloody
course, or pull the troops out? I expect they will make many more
mistakes over the next several months, perhaps more mistakes than
normal because this is an election year and they are beginning to
panic. But it is hard to believe that they could make any more
mistakes than they already have, as this is the most disastrous
administration in my lifetime.
Politics Make a Mockery of Democracy
May 19th, 2006
In our democracy, the government derives
its power through the consent of the people, theoretically. If
modern politicians win elections by being demagogues, dividing
the electorate with inflammatory rhetoric, can they claim that
they have the consent of the people? Does 50.1 percent of the
vote mean you have the consent of the people? Do the other 49.9%
have any say?
What would George
Washington and Thomas Jefferson think of wedge politics? They
would consider it to have one of the most insidious and
corrosive effects on the body politic of any tactic, turning one
half of the country against the other to win an election.
When you hear
Republicans, who are running scared due to low poll ratings, declare that
there's not one whit of difference between Democrats and
Republicans, don't believe them. There are numerous significant
differences that affect the way they run campaigns, and the way
they govern. Most Republicans got elected to their positions by
employing wedge political tactics, ranging from running on an
anti-gay marriage platform, to pushing for draconian
restrictions on a woman's right to choose. Or maybe they will
scare rural voters by telling them Democrats are going to take
their guns away. All of these are wedge tactics meant to inflame
and divide the electorate. They are not the critical, pressing
issues facing America today.
Other wedge issues
used by Republicans to divide and conquer include the
evolution/creation debate, school vouchers and denigrating
public education, and flag burning amendments. They also use the
threat of terrorism to erode our civil liberties and turn
Americans against each other as Democrats argue that we cannot
sacrifice liberty for security, and Republicans say you can't
have liberty if you're dead. Not a very productive debate. It's
pure demagoguery meant to inflame one group of Americans against
another. That's not leadership, that's criminal malfeasance
under the guise of public service. Does a good political leader
derive legitimacy through the consent of just barely over half
the people? Is that what the consent of the people means?
actually pass laws, or even actually vote on any of their wedge
issues in Congress. If they did, their wedge issue would go
away, and they would lose their ability to divide the
electorate. If the Republicans have their way, these issues will
be used to inflame the electorate indefinitely.
One of the most ironic
and hypocritical statements coming from Republicans, after
spending their careers dividing the nation to win elections, is
the quip that impeaching the president would be bad because it
would divide the country. They have already done that job
admirably, and it would be hard to imagine that anything could
divide it much further.
or, "a scandal a day keeps the press away"
May 18th 2006
I've been thinking that it is becoming
increasingly difficult to keep track of all of the major
scandals swirling around the Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld
administration. I have started to develop a theory about this
”scandal-a-day keeps the press away” strategy. It almost seems
as though Karl Rove hatched a plan to ramrod the
Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld agenda down America's throat while
simultaneously overloading the press and the public with too
many scandals to keep track of. (By the way, has Karl Rove been
sounds counter-intuitive at first, but considering how difficult
it has been for the press to concentrate on any particular
scandal, it is perhaps one of the sneakiest ways to slip
malfeasance past the bumbling press corps and the distracted
American public. Eventually, if a new scandal is announced
practically every day, the press and public will reach scandal
overload. They will be unwilling, and moreover, they will be
unable to pay attention for that long.
comprehensive list of the Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld scandals and malfeasance would be
almost impossible to fully compile without making a career out
of it. Nonetheless, I will enumerate a quick, partial list of some
Republican scandals, just to make the point that there are so many
scandals that they
are hard to keep track of.
Lying to the American people about weapons of mass
destruction and imminent threats
Not sending enough troops
Disbanding the Iraqi army and letting soldiers go
home with their guns
Not taking and holding territory - allowing
insurgents to retake captured ground
Not enough body armor or vehicle armor
Stop-Loss and overextension of duty
Ø Torturing prisoners (Guantánamo Bay, Abu Ghraib,
“renditioning” detainees to Eastern European secret prisons,
Indefinite imprisonment without lawyers or trial
Killing innocent Iraqi civilians
Billions of taxpayer dollars gone missing and
Straining our military personnel and National
Guard to the breaking point
Cutting veterans benefits and reducing veteran
Not treating returning vets for traumatic stress
Huge no-bid contracts to Cheney’s company, Halliburton
National Debt and continued
tax cuts for the rich:
Another $70 billion tax cut bill just passed in a
drunken-sailor orgy of Republican fiscal irresponsibility
$9 trillion debt ceiling: is a $10 trillion debt
ceiling coming to a Congress near you soon?
Massive interest payments to Chinese banks
CIA leak and cover-up:
(Has Karl Rove been indicted yet?)
Leaking a covert CIA agent's identity for
Endangering overseas contacts and CIA front
Two years of attempted cover-up about Cheney and
Indictment of Scooter Libby, Cheney's top aide
Delayed and wholly inadequate Katrina response
Continued lack of rebuilding the Gulf Coast region
Abandonment of displaced people from the Gulf
Lack of preparedness for upcoming natural
Stacking the courts with
Installing two extremely conservative judges on
the Supreme Court
Stacking the lower courts with extremely
Pulling prosecutors off of investigations into
government wrongdoing by nominating them to federal courts
US troops did not finish the job and are still
Pulled troops out to send to Iraq
Never found Osama bin Laden
Not Securing Ports:
Ports still not secure, cargo not being checked
Attempt to sell port control to Dubai
Overt Propaganda - paying
journalists to write nicey-nicey about the Republican agenda
Secret US spying and
Voting scandals in 2000 and
Tom Delay - indicted
Jack Abramoff - convicted
Bob Ney - corrupt Ohio
James Guckert - phony White
Duke Cunningham -
Republican Congressman convicted for bribery
I'm exhausted, and I probably missed a whole bunch of scandals
because I forgot about them.
See!! The tactic is working!
the new border security debate is a façade for giving
contracts to defense contractors such as Raytheon and
Northrop Grumman to put high-tech surveillance equipment all
along the border at a cost to us, the taxpayers, of billions of dollars. Another military-industrial-complex bonanza
at your expense.
should also mention the Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld push to put the
president above the law. Republicans should be somewhat worried
at the now all-powerful imperial US presidency, because in 2008
there is a significant chance that this newfound power will be
turned over to a Democrat. Oh horrors! Maybe that should give
Republicans a little pause before giving Bush any additional
unchecked powers, unless they can figure out a way to make them
expire in January 2009, just in time for President Gore to
occupy the Oval Office.
Remember what the Republicans promised in 2000; to bring honor,
dignity and accountability back to the White House? Maybe Al
Gore could actually do that.
Every (Republican) Vote Must
May 17th, 2006
If you thought
the 2000 and 2004 elections were controversial, just wait for the 2006
election. It is shaping up to be one of the most controversial, and
possibly corrupt elections in American history.
never hear about this simmering controversy from CNN, Fox News, or
MSNBC, but it is creeping into print news, including the newly
New York Times. And you guessed it, it's all about Diebold
electronic voting systems, and security issues.
Tests over the
last several months have revealed serious security flaws in Diebold's
voting systems. Computer scientists have said that the vulnerability
could allow knowledgeable persons with access to a voting machine to
tamper with the machine's software, and possibly infect them with a
virus that could propagate to other parts of the voting system. These
vulnerabilities have been
discussed at length previously, especially at
If you think
electronic voting is secure and reliable, check out the
articles I've linked to and decide for yourself. A paper backup
trail is absolutely essential to make sure the US voting system is
accurate, reliable and secure. We need a standardized voting machine
system in the United States with paper backup, and the ability to retain
data during power outages or computer glitches.
It’s time to
end this corrosive cancer on our democracy. Voting in the US in the 21st
century should be a model for the rest of the world, not a laughing
Records are Being Tapped
May 16th, 2006
The Washington press corps has been a
cloistered lot for much of its history, but it now seems they
are stuck in a reality distortion bubble from which they are
unable to extricate themselves. Washington reporters typically
talk mostly to Washington reporters, and occasionally to the
politicians they're supposed to be covering, (usually over an
expensive lunch or dinner). The desire to retain access to the
politicians that spoon feed them pro-government drivel
inexorably drives reporters to play nice with the people they
are supposed to scrutinize.
are few things more dangerous for democracy than alliances
between the press corps and politicians, but are there other,
even more nefarious reasons why the press corps has become so
docile in the face of so much government malfeasance? We already
know that Dick Cheney often voices his disapproval of news
stories to the editors of major newspapers and news outlets, and
we know that whoever the current press secretary is, he or she
will not call on reporters that don't play ball with the
turns out that the administration may be using the Patriot Act,
and the NSA and FBI to
tap the phone records of journalists in order to determine
the sources of unwanted leaks from the administration (desirable
leaks are never investigated). John Nichols has published an
article at The Nation detailing how
two reporters from ABC found
out that their phone records had been acquired by the FBI, and
that this was becoming a common method for determining which
government officials reporters are talking to. The FBI has
admitted not only that it is doing this, but also that the Bush
administration's policies have made this practice far easier to
FBI official told the reporters at ABC that they should get new
cell phones quickly. I guess even some folks at the FBI are
uneasy with this slide towards Stalinist Soviet Union tactics
being used against the already exceptionally compliant
Washington press corps.
you hear President Bush saying that the government is not "data
mining", maybe you should believe him. They know exactly whose
phones they want to tap.
Against the backdrop of the administration's draconian efforts
to prevent investigations into the Valery Plame CIA leak, this
abuse of Patriot Act powers to investigate reporters and quell
whistleblowers in the government seems particularly pernicious.
But the so-called liberal mainstream media haven't touched this
story, despite the fact that they are now the focus of at least
some of the phone tapping being done within the United States.
Stalin would wholeheartedly approve.
By the way, did Karl
Rove get indicted yet?
Poll Numbers Prompt Desperate Move to “Close Borders”
May 15th, 2006 - For
It's an election year and the Republicans need a hot-button
topic to get people riled up. Hence, the current immigration
debate. Anything is better than having to discuss Iraq, or the
national debt, or Jack Abramoff, or Scooter Libby, or rebuilding
President Bush will
give a speech tonight where he is going to propose sending 5000
national guards to patrol the US Mexican border. Just like in
Iraq, he has decided not to send enough troops to do the job.
Just kidding there - he shouldn't be sending any troops to any
part of the United States in the absence of martial law. But
that's another topic.
If Bush was so worried
about our borders being too porous, he should have started doing
something about it back in late 2001 when he had plenty of
political capital, and when it made sense to try and regulate
border security more intensely. Now you have to ask yourself,
why is this so important all of a sudden? Is it possible that it
has something to do with Bush's very low poll ratings, and those
of the Republican Congress?
I doubt Bush is going
to send any troops to the border, but he does have to at least
sound like he's talking tough. Yet again, this plan may backfire
as many recent Karl Rovian plans have. Bush's speech tonight
will no doubt anger many immigrants, it will anger the Mexican
government, and it may even anger business interests in the
United States. Additionally, as always, anything Bush says will
anger Democrats for its sheer arrogance and absurdity.
By the way, did Karl
Rove get indicted yet?
Liberals Terrorist Lovers?
May 13th, 2006
With the Republican Congress approval
rating at 18% and the Bush approval rating at 29% you can bet
that conservatives are going to turn even nastier on Democrats.
Watching the Larry King show from last night with liberal and
conservative radio talk show hosts was simultaneously painful
and infuriating. Both sides talked over each other and past each
other, and seemed to genuinely despise each other. It's a shame
that America has come to this point.
became clear during the course of the show that the Republican
tactic for the upcoming election was going to be an attempt to
tie liberals to terrorists. As ludicrous as that sounds on its
face, my guess is that Republicans have done focus groups on
this, and that line of ill-reasoning resonates well with the
question posed by the conservative talk show pundit, put forward under
the guise of wanting to “understand how liberals think” was: “do
you believe the people we are fighting in Iraq are evil?” This
question naïvely presupposes that our troops are only fighting
against foreign terrorists who have come to Iraq to attack US
troops. In fact, accounts from troops on the ground in Iraq
indicate that over 95% of the insurgents they are fighting are
locals from the towns were the insurgencies are ongoing.
Iraqis have always disliked foreign fighters in their own
country, even those fighting on their side against the common
enemy. As one sheikh was quoted as saying in Christian Parenti’s
book, “The Freedom”:
“We do not like the occupation. Look,
everything is smashed - no electricity, no security, nothing
gets fixed. People have no work. They are sick of waiting. The
Tartars occupied us, the Turks occupied us, the British. All
were driven out. The West cannot win this fight”.
sheikh's brother added; “When the resistance is from inside
Iraq I put my hand with them. But we do not like the foreign
fighters, the Saudis or the Syrians”.
It's hard to spin that
such a way as to make it appear evil.
midterm elections approach in the US, I expect the Republicans
to constantly challenge the patriotism of Democrats and
liberals. It's a cheap trick, but it works with their base. Yet the fact
of the matter is, 90 to 95% of the people we are fighting in
Iraq believe that they are fighting to free their country from
foreign occupation. I don't see how that makes them evil. If
Iraq militarily occupied the United States, we would be fighting
them just the way they're fighting us.
Liberals obviously do not support terrorists, and our stating that the
Iraqi people are not “evil” does not make us terrorist
sympathizers either. On the contrary, most liberals I know want
to pull the troops out of Iraq and send them back into
Afghanistan where more of the terrorists we are seeking are
hiding. To my mind, that makes the Republicans who want to keep
the troops in Iraq “terrorist enablers”, because we are fighting
the wrong fight in the wrong place, and allowing the terrorists
to regroup in the mountains of Afghanistan. The recent increase in
attacks on our troops in Afghanistan stresses that point very
long as the rhetorical war between pro-war conservatives and
antiwar liberals continues by setting up erroneous strawmen, and
knocking them down, the discourse will be circular and
nonproductive. A much more productive discussion may have to
await the midterm elections because conservatives will be in
pure attack mode against Democrats, and will be doing everything
they can to make their base hate Democrats as much as they hate
“the terrorists”. This time around, I have a feeling that their
wedge tactics, meant to divide the electorate, we'll leave them
with less than 50% of the vote no matter how much anger and
hatred they direct towards liberals. It's an argument that wore
thin a long time ago, and now it just makes them seem like
bitter losers who care more about retaining power than they do
about the good of the United States.
Qaeda is Our Enemy, and We Want to Know Their Plans”,
May 12th 2006
said George W. Bush. A simpleminded
statement coming from a simple man. Perhaps a little too simple
for reality. Al Qaeda doesn't phone home on AT&T.
The idea that logging
all phone calls made in the United States will permit analysts
at the NSA to look for “calling patterns”, thus leading them to
Al Qaeda terrorist cells in the United States, is ludicrous on
The idea that members
of Al Qaeda are chatting away about their upcoming attacks on
the telephone is so irrational that it defies all logic.
Terrorists determined to attack the United States, no doubt few
and far between in relation to the overall population, know that
phone conversations can be tapped, and therefore would obviously
communicate by other means. As such, all of the effort put into
data mining the vast sea of phone calls in the United States is
a complete waste of time and money, at least if your objective
is to catch terrorists. I'm sure it would be more useful in
tracking the discussions that Democrats are having on the phone.
Informational Awareness”? It was the ill-fated program under
John Poindexter to monitor all communications in the United
States. After it became public, John Poindexter and Total
Informational Awareness slipped off the radar screens.
Obviously, it was still being run behind the scenes by General
Hayden at the NSA, who has now been nominated to head the CIA by
Bush. I suppose that's a way to keep it all in the family.
So again, the Bush
administration's approach to the serious problem of
international terrorism is to monitor phone calls in the United
States, rather than sending Special Forces to terrorist
strongholds throughout the world. It's hard to imagine they
could handle the situation more poorly.
The next time you're
on the phone, don't forget to say hi to the nice NSA people
listening in. They probably could use the moral support.
Is a “War on Terror”
May 11th 2006
If you were president of the world's greatest superpower and your
country was attacked by a small loosely knit band of fanatics from
various countries around the world, what would your response be? Would
you militarily invade a sovereign nation that had nothing to do with the
original attack on your country? If that would not be your first choice,
then ask yourself why it was the Bush administration's first choice.
Everything that our government
is doing wrong now is being justified as necessary because of an ongoing
“war on terror”. The Bush-Cheney “war on terror” is a political
strategy, not a series of implemented policies meant to reduce
international terrorism. Indeed, the implemented policies ranging from
torturing detainees, to the “collateral damage” deaths of tens of
thousands of Iraqi civilians, to our protracted occupation of Iraq, have
all combined to incense the Muslim world and thus increase the level of
international terrorism directed against Western countries, their
assets, and peoples.
Republicans have ridiculed an
international law enforcement approach to fighting terrorism as weak,
and ineffective. The purpose of ridiculing international law enforcement
is to take that discussion off the table. The only remaining argument
then is either to use our military, or to not use our military, and that
leaves most people saying to go ahead and use the military. But that is
a false choice. International law enforcement is the only way to bring
small bands of fanatics to justice. The Israeli method of sending large
guided bombs into apartment buildings to kill a single suspected
terrorist, thus killing dozens of innocent people in the process, is an
example not to be followed by rational persons. A SWAT team would have
been just as effective without the innocent death toll.
Putting aside the Bush-Cheney
administration's obsession with oil, and the administration's desire to put Moslems that control
oil in their place, are there other important reasons that drove this
administration to war in Iraq? Follow the money. Is anyone benefiting
from the Iraq war? How about Halliburton? How about oil companies? How
about defense contractors? Any increased profits there? The $300 billion
windfall reaped by these and other companies in Iraq would not have been
possible without the war. But the money was not available, and instead
was borrowed from European and Chinese banks, adding greatly to our
nearly $9 trillion debt. That is one gigantic
credit card bill that we will all be paying off for decades to come.
Any time you hear a politician
talking about a “war on something”; beware. This is a cheap trick to
rouse public support, often for an unworkable policy or agenda. There
can be no “war on terror” because you can't have a military war against small
bands of people scattered throughout the world. You can have a war
against Iraq, if you really think that is going to benefit the people of
States, but you can't have a war against a violent political tactic used
by small bands of people. Instead, you need international law
enforcement to track down those groups of people and bring them to
justice. That is something that jet aircraft and tanks cannot do. An
honest president would cooperate with other government’s national law
enforcement agencies to coordinate efforts to disrupt, find, and
eliminate terrorist cells around the world. Unfortunately, we do not
have an honest president.
When Will Democrats stand up
May 9th, 2006
Yesterday Russ Feingold
called for the Democrats stand together in opposition to the Bush
administration's excruciatingly disastrous political/social agenda. It
doesn't take a brainiac from the nerd patrol, nor a member of the
Factinista, to see that we are bogged down in an insurgent war in Iraq
because of Bush’s, Cheney’s and Rumsfeld's failed plans, that the CIA is
in meltdown mode due to the cluelessness of Bush appointees (cronies),
that increased international terrorism has resulted from these failed
policies, that our national debt is higher than it's ever been due to
criminal fiscal irresponsibility, and that America has lost all
credibility among the international community.
The malfeasance list goes on and on, and the result is that Bush is down
to about 31% in the polls. You would think that fact alone would be
enough to put some spine into the Democrats and get them back up on
their soap boxes. Apparently not. Again Russ Feingold seems lost in the
woods, calling for Democrats to do something, anything, with no response
other than the wind blowing through the trees.
Just the other day Democrats came out with an agenda of their own, meek
as it was. They called for a return to fiscal responsibility, full
implemen-tation of the 9/11 committee recommendations, and increasing the
minimum wage. Hardly a sweeping new agenda to turn the country around.
Because the Democrats seem unwilling to take on the challenge of
declaring a strong agenda for renewing America, I will do it for them.
Here is a sound workable 12-point agenda for the Democrats:
1) Full public financing of all elections, and campaign finance reform
that removes all private money from politics.
2) Full lobbying reform that forbids any contribution of any type to any
politician from anyone. The idea that disclosing bribes makes them
better is ludicrous.
3) Return of the fairness doctrine, forcing stations to offer opposing
views rather than just one side of the story. Failing that, I would
accept all pundits to reveal at the beginning of every show where their
money comes from, and label their broadcast or print as political
opinion rather than news.
4) Strengthened antitrust laws that prevent large corporate mergers,
consolidations, and a tendency towards monopolization.
5) Simplification of the tax system with dramatically reduced tax rates
at the low end, higher tax rates at the upper end, and very few
deductions for anyone.
6) Increase the minimum wage to $7.50 an hour.
7) Strengthening of the FISA court laws and the anti-domestic spying
8) Passage of new laws that specifically forbid any US citizen from
breaking accepted international laws including the Geneva conventions,
within the United States, or overseas. We need a Humane Treatment of
Detainees law, with severe consequences for breaking the law. The law
would also forbid secret detention centers overseas, or the
“renditioning” of US prisoners to foreign governments.
9) New government accountability laws that permit a congressional
minority to initiate investigations of the majority.
10) Pull all troops out of Iraq, and redirect government spending
towards the US infrastructure, port security, and rebuilding along the
11) Propose and implement an
alternative energy plan that cuts our dependency on oil and coal.
12) Perhaps the most important of all, a nationalized voting machine
system where all voting machines in the United States are manufactured
identically, with open source software, power-loss backup (nonvolatile
flash memory?), and a full paper trail. In order for all the votes to be
equal, the voting systems must have equivalent error rates and
Unfortunately for the US populace, the Democrats will probably maintain
much of the status quo even if they are elected. But then again, at this
point anything is better than Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld.
||NIH Bird Flu Contingency Shut
May 6th, 2006
I have been told by the spouse of an NIH
administrator that an agency-wide meeting was held
where it was revealed to top-level NIH employees that a contingency plan
was being prepared for dealing with an anticipated bird flu pandemic.
All this sounds quite
reasonable until you hear the details. I have so far been unable to
confirm this with other sources, but I was told that NIH administrators
were briefed on a plan to shut the NIH campus down for the months of
August, September and October of this year. The reason given was that it
was thought that the bird flu pandemic would hit America in that
timeframe. Personnel would be put on leave without pay for the duration.
Several things struck me
immediately. First was the fact that the main thing occurring in that
timeframe was the run-up to the next election. Second was the
implausibility that the officials involved could predict something as
unpredictable as a pandemic. Third was the ludicrousness of the idea
that the government would be disbanding the premier medical research
organization of the United States just when that medical research
organization was needed most; during a pandemic outbreak.
Since news of this meeting
came to me (indirectly) from an NIH administrator I have to assume that
such a meeting concerning this topic must have occurred. But I'm
wondering if it might not be a way for Bush appointees at the NIH to
test the political waters among NIH administrators, rather than an
actual plan to shut down the NIH. The plan does not sound rational, but
rather, it sounds politically timed for the next midterm election.
In any case, if you start to
hear stories in July or August about the flu pandemic coming to the
United States, just keep in mind that it was all planned well ahead of
time, probably not for medical reasons, but for political ones.
Will Flow Like Water
May 3rd 2006
That is what George Bush and
Dick Cheney were thinking when they attacked Iraq. That is why they said
that the Iraq war would pay for itself through oil revenues. Almost $300
billion later, we're still waiting for the oil to flow at all.
Recent moves in Russia,
Argentina, and Bolivia have
nationalized their oil and gas infrastructure. In other words, the
governments in those oil-rich countries have taken over the oil and gas
wells. While this story is getting very little play in the mainstream
media, it certainly has experts concerned that other oil-producing
countries may soon follow suit.
Why should you care? Maybe
because gas is costing you three dollars a gallon now and is sure to go
up further. The governments of Russia, Argentina and Bolivia have told
foreign oil companies that they have six months to renegotiate their
contracts, or forfeit their assets. These moves almost certainly mean
that oil supplies will be tightened, profits for larger oil companies
reduced, and eventually the price of gas will be forced upwards even
None of this is happening in a
vacuum. These are all the unintended consequences of the Bush-Cheney war
in Iraq, their constant threats about attacking Iran, their inability to
protect the oil infrastructure of Iraq, their veiled threats towards
Venezuela, Bolivia and Nigeria, and the dramatic worsening of world
opinion towards the United States that is the direct result of these
poorly thought out foreign policies.
Of course, the Cheney energy
plan had a big hand to play in worsening the situation. Cheney's energy
bill gave huge tax breaks to oil companies, who have reaped the largest
profits in US history in the last year as a result. In part these
outrageous profits helped fuel the sentiment in countries such as
Argentina and Bolivia that they were not being properly compensated for
their natural resources, which were being pilfered by foreign oil
companies. By nationalizing their oil and gas infrastructure these
countries will now be able to fully control how their natural resources
are utilized. That means lower profits for companies like Exxon, Mobil
So you can thank Bush and
Cheney for the prices you're paying at the pumps now, and as the prices
continue to rise you can thank them even more. It would be especially
helpful in driving up gas prices to all new highs if they would just
hurry up and attack Iran, and get it over with. Then they could attack
Africa, South America, Russia - oh what the hell - the whole rest of the
world. That ought to help.
It's a sad state of affairs we
are in now where Americans will not get out to protest against what our
government is doing in our name, and yet immigrants in America turn out
by the millions to protest about immigration reform. The news media
refuse to take on the Bush administration, leaving that function to
courageous comedians like
Stephen Colbert. America needs a goodly dose of the type of activism
that helped get us out of the Vietnam War in the early 1970s. But that
seems unlikely, perhaps at least until gas reaches four dollars a
|Copyright 2006, Factinista.org