Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Ignorance, Heart of an American Nightmare

It is difficult, at times, to keep my spiritual head above the water. The water being the flood of distressing, disturbing, and just plain horrible news regarding what is being done in the world.

I do not get my news or at least not most of my news input from 'mainstream' corporate controlled media. When you compare the news of the world as presented by the big US media, to the information disseminated in the rest of the world and even from homegrown independent media, you are immediately struck by the paucity of details in US generated stories.

The majority of Americans are plugged into the corporate media in a very big way. Night and day the TV and radio blast right wing pundits and talk show deans, preachers and good old boy local radio personalities with their God Bless America patriotic 'contests' and White House approved questions in interviews with local vets, usually officers, praising the president and his holy crusade.

They wake up with it, drive to work with it, sit with it at night and go to sleep with it..

The result of the perpetual media wash Americans live in, is that Americans have a particular and peculiar world view that separates them from the rest of the world, from the rest of humanity. Of those Americans who are aware of this peculiar mental schism
many support it, as a good thing. God is on our side and the rest of the world is wrong.

In my checkered past I have worked with a few people that can be safely described as clinically paranoiac. I have listened to many hours of why "everybody is crazy, wrong, and blind, except me."

The "God is on our side and the rest of the world is wrong" view, is not a rational or healthy world view. It never is.

But, I think the majority of Americans with that peculiar and well insulated view, do not realize that the rest of the world knows things that they have not been allowed to see.
I think the sleep walkers have no idea how much and exactly what kind of evil is being done in their names.

If they did, they may be too lazy, greedy, and self serving to give a shit but, as it is, they will never have the chance to know.

For a democracy to function as a democracy, it first requires an informed and involved citizenry.

Informed, no longer describes the American populace. Ignorance is the lack of information. That lack, that ignorance, has become a hallmark of Americans, in the eyes of the world. A world that knows a lot of things Americans just plain don't know.

Many Americans may not deserve the view the world has of them but if they don't start showing some real resistence, they are going to be stuck with it, whether they arguably deserve it or not. In the face of the massive aggression the government is guilty of, passive disagreement just doesn't cut it.

Sunday, December 26, 2004


Another National Guard unit has come forward with serious questions and specific complaints regarding their lack of readiness for combat duty. The story is from the The Standard Times, in Connecticut.

A brief quote: HOUSTON -- Members of a second National Guard unit that prepared for duty in Iraq at the Army's Fort Bliss compound have come forward with allegations that they were not adequately trained… The unit's M-60 machine guns reportedly were in such bad condition when the soldiers deployed in February that one sergeant -- in a section of a post-training summary sent to his commanders that was titled "gun maintenance" -- wrote: "Perhaps we should throw stones?"

This is the second time in weeks that a National Guard unit's senior NCOs have outlined such obvious deficiencies in training and equipment.

The list of problems presented include old unreliable vehicles, many of which were towed from Kuwait to Iraq. Of the 21 M-60 30. cal. machine guns belonging to the unit, only three were without deficiencies. At the time of deployment, most of the pistols and grenade launchers belonging to the unit were considered unreliable.

These men are being sent to the slaughter. Guard units were never meant to be deployed in this fashion. The National Guard was intended for disaster emergencies, civil unrest, and as a last ditch home defense force. They have ancient unarmored vehicles and unreliable weapons because they are not intended to need the heavy weapons and armor of the regular army.

But, to avoid a politically dangerous return to the draft, the ideologues in Washington are willing to throw large units of under trained, under armed, home Guardsmen into a hot war with weapons that don't work and trucks without transmissions, much less armor.

They are being used in a dangerous and complex context that requires situation specific training. These men are simply not getting that training. They were deployed a month early due to a bureaucratic mistake made by senior officers. The result of all these short cuts are unnecessarily high casualty figures.

There are no excuses for this level of hubris, corruption, and managerial incompetence.

The Army's predictable response is to pretend that there are no real problems and that the men are complaining because they are finding war time training too tough and strict.

The reality is that these men are not complaining about the chow or the lousy barracks or restrictions to base. They are complaining about the lack of training. and unreliable weapons and equipment.

Even crazy ass Hitler did not throw virtually unarmed home guard units into the fray until the allies were in Germany itself. Here we are, in the beginning of what looks to be a long bloody losing conflict, and the Fearless Leaders have already thrown the old home guard into the thick of the war.

This is a culpably reckless , criminally incompetent, and wasteful destruction of thousands of human lives. Yes, I'm counting the Iraqis too. It is beyond logic and beyond redemption. It will not be forgotten or forgiven, in the long run.

Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, and their cronies, have over reached themselves by a long way. This president has garnered enough power for himself that he and his gang could do a lot of damage on the way down. How many fronts is George Bush willing to fight on?

Willing and able are two different things but I suspect George Bush is quite ready to fight a home front in order to silence and intimidate opposition to his holy self aggrandizing crusade.

Why do so many banal little men, like George, dream of having the appearance of greatness? Not the attributes of greatness, just the appearance.

Saturday, December 25, 2004


It is about four AM on Christmas morning. As appears to be a personal tradition, I am sitting at the computer hacking at some idea or vain thought.

Pausing to look out on the wet empty downtown streets, I watch a raggedy homeless guy going thru trash cans that I know he went thru about an hour ago. All to no avail it would appear. I am remembering more than one Christmas spent on the streets, many years ago.

I sit in my warm apartment with my very own computer and work space and my little family, asleep in the next room. I am reminded how lucky I've been. How well things are compared to how they could have turned out. I have no personal complaints worth airing. Would be damned ungrateful if I did.

But there are a litany of things to complain about and worry about, in the objective world.
Evil does not sleep on Christmas or any so-called Holy Day. Or any other day or night, for that matter.

Since I am not a religious person, my Christmas wishes are really my end of/beginning of the year wishes. A time to look forward and at same time, to reflect on the past.

I have hope for the future. I have no hope that the greedy and the power hungry will come to see the error of their ways. I have hope that many more Americans will start waking up, to the mess we are creating in the world and the price we are paying for it.

I have hope and even believe that Americans are going to awaken in numbers sufficient win back America for democracy and the constitution.

I have hope that a new kind of patriotism will overtake America. A patriotism that is born out of a love for the land and for its people, not the idea of thoughtless loyalty to a man or a party that is currently called patriotic.

George Bush does not speak for God and George Bush does not represent the aspirations of the American people. He is a wounded hungry little man, a politician, elevated far beyond his abilities.

Patriotism refers to the land and the people. Not a political demagogue. I hope and believe that Americans can and will come to make that distinction.

I have no faith in gods. I have only guarded hope for humans. I do have some faith in the power of necessity.

Merry ChrizBah to my fellow humbuggers and for the rest, dare I say,

A Happy Holliday Season to you

Friday, December 24, 2004

The Big Why?

I can well imagine that Christmas will be a somber affair for many Americans this year. It certainly will be a time of mute celebration in Iraq. The fireworks there not being of the celebratory variety.

I watch very little American TV news but I can imagine the patriotic human interest stories being played out on the networks, after the bombing of the mess tent in Mosul.

Heart touching stories of All American young men and the communities they will not be returning to. The families they are lost to, will be quoted. In their grief and misplaced loyalty they will say how proud they are of the dead young man and the noble cause he died for.

What else do you really expect them to say? Unless they have already been asking themselves the right questions, anything else will seem to lessen the memory of the departed and to question the value of his sacrifice. Humans don't work that way.

But go back and ask them again in a couple of years or less. Some lonely night the unanswered question, Why? will creep into the hearts of those who cared most and that question will never have a good believable answer.

Thirty five years ago we were asking ourselves that same question, born of grief and the despair of loss. The question was never ever answered to any ones' satisfaction.

About thirty years ago, I made a brief trip back to the States. I had made arrangements with a civilian lawyer, in Seattle, who, as it turned out, did not know what he was talking about. He did not know that the Army and the Air Force had radically different policies regarding long term AWOLs such as myself.

That bungle and how I eventually pulled myself from the frying pan and back to Canada, is a story for another time. Right now I want to talk about the big mean looking, red faced border guard who made a point of telling me what he thought of me and my situation.

I had been at the American border station for maybe half an hour, waiting for the FBI, or as it turned out, the Belleview police, to cart me off. Still trusting in the 'deal' my so called lawyer had made, I expected the FBI to pick me up any moment and deliver me to the nearest Air Force base where I would be jacked around for a week with admin. BS and booted out with a bad discharge.

The border guards had made calls and arrangements of their own while I was awaiting my men in black. I noticed one big ass border guard who kept looking at me in a very intense manner. He was a huge blond haired, red faced man with forearms the size of my thighs. I had no desire to antagonize this guy, in any way.

I was sitting behind a little metal table I had been directed to when Officer Hugefist approached me with real emotion in his eyes. I figured I was in for a serious beating.

He placed those big hands on either side of the table and leaned in to talk low, eye to eye. The first thing he said, in a very tight voice was, "I had a son, just about your age. He died in Vietnam..."

You can imagine that I saw the gates of hippie hell opening wide to swallow me whole. His blue policeman's eyes held such anguish, I can not describe. Where I grew up, men usually express such painful emotion with violence.

"I wish to God he had gone to Canada instead. I'm glad you aren't dead. I'm glad your fathers' son is still alive."

The man had wanted to tell me about his son and to tell me, a kid in his lock up, that he was glad I'm not dead.

In spite of my circumstances and the relief I felt that he didn't hate me, the sadness I saw in that big tough man stays with me today. Now, removed from the fear that oppressed me at the time, those sad eyes and the sense of loss they betrayed, are my strongest memories of what proved to be a very harrowing time.

Today, I think about that man and the dark worm of sorrow and regret that had lodged in his heart and the angst in his voice when he said, "Nobody can give me one god damned good reason why. Nobody."

No one ever will be able to produce a good answer to that question. A good answer stops the question but there are no good answers.

For a lot of the kids doing the dirty work in Iraq, this will be their first Christmas away from home and family. For some families, this season will mark the begining of living with the unanswerable why.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

My Heroes

In my opinion, Pablo Paredes is a courageous young man whose recent actions, his public refusal to carry out assignments relating to the war in Iraq, puts him in that class of people I call heroic.

For those who still mistakenly believe that heroism, and the very word hero, is inextricably bound to the willingness to do violence on demand, I want to tell you the story of a genuine hero, a war hero, yet who never did or intended to do, harm to anyone. Her name was Mathilda Agees, Tilly to those who knew her. She never carried a gun.

She helped carry two Jewish children through the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands. A serious 'crime', punishable by death. She and other family members undertook this dangerous personal/family mission, simply because it was the right thing to do. Because good people must resist evil and violence. And because in their minds, the moral survival of her occupied homeland depended on such acts of quiet, persistent Resistance.

'The boys' as Tilly called the young brothers, did survive the war along with the rest of Tilly's family. Last year, 'the boys' sent money from Holland, to buy Tilly a computer so she could stay in touch via email and trade photos.

One of the boys had blond hair and blue eyes and though every bit as Jewish as his dark haired brother, looked a stereotype little blond Dutch boy.

Tilly worked as a grade school teacher and passed the blond boy off as her younger brother that she took care of. Not an uncommon situation at the time and place.

One day she and the boy were accosted on the street by a German SS Colonel. The Nazi stopped her to inquire about the boy. Tilly was scared to death and was sure their time was up, visions of her family went through her mind but she stayed cool. A power she never lost.

The Nazi officer wanted to congratulate her for producing this fine example of young Aryan manhood. He lifted the boy up, admired him and set him down with an affectionate pawing of his blond hair.

She told me she did everything exactly as usual that day. She got to work on time, as always, but was "absolutely distracted for the whole day. It was embarrassing."

She and her family lived under constant threat of exposure and death through the entire Nazi occupation of the Netherlands. Tilly, her family, and many, many others like them are what I call heroes and I do not use the word lightly.

Tilly Agees died Thursday, the 16th of December, at 2:00 A M, at the age of eighty five.
Ms Tilly's entire life consisted of teaching and helping. She never shirked responsibility.
Something good has gone out of the world and I wonder who will take her place. She was, in the truest sense, a war hero. She never picked up a weapon or wore a uniform or hid behind a flag.

Today in Iraq, the average age of the American soldier is 19 and 1/2. Nineteen and a half years old.. That means a significant number are even younger. No matter what these teens are being told, no matter what excuses they believe, when they get there, they will be fighting to stay alive and to keep their brothers alive. They will follow orders from the political bunglers as best they can, while fighting to stay alive.

In those terrible circumstances, some men will stand out for their courage and for their commitment, not to the war but to their brothers. Truly courageous men will sacrifice themselves, not for our Fearless Leader but for the survival of their comrades, in combat.

Such heroism can not be denied. Nor should it be forgotten. Neither should it be degraded by self serving politicians who interpret these acts of personal heroism as political support for Fearless Leader and his personal crusade to make war on the world.
It is a shameful political rite.

Back to Pablo Paredes: There are heroes who do not carry guns and do not threaten anyone. Just as my friend Tilly did, Mr. Paredes represents that variety of genuine heroism. I have linked this Democracy Now
video interview with Pablo in a previous article. As well, here is a link to an audio file of the Statement that Pablo recorded before turning himself in to Naval authorities. The tape was played to a rally of supporters on the same day, the 18th of Dec. 04.

I'm focusing on Paredes today because I believe he represents the very kind of heroic people that are needed in abundance, if America is ever to regain any moral stature in the world.
Pablo Paredes had nothing to fear from his job. Petty Officer 3rd Class Paredes operated a ships defensive missile battery. He made it clear that his job put him in no combat danger.

His motivation is a serious matter of personal conscience. A social and moral conscience that developed while the young man 'grew up' in the Navy. Like many of today's soldiers, Pablo had a recruiting officer on his case, making regular calls and invitations to come to the recruiting office, meet for lunch or coffee etc. since before he finished high school. Recruited as a child, a teenager, Pablo came to maturity in the Navy.

An obviously working class, self educated, self directed young man, his is the face of honest question, honest doubt, and straight up, all American opposition to something most all Americans will eventually agree was a stupid, deadly mistake. There is courage and boldness in this young man that is not characterized by egocentric outbursts or angry diatribes.

I see and hear a thoughtful, constrained, intelligent young man that understands what he has set himself up for, and why. I feel sure we will see him again when his ordeal with the Navy is over. We need young people like him, very badly.

I would like to leave you with this thought. Pablo Paredes found himself faced with a moral choice that many of us will never really face. The consequences of his choice are real and immediate. He could have, more easily and more safely, finished up his remaining time (18mths) in his not dangerous job and spoken up after getting his honorable discharge and the benefits accrued.

But Petty Officer Paredes, a tiny cog in the great war machine, developed un-borg like self awareness. As that awareness developed and matured, Pablo found he was no longer willing or able to perform as an un-individuated cog. Because he knew what the big machine was actually doing to the world.

Pablo appeared at the dock where his unit was boarding their ship. He was dressed in civvies, wearing a black tee shirt that said in big white letters, "Like a Cabinet Minister, I Quit".

The cog had found its humanity and its natural dignity. The cog had found its own voice and the moral courage to use it. A simple human statement that perceives its own worth and reacts with the most rational personal course, "I quit!" I know what I am part of and I will no longer play that role.

For those interested in keeping up with developements in Pablo's situation in the Navy, you can find information at
GI Fightback , Citizens for Pablo, and at Peace Redding , you will have to do a search at Peace Redding but the site is worth a look if you are not familiar with it.

In the early spring of 1969, my favorite personal inside joke was to loudly declare, "I quit", at absolutely every thing that irritated or oppressed me. It was a joke only because a lowly airman first class has no option called 'quit'. It isn't a job.

Toward the end of my stay with the Air Force, I was shouting it aloud at any moment that seemed appropriate. The flight line was hellishly noisy. I could sometimes scream my slogan directly into the faces of Majors and Colonels I was strapping into the F4s, without being heard.

So, I was moved by the simple claim and declaration made by Mr. Paredes. "Like a Cabinet Minister, I quit"

Friday, December 17, 2004

This War Has Two Fronts

"If you kick their butts hard enough, their hearts and minds will follow" A military slogan frequently heard during the Vietnam war.

It may occasionally prove true, in the short run, but in the long run, the pure force tactic will create more enemies than any military force can handle. Bitter, highly motivated enemies. The worst kind.

On the war front:
Another courageous young man has come forth with his own story and photographs of the casual violence and contempt with which imperial American forces are encouraged to treat Iraqis.

Aidan Delgado, a young mechanic in the Army reserve, recently honorably discharged, has come forth with his story of having applied for CO status while in Iraq. He turned in his weapon, explained his intentions and purpose and began the long grueling process. During that time, Delgado worked as a mechanic at the Abu Ghraib prison. He witnessed and heard of incidents and brought back a number of photos taken inside the prison. His story, at Democracy now, is very disturbing

When you hear these stories, appearing from a variety of sources, when you examine the photographs closely, you must wonder how the Iraqi people could not hate the US forces.
Imagine if North America were invaded by a brutal, heavily armed force that destroyed your electric grid, sewage lines and disposal plants. Took over or shut down hospitals, destroyed the local police and city administration, schools, churches and public services.

Imagine that occupying force forbade any protest of those imposed conditions and regularly incarcerated men, both fighters and civilians, including male children. Then, imagine that you learned that the people detained by the foreign troops were systematically tortured and abused in the most horrific and perverse manner possible. Sexual tortures, rape, S&M type tortures of the sort you would read about only in the most sordid fetish magazines.

Do you not believe you would be compelled to resist such barbarism? For barbaric is the correct word to describe American behavior in Iraq. Immoral, perverse, barbarism. The spirit of Caligula's Rome resurrected by a twenty first century 'Christian' potentate. A horror to behold if you look at it's actions on the ground, if you think of the terror inflected on the people who live there.

Life under evil Saddam was never so terrible. Yet, Americans think they are the 'good' guys. While Saddam, whose brutality was never acted out on such a broad crippling scale, was manifestly evil. Can you really imagine that the people whose lives have been destroyed, whose homes, schools, businesses, and professions no longer exist, are not enraged by how they are treated and by revelations of such barbaric actions on the part of the occupiers? Occupiers who dare call themselves liberators.

On the home front:
Neither Americans or Canadians would sit as passive witness to their own demise, to rape, torture, mutilation, and deaths of citizens and children, detained whether they are combatants or not.

At least I don't think Americans would tolerate such treatment. However, the government that is committing these crimes in Iraq has been passing laws and gaining powers that will allow them to use the same people to do the same things at home.

The government is doing things, on a regular basis, that only a few years ago would have been soundly denounced, by all Americans as things that only happen in foreign dictatorships. The old Soviet Union, for instance.

Police in Virginia recently visited the home of an 11 year old boy who had been reported for making "anti-American" remarks, at school. 11 years old, mind you. The child's parents were interrogated by police for three hours. The police wanted to know, among other things, if the parents knew any foreigners who harbor anti-American ideas.

The child's mother, Pamela Allbaugh, described the police interrogators as " like George Orwell's …thought police". She was quoted as saying, "If someone would have asked me five years ago if this was something my government would do, I would have said never."

Well, five years ago, I would have agreed with her. The rules have been hurriedly rewritten by people whose loyalties are in line with their own political and financial purposes rather than with the democratic principals and the constitution that were once what the U.S. of A. was about. Sometimes mistakenly so, with dire consequences, but in the end, the checks and balances system did eventually right the ship of state.

No more. That system is in tatters, as key positions in all branches of government are being filled, by often unqualified and compromised appointees, based solely upon their correct political loyalties. Their willingness to go along with this new vision of an authoritarian imperial America. Corporate and government power freed from the shackles of the constitution, that pesky document that has stood, so long, between the naked power of vested interests and the rights of private citizens in this country.

It remains to be seen just how far these people, this adminsitration, are willing to go in furthering and protecting their political coup and the powers they have taken for themselves.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Honorable Soldiers

Lately, I have spoken a lot about dishonorable men, women, and generals. Every day becomes a litany of dishonorable acts with terrible consequences for those on the ground, in Iraq.

Today I want to talk about some men, soldiers and sailors, who have honored their country, its citizens, and the many before them who served a once honorable and democratic nation. These men, individually and as a group, represent the public face of those Americans, citizen soldiers of conscience, who refuse to obey illegal orders, and those who will not play silent witness to criminal acts perpetrated by the military.

Each of these men have, for reasons of conscience, put themselves in harms way, via the military 'justice' system.

Sgt. Frank Ford was a National Guard counter intelligence officer stationed in Samarra.
On the fifteenth of June, 2003. Sgt. Ford reported to his commanding officer that he had witnessed five incidents of torture and abuse of prisoners.

The officer, Capt. Victor Artiga, gave Ford thirty seconds to retract and forget about his report. Sgt. Ford refused to retract his report. Ford was immediately relieved of his weapons and security clearance, meaning that he could no longer function as an intelligence agent.

36 hours later, Sgt. Ford was strapped to a gurney and secretly, without orders, flown first to Kuwait and then to Germany and later to the States. Altogether, he was kept isolated in locked mental wards, for eight months. All of the numerous psychological tests revealed nothing but a normal individual with no mental health problems.

So, that is the new American Way? Your intelligence guy tells you the truth about something important, but it isn't what you want to hear. So, just lock him up in a mental institution. No messy charges to defend. Hell, it worked for the Russians.

Ford was honorably discharged and is now retired from the military after thirty years of service. Sgt. Ford retired as a senior NCO with many years of active duty service.

You can find a detailed and very interesting account of this story at Democracy Now.
It is an interview with David DeBatto, a writer and former intelligence officer who served in Iraq. The Sgt. Ford story is far from over.

Next on my list of Honorable Soldiers, is a Sailor, Petty Officer 3rd Class Pablo Paredes. Paredes joined the Navy when he was 18. Out of school and not sure what to do next, Pablo was pursued by a Navy recruitment officer who was determined to get his kid.. Pablo enlisted in the Navy.

That was in 2000. Now, twenty three, Paredes is a mature well spoken young man who has done a lot of growing and a lot of learning since the Navy got him, at 18. He finds himself in an untenable situation, serving a purpose that he believes to be utterly wrong and destructive.

This article is an interview with the young man who speaks better for himself than I can. You can read or watch the interview here, at Democracy Now. I watched the interview twice. I was struck by the honesty and the simple courage of this young man. He reminds me of people I knew, a long time ago, the last time America attempted to put down a colonial insurrection.

Petty Officer Paredes is not leaving the country. He is not hiding out or attempting to avoid the Navy. He is simply refusing to lend himself to the continuing crime being committed in Iraq. I imagine he has turned himself in or will when he has the right lawyer in his camp. This is not the sort of thing you use a JAG lawyer for.

Mr. Paredes made it very clear that his work for the Navy exposes him to no combat danger. His decision is based not on personal fear but a sense of personal responsibility.
He also made it very clear that he will be returning to the Navy to face charges.

Contrary to what the howling war lovers will scream, personal fear is not often a big factor in such decisions. If it were, Pablo would just be quiet, do his job, and finish his enlistment, which is nearing it's end. No fuss, no muss, no going to jail and no less than honorable discharge to create future employment problems.

I will have more to say about these two men and many others of their ilk over the next while. These men are the embodiment of the kind of courage that America, as a nation, needs to relearn.

For those of you whose morals and principles are so thin, so warped that you would call men such as Pablo Paredes a coward, I invite you to actually stop and think about this.
Pablo had nothing to fear from just doing his job until his time was over. The course he has chosen to take has much to fear in it. Think about that and then think about your definition of courage and coward.

Saturday, December 11, 2004

Lies That Tell the Truth

Starting with the unexpected news: Bernard Kerik has asked that his name be withdrawn from consideration for the post of Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security.

It seems that Mr. Kerik had yet to file the required disclosure forms necessary for the appointment. While filling out some of the forms, Kerik suddenly discovered that he had hired an illegal immigrant to work, in his home, as a housekeeper and nanny.

Kerik also admitted, "It has also been brought to my attention that for a period of time during such employment required tax payments and related filings had not been made."

Read the AP story here Kerik Withdraws.

It seems everything was going just fine for BK until it came time to bring forth those pesky ethics filings. I'm sure Kerik will get along very well but it must be such a disappointment. So close to having his very own secret police agency. Snatched away by an innocent everyday act of exploitation and tax evasion. How sad, blowing his chance to play Beria to Bushs' Stalin, on the world stage.

It was a rough week for Mr. Rumsfeld, too. It seems some private soldier, some tiny cog in the great wheel of neocon destiny, had the gall to ask why he and his comrades were being sent into combat without armour. A reasonable question which got a loud welcome from the twenty one hundred troops present at the photo op for the Secretary of Defense.

Mr. Rumsfeld, on the other hand, did not welcome the question, at all, or so it appeared. Rumsfeld, like his boss George Bush, shows his true nature the instant they are asked unscripted questions they can't easily ignore. Bush becomes an ignorant stumbling yokel who smirks, lies, and repeats himself, often out of context.

Rumsfeld hems and haws, puffs up and gives glib dishonest answers that demonstrate he is a man who just doesn't care about anything but his political agenda.

Rumsfeld told the soldiers that armour was being fitted to vehicles as fast as it was physically possible to do. Big lie. The company that makes the best factory fitted amour for the vehicles in question, has already offered to increase production but have not received orders to do so, from the Defense department.

His now infamous answer to the soldiers demonstrates very clearly the glib hubris and irrationality of the man. “As you know, you go to war with the army you have, and not the army you might want or wish to have at a later time . . . You can have all the armour in the world on a tank and it can still be blown up.”

First the silly part: Yes, you can get blown up in a tank. But, you are much more likely to get killed in a soft skinned (like a family car) hummvee or truck. A handgun will penetrate these vehicles, let's get real.

Now, to me, this statement is a raw revelation of the cheep greed and irrational mind set behind this rush to war. America was not suddenly forced into the war against Iraq. The intention and the plans were long in the works. But, much more preparation went into attempting to convince Americans and the world of the dire necessity of this war, than went into the war itself.

There was plenty of time to be buying and stockpiling weapons and equipment. Iraq posed no actual threat. There was no real need to go to war at all. There was certainly no real world reasons to launch the war on the day they did. However, there appears that Mr. Bush had a political timetable that superceded all other considerations.

Generals who dared tell congress that many more troops were going to be needed were quickly retired. Intelligence reports that didn't reflect what the administration wanted to hear, were buried or trashed.

The lack of preparation based on grossly optimistic projections from the White House, is costing young American lives in numbers that will only increase.

I would like to end this with a parting thought to those thinking of signing up for the war, here is just how grateful your country will be for your services. If you are seriously wounded in Iraq, too serious to return to duty, you will be immediately discharged. You will be forced to sign a waiver agreeing to accept continued medical treatment from the VA. Then you will discover the VA is completely swamped and unless you can afford private health coverage, you will wait a long time for treatment.

This is what is actually happening to returning vets. Men with serious debilitating injuries are being dumped on the streets without adequate or proper medical treatment. The first wave of Iraq veterans are beginning to appear in the homeless shelters. It's just starting. More and more, the reality of this ugly little war is coming home to America.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Encroaching Security. Are you safe enough yet?

Bernard Kerik has been named by Bush to be the new head of the Department of Homeland Security.

Doug Ireland has written this informative article about Bernard Kerik. An interesting discussion about Mr. Kerik can be found at Democracy Now.

This former driver/bodyguard for the wealthy has parlayed his relationship with Rudy Giuliani, into ever bigger, more responsible government positions. So far, he has been a miserable failure.

That, we see, is the beauty of working for the Bush gang. Failure is routinely awarded. Unqualified, inexperienced, inappropriate applicants are regularly given big appointments based on nothing more their loyalty to the right individuals and the correct ideals. A sterling example of the new American way.

Get this: In October of 2003, Bernard Kerik Said:
"Political criticism is our enemy's best friend." As quoted by Newsweek.

Read it again. He isn't saying protest or even dissent may be a comfort to enemy, he is saying "political criticism", the very heart of what American democracy is about, is "our enemy's best friend." This is the man our Fearless Leader wants to appoint to the head of the Department of Homeland Security.

On a similar note:
If you still worry about terrorists plotting to take over your computer, or fill the minds of your children with dangerous reality based perceptions, cheer up, the good guys will take that worry away from you, along with a few more basic rights.

George Tenet, former head of the CIA, had this, to say about that. "I know that these actions will be controversial in this age when we still think the Internet is a free and open society with no control or accountability," he told an information-technology security conference in Washington, "but ultimately the Wild West must give way to governance and control."

Tenet Calls for Internet Security, From the Washington Times, Dec, 02,04

Tenet goes on to say that only individuals with a demonstrated concern for security should be allowed access to the web. Presumably the only way an individual could prove his/her concern for security would be to install government tracking and reporting software. Conveniently provided by your server. I ask, how else can an individual demonstrate the specific concern Mr. Tenet refers to? All others should not be "allowed" access.

Let's connect a few dots. The Bush appointee to head the Department of Homeland Security, believes that political criticism makes one the "best friend of the enemy".

Now, where are you most likely to find uncensored political criticism in the US of A? Where do most Americans, of any political persuasion, participate in or read unfettered political debate and argument with other citizens? The obvious answer to both questions is, of course, the internet.

Is that the new danger to our Fearless Leader and the trusted few at the top of his pyramid of 'leadership' ? Free exchange of ideas and information between Americans?

Perhaps it is free discussion between Americans and dangerous anti-American foreigners, that disturbs the sleep of Fearless Leader and those assigned the task of protecting him from reality.

Uncensored international news and opinion coming into the homes and minds of Americans, disturbing and disrupting the carefully nurtured political and moral ignorance of ordinary Americans, simply can not be tolerated. Informed citizens start wanting democracy, they start thinking they have rights.

No, we will have to do something about that, if the new America is to be free of antiquated and disquieting ideas of freedom of expression and other unpatriotic thoughts. Americans are free to buy anything they can afford. What other freedoms compare with that?

Fearless Leader seems to be afraid of a lot of things. He ran from Canadian Parliament, for fear of possible heckling from a couple of members of those staid old chambers. He won't eat dinner with other heads of state that haven't be frisked. He only wants committed supporters at his campaign rallies, and he fears any news or comment he doesn't control. He fears that Americans will finally wake up and realize that patriotism is about the country and its people, not about loyalty to a political demagogue.

Monday, December 06, 2004

Democrats Move to the Right...Again.

There has been some small rukus regarding these two statements, quoted below. released by well placed Democrats.

We've got to repudiate, you know, the most strident and insulting anti-American voices out there sometimes on our party's left... We can't have our party identified by Michael Moore and Hollywood as our cultural values.

Al From,CEO, Democratic Leadership Council

You know, let's let Hollywood and the Cannes Film Festival fawn all over Michael Moore. We ought to make it pretty clear that he sure doesn't speak for us when it comes to standing up for our country.

Will Marshall, President of the Progressive Policy Institute, the think-tank of the DLC

From an article by Matt Taibbi at New York Press

As I've said elsewhere, this continuing push to the right, by the Democratic national leadership, is disturbing but not surprising. It is the continuation of a long set trend in the leadership of the Party. Pushing ever further to the right.

The leadership seems to believe they will retain the democratic core, no matter what. So, they think the solution is to win a chunk of the conservative vote. They could be making a large mistake and pulling away from their core at the perfectly wrong time.

The next four years of Republican rule could well push the county to the left just as the Dems make their shift to the right. Left and Right just don't have the same meanings that they once had. The political middle appears to have shifted far to the right. Everybody to the left of Fearless Leader is now a Liberal, whether you think you are, or not.

The Democrats do not need to go any further to the right, to pick up the many disaffected old style conservatives, who I believe will fall away from the Republican umbrella over the next four years. Pulling further from its already hurting and demoralized base, will pave the way for a serious third party appearance. Especially as there will be so little difference between the Ds and Rs.

Maybe the DLC is marching right...into oblivion.

The DLC is so far removed from its political base it no longer knows where or what that base is. The Democratic Party leadership is trying to dance with the opposition and in doing so, is allowing the opposition to lead, to set the cadence.

Any decent boxing coach will tell you that when you control the cadence and the rhythm of the fight, you control the fight. You control the offensive action when your opponent only reacts to your pace.

Again, I believe the leadership of the Democratic Party rather thoughtlessly assumes their mass base will follow them, for lack of a real choice. I think they are dead wrong this time. If they are wrong, the price could be monumental as it may be remembered as the end of the Democrats.

I can perceive a possible future in which the Democrats are viewed as a third party vote spoiler, by all involved.

That may be far a fetched scenario but the next four to eight years are going to be very interesting times for the Democrats and their party.

Personally, I have no allegiance to the Democrats. They do not represent a real alternative to the corporate, anti-democratic forces that shape the Republican party. They are trying to make a hit on the same corporate casting couch.

One thing the Dem heads seem to lose sight of: For every 'swing voter' Moore lost them, he gained several new, first time voters for the Democrats. Moore does not need the Democrats.

I am hoping to see a real political alternative, born out of those who will spill from the Democratic Party. If those disaffected liberal democrats can link with people from outside the old party framework, new ideas will be born.

If something like a voting coalition could be formed or a unifying third party comes into existence, we still have the problem of a seriously dysfunctional electoral/voting system. The present system can not be trusted. It is corrupted, open to wide spread abuse, and does not inspire trust and respect on the part of the masses.

Frankly, it looks rigged.

Friday, December 03, 2004

The Missing Part of the Plan

America is well and truly stuck in Iraq. While the Pentagon and the White house continue to insist they are fighting 'terrorists', it is obvious, to the world, that the struggle in Iraq is now a popular war of resistance, an insurgency. An uprising, of the local inhabitants against a foreign occupier. An occupier whose benevolent intentions are demonstrated false, by the vicious, brutal reality of occupation.

Within weeks there will be 150,000 American military personnel in Iraq. Virtually the entire military. The 15,000 being deployed now, a month earlier than originally scheduled, are largely composed of poorly trained, badly equipped, National Guardsmen. You know, the last ditch home defense force.

Guardsmen have come forward with complaints and real concerns regarding their lack of preparation. These Guardsmen are expecting un-necessarily high casualty rates due to lack of theatre specific training. Poorly trained, conventional troops are being herded into an insurgent war they have not been trained for.

Let's think about that for a minute. Virtually your entire military, including your older home guard troops, are way over in Iraq. Furthermore, your civilian police and fire departments are suffering from the loss of some of their best, most experienced members. Lost to the National Guard, and nobody knows for how long.

What could possibly go wrong?

The hubris displayed by Washington is beyond belief. Making one political and military blunder after the other, while steadfastly denying that any mistakes are being made, the political and economic theorists guiding this administration, march in rigid lock step towards a disaster of historical proportions.

The price for this calamity will be borne, of course, by ordinary citizens. The ones who pay the taxes and provide their sons as gris for the war mill. Not the wealthy corporate elite. They no longer pay taxes and their sons and daughters are about as likely to be in service as the sons and daughters of members of the executive and legislative branches of this war loving government.

Bush and his loyalists, the only kind still working in Washington, are committed to fighting it out in Iraq, no matter the cost to Americans. Iraqis, more and more, are becoming committed to resisting this occupation.

There is no end in sight. The neocon theorists and corporate futurists have made the big obvious mistake futurists so often make. Their theories tend to ignore the people involved, assuming a population that is receptive to and malleable to corporate and technocratic interests. That is to say, these politicos ignore the political reality of the world they are planning to build. More hubris.

Given that the Bushites are committed to their plans and intentions, and the Iraqi people show a marked disregard for the wishes of Washington, American troops are going to be on the ground, in Iraq, for a long, long time.

Yet, the Army is already dangerously over committed. Recruitment numbers are sub par with little expectation of big changes. Arthritic pilots, in their fifties, are being called back to service. Discharge dates for active personnel are now for the "duration".
A tour of duty no longer has an end date. It's till your dead or till it's over.

The military can not continue to operate in this fashion. Without many fresh faces to fill the ranks, the military will begin to crumble from attrition and the morale problems that develop when soldiers are kept in combat too long. Much of the army is already past its 'best before' date.

The draft is coming back and it can't be delayed much longer. Bush and his advisors do not want to play that card. The draft is a dangerous political item. Opposition to the draft was a major part of the political beating the conservative elements took in the late sixties and seventies. Lessons not forgotten. Ergo the reluctance on the part of the administration to even talk about the draft.

Meanwhile, the structure of the new selective service system is being quietly put into place.

Around the 'net', I read quips and jokes by bright young guys talking about getting back into college to sit out the war. That isn't going to work this time. The laws were changed, by the Democrats, who sought to remove some of the class bias inherent in the old law. College deferments are now a thing of the past.

I believe the sons of the middle class are expected to play a much larger role in future corporate wars, than was expected of them in Vietnam.

The economy helped make that possible for the volunteer army. In peace time, the all volunteer military attracts the best and brightest of unemployed youth. For those with ambition, joining the army was a viable way for working and lower middle class youths to obtain technical and post secondary education.

War time service is very different. Those educational programs are still there but no one on the ground, in a war zone, has time, energy or inclination to cram for mid terms.

I do not doubt that loop holes will exist that will allow the sons of the political and economic elite to find deferments. The top echelon and the politically connected will have their get out free cards punched. Low level State department appointments. Medical deferments based on the best doctors and medical reports money can buy, etc., etc.

But, the blatant class nature of the draft, during Vietnam, was part of what made it politically dangerous. They won't make that mistake again. I believe they are counting on the propaganda machine to keep the patriots and conservatives in line when their kids come home in bags, or crippled, or crazy as hell.

With the built in population control features of the Patriot Act and the neocon grip on the corporate media, combined with the governments' regulatory powers over independent outlets, the Bush and his cronies may be able to control most of the population of America.

The rest of the world? Well, there lies the problem. The lack of passivity on the part of foreigners and 'darkies', wasn't part of the plan. That is the part the theorists and futurists never seem to consider, much less understand.

This dream of a neocon, corporate paradise is headed straight for hell. Too bad the rest of the world is in for the ride, as well.

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