31 July 2006

No, George, that's not why they hate us.

On July 28, George W. Bush and his lapdog Tony Blair gave a joint press conference in Washington to discuss the crisis in the Middle East and terrorism in general. And Bush once again illustrated why we cannot possibly win the war on terror under his so-called leadership.

Bush kept repeating a familiar refrain, over and over: The reason for terrorism is that they hate our democracy. The terrorists are the enemies of freedom.

Some excerpts from that press conference:

"In Lebanon, Hezbollah and its Iranian and Syrian sponsors are willing to kill, and to use violence to stop the spread of peace and democracy."

"It's really important for people to understand that terrorists are trying to stop the advance of freedom."

"There's a lot of suffering in the Palestinian Territory because militant Hamas is trying to stop the advance of democracy."

"There is suffering in Iraq because terrorists are trying to spread sectarian violence and stop the spread of democracy."

"Isn't it interesting, as a democracy takes hold in Iraq, that al Qaeda steps up its efforts to murder and bomb in order to stop the democracy?"

"They're violent, cold-blooded killers who are trying to stop the advance of freedom."

No, George, that's not why the terrorists hate us.

They hate us because of imperialistic attitudes like yours.

They hate the U.S. government's persistent meddling in the affairs of Arab nations. No one should be surprised at the insurgency in Iraq, a country that we attacked in an unprovoked war of aggression in defiance of the United Nations Security Council. They are responding to a violent ongoing occupation. They are responding to the destruction of their country by U.S. forces over the past three years that leaves them still today with a serious lack of jobs, a serious lack of clean water, unreliable electrical power (if any), and virtually no security.

They hate the presence of U.S. military bases on Arab land. Ironically, Osama bin Laden was trained by, and fought side-by-side with, the U.S. military during the 1979 Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. Osama's opinion of the U.S. changed when we set up a military base in Saudi Arabia after the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait. His response was in opposition to a Western military presence on Islamic holy ground.

They hate the U.S. government's financial and military support for Israel, which has been used to repress, terrorize, and slaughter Palestinian civilians, and now the Lebanese. Israel received $2.1 billion in military aid from the U.S. in 2003, and continues to reap similar rewards year after year. These American tax dollars have been used by the Israeli army and "settlers" to kill some 3,700 Palestinians – most of them unarmed and including over 600 children - since the start of the current intifada in September 2000. And now that aid is being used to kill innocent civilians in Lebanon.

In short, they hate us because they perceive the U.S. as a hostile, threatening force. And, at least in recent years, they're right.

It's not about democracy, and it's not about our freedom.

Do not buy into the claim by right-wing zealots that wanting to understand the terrorists' motivations is the same as sympathizing with the terrorists. Only by understanding their motivations can we address the true roots of terrorism. Anything less is like putting a Band-Aid on an otherwise untreated cancer.

30 July 2006

FEMA finally allows Katrina victims to speak

Update from a previous post:

Pressure from free-speech and free-press advocates finally got to FEMA. They have decided to stop preventing Katrina victims from speaking to the press. [Read story.]

This is very good news.

However, we must still be concerned about the fact that problem existed in the first place.

Riots erupt in Lebanon; Condi cowers in Israel

The Lebanese people have had enough. They are fed up with the killing of innocent civilians by the Israeli military. They've reached their breaking point. So today they stormed the UN headquarters in Beirut, in protest of the lack of international support for an immediate ceasefire (thanks in large part to hedging by the U.S.).

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice had been scheduled to visit that very building in Beirut today. But even Clueless Condi knows that she wouldn't be safe there today. So she cancelled the visit.

Instead she will remain in Jerusalem, clearly showing the Arab community which side she's more comfortable with.

And she continues to talk about how nice a ceasefire would be, even as she continues to hold out in favor of continued violence and bloodshed.

This is not the way to make progress in the "war on terror".

29 July 2006

Bush's bloodlust

Yesterday, George W. Bush and his lapdog Tony Blair gave a joint press conference in Washington to discuss the crisis in the Middle East and terrorism in general.

They talked about their goal of achieving "a lasting peace." But they obviously have no real interest in peace. The words just happen to sound good, and mask the real agenda.

If they truly want peace, they would support an immediate ceasefire.

They refuse to do so, saying that they instead want to address the root causes of terrorism.

But why can they not do that after first calling for a cease-fire?

Why do more innocent civilian children have to die?

This in itself is proof that Bush and Blair clearly do not give a damn.

28 July 2006

The army you have, not the army you want

Those currently in charge in the U.S. government keep talking about supporting the troops. But talk is cheap.

During a visit to the troops in Kuwait in December of 2004, when questioned about why so many military vehicles lacked the necessary armor for battle, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld responded by saying that "you have to go to war with the army you have, not the army you want."


And, almost two years later, the army's equipment still falls short. [Read story.]

The chickenhawks in our government call their critics "un-American", but what could be more un-American than sending our troops to war without the equipment they need to stay alive and win?

It has been almost two years since Rumsfeld made his condescending statement that basically boiled down to "armor is for sissies." The fact that the army is still under-equipped is inexcusable. And it demonstrates quite clearly that the Bush administration simply does not care.

27 July 2006

Another step backwards for women's rights

On Tuesday, the U.S. Senate passed legislation making it a felony to accompany a minor across state borders to obtain an abortion.

So, if a teenage girl gets pregnant, but her parents are not the kind who would be supportive or understanding, the girl's kind aunt (or sister, or cousin, etc.) cannot intervene and help her out of the mess by taking her to the nearest clinic which just happens to be in another state. Not without the consent of the possibly psycho parents. Even in the case of incest.

This is yet another step towards total right-wing religious fundamentalist control and subjugation of women by a vocal minority who are apparently very insecure in their masculinity (or their femininity) and are scared to death of women. For some reason, they feel horribly threatened by the prospect of a woman having sovereignty over her own body.

This is sad and this is pathetic. It's also maddening.

To read an excellent news release about this from the National Organization for Women (NOW), click here.

26 July 2006

Amnesty takes on Internet freedom violations in China - while Bush cozies up to Hu Jintao

Last week, Amnesty International released a report detailing the roles of Yahoo!, Microsoft, and Google in censoring Internet speech in China. [Read Amnesty's press release on this subject.]

The Chinese government has been cracking down on chat rooms, blogs, and other online venues where people post ideas that the government disapproves of.

Furthermore, the Chinese government has imprisoned some folks who have expressed viewpoints online that the government doesn't like. And the Internet companies like Yahoo! have provided identifying information that have allowed the Chinese authorities to track down, arrest, and imprison these "cyber-criminals".

These people are imprisoned solely for the peaceful expression of their beliefs. That makes them prisoners of conscience. And they're likely being tortured. Just for blogging. Or for chatting. Just for saying what they think.

This is in violation of the so many human rights standards and treaties.

Yet George W. Bush continues to cozy up to Chinese President Hu Jintao. (That's because China has money.)

Bush pays obligatory lip service to human rights when dealing with China. But he hardly provides a good example as our own rights are increasingly diminished here in the U.S.

We need to set a precedent by protesting Internet censorship by the Chinese government before it spreads any further.

25 July 2006

John Bolton, the undiplomatic diplomat

Last year, George W. Bush bypassed the Senate and appointed John Bolton to his current position as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.

This Thursday, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee will finally hold confirmation hearings. This should be interesting. [Read story.]

Bolton has a reputation as a hotheaded bully with no interest in, nor respect for, international cooperation.

The UN is a diplomatic organization. Our ambassador should be a diplomat, not a bully. John Bolton has repeatedly berated the UN and discounted its role in the world. Appointing John Bolton to be our UN ambassador is like appointing David Duke to the Board of the NAACP, or appointing Pastor Fred Phelps to be ambassador to the gay community.

A Bolton confirmation will only further erode our nation's reputation in the eyes of the world.

24 July 2006

Doctor and nurses arrested for prevention of suffering

Last week, a doctor and two nurses were arrested for the suspected mercy killing of trapped hospital patients during Hurricane Katrina. They allegedly over-medicated some stranded patients with morphine and a sedative.

The authorities are calling it second-degree murder. [Read story.]

Now imagine this: You are trapped in a hospital bed, sick and unable to move. The power is out, and you are sweltering in the dark summer heat without air conditioning.

The city is flooding, there is no rescue in sight, and the hospital is rapidly filling with water. You are going to die.

Which would you prefer:

a) Drowning in the filthy flood waters in your hospital bed, in the sweltering heat, in the dark?


b) Dying a quick and painless death via morphine and a sedative?

Would anyone really choose option "a"? Would the district attorneys really choose "a"?

23 July 2006

Condi Rice wants more dead babies

Ever since the current round of violence took hold on the Middle East last week, the majority of victims have been civilians. Old men. Women. Childen. Little babies. Sick people. On both sides.

So, of course, much of the world is calling for a cease-fire. Gotta stop the violence for now, to save the innocent civilians. Then we can try to work things out amongst the parties who really are responsible for this mess.

But the Bush administration disagrees. There just aren't enough dead babies yet. Keep those explosions coming! That's the only way to "win"!

George W. Bush, Condi Rice, and the rest of the administration apparently have no empathy for the innocent victims of this violence that they think should continue.

How can they sleep at night?

22 July 2006

FEMA plays Big Brother

It seems that FEMA is still doing a heck of a job in Louisiana.

According to an article last week in the Baton Rouge Advocate, guards are keeping watch over the FEMA trailer parks that house displaced victims of Hurricane Katrina. The guards are prohibiting journalists from talking with the hurricane victims unless a FEMA public relations representative is present. [Read story.]

"FEMA" is an acronym for "Federal Emergency Management System". Their job is to manage emergencies. So they're managing this emergency almost a year later by silencing the victims.

What are they afraid of? What do they not want the public to hear?

21 July 2006

Judicial genocide

A 2003 study of death sentences in Pennsylvania found that African-American defendants were far more likely to receive the death penalty than were people of other ethnic origins who committed similar crimes.

And an article this week by IPS News confirms that this isn't just a Pennsylvania thing.

The article quotes a study which found that juries in the U.S. "tend to hand down the death penalty twice as often to black defendants with stereotypically black features like darker skin, bigger noses and fuller lips, than to those perceived to have less stereotypically black features." [Read story.]

Wow. So it's all about what they look like, not what they actually do.

The blacker you are, the more you deserve to die. The whiter you are, the more you deserve to live.

And this is called our "justice" system?

Where is the justice?

And who are the real criminals here?

20 July 2006

Haunted by the ghost of Ken Lay

It's Thursday morning, and I've spent much of the past 36 hours without power, after unusually heavy storms tore through the Philadelphia area on Tuesday night, taking down trees, power lines, and the roofs of some people's homes.

My power is back on now, but some friends and colleagues farther out in the boonies are still suffering without air conditioning in this heat wave, and tossing out the thawed and spoiled contents of their freezers.

So, having experienced little sleep and much aggravation over the past day and a half, I'm not up to writing much today. Instead, I will let Greg Palast do the talking. His latest column, titled Ken Lay's Alive!, is a timely one for those of us affected by the power outages. [Read it.]

19 July 2006

Senate votes in favor of stem cell research, but Bush will veto

Some of us saw it coming.

Yesterday, the Senate voted to expand federal funding of embryonic stem cell research, which could lead to cures for numerous diseases and disorders.

However, George W. Bush continues to insist that people should suffer and die instead. So he will veto the bill.

According to an Associated Press article about the bill, it passed four votes short of the two-thirds majority needed to override Bush's veto.

This is what Bush calls his "culture of life".

18 July 2006

Unlike Jesus, Bush does not want to cure disease

This week, the U.S. Senate will be debating the Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act, which would rescind George W. Bush's 2001 ban on federal support for embryonic stem cell research. The bill is expected to pass.

Stem cell research is our best hope right now for finding cures for Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, diabetes, and countless other diseases.

But Bush is threatening a veto. He continues to denounce this important medical research. He lumps it in with abortion. In George W. Bush's distorted worldview, stem cell research is a violation of the sanctity of life.

Never mind the fact that those stem cells are not what most of us would consider viable life. And most are going to be routinely discarded anyway.

George W. Bush doesn't care about the suffering of the ill. He doesn't care about science. He only cares about the support of the irrational "religious right". So Karl Rove keeps feeding him the kind of emotional sound bytes that will motivate the faithful to abandon common sense, logic, reason, and science in favor of knee-jerk, emotional rhetoric.

Bush calls himself a Christian. But wasn't Jesus Christ all about caring for the sick? Didn't Jesus work miracles to cure lepers?

Now we have an opportunity to work our own miracles to cure disease. So wouldn't that be the Christian thing to do?

17 July 2006

British newspaper says U.S. may be going bankrupt

The poor money management skills of the Bush administration are no surprise to anyone who has been paying attention over the past five years. After all, they wasted no time in transforming a record surplus into a record deficit.

But it's rather embarrassing to see that the foreign press is focusing on it (although they should). [Read story.]

Remember when the Republican party stood as the party of fiscal responsibility?

Even today, they mock the stereotypes of "tax-and-spend liberals" even as they themselves engage in ridiculous spending while giving tax cuts only to the richest of the rich. That, my friends, is not fiscal responsibility.

I think we need to put some Democrats back in charge. The Democratic party seems to have become the real party of fiscal responsibility, as evidenced by Bill Clinton as POTUS, Howard Dean as Governor, and others.

Otherwise, we'd better all brush up on our foreign language skills, since so much of the U.S. is now owned by Communist China and other foreign interests, since Bush essentially sold us to the highest bidder.

16 July 2006

Why so much war?

I am concerned about all the war (and threats of war) in the world today.

U.S. troops are stuck policing a civil war in Iraq.

U.S. troops are still in Afghanistan after more than four years, with inadequate support and a resurgence of the Taliban.

Israel and Lebanon are pounding each other with bombs and missiles.

North Korea is waving its nukes in defiance of U.N. sanctions.

And, as many Americans are still unaware, there is genocide going on in Sudan.

Why so much war?

Why so much hate?

Why so much aggression?

Why so much indifference?

15 July 2006

World War III, Armageddon, or just another Middle East flare-up?

I am nervous about the escalating violence in the Middle East.

Tensions have been high for decades, but have gotten considerably worse since George W. Bush launched a war of aggression against Iraq. We're seeing a clash of civilizations, East vs. West, fueled by old grudges and exacerbated by Bush's reckless foreign policies, and it has finally reached the boiling point.

Bush blames it all on Hezbollah, even as much of the world is suggesting that Israel may be overreacting to the kidnapping of its soldiers with its bombing the heck out of Lebanon. And Bush has even rejected Lebanon's call for a ceasefire.

All sides in this fiasco are to blame. And all sides need to stop the violence. But at this point there seems to be no end in sight.

I fear that this isn't just another Middle East flare-up. This is potentially very, very big. And some of the parties involved have nukes.

14 July 2006

Civil rights group publishes declassified accounts of torture at Gitmo. Middle America shrugs.

Earlier this week, the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) released a 51-page report detailing numerous instances of torture and ill-treatment at Guantanamo. The report is based on declassified accounts of detainees and their attorneys.

The following is from a synopsis of the report published on the CCR site:
“This report authoritatively documents the Bush Administration’s systematic human rights abuses at Guantánamo. I think the torture and abuse detailed here will shock Congress and the American public because it reveals a lawless, immoral and ineffective detention facility and undermines the administration’s increasingly desperate attempts to lie about what is happening down there,” said CCR Legal Director Bill Goodman. “This report tells a story of abuse and the betrayal of our laws at the highest levels of government, which is why the Supreme Court just had to step in and order the President to treat detainees humanely and provide due process. Before Congress rushes to give the President cover with unnecessary new legislation, I hope it will review the record and provide real oversight, starting with an independent investigation of the base,” he added.
[Read more and download the report.]

How can some Americans (i.e., all those apathetic or complacent or brainwashed types) sit comfortably on their couches and not want to scream at the atrocities being committed in our name and with our tax dollars?

13 July 2006

Don't worry about New York, we must protect the goats and ponies!

Yesterday I learned that the Department of Homeland Security's list of most vulnerable sites includes a petting zoo in Alabama, a kangaroo conservation center in Georgia, and a bean festival in Arkansas. [Read story.]

The list does not include the Statue of Liberty, the Empire State Building, Times Square, or the Brooklyn Bridge. Those little items are not considered national icons or monuments, so not worth protecting.

We just need to focus our tax dollars on defending the goats and ponies at that Alabama petting zoo. The Statue of Liberty can take care of herself.

Now don't you feel safe and well protected?

And, while I'm no conspiracy nut, isn't it interesting to consider that Alabama, Georgia, and Arkansas are "red states", while New York is blue?

12 July 2006

Bush administration finally recognizes Geneva Conventions (or so they say)

One of the big news stories yesterday was that the Bush administration has finally "ordered a review of military detention practices to make sure that they comply with Geneva standards." [Read story.] Previously, they had tapdanced around the Geneva Conventions by saying that the Conventions don't apply to people whom they might arbitrarily choose to label "unlawful combatants".

Interestingly, White House Press Secretary Tony Snow responded to all this by insisting that all detainees in U.S. custody have been treated humanely.

Exuse me?

Has he not seen the photos from Abu Ghraib???!!!

11 July 2006

Massachusetts to reconsider gay marriage? Why?

Same-sex marriage has been legal in Massachusetts since 2004. In the two years since then, some 8,000 gay and lesbian couples have married in that state. And, since then, contrary to right-wing propaganda, gay marriage in that state does not seem to have destroyed the institution of marriage. In other words, I don't think huge numbers of heterosexual married couples have sought divorce in the past two years in Massachusetts as a result of the gay couple down the street getting married. And I don't think they're going to start doing so any time soon.

However, it seems that some legislators are having second thoughts, and are trying to reverse the earlier decision via a 2008 ballot referendum. [Read story.]

What in the world are they afraid of?

10 July 2006

A must-see film: The Road to Guantanamo

Over the weekend, I had the opportunity to see the film The Road to Guantanamo. This documentary tells the story of three young British citizens of Pakistani descent who were held for more than two years at Guantanamo without charges before finally being returned to Britain and released.

Through interviews with the young men, combined with reenactments of their experiences, the movie provides powerful and frightening insights into the horrific treatment and sense of hopelessness facing detainees.

Everyone needs to see this movie. It is currently in limited release around the U.S., and I'm hoping for wider distribution in the coming weeks.

To view the trailer and find a theater near you, go to the movie's official website: www.roadtoguantanamomovie.com

If it's not playing in your town, please talk to the manager of your local theater and request that he show this movie. Tell all your friends to do the same.

This film will surely move you.

And it will make you mad as hell.

09 July 2006

If we can't stop attacks in our own airspace, how can we stop North Korea?

North Korea continues to talk tough as it waves its nukes at the U.S. and the world.

Meantime, we've sent a warship described as a top-of-the-line guided missile destroyer to Japan. If that kind of posturing isn't provocative (particularly considering Bush's reputation as a bring-'em-on bully), what is?

Now, as someone pointed out to me recently, if our military couldn't even intercept some hijacked planes on 9/11, how can we have any confidence in their ability to intercept any North Korean missiles that might be headed our way?

08 July 2006

Yesterday's coincidence

Yesterday was the one-year anniversary of the London subway bombings. I vividly remember that day, and how I spent the morning trying to verify that my London-based acquaintances were all safe. (They were.) Those London bombings made it clear that the English-speaking world is still vulnerable to terrorist attacks.

Coincidentally (?), on the same day that we were observing the anniversary of the London bombings, the media went wild with the news that authorities had thwarted a plot to bomb some New York City tunnels and flood lower Manhattan's financial district. [Read story.] Homeland Security Secretary Chertoff stepped up to give himself credit for the accomplishment. He wants us all to know that he's keeping us safe (even as our ports and cargo holds remain unsecured almost five years after the 9/11 attacks).

It's also interesting to note that this plot was uncovered by the FBI's monitorinig of Internet chat rooms, not by warrantless wiretaps or monitoring of the financial transactions of ordinary Americans.

But, lest I appear overly cynical, I do want to thank everyone involved with uncovering and thwarting the tunnel-bombing plot. It's not enough, but it does count.

07 July 2006

Bush vs. the Axis of Evil: He doesn't care about WMDs, only oil

When George W. Bush delivered his State of the Union Address in January of 2002, we were already at war in Afghanistan, rightfully seeking justice against al-Qaeda, and the Taliban who harbored them, in retaliation for the attacks of 9/11. Good. We were on the right track. We were going to get Osama and his deputies, break up al-Qaeda, and take out their financing and other support systems. Cool. Kick ass.

But anyone who was really paying attention to that State of the Union speech had to have seen it coming. This was the speech in which Bush defined his new "axis of evil" -- North Korea, Iran, and Iraq -- who, he told us, were seeking weapons of mass destruction and posed "a grave and growing danger"! Oh my!

He told this to an American public still numb over the 9/11 attacks. America was too shell-shocked to think it through. So they trusted their president.

He took that trust and look what he did with it.

He diverted troops from their noble mission in Afghanistan and sent them into Iraq instead. It didn't matter that the U.N. weapons inspectors had found no WMDs there. We were told that Iraq had them anyway, damn it, and Rumsfeld knew exactly where they were located ("in the area around Tikrit and Baghdad and east, west, south and north somewhat")! Trust us.

And what a mess we've made there! We've got a raging insurgency and civil war, and the American troops caught up in it are dying at an alarming rate. The innocent Iraqi civilians still don't have more than a few hours of electricity per day, and they're lucky if they have clean water. Many are still unemployed, having lost their livelihoods when Bush started bombing more than three years ago. And they cannot feel safe when they leave their homes. Yep, that's George W. Bush, self-proclaimed "Compassionate Conservative". (Would someone please give him a dictionary?)

So, like a spoiled child who trashes one toy and then moves on to another, Bush now sets his sights on Iran. Iran also has no WMDs. In fact, sources say that Iran is at least 10 years away from developing nuclear weapons. But that doesn't stop Bush from warning them that "all options are on the table".

Whoa there, tough guy.

In the meantime, North Korea has been waving nukes at us -- nukes that could potentially reach U.S. soil. Bush responds with gratuitous rhetoric, but it's clear that North Korea -- the one nation in his "axis of evil" that really does have WMDs -- isn't so high on his list of priorities.

Could it be that tough-guy Bush is afraid to deal with real WMDs?

Or could it be that North Korea isn't sitting on quite enough oil?

06 July 2006

The war on terror is over. Bush cuts and runs.

For years, Karl Rove's propaganda machine has been working overtime at brainwashing the intellectually lazy American sheep into believing that Iraq was behind 9/11, it appears that Bush and the CIA have fallen for their own disinformation. They closed the CIA unit that was searching for uber-terrorist Osama bin Laden. [Read story.]

Ironically, as pointed out in Capitol Hill Blue, the news comes as the widow of Iraq al-Qaida leader Abu Musab al-Zargawi claims his own organization sold him out in exchange for a U.S. promise to ease up on the hunt for Osama bin Laden." [Read more.]

But I'm no conspiracy theorist, and it really doesn't matter to me very much whether or not it was part of a deal.

What it boils down to is this:

Sorry, suckers, but Bush isn't interested in fighting a real war on terror or keeping us safe. His fear-based campaign rhetoric was, of course, a smokescreen.

Instead of keeping up the hunt for bin Laden in 2003, Bush decided to divert our resources and go after Saddam instead, although Saddam and Iraq posed no imminent terroristic threat to the U.S.

And now he's thinking about nuking Iran, which poses no imminent terroristic threat to the U.S.

The war on terrorism is dead, and has been for some time. Apparently, it has morphed into a war on any country that Bush might identify as a threat to the free flow of oil into his bank accounts and the accounts of his cronies.

Bush is, in fact, keeping us less safe.

And he rests knowing that the red-state sheep are all impressed by the fact that Saddam, Uday, Qusay, and al-Zarqawi are dead. Nice trophies, George. Osama is impressed.

Barring impeachment, we'll have to endure 2+ more years of this.

05 July 2006

Rumsfeld subpoenaed in Abu Ghraib whistleblower investigation

The story goes that an Army whistleblower in the Abu Ghraib torture scandal faced retribution in a typical Bush administration shoot-the-messenger exercise.

Then, when a Congressional committee investigating the matter sent a letter to Rumsfeld seeking information about the case, Rumsfeld chose to ignore it. In other words, the U.S. Secretary of Defense deliberately failed to cooperate with an official investigation by the U.S. Congress on a very important matter of national interest in the "war on terror".

Rumsfeld wouldn't even take a few minutes to return a phone call.

So, given no other choice, a subpoena has been issued. [Read story.]

Will Rumsfeld comply now?

Or will he still somehow manage to evade all accountability?

04 July 2006

America the senile

America is 230 years old today. And, as sometimes happens with age, it looks like dementia has set in.

Gone is the bold idealism of her youth. This 230-year-old America has lost her way.

She has lost sight of her history and the values that made her great. She forgets who she is and what she stands for.

She doesn't acknowledge the true patriots who love her, but submits to the selfish agenda of her caretakers.

We need an antidote quickly, lest she die.

03 July 2006

Execution and America's culture of death

Yesterday, 02 July 2006, was the 30th anniversary of Gregg v. Georgia, in which the Supreme Court essentially reinstated the death penalty in this country.

Most of the western world has abolished the death penalty. Not us, however. In fact, the United States, China, Iran, and Saudi Arabia currently account for over 80% of the executions recorded by Amnesty International.

Great company, huh?

I've written in the past about why the U.S. should join the rest of the civilized world and abolish the barbaric practice of execution. And I've met enough exonerated death row prisoners to know that we cannot risk executing an innocent person.

All these things considered, how can our state and federal governments still propagate this practice?

I'm not talking about freeing death row inmates. I'm talking about life in prison with no parole.

Why do we instead insist on killing people to show that killing people is wrong?

As Gandhi so wisely said, "An eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind."

To read an Amnesty International statement for the 30th anniversary of Gregg v. Georgia, and for links to more info on why we must abolish the death penalty, click here.

02 July 2006

"W" stands for hubris and hypocrisy

Yesterday, in his weekly radio address, George W. Bush stated the following:

"As we celebrate the 4th, we also remember that the promises of liberty contained in our Declaration apply to all people. Because Americans believe that freedom is an unalienable right, we value the freedom of every person in every nation. And because we are committed to the God-given worth of every life, we strive to promote respect for human dignity."

Wait a minute.

Of course Americans believe that freedom is an unalienable right. We don't need George to tell us that. But why does he dangle it in front of our faces even as his warrantless spying programs and other policies are chipping away at those freedoms? So the sheep will fall prey to the mantra and still believe that we're free even in Bush's Amerika?

And how cute that he's trying to convince us that "we" strive to promote respect for human dignity. His torture policies hardly demonstrate a respect for human dignity.

Talk is cheap, Mr. President.

01 July 2006

What would Jefferson think?

With the upcoming July 4th holiday, patriotic Americans everywhere will likely spend some time reflecting on the values upon which this nation was founded.

Here in Philadelphia, more than 200 years ago, our Founding Fathers created this wonderful experiment called democracy - a government of, by, and for We The People, in which all are created equal and endowed with certain inalienable rights.

They created a Constitution designed to grow as our democracy grows, and as new necessary freedoms are identified.

And they implemented a system of checks and balances to distribute the power amongst three branches of government, to prevent the tyranny that they knew could result if all power were concentrated in too few hands.

It was great while it lasted.

Today, the Bush administration seems set on an agenda to systematically dismantle our rights and freedoms, one by one, and take this nation from a democracy of the people to a tyranny of greed. What would our Founding Fathers think?

Our Founding Fathers carefully enacted the Fourth Amendment to ensure our privacy and to protect us from unreasonable search and seizure. What would they think of Bush's policy of spying on the American people without the required judicial oversight to ensure reasonable cause?

Our Founding Fathers, believing that religion is a private matter which, as Jefferson wrote "lies solely between man & his god," deliberately built a wall of separation between church and state. What would they think of today's immense influence of the so-called Religious Right in American politics, or pastors instructing their congregations on how to vote?

Our Founding Fathers wrote that "all men are created equal." That's ALL men, not just straight men. What would they think of efforts to write inequality into the Constitution via an official decree that all heterosexuals are created equal, but that gays are second-class citizens?

Our Founding Fathers recognized the importance of a free press, with the understanding that a democracy requires an informed populace. What would they think of the White House's habit of paying "journalists" under the table to tout the administration's policies?

Our Founding Fathers understood the importance of international intelligence gathering in national defense. They created the Committee of Correspondence, which was quickly renamed the Committee of Secret Correspondence, underscoring the importance of protecting covert overseas operations. What would they think of senior White House officials deliberately leaking the name of a covert CIA operative to the press in order to punish and discredit her husband, who had publicly challenged their justifications for war?

Our Founding Fathers established the right to due process via the Fifth Amendment, which states that "No person shall . . . be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law." What would they think of the Bush administration's policy of holding suspects in the "war on terror" indefinitely without charge and with no means of challenging their detention in a court of law?

Our Founding Fathers established the Eighth Amendment, which declares that "no one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment or punishment." What would they think of Abu Ghraib, or of George W. Bush's decision to weaken the McCain anti-torture amendment with a signing statement reserving for himself the "right" to torture people?

It's time to stop this insanity and take our country back.

The more we allow them to erode our rights, the harder it will be to get them back, and the longer it will take. It's time to draw the line.

This July 4th, as we celebrate the birth of American democracy, I call on all patriotic citizens of this nation to stand up for the principles set forth by our Founding Fathers. Contact your elected officials and tell them it's time to end this un-American madness.

Let's make our Founding Fathers proud.