Sunday, February 26, 2006

The false outrage in Washington

Well, politicians and radio talk show hosts are inflaming the American public over the recent Dubai ports deal. Bipartisan demagoguery is apparently de rigueur in Washington now. Don't believe the hype. There is nothing sinister about the ports deal. Allow me to sum up the main argument against the deal: "We cannot hand over security to a country that had two of the 9-11 hijackers."

This is a red herring. Security of our ports remains in the hands of the Coast Guard and Customs. Rich Lowry of the National Review makes the following point (see article here):

A management company has very little to do with port security. It unloads cargo containers and then holds them until they are hauled out by trucks. As homeland-security expert Stewart Verdery says, this is but a small part of the process. The U.S. begins screening select cargo containers at their port of departure. Then, when they are on their way here, computer-based risk analysis is done to decide which containers need further scrutiny.

I will quote two more port security experts (source is the Wall Street Journal):

Stephen Flynn (former Coast Guard commander):"The issue of who owns the terminal is less important than whether there are credible security measures in place and enough oversight of them."

Kristi Clemens, an assistant commissioner at Customs and Border Protection:"The security of America's ports and the security of cargo coming to this country will not change with this transaction."

Please don't believe the spin that a terrorist-friendly country is taking over our ports. The UAE has been very cooperative with U.S. authorities in cracking down on terrorist financing, among other things. Furthermore, as David Brooks of the New York Times points out: UAE ports service U.S. military ships and operates facilities in Australia, Germany, China, and Korea. These other countries apparently don't have guardians of the public trust like Hillary Clinton, so they are free to do business even with Arab countries.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

"Liberated Iraq"

Most of you by now have heard of the recent bombing of the Shiite mosque and the brutal reprisals of the Shiites against Sunnis. Many of you may not have heard of the following activities by Islamic extremists in Baghdad, courtesy of Paul Garwood of the AP:

Barbers are being killed for for cutting beards and removing facial hair. Why? Well, radical Muslims consider removing facial hair "unIslamic." Also, religious extremists have been blamed for bombing liquor stores and for killing DVD vendors that show scantily clad women or modern Western music (horror of horrors!).

There are other examples of Islamic violence in the article-I would post a link but I can't find it- but I think the point is made. I draw two pretty obvious conclusions from this story:

1. Invading Iraq was really a huge mistake.
2. I think the myth of Islam being a religion of "peace" has been finally obliterated for all time.

The country is on the verge of civil war. Wasn't-if I recall correctly- the argument against withdrawal was that the country would descend into chaos if U.S. troops left? I think that ship has sailed. It's time to withdraw from Iraq. Our presence there is doing no good.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

The utterly trivial news media

As readers of this blog probably already know, I am a major critic of the mainstream media. I have always considered it to be obsessed with trivia- see the Dick Cheney hunting "scandal" coverage (or the tremendous coverage of Chandra Levy, Natalee Holloway, and of course Monica Lewinsky). Liberal columnist Peter Beinart has a great column on this trivia obsession at The New Republic. His complaint is that the recent developments in Iraq- namely the election of Islamic fundamentalists to top positions in the new Iraqi government- has been all but ignored by the media. He randomly checked CNN's list of stories and found the list to be utterly trivial. See the following paragraph:

Instead, a brief glance at CNN's primetime lineup for Tuesday, February 14 (the day this column was written) promises stories on adolescent wrestling, dangerous dog treats, a teenage murderer, an interview with Judge Judy, wasteful post-Katrina spending, a company that is implanting tracking chips in its employees, and a woman who says her dog discovered her cancer. Americans may be ignorant about the country where our troops are dying--a place that could imperil our security for years to come. But, when it comes to the disease-detection potential of the family pooch, we can finally render an informed judgment. It's about time.

It's funny, in a way, but it's also upsetting. See also Jonathan Chait's article in the
LA Times. Like me, Chait despises the Bush administration, but still thinks the Cheney shooting coverage has been excessive. He actually contends-correctly, I think- that the issues that actually affect us the most are always covered the least.

This dereliction of duty by the media is dangerous to our system of government. A self-governing people requires information on the conduct of their rulers, as John Adams and Thomas Jefferson pointed out many years ago. How can an American citizen evaluate the performance of the government when the news media is obsessed with missing teenagers or presidential blowjobs? Of course he can't. I wish I had a suggestion for improving this situation, but I don't. I have no idea what can be done to hold the news media accountable. I suppose writing letters to the editor of the major newspapers/ TV stations might be a start, but that's about all I have now. Any suggestions?

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Column of the year

It's early, but so far Eric Alterman has written the best column of 2006. Here it is, in the February 20 Nation magazine. As he points out, the press has lost all interest in Bush's Iraq deceptions (e.g. the Niger-uranium story ,the Saddam-9-11 "connection",etc..)

The big-name pundits such as David Broder have declared the war scandals old news. As Alterman points out, the foul fiends of the liberal press completely ignored the damning revelations of the Downing Street memo. They just can't reach the depths of anger they previously attained during the Monica Lewinsky "scandal". It seems to me that lying about war ought to be considered, at the very least, as important as lying about a consensual affair.

What's the big deal?

I strongly dislike Vice President Dick Cheney. He is a consummate liar. One egregious example of this was his claim that there was a verified meeting between a 9-11 terrorist and a Iraqi inteligence agent (the story was discredited by the FBI). I hold him as responsible as anyone for the disastrous Iraq war. He is also a vulgar man who told a U.S. Senator to f-ck himself.

Having said that, I don't see the point of the vast media coverage of his hunting accident. This, like the Monica Lewinsky "scandal", does not concern the American public. It is a private mistake. Hunting accidents, unfortunately, happen. People blasting shotguns in the woods is a dangerous activity. Let's focus on some real issues--such as Bush's false claims that there was a thwarted terror attack on L.A. Time to move on.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Is Bush lying again?

Perhaps the terror plot against Los Angeles that President Bush says was prevented never existed. Liberal critics of Bush have accused him of using terror threats for political gain. Perhaps naively, I assumed the President of the United States would not resort to such despicable tactics. Apparently, I was wrong. The following quotes come courtesy of the media watchdog FAIR :

In the current round of reporting on the story, some newspapers have noted the dissent over the alleged plot. The Washington Post (2/10/06) cited "several U.S. intelligence officials" who "said there is deep disagreement within the intelligence community over the seriousness of the Library Tower scheme and whether it was ever much more than talk." And the New York Daily News (2/10/06) cited one senior counterterrorism official who said: "There was no definitive plot. It never materialized or got past the thought stage." (Emphasis added).

Query: why is this not front-page news? This is certainly a bigger story than Dick Cheney accidentally shooting some banker on a hunt. If the intelligence analysts are right--and I have no reason to believe otherwise--Bush is a national disgrace. Even Sean Hannity might hesitate to defend him.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Bush administration v. free speech

The Bush administration is continuing its assault on the freedoms of American citizens. This particular story was brought to my attention at Andrew Sullivan's excellent blog ( link here) . This is the disturbing story in a nutshell: a nurse is being charged with "sedition" for writing a letter critical of the Bush administration (I know, how dare she!) This is not long after Cindy Sheehan (who I do not like) was absurdly arrested for wearing a T-shirt critical of the Iraq war. Here's the link to the report in the Alibi.

The nurse wrote a fairly tame letter--criticizing Bush for Katrina, Iraq, global warming, etc.. I've read worse at the letters sections of my local paper. Apparently, VA Information Security employees seized her computer at the local VA hospital where she works. The VA's chief of Human Resources said this was done because ""The agency is bound by law to investigate and pursue any act which potentially represents sedition." Sedition, for those unfamiliar with the law, entails a plot to overthrow the government by force. The penalty can be up to 20 years in jail. The nurse's lawyer makes a damning accusation: "The administration," he says, "has developed a culture of fear around federal employees." Yes, I would agree.

Is there a historical precedent for this kind of harassment and contempt for the First Amendment? Unfortunately, yes--in the administration of Woodrow Wilson, where people protesting World War I were routinely given harsh jail sentences. For example, a woman who wrote "I am for the people and the government is for the profiteers" was sentenced to ten years in prison. As I consider Wilson the worst president of all time, I hardly think this is an example Bush ought to follow.

This is the letter. Try as I might, I can't see any treason behind it.

Dear Alibi,

I am furious with the tragically misplaced priorities and criminal negligence of this government. The Katrina tragedy in the U.S. shows that the emperor has no clothes! Bush and his team partied and delayed while millions of people were displaced, hundreds of thousands were abandoned to a living hell. Thousands more died of drowning, dehydration, hunger and exposure; most bodies remain unburied and rotting in attics and floodwater. Is this America the beautiful?

The risk of hurricane disaster was clearly predicted, yet funds for repair work for the Gulf States barrier islands and levee system were unconscionably diverted to the Iraq War. Money and manpower and ethics have been diverted to fight a war based on absolute lies!

As a VA nurse working with returning OIF vets, I know the public has no sense of the additional devastating human and financial costs of post-traumatic stress disorder; now we will have hundreds of thousands of our civilian citizens with PTSD as well as far too many young soldiers, maimed physically or psychologically—or both—spreading their pain, anger and isolation through family and communities for generations. And most of this natural disaster and war tragedy has been preventable ... how very, very sad!

In the meantime, our war-fueled federal deficit mushrooms—and whither this debt now, as we care for the displaced and destroyed?

Bush, Cheney, Chertoff, Brown and Rice should be tried for criminal negligence. This country needs to get out of Iraq now and return to our original vision and priorities of caring for land and people and resources rather than killing for oil.

Katrina itself was the size of New Mexico. Denials of global warming are ludicrous and patently irrational at this point. We can anticipate more wild, destructive weather to occur as a response stress of the planet. We need to wake up and get real here, and act forcefully to remove a government administration playing games of smoke and mirrors and vicious deceit. Otherwise, many more of us will be facing living hell in these times. (end of letter)

Did I miss the recent amendment to the Constitution repealing the First Amendment?

Monday, February 06, 2006

One-world economy?

U.S. economic sovereignty is threatened by globalist elites looking to integrate all national economies into a single economic union. John Birch Society paranoia, right? Not at all. This is the conclusion of a mainstream economist, Jeff Faux, writing in the The Nation. Faux quotes a former director-general of the World Trade Organization as saying-ominously?-: "We are no longer writing the rules of interaction among separate national economies. We are writing the constitution of a single global economy." (Emphasis added by Faux.)

What does this one-world economy mean to average Americans? Faux thinks (and I agree) the world economy will be structured like the disastrous NAFTA treaty where "international investors are given extraordinary rights to override government protections of workers and the environment." Remember GATT? Unelected bureaucrats were invalidating U.S. environmental, health, and safety laws under the guise of "free trade." We need to stop this transformation of sovereignty now before our economy is reduced to the level of a Third World country.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Assault on free speech

Islamic extremists, their sensitivities jarred by a series of cartoons, are launching an assault on freedom of the press and free speech. This is happening, regrettably, not just in America but worldwide. They are being abetted by the Vatican, which preposterously claimed, "The right to freedom of thought and expression ... cannot entail the right to offend the religious sentiment of believers." Well, actually, yes it does entail exactly that right. Speech that has to conform to the sensitivities of religious believers is not truly free.

A few examples of the radical Islamists' contempt for freedom are in this article. Here's two quick instances of censorship:
1. Two Jordanian editors whose newspapers published the cartoons were arrested yesterday.
2. A South African court banned the country's Sunday newspapers from reprinting the cartoons.

One slightly related item-our friends at CAIR are back in the news. They too are objecting to insensitive language. Our self-appointed religious sensitivity police sent a letter to President Bush stating that he avoid "hot-button terms" in his speech, such as "Islamo-fascism," "militant jihadism," and "Islamic radicalism." Bush, to his credit, ignored the letter.

Thanks to National Review Online for that item.

Still not a religion of peace

Ah, more "peaceful" Islamists (from MSNBC news):

Thousands of Muslims rampaged Sunday in Beirut, setting fire to the Danish Embassy, burning Danish flags and lobbing stones at a Maronite Catholic church as violent protests spread over caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad.

Troops fired bullets into the air and used tear gas and water cannons to push the crowds back after a small group of Islamic extremists tried to break through the security barrier outside the embassy.

Demonstrators attacked policemen with stones and set fire to several fire engines, witnesses said. Black smoke was seen billowing from the area. Security officials said at least 18 people were injured, including policemen, fire fighters and protesters. Witnesses saw at least 10 people taken away by ambulance.

For complete story see here.

This is over a series of cartoons, for heaven's sakes. I'm guessing these "protesters" aren't very familiar with the concept of an independent press. The Danish government had nothing to do with the publishing of these cartoons. Free speech can be very inconvenient for some people. Remember the "Piss Christ" painting that was subsidized by the NEA some years ago? I don't remember Christian mobs vandalizing U.S. property.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Not bipartisan

Nice try, President Bush, Bill O'Reilly, and other Republican apologists, but the Jack Abramoff scandal is not bipartisan. As conservative Rich Lowry writes: "This is in its essence a Republican scandal, and any attempt to portray it otherwise is a misdirection." Exactly. Abramoff was closely allied with Republican activists Grover Norquist and Ralph Reed. As Jonathan Chait points out in this December column, Tom Delay's chief of staff once said of Abramoff: "He is someone on our side." Furthermore, Abramoff hired multiple DeLay staffers as lobbyists, and his assistant later went to work for Karl Rove.

Still not convinced? Here's some hard facts, courtesy of the website

From 2000 to 2005 Jack Abramoff made political donations to 220 Republican members of Congress and the Bush administration, including more than $100,000 to President Bush as a pioneer. Not one dime of Jack Abramoff's money went to any Democrats, ever (emphasis added).

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Not a religion of peace

I heard on the Larry Elder show today a guest repeat the politically correct, but false claim that Islam is a "religion of peace," hijacked by extremists like bin Laden. This is a common refrain, but it's dead wrong. We cannot defeat the enemy-Islamic fundamentalism- unless we understand it. The fact is that Islam is a religion of war, not one of peace. Don't believe me? As Islam scholar Sam Harris explains:

The only future devout Muslims can envisage—as Muslims—is one in which all infidels have been converted to Islam, politically subjugated, or killed."(Source: The End of Faith by Sam Harris.)

I'll now quote two damning references from the Koran, just so the good folk at CAIR don't sue me for maligning their religion:

Prophet, make war on the unbelievers and the hypocrites and deal rigorously with them. Hell shall be their home: an evil fate. (9:73)

Believers, make war on the infidels who dwell around you. Deal firmly with them. Know that God is with the righteous. (9:123)

Doesn't sound very peaceful to me....

Bush a dictator?

OK, back from Vegas a little poorer. Let's jump right in. One of my favorite conservative writers, William Norman Grigg, has a thought-provoking article entitled Bush: Saddam with nukes? While I think Grigg is a little over the top in comparing Bush to Hussein, his basic point-Bush is a lawless leader- is on the mark. The recent wiretapping scandal proves Bush is a law onto himself. I'll quote a key paragraph from Grigg's article:

The Bush Doctrine, as I have pointed out before, is essentially this: The president can do what he wants, anytime, in any fashion he chooses, for any reason that strikes his fancy. This includes waging wars of aggression, summary imprisonment of individuals (including US citizens) without trial or legal recourse, and ordering assassinations and the use of torture.

Like me, Grigg calls for the impeachment of Bush before he can further damage our constitutional system. It's refreshing to see a principled conservative break away from the FOX News/ Washington Times pro-Bush apologists.