Political Critic Archives - December 2005


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Saturday, December 31, 2005

Military Force-Feeding Prisoners at Guantanamo Bay

About 84 prisoners at the U.S. prison facility in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba are on a hunger strike.  They are protesting the inhumane treatment at the hands of the United States military and the fact that they have been held for as long as four years with no charges and no trial.  Unfortunately, the United States military at Guantanamo will not allow them to be on a hunger strike.

Camp DeltaHow is it possible, you may ask, for someone not to allow you to be on a hunger strike?  Well, the prison guards are jamming thick pipes down the noses of the prisoners and forcing them down their stomach.  Of course, doctors were not allowed to insert these pipes, so the prisoners are bleeding and vomiting as a result.

Although these are allegations, the U.S. has refused to allow the United Nations personnel access to the prisoners.  This is obviously because the prisoners would simply confirm the reports.  Who knows what else the prisoners would tell the U.N. if they were allowed to speak to them! 

I wonder how long the Bush regime will hold these men without any charges.  There are about 500 prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, and if we are to believe reports from other prisons, many of these men have not done anything wrong.  I know you want to believe that they are all terrorists, but that is simply not the case.  When the International Red Cross was allowed into the prison in Abu Ghraib, they found out that 75% of the people imprisoned had not committed any crime.  They found similar circumstances at prisons in Afghanistan.

For what it's worth, the Bush regime continues to lie and claim that it doesn't abuse or torture prisoners.  Their continued denials are laughable.

Friday, December 30, 2005

A Government Run Amok - The Story of Captain James Yee

Two years ago, Army Captain, West Point graduate, and American citizen James Yee was serving his country as a chaplain in the United States military.  He was stationed in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where his assignment was to provide minister services to prisoners.  He provided those services by having prayer sessions with the prisoners as he was told to do.  However, on September 10th, 2003, his world changed forever.

Captain Yee was arrested and charged with espionage, spying, mutiny, and aiding the enemy.  When placed under arrest, you are supposed to be provided an attorney, a trial, and humane treatment.  You would think that a commissioned officer in the United States Army, of all people, would be afforded basic civil and human rights.  Sadly, that would not be the case.

When Captain Yee was arrested, he was first taken to South Carolina, where sensory deprivation testing was done on him.  Then he was blindfolded, placed in leg irons, taken to a Navy brig, and put in solitary confinement for 2 1/2 months straight.  If not for the publicity in The Washington Times that appeared 10 days after his arrest, he might still be held in solitary confinement.

Once Captain Yee's defense team were allowed to argue his case, it became abundantly clear that the government had no evidence and had simply made up the charges against him.  His attorneys finally got his release on November 24, 2003.  The government attempted to charge him with other petty crimes in order to save face, but they eventually were forced to drop all charges.

Here we have yet another case of a government in total disarray and completely out of control.  Not only is James Yee an American citizen, but he was an Army in the United States military!  The Constitution is being trampled on by our own government and the list of people being wronged is growing every day!

What I don't understand is why nobody is being charged with crimes against Captain Yee.  He was denied basic human rights and nobody is held responsible for their actions?!?!?  General Geoffrey Miller is the main culprit behind Captain Yee's arrest and mistreatment.  Of course, General Miller was never charged with any crime.  He was simply "reassigned" to Iraq; where he proceeded to order the torture of prisoners at Abu Ghraib.

I guess this is the government's answer to criminals within their own organization; act like the Catholic Church and simply transfer them around from one installation to another, where they cause more trouble.  The system will never be fixed if the problems are ignored.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Spy Agency Placed Illegal Files on User's Computers

What isn't the NSA spying on these days.  Now we learn that if you go to the NSA website, it will automatically place tracking files on your own computer to follow your every move.  I guess you must be a terrorist if you go to the wrong websites.  In case you were wondering, this practice is illegal.  It is a violation of federal law.

A privacy activist discovered this illegal activity and notified the Associated Press.  Only upon inquiries by the AP to the NSA did they cease this unique surveillance strategy.  The NSA's official position is that it was a 'mistake'.  Yeah right!  The NSA just accidentally spied on random web surfers.

This is just another case of overreaching of an out of control government.  Unless someone catches them breaking the law, they will continue to do it.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

T-Minus 314 Days and Counting

The mid-term elections will be held next year on November 7, 2006.  On that day, it is likely that the Democrats will likely take back the House and Senate, which has been controlled by Republicans since 1994.  This is a monumental event because if the Democrats can control Congress, they can actually hold President Bush and his administration accountable for their crimes.

Now I really don't like Democrats, but it is very depressing to believe that President Bush will be in office for another 3+ years.  However, he could be gone by this time next year if the Democrats win the mid-term election and impeach him.  Now I know I am dreaming just a little, but as they say in The Shawshank Redemption, "Hope is a beautiful thing.  Sometimes it's the only thing."

I wouldn't normally advocate voting entirely for one party, especially the Democrats, but this is a necessary evil.  The only way to get politicians to behave is for Congress to be of a different party than the White House.

Impeachment is not as far fetched as you might think.  If Democrats were in control of Congress right now, they would have already moved to impeach George W. Bush.  President Bush has broken the law on a number of occasions, and Democrats would not hesitate to throw him out of office.  After all, Republicans tried to impeach Bill Clinton for lying about sex!  Democrats surely would impeach Bush for illegally invading another country, kidnapping foreign citizens, holding Americans without trial, torturing everyone he gets his hands on, and spying on his own people.

Impeachment proceedings will occur soon after the Democrats regain control of the House and Senate in 314 days. The Democrats need to pick up 7 seats in the Senate and 15 seats in the House of Representatives.  This is not a difficult number to achieve, even if Tom Delay has illegally changed redistricting lines.  Every member of the House is up for re-election, as it is only a two year seat.  Many seats will not be challenged, but enough of them will be to gain 15 seats.  Senator Charles Schumer believes the Democrats can pick up 7 Senate seats, which is enough to retake control of Congress.

Who knows how many more laws Bush will break in the next 314 days.  However, if you vote Democrat, rest assured that he will not last another three years!

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Canada Blames United States For Violence in Toronto

On a busy downtown street in Toronto yesterday, gunfire erupted between a group of armed youths.  A 15-year old girl was killed and six others were wounded.  That may be considered a regular occurrence in the U.S., but in Canada, it is very unusual.  The death brought the total number of murders by guns up to 52 in the city.  It is a small number by American standards, but it is double that of last year in Toronto.

Canadian officials are very angry at the rapid increase in violence in one of their largest cities.  They place the blame largely on the United States, which has very poor handgun laws.  Toronto is only a short drive to the border of the United States and the border is very easy to cross.  Prime Minister Paul Martin (George Bush's equivalent) spoke with Condoleezza Rice about the smuggling problem, but it seems that there is nothing she could do.

Half of the guns in Canada are illegally exported from the United States.  That is a frightening figure.  Not only is gun violence rampant in the U.S., it has corrupted our neighbors to the north as well.

The United States has the highest rate of gun deaths of the 36 most industrialized nations in the world.  Actually, it is not even close.  There were 88,649 gun-related deaths in these 36 countries and the United States accounted for 45% of them.  If you live in this country, you should not be surprised by that number.  Guns are everywhere and anyone can get one if they want one.

The problem is that the United States doesn't really have any gun laws.  Sure they have a waiting period to buy handguns, but you can get around that without much trouble.  If any gun laws are put forth, the National Rifle Association (NRA) does everything they can to stop it.

The NRA is perhaps the most powerful organization in the United States.  They wield an enormous amount of influence in Washington and they buy and sell politicians on a daily basis.  If any politician votes against them, the NRA simply funnels money to their challenger in an attempt to force the 'good' politician out of office.

Such is American politics.  He who has the most money dictates policy.  When George Bush was first elected in 2000, the NRA knew they owned the White House.  After all, they gave him a ton of money to help him win.  When John McCain introduced campaign finance reform to reduce the influence of political lobbying organizations, the NRA was excluded from the law.

As long as the NRA is around, the United States will continue to lead the world in gun related deaths.  It appears that Canada will not be able to escape the problem either.

Monday, December 26, 2005

Violence Continues in Iraq

Unfortunately, the terrorists did not take the holiday season off from killing people, as 24+ people died on Monday, including one U.S. soldier.  The elections have not changed a thing.

Car bombs like this one in Baghdad continued as allegations of election fraud consume the political process.  The (relative) lull in the violence actually lasted a full 10 days, but it will not disappear no matter how many elections are held.  After almost three years of occupation, there are still not enough troops to control the country.

The U.S. is drawing down the number of troops in Iraq and that is both good and bad.  The soldiers that leave ar now safe, but the ones that remain are more at risk because they don't have as many of their comrades to watch their back.  Unfortunately, the only reason troops are being brought lower is for political gain.

When John Murtha called for a troop reduction or redeployment, the Bush regime called him a left-wing nutjob who wanted to weaken America.  However, only weeks later, the regime decides to reduce troops by 20,000 and their response is that they're "winning" the war.

In actuality, Bush planned to take down the level of troops after the election, but he is now spinning it into some sort of victory.  His people are very talented at spin.  They don't actually manage the war, but they spin it phenomenally well.  You'd think that democracy is flourishing in Iraq the way these thugs in Washington talk.

No, nothing has really changed.  U.S. soldiers, Iraqi soldiers, contract workers, and civilians are still being killed on a daily basis.  Joe Lieberman goes over there and wears a bullet-proof vest wherever he travels, yet he thinks things are changing.  Of course, his statements were solely to get into George's good graces.  If you actually listen to any neutral observer that has been there, you'd see that the United States is not making any progress.  The country still doesn't even have as much electricity and running water as they did before the invasion. 

The U.S. has gone into this war half-assed from the very beginning and the violence will get worse, not better in the coming year.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Domestic Spying Much  More Widespread

It seems that the Bush Administration wasn't exactly forthcoming with the amount of domestic spying they are conducting.  The NY Times is reporting that the NSA is spying on domestic emails and phone calls, all without court orders.  George and his thugs have been adamant that the spying was limited to international communications of people linked to Al Qaeda (which is still illegal without a warrant).

We shouldn't be shocked by this.  The FBI is already infiltrating left wing organizations that have nothing to do with terrorism and the NSA is collecting a widespread amount of information on American citizens that also has nothing to do with terrorism.  The basic tactic is to spy on everyone who disagrees with them to see what dirt they can come up with.

Torture Boy, Alberto Gonzales, took to the airwaves to defend the Bush regime and their illegal domestic spying program.  An attorney himself, Torture Boy knows damn well that what they are doing is illegal.  Nonetheless, he claimed that the president has the authority to conduct warrantless, secret wiretaps.  He didn't get into the warrantless surveillance on emails and domestic phone calls because, well, it wasn't yet reported.

Bush has actually spoken numerous times about spying in the last few years.  MSNBC has a great compilation of all the times Bush tells the audience that the government can't wiretap or eavesdrop on American citizens without a warrant.  The video actually proves that President Bush knew he couldn't spy without a warrant.

The ultimate hack, Scott McClellan, tried to defend Bush, but it was quite pathetic.  Bush is on camera at least a dozen times proclaiming that he can't spy without the courts, and all the while, he was ordering the NSA to spy without the warrant.

Of course, nothing will come of this.  The braindead media will move on to something else, the Democrats will be too  weak to call him on it, and the Republicans will simply defend their boy no matter which law he breaks.  This was the case during the Clinton years, so why would this be any different.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Will Jack Abramoff Start Talking?

Jack Abramoff, who was considered one of the powerful Republican lobbyists in Washington, is about ready to start naming names to save his own hide.  Abramoff was indicted in August on charges of fraud and has been under investigation for his lobbying practices.  Normally, an indicted lobbyist would not attract this much attention; but Jack Abramoff is no ordinary Washington insider.

The extremely well-connected Abramoff has arranged extravagant gifts for high ranking politicians such as Tom Delay. In one instance, they took Tom Delay and his staff on a private jet to England to play golf that cost over $100,000.  In fact, Delay made more than 48 trips to luxurious golf courses and took over 100 flights on private jets.  Delay and his aides did this so often that it was part of their lifestyle.  This lifestyle was paid for by donations by lobbyists who want to coerce Delay or other politicians into voting their way.  Most of these donors are Fortune 500 companies who can afford to throw money around.  These companies schmooze the politicians in order to pass or not pass legislation, depending on which side their on.

Now which part of this is illegal, you may ask?  Don't all politicians accept gifts?  Well, that's where it gets a little fuzzy.  It is illegal to take donations for a vacation, but it is legal if the purpose of the trip is to raise money or to talk politics.

That's where Abramoff comes in. Without his testimony, it would be nearly impossible to prove that these politicians were not raising money or talking politics on these trips, even if they were insanely expensive.  However, if Abramoff talks, and it looks like he will, he can not only bring down Tom Delay, but a number of other Republican and Democratic lawmakers.  Even though Abramoff was a Republican lobbyist, his reach was so long that some major Democrats are also at risk.

Delay is clearly the ringleader, but it appears that some other top lawmakers are also a target of investigators. The Speaker of the House, Dennis Hastert has also taken many gifts. Hastert has had obscenely expensive vacations to some of the most beautiful locations and best hotels in the world. Beyond Delay and Hastert, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R), Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D), and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D) are all involved to some extent in receiving excessive gifts.

When Jack Abramoff finalizes his deal, he will be the star witness in one of the broadest corruption cases in United States history.  He would likely still go to prison, but receive a reduced sentence for spilling his guts about everything he knows.  It will be very interesting to see what this once powerful lobbyist has to say.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

FISA Court Judge Resigns Over Bush Spy Program

A federal judge has resigned from the secret FISA court in protest over President Bush's illegal spying program. James Robertson sent his resignation letter to Chief Justice John Roberts of the Supreme Court.  Robertson was selected to the FISA court by conservative Supreme Court Justice William Rehnquist.  Judge Robertson believed that President Bush's domestic spying was illegal and that it tainted the other work of the FISA court.

So now we have a federal judge that also believes that the president broke the law.  Although Robertson is considered a liberal justice, he was appointed by a conservative.  He is an extremely reputable judge and has been on the federal bench for more than a decade.

The FISA court consists of 11 judges, but it is unclear if any of the other members are considering resigning.  It is a tremendous statement for Robertson to walk away from his position, considering he has spent decades working his way up to that level.

The White House is still spinning, claiming that Bush has the right to conduct warrantless domestic spying. Unfortunately, that is not true.  The FISA court exists for a reason.  The president is not allowed to simply ignore the court and go around it.

Even John Dean, former White House counsel under President Nixon, considers Bush's actions an impeachable offense.  He believes Bush's crimes clearly rise up to the level of "high crimes and misdemeaners", which is the criteria for impeachment.

The only problem with impeachment is that Dick Cheney could become the president.  Is it possible to impeach both of them?  I know that would leave us with the Speaker of the House, Dennis Hastert, but at least we would rid ourselves of two incompetent crooks.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Republican Senators Want Immediate Investigation of Bush

More and more Republican Senators are demanding an investigation of President Bush after he admitted to spying on U.S. citizens without a warrant.  Lindsey Graham, Arlen Specter, and John McCain have already expressed concern over the legality of Bush's actions.  Now Senators Chuck Hagel and Olympia Snowe are teaming up with Democrats for an immediate investigation into the matter.

The Democrats obviously want an investigation, but the fact that a number of Republicans are calling for the probe demonstrates the seriousness of the problem.  Also, the fact that President Bush has already confirmed that he authorized wiretapping without warrants puts him in serious legal jeopardy.

The president also claims that members of Congress were consulted on the matter, but that is a blatant lie that has already been confirmed.  Bush 'told' eight members of Congress that he was conducting these wiretaps, but he did not consult them.  In fact, they were sworn to secrecy.  They were not even allowed to tell their own staffers.  Besides which, simply informing them does not make it any more legal.  There was nothing the Senators could do about it.

What we have learned so far is just the beginning of this story.  Consider that the secret FISA court approves nearly every request for surveillance.  Bush decided not to use the courts in conducting over 30 investigations.  Now if you're the president and you want to spy on someone and you know that your secret court approves almost all warrants, why would you break the law by not asking for a warrant?  The answer is quite simple.  Bush knew that he was breaking the law by spying on Americans who had no association with terrorists.  He knew the courts would not approve.

Not to be outdone, the FBI has infiltrated left wing groups such as the ACLU, PETA, and Greenpeace.  It is basically a fishing expedition on the part of another government agency.  However, notice how that the FBI is not investigating right wing groups like the NRA or the Christian Coalition.

Monday, December 19, 2005 at 6:45pm

A President Out of Control

President George Bush took to the airwaves this weekend and not only admitted to spying on Americans without a warrant, he stated that he will continue to spy on American citizens!  He also called the disclosure of his spying a "shameful act".  Is he serious?!?  The only shameful act was that the New York Times took so long to report his illegal activity.

George Bush is completely out of control.  He breaks the law by refusing to obtain search warrants for wire taps and other surveillance and then admits to it on national television.  He claims that he is within the law, but clearly he is not (see prior posts for details on the law).  Even Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, who is also an attorney cannot find any legal basis for what Bush did.

It is time to impeach President Bush!  He committed a felony, plain and simple.  He committed this felony over 30 times!  He also stated that he will continue this practice.  We have a president who broke the law and is continuing to break the law.

George Bush needs to be removed from office immediately!  He is a disgrace to the Office of the Presidency and to the United States.  If Congress does not act now, when the evidence is overwhelming and crystal clear, then Bush and every president after him will be able to do whatever they want.

Bush even summoned writers from the NY Times to the White House in order to stop them from printing the story.  In the words of Jonathan Alter of Newsweek, "President Bush has used 9/11 as a license to act like a dictator".  It is about time we stopped him!

Monday, December 19, 2005 at 7:30am

Does Anyone Care?

President Bush broke the law and it looks like it's going to be a non-event.  Republicans are already lining up behind their crooked president to proclaim that he was just looking for terrorists.  George Bush actually admitted that he spied on Americans and still nothing is done about it.  Arlen Specter, who sounded so angry on Friday, is now defending the thug in the White House.  What a joke!

The terrorist defense is really getting old.  You can't just say that you're after terrorists every time you break the law and destroy the civil liberties of American citizens.  Well, actually, I guess you can.  The American people are so gullible and apathetic that they either don't care or they believe the crap that comes out of George Bush's mouth.

I doubt anything will happen to President Bush for trampling all over the Fourth Amendment.  No matter what he does, Republican lawmakers will defend him and Democrats will be too scared to go after him.  The Democrats are just complete wimps.  The President breaks the law over and over again and Democrats do nothing to stop him.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Did President Bush Break the Law by Spying on Americans?

On dozens of occasions over the past three years, President George Bush personally authorized spying on United States citizens without a warrant.  The spying involved the use of electronic surveillance and wiretaps. 

Is this a violation of the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) of 1978, or the USA-PATRIOT Act of 2001?  The FISA and Patriot Acts are involved because they expanded the rights of the federal government beyond the Fourth Amendment. 

So let's start with the basics.  The Fourth Amendment protects against unreasonable searches and seizures.  Under the Fourth Amendment, a search warrant must be obtained and it must be based on probable cause that a crime was committed or being committed.  In addition, the Fourth Amendment is clear that the warrant must describe the places to be searched and the person or items that will be seized. 

In the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), the powers of the federal goverment were enhanced.  The Act notes in Subchapter 1, Section 1802 that a President may authorize electronic surveillance without a court order "to acquire foreign intelligence information for periods of up to one year".  However, the law does not allow the President to acquire domestic intelligence information without a warrant.  In addition, the law also states he only has one year to acquire foreign intelligence without a court order.  President Bush has been authorizing electronic surveillance for more than three years, all without the court's knowledge.

Under FISA, if the target of the surveillance is a "U.S. person", there must be probable cause that said person's activities involve espionage or similar conduct that is in violation of U.S. law.  If that is the case, a warrant must still be obtained under FISA.  In fact, FISA has enacted rules that prevent the broad power of "foreign intelligence gathering" to be used in routine criminal investigations.

FISA was amended after September 11th, 2001 by the infamous USA-PATRIOT Act.  The Patriot Act contains several provisions that broaden the government's surveillance power.  These provisions are at odds with some of the language in the Fourth Amendment.  However, the Patriot Act includes a provision that prohibits surveillance against a United States citizen when the activity of the citizen is protected by the First Amendment.  That would include anti-war activists, who are simply exercising their First Amendment right to free speech.  What this tells us is that even the Patriot Act protects U.S. citizens.

The language in these laws is tedious, but each of these laws are designed, in the end, to protect the rights of American citizens.  It is clear that President Bush broke these laws when he decided to use electronic surveillance to spy on United States citizens.

Both Republican and Democratic lawmakers are furious over this overreach of power by the President of the United States.  Impeachment is not out of the question.  Republican Senator Arlen Specter has promised Congressional hearings at the start of the next session in January.  Republican Senator John McCain was clearly upset when he learned of these violations.  Democratic leaders are also incredibly angry and demanding answers.

It remains to be seen what will happen next.  Impeachment has been discussed in the past with regard to this President for violations of the Geneva Conventions and International law, but since Republicans control both the House and Senate, nothing has come of those violations.  Now, even Republicans are promising an investigation.  We will see if they follow through with their promise.

Friday, December 16, 2005

I Always Feel Like Somebody's Watching Me

Is there no end to what President Bush will stoop to.  Apparently, three years ago, President Bush secretly signed off on domestic spying.  That is, the U.S. government now has the "right" to spy on its own citizens.  Bush signed the order in 2002 and gave power to the NSA (National Security Agency) to basically do whatever they want.  You may already have your email, your phone calls, and your physical person under surveillance.  So much for the right to privacy.

It now appears that thousands of American citizens are being watched.  Theoretically, this secret law was supposed to target citizens who are in communication with terrorist groups, but we all know that the government (Republican or Democrat) doesn't follow the rules.  Now the NSA is watching over all sorts of different groups that have nothing to do with terrorism.  They now spy on anti-war groups or basically any group that doesn't agree with what the government is doing.  So much for freedom of speech.  You can have that freedom, but we're going to spy on you if you say or do anything we don't like.  That's just great.

A further question in all of this is whether or not the President of the United States has the authority to issue such an order.  The short answer is no.  You can't just spy on whoever you want.  Of course, this administration has some legal maneuvering around this, much like they did when circumventing the Geneva Conventions to torture people. 

John C. Yoo, a Justice Department official who wrote the brief authorizing torture, is now responsible for coming up with a legal argument giving the NSA the authority to spy on American citizens.  Neither of his arguments hold up.  He is pretty much just a stooge for the White House.  The Bush regime comes up with an illegal action they want to commit, and Yoo writes the BS argument about how they can get away with it.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

The Meaningless Election

All is quiet in Baghdad as Iraqis are set to go to the poles today to vote in parliamentary elections.  U.S. officials are hoping that these elections will somehow stop insurgents so they can begin to draw down troops.  Unfortunately, this hope is delusional.  The elections will do nothing to stop the violence.

More that two years ago in July of 2003, Saddam Hussein's sons were killed.  U.S. officials believed that would stop or slow down the violence.  It didn't.  The violence increased.  At the time, there were only 153 U.S. troops killed in action.

Months later, Saddam Hussein was captured.  It was December, 2003.  Statues of the leader were taken down. People celebrated in the streets.  We were told that this was the turning point; that the insurgency would be broken. No such luck.

In June 2004, the United States handed "sovereignty" (whatever that means) over to Iraq, and again there was hope that the number of attacks would decline.  That day came, and went, and nothing changed.  If anything, the insurgency grew stronger.

Six months after that in January of 2005, Iraqi's held their first elections.  For one day, the violence subsided. However, it would not last.  The insurgency would pick up immediately after the elections and more American soldiers would die.  The insurgency remained strong and American soldiers and civilians continued to be attacked.

Since that last election in January of this year, the violence has not subsided.  It has only become worse.  The attacks on American forces continue every day.  Just yesterday, another four soldiers were killed in action.  That brought the number of US troops killed in Iraq to 2,140.

The point is that these political elections and events are not solving anything.  The elections on December 15th will come and go and nothing will change.  Many US officials will declare them a success and state that we are turning the corner, but they will be wrong.  This election will not even slow down the insurgency.  The attacks will continue every day and more Americans will be lost.  If they are really interested in reducing the violence, they need to train Iraqi police and military and then withdraw.  Until those two events happen, no election will help.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

The War on Xmas...Uh, I Mean Christmas

Bible-thumpers all over America (ok, mostly southerners) are up in arms over people trying to take the Christ out of Christmas.  These Jesus freaks (see Falwell, Jerry) are taking offense if you say "Happy Holidays" to someone instead of "Merry Christmas".  In fact, Christian groups are threatening to file lawsuits against anyone who tries to mess with their religious holiday.

These nut-job Christian groups have even accused Target of banning Christmas because they say "Happy Holidays" to their customers.  Unfortunately, these Christian groups think the world revolves around them.  They forget that we live in a secular society where not everyone believes what they believe.  Granted, about 80% of America is Christian, but it is a declining percentage.  Many other religions, including Jewish, Muslim, and Hindu are practiced throughout this country.  Heck, there are even a lot of Agnostics and Atheists running around.  Heaven forbid!

The one thing I never understand about Christians is the stark contradiction in their beliefs.  They preach that everyone should be accepted, but only if you believe what they believe.  They really have trouble accepting the belief set of others.  Retailers specifically use the term "Happy Holidays" to be all inclusive.  That is, they want to include everyone in society by making a general 'non religious' statement.  Some Christian groups, on the other hand, are offended that retailers do not subscribe to their specific religion.

Christian groups have even attacked their own conservative president for not saying "Merry Christmas" in his annual holiday card.  This card, by the way, includes a quote from the Bible.  However, the quote is from the Old Testament, not the New Testament.  Why is that important, you may ask?  Well, says the Christian groups, the Old Testament does not reflect the birth of Jesus Christ; the New Testament does.  You have got to be kidding me!

So, in this country that was created to escape religious persecution, the American Family Association and others are boycotting Target to force them to subscribe to the Christian religion and say "Merry Christmas" to all their customers. Bill O'Reilly, a conservative hack on the state-run Fox Network, argues that people shouldn't be offended by someone saying "Merry Christmas".  However, he states that Christians are offended if someone says "Happy Holidays".

What is offensive is that Christian groups are fighting against businesses that attempt to be inclusive.  If they really do believe in freedom of religion, they should understand that America is comprised of people with many different religions and beliefs.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Crips Gang Founder to Die by Lethal Injection

Convicted murderer Stanley "Tookie" Williams was set to be executed early Tuesday morning by lethal injection. However, for some inexplicable reason, Tookie's case has been embraced by Hollywood celebrities. M*A*S*H star Mike Farrell, Jamie Foxx, and other stars have supported Williams.

Apparently, it slipped their mind that Tookie Williams took a shotgun to a 26 year old kid and blew two holes in his back while he was face down on the floor.  Or maybe they forget how he went into a motel and gunned down a husband and wife and their daughter in order to steal less than $100.  Maybe they don't know that Tookie Williams founded one of the most ruthless gangs (Crips) in the history of the United States; a gang that is responsible for the murder of hundreds of people.

No, these Hollywood camera whores cling to the fact that Williams wrote a couple of measly, little children's books about why gangs are dangerous.  Gangs are dangerous?!?!?  I'm shocked!  Well I guess we should all thank Tookie for clearing that one up for us!

These Hollywood stars point to these books as evidence that Williams has reformed since his ruthless murders.  Again, they dismiss the fact that Williams has refused to provide evidence against any Crips members; members that still roam the streets killing people.  If he is so reformed, why does he refuse to give prosecutors any information. Williams holds valuable information on Crips gang members, but he will not talk.

What is pathetic is that Williams has been nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize.  What a disgrace!  A convicted killer of (at least) four innocent people nominated for a peace prize because he wrote a few books!  The people who nominated him should be ashamed of themselves.

While I am not normally an advocate for capital punishment, I will not lose any sleep over this case.  I'll only wonder why it took so long.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Air Marshal Program Under Scrutiny

After the air marshals shot and killed Rigoberto Alpizar, a spokesperson for the air marshals came out with a public statement.  He claimed that Alpizar was running up and down the aisle telling everyone that he had a bomb.  However, there is not a single passenger that can confirm that statement.  In fact, the passengers that were interviewed said that Alpizar "absolutely" never used the word 'bomb'.

Federal officials have now changed their story to say that Alpizar claimed to have a bomb when he was on the jetway. They still claim that Alpizar was SCREAMING that he had a bomb, despite the fact that no passengers heard him say anything about a bomb.  Passengers on the plane never heard the word 'bomb' until the FBI asked them about it.  Of course, since Alpizar is dead, there is no way to corroborate the claim of federal officials.

The story apparently gets worse.  After Alpizar was killed on the jetway, armed police boarded the plane and pointed their guns directly at the other passengers.  One passenger, who was simply sitting in his seat, had a shotgun pressed up to his head.

It seems that more information comes out on this story every day and all of it is bad for the air marshals.  It seems that their spokesperson is covering up the truth.  Alpizar was not running up and down the aisle claiming to have a bomb. He may have made the claim on the jetway, but we'll never know for sure.  What we do know is that the air marshals overreacted.  They shot and killed an unarmed man six times and then threatened the rest of the passengers on the plane.

So between Britain and the United States, we are now batting 0 for 2.  The British police and the United States have succeeded in killing zero terrorists since the bombings in their countries.  However, they have each killed one of their own citizens.

I know their intent of the government is to protect the citizens of their country, but they are failing miserably.  When the citizens are more afraid of the police than they are of the terrorists, it's time to rethink your strategy.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Lieberman Sucking Up to Bush

Is Joseph Lieberman going to become a Republican?  He certainly sounds like he is one.  Lieberman seems to think that the war in Iraq is going well and that President Bush has a great strategy.  He also thinks that anyone who criticizes the President somehow undermines his authority.

I'm all for independent thinking, but what in the world is Lieberman doing?  Could it be that he is lobbying for Donald Rumsfeld's job as Secretary of Defense?  Rumsfeld may retire (i.e. forced out) and Lieberman is rumored to be a candidate, despite being a Democrat.

Now replacing Rumsfeld would be the best move Bush can make as President, but to replace him with Lieberman does not help.  How about replacing Rumsfeld with someone who actually knows what they're doing, like John McCain?  They're are dozens of people that would handle the job far better than Joe Lieberman.

It seems that Lieberman is simply trying to advance his own career by using rhetoric that could land him the job of Defense Secretary.  The result is that he makes the Democrats look even more lost than they already appear.  The Democrats are having enough trouble trying to get their own party members to come to a consensus on the Iraq war. Now Lieberman is breaking ranks and landing squarely on the Republican side of the issue.

It wouldn't be so bad if Joe Lieberman actually had a clue.  However, to claim in a democracy that it is somehow wrong to question a war is absurd. That's exactly what you're supposed to do in a democracy. In addition, he is claiming that Bush has a solid strategy to win the war.  Has he been paying attention the last 2 1/2 years?  Obviously not.  You can argue that we need to stay and finish the job, but to claim that all is going well and that we are close to victory is just ridiculous.  Open your eyes, Joe!

Thursday, December 8, 2005

Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

Whatever happened to the good old days when people were arrested instead of shot dead?  Rigoberta Alpizar, an American citizen, was shot and killed by an air marshal at the Miami International Airport yesterday.

After clearing customs and getting on a connecting flight from Miami to Orlando, Alpizar claimed that he had a bomb in his backpack.  Air marshals told him to get off the plane, which he did, but they shot him when he would not put his backpack down.

I understand that air marshals exist to protect airline passengers and to prevent another 9/11, but what keeps bugging me is why they didn't just arrest the guy.  Alpizar had already cleared customs, so it was highly unlikely that he had a bomb.  He was also off the plane.  Plus, he was already surrounded by a TEAM of armed, trained air marshals.  Why not just put him down on the ground like a normal law enforcement officer?  It only would've taken seconds to have him under control, handcuffed and arrested.

They say that the actions of the air marshals were consistent with their training.  So I guess that leaves me to question their training.  It seems to me when you are trained to 'shoot to kill', you should take every precaution there is before firing your weapon.

The air marshal program was basically non-existent before September 11, 2001.  The United States had only 33 air marshals at that time.  After the attack, the government decided that they wanted armed law enforcement officers on board passenger airplanes.  By 2003, they had several thousand, according to Tom Ridge, former Head of Homeland Security.  They are trained to shoot in a very tight environment (i.e. airplanes), but have had virtually no live experience until yesterday.

All training and no action can lead to questionable decision making, as was the case in the shooting death of Mr. Alpizar.  The situation could have been easily rectified with no shots being fired.  Now I know what you're thinking; Alpizar could've had a bomb in his backpack and he could've detonated it.  However, that would not be logical.  You must use some common sense in these matters.  He had already cleared customs, making it nearly impossible for him to have a bomb.

Hindsight is easy and I was not there, but it seems to me that the whole air marshal program need to be seriously examined.  Is really that useful to have thousands of armed men and women on a pressurized airplanes?  It is an enormous expense that we are incurring.  Plus, you can't put an armed air marshal on every flight so there will always, always be loopholes for hijackers. 

You can't create a society where the citizens are more afraid of being killed by the police than they fear being killed by a terrorist.  If that happens, the terrorists will have succeeded without doing a thing.

Wednesday, December 7, 2005

Hillary Running to the Right

It's official.  Hillary Clinton has John Kerry disease.  Has she learned nothing from his blunders of a year ago?  In what can only be described as insincere,  Hillary Clinton decided to stand with Republicans on the issue of flag burning.  She is teaming up with Republican Bob Bennett to sponsor an anti-flag burning law.

The problem is that since Hillary is running for President in 2008, she thinks she has to get to the political middle to get more votes.  This is exactly the problem John Kerry had.  He lost all credibility when he tried to be all things to all people.  He was so busy running right to get the independent vote that he alienated the left and the middle.  Now Hillary Clinton is starting to do the same thing.

What these politicians don't understand is that many voters (especially independents) care a lot less about where you stand on a specific issue and a lot more about do about your honesty and sincerity.  John McCain is a favorite among independents, despite where he stands on many issues.  He is respected because he actually says what he thinks and has an opinion that is his own.  He doesn't need to look at "talking points" to figure out what he believes.

If Hillary wants to win in 2008, she needs to actually have an opinion and express it.  I sincerely doubt that she will be able to.  She has been pre-programmed by Slick Willy to tell people what she thinks they want to hear.  Hopefully, she won't make it past the Democratic primaries.  The country can do much better than putting Hillary and Bill back in the White House.

Tuesday, December 6, 2005

CIA Misleads Italian Government; 22 CIA Operatives Charged With Kidnapping

The CIA provided false information to the Italian government in order to cover up their kidnapping.  They needed to cover up their kidnapping of Hussan Nasr, so they misled the Italians into believing he had fled the country.  It took a while, but the Italians figured out they were being lied to.

As a result, the CIA's substation chief in Milan, Italy, along with 21 other CIA operatives, have been charged with kidnapping by Italian authorities.   Robert Seldon Lady, who ran the substation in Milan, was allegedly involved in kidnapping Hussan Nasr off the street and sending him to a secret prison in Egypt.

Evidence has already been gathered against Mr. Lady that puts him in serious legal trouble.  Cell phone records, flight information, and digital photos have all been obtained by Italian authorities in order to prosecute the CIA operative.

Robert Seldon Lady has been 'allowed' to hire an Italian attorney.  I say 'allowed' because, unlike the kidnapped victims, he will actually have a chance to defend himself.  His attorney has claimed that there could never be a trial against him in the United States because the evidence is so lousy.  Funny, the CIA didn't worry about such matters when the roles were reversed.  Unfortunately for Mr. Lady, evidence seized from his home appears to link him directly to the kidnapping.

It remains to be seen what will happen to Mr. Lady and the 21 other CIA operatives who have been charged. Italy has been investigating this crime for months.  They may be made the scapegoats for the U.S. government, but they could walk away without ever going to jail.   After all, we're talking about CIA operatives of the United States.  I'm sure the U.S. government could step in and negotiate their release if necessary if so desired.

Monday, December 5, 2005

CIA Admits Kidnapping German Citizen and Wrongfully Imprisoning Him

This is what happens when people have no bounds and no rules.  The CIA, who is making a habit of rounding up innocent people and throwing them in jail, has admitted to wrongfully kidnapping Khaled Masri, a German citizen, and placing him in a secret prison for five months.  Furthermore, the CIA attempted to cover up the crime by asking the German government not to speak of it, even if Mr. Masri went public.

The method of these kidnappings is alarming to say the least.  First, the CIA operatives get dressed up in all black clothing and put masks on.  Then they find their victim, blindfold him, and cut off all of his clothes.  They drug the person and administer an enema.  Then they throw the kidnapped victim on a plane and send him off to a secret prison in any one of eight foreign countries.  A former CIA official described these assignments as "fun".

Since there is nobody to police these agents, they have had to police themselves, which we know doesn't work.  In the case of Mr. Masri, he was taken off on December 31, 2003 and held in a motel with blackened windows by local authorities.  After more than three weeks, the CIA took over and employed the methods described above on him. Did I mention that Mr. Masri had done nothing wrong?  Anyway, he was then taken to a secret CIA prison in Afghanistan where CIA agents kicked, beat, and threatened to kill him.

After analyzing his passport for months, the CIA figured out that they had kidnapped the wrong guy; as if they would have been justified if they kidnapped the "right" guy.  From there, George Tenet, Condoleezza Rice, and Richard Armitage (Deputy Secretary of State) became involved.  They had to release him, but they all decided to cover it up as much as possible.  They would tell the German government, but never admit that they had taken him prisoner.

When he was finally released in late May 2004, they simply told him that he had a suspicious name.  Mr. Masri has since been united with his wife and children, but he harbors bad feelings toward the United States.  Who can really blame him after his ordeal.  He compares the United States to Arab countries who do not treat people humanely.

It's hard to argue against that statement.  The United States government has become what they have tried so hard to prevent.  They preach democracy and human rights for all, but they don't even follow their own rules.  I'd love to argue that this is just one isolated incident, but we all know that it isn't.  The CIA continues to operate secret prisons throughout the world and denying people basic human rights.  Nobody in the U.S. government is stopping them.

Saturday, December 3, 2005

U.S. Admits Paying Iraqi News Outlets For Propaganda

I thought state-controlled news media was something that was found in communist societies or in societies run by dictators?  Boy was I wrong!  Our own government is paying Iraqi newspapers to print positive stories about the military's efforts in the country.  The sad part is that they're not even apologizing for it.  The U.S. command claims it is a legitimate "campaign" to counter the information of insurgents. 

The Pentagon is also going with the spin (i.e. lie) that the propaganda should have only appeared in clearly marked opinion pieces or advertisements.  They went on to say that there may have been "an omission" about where their planted stories came from.  No, really!  Again, leaders of our country are not telling the truth.  They somewhat admit wrongdoing, but pawn it off as an accident. 

The Pentagon released their statement about this matter late on Friday afternoon, to avoid receiving mass coverage in the coming days.  It is said in Washington that most news occurs on Friday afternoon.  Since it is right before the weekend, many people won't be paying attention.

At least one politician is in an uproar over this issue.  Senator John W. Warner (R-VA) was "gravely concerned" about the situation and met with officials at the Pentagon about it.  Unfortunately, the Pentagon was not very forthcoming with details.  Shocking, I know. 

Warner, for his part, backed off when asked if the practice was illegal and whether or not the propaganda should be stopped.  He started off strong, but quickly devolved into politician doublespeak and backpedaling.  He actually said that Donald Rumsfeld was being 100% cooperative with him and that nobody was hiding anything!  I find that really hard to believe.  How can he say this when he also said that more facts are needed and that many questions have been unanswered.  It can't be both!

Senator Edward "Chappaquiddick" Kennedy (D-MA) joined Warner in expressing his outrage over the tactic, calling it a "devious scheme".  He called for a full investigation.  With Kennedy in the mix, this story is surely to die.  The left-wing extremist wants an investigation into everything. . .well, everything except his role in the death of a girl on Chappaquiddick island. 

Whether or not there is an investigation into the matter remains to be seen.  The Pentagon would like the story to go away, so we shall if the mainstream media runs with it or not.  If it doesn't drive the ratings, they will surely move on to something else.

Friday, December 2, 2005

House Minority Leader Pelosi Flip-Flops on Iraq

After seeing how much credibility and respect Congressman Jack Murtha received for calling for a redeployment of American troop out of Iraq, Democrat Nancy Pelosi is jumping on the bandwagon!  Pelosi decided now that we should have an immediate withdrawal of American troops.  This is after being wishy-washy for the past two weeks. Her aggressive statement was in stark contrast to many other Democratic leaders.  Pelosi couldn't even get the House Minority Whip, Steny Hoyer to agree with her.  He issued a statement that was the complete opposite of Pelosi's.

Now what Pelosi was doing was a typical left-wing strategy (which doesn't work).  She waited to see how much political fallout there would be toward Jack Murtha and then she decided where she stood.  She really doesn't even have a position.  She simply waits to see which way the wind is blowing.

This is yet another reason why nobody believes in the Democrats.  They don't know what they're doing.  They're in a position of immense strength politically and they are blowing it.  Nancy Pelosi is probably the worst person (outside of Kerry) that should be talking on the Democrats' behalf.  She is a terrible public speaker, she rarely makes sense in her statements, and people cringe whenever she opens her mouth.

Now does anyone actually know where the Democrats stand on the war?  I certainly don't.  I could tell you where a few individuals stand, like Jack Murtha, but I still don't know what the majority believe.  It's primarily because they have no spine.  They should be trying to find a solution to the problem, but they're too busy parsing their own words.  They must have watched Clinton's testimony on the definition of 'is'.

Thursday, December 1, 2005

Wachovia Outsourcing American Jobs...and Proud Of It!

   * in the interest of full disclosure, I once worked for the investment arm of Wachovia.  I left on my own.

Yesterday, Wachovia Corp. announced a seven year deal to send back-office and processing jobs to India.  They had already announced in June of this year that they would send technology jobs to India and now they will send a ton more.  Why are they doing this, you might ask?  Well, Wachovia is using this unethical tactic in order to save money and lots of it!!!

Wachovia Corp. has had a plan in place for quite some time to save $1 BILLION by 2007!  To save that much money, there are using a number of unethical strategies.  These include forcing employees to quit, laying employees off, and outsourcing jobs to other countries.

Where does all this money go, you also may wonder?  Why into the pocket of the CEO and other top executives!!!  The CEO of Wachovia, Ken Thompson made $8.0 MILLION dollars last year; and that is just his salary and bonuses. It doesn't even take into account his stock options, of which he has a boatload.  When Ken Thompson has exercised his options in the past (which are comfortably in the money), he has made over $15 million in a single year! We also have CFO Robert Kelly making $3.1 million last year, Senior Executive Vice President David Carroll getting $2.9 million, Benjamin Jenkins at $4.4 million, and Stephen Cummings at $4.0 million.  Again, that is just their salaries and bonuses.  Each one of these crooks also has an inordinate number of stock options that they will be able to exercise down the road for numbers that far exceed their salaries.

If Wachovia is so interested in saving money, perhaps the executives should take a massive pay cut!  They could save over $20 million by simply paying the execs a normal salary.  Unfortunately, they are more interested in laying off the average worker.  This is all in order to make their stock price go up a 1/4 point; which makes the value of their stock options even greater.

We know that they won't take a pay cut because nobody regulates their actions.  Congress has no desire to regulate these thieves as they pillage corporations.  Why don't they?  Well, because these companies lobby Congress 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  Wachovia and many other firms throw tons of money at politicians, both left and right, so that they don't have any restrictions on their actions.

We will continue to see these corrupt firms outsource jobs to other countries while laying off the American workers that they do have.

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