Political Critic Archives - February 2006


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Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Civil War in Iraq Kills Over 1,300 People

The mainstream media is describing the problems in Iraq as "sectarian violence".  Who are we kidding?  It is a civil war!  Sectarian violence is just a fancy way of saying it because nobody in the media wants to utter the civil war phrase. However, the MSM is going to have a hard time explaining that 1,300 people were killed in Iraq last week due to just "sectarian violence".

The reality set in today that the number of people killed last week was at least triple what was originally thought.  In addition, it is incredibly gruesome.  Hundreds of dead bodies lie in the morgue, covered in blood from gunshots, knife wounds, and other mortifying forms of death.  Men and women were dragged out of their homes and killed for no reason.  Where is the U.S. military in all of this?  Where is the Iraqi military?  Where is the Iraqi police?  Does anyone have any control over this country?

The answer is clearly no.  Since the United States never committed enough troops, there are many pockets of lawlessness.  By lawlessness, I mean that people are running around killing other people.  If you're Sunni, the Shiites will kill you.  If you're Shiite, the Sunnis will kill you.  If you happen not to care and your family is a combination of both Sunni and Shiite, you will probably be killed for mixing.

That is what accounted for most of the killing last week.  They were killed because they were Sunni or Shiite.  There was no other reason.  If that's not the definition of a civil war, I don't know what is.  The two major factions in Iraq are killing each other for no other reason than they are not alike.  They are killing each other in mass numbers and without consequence.  This is a civil war, plain and simple.

In the midst of all of this, what is our government doing to correct the problem.  Nothing, nothing, nothing.  Ok, well not nothing.  They are getting on talk shows to tell the American public that it's not so bad.

Right now, the American soldiers are caught in the middle.  Their leader created this situation by not giving them the resources and he now refuses to get them out of it.  If the last week has told us anything, it tells us that the situation in Iraq is beyond hope.  Anyone who tells you different is either kidding themselves or has some political agenda.  The only move the United States can make at this moment is to protect their soldiers.  They cannot stop this civil war.  They can't even contain it.  The only thing they can do is get out of the way.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Get Ready For the Abortion Fight

Battleground: South Dakota.  Not exactly the place you would think of to get into the biggest abortion fight in a generation.  But that's what lawmakers are asking for as they voted to ban nearly all abortions in the state.  The bill now goes to the governor, who fully intends to sign it.  It would, in effect, ignore Roe vs. Wade, the law passed in 1973 that allows abortion.  By July 1, 2006, abortion will be illegal in the state of South Dakota.

As much as I admire their intent, the lawmakers in South Dakota are really bad at math.  They believe that with the appointments of John Roberts and Sam Alito, there is a possibility that the Supreme Court will uphold their decision.  Unfortunately, the prior nine members of the Supreme Court voted 6-3 in support of Roe v. Wade and even though the court now has two more conservatives, they only replaced one pro-choice vote.  Therefore, even if Roberts and Alito vote to ban abortion, Roe v. Wade would still be upheld 5-4.  This assumes that the other seven members vote the same, but there is no reason to believe that they would change.

Perhaps South Dakota is simply wanting to determine where Roberts and Alito stand.  We assume that would vote pro-life, but nobody knows for sure.  They refused to answer the question when it was posed in their hearings  So maybe the politicians in South Dakota just want to know if it really is 5-4.

Or maybe their cause is much nobler.  There are 800 abortions performed in South Dakota every year.  If it takes six months for the Supreme Court to hear the case, that would be 400 lives that they are saving.  Maybe that is their rationale.

Personally, I think it's a combination of a couple things.  If they can delay the Supreme Court from hearing the case for as long as possible, abortion will be illegal in their state for longer.  Also, one of the liberal Supreme Court justices is quite old.  If they delay long enough, he may pass away and Bush would nominate another conservative.  This is highly possible as Justice John Paul Stevens is 85 years old.  Although he is in relatively good health, you never know.

None of these things seems very likely however.  So whatever the rationale the politicians are using, it appears that this law will not last long.  The pro-choice people should be able to rest easy...for now.  The biggest threat to the pro-choice movement is not South Dakota.  It is George Bush and the Supreme Court.  All Bush needs is one of the five pro-choice judges to retire or pass away in the next three years and he will be able to shift the balance of power in the court.  If this happens, though, I guarantee that there will be a Democrat in the White House in 2008.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Administration in Denial Over Iraq Civil War

It's all about the spin. It's never about fixing the problem.  Members of the administration are hitting the Sunday morning talk shows today to spin the civil war in Iraq.  National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley is talking crazy on Face the Nation.  He is still talking as if it were three years ago and progress is being made.  He is still pitching the 'training' of Iraqi security forces.  The problem is that the U.S. is not training enough of them.  They have refused offers from other countries to help train soldiers.  They are failing miserably.

The Bush Administration needs to reassess this situation in a hurry.  They need to cut their losses and not shoot for the moon.  The United States is not going to create a democracy in Iraq.  It seems that everyone knows that except this administration.  The best we can hope for is a somewhat stable government and even that is a long shot.

I have advocated in the past to simply train the Iraqi troops and then get the hell out of there.  However, it appears that even that is not possible.  You either have to be committed to this or not.  It is abundantly clear that the U.S. is not committed to training these troops.  They have had three years to do it and have made no progress.

If you cannot commit to getting the job done, then you must leave.  The United States government will not ask for help and will not commit to fixing the problem.  Make no mistake, Iraq will not get better in the next few years.  It will get worse, much worse.  It is evidenced in the last three years of increased violence, increased death, and increased hatred of the United States.  There is not one piece of evidence that the situation in Iraq will get better in the coming months or years.

Friday, February 24, 2006

As Predicted, Iraq Devolving into Civil War

The worst case scenario is beginning to take place in Iraq.  The country is on the brink of civil war and there may be nothing that can be done to stop it.  Just in the last day, 47 people on a bus were butchered, over 100 people were found murdered, and over 168 mosques were destroyed.  Sunnis and Shiites are fighting more than ever before and there seems to be no end to the violence.

Unfortunately, this is exactly what was expected and what George Bush's critics have been telling him from day one.  This should not be news.  About 18 months ago, the intelligence community warned that in about 18 months, Iraq would be thrust into a civil war.  At the time, George Bush shrugged off that intelligence.  He doesn't shrug off all intelligence though.  If it favors his administration, he is more than willing to share.  His selective use of intelligence got us into this mess and he is still only listening to advice that agrees with his own opinion.

The reality is that without a stable government, Iraq will be thrust into a civil war and the United States will be caught in the middle.  The three years that the U.S. has spent trying to rebuild Iraq will be all for naught if a civil war ensues.  The country will be destroyed, people will be dragged out of their houses and killed in the streets, and hundreds of thousands of people will die. 

In the end, one group will rule, but not much else will change.  Murders will continue for years to come.  The losing faction will create rebel armies and continue to fight.  The ruling faction will govern with an iron hand, killing anyone that challenges their authority. 

The question is what America should do about it.  Does the United States pick a side and fight alongside one segment of the Iraqi population to destroy the other?  Does the U.S. do nothing and let everybody kill each other, which is basically what will happen?  Or does the U.S. leave and let the two sides battle it out?  None of these scenarios is worth choosing.  All have dire consequences.

Personally, I now believe that the United States should pack up and go home.  This administration never put enough troops on the ground to stabilize the country and still continues to ignore competent people who told them to.  They will be blamed for creating the civil war, and rightfully so, but if they stay, they risk countless American lives.  They risk these lives with little, if any, hope of resolving the situation.  If the U.S. stays during a civil war, they will be caught in the crossfire and will suffer more casualties.  I, for one, would rather take my chances from the sidelines.

You see, the problem is that you cannot turn an uncivilized society into a civilized one in a matter of a few years.  It takes many generations to achieve such a feat.  The U.S. government thought it could turn Iraq into a burgeoning democracy overnight.  However, a large percentage of people in Iraq do not respect human life and you cannot create a civilized society unless you can start with that basic tenet.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

The Conservative Right is Rebelling Against Their Leader

First it was the Harriet Miers nomination and then it was the port security issue, but make no mistake, mainstream Republicans are rebelling against George Bush and his administration.  In all honesty, if George Bush had a 60%+ approval rating, you would not be hearing a peep out of Republicans.  However, with his approval hovering around 40% and in an election year, Republicans have no problem distancing themselves from their leader.

The beauty is that we now get to hear what congressional republicans really think.  They fiercely opposed Bush on the Harriet Miers nomination a few months ago and now they are aghast that he would defend the outsourcing of American ports to the United Arab Emirates (UAE).  It seems as though George Bush is standing completely alone on this port issue.  He has threatened to veto any bill that would stop this deal with the UAE from going through.

The best thing that could now happen is that George Bush's approval rating goes down to 35% or below.  At 40%, it is on the edge of losing the party, but not entirely.  If and when it drops another five points and stays there, all hell would break loose on the conservative side.  The reason is the erosion of the base.  At 40%, Bush still has the base of the party behind him.  If he starts to lose that base, many people in Washington will stand up to him.

It is actually a sad commentary that members of Congress won't open their mouth against the president unless he is unpopular, but it is nevertheless, true.  Democrats always had a difficult time opposing Bill Clinton because Clinton almost always had very solid approval ratings.  The man was scum, but he could talk his way out of a paper bag and people loved him for it.  Ok, well 60% of the people loved him for it.

Now we have Bush defending the right of an Arab company being able to have access to American ports.  Bush refuses to make the distinction between a foreign company that operates independently of the government and one that does not.  I guess he's just not bright enough to see the difference.  Not that it matters anyway, as no foreign company should control U.S. ports. 

Again it comes down to a matter of intelligence and competence.  Over and over again, the Bush administration has demonstrated that they have absolutely no idea what they are doing.  Hopefully, now that we are in an election year, leaders in his own party will realize this and question his (lack of) leadership.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Port Security Takes Center Stage

Well, it took an Arab company for anyone to notice this problem, but finally there is a focus on the lack of port security in this country.  Democrats and Republicans are actually uniting (heaven forbid) to try to stop a company from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to control the operations of six major ports in the United States.  Why we are outsourcing one of the key components to national security is beyond me.

There are certain industries within the U.S. that absolutely need to be controlled by the U.S.  Among those are defense contractors, border patrol, and port security.  The fact that these ports are being sold from one foreign country (Britain) to another (United Arab Emirates) should make everybody wake up and take notice.

What makes this story more frightening is that companies in the UAE do not function independently as ones in America do.  In the UAE, a company is simply an extension of the government.  The UAE is not a democracy.  If you turn over the ports to a UAE firm, you are turning it over to their government.

What this story is doing is highlighting the major issue of port security.  It is important to note that the UAE company would only control the operation of the port.  The security of the port is controlled by the Department of Homeland Security and the security is a complete joke.  Only 5% of the containers that come into this country through our ports are inspected.  So 19 out of 20 containers are never even looked at.  Not only could a terrorist or a bomb easily make it to our shore, but illegal drugs as well.

It all comes down to a lack of funding.  Containers cannot be checked because the government will not allocate any money to it.  They talk about protecting the national security of our country, but that all starts with our borders, including our ports.  This government and previous administrations spend billions of dollars on wars and developing advanced weapons systems, but they won't make the simple decision to protect the entry points into this country.

Just imagine if just some of the money spent on Iraq went to protect our ports and our borders.  We would stop illegal aliens from entering our country, we would crush the drug trade, and we would prevent terrorists from entering this country and inflicting harm on Americans.

Why would you not want to solve three major problems by fixing something that seems so simple?

Monday, February 20, 2006

Chertoff Wants Arab Country To Control U.S. Ports

The head of Homeland Security doesn't think there is a problem with a company from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) controlling the ports in the United States.  Michael Chertoff, who has already screwed up the Katrina response, apparently doesn't feel like protecting the ports inside our own country.  Chertoff went on 'Meet the Press' yesterday to argue that it's not a big deal.  I suppose he thought Katrina wasn't a big deal either when that struck.

Michael Chertoff has been over his head for quite some time.  He frankly doesn't know what he is doing.  The whole Homeland Security department was just a knee-jerk reaction to 9/11 anyway.  It has caused more problems in the last few years than it has solved.  It is basically just another level of government bureaucracy.

To protect the national country of this country, some things must remain American.  Such is the case with the ports within the United States.  If the U.S. allows the sale of the ports to go through, we will be at much greater risk.  Even if the Arab company appears legitimate, the safety can still be compromised.  A port is the first access point a terrorist could use to bring a bomb into this country and with an Arab owned firm controlling it, they could just walk right in. The 9/11 terrorists used UAE as a base of operations before carrying out their attack on America, so the risk is clear.

What do we really know about Michael Chertoff anyway?  As the head of Homeland Security, I'm sure he must have held some position in security in defense of our nation.  Surely, he must have come from the CIA, the FBI, the NSA, or some other agency that specializes in such matters.  No such luck.  Michael Chertoff was a lawyer and a judge before being named the head of what is now one of the most important jobs in the country. 

So you may wonder how Chertoff got this job, right?  Well, he helped George with fundraising during his 2000 Presidential Election of course!  Then, George hooked him up with a job in the Justice Department for two years.  George also had him write the PATRIOT Act.  You know, that's the act that tramples our civil liberties and the Fourth Amendment.

We know how Bush hooks up his cronies with fat jobs that they're not qualified for and this is no different.  The only qualifications Chertoff has is that he helped write some legislation and did some fundraising.  Congratulations!  I feel safer already!

I don't understand why tapping phone calls is a matter of national security, but allowing ports to be sold to the enemy is not.  Ok, the United Arab Emirates is not technically our enemy, but it is not really a friend of the United States either. 

Right now, it is a matter of competence.  The United States government just doesn't have any.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

How Disappointing!  McCain and Hillary Have Early Lead For 2008 Election

It's never too early to think about a replacement for George W. Bush and polls are already out showing who leads their respective parties.  Unfortunately, Hillary Clinton is winning comfortably right now in the Democratic Presidential Primaries.  In polls conducted in seven states, Hillary is winning in all of them.  In fact, the next closest challenger is John Edwards and he isn't even over 10% in most of the state polls.

On the Republican side, John McCain is also way ahead of any potential challenger.  Again, in all seven state polls, McCain is in the lead by double digits.  Mitt Romney is the closest, but even he is losing by 29% in his own state of Massachusetts.

John McCain ran for President five years ago and the country made a grave mistake in electing George Bush instead.  The Bush people dragged McCain's name through the mud after he won the New Hampshire primaries.  The candidates went to South Carolina after New Hampshire and that is where the corrupt, dirty, and unethical side of George W. began to show. 

First, Bush kicked off his southern campaign at Bob Jones University, the most racist college in America.  The university is so racist that they ban interracial dating.  It is essentially a bible-thumping college that preaches that white people are superior.  In addition to that stop, Bush had his people rip John McCain to shreds.  They called up voters to tell them that John McCain had fathered an illegitimate black baby.  None of this was true, of course, but since the voters in South Carolina believed it and they proceeded to put George Bush on top of the Republican ticket.

Now five years later, McCain is sucking up to Bush so that he can get the Republican nomination.  McCain is a very good man, but he really needs to stop kissing Bush's tail.  Right now, it seems that he is making a deal with the devil.  If McCain swears off everyone in the Bush administration, I might be inclined to vote for him.  But we all know that won't happen.  The Bush thugs will find a way to get back in the White House if McCain is elected.  They will force him to put one of their people on the ticket as Vice President and nothing will change.

Now, if Hillary Clinton is elected President, I think I might have to move to Canada.  If this is the best the Democrats can do, it is really a sad day in America.  There are many other Democratic candidates that are far better than Hillary.  We already know that she and her husband are corrupt.  Why would we elect them back into the White House?  Yes, anybody is better than Bush, but Bill and Hillary are not the answer.

It is still early and many things could change.  But if these are our two choices, then we really need to find a third party candidate that can compete with these insiders.

Friday, February 17, 2006

How Drunk Was Dick Cheney?

When the hunting accident was first reported, there were no reports of alcohol being consumed.  When he appeared on the state-run Fox Network on Wednesday, Dick Cheney admitted to having one beer.

It has also been revealed that after the accident, Cheney fixed himself a "stiff" drink.  This is a common trick to hide the fact that you are drunk.  If you have a drink after an incident, then when the cops show up and you're forced to take a breathalyzer, you can point to the drink in your hand.  This would render the breathalyzer inaccurate and useless.

What is also troubling is that Dick Cheney would not allow the police to question him until the following morning.  A normal person would've been questioned immediately.  I suspect that Cheney needed to sober up before he would allow any police near him.

For a while I couldn't figure out why he would admit to even having a drink at lunch.  Then it occurred to me that his hunting partner probably had a blood-alcohol test done upon his arrival to the hospital.  When asked by reporters about this, the doctors said 'no comment'.  The 'no comment' speaks volumes.  If there wasn't any alcohol in Whittington's system, the doctors easily could've said no.  It is very possible that Mr. Whittington had a very high blood-alcohol number.  While the amount of alcohol in Mr. Whittington does not prove that Cheney was boozing, it could suggest that the boys were drinking a lot more than Dr. Pepper, as Ms. Armstrong suggested.

I find it hard to believe that Cheney only had one drink before the incident.  Everyone who has hunted with him swear that he is a great shot.  Alan Simpson has gone on a number of television programs to demonstrate how good of a hunter Cheney is.  So why the disparity?  If Cheney is such a great hunter, how could he have possibly shot his friend in the face?

Cheney also has a history of problems with alcohol, having been convicted twice of drunk driving.  All signs point to him being trashed again.  He was drinking before and after the accident and refused to be questioned by police until the morning.  He also tried to cover the story up.  We may never know the exact truth (much like Chappaquiddick), but we seem to be finding out more information each day.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Massachusetts Forces Wal-Mart to Carry Abortion Pill

Leave it to the most liberal state in the union to come up with this one.  In a court ruling yesterday, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts decided that Wal-Mart had to sell a specific pill in their stores that creates an abortion.  This ruling is wrong for so many reasons.

First of all, since when can a state government choose what a retailer is supposed to sell and what they are not?  I personally can�t stand Wal-Mart, but they have a right to sell anything they want (that�s legal) and they also have a right to not sell certain products.  If Wal-Mart decided not to sell guns, I guarantee the Commonwealth of Massachusetts would not have a problem with it.

Secondly, we�re talking about the abortion pill.  It is commonly referred to as the morning after pill because it must be taken within 72 hours. Liberals love this pill because they love abortion.  Ok, that�s a bit over the top, but they do love to protect abortion rights at every turn, no matter how nonsensical it is.  They even support third trimester abortions.

It�s kind of funny because the pro-choice people remind me a lot of the NRA people.  They oppose any form of limitation on their (supposed) rights, even if that limitation is a good idea.  The NRA would oppose anyone limiting automatic weapons, while the pro-choice folks oppose late term abortions.

Now we have a pill for the lazy and incompetent.  See, it�s all about individual responsibility.  If you don't want a baby, don't get pregnant.  Crazy concept I know.  People who need or want this pill don�t have any responsibility for their own actions.  They make bad decisions and then want a pill to rectify the problem.  It really is quite sad.

The larger point is that we have a state that is forcing a retailer to sell a certain type of product.  That is simply a gross abuse of power.  However, we shouldn�t be surprised.  After all, this is Massachusetts we�re talking about.  This is a state that doesn�t have a single Republican representative in the House or the Senate.  This is a state that is home to the Kennedy�s, one of the most corrupt families around.  It is also home to John Kerry, a man who doesn�t even know what his own opinion is.  No, we shouldn�t be surprised; but we should be upset.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Cheney Shooting Getting More Suspicious

Something just doesn't seem right in this whole hunting accident story.  The more information that comes to light, the more fishy it gets.  There are a few things that don't make any sense.  Let's review.

1.  The Hospital.  The victim, Harry Whittington, was originally taken to the hospital in Kingsville, a much smaller hospital than the one in Corpus Christi.  Why?

2.  The Injury.  Harry Whittington's injuries are more severe than originally disclosed.  One of the pellets from the shotgun blast lodged itself in his heart.  As a result, he had a heart attack.

3.  The Distance.  It was also reported that Whittington was 30 yards away when he was shot by Cheney. However, his injuries are not consistent with a shotgun blast from that range.

4.  The Disclosure.  Why was the disclosure of this incident so completely botched from start to finish.  It was nearly 24 hours before the story was reported and when it was, it was done through bizarre means.

Based on what we now know, here is what I think really happened.  Dick Cheney accidentally shot his friend, Harry Whittington at close range.  The range was probably closer to 10-15 yards, not 30 yards.

Upon realizing that he shot his friend and not a quail, Dick Cheney and his Secret Service people panicked.  Cheney's first instinct would be to help his friend, but it would also be to cover up the story.  Being the VP with a history of medical issues, Cheney has an ambulance on call.  He summons the ambulance to take Harry to the hospital.  Cheney does not want the public to find out, so he directs the ambulance to take Harry to a hospital in a small town south of Corpus Christi.  That way, less people will be aware of the situation.

At this point, the story has been kept quiet.  However, the injuries to Mr. Wittington were more severe than originally thought, so he had to be transferred to the larger hospital in Corpus Christi.  It was at that point that Cheney and his people realize that they can't keep the story under wraps.  There are just too many people involved.  That is what caused the delay in reporting it to the press.

It is from there that they decide to spin the story by playing it down.  They instruct their friend, Katherine Armstrong, the owner of the ranch they were on, to tell her friend at the local Corpus Christi paper.  They instruct her to say that Whittington was "sprayed", not shot, and that his injuries were "minor".  This spin is what the public has been hearing the last few days.

The problem with that spin is that it is wholly untrue.  Doctors are now confirming that they knew Whittington had a pellet from the shotgun blast near his heart on the day of the shooting.  Therefore, we know that vital information about the victim's condition has been withheld up until this afternoon.  I wonder what else is being withheld.  What will we find out tomorrow?

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Cheney's Got a Gun. Everybody is on the Run

I wasn't going to comment on this story as of last night, figuring that it was just a normal hunting accident.  We find out yesterday, however, that the real story is the cover up.  Now you would think that when the Vice President of the United States shoots another man in the face with a shotgun, it would make the news immediately.  Not so in this case.

A full 24 hours went by before the public found out about this story.  At first blush, you would say "so what"; 24 hours is nothing.  However, if you understand the normal process of the White House with regard to the press corp, 24 hours is an eternity.  News is normally disseminated to the press very quickly.

At the very least, news is not released by a random newspaper in Corpus Christi, Texas.  This story was reported by a private citizen who contacted the newspaper.  Could it be that the Vice President's office wanted to delay the story so that they would miss the Sunday morning talk shows?

The whole thing is very bizarre.  The alarming part of it is that Cheney was not interviewed by the police until the following day.  Typically, when a hunter shoots another person, the police are brought in immediately to investigate. That was the case here, except for the part where Secret Service told them to go away.  Could it be that Dick had to sober up first?  Why wouldn't Cheney talk to the authorities right away?  They were there on the scene, but were refused access to the shooter.  Cheney would not talk with them until the following morning.  It all seems very suspicious.

The other odd part is that Cheney did not tell George Bush until Monday, a good two days after the incident.  It seems to add credibility to the rumor that Bush and Cheney are growing apart and that Cheney follows his own rules. When Bush first came into office, Bush and Cheney were very close.  That doesn't appear to be the case anymore. Cheney didn't feel the need to tell his own boss that he almost killed another man.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Iran Demands an Apology That Will Never Come

The rhetoric coming out of Iran has become completely ridiculous.  Now they want an apology from the U.S. government for accusing them of inciting violence?  Well, um, that's not going to happen.  Iran seems to think it can get away with whatever they want.  First, they allow protesters and violence to run amok.  Then, when confronted by the West for their actions, they deny, deny, deny.  Plus, to have the gall to demand an apology is insane.

Iran is acting as if they want a war.  They are led by a terrorist and seem to be hell-bent on starting a war between the West and the Muslims.  Perhaps it is simply talk in order to appear tough against the Americans, but it is not just the Americans who now have a problem with Iran.  Israel and countries in Europe are lining up against Iran.

The United States does not have the resources to battle Iran head to head because they are already bogged down in two wars.  If they were smart enough to stay out of Iraq, then Iran would not be as much of a problem as they are today.  Reports are that Israel and the United States are preparing to take pre-emptive strikes against Iran's nuclear facilities as early as April.  However, Iran has been preparing their military for such an occurrence and they will likely strike back if attacked.

If other countries do not assist the United States, Iran will be able to stand up to the almighty U.S. of A.  They have a formidable military and a large portion of the U.S. military is right next door in Iraq.  If we attack Iran first, our soldiers in Iraq will be at great risk.  The U.S. does not have enough people in theater to handle Iran right now.  Our air power is clearly superior and we would be able to bomb any and all targets that we wish, but Iran will attack our forces in Iraq with everything they have.

Let's hope that all this is just rhetoric.  The leader of Iran must condemn the United States so that he doesn't appear weak to the hard-liners that got him in office.  The U.S. must also talk tough to keep Iran in line.  At the moment, nothing has come of all this talk except more anger.  At some point, it will boil over.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Republicans Launching the "Angry Hillary" Tactic

RNC Chairman Ken Mehlman (the gay version of Karl Rove), recently launched a new attack against Hillary Clinton to paint her as an angry candidate.  This attack on Hillary is new, but it is a tactic that Republican thugs have been using for years.  Republicans are breaking out the old play book in order to keep their corrupt henchman in office in 2008.  Mehlman, who looked pretty hostile when telling the audience that Hillary was the angry one, seems to think that if anyone questions the incompetent Republican leadership, they must be angry.

Well sign me up for being angry.  Why wouldn't I be?  Thugs like Ken Mehlman are destroying this country.  He defends George Bush at every turn and plays dirty politics to get it done.  Now they are going after Hillary.  I have no problem with them going after Hillary Clinton, but their tactics are reprehensible.

It all comes back to spinning leadership versus leadership itself.  The Republicans are very good at spin, but very bad at actually running the country.  They can kill a person without ever firing a bullet.  The even destroy and humiliate their own if necessary.  When Richard Clarke and Paul O'Neil spoke out against the Bush Administration, the Republican attack dogs were released and those men never recovered.  They painted John McCain and Howard Dean as "Angry Americans" and voters became turned off by their candidacies.

Now their attack dogs are focused on Hillary Clinton.  They see her as a threat to become the next President of the United States.  However, they should be focused on their own administration and their own party.  If Hillary Clinton becomes president, it will only be due to the ineptitude of the Bush administration.  If there is no improvement in the next three years, the voters will vote in whoever the Democratic nominee is.  Voters will be sick and tired of the corruption, the scandals, the war in Iraq, and the miserable failure that is George Bush.

So put me in the group that believes this attack on Hillary will not work.  I hope she is not the next president, but considering how incompetent the leadership has been over the last five years, it would be hard not to vote in a Democrat.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Why Lynn Swann Should Not Be Governor

A new poll shows that Governor Ed Rendell and Lynn Swann are locked in a tight battle for the upcoming Gubernatorial election in the state of Pennsylvania.  Rendell is leading 45% - 42%, but it is well within the margin of error.  What surprises me the most about this poll is that a man who has never held any public office or any "real" job in his life can garner 42% of the vote on his name alone.

Lynn Swann was a great football player for the Pittsburgh Steelers, but being able to catch a ball in a game has nothing to do with running a state.  Lynn Swann is 53 years old.  He played football until 1982, when he retired at the age of 30.  Since his retirement, most of his time has been spent as a sports broadcaster for ABC.  He also hosted a game show in the early 1990's.

Swann's only experience outside the world of sports comes as a director on the boards of two companies (HJ Heinz and Wyndham Int'l).  Board memberships are historically given to friends and cronies and it appears that Swann's board memberships are no different.  HJ Heinz, as we all know, is a ketchup company.  Wyndham International is a hotel chain.  Now what experience did Lynn Swann have in those two areas before becoming a board member?  None.  His only job is to meet once in a while and vote on some company business.

Swann is the Chairman on the President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports.  He was appointed chairman of the council having no prior experience on the council itself.  Basically, this was an appointment by Bush to set up Swann for a future run to become Governor of Pennsylvania.  However, the role is much more honorary than anything else and Swann has only been in it for 3 1/2 years.

The point is that Lynn Swann has absolutely no experience in anything even quasi-related to being the governor of a state.  I'm all for electing outsiders who have never held a position in public office, but you must come to the table with some amount of experience.  Lynn Swann has no experience in business whatsoever.  In the 25 years since his retirement, he has done little to enhance that.

What Lynn Swann does have is name recognition.  Unfortunately, in politics, it seems as though you need nothing else.  In the great state of Pennsylvania, Lynn Swann is revered for helping the Steelers win Super Bowls in the 1970's.  That is what is driving his 42% standing in the poll.  The GOP wants to defeat Ed Rendell in Pennsylvania and they're counting on the stupidity of Pennsylvania voters to make that happen.  Pennsylvania has real problems and real issues to deal with.  If the voters elect Swann in because he can catch a football, then they are doing a great disservice to themselves and their community.

Pennsylvania is a state that desperately needs to get Ed Rendell out of office and put a Republican in.  Rendell is a classic tax and spend liberal and the level of taxation in Pennsylvania has completely crippled the state.  This is especially true in the major cities of Philadelphia and Pittsburgh.  The tax policies are out of control.  If you ever want to make a case against Democratic leadership, look no further than Philadelphia.  PA needs a Republican with a business background and some fiscal discipline.  Unfortunately, the GOP is getting behind an incredibly inexperienced man.

Tuesday, February 7, 2006

Democrats Exploit King Funeral to Make Political Speeches

I have never been so ashamed of the Democrats in my life!  The funeral for Coretta Scott King took place today in Atlanta, Georgia.  What should have been a day of remembrance of her great life turned into a platform for inappropriate political speeches.  With President Bush in attendance, Reverend Joseph Lowery, an acclaimed civil rights leader, took the stage and ripped the president for not being able to find weapons of mass destruction. 

Not to be outdone, former president Jimmy Carter stepped up to the mike and laid into President Bush for his illegal spying program.  Carter also tore into Bush for his slow response to Hurricane Katrina.  Now I'm all for criticizing the president, but there is a time and a place for it and the funeral of Coretta Scott King is not it.  What in the world is wrong with Democrats?  Are they so callous that they can't put aside their political differences for one hour while they pay their respects to a great woman?

I actually like Jimmy Carter.  He has done some amazing things since his presidency to promote peace in the world.  However, today I lost a lot of respect for the man.  To make a political speech at someone's funeral is absolutely disgraceful.  The same goes for Joseph Lowery.  Here is a man who founded the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.  Well, this man showed no leadership today and no Christian values.

Both Jimmy Carter and Reverend Joseph Lowery should apologize to Coretta Scott King's family and to the American people.  We should not let them or anyone else get away with this.

Did the Democrats not learn anything from pulling the same stunt at Senator Wellstone's funeral?  If you recall, Paul Wellstone was a Democratic Senator from Minnesota who died in a plane crash in October of 2002.  Democrats used his memorial service to make ridiculous political speeches.  It was so awful that Governor Jesse Ventura stormed out of the place in disgust.

The Democrats did this three years ago and they did it again today.  No wonder nobody votes for them.  This country is falling apart with its current leadership, but it is now the Democrats who look incompetent.  Is there anyone with ethics and some level of intelligence that can lead?  Anyone?

Monday, February 6, 2006

Torture Boy Dodges Questions About NSA Wiretaps

Alberto Gonzales, aka Torture Boy, was questioned by Senators today on the Bush Administration's illegal spy program.  When asked specifically if the administration could open and look at first class mail of American citizens, Torture Boy evaded the question.  When the Senator demanded a simple 'yes' or 'no' response, TB still wouldn't answer the question.

The Attorney General defended the spy program and made the ridiculous assertion that the monitoring was legal.  As an attorney, he should (and does) know that he is lying.  TB tried to make the argument that spying was necessary for national security.  Of course, that really isn't the problem though, is it.  The question is not whether or not the program is necessary; it is a question of whether it was legal for Bush to ignore the FISA court to do it.

The answer is that it is not legal to conduct warrantless spying on American citizens.  Even Senate Republicans were uneasy about the power that Bush is giving himself.  Senators Arlen Specter (PA), Mike DeWine (OH), and Lindsey Graham (SC) all expressed skepticism about the lawfulness of the program.

So now we have an Attorney General who has advocated the use of torture and has now lied before Congress.  In the picture here, TB is attempting to find a page in a book about the FISA court that would exonerate his unlawful conduct.  Regretfully, he was unable to answer basic questions.

Another Republican Senator wanted to change the 1978 FISA law.  Senator Sam Brownback (KS) thought the law should be changed to allow this type of surveillance.  That sounds all good, but Senator Brownback doesn't know what he's talking about.  This type of surveillance is allowed under the FISA law.  (assuming that the Bushies aren't spying on journalists, Democrats, bloggers, etc.)

The difference is that the Bush administration never asked or told the FISA court what they were doing.  That is the illegal part.  They must clear their actions through FISA or they are breaking the law.  All the other banter in this argument is just smoke and mirrors.  Torture Boy dodged, ducked, and evaded all the hard questions that the Senators asked today. 

TB refused to be sworn in, but also stated that he would give the same responses if was under oath.  What a bunch of bull.  Get some cajones and get sworn in.  Otherwise, all your answers are garbage.  Shame on the Senators too for allowing such a charade.

2/6/06:  In reviewing this below post on the violence from the Mohammad cartoon, I have changed some of the wording.  The entire Muslim religion is not to blame for the actions of protesters and rioters.  However, I still believe that the religion condones the violent behavior.

Sunday, February 5, 2006

Muslim Protesters Using Cartoons as Excuse to Incite Violence

A cartoon ran in Denmark a solid five months ago that depicted the prophet Mohammed wearing a bomb on top his head in the shape of a turban.  Muslim protesters were so angered by this cartoon that they burned down the Danish embassy in Beirut today.  Palestinian gunmen also briefly took control of a EU office in Gaza because they were upset at the cartoons.  These violent outbursts on the part of Muslim protesters simply emphasizes the point of the cartoon; that violence is part of the equation in the Muslim religion.

How weak is your religion that you can go so incensed by a lousy cartoon?  A similar off-color cartoon ran in the Washington Post last week that angered the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs.  However, the chairman did not go burn down the headquarters of the Washington Post.  He wrote a letter that expressed his displeasure.  That is how things are handled in the civilized world.  We do not burn an embassy down to the ground and riot over a few cartoons in a random newspaper.

All this signifies is the shaky relationship between Muslims and the rest of the world.  Many use religion as an excuse to inflict violence on others.  Rather than preach a peaceful message for all to see, they continue to promote violence.

In addition to the burning of the embassy, Muslims have organized protests all over Europe and the Middle East.  You would think that such world-wide outrage came from something more than a cartoon, but it hasn't.  Imagine if someone had really inflicted actual damage on the Muslim religion.  What would they do then?

Muslims never seem to be outraged when their own people rip other people or religions.  When Jews are Christians are ridiculed on a regular basis, do Muslims stand up and denounce such behavior?  Of course not!  When the leader of Iran declares that Israel should be "wiped off the map", did Muslims rebuke his comments?  Not a chance!  When suicide bombers blow up innocent men, women, and children in Israel, does the Islamic world condemn them.  No, they give money to their families and make sure they're taken care of.

What we have here is just another excuse to ignore the rule of law and incite violence in any way, shape, or form.  The religion is the excuse.  It seems that the cartoonist was right on the money.

Saturday, February 4, 2006

Does Iran Have the Right to Develop Nuclear Weapons?

Many countries have nuclear weapons.  The United States, Russia, Great Britain, China, France, India, and Pakistan all have declared that they have nuclear weapons.  Israel and North Korea are suspected of having them as well.  However, the only country that has actually ever used them against another country is the United States.  The U.S. dropped two atomic bombs in 1945 on Japan.  The bombs killed about a quarter million innocent people in Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

The power of these weapons is undeniable, but who decides who is allowed to have them and who isn't?  The countries that have nukes don't want anyone else to have them.  Perhaps that is to keep the world safer, or maybe it is to retain the power and domination that they hold in the world.  The U.S., of all nations, is the most vocal.  The only country to ever use them has no problem threatening other nations that even attempt to develop them.

All this brings us to Iran.  Iran wants to develop nuclear weapons, although their stated intent is build nuclear powered energy.  Most people recognize that Iran is lying when they claim that nuclear power is all they are after.  The question is whether anyone else is allowed to deny them the right to obtain nukes.

Personally, I don't think any nation should develop nuclear weapons.  However, some countries already have them and there's nothing we can do about that now.  We should make every effort to prevent other countries from joining the nuclear club.  In the case of Iran, we have an outwardly hostile and volatile nation that wants to get these weapons.  Every nation should prevent them from doing so.  Even the nations without nuclear weapons, such as Canada, Australia, and Japan should stop Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons.

Many countries have signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which restricted the possession of nuclear weapons.  Of course, treaty signatures are worth just about nothing, as nations break treaties constantly.  Iran signed the treaty, but does not seem to be living up to it.

Fortunately for the United States, many countries around the world will help if Iran decides to ignore the threats to stop development.  With wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the U.S. would be hard-pressed to enter into another one with Iran.  The U.S. would need these other countries to step up as they did in the first Gulf war when Iraq invaded Kuwait.

For now, Iran continues to push the envelope.  They have been preparing for economic sanctions for many years and will not be affected by them for quite a while.  Iran has an enormous stockpile of cash from their production of oil, so imposing sanctions will not be enough.  Military action will have to be considered if Iran continues on this course.  Military action is a last resort and all possible means to resolve this issue must be attempted.  Right now, it is up to Iran to decide whether or not they want to go to war with the rest of the world.

Wednesday, February 1, 2006

Bush Uses 9/11 in State of the Union to Justify his Illegal Spy Program

Like most State of the Union speeches, the president talked a good game and set a lot of goals, but much like his other speeches, it was all talk and no action.  It is easy to say that the troops should come home.  It is easy to say that the United States must free itself of Mideast oil.  What's missing is any competent action that produces positive results.

The most alarming piece of the speech is how George Bush used the tragedy of September 11th to justify the spying he is conducting on American citizens.  Bush broke the law, but figured that if he said 9/11 enough times, the American people will leave him alone.  His administration always, always, always goes back to 9/11 when defending their illegal actions.  No matter what action Bush takes, he invokes 9/11 and hopes nobody questions his activity.

Well so far, nobody has called him on it.  The Democrats question nothing.  They are in complete disarray.  The whole lot of them lack any conviction whatsoever.  They hedge constantly, having to read a poll to know what to say. The Democrats are allowing Republicans to walk all over them and it is increasingly pathetic to watch.  Even the Democratic response was weak.  The newly elected Governor of Virginia, Tim Kaine gave the response and it was much ado about nothing.

Bush also used the family of a dead soldier to win public support and garner applause by the audience.  He brought the family of the soldier into the hall to sit directly behind Laura Bush.  When George spoke of the soldier, the cameras immediately panned to the family.  This all seems well and good, but the only purpose was for Bush to look good and win support for the war.  It was not compassionate.  It was calculated and heartless.  I wonder if the family knew that they were being used as a political tool.

The sad part is that the mainstream media thought it was a great speech.  They are on the airwaves right now with their usual commentators talking about how "tough" the president was.  It is really quite pathetic.  All the man did was read a speech off a teleprompter.  He didn't write the speech and he sure as hell didn't talk about all the problems he has created in the last five years.

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