30 July 2005

Blocking Bolton

The White House seems determined to get its man, John Bolton (who is known for his outspoken calumny and general smarminess), into the UN by any means possible. They may be willing to forego congressional approval and use the August recess to appoint him.

Fortunately, 36 senators have taken the initiative in opposition to possible White House intentions to appoint Bolton as ambassador to the UN via a back door recess appointment. Here's a NYT article describing the situation in more detail: Bolton Not Truthful, 36 Senators Charge in Opposing Appointment.

Arianna Huffington says, "bury Bolton once and for all," at HuffingtonPost.

The White House should take the cue, get a clue, and find an appropriate nominee for the position of US ambassador to the UN.

Iraq War Failure

A LTE that I sent to my local paper, The Olympian, was published today. Yea! Here's a link to the page the letter is on.

27 July 2005

Beyond Rove

Roger Morris, in his article The Source Beyond Rove, presents a compelling argument regarding the outing of Valerie Plame's identity as a clandestine CIA agent, and for a White House led conspiracy to mislead congress and the American people about Saddam's WMD potential. Originally published by the Green Institute, Morris's article provides a detailed chronological analysis, which is both damning and indicting. Here's a sample:
March 7, 2003: In response to a request four months before, the State Department finally hands over to the IAEA copies of the Niger letters, which UN experts promptly dismiss as "not authentic" and "blatant forgeries." "These documents are so bad," a senior IAEA official tells the press, "that I cannot imagine that they came from a serious intelligence agency. It depresses me, given the low quality of the documents, that it was not stopped. At the level it reached, I would have expected more checking." A former high-level intelligence official tells The New Yorker, "Somebody deliberately let something false get in there. It could not have gotten into the system without the agency being involved. Therefore it was an internal intention. Someone set someone up."


July 6, 2003: Outraged by continuing references to the Nigerien uranium, Wilson breaks his anonymity with a sensational New York Times op-ed disclosing his mission to Niger sixteen months before, and the fact that he found no evidence of an Iraqi purchase of ore. "Based on my experience with the administration in the months leading up to the war," Wilson writes, "I have little choice but to conclude that some of the intelligence related to Iraq's nuclear weapons program was twisted to exaggerate the Iraqi threat." He tells "Meet the Press," "Either the administration has information that it has not shared with the public or ... they were using the selective use of facts and intelligence to bolster a decision that had already been made to go to war."
The stories surrounding the Downing Street memos and the 'outing' of Valerie (Plame) Wilson's identity are not receding. It is deeply indicative of the serious nature of these documents and events. The White House has committed enormous and egregious wrongs, will they be forced to reckon for their malicious intentions and criminal actions?

24 July 2005

The Sacrifice of War

In a recent NYT article, Thom Shanker exposed what will only become an increasing problem as the continued military operations abroad drag on interminably. Soldiers, officers are becoming increasingly cantankerous and resentful at being ordered to fight wars on behalf of an increasingly unappreciative public and civilian government.

Shanker points out that the soldiers are beginning to ask questions; like, "if America is truly on a war footing, why is so little sacrifice asked of the nation at large?" There is no draft, there is no initiative from either Rs or Ds in government to establish a war tax, there are no gasoline rationing measures being bandied about.

How long can Bush maintain constant war before the military breaks down and confronts him directly?

22 July 2005

Violence and Conflict

What kind of world do we live in, what kind of people are we - that some of us cheer, and we are encouraged to - when a war (whatever the justifications or lack thereof) breaks out?

Violence has been used to solve conflicts between human for ages. It is nothing new. The only thing that has changed in recent history is the power and scope of destruction, which many militaries and paramilitaries now use, both in overt actions and/or in more subtle threatening postures. The advent of nuclear technology in the twentieth century, and biological and chemical technologies in the last 500 years has made our world far more dangerous, and terrible; and far less livable.

Can violence be used to resolve conflict? Does it actually work? The answer I propose is: yes and no. On the surface of it, brute physical violence can be utilized to quell uprisings, stifle dissent and maintain adherence in threatened populations. But as the current situations in Iraq, Afghanistan, Bolivia or Columbia (to name but a few examples), and past situations in El Salvador, or Vietnam clearly show, the use of violent military force can fail in the resolution of conflicts.

What are some of the consequences of using violence to establish a system of order? There are several aspects (which usually apply to parties on both 'sides' of the conflict), some obvious like death, permanent disability and/or psychological anguish. There are more subtle implications, like lingering oppression and repression, a debasing of humanity, the establishment of a fear based social system, loss of moral direction, hate based thinking, and indignity generally.

How can conflicts be resolved without resorting to violence? There are several methods of achieving resolution without necessitating the inane plummet into degenerative violence. I am no expert on this, but I know that most situations can be resolved through the employment of open, honest, fair communications and dialogue.

Whom benefits when conflicts degrade into physical violence? Violence benefits various groups of people who are associated with its use. Usually those who benefit hold positions of power; i.e. decision makers, policy makers, privateers, and the weapons and military industry and its keepers. Interestingly, it seems that fundamentalist Islam is also benefiting from the military operation in Iraq, as it is serving to further polarize many people in opposition to American Imperialism in the Middle East and elsewhere.

Which parties are maligned? A valid argument can be made that everyone, especially in today's globalized world, is maligned when violent conflicts break out. Even those who appear to benefit are worsened, by the degenerative effects of violence. Although the surface appearance, the gain in wealth, control and power seem like they would benefit those recipients, in actuality, even those in power suffer a debasement of moral clarity and relationship with the world. By positioning themselves to gain in power and control, they actually debase their own moral character and align themselves with the injury that has been wreaked directly on so many.

It is obvious that those who suffer most directly are the innocent people caught between the fire of the fighters on the ground and the bombs from the sky. The soldiers and fighters also suffer obvious harm from direct involvement in violence. Their lives are forever changed by the visceral, and what must be surreal experiences involved in combat, the taking of others' lives, and the constant fear of capture, death or being permanently wounded and suffering. Their minds are contaminated with the stigma of violence, the psychological ramifications are intense and long-lasting.

As a new millennium spreads out before us, we, both as individuals and as humans collectively must start asking important questions about ourselves and the societies we live in. How we are related (as individuals and in the sense of larger communities) to the use of violence or the threat of violence to solve conflicts is one such importanat question.

What kind of world do we hope to live in? Violence can wreak havoc on those seemingly far removed from it. Apathy can strike at the will of those who don't or won't stand up to the problems we face. We are in positions to lose very much from the outcomes of policies and the consequences of violence. It is up to us, each one of us as individuals, to make conscious decisions on a daily basis. We can choose Love, Hope, Trust, humility, Perseverance, Openness, Community etc. Or we can choose Apathy, Fear, Isolation, Hate etc.

I would rather light a candle to find the way out, than curse the darkness. - based on a Chinese proverb

p.s. Please leave a comment; suggestions, things to add, or criticism are welcomed.

21 July 2005

A Critical Misunderstanding

For me, one of the most frustrating and difficult aspects of the current social and political climate is the level divisiveness and acrimonious antagonism all too often expressed by those who hold opposing views. How can people who disagree have a civilized discussion and seek compromise? Is it possible? So many of us are polarized in our views. It will take a genuine - utterly honest approach from those on different sides of the issues, and a willingness and sincere desire to find common ground in order to reach sensible solutions to the problems of our time.

How to best go about this? Maybe it's not possible with the current environment. It would be sad, telling and ultimately revealing about the competency of humanity if the world community cannot come together and find solutions to the problems we face today, i.e. poverty, disease, belligerence in war, over-population, environmental (ecological as well as sociological) crises, etc...

Can we at least agree that war and murder are inherently bad for us? It doesn't matter what side of war we're on, or what relationship we have to it, it affects us negatively. You could argue that it benefits those weapons and "defense" contractors and investors in said industries. But that then begs the question: is it right to use war to make financial profits?

It's clear we all have a lot of thinking to do about what our priorities are. Is family more important than politics? Is Nation more important than Love?

20 July 2005

A Weekend to Stop the War

July 18, 2005

Do It in September

A Weekend to Stop the War


"In a little more than two months, a weekend of protest against the war in Iraq is scheduled to take place in Washington, DC, San Francisco, London, and several other cities around the globe. Like other protests against the US war on the world, this weekend is being organized by a wide number of organizations and individuals who are often not in agreement about many related subjects. As a participant in the protests, however, these disagreements should be secondary to our actual presence. With the US military death toll rapidly nearing 2000 and the Iraqi and Afghani cost in lives unknown to the general public, this is no time to debate subtleties of theory and politics..." continued at counterpunch

19 July 2005

Truth Victimized

As recent revelations about Karl Rove, 'Scooter' Libby and the White House's involvement in the publication of a CIA agent's identity swelter in the hot July atmosphere, fester in the boondoggle of right-wing think-tank pundits and threaten to become overwhelmed by news of a Supreme Court Nomination; the real victim is the Truth.

David Corn has been fastidious, thorough, detailed and disciplined in his nearly daily coverage of the Leakage and Karl Rove's evolving, pivotal relationship to said leakage. Here's an excerpt from his blog posted on July 19th, '05:
...a portion of a New York Times article published today:

Elaine D. Kaplan, who from 1998 to 2003 was head of the Office of Special Counsel, an independent federal agency that investigates complaints of prohibited personnel practices, said: "Government employees and officials who are negligent with classified information can lose their jobs for carelessness. They don't have to be convicted of intentionally disseminating the information. Crime has never been the threshold. That's not the standard that applies to rank-and-file federal employees. They can be fired for misconduct well short of a crime."

Much of the attention has (justifiably) been on the Intelligence Identities Protection Act. But as Representative Henry Waxman has recently noted, when Rove shared Valerie Wilson's employment status at the CIA--which was classified information--he might have violated Executive Order 12958, which says:

Officers and employees of the United States Government...shall be subject to appropriate sanctions if they knowingly, willfully, or negligently....disclose to unauthorized persons information properly classified.

The Nation is always insightful; Corn's writing, amongst that of many other highly skilled, brilliant analysts can be found on its pages. Thanks to the reporting of many journalists, Rove's trail of slime will now certainly herald more attention, and the effectiveness of his manipulative smarmy politics will hopefully be hampered.

Another example of how Truth has been subsumed (maybe steam-rolled is a more fitting adjectival descriptor) by the screaming-punditry of so many chillingly-obscene-dissemblers in both the government and media establishments is the lack of coverage or discussion about the true motive for the invasion and occupation of Iraq. First it was WMD, which has been thoroughly disreputed. There was no WMD in Iraq, Hussein's government was in compliance with UN dictates. Bush misled us into the war based on false claims of imminent threat from WMD in Iraq. Once the falseness of WMD in Iraq was exposed, the mission's purpose was changed, now we were disenabling a ruthless dictator (who put him in power in the first place...) Fine, so then Democracy was the issue. Now we find that the Bush administration illegally supported the campaigns of certain individuals. Was the election legitimate? More and more analysts are saying, "no." Now, it is a "war on terror." As anyone whose head is not firmly planted up his or her own butt knows, Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11 - or international terrorism for that matter - prior to the US led invasion / occupation. Frankly, I am disgusted and flabbergasted by the display of ineptitude, corruption and blatant disrespect for international legal standards, not to mention those of common human decency.

How many Iraqi civilians have been killed since the start of the war - (Here's a conservative estimate of combat related civilian deaths, from The Guardian.) - and all for what? Well, as you likely know dear reader, the real cause of the military incursion and sustained operation in Iraq is not the promotion of Freedom or Democracy. No, the real reason the US government has spent $300 Billion of your tax dollars is to gain access to strategic oil reserves and geographic location.

Think about it! Then, do something about it! The Truth awaits! Veritas Vos Liberabit!

18 July 2005

The "Liberal" Media

White House Raises Bar for Termination

Originally, in 2003, White House officials stated categorically that anyone involved in the leak of Plame's identity would be fired.

I guess they didn't plan on getting caught!

Several MSM outlets have misreported on Bush's earlier statements, adding on that he has previously stated only a criminal charge will necessitate firing. In reality, only recently has Bush added the caveat that findings of illegal activity will be required for him to consider dismissal. So, if Kerry was a "flip-flopper," is Dubya a "waffler?"

Read more at Media Matters.

17 July 2005

Boycott Middle East Oil

Apparently our elected officials aren't getting the picture, maybe this, if liberally distributed and widely adhered to, will make them pay more attention. I couldn't find the information about these sources on the DOE website, but I emailed someone there requesting more information about this. There is some more information here about this email I recently received. It was originally circulated in 2001, which explains why the price of a barrel of oil is cited at $30, instead of today's $60 figure (also, despite the info on the page, we have seen $3/gallon at the pump, and are likely to again.) I suggest doing some more fact checking on the following information...I thought BP owned Amoco...Oh well. CITGO, which is a wholly owned subsidiary of the nationalized Venezuelan oil company, provides 100% non-Middle Eastern oil. Let's hit 'em where it hurts, the pocket-book.

Every time you fill up the car, you can avoid putting more money into the coffers of Saudi Arabia. Just buy from gas companies that don't import their oil from the Saudis.

Nothing is more frustrating than the feeling that every time I fill up the tank, I am sending my money to people who are trying to kill me, my family, and my friends.

I thought it might be interesting for you to know which oil companies are the best to buy gas from and which major companies import Middle Eastern oil :

Shell............................ 205,742,000 barrels

Chevron/Texaco......... ...144,332,000 barrels

Exxon /Mobil................ 130,082,000 barrels

Marathon/Speedway... ...117,740,000 barrels

Amoco............................62,231,000 barrels

If you do the math at $30/barrel, these imports amount to over $18 BILLION!

Here are some large companies that do not import Middle Eastern oil:

Citgo......................0 barrels

Sunoco...................0 barrels

Conoco...................0 barrels

Sinclair....................0 barrels

BP/Phillips..............0 barrels

Hess.......................0 barrels

ARC0......................0 barrels

All of this information is available from the Department of Energy and each is required to state where they get their oil and how much they are importing.

But to have an impact, we need to reach literally millions of gas buyers. It's really simple to do.

Now, don't wimp out at this point... Keep reading and I'll explain how simple it is to reach millions of people!!

If each of you send it to at least ten more (30 x 10 = 300)...And those 300 send it to at least ten more (300 x 10 = 3,000) ... And so on, by the time the message reaches the sixth generation of people, we will! have reached over THREE MILLION consumers! If those three million get excited and pass this on to ten friends each, then 30 million people will have been contacted!

If it goes one level further, you guessed it ..... THREE HUNDRED MILLION PEOPLE!!!

Again, all you have to do is send this to 10 people.

How long would all that take?

If each of us sends this e-mail out to ten more people within one day, all 300 MILLION people could conceivably be contacted within the next eight days!

------ End of Forwarded Message
Can we make a difference?

16 July 2005

A Crusade for JEB?

Can JEB rid the waters of Florida of those menacing sharks with his bare hands? I envision a duel, mano a mano, man v. shark; sure sharks have millions of years of evolutionary advantage, but from the looks of it, Mr. Jeb has a pretty thick skull. The terrorists wouldn't stand a chance if he can beat up sharks with his own fists. It would also make him a shoo-in for the White House '08. If he can't take out the sharks one on one, then I am afraid that the terrorists (like the sharks) have already won; Jeb, don't even consider running in '08 if you can't defend Florida's beach-goers against those marine prowlers.

Good luck Jeb; Go get 'em!

15 July 2005

An Illegal War

There was a great column in today's Seattle Post-Intelligencer. The author argued clearly, effectively and concisely that the invasion of Iraq and subsequent occupation violate international laws, such as agreements established during the Nuremburg Tribunals and the UN Charter. It's a great read.

If you're interested in reading about Karl Rove's apparent impropriety, the allegations and surrounding cover-up operation, I have linked some stories below.

A wonderful perspective from the Boston Globe can be found here.

Also, check out this comment from the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

The Christian Science Monitor has a poll associated with its account.

*update July 21st: The Washington post has a terrific new article re: plamegate.

I think both those of us on the left and on the right can agree that it's not good for our government to be involved in an illegal military operation! Would supporting (or even behaving neutrally towards) the government's illegal war put one in jeopardy of guilt by association? If you're a citizen, it is your duty to do what you reasonably can to oppose the government when it engages in illegal or harmful behavior!

You can sign a petition for impeachment at the Veterans for Peace website.

I am reading Orwell's 1984

I am reading George Orwell's novel, 1984.