Surrealpolitic for surreal times.


The Man Behind The Curtain Hates You.

The recent 700 billion bailout of private banking institutions by the federal government is not the largest private feeding frenzy at the public trough, but it sure is the most obscene. And that’s what’s making the public angry. When you hear the media’s take on Main Street’s outrage at this recent bill, you won't hear the fact that this is how capitalism is supposed to work. Did people really believe that the wealthy were going to just stop wanting to accumulate wealth?

No one even raised an eyebrow when the government, three weeks ago, gave the auto industry 25 billion dollars. Do you think that was an investment? Do you think you’re going to see a return on that? No. How about Iraq? It’s a bit more abstract, but it’s the same philosophy only with blood and limbs added into the mix. You take our tax dollars, raid a nation with a highly desirable asset, and then privatize that asset. So why is this such a heated notion all of a sudden? I’ll tell you why. America … real America, finally took a glimpse behind the torn and ragged curtain into the heart of their economic system and they didn’t like what they saw.

Capitalism is about the collection of wealth. That’s it. Pure and simple. If you have money in a capitalist society, someone is going to try and take it. And what’s happened in the past fifty years is that the government started to help the wealthiest few take whatever they could get from the rest of us. That’s why congressmen and women are panicking about whether or not to vote for the bailout. On the one hand they are supposed to bolster the economic system in sucking the marrow from what’s left of the American coiffeurs or, on the other hand, appear to care about Main Street’s difficulties. Rarely has the choice been so clear demonstrating how the heart of capitalism is adverse to the interests of most people’s lives. It would be humorous to watch if it weren’t so pathetic.

By now, everyone who wants to know about credit default swaps, sub-prime mortgages, and derivatives have done their homework. But for the rest of you who have to worry about your job, your children, or the multitude of other concerns that plague the average citizen, you need to know one thing. The government, which was supposed to make sure the economy stayed regulated, decided to let their friends get wealthy while hoping you never got wise. If you don’t believe me, just ask Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, he used to work at Goldman Sachs, one of the companies now rolling in your tax dollars after helping tank the economy. But that’s just another day on the yellow brick road, the game is rigged and you were never going to get home by asking a Wizard who hates you.


McCain and The Auto Industry both cry “Mulligan”!

Both John McCain and the Auto Industry both cried “uncle” this week when the pressure got too high. In a way it was a good thing. It showed the hypocrisy of these two crumbling institutions and hopefully displayed to the world that neither Mr. McCain nor the Auto Industry are fit to operate in a free market society.

First, the auto industry. Like a workaholic father trying to hide the fact that mommy has a drinking problem buying every toy it can find for the kids to keep things normal, our government is giving the auto industry $25 billion in relief. They’re doing this because twenty years ago when Americans were asking for more fuel efficiency and instead we got SUVs and H2. Actually, go back as far as the nineteen-forties when auto entrepreneur, Tucker, built his cars with 35 mpg at a time when the national average was 15 –20. The auto industry destroyed his business faster than you can say "four dollars a gallon". Why? Because when you have two industries trying to squeeze as much as they can from their consumers, the consumer’s needs don’t really factor into the equation. Like Big Oil and Big Auto. Don’t believe me? Well, even now the Big Three are still not willing to comply with new fuel efficiency standards, and why should they? If people stop buying their cars, we’ll pay for them with our taxes. Who needs the free market when you’ve got our taxes to make up your reckless financial decisions.

Second, Senator John McCain and his own bailout. His campaign is trailing in the polls, he clearly doesn’t understand the financial mess, his running mate may as well be a deaf-mute and now, he wants to call a time out. A time out. He wants to suspend his campaign activities until we sort this whole financial mess out. This mess that could last for years. Does that mean we’ll just give George W. a third term (literally, that wasn’t a jab at McCain) until Senator McCain is ready to hold elections? It’s nothing short of a travesty and a mockery of our election procedure. Senator McCain, if you can’t work on fixing the economy while doing something else, you need to step out of the race now because you are incapable of leading this nation. I’m sorry, but sometimes being president requires doing one thing and then, suddenly having to do something else too. Will Ahmadinejad of Iran or Putin of Russia postpone their activities because you’re in the weeds?

Things don’t look good for America right now and some say that we won’t recover from this credit crisis. But you know, we’ve come through a depression and world struggle that consumed nearly every nation and we did okay. I’m not saying we should do that again, what I am saying is that we’ve been in hard times before and we made it as a nation. I wasn’t there so I can not presume to know the courage of the average citizen, but I do know this, if our leaders can’t handle this crisis without being bailed out in one form or another, stand aside and let someone with enough courage try.


The Economic Poison Well.

There is a lot of talk from both presidential candidates about our current, Depression-era financial indicators. As usual, in the battle between the millionaires, the issue is how best to help their fellow millionaires. However, only one candidate is talking about the non-millionaires and it's not the old, really rich guy. Normally, I don't like to take sides too much, but if you want to see the real differences between the parties, and not just the candidates listen to their priorities. Some are similar as in they both agree that Treasury Secretary Paulson shouldn't be the only person to dole out our 750 billion and that they don't want this to "line the pockets of executives". But that's where they end. Obama wants to provide comfort to those who may lose their homes, so far McCain hasn't said as much. Obama wants to make Wall Street pay back their future dividends to the government. McCain hasn't made his position clear. But neither candidate nor any news source is going to explain too much on the genesis of this current mess because both parties are mired up to their elbows in sewage.

Here’s a brief overview. During the last Depression, you know the one before the one we’re standing in, president Roosevelt thought it would be a pretty good idea to prevent what we’re about to live through. It was called the Glass-Steagall act of 1933 and it effectively barred banks, brokerages and insurance companies from intermingling. This way, if one industry went belly-up, it wouldn’t poison the others. A firewall, if you will. It was also a good idea for consumers who could have a choice of companies competing for their business instead of a monopoly who could set any price they wanted. See also: Health Insurance.

This all ended in 1999 when Phil Gramm and president Bill Clinton decided to end these bothersome restrictions that shackled multi-millionaires from being multi-billionaires. It also handed Robert Ruben, then Treasury Secretary, a top position at Citigroup. (Sometimes they just don’t even try.) And if you still think this all just a coincidence, the president of Citigroup has the actual pen used in signing the bill deregulating the Glass-Steagall act hanging on his wall. In any case, after our government dismantled these protections, there began an orgy of financial inbreeding in which mortgage brokers were purchased by banks and brokerage firms and soon, it was one big happy, vulnerable family.

So far so good, until they started to make bad loans and worse, loans with predatory lending practices. Loans to people in which the interest would shoot up after a certain period of time. It became such a common practice that nearly one out of every twenty mortgages made during the height of the housing boom are in default. That’s five percent. Five percent of all home loans are currently worthless. Since we deregulated the industry those bad loans were seamlessly packaged into larger assets and resold to brokerage firms. Before regulation, no firm would have ever even thought of buying these bad loans which is what kept the whole thing in check. Now, because it’s all one company, those loans aren’t even given a second look. So, in turn, this means that five percent of all those assets are bad. Here’s a helpful image. Buy twenty bottles of water and put poison in one of them. That would probably make you panic too. But instead of putting the antidote to the poison in each bottle, the government is going to pay the water company to help them when people stop buying their water.

Congress is going to debate who gets the bulk of the 750 billion dollar bailout. But, as far as I've heard there’s not one mention in either candidate’s speeches about re-instituting the regulations that actually prevented this from happening in the first place. Sure there's talk of "oversight" and "re-regulation", but nothing specific. And from what I've seen of this current congress, they don't seem too keen on sharing the money we give them. Obama has mentioned briefly today in Clearwater, Florida, about assisting "Main Street", but the easiest and quickest way to end this crisis is to go to the lending institutions and tell them to roll back their interest rates on home loans. If it makes the wealthy feel bad, give the corporations who began these predatory lending practices a subsidy so they'll make their full 29% interest rate, and it will still cost less than this bailout.

But that’s not going to happen in the world of surrealpolitics. The government, especially this administration, and especially with a Treasury Secretary who once worked with Goldman-Sachs, does not care about helping its citizenry. Their priorities have been made crystal clear in this crisis and that is when it comes to the top one percent who own ninety-five percent of the financial industry, everything that can be done will be done. However, when it comes to those who have been subject to predatory lending or those who lost their jobs because of peripheral damage, enjoy your bottled water and good luck!


The Trouble with Righty.

After watching the Republican Party run in full force away from the current administration into three different directions it was easy to spot the fissures. And as I waited to see if they would decide upon their social conservative (Huckabee), their fiscal conservative (Romney) or their foreign policy conservative (McCain), I understood at last the real trouble with Righty.

Let’s start with the the social conservative, and frankly the most populist of the three. Huckabee believes that poverty is a sin, and there we’re in agreement. I loved the fact that this man wanted to treat the poor and uneducated; the root causes of many of society’s ills. I liked the fact that he struggled with his weight and changed himself, it spoke of personal responsibility – a characteristic lacking in many politicians these days. He also had a sense of humor which belied a humanity I appreciated. And then, suddenly, the gay/evolution issue cropped up and we were treated to the ugliness that still dwells in the heart of the Republican Party. The party that once spearheaded the end to the greatest human scourge on the American soul has now taken up the banner of fear, ignorance and hate. You may think that gays shouldn’t be allowed to marry, but one day they will, just as surely as the slaves were freed. Why? Because it’s the right thing to do. Because it’s what America was founded on: freedom to do what you want. As for evolution, if you still believe in a fairy tale over science, you should not be the commander of the world’s greatest nuclear arsenal. If you believe in fairy tales, run for president of Narnia. In America, we deal in facts and education.

The second problem with Righty lay in Romney’s drumbeat of fiscal responsibility. Oh, boy, when I hear anyone on the right scream about fiscal responsibility, I realy hear “fiscal responsibility for the middle class – the wealthy will still get subsidies.” We are currently facing a deficit in the trillions of dollars and Mr. Romney is talking about government cuts to its already paper thin social services. How is it that we don’t have enough money to repair bridges in Minnesota and the Republicans are still talking about cutting funding to our infrastructure? But not to worry, those tax cuts to the wealthy were going to stay in place under Romney, so while you’re drowning in the Mississippi under a thousand-ton steel truss, someone who is making a million dollars a year will be thinking of you.

Finally, we come to the winner of the primary and the REAL problem with Righty: John McCain. I won’t speak to his personal values because what happens between a man, his cancer-ridden wife, and his heiress-mistress should remain thus. I will speak to his choices as a politician.

The first is that he chose as his running mate a woman with no experience, no understanding of the world around her, and from what I’ve read from the transcripts of her interviews, no grasp of the English language. She is such a disaster that the press is forbidden to ask her questions. She is so miscast as a world-class politician that she received her first passport last year, and from what I understand she took a flight while in labor and then a 45-minute drive to deliver her baby when she could have done so with one twenty-minute drive to the nearest hospital. I believe one must question such judgement if one can not even care for the life inside their uterus.

Second, McCain’s history of voting with the current administration alone should disqualify him from ever again using the words “change”, “reform”, or “maverick”. He is a man so entrenched in the current mess that if he’s using these words cynically, it’s loathsome, if he’s not, he needs to get his head examined.

Finally, John McCain is simply too old to run for president. As those who screamed at Nader for running to feed his insatiable ego, one must also lay this accusation at McCain’s feet. He has no new ideas and has admitted that he doesn’t understand the economy. So why, in our current financial crisis, is this man putting himself forward? It is hubris on an unimaginable scale. It’s putting party over country. It’s saying, Republican: Right Or Wrong. The fact that McCain is the best the Republicans have to offer is a clear message that Republicans aren’t interested in the future of the country, just their future. And THAT is the trouble with Righty.


The Trouble With Lefty.

I once read that conservatives mistrust groups and trust individuals and that liberals mistrust individuals but connect to groups. In my experience, there is a great deal of truth to this. Just drive out to some rural area where people tend to be more politically conservative and knock on a few doors. Ask if you can borrow their phone because you ran out of gas. Now try that in New York City where citizens tend to be more politically liberal. See what happens there. Yet if you ask most urban dwellers if we should save a group of people they have never met, liberals tend to want to help whereas conservatives tend to turn a blind eye. Each one has its own merits and drawbacks, but taken on a national level, the liberal perspective doesn't fare well at all when it comes to reaching voters.

Take for instance today's protest which is scheduled to take place in several cities across the nation. The left, correctly, is capitalizing on a national distaste for the Iraq misadventure and attempting to show the government that the November elections and democrat's victory had a very strong message: get our troops out. The protest is designed to paint an image of a very displeased constituency for a deaf and seemingly blind Administration. This is where the left shines; at throwing a party. No one can organize a protest like a liberal and it has changed a great many of America's past disastrous policies. Vietnam & Civil Rights just to name two. Sadly, however, they are missing the individual and it will, as it has in the past (Gary Hart, Walter Mondale and Micheal Dukakis) come back to haunt them.

Is protesting the war a good thing? Of course it is. Especially this disaster. I'm with you there. Is it good to have prominent figures there? Of course it is. Faces people can identify with and relate to. Danny Glover, Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins. All faces that we now associate with liberal causes. This protest is a no-brain win. Sounds like the perfect atmosphere to blow an easy way to make a political gain! But how? I know! Let's invite "Hanoi" Jane Fonda! And that, my friends, is the trouble with lefty. Like that self-destructive friend who just can't shake an addiction, the left simply must squander its advantage every chance it can.

I don't know if you agree with Jane Fonda and frankly it doesn't matter. This woman provided aide and comfort to the NVA during the Vietnam war. Yes, it was a loathsome conflict and ultimately illegal, but her actions were petty, vindictive and at worst, treasonous. So why, of all of Hollywood's gliteratii, would they pick her? Was the mentally deteriorating Barbara Striesand too busy? There is absolutely nothing to gain by inviting Ms. Fonda and everything to lose. Do you really think a person in Indiana, Iowa or Nebraska who is against the war is going to align themselves with her and continue their support? Or do you think that maybe, just maybe, they will remember her past transgressions and consider the fact that her judgement is perhaps not in line with their own values?

Consider when Bill Clinton was running for President in 1992. He did everything he could to distance himself from percieved left fringe elements such as Jesse Jackson because that is what you have to do in America to win elections. Is it expedient? Yes. Is it calculating? You bet. Does it work? Well, ask Karl Rove. He is the one responsible for marrying the religious right to the conservative cause and it paid off. Sadly, it doesn't work the other way around. For some reason, fringe conservatives vote twice as much as fringe liberals. Is it any surprise that the left keeps losing elections? Not when your voting base doesn't show up.

Whether or not you agree with this, the statistics bear this to be true which is why the democratic turnaround just barely gave them an edge this last election. The polls at the time of the mid-terms showed that sixty-four percent of the public thought the Iraq war was being mishandled and yet liberal victories over republican incumbents nationwide ran in the single digit margins. That is either because voters didn't understand that the Administration was behind the war (unlikely) or that they still didn't connect with democrats except that they weren't attached to the Administration's war policy (more likely). This is big problem for the liberals who need to realize, and quickly, that the "average" American does want a better life and agrees with most of what they are selling (minimum wage increase, universal health care and responsible foriegn policies) but if you think your salesperson is going to be Jane Fonda, you are not seeing the trees in a very red forest.


Why President Bush is a Genius.

I grow a little weary of everyone running around lamenting that our President is such an idiot. This is the President who actually removed Saddam Hussein from power. Despite the fact that the U.S. put him there, he at least did something about it. This is the President who, despite all earlier rhetoric of Palestinian rights, may actually give the Palestinians their own nation - something no other Arab country has even tried. This is the President, the first one in recent memory mind you, to attempt reform at the United Nations. And, lastly, this is the President who will go down in history for pulling off one of the greatest heists in U.S. history. If you thought Ocean's Eleven was big, that's chump change compared for what's about to happen.

President Bush is trying to pass legislation that will give non-Iraqi oil companies 75% of all future Iraq oil revenues. 75%. If you can't follow the money, here's how it goes: You work, the governemt takes taxes out of your paycheck and uses it to confiscate foreign assets (in this case, oil) and then takes the revenue from those assets and gives it to their friends. It's called money laundering and I think it's fair to say that those firms will look kindly on anyone responsible for handing them these contracts, wouldn't you say? The money being laundered in this case will reach into the trillions of dollars and the American people won't see one red nickel. Not at the gas pumps. Not in their "tax breaks". Not anywhere. This is brilliant on an unimaginable scale because of its complete simplicity. No elaborate bills passed in the middle of the night. No shadowy government de facto institutions. No domestic assassinations. The Administration did it with our complete and utter complicity and right in front of our eyes. Still don't believe in this man's consumate brilliance? Here's the proof:

The Administration took us into a war claiming weapons of mass destruction. There were none and they openly admit that now without a shred of retribution. The Administration then said this war would cost ... "something under $50 billion for the cost." [Defense Secretary, Donald Rumsfeld 1/19/03]. Currently, this war is estimated at roughly 380 billion. Then, when the entire country began to erupt into ethnic strife, the Administration said they needed just twenty-thousand more troops to curb a religious conflict between ten and fifteen million people. And we're sending them.

This Administration has sold the American people a war that will cost nearly 3 to 4% of the GNP, they have sent our brave soldiers to die and they have convinced us that by appointing companies - not having them bid - for contracts to rebuild Iraq is all good for us. And we did nothing. So, at the end of the day, when your children are paying off this war and Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz and Rice are all laughing at us from their privately owned islands anywhere in the world bought by your money and paid for by your military's blood, I want you to ask yourself who is the real idiot in this equation.


Social Insecurity

When Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke first stepped into the glamorous limelight of the Senate confirmation hearings in November 2006 not a lot of people cancelled their vacations to watch C-Span. After all, there was a war raging and a major mid term election coming up in November. However, lest we forget, the Federal Reserve Chairman is one of the most powerful positions in a capitalist society. He essentially controls the monetary and credit conditions by which we all borrow money and by and large maintains the stability of our market system.

When one is appointed, it is important, to say the least, that this position be above any partisan opinions. Say, for instance, by lowering interest rates before a national election to aid in an incumbent President's re-election. There are a host of other tactics, but essentially playing with the economy to help a party's agenda is not only arrogant, it's dangerous and stupid.

Which is why, when Ben Bernanke "warned Congress today that the economy could be gravely hurt unless Social Security and Medicare are revamped and urged lawmakers to tackle the nation's thorny fiscal issues sooner rather than later." I was alarmed. I understand that Mr. Bernanke is worried about the economic health of our nation and that is heart-warming to me, but when the President wastes nearly 400 billion dollars for a war and a third of that in tax cuts for the wealthiest, shouldn't that also be of concern to Mr. Bernanke?

So why is Mr. Bernanke so concerned with Social Security and Medicaid? Could it be just a coincidence that the Administration had failed earlier to attempt just this same program? And weren't those reforms roundly rejected by the republican majorities? No, it is not coincidental and yes, they were rejected and, sadly, this new tactic is designed to scare people by turning a traditionally bipartisan office into another Administrative straw man. Only this one might catch fire and do some real damage to the barn. We saw what happened when the FEMA chairman became a political extension of the President, not to mention the information gathering arm of the Pentagon. One drowned over one thousand people while the other killed over three thousand American troops and counting.

Privatizing social security is one of the worst ideas to come down the pike since deregulating the banking industry. It essentially places the safety net for all our elderly citizens in the hands of the stock market. There is a reason why no one spends their entire nest egg on the stock market. It's called sanity and no responsible financial planner would ever suggest such a strategy. Yet privatization is essentially asking us to lay our entire retirement savings at the mercy of the bear and the bull.

Bernanke further added that, "Absent policy changes by Congress and the White House, rising budget deficits are likely in the years ahead to increase the amount of federal debt outstanding to unprecedented levels." I apologize for waking the Federal Reserve Board Chairman during his six year nap, but we are currently facing a federal debt that is outstanding to unprecedented levels and it had nothing to do with social security and it won't in the future even if we do nothing.

Let's talk facts. Social Security will continue to take in more money than it has to pay out through 2017 according to the latest calculations by the Congressional Budget Office. If we need to pay full benefits (and we have no idea if we do) the program will tap its trust fund. Not an ideal scenario, but that's why we have this fund. If we do turn to the trust fund, it will run dry by 2046. So there you have it. That's the emergency that Ben Bernanke is screaming about. If we don't act now, by 2046 we MIGHT run out of our social security benefits.

So the next time you hear the democrats or republicans hysterically crying that we MUST reform social security, take a deep breath, relax, and tell yourself that we have a few more problems that might need fixing before the 2044 general election.


Number Crunching

Americans love numbers. We love polls. Game statistics. The amount of calories in any given food particle and how many Americans die in any given incident. From plane crashes to bombings we have to know how many American lives were lost. Today, The New York Times' front page has a rather symbolic number for us: Three thousand.

For Americans, that number has come to mean a lot over the past five years. It was the rounded down number of those killed in the 9/11 attacks. A terrible number that will forever accompany that heinous day in the history books. The number of innocent victims taken on that day is now matched by the number of American soldier deaths from the "war on terror". It is as though the NYT is making some sort of morbid point regarding the effort of the war. As though now the war in Iraq has gone too far. As though now the media can finally report on the stupidity of the war planners and the incompetence of our leaders. As though now this milestone is when we, as a nation, can ask if this struggle is really worth it. Thank you, NYT, why don't you go back to sleep now and leave the reporting to the British press.

If you are for the war, does that number matter? Should we have pulled out of World War Two once the number of American soldiers dead exceeded that killed in Pearl Harbor? If you are against the war, the first death was one too many. Here are other important numbers the NYT will probably fail to print to allow for their assinine accounting headlines.

-On November 1st, 2001, President Bush issued an executive order limiting the public's access to presidential records. The order undermined the 1978 Presidential Records Act, which required the release of those records after 12 years. Bush's order prevented the release of "68,000 pages of confidential communications between President Ronald Reagan and his advisers," some of whom had positions in the Bush Administration.

-In December 2002, the administration curtailed funding to the Mass-Layoffs Statistics program, which released monthly data on the number and size of layoffs by U.S. companies. His father attempted to kill the same program in 1992, but Clinton revived it when he assumed the presidency.

-The State Department decided to stop publishing an annual report on international terrorism after the government's top terrorism center concluded that there were more terrorist attacks in 2004 than in any year since 1985, the first year the publication covered these statistics.

-In 2002, Bush officials intervened to derail the publication of an EPA report on mercury and children's health, which contradicted the administration's position on lowering regulations on certain power plants. The report was eventually leaked by a "frustrated EPA official."

-In early 2001, the Treasury Department stopped producing reports showing how the benefits of tax cuts were distributed by income class.

You can find a million numbers on the internet that have more meaning, more importance and more weight than three thousand. How about thirty-nine? That's the approval rating for this president. Maybe you like higher numbers? Try 600,000 which is the last number reported for Iraqi deaths since this whole stinking mess began. Numbers are what you make of them, so let's hope in 2007 we can see 0 further senseless deaths. Happy New Year.


Let's Talk Seriously Now.

I have friends from all spectrums of the political rainbow. From liberals who scream incomprehensible slogans like "US is a terrorist state" to blind faith "stay the course" neo-cons. Now, the reason I can stomach either of these is that they both have valid points. The U.S. has engaged in terrorist acts across the globe that have resulted in the deaths of probably hundreds of thousands of innocent people. Pinochet, Angola, Indonesia and Cuba; the list is endless. And, "stay the course" is not, on the surface, a terrible strategy since if we pull out Iraq essentially becomes Iran's Canada. Which is why, when it comes to the Middle East, I like to turn to Plato.

Plato has a wonderful parable about a cave in which shadows keep a group of people from ever leaving. Too terrified to get up and exit the cave the viewers sit and passively watch the mindless dumbshow. One day, someone does and sees that the shadows are merely puppets being operated by two people who want to keep the people in the dark cave and, presumably away from their resources. This parable is the basic foundation of any government from Lycurges to Napoleon to Stalin to Bush. If people are afraid, they are pliant. They look for leadership. It's a typical herding mentality that arises when danger threatens the pack. Therefore, if you present the pack with danger, you solidify your power. Leadership 101. A slam-dunk. But this isn't just an American policy, it's a policy that every government employs and some of the most effective are located in the Middle East.

Since 1948 we've heard about Israel and how unjust their statehood was/is. There is a case to be made for this and since then Israel has committed a lot of terrible acts in the name of self-defense; some deserved, some maybe less so. Regardless, every monarchy or theocratic institution rose in anger and demanded the Jewish state be destroyed. It had no right to exist. They were a threat to their people. Sound familiar? Now, imagine tomorrow Israel decides to pack up and all move to Miami for early retirement. What would happen when the greatest Arab shadow no longer exists?

Let's talk seriously now. Any one prince of Saudi Arabia, any one nation in the region, any one person or company who reaps the untold oil profits in the Middle East can decide tomorrow to build a Palestinian state. The Arab nations, with their vast amounts of money and land, could provide food, shelter and even a provisional nation to the Palestinians until a peaceful settlement were brokered. Yet for nearly sixty years, they have done nothing except point to Israel and say "that is the problem". I understand that it's not their original land and that many have been thrown out of their homes. The Palestinians have had a terrible injustice to swallow and it has been bitter. But what is more bitter is to watch as their Arab neighbors use this situation to maintain their unchecked power and wealth from their own citizens while fostering hate and violence in the name of self preservation.

When it comes to pointing to America's failures, I think it's important that it be done frequently and hold us to the same standard as all other nations. Let's not forget, however, that we are just one nation among the world's population of nations and even though we are enduring one of the worst presidents in our short history we have had our share who've desired peace in the Middle East. One of which walked away with a Noble Peace Prize. So before you burn that American flag outside your embassy or plan an attack on foriegn soil, look to your own government and see what shadows they are casting.


Democrats Refuse to Pull Out Until Climax

Ha! Ha! Ha America. You thought that by electing the other party you'd be able to effectively change your nation's policy. It's touching, really. Like watching a mouse in a maze who keeps expecting to somehow get to the end by smashing its head against the wall. Adorable. Okaaaaay, let me just reach over here and turn down the glibometer. It was set to an eight, it's down to a two now.

In November, Americans went to their polls and swept from office the party that lied to us, killed thousands of our troops, stole billions of our dollars and then said they wanted to keep on doing it for as long as they could - stay the course - I believe was the term. So, after six years, which is another story, we said no to that program. Not by a lot, mind you, but enough to change the policy makers. Or so we thought. But what we failed to ask ourselves was "What are we voting for?" It's not enough to simply say to the people in charge: "Stop robbing and killing us!" We need a plan people and when you vote for a Democrat, you rarely get that. What you do get is a nice message and a sort of vague idea of what not to do. Like ending the war.

We were all behind that idea. Sure. We get out of Iraq, a country we should never have stepped foot in, and let the Iranians and Syrians take over, which they will. Anyone who has picked up a newspaper (I don't mean USA Today - a real newspaper) for the past ... oh, I don't know ... year and a half, should have known that. Unfortunately, no one told the Democrats until after they were elected which means we now get to watch as the party with no spine flops around and becomes, in essence, not an opposition party, but a slower rubber stamp congress. In today's New York Times the headline says it all: "Idea of Rapid Withdrawal From Iraq Seems to Fade". Wasn't that the whole campaign strategy? To end the war in Iraq? Wasn't that what over 50 percent of voters wanted when they went to the polls? Isn't that what Congresswoman Pelosi meant when she said "We're united around a proposal for responsible redeployment, and we want it to begin before December..."? Well, we still have a day left.

Bottom line: If anyone is reading this please realize that politics is about politics. It's about getting what you want and in the case of politics, it's being elected. So you say anything to get elected, but that doesn't change the reality of the situation. The war in Iraq is not going to change anytime soon. The time to do something about this war was in 2003 when, with the minimal amount of research and a seventh grade intelligence level and a working news media, we could have stopped this illegal, immoral and ultimately failed war policy. But since we didn't, we're stuck with the ugly, brutal money shot that will end only in a sticky mess on America's face. Wait, let me turn down the porn-o-meter. It was set to a nine ...


American Brimstone

Thomas Badington Macaulay, a 19th century British author, may have been the first to coin the term "rat" to portray a deserter of a cause, in his case political. His usage of the term was borrowed from naval history, as in "rat's deserting a sinking ship". Macaulay was also credited in asking his mother if "chimney smoke came from the fires of hell" and one can only wonder if he were alive today what he might ask of the current columns of smoke billowing from Iraq (literally), Washington (metaphorically) and now Colorado (spiritually).

In Iraq, although not widely reported, a very significant decision has been made to withdraw. Not by the stalwarts of the Administration who are paying with their soldiers blood, but by a wiser and more cost-conscious entity: Bechtel. After all the President's talk of "cut and run" and "stay the course", one of the leading corporate prescences in Iraq is pulling up stakes and heading home. On Thursday, the global engineering firm announced that it is phasing out its work in Iraq and not seeking future contracts. Cliff Mumm, a manager of the company's infrastructure projects said "the security situation in Iraq has deteriortied to the point where continuing is not possible." This means that the U.S. military no longer has many of the services it needs to operate and this in turn means it's going to get a lot harder for our troops to maintain any stability whatsoever. Without a way to transport food, medicine and clothes or even the ability to build a simple domicile because you haven't the material is what our military is looking at, and it's only going to get worse. Bechtel is a corporation with unlimitied resources so what do you think smaller companies are going to do when they see the leader bail? I guarantee you it will only be a matter of weeks before they are all gone and there is no one to replace them.

Which leads us to the other "cut and runners" in Washington. Rarely have I seen such complete and total abandonment of a party as I have seen this week by Republicans. Even the most odious of the lot, Richard Perle, who said in a debate with Daniel Cohn-Bendit in May of 2003: "Ending the current Iraqi (Saddam) regime will liberate the Iraqis. We will leave both governance and oil in their hands. We will hand over power quickly - not in years, maybe not even in months ... " Mr. Perle now says: "I think if I had been delphic, and had seen where we are today, and people had said, 'Should we go into Iraq?', I think now I probably would have said, 'No, let's consider other strategies for dealing with the thing that concerns us most, which is Saddam supplying weapons of mass destruction to terrorists'." Delphic? Uhm, Mr. Perle, all you had to do was talk to someone, anyone, in the Pentagon. They would have been happy to tell you (once Mr. Cheney left the room) that Iraq wasn't supplying Al-Qaeda with weapons of mass destruction. They would have also told you that Saddam Hussein didn't actually possess them. Delphic? More like Save Your Own Ass-ic.

Speaking of asses, we now turn to Colorado and the horrible insertion of religious hypocrisy into this loathsomely filthy midterm election. Ted Haggard, the ex-president of the National Association of Evangelicals resigned pending allegations of sex with a male prostitute and using crystal methamphetamines. Wow. You have to go back pretty far to find this sort of fall. This is beyond Swaggart's weird limo fetish and beyond Baker's Jessica dipping. This is something that bends the mind so far that you have to look away from that painful interview in the front seat of Mr. Haggard's car ... next to his wife. (By the way, Mr. Haggard, you have a tell. Whenever you lie, you close your eyes. Just so you know.) Unlike Perle, however, James Dobson is standing by his man. James Dobson, if you don't recall, is the fine and Godly gentlemen responsible for picketing the funeral of a slain homosexual teenager in Colorado. While the boy was laid to rest his family and friends had to endure people chanting and holding signs with slogans such as "All Fags Will Burn In Hell" and the like. If it comes to light that he did in fact have a three year relationship with a man, one wonders if there will be a pitchfork waiting for Mr. Haggard, supplied no doubt, by the ever faithful Mr. Dobson.

In the end they are all the same. Whether it's corporate, political or religious it is all about ignoring your failures. It's about screaming louder than the next guy and ignoring other opinions or even reason itself. It's about telling yourself that you're right no matter how many people get hurt, whether they're soldiers, civilians or congregation members. If you want to know what the road to hell is paved with it's not good intentions but the victims of those who refuse to see the black smoke of their own failings.


Rep. Pelosi Shopping For New Gavel.

In the final days leading up to the much pronounced Democrat re-taking of the House, there is a lot of Republican fear mongering to their base about what will befall America and no, it's not a pretty picture. So far in various races we've heard colloquial ethnic slurs, a veiled threat that electing an African-American will lead inevitably to interracial sex with white women, and the ritualistic slandering of Democrats as disrespecting our troops abroad, even if it is against someone who has actually served. If the Democrats do win, and I am not conceding anything here, including their ability to lose even their own primary, will this really change the atmosphere in Washington? Or will it just be politics as usual?

Let's say the Democrats win a majority in the House next week as everyone is screaming must happen, what the hell does that mean? Does that mean that George W, Rummy and the Prince of Darkness are all taken to Gitmo? Will the righteous be raised high and the wicked laid low? Will, at last, the God-damned lion and lamb set aside their differences and lay beside one another? And will someone finally find out what happened on 9/11? Probably not. If the Democrats do win the most effective strategy they could employ is to hold hearings into what's been happening these past six years. They can lift up some pretty big rocks and see what crawls out. There has been enough illegal activity and incompetence in this Administration to hold hearings from now until the next Red Sox World Series victory. However, without a Democrat retaking of the Senate which everyone is screaming can not happen, the House hearings may have little effect. The Senate, if it wishes, can create separate and parallel hearings and if the Republicans hold the Senate I can guarantee you that their findings will be wildly divergent from a Democrat House. This will, in turn, ensure abject confusion and ambivalence of the American public. So is a Democrat victory in the House all for naught?

No. But if you're looking for immediate gratification, as most of us Americans demand, you will be disappointed. However, you will see a big change in what the government is talking about and, as a result, what will be reported on the news. The White House will no longer be able to call Majority Leader Hastert and say "Why don't you guys talk about something other than Iraq or Mark Foley or Katrina or Valerie Plame or Nuclear Proliferation". That will now be the decision of the Democrats as well as the control of what committees will look into and regardless of the outcome of these hearings, there will be some laundry done in the public square. At these hearings you will hear things like "bribery", "war profiteering" and "impeachment". In the end, however, the President will still be the President, there will still be troops in Iraq and 40 million Americans will still have no medical insurance.

The long term problem for the Democrats will be if they take control of the House and do nothing. This will most likely ensure that they will re-lose the House, the Senate and the Oval in 2008 and make their issues irrelevant for the next election cycle. If they simply sit in committees pointing fingers at who did what to whom and why we are in the current situation, they are doomed. I am not advocating a turn the other cheek policy, far from it. I hope the Democrats put some high ranking officials behind bars, but if they don't fix the problem in front of them first, they may have to postpone their Oval Office strategies until 2016.


President Bush: "Stop me before I kill again!"

Torture, like prostitution, has been around for probably the same amount of time and when you think about it, there are some striking similarities. For one, it takes a qualified specialist to to both jobs well. It involves shady exchanges of money and clandestine rooms where very personal things happen. However, one has a happy ending while the other, not so. Unless of course you are one of the torturers or transporters of prisoners. According to the Guardian, "On one occasion, CIA pilots and crew lived it up in Majorca after rendering Benyam Mohammed, an Ethiopian brought up in Notting Hill, west London, to Afghanistan where he was tortured." It's nice to know that while our boys are destroying the faith and morality of an entire civilization, they can blow off some steam.

But is torture even debatable in a civilized, post-industrial nation? Is there an argument for its use? Can a country call itself advanced and still attempt to obtain information by means of physical and psychological coercion? According to President Bush in a statement on June 2003, "The United States is committed to the world-wide elimination of torture and we are leading this fight by example. I call on all governments to join with the United States and the community of law-abiding nations in prohibiting, investigating, and prosecuting all acts of torture and in undertaking to prevent other cruel and unusual punishment." Did someone tell our President that we have illegal detention centers at Guantanimo Bay? Has he seen the photographs from Abu Ghraib? Is he aware that everyone now knows from first hand accounts that the C.I.A. has been kidnapping suspected terrorists, flying them in Air America planes to third party nations torturing and, in some cases murdering them? I suppose this is what happens when you elect a President who openly admits to not reading newspapers.

Perhaps I am being too glib? After all, President Bush is enacting (and no matter what he says he knows about the torture) policies of torture so that America can stop nascent terrorist strikes. In his press conference on September 15th, 2006, President Bush claimed that: "The information that the Central Intelligence Agency has obtained by questioning men like Khalid Sheikh Mohammed has provided valuable information and has helped disrupt terrorist plots, including strikes within the United States." Yet there is absolutely no evidence of this, and if they think I'm falling for the whole "don't worry, trust us" routine after wmds, they are sadly mistaken. When it comes down to it, torturing people gives governments the illusion of safety. Anyone who works in intelligence will tell you that information obtained by torture is almost always inaccurate. When you physically abuse anyone for information, their prime objective is not to help you but to get you to stop hurting them and sometimes that means telling you anything you want to hear. Here are some other situations and qualified experts that illustrate how torture is not only morally wrong but strategically ineffective.

-Maher Arar, a Canadian wireless technology consultant, who was snatched by U.S. agents at John F. Kennedy Airport in New York City and transported to Syria, where, for ten months, he was kept in a six-foot by three-foot cell, before being transferred to a collective cell. Under torture, he confessed to being an Islamist extremist who attended a terrorist training camp in Afghanistan. In reality, not only was Arar not an Islamist terrorist, but he had never even been to Afghanistan. He was ultimately released without charge and the Canadian commission affirmed that he was completely innocent.
-Retired Marine Maj. Gen. Fred E. Haynes, a veteran of WWII, Korea and Vietnam, a man who knows more about war, prisoners and extracting information than I'll bet does Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld said "... by treating an individual decently you are much more likely to get any information you might want - and it's more likely to be correct."
-Retired Brig. Gen. James P. Cullen and at one time chief judge of the U.S. Army Court of Criminal Appeals believes the average American soldier thinks that torture policies have undermined the military. They also are upset that these policies were mostly formulated by men, like Bush, who have not seen combat. "[Vice President Dick] Cheney made mention in the days after 9/11 that he wanted to operate sort of on the dark side," Cullen said. "Here was a guy who never served, and now something terrible had happened, and he wanted to show that he was a tough guy... So he's going to operate outside the rules of law. Bad message."
-Let us not forget that the plot to blow up nearly ten airliners traveling from Britain to the United States was exposed not using torture, but police work and surveillance.

In the end, balancing the safety of a nation against the methods employed to guarantee those safeties is always tricky. President Lincoln suspended habeas corpus during the Civil War and history looks upon that act with more or less a kindly eye. The man, after all did preserve the union. But Mr. Bush you are no Abraham Lincoln and imprisoning reporters during the secession of half your nation is a little different than secretly torturing people without any evidence of their wrong doing for ends that ultimately serve no one. This shameful episode will come home to roost when tales of captured G.I.s (or worse, our citizens) and their torture start to circulate and we as a nation must sit and take it for we will have no leg with which to stand.


A Grim Reaping

In America we are enmeshed in our own political game of horse trading. The news, depending upon what station you watch, has either declared a Democrat sweep or a Republican reaffirmation. The Republican's latest strategy is not to discuss the war in the Middle East which is interesting considering they haven't discussed the war since the polls showed unfavorable numbers. George W. Bush, in what can be considered as a sort of maybe kind of concession acknowledged that the current upswing of violence in Iraq has a resemblance to the 1968 Tet Offensive in the Vietnam conflict prompting the question, "so when is the fall of Saigon supposed to happen?"

Not to sound like an alarmist, but in both Afghanistan and Iraq, the situation is getting worse. Much worse. "Coalition" troops are now engaged in killing sprees on innocent men, women and, most horribly, children. Red Cross reports are pouring in on how the U.S. policy of "enemy combatants" which essentially means civilian populations, is the cause of well over a half a million deaths. Families are bombed, shot and withheld medical aid, food or any sort of assistance. As though the terrorists we are fighting are indistinguishable from the population. This is exactly what happened in Vietnam. With one exceptional element: Religion.

In Vietnam there were no religious overtones which can take any low intensity conflict and turn it into a full blown centuries long war. The Administration, in ignoring this glaring fact, has embroiled the United States and its "allies" in a new struggle which they've admitted may last decades, if we're lucky. The BBC has reported that "those in Iraq who previously never considered themselves as part of a secterian group, are now forced to do so." Once Saddam and the Taliban fell (probably a good thing overall) the United States' complete lack of postwar planning has caused almost total political chaos, that the only thing most of these fractious leaders agree upon is that America is their enemy. Generations from now Iraqi and Afghani children will tell their children of when the westerners came to their nation and killed their friends and families and bombed their communities without descrimination or concern. From these hundreds of thousands of memories more enemies will emerge. What happened in Vietnam stayed in Vietnam, but rest assured the ghost of what we are doing in the Middle East now will return to haunt us.

It only took 19 men with box cutters and a religious cause (removing US troops from Saudi Arabia is one of Bin Laden's prime raison d'etres) to bring the United States economy and way of life to a grinding halt not to mention shred our notion of habeas corpus. So you tell me, how many more do you think we're making now? If America doesn't change its policies (and it may be too late) of murdering indescriminately innocent civilians, we will be faced with the results for years to come. If you want an example, look at Britian in the 70s and France in the 80s. That is what happens when you subjugate entire peoples to irrational violence. They tend to return the favor.


The Republican Cross To Bear

It has always amazed me when religious groups in America back a political party. It amazes me because in our country, politicians are about as concerned by religion as they are by the economically disenfranchised. That is to say not at all. Yet, for some reason the Christian Coalition has repeatedly thrown their collective hat in the ring with a political party that has instituted more to hurt the poor than any other (lest we forget, there are quite a few Christians who live below the poverty line), steal trillions of dollars in scandal after scandal starting with the S&Ls and moving right up to Iraq (stealing last time I checked was a sin) and let's not forget our latest Republican offering: pedophilia. Okay, attempted pedophilia. And yet the latest poll shows that Christian voters would still rather see a party that, on paper, appears to hate their moral values more than Satan himself stay in control.

This really isn't a question of Republican or Democrat, it's a question of religion and politics. And the steaming piles and piles of hypocrisy. Karl Rove, it has been written, was one of the chief architects in marrying the Christian Coalition to the Republican bandwagon and it paid off in spades. With Coalition's help they've been able to boost their base by at least ten percent and all they have had to do is "defend marriage" (a sad fact considering that Karl Rove's own father was gay) and give the the occasional anti-abortion speech. The problem the Republicans are facing now however, is that when something like stem-cell research comes up and you have to choose between saving actual lives versus saving bible lives, is that ten percent worth the other forty? That answer may be yet another reason why The Administration's ratings are in the toilet. The Republicans are alienating their core base by catering to the religious fringes much the same way America percieved the Democrats did in '68. (I say percieved because let's face it, Humphreys wasn't exactly a radical.)

Iraq is another situation in which the Republican's miscalculated on a grand scale with their Christian base. You see, not all Christians believe that America has the right to blow up Shi'ites and Sunni's at will. Some Christian's actually believe "thou shalt not kill" was written to include everyone. And now that the civilian death toll in Iraq is estimated at 600,000, even some of the religious right are beginning to cringe. It's difficult to preach from a pulpit when you're standing on skulls. In a latest poll taken of Christians over fifty percent believed that the war was wrong, not just politically, but morally.

Truth be told, The Administration is, like a high school quarterback, just using the rich girl in school for her nice house and pool. You can't ask for more proof of this than the Foley scandal. If The Administration had even the slightest interest in running a Christian political party, do you think they'd allow homosexuals into the fold? Let alone known sexual predators? House Speaker (for now) Hastert knew for years about Foley as did many in the higher ranking Republican circles. They knew and did nothing while this man accosted minors from his congressional office. You have to go as far back as the Roman Empire to find that sort of arrogance. It not only shows that Republicans no longer care about thier "values" but even more astounding, they no longer seem to even care about maintaining their facade of values. I suppose they don't have to, after all, they're not Democrats.


Recipe for Failure? Just add Rice!

Anyone can have a stretch of bad luck. Anyone can face terrible adversity that sets them back. Anyone can lose. More than once. I have sympathy for those people. People who keep getting out there and trying despite the odds and who get better at what they do until one day they're ready to face any challenge. And then there are those people who simply don't learn and whose mistakes, the same ones over and over, get innocent people killed. They don't resign, they don't apologize and, oddly, they don't even seem to care. I am, of course, speaking of Dr. Condeleeza Rice, the Administration's longest running failure.

Let us begin with the unpleasantness surrounding September 11th where she held the position of National Security Advisor. One of the many responsibilities of this position is to take all the collected data and prioritize them for the President. For instance, if the Chair of the Counter-Terrorism Security Group tells you in January that Al Qaeda "... is not some narrow, little terrorist issue ... Rather, several of our regional policies need to address centrally the ... challenge to the US..." make sure the President knows. Also, if in July of that same year the CIA Director briefs you on a looming terrorist attack from the same group, maybe you want to let someone know. Anyone. Tell a police officer if you're not sure. As the National Security Advisor you can probably get someone to listen. Instead, according Bob Woodward in his latest Washington tell all, State of Denial he claims that then CIA director, George Tenet, told Dr. Rice of such a plot and that he was "brushed off".

Let us also remember her pitiful appearance in front of the 9/11 Commission in which she continually informed the American public that there was "absolutely no way anyone could have known that such an attack was going to happen." So who told then Attorney General John Ashcroft almost a month before the attacks to stop using commercial flights? In July 2001, in response to inquiries from CBS News over why Ashcroft was traveling exclusively by leased jet aircraft instead of commercial airlines, the Justice Department cited what it called a "threat assessment" by the FBI, and said Ashcroft has been advised to travel only by private jet for the remainder of his term. "There was a threat assessment and there are guidelines. He is acting under the guidelines," an FBI spokesman said. Neither the FBI nor the Justice Department, however, would identify what the threat was, when it was detected or who made it. Are we to believe that Dr. Rice, as the National Security Advisor was out of the loop when it came to the hijacking threat? Hardly.

And then there was Iraq. For that, I will let Senator Robert Byrd (D - WV) do my talking. This is from Dr. Rice's confirmation hearings for her Secretary of State appointment. "Beginning in September 2002, Dr. Rice also took a position on the front lines of the administration's efforts to hype the danger of Saddam's weapons of mass destruction. Dr. Rice is responsible for some of the most overblown rhetoric that the administration used to scare the American people into believing that there was an imminent threat from Iraq. On September 8, 2002, Dr. Rice conjured visions of American cities being consumed by mushroom clouds. On an appearance on CNN, she warned, 'The problem here is that there will always be some uncertainty about how quickly he (meaning Saddam) can acquire nuclear weapons. But we don't want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud.' That was Dr. Rice speaking. Dr. Rice also claimed that she had conclusive evidence about Iraq's alleged nuclear weapons program." Needless to say, there were no WMDs, no nuclear programs, no Al Qaeda connections. Just a lot of lies and failures in intelligence. More? Why yes, we do have more.

How about Hurrican Katrina? True, as Secretary of State, her primary responsibility is to represent our nation in foreign affairs, and we'll get to that later. However, when a natural disaster unprecedented in our nation's history threatens the entire Gulf of Mexico oil industry, the city that is the gateway to our largest internal water route and the half a million people who live there where do you think, as a member of the Cabinet, you should be? In Washington? Being kept up to date on the oil refineries? (Lest we forget, Dr. Rice was on the board of Chevron) Letting other nations know that the most powerful country is handling this disaster with the skill and adroitness that has given us our supreme position? No. She was taking a vacation in New York City where she purchased new shoes and took in a Broadway show. Spamalot, I believe. Those around her report that she enjoyed the performance. Over one thousand people died in that hurricane. Some of them drowned in their own homes. Others died because of infection, dehydration and starvation. I hear Dr. Rice is a big fan of shoe shopping.

And finally, after her appointment to Secretary of State, Dr. Rice handled the bungling of the Hezbollah/Isreal conflict which left Isreal weaker than it's ever been and Hezbollah scoring major points in Southern Lebanon. Do you know why Hezbollah is scoring points in Southern Lebanon? Because they are giving the war victims there money to rebuild their lives. (That money, by the way comes partially from you, my fellow Americans via Iran's oil revenues.) In just another failed Dr. Rice initiative, she waited to intervene in the conflict until she saw that Isreal wasn't doing as well as they should. By then, it was too late. After the conflict, Dr. Rice was brushed off (that's irony isn't it?) by every single Middle Eastern leader from Egypt to Syria to Saudi Arabia. Her blatant and insultingly obvious do-nothing policy during the conflict was so completely pro-Isreal that no Arab leader could dare be seen with her for fear of upsetting their constituents. It must be difficult to act as Secretary of State when no one returns your calls, but I suppose that's just par for the course when everything you've achieved has been an unmitigated failure.


S.I.N. (Sex, Iraq & November)

Did we miss anything while we were out? Like a Republican Congressman digitally pleasuring a page? How about another e-card from Al Qaeda? Was there, perchance anything about the upcoming November elections or a rebuttal to a Bob Woodward book? Good. But before we begin let's take a step back, as we are prone to do after a vacation and look at the big picture.

Yes, Republicans have sex. Sometimes it's illicit and sometimes it's of a homosexual nature. Is that wrong? If they're underaged, yes, but otherwise no. What makes it wrong is that they subscribe to a party that makes it a moral issue. To us, that's the most disgusting part about the whole Foley incident. Hey, Foley, if you're going to have homosexual tendencies, may I recommend either the Peace and Freedom or Green Parties? They're the ones who promote sexual diversity. But let's face it, Republicans are to hypocricy as Democrats are to ... whatever they're about this week. The good thing about ex-representative Foley is that he resigned before he took up two press cycles. Now that's class.

Now, let's talk Iraq. The war isn't going well and the President can't and won't admit the truth. We have to, as a nation, deal with this fact. You are not going to wake up one day and see the President weeping on Fox News, apologizing for misleading Congress into war and for approving illegal wiretapping. Readers, he's reviewing memos from Henry Kissinger for advice!!! He's not going anywhere. So if you want a change go to the voting booth in November and vote for the other party. You sometimes forget that you have more rights over your elected officials than the amount of people who have ever lived in history collectively. Truth be told, The Administration can't withdraw from Iraq at this point and it's not about looking weak, it's about Iran. If we pull out now, Iran will control Iraq through its Shi'ite population and, ultimately the world's second greatest oil reserves. If you think this Administration is going to let that happen, you are sadly mistaken. So, like a bad date, you're stuck with the check for an expensive dinner you didn't want and a rash that is difficult to cure.

One more thing. Let's talk about November. In 2000 and 2004 there are some pretty irrefutable truths that the outcome of those elections were tampered with in Florida and Ohio respectively. The American media turned a blind eye to some glaring facts while the British media did our work. Guess what? If the party in power is benefitting from voting irregularities, they're not likely to stop any time soon. If you vote in a battleground state and suspect voting irregularity, it's your responsibility to alert the media, hire a lawyer, talk to people and fight to save your democracy. Fox News ain't gonna do it. If nothing is done to fix the paperless, electronic voting machines and the compromised voter roles, we will quickly become a one-party nation that isn't going to care what you think about illegal wiretapping, Iraq or voting irregularities. Oh, wait...


Congress Loses Monopoly On Deception

Napoleon once said (and I'm paraphrasing here) that you never had to actually lie to the people, just delay the truth until it is no longer relevant. Fortunately for Bonaparte, he never had the New York Times, CNN or the internet to contend with or he never would have been able to convince his people to go to war without provocation. Thank God, we live in the twenty-first century where war and ignorance have been abolished and we savor the delicious taste of Soylent Green.

Today the Senate Panel released a scathing report (Are there any other kinds these days?) on the Administration for, wait for it, misleading the American people on pre-war intelligence. And they said it with a straight face. Truth be told, the Administration didn't mislead the American people, they misled the American people who voted for the use of military force and the last time I looked, that was still Congress.

Senator Carl Levin (D - MI), one of the more outspoken critics of the Administration's misinformation campaign and one of the members of the panel was incensed. When George Tenet, then-director of the CIA told Bush that his agency's intelligence on Iraq's possession of wmds was a "slam dunk" (he did a hell of a job, didn't he?), Levin responded by saying this was "a corruption of the intelligence process". Except he didn't say that in October 2002 when it mattered. He said it today. What he said when it mattered was: "The war against terrorism will not be finished as long as [Saddam Hussein] is in power." (CNN's Late Edition, 12/16/01) And he wasn't alone. A lot of Senators believed this to be true. To his credit, Levin didn't vote to authorize the use of military force in October 2002 while newly reincarnated doves like Senators Clinton, Reid and Schumer did. My question is this: I knew the Administration was lying to us and I live in Everytown, USA. Why the hell didn't you guys figure it out when you're the ones who are supposed to have all the information?

Anyone doing the very minimal amount of research and possessing even the tiniest amount of critical thinking would have understood that Saddam Hussein and Osama Bin Laden were, like the mongoose and the cobra, natural enemies. Osama killed people for not praying to Allah while Saddam killed people for not praying to him. Much of the Administration's and Congress' information came from Ahmed Chalabi, the Iraqi refugee who, according to the Wall Street Journal participated in a secret Defense Policy Board meeting just a few days after the September 11, 2001 attacks in which the main topic of discussion was how 9/11 could be used as a pretext for attacking Iraq. Not to mention the fact that the New Yorker did piece after piece discrediting the Administration's own Middle Eastern Madam Chiang Kai Shek. Now, don't tell me that these two publications know more than the CIA. And if they do, perhaps we need to make Seymour Hersh the head of Homeland Security.

So when White House spokesmodel, Tony Snow tells the AP that there was "nothing new" in the Senate Panel report, he for once isn't lying; there is nothing new in what it says. There was no link between Iraq and Al Qaeda regarding 9/11. It's Senators like John D. Rockefeller IV (D - WV) who are lying by claiming the Administration "exploited the deep sense of insecurity among Americans in the immediate aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks, leading a large majority of Americans to believe - contrary to the intelligence assessments of the time - that Iraq had a role in 9/11." It was he who had the deep sense of insecurity. He was the one who actually voted to go to war. Anyone who picked up the New Yorker or the Wall Street Journal knew exactly what was going on. I guess if Napoleon were alive today he would alter his statement by saying all a leader would have to do is delay the news long enough from Congress until it was no longer relevant.

We Are Not Alone.

For the fifth year anniversary, our nation will look again to New York and remember. We will remember the planes, the screams off of a shaky, handheld video camera in New Jersey. We will recall ashen figures in suits and fingers pointing skyward. We will try and forget the tiny figures that plummeted downward and the brave last calls. We will also hopefully forget the anger that sometimes still ensues when we see the lonely figure of the Empire State Building searching southward for its lost friends. Let us not forget, however, that we are not the only ones in our grief.

Since September 11th, 2001 the world has seen a seige of a school in Beslan, Russia which resulted in the death of 187 school children and the reprisals which most likely killed thousands, an estimated 100,000 people butchered in Darfur and the number is still climbing. We've seen most recently a stupid miscalculation in the Middle East between Hezbollah and Israel which have cost hundreds of lives and the nearly 1,000 protestors in Uzbekistan who were murdered in the street for no reason except that they were protesting. Meanwhile, in China maybe a million or more "dissidents" are forced into labor camps or worse, into prisons without hope of ever being released. The same is true in Saudi Arabia, Iran, Syria and Israel. Across the globe, September 11th is happening every day in some countries. The tragedy isn't that it happened to us, the tragedy is that it happens to everyone.

So when you recall that day do not feel as though we stand alone. Quite the contrary. All we have to do is look around and see that the world is filled with those who mourn the loss of countrymen or loved ones. Each one with their own anniversary. On September 11th, let us grieve for our loss, but also recognize that the world is waiting for us to understand that our remembrance is but a drop in a vast and global bucket that yearns to someday be dry.


Why We Fight. (Uncensored)

According to a survey in the London Times, 85 percent of soldiers fighting in Iraq believe they are there because of 9/11 while about two-thirds of the American people believe this as well. Meanwhile, back on Earth, even our President has said in response to whether or not Iraq played a roll in the 9/11 attack: "Nobody's ever suggested that the attacks of September the 11th were ordered by Iraq. Now I said, going into Iraq, we've got to take these threats seriously before they fully materialize. I saw a threat." So who's going to break it to the American people?

Since 9/11, the Administration has done everything in its power to force our nation into war with Iraq. Remember weapons of mass destruction? Remember enriched uranium? Remember mushroom clouds and anthrax? It was all a lie to get you to buy a war you didn't need. But why? There are plenty of terrible dictators out there we could have taken a moral high ground against, so why Saddam Hussein? Why not Islam Karimov or Kim Jung Il or the enitre House of Saud? I hear they're available. The Al Qaeda threat had been decreased exponentially after we illegally invaded Afghanistan (but that's a blog for another time). We had essentially dismantled the only nation in the region in which Osama Bin Laden could operate, so why did the Administration start a war that diminished its political credibility, treasury and the lives of its bravest soldiers on a nation that had nothing to do with 9/11 while actually increasing the threat of terrorism? This would have been like invading Canada after the bombing of Pearl Harbor.

Prepare to be bored: Oil. It's that simple. During the Clinton Administration the Pentagon had already drawn up plans to invade Iraq for several reasons and let's go through them point by point.
1. The world's oil supply is eventually going to run out. Some estimate we have roughly another 50 years, others say 100 but either way, any nation not prepared will quite literally find themselves in the Dark Ages. If we can control oil output, we can ... well, you can guess the rest.
2.Iraq has the second largest oil reserves in the world. It was run by a dictator who was despised by muslims for being too secular, despised by his secular population for being too despotic and militarily weakened by twelve years of sanctions. You couldn't have asked for a more minimal risk with a higher yield.
3. Contracts for all of Vice President Cheney's friends was the nail in Iraq's coffin. Before the United States even set foot in the region, KBR (A subsidiary of Halliburton, the company which Cheney sat on the board for just before being appointed Vice President.) had already been issued - issued, mind you, they didn't need to bid - contracts to rebuild Iraq. Members of KBR were at the planning sessions with Pentagon officials to discuss what they should bomb. It has been reported in the London Times that certain targets were actually selected for a higher profit margin. That's right. Our 6 million dollar bombs were used to make sure Dick Cheney's friends made more money. For a mind-blowing account of their corruption go to:, it's a real eye-opener.

As I said, I was for the war in Iraq because after 9/11 we needed a base in the Middle East from which to stop terrorist groups and to demonstrate American military might. Yes, it's barbaric. Yes, it's unfair. But so are our enemies. My problem is that the Administration did such an incompetent job; if they had been prepared to immediately rebuild their infrastructure, if they had sent in the U.N. to police the nation until they had formed a solid coalition goverment, if ONLY they had done their homework and researched the delicate patchwork of religious and social networks that existed, then perhaps we wouldn't be facing a civil war and the death toll of almost 2,700 American soldiers and at least 50,000 Iraqi civilians. It was only a matter of time before we went into Iraq, but under a Gore or Kerry administration, it probably would have been done a lot smarter and without such obvious corruption. Donald Rumsfeld is wrong again: were not fighting fascism. Iraq's only crime was that it was rich in oil and poor in leadership and that is why we fight.


Loansharking with the IMF

Like any good mob boss, they'll tell you the best way to keep anyone in line is by employing two methods: the first is the threat of violence and the other is by making them dependent on you financially. And then threatening them with violence if they don't pay it back. Such is the philosophy of the IMF with the muscle of the Pentagon and they are making offers some are refusing.

The IMF was formed near the end of World War II when America saw that it was going to be the predominant economic global power. Forty-four nations met at Bretton Woods, New Hampshire, to design a system that would establish a stable economic standard by which all nations could agree. In short they wanted to set a standard for the price of gold to which every government could affix their currencies, make sure that no nation would place restrictive tariffs on trade and control devaluations of principal rates. All good things. Until you read the fine print. The IMF would also loan money to poor and developing nations to promote infrastructural programs aimed at returning short term dividends to the IMF. And let's be clear on what the IMF is: it's an extension of the U.S. Treasury and Washington's political will.

Basically, what the IMF does is work with Washington's client states, a good example was Suharto of Indonesia, one of the bloodiest dictators to ever wear a sash. We loaned him, through the IMF, millions of dollars to help "develop" Indonesia. What did that mean exactly? It meant that Suharto let American and European corporate interests into his nation to grab whatever raw materials they needed while he purchased a new palace and whatever military hardware he needed to keep the sash from disgruntled citizens (it is estimated that he killed nearly a million - all under Washington's watch). This would be a dispicable enough policy if it weren't for the deep and unabiding hypocrisy that followed. If Suharto himself were responsible for the loan that would be fair and adhering to the rules of capitalism which the IMF purportedly promotes. Instead, however, Suharto "socialized" the loan forcing his people pay it back through taxes which drove his population into deeper poverty while providing no social services such as hospitals, public transportation or roads. And don't think because you're an American you're exempt. In the 1990s, when Mexico defaulted on its IMF loan, the American goverment was there, with your tax dollars, to make sure they stayed solvent. We did this to show the world that no one is getting out of their debt even if it means we loan you more money. Not exactly the way a normal bank operates, but then again most banks, after making a loan, don't come into your house, sell your furniture and clothes and then your youngest daughter into slavery.

Things are changing however, and that means Washington is getting nervous. Argentina, after suffering its worst economic disaster in their nation's history had the comforting words of U.S. Secretary of the Treasury, Paul O'Neill to assuage any fears: "... the key factor underlying recent financial crises is not a failure of capitalism, but an 'absence of capitalism'." What he failed to mention was that the IMF was the reason why there was an "absence of capitalism". If Argentina were free to export their own goods and keep the money for themselves to reinvest in their own growth, that would be capitalism. So, Argentina said enough to the IMF and now is looking at an economic recovery of about 8 percent annually. And they're not the only ones. Brazil has done it, Bolivia is following suit by nationalizing their petroleum industry and Venezuela's Hugo Chavez is leading the anti-American/IMF cry for all to hear.

But Washington isn't lying down. Like any mob, if they can't use the threat of violence (as in the failed U.S. coup of Hugo Chavez) they'll actually use the real thing. Already military training is being shifted from the State Department to the Pentagon where there is no Congressional oversight. This only happens when the American Goverment is about to break some kneecaps. They are also sending "military advisors" to the region to train a new breed of contras. We've seen this all before, but this time it might be different. There are no communists to blame anymore and no one is going to believe that Latin American terrorists are going to attack us. Who knows? Maybe the American people will stand up and tell their goverment to leave Latin America alone before Hugo Chavez wakes up with a severed horse head.


Everything Oil Is New Again.

In a speech August 30th at Purdue University, Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Richard Lugar said that Russia, Iran and Venezuela's adversarial "regimes" (quotes mine) threaten U.S. energy supplies and that these three countries' use of these supplies as leverage against their neighbors increases the chance of future conflict over diminishing supplies. Thank God we're not any of their neighbors or we too might be drawn into conflict.

It comes as no surprise that nations go to war over diminishing resources since it has been the cause of every major conflict ever. What should come as a surprise is that our nation has all the resources it needs to completely kick dependancy on foriegn oil and we still can't. Politicians will tell you it's a complicated geo-political situation and that it simply can't happen overnight and they are right. It can't happen overnight. It should have happened in 1973 when we all knew this was going to be a problem.

When Richard Nixon was still in office (our oil problems began before Carter although many Reagan campaign managers would have you think differently) the energy 'crisis' truly began in this country and coincidentally when many Americans first learned their oil actually came from somewhere else. At that point, when America first realized that we were no longer in control of our most important resource, did we do the smart thing? No. We did not. In fact, according to the Institute for the Analysis of Global Security, our dependence on foreign oil nearly doubled since that year. In 1972 the U.S. imported 28 percent of its oil versus the 55 percent it does today and projections show that 25 years from now, we're looking at 70 percent. And guess where that oil is coming from? Not Canada, my friends.

"So maybe this Iraq war was a good thing, Mr. Surrealpolitic. If we set up a puppet regime in one of the richest oil producing states in the Middle East, our problems are solved! It's like a pipeline right to our own gas stations that will never ever end." You might say this and, on paper, it would probably look good. So how is it working for you now? Not so good I'm thinking. We must realize by now that not only has our mishandling of this war emboldened our enemies in the region, but it has now elevated Iran to the dominant political force in the Middle East and if you think they're not going to pull the strings in Iraq once we leave, please take a look at a map. And if Iran is going to influence the Middle East, you can bet they're going to have something to say about the price of oil and who gets it.

What we should do is look at Brazil who has, since the 1973 oil crisis, weened themselves off foreign sources of oil by about 40 percent. 20 percent of that comes from ethanol, a product we can easily make in this country. So why don't we? Well, I believe Vice President Cheney (who held an 'energy policy' meeting in which the biggest American oil companies were invited to attend but not the press) said it best for this Administration: "Conservation is a personal virtue." Meaning that if you want to conserve, go ahead my friend while I guzzle this bottle of WD-40 for lunch. Besides, why should we conserve when we have the greatest military on Earth to get whatever resources we need whenever we need it? That plan seems to be working well enough.

Not to be glib, the world oil production is projected to increase by about 65 percent in the next 30 years; three quarters of that from OPEC countries. Here's another fun fact from the International Energy Agency I'll bet you didn't want to know: "Since most OPEC reserves are located in the Middle East, by 2030, Middle Eastern producers will supply 50 percent of U.S. oil imports, 50 percent of Europe's, 80 percent of China's and 90 percent of Japan's." So, Senator Lugar, I suggest you who drive a Prius (he does, actually) should maybe talk to your friends up there in Washington and see what you can do about a different energy policy. After all, we only have so many troops.


Got a Light, Mexico?

Today the top electoral Mexican court discounted presidential candidate Obrador's allegation that massive fraud handed his opponent, Calderon victory. The judges, all seven, voted unanimously to reject the leftist candidate's suit for a total recount of every ballot. Takes you back, doesn't it?

What is very different in this case, is that their population isn't lying down and being told what to do. They are demanding democracy and no, democracy isn't clean and doesn't end when you cast your ballot. Obrador's followers are demonstrating nationally, threatening to shut down services and even suggesting armed, civil resistance. They are asking the question we should have asked in 2000: "If we call our government a democracy and our president isn't democratically elected, what are we?" Well, they asked that question and didn't like the answer, so they took to the streets and are fighting for a government for and by the people. Not one handed down by seven judges with their own motives.

Whether Obrador is actually in the end the winner, his claims need to be addressed: Each ballot box starts with a certain amount of ballots that get handed out to voters, so when you get that box back, there should be the same amount, only there weren't. But it wasn't just a few areas that this discrepency existed; it was for a majority of the country. A majority. That means that over 50% of the ballot boxes, and by extension votes, are not accurate. That alone is reason for a recount, but there's more. When the judges did manage to authorize a recount for one precinct, they found that Calderon lost nearly 13,000 votes or about 1%. Obrador didn't lose any. If you did just one box and found this to be true, wouldn't you press for a full recount? Finally, and to me the most damning reason why Obrador's voters (and really all Mexicans should be angry), the judges won't release the recount for the precincts that followed. If anyone reads this blog, does any of this sound familiar?

In America after the 2000 general election debacle, no one took to the streets, the media refused to defend our democracy and the country rolled over and said "who cares"? If you were a Republican happy with the outcome of the 2000 election, consider this: It doesn't matter what party you belong to if no one counts your vote and there may be some day when you actually want your vote counted. If, however, you are an American first, take a good look at to your neighbors to the south. Hopefully they're relighting the torch we extinguished six years ago.


Winter Wonderland: Diagnosis for Murder!

In an effort to not sound like the most boring political blogger, I will once in a while write a personal essay on anything I feel strongly about. Today, it's the lyrics of "Winter Wonderland" and the sinister undertone I believe the song represents. This has nothing to do with politics or history. This has to do with it being Friday and not wanting to share my thoughts on anything but a Christmas song's dark metaphor. Read this, it could save your life!

In the lyrics to "Winter Wonderland" by Richard B. Smith, do we hear the delights of Christmas and a deliriously joyful snowtopia or do we hear the whisperings of a brutal slaying in the Florida Everglades by two insane, oversexed, drug-crazed clown freaks? I'll let the lyrics speak for themself. "Sleigh bells ring/are you listening?/In the lane, snow is glistening./A beautiful sight, we're happy tonight/walking in a winter wonderland." Here we establish that there are two people walking in what would appear to be a snow covered lane in the evening. But when we strip away the veneer of lies, and exchange "sleigh bells" with police sirens (a common euphimism among cocaine dealers - so I am told) and "snow" with the obvious nose candy, a more frightening image arises. Instead we have a picture of two coked-up junkies in a fetid apartment. They lift their heads from the coffee table only when a police siren rings in their neighborhood, like animals listening for a predator at a water hole. Once satisfied they are safe, they continue shoving line after line of sweet white powder up their eroded nasal passages. And it only gets worse from here.

"Gone away is the bluebird here to stay is a new bird./He sings a love song as we go along/walking in a winter wonderland." This is where we find out the female coke fiend is already married to their coke supplier or as he is later referred to, "the snowman". "Gone away is the bluebird, here to stay is the new bird" is simply another expression for "my husband is gone and I now have another lover". Unfortunately, for the blue bird, it's going to get worse. A lot worse.

"In the meadow we can build a snowman./Then pretend that he is Parson Brown./He'll say: Are you married? we'll say: No man/But you can do the job when you're in town." At this point we are introduced to "Parson Brown" and it gets seriously ugly. Parson Brown is probably the scariest character in a song lyric I have ever come across and no, Virginia, he is not a real Parson. Simply put, he is a vicious murderer who will kill you as soon as put on shoes. These two coke-addled adulterers turn to Parson Brown to assist in killing "the snowman". Parson then asks if they are married to each other, and they reply, "No, but we'd like to be, if you know what I'm saying." Parson Brown understands very well what they are saying and promises to murder the unsuspecting husband the next time he's in the neighborhood, so casual is his relationship with the value of human life.

This next stanza is fairly cut and dry: "Later on we'll conspire/as we dream by the fire./To face unafraid, the plans that we've made/walking in a winter wonderland." Here we have the image of the two waiting for Parson Brown to return with news of the killing while burning all evidence of their connection in a fire. It is a respite from the horrors of the song as the listener is taunted with images of these two quietly imagining their life together once they collect her husband's insurance money.

The last two stanzas are some of the most disturbing and terrifying lyrics I have ever heard. Read, if you can: "In the meadow we can build a snowman and pretend that he's a circus clown./We'll have lots of fun with mister snowman until the alligators knock him down." It is implied that Parson Brown does not return with news of the murder, but instead with the living person of her husband. They bring him to the swamp and, for some reason maybe only Mr. Smith is privy, they "pretend that he's a circus clown" or dress "the snowman" (husband/coke supplier) up as a clown. After all, why not humiliate the guy by first dressing him up as a clown before torturing him? That's when the real party begins.

Conjure in your mind's eye being at the mercy of two violent coke gremlins and a professional killer and all that their imaginations can give birth to in a swamp while they 'have lots of fun' with a helpless clown. What would fun look like to those three? I don't want to know. Afterwards, they leave his tortured and almost lifeless body as food for alligators. It's perfect. If the police ever find his chewed up body, it'll be dressed as a clown. It'll look like he went insane, put on a clown outfit and ran through the Florida Everglades until his untimely demise in a crocodile's intestines. And now, the taunting end: "When it snows ain't it thrilling./Though your nose gets a chilling./We'll frolic and play the Eskimo way,/walking in a winter wonderland." I don't know if anything needs to be said here. The two, once they've fed the husband to the swamp beasts, now embark on a sickening display of cocaine usage not seen again until the 1980s.

I understand a lot of people will view this as nonsense, but the facts are there, right in front of your eyes and they've been there all along. If you choose to view this song as a brainless tribute to the delights of winter, be my guest. But for those of you who will "face unafraid" this song's true message, I encourage you to learn from this morality tale. Don't do cocaine. Don't conspire to kill your coke dealing spouse in a humiliating, clown related death and don't EVER turn to Parson Brown. He is one bad man.