Monday, September 27, 2004

Is this some kind of misprint? What the hell? Allow me to quote here: "When [President] Bush gave his May 1 [2003] speech fewer than 150 Americans had died in the war. Since then more than 900 have died." (In case you can't make it out, the date for this article is, well, yesterday.) Although technically accurate -- 1,037 is more than 900 -- why the gross misstatement? They're over a hundred off, for God's sakes ... are they downplaying this tragedy?

Sunday, September 26, 2004

On the Day of Atonement we admit our transgressions against God, among them our FAILURES OF JUSTICE. We ask for His forgiveness "for keeping the poor in the chains of poverty, and turning a deaf ear to the cry of the oppressed. For using violence to maintain our power, and for using violence to bring about change. For waging aggressive war, and for the sin of appeasing aggressors. For obeying criminal orders, and for the sin of silence and indifference. For poisoning the air, and polluting land and sea, and for all the evil means we employ to accomplish good ends." [Gates of Repentance: The New Union Prayerbook for the Days of Awe (New York, Central Conference of American Rabbis: 1984/5738), pp. 328-9] Quite timeless, indeed.

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

According to a September 19, 2004, New York Times 'Week in Review' article (Hannah Fairfield, "Is There a Family Resemblance?" sec. 4, p. 2), President George W. Bush and Senator John F. Kerry are distantly related, which is "typical for any two people with significant New England colonial ancestry," according to Gary Boyd Roberts, who is described as "the genealogical historian who compiled the links" between Mr. Bush and Mr. Kerry, who are said to be ninth cousins twice removed. Their common ancestor is reportedly Edmund Reade, who lived from 1563 to 1623 in Wickford, Essex. Mr. Reade allegedly had two daughters, Elizabeth and Margaret Reade, from whom the respective Presidential incumbent and hopeful Bush and Kerry are descended. The Economist told no lie when it stated that Kerry "is cut from the same cloth" as the President, and he literally is. In fact, there are even more reported links between Connecticut-born, blue-blood Bush and Colorado-born (and Massachusetts-raised) blue-blood Kerry. They are tenth cousins once removed via their common ancestors Henry Herrick and Thomas Richards, and are tenth cousins twice removed via their common ancestor John Dwight, who were all natives of Massachusetts. And, via their respective English common ancestry, Bush and Kerry are eleventh cousins once removed, half-twelfth cousins once removed, twelfth cousins twice removed, and fourteenth cousins.*

No wonder their policies and opinions are infuriatingly similar . . . they're family!

*Respectively, these English common ancestors are reportedly Reverend Edward Bukleley, Richard Clapp, Henry Sherman, and John Manning.

Monday, September 20, 2004

Chinese dictator Hu Jintao has gained control of the country's military, following the resignation of Jiang Zemin, thus making him what appears to be absolute ruler. According to a New York Times story, Jintao became "the country's military chief and de facto top leader on Sunday, state media announced, completing the first orderly transfer of power in the history of China's Communist Party. ... [Jintao] now commands the state, the military and the ruling party. He will set both foreign and domestic policy in the world's most populous country, which now has the world's seventh-largest economy and is rapidly emerging as a great power." We also read that Jintao "has solidifed control", like Vladmir Putin, who is also taking steps to dismantle his country's fledgling democracy, "of China's most powerful posts at a younger age ... than any Chinese leader since Mao Zedong," the article reads. It is added that Jintao "is now likely to be able to govern relatively unimpeded by powerful elders." It appears that both Russia and China are becoming less and less democratic ...

Friday, September 17, 2004

Today is the second anniversary of the publication of the National Security Strategy of 2002, released by the White House, in which the doctrine of 'preemptive' warfare was thus enshrined, in chapter V of the document ("Prevent Our Enemies from Threatening Us, Our Allies, Our Friends[*] with Weapons of Mass Destruction"). Here's an excerpt (links for the chapter in question, the entire document):

"We must be prepared to stop rogue states and their terrorist clients before they are able to threaten or use weapons of mass destruction against the United States and our allies and friends. ... For centuries, international law recognized that nations need not suffer an attack before they can lawfully take action to defend themselves against forces that present an imminent danger of attack. Legal scholars and international jurists often conditioned the legitimacy of preemption on the existence of an imminent threat ... We must adapt the concept of imminent threat to the capabilities and objectives of today’s adversaries. Rogue states and terrorists do not seek to attack us using conventional means. ... Instead, they rely on acts of terror and, potentially, the use of weapons of mass destruction ... The greater the threat, the greater is the risk of inaction—and the more compelling the case for taking anticipatory action to defend ourselves, even if uncertainty remains as to the time and place of the enemy’s attack. To forestall or prevent such hostile acts by our adversaries, the United States will, if necessary, act preemptively. The United States will not use force in all cases to preempt emerging threats, nor should nations use preemption as a pretext for aggression. Yet in an age where the enemies of civilization openly and actively seek the world’s most destructive technologies, the United States cannot remain idle while dangers gather. We will always proceed deliberately, weighing the consequences of our actions. ... The purpose of our actions will always be to eliminate a specific threat to the United States or our allies and friends. The reasons for our actions will be clear, the force measured, and the cause just."

Thanks to this radical doctrine an Axis of Evil enemy such as Iran has announced that it is threatening to use the White House policy of 'preemptive' warfare against us, as cited in the New York Times.

*Thanks to this doctrine, ironically, the United States no longer has many friends in the world ...

Thursday, September 16, 2004

Happy New Year.

Monday, September 13, 2004

The BBC reports that Turkey has warned the US that "it will end cooperation with the US in Iraq if the Americans continue with their offensive in the northern Iraqi town of Talafar." Furthermore, the capital, Ankara, "is concerned about the plight of the large Turkmen population there, some of whom have been killed. US and Iraqi troops last week began a major operation against Talafar - a suspected haven for foreign fighters entering Iraq from Syria. On Friday Turkey's foreign ministry urged the US to halt the offensive. 'What is being done there is harming the civilian population, that it is wrong,' Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul said" three days later. I didn't even hear about this; thanks, BBC.

*Now, is this a liberal position? No: it is a common sense position, free of ideology. Does it make sense to have AK-47s freely available on the street? No; guns like these only belong in the military, in the hands of soldiers, and no one else. This describes my gun policy, pure and simple: assault weapons only for the military, handguns only for the police, and rifles (as in the National RIFLE Association) for hunters (a.k.a. 'sportsmen'). That's it. It's common sense, and the President has an obligation as supposed protector of our security to make sure that no one but someone serving in the military ever gets his hands on an assault weapon. There is no reason for it: you don't hunt with a fucking Uzi. Simple. 'Nuff said.

Saturday, September 11, 2004

This day marks the third anniversary of the most despicable terrorist crimes ever perpretrated against the United States, where four cross-country jets laden each with several thousand gallons of fuel were hijacked by 19 men, 15 of whom were Saudi Arabian, members all of al Qaeda, whose leader was and remains Osama bin Laden, still at large; two were flown into the North and South Towers of the World Trade Center, leading to the collapse of the twin towers, and the other dived into the Pentagon, partially destroying the first three rings of the building, and the fourth crashed in Pennsylvania, perhaps headed toward the Capitol or the White House, all within the space of an hour and fifteen minutes.

2,973 of our fellow Americans were murdered, and the atrocities, unprecedented in its scope and magnitude, that were committed on that day were ruthlessly and shamelessly exploited by this administration to pursue a radicalist agenda, designed to establish the doctrine of 'preemptive' war, as enshrined in the National Security Strategy of the United States, published just under a week following the first anniversary of the attacks. The attacks were implicitly used to justify attacking Iraq, in which al Qaeda and the Hussein regime were invoked side-by-side although never actually directly connected in rhetoric; this did not stop 40% of Americans from believing that Saddam was behind the attacks that occured three years ago this day.

Bin Laden, the architect of the terrorist attacks, who once had $25 million on his head, who was once declared found "dead or alive" by the President himself as the War on Terrorism (now renamed the War on Terror, which is quite different) began on October 7, when our warplanes began attacking Afghanistan after talks with the Taliban to hand over bin Laden, whom they had been harboring, failed, is now conveniently forgotten.

The President does not seem to really care that the man who directed the atrocities against our people is still out there, and that the war against Iraq has strengthened, not weakened, al Qaeda's image in the Arab World.

Attacking Iraq was an unconscionably costly and dangerous diversion from fighting al Qaeda and rebuilding Afghanistan, both of which have proved at best counterproductive toward finally 'defeating' the terrorists, whoever and whereever they may be: the Taliban has been all but decentralized and, in tandem, so has al Qaeda.

Over 1,000 American soldiers (just over a third of the number of people killed on September 11, 2001) have been killed in Iraq, and about $200 billion, all of it borrowed, has been spent to finance what was from the start an unnecessary, unmanageably expensive, and immoral war. Over 10,000 Iraqi civilians have been killed since the war began in March 2003 as a result of it, over three times the number dead on September 11. We are answering tragedy with tragedy, violence with violence, blood with blood.

In turn, the Bush administration is spitting on the graves of the murdered through its manipulation and exploitation of the dead to further its agenda, in essence, of global dominance: we are now entitled to attack any nation that we perceive to pose a threat, current or future, against us. We think we can fight an amorphous, 'asymmetric' enemy with 'conventional' methods of warfare best used against, say, Nazi Germany; not, however, against al Qaeda, which is not a nation (I really do not think that this administration understands this): instead of building up intelligence gathering and analysis and working to simplify the military in order to fight a wholly new enemy, what is being done is the procurement of the same kind of heavy military hardware, which is not needed, and would in fact appear to violate the fiscal 'responsibility' of the self-professed 'conservatives' running the government.

2,973 Americans did not die martyrs for the sick ambitions of the current incumbents.

For three years they have danced on their graves, and today we must mourn in memoriam the national tragedy that had for a little while united us as one people; and also we must mourn the tragedy of how we faithfully let our government use the atrocities to tear up our Constitution and Bill of Rights, and implicitly justify the war against Iraq, in the name of fighting 'terrorism' and making us 'safer'.

One day those responsible for the crimes perpretrated against us on this day three years past will see their punishment met.

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

The federal budget deficit has been underestimated by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) by over 12%, from a projected $2.01 trillion to $2.29 trillion from 2004 to 2014, as cited in the New York Times (E.L. Andrews, "Bush Unlikely to Fulfill Vow on Deficit, Budget Office Projects," 7 September 2004): "Stripping out all war costs for [Afghanistan and Iraq] after [2005]," the article reads, "the [CBO] analysts said the federal government would save $536 billion over the next five years. But making Mr. Bush's tax cuts permanent, one of the president's top priorities, would cost $549 billion through 2009 and $2.2 trillion through 2014." (The CBO report, "The Budget and Economic Outlook: An Update," is accessible here.)

Friday, September 03, 2004

The Republican National Convention is over and the Bush-Cheney campaign has officially begun, with about two months remaining until the Presidential elections on November 2.

In form it was exactly like the Democratic National Convention, carefully scripted and contained, in which a group of delegates whose views are outside of the views according to American popular opinion are represented by a group of populists protraying themselves as moderates. The only difference that I could observe between the two conventions was the setting: to put it simply, New York City is not a base for the Republican Party and never has been (the Republican Party has never held its convention in the city before); many detractors found it obvious as to why the RNC would hold it there: the tragic terrorist attacks of September 11, which were constantly evoked and exploited (shamelessly, I believe) in order to pursue the GOP's agenda. (In a similar way the Vietnam War was exploited by Kerry, and many have held that this was somewhat shameless, too; I believe, though, not quite to the degree at which it was exploited by the Republicans: whereas Kerry's service in Vietnam was a big element of his convention, 9/11 appeared to be the theme.)

I had respected Senator McCain, decorated war hero and honorable statesman, but it was sad to see him become a marionette for Messrs. Bush and Cheney; they had cut down a great man, turning him into nothing more than a puppet. Same goes, I believe, with former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani, whom I had also respected. Democratic Senator Zell Miller (Ga.) was just out of his head; from the official transcript of his remarks, Mr. Miller was a raving, ranting lunatic. (Clips from the video of his speech also attest.) Here's a sampling:

"Motivated more by partisan politics than by national security," Miller declared, "today's Democratic leaders see America as an occupier, not a liberator." Which "Democratic leaders"? Is he referring to Iraq, in which, yes, we are occupying the country and have been doing so for nearly 17 months? Didn't President Bush, in his latest televised press conference on April 13 of this year, say that the Iraqi people "do not support an indefinite occupation -- and neither does America"? And, in response to a question from "Terry" regarding pre-war assertions made by the administration that we "would be greeted" by the Iraqis as "liberators with sweets and flowers," the costs of reconstruction would pay for itself from Iraqi oil money, and Iraqi WMD not only existed but "we know where they are" (Rumsfeld), Bush replied - answering the first part of his question - that the Iraqis are "not happy they're occupied. I wouldn't be happy if I were occupied either."

Miller held that, in the "warped way of thinking" of the leaders of the Democratic Party, "America is the problem, not the solution." Again, which Democrats are being referred to by Miller here? The Democrats, he continued, "don't believe there is any real danger in the world except that which America brings upon itself through our clumsy and misguided foreign policy." Based upon what? Nothing. And there's more: In addition to Senator Kennedy, Kerry has "opposed the very weapons system that won the Cold War and that is now winning the War on Terror. Listing all the weapon systems that Senator Kerry tried his best to shut down sounds like an auctioneer selling off our national security but Americans need to know the facts," and so he lists the "weapons systems" (the B-1 bomber, the B-2 bomber, the F-14 fighter jet, the Apache helicopter, the F-15, the Patriot missile system, the Trident missile, Reagan's Strategic Defense Initiative) that, as the Cold War ended, became irrelevant. Vice President Cheney, at the time as Defense Secretary under Bush, Sr., voted right along with Mr. Kerry, a fact conveniently ignored, to oppose these outdated 'weapons systems'. This leads Miller to his conclusion: "This is the man who wants to be the Commander in Chief of our U.S. Armed Forces? U.S. forces armed with what? Spitballs?" Fucking lunatic; to paraphrase Jon Stewart, it looks like grandpa forgot to take his medicine.

In sum, a good, rabble-rousing show. Just two months now.