Wednesday, January 31, 2007

There’s A New Maverick In Town

With all of the talk I’ve been hearing lately about what a great guy Chuck Hagel is, I thought it was time to pull out a post I wrote over a year ago on the topic. I’ve been hearing liberals laud Senator Hagel’s “bravery” for speaking out against this administration and his “maverick” tendencies when it comes to sticking to his convictions. Speaking truthfully may make him a maverick within the Republican Party, but it’s what Senators are supposed to do, he gets no credit from me for that and more importantly, I’m not convinced that this whole thing isn’t just political theater.

Chuck Hagel is a Bush administration “fella” and he’s got the voting record to back it up. He is one of the most conservative members of the Senate, supporting the Bush agenda a whopping 95% of the time. He may be speaking out against the President’s “troop surge” but that hardly takes political courage at this point. Any Republican who wants a shot at the White House in ’08 must be against this surge and for ending the occupation of Iraq. John McCain will find that out the hard way and he’ll likely find that he’s been duped by the Bushies yet again. By bringing McCain into the fold while simultaneously singling out Hagel as the “problem Republican” that just won’t toe the line, the Bush team has effectively stripped McCain of his maverick status and bestowed it upon Hagel. At a time when change is what the American people are looking for, the willingness to buck this administration is the best asset any candidate can have, and Hagel’s “outsider” status seems to be by Bush administration design.

So go forth and read my old post about Hagel from November 2005, it's even more relevant now than when I wrote it. Every once in a while my analysis is spot on and I'm convinced that this is one of those times. I'm leaving open the possibility that Chuck Hagel is authentic (although he'd still be an awful choice for President), but I certianly wouldn't bet money on it, unless of course I owned the machines that tallied the bets and determined the winner.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Dick In a Box

Guest Post by Man of American Dissent

Dick Cheney is set to testify in the near future in the Scooter Libby trial. I heard a rumor that it could be today, but even if he’s not going to take the 5th, I mean stand today this is an historic event.

I wish there were cameras in this courtroom. I would love to see the face off between Dick Cheney and Patrick Fitzgerald. Will Cheney have the cojones to tell Fitzgerald that his questions are "out of line"? I'm envisioning the VP doing a Jack Nicholson in “A Few Good Men”. Unfortunately that just ain’t gonna happen. We’re much more likely to see a ”last throes” or smoking gun mushroom cloud style offering than we are a Harry Whittington hunting trip reprise.

Fortunately for the Vice President, he can say whatever he wants in court. He could say that Scooter had a wild hair up his ass and that made his lips get loose causing him to divulge classified information to every Tim, ‘Vak and Judy in town. I know he’ll swear to tell the truth and all that, but he also swore to uphold and defend the Constitution twice, and we can see how well that’s been going for the past six years. Besides, what’s the worst thing that can happen to the VP? Well, the worst thing would be a resignation in disgrace, followed by a pre-pardonment impeachment of George W. Bush and a “Sorry Dick you’ll need to serve out your sentence.” From President Pelosi.

Monday, January 29, 2007

He Will Always Be Cat Stevens To Me

Here’s a little slide show of candid pictures taken in Iran.  While Fox News is busy portraying Iran as a terrorist state, filled with a bunch of crazy, fundamentalist Muslims, it’s important that those false images are countered by at least a small dose of reality.  We have destroyed one country already and it has made the world less stable, but we haven’t seen anything like the backlash that will occur if we make the same mistake with Iran.

As Evil Keeps Rising To The Top

You know you’re in trouble when John Bolton starts giving you diplomatic advice and how much trouble are we in as a country when John Negroponte is the good guy!?  I’m constantly reminded that this administration spares no effort in employing those at the bottom of the barrel when it comes to morality, truthfulness and decency.

The Trial Heats Up

Today is a good day for watchers of the CIA leak case and the trial of Scooter Libby.  Today is the day that Ari Fleischer, former Bush administration Press Secretary (before the lying blob Scott McClellan and the practiced liar Tony Snow), will testify on behalf of the prosecution.  Fleischer has admitted leaking the identity of Valerie Plame to reporters and also sought an immunity deal with Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald almost as soon as the investigation began.  It appears that Fleischer was pretty sure he was in legal trouble from the very beginning and his discomfort over the leak may (I stress may) have been part of the reason for his sudden departure from the White House not long after.  If Fleischer thought he might be in trouble for leaking classified information about a covert CIA operative, it stands to reason that Cheney, Rove, Scooter and the rest of the leakers were also aware of the potential illegality of what they had done.  I’m waiting on pins and needles to find out what Ari has to say.

Last week, Raw Story put up a comprehensive timeline and investigative piece about the Bush administration’s building of a case for an attack on Iran.  It’s a great piece of journalism, but after reading it, I couldn’t help but feel that the Valerie Plame angle was missing.  There is a connection between the outing of Valerie Plame and the building of a case for war with Iran, I just feel it in my bones.  I suspect that the outing of Plame had more to do with a desire to derail her work, remember she was working on Iran, than about punishing her husband, Joe Wilson for his op-ed basically calling Bush a liar.  Is it possible that she was a cog in the war machine that had its sights set on attacking Iran?

I’ve long been hoping that Patrick Fitzgerald’s investigation would make public some of the connections between the forged document from Niger that Cheney used to justify the “Iraq is a nuclear threat” lie he inserted in the State of the Union speech, the shady cast of characters with a hard on for regime change in Iran (the same criminals, neo-cons and international arms (and lie) peddlers that brought us Iran-Contra), and the plans for preemptively attacking Iran.  It may be too much to hope for, but Patrick Fitzgerald is one of the few people with all of the information needed to connect the dots and prove that this rogue administration is guilty of lying to Congress and the American people for the most serious of reasons, to sell war.  We The People need to know what Fitzgerald knows, although at this point, the odds aren’t in our favor.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

"The Involuntary Guest Worker Program" - America's Middle Passage Into the 21st Century

A guest post by Mark W. Bradley

WARNING: A self-appointed committee of concerned trolls has determined that the following post may be hazardous to your hypo-allergenic sensibilities. It may contain one or more of the following substances: tacky stereotypes, pointless misdirected hatred, base generalizations, and/or calls for ideological genocide. Side effects may include the dehumanization of people the author does not understand. Persons on a low-satire diet should avoid this post, as it may cause them to experience temporary discomfort and/or a feeling of helpless malaise. Such symptoms have been known to occur in rare cases, but only among patients with a genetic predisposition to irony. Patients who lack such predisposition are at minimal risk in this regard.

ADDITIONAL WARNING: Contents under psychological pressure. Do not store in areas where temperatures may exceed 150 degrees Fahrenheit (late 21st Century Greenland, for example).

SPECIAL WARNING: Keep out of the reach of children, and/or adults with the kind of simplistic mindset generally associated with children. On second thought, don’t bother. It’s already out of their reach.

SPECIAL ADDITIONAL WARNING: If any of the facetious ideas contained in this post are accidentally swallowed, induce virtual vomiting immediately by metaphorically sticking both middle fingers down your own throat.

PLEASE NOTE: This post is guaranteed not to contain any of the following ingredients: heartwarming sincerity, inspirational guidance, meticulous compliance with rules of social etiquette, adolescent solutions to post-doctoral problems, magnanimous gestures of compassionate reconciliation toward the planet-fucking psychopaths gleefully ripping this country up by the roots and transplanting it into a bucket of cyanide, and/or artificial sweeteners of any kind.

"The Involuntary Guest Worker Program" - America's Middle Passage Into the 21st Century

I promised myself I would listen to Tuesday night's “State of the Union” speech with an open mind, and I must now report that armed with a rare combination of honeyed rhetoric and steel-trap logic, the president won me over entirely to his point of view. It’s an admission I make with no small degree of humility, as I have spent the past seven years mercilessly lampooning Mr. Bush, intimating that he's the sort of imbecile who could weather a brainstorm without getting the inside of his head wet. Now, of course, I feel compelled to recant such unjust pronouncements and offer him my sincere apologies. The president’s speech was brilliant, prophetic, and jam-packed with innovative and ingenious strategies designed to address a whole litany of seemingly insurmountable problems plaguing our beleaguered nation. In short, I liked what he had to say, and I loved the way he said it!

First of all, it was comforting to hear from the mouth of our stockholder-in-chief that the economy is on solid ground. This came as a welcome relief to me personally, as my wife and I recently borrowed 4.3 million dollars in the form of cash advances on our combined Citibank cards, which we in turn used to purchase variable-rate mortgages on several ski chalets atop scenic Mt. Kilimanjaro. I’m confident that this impeccably sound investment plan will provide the two of us with a fairly secure nest-egg for our retirement, but just to be on the safe side, I’ve decided to give up teaching and pursue a career in rhinoceros hunting. Not only is it safer, but given the provisions of Mr. Bush’s “No Child Left Behind” legislation, it frankly offers more job security.

Just as importantly, I was thrilled to learn that the president has at last come up with a bold initiative to do what most politicians lack the courage and foresight to even suggest - that is, accelerate and expand America’s Global War on Terror through the use of ever-more-vigilant domestic surveillance techniques, reform and reorganize Social Security and Medicare by placing them under the jurisdiction of the Nevada Gaming Commission, increase the size of our armed forces by 90,000 troops while continuing to conduct a rapidly escalating war in Iraq that shows signs of persisting well beyond the declining years of our grandchildren, arrest and reverse catastrophic global warming by researching and developing a wide range of alternative energy sources including a mysterious substance best described as “grassoline”, and balance the federal budget in less than five years, all without raising taxes. I dare any and all you “Doubting Thomas” types out there to try and find fault with a plan as carefully thought out as this one!

But how can all these ambitious goals be accomplished in one fell swoop, you ask? Well, given the kind of conventional thinking most world leaders are bound by, it would be an utter impossibility. But as President Bush and Attorney General Alberto Gonzales have successfully demonstrated on countless occasions, “thinking outside the constitutional box” can yield the most mind-numbing semantic labyrinths ever misconceived by the human imagination. In light of that history, what they are about to unveil in the coming weeks is guaranteed to confound their legions of critics and amaze an increasingly incredulous world.

It is a pilot program that has been dubbed “PIGSHIT” (The Project for Involuntary Guestworkers in the Service of Hegemony over International Trade). As we approach this program with an open mind, let us liberate ourselves from a lifetime of prejudicial thinking, and dare to re-examine one of the most economically successful social experiments ever attempted in the history of our country - the institution of slavery.

I know what you’re thinking. Slavery (if not regulated properly) can be a cruel, and in many ways inhumane form of labor management. But trust us - this is not your great-grandfather’s “Peculiar Institution.” With the kind of voluntary safeguards the Bush Administration has promised to put in place during this special limited trial period of compulsory servitude, the opportunities for the systemic abuse of involuntary guest workers will be drastically reduced. And for those of you who tend to have a knee-jerk reaction against the very idea of slavery, consider this. Remember the sort of revulsion we all used to feel at the very mention of torture? Well, somehow we managed to get over that little bit of squeamishness, now didn’t we? As Vice-president Cheney likes to remind us, 9-11 changed everything. Nowadays, EVERYONE expects the Spanish Inquisition...

So let’s just drop all the hypocritical outrage, shall we, and take an objective look at how modern slavery would operate. I know there are a lot of you (especially you African-American folks out there) who have understandably negative feelings about the institution of slavery. But you can relax. There are no plans currently on the drawing board to subject American citizens, black or white, to permanent enslavement of any kind. In fact, it’s hard to imagine a scenario in which such drastic measures would ever be required to fill involuntary labor quotas.

After all, as the Romans discovered back in the 3rd Century B.C., the most effective way to provide for an aspiring empire’s infrastructural labor needs is to sally forth boldly and conquer other nations, preferably smaller, weaker ones. Once you’ve humiliated them with a series of crushing military defeats, disbanded their armies, publically crucified their deposed leaders, burned and trampled their crops, gutted their livestock, raped their womenfolk, and leveled their cities, you sort of have them over a barrel. Labor negotiations from that point on are pretty much a snap. There’s no real need to conscript slaves at all, as most of the ambulatory survivors are sufficiently traumatized to fall in line and volunteer at the nearest labor camp without asking the recruiters too many annoying questions. Fortunately, the only out-of-pocket expenses likely to be incurred by occupation army soldiers seeking to enslave large numbers of locals are those associated with the cost of human transportation. In most cases, ordinary shipping containers should suffice.

In fact, according to a recent study by the GAO, if the United States were to initiate this pilot program later this spring in a potentially hostile country (Iran, for example), by early summer we would be in a strong position to provide all the hotels, factories and corporate farms in America with a reliable work force made up of flexible, compliant, and accommodating employees exceedingly grateful for the opportunity just to escape torture, mutilation and death on a daily basis. And best of all, such a program would be guaranteed to alleviate the pesky and persistent problem of illegal immigration. Think about it - what kind of savvy corporate CEO worth his benefit package is going to pay “hard cash” when the “hard lash” works just as well at a fraction of the cost?

Slavery - it’s an American tradition. Let’s try it again for the first time.

Mark W. Bradley is a history teacher and political satirist in Sacramento, California. He can be contacted at

Any Day Is A Good Day To Help A Friend

Trying to make it as a blogger is tough business, let me tell you. Some of us sacrifice writing time at the alter of commerce and attempt to make money however we can, but some of us refuse to sacrifice that critical writing time and instead make the real commitment to the liberal cause and blog incessantly, leaving little time for anything else. While I fall in the former category, my fellow blogger, and in many ways my mentor, David Goldstein of the infamous Horse’s Ass, is of the latter.

David spends his days (and nights I think) ferreting out the dirt, distilling the news and generally wrecking havoc on the local (and sometimes national) political landscape by bringing the truth to the people of this great city, a job our local papers have apparently lost interest in. This week, David is having his first annual pledge drive at Horse’s Ass. Being a lowly blogger myself, I don’t have much to contribute to the cause, but because I enjoy his biting analysis and I find his blog indispensable when boning up on local issues, I can’t help but toss a few bucks his way. If you’ve ever read Horse’s Ass, I suggest you do the same. If you haven’t, WHY THE HELL NOT? It’s to all of our benefit to have a muckraker like David on the job 24/7!

Wednesday, January 24, 2007


There was no comic relief in this year’s State of the Union speech although I did find the very idea that George Bush gives a shit about providing healthcare for all Americans laughable.  Last nights address was one of the most partisan I can remember and to believe a single word of it is to ignore reality.  

He talks of balancing the budget and reining in government spending while he keeps his $360 BILLION folly in Iraq off the books.  He finally mentions the term “climate change” and I’m supposed to be impressed that he’s acknowledged the danger our planet is in while doing NOTHING about it for six years and in all likelihood will continue to do NOTHING for the next two.  His big energy plan is to bulk up our strategic reserves of oil, in essence giving more tax dollars to the oil industry while raising the global price of oil at the same time.  The word that kept coming into my mind while I watched Bush speak last night is the same word running through my head now.  ASSHOLE.

Here are a few of my favorite quotes from last nights address.

“Free people are not drawn to violent and malignant ideologies.”  

Really Mr. Bush?  Have you read the PNAC documents?  The neo-conservative movement is nothing if not violent and malignant, but I guess that’s why those of us that truly love freedom find your authoritarian ideology abhorrent and why you cling to it so tightly.

“We did not drive al Qaeda out of their safe haven in Afghanistan only to let them set up a new safe haven in a free Iraq.”  

No Mr. Bush, you left Afghanistan (high and dry) to start an unnecessary and ill-advised war in Iraq, allowing al Qaeda and the Taliban to reconstitute THERE and then you fucked up Iraq so badly that they now have even more room to spread their wings.  

“The consequences of failure would be grievous and far reaching.”

On this point you are 100% right, the only problem is that YOU have already failed.  YOU made a terrible choice in invading Iraq in the first place and then YOU fucked up every single step along the way.  YOU have made our country unsafe, YOU have made us hated around the world and YOU have opened up the world to violence and hatred.  You’ve sown the seeds of anti-Americanism and have been the best recruiter al Qaeda has ever had.  We will be living with the grievous and far reaching consequences of YOUR failure for generations.  

Sending more troops into, as Chuck Hagel described it, “that grinder” at this late date, escalating the conflict, engaging the Mahdi army and embedding our troops with Iraqi troops when we have no idea where their loyalties lie, will only get more of our young men and women killed.  The blood of the almost 3000 military men and women that have already lost their lives is on your hands Mr. Bush, and the blood of the additional 20,000 troops you are sending to the slaughter will fall on your head “Carrie” style, branding you with a scarlet mark that you will never be able to wash off.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Keep Digging George, And Don’t Worry, Those Dry, Cracked, Dirt Walls Look Perfectly Stable To Me

Unless George Bush starts out his speech with the words, “We’re fucked,” I doubt we will get an accurate picture of the state of our union tonight.  Last week Tony Snow said that the speech would focus on domestic policy, but I heard last night on one of the talking head shows that the speech has been retooled to include more on Iraq.  I should hope so, the idea of giving a SOTU speech at this particular point and not talking about the disaster in Iraq and his ridiculous, doomed plan to escalate the war (even Bill Kristol, the administration cheerleader could only say that “there’s some probability it could work”) is preposterous.  I’ll channel our old friend Don Rumsfeld and ask, “Would it have been any more asinine than everything else we’ve done?  Of course not.”

It should be interesting to watch how Bush handles himself tonight.  I doubt that this speech will be as somber as his last one on Iraq a few weeks ago, but his face might show signs of stress as he tries to balance conciliatory with swagger.  Selling his escalation plan is going to be a tough go and he may not be able to keep his natural bullying tendencies under control as he addresses members of his own Party that are considering voting with the Democrats for a non-binding resolution that declares the escalation a mistake.  Bush is backed into a corner on Iraq and that makes him all the more dangerous to anyone even thinking of standing in his way.

Unless Frank Luntz (master of manipulation, slayer of the English language) has been locked in the White House for the past week, market testing each and every word and building the perfect speech designed for maximum emotional impact (which is difficult when they’ve overplayed the terrorist and 9/11 hand, one too many times) making sure to hit each and every fear, rage and bigot button, I expect this speech to flop.  Bush can make nice with the Democrats on immigration, he can mention global warming (without proposing anything substantive of course) and he can even talk about fixing health care, but the fact that he hasn’t done shit to address these national issues (except to make them worse) over the last six years won’t be lost on those listening at home.  

Bush has made his presidency about Iraq and now that we’ve seen what his full attention can do to a country, it’s clear that we’ll be better off if we can keep him from doing anything on the domestic front.  We don’t need him to fix this country the way he has Iraq and we’ve elected a Congress to help mitigate the damage he can cause in his last two years.  Bush has dug himself a hole, I say, we leave him in there but take the shovel before he makes the ground all around us unstable.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Blogging For Choice

Today is Blog For Choice Day, so that’s what I’m going to do.  My best friend, an avid advocate for women’s reproductive rights, sent me an email alerting me to Blog For Choice Day and I’m so glad that she did.  The right of women to have complete, unfettered control over our reproductive destiny is paramount to a just society.  We are human beings with hopes and dreams, talents and visions for our future and never should we be reduced to baby making machines.

Amanda Marcotte over at Pandagon, suggested that those of us Blogging For Choice today should tell our personal story of why we are pro-choice.  My story may not be that compelling, but here it goes.

I have never had an abortion.  I have been pregnant twice in my life, both planned pregnancies and both resulted in beautiful, healthy children born into a stable two-parent household, but I would be stupid to believe that that is the norm.  Life isn’t a nice, tidy experience and shit happens.  I credit my lack of an unwanted pregnancy to luck and my anal retentive tendencies in equal measure.

Having grown up with a single mother, I knew how hard that prospect was and from the time of my first sexual experience at 15, I was terrified of getting pregnant.  Not terrified enough to fight my raging hormones and choose abstinence over the ecstasy that was sex back then, but terrified enough to get on birth control pills before my first time and take them each day religiously.  But, even with the pill, I was convinced every other month or so that I was pregnant and the relief I felt each time I turned out not to be, was overwhelming and had more to do with the abortion I avoided than the prospect of a choice I would have to make.  I always knew I would have an abortion if I got pregnant at that time, I was just lucky enough to never have it turn out that way.

The closest I ever really came to having an abortion was when my daughter was nine months old.  I was still breastfeeding so my periods were all whacky and having just been pregnant, I thought I knew the signs and I thought for sure I was pregnant again.  I was devastated.  I was exhausted from taking care of my daughter, we were struggling financially and I was stretched to the limit with what I had on my plate and I just knew another child at that point would very likely send me over the edge.  I was already having fantasies of running away (mostly involving checking into a hotel and just sleeping!) and another pregnancy (I hated being pregnant) and another child to take care of would have sent me packing for sure.  As I sat in the clinic, waiting for the results of my pregnancy test with my baby on my lap, I was prepared to make an appointment for an abortion immediately if the test came back positive.  But my luck kicked in again and my test was negative.  Another dodged bullet.

I didn’t have any moral qualms with abortion, I still don’t, but nonetheless, I wasn’t exactly eager to have the experience either.  For me, it wouldn’t have been making a choice so much as availing myself of the medical options available to me.  Abortions are safe and legal in this country, safer in fact than carrying a child to term, and thank goodness for that.  Thank goodness we are evolved enough as a society to provide women with the whole range of medical options and allow women the right of self-determination.  Not all of us are mothers and not all of us mothers should mother children we don’t want.  Some can, but some simply can’t, and we have the right to make that choice for ourselves.  We are women not future mothers!  Some of us are both, but not all of us are, and even those of us that choose to be both have the right to order our lives in whatever way we see fit.  Only a devolving society would take that right away.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

We Earn The Title Of “Stupid American” Each And Every Day

Hat-tip to my father in law for sending me this YouTube video.  Next time I find myself dumbfounded as to how this man has remained our President for so long, I will go back and watch this video.  Jesus we need to fix our educational system in this country!  All I can say is, I hope these people aren’t registered to vote, but we’re probably not that damn lucky.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Our Rogue President

I’ve been going over in my mind the road we have traveled over these last six years and how little we resemble the country we were when Bush first took office. We are the stories we tell ourselves and our American story has been charred by the reckless behavior of a man that would rather burn books than read them. As the ’08 Presidential race gets prematurely underway, it’s hard to be seduced by the traditional rhetoric of “a better future” and our “better natures” when what we are as a country, our story that we’ve written together, has been so drastically altered. Whether or not our national identity was based on fact or fiction, we agreed to suspend disbelief and consider ourselves free, just, and if not altruistic, at least humane. What are we to tell ourselves now?

As Americans, perhaps we prefer to be lied to. We don’t want to know about our government torturing people, subverting democratic movements around the world or supporting brutal dictators once we’ve struck a deal to gain access to their resources. These practices must be hidden from the American people and they must be carried out in a clandestine way that work outside our domestic laws so that if they are discovered, We The People can absolve ourselves of any responsibility with the simple “truth” that it was done without our permission. Members of the Bush administration have been such bad liars, have not covered their tracks and have been so completely incompetent that they have implicated the American people in every single illegal, illogical and immoral move they have made. The result is that we cannot claim ignorance, nor can we sit idly by while they continue to engage in reckless behavior in our name. Iran must be taken off the table.

Tuesday, President Bush will give his State of the Union address and while usually I look forward to watching the train wreck that is any Bush speech, I’m not hearing enough of what will be covered in the speech to quell my fears that he is about to expand the war we are currently losing to include a country that he doesn’t understand. Sane people find this somewhat frightening, or as Senator Rockefeller put it, “This whole concept of moving against Iran is bizarre.” The move makes no sense from a strategic standpoint, is not backed up by the intelligence community and is not in the best interest of our country. The same was true about Iraq, so the Bush administration is almost sure to dive right in.

This president has got no game when it comes to domestic policy and the disaster in Iraq has consumed his presidency. I doubt that what’s best for America has ever factored into his plans and if he continues to use his office for the purposes of enriching his friends, sticking it to his old man, securing his place in history and playing geopolitical chess for the sheer fun of it, we can expect, at the very least an aggressive (provocative) statement on Iran and at worst, an announcement of pending air strikes against a country that is in the process of reining in their fundamentalist leader. I only hope we have the will to rein in our own.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Scooter On The Stand

While I’m still waiting for the hearings to begin on Capitol Hill, into corruption, the lies told by this administration in the lead up to the invasion of Iraq and, hopefully, a full airing of the Bush administration’s blossoming distortions and lies that seem to be leading us into Iran in much the same way, it is the trial of Lewis “Scooter” Libby, or Cheney’s Cheney as he was dubbed inside the White House, that may be the source for headlines that will reignite the debate over why we went to war in the first place as well as highlight the Bush administration tactics and how they “get things done”.

As jury selection gets underway today, the defense will likely be hard pressed to find sympathetic peers in a city that is almost entirely Democratic and that sits in the shadow of power while having little access to it. Now that the country is overwhelmingly against continuing the occupation in Iraq at the precise moment that President Bush proposes an escalation and possible expansion of the conflict, a trial that highlights the flimsy case for war as well as the Bush administration’s hard-on for war and hardball tactics, could be just what this country needs right now. Congressional hearings are great for egghead political junkies, but criminal trials have a way of hijacking the public’s attention and television news can’t seem to get enough. I can only hope that Scooter Libby’s name is soon as recognizable as Scott Peterson’s.

There are many people, Democratic leaders included, who feel it is unnecessary or at least counterproductive to rehash how we got into Iraq when we are faced with the crisis that has resulted. I could see the value in “moving on” and focusing exclusively on fixing the problem instead of assessing blame IF this was a one shot deal. But with the President rattling his saber again, sending a second aircraft carrier to the region as well as a message through his new Defense Secretary that the troop “surge” is proof we can take on Tehran as well as Baghdad, it’s clear that a pre-emptive strike on Iraq was not a one shot deal, but rather the standard practice of the Bush administration. If the press, that seem at the moment, at least, to be in the process of climbing off the lap of President Bush, can hone in on the Libby trial and highlight the lies, distortions, scare tactics and emotional manipulation that was used to sell the Iraq War, perhaps the American people will recognize that they are being duped the second time around.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Escalation! Expansion! Empire!

What I took away from Bush’s speech last night is that he is still isolated in his ideological bubble and intends to “stay the course” but with one slight modification, pick up speed.  He’s planning an escalation of the war in Iraq as well as an expansion of the conflict to include Iran and possibly Syria.  I guess Daddy Bush has no influence left with Junior, as his attempt to inject some reason into Junior’s foreign policy (via James Baker and the Iraq Study Group) has failed completely.  I find myself asking the same question, over and over again.  What now?

Nobody thinks sending an additional 20,000 troops to Iraq will even a small difference on the ground, which means that this is a purely political move.  As Lawrence O’Donnell explained on MSNBC last night after the speech, not all 20,000 will be on the street at the same time (some will be sleeping, eating, getting ready) and you must divide the number by 4 in order to determine how many extra bodies will be on the job at any given time.  5,000 additional troops in the middle of Baghdad in the midst of a civil war will only give the insurgents more targets to aim at, which is exactly why the commanders on the ground want no part of this “surge”.

I’m in a bit of a quandary as to what I think the Democrats should do about their sticky situation.  This is Bush’s war and the Republicans in Congress have aided and abetted him in every single disastrous decision along the way.  Why should the Democrats buy into this occupation now when it is on the verge of collapsing?  I screamed at my television last night when Pat Buchanan yelled, “It’s immoral for the Democrats to continue funding this war if they are convinced that it is already lost.”  Oh really Pat?  How moral is it for you to support an escalation that you know won’t do a damn bit of good?  I get that this is Bush’s “Hail Mary” pass into the end zone, but not in an effort to win the war or do right by the Iraqi people, no, his only concern is his legacy and running out the clock so he can pass this mess onto someone else, blaming them for the loss that he has cultivated through his delusional thinking, blind faith and utter incompetence.

Part of me thinks that the Democrats should just step aside and let the whole thing blow up in the faces of the neo-cons that dreamed it up, the White House that executed it and the GOP that championed this folly all along the way.  The only problem, and it’s a big one, with standing on the sidelines as Bush’s war circles the bowl is that real lives are at stake.  How can we sit idly by while more of our young men and women are sent into a war zone that they have no chance of affecting in any positive way?  How do we stay silent as they are asked to die for the legacy of man not worthy of their ultimate sacrifice?  However tempting it may be to want to wait for the moment when we are vindicated, when we are proven right and George W. Bush is humiliated in a defeat we knew all along was the most probable outcome, it’s not the right thing to do.  

It’s important to always remember that this war was ill advised, unnecessary and immoral when it began, therefore the results can be laid squarely at the feel of this president, but we are also culpable as we are responsible for what our elected representatives do in our name which means that we must do all that we can to salvage the situation.  We have a responsibility to make sure that our young men and women in the military are not used as political pawns.  We have a responsibility to help the Iraqi people find some stability amidst the chaos that we have created all around them.  We have a responsibility as citizens of this country to do all that we can to hold our leaders accountable.  We are in uncharted waters now.  We have a president that has lost his mind, is out of control and is making decisions based not on facts or reality or advice from experts, but rather based on his personal desire to be loved, respected and above all, right.  We cannot afford to continue giving him the benefit of the doubt as his long list of failures has proven that doing so is the height of idiocy.  How many wars are we going to let him start, lose interest in and bungle before we say enough is enough?  I vote for two.  What about you?    

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Bring The Noise

Guest post by Man of American Dissent

The Administration is set to reveal the “New and Improved” plan for Iraq tonight. We’ve heard the chart topping hits “Turn The Corner”, “Stay The Course”, “We Will Prevail” and “As They Stand Up (We’ll Stand Down)”. I wonder what it will be this time. Most certainly the polling samples and focus group data have been analyzed and thoroughly reviewed. The official language has been vetted. These guys have been taking a beating on the charts lately and they are feeling the need to make a comeback. This one has got to be a winner. It will be well crafted. I’m sure it will even seem catchy to many at first.

Any music business professional will tell you that your song needs a hook if it’s going to go anywhere. The problem is that every hook that these guys have come up with has been like an O’Shaughnessy in the scalp of the American People. President Bush is the political equivalent of William Hung. He’s flat out awful, essentially succeeding because of his failure and abject ineptitude, but for some reason people keep listening. Prepare yourself for the aural assault because I can practically hear it now. …“This is not about increasing the number of troops. We are engineering a decrease in the ratio of enemy fighters to American soldiers. Our ‘New Way Forward’ is not escalating the situation, but rather it is an insurgent violence reduction plan”.

In a nutshell, we’re going to “bring it on” under the guise of some handcrafted doublespeak. The news media will amplify, distort and infinite loop the story which will create enough noise to confuse most Americans, who to be frank aren’t paying much attention. The only way to cut through it will be to bring some noise of our own. Loud, clear and simple. Impeach the fool.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Divided or Not, a House on Fire Cannot Stand

A guest post by Mark W. Bradley

Three months ago, I was one of those progressives who felt that preparing for a Democratic Party victory in the 2006 elections was about as practical a use of my time as, say, studying Mohican poetry, or learning to drive a Zamboni machine. The only excuse I can now offer for such careless shortsightedness is that somebody (either Karl Rove or myself) made a serious miscalculation when it came to those pesky voting machines. Nonetheless, whatever the cause of this astronomically unlikely outcome, it is now evident that an effective treatment for Neo-Conservatism (which medical science only recently identified as one of the lingering neurological symptoms of Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease), is finally within our grasp. But we must act quickly if we are to have any hope of curing “NC” in your lifetime.

To this end, I made a decision last Friday evening to sit down at my computer and compose a blogpost that would effectively add my cyber-voice to the growing chorus (or should I say cacophony?) of progressive pundits attempting to hold the Democrats’ congenitally cold feet to the fire. Unfortunately, just as I was in the process of composing a stunning oratorical masterpiece to be force-fed into the microphone of Senator Biden/Boxer/Feingold, I was interrupted by the sharp rapping of what sounded like at least six knuckles on my front door.

It turned out to be my ultra-reactionary neighbor who lives two doors down and across the street. For the sake of anonymity, I’ll henceforth refer to him only as “Dick C.”

“We gotta real problem on our hands here, Bradley,” he grumbled impatiently. “You need to come and have a look at this thing right away.”

“I’m in the middle of something important right now, Dick,” I told him. “I’ll be down in a few minutes.”

“I think you better check this out now,” he demanded. “A few minutes from now, things might already be pretty well out of control…”

“Alright,” I said, as I slid my feet into a pair of house slippers, grabbed my overcoat, and headed out the door.

I followed Dick’s footsteps down the street to a rundown, semi-abandoned house on the corner.

“See that?” he queried with obvious disgust.

“You mean Mahmud’s house?” I asked. “What about it?”

“Let’s face it, that guy’s a real menace, and so’s his pile-o-shit house!” Dick’s agitation seemed to grow by the minute. “The roof’s a shambles, the place is crawling with disease-infested rats, and any day now the wiring’s bound to short out and cause a major fire that’ll probably wipe out the entire neighborhood.”

“What do you propose we do about it?” I inquired.

“Haven’t decided yet. But (*) and I just want to know you’re with us in case we need get serious about confronting this Ahmed character,” Dick replied.

“Mahmud, you mean,” I corrected him.

“Whatever,” he tossed off dismissively. The (*) Dick referred to was his brain-damaged sidekick who lived across the street from Mahmud, dressed in mustard-stained camouflage sweatpants, and regularly combed his front lawn with a combination Geiger counter and metal detector. We’ll call him “Donald R.”

“Well, I guess I couldn’t say for sure I was with you guys on anything, at least until I knew what you were planning to do,” I said, with uncharacteristic caution.

“You know, it might interest you to know we’ve already talked to a bunch of your bleeding heart buddies down the street, and they’re with us all the way on this thing,” Dick uttered confidently.

“Personally, I’d avoid doing anything rash, if I were you,” I said, as I impatiently shuffled my way back to my own house.

Around 1:30 in the morning, I was nudged from my fitful sleep by the faint squeal of approaching (but still fairly distant) sirens. As I rushed out into the frigid dry air, I became aware of a bright orange glow illuminating the night sky. Mahmud’s house appeared to be totally engulfed in thunderous, crackling flames. Out of the corner of my eye, I happened to catch a glimpse of Dick C.’s gardener (we’ll call him Jorge W.) hastily stashing a one-gallon can behind Dick’s garage. Moments later, the pair of them were standing uncomfortably beside me, noticeably out of breath.

“You know that little problem we were talking about earlier this evening?” Dick mumbled under his breath. “Well, looks like it’s a hell of a lot bigger problem now. Damn fire’s gone and spread itself all over the place. If you don’t do something to stop it soon, it’s likely to end up all the way down to your house.”

Even as he spoke these unsettling words, I realized he was probably right.

As quick as I could, I organized the rapidly awakening neighborhood into an impromptu bucket brigade. Meanwhile, my “bleeding heart” friends (I’ll call them “John K.”, “Chuck S.”, and “Joe B.”) took me aside and reminded me that the smart thing to do was to join them on the sidewalk across from the exploding cauldron of sparks and cinders, and do like they were doing - wringing their hands in distraught agony and warning others in the vicinity to stay clear of what was clearly an “unfortunate situation.”

Meanwhile, “Dick C.” and “Jorge W.” had taken it upon themselves to build an impressive firebreak around the charred and smoking remains of what had so recently been Mahmud’s house, a feat which they accomplished by painstakingly setting fire to eight of the surrounding residences. Curious onlookers who dared to inquire what the two were up to were brusquely told to “stay out of the way”, and “leave the god-damned firefighting to the professionals.”

Throwing caution to the wind, I ran back to my house, gathered up my garden hose, dragged it back over to the scene of the fire, screwed it onto the neighbor’s spigot, turned the water on, and aimed the nozzle’s stream at the building’s smoldering, teetering frame. Within a matter of seconds, the added weight of the water I was applying brought the entire structure down with a resounding crash.

Just then, the fire department arrived at last to extinguish the cataclysmic inferno. Once the smoke had finally cleared, preliminary estimates of the damage were found to be in excess of 12 million dollars (not to mention the loss of my own home). Yesterday afternoon, the fire marshal launched his formal enquiry into the cause of the fire. While each of my neighbors rendered him a slightly different version of events as they unfolded in the wee hours of Saturday morning, there was one thing they all agreed on - my hasty decision to pour water on the fire was undoubtedly the proximate cause of the building’s collapse. My attorney called me on my cell phone this morning to inform me that I have, to date, been named as a defendant in no fewer than 43 separate lawsuits. He also advised me that “Dick C.” has been seen circulating a petition that would prevent me, in perpetuity, from seeking to reside within a 25 mile radius of what is now commonly referred to as “ground zero”.

Needless to say, the momentous article I set out to write just four days ago is in a state of more or less permanent abeyance. As I’m currently residing on a public golf course, bathing in an irrigation canal, and living mostly on a diet of lizard eggs and hawthorn berries, I can’t say for sure when (if ever) I’ll have the chance to finish it…

Mark W. Bradley is a history teacher and political satirist in Sacramento, California. He can be contacted at

Monday, January 08, 2007

There Are No Accidental Winners

When it comes to geo-politics and war, there are no accidental winners, but rather those who profit by design.  The best history teachers teach their students to “follow the money” when looking for the “why” of historical events.  Our invasion of Iraq is no different, although we didn’t have to wait decades for the “why” to become clear.

Amidst the media attention surrounding the bungled execution of Saddam Hussein and the anticipation of the details (rhetoric) of Bush’s “new way forward” in Iraq, the real story is the new law coming before the Iraqi Parliament this week that will open the oil spigots, allowing foreign oil companies (from the US and Britain of course) to seize control of Iraqi oil despite Bush’s repeated assurances that, “that oil belongs to the Iraqi people.”  But what our president says and what he does are often at odds.

Are we really to believe that the American oil companies that have been drooling for decades over the prospect of getting their greedy little hands on Iraqi oil fields are getting their chance purely by accident?  That with oil(y) men like Dick Cheney and the Bush boys at the helm, this war that made no sense to anyone outside their inner circle was not executed for this very purpose?  Sorry, but I’ve had several great history teachers in my life and I’m not buying that load of bull.

Now, what the rest of us have to come to terms with is that there are direct benefits to us once American interests take over the flow of Iraqi oil.  Yes it’s ugly, but it’s also true.  Even though this administration lied to Congress and to the American people about their reasons for invading Iraq, all of us, even the supporters of this war, had to know the truth, that this is a resource war.  We are rabid consumers of oil and we need more to sustain the lifestyle that we’ve become accustomed to.  We may not want to admit it, but it was either this (invading a sovereign nation and stealing their resources) or making adjustments to our lavish American lifestyle and, god forbid, practicing conservation and embracing sacrifice for the greater good.

Bush and Cheney made the choice for us, but like every other choice they’ve made, it wasn’t made with our best interests in mind.  They are steeped in the crude world, it is what they know and it is where their wealth comes from (well, that and greedily feasting at the public trough).  They can’t see a future without oil, but increasingly, the rest of us can’t see a future with it.

During the funeral services for Gerald Ford, there was a lot of talk about America getting “the right leader at the right time”, like Washington refusing the title of King, Lincoln fighting to preserve the Union, FDR inspiring the country out of a depression, Ford healing the partisan wounds after Nixon, but what we have now is the worst possible leadership for our times.  It’s almost as if we’re living through history’s little practical joke.  What we need more than anything is a radical realignment of how we produce and consume energy.  What we need is leadership that isn’t afraid to look forward.  We need a president that is able to absorb information, that has respect for science and that believes in the possibility of a better future on this planet.  

What we don’t need is Bush, a man of questionable intellect, that lacks curiosity and that believes in fairy tale endings where the magic man in the sky will return to Earth and hoover up the true believers and install them in heaven.  What the fuck were we thinking?  

Friday, January 05, 2007

You’ve Been A Bad Boy, No Allowance For You!

Yesterday was an historic day with Nancy Pelosi sworn in as the first woman Speaker of the House.  Speaker Pelosi has made me proud to be a woman, now I hope she can make me proud to be a Democrat again.

I was thinking yesterday about how the Vietnam War changed this country’s view of what constitutes a winnable war, both militarily and politically.  The way in which the Vietnam War was handled by our elected officials and the fallout from the multiple disastrous decisions made (and not made) along the way must have had at least some personal impact on Democrats now serving in Congress, and I wonder how that will influence their tactics when dealing with the Iraq occupation.  History has proved that we should have stayed away from Vietnam and that once there, we stayed too long in an effort to avoid the inevitable.  We now find ourselves in nearly exactly the same situation, but this time, we aren’t in uncharted waters.

We have the benefit of hindsight this time around and despite the constant flow of White House rhetoric designed to ignite the “American spirit” of never give up that our obstinate president mistakenly takes to mean a free pass for whatever imperial exploit he cooks up in his little head, the American people have had enough.  We The People aren’t eager to repeat one of the biggest mistakes in our history as a country, and I’m starting to get the sense that Congressional Democrats are recognizing that they don’t either.

Cutting off funding for the war is the only power the Congress officially has that could stop this nightmare and Speaker Pelosi has said, like impeachment, that option is off the table.  But she is no shrinking violet, nor is she unaware of how the failure of Congress to stop the Vietnam War could provide the perfect cover for pulling the only lever they have to end the Iraq occupation.  Regardless of how Republicans may feel about John Kerry, his heartbreaking question to Congress almost 25 years ago strikes a chord in all of us, and sadly it is even more pertinent today, “How do you ask a man to be the last man to die for a mistake?”  When contemplating that question, Party affiliation doesn’t make a damn bit of difference.  That’s where the American people are and Congress better get there quickly, but that will require some pretty gutsy moves by the Democrats.  I know, it’s been a while, but ramp up slowly and it won’t be as painful as you might imagine.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

New!!! Improved!!! More is More…

Guest Post by Man of American Dissent

What does one do with a product that’s reaching the end of it’s life cycle, waning in popular appeal, oversold and perhaps even baited and switched one too many times? One answer is to reinforce the brand and make the product more modern and relevant. New and improved!!! Experience the difference. Ride the wave! Feel the surge! If current accounts are accurate, the Bush administration is about to blitz us with Stay The Course version 2.0. Now with more troops inside!

I don’t know about you, but when I reach into a bag of “New and Improved!” Cheezitoz snack food product, all I get is a bigger mouthful of the same old junk. To top it off, I wind up with an even more intense version of that bright orange dust all over my shirt and hands. I have the feeling that the same will be true if more troops are deployed to Iraq. The painful difference is that we’ll be dealing with even more blood on our hands as a result of what we have allowed our government to do. This plan is like the “New Coke” of policy, but worse. Problem number one is that there’s no classic formula that everyone already loves to revert to. Problem number two is that in the mid-term elections, the people spoke and escalating the conflict in Iraq is the exact opposite of what We The People have said that we want.

Let’s boycott this marketing campaign. I certainly am not buying that this “new way forward” is anything less than a “New!” agenda, now with 50% more failure. There’s only one way to move forward. We need to pull the administration’s head out of its ass so that it will stop running circles in the dark. The Democrats are taking their place in the majority in the House and Senate. Now is the time to keep them honest and make sure that our country adopts and implements a policy in Iraq that yields political and civil stability. Call and write your Senators and Congresspeople. Let them know “It’s the War Stupid.”.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Bush And His Barrels Full Of Bull

There is much to be disgusted with in Bush’s Op-Ed in The Wall Street Journal today, but I’ll just pick out a few of the nuggets that pissed me off the most.  I won’t even bother with the fact that no one should listen to this man or his opinions considering he’s been wrong about everything, big and small, since taking office six years ago.  And since he virtually ignored his quagmire in Iraq, except to conflate Iraq with 9/11, I guess I will too, at least for today.

One of my favorite quotes in this op-ed comes with his justification for cutting government programs in order to give more tax cuts (to the already wealthy of course).  Bush explains, “I believe government plays an important role in helping those who can't help themselves. Yet we must always remember that when people are hurting, they need a caring person, not a government bureaucracy.”

When Man of American Dissent and I were new parents, adjusting to living on one income, it wasn’t a caring person that helped pay our electric bill, it was a government “bureaucracy” instituted by a caring government that did that.  It wasn’t a caring person that provided milk, cereal and dried beans to feed our child, it was WIC, a government “bureaucracy” that did that.  And it wasn’t a caring person that provided me with money to finish my college education so that I help provide a better future for my family, it was federal grants and federal student loans that made that possible.  

It’s great to have caring people around us to help out when we need emotional support, but it is critical that we organize our government in a way that allows those who need it most, to access it easily.  Government programs work, especially if you have caring people supporting them.  If George Bush cared a little more about our government, and by extension the people our government serves, perhaps so many Americans wouldn’t be struggling to make ends meet and constantly fearing the possibility that the programs that are essential to our personal survival will be slashed or worse, done away with altogether.

This op-ed is just one more example of how out of touch our president is with the American people and with reality.  We want to know when he’s going to give up on his dilusion of “winning” in Iraq.  We want to know when the healthcare crisis is going to be addressed!  We want to know what is going to be done about the hemorrhaging of family wage jobs flowing away from our shores.  And there is no way in hell we trust this president with a line item veto!  It would just be one more power for him to abuse.

Perhaps the most disgusting part of this piece is the audacity of this president’s continuing effort to push the mythical connection between Iraq and 9/11.  It’s infuriating to have our president constantly lying to us, but it’s insulting when he tells the same debunked lie over, and over again.  What’s next, a press conference showing the video of Saddam hanging with a caption that reads “Final Justice For Osama bin Laden”?  He may be just that stupid, but the number of us that are willfully ignorant of this president’s failures, is shrinking.  By playing the same, sad hand, Bush will only accelerate his race to the bottom.  I still can’t believe it’s taken him this long to get there.