Thursday, August 31, 2006

Olbermann invokes Murrow in take down of Rummy

The other day, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, in a speech delivered to the American Legion, insulted American Legion members and the rest of America. Itself a comment on our time, it took Keith Olbermann, a mere sports commentator in a former life, not a so-called "serious" journalist like the pretty boy, pretty girl idiots (though how to explain Candy Crowley, who is fat and stupid?) who permeate television, yes, a ex-sports guy, to knock down Rummy.

It also took Keith Olbermann, not Anderson Cooper, to invoke Ed Murrow and call out Rummy's and Bush's demand for Americans to obey, fascist-like, their incompetent and arrogant exercise of power.

Here is the link from Crooks and Liars. Yes, it starts a bit on the pedantic side, but it gets stronger and stronger, and Olbermann invokes the spirit and look of Murrow in a way that should give us some hope about the fall mid-term Congressional elections.

Just over a year ago, I noted this phenomenon of sportscasters showing far more intelligence and mental toughness than the, again, so-called "serious" television pundits and reporters. The sports guys do not have fear of losing "access"--they seem to welcome the empty threat for what it is and wear it as a badge of honor.


Sunday, August 27, 2006

Compelling opinion articles on Israel not seen in corporate owned US newspapers

Haaretz has just published three opinion-editorials in a row that no corporate American based media outlet would ever print...for fear of upsetting those ignorant, benighted souls who think the US corporate-owned media is anti-Israel.

Gideon Levy, who was against the war against Hezbollah/Lebanon from the start, has some choice words for those who are now criticizing the Olmert government. Another writer is even more scornful about the narrowness of the questions raised against the war.

My personal comment regarding both articles: The narrowness of the questioning is the eqivalent of HillaryBiden merely asking questions as to how Bush continues to conduct the war in Iraq--as opposed to the larger issue as to why the Iraq War was the wrong war to start at the time it was started. If enough Israeli leaders don't publically ask the questions Levy raises and don't start thinking about practical step by step solutions to those questions, Israel is more likely in for more suicide bombings, military flare ups and more civilian casualties. In other words, the cycle of recrimination and revenge will continue.

article by someone I don't know, Zvi Bar'el, explains why Israel's solutions must begin with itself and its relationship with the Palestinians. The Bush administration's continued recklessness, ignorance and arrogance are a hindrance to Israeli security and to peace among Israel, Gaza and the West Bank--and Lebanon. The writer's analysis about how nations see UN resolutions is also fascinating and fairly persuasive.

Finally, away from Haaretz, but deep in the hearts of many Israelis, is this eulogy written by David Grossman, a writer of renown in Israel who initially supported the war last month, then pushed for a cease-fire, and whose son died in those ridiculous and reprehensible last days when the Israeli leadership wanted one last piece of Hezbollah. One Haaretz writer wants Grossman to actually enter the political arena as a candidate for office, a proposal that definitely has merit. But Israeli leadership must also work to find the Grossman-counterparts among Palestinians. They are there, just not as open. Remember the Hamas guy who said Hamas' capture or kidnapping of the Israeli soldier was "inhumane"? There is, as Ignazio Silone once wrote about in a novel, "seed beneath the snow."

Friday, August 25, 2006

MF Horn Dies at age 78

As stated in my first post back in May 2005, the name MF Blog is a play on the title of a Maynard Ferguson album called MF Horn. Today, I read that Maynard Ferguson has died at age 78 after fighting to his dying breath against his kidney and liver failing.

Maynard and I shared the same first-last name initials. But, that's not why I loved his work and his personality. Maynard was a legendary trumpeter who hit notes and created melodies at levels previously unheard by human ears. Maynard's versions of:

MacArthur Park

Hey Jude

La Fiesta

and of course, the Rocky Theme ("Gonna Fly Now"), are brilliant and timeless.

I was privileged to have seen Maynard's bands in the mid to late 1970s near Rutgers University in New Jersey, when he had some amazing (then) young musicians, from Alan Zavod, the astounding, but still unknown Bob Summers, and Bruce Johnstone, to name a few.

I remember seeing Maynard and his band one night. After a break, Maynard came back out from the wings of the ballroom where they were playing, took out a handkerchief and dropped it to the ground. As it hit the ground, the band, already on the stage, started swinging. Later, for the last song of the evening, the band decided to do their version of "Hey Jude", where the brass players would fan out into the audience and wail away.

Great musicians being creative and fun. That was how to describe a Maynard Ferguson show.

Way back in the day, Maynard was playing with many big bands, primarily Stan Kenton's outstanding band. But, sometimes he'd show up on albums like this one, and you'd hear him do "Summertime" from "Porgy and Bess" and it would amaze anyone with an ounce of musical sense.

Gonna miss ya, Maynard. But, if there are angels in Heaven playing trumpets, I now know who'll be playing lead.


Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Popular Mechanics to the rescue!

This morning, I saw a pop up on some web sites for this book about 9/11 "myths." My first glance made me think it was one of those books that posits Bush instigated the 9/11/01 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Looking more closely, I realized it was a book prepared by Popular Mechanics that explains why the Bush-did-it or Mossad-did-it or whatever theories are wrong.

Reading through the blog Popular Mechanics has prepared, I am impressed with its clear prose and explanations. I believe the book will become an important document to have as time goes on, particularly if our nation descends into anti-scientific (and not just from Republicans, folks) delusions or worse, madness.

My best advice to persons who are considering whether to buy into a theory of a government "conspiracy" concerning the events of 9/11/01 is to analyze the information, pro and con, and ask yourself, "Is the information overall more likely the result of an official government plan or does it reveal the negligence of government officials?" Also, the fact that a politician or executive administration may use horrific events to aggrandize power is a different question--and does not, alone, prove prior knowledge or participation in the event being exploited.


Saturday, August 19, 2006

What "Macacca" tells us about modern Republican leaders

I did not give much thought to the imbroglio involving Republican Senator George Allen's insensitive comments directed at a young man at one of Allen's rallies. Then, this morning, I read this post at Orincus and the links he provided (including this one from

The scent of racism remains embedded in so many Republican leaders in the southern region of our nation. Trent Lott, Sonny Purdue, and the whole movement to protect the Confederate flag are just the tip of the iceberg.

And even when a particularly racist candidate crops up in a Republican primary, the official Republican leadership has a problem denouncing such a person. See here for an example from 2004. And who can forget Lee Atwater and more recently Karl Rove, and the use of racism in campaigns? Or Ronald Wilson Reagan (Mr. 666) opening his fall 1980 presidential campaign in a small town in Mississippi where three civil rights workers had been killed in 1964--and proudly proclaiming his support for "state's rights" (the link is damning in its attempted defense of the comment).

Sadly, Allen's statement was not something unusual for him, either. Allen has a history of obsession about the Confederacy as the linked article from and this article from NY Times columnist Bob Herbert note.

What Republican strategists understand is that racists do form a part of the Republican base. And racism is communicated by Republican candidates to racists (and give succor to the rest of us who may harbor latent racist attitudes) through a secret handshake or code, as Lee Atwater himself recognized. The way in which "macacca" rolled off the lips of George Allen is therefore emblematic, not an exception.

Taking this beyond racist appeals, Republicans have shown they know how to win close elections--through racist appeals (whether against blacks, Latinos, Asians or Muslims), through the overwhelming right wing television and radio media pundits who popularize talking points and "narrative" words that emanate from the Republcian National Committee, to fraud in elections and intimidation of voters in poor and black communities. "All we have to do is win on one day," is the unstated mantra of Republican strategists. "Who cares about polling six months after the election--other than for us to understand our strategy for the next election day?"

Democrats, and especially Independents who tend not to follow these things very closely, must not embrace such tactics. They must, however, recognize these tactics and openly denounce them upon seeing them. They must perservere against such tactics and work that much harder.

For that, I say, give some more money to the Ned Lamont campaign in Connecticut. Behind this article in, which notes Lieberman's Republican-like racist appeals, is the fact that Lieberman's campaign is now becoming the ultimate Republican enabler to maintain control in the House and Senate. Maintaining Lieberman in power undermines Democratic Party unity, dilutes its message and strengthens the Republican political machine. The race in Connecticut is therefore a major battleground for the soul of our nation.


Friday, August 18, 2006

NSA decision will be partially upheld if standing argument is accepted

The decision by the federal district court judge in Michigan holding the NSA program unconstitutional may be overturned in the appellate courts, including the US Supreme Court, on "standing" grounds ("Standing" is a legal concept that requires a positive answer to the question: "Does this individual suing have a true injury in order to make the claim presented?"). Standing cases, of which I've done my share of surveys, are not consistent nor often logically sound. In this case, I share the federal court's sense that the plaintiffs are likely harmed and that a strict requirement would create a Catch-22--because the government is denying access to information on the basis that it implicates "state secrets." However, it would not be the first time a Catch-22 argument was accepted by a court that did not want to hear a case.

The next question, then, is if the people suing are found to have standing, will the judge's decision be upheld? Semi-simple answer: Yes, at least in part.

Which part will be upheld? The part that says the Bush administration needs to get FISA clearance first before embarking on the trolling for phone call numbers. I have little doubt the US Supreme Court will find FISA constitutional and not an encroachment on the powers of the Executive branch.

Which part won't be upheld? The judge's Fourth Amendment analysis. Here, the judge was too general and failed to attempt to distinguish the US Supreme Court decision in Smith v. Maryland, 442 US 735 (1979), which could provide sufficient support for the adminsitration's position on Fourth Amendment, though not FISA, grounds. My post on the subject on May 13, 2006 looks pretty good, I have to say, even as it relies on able analysis from other law professor bloggers.

Those able law profs, Orin Kerr and Glenn Greenwald, each provide more detailed analysis (though I don't know why either prof mentioned Smith v. Maryland when discussing the Fourth Amendment analysis.).

Me, I've got to get to the office this morning as we just got crushed with additional work--and I don't have time to comment on the right wing criticism of the judge as (a) black; (b) the former wife of a Democratic Party congressman; (c) to her views on affirmative action or (d) to whether the opinion the judge wrote was sufficiently "scholarly"--as if the opinions of many federal district level judges, who handle hundreds of cases at a time, have to be scholarly. In other words, give the judge a break (My only criticism of the judge's decision is that it should have at least attempted to distinguish the Smith v. Maryland case when discussing the Fourth Amendment issue.).

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Angelides: The best public servant, but late in defining his campaign and himself

As soon as Phil Angelidies won the primary for the Democratic Party nomination for Governor of California, he blew it. He failed to go on the offensive with commercials to define himself and his campaign for the citizens of California. Note: I voted for Phil in the primary.

On the other hand, the "Governator" (Arnold Schwarzenegger), who knows a thing or two about marketing, immediately placed ads on the television and radio that defined Angelidies as wanting to raise "your" taxes, as if every Californian had the income of the top 1% of California taxpayers (including using Angelides' primary opponents ads, as I predicted in the above link). This defined Angelides to the citizens of California in the way Bush defined Kerry as a flip flopper in April 2004.

Now, Angelides has figured out how to explain to California citizens why his tax proposals are only adversely affecting that top 1%--with tax cut proposals for the rest of California tax payers.

But it may be too little too late unless he goes over the airwaves with a message that says what the article says, in sound bite form. Angelides also needs to help voters understand that when the Governator supports increases in park fees, college fees, etc., those are taxes, too, that burden those who are not in the top 1% of taxpayers.

While there may be some who will say Angelides is toast at this point, California remains a strong Democratic Party state. Angelides might make up his 6 point deficit in the polling, but this is a race that is now Governor Schwarzenegger's to lose.

Lesson: As a Democrat, the time to define yourself to the public is at the moment you win the primary. I know this means spending into some debt if a primary is bruising, but it's the only way to avoid having the Republicans define you first. Dean: shrill; Kerry: flip-flopper; Gore: liar; and now Angelides: tax ands spend liberal (taxing you and spending for someone else).

ANOTHER LESSON (update): Josh Marshall explains how, in Connecticut, when Ned Lamont took time off after the primary win, it allowed Lieberman sole and free broadcast media coverage. The result? Lieberman is now ahead by 12 points in a poll and has 53% of the vote. Lamont is in a good position, with Dem money and support, to make up that ground. Still, I thought Lieberman's independent run would fizzle. I was wrong. Terribly wrong. Lieberman is still a scoundrel, though. There is no time to rest in an election until maybe after the general, not just primary election is over.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Attention bedwetters: Israel did better than you think

With headlines like this, and right wingers having fear-based baby tantrums, it is important to get some perspective and move forward.

First, let's recognize the bad news. As myself and so many others pointed out, the Israeli invasion into Lebanon, which was in fact disproportionate in response to Hezbollah's late June 2006 raid into Israel, strengthened the political position of Hezbollah in Lebanon and in the eyes of the "street" of the Arab world. See here (second paragraph of post), here (scroll down to "Concluding Thoughts") and here for three of my several posts in recent weeks.

Second, let's recall that the Arab League's initial reaction to Hezbollah's initial act was largely negative and against Hezbollah. Getting into a war united, at least for the time being, Hezbollah, Sunnis, other nations' Shi'as, and militants throughout the Arab world. And, to use a Hollywood movie metaphor, Hezbollah fought not so differently than the fictional Americans did in "Red Dawn" and received help from a foreign nation (Iran), the way movements tend to get outside help from someone--just ask your history teacher about French help during the US Revolutionary War.

However, as I noted a few days ago in this post, Israel has now salvaged some victory from the last thirty days in this ceasefire. Why? Because Hezbollah is no longer as firmly at its border with thousands of rockets and UN troops are coming into the area as a buffer force. Yes, Hezbollah has the capability to strike Israel from the middle of Lebanon, but let's not panic about that, either.

Whether this cease-fire holds up is always a question, but, considering where Israel was before the cease-fire--bogged down in a foreign country and still getting attacked with rockets--this is a fairly good result from a bad war which should not have been fought. What commentators are missing is that Israel's war (a war it had planned for a year and just needed a pretext) was a failure from the perspective of what the Israeli government stated was its purpose (destroy Hezbollah as a force in Lebanon). However, it at least got Hezbollah's military equipment and weapons off the Lebanese border with Israel.

The bedwetting, mostly Republican war-mongers need to step back a moment and realize that, out of the ashes of this ridiculous fighting for the past forty days, the Israelis now have an opportunity to again pursue peace, first with President Abbas of the Palestinian Authority. Then, the Israeli leadership (whoever that may be) should go in a different direction and at least tacitly support the referendum for Palestinians that called for a two state solution (the referendum includes Jerusalem as an international city and reparations for Palestinians, but these are things to be negotiated). This could have been done in the spring of this year, of course, but it can still be pursued after all this horrible nonsense.

And, folks, the USA could use some restored confidence, too. The bedwetting war mongers must be replaced this November. And impeachment proceedings must begin to pressure Bush and Cheney to resign--or at least wake up and smell the coffee. When even a hack like George Will begins to understand why John Kerry's stated approach wasn't weak, but smart and strong, and that Kerry's policy prescription makes more sense than anything the Busheviks have done or proposed, it is indeed time to put the bedwetters to bed in their plastic sheets and let more confident and intelligent (and stronger) people lead our nation.

First, let's get out of Iraq and give our troops a rest while we conduct honest diplomacy in the Middle East. An honest diplomacy is one that recognizes Israel's need for security and that Israel is, in fact, the only relatively open society in the Middle East. However, honesty also requires recognition that the Palestinian people have legitimate aspirations that must be met. And second, we need to use our heads to announce weaning our nation off Middle East oil through electric vehicles and other alternative fuel sources for everything else, and offer economic aid to poor nations, including those in the Middle East. If we get back the solidarity the world felt with us on 9/11/01, we should not be too surprised at how much more effective we can be.

So, while the Worst President dissolves into tears while reading "The Stranger," and right wing pundits and politicians like Joe Lieberman show their abject fear and fangs, the rest of us must dust ourselves off from the tumult and move our nation forward with confidence and inner strength. Ironically, the hope expressed in that last sentence is the most optimistic and probably naive--though maybe enough people will finally vote out the Republican Congress at least.


Monday, August 14, 2006

Bedwetting war mongers openly question (and undermine?) the Commander in Chief

Glenn Greenwald has the round up of what I like to call bedwetting war mongers openly questioning (and undermining?) our nation's Commander in Chief.

I can't wait for Ann Coulter to say that she looks forward to terrorists blowing up the building where the National Review is located or that the only choices for President Dubya are "impeachment or assassination."

As these pundits wet themselves in their panic and scream about failure, maybe enough people will finally realize these pundits are a bunch of twits.


New Sy Hersh article confirms bad confluence of Bush and Olmert policies

This article by Sy Hersh is must reading. Forget, for a moment, the fact that the sources are anonymous. Hersh is one of the great investigative journalists of the past 50 years and he has a great track record for accuracy, though not perfect by any means--he's a human being after all.

Two things struck me as questions to ask while reading the article:

1. To what extent are several of the comments from the anonymous sources based upon the Bush administration's desire to blame Israel for what is really an extension of Bush policies through the US client state, Israel?

At this point, I can't say. The Israeli government are not children and are responsible for what policies they engage in. However, the confluence between Busheviks and the Israeli governments of Sharon and Olmert over the past five years makes it difficult for any US policy planners to "blame" Israel for not being that much more effective in Lebanon than the US has been in the US's disastrous adventure in Iraq.

2. Does the information being provided by the anonymous sources prove that the Israeli government did, in fact, have an opportunity to split Hamas and begin peace negotiations, instead of turning toward war in Gaza which led to Hezbollah's actions against Israel, which led in turn to Israel embarking on its Lebanon Adventure II?

You betcha.


Saturday, August 12, 2006

Aw, Dad, can't we keep killing till Monday?

Are we in a Monty Python sketch or trapped in Terry Gilliam's Baron von Munchausen?

The Israeli government agrees to a cease-fire and then escalates war in southern Lebanon--with Hezbollah only too happy to reciprocate.

Might as well say, "I'm starting a diet on Monday...So, now, I'll have that double dip sundae, with lots of whipped cream! Oh yes, and a diet Sprite to go with it!"

Except, in that wellspring of monotheism known as the Middle East, such absurdity leads to even more dead people, wounded people, and destruction of buildings and the so-called "blessed" land.

Maybe I should comfort myself with re-reading musings about the vengeful Sky God...Or maybe re-read the Book of Lamentations?

Nah. Instead, I'm going to continue reading this.

UPDATE: Kevin Drum, who gets it, quotes and comments about others who get it. A very well argued and consise post. I disagree with Kevin, of course, about Truman, as I wrote in this post about Peter Beinart's poorly understood history of the US at the dawn of the Cold War.


Middle East reading for a Saturday evening

An article by Ze'ev Schiff in Ha'aretz. Schiff, a very respected military reporter for over 30 years, supported the Olmert government's invasion into Lebanon. He is not happy with a cease-fire, but appears to see little choice at this point.

Here is the text of the UN proposed cease-fire. I italicized the following portions of item number 8 that were most interesting:

"8. Calls for Israel and Lebanon to support a permanent cease-fire and a long-term solution based on the following principles and elements:

* full respect for the Blue Line by both parties,

* security arrangements to prevent the resumption of hostilities, including the establishment between the Blue Line and the Litani River of an area free of any armed personnel, assets and weapons other than those of the government of Lebanon and of UNIFIL as authorized in paragraph 11, deployed in this area,

* full implementation of the relevant provisions of the Taif Accords, and of resolutions 1559 (2004) and 1680 (2006), that require the disarmament of all armed groups in Lebanon, so that, pursuant to the Lebanese cabinet decision of July 27, 2006, there will be no weapons or authority in Lebanon other than that of the Lebanese state,

* no foreign forces in Lebanon without the consent of its government.

This interview with Noam Chomsky at least gives us a perspective we must keep in mind when performing our own analysis of the events of the past two months. However, why Chomsky likes to push most of the blame onto the US and Israel is what makes me sigh about Ol' Noam sometimes.

I did note Chomsky's brief mention of the 1996 Israeli operation called Grapes of Wrath, which caused me to review this and this. I admit to barely recalling the episode, but it sure looks familiar to what has been happening over the past 30 days--except this time, the Israeli military went much further into Lebanon and Hezbollah sent far more rockets and engaged in far more attacks against the civilian population in Israel.

Finally, a hopeful article that shows again why we who are not Muslim ought to be encouraging Muslims of good faith to reclaim their religion.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

A possibly hopeful result from Middle East

The Head Heeb, once again, has stated my thoughts almost exactly. If the UN supports having Lebanese troops and UN troops to act as peacekeepers along southern Lebanon, and the Arab nations and Hezbollah agree, this will be a good result for Israel. If Hezbollah refuses a UN sponsored cease-fire, it will also help increase international support for Israel, though not as much as I would like.

The bad result that remains, though, is that Hezbollah will have greatly increased its stature among people in Lebanon and elsewhere in the Middle East. Plus, the Israeli government's actions over the past few weeks have now been proven that the Israelis lack a sufficient number of soldiers to fight a war of attrition. And it must be said that Israel probably could have achieved this potential result weeks ago had the US and Israel been truly interested in pursuing such a solution.

Still, for Israel, if the diplomatic solution holds, it will be a good result from a bad war.

I hope to get to more substantive commentary later this weekend, though work's been long and family commitments strong.

UPDATE: Glenn Greenwald has a good analysis, though he thinks, if the proposed cease-fire is accepted, Israel has "lost." I disagree. Israel lost a week or two ago. If the cease-fire is placed into effect, Israel is now salvaging something, which is keeping Hezbollah from being in complete control of the southern border of Lebanon.

And good riddance to Israeli Prime Minister Olmert, if he in fact resigns (I had hoped for this days ago, per this post). Israel needs to find a way to jump start talks with President Abbas of the Palestinian Authority to support a new referendum and hope Palestinians vote for a two state solution.


Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Enjoy the moment, but then there's the Middle East

Yes, enjoy this moment. And I'll predict that Lieberman's independent campaign will fizzle in the next two weeks.

As for the Middle East, here is Yossi Beilin's article in Ha'aretz. As always, worth the read.

ADDENDUM: The Head Heeb has a thoughtful and even hopeful analysis of the latest developments in the Israel-Hezbollah war.

And Democrats seem to be lining up to tell Lieberman it's over per this nice round up from the Daily Kos. And who gave Rahm Emmanuel, the Democrat in charge of overseeing House races this fall, a big bag of Wheaties? This quote was delicious:

“This shows what blind loyalty to George Bush and being his love child means,” said Representative Rahm Emanuel of Illinois, the leader of the Democratic House Congressional campaign. “This is not about the war. It’s blind loyalty to Bush.”

Has Rahm finally realized that bloggers could have supported primaries against the likes of HR Clinton, Feinstein, Cantwell, and the Nelson twins of Nebraska and Florida--but didn't? Has Rahm finally realized bloggers backed ex-Reagan Navy Secretary Jim Webb in the Virginia primary (Webb won, too), who may have been more "moderate" than his primary opponent? Let's hope so.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

The war mongerers are the real bed wetters

In corporate media presentations, I can't help but notice the often indirectly stated "narrative" that those of us who have opposed the war in Iraq from the beginning, or have sought alternatives to the endless retribution wars among Arabs and Israelis, are viewed as being not as "tough" as those who want to continue those wars--as if dissent to power is easy and conformity is hard. However, it should be becoming clear to more and more Americans that the real wimps are the people pushing for endless war. These war mongerers are the ones shivering with fear, worried about American resolve (and now Israel's resolve), and are sitting in the wet bed they themselves have made.

Read these two articles, first from Charles "the Mad Doctor" Krauthammer and then this other article from David Horowitz, who has shown us that Stalinists and McCarthyites have much in common in terms of political style. Notice the abject fear contained within the words uttered by these two men. It is stunning once you see it--and how similar it is in tone to others who keep telling us we need to stay in Iraq and expand the war against terrorism into Iran and Syria.

For me, I have no doubt our nation and other nations can defeat most of the terror movements on this planet over the next five years--but for vastly different reasons than the bed wetting war mongers. We (Americans) simply need to start with the proposition that people are people, whether Arab, Israeli, Iraqi, Iranian or American. Then, we need to immediately move to end our dependence on Arab oil, do a Manhattan Project for electric cars (which will create lots of jobs for semi- and unskilled workers), become an honest broker for Israel and the Palestinians, get the hell out of Iraq, and, instead of dropping bombs for awhile, start dropping food and DVD/CDs and players and blue jeans for people in impoverished areas. People around the globe want to like America and often do. Such folks get angry (more bewildered) that we keep electing idiotic, hateful people and dropping bombs on them. That's why Israel's leaders are learning that dropping bombs only made people in Lebanon like Hezbollah more than before.

Am I a pacifist? No, sorry. Pacifists are often brave individuals, but they are like war mongers to the extent they are inflexible. I supported our incursion into Afghanistan in 2001. I supported the first Gulf War. Practically speaking, it is sometimes necessary to directly confront, with war, those who are trying to kill you. But, here, there is something different going on in this twilight war against terrorist acts that, at least for now, requires political and economic responses more than (though not fully) military ones.

The Busheviks are not merely ignorant and malicious. What they are is reckless because, while they claim to want this "clash of civilizations," they won't even attempt to mobilize our nation with a draft to put more troops on the ground or take the steps of rationing and focus that makes for a war footing. Instead, they tell us to go shopping and buy Hummers, blame the messengers when things go wrong in their wars, deliberately confuse honest dissent with treason and then attempt to criminalize that dissent, and drop some bombs on places and people, thinking that will help them reach their stated goal of defeating violent Islamicists.

Franklin D. Roosevelt, a man in a wheelchair who fought the effects of polio every waking moment of his presidency, told us that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself. That should be our mantra and it should be why we cannot listen to the war mongering voices who are increasingly exposing themselves as the fearful, paranoiac people they are.

Some may respond, "Oh, that's who we should fear--the Limbaugh, Hannity, Coulter, etc. crowd." Well, maybe. But even there, lots of Americans already have had enough of those guys and gals. Those of us who believe in what I am saying need to be more confident, too, and say, "We can create more stability and more peace on this planet. It will never be free of strife, but we must--and can--show the world our better side. The side that makes people look to America with hope and appreciation. That gives us credibility more than bombs and allows other leaders of people and nations to take chances for peace instead of war."

In a world that is televised, we may be surprised to learn how effective that can be. Plus, our soldiers could use some rest after Iraq, don't ya think?


Thursday, August 03, 2006

More war has made the world safer for terrorists

Once again, the voices who preach war have made the world safer for terrorists.

The Israeli government thought making more war, instead of agreeing to a cease-fire, would make Israel safer from rocket attacks from the Hezbollah. Wrong--and maybe dangerously so.

And this is only strange to those who haven't read Chomsky's "The Fateful Triangle": Labor Party leader, and Defense Minister (in this coalition government), Peretz, is now urging a wider and longer war in southern Lebanon than Likud Prime Minister Olmert is willing to approve.

I keep wondering: If the Israeli government had even tacitly supported the Palestinian referendum that Palestinian Authority president Abbas had pushed; had the Israeli government agreed with Abbas to help foster the then-growing split among the Hamas in the spring of 2006...Wouldn't that have been a lot better than invading Gaza, which led to the Hezbollah kidnapping of Isareli soldiers, which led to the Israeli invasion of Lebanon and rockets from Hezbollah...and where we're at now?

But, no. We had to have the so-called "hardliners" push their "clash of civilizations" bullshit.* And now, those hardliners in the US, who have our military bogged down in a morass known as Iraq, and the hardliners in Israel, who have got the Israelis grasping at straws in southern Lebanon, have made things worse for those of us who truly despise and wish to defeat the scourge of Islamicist fundamentalism that continues to grip significant elements in the Middle East. With any luck for Israel, the Olmert government will fall, Peretz will leave the Labor Party, and the next leader of Israel will proimse to work with President Abbas to stop the cycle of vengeance and retribution long enough to establish parameters of peaceful co-existence.

* The Samuel Huntington thesis, "Clash of Civilizations," is bullshit because there is more often in the Arab world a clash within each of the nations and societies. In Iran, there is a vast (now underground) market for American music and film, and most importantly, American lifestyles. In various Arab nations, there is the fight between Sunni interpretation of Islamic laws (much less stringent) and Shi'a interpretation of Islamic law.

The "let's declare massive war" doctrine does nothing to exploit those fissures. Instead, the "Let's declare massive war" doctrine creates and then reaffirms a solidarity among Muslims and simultaneously undermines or betrays our best values of open government, personal freedom and economic development. The saddest and possibly more frightening aspect is that if one listens carefully to bin Laden's videos, he talks like Huntington when reducing the battle to "Islam vs. the West." In fact, the battle is between the best values of modernity and the worst values of the past--and that battle is happening at different levels inside nearly every nation, including the US (witness the cultural wars against science in the US).