Tuesday, March 28, 2006


Does anyone else think Zacarias Moussaoui is full of shit? Of all his co-conspirators he identifies Richard Reid, the shoe bomber... Come on. The government is going after this guy so that they can convict someone for 9/11. The reality is that Moussaoui is trying to get some infamy by associating himself with a plot he had nothing to do with.

Friday, March 24, 2006


"If Iraq was not a terrorist hub prior to the U.S. invasion, it has become one, U.S. military officials say, with fighters gaining experience and making contacts there, then moving to other places where they could start new terrorist cells."

Just a thought: what if the billions of dollars, human lives, and special training we're donating to Iraq, in the end, becomes their strongest weapon to use against us? What if we're simply providing them the means to better attack us? It's happened before... several times. More importantly, why didn't our leadership speak candidly about this very real possibility when they were cheerleading this unconstitutional war?

I guess I have nothing new to say. I'm just as sick to my stomach as ever. God help us all.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

It's Often Said...

...that "government is the problem."

You've read it in this blog and elsewhere. It's a popular catchphrase, uttered as a convenience when one can't be bothered for thoughtful analysis. It has become a slogan, scrawled on the banner waved by reactionaries who embrace such notions as, "You're either with us, or you're with the terrorists." Such absolutism is comforting because it presents no intellectual challenge. Everything is cut and dried. No room for compromise. A blanket of conviction. Love it or leave it.

But is "government the problem"? No, it is not.

With sympathies toward my friend who is an anarchist (anarchy is the true expression of disdain for government, and advocacy for its dismantling), government is only an expression of humans' natural inclination to form groups, and to form hierarchies within those groups. Such behavior is human nature, and my observation is that humans loathe to rise above it. Another aspect of human nature is people's predilection for remembering the bad things vividly, and forgetting about the good things; taking them for granted.

No, government is not the problem. Bad government is a problem. Good government is a solution.

Eliminate government, and you eliminate law enforcement and fire departments. You eliminate public libraries, and the world of good they do for children who hunger for knowledge. You eliminate the health codes that try to limit the amount of cockroaches in your salad at Applebees. You eliminate the agencies who struggle to provide you with clean air and water. You eliminate paved streets and highways. You eliminate border protection, what there is of it; in fact, you eliminate all national defense except for that "well-armed militia" you've heard so much about. You eliminate county agencies who provide vaccinations and nutritional programs. You eliminate WIC. You eliminate your right to a safe work environment, a 40 hour workweek and overtime pay (oops, I forgot, they already went after that one). You eliminate enforcement of child support against deadbeat absent parents (oops again - they're chopping off that limb, too).

Some say private industry or charities are the answer, but that is untrue. Industry acts only in self-interest, and is therefore incapable of adequately providing certain services for the public. Charities, for all their good intentions, have simply never been up to the task.

My point is, there is a plethora of good things that people take for granted, things that they like, things that they need, which government provides. It's easy to condemn the whole thing when one part of it is in need of repair. But that's like bulldozing your house because your roof leaks.

"Government is the problem"? Bad government is a problem. Good government is a solution. Throwing the baby out with the bathwater is not.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Told you so.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Bush's Leviathan

This is not mine, it was written by a friend who was inspired by reading Thomas Hobbes' Leviathan. I find it interesting...

At a Republican Debate in Iowa on December 13, 1999, George W. Bush was asked, "Who is your favorite Political Philosopher?" He answered "Christ." While no surprise to Bush-haters, it turns out he lied. For purposes of this contention we will ignore the innumerable religious scholars, clergymen and lay people who have challenged this assertion. And, we will ignore the fact that Jesus was far from a political philosopher – his Kingdom was centered in neither in Crawford nor Washington, but in the hereafter. I am not going to look at whom Bush does not follow, but instead whom he, in fact, does.

To answer such questions we need to find a philosopher who would find the President's actions acceptable. Why would the Bush Administration attempt to destroy the careers and lives of people who have challenged their policies? Why would the Bush Administration refuse to testify in front of the 9/11 Commission? Why would the Bush Administration feel it did not have to answer questions that challenged the validity of the Iraq War? And, finally why would the Bush Administration spend Billions of Dollars fighting terrorism in Iraq when the perpetrators of 9/11 are in Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia? Unfortunately for the American People, careful review of these policies and actions show us that they are not some ragtag extemporaneous reactions to the issues of the day. Such a thing would be understandable if not forgivable.

These issues and actions seem perfectly clear if we remember our Hobbes. Thomas Hobbes had lived through the destruct and the destitution of the English Civil Wars (1642-1651). His Leviathan was a powerful state with unlimited power – the kind that might be able to halt a rebellion. Separations of Powers and questioning of the sovereign were absent and unthinkable. The sovereign, whether elected or monarchial, was all-powerful and unquestionable. His powers were absolute. The sovereign was neither questioned nor challenged since he had the health of the commonwealth in mind. If Hobbes were alive today he would see the President and his administration as the ultimate sovereign of the American Commonwealth – while congress would be a minor annoyance to merely placate the masses.

The Administration has shown the ability to strike back against those who merely use their Right of Free Speech. They put pressure on ABC to fire Bill Maher. (And Rumsfeld may have threatened his life.) Members of the Administration leaked the name of a CIA operative, Valerie Plame, immediately after her husband, Joseph Wilson, exposed the Niger-uranium connection as a fraud. How could a democratically elected officer believe he had such powers that were so obvious contrary to the Constitution? Hobbes states in Chapter 18, "Because the major part hath by consenting voices declared a sovereign, he that dissented must now consent with the rest; that is, be contented to avow all the actions he shall do." Whether a major part did consent is still a question, yet, it is obvious "48 percent of the people voted for us and the Supreme Court confirmed it, so shut-up."

The Administration has a propensity for secrecy. The people do not get to see the transparency they would want. Nor, do they see the translucency found in other administrations. The Administration was the single biggest obstacle to the 9/11 Commission, refusing to tell what it knew of the attacks. The Administration made no bones about the fact that it could make an Energy Policy that would effect us until 2025, without telling anybody how it was determined in closed door meetings, with the shades pulled. All of this seems alien to those of us raised in a democracy with open decision-making, until you consider Hobbes again. In Chapter 17 he writes, "He that carryeth this person is called sovereign, and said to have sovereign power; and every one besides, his subject." It is as if the Bush and his staff say, "We make the decisions here and you don't have to know how or why."

How could the Administration think it could get away with inventing and lying about Iraq for the purposes of going to war? The Administration has continually challenged those who argued then or now that the war is wrong. These people have been called the lovers of Saddam or "revisionist historians." In what has been seen as hubris in the Administration, it has refused to open to public debate issues surrounding war and peace. People outside the administration have seen this as undemocratic and totally illogical. Yet if we look at Hobbes again it is completely logical. In Chapter 18 of Leviathan he says, it "is annexed to the sovereignty the right of making war and peace with other nations and Commonwealths; that is to say, of judging when it is for the public good, and how great forces are to be assembled, armed, and paid for that end, and to levy money upon the subjects to defray the expenses thereof."

Why have we spent billions of dollars and thousands of lives, American and Iraqi, fighting terrorism in Iraq while those who committed the heinous actions of 9/11 are still in Afghanistan? We have been bombarded with orange alerts, unspecified "specific information," and instructions to purchase duct tape. Yet, we do not seem to be any closer to catching Osama bin Laden. We are told that we are safer, yet we still have to be afraid. The Administration appears to be playing both sides of the fence on this issue.

At first it seems odd that the President of the United States would tell us to continue to live in fear. But then – ah-ha. Hobbes is probably most famous for his reasoning behind the development and maintenance of the commonwealth. In Chapter 13 he declares, "The passions that incline men to peace are: fear of death; desire of such things as are necessary to commodious living; and a hope by their industry to obtain them." The Administration has attempted to maintain its sovereignty over the people by instilling this most basic fear. Therefore, it can peacefully spy on us, redistribute wealth to the rich and limit the populace's ability to unionize or even boycott products and industries. They tell us, "Allow us to give tax cuts to the rich or you're all gonna die!"

The Administration excuses itself in these actions with its own belief in sovereignty. George Bush has repeated declared that the government rest not in the people, nor in other parts of government, but in the office of the President. After the 2000 debacle – where the Lady of the Lake in the Supreme Court through him Excalibur – Bush called elections, "the peaceful transfer of authority." In 2005, he remodeled it "the peaceful transfer of power." To Bush power solely rests in his own office. He has shown disdain for Congress, ignoring and obstructing its investigation in all manner of things – 9/11, energy policy, etc. But, he has saved his greatest venom for the Courts, "activist judges." To Bush, Congress, the Courts and the people are meaningless. In Hobbesian style he declares, "je suis l'etat!" (but probably says, "gee, swiss le tate!")

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Updated: A study in contrast: Clinton ran a more effective war against terrorism... and republicans did everything they could to sabotage it.

I did not originally intend to offer this post in Liberal Thought, but it was so well-received on my blog that I decided to post it here, too, as a different "audience" frequents this forum.

Recently, I listened to one of those people who claim that Clinton did nothing to combat terrorism, while claiming, amazingly, that the Bush-Cheney neocon fiasco is actually a way of keeping us safe from terror. Sadly, this myth will probably persevere, because people are more inclined to remember Clinton's sex scandal than the fact that the Clinton-Gore administration ran a more effective war on terror than the Bush regime. I know all about the bad things that Clinton did. But like him or not, he was not only a far better president than Bush, he did a better job against terrorism, and not only that, but the republicans actively opposed the war on terror, especially when it stood between them and their god, the almighty dollar. Supporters of the neocon republicans should always be reminded that the republican party values the acquisition of wealth and power for a small power elite over the lives and welfare of the citizens of the United States.

Here are a couple of articles that I enjoyed on the subject; I like the way they spell things out. I pasted 'em whole on my blog, but to preserve valuable space here, I will just offer the links:

Clinton vs. Terror, Republicans vs. Clinton

Republicans Sabotaged Clinton's Anti-Terror Efforts

The bottom line is, the Clinton administration saw terrorism as a high-priority, national security issue, while the Bush administration sees terrorism as an opportunity to seize more wealth and power for themselves and their associates.

Hey, kids: added fun links!

Clinton's "Lies" vs. GOP Crimes

Eight Great Years

Never send a Bush to do a President's job

Shame On You, President Clinton!

Bush Borrowed More Than All Previous Presidents Combined

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Angry Catholics

The Da Vinci code movie seems to be making Catholics even angrier than when the book was released.

Bill Donohue, president of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, also criticizes the movie's release.

"Obviously we're going to have a problem with it but all I'm asking for is a disclaimer" from director Ron Howard and the film's producers, he says. "I'm not asking for the moon. My feeling is this: If there's a disclaimer prominently displayed at the beginning of their movie, that this is a work of fiction, that will relieve my objections."

By the way, Donohue's organization just released a book criticizing the Da Vinci code. I'm sure the Catholic League isn't just interested in making some money out of this.

I have a proposition. Let's demand that a disclaimer be printed with each bible, indicating that it is a work of fiction. That would only be fair.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

If You're Virtually Fed-Up

I found this on another blog... this site lets you create your own government. I haven't fully explored it yet, just a quick glance, but it looks kind of cool. Of course, so does smoking cigarettes, but hey, it's okay to try it once, aye? You can quit anytime, right?

The site says:
NationStates is a free nation simulation game. Build a nation and run it according to your own warped political ideals. Create a Utopian paradise for society's less fortunate or a totalitarian corporate police state. Care for your people or deliberately oppress them. Join the United Nations or remain a rogue state. It's really up to you.
Of course, it's hard to determine how to define the winner. I mean, is a super-powerful tyrannical regime that crushes its enemies considered a winner? Is a blissful little oasis of healthy, happy, altruistic humanists that is subsequently bombed into oblivion considered a loser?

It harkens back to Paradise Lost. "Better to rule in hell than serve in heaven," wrote Milton, discussing what we now describe as "quality of life" issues.

Oh well. All I can say at this point is, when the revolution comes, the lobbyists are gonna be the first ones up against the wall.

Monday, March 06, 2006

South Dakota getting the ball rolling on Roe v Wade

Governor Mike Rounds of South Dakota signed a bill into law that basically makes abortions illegal unless a women will die as a result of childbirth. Great stuff. If you are a woman living in South Dakota make sure you demand that your rapist uses protection...

Of course this will be under appeal for next 10 years, hopefully by that time South Dakota will join other developed nations in realizing the value of laws protecting a woman's right to choose.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

The fall guy

Maybe Brownie wasn't such an idiot after all...

Katrina Briefings 19 hours prior to the storm hitting the coast.

Of course the President was "working hard" from his ranch in Crawford.