Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Mr. President,

In the past I have written you usually complaining about this catastrophe you mismanaged or that war you lied to get us into and then mismanaged that as well. Well I know that a constant complainer is annoying. They get tuned out so to speak. Seeing how I have no desire to get tuned out I have to you with a compromise. It’s a solution to both our problems. I hope you like it. OK, so enough of the dilly-dallying here is my solution for us both. Now I can’t take total credit for this. Howard Zinn wrote a fine article that has helped inspire this idea. Let me help in a nation wide effort to get you impeached. Don’t worry about your friend and Vice-President I will help get Dick Cheney impeached as well.

You see President Bush this would be the best of both worlds. The United States would free herself from a very unpopular and incompetent president. The USA could get to start anew with a new leader could lead us out of the quagmire you’ve taken us into. Also by impeaching you the power of the Congress and the people would be reaffirmed that would strengthen many an Americans faith in our precious and fragile democracy. HOORAY FOR OUR TEAM! By our team I mean the entire planet.

What’s in it for you? I’m glad you asked. You would get to blame someone else for your failure. After you get the boot you could always look back and think that if those nasty Senators and Congressmen had only allowed you to finish your term then you would have succeeded. Your mom and you can just sit around pissing and moaning about how the secular progressives did you in. You can sit around blaming Hollywood. You can blame Al Franken or Molly Ivins (God rest her soul). You can blame me for all I care. I have given you a scapegoat to blame for your failed presidency. I say seize the opportunity and get out of the White House.

You see President Bush your presidency is not going well. Your approval ratings are abysmal. Your plan to send more than 20,000 additional troops in Iraq has met with stern disapproval from both Congress and the people. You ignored the hurricane-ravaged Gulf Coast in your State of the Union address, which angered more than a few people. You keep saber rattling with Iran though we do not have the ground forces to fight Iran. So you see President Bush I’m just trying to ease your burden. Which I would assume you would like. Given that you have spent so much time in Crawford, TX, at Camp David and at your parents' compound in Kennebunkport, Maine I would assume you don’t enjoy being burdened.

But there’s something else I need to mention. Today it came to liAnd you do want what's best for America. Don't you?ght that hand-written notes from Dick Cheney imply that you knew about the whole Joseph and Valerie Wilson affair. You knew what was happening when Valerie Wilson was exposed as a CIA agent, even though she was a covert agent. You knew about the attempt to discredit Joseph Wilson. If you sir knew that an undercover CIA agent was being exposed to protect your own political motives. Then you have violated the very laws, which you are sworn to uphold and have no business as the President of the United States of America.

So please accept my little compromise. I really do think it works out best for all involved parties. And you do want what's best for America. Don't you?

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Once again I packed myself up and took a bus ride to Washington DC for a rally. It was another rally calling for an end to the war in Iraq. Maybe you’ve seen the media reports about the “tens of thousands” who protested or maybe that Jane Fonda spoke at it, more on both of these things later.

First off Jim, a friend and local activist, and myself drove up to Toledo, OH to catch the bus to DC and mill about at the rally they were having. The rally itself was a bit uneven. I was intrigued by one speaker’s call for Congress to use the War Powers Act to bring our troops home, also the performance by a Black Muslim youth group was impressive. So we gathered and bordered the busses an hour late and away we went. The ride there was uneventful until we arrived at an understaffed restaurant and had to go the convenience store next to acquire breakfast. What I bought was identified as a breakfast burrito. Given that there was a tortilla involved I will assume it was a burrito but I cannot positively assert that it was food though. The next few hours were spent in constant prayer that my colon wouldn’t explode.

We get to DC and I gained several new fans simply because I understand how the DC Metro works. Apparently my bus was full of rally rookies or they all had short memories, because many people followed me as we made our way to the National Mall. The DC Metro system is a fine one indeed. It’s easy to follow if you do your research and know where you need to be. Which apparently lots of people didn’t but that’s ok, that’s why obsessive people like me are there.

So I arrive at the Mall at about 10:15 AM for the 11 AM rally and started hiking towards the east end of the Mall. When I got to the rally’s location I was a bit dumbstruck as there were only about 3000 people there. The rally got awfully unimpressive very quickly. But as good fortune would have it we just happened to get there early. As the day went along the crowd grew rapidly. It’s always tough to estimate a crowd you’re standing in. But the media’s “tens of thousands” seems a bit low. I would say 250,000 wouldn’t be an unreasonable estimate. But I have not seen any aerial crowd shots so it’s hard to be certain. Though I will say from the stage in front of 3rd Street to 4th Street it was packed. From 4th Street back to 7th Street was heavily populated but not as tightly packed as from 3rd to 4th Street.

The speakers were a generally good bunch at least the ones I heard. I particularly enjoyed Rabbi Lerner and Rep. Dennis Kucinich. Now I will admit that I did not hear all the speakers. About halfway through the rally my friends and I decided to wander about the rally and check out the tables and larger protest exhibits. So I did not hear a word Jane Fonda had to say. Of course Jane Fonda is infamous for her perceived sympathy for Communist regime of North Vietnam. I won’t get into that mess but Fonda did draw attention away from the other speakers and in some ways the entire rally and that’s a shame.

As always the rally crowd was wonderfully diverse and couldn’t have been nicer. It didn’t matter how tightly packed in you happened to be the people were always cordial and understanding. This was truly a peaceful gathering and the people were as inspiring as any speaker there. It’s the people I meet no matter how briefly that draw me to these rallies more than anything else.

So the time came for us to board the bus bound for Toledo. So again we returned to the same restaurant we attempted to get breakfast at expect this time they were adequately staffed and I got to sit down to my first real meal in over a day. Though the food was honestly mediocre I couldn’t have been more pleased to eat an actual meal unless it was served to me on Diora Baird’s naked body.

I would be remiss not to thank my new friends Pam, Jack and Steve for making the bus ride more tolerable thanks to their pleasant and engaging conversation. I would also be remiss to not mention that Moon Beam (the female) and Sun Ray (the male), whose names I have changed, should learn to, as that greatest of modern philosophers The Rock has taught us, know their roles and shut their mouths. When the most memorable line from an overheard conversation is, and I am not making this up, “I’ve always had a good relationship with squirrels”. The conversation isn’t going so well. I should also mention that they consider the study of science to be critical to the understanding of the supernatural and paranormal. Oddly enough I’m an admirer of many a scientist and moderately well versed in science and I have yet to meet a good scientist who gives any regard to the supernatural or the paranormal. Towards the end of the journey they wondered aloud if other people resented them having this conversation because other people, as they put it, didn’t think as deeply as them. No it’s that the other people don’t think as deeply as you it’s that they don’t get as stoned as you. It’s not a matter of education or philosophy. It’s a matter of chemical intake. Now you can believe anything you want but stoner philosophy is best reserved for those quiet personal moments shared with a few friends over your favorite bong not sitting on a bus behind an easily irritated German-Irish skeptic.

Anyway enough of my pissing and bitching, though I’m sure you’re used to it by now. If you have never been to large rally like this I encourage you to go. It’s energizing and helps get you through those days when you feel like the journey is straight uphill.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

I don’t why I do it to myself. I really don’t. I’m not a political junkie. I’m not blindly loyal to either of the two major parties. But I still sit through things like tonight’s State of the Union Address. Hell, I even took notes so I could remember the especially pathetic bits. You’d think I like stuff like this. You’d swear I enjoy it. I really don’t. It’s annoying and frustrating. Yet I think it’s my duty to sit through the barrage of lies, half-truths and spin that constitutes a political speech anymore. This president is particularly awful at it. He seemingly lives in a world only he can see.

First off President Bush’s call for bipartisanship was almost funny. When did the Republicans reach out to the Democrats during Bush’s first six years in office? When while Republicans held the majority in both the House and the Senate did they reach out to work together? The short answer is they didn’t. The Republicans operated both the House and the Senate as if the majority gave them the right act like thugs. Now that power has shifted they want to play all nice and have everybody hold hands and get along. It’s almost laughable really.

I’m not saying that there shouldn’t be cooperation, far from it. Our government works best when the opinions are the most diverse and people actually listen and debate and compromise. The false dichotomy we’ve been under of the last few years of the donkey and the elephant hasn’t really done a whole lot of good. We need cooperation and diversity. But to hear a President that has been downright bullheaded at times ask for it was somewhat pitiful really.

Bush claimed he wants to eliminate the federal deficit. Never mind he took office with a budget surplus and squandered it like a teenager with a pocket full of hundred dollar bills at the mall. If Bush was serious about not having a deficit he would have maintained course with the previous administration’s policies and kept us in decent fiscal shape. As is with his tax cuts for the wealthy and his horrid policy of borrowing foreign money. He has borrowed more foreign money than all of the previous 42 presidents combined. He has dug us into a deep hole. Now in an effort to cover his ass he’s going to act like he cares. I’m not buying in to it.

Related to his wanting to lower the deficit, Bush mentioned earmarks. Earmarks are little pet spending projects that politicians slip into bills to benefit themselves and their supporters. Now I could lash out at Bush about his saving 18 billion dollars by eliminating earmarks when we spending about 8 billion a month in Iraq. But something else struck me. Bush talked about how these earmarks aren’t voted on and not really signed by him into law. Well President Bush is making himself out to be a raging hypocrite. Bush has used signing statements to do things like give the federal government the power to open mail without a warrant. Of course, warrants are easy but he can’t be bothered with that. Bush is writing laws that are never voted on by Congress. He is just bypassing that pesky Congress and gets laws into effect that he feels are necessary. Now if given the choice between some politicians getting some pork into a bill and a president who might be subverting the Constitution he is sworn to uphold. I’ll take the pork. Not that I support wasteful and corrupt spending. That’s got to stop as well. But Bush’s actions are more serious than the congressmen’s actions.

Bush used the tired old idea of taking the fight to the terrorists to keep us safe. Of course he always seems to forget that after 9/11 terrorists successfully attacked both Spain and Great Britain. So much for fighting them over there so we don’t have to fight them here huh? The daily attacks on our troops in Iraq probably don’t count either.

On a related note Bush said and I quote. “Our success in this war is often measured by the things that did not happen. We cannot know the full extent of the attacks that we and our allies have prevented…” Are we now basing our success and failure on things that haven’t happened and they we can’t even prove would have happened anyway? So we are just to assume that had we never fought this awful war in Iraq that we would be under perpetual siege by terrorists in this country? This is the most awful kind of fear mongering imaginable. He’s not even twisting facts anymore. He’s trying to convince us of things that have never even happened to begin with. Of course he threw out a few examples but most of those have met with some pretty harsh scrutiny and have been shown to not be as severe as initially reported. In the attack of Los Angeles that was stopped Bush didn’t even get the named the name of building right when it happened. He called the Liberty Tower when in fact it was the Library Tower. But the facts aren’t important it’s the bad stuff that might have happened that we might have stopped is what you need to worry yourself about.

He also said and again I quote, “We have a diplomatic strategy that is rallying the world to join in the fight against extremism.” We do? What is it? So far we have refused to talk to Syria or Iran. We strong-armed UN inspectors out of Iraq so we could bomb them back to the Stone Age. After having the world’s support and sympathy in the aftermath of 9/11 we’ve squandered it by invading Iraq. So what is this strategy to rally the world? I haven’t seen us effectively use diplomacy yet. So I’m not getting my hopes up that we will start using it in the future.

Bush also said this, “To prevail, we must remove the conditions that inspire blind hatred, and drove 19 men to get onto airplanes and to come and kill us. What every terrorist fears most is human freedom ... Free people are not drawn to violent and malignant ideologies -- and most will choose a better way when they're given a chance.” This is utter nonsense. If terrorism flourishes it flourishes most when there is freedom. It is the irony of freedom that you have to be willing to sacrifice the comfort of being absolutely watched over and protected to have freedom. Was Timothy McVeigh not part of a free nation? How about the Unabomber? The only way to eliminate terrorism and violent extremism is with despotism. Since nobody other than the despot wants that we have to accept that people will do evil and prepare for it and do our best to prevent it. Freedom is no cure for terrorism.

If you noticed I didn’t go after specific policies mentioned as much as I did this president’s mistakes in logic and his bending of the truth. Now granted politicians are notorious for bending the truth. Spin doctoring in an art form inside the Beltway. But this president seems to be so hypocritical and distant from reality that he appears to be unfit for his duties as president. I have called for him to resign in the past and my opinion remains unchanged. This president needs to either understand that the presidency is not like being a CEO. It is not top down management where what you say goes and if anybody gives you any lip you can fire them. The presidency is a diplomatic position where you must listen and learn and weigh all the options and make compromises. This president still doesn’t get it. He doesn’t understand that his leadership matters. When he played guitar and ate cake with John McCain while New Orleans was devastated in the wake of Hurricane Katrina the nation was aghast at his seeming indifference. He just doesn’t get it.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

When the midterm election results were final I wondered how Bush would deal with a Democratic Congress. This was a President who spent six years with basically a rubber stamp Congress. Now he would face opposition. I figured either he would learn to tolerate diplomacy and compromise or he would go all bullheaded and fight Congress tooth and nail. So far the latter has proven true.

Today it was reported that Bush doesn’t seem to have much concern for the opposition of Congress to his plan to add over 20,000 additional soldiers to the forces in Iraq. He said and I quote, "I fully understand they could try to stop me from doing it. But I've made my decision. And we're going forward". Bush has reduced himself to a spoiled child sitting in the corner and throwing a fit and getting his way. He seems to care not for the advice of experts or the concerns of Congress or even the will of the American people. He is bound and determined to win this war. Victory seems to be his only goal. Even though he recently said victory will not look like it did in previous wars. Even though back in May of 2003 when he put on his precious little flight suit and landed in a jet plane on the deck of an aircraft carrier he sure did his damnedest to make it look like an old time victory celebration. Even though we have little idea what victory really is an Iraq because our goals have shifted more than the desert sands. First it was WMD, and then it was democracy in Iraq, now it seems to be stability in Iraq. Victory is impossible to achieve when your standards of victory keep changing.

Even Cheney has entered the fray on this one railing again war fought by committee. Given how this war has been fought so far, by a small cadre of neo-conservatives who were given carte blanche to do as they pleased with our foreign policy and military, I would suspect a diversity of opinion might be beneficial to the war in Iraq. Maybe listening to multiple experts and formulating your ideas on those experts opinion might move us ever closer to peace in Iraq. But this administration was given that opportunity and they ignored the input of experts and forged ahead with an unpopular, and by all accounts unsound, plan to increase troop levels in Iraq.

Now there is opposition in Congress that might slow their aggression. Rep. Jack Murtha has said that he would like to cut the funds and shut down the prison at Guantanamo Bay Cuba. He also wants to hold hearings to prevent troop escalation in Iraq. If Murtha is successful it will most likely not come without a long arduous struggle. Bush seems to believe himself a war president with unlimited powers to do as he sees fit to protect the nation. He will not relent easily. Murtha has to do this. So far the Bush administration has gone on unchecked by Congress. He has used signing statements to alter the law. He has spent money at a rate that could damage our economy for generations. He needs to be opposed. The point of having a system of checks and balances is that no branch of government operates unchecked. Bush has operated without the oversights outlined in our Constitution for far too long. Should he fail to be able to work with a Congress not of his own party then he is a failure as a President. Both Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton has Congresses that were controlled by the opposition party for at least part of their times as President. Now both are icons of the respective parties. Bush has to be able to do the same. Given his most recent behavior I’m not sure that he can.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Every once in a blue moon I get down in the mouth. I look at our crooked world and begin to despair. Then as it always seems to happen inspiration strikes. As usual it originates from one of my significant betters, in this instance, Mark Twain. The following is from the notes for a posthumous book “Glances at History”. Time has marched on but sadly little has changed. I could write more but why should you read my feeble attempts at writing when you can read Twain’s wondrous prose? I hope you like it as much as I do.

I pray you to pause and consider. Against our traditions we are now entering upon an unjust and trivial war, a war against a helpless people, and for a base object--robbery. At first our citizens spoke out against this thing, by an impulse natural to their training. Today they have turned, and their voice is the other way. What caused the change? Merely a politician's trick--a high-sounding phrase, a blood-stirring phrase which turned their uncritical heads: Our Country, right or wrong! An empty phrase, a silly phrase. It was shouted by every newspaper, it was thundered from the pulpit, the Superintendent of Public Instruction placarded it in every schoolhouse in the land, the War Department inscribed it upon the flag. And every man who failed to shout it or who was silent, was proclaimed a traitor--none but those others were patriots. To be a patriot, one had to say, and keep on saying, "Our Country, right or wrong," and urge on the little war. Have you not perceived that that phrase is an insult to the nation?

For in a republic, who is "the Country"? Is it the Government which is for the moment in the saddle? Why, the Government is merely a servant--merely a temporary servant; it cannot be its prerogative to determine what is right and what is wrong, and decide who is a patriot and who isn't. Its function is to obey orders, not originate them. Who, then, is "the Country"? Is it the newspaper? is it the pulpit? is it the school superintendent? Why, these are mere parts of the country, not the whole of it; they have not command, they have only their little share in the command. They are but one in the thousand; it is in the thousand that command is lodged; they must determine what is right and what is wrong; they must decide who is a patriot and who isn't.

Who are the thousand--that is to say, who are "the Country"? In a monarchy, the king and his family are the country; in a republic it is the common voice of the people. Each of you, for himself, by himself and on his own responsibility, must speak. And it is a solemn and weighty responsibility, and not lightly to be flung aside at the bullying of pulpit, press, government, or the empty catch-phrases of politicians. Each must for himself alone decide what is right and what is wrong, and which course is patriotic and which isn't. You cannot shirk this and be a man. To decide it against your convictions is to be an unqualified and inexcusable traitor, both to yourself and to your country, let men label you as they may. If you alone of all the nation shall decide one way, and that way be the right way according to your convictions of the right, you have done your duty by yourself and by your country--hold up your head! You have nothing to be ashamed of.

Only when a republic's life is in danger should a man uphold his government when it is in the wrong. There is no other time.

This Republic's life is not in peril. The nation has sold its honor for a phrase. It has swung itself loose from its safe anchorage and is drifting, its helm is in pirate hands. The stupid phrase needed help, and it got another one: "Even if the war be wrong we are in it and must fight it out: we cannot retire from it without dishonor." Why, not even a burglar could have said it better. We cannot withdraw from this sordid raid because to grant peace to those little people on their terms--independence--would dishonor us. You have flung away Adam's phrase--you should take it up and examine it again. He said, "An inglorious peace is better than a dishonorable war."

You have planted a seed, and it will grow.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Mr. President,

Tonight you gave a speech about your plan for Iraq. You want to send in more than 20,000 additional US troops. You want them to help the Iraqis stabilize their own country. You also threatened Syria and Iran for helping terrorists. You also spoke of sacrifice. Mr. President I have a question for you. Have you lost your mind?

First early in your speech you talked of all the consulting you did and how you apparently reached this conclusion. Even though almost no one supports the idea of more troops, not the American people, not military leaders, not the Baker Commission or even the troops on the ground in Iraq. Where did this idea come from? If it is so clearly opposed on so many levels by so many people with extensive knowledge why are you going forward with it? What will this accomplish when so many are saying a mere 20,000 is not enough? When General Shinseki suggested that over 300,000 troops were necessary to win in Iraq he was fired. 20,000 more troops just mean less responsibility for Iraqi security forces and more targets for insurgents.

Why are you saber rattling at Iran and Syria? We barely have the military forces to deal with Iraq. Why are carrier groups sitting in the Persian Gulf poised to disrupt Iran’s support of terrorist in Iraq? You already started one war you weren’t prepared for why start more? Do you want World War 3? The Baker Commission advised engaging them in dialogue not threatening them with cruise missiles and smart bombs. Do you even listen to what people advise you to do or do you just sit there with your mind made up pretending to listen? Or are you like some incompetent parent who thinks the only thing he needs to make his kids listen is a belt to beat them with?

You spoke of sacrifice. What precisely are you going to sacrifice? Will you enlist your daughters? Will you miss a day of vacation? Will you attend a funeral for a fallen soldier? What exactly is your sacrifice Mr. President? What exactly are you giving, other than income to the war profiteers and grief to the families of the fallen and injured?

One more thing Mr. President, you dared bring up 9/11 again. Even though 9/11 and Iraq are not connected. Do you still stand there with the bullhorn and the fireman leading this nation? Have you never moved on from that moment when America believed in you and looked to you to lead it? Times have changed sir. You need to as well. The fog of fear that was the aftermath of 9/11 has lifted and people are questioning you. You need to learn to give good answers.

You seem desperate Mr. President. You seem desperate to win this war. You seem like an addict begging for one more drink or one more hit. Just 20,000 more troops and this will all get better will it? Increasing the troop levels by this relatively small amount will solve nothing. We have lost Mr. President. Your unholy crusade has failed. We have done nothing but allow terrorism to reestablish itself in Afghanistan and allowed it a new breeding ground in Iraq. We have done little to make our own country truly safer. You need to admit failure in Iraq and move on or you need to resign and let someone else do it. This war has cost too much. We need to start moving on and healing from it.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

George W Bush signed H.R. 6407, The Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act, into law on December 20, 2006. He however did not merely sign the bill. He also issued a signing statement to it. The gist of it being that the president reserves the power to open mail without a warrant if he feels it necessary for “foreign intelligence collection” or to “protect human life”. Never mind that getting a warrant to search suspicious mail is easy or that there is legal precedent to open mail without a warrant when it thought to contain explosives or poisons.

In light of previous events, such as the suspension of habeas corpus or the wire-tapping without a warrant it is becoming increasingly obvious that this President has no concern for the law. Which if you paid attention in high school civics class is the president’s main function in our government. The president is to enforce the law. He is not to add statements to legislation to add powers to his office that are clearly unnecessary. He is not to violate the Constitution of the United States of America. He is not to operate separate from the other branches of government. He is to enforce the law. The laws established by our forefathers to protect the citizens from the government.

Ever since George W Bush started this war on terror. He has sought to expand the powers of the office of president. He has sought to dwindle away the freedoms that he claims the terrorists hate and is the reason they attacked us. He claims that he needs these powers to fight this war. In reality, with FISA courts getting warrants is easy as can be and there is no reason to operate without one. There is no reason to repeal the freedoms granted by the document he is sworn to uphold. He swore to uphold the Constitution on a Bible, a book he claims to hold dear, and does he want to disgrace his God as well as country?

Early on in his presidency George W Bush quipped “If this were a dictatorship, it would be a heck of a lot easier, just so long as I'm the dictator.” A statement that previously could almost be disregarded as a glib is now almost prophetic. Maybe Bush is just lazy and he’s just out to make his job as easy as possible. Maybe he’s not smart enough to realize the damage he’s doing to the country he is sworn to protect. Maybe he’s more sinister than we are giving him credit for. Maybe he’s worse than Nixon. Maybe he seeks to shape the country in his own image without regard to the laws and life, liberty and happiness of the people.

I have a sneaking suspicion on what is wrong here. This president is known to ignore dissenting advice. He surrounds himself with people who prop up his opinions. He has no need for challenges or debate, just like a bad CEO of an oil company or lousy owner of a baseball team. George W Bush like some spoiled child in a heated tantrum is bound and determined to prove himself correct and be a winner. He cares not for what is right only what he sees as benefiting him. He is a small man in a big job. If he is unable to execute the office then he needs to resign and let someone who can do the job. I’m not sure how much longer the United States of America can afford to have him as president.