Sunday, August 27, 2006

GOP Has A Major Challenge Ahead In Salvaging Bush's Legacy


"The only thing one learns from history is that nobody learns anything from history."

The GOP establishment has long done a masterful job of polishing the legacies of previous Republican presidents.

Nixon, for example, was a real challenge. After all, he was a crook who resigned the presidency in disgrace. Somehow, though, after years of painstaking rehabilitation by the GOP, Nixon was magically transformed into a "respected" elder statesman and author.

In my view, restoring Reagan's legacy was an even bigger challenge for the GOP. Many of us recall The Gipper as a clown and a shallow figure who had no business in the White House. And yet, the Republican powers-that-be went to work on Reagan's legacy and by the time they were finished, Reagan was hailed as a Great World Leader, who single-handedly won the Cold War. Inconvenient details from the Reagan White House (such as the illegal sale of arms to Iran and the bloody Central American death squads) were carefully airbrushed out of the picture.

Today, tens of millions of Americans believe Reagan "won" the Cold War. Unfortunately, it's a crock. Serious historians are still delving into the causes of the Cold War's end, a process that I suspect will go on for decades. Reagan, no doubt, played a role. But we shouldn't forget the cast of millions who really were responsible for ending the superpower rivalry.

How about the millions of people of the Eastern Bloc, who peacefully took the streets, demanding change? Or the efforts of reformer Mikhail Gorbachev, who did more than anyone to bring down the Soviet Union? Or human rights activist and Nobel Peace Prize winner Lech Walesa? Or the efforts of previous U.S. presidents, dating back to Harry S. Truman (whose Truman Doctrine policy started the U.S. policy of working to contain the Soviet Union in the first place?)

Today, the GOP legacy builders must surely realize that, in George W. Bush, they face their greatest challenge yet.

To be sure, Bush's legacy is already safe with the die-hard Kool-Aid drinkers who worship everything Bush does. To these "30-percenters," Bush is already an American hero who ranks as perhaps the greatest president since Washington. (These die-hards also get all their news and views from Rush and Fox "News." They believe that the Abu Ghraib prison abuse/torture scandal was nothing more than fraternity pranks).

The Republicans were able to salvage the legacies of Nixon and Reagan and I suspect they'll do the same with Bush. Their method for doing this will be simple: the same brute force tactics that they used to smear John Kerry. Any commentator who says anything negative about their hero will immediately be a target for sliming by the Great GOP Noise Machine. The Republicans will do whatever they can to damage the reputation of those who dare speak the truth about the Bush White House.

Serious historians who wish to do credible research on the Bush years will have to constantly look over their shoulders to make sure that the Republican propaganda juggernaut doesn't have them in its crosshairs. Researchers and historians will no doubt be reminded of what happens to those who dare challenge Bush and how their careers can be easily destroyed. Just ask Valerie Plame.

One might ask: why is all this important? After all, once Bush leaves office, the worst will be over, right? Perhaps so, but I'd like to point out the words of philosopher George Santayana: "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."

George W. Bush has already done America, and the world, incalculable damage that will take decades to repair. I believe that it is vital that we as a nation never forget or try to diminish Bush's crimes. If we allow the rabid GOP Kool-Aid drinkers to dictate how Bush's legacy is remembered, then we as a people are setting ourselves up for a future repeat of the tragedies of the Bush White House in the decades to come.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Five Things You're Not Allowed To Say About the War In Iraq


Supposedly, we Americans live in a free society and we enjoy freedom of speech. But in reality, in Bush's America, there's a great deal of information that is glaringly absent from America's public discourse. And on no topic are there more prohibitions about what can be said than the Iraq War. Which is ironic when you consider that one of Bush's stated reasons for the war was to bring democracy and "freedom" to the Middle East.

Here are five things that you're not allowed to say about the war in Iraq these days:

1. America Is Going To Be In Iraq Permanently. Despite all the debate about "when the troops should leave," the fact is, we will be in Iraq for decades to come. Otherwise, the U.S. wouldn't be constructing numerous giant permanent military bases in Iraq. This whole topic seems to be taboo for America's mainstream media. Nobody in the gutless White House press corps has yet bothered to demand answers from Bush about this during a news conference.

2. The Iraqi People Don't Want Our Troops In Their Country. I have to admit, I'm baffled by the current debate in America's mainstream media over what the consequences of withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq would be. I've heard plenty of politicians claim that chaos and civil war would result. There's only one problem: Iraq is already in a state of civil war and chaos---which in fact has been prompted by the presence of our troops. The Iraqi people know this---and they want our troops out of their nation. In fact, about half of the Iraqi people approve of insurgents' attacks on U.S. troops.

3. The Iraq People Don't Want U.S.-Style Democracy. For a country with such enormous problems as the U.S. has today, it's always amazed me how so many of our politicians are convinced that the rest of the world has a craving to live exactly the way we do. I strongly suspect that the Iraqi people simply don't want to live in a U.S.-style democracy. This is witnessed by the recent Iraqi election (in which most of the Iraqi people gave their approval to essentially converting their country to a theocracy by basing their nation's constitution on Islamic law).

4. The Iraq War Was All About The Oil. This is one taboo topic that virtually everyone in our mainstream media has been afraid to bring up. Even the left-leaning (and usually reliable) journalist Seymour Hersh has written that he believes the Iraq War wasn't about oil. I'm afraid I have to disagree. And I'd bet that the vast majority of people worldwide would agree with me (as would the people of Iraq). The fact is, if Iraq had been a resource-poor nation, we wouldn't have cared if it was ruled by a tyrant. Most Americans are simply naive about our leaders' real motivations in invading Iraq. We want to believe that the war was for more noble and lofty reasons than plain, old grubby money. But it's time that we as a people pull our heads out of the sand and realize that we've been conned all along.

5. The U.S. Never Had A Moral Leg To Stand On In Condemning Saddam. The fact is, Saddam had no WMDs and posed no threat to the U.S. Saddam also had no connection to 9/11. However, those who defend the decision to invade Iraq still have one small fig leaf to hide behind. That is: that Saddam was a bad guy. But did U.S. really have the moral authority to condemn Saddam? I don't think the rest of the world would agree that we did. After all, we're the ones who armed and funded Saddam and sold him chemical and biological weapons in the first place. In fact, the U.S. had a long and sordid history of secret dealings with Saddam, dating back to 1959 (when the CIA contracted Saddam to attempt an assassination of Iraq's prime minister). Yes, Saddam was despicable. But so was invading a sovereign nation to steal its oil.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Which Is A Better Source Of News: The Mainstream Media Or The Blogosphere?


Which is a better source of news these days: the mainstream media or the blogosphere? Many people might say the MSM is a better, more accurate source of information. After all, they would argue, anyone can set up a blog.

By contrast, the people who work in the MSM have journalism degrees and highly specialized skills. At first glance, this appears to be a big plus for the MSM. However, it's important to note that the content that goes into the MSM has to be first approved by the giant, profit-hungry multinational corporations that own the MSM.

Although technically censorship is supposed to not exist in the U.S., in reality, the MSM has long been guilty of self-censorship. If you don't believe me, then click over to Project Censored to see a roundup of major, important stories that aren't reported by the MSM.

If you want the unvarnished truth these days, the blogosphere is the place to go. You may have to wade through a great deal of junk to find the nuggets of truth. But at least the truth exists in the blogosphere---that's more than can be said about the MSM on a lot of important issues facing America.

Don't believe me? Let's take a look at a number of major stories and see how they were presented by the MSM and the blogosphere:

1. Story: What really happened during the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001?

Mainstream media: The story of 9/11 as told to the American people by the U.S. government is the whole story and there's nothing else to report. Anyone who believes otherwise is a tin-foil hat fringe conspiracist.

The blogosphere: The U.S. government's account of 9/11 as told to the American people is a pack of lies and there has been a cover-up to conceal the truth.

2. Story: The Downing Street Memo

Mainstream media: The Downing Street What?

The blogosphere: The Downing Street Memo exposes the long-suppressed truth about how the Iraq War began. It's a blockbuster story that proves that U.S. intelligence on Iraq before the war was deliberately falsified, rather than merely mistaken.

3. Story: The 2004 election, in which George W. Bush was "re-elected" by defeating John Kerry

Mainstream media: It was a ordinary, honest election with no major irregularities or problems. Anyone who believes otherwise is a tin-foil hat fringe conspiracist.

The blogosphere: The 2004 election was riddled with problems, including voter suppression, purges of voter lists, serious problems with the accuracy of voting machines, etc. The evidence of massive election fraud cannot be ignored and is evidenced by the exit polls that projected that Kerry won by 3 million votes.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Tough Talk Aside, How Serious Are Republicans About Fighting Terrorism?


The Great Right-Wing Propaganda Machine has kicked into high gear in the aftermath of Joe Lieberman's loss to Ned Lamont. Fox News, Limbaugh, Hannity, and their ilk would have us believe that Lamont's victory in the primary Tuesday is nothing short of a victory for Al-Qaeda.

You gotta hand it to the Republicans: they know how to talk a good talk when it comes to terrorism. But when it comes to actually fighting terrorism, they're AWOL.

The fact is almost five years after 9/11, America remains startlingly vulnerable to another major terror attack. Consider:

1. Currently, less than 5 percent of the cargo that enters the U.S. is being physically inspected these days. Last year, two teams of government investigators, using fake documents, were able to enter the country with enough radioactive sources to make two dirty bombs. (If only Bush would devote more attention to this crisis than to preventing our nation's seniors from importing affordable medications from Canada).

2. The nation's hazardous chemical plants (an obvious target if there ever was one) remain unsecured, despite the fact that a terror attack on these facilities could lead to tens of thousands of deaths.

3. Amazingly, the vast majority of airliner passengers' carry-on bags are still not being screened for explosives.

4. Air marshals remain absent from the majority of flights. Indeed, the Federal Air Marshals Service is riddled with problems these days, according to recent reports.

Is it possible that for all his tough talk, Bush doesn't take fighting terrorism seriously? You bet.

Some of us have suspected this is the case since at least Aug. 6, 2001. That day, as you may recall, is the day that Bush was handed a classified President's Daily Brief (PDB) that was titled, "Bin Laden determined to strike in U.S." Bush, on a month-long vacation at the time, declined to take any action and went fishing later that same day.

If that didn't convince you that Bush is lax on fighting terrorism, then recall how after 9/11, Bush inexplicably gave Bin Laden a two-month head start in Afghanistan before he sent the military to pursue him. No wonder Bin Laden roams free to this day.

But don't take my word for it that Bush is a failure on fighting terrorism. Ask the former Sept. 11 Commission (appointed by Bush, no less) which stated in a December report that the U.S. is not adequately protected from another terrorist attack. The former commission (which was chaired by Republican Thomas Kean) issued a report charged the Bush White House with failing to protect the country against another terrorist attack.

It's true, there have been some changes for securing America since 9/11. But most of these changes have been little more than window dressing, (such as the high-profile, but ultimately meaningless "Color Coded" alerts).

Real, substantive changes in America's terror-fighting capabilities are deemed "too expensive" by the White House. This, incidentally is the reason given for why air marshals aren't present on all flights these days. (I wonder, though, how many air marshals we could hire for the price of what we spend in a typical month embroiled in a civil war in Iraq, a nation that had nothing to do with 9/11).

If you follow the money (or the oil), you can invariably find out where Bush's real priorities are these days. And it doesn't have a damn thing to do with fighting terrorism.

Recall, how early on in the U.S. occupation of Iraq, America's military raced to secure the Oil Ministry, while leaving Iraq's massive arms depots untouched across the country. Note also that munitions from those same arms depots have been used by the insurgency since then to kill thousands of our soldiers, as well as Iraqi civilians.

Iraq is a titantic catastrophe that has seriously distracted America during a crucial time and has degraded our ability to fight an effective war on terrorism. Despite this, the GOP is brazenly working to transform the Iraq fiasco into a positive asset for the upcoming elections. If the Democrats allow the GOP to get away with this astonishing propaganda, they deserve to lose in November.

Monday, August 07, 2006

American Left Should Look To Mexico For Lessons On Fighting A Stolen Election


Over the past six years, many Democrats in America have wondered why Al Gore didn't fight harder to claim the presidency that was rightfully awarded to him by the American people in 2000. We also wondered the same thing about John Kerry in 2004, after exit polls showed that he handily won the election.

What's up with Democrats and their strange reluctance to contest elections that are obviously stolen?

In the aftermath of stolen elections in 2000 and 2004, we needed the Democrats to take off the gloves and fight tooth and claw to claim what rightfully belonged to them (and to us, the American voters). Instead, the Democrats turned strangely silent and meekly accepted the GOP election theft.

But it wasn't just Gore and Kerry who lost. It was the American people---and, indeed, the entire world. And as a result, we've had to endure six hellish years of Bush/Cheney---the most evil, corrupt administration in U.S. history.

I really think the Democrats need to tear up their rulebook and throw it into the trash. They need to fire all their slick, highly-paid consultants and listen to the street for a change. They need to be bold. They need to embrace risky positions that haven't been approved by PR consultants and focus groups.

I mean, what have they got to lose? After all, for Democrats these days, there is absolutely no direction to go but up. The GOP controls every single lever of power in this country, as well as the media.

It's clear that the GOP will try to steal the upcoming November elections. I mean, what's going to stop them? The media? (Don't make me laugh). The Republicans got away with election theft in 2000 and 2004 and they know full well that they can get away with it again.

I think the Democrats should already be preparing for this possibility. And for lessons on how to deal with election theft, the Dems ought to be looking at their less-timid brethren south of the border.

You really have to admire a fighter like Mexican leftist candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador. He's utterly unafraid to stand up for the truth and for what's right. And he's determined to not let the Mexican right-wing establishment steal another election.

The American Left ought to be studying and taking notes from the current Mexican election standoff. I don't know if Obrador will prevail. But it's clear that he knows that the aftermath of a disputed election is no time to be polite and timid.

Here's a few lessons I think the Democrats can learn from Mexico:

1. If any irregularities emerge early in an election, move quickly and decisively. Don't wait around for an official "blue ribbon" panel to conduct an election investigation years later, when your opponent is settled comfortably in office.

2. Strongly and forcefully proclaim that the election was stolen. Loudly announce that you don't recognize the "official" results. Gore could have learned a lesson from Obrador in this regard. Recall how in 2000, Gore quietly sat around, waiting for a decision while Bush immediately began acting for the world's media as though he were already the president.

3. Enlist the help of the people. Obrador has rallied millions in the Mexican capital. His loud and noisy weekly demonstrations are sending a clear message that the people won't stand for another election fraud. Democrats here should take a page from this approach. God knows, there are millions of us here in America who are fed up with election theft and are ready to mobilize in the streets, should the November election be stolen.

A message to all Democrats running for office in November: if you're cheated out of electoral victory, just tell us where to line up. We, the American people, are ready to take to the streets and demand what's rightfully ours.