Thursday, January 26, 2006

The Public Needs To Get The True Message On Domestic Spying

(note: Just back from vacation....sorry for the gap between posts)

It is a bit surreal that George W. Bush has been able to parlay his domestic spying program into a perceived political plus. However, given the total disorganization by the Democratic party and the apathy of the media, maybe this should not be all that surprising.

The plan is to show that Democrats are "soft on terrorism." It has worked in the past primarily because the Dems always seem to be taking a 're-active' rather than a 'pro-active' position.

However, the real issue here is why, given that even retroactive court warrants would have been easy to obtain, did Bush circumvent the process?

Well, for one, maybe such a broad, far-reaching program might have had problems getting a green light, but for me, ths issue is much simpler.

In my opinion, the domestic surveillance program is not merely set in motion to go after Al Qaeda operatives, it is to keep watch on political enemies. And, because there is no accountability, what is to stop Bush from doing just that?

One would think that that would be the central issue, one that would resonate with most Americans.

Now can somebody please tell me why the Democrats are not bringing this up?

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Diana DeGar-'doh'

I just had to pass this on....

In one of the most bizarre, self-serving PR gestures ever, former "American Idol" runner-up Diana DeGarmo managed to get free press on AP today. As the article seems to single out "her manager and mother, Brenda DeGarmo," who is also mentioned at the start of the article, it was easy to spot the source of the publicity.

The story was ostensibly to pat DeGarmo on the back for performing for the troops overseas. So why were we treated to the following DeGarmo cluelessness, where she states that she "learned that there's more to this war than sending troops overseas. They're missing so much and risking their lives."

More to this war than sending troops overseas? Isn't that deep?

But it gets topped by this tidbit mom made sure the reporter tossed in:

"She said one of the strangest moments on the trip was performing for dozens of shivering troops at Camp Victory in Baghdad, with helicopters flying overhead and people shouting. She also spent the night in one of Saddam Hussein's former palaces."

DeGarmo is bragging that she slept in one of Hussein's former palaces? That remark was for the edification of who, exactly? The troops? The Iraqis? Mom?

I suppose anybody who was subjected to the torture of seeing DeGarmo make it past the more talented LaToya London and Jennifer Hudson in AI Season 3 should catch the irony of this performer being a representative for the torture administration, but please Diana and your best not to open your mouths, when at all possible.

I think I know why the people were shouting!

A Father Speaks Out

It would seem that the voices that are most entitled to speak out on our involvement in Iraq are those that belong to the troops who serve, as well as the families of those troops. When a family has lost a loved one, it is all the more reason to listen when they have something to say.

While Cindy Sheehan, the mother of a fallen soldier, should be credited with jump-starting the anti-war movement with her protests, she sadly has become too shrill to be effective. I am not sure if this is always what happens when people suddenly find themselves in positions of influence or power, but in Cindy's case, her messaqe became so combative that she essentially was preaching only to the converted.

I am as disgusted with the man in the White House as anybody, but did Sheehan really think that calling him a murderer would get her an audience with him? On what planet?

What has been sorely needed is a voice from other family members of deceased soldiers to speak out. Today, one voice rose up and delivered a powerful blow to the administration.

The man is Paul E. Schroeder, who lost his son Lance Cpl. Edward "Augie" Schroeder.

In a feature Op-Ed in the Washington Post, this is part of what Schroeder had to say:

"I am outraged at what I see as the cause of his death. For nearly three years, the Bush administration has pursued a policy that makes our troops sitting ducks. While Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that our policy is to 'clear, hold and build' Iraqi towns, there aren't enough troops to do that.

"In our last conversation, Augie complained that the cost in lives to clear insurgents was 'less and less worth it,' because Marines have to keep coming back to clear the same places. Marine commanders in the field say the same thing. Without sufficient troops, they can't hold the towns. Augie was killed on his fifth mission to clear Haditha."

If any message speaks to the pointlessness and mismanagement of the Iraqi war effort by the Bush Administration this one does. Mr. Schroeder sums up his arguments very well, speaking of how he views the loss of his son:

"Though it hurts, I believe that his death -- and that of the other Americans who have died in Iraq -- was a waste. They were wasted in a belief that democracy would grow simply by removing a dictator -- a careless misunderstanding of what democracy requires. They were wasted by not sending enough troops to do the job needed in the resulting occupation -- a careless disregard for professional military counsel.

"But their deaths will not be in vain if Americans stop hiding behind flag-draped hero masks and stop whispering their opposition to this war. Until then, the lives of other sons, daughters, husbands, wives, fathers and mothers may be wasted as well.

"This is very painful to acknowledge, and I have to live with it. So does President Bush."

Will Mr. Bush be bothered by this? Will he "live with it?" I highly doubt it. Bush never had to fight on a battlefield, or to answer where he was when he was allegedly on duty with the National Guard. He is removed from what it could possibly mean to lose one's life in combat. He is way removed from the pain of a father who has lost a son in the morass that is Iraq.

As for George the parent, something tells me that Jenna and Barbara will not be signing up to enlist anytime soon.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Ted Koppel's Lie

Today, there was a re-broadcast of the "Meet The Press" broadcast from Christmas Day, 2005. Tim Russert's guests were Tom Brokaw and Ted Koppel.

At one point, Koppel made the following assertion that blew me away.

From the transcript:

"MR. KOPPEL: I mean, the only difference between the Clinton administration and the Bush administration was 9/11.

"MR. BROKAW: Right.

"MR. KOPPEL: If 9/11 had happened on Bill Clinton's watch, he would have gone into Iraq.

"MR. BROKAW: Yeah. Yeah."

How on earth did that assertion go unchallenged??? It is one thing to suggest that we would have gone into Afghanistan, but to say Clinton would have invaded Iraq, with all we now know about the Bush Administration's motivations for doing so, is indefensible. Where is the supportive proof on that blatant lie?

Koppel also said this:

"MR. KOPPEL: What's intriguing to me, Tim, is we're still talking about the war as though it were in a vacuum, and we're still talking about victory and what is to be achieved as though it were in a vacuum. And the one thing that we are not talking about, because it somehow seems indelicate or unpolitic or even inappropriate, is the simple fact of the matter that, while we did not go to war because of Iraq's oil, we did, in fact, go to war because it is absolutely essential to the national interest, not only of this country but also of the Europeans and of the Japanese, that the Persian Gulf remains stable. We have--when I say "we" I mean U.S. administrations going back to the Eisenhower administration--have been intervening in the Persian Gulf in one form or another--we overthrew the Iranian prime minister, Mossadeq--that is, the CIA did--precisely because we felt he was too close to the Communist Party at that time and we were afraid what that would mean if Iran became a Communist state. "

Invading Iraq was "absolutely essential to the national interest???" According to who? The White House Iraq group?

Why not invade Iran? North Korea?

Where are these people coming from? Since when do we invade a country who has not overtly threatened America. Hussein, as bad as he is, was de-fanged. We now have the door open for an Islamic republic and a new breeding ground for terrorists. Why do we allow these media pundits to control the debate unquestioned?

At least we now know why Koppel's coverage of important issues like Plamegate was MIA. He is a lackey for the administration.

No wonder nobody trusts the mainstream media. They are complicit in the conspiracy to mis-inform America.

A New Year & Wiretaps

With the dawn of 2006, I will do my best to use this blog to more comprehensively spotlight the important issues. More importantly, I want to look at the issues that are being under-reported, or deliberately ignored, by the American media. It is why there will be more links to international sites, which seem to cover American stories better than we do at home.

As we ring in the new year, the Bush wiretapping story seems to be the most important issue we face as a country. Using the excuse of war, Bush seems intent to toss away the sort of civil liberties we are allegedly fighting and dying in Iraq for. Considering the War on Terror will never be completely won (how does one gauge when we have eradicated every terrorist on the planet), what the GOP is seeking to do is compromise our civil liberties permanently. Are media outlets actively conveying this message?

2 stories today were rather interesting and revealing.

First, the public editor of the New York Times, Byron Calame, has a fascinating rebuke of the paper's executive editor and publisher. Calame reveals in print that both William Keller and Arthur Sulzberger Jr. have refused to respond to inquiries on the Times' decision to withhold the wiretap story for a year.

It is rare to see this type of open challenge of one's bosses in print, let alone a story this damaging in nature.

I am encouraged that we are able to see the internal dissent face the light of day so that we can formulate our own conclusions on the matter.

Second, John W. Dean, a man who observed Nixon's failings from the inside, writes a valuable essay at that compares Bush to Nixon. The similarities are rather scary and the read is worthwhile.

One of the more interesting theories put forth by Dean was that the entire wiretap episode was a conscious decision by Cheney to re-assert executive authority.

Dean writes:

"The USA Patriot Act passed with overwhelming support. So why didn't the President simply ask Congress for the authority he thought he needed?

"The answer seems to be, quite simply, that Vice President Dick Cheney has never recovered from being President Ford's chief of staff when Congress placed checks on the presidency. And Cheney wanted to make the point that he thought it was within a president's power to ignore Congress' laws relating to the exercise of executive power. Bush has gone along with all such Cheney plans."

The result of this is a presidency that has no checks-and-balances. If this assault on civil liberties is allowed, how much longer before monitoring of terrorists is joined by monitoring of one's political enemies? And, who's to say that this has not already begun?

Dean concludes:

"In acting here without Congressional approval, Bush has underlined that his Presidency is unchecked - in his and his attorneys' view, utterly beyond the law. Now that he has turned the truly awesome powers of the NSA on Americans, what asserted powers will Bush use next? And when - if ever - will we - and Congress -- discover that he is using them? "

That, my friends, is the point. Is that the democracy this nation was founded upon?

I think we all know the answer to that one.