Monday, September 04, 2006

Welcome Back to the American Mindset

The fifth annual 9/11 orgy of rage is upon us. Those who wish to will be able to relive every horrible moment of that day over and over and over again, thanks to television and movies and books. The nation will be treated to analyses, acrimony and ceremony.

All of us will be subjected to the nauseating spectacle of the Current Occupant, fresh from the I Haven't Done A Damn Thing to Help tour of New Orleans and Mississippi, strutting in New York, In Washington DC, on a field in Pennsylvania as though he's managed to do something about the 9/11 attacks -- capture the mastermind of the murders, stop the advance of the Taliban that nurtures hatred of all things post-7th Century and not Islamic, and bring Freedom and Democracy (tm) to Iraq.

I'm not going to bite this year. This year I'd like to keep both feet in the reality of 09/11/06 where bin Ladin runs free, the Afghan poppy crop is the best in memory thanks to the Taliban, and the Grand Ayatolla Ali al-Sistani, the only man said to be capable of preventing civil war in Iraq, has just announced that he no longer has the political power to do it.

And, of course, there is our own Secretary of Defense accusing anyone who thinks the war in Iraq has been waged in error of being akin to Nazi appeasers. Only the 21st century Rumsfeld version is "fascist appeasers who suffer from a pre-9/11 mindset.

Let's think about that. First, we need a definition of Fascism. This comes from and the work of Dr. Lawrence Britt.

1. Powerful and Continuing Nationalism - Fascist regimes tend to make constant use of patriotic mottos, slogans, symbols, songs, and other paraphernalia. Flags are seen everywhere, as are flag symbols on clothing and in public displays.

2. Disdain for the Recognition of Human Rights - Because of fear of enemies and the need for security, the people in fascist regimes are persuaded that human rights can be ignored in certain cases because of "need." The people tend to look the other way or even approve of torture, summary executions, assassinations, long incarcerations of prisoners, etc.

3. Identification of Enemies/Scapegoats as a Unifying Cause - The people are rallied into a unifying patriotic frenzy over the need to eliminate a perceived common threat or foe: racial , ethnic or religious minorities; liberals; communists; socialists, terrorists, etc.

4. Supremacy of the Military - Even when there are widespread
domestic problems, the military is given a disproportionate amount of government funding, and the domestic agenda is neglected. Soldiers and military service are glamorized.

5. Rampant Sexism - The governments of fascist nations tend to be almost exclusively male-dominated. Under fascist regimes, traditional gender roles are made more rigid. Divorce, abortion and homosexuality are suppressed and the state is represented as the ultimate guardian of the family institution.

6. Controlled Mass Media - Sometimes to media is directly controlled by the government, but in other cases, the media is indirectly controlled by government regulation, or sympathetic media spokespeople and executives. Censorship, especially in war time, is very common.

7. Obsession with National Security - Fear is used as a motivational tool by the government over the masses.

8. Religion and Government are Intertwined - Governments in fascist nations tend to use the most common religion in the nation as a tool to manipulate public opinion. Religious rhetoric and terminology is common from government leaders, even when the major tenets of the religion are diametrically opposed to the government's policies or actions.

9. Corporate Power is Protected - The industrial and business aristocracy of a fascist nation often are the ones who put the government leaders into power, creating a mutually beneficial business/government relationship and power elite.

10. Labor Power is Suppressed - Because the organizing power of labor is the only real threat to a fascist government, labor unions are either eliminated entirely, or are severely suppressed.

11. Disdain for Intellectuals and the Arts - Fascist nations tend to promote and tolerate open hostility to higher education, and academia. It is not uncommon for professors and other academics to be censored or even arrested. Free expression in the arts and letters is openly attacked.

12. Obsession with Crime and Punishment - Under fascist regimes, the police are given almost limitless power to enforce laws. The people are often willing to overlook police abuses and even forego civil liberties in the name of patriotism. There is often a national police force with virtually unlimited power in fascist nations.

13. Rampant Cronyism and Corruption - Fascist regimes almost always are governed by groups of friends and associates who appoint each other to government positions and use governmental power and authority to protect their friends from accountability. It is not uncommon in fascist regimes for national resources and even treasures to be appropriated or even outright stolen by government leaders.

14. Fraudulent Elections - Sometimes elections in fascist nations are a complete sham. Other times elections are manipulated by smear campaigns against or even assassination of opposition candidates, use of legislation to control voting numbers or political district boundaries, and manipulation of the media. Fascist nations also typically use their judiciaries to manipulate or control elections.

Sound familiar? It should, this is your government at work.

Now, another definition: What is a pre-9/11 mindset -- what is a post-9/11 mindset?

We're given to believe the the one is a way of thinking that was operative before Usama bin Laden's attacks on the Twin Towers and the Pentagon. We're told to believe that this is a feeble, dangerous, unrealistic way to think in these days after the attacks. The other, we are told, the post-9/11 mindset, is the proper way to think of the terrible world beyond our shores.

We must fear that world, and we must somehow imagine that our leaders, who are so afraid that they believe that if there is even a 1% chance that a group or nation will harm the United States, that group or nation must be destroyed, are heroes.

We must believe that these fearful men and women who have sacrificed our military to an illegal war are brilliant strategists.

Are they?

They are not. Driven by fear, they have brutalized our Constitution so they can brutalize captives held with no recourse to representation, foreign nationals and American citizens. Cowering in fear, they have committed offenses against the Geneva Conventions that will be considered war crimes by anyone who can read those conventions.

But if anyone dare question this fearful, rouge administration, they face the charge of being appeasers to fascism and cowards.

By every definition of fascism, Rumsfeld and the administration he serves are fascists. Every American who loves this nation has no interest in appeasing them.

We have every interest in opposing them.

And we shall, for ours is not a pre-9/11 mindset or a post-9/11 mindset.

Ours is an American Mindset. We are not the sons and daughters of fearful people. We are the children of a nation once known as the Light of the World.

As Arriana Huffington so clearly sates when she write of Max Cleland, we know true American heroes when we see them.

This administration and all who serve it may be wise to cower in the spider hole of fear, for we shall elect leaders worthy of us. If the world beyond our shores is lucky, this administration of cowards will face the charges it has brought down on itself -- charges of treason and war crimes.

Welcome back to the American Mindset.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Fearful leaders ... or purveyors of fear?

You know, some days I think it's one thing; other days I think it's the other.

When I consider Dick Cheney and his one percent doctrine -- if there is even a one percent chance that some nation or group might harm America, they must be destroyed -- I think that I've never heard of a more fearful, frightened man in my life.

Behind that absurd, world-threatening doctrine, you can hear him saying, "Please! Please don't hurt me!"

This is the Vice President of the United States of America you hear whimpering. This is the man who is one heartbeat away from the presidency you find so often cowering in "undisclosed locations."

And what can we say of his boss, the Current Occupant if not that he is a fear-monger? What can we say but that he is a poisoner of American hearts and minds, a polluter of our souls?

He began peddling that filth of fear three days after he managed to control his own frozen terror at the thought of an attack on our nation. He went to New York, stood on a pile of rubble and grabbed a bullhorn from a fireman who had been working tirelessly since the towers fell.

With stolen stature and stolen voice, he pounded his chest and brayed for all the world to hear that we would not stand for what Usama bin Laden had done.

And then he climbed right down again to begin his true work of dividing a nation traumatized by the destruction of the loss of nearly 3,000 lives in the attack on the World Trade Center, the attack on the Pentagon, and the downing of a plane in a field in Pennsylvania that was said to have been headed for a collision into the White House.

George Walker Bush did not encourage the nation he is supposed to lead. He did not call upon us to find the strength of heart we've all learned from childhood is our American Heritage.

No. Instead, his venal political advisor rubbed his hands with glee and boldly declared that Bush and his Republican Congress could climb to a mid-term electoral win on the bodies of the dead. Simply instill fear in the populace -- terrorize them every chance they get -- and the election would go to the Republicans. As Keith Olbermann has shown, they terrorized us with dire warnings each time things did not go their way politically.

They terrorized segments of the population with their worst fears and nightmares, be it the spectre of "gay marriage," the idea that there is a war against Christians, or another attack on the homeland.

More and more we read how this fearful administration is classifying information long known to the public -- and sealing documents in presidential libraries. They are hiding our history, they are burying everything and anything.

Because they can? Or because they must?

George Walker Bush and Richard B Cheney -- these are our Fearful Leaders, and history will show that this is their legacy:

I have legalised robbery
Called it belief
I have run with the money
I have hid like a thief
I have re-written history
With my armies of my crooks
Invented memories
I did burn all the books.

-- Mark Knopfler, Dire Straits

Do you want to do something about it? Easy -- vote. When you're finished doing that, take your turn in your district's Election Protection program and defend the votes of your neighbors.

This might be the last chance.

h/t to for the QT link to Keith Olbermann's excellent work.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Home of the Free Because of the Brave

I saw that declaration on a bumper today -- not a bumper-sticker, the whole big bumper.

In red white and blue.

Glittering in the hot Albuquerque sun.

Well, I thought, that's saying something. I wasn't sure what, but I'd made some assumptions about it being another way to say "support the troops" without specifying exactly how -- benefits, proper equipment, a CiC who listens to his generals? -- and moved on.

Tonight I read Bob Herbert's column in The New York Times, The Tyranny of Fear and realized that there can be all kinds of meanings to that glittering, red white and blue slogan.

Here's the beginning of the story Herbert tells.

Abdallah Higazy was on the phone from Cairo. “To describe it as frustrating would be an understatement,” he said, “because you know you’re telling the truth. And you know the people speaking to you have incorrect information about you.”

On the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, Mr. Higazy, the son of a former Egyptian diplomat, was in a room on the 51st floor of the Millenium Hilton Hotel, directly across the street from the World Trade Center. He was a student at the time, having won a scholarship to study computer engineering at Polytechnic University in Brooklyn. The Institute of International Education had arranged for him to stay at the hotel while he looked for permanent housing.

Like everyone else, Mr. Higazy fled the hotel after the planes hit the towers. He left behind his passport and other personal items. When he returned to collect his belongings three months later, he was arrested by the F.B.I. A hotel security guard claimed to have found an aviation radio, which could be used to communicate with airborne pilots, in the safe in Mr. Higazy’s room.

“That’s impossible,” said Mr. Higazy.

It’s a fact, said the F.B.I.

Mr. Higazy was handcuffed, strip-searched and thrown into prison — as a material witness. No one knew what to charge him with. They just knew they wanted to hold him.

Mr. Higazy was all but overwhelmed with fear. “I didn’t sleep that first night,” he told me. “I was shivering, and it wasn’t from the cold.”

Like an accused witch in Salem, Mr. Higazy was dangerously close to being sacrificed on the altar of hysteria. He kept telling authorities he knew nothing about the radio. But the assumption was that he was lying.

The rest will probably not astound Herbert's readers, though it will certainly sadden many. But, what's to do? We've all heard so much about how very afraid we must be. We're getting used to it.

And that's too bad.

We didn't used to be afraid. We didn't used to cower when politicians thought it was a good idea to crank up the fear-factor for ... whatever reasons they decide is best.

In the months after the attacks on 9/11 the FBI and other law enforcment officials were not thinking as well has hindsight might like them to have done. Fear spurred them like a vicious rider. Hard to fault them, and I'm not. In their place I'd have been as terrified that another event as horrible as the bin Laden attacks loomed on the horizon. But I wasn't in their place, I had the luxury, if it can be called that, of walking around numb for as long as it took to adjust to the shock of what happened.

But why, so long after that time, do we allow ourselves to be ridden by fear, spurred by it? Why, after Mr. Higazy is safely home with his family, do we allow ourselves to be bidden to go shopping, to go about our business and leave the safety of the nation to men and women who have started three wars -- two of which have nothing to do with bin Laden and September 11, 2002?

Why as the November elections approach, do we once again allow ourselves to be frightened by elevated alerts and the current crop of Republicans running for office?

That bumper slogan is right. America is the home of the free because of the brave. The brave would be us. All of us, our men and women in the military, the parents who have the courage to raise their children in a nation where grade schools and high schools that were once the envy of the world are now falling into ruin, and the brave would be the immigrants who arrive to seek citizenship and enrich us by their hope.

Are we ready to once again be worthy of this home of the free, because we are among the brave?

You know, I'm beginning to think so.

Most of us no longer believe in the endless fabrications of reasons for the wars the Current Occupant ignites in the most dangerous part of the world.

More and more of us no longer believe that we have to cower each time he utters the hollow phrases that used to make us think he knew what he was doing. He doesn't. His every action and think-tank tested justification for the latest conflagration proves this to us.

We live in the land of the free because we are the brave.

Let's not forget that. Let's not allow ourselves to be driven -- ridden, spurred -- by fear.

We can find the courage to do the right thing and choose leaders who know that chaos is not the answer to the need for security.

Support the troops? Yes, indeed. And let's be worthy of what they sacrifice in wars they fight because they have the courage to keep the oaths they swear.

If we have the courage to see the shabbiness of our leaders, to know their constant talk of fear for what it is -- poison in our ears -- and to do something about it, one day, we will again have leaders who are not afraid to call the nation to rise up in courage rather than cower in fear.

We will have those leaders, because we will have summoned them.

One George Imitates Another ... to Poor Advantage

The "Macaca" v. "Mohawk" flap still seems to be dogging Sen. George Allen through Virginia and, it seems, the world.

From WaPo today:

In a statement released Tuesday afternoon, Allen (R-Va.) said his remarks Friday to S.R. Sidarth, who at the time was videotaping an Allen campaign event on Webb's behalf, "have been greatly misunderstood by members of the media." He said Monday that "Macaca" was a play on "Mohawk," a nickname given to Sidarth by the Allen campaign because of his hairstyle. In Tuesday's statement, Allen said he "made up a nickname for the cameraman, which was in no way intended to be racially derogatory. Any insinuations to the contrary are completely false."

From the cowboy boots to the faux-folksey downhome style, this George seems to be trying to immitate the Current Occupant in every way possible, right down to dubbing strangers with annoying nicknames. Perhaps Virginia will have a look at this candidate again and choose for substance over a man whose youthful "flirtation" with racism seems to be resurfacing.

Yes, Virginia, there is a serious-minded candidate who doesn't have to pretend to be a regular guy -- Jim Webb, the Former Secretary of the Navy. And he comes complete with military experience.

Hey, that kind of experience might be sort of nice to have these days.

And, lest Senator Allen remain confused, this is a Mohawk 'do.

The Triage Election

I am not one to disparage a man because he's been on what I see as the wrong side of an issue, and then breaks through to the other side. Has no one ever seen the light? Has no one ever seen a cause, an idea, a path once supported turned into the road to hell and had the guts to say out loud, "This is wrong," and by implication, "I was wrong"?

I believe Thomas Friedman has been on the wrong side of the Iraq war issue, but then so have many other people of good will and good heart.

And so I recommend Friedman's column Big Talk, Little Will in the New York Times today. Democrats and their supporters (I am one) will probably not like his conclusion, but not liking it doesn't make it less real.

Read all of what Friedman has to say, right to this conclusion:

Mr. Cheney, if we’re in a titanic struggle with Islamic fascists, why do you constantly use the “war on terrorism” as a wedge issue in domestic politics to frighten voters away from Democrats. How are we going to sustain such a large, long-term struggle if we are a divided country?

Please, Mr. Cheney, spare us your flag-waving rhetoric about the titanic struggle we are in and how Democrats just don’t understand it. It is just so phony — such a patent ploy to divert Americans from the fact that you have never risen to the challenge of this war. You will the ends, but you won’t will the means. What a fraud!

Friends, we are on a losing trajectory in Iraq, and, as the latest London plot underscores, the wider war with radical Islam is only getting wider. We need to reassess everything we are doing in this “war on terrorism” and figure out what is worth continuing, what needs changing and what sacrifice we need to demand from every American to match our means with our ends. Yes, the Democrats could help by presenting a serious alternative. But unless the party in power for the next two and half years shakes free of its denial, we are in really, really big trouble.

The man has a point. He has a point.

So do the authors of this editorial, Meanwhile in Baghdad, in the same edition of the Times.

3,000 people have died in Baghdad since June of this year. Three thousand. Since June. Do you think they've paid enough now for the sin Osama bin Laden committed against our nation? Do you think the torrents of blood of the innocent children, the women and the old people have washed away the sin of bin Laden now?

Do you ever wonder where bin Laden is?

The Current Occupant doesn't. On March 13, 2002, he said so: "I don't know where bin Laden is. I have no idea and really don't care. It's not that important. It's not our priority."

Mr. Cheney doesn't seem to care either.

But I wonder. I care.

Maybe you should, too, because the Current Occupant is about to roll out the fear-fest to try to win another election for his party.

Think about that.

Three wars -- Afghanistan, Iraq and Lebanon -- and only the first one was the right one. That one, they abandoned.

Think about that, then do something in November. Consider that, no matter your party affiliation, it might not be a very good idea to vote for members of a party that is blindly following these Lords of Chaos straight into hell.

Just this once, if you can't stand to vote for a Democrat, sit on your hands and let this be a triage election. Let the rest of us do what we can to stop the bleeding.

Then we can all go back to our corners and come out fighting.

However you can manage it, do the right thing.

We don't have too many chances left.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Worked rather well for the Brits, though, didn't it.

The London plot against civil aviation confirmed a theme of an illuminating new book, Lawrence Wright's "The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11." The theme is that better law enforcement, which probably could have prevented Sept. 11, is central to combating terrorism. F-16s are not useful tools against terrorism that issues from places such as Hamburg (where Mohamed Atta lived before dying in the North Tower of the World Trade Center) and High Wycombe, England.

Cooperation between Pakistani and British law enforcement (the British draw upon useful experience combating IRA terrorism) has validated John Kerry's belief (as paraphrased by the New York Times Magazine of Oct. 10, 2004) that "many of the interdiction tactics that cripple drug lords, including governments working jointly to share intelligence, patrol borders and force banks to identify suspicious customers, can also be some of the most useful tools in the war on terror." In a candidates' debate in South Carolina (Jan. 29, 2004), Kerry said that although the war on terror will be "occasionally military," it is "primarily an intelligence and law enforcement operation that requires cooperation around the world."

Immediately after the London plot was disrupted, a "senior administration official," insisting on anonymity for his or her splenetic words, denied the obvious, that Kerry had a point. The official told The Weekly Standard:

"The idea that the jihadists would all be peaceful, warm, lovable, God-fearing people if it weren't for U.S. policies strikes me as not a valid idea. [Democrats] do not have the understanding or the commitment to take on these forces. It's like John Kerry. The law enforcement approach doesn't work."

George Will - "The Triumph of Unrealism "

I'm always happy to quote Will when he's making sense. Today, he is.

(Well, but he's still a teeny bit afraid of the blogosphere, but most of the establishment journalists and pundits these days. So, even that Will-ish fear makes sense as the times begin to change.)

We are a nation of laws, as Senator Kerry knows. Our laws work -- when they're not being gutted from within.

A nation of laws ... yet the Present Occupant seems to delight in sucking the life out of those laws and weakening the structure any time he can get away with it. Which is usually.

What a pity half the nation allowed itself to become terrified by Bush's fearmongering in the last election.

[Keith Olberman has an excellent breatkdown of the GOP use of the "color coded terror alerts. Long download, but worth the time.]

They're trying that tactic again, pedaling as hard as they can and headed for the cliff.

We're probably not going to let that happen again ...

Monday, August 14, 2006

On April 29, 2003 --

According to CNN:
During the war in Iraq, Saudi Arabia allowed the United States to use Prince Sultan as a command and control center for U.S. aircraft. U.S. aerial refueling tankers, reconnaissance planes and other noncombat aircraft were allowed to land and take off there, but Saudi Arabia denied the United States permission to use its bases to attack Iraq.

"By transferring the command and control [center] from Saudi Arabia to the air base in Qatar, they will not face the same difficulties they have had in Saudi Arabia in recent years in getting approval for specific operations," said Richard Murphy, a former U.S. ambassador to Saudi Arabia.

In January 2002, White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card told CNN that Saudi officials had asked the United States to reduce its military presence there. "I think it's in the long-term interest of both countries," Card said.

Exiled Saudi Osama bin Laden has cited the presence of U.S. troops in Saudi Arabia as a core grievance in his self-proclaimed holy war against the United States. Fifteen of the 19 September 11 hijackers were from Saudi Arabia, according to the U.S. government. [emphasis added]

And do you recall what happened on May 1, 2003?

Whose mission was accomplished that day? The American President's? Or Osama Bin Laden's?

With thanks to Greg Palast and his excellent new book Armed Madhouse.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

The Democratic Insurgency

A Democratic insurgency has arisen.

At least in the minds of frightened Republicans and the terrified Vice-President Cheney.

Irate because Senator Lieberman fell out of favor with the citizens of Connecticuit who voted for Ned Lamont to be their Democratic candidate on the November ballot, the Vice President and his cronies now refer to all Democrats as members of the "Lamont Insurgency."

One imagines they mean the word "insurgency" to remind their followers of the insurgency the American President has facilitated in Iraq.

Funny, they seem to forget that the insurgency Americans are most proud of is the one that overthrew an English king and his government for trampling on their lawful rights as Englishmen.

Equally amusing, these people forget state of Connecticut -- among so many other Northeastern states -- began that insurgency and won themselves a new nation.

If citizens voting for the candidate of their choice is an act of insurgency -- let the Democratic Insurgency begin!

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

They mocked him and called him "Treebeard"

It was a fine chuckle among the GOP frat boys. in 2004. Kerry as Treebeard who took an age to get out a sentence or make a point.

So, what would you give now to have a President who not only takes the time to think before he speaks (Bring 'em on!) or issues proclamations (Dead or Alive!) but who actually reads books rather than carries them along on vacation as ostentatious props?

Ah, if only ...

I don’t know what Bush stood for, except I’m a cool guy and Gore isn’t, and that was our problem. We elected the guy because he was a little cooler than the other guy, and, I hope the next election, it isn’t a problem of who goes to bed with their wife at 9:30 at night, or who knows how to tell a joke on a stage. But it’s who had the sense of strength that comes from having read books, most of their life, tried to understand history. -- Chris Matthews (Hardball) to Don Imus

He "didn't know what Bush stood for ... " And yet he pontificated, bloviated night after night on Hardball about how Bush was the man.

Okay, there's got to be some record somewhere of Matthews going off on Kerry for being an elitist, or boring or something to facilitate the snide suggestion that if one reads a book, one is incapable of leading Our Great Nation as a Real Man should. But you know, I'm not even going to go looking for it. This, this right here, is gold.

I doubt Kerry would ever get my vote again, but (please, all gods!) let the next Dem candidate rejoice in the books he reads, revel in the education he's had and do everything in his power to convince the voters that Smart is Good and Faux Cowboy ain't nuthin' but lyin', cheatin' and stealin'. *

* With apologies to Senator Clinton. The reality is that the time to run a woman for president hasn't come yet. The neocons have terrified half the nation into screaming for Daddy. So we have to run a man, at least one more time. But you'll be great when your time finally does come, Senator.