Sunday, April 30, 2006

Dubai, The Growth of an Arab City

I like to see good things happening in the Arab world. This is one of them. Dubai is a city in the United Arab Emirates that is growing tremendously due to its ownership of oil. (I'm bittersweet in my feelings about their growth because it comes at my expense---high oil prices). :( However, I am glad some things are going right in the Arab world. Take a look at these images that show just what kind of projects this city-state has in mind for the future..... If you want one of these islands, apparently the going price is between $6 to $35 million dollars!!!

The Face of the Real Enemy at Gitmo

My Guantanamo Diary truly worth a read, this is the experiences of an interpreter allowed to go and talk with some of the detainees held in a legal black hole by Americans who believe in "freedom and justice". Two sections of this caught my eye, for they are telling about the real problem, who the real enemy of freedom is.....

Over steak dinner, I comment on how nice our military escorts are. They joke and laugh with us. Primo gives me pointers on shooting pool in the CBQ lobby. Everyone brings them beer and cigarettes. I think I had expected them to be more aloof, even hostile. But Tom Wilner, a partner in the Washington office of Shearman & Sterling LLP, quickly retorts: "Yeah, they're nice. But this whole place is evil -- and the face of evil often appears friendly."
"The way these men have been treated and what they've had to suffer makes me ashamed," Tom says. He and the other lawyers think it's a joke that the iguanas at Guantanamo Bay, which are protected by the U.S. Endangered Species Act, have more rights than the detainees. Tonight, Tom is intense, going on about the face of evil, how so many of the perpetrators of some of the worst crimes in history were men who appeared perfectly ordinary, who were kind to children and dogs. I can't stop thinking about what he says.
I can't help but think of the Rwanda scenario where the Hutus murdered Tutsis because they saw them no better than cockroaches. The scale of America's mistreatment of others is very small in comparison, but the same principles are in place. What do Americans, and more specifically the soldiers at Gitmo think about the "detainees" they hold there? To them, they are "terrorist". What does that mean? What is a "terrorist?" Certainly in the eyes of these soldiers, "terrorists" are not them, are not Americans, are not American soldiers and American citizens, not English speaking. More importantly, "terrorists" are evil to them, "terrorists" want to destroy them. "terrorists" have no heart and no feeling. So why should "terrorists" be allowed the same comforts as "regular people?" The real enemy is not the prisoners at Gitmo. Neither is the enemy the soldiers guarding them. The real enemy is also not even Mr. Rumsfeld (as much as my passionate feelings would like it to be). Who is the enemy? I quote Babylon 5:
"Every day, here and at home, we are warned about the enemy. But who is the enemy? Is it the alien? Well, we are all alien to one another. Is it the one who believes differently than we do? No, not at all, my friends. The enemy is fear. The enemy is ignorance. The enemy is the one who tells you that you must hate that which is different. Because, in the end, that hate will turn on you. And that same hate will destroy you." -- Rev. Dexter in Babylon 5:"And the Rock Cried Out, No Hiding Place"
The enemy is truly terrorism, but when we terrorize others, are we not also becoming enemies ourselves? Nazis could justify what they were doing to Jews and Gypsies and gays because they justified the existence of people who identified themselves that way. They said to themselves when their hearts were extremely troubled by the murder they saw about them, "It's okay that they die. They are polluting the world. They are animals. I have no qualms about a rat being killed, I should have no qualms about a Jew being killed." This is a much smaller scale with fewer deaths, but the principle is the same. We justify to ourselves the detention of these human beings saying, "It's okay if they are mistreated, and it's too bad if one of them dies in detention. After all, they are "terrorist" and I have no qualms about a "terrorist" dying." This is about remembering and forgetting. Who are we all? What is every single human being on this planet? Where does each human being on this planet come from and what is the destination of each human being on this planet? Are we not all sons and daughters of God? Is not every single child born into this world an offspring of God? What does God think about each and every offspring of His?
10 Remember the worth of souls is great in the sight of God; 11 For, behold, the Lord your Redeemer suffered death in the flesh; wherefore he suffered the pain of all men, that all men might repent and come unto him. 12 And he hath risen again from the dead, that he might bring all men unto him, on conditions of repentance. 13 And how great is his joy in the soul that repenteth! D&C 18:10-13
The real enemy is not the human being. The real enemy is the principle of terrorizing others, of harming others because they are different. The real enemy is in being a nice guy to those who are "non-terrorists" and a monster to "terrorists." We will not win the "War on Terror" by mistreating detainees. We will not win the "War on Terror" by killing other human beings. When we kill someone else, we cause terror ourselves. No. This war will not be won through violence, but through peace. ***Addendum*** today, May 1, 2006, Ms. Kahn did a question and answer session for people to get a chance to ask her about Sunday's paper on Washington Post's online services, which I recommend as good reading.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Secrecy, The FBI, and 1984

boy, doesn't this sound eerily like a Soviet state rather than the freest nation in the world? A Chilling FBI Fishing Expedition

Friday, April 28, 2006

The Light of Christ vs The Secrets of Man

I am one who is highly concerned and troubled by America's (not to mention all the other nations of the world) panache for creating secrets upon secrets upon secrets. Dana Priest of the Washington Post wrote a bombshell of an article about black prisons in Europe and some are upset with her calling for her to be hanged in some cases! William Arkin who maintains a blog on Washington Post, has been under fire also regarding secrets..... There are two things that trouble me. 1. We call ourselves a democracy. We say we are open and free. Yet we hide so many secrets. Are those two things not mutually exclusive? Can you be free and open while hiding many things? Are you no longer free and open, but rather closed and limited? What is the boundary between keeping secrets and being open? 2. For Mormons.....We believe in the Light of Christ. Can anything be hidden where the Light of Christ shines? Are there secrets in the light? Men should not be trusted with secrets, governments of men should not be trusted with secrets. They've abused that trust in the past, and they WILL abuse that trust in the future.

Iraq Becoming Terrorist Haven

Isn't this what we went into Iraq to supposedly prevent? Apparently though, Iraq is becoming a terrorist safe haven.

The State Department's annual terrorism report finds that Iraq is becoming a safe haven for terrorists and has attracted a "foreign fighter pipeline" linked to terrorist plots, cells and attacks throughout the world, a senior State Department official involved in the preparation of the report told CNN.
(Side note: Perhaps this is why Bush doesn't like to look at CNN....) ;) The killer question (no pun intended) is, was Iraq really a terrorist safe haven BEFORE America went in? To answer that, there are other questions. How many "terrorist" attacks happened in Iraq before the United States invaded in March 2003? How many "terrorists" attacked other parts of the world who originated from Iraq before the United States invaded in March 2003? I remind you that terrorist attacks have INCREASED since we invaded Iraq, not decreased.
Terror attacks and kidnappings worldwide exceeded 10,000 for the first time last year, propelled in part by a surge in Iraq, according to government figures to be released soon. Officials cautioned against reading too much into the overall total. The government last year adopted a new definition of terrorism and changed its system of counting global attacks, devoting more energy to finding reports of violence against civilians. Yet the numbers are a striking reminder that violence around the globe has dramatically increased in the more than four years of the war on terror.
So what was the war in Iraq about if not to DECREASE terrorism? If the war in Iraq failed to decrease terrorism, what the hell did we go in there for? And if we have failed, why do we not hold those who came up with, implemented, and executed these policies? This isn't just business, where if your business fails all you lose is money. We are talking about lives. We are talking about human beings. We are talking about changing the shape of the future. These are not to be taken lightly. If there is failure, people must be held accountable. It says a great deal about those who back Bush, a great deal about the standards they have for America and for themselves. They claim to be religious. They claim higher authorities. They claim a closer tie to the original Constitution. Yet when their plan fails, they don't accept responsibility for their failures. Such a shame.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Bush and the Constitution

The Cato Institute, a libertarian group, has written an article on Bush's expansion of the federal government's powers since he took office. There are many things I disagree with on with libertarians, but in this case, I definitely agree with them. I quote their abstract to this whole article in PDF:

In recent judicial confirmation battles, President Bush has repeatedly—and correctly—stressed fidelity to the Constitution as the key qualification for service as a judge. It is also the key qualification for service as the nation's chief executive. On January 20, 2005, for the second time, Mr. Bush took the presidential oath of office set out in the Constitution, swearing to "preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States." With five years of the Bush administration behind us, we have more than enough evidence to make an assessment about the president's commitment to our fundamental legal charter Unfortunately, far from defending the Constitution, President Bush has repeatedly sought to strip out the limits the document places on federal power. In its official legal briefs and public actions, the Bush administration has advanced a view of federal power that is astonishingly broad, a view that includes * a federal government empowered to regulate core political speech—and restrict it greatly when it counts the most: in the days before a federal election; * a president who cannot be restrained, through validly enacted statutes, from pursuing any tactic he believes to be effective in the war on terror; * a president who has the inherent constitutional authority to designate American citizens suspected of terrorist activity as "enemy combatants," strip them of any constitutional protection, and lock them up without charges for the duration of the war on terror— in other words, perhaps forever; and * a federal government with the power to supervise virtually every aspect of American life, from kindergarten, to marriage, to the grave. President Bush's constitutional vision is, in short, sharply at odds with the text, history, and structure of our Constitution, which authorizes a government of limited powers.
I believe Americans have to be informed of this power grab. This is not the direction we need America to head into.

Iran vs the United States: Talking Past Each Other

Iran and the United States continue the verbal barbs warning of this and that back and forth at each other. If I didn't know it, it seems that both sides are speaking not to each other, but past each other to their own bases. Ahmadinejad stokes the nationalistic fervor that keeps the hardliners in power in Iran, and Bush does the same in the United States. Do both sides really want this to reach to blows? It seems that what both sides need is to converse, not talk. Talking is not conversing. Talking is speaking without conversing. Can the United States president sit in an Icelandic estate and converse with the enemy of the "evil empire?" It has been done in the past......but by a man who wanted peace, and who showed it through his actions, not just his words. Does Bush want peace? If he does, let us see his actions, not his words.

The Fall of the Catholic Church and its Effect on The Gospel of Jesus Christ

Washington Post has an article in today's paper about yet another man sexually abused by a priest in the 70s. In the article, the man, who was 25 at the time of the abuse (and not young) became a priest himself, because he felt he could try to do some good afterwards. Apparently it was not helping, and he has come out now in criticism of the Catholic Church. In return, he has been removed from position of priest. This makes me think about the corruption in the Catholic Church. The church as a whole has done much good throughout history and today. There is a book called How The Catholic Church Built Western Civilization that shows the many ways the Catholic Church helped create the world that surrounds us today. It was the repository for Christian thought through the Dark Ages and the Medieval Period. No one should fool themselves though, as the Catholic Church also gave rise to some pernicious things, such as indulgences, The Spanish Inquisition, The Crusades, corruption of scripture at the Council of Nice wherein God was changed from a knowable God to a mysterious, incomprehensible God. John 17:3 says:

3 And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.
This is in the Nicene Creed:
The Father incomprehensible, the Son incomprehensible : and the Holy Ghost incomprehensible. The Father eternal, the Son eternal : and the Holy Ghost eternal. And yet they are not three eternals : but one eternal. As also there are not three incomprehensibles, nor three uncreated : but one uncreated, and one incomprehensible.
More recently, the Catholic Church has had major problems, probably the most serious problems it has ever had, or will ever have, with respect to the sex abuse. Think of it, The Catholic Church proclaims that priests represent God in the eyes of the lay member. When a priest therefore sexually abuses a person, whether a boy, or a young man, or a woman, normally that priest would be tried in two ways. 1. for breaking civil/criminal law, and 2. in the church for breaking the confidence and trust between God and the lay member. So why was the Catholic Church silent from the 50s to the present regarding the sexual abuse? Do the leaders of the church not realize the message being sent? The message is that a representative of God can sexually abuse another, that God Himself can sexually abuse another, seeing that, according to Catholic belief, the priest represents God. Why did the Catholic Church remain silent? It seems the only real concern it had was with its image, and its stature, rather than representing the individuals who were victimized. I have no qualms with regular Catholics. I know many, and they are good people. But the leadership should be ashamed at themselves for their lust for power and position. They are more concerned about their standing than about the truth. This will be the downfall of the Catholic Church and will mar Christianity worse than anything else could possibly have done. Europe Europe has been slowly turning away from Catholicism. It is a sad thing. Catholicism preached the strength of family well over the centuries. It brought a good structure, though flawed, to a nation. I wonder just how badly sexual abuse has been in Europe. If anybody thinks this is simply an American phenomenon, they don't understand humanity. Europeans, especially European men, are not going to be as forthcoming about sexual abuse as Americans. This is a global problem. Does the Pope know? Most likely. Is he trying to keep it under wraps as much as possible? Also most likely. The Gospel of Jesus Christ As a Mormon, I don't believe in Catholicism. As I said earlier though, most Catholics I know are good people. That book about what Catholicism has done for Western Civilization is pretty accurate. However, I am more concerned about what this does for the message about our Savior, Jesus Christ. Is it going to make it harder to bring people to the gospel? Will more people say, "Priests of Jesus are sexual abusers!" and walk away to Islam or Hinduism? The Gospel of Jesus Christ changes people's lives for the better. I know this as my own life has changed dramatically over the past 19 years since I've joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. I know this is where God's truth is found. The Book of Mormon does bring people to Christ, as it teaches of Christ. Joseph Smith taught, "If men do not comprehend the character of God, they do not comprehend themselves" (TPJS, p. 343)More Joseph Smith quotes. Joseph Smith knows this because he saw Heavenly Father and His Son Jesus Christ in the First Vision. The Gospel of Jesus Christ brings peace into the lives of every human being who comes to Christ and follows his commandments.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Military Industrial Complex Questions

You know, for the leader of the democratic world, for a nation that espouses peace and liberty, it sure spends a hell of a lot of money($532 billion!) on the military. This means that the US spends 47% of the Worldwide budget on military expenditures! The next closest is The United Kingdom and France which both spend about 5%. According to the Infoplease source, the United States spent $455 billion in 2004. Great Britain spent $47 billion and France $46 billion. Our "enemy" Iran is not even close to our spending. So the obvious question is, what does American taxpayer money go to pay? This chart shows just where tax money goes here in America. The plurality of American taxpayer money goes to fund the military, at 28%. Health at 20%, and Interest on Debt at 18%. Education only costs 4% of the total budget. Now, let's look at the contributors to politicians, the lobbyists among the Industrial sector.....Lockheed Martin contributes $770,000 to politicians, mostly Republicans. What does Lockheed Martin make for the Pentagon? Planes, weapons, etc. Why do they need to contribute so much money to politicians? Here are some articles and definitions, including President Eisenhower's original speech to scare us about the relations between the military, the industry, and politicians. These organizations are not about peace, and never will be. I quote the movie Spies Like Us:

General Sline: When we commissioned the Schmectel Corporation to research this precise event sequence scenario, it was determined that the continual stockpiling and development of our nuclear arsenal was becoming self-defeating. A weapon unused is a useless weapon.
I would add, "a weapon unused is a cost, a weapon used is a profit."

News of the Day (Tuesday, April 25, 2006)

There were five words missing from the president's speech today: 'Get tough on big oil,' Those are the words of Senator Shumer of New York to Bush, who stopped the flow of oil to the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, or about 70 thousand barrels a day, in a nation that swallows up 20 million barrels a day! You think that will actually lower the price? Bush's Numbers Follow Price of Gas Interesting how the numbers play, but with gas prices going up, Bush's numbers go down. Professor Pollkatz has some pretty awesome graphs showing various ways in which Bush's numbers are going down the drain. Scott McClellan's Non-Answers

Doesn't Know: Used at Briefings 574 Times “I don't know the answers to all of these serious questions that have been raised. I have no reason to believe that at this point. But there are a number of serious questions that have been raised.” — Sept. 20, 2004, on forged National Guard records, purportedly about Bush, aired by CBS Cannot Comment on an Ongoing Investigation: 210 Times “I’m just not going to talk about an ongoing investigation. You're asking that question in the light of an ongoing investigation; it’s something that continues at this point.” — Nov. 8, 2005, on the inquiry into the Valerie Plame leak Doesn't Have Any Further Information: 160 Times “I don't have any update. It’s something that we always continue to look at, and we will continue to do so.” — Jan. 19, 2006, on the terror threat level Won't Speculate: 155 Times “I appreciate you asking me to speculate. I’ll leave it to our commanders on the ground to talk about the progress that’s being made and talk about the circumstances on the ground.” — Oct. 19, 2005, on the Iraqi occupation Hasn't Heard Anything: 58 Times “That would be news to everybody in this room. No, I haven’t heard anything — haven't heard anything like that.” — Feb. 20, 2004, on capturing Osama bin Laden Cannot Confirm or Go Into Details: 52 Times “Well, if you’re asking me to talk about classified programs, I can't do that. You know that I'm prohibited from doing that.” — Jan. 3, 2006, on anti-terror executive orders Ask Someone Else: 50 Times “I think you’re referring to a specific wording in a memo. You might want to ask the Department of Defense about some of the specific wording in the memo.” — Dec. 10, 2003, on a military contract Doesn't Remember: 19 Times “Yes, there's — and I don't recall off the top of my head — there’s some specific things outlined there.” — Dec. 18, 2003, on non-citizens in the military Wants to Be Left Alone: 1 Time “I wish you would attack yourselves, instead of me.” — Feb. 18, 2004, on the press corps
Some Humor
George Bush, Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld are flying on Air Force One. The President looks at the Vice President, chuckles, and says, "You know, I could throw a $1,000 bill out the window right now and make somebody very happy." The Vice President shrugs and says, "Well, I could throw 10 $100 bills out the window and make 10 people very happy." Not to be outdone, the Secretary of Defense says, "Of course, then, I could throw 100 $10 bills out the window and make a hundred people very happy." The pilot rolls his eyes and says to his co-pilot, "Such arrogant asses back there. Hell, I could throw the three of them out the window and make 6 billion people unbelievably happy."
Oil Companies Price Gouging Here are some articles that give some good answers on price gouging.... Refineries Profiting From Your Pain
A very troubling part of this reduction of inventory is that there is more than a hint of collusion about it. It seems most unlikely that normal market forces would have caused a group of competitive firms to collectively reduce inventory to the point where it caused a significant transfer of wealth from consumers. In a truly competitive market, refiners will make differing assessments about the amount of inventory they need. It would be a very risky thing for one refiner to reduce its inventory without some confidence that all others will do the same. Otherwise, one or more of its competitors would take advantage of the situation. In a time of shortage, a firm with a larger inventory could, for instance, take market-share away from its competitors. In fact, the whole inventory reduction game would seem to require at least the tacit acquiescence of all. It is worth noting that in California, where the refining capacity is concentrated in the fewest hands, refining margins are also the highest. In fact, California has the lowest crude oil cost and the highest gasoline prices in the nation. It seems that the amount of competition matters. So either there is actual illegal collusion in the refining market, or concentration of ownership in refining has reached a point where explicit collusion is not necessary, and the small number of firms can recognize their common interests without actually conspiring with each other. In either case, what we have is a failure of competition in the market, and the Federal Trade Commission and the Justice Department's Antitrust Division have some explaining to do. The current high concentration of ownership in petroleum refining is largely a result of mergers, all of which were reviewed by the antitrust agencies. At an absolute minimum, one would expect the antitrust agencies to revisit the issues raised by these mergers and at least conduct an investigation. If the president is concerned about gasoline prices, why doesn't he ask for an investigation?
Taking a Harder Look at Price Gouging
As oil and gasoline prices continue their steady climb, lots of stories are written concluding that the increases are attributable to supply and demand, pure and simple, and that the only solutions –- increasing domestic supply or reducing domestic demand –- are long-term, so we're simply forced to deal with higher prices in the meantime. And OPEC gets branded as a primary culprit. But that's not the whole story. One of the first things to examine is the relationship between the record profits enjoyed by U.S. oil companies and the higher prices for consumers and American industry. For example, in 2004, ExxonMobil –- the product of the 1999 merger between Exxon and Mobil –- chalked up the world's biggest-ever profit for a single company: $25.3 billion. Is it possible that ExxonMobil and other U.S. oil companies are making part of their profits off price gouging? It is possible that, just like Enron constricted supply in California by ordering power plants offline in order to create supply shortage to jack prices up, U.S. oil companies are keeping supplies offline and waiting to release those supplies until prices rise enough to make it worth their while? The potential is there. According to the Energy Department, the U.S. is the 3rd largest producer of crude oil in the world (only Saudi Arabia and Russia produce more oil than we do), and we are far and away the largest consumer of oil, using 25 percent of the world's consumption every day. That makes the U.S the largest oil market in the world, and therefore actions in the U.S. help determine world oil prices. The history is there. The U.S. Federal Trade Commission has in the past found that U.S. oil companies intentionally withheld supplies of gasoline from the market in order to drive prices up. In March 2001, the FTC concluded an investigation into a spike in Midwest gasoline prices and found that one firm chose not to sell its excess supply because that "would have pushed down prices and thereby reduced the profitability" of its exsiting sales. "An executive of this company made clear that he would rather sell less gasoline and earn a higher margin on each gallon sold than sell more gasoline and earn a lower margin." The FTC didn't find any violations of antitrust laws because there was no collusion. But, it concluded: "In each instance, the firms chose strategies they thought would maximize their profits." And it's easier now than ever. The consumer group Public Citizen, first in a May 2001 report, then in a March 2004 report, and then in Congressional testimony in May 2004 reported that recent mergers in the U.S. oil industry have greatly consolidated control over refining and marketing in the U.S., making it easier for a smaller group of companies to price-gouge. Don't believe consumer groups? Perhaps you'll believe the U.S. Government Accountability Office, which affirmed Public Citizen's conclusions in a recent report to Congress. The evidence is in the numbers. The domestic gasoline price spread –- the price of a gallon of gas, minus the cost of crude oil and taxes –- has increased by 30 percent from the mid-1990s to 2004. That spread measures the share of a gallon of gas charged by refiners and marketers. In the mid-to late-1990s, the domestic spread averaged 39 cents per gallon. But during the post-merger period from 2000-2004, the average domestic spread has been 51 cents. (See Fueling Profits, a report by Mark N. Cooper for the Consumer Federation.) This translates to an increase in U.S. gasoline prices of $55 billion, the amount by which U.S. consumers have been price-gouged. It is no coincidence that oil corporation profits are at record highs. And just like Enron falsely tried to blame California's environmental laws for causing the 2000-2001 energy crisis, the oil industry is trying to do the same today for higher oil and gas prices. Hopefully we won't get fooled again.
It's The Policy, Not The People, Stupid
The administration's central problem is its policies, not the people executing the policies. Some new players may outperform the old: they may call the right senator at the right time, cope better with unforeseen calamities (Katrina) or provide stronger public defenses of administration actions. But these improvements, should they occur, cannot offset larger failings. These relate to Bush's agenda—or lack of agenda. If you're driving in the wrong direction, or not driving at all, changing chauffeurs doesn't help.
Well said, Mr. Samuelson. It's time, I think to talk about the military-industrial complex.....

Monday, April 24, 2006

News of the Day (Monday, April 24, 2006)

Boy, lots of important items in today's news..... Arthur Schlesinger's "Bush's Thousand Days" Op-ed First off, Arthur Schlesinger writes an op-ed in the Washington Post called Bush's Thousand Days. He quotes Lincoln who had some choice words about preventive warfare. Lincoln said:

"Allow the President to invade a neighboring nation, whenever he shall deem it necessary to repel an invasion and you allow him to do so whenever he may choose to say he deems it necessary for such purpose -- and you allow him to make war at pleasure [emphasis added]. . . . If, today, he should choose to say he thinks it necessary to invade Canada to prevent the British from invading us, how could you stop him? You may say to him, 'I see no probability of the British invading us'; but he will say to you, 'Be silent; I see it, if you don't.' "
Schlesinger makes the point that Bush's way is "Be silent, I see it, if you don't." He shows how Presidents Truman and Eisenhower chose not to engage in preventive wars against the Soviet Union. And then when talking about Kennedy and the Cuban Missile Crisis, he says the following:
It was lucky that JFK was determined to get the missiles out peacefully, because only decades later did we discover that the Soviet forces in Cuba had tactical nuclear weapons and orders to use them to repel a U.S. invasion. This would have meant a nuclear exchange. Instead, JFK used his own thousand days to give the American University speech, a powerful plea to Americans as well as to Russians to reexamine "our own attitude -- as individuals and as a nation -- for our attitude is as essential as theirs." This was followed by the limited test ban treaty. It was compatible with the George Kennan formula -- containment plus deterrence -- that worked effectively to avoid a nuclear clash. The Cuban missile crisis was not only the most dangerous moment of the Cold War. It was the most dangerous moment in all human history. Never before had two contending powers possessed between them the technical capacity to destroy the planet. Had there been exponents of preventive war in the White House, there probably would have been nuclear war. It is certain that nuclear weapons will be used again. Henry Adams, the most brilliant of American historians, wrote during our Civil War, "Some day science shall have the existence of mankind in its power, and the human race shall commit suicide by blowing up the world."
Our world would have been destroyed if Kennedy had followed the plans and thoughts of the neo-conservatives of his day and preventively attacked Cuba. Schlesinger continues:
Enter George W. Bush as the great exponent of preventive war. In 2003, owing to the collapse of the Democratic opposition, Bush shifted the base of American foreign policy from containment-deterrence to presidential preventive war: Be silent; I see it, if you don't. Observers describe Bush as "messianic" in his conviction that he is fulfilling the divine purpose. But, as Lincoln observed in his second inaugural address, "The Almighty has His own purposes." There stretch ahead for Bush a thousand days of his own. He might use them to start the third Bush war: the Afghan war (justified), the Iraq war (based on fantasy, deception and self-deception), the Iran war (also fantasy, deception and self-deception). There is no more dangerous thing for a democracy than a foreign policy based on presidential preventive war. Maybe President Bush, who seems a humane man, might be moved by daily sorrows of death and destruction to forgo solo preventive war and return to cooperation with other countries in the interest of collective security. Abraham Lincoln would rejoice.
Bush's Approval at 32%
In the telephone poll of 1,012 adult Americans carried out Friday through Sunday by Opinion Research Corporation for CNN, 32 percent of respondents said they approve of Bush's performance, 60 percent said they disapprove and 8 percent said they do not know. That's a significant drop from the way Americans perceived the president a year ago. In a CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll carried out April 29-May 1, 2005, Americans were split on their assessments of Bush's performance, with 48 percent saying they approved and 49 percent saying they disapproved.
Gas Prices Hit Average $2.91!!!
The pain at the pump keeps getting worse for U.S. consumers as the national price for gasoline skyrocketed 13.1 cents over the last week to $2.91 a gallon, the fourth highest average retail price on record, the government said on Monday. Republican congressional leaders, worried that high fuel costs will turn voters against them in this November’s midterm elections, urged the Bush administration to investigate whether oil companies are gouging consumers at the pump. “Anyone who is trying to take advantage of this situation while American families are forced into making tough choices over whether to fill up their cars or severely cut back their budgets should be investigated and prosecuted,” Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist and House Speaker Dennis Hastert wrote on Monday in a joint letter to President George W. Bush.
Uh, I think it's too late Mr. Frist. They've already gotten away with it..... Rolling Stone's "The Worst President in History?" The rule of George W. Bush should put a seal in the coffin of neo-conservative thought, for good, a stake to the heart, to dust this vampire of a ideology. Neo-conservatism has failed. Not because not enough people signed on, but because it was flawed to begin with. Rolling Stone magazine has the following as its cover story:
George W. Bush's presidency appears headed for colossal historical disgrace. Barring a cataclysmic event on the order of the terrorist attacks of September 11th, after which the public might rally around the White House once again, there seems to be little the administration can do to avoid being ranked on the lowest tier of U.S. presidents. And that may be the best-case scenario. Many historians are now wondering whether Bush, in fact, will be remembered as the very worst president in all of American history.
Let us pray to God that either Democrats win control of the House and Senate this November, or enough Republicans start listening to reason and realize just how terrible Bush's war in Iraq was for America. I'm not holding my breath though on the second option..... Terrorist Attacks in Egypt Three blasts struck a resort town in Egypt. The "War on Terror" continues on with more dead than ever before..... Find Law's John Dean on Bush's Failures
President George W. Bush's presidency is a disaster - one that's still unfolding. In a mid-2004 column, I argued that, at that point, Bush had already demonstrated that he possessed the least attractive and most troubling traits among those that political scientist James Dave Barber has cataloged in his study of Presidents' personality types. Now, in early 2006, Bush has continued to sink lower in his public approval ratings, as the result of a series of events that have sapped the public of confidence in its President, and for which he is directly responsible. This Administration goes through scandals like a compulsive eater does candy bars; the wrapper is barely off one before we've moved on to another. Currently, President Bush is busy reshuffling his staff to reinvigorate his presidency. But if Dr. Barber's work holds true for this president -- as it has for others - the hiring and firing of subordinates will not touch the core problems that have plagued Bush's tenure. That is because the problems belong to the President - not his staff. And they are problems that go to character, not to strategy.
Foreign Affairs Article on Intelligence Fixed Around Policy This article shows how Bush and his administration fixed the intelligence to fit the policy, much like the Downing Street Memos showed last year. Those memos were enough for some to call Bush to be censured, something conservatives think benefits them. In any case, this is what the Foreign Affairs article states at the begining:
The most serious problem with U.S. intelligence today is that its relationship with the policymaking process is broken and badly needs repair. In the wake of the Iraq war, it has become clear that official intelligence analysis was not relied on in making even the most significant national security decisions, that intelligence was misused publicly to justify decisions already made, that damaging ill will developed between policymakers and intelligence officers, and that the intelligence community's own work was politicized. As the national intelligence officer responsible for the Middle East from 2000 to 2005, I witnessed all of these disturbing developments.
It is a recommended read, so read the entire article. It will enlighten you about this administration. Drumheller's 60 Minutes Interview Regarding Cherry-Picking Intelligence Before Iraq War Yes, that is correct, yet another CIA officer has come out to say that the intelligence was cherry-picked. Interestingly, this man was interviewed by the Senate and the commission that was supposedly looking into whether or not the intelligence was manipulated. He was interviewed, and he stated in his interview that the intelligence was indeed manipulated. Interestingly, his interview never made it into the final report......
Did the Robb-Silbermann Commission not hear about what Drumheller had to say? What about the Roberts Committee? I asked Drumheller just those questions when I spoke to him early this evening. He was quite clear. He was interviewed by the Robb-Silbermann Commission. Three times apparently. Did he tell them everything he revealed on tonight's 60 Minutes segment. Absolutely. Drumheller was also interviewed twice by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (the Roberts Committee) but apparently only after they released their summer 2004 report. Now, quite a few of us have been arguing for almost two years now that those reports were fundamentally dishonest in the story they told about why we were so badly misled in the lead up to war. The fact that none of Drumheller's story managed to find its way into those reports, I think, speaks volumes about the agenda that the writers of those reports were pursuing. "I was stunned," Drumheller told me, when so little of the stuff he had told the commission's and the committee's investigators ended up in their reports. His colleagues, he said, were equally "in shock" that so little of what they related ended up in the reports either. What Drumheller has to say adds quite a lot to our knowledge of what happened in the lead up to war. But what it shows even more clearly is that none of this stuff has yet been investigated by anyone whose principal goal is not covering for the White House.
The Spy Who Voted The Wrong Way Adding more to the woes America is now dealing with, apparently the Bush administration is doing the following:
The White House also has recently barraged the agency with questions about the political affiliations of some of its senior intelligence officers, according to intelligence officials.
Apparently the way one thinks politically now matters to one's job at the CIA..... and Finally, this piece about Rumsfeld (Time For Him To Go) from The Economist. This is a highly recommended read, as the author better lays out the reasons for his removal from office than I could ever do.
But the current furore can't be brushed aside. Six retired generals have publicly called for the secretary's resignation. This is extraordinary in itself. But it comes on top of a mountain of other problems. Senior politicians such as Joe Biden and John McCain have been calling for his head for months. And a series of books—most notably “Cobra II” by Michael Gordon and Bernard Trainor (Pantheon)—have provided yet more ammunition for Mr Rumsfeld's critics. The secretary of defence has become a liability that Mr Bush's troubled administration can no longer afford: a distraction at home and a barrier to success in Iraq. There is now widespread agreement on what he got wrong. His biggest mistake—the fons et origo of all the others—was to try to fight the war with too few troops. His second-biggest was to make no proper provision for restoring order afterwards. But there is no shortage of other mistakes. Mr Rumsfeld misread the intelligence in the build-up to the war, and much of it was simply wrong in any case. He failed to plan for the occupation. He ignored the growing insurgency. He disbanded the Iraqi army, scattering 300,000 armed and unemployed men into the population. The more interesting question is why he messed up so comprehensively. The most obvious reason, of course, is arrogance. Mr Rumsfeld suffered from exactly the same problem as another whizz-kid CEO turned secretary of defence, Robert McNamara: iron self-confidence. He junked the army's carefully laid plans for invasion (General Zinni's plan called for at least 380,000 troops, for example, far more than Mr Rumsfeld sent). He dismissed warnings from General Shinseki that it would take hundreds of thousands of troops to win the peace. He ignored pleas for more troops on the ground. And he surrounded himself with similarly one-dimensional strategists such as General Franks and yes-men like General Myers. Another reason is bureaucratic turf wars. Henry Kissinger once described Mr Rumsfeld as the best practitioner of the art of bureaucratic infighting that he had ever seen, which is no mean compliment; and he certainly did a brilliant job of elbowing Colin Powell and the State Department aside, putting control of post-war reconstruction in military hands for the first time since the second world war. But he had no idea what to do with his new-found power. Without the State Department's experience of post-war reconstruction, gathered in Bosnia and Afghanistan, Mr Rumsfeld veered all over the place. ----------------------- But this is a tragedy that America can no longer tolerate. Getting rid of Mr Rumsfeld is no guarantee that things will get better. But keeping him ensures that they will get worse. Mr Bush made a huge mistake in not accepting Mr Rumsfeld's offer to resign in the wake of Abu Ghraib. Every day he keeps him in his job he compounds his mistake and weakens his presidency.

More Torture in Iraq

Inspectors Find More Torture at Iraqi Jails I thought we went into Iraq to stop this from happening.....I thought that even in November when they last found a huge prison full of abused prisoners in the Ministry of Interior building they were saying, "Never again." yet here we go again. It is happening again. More human beings are abused and the US military is not doing anything about it, even though General Pace promised they would. How much longer will Rumsfeld be allowed to destroy the American military credibility? How much more before Americans are finally tired enough and impeach President Bush?

Sunday, April 23, 2006

State Religion

The State of Georgia has signed a law that will allow the teaching of the Bible in public schools. notice the problem though:

The study, written by Mark Chancey of Southern Methodist University, says that the program teaches the Bible from a primarily conservative Protestant view.
and just how accurate is the Protestant view of the Bible? According to Protestants, it is pretty accurate, but unfortunately for them, America is not just Protestant---as much as they would want it to be (I'll get to this later)---America is a cornucopia, a kaleidoscope of religions and views. Is it not? If you are going to teach the Bible from a Protestant perspective, why not also show the Catholic perspective? or the Mormon? Oh wait, Protestants don't see Mormons as Christians, I forgot..... This is not about teaching the Bible. This is about Protestants finding any insidious way to convert more people to their faith. This time, through force. After all, what choice do children have in what they are taught?

Violence in Afghanistan

Why is Afghanistan still violent? Honestly. Why is there still a threat for the Taliban to come back into power? hypothetical question for you all.....IF the soldiers sent to Iraq, i.e. 150,000 of them, were instead sent into Afghanistan and used to clean up and organize that country, would the Taliban be even heard of except when spoken about in history books? I ask that hypothetical question because the Taliban gave full support and comfort to our enemy, Al-Qaida who attacked us on 9/11. For that, they should not even be around, yet they are. The most powerful military on the planet cannot handle a bunch of cave dwellers?

Old Europe Solutions Are Answers To New World Problems

Mr. Hill writes in the Washington Post the following about an innovative way to solve the problem with Immigration in America. He calls it the Tex-Mex Marshall Plan

Immigration issues are always ripe for demagoguery, particularly in an election year. But the solution to the very real problems along the U.S.-Mexican border can be found, ironically, in that other part of the world that American demagogues love to ridicule: old Europe. Two years ago, the European Union admitted 10 new members. Like Mexico, all of these nations were poor, some of them fairly backward and most recently ravaged by war and communist dictatorship. To deal with the situation, the leaders of the European Union wisely created policies for fostering regional economic and political integration that make efforts such as the North American Free Trade Agreement "look timid and halfhearted by comparison," according to Bernd Westphal, consul general of Germany. Europe realized it had to prevent a "giant sucking sound" of businesses and jobs relocating from the 15 wealthier nations to the 10 poorer ones. It also had to foster prosperity and the spread of a middle class in these emerging economies and prevent an influx of poor workers to the richer nations. So for starters it gave the new states massive subsidies -- billions of dollars' worth -- to help construct schools, roads, telecommunications and housing, thus making these nations more attractive for business investment. The idea was to raise up the emerging economies rather than let the advanced economies be dragged down. It was expensive, but the result has been a larger economic union in which a rising tide floats all boats. In return the 10 poorer nations had to agree to raise their standards on the environment, labor law, health and safety -- and more. The incentive of admission to the European club was used as a carrot to pull the poorer nations toward acceptance of human rights and political democracy. There won't be any border maquiladoras in the European Union. Worker migration still is regulated. Immigrants will be carefully integrated so as to cause the least amount of disruption to the developed economies, with the goal of having open borders within a decade or two. This bold yet carefully planned E.U. approach suggests the direction that policy between the United States and Mexico should take. Increasingly the demands of the global economy will push North American regional integration out of the realm of a shadow economy and flawed free trade agreement. But what might such an American-Mexican union look like? It would start with massive subsidies from the United States to Mexico, a Tex-Mex Marshall Plan, with the goal of decreasing disparities on the Mexican side of the border and fostering a climate riper for investment. This would create more jobs in Mexico and foster a middle class, homeownership and better schools, roads and health care. Fewer Mexicans would then want to emigrate north. Instead, they'd stay home, becoming consumers of U.S. products.
Could some Americans fathom this, much less accept such a brilliant idea like this?

"If We Look For God, We'll Eventually Reach One Point"

My brother in law bore his testimony at church today. He recently was baptized and this was the first time he was called to bear his testimony. He talked about how he came to the church through his wife, who was an inactive member at the time. He said, "if we look for God, we'll eventually reach one point." (or something to that effect--i don't have a photographic memory). It was pretty profound though because what he basically said is that God's path and God's directions lead only one way. We either go our own way or go his. The only way to get to His point, His location, is to follow His path. Many think they are following His path, but in reality it is their own erroneous paths they follow. Heavenly Father is a God of order, not of chaos. It is impossible for all the current paths in the world that the six billion people living now take to lead to the same point when they don't take the same path.

Why Is Osama Bin Laden Still Alive?

ah, I wish I could still update the thread I started on LDSLinkup, to ask this question yet again. Why is Osama Bin Laden still alive? He's apparently released a new tape that speaks of current events, i.e. since his last transmission, so it's not some old tape released to scare everybody. Bush has said that he has wanted Bin Laden "Dead or Alive," but apparently not enough to direct the mighty American military to capture or kill this one man who directed and coordinated the 9/11 attacks on us..... Meanwhile, Saddam Hussein, who had nothing to do with 9/11 sits in a courthouse

Saturday, April 22, 2006

News of the Day (Saturday, April 22, 2006)

Boy, there is just so much stuff to report on, so I'm going to put it in one blog today. Here we go: 2005 worldwide terror attacks exceeded 10,000

Yet the numbers are a striking reminder that violence around the globe has dramatically increased in the more than four years of the war on terror.
So, four years into Bush's "War on Terror" the amount of terrorist acts around the world has INCREASED! not decreased.....how does one judge the success of any effort? Is it not by ending the attacks, rather than they increasing in number? If the war in Iraq doesn't show that Bush failed, then this should. The War in Iraq had nothing to do with the "War on Terror", except in that we opened up Iraq TO terror. Hastert, Frist Ask Bush to Probe Rising Gas Prices
Congressional leaders yesterday planned to ask President Bush to order investigations into possible price gouging by oil companies as crude oil prices hit new highs on world markets and average gasoline prices in the nation's capital blew through the $3-a-gallon mark. House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) and Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) are preparing to send a letter to the president Monday asking him to direct the Federal Trade Commission and Justice Department to investigate alleged price gouging and instruct the Environmental Protection Agency to issue waivers that might make it easier for oil refiners to produce adequate gasoline supplies, Hastert spokesman Ron Bonjean said.
The ONLY reason Frist and Hastert are even concerned about this is because they know rising gas prices are gonna kill Republicans in the November election...... Wenyi Wang Goes To Jail
WENYI WANG acted rudely when she yelled and waved a banner at visiting Chinese President Hu Jintao during his White House appearance Thursday. The Secret Service was right to hustle her off the grounds. President Bush was right to apologize. But does Ms. Wang deserve to go to prison for six months? That might be the response to embarrassing and rude speech in Beijing. It shouldn't be in Washington. But yesterday the U.S. government charged Ms. Wang under a law that could bring her that sentence. Ms. Wang, a member of the Falun Gong sect, which China suppresses, got into the media section at the White House lawn ceremony with credentials from a newspaper run by the spiritual group. According to court documents, she waved a yellow banner and shouted in Chinese: "Stop oppressing the Falun Gong," "Your time is running out," and "Anything you have done will come back to you in this lifetime." She also yelled to Mr. Bush, "Stop him from persecuting Falun Gong!" For that, Ms. Wang has been charged under a law that makes anyone who "intimidates, coerces, threatens, or harasses a foreign official or an official guest or obstructs a foreign official in the performance of his duties" face up to six months in jail. Such laws are necessary to protect visiting dignitaries from attacks -- and to ensure reciprocal protections for U.S. officials abroad. But no one alleges that Mr. Hu was ever in danger of anything more serious than irritation or humiliation. According to the court documents, the yelling caused Mr. Hu "to interrupt his speech" and look toward Ms. Wang. There's no question that it also caused Mr. Bush to be embarrassed about a lapse of protocol for a visitor acutely sensitive to diplomatic niceties. Okay, but the United States shouldn't indirectly apologize to the Chinese by means of an action that affronts American values.
Just simply more bungling by the Bush Administration this past week with President Hu's visit. Interestingly, never before has any protester done this, as an American president is meeting with a foreign president at the White House, to shout out and disrupt the two leaders. Not only that, but President Hu visited Bill Gates in Seattle, and never had this happen to him there. This certainly looks, and smells, like a setup, a staging, to embarass the Chinese President. It smells of Karl Rove. A Spy Speaks Out
Drumheller, who retired last year, says the White House ignored crucial information from a high and credible source. The source was Iraq's foreign minister, Naji Sabri, with whom U.S. spies had made a deal. When CIA Director George Tenet delivered this news to the president, the vice president and other high ranking officials, they were excited — but not for long. "[The source] told us that there were no active weapons of mass destruction programs," says Drumheller. "The [White House] group that was dealing with preparation for the Iraq war came back and said they were no longer interested. And we said 'Well, what about the intel?' And they said 'Well, this isn't about intel anymore. This is about regime change.' " They didn't want any additional data from Sabri because, says Drumheller: "The policy was set. The war in Iraq was coming and they were looking for intelligence to fit into the policy." The White House declined to respond to this charge, but Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has stated that Sabri was just one source and therefore not reliable. Drumheller says the administration routinely relied on single sources — when those single sources confirmed what the White House wanted to hear. "They certainly took information that came from single sources on the yellowcake story and on several other stories with no corroboration at all," he says. The "yellowcake story" refers to a report the CIA received in late 2001 alleging that Iraq had purchased 500 tons of uranium from Africa, presumably to build a nuclear bomb. Many in the CIA doubted the uranium report from the beginning, and continued to doubt it, even as White House speechwriters tried to include the report in the president’s speeches. In a major speech the president was scheduled to give in Cincinnati, the leadership of the CIA intervened directly to remove the uranium report from the speech. But that didn't stop it from making it into the president's State of the Union address a short time later. "As a British report," says Drumheller. A senior CIA official signed off on the speech only because the uranium reference was attributed to the British. "It just sticks in my craw every time I hear them say it's an intelligence failure. … This was a policy failure. … I think, over time, people will look back on this and see this is going to be one of the great, I think, policy mistakes of all time," Drumheller tells Bradley.
Rice says he's just one person therefore unreliable. Yet Rice fails to mention (of course because it would undermine her faulty position) that the Downing Street Memos also have the head of British intelligence saying the SAME THING!
C reported on his recent talks in Washington. There was a perceptible shift in attitude. Military action was now seen as inevitable. Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD. But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy. The NSC had no patience with the UN route, and no enthusiasm for publishing material on the Iraqi regime's record. There was little discussion in Washington of the aftermath after military action.
What's the phrase from the New Testament? ah! in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. and finally..... How The GOP Has Lost Its Way
The elites in the GOP have never understood conservatives or Reagan; they've found both to be a bit tacky. They have always found the populists' commitment to values unsettling. To them, adherence to conservative principles was always less important than wealth and power. Unfortunately, the GOP has lost its motivating ideals. The revolution of 1994 has been killed not by zeal but by a loss of faith in its own principles. The tragedy is not that we are faced with another fight for the soul of the Republican Party but that we have missed an opportunity to bring a new generation of Americans over to our point of view. All agree that the Democrats are feckless and without a plan or agenda. But most Americans are now presented with a choice between two parties that are both addicted to power -- the Democrats to government power and Republicans to corporate and governmental power. Who speaks for Main Street Reaganism? It was the populists under Reagan, and later under Newt Gingrich, who energized the party, gave voice to a maturing conservative ideology and swept Republicans into power. We would be imprudent and forgetful to disregard this. But it may be too late, because conservatives don't want to be part of the looming train wreck. They know that this is no longer Ronald Reagan's party.
He thinks that Republicans are failing to bring more to their cause because of a loss of faith in their ideals? He's actually more correct to say that they are losing because of zeal rather than loss of faith. He actually believes that Republicans are not zealous enough right now? This is the worst I've ever seen Republicans, in regards to their zeal.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Orrin Hatch's Donors.....Not Your Clean Cut Donors

Senator Hatch apparently receives a great deal of money from tobacco, liquor, and gambling industries... he says:

Hatch told the Daily Herald editorial board recently that he has no qualms. The tobacco, alcohol and gambling industries are not trying to influence him, he said. They are merely showing support for his brand of politics.
So in other words, according to Senator Hatch, if a pornographer was a staunch conservative, it would be fine to receive funds from that said pornographer?

Get Back Here, Hu!

Get Back Here Hu! This is how the President of the United States treats leaders of other nations.....

How Much Does Cheney Care About America's Relations With China?

This photo should explain it all.... Cheney's level of concern about America's relations with China

Distraction

An interesting new study shows that about 80 percent of crashes involved people who were distracted or drowsy within seconds of impact....from Drowsy, Distracted and Driving. Ain't that the truth of it. This world is a distraction, all of it, from what we really are trying to do, and that is to follow God's commandments. Most of our sins come from being distracted from our path.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Reshuffling the Same Deck

Howard Fineman has a great piece on the current "reshuffling" that Bush is going through with his staff: Clipping Rove's Wings

Some officials were upset when the president said that it would be up to his successor to decide when to end America’s military involvement in Iraq. At least one of them told me that Bush hadn’t meant to say such a thing, and didn’t mean what he seemed to be saying. But it’s true: He’s not leaving Iraq anytime soon, or even winding the war down dramatically. Yes, there are generals who think we never should have gone there, or that the way we went was horribly botched. But that’s not enough to make Bush willing to pull the plug, or even fire Donald Rumsfeld. On Iraq, in poker terms, Bush is doubling down. Nor is he likely to make wholesale changes in his foreign policy and defense team. Bolten can rearrange the deck chairs all he wants to on domestic and economic policy. But the Axis of Believers—Cheney-Rummy-Rove-Condi—remains. The more the media and its band of Republican allies complain, the more dug in Bush will become. He’s as stubborn as Slim Pickens in “Dr. Strangelove:” He’d rather ride Rummy to Armageddon than seem to concede that Iraq was a botched project.
and in regards to McClellan's departure, here are some of the highlights (or lowlights) of his non-answers to the press: Briefing Room Follies McClellan's Greatest Hits Just the facts, Mike, please provide us with just the facts!

Some Thoughts on Immigration

I really haven't delved into this topic too much, yet, because I've been trying to ponder on just what my view really is. Robert Samuelson has said this in his Conspiracy Against Assimilation op-ed in the Washington Post.

It's all about assimilation -- or it should be. One of America's glories is that it has assimilated many waves of immigrants. Outsiders have become insiders. But it hasn't been easy. Every new group has struggled: Germans, Irish, Jews and Italians. All have encountered economic hardship, prejudice and discrimination. The story of U.S. immigration is often ugly. If today's wave of immigration does not end in assimilation, it will be a failure. By this standard, I think the major contending sides in the present bitter debate are leading us astray. Their proposals, if adopted, would frustrate assimilation. ....... It's sometimes said that today's Hispanics will resemble yesterday's Italians. Although they won't advance as rapidly as some other groups of more skilled immigrants, they'll still move into the mainstream. Many have -- and will. But the overall analogy is a stretch, according to a recent study, "Italians Then, Mexicans Now," by sociologist Joel Perlmann of Bard College. Since 1970 wages of Mexican immigrants compared with those of native whites have declined. By contrast, wages of Italians and Poles who arrived early in the last century rose over time. For the children of immigrants, gaps are also wide. Second-generation Italians and Poles typically earned 90 percent or more compared to native whites. For second-generation Mexican Americans, the similar figure is 75 percent. One big difference between then and now: Immigration slowly halted during and after World War I. The Italians and Poles came mainly between 1890 and 1915. Older immigrants didn't always have to compete with newcomers who beat down their wages. There was time for outsiders and insiders to adapt to each other. We should heed history's lesson.
It is indeed not a good comparison, to compare the Italians of yesteryear and Hispanics of today. If we are to look at history as our lesson, we need to ask ourselves why did Italians stop coming over en masse after 1915? Sure, you have World War I, but, what changed about Italy after WWI? Did it begin to flourish? Did it not become pretty prosperous? A better comparison on the tales Italian and Hispanic immigrants is on growth, or lack thereof, of their respective countries, Mexico and Italy. How has Mexico been doing these past 20 years or so? How did Italy do after WWI? There is no valid comparison in history for what America has to deal with today in regards to immigration, legal and illegal, from Mexico. Mexico and the United States have the highest disparity in income of any two contiguous states in the world, most likely ever in the history of the world. When a Mexican worker can get a piddly job in America for five times what he would get in Mexico, would he not risk all so he can earn good money for his family? I would. The problem lies in Mexico, and in that country's inability to grow. It cannot be argued that their vicinity to the richest country in the world is a problem, as Canada does just fine to the north. And in actuality, what might be a good comparison, a good political research paper is on the contrasts between Canada and Mexico. Let us see just why one nation does well and the other still cannot really get itself off its feet.

Changes in the White House Staff....Is It Just Cosmetic?

So Bush's new chief of staff has "shaken up" some staff positions. You've got McClellan, the press secretary, i.e. the spokesman, gone, and Rove, not gone, not sent to the gallows, but shuffled into a new position with just as much power and influence as before. Are these changes going to actually "shake up" this White House? I agree with American Blog:

Who cares? by John in DC - 4/19/2006 10:15:00 AM Seriously. Bush gets rids of his spokesman? Ooh, big deal. The guy who is ordered to lie for him is going to be replaced by another guy who is ordered to lie for him. And this will significantly change the direction of this disaster of an administration how? Bush also changed the head of the Office of Management and Budget - that would be his accountant, for all intents and purposes. So, we now have a new accountant, and a new mouthpiece who simply parrots what Bush tells him. How is that going to change the situation in Iraq? How is that going to prevent Bush from getting us into a third disastrous war, a nuclear one this time, in Iran? Is the new press secretary or the new accountant going to come up with the war plan for Iran this time instead of Rummy? And how about the budget deficit? If your spokesman setting policy on that one? Is the new accountant going to be vetoing spending bills that Bush wouldn't? Are either of these guys going to order Bush to stop breaking the bank? And which one, the spokesman or the accountant, are going to order Bush to stop lying and stop being incompetent? I'm just trying to understand why these changes in the Bush administration are anything more than cosmetic as it concerns the top concerns of the American people.
Here are the important questions: Why are President Bush's numbers so low? Why is he sitting on 35% approval rating? Would not firing those who led Bush to such low numbers be a real "shake up?" The problem here is that McClellan had nothing to do with policy. Rove, who did have something to do with policy, remains in a very influential position. The problem is that Bush's numbers are so low because of Iraq. Iraq is dragging Bush down. Can Bush fire Rumsfeld? No. Why? Because Rumsfeld has simply been doing what his boss told him to do. You fire Rumsfeld and you send the message that the war in Iraq was executed poorly and wrongly. This shakeup will not accomplish much realistically. It only sends the illusion of change. But that's all this administration has cared for, maintaining an illusion. You cannot bamboozle a nation with the facts; you can only bamboozle with illusions.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

The Failed "No Child Left Behind" Act

Here is yet another example of this, one of the worst laws to ever come to pass here in America!

More About Oil Companies, Equatorial Guinea and the Bush Administration

In my previous post, I showed how kindly Ms. Rice sees and greets Equatorial Guinea, an oil-producing nation in Sub-Saharan Africa. It seems the manner in which oil is being produced in this country would normally be considered highly immoral and unethical..... U.S. Oil Firms Entwined in Equatorial Guinea Deals: Riggs Probe Led to SEC Inquiry on Corruption, Profiteering Is this the kind of "friend" America seeks?

Not About Oil, Eh?

So the Bush Administration claims that their policies are not influenced by oil, at least they claim that publicly. But their actions sure speak volumes about how oil has tainted the White House..... Condoleezza Rice paid a visit to the country of Equatorial Guinea. This tiny country is now the third largest oil-producing country in Sub-Saharan Africa. No wonder it is getting the attention of the Bush Administration who sent Ms. Rice to meet with Mr. Obiang, the current ruler who:

"Most domestic and international observers consider his regime to be one of the most corrupt, ethnocentric, oppressive and anti-democratic states in the world.
Ms. Rice considers him a "good friend". Really? How is Mr. Obiang's efforts at democracy in his country, Ms. Rice? This op-ed from the Washington Post ought to clear things up about Mr. Obiang and Ms. Rice.
So it is uncontroversial to observe that Mr. Obiang is no friend to his people. But he is a "good friend" of the United States, at least according to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who met with him last week in Washington. "I'm very pleased to welcome the president," Ms. Rice told reporters after the meeting. "Thank you very much for your presence here." Mr. Obiang purred back: "We are extremely pleased and hopeful that this relationship will continue to grow in friendship and cooperation." In the global rankings of political and civil liberties compiled by Freedom House, only seven countries rate worse than Equatorial Guinea. If President Bush and Ms. Rice want anyone to take their pro-democracy rhetoric seriously, they must stop throwing bouquets to odious dictators. The meeting with Mr. Obiang was presumably a reward for his hospitable treatment of U.S. oil firms, though we cannot be sure since the State Department declined our invitation to comment. But Ms. Rice herself argues that U.S. foreign policy spent too long coddling corruption and autocracy in Arab oil states. Surely she doesn't have a different standard for Africa?
Of course, Mr. Bush and Ms. Rice say very little about Pakistan and Musharraf's crackdowns on Democracies, or Mubarrak of Egypt and his crackdowns on democracy. Why do we only hear about democracy in Iraq and Iran?

Global Warming - An Inconvenient Truth

Al Gore may have "lost" the 2000 Election to George Bush but he keeps his fight on global warming going, with a new film called "An Inconvenient Truth." You can see the trailer here and judge for yourself the quality of the film. I do wonder what direction America would have taken if Gore "won" the election in 2000. Karl Rove had successfully caricatured Gore as a bore and a snobbish intellectual, so that enough rednecks from Florida voted for Bush rather than Gore. Would America have done more to fight global warming? I think the answer to that would be a resounding YES!. It has been clear as Houston smog that Bush doesn't care about the environment. Richard Cohen has this to say about Gore's movie and his continued drive to thwart, or at least warn the world about the dangers of, global warming.

Gore insists his presidential aspirations are behind him. "I think there are other ways to serve," he told me. No doubt. But on paper, he is the near-perfect Democratic candidate for 2008. Among other things, he won the popular vote in 2000. He opposed going to war in Iraq, but he supported the Persian Gulf War -- right both times. He is smart, experienced and, despite the false caricatures, a man versed in the new technologies -- especially the Internet. He is much more a person of the 21st century than most of the other potential candidates. Trouble is, a campaign is not a film. Gore could be a great president. First, though, he has to be a good candidate. In the meantime, he is a man on a mission. Wherever he goes -- and he travels incessantly -- he finds time and an audience to deliver his (free) lecture on global warming. It and the film leave no doubt of the peril we face, nor do they leave any doubt that Gore, at last, is a man at home in his role. He is master teacher, pedagogue, know-it-all, smarter than most of us, better informed and, having tried and failed to gain the presidency, he has raised his sights to save the world. We simply cannot afford for Al Gore to lose again.
The thing that I like about Al Gore since 2000 is that he has been relentlessly on point, standing for what he believes no matter how much he is ridiculed. The thing is that his beliefs are not whacked as some would have you believe. Al Gore is right. In Genesis, Adam and Eve were commanded to "multiply and replenish the earth." How can you replenish the earth if you use it up? How can the earth be replenished if it is intoxicated? How can the earth grow if it is being torn down? It is bad policy to simply use the materials provided for us on this earth and then discard them. If we cut down a tree, why not plant a new one in its stead? Why not push even harder to find renewable sources of energy or cleaner sources of energy? This earth can house probably close to 80 billion people if we use our resources correctly. But we aren't. We're not even close to using our resources the best way we can. We're in a point where we are RUNNING OUT! We can do better. Listening to Al Gore is a start.

Our Various Blogs

So now that I've left Linkup, for posting my thoughts I have several blogs. The Life of Nicolae Padigone This blog will be my general thoughts, life, frustrations, etc, such as when our Friends DVD disc breaks just as we get to a really cool episodes. Librarian Thoughts As a librarian, I have created a blog to have a place for ideas and thoughts on my profession. RHMD's Thoughts on Politics This will be where I keep my feelings about politics. It can't be helped. I shouldn't have gotten the degree in International Politics from BYU....I'm now hooked. My wife has a blog of her own too, for her thoughts. It is called Illuminations on Life, Love, and Liberty Finally we created a blog for our thoughts on relationships and family called A & N: Eternal Companions I hope to see you all at any of these blogs. I'm trying to expand out and read what others are writing.

Quake of 1906 Anniversary

In 1906, San Francisco and the rest of America, suffered what was the worst natural disaster up until Hurricane Katrina in 2005. The Quake of '06 hit San Francisco hard, causing fires that killed a large number of people. The government placed the number dead at 478, a number they drew out of a hat, for fear of a loss of real estate and growth after the quake. Estimates range more from 3000-6000 dead. Having grown up in the Bay Area and having learned a little of the history, this date is important. I was a freshman in high school when on October 17, 1989, in Loma Prieta, California, the earth began to tremble once more, up to 7.2 on the Richter scale. I was at school working on Tied To The Tracks a pretty fun musical. I was outside in the Quad. Roland, a senior and a very energetic fun guy, ran to the middle of the Quad when he saw the windows start to shake. I followed him out and sat down, watching and feeling the earth shake back and forth, side to side. With this post, I pay a tribute to those who lost loved ones during both of those earthquakes. Nobody that I knew passed away during the Loma Prieta Quake of '89. The quake damaged a lot of homes and changed many people's lives.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Iran Pledges $50 Million to Palestinians

So Palestinians, through direct democracy, freely chose the party to represent themselves to govern themselves. They chose Hamas. Bush doesn't like Hamas so he orders America and Europe not to pay the Palestinians the money they desparately need. Who steps into the void? Iran! Great job, Bush!

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Rumsfeld Allowed Prisoner Abuse

Rumsfeld Allowed Prisoner Abuse! So Bush thinks this is exactly what is needed, a defense secretary that allows prisoner abuse to happen.....

Lessons From The Art of War

I am curious as to how many Americans have actually read Sun Tzu's The Art of War...... here is chapter 3:

III. ATTACK BY STRATAGEM 1. Sun Tzu said: In the practical art of war, the best thing of all is to take the enemy's country whole and intact; to shatter and destroy it is not so good. So, too, it is better to recapture an army entire than to destroy it, to capture a regiment, a detachment or a company entire than to destroy them. 2. Hence to fight and conquer in all your battles is not supreme excellence; supreme excellence consists in breaking the enemy's resistance without fighting. 3. Thus the highest form of generalship is to balk the enemy's plans; the next best is to prevent the junction of the enemy's forces; the next in order is to attack the enemy's army in the field; and the worst policy of all is to besiege walled cities. 4. The rule is, not to besiege walled cities if it can possibly be avoided. The preparation of mantlets, movable shelters, and various implements of war, will take up three whole months; and the piling up of mounds over against the walls will take three months more. 5. The general, unable to control his irritation, will launch his men to the assault like swarming ants, with the result that one-third of his men are slain, while the town still remains untaken. Such are the disastrous effects of a siege. 6. Therefore the skillful leader subdues the enemy's troops without any fighting; he captures their cities without laying siege to them; he overthrows their kingdom without lengthy operations in the field. 7. With his forces intact he will dispute the mastery of the Empire, and thus, without losing a man, his triumph will be complete. This is the method of attacking by stratagem. 8. It is the rule in war, if our forces are ten to the enemy's one, to surround him; if five to one, to attack him; if twice as numerous, to divide our army into two. 9. If equally matched, we can offer battle; if slightly inferior in numbers, we can avoid the enemy; if quite unequal in every way, we can flee from him. 10. Hence, though an obstinate fight may be made by a small force, in the end it must be captured by the larger force. 11. Now the general is the bulwark of the State; if the bulwark is complete at all points; the State will be strong; if the bulwark is defective, the State will be weak. 12. There are three ways in which a ruler can bring misfortune upon his army:-- 13. (1) By commanding the army to advance or to retreat, being ignorant of the fact that it cannot obey. This is called hobbling the army. 14. (2) By attempting to govern an army in the same way as he administers a kingdom, being ignorant of the conditions which obtain in an army. This causes restlessness in the soldier's minds. 15. (3) By employing the officers of his army without discrimination, through ignorance of the military principle of adaptation to circumstances. This shakes the confidence of the soldiers. 16. But when the army is restless and distrustful, trouble is sure to come from the other feudal princes. This is simply bringing anarchy into the army, and flinging victory away. 17. Thus we may know that there are five essentials for victory: (1) He will win who knows when to fight and when not to fight. (2) He will win who knows how to handle both superior and inferior forces. (3) He will win whose army is animated by the same spirit throughout all its ranks. (4) He will win who, prepared himself, waits to take the enemy unprepared. (5) He will win who has military capacity and is not interfered with by the sovereign. 18. Hence the saying: If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle. The Art of War
My favorite part is #2:
2. Hence to fight and conquer in all your battles is not supreme excellence; supreme excellence consists in breaking the enemy's resistance without fighting.
So here is the kicker question: Is it cowardace to not fight?

Neo-Conservatives and their Love of War

I occasionally will read The Weekly Standard to read up on just what my enemy thinks. Yes, neo-conservatives are my political enemy here in America. They are the driving force behind the war in Iraq, and it seems from reading this article entitled "To Bomb or Not to Bomb" that they are the driving force behind a new war with Iran. As you read this article, you can't help but think that these people can only see things through American eyes. (Rage Against the Machine has a song called No Shelter which has as lyrics, "American eyes, American eyes, view the world from American eyes.") Sun Tzu has said:

So it is said that if you know others and know yourself, you will not be imperiled in a hundred battles; if you do not know others but know yourself, you win one and lose one; if you do not know others and do not know yourself, you will be imperiled in every single battle". Sun Tzu --Art of War, Chapter 3: Attack By Stratagem
Once again neo-conservatives show how little they understand not only Iran, but the whole Islamic world. Once again, they only see the world through American eyes. It is a very dangerous thing to do, see things only through your own eyes. At least there is a small sliver of hope that neo-conservatism is dead, or dying, in the water. Francis Fukuyama, one of the original founders of neo-conservatism has rejected neo-conservatives's current views of the world in his new book called America at the Crossroads A New York Times review says the following regarding the book and Mr. Fukuyama:
In February 2004, Francis Fukuyama attended a neoconservative think-tank dinner in Washington and listened aghast as the featured speaker, the columnist Charles Krauthammer, attributed "a virtually unqualified success" to America's efforts in Iraq, and the audience enthusiastically applauded. Fukuyama was aghast partly for the obvious reason, but partly for another reason, too, which, as he explains in the opening pages of his new book, "America at the Crossroads," was entirely personal. ....... Fukuyama offers a thumbnail sketch of neoconservatism and its origins, back to the anti-Communist left at City College in the 1930's and 40's and to the conservative philosophers (Leo Strauss, Allan Bloom, Albert Wohlstetter) at the University of Chicago in later years. From these disparate origins, the neoconservatives eventually generated "a set of coherent principles," which, taken together, ended up defining their impulse in foreign affairs during the last quarter-century. They upheld a belief that democratic states are by nature friendly and unthreatening, and therefore America ought to go around the world promoting democracy and human rights wherever possible. They believed that American power can serve moral purposes. They doubted the usefulness of international law and institutions. And they were skeptical about what is called "social engineering" — about big government and its ability to generate positive social changes. Such is Fukuyama's summary. It seems to me too kind. For how did the neoconservatives propose to reconcile their ambitious desire to combat despotism around the world with their cautious aversion to social engineering? Fukuyama notes that during the 1990's the neoconservatives veered in militarist directions, which strikes him as a mistake. A less sympathetic observer might recall that neoconservative foreign policy thinking has all along indulged a romance of the ruthless — an expectation that small numbers of people might be able to play a decisive role in world events, if only their ferocity could be unleashed. It was a romance of the ruthless that led some of the early generation of neoconservatives in the 1970's to champion the grisliest of anti-Communist guerrillas in Angola; and, during the next decade, led the neoconservatives to champion some not very attractive anti-Communist guerrillas in Central America, too; and led the Reagan administration's neoconservatives into the swamps of the Iran-contra scandal in order to go on championing their guerrillas. Doesn't this same impulse shed a light on the baffling question of how the Bush administration of our own time could have managed to yoke together a stirring democratic oratory with a series of grotesque scandals involving American torture — this very weird and self-defeating combination of idealism and brass knuckles? But Fukuyama must not agree.
What Fukuyama is now basically arguing is that neo-conservatives have forgotten their roots, (from the article above comes this interesting sentence: "They upheld a belief that democratic states are by nature friendly and unthreatening, and therefore America ought to go around the world promoting democracy and human rights wherever possible."), and that the practicality, and not the theoretical, aspects of neo-conservatism has lost its way. It is his argument in his new journal called The American Interest. In an article entitled The Paradox of International Action he says the following in the abstract (I am not a subscriber and just stumbled upon his new journal):
Whatever else it has done and may yet do, the Iraq war has exposed the limits of American benevolent hegemony. We have learned that American power does not seem to many others, including some we thought among our best friends, as benign as most Americans believe it is. But the war also exposed the limits of existing international institutions, particularly the United Nations, that are favored by most Europeans as the proper framework for legitimate international action. The United Nations was able neither to ratify the U.S. decision to go to war nor to stop Washington from acting on its own. From either perspective, it failed. The world today lacks effective international institutions that can confer legitimacy on collective action. Creating new institutions that will better balance the requirements of legitimacy and effectiveness will be the primary task for the coming generation. As a result of more than two hundred years of political evolution, we have a relatively good understanding of how to create institutions that are rule-bound, accountable and reasonably effective in the vertical silos we call states. What we do not have are adequate institutions of horizontal accountability among states.
So here is a question that arises out of this conversation. Just how benign does America look when it talks about war with Iraq, war with Iran, and war with North Korea (oh yeah, now that NK has nukes, we don't talk about them anymore....)? Is America friendly and non-threatening? By STARTING two wars (it seems a war with Iran is inevitable from the talk coming out of the mouths of neo-conservatives), has America fundamentally changed its very nature? Is it a standard of peace and liberty? Or does this not have, in actuality, the very sound that Orwell warned us about? WAR IS PEACE FREEDOM IS SLAVERY IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH Fukuyama is almost right. It isn't international action that is paradoxical, but the Bush Doctrine of preemption and unilateralism that is paradoxical and anathema to what America really stands for. Why? Why is it paradoxical? It comes back to American eyes. What some Americans do not realize is that America is looked at by most of the world as a light, a beacon, an example of what should be, what they should be. Many Americans do not realize this because they cannot see with the eyes of others, but their own. Transform America into what will be perceived as an ugly, aggressive beast, and America's highly important standing as the Light of the World, will diminish, and perhaps China will take over as the example to the world. Fukuyama and his former neo-conservative fellows believed in the early 90s with Fukuyama's "End of History" essays that the final epitomal form of government is the liberal democratic kind that flourished in 1989 as described by Huntington in The Third Wave. America's example is what led so many of these nations to turn to democracy. Today however, in the regions where America attempted to subvert nations (neo-conservatives's guerrilla campaigns of the 70s and 80s), those nations are rejecting Western-style governments, and/or, movements that support and want to strengthen ties with the West. In South America, leftist socialist parties continue to gain political strength on the waves of Anti-Americanism. In the Middle East, in Palestine, Hamas---certainly no lover of the West---won the election, stunning many in the West. (I wasn't surprised---but this is for another discussion). In Iran, the mullahs continue strengthening their hand. In Iraq, the party with the strongest ties to America lost in the election. In Pakistan, the only thing keeping Musharaf in power is that he is a dictator! America can influence the world for good. What I say, though, will be called by neo-conservatives as keeping the "status quo". Because I don't want to go to war, I'm called "status quo", "anti-American", "coward," "lover of terrorists", blah blah blah. America won the Cold War not because it fired a shot at the Soviet Union, but because it didn't. Peace won that conflict. RHMD