Nov 30, 2005

Here, Mr. President, Can You Speak These Words?

A Speech President Bush Should Have Delivered, but, he Lacks the Sense & Sensibility to Do it

On November 30th, 2005, President Bush delivered a speech at the Naval Academy in Annapolis, MD, about his war policy under a banner, "Plan For Victory". Remember the other banner, "Mission Accomplished"... Back then, while riding high, he told us that "major combat operations have ended" in Iraq! Ah, well, to use a bushism, "fooled me once...I can't get fooled again!" Whatever.

Here's a speech I drafted for a president who would speak from the heart, if he had one, and would face reality, if he had the guts....

As I stand here today, in the Naval Academy, I see before me young men and women who represent the armed forces of this nation, and who have, in essence, pledged their lives to defend our country. I stand here as your Commander-in-Chief, yet I do understand that this title bestows me with a huge responsibility, not only toward you but also toward the United States of America. I have to make difficult decisions, but I will never commit our most precious resources, our blood, sweat and tears, without our country being in grave danger and before I carefully weigh the consequences of such an action. I will never lie to you and I will never ask you to make any sacrifice that I, myself, wouldn't be willing to make.

In the past, our leaders have made many serious mistakes at great cost and serious injury to our country. Wisdom often comes at a high price, but it is available only to those willing and able to handle the truth and use their minds. We, as responsible citizens, must know our history and learn from our past mistakes. As individuals, we have to be strong, admit it when we are wrong, and we can take corrective action when necessary. Being stubborn in the face of overwhelming evidence that clearly shows we've taken the wrong path, is not a very smart thing to do. You are being trained to be leaders which means you can adapt to the rapidly changing circumstances on the battlefield, maintain a cool head, and be open-minded to the facts--even if the facts contradict your original views. A good leader is a responsible leader and one who sees beyond his own interests and can overcome his shortcomings.

When our country must sacrifice, I will do my best to see that this burden is widely shared and not placed on the shoulders of the least privileged of our society. I will not allow such a situation to become a way to transfer more wealth to the few, especially when this would result in mortgaging the future of the many. If sacrifice we must, then the pain must be more equitably distributed. It's only fair. Patriotism isn't defined by big talk & long speeches, waving of the flag, and saluting the veterans. A true patriot doesn't remain indifferent on the sidelines when his country is at risk or when blood is being shed, nor does he cares only how to make a profit from the war while his corporation sets up its headquarters overseas to avoid paying taxes.

I know that many of you chose a military career because of the benefits offered by the military: the professional training & the skills, the healthcare benefits, the signing bonuses, etc. I realize that for many of you the military offers opportunities not available to you otherwise. I'm not trying to devalue your commitment to and your love for the country. On the contrary! You all have families, friends, neighbors, our democracy, and our way of life to defend. We are very much indebted to you. I have instructed our recruiters never to lie to you, no false pretenses and promises. And, when you sign up, you should know that your country will never let you down.

Without you, the rest of us wouldn't be able to survive in a hostile world. So, again, we thank you for your commitment, and I promise you to do whatever I can to give you all the necessary means to perform your job. I won't send you into combat without the proper equipment and training. I won't lie to you about our objectives and the reasons for placing you in harm's way. There will be casualties--that's a dire consequence of war. But, I will make sure that all of our injured personnel will get the best medical treatment and their health benefits will never be reduced. The same goes for the families of those killed in action. It's the least we can do for the ultimate sacrifice that so many fighting men & women have done for us.

Yet, a war should be the last resort. We are a powerful country but our strength hasn't relied only on the might of our armed forces. Our strength derives from the strength of the American character, our freedom & tolerance, our diversity, our technology, our culture, our scientific progress, and our democratic way of life. The American experience and the reality of the frontier, even the violent struggles for civil rights, the many peoples who came to our shores to pursue their dreams of a better life... All these, I believe, made us good people, not perfect but always improving. That's progress. We can't turn back! We've endured many trials and tribulations, but like the Revolutionary soldiers at Valley Forge, we marched ahead and blazed our own trails... and we became the envy of the world. We made mistakes aplenty, like every other nation. We accept the responsibility with the promise to look forward with the urgency to keep building a better world for us, and for our children. We should remain the leaders not by military power alone but because we command respect for our worthwhile achievements and the values for which we stand.

The United States does not stand for torture. We are part of the civilized international community that abhors torture and inhumane treatment. We believe that there are certain inalienable rights every person is entitled to, a common sense of human decency that should be universally applied. We strive to be better than our enemies because we recognize the value in every human life, and that we lead by example. We cannot fight intolerance by being intolerant ourselves. We cannot fight terrorism, ignorance and extreme prejudice by exhibiting the worst traits possible. No high value or noble goal can be defended by employing de-humanizing ways and means.

I hope that by the time the freshman class graduates this academy, the United States will not have to use its armies in war but rather as a powerful deterrence. You will be America's ambassadors to the world as we'll help make and maintain the peace. You can help show that although we're very strong we choose not to use violence unless we have no other credible option. Our enemies won't go away any time soon but nor will our resolve to defend ourselves and all those who fight for democracy, human rights and peace. And, our foreign policy will reflect our commitment to those values. United with our friends & allies we can demonstrate to the world that there is much to be gained in prosperity and personal fulfillment by working together.

Finally, I want to call upon all the good citizens of the world to join the United States in committing to the effort of bettering the lives of the less privileged among us. If we are to fight, let's fight extreme poverty, let's fight the diseases that kill & maim millions of humans every day, let's introduce peace to those who see war as a perpetual state, let's give real hope to those who need it most.
Thank you, and let's get to work. Let's excel in everything we do. I expect no less from my fellow Americans. I know our United States can do a lot more. And we will.


Bush's audience at the Naval Academy

Sadly, a speech like this is not something that can be delivered by G. W. Bush or his clique. They lack the sense and sensibilities. Their views of the world are rather small and their horizon is unbelievably microscopic. In line with Newspeak, this is an example what our Caesar is capable of, a blend of Newspeak and bushisms:

"I just want to you know that when we talk about war, we're talking about peace.."
President G W Bush, Washington D.C., June 18, 2002.

Why, did you expect anything better? I didn't think so.

Nov 19, 2005

They Claim Stupidity When Everything Else Fails

When someone pleads stupidity you know that things are really bad. Should we take Dickey on his word, that Bushco did not intentionally mislead the nation into a costly war? In other words, should we accept that our leaders are a bunch of incompetent and stupid people who couldn't get the facts straight? That's exactly what the Vice is trying to argue today. Of course, if this is the case, then we have to throw in some generous dose of amnesia, because this is not what they were saying earlier. [check their record on Iraq here]

For my part, I'd like my elected representatives to tell me the truth and address me in a adult-like manner; I don't want baby talk, I can handle the truth, and, yes, I prefer making up my own mind. But, it goes both ways, I suppose. What does it say about us? If half of the eligible citizens remain apathetic and don't vote, and many of those who do vote don't exercise proper care in their civic duty, then we collectively get what we deserve. In the span of a year after re-electing Dubya, Americans suffer a buyer's remorse, but I really don't see what new evidence came up in the last year that contradicted the previous facts on which Americans based their decision on election day in 2004. Simply, they weren't paying much attention, because what we know today (although in more detail and quantity) isn't different from what we (those of us who cared to check) knew in the summer of 2004.

Perhaps, Dickey is trying to pull another fast one. He's used to speak from both sides of his mouth. In the early 90s, he was very critical of the idea that the US should go into Baghdad and commit troops there for an indefinite period. [1992 interview to BBC and other media]. In 2003, however, he was telling us that "there is no doubt that Saddam has reconstituted his nuclear weapons programs," and, "we know where they [WMDs] are." We remember the chorus line that sang us the "imminent threat," the "mushroom cloud," and the satanic alliance between AlQueda and Saddam's Iraq. And, no, those in Congress who voted for the war (under specific provisions that were ignored later by Bushco) did not have the same intelligence as the White House.

Another issue that really bothers me is the attitude of Bushco's cabal against those who criticize the failed policies of the administration. They all need a lesson in civics. You can't export democracy if you're attack it at home. Being critical is not unpatriotic; as a matter of fact it is our duty to question the rulers, especially if they have a track of intentionally misleading the nation. Knowing what's going on and being active in the affairs of our country is the duty of a patriot. Every citizen should try to prevent his country from doing terrible mistakes, and prevent it from being highjacked by the narrow special interests as expressed by those in power today. Dickey and Dubya must understand that "giving comfort to the enemy" doesn't come from internal criticism in a democratic society where the people are informed and engaged--this is what we do in a free society. This democracy is what others in non-free countries have been yearning for.

What gives comfort to our enemies is our torture policy, our imperial arrogance, our leaders' "achievement" to divide our friends and unite our enemies. Bushco has been godsend present to AlQueda as a recruitment instrument for terrorists. I'm sure that Osama Bin Laden voted for Bush. And, it wouldn't be far-fetched to argue that Bushco needs the devil who's out there ready to destroy America! All authoritarian and falling regimes need the external threat in order to distract and pass measures to the detriment of the majority of their people. If you're not familiar with George Orwell's 1984, I suggest you read the book! [the movie based on his book is rather good and available on dvd] In addition to the other themes, pay attention to the Newspeak--how the language is distorted.

Like Dubya tried to say a while ago (using Bushisms), "fooled me once, shame on me..." Being fooled is not fun, but what's worse is being fooled about important things, especially when there are easy steps to prevent the fraud. In a democracy there are corrective measures, though this doesn't mean there are no costs in making mistakes. However, we must learn from past mistakes, assume responsibility, but also make it very costly to those who deceive us. If we accept the stupidity plea then we should re-examine our heads and who is the actual fool... the one who's doing the pleading or the one who accepts it....

Nov 9, 2005

The Good, The Bad & The Ugly: An All-American Story

Intelligent (re)disign takes time!
Lots of elections all around the country this November and it seems that the Democrats did quite well, though I'd advise not to get complacent and expect the voters to return Congress to Democratic control next year. We need a clear-cut agenda and bold proposals, including a plan for getting out of Iraq. I think we can draw some encouragement from the the results on Tuesday. First, the two governorships, in New Jersey and Virginia, were easily won by Dems, but most importantly many people voted specifically against the Republicans as those people don't like what they see in the conservative agenda. Any association with president Bush proved politically deadly, in New Jersey, but more so in Virginia where Bush carried this red state by 8 points a year ago. The president came in when the Repub was trailing in the polls by 3% and when he left his buddy lost by 5 or 6 points!

Both sides point out the only major Republican big win, that of Mike Bloomberg's re-election by 20 points in New York City. I beg to differ. This was, by no means, a Republican win. Let me explain. Bloomberg had been a Dem and changed his party affiliation to run for mayor, because he thought this was the only way to run on a major party's label. NYC is overwhelmingly a Democratic city of 10 million people and this becomes clear, where a Dem primary win equals ..appointment. Many Dems had endorsed Bloomberg and, since many New Yorkers have been giving high marks to the mayor, he won. I don't see this as a bad thing. Many Dems didn't like the mayor's remote association with the Republican party [no Repub of note appeared anywhere within a mile of Bloomberg during the campaign!], but they voted for whom they thought would be the best manager of the city's affairs. Besides, Bloomberg is pro-choice and pro same-sex marriage, for example, views the Republican party (nationally and NY state-wide) finds as an abomination! Lastly, the other city-wide Dems received around 90% of the vote!

Another positive thing was the win of the eight Dems who threw out the unintelligent designers of bad education in Dover, PA. There is a Scopes-like trial going on there with a decision expected in January. However, junk science and small-mindedness is alive and well in several states of the union. I think that in the next 10-15 years there is going to be an intensifying struggle between science & modernity and the religious fundamentalists in this country. Year by year, there will be a greater divide between the progressive states and the hard-core conservative ones. Kansas resides in the latter category. People there decided that evolution is controversial and that science should just rely on a natural explanation but the supernatural should be introduced to ..raise the standards of science! Whatever. Unfortunately, Kansas has lots of company.

I don't know what it would take for people to open their eyes and become inquisitive, but education is one of the keys. By education I don't mean indoctrination but learning; whereas thinking and pondering are involved, whereas a person can make up his own mind using reason and acquired knowledge. With such advancements in science and with modern society affording leisure to people, there is no excuse not to use our brains for enlightenment. We must defeat those who have been pushing ignorance, superstition, and a perpetual condition in which individuals can't employ their intelligence without the guidance or the direction of someone else.

We have to fortify the blue states and make them bastions of freedom, scientific inquiry, progress & modernity, tolerance, producers & magnets of talent, a freer and a more just society. Last Tuesday's elections showed that the Dems and the progressives fared well, but there is so much more to be done. The country is polarized and this won't change for a while longer. Of course, I understand that many people can't change for a variety of reasons. Not all people live in the present and won't live in the future. The familiar past gives them comfort and they prefer it, because they fear all that which is different or they can't understand. The words, "land of the free and home of the brave," take new meaning today.

Nov 6, 2005

A Bad Year's Anniversary: A Predictability In Failure

You Break it, You Own it. Care to Guess, Who Actually Pays for it?
It's been a year already since the last presidential election and I have to say that I didn't expect this rapid deterioration of the Bush regime. Unfortunately, under our system of government, Bushco will be around to pester us for another 3 plus years--enough time to make things even worse for our country. No wonder that Dubya is trying to satisfy his political base, that is, the extreme conservatives, the monolithic Republicans, and the theologs. His nominee to SCOTUS, Samuel Alito, an extremely conservative judge, is no surprise in the scheme of things.

On November 3rd, 2004, Bush said that we'd reach to the whole nation in his second term. Of course, this didn't happen as it was never his intension even after losing the election in 2000, and his subsequent appointment to the presidency by SCOTUS. The country was sharply divided, but the Republicans went on to govern with much authoritarianism and little sense, except to satisfy the most extreme element of their base. So, let's see what has happened in the span of a year.

In November, a judge ruled against Bushco in overstepping the Geneva Convention on the treatment of detainees. Still, if you're labeled as "enemy combatant" you have no rights and can be kept in confinement indefinitely. Now we hear that the CIA has secret holding facilities in Europe and elsewhere. Maybe we should apply the Patriot Act against those who expose our covert intelligent officers and have the CIA do a ..rendition on them. Heck, throw in some torture to get to the truth faster.

In December, our troops got the chance to corner and question Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld on whether they would have to keep looking for scrap metal in junk yards in Iraq to use as armor for their vehicles and for their vests. "You go to war with the army you have" was the cryptic answer. Thus, Americans back home started a fund collection and a donation drive for used bullet-proof vests. A Homeland Security top official got fired for whistle-blowing on the mismanagement and security flaws of his department, and was replaced by Dickey's son in-law. The top Army Reserve general warned us that the reserves were being turned into a "broken force." He was properly ignored like all the other experts who publicly or privately all agree that the Iraq war has been a disaster.

In January, the Bush administration quietly, through the undersecretary of the assistant junior staffer of the aide to the deputy officer of the third level of the broken chain of command, announced that the search for WMDs had ended. Surprise, surprise! Oh, I see, we're there to export democracy to a country that's a terrorist heaven and with a theocratic regime in its future. Nice!

In February, Mr. torture-is-OK-and-other-Bushco-enabling-measures-Gonzales is confirmed as the country's top attorney who is in charge of protecting our rights. [note: many conservatives confuse the word "right"... they're all for a right turn, but not for individual civil rights, unless a ..machine gun is involved, as judge Alito reminded us] In the same month, Bush asked for another $80 billion, to bring the total direct spending on the Iraq expedition to $200 billion. But, who's counting? Most of these monies are given to Americans anyway! [Bechtel, Halliburton, & co.]

In March, Bush flew back from vacation (you see, it wasn't a natural disaster to let his hand-picked experts to do "a heck of a job") to D.C. to sign a bill interfering in the Terri Schiavo case. The Reps wanted to turn this tragedy into a cheap political game. Dr. Frist (Senate Majority leader) had made a diagnosis on Schiavo by watching footage on TV assuring us that her eyes were responsive to the stimuli around her.

In April, the US government reported that the terrorist attacks had increased by 300% the previous year. No mention as to who facilitated the opening of the biggest terrorist training with hands-on-experience camp in Iraq. Bush signed the bankruptcy law that was written by the banking industry. Many Dems, including Mr. MBNA, Sen Joe Biden (D-DE), went along with it.

In May, the London Sunday Times leaked the Downing Street Memo which confirmed what we, the open-minded and inquisitive persons already knew, that Bushco was hell-bent on invading Iraq on false pretences. Dickey had already explained to us that "there is no doubt that Saddam has reconstituted the nuclear weapons program," and, "we know where they [WMDs] are." The same month he went on national TV to tell us that the insurgency was at its "last throes!"

In June, Terri Schiavo's autopsy confirmed what the doctors had said before: her brain had atrophied, and she was blind. Dr. Frist got an egg on his face but a bigger one to hit him later.

In July, finally, a majority of Americans woke up to realize that they had been misled into the war in Iraq. On the other hand, the majority of Americans believe in the supernatural and in the literal accuracy of the story of Christmas (especially as depicted by popular culture). Still more people believe in demonic possessions than they now believe in Bush. That's a progress I think. [see addendum]

In August, Bush wrenched a Bolton onto the U.N. when the Senate wasn't looking. Then Katrina struck. What's more to say about this; everybody knows the story by now. It's been a disgraceful performance by an incompetent and uncaring regime.

In September, Senate Majority leader Bill Frist learned that he was being investigated because his "blind trust" [he's got a thingy haunting him] was eagle-eyed, responding to the senator's directives. It wasn't enough that he passed laws in Congress benefitting one of the biggest hospital chains he owned, but like Martha got too greedy and foolishly unloaded stock just before their value fell. In a related story, his buddy in the House, Republican Majority leader Tom Delay got indicted the same month. The stench would soon get stronger.

In October, Dickey's chief of staff and protector of the known cabal, "Scooter" Libby got indicted too. The investigation into the vindictiveness, pettiness, and law-breaking Republican leadership continues today. Unfortunately, last month we passed a somber mark: 2,000 American soldiers killed in Iraq. Worse, the figure is much, much higher as the Pentagon doesn't include in this count those soldiers who die en route to the hospitals or soon after as a direct result of their injuries in Iraq.

As I frequently say, elections have consequences, and electing our leaders should be a task of utmost importance. We all share responsibility. The people we elect act in our name, and their decisions have lasting effects on us, our children and much of the rest of the world. This has not been a good year. We have a year until November 7th, 2006, to start taking back our federal government. Meanwhile, we can't be complacent. Not only we progressives must maintain our resolve and engagement, but we must intensified it. Every effort counts; let's do our part whenever the opportunity arises.

And, we have to keep on fighting the good battles even if we lose some. In this light we have to urge the progressive forces in the Congress and everywhere else to fight the Alito nomination to SCOTUS, and to try to avert further disasters as engineered by the incompetent and near-sighted conservatives of Bushco.

Americans hold all sorts of unsubstantiated beliefs, and too many of us are either not interested in leading an examined life or can't handle the truth. That's why when all the facts were out and clearly visible to anyone who bothered to check, many Americans believed Bushco in regard to "the war on terror," Iraq, etc.

For those who may question my comment on the story of Christmas, I have to tell you that Christmas was not celebrated by the early Church; it wasn't until centuries after Christ's birth (no one really knows for sure when he was born) that the church decided to take over the pagan festivities, known as Saturnalia, in December. Much of the myths and practices today were created in the 18th & 19th centuries.

There is a new exhibit to open, Nov. 19th, at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City that focuses on Darwin's life & ideas. Unfortunately, what seemed to be settled 80 years ago in the Scopes trial, is revisited today. Ignorance and prejudice seem to run in cycles, especially when a lot of ignorant people are present. If this doesn't depress you, let me cite a recent CBS News poll (Oct. '05) that showed, 51% of Americans reject the theory of evolution, saying that God created humans in their present form. Some 38% believe that creationism should be taught instead of evolution (Pew Reseach Center, Aug. '05).