Wednesday, September 08, 2004

1000 American Servicemen Dead: For What?

So here we are, the milestone, surpassing 1000 American dead and countless more Iraqi men, women and children; do we know how many of them have died, do we care? Add to this madness over 7000 wounded Americans and how many Iraqis(?). Question: is it, was it, worth it? Is it worth the death, carnage, destruction, destroyed lives, and shattered dreams, not to mention the withering away of America’s leadership and creditability in the world? Is it worth the soul of two nations?

According to a CNN report, “more than three-quarters of those killed, 756 of them, have died in combat, and 647 of those have been killed since President Bush declared an end to major combat operations in Iraq on May 1, 2003.”

Speaking from the Pentagon yesterday, Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld brushed aside the milestone by linking once again, in unambiguous terms, Iraq to 9/11 by stating,
It should be noted that the civilized world passed the thousandth casualty mark a long time ago... [H]undreds were killed in Russia last week. And this week, of course, on September 11, 2004, we remember the 3,000 citizens of dozens of countries who were killed on September 11 in 2001."

This callous and calculated statement from a member of the Bush cabinet despite the fact that the 9/11 Commission clearly debunked any plausible or creditable connection between Saddam and the 9/11 terrorist plot, and terrorism in general. More lessons unlearned and yet another Commissions’ findings consigned to the wastebasket of lies, deceit, and business as usual.

And as Sadr City becomes the next center of open urban warfare in Iraq and American soldiers and Marines continue to die at an alarming rate with 18 dead since the beginning of the week, isn’t it time we ALL threw off the masks of American ignorance and pride and asked as a nation why we are in Iraq? As citizens of a democracy isn’t it our duty to ask, no, to demand accountability from our elected officials and not fall prey to idol worship and swoon at the President’s every word just because he might share some of our same views?

The continued carnage in Iraq begs to be debated in open forum and this is not an issue the American people can agree to disagree on, not when human beings (Americans and Iraqis) continue to die at a rapid pace for no discernable reason. It is easy to forget that each life extinguished in this dirty little war affects other lives as well. How many lives have been touched for ill, altered, torn asunder because G.W. Bush took this country to war against a sovereign nation that presented no CLEAR AND PRESENT DANGER to the security of the United States?

Those who would use the argument that Iraq was a growing threat as a basis for the attack, were clearly wrong; there were no WMD, no WMD programs, nothing. So why are we there? The other two countries of the now infamous “Axis of Evil,” Iran and North Korea pose more of a threat to the United States then Iraq ever did. Both have announced—let me say it again—announced that they have ongoing nuclear weapons programs. Yet we will use “quiet, sustained diplomacy” to deal with them, going so far as to remove troops from the Korean peninsula thereby weakening our military stance if we ever did need to deter North Korean aggression. Not only that, but Iran has proven ties to terrorism; it was (and more than likely still is) for years the chief supporter of Hamas (a known terrorist group), and allowed Al Queda free rein of its territory. Add to this caustic mixture Syria, which openly supports Hezbollah (a known terrorist group) in Southern Lebanon. I ask with concern knitting my brow: where are the battle plans for those three countries? Surely they are a threat! Can you smell the hypocrisy in the air as thick as maggots on a dead carcass on the streets of Sadr City?

Make no mistake I harbor no illusions about the nature of Saddam’s character. I know he is an evil man capable of mass murder, torture, betrayal, and other vile acts. But he was contained, and at the time we (almost) unilaterally attacked him and his sovereign country, we as a nation had far great concerns to deal with several hundred miles to the east in Afghanistan where the real terrorists live. And while we fiddle-fart around in Iraq causing more death and destruction, the terrorists are reconstituting themselves in Afghanistan.

How ironic and pathetic is it for the Vice President to call into question the Democrats fitness to defend the nation when it was under a Republican watch that 9/11 took place. Shouldn’t we, the American people be calling into question the Bush Administration’s ability to keeps us safe? I know I do! Hasn’t terrorism around the world increased under their stewardship of the War on Terror? And for those who would point to fact that America has not been attacked since 9/11, aren’t you operating under the same blind illusion that America is a fortress, that kept the Bush Administration from taking the terrorist threat seriously before 9/11, despite the many, many warning signs?

1000 American dead in Iraq, and more than 7000 wounded, and still the chief architect of 9/11, the man whose name was not even mentioned during the Republican Convention, remains free. Free to plot more terror, and kill more Americans…wait is that laugher I hear, laced with derision wafting through the late summer air?

Monday, September 06, 2004

A Day in the Life of Joe Middle-Class Republican

Here is something I ran across—thanks to my lovely wife—and I thought I’d share it with the world, so to speak. The article is called A Day in the Life of Joe Middle-Class Republican and it illustrates in stark detail how no man stands alone, and that the theory of individualism, the self-made man is really illusionary in nature. No commentary by me, the piece speaks for itself:

A Day in the Life of Joe Middle-Class Republican

by Donna L. Lavins and Sheldon Cotler

Joe gets up at 6:00 AM to prepare his morning coffee.
He fills his pot with good, clean drinking water because some liberal fought for minimum water quality standards. He takes his daily medication with his first swallow of coffee. His medications are safe to take because some liberal fought to insure their safety and that they work as advertised.

All but $10.00 of his medications are paid for by his employer's medical plan. Because some liberal union workers fought their employers for paid medical insurance, now Joe gets it too. He prepares his morning breakfast -- bacon and eggs this day. Joe's bacon is safe to eat because some liberal fought for laws to regulate the meat packing industry.

Joe takes his morning shower, reaching for his shampoo. His bottle is properly labeled with every ingredient and the amount that is contains because some liberal fought for his right to know what he was putting on his body and the breakdown of its contents.

Joe dresses, walks outside and takes a deep breath. The air he breathes is clean because some tree-hugging liberal fought for laws to stop industries from polluting our air. He walks to the subway station for his government-subsidized ride to work; it saves him considerable money in parking and transportation fees. You see, some liberal fought for affordable public transportation, which gives everyone the opportunity to be a contributor.

Joe begins his work day; he has a good job with excellent pay, medicals benefits, retirement, paid holidays and vacation because some liberal union members fought and died for these working standards. Joe's employer meets these standards because Joe's employer doesn't want his employees to call the union. If Joe is hurt on the job or becomes unemployed he'll get worker's compensation or an unemployment check because some liberal didn't think he should loose his home to temporary misfortune.

It's noon time. Joe needs to make a bank deposit so he can pay some bills. Joe's deposit is federally insured by the FSLIC because some liberal wanted to protect Joe's money from unscrupulous bankers who ruined the banking system before the depression. Joe has to pay his Fannie Mae underwritten mortgage and his below market federal student loan because some stupid liberal decided that Joe and the government would be better off if he was educated and earned more money over his lifetime.

Joe is home from work. He plans to visit his father this evening at his farm home in the country. He gets in his car for the drive to dads; his car is among the safest in the world because some liberal fought for car safety standards. He arrives at his boyhood home. He was the third generation to live in the house financed by Farmers Home Administration because bankers didn't want to make rural loans. The house didn't have electric until some big government liberal stuck his nose where it didn't belong and demanded rural electrification (those rural Republican's would still be sitting in the dark).

Joe is happy to see his dad, who is now retired. Joe's dad lives on Social Security and his union pension because some liberal made sure he could take care of himself so Joe wouldn't have to. After his visit with dad, Joe gets back in his car for the ride home. He turns on a radio talk show. The host keeps saying that liberals are bad and conservatives are good. He doesn't tell Joe that his beloved Republicans have fought against every protection and benefit Joe enjoys throughout his day. Joe agrees, "We don't need those big government liberals ruining our lives. After all, I'm a self-made man who believes everyone should take care of themselves, just like I have."

In the years to come, Joe's life will change dramatically. The U.S. dollar will be devalued as a result of our huge deficit, our living standards demolished, our standing with the world diminished and our social security gone...all because some conservative republican made sure he could take care of himself and his buddies.

Sunday, September 05, 2004

Can Kerry Win?

Well its official, Bush got the bump in the polls (11 percent) everyone anticipated Kerry would receive, but didn’t. The bump Bush wasn’t supposed to receive because he is the incumbent, but did. And it’s beginning to look as though Kerry will loose this election, unless he does something to set himself apart from Bush and show himself to be the leader, the visionary, the President people need him to be.

Even before the now fabled bump Kerry was slipping; the Swift Boat Veterans For Truth, the pundits all agree, did their damage, planting the seed of doubt deep in the soil of the American electorate’s unease about Kerry. And now that seed has taken root and not unlike to apple of Eden, I believe has poisoned Kerry’s chances to be elected Pres-44 and called into question both his leadership abilities and trustworthiness. His less then enthusiastic response to these attacks on his character only lent fuel to the fire. Why can’t the Democrats mange to formulate an effective response to these types of nasty attacks? Their continued malaise and unwillingness to do what it takes to check the Republicans can only buttress the conservatives charge that the Democrats are weak and spineless, thereby unable to defend America against the now ubiquitous and ever looming terrorist threat.

True, Kerry did come out swinging directly after the Republican Convention, but the punches to me, lacked real power. He only skirted the surface, still refusing to truly refute the mounting accusations against him. Why, for instance, doesn’t Kerry address the charges leveled by Democratic turncoat Zell Miller and Vice President Cheney in their respective speeches at the Republican Convention, line by line, laying waste to the half-truth’s and misrepresentations that laced them? Why doesn’t Kerry compare Cheney’s defense record against his own? Point out that Cheney, while defense secretary under Bush I, fought to cut the same weapons systems Zell Miller castigated Kerry for voting against.

Why continue to allow the Republican’s to own the field of battle, to define the issues, to set the pace of the debate? I was astonished, stunned speechless when Kerry, when given the perfect opportunity, stated that he would still have voted for the war with Iraq even when faced with the evidence that Saddam owned no WMD. Here was a chance to redefine the issue, to separate once and for all the ill-advised war in Iraq from the necessary War on Terrorism, and Kerry’s team blew it. Here was a chance for Kerry to be a leader, to stand apart from Bush, but he ceded the field to the Republicans. Why?

Note to John Kerry: if you want to win this election you must define yourself, you must set yourself apart from Bush, detach yourself from his shadow and present your vision for America. Stop reacting and take the offensive. Get off the ropes and punch back with force; this is war man, political war, but war nonetheless. Be the leader you claim to be, marshal the troops and take the offensive. It time to get, well, nasty; sling some mud, I am sure the undecided voters will not mind; indeed it is preferable to being muddied and not responding in kind. You sir have been slapped with the gauntlet by Zell Miller, pick it up and redden Zell’s face, let him, the Republicans, and indeed the American people know that you are not to be trifled with. If being above the fray means losing the election, sink to their level and beat them at their own game; then at least you know you gave it your all man!

Where do you want to take America? We need more then slogans and quaint sounding rhetoric. You told us you can do better, but how? What is the plan, where are the policy statements, where is that bold vision that will convince those undecided voters that you can lead? And for God sakes man show some passion, some conviction, some moxie, and some emotional depth. Pound a fist on the podium, raise your voice, rant a little, scream; call Howard Dean if you have to and ask him how it’s done.

With less then two months until the election Mr. Kerry you need to step it up, kick some Republican booty, close the deal before we—your supporters (albeit reluctantly of late)—start wondering what patch of land in Canada would best suit our particular needs as the dullard from Texas occupies the Peoples House for another four disappointing years.