Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Boortz thinks Bush critics Criticize out of Hatred

Neal Boortz--third on Keith Olbermann's 'worst person' list recently for calling adult minimum wage workers "pathetic" and "worthless"--thinks that George Bush's opponents disagree with him and fight his policies out of a personal hatred. He said so this morning, in the 3 minutes of his radio show I could tolerate--suggesting that Democrats hate Bush so much, they cannot bring themselves to support his War on Terror. 

Notwithstanding that support for the "War on Terror" is not uniform across either party, the issue here is that people (rational ones that I communicate with, anyway) disagree that bombing the Middle East back to the stone age is the way to fight terror--and because Bush has yet to recognize the folly of his ways given three and a half years of poor performance in Iraq, it becomes apparent that Bush has a learning disability at best. 

It's a form of reality denial--you don't have to actually defend Bush's policies if you write off any criticism as a manifestation of hatred. Let's have an honest debate, people.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Is Israel off limits?

I used to think speech was free in this country. I'm beginning to question that. Since when is it actually acceptable in this country for people to control what may be discussed in university classrooms? Especially at a time when our policies toward ALL Middle-Eastern countries deserve more analysis, and not less?

I've written about disproportionate support for Israel in the past, so apparently I'm already out of line. Here's an exemplary ad from David Horowitz' far-right Front Page mag:
  • First, here's the Hannity-ese "Undermining," as if the neutral observations people make about history are an attempt to subvert.
  • This ad clearly takes "America's Support for Israel" as a given, as if it can and should be no other way.
And what kind of nonsense do you find on the linked page?
  • "Daily Kos, blah blah blah Joe Lieberman, posted an item headed, 'Imagine a world without Israel.' The subhead read, 'Or is that not allowed?' This kind of hate-Israel sentiment..."-- Why is that title or subhead automatically assumed to be "hate" for Israel? Israel was created only 60 years ago, wedged into Palestine by the US and the UK. Given that, I don't find it hard to imagine a world without Israel since it used to be that wayless than a century ago! Typical right-wing distortion: Observations do not equal attacks. The fact that I can remember the point in history when Israel did not exist does not imply that I hate Israel or that I hate Jews.
  • The cover of The Washington Post's magazine last Sunday was headlined, "Is the Israel Lobby Too Powerful?" The idea that Bush-Cheney-Rice and Rumsfeld are manipulated by a bunch of second and third tier Jews in the Administration... -- Let's not kid ourselves here. The AIPAC is widely known to be quite influential, and given some of W's comments when addressing them, it would be rather insulting to consider them "a bunch of second and third tier Jews." After all, as observed in the linked article, "Every two years, AIPAC offers each new member of Congress a trip to Israel for a week to 10 days." What is being bought with THAT trip?
  • The David Horowitz Freedom Center is dedicated to combating these lies and defending America and Israel, the two pillars of Judaeo-Christian values and freedom in the world today.-- This statement illustrates why the Christian Right's influence on the Republican Party is so dangerous to America. That we should defend ourselves needs no clarification; that we should have an interest in Israel because of its Democracy isn't too controversial. But support for their "Judeo-Christian values"--coming from a country that professes freedom of religion--sounds conspicuously like a clash of worldviews with Islam, which the "war on terror" is not. First, it's not a war; second, we're fighting extremists who are willing to stop at nothing to take revenge for Israel's creation and support, not an entire worldview. This--the lack of clarity about our mission--is why the malleable, vague and somewhat double-entendre terminology used by the Administration (and in some cases, holding special meaning to Christians versus the population at large) is so dangerous.
Sadly, one must go outside the mainstream media for a clear discussion of the Lobby's influence on our policy, and of the true meaning of vague cliches such as "enemies of freedom." Jean Birchmont insightfully observes:
Americans are constantly told that they have to defend themselves against
people who "hate them", but without understanding why they are hated.
A high-profile article was published by noted author James Bamford recently in Rolling Stone, which considered in depth the interest neo-conservatives had in invading Iraq--interest that became influential in the "Office of Special Plans"--and the interest they still have in pushing us toward conflict with Iran. Given the bevvy of sources reporting their behind-the-scenes activities, it's time we take a clear look at the Lobby without the mindless rhetoric of the far right.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Professed FisCon/SocLib analyzes Price-Sinton

Interesting analysis of Price-Sinton by a self-professed Fiscal Conservative/Social Liberal:
Experience: From what I can tell on Sinton’s site, he seems to have no experience in public office whatsoever....Advantage: Tom Price.

Stones: Price made it a point to avoid confronting [primary challenger] Konop on the issues at every turn... Sinton, on the other hand...lists his home phone number in the header on his website proclaiming that “I want to be a congressman as close as your phone.”...Advantage: Steve Sinton.

Every Day Peopleness: Steve Sinton is a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, which is so unbelievably cool I don’t even know where to begin. Price does not send his kids to public schools, which seems wildly hypocritical given that he talks a big game about No Child Left Behind...Advantage: Steve Sinton.
Not exactly my list of criteria for evaluating candidates, but an interesting analysis nonetheless. This fails to make a point I've emphasized before, that Price is inexplicably a medical doctor who has voted three times AGAINST stem-cell research, and that his voting record is that of a Bush rubber-stamp. But in the end, I think the issue will be whether the local voters are able to get to know Sinton, because those that do seem to recognize he's a much sharper "stone" than Price.

Let's Move On to Phase 2

A calm and collected post on dKos refers to an insightful article by James Fallows from the current Atlantic Monthly, which summarizes interviews with numerous security experts who conclude that as we'e actually succeeded in destroying the centralized Al Qaeda--although not totally eradicated it because we abandoned Afghanistan in our quest to invade Iraq--it's time to think rationally about how to proceed from here. Is the "War on Terror," especially regarding Iraq, *really* making us safer, or is that creating more hatred of America than anything else?

The article makes some timely and important points. Yesterday, it was argued in the Times that those responsible for defending our countrylack the imagination necessary to prevent unknown threats--it's as if they can only imagine attackers repeating previously used strategies. Similarly, Fallows suggests in a follow-up blog post--contrary to popular logic--that it's precisely because we believe that the types of terrorist attacks illustrated by the London air plot will continue to occur that we should put an end to the "war" part of the fight against terror.

In a related blog post, Fallows summarizes his three main points from the Atlantic article:
First: “Al-Qaeda Central,” the organization that planned and carried out the devastation on 9/11, has been severely disrupted by U.S. and allied activities....Western agencies had never successfully penetrated al-Qaeda before 9/11. Now, it appears, they have. The British apparently had the current plotters under surveillance for a sustained period....

Second: the many “copycat” and “self-starter” groups that have been “inspired” by al-Qaeda and that have sprung up in England, Spain, Indonesia, and elsewhere will continue to pose the threat of attacks. The threat is likely to be more acute in Europe than in the United States....

Third: the greatest threat posed by these groups is not the damage they can do directly, but rather the self-defeating, irrational, or excessive responses they can goad a target country into making. Osama bin Laden has boasted that the attack of 9/11 cost at most $500,000 to launch and provoked more than $500 billion in military and security spending by the United States; a million-to-one “payoff.”....

The news of the last few days confirms rather than undercuts this argument.....Remember: it was police work, surveillance, and patient cultivation of sources that broke the airline bombing ring – not speeches about a state of war.

The scope of the issue is considered more broadly as well. Fallows observes in an interview also on Atlantic that the "open-ended emergency approach to spending, civil liberties, and executive power" that have characterised the post-9/11 years. Ironically, a front-page article in today'sWashington Post points out that this President is far more able and willing to travel cross-country without press than any predecessor in the last 50 years--which provides the opportunity for more off-the-record speeches to supporters (his "base") at high-priced events. Food for thought, certainly.

The original article is subscriber-restricted, but the blog post and interview are available in full for non-subscribers.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Good and Scared Yet?

This one might be legit, and it certainly demands caution: A plot--tipped off to British police in the wake of the 7/7/05 London attacks--to blow up 8 or 10 planes mid-air on the way from London to the States. It's also, as is becoming standard procedure, peculiarly timed between some negative news for the administration and conveniently timed to take attention away from something else that might raise eyebrows.

The negative news? Lieberman's departure. I stated yesterday that his departure owes as much to his lack of action in correcting the Democrats' failure to unite around (and to cohesively voice) an alternative--any alternative--to the current no-holds-barred "stay the course" mentality of the Republican leadership, as it does to the "netroots" and their "hard left" posturing (as the right prefers to spin it). Lieberman's loss comes at the same time as a recent poll showing 60% of Americans disagree with the war on Iraq; that cannot logically be considered a "far left" position. The country isn't THAT far right, that we're unable to logically assess the President's poor performance.

And the potential eyebrow-raiser? It just so happens that this afternoon, it was noted that the 17 or so individual suits regarding the Bush domestic spying scandal were consolidated into one. Anyone think of any reason you'd want to do this--perhaps, to make it easier to "make it go away"? Or, do you think it's more helpful to keep eyes away from the resignation of counter-terrorism officials? Clearly, I'm going to be keeping my eyes more alert next time I fly--but in doing this, and in limiting the items we can bring on board, Al Qaeda can only be laughing at how easy it is to frighten Americans and to make them give up their precious "freedoms" for which they allegedly hate us.

Democrats today stood up and made another good point--this plot illustrates that Iraq has been a monumental distraction from Al Qaeda. In that respect, Americans have not forgotten--in fact, lately we've become even more biased--so much so that 39% of us believe American Muslims should have some sort of "Special ID" and be screened more thoroughly than others. Better screening is fine if it's across the board; if it's done through racial profiling, we're going to continue to alienate Muslims and provide even more reason for more of them to hate America. But instead of giving this strategy more thought, our President prefers to try to take advantage of this news for political gain--by arguing his opponents aren't strong enough on terror. After all, one operative was quoted as saying "Weeks before September 11th, this is going to play big."

God forbid that we stop and think perhaps we're going about this the wrong way. Better to keep everyone scared and voting Republican. So far that has worked--and what's more, get this: we're so clearly scared shitless that, despite the near-constant barrage of reminders from the Republican Party--30% of us have already forgotten in which year 9/11 took place!