Tuesday, August 19, 2008

McCain, the Truth & Plagiarism

In the recent Saddleback Forum John McCain trotted out the story of being in the POW camp at Christmas and a guard drew a cross on the ground and the two men stood there looking at it. He said that this was a life changing experience for him. He also told this story in a Christmas ad. The trouble is that this story, while it happened, it happened to someone else - Alexander Solzhenitsyn. What does this say about the man who would be president?

The Gulag Archipelago (1973) contained a story about a fellow prisoner that drew a cross in the dirt and that symbol gave Solzhenitsyn hope and the will to survive the experience. John McCain, who once praised Solzhenitsyn, now steals from him. John McCain has no need to lie about his experience in the POW camp - he was tortured regularly, given little hope of getting out, and had to recover from serious injuries after getting shot down. Why make something up like this? Why did he only start mentioning this story in 1999 when he wrote a detailed account of his experience in 1973 and never mentioned this very powerful story? the answer can only be two possibilities - 1. He is a liar and will say anything in ingratiate himself to a crowd. His life has so few spiritual episodes that he had to lift one off of another author to balance his life of adultery, anger, and bribe taking. 2. He is getting senile and thought that what he read in the Gulag Archipelago happened to him. I don't know which possibility is more disturbing. If McCain had submitted this story as a paper in school he would have been expelled. What would possess someone to tell a fib like this? Especially one so easy to reference in his own writing and in the writing of others - it just doesn't make sense.

Joe Biden was drummed out of the 1988 presidential campaign over a plagiarism scandal for using a line from British Labour leader, Neil Kinnock. He did credit Kinnock four times for the quote but neglected to do so the fifth time. His own party pounced on him like vultures and ran him out of the campaign. This is hardly as bad as what McCain did, first in his Christmas ad and then last weekend at Saddleback - his lie was an attempt to ingratiate himself to a group where he has had problems, the religious right. Maybe he is taking a play out of the George W. Bush playbook - if you tell a lie enough times and get other people to repeat your lie then it becomes truth. Why not? This tactic has worked so famously for the guy who had his campaign "anonymously" use push polls and rumors to suggest that McCain fathered a black child out of wedlock, that his wife was a drug addict, that he was a homosexual, and that he was either a Manchurian Candidate or a willing traitor.

I thought that McCain had done better than Obama in this forum - he seemed comfortable, articulate, and effective. It was not Obama's night. Now I am disturbed at how easy and natural it is for the Straight Talk Express to lie. At least George Bush is a bad liar (not that he still doesn't get away with it) - you can see it in his face, in his insane cackle, and in his body language.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Obama Nation: a work of fiction

Obama Nation hit the bookstores as a bestseller . . . or did it. It appears that the deceptions of this book do not end with the bibliography. This book made the bestseller list due to huge bulk orders and strategically placed purchases it is these forces that are behind the book's supposed success.

Mr. Corsi, how many copies of your own book did you buy? 1,000? 10,000? More? The right wing machine bought up huge numbers of this piece of kindling to attempt to lend it credibility and to get Corsi on the talk show circuit. According to Mary Matalin, the book's publisher, it is a piece of scholarly work and would neither deny or confirm that there was any fact checking at all for this book. Which I take to mean - no fact checking. Media matters has gone through the book and done an excellent job of exposing the lies in his book. These lies which range from accusing him of being a Muslim to continued drug use and other ridiculous assertions. There are too many falsehoods in this book to comment on them all but Corsi, like so many conservatives, conflates the war in Afghanistan and the war in Iraq and uses this conflation to suggest that Obama wants to start pulling out of Afghanistan. This can't be further from the truth. Obama not only has repeatedly called for removing troops from Iraq and sending them to Afghanistan but actually introduced a bill in 2007 saying just that. I personally don't think that either war was or wise to get involved in but Obama has not said any of the things Corsi accuses him of.

As someone with a graduate degree in history and has spent countless hours reading actual scholarly works, the excerpts I read do not measure up to even a poor scholarly work. What really makes Corsi's work a piece of garbage is that he admits that the purpose of this book was to discredit Barak Obama. It's one thing to reach these conclusions after doing objective research it is quite another to reach this conclusion and search and/or make up facts to support a predetermined outcome.

This piece of fiction would not even be worth covering except for the fact that Faux News and the like put this guy on and let him spew this nonsense without challenging any of the facts. I am sure a lot of people will read this book and believe what it has to say because it is on the bestseller list and because they see this guy on TV. However, if you want to read some fiction there are a lot more entertaining reads out there. I don't know what it is about this smear machine that has cropped up but the but they certainly do not seem to be deterred by annoying things like the facts. There are plenty of good ideological critiques that can be made of Obama from a conservative point of view but Obama Nation is not one of them. It seems to be effective to repeat a lie so many times that it becomes accepted as fact - Corsi and the Swiftboat Liars did it in 2004 and Corsi is at it again. It's the same mouth-breathing mentality that Faux News is guilty of every time they show a picture of Osama Bin Laden and have an "Obama" caption under it. They think they are being cute but they are being stupid and making America more stupid at the same time. I have a question for those that actually buy and read this book - why?

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Why the decision to go to war with Iraq should be a campaign issue

I wouldn’t necessarily say that the invasion and occupation of Iraq was all about the oil other than it is obvious that our interest in the Middle East in general is because of the oil. I think it was a perfect storm of bad ideology in thinking that we could start a wave of fledgling democracies in the region by forcing it down the Iraqis throats; of bad intelligence used badly - everyone thought that they had WMDs (bad intel) and Bush was ignorant enough to use it to start a war (bad intel used badly); bad culture in the US - we were reeling from 9-11 and Americans were angry enough about that to let Bush whip the country into a war fever; and finally the oil - we wouldn’t be there without it and our government has a very strange view of what democracy is - they seem to think that democracy means a country that allows our corporations to extract the wealth from a country for very little in return for anyone other than the people running the government. I don’t think we have gotten involved in any war for a singular reason but for anyone to say it’s not about the oil is just not true. No oil = no war.

We are essentially turning Iraq into an oil colony to make sure our corporations have access to cheap oil to make billions selling it back to the people who have paid for it already in tax money and in the blood of our troops. In addition, we have put Iraq back on the same course they were on before Saddam Hussein took over the country 30+ years ago. They were not reaping the real benefits of their natural resources - American oil companies were really the ones profiting and apparently soon will be again and the cycle repeats itself.

Why I think that the reason we got into this war should be such an important issue for the November election isn’t whether or not Obama or McCain have drastically different policies about what to do with Iraq and our army occupying the country. To be honest, I don’t know what the answer is - pulling out immediately might start a civil war and more death and misery for a people who have had more than their share in the last 5 years; it might give the Iraqi gov’t the impetus to start figuring things out for themselves. We do owe something to the Iraqi people after breaking their country and maybe that means staying, I don’t know. But what makes this such a vital politic issue and hasn’t really been used effectively by the Democrats is that a decision like that should never ever be made again. McCain seems to be defending Bush’s decision to go to war even though he has been critical about the way it was done. Obama should be hammering this point that America should never again start a war of choice. There are way too many unintended and unexpected consequences and our history has shown it never turns out well. Preemptive warfare is among the worst foreign policy decisions that you can possibly make and this is what needs to be discredited and abandoned as a course of action.

Feingold stands up for the Constitution

Feingold is one of the Dems with a spine and one of the Dems that isn’t trying to pull a CYA like Pelosi and Jane Harmon (among others) who probably knew what was going on with the telecom companies and were in this post-911 hysteria that consumed Congress for long enough to let Bush shred the Constitution and lie us into a stupid war that is destroying our military capacity and our economic future. I have no problem with FISA as it stood pre-Bush - this new bill not only makes it way too easy for a President to use any excuse he or she wants to invade the privacy of American citizens and to give blanket immunity to all the telecom corporations who caved in and let the Bush Admin rifle though anyone’s phone calls that they wanted.

Government power should never be trusted, this mistrust was wisely built into the Constitution by a far wiser group than are operating this country today. No branch of government should be allowed to do anything without oversight of some sort and this bill moves way to close to allowing an executive to act with impunity. Even if you trust George Bush (why anyone would trust this guy is beyond my comprehension) do you trust every president that is going to come after him to have this same authority?

This issue gets to the crux of this whole debate on how to deal with terrorism. Bush’s way has been to do anything he sees fit in the name of fighting terrorism whether it be wiretapping people without a warrant or probably cause, torturing people, waging war without provocation, faking incidents to whip up fear, and the list goes on. OR do you take a rational approach to the issue and let us work within the Constitution to handle anything that our enemies can throw at us. Ben Franklin’s words have been overquoted but very applicable that you can’t sacrifice liberty for safety ever, not even a little bit because when you do you lose everything that this country was built upon and you let people like Osama Bin Laden win.

The GOP tries to use the lame and wrong argument that if you believe that the Constitution shouldn’t be ignored so we can get the terrorists and that we are a nation built on laws and having our government adhere to these laws then you are weak.

I would argue the opposite, by caving in to fear, giving up your liberties, and committing all sorts of criminal acts like torture is weak and cowardly. A hundred 9/11s aren’t going to kill this country not even a thousand. These people who attacked us do not have the capability to destroy this nation not even if they got a nuclear weapon and detonated it in Washington D.C. It would be horrible and tragic if it happened but it wound not be the end of this country. What will kill this country is to disregard the Constitution, to torture people, to wage destructive wars that are unnecessary, and to act above the law. George Bush is a much bigger danger to this country than Osama Bin Laden could ever dream of.

This FISA bill is just a symptom of the problem and it isn’t just the Bush Administration that is at fault - the Dems that cowered to this man and let him run slipshod over them without a peep are just as to blame as Bush - you can easily pick out the guilty parties with who in the Democratic Party voted for this bill and are on the House Intelligence Committee - they all knew and gave approval to this nonsense when it happened and are continuing to let it happen to save their own butts. The next level of guilt are the sheep (or sheeple) that go along with the herd and vote for things like the bill because they are afraid of being called weak on terror and it might hurt the single most important thing to them - getting re-elected.

Personally, I would rather be called weak on terror than weak on freedom. That is the choice too many have made in the last 7 years.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Virgil Goode Must Go

Rep. Virgil Goode from my state of Virginia has crossed the line. The letter he wrote to his constituents was misguided and bigoted. This former Democrat turned Republican has disgraced my state and he belongs on the same trash heap as George Allen. To say that any religion is not welcome in this country is simply un-American. Rep. Ellison of Minnesota should be allowed to swear his oath on any book he wants whether it be a Koran, a Bible, or a copy of Mad Magazine. It is wrong to force someone to swear an oath on someone else's religious document. We want our leaders to respect their oath of office and forcing this nonsense on Ellison is not the way to demonstrate the seriousness of the oath he will take next month.

The Republican Party has been totally silent on this issue because they either agree with this idiot or they are afraid to stand up to racists like Goode because there are so many GOP supporters who are equally misguided. They need to slap this guy down quickly and make a strong statement that America is not in the business of religious bigotry or exclusion. We are represented by protestants, Catholics, Jews, atheists, and now a Muslim - their religious beliefs give them their moral center as well as guiding their actions as human beings. This incident is the perfect example of why we should keep church and state separate - when we don't we alienate the non-believers and limit our freedom to believe what we want to believe or our freedom not to believe at all.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Why Iraq will fail

I don't think that any government that is formed in Iraq will ever resemble a stable representative government for two basic reasons: the attitude of the people in Iraq towards government and the example that the US has provided through our behavior.

A representative government needs leaders that believe in the principles of good government. We had Jefferson, Washington, Adams, Franklin, and many other leaders who, while they were far from perfect and had their own weaknesses, they believed that government was not about getting the votes to do whatever you want to those who lost. It was about debate over political ideology and policy. I have not seen a single leader in Iraq who talks like this. All I see are people wanting to get as much as they can for their religious or ethnic as well as seeking revenge on other groups. In addition, there is no political party that is anything other than a group representing their ethnic/religious group. What would this country have become if we had Baptist, catholic, and Methodist parties or southern, northern, and western parties, or English, German, or Irish parties? It would be a violent mess just as Iraq is. This problem has not been explored in the media at all and is also being ignored by our government.

Our founding fathers did not believe that we should be engaged in a policy of forcing our form of government on others - instead we should be an example to follow. We should inspire not force. When our democracy is having so many problems as we are today we don't set a good example to anyone. We have shown the world that money buys influence and you win by destroying your opponents through personal attacks and dirty tricks. We aren't a good example to anyone.

There is not one positive sign coming out of the country or one positive example coming from ours. This is the biggest foreign policy disaster in my lifetime.


Saturday, November 18, 2006

"We'll succeed unless we quit."

When Bush said this to reporters in Vietnam my jaw would have dropped if an insane statement like this from our dim-witted president wasn't part of a pattern of denial and inability to see the facts.

How can anyone in their right mind say this about Vietnam, much less, Iraq? To me there are two possibilities.

1) Bush is delusional - this is highly possible. When he was in Thailand he was filmed playing a local instrument similar to a xylophone. He looked like he was a kid in a special ed class discovering for the first time that when you hit the key with a mallet it makes a noise.

2) Bush is a liar and knows that Iraq is lost and is trying to bide his time till he leaves office so there is a possibility to blame it on someone else - for "cutting and running." This possibility is more likely. If this is indeed what Bush is doing he should be impeached right now. In the next two years we are likely to have another thousand of our young men and women die. These deaths will be even more needless than the 2,900 that have already been sacrificed for Bush's Folly.

We have not seen this kind of ineptitude in the presidency since James Buchanan (1857-1861) who sat in office and did nothing as the nation moved towards civil war. Kind of a fitting analogy since the current occupant of the oval office is doing nothing to prevent a civil war in Iraq.

George W. Bush has been the worst thing to happen to this country since Richard Nixon and deserves Nixon's fate - to leave office in disgrace. He has disgraced the American people, our image, and our military. The Neo-Con movement needs to go down with this man as well. I didn't think anything could make me wish for a return to Reagan Republicans or better yet Goldwater Republicans.

Jesus H. Tap-Dancing Christ in a Sidecar! Mr. President you are (or have already) ruining my country. Please, for the love of god, leave office and let someone competent take your place.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Iraq is falling apart

I think we have reached a point where no matter what we do in Iraq it is not going to stop them from an all-out civil war. Our troops should be removed immediately - it is not worth it for another American to die for W's horrendous mistake. We are just making things worse and giving the Iraqis someone else to blame for their ethnic hatred other than themselves. One way or another they are going to have to come to grips with their ethnic differences. We are stuck in the middle of their civil and we cannot take sides because none of them offer any solutions. They just want to kill each other and grab power.

There are no leaders in Iraq that are calling for unity or even real democracy. As I have said before, democracy is based on differences in ideology not ethnic/religious differences. All of the elections they have had to this point have been votes stricly along ethnic lines. As soon as we pull out (whenever that may be) they will hold one more election and the group that wins (al Sadr's shei'ites) will take power and end any move towards democracy and beat the Sunnis and Kurds into submission. Dividing the country won't work because there are no hard borders between the three groups.

Learning from history is something the Bushies have refused to do. Not only should they have learned about the impossibility of our country to occupy another from Vietnam but also look at what happened in Yugoslavia after Tito left. A strongman willing to brutalize his people can hold a country like that together not a democracy. It sucks for the people who get on the wrong side of someone like Tito or Saddam but the other option is civil war, ethnic cleansing, and genocide.

W - dumb, dumb dumb!