Has Bush Jumped the Shark?

by Steve, February 5th, 2007

Andy Borowitz makes the compelling (and amusing) case. Whether you agree or not, you’ve got to admit it takes deft skill to work Bush, Rumsfeld, Robert Gates, Roseanne, Scrappy Doo and Kareem Abdul Jabar into a blog entry.

Deep, Deep Denial

by Steve, November 28th, 2006

politicsReading the news, I was struck by the bald-faced denial evident in our president’s words. “I am not going to pull our troops off the battlefield before the mission is complete,” said Bush. “We can accept nothing less than victory for our children and our grandchildren.”

Any thinking person has to ask, “What is the mission? How do you define victory? Just yesterday, I was reading Juan Cole’s excellent blog, and he was hammering this point.

What is the military mission? I can’t see a practical one. And if there is not a military mission that can reasonably be accomplished in a specified period of time, then keeping US troops in al-Anbar is a sort of murder. Because you know when they go out on patrol, a few of them each week are going to get blown up or shot down. Reliably. Each week. Steadily. It is monstrous to force them to play Russian roulette every day unless there is a clear mission that could thereby be accomplished. There is not.

Bush seems to be further distancing himself from reality every day. Even the centrist-by-design Iraq Study Group may be too radical for him. The strange thing to me is that he is supposedly trying to rescue his legacy in his final two years. How can he think digging in his heels like this will help in that regard?

Thursday Thirteen Ed. #63

by Steve, October 18th, 2006

politicsIt’s been a while since I’ve done a Thursday Thirteen list, and even longer since I’ve written about anything but hockey here. (And there’s been some damn good hockey so far this season!) But this being election season, I am bound to get into politics again sooner or later. So why not start with Thirteen Failures of Geo. W. Bush ?

1. Iraq. Wrong target, wrong reason, wrong plan. Now we find ourselves backing a Shi’a regime (which also enjoys the backing of our fundamentalist extremist friends in Iran). We are fully engaged in a civil war, with our troops used to prop up an Islamist regime with direct ties to unlawful militias and death squads. We’re on track to lose around 100 US service men and women this month. Nice. Way to support the troops. Thanks, George.

2. Afghanistan. We went in there to… get bin Laden? Bzzt! Failure. To defeat the Taliban? Bzzt! They’re coming back with a vengeance. Liberate women from the Burqa? Bzzt! Didn’t happen (To quote Arundhati Roy, “It’s being made out that the whole point of the war was to topple the Taliban regime and liberate Afghan women from their burqas, we are being asked to believe that the U.S. marines are actually on a feminist mission. If so, will their next stop be America’s military ally Saudi Arabia?”)

3. North Korea. This will probably go down in history as his greatest failure, even bigger than Iraq. Why? Because when Bush took office, the US had a working policy, the Agreed Framework, that had successfully contained North Korea’s nuclear ambitions. This Framewok had been in place since 1994, and under it North Korea had halted all nuclear development. Bush promptly discarded the Framework, and North Korea promptly went back to the nuclear drawing board and—surprise!—produced a nuke. And Bush has the chutzpah to suggest that dialog with North Korea had failed. Wrong George! Withdrawing from the Framework is what failed!

4. Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories. Another brilliant example of the complete lack of realpolitik in Bush’s foreign policy. In the Bush world view, we don’t talk to our enemies, and—surprise!—they don’t do what we want them to do. Because of the Bush policy of freezing out the relatively moderate Fatah government, Fatah became completely ineffective. And they were voted out in favor of the religious fundamentalist Hamas party. Had we worked with Fatah, this could have been avoided. Really.

5. Lebanon. Again, Bush’s failure to talk to non-allies (in this case Syria and Iran) and his green light to Israel led to the near destruction of Lebanon and it’s fragile coalition government. For all its talk of promoting democracy in the Middle East, the Bush administration has all but destroyed the only two democratically elected Arab governments in the region.

6. Iran. Another case where not talking to our enemies has emboldened them.

7. Privatizing Social Security. For this failure, I am glad. Bush’s only significant domestic policy push wildly misjudged the popularity of one of the last vestiges of New Deal Social Democracy in this country.

8. 9/11. First, in not taking the specific threat seriously. Second, for completely freezing in the face of the attack. Third, for running away like a scared child instead of going back to Washington to take charge.

9. The Patriot Act. His first giant swipe at the constitution. (This is more properly thought of as a Bush success that is a failure for democracy and human rights.)

10. The Military Commissions Act of 2006. This suspends the Writ of Habeas Corpus for anybody Bush arbitrarily determines to be an “enemy combatant”. One little problem: “The Privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in Cases of Rebellion or Invasion the public Safety may require it.” (US Constitution, Article 1, Section 9) I don’t see no Rebellion or Invasion here, so this law is clearly unconstitutional. This is Bush’s most flagrant power grab, and, again, a Bush success at the expense of liberty.

9. Enron, Halliburton and the culture of corporate corruption.

10. No Child Left Behind. Better to call it “No Child Left a Dime.”

11. The tumors on my dog’s ass. I don’t know how, but somehow Wacky Mommy thinks we should be able to blame Bush.

12. Global Warming. Bush refuses to submit the Kyoto protocols for ratification. The US stands alone with Australia in its refusal to ratify this treaty.

13. The loss of Congress in the ’06 mid-term elections. I’m calling this one in advance.

My favorite bumper sticker of late has a very simple, very encouraging message: “January 20, 2009”.

Stanley Cup ’06 sighting

by Steve, September 28th, 2006

hockeyLast spring I wrote about Alex Charns and his seminal role in the hockey protest movement. At that time, Alex mentioned a joining-up of Canes and Oilers fans outside the RBC Center during the Stanley Cup Final, and now I’ve got the proof:

Canes and Oilers fans

It’s heartening to see rival hockey fans from two different countries coming together with a message of peace.

I told Alex I have to root for the Sabres against the Canes in their season opener next Wednesday, since Portland hero Paul Gaustad is playing for Buffalo. He understands.

Alex wrote a great book about picking up recreational hockey during the NHL lockout, and his belief that a magic puck would save us all from the wrath of Dubya. It’s a great read. I keep meaning to review it here, and maybe I will someday. Or maybe I just did. Here: Buy this book!

Frat boy redux

by Steve, July 18th, 2006

politicsOh Jeebus, Bush is such an embarassment. After displaying his stunningly shallow view of the situation in Lebanon yesterday, today he committed the major faux pax of laying his hands on German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who was clearly startled and shocked.bush gropes merkelNo, George, this is not okay. Blogger Majikthise has this take:

Every woman will recognize the guy who sidles up and starts “casually” giving you a backrub without even looking at you, because he wants to preserve deniability in case you freak out. Like any practiced groper, Bush stares right past Merkel as she recoils from his touch.

The play fails, but he just moves on, eyes averted, like it’s her problem. (“Oh my God, there’s a hysterical woman displaying inappropriate behavior! I’ll just pretend I don’t notice her egregious gaffe.”)

What a fucking ass-clown. What else could he possibly do to make the US look bad? What shame he has brought to our country.

Arrested development

by Steve, July 17th, 2006

politicsWatch as our President smacks his lips, talks with his mouth full and tells Tony Blair “What [the United Nations] need to do is to get Syria to stop Hezbollah from doing this shit.” Syria, which the U.S. pushed out of Lebanon, has little or no sway on the ground there now. Is our leader really this ignorant? It would seem so.

Israel’s attacks are destroying civilian infrastructure and human life at a sickening pace. Hezbollah is responding with its own barbaric escalation, led by the evidently criminally insane Hasan Nasrallah. Israel seems bent on pushing Lebanon back into civil war and Gaza back into the stone age. Your tax dollars at work, America! Hezbollah has nothing to lose, and in fact has gained popular support in Lebanon.

Please read Juan Cole’s blog. He has daily reports from the Arab press rarely reported in the west, as well as expert, well-reasoned analysis. Also, the Nation has a good summation of the folly of “the Israeli doctrine of absolute security and massive retaliation–the notion that any attack or threat of attack on Israel will be met with a disproportionate response”.

Lest we forget what the victims of war look like, read this story in the Guardian about children murdered by bomb while trying to flee the violence. The vast majority of the 150+ killed in Lebanon since Wednesday have been civilians. Lebanon is one of the few democracies in the Arab world (and a multi-cultural, multi-ethnic one at that). What happened to Bush’s policy encouraging democracy in the region?

This is a critical time in the middle east. What is happening now will ripple outward across the entire region, indeed the entire globe. And the one man who could actually do something about it sits around stuffing his face, flaunting his geo-political ignorance and duplicitiousness. Shame.

You’re either with us or against us

by Steve, July 14th, 2006

politicsReligious fundamentalists are consolidating power in this world, and it’s time to draw the line. Who benefits from the 9/11 attacks and the ensuing “long war”? These guys.
Osama bin Bush
Who suffers? Normal people. Moms, dads, brothers, sisters, grandmas and grandpas. Tiny little babies and toddlers are dying for these bastards’ holy war. Three thousand normal working people died in the US on 9/11. Upwards of 43,000 Iraqi civilians have died in the killing fields we’ve created in the ashes of Iraq. Lebanon and the re-occupied Gaza strip are under attack and in flames. What little control exists in Somalia has fallen into the hands of Taliban-like fundamentalists. The actual Taliban in Afghanistan are staging a strong comeback. Our own fundamentalist leader was twice barely elected only with overwhelming support of Christian fundamentalists.

Read the rest of this entry »

Redneck hockey, politics, and Alex Charns

by Steve, June 14th, 2006

Yours truly is not the only one who is nuts for hockey and world peace. Durham, N.C. civil rights attorney and author Alex Charns has been making the news (at least in Edmonton) and raising some redneck hockey fan eyebrows with his game night protests in Raleigh.

Both the Edmonton Journal and Sun have run articles about him and his righteous antics during the Stanley Cup Final between the Edmonton Oilers and the Carolina Hurricanes.

Charns is the author of “How Hockey Saved the World* (and defeated George W. Bush, but not necessarily in that order)”.

Sing it loud, and sing it proud: More Hockey! Less War! More Hockey! Less War!

Thanks, Alex.

Thank God we didn’t shoot him

by Steve, June 12th, 2006

politics entryThe brutal death of brutal killer Abu Musab al-Zarqawi should bring a tear no no one’s eye.

But what irony to hear US officials broadly brushing off any rumors that Zarqawi was killed while in custody. No, he died from the result of us dropping two 500 lb. bombs on his head, not by gunshot or beating. Somehow, half a ton of military-grade explosives is acceptable but fists are not. It’s war after all, and we all accept war as legal and legitimate for a modern civilization, don’t we? Dropping bombs on people (and their family and neighbors) is the civilized, acceptable way to kill them.

Well, I don’t accept that. Especially since Zarqawi is largely a product of this ill-begotten war in the first place. He was nothing but a low-life thug until Geo. W. came along to elevate him to the thrown of uber-terrorista. I’ve read only spotty reports of the several other people killed in this attack. Who were these three women? His wife and daughters? Neighbors? Terrorists? We may never know.

War is the problem. Peace is the solution.

Iran and our “successes” in Iraq and Afghanistan

by Steve, June 12th, 2006

politics entryFrom Juan Cole’s Informed Comment, Al Hayat reports that an Iranian official “joked that there was not need for the US to invade Iran. He said that the US had invaded Afghanistan and established an Islamic republic there. Then it had done the same thing in Iraq. Since Iran has had an Islamic republic for 27 years, he said, there really isn’t a point in a US invasion.” Ouch.

Meanwhile, back at Guantanamo, US State Department official Colleen Graffy called the suicides of three men held for years without charges or access to legal representation “a good PR move.” Camp commander Rear Admiral Harry Harris called it “asymmetrical warfare.” You’ve got to be fucking kidding me. This is a sickening disgrace to all Americans with any sense of human decency.

Close Guantanamo now.