Sunday, July 30, 2006

Judging Israel's Reaction to the Hezbollah Attack

The violence in the Middle East rages on, with both Israel and Hezbollah issuing punishing attacks on the other resulting in an appalling amount of civilian deaths. The blood-letting has been horrific. What's taking place in Israel and Lebanon hardly seems believable, and diplomacy at this point seems but a distant possibility. The question remains: how long will this senseless carnage last, and is there truly an opportunity to somehow reach a meaningful and sustainable cease-fire followed by a lasting peace between the combatants?

I'm an optimist, and I'd like to think that someday Israel and its Arab neighbors will have a peaceful co-existence. But the war that Israel fights today is a war like no other, and it has grave consequences. To those who've vilified Israel for its "disproportionate" "over-reaction," please consider the words of Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah:

"There is no solution to the conflict in this region except with the disappearance of Israel. ... Peace settlements will not change reality, which is that Israel is the enemy and that it will never be a neighbor or a nation...Peace will not wipe out the memory of the massacres it has committed ... And on this last day of the century, I promise Israel that it will see more suicide attacks, for we will write our history with blood." (December 31, 1999)

How does a sovereign nation "appropriately" defend itself against an enemy whose sole purpose for existence is to wipe it off the face of the Earth? How do we begin to suggest to Israel what a "proportionate" reaction might have been to Hezbollah's act of war when it crossed Israel's borders to kill and capture Israeli soldiers? To the almost non-stop Hezbollah missile attacks Israel's endured since it withdrew from Southern Lebanon in 2000? How does a sovereign nation attempt diplomacy and a negotiated peace with a blood-thirsty, hate-engorged enemy that says there's no peace ever to be had? In the face of such defiant, incendiary rhetoric--which for years has been accentuated with non-stop violence--can someone, anyone, please tell me just what the "proper" Israeli response is supposed to be?

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Wafa Sultan: An Island of Sanity Amid a Sea of Madness

Please take a few minutes to watch this powerful and amazing statement made on Al Jazeera television earlier this year by Wafa Sultan, a Syrian-born Arab-American psychologist from Los Angeles who emigrated with her husband David to the U.S. in 1989. Both are now naturalized citizens.

Following are a few key excerpts:

Wafa Sultan: The clash we are witnessing around the world is not a clash of religions, or a clash of civilizations. It is a clash between two opposites, between two eras. It is a clash between a mentality that belongs to the Middle Ages and another mentality that belongs to the 21st century. It is a clash between civilization and backwardness, between the civilized and the primitive, between barbarity and rationality. It is a clash between freedom and oppression, between democracy and dictatorship. It is a clash between human rights, on the one hand, and the violation of these rights, on other hand. It is a clash between those who treat women like beasts, and those who treat them like human beings. What we see today is not a clash of civilizations. Civilizations do not clash, but compete.

Host: I understand from your words that what is happening today is a clash between the culture of the West, and the backwardness and ignorance of the Muslims?

Wafa Sultan: Yes, that is what I mean.

Host: Who came up with the concept of a clash of civilizations? Was it not Samuel Huntington? It was not Bin Laden. I would like to discuss this issue, if you don't mind...

Wafa Sultan: The Muslims are the ones who began using this expression. The Muslims are the ones who began the clash of civilizations. The Prophet of Islam said: "I was ordered to fight the people until they believe in Allah and His Messenger." When the Muslims divided the people into Muslims and non-Muslims, and called to fight the others until they believe in what they themselves believe, they started this clash, and began this war. In order to stop this war, they must reexamine their Islamic books and curricula, which are full of calls for takfir and fighting the infidels.

My colleague has said that he never offends other people's beliefs. What civilization on the face of this earth allows him to call other people by names that they did not choose for themselves? Once, he calls them Ahl Al-Dhimma, another time he calls them the "People of the Book," and yet another time he compares them to apes and pigs, or he calls the Christians "those who incur Allah's wrath." Who told you that they are "People of the Book"? They are not the People of the Book, they are people of many books. All the useful scientific books that you have today are theirs, the fruit of their free and creative thinking. What gives you the right to call them "those who incur Allah's wrath," or "those who have gone astray," and then come here and say that your religion commands you to refrain from offending the beliefs of others?

I am not a Christian, a Muslim, or a Jew. I am a secular human being. I do not believe in the supernatural, but I respect others' right to believe in it.

Dr. Ibrahim Al-Khouli: Are you a heretic?

Wafa Sultan: You can say whatever you like. I am a secular human being who does not believe in the supernatural...

Dr. Ibrahim Al-Khouli: If you are a heretic, there is no point in rebuking you, since you have blasphemed against Islam, the Prophet, and the Koran...

Wafa Sultan: These are personal matters that do not concern you.

Wafa Sultan: Brother, you can believe in stones, as long as you don't throw them at me. You are free to worship whoever you want, but other people's beliefs are not your concern, whether they believe that the Messiah is God, son of Mary, or that Satan is God, son of Mary. Let people have their beliefs.

Wafa Sultan: The Jews have come from the tragedy (of the Holocaust), and forced the world to respect them, with their knowledge, not with their terror, with their work, not their crying and yelling. Humanity owes most of the discoveries and science of the 19th and 20th centuries to Jewish scientists. 15 million people, scattered throughout the world, united and won their rights through work and knowledge. We have not seen a single Jew blow himself up in a German restaurant. We have not seen a single Jew destroy a church. We have not seen a single Jew protest by killing people. The Muslims have turned three Buddha statues into rubble. We have not seen a single Buddhist burn down a Mosque, kill a Muslim, or burn down an embassy. Only the Muslims defend their beliefs by burning down churches, killing people, and destroying embassies. This path will not yield any results. The Muslims must ask themselves what they can do for humankind, before they demand that humankind respect them.

As the U.S. Squanders its Resources in Iraq, it's Been Rendered Impotent Elsewhere

The real tragedy of the quagmire in Iraq is the effect it's had on the United States' ability to engage its financial, military and political resources elsewhere. Since March 2003, we've squandered $300 billion and 2600 U.S. soldiers' lives on this unjust, poorly planned and ill-fated Bush vanity project. But now with the violence and bloodshed raging out of control in Israel, Lebanon and Gaza, the U.S. appears neutered; unable to effectively inject itself into a dire situation where American diplomacy and perhaps military involvement would normally be a bedrock in the process. In short, we're stuck where we don't belong, and cannot be where we do.

As the need for a multi-nation peacekeeping force in Southern Lebanon becomes paramount towards finding an end to the violence there, the Pentagon has made it clear that U.S. forces are stretched so thin primarily from Iraq that we cannot, unlike in the past, send out troops to participate in this mission.

"As far as boots on the ground, that doesn't seem to be in the cards," said John R. Bolton, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. This position was echoed by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice: "I do not think that it is anticipated that U.S. ground forces . . . are expected for that force."

That we need to rely on France, Turkey and other nations to go it alone without U.S. participation is a sad day for America in its role as the great super-power and defender of freedom. That we now also have to send even more troops to safeguard Baghdad, as announced earlier this week, is mind-numbing. As the Middle East is imploding, with terror organizations and the countries that sponsor them--Syria and Iran--tipping the balance of power, it's criminal that we are so handcuffed by Iraq, so drained by this debacle, that we cannot play a meaningful role in securing the region. I don't care what color your state is, every American should be outraged at the Bush administration for taking this nation down such as self-destructive and wasteful path.

That we're now subjected to the constant cable news images of an impotent United States, with a tired, frustrated Rice with her head in her hands trying to blow smoke up the world's ass while it contributes nothing diplomatically or militarily, is an utter disgrace and an embarrassment. We're the United States of America, for crap's sake, and we're coming off dazed and confused and powerless. It's especially infuriating as we compare America's stature and influence in the world today to that of the FDR, Truman, Eisenhower and Kennedy days. In the eyes of the world, and on the political, diplomatic and military stage, America's become a sad joke. And we can thank our court jester Bush for that.

That our nation's military resources and assets are so depleted that we cannot afford to send a few thousand troops into Lebanon is shameful. That this troop shortage precludes us from defending an ally and our own interests in the region is both maddening and frightening.

Monday, July 24, 2006

U.S. Army Officer Refuses to Return to Iraq, Saying He’s “Shocked and Disgusted” at the Busheviks’ Deception

"Simply put, I am wholeheartedly opposed to the continued war in Iraq, the deception used to wage this war, and the lawlessness that has pervaded every aspect of our civilian leadership." These were the impassioned, defiant words of Army First Lt. Ehren K. Watada, 28, in a letter he sent in January "with deep regret" to his brigade commander, Col. Stephen J. Townsend, asking to be allowed to leave the army "with honor and dignity" on Constitutional grounds. The Army's charged him under the Uniform Code of Military Justice with one count of missing movement, for not deploying, two counts of contempt towards officials and three counts of conduct unbecoming an officer. For taking this rare stand, he faces an Article 32 hearing and possible court-martial this Fall. He would be the first Army officer to be court-martialed for refusing to serve in Iraq.

To be sure, Lt. Watada is no coward, and he is fundamentally not opposed to war. To the contrary, after the attacks on 9/11 he enlisted in the Army "out of a desire to protect our country," even paying $800 of his own funds for a medical test to prove he qualified for duty despite having asthma as a child. He served in South Korea, and has been lauded by fellow officers and commanders with praise of his "exemplary" service and "unlimited potential."

So what happened? The young officer, whose military reports cited his "insatiable appetite for knowledge," started reading. He read books by James Bamford ("A Pretext for War"), Seymour M. Hirsch ("Chain of Command") and anything else he could get his hands on about the run-up to war, the abuse of prisoners at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo, and the Bush administration's campaign of deception. He was particularly outraged by Britain's now-infamous July 2002 Downing Street Memo, which pointed to the Busheviks' early intent to overthrow Saddam by misusing and abusing intelligence to justify the March 2003 invasion.

"When I learned the awful truth that we had been deceived, I was shocked and disgusted," Lt. Watada said. Attempts between the Army and Lt. Watada to resolve the matter failed, with the Army refusing his request to serve in Afghanistan, a justifiable mission he fully supports as being directly connected to the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington, D.C. The Army instead offered him a staff job in Iraq, which he refused. It's the war, not the job, he is opposed to, he said.

Sentiment over the war is at its lowest point in the United States, as civil war rages on in Iraq with 100 Iraqis being killed daily and American soldiers entrenched in a quagmire that's spiraling out of control with no end in sight. Two-thirds of Americans disapprove of the war, of Bush's handling of it, and with a solid majority now believing they were deceived by the administration. Lt. Watada is clearly not alone. And his stand proves that knowledge is power; how outraged people can get when they start learning the truth. For Lt. Watada, it's unfortunate that he's serving in the military, since the military is not very forgiving of those it accuses of desertion. Soldiers have few choices when they oppose the actions of their government, even when that government commits the ultimate act of treason by cherry-picking evidence and manipulating intelligence, and then lying about it, to send its loyal soldiers to die in an unjust, unplanned and ill-fated and utterly avoidable war.

As Michael Moore so eloquently said in the closing minutes of his powerful documentary "Fahrenheit 911,", an indictment of the Bush administration's reckless war policies, "I've always been amazed that the very people forced to live in the worst parts of town, go to the worst schools, and who have it the hardest, are always the first to step up, to defend that very system. They serve so that we don't have to. They offer to give up their lives so that we can be free. It is remarkable, their gift to us. And all they ask for in return, is that we never send them into harm's way unless it's absolutely necessary. Will they ever trust us again?"

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Cheney Gloms on Middle East Crisis in Fear-Mongering Attempt to Rally Votes for GOP Incumbents this November

Stumping in Tampa, Fla. Friday for Republican state legislator Gus Bilirakis, whose seeking to win the 9th Congressional District seat being vacated by his 12-term father Mike Bilirakis, vice president Dick Cheney ratcheted up the Middle East rhetoric, citing the current crisis as another reason to keep Republicans in control of both the House and Senate.

"This conflict is a long way from over," Cheney warned at a fundraiser of over 200 party loyalists at Tampa's Wyndham Westshore hotel, which raked in over $230,000 for the GOP candidate. "It's going to be a battle that will last for a very long time. It's absolutely essential that we stay the course....If anyone thinks the conflict is over or soon to be over, all the have to do is look what's happening in the Middle East today." (This is the same Cheney who declared May 31, 2005: "The level of activity that we see today from a military standpoint, I think, will clearly decline. I think they're in the last throes, if you will, of the insurgency"). What's this...Cheney's a flip-flopper?

Clearly, the Bushevik fear-mongering is no longer now limited to its desperate attempt to justify the Iraq war and magnify the terrorist threat from al Qaeda. It's going to fully exploit for political purposes the escalating violence between Israel and Hezbollah just as it has the 9/11 attacks for the past five years. But what's going on in the Middle East right now has nothing to do with Bush's disaster in Iraq. While they constantly try to link that colossal military failure to the threat from al Qaeda, the reality is that there's no connection whatsoever. I'm not sure what's more despicable, this deception or how they're now trying to connect our mission in Iraq to that of the Israeli's fight against Hamas and Hezbollah.

"The central front of the war today is Iraq, and we can expect further acts of violence," Cheney said. "But progress has been steady." By the way, Dick, just where exactly is this "progress" again? Because it appears to me that the entire Middle East is imploding.

About the Bilirakis fundraiser, the Democratic challenger Phyllis Busansky, a former Hillsborough County commissioner, said, "I'm amazed that amid everything that's going on--increase in the violence in the Mideast, the skyrocketing oil prices--that the vice president has time to come to Tampa. I think this makes it perfectly clear that Gus Bilirakis stands firmly with Dick Cheney and his policies."

Friday, July 21, 2006

The Path to Middle East Peace Must Involve Israel and its Arab Neighbors

The current war between Israel and Hezbollah is just the latest surface crisis in the more deeply-rooted problem in the region. It's an extremely complex situation that goes back to 1947, and as some say, thousands of years.

I want to clearly state my position on this subject for those readers who may have misinterpreted my overall views. To begin with, I believe the Palestinian people have a very legitimate claim, and I am very sympathetic to their cause. I feel great sadness and frustration that their leadership has consistently failed them. They are a people who deserve a homeland, like all people. And I have been very supportive over the years of any and all efforts Israel has made, unilaterally and/or upon pressure from the United States, to negotiate, make land concessions, prisoner exchanges, and other moves as a start to the peace process. I think the current violence is horrible and so unnecessary. But if there's ever going to be a lasting peace, a solid two-state co-existence, it's going to have to come from the involvement of not just Israel, but of its Arab neighbors. Let me be as clear on this point as I can: The Palestinian problem is not exclusively an Israeli problem.

To understand what's at stake in the current Middle East crisis is to understand how wars are played out today. The rules of engagement have changed dramatically. The Muslim fundamentalist enemy of the U.S. and Israel is an enemy that places more value in its extremist causes, and winning, than it does on life itself. It's a jihadist enemy that's willing to strap on bombs and blow themselves and everyone around them to pieces. Rather than fear death, this enemy eagerly embraces it as martyrdom. It's a chilling thought, but we've gone from Mutual Assured Destruction (MAD) to the terrorist nuclear threat. It is not easy to fight this enemy, and traditional tactical and strategic warfare methods do not apply. Which is why we cannot summarily dismiss as "disproportionate" or an "overreaction" Israel's retaliation to Hezbollah's attack on Israel.

Yes, Israel was attacked. As the United Nations' Kofi Annan said Thursday, the cause of the violence "was Hezbollah's provocative attack on July 12."
Annon added that "Whatever other agendas they may serve, Hezbollah's actions, which it portrays as defending Palestinian and Lebanese interests, in fact do neither. On the contrary, they hold an entire nation hostage; set back prospects for negotiation of a comprehensive Middle East peace."As anyone knows, the U.N. is hardly the great defender of Israel. But the simple fact is, this was an unprovoked act of war, yet placing blame is not what's important. What's critical here is the future, and what must be done to get the region headed in a direction of relative peace and security.

To date, the leading Arabs nations such as Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Syria, Jordan, and Lebanon, have been non-existent in the Middle East peace process. They've essentially deserted the Palestinian people and left Israel to find a solution to the problem. While they and the world decried the injustices leveled against their Palestinian brethren, they themselves did nothing to help them. Let's not forget how Jordan, Lebanon and Syria kicked out Yassir Arafat and the PLO over the years. And how, overall, Palestinians living within Israel are in fact treated better than in many Arab countries.

There's a critical balance of power crisis in the Middle East right now which threatens not just Israel, but these very same Arab nations. Leaders such as Egypt's Hosni Mubarak, Syria's Bashar Al-Assad, Jordan's King Abdullah II, Saudi King Abdullah and Lebanon's Fuad Saniora must decide, and quickly, if they're going to allow Iran--and the Islamic extremist terror groups it supports, funds, arms and trains--to dominate the Middle East and spread its religious fundamentalism across the region. If the latter scenario is unacceptableble, then they must also then bring a reasonable, rational and earnest voice to the negotiating table. They are at a critical crossroads and must choose between diplomacy and terror. They must join Israel, the U.S. and the European Union in working towards a realistic peace.

But more important, the Palestinian people themselves must ultimately decide whether or not to leave its fate in the hands of violent jihadists committed to Israel's destruction, or to leaders such as Mahmoud Abbas, president of the Palestinian National Authority. Let me repeat again, this is not an exclusive Israel problem. Israel cannot unilaterally create peace. It has to have committed partners at the negotiating table. Currently, such partners do not exist. The overall political and military strategy in the region today has unfortunately been dominated by terror groups Hamas and Hezbollah backed by the fascist regime of Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. If this continues, the safety and security of Israel, the Arab states and America will be gravely threatened.

Is the Hezbollah Threat to Attack on U.S. Soil Real?

Citing terror cells with thousands of operatives that could be mobilized quickly, Hassan Nasrallah, head of the Hezbollah terror organization which Israel is at war with in Lebanon, issued a grave warning this week that it would strike against America on U.S. soil. This is the same Nasrallah committed to the destruction of Israel, and who makes statements such as "If they [Jews] all gather in Israel, it will save us the trouble of going after them worldwide" (10/22/02) . But is this threat real? Do Americans need to fear suicide attacks here at home from Hezbollah?

It should be strongly noted that Hezbollah is no stranger to violence against America. In October 1983, a Hezbollah truck bomb killed 241 American Marines at the multinational force barracks in Beirut, Lebanon. The following year, a suicide bombing at the U.S. embassy in Beirut killed 17 Americans. Hezbollah is also responsible for the 1985 hijacking of TWA flight 847, during which one American was killed, and the 1996 Khobar Towers bombing in Saudi Arabia, which killed 19 U.S. servicemen.

Hezbollah also maintains a network of cells in the U.S., according to the FBI. testifying before Congress in September 2002, then-Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage warned that Hezbollah's capability to organize an attack on U.S. soil was similar to that of Al Qaeda. Hezbollah cells have been broken up in North Carolina and Detroit, although to-date, Hezbollah's activities inside the U.S. have been limited to fundraising. But the overall threat is certainly real enough. The U.S. designated Hezbollah as a foreign terrorist organization in 1997, and in 2001 gave it Specially Designated Global Terrorist status.

The Department of Homeland Security and the FBI issued a joint statement this week which warns local police that "Individuals residing here who sympathize with Lebanon or Hezbollah could act on their grievances too."

And FBI Director Robert Mueller said, "To the extent that we have identified individuals associated with Hezbollah, we are taking additional precautions to assure that we do not face any threat from these individuals."

Reassuring? Hardly. First off, the Busheviks have a horrible track record with honesty. Are we to truly believe anything this administration tells us? Can we take any comfort whatsoever in assurances from them that we're secure here at home from a Hezbollah attack? Next, this administration is also incredibly inept. Despite pre-9/11 warnings from both Al Qaeda and from terror experts such as Richard Clarke, the Busheviks left us wide open to terrorist attack. We were woefully unprepared then, and who's to say we're truly any better off now?

Regardless of how they may be downplaying the threat from Hezbollah, just as they had pre-9/11 Al Qaeda, the Busheviks are clearly alarmed enough to have placed them on the radar screen. Let's just hope they're truly watching.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Why Israel is 100% Justified in its Attack on Lebanon

The Israel-bashers have been crawling out of the woodwork this past week to soundly condemn the "overreaction" to the recent attack by Hezbollah. Such criticism is not only misguided and hypocritical, it also shows a clear lack of understanding of the complex relationship between the current Lebanese crisis and the longer-term balance of power in the region.

To begin with, it's important to note that Israel is not merely fighting Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in Gaza. These terrorist organizations are being armed, trained and funded by the Islamic fascist Iranian government of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, which seeks to destroy Israel, dominate the Middle East and spread its brand of extremist Muslim fundamentalism. And make no mistake, a Middle East dominated by Iran is a very scary proposition not just to Israel, but to its Arab neighbors and to the United States (remember "Axis of Evil?") Which is precisely why we've seen the Saudis, Jordanians and Egyptians in a rare, public condemnation of Hezbollah for starting the current spate of violence. The last thing these three Arab nations, as well as others, want to see is Iran become the dominant political and military force in the region, ultimately possessing nuclear weapons and constantly threatening to use them against the free world. That is the ultimate enemy Israel is currently battling in Lebanon. It's a critical balance of power issue.

The blame placed on Hezbollah by Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Egypt is highly justified, as the terror group crossed into Israel, killed soldiers and kidnapped others. This was an unprovoked act of war. An action which would not have happened had the Lebanese government carried out its obligations under 2004's U.N. Resolution 1559 to take control of the Southern border region and disarm, disband and expel Hezbollah in order to assure Israel's security in exchange for ending its 22-year occupation there. Ever since Israel's withdrawal in 2000, its Northern border towns have been repeatedly struck by Hezbollah rocket attacks.

In the wake of Israel's aggressive response to the Hezbollah attack, its been vilified by many who call its military bombardment an "overreaction" and "disproportionate." But these harsh criticisms are borne out of a general ignorance of the facts and an unwillingness to accept the violent existence Israel's endured at the hands of terrorists for decades. By comparison, look what America's response was to the 9/11 attack. A single attack resulted in war. We invaded Afghanistan, dismantled its terror infrastructure, and helped install the Democratic government of Hamid Karzai. One attack. One can only imagine what the U.S.'s response would be had we been consistently attacked for 5, 10, 20, 50+ years. It's appalling and highly hypocritical to see Americans sternly criticize Israel when these same blood-thirsty Americans were rabidly calling for Osama bin Laden's and al Qaeda's heads after 9/11. The crippling fear that Americans experienced that day, and to some extent still feel, is what Israelis live with every day from birth. The double-standard that Israel is expected to abide by is deplorable.

The biggest issue facing Israel today is that both Hamas and Hezbollah are no longer mere terror organizations. They are now terrorist organizations that have become part of the political fabric of Lebanon and Palestine. These brutal killers have been given political legitimacy by a desperate populace that has entrusted its fate to them but, like Yassir Arafat before them, they've not lived up to the greater responsibility that comes with elected office. Rather, they've used these positions of power to further spread their hateful propaganda and wage even greater jihad against Israel. This is not en enemy that's interested in peaceful co-existence and a two-state solution.

The evil that Israel is battling in its two-front war is committed to the destruction of the Jewish state. What then should Israel's "proper reaction", or "proportionate response" be? What's the "acceptable" course of action with an enemy that has invaded your country, killed your soldiers, and taken them hostage? An enemy that seeks to wipe you off the face of the Earth? The future of the Middle East is at stake here. And as the Middle East goes, so goes the United States. A Middle East controlled by Islamic fascists in Iran with nuclear capabilities, arming and training terror organizations, cutting off our oil supplies and committed to Israel's and America's destruction, is a very chilling thought. Perhaps the "overreactionists" throughout the free world ought to consider the longer-term consequences here before its levels more criticism of Israel.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

WW III? Gingrich Rachets up the Fear Rhetoric as Middle East Implodes and Bush's Military and Diplomatic Failures are Glaring

"We are in the early stages of what I would describe as the third world war...
I believe if you take all the countries I just listed, that you've been covering, put them on a map, look at all the different connectivity, you'd have to say to yourself this is, in fact, World War III."
That was former House Speaker and 2008 presidential candidate Newt Gingrich on NBC's Meet the Press Sunday discussing the escalating violence in the Middle East and its ripple effect throughout the world. Surprise, surprise. Fear and war-mongering is the new cornerstone of the Republican Party, and its leadership, Gingrich included, will masterfully uses such scare tactics to continue distracting Americans away from key domestic issues so they can keep winning elections.

To be sure, the crisis in the Middle East is of grave concern. And the potential for it to turn into a much larger regional conflict is very real. The stakes are tremendous, especially for Israel and the United States, as well as neighboring Arab countries such as Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia, who issued unprecedented criticism this week of Hezbollah, blaming the Lebanese-based, Iran/Syria-backed terrorist organization for starting the new round of violence.

There's so many issues at work here that transcend the two-front conflicts between Israeli and Hezbollah and Israel and Hamas. We've seen harsh world reaction to Israel's military "overreaction" in Lebanon, another example of the centuries-old anti-Semitism which is at the very root of the current conflict itself. We're seeing the utter failure of the Bushevik Middle East doctrine which promised both a Democracy in every pot and greater security for Israel. We're seeing the unfortunate failure of the Arab people themselves to elect legitimate governments and rational leaders who can lead them out of their abyss, instead of Israel-obsessed jihadists hell-bent on self-destruction. We're seeing once again the overall impotence of the United Nations, unable to enforce its own 2004 Resolution 1559 requiring the Lebanese government to maintain control of its Southern borders and keep Hezbollah out. We're seeing Iran emerge as the dominant player on the Middle East stage, exerting its destructive influence, along with Syria, throughout the region in its quest to destroy Israel. To reiterate, we've seen rare, open criticism of Hezbollah by key Arab nations in what could ultimately be a watershed moment in the Middle East peace process in the future. And we see the "global war on terror," Bush's mantra, being waged in very real terms by Israel while the United States remains hamstringed in a no-win war against non-terrorists in Iraq. If Bush truly gave a crap about the "global war on terror" he'd do more for Israel than give mere sound-byte lip service from Russia in between kissing Vlad's ass at the G-8 Summit.

Let's explore the anti-Semitism factor. Hamas and Hezbollah can cross Israel's borders, commit murder and kidnap soldiers in unprovoked, orchestrated attacks and much of the so-called free world actually condemns Israel. French President Jacques Chirac criticized Israel's offensive into Lebanon as "totally disproportionate....One could ask if there is not a sort of will to destroy Lebanon, its equipment, its roads, its communication." Russian President Vladimir Putin said "Israel's use of force is disproportionate and should be balanced," and told reporters Sunday that "we do get the impression that the aims of Israel go beyond just recovering their kidnapped soldiers." Historically, France's stand against tyranny is laughable, while Russia's been a breeding ground of anti-Semitism. The recent events in the Middle East are not about Israeli aggression against Arabs. It's about Israel's survival, pure and simple. It's about rabid, blood-thirsty jihadists with a sole mission: the absolute destruction of Israel. As Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has stated, they seek Israel to be "wiped out from the map." And, incredibly, the world calls Israel's defense against the current Iran-backed Hezbollah attacks an "over-reaction."

Next, the current crisis shines a spotlight on just how miserably Bush's Middle East policies, and/or lack thereof, have failed. Back in 2003 the Busheviks promised that over-throwing Saddam Hussein would accelerate the overall peace process; stabilize the region and lead to Democracy; bolster Israel's security; and protect America from Iraq's WMD and the "mushroom clouds" that threatened the U.S. Well guess what, the Middle East is a violent mess; tyranny, not Democracy, prevails; Islamic fundamentalist-led Iran has become the dominant force; and both Israel and the U.S. face greater threats from terrorists, not less. Let's not forget the increase in acts of terrorism throughout the world, most recently the train bombings in India. Militarily, Bush's actions, primarily his ill-fated war in Iraq, have alienated our allies, incited the Arab community, further fueled the aggressors against Israel, and served as a recruitment rallying cry for terrorists. From a diplomatic standpoint, Bush's lack of leadership, influence and visibility in the region, unprecedented in modern history among U.S. presidents, has tipped the balance of power to extremist regimes in Egypt, Palestine, Iran, Lebanon and Syria.

The Arab people must bear great responsibility for the current violence as well. For some 30-odd years Palestinians, for example, handed over their fate to the brutal dictator Yassir Arafat and his terrorist PLO and Fatah organizations. He failed them miserably, leaving them more powerless, impoverished and homeless than when he took control in 1969. Given a second chance at peace after his death in November 2004, they instead elected to power an even more vicious terror group, Hamas. In Lebanon, despite being required by 2004's United Nations resolution 1559, Prime Minister Fuad Siniora has been unable to rein in Hezbollah along its Southern border. The Lebanese people, like the Palestinians, have chosen to allow terrorists to drag them down a violent path rather then engage Israel and the free world on a pathway to peace. That Hamas crosses the Gaza border to kill and kidnap Israelis, acts duplicated by Hezbollah from Southern Lebanon, can only be blamed on the Arabs who've elected them to power.

Any student of Middle East history can tell you how Israel ended up occupying the Sinai Peninsula, the Gaza Strip, the Golan Heights and the West Bank. It wasn't through unprovoked Israeli military aggression. Israel was on the verge of being attacked by Syrian, Egyptian and Jordanian troops mobilizing on their borders in 1967 and waged a preemptive strike; and was attacked in 1973, the Yom Kippur War, on its holiest day of the year. Since its inception in 1947, Israel's had to defend itself against Arab aggression on every border including the North, where the PLO set up shop to attack Israel after being expelled from Jordan in 1970, leading to Israel's forces occupying a strip of Southern Lebanon in 1978, an occupation that ended some 22 years later. Despite all this, in an effort to create a true and lasting peace in the region, Israel has given back the Sinai to Egypt; Gaza to the Palestinians; and was is the process of pulling its settlers from the West Bank to help create a Palestinian homeland. What more is it expected to do as a partner in the peace process? But that's just the problem: Israel lacks a viable partner on the other end of the table. What it's faced with now is an increasingly hostile Middle East becoming dominated by madmen like Iran's Ahmadinejad who refuse to accept Israel's right of existence, and worse, are committed to its demise.

Bush, since 9/11, has used the "global war on terror" at every turn as a campaign theme, a mission statement, as well as a means to prop up his failed presidency and distract Americans from the real issues. Is it time for the United States to get more involved in the Middle East crisis if the crisis is a critical component in this war on terror? Is stepped up diplomacy enough? Should the U.S. increase financial and military support to Israel as it battles Hamas and Hezbollah in its two-front war on terrorists? If Bush truly believes his own rhetoric, then the U.S. must thrust itself more proactively and meaningfully into this situation.

Friday, July 14, 2006

McCaskill to Deliver Dems' Response to Bush Radio Address on Stem Cell Research. Missouri Challenger Now Tied with Jim Talent

Missouri Democrat and State Auditor Claire McCaskill, who's challenging two-term Republican incumbent Jim Talent for his key Senate seat, will deliver the Democratic response to President Bush's Saturday morning National Radio Address on the stem cell research legislation that comes before the U.S. Senate next week. McCaskill will address the nation at 11:07 a.m. EST.

The Senate next week will begin debating the bill, which the House already passed last year, co-sponsored by Rep. Diana DeGette (D-CO) and Rep. Mike Castle (R-De), to expand federal funding of embryonic stem-cell research. The measure, according to Bush political operative Kark Rove, is expected to pass but will be vetoed by the president.

"We were all an embryo at one point, and we ought to as a society be very careful about being callous about the wanton destruction of embryos, of life," Rove said. He added that research shows "we have far more promise from adult stem cells than from embryonic stem cells."

The Busheviks have allowed federal funding only for existing lines of embryonic stem cells which falls far short of what medical researchers and patients' groups are seeking. They say that the administration's stem cell policy hinders the overall research process.

"It would be a terrible disservice to the American people, the hopes of millions, that President Bush would veto this," said Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV).

According to the McCaskill campaign, the Senate hopeful will urge voters to contact their Senators to express strong support for the bill's passage, and will make reference to former First Lady Nancy Reagan and the legions of supporters she has for her role in seeking federal stem-cell funding legislation.

And while McCaskill continues to gain national prominence, she's caught up to Talent after trailing by a few points this Spring. According to Rasmussen Reports, the candidates are now tied at 42% with Republicans and Democrats divided evenly along party lines. The Democrats need six seats to regain control of the U.S. Senate.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Grass Roots Granny Takes on Senior House Republican in Florida Congressional Race

There's a very interesting Congressional race down in Florida's Pinellas County 10th district between the Republican incumbent, 18-term Rep. C.W. Bill Young, and the no-name Democrat challenger Samm Simpson, a 53-year-old grandmother, former radio broadcaster and financial marketer whose waging a good old fashioned grass roots campaign. Young was formerly Chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, and has also served on the House Armed Services Committee, and the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. He currently serves as Chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense, and is the senior Republican in the House. Taking him down would be a monumental coup for Simpson. A climb up Mt. Everest? For sure, but that's what America is all about.

We spoke with Simpson about her candidacy and her thoughts on the campaign and a few of the major issues of the day:

Ostroy Report: Why run for Congress and take on an 18-term incumbent in a solid Bush country?
Simpson: Anybody who is concerned about their individual freedoms needs to sound an alarm. I've been watching our Constitution crumble since 2000, and in January of 2006, after watching more of the President's rhetoric about terrorism and the war in Iraq, I felt compelled to run. At first I thought I'd be a write in candidate. I told the Democratic Party I'd like to do this and discovered they had no one else. Then I found out that it cost $9726 to have my name on the ballot. This is set by the Florida legislature and part of the problem, don't you think? The other alternative was to get signed petitions. So we got 'em. First time in the history of Pinellas County that a Federal Candidate qualified by petitions. But it's not just the war, the corruption, the greed the sellout out of our public policy to corporations and the eroding of the social contract and middle class purchasing power that propels me to run for elected office. It's also about the Constitution and the sacred fabric of the law that my father fought for, and our forefathers died for. Congress is standing by blindly allowing this President and administration to flagrantly disrespect our own Constitution.

Ostroy Report: As a person of faith, how will you let your religious beliefs influence possible decisions on abortion, school prayer, Terri Schiavo-like life/death issues, public displays of religious items symbols?
Simpson: Abortion is a tragedy of monumental proportions and it is an act that I personally strongly oppose... I feel that much more needs to be done to help prevent abortion and restore a respect for life. This runs the gamet from educational programs to condom giveaways. I'm not sure our nation is ready to outlaw abortion; the majority of American's believe that this difficult choice must be a private matter within the bounds of one's conscience, one's doctor and one's God. I agree. School prayer? Hmm...A moment of silence to recognize something bigger than the math test. I'm not opposed to it. Terri Schiavo? Congress was acting improperly when it became engaged in this very personal and private family matter.

Ostroy Report: What's your position on Iraq? Do you support an immediate withdrawal of troops? Would you have voted for the recent Kerry/Feingold resolution or the Levin/Reed measure?
Simpson: I would have voted for Kerry/Feingold, but not for Levin Reed, as the latter had no timetable.

Ostroy Report:What's the #1 problem with the Bush administration and the GOP today, and what would you as a congresswoman do to change it?
Simpson: I would say that the number one problem is a failure of leadership. This involves a refusal to take responsibility or make the Administration accountable for it's actions, and the culture of greed and secrecy and hubris that has overcome their responsibility to the American People and the Constitution. I could counter this by seeking and telling the truth, not supporting policies that are based on lies, and, if it has momentum from others, impeaching the President and the Vice President.

Ostroy Report:Do you believe Bush's Medicare drug plan is a failure? If so, why?
Simpson: Yes. The Medicare Drug program is a prime example of the Bush Administration and Republican leadership blatantly beholden to the special interests of healthcare lobbyists and placing their corporations ahead of what's best for American seniors. The path to this legislation was fraught with illegality and subterfuge. According to the Alliance of Retired Americans, "The Bush Administration violated the law by withholding cost estimates and threatened a Federal employee with firing if he disclosed them. The Bush Administration used tax dollars for a multi million-dollar propaganda campaign to promote it to the public. House leaders held the vote in the middle of the night and kept it open for an unprecedented three-hour period. One of the bills principal authors, former Rep. Billy Tauzin (R-LA), negotiated a $2 million deal to head PhRMA, the drug industry's trade group, while working on the law." The 1% penalty adds insult to injury and the lack of negotiating power is unconscionable. Seniors are now beginning to face the "donut hole" where they will be 100% responsible for paying for drug coverage.
And, with Medicare now paying billions to private insurance companies, this plan will cost American Taxpayers $720 Billion during the first 10 years with costs reaching $100 billion a year by the middle of the next decade. So what is the answer? Retro fit this bill to allow drug negotiation, roll back the 1% penalty and cover the donut hole? That still leaves the seniors and Medicare beholden to monthly fees, rising drug prices, changed formularies, "asset tests" that will disqualify nearly 3 million very low income seniors, lack of access to home oxygen treatments and the promise, by 2010, competition between Medicare and private insurance plans, to name a few. I say we dismantle the bill and build a drug component into a national health care system that is affordable for everyone, like H.R. 676, a bill co-sponsored by Congressmen John Conyers and Dennis Kucinich. Why not use the best minds in social and public policy, education, disease prevention, medicine and health care distribution - not the moneyed lobbyists - to come up with a plan to solve our health care dilemma? With visionary leadership, and a paradigm where people are the priority, we can work together to solve one of America's most difficult problems.

Ostroy Report:What's your position on the immigration issue?
Simpson:This is a huge issue and I am still researching. Nevertheless, here are some thoughts. The laws are not being followed or enforced. Our borders are not secure. We need a longer-term strategy based on the will and desire of the American people, economics, labor supply and demand, education and health care systems and our culture's ability to assimilate change. Amnesty is not the answer. Nor is blanket deportation. We must understand that our trade policies have affected this migration, as well as our Congressional politics, indifference or employer greed. I believe that our best short-term solution is enforcement of existing laws of employers. Currently, the House version of the not yet passed immigration bill says "no pathway to citizenship," and the Senate version says 2 years. I disagree with both. For legal aliens to become citizens, they must be here five years. If we are going to have a pathway to citizenship for those who entered the country illegally, it stands to reason that the length of time should be longer than five years. And the criteria should include fines or penalties for breaking the law. Borders need to be secured and we should have POE's (Points of Entry) with the appropriate technology to document who is in the country. We need to take a look at all the 245i and HI-B programs and consider lowering the number allowed. Congress must commit the funds for the staffing and resources of the Bureau of Immigration Control Enforcement to allow for interior enforcement of the existing law. A rollout of training for local law enforcement officials should be included in this process. First and foremost, we should identify illegal aliens in our prisons and local jail facilities. Congress should pass a law that requires mandatory roll out of The Basic Pilot Document Verification Program - a joint program between SSA and DHS, whereby employers verify the employment eligibility of newly hired employees. This is currently voluntary and helps employers determine whether an individual is eligible to work in the US.

Ostroy Report: what's your biggest challenge in this campaign?
Simpson: I have serious challenges with an ill family member. I've got challenges because I'm utilizing my IRA to live on while I do this. I have challenges with knowing how to do this, as it's all brand new. I have challenges in my own mind that wonders, "What am I doing?...Can I really make a difference?" I have challenges with money and fund raising, because I've only raised around $6000 or $7000 and the DCCC will only talk to me if I have $100,000 and the State of Florida's Democratic Party will only talk to me if I've got this much or that much. I'm getting a first hand lesson in politics and I don't want to be a politician. The only thing I don't have a challenge with is the direction I'm headed in. Because I know I'm supposed to do this. I'm determined to seek and tell the truth. It's out there, we just need to open our eyes, turn off the televisions and read a few books. Our campaign is the first in Pinellas County history to have a Federal Candidate qualify by getting the proper number of signed petitions. Seventy-five hard working volunteers gathered just over 4500 within five weeks. We needed 4088 to quality. Once they all got counted, we had 4089. Every Vote Counts. My campaign continues to be grass roots, speaking to groups, reaching out to people door to door, through the internet, via my television show Media Is Propaganda through audio broadcasts and word of mouth. The primary objective of this campaign is to let Florida's 10th District voters know that they have a clear alternative choice to the current 36-year Republican incumbent this November. I am that alternative. It's considered a David and Goliath contest. Let's not forget who won.

To contact or support the Simpson campaign and/or contribute funds:

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

While the Busheviks Continue Their Propaganda, Iraq Sinks Lower into Civil War

President Bush is succeeding in making the same mistakes "dad" did back in 1992 when he appeared embarrassingly out of touch with Americans over the economy. This time, Junior's not only showing economic delusions--as in bragging about a near $300 billion deficit this week--he's also shockingly out of touch on the war. While Bush, Cheney, Rove, Rice, Rumsfeld, Gen. Pace and others like to cite "progress and success" in Iraq at every possible turn, the country is hemorrhaging with sectarian violence and is out of control. Anyone who doubts that a civil war is underway is either in serious denial or is lying through their big Republican teeth.

But while the Busheviks stick their heads in the sand and regurgitate the "progress and success" rhetoric, the events on the ground spell disaster. A series of suicide and car bombings, random shootings and mortar attacks in the last several days have left over 100 Iraqis dead. Fifty people alone were killed Tuesday. Sen. Joseph Biden (D-DE), ranking member of the Foreign Relations Committee, cited Sunday's killing of over 40 Sunni Arabs by Shiite militia "in broad daylight" in Baghdad, "a city that has 60,000 Iraqi security forces" and "is in tatters. If you don't call that a nascent civil war, I don't know what it is," said Biden, who had made his seventh visit to the violencence-torn country."

From a political perspective, Iraq will likely also spell disaster for Republican incumbents this November. Caught between Iraq and a hard place, the Repugs must decide between toeing the party line and continue supporting the president's "stay the course" policy and face angry voters back home, or break rank and seek an end to this quagmire. Polls show that an increasing majority of Americans do not support the war and want an imminent withdrawal of troops.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Bush Brags About $296 Billion Deficit and Kool-aid Drunken Repugs Cheer. Can the Bar for this President Be Any Lower?

With the new budget deficit numbers out, a reasonable expectation would be that President Bush would not only be sequestered at the Crawford ranch clearing brush, he'd be hiding in it too. Yet unlike any other president in history, this one believes a $296 billion deficit is actually something to brag about. It only goes to show that the Busheviks are so desperate for anything even remotely positive to tout that they'd use the deficit as something to be proud of. The performance bar is set so low for Bush that his operatives can now astonishingly point to a colossal failure and paint it as a success. In essence today, the 'good' news from Bush was that the news was not as horrifying as it could have been; that the previously projected $423 billion deficit for this year would be $127 billion smaller. Whoopee. Give the man a cookie. Is it too much to ask of this administration that they be measured against the Clinton days of record surpluses? Apparently so.

Before a White House gathering of curiously excited Republicans Tuesday, Bush cited his tax policies as being the great fix for the economy: "The increase in tax revenue is much bigger that we had projected, and it's helping us cut the budget deficit...Our policies are working." What Bush forgot to remind everyone was that, while indeed last year's $318 billion deficit has shrunk somewhat, the $296 billion '06 deficit represents an almost $1-trillion swing from the $600 billion '06 surplus his administration projected in 2001. But only to the Busheviks can policies that turn a projected $600 billion surplus into a roughly $300 billion deficit be viewed as "working." That the revised dreadful projection of $423 billion for '06 was reduced to a less dreadful $296 billion is certainly nothing to cheer.

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (NV) remarked, a deficit "smaller than $300 billion, is that anything to brag about? I think not."

Further bursting the Bushevik bubble is that the deficit is projected to increase next year to $339 billion, a result of declining tax revenue. Rob Portman, director of the Office of Management and Budget, said the Treasury Department projects just 2.7% revenenue growth for '07.

The contrast to the Clinton years are startling. Since Bush took office in 2001, the federal budget has gone from four years of surpluses under Clinton--the longest run of black ink since before the 1920's--to record deficits. And Tuesday's rah-rah session by Bush did not address the concerns economists have about the future. They cite record spending, the Iraq war, Social Security obligations, the Medicare prescription drug program and a reduction in the estate tax as negatively impacting the economy in the coming years.

The Center on Budget Policy noted that while a reduction in the deficit is always welcome, the 2006 reduction isn't going to change the long-term fiscal outlook.

And while VP Dick Cheney might think "deficits don't matter," The Concord Coalition, a nonpartisan fiscal policy watchdog, notes that the interest on U.S. debt is the fastest growing category of government spending.

Friday, July 07, 2006

It's Time Democrats Aggressively Play the Terrorism Card

We all remember how the 2004 election was won by Repuglicans because they made the war on terror the central front in their war on Democrats. To be sure, the Iraq war and the economy were reasons enough to get them soundly kicked to the curb, but they shamelessly exploited 9/11, continued their lie about Iraq and, despite John Kerry's five Vietnam medals, successfully branded Democrats as the party of limp-wristed, weak-kneed, Birkenstock-wearing pansies who cannot protect America. Their mantra? Be afraid people, be very afraid. And it worked. Over 62-million voters--more than any in election history--sent the great macho warriors Bush & Cheney, Mr. Awol & Mr. Deferment, back to the White House to valiantly battle evil for another four years.

But now it's time to turn the tables on the Repugs and make fighting the war on terror a Democratic strength, not a weakness. There's several ways to accomplish this goal. First, the DNC, DSCC and DCCC, along with groups like, should wage a nationwide PR/ad campaign to promote the unparalleled military expertise of Democrats, and at the same time highlight the lack of military service in the GOP. Let's hit 'em in the gut with aggressive advertising:

"John Kerry. John Murtha. Charlie Rangel. Ted Kennedy. Jack Reed. Wesley Clark. These are just some of the members of the Democratic Party who wish to bring an end to the Iraq war and bring our troops home. What they also have in common is that they've all served honorably and courageously in America's military. Their guys, George Bush, Dick Cheney, Karl Rove, Bill Frist, Denny Hastert, Roy Blunt, Mitch McConnell, Trent Lott, Rick Santorum, want to keep sending our sons and daughters, husbands and wives, brothers and sisters, to die in Iraq as we indefinitely "stay the course" without a clear plan. What they also have in common is that none of them served in the U.S. military. Who would you rather have finding a solution for ending the war and protecting America, those who know what it feels like to put on a uniform and fight for their country, or those who did everything in their power to avoid it?" Vote Democrat. Make the right choice in 2006.

Damn, I get goosebumps just thinking about seeing this on the airwaves during primetime.

The next thing Democrats need to do, as Sen. Kerry called for this week, is to take ownership, politically, of the CIA's "Alec Station" unit which, for the past ten years, existed solely to hunt and capture/kill Osama bin Laden and his top lieutenants. It was just shut down by the Bush administration, which intends to "reallocate" assets to other counter-terrorism agencies. In essence, the Busheviks have given up on trying to find the murderous animal who vaporized 3000 Americans. Democrats should be all over this issue, hammering home the message that the Repugs may talk a good story, but their actions say something else. That they have failed in their promise to hunt and bring to justice the masterminds behind the 9/11 attacks and do everything possible to protect Americans. That they are closing the very spy unit designed to do just that.

"This unit should be reconstituted immediately and given all resources necessary to finish the job of holding bin Laden accountable and preventing him from organizing or inspiring future attacks against the United States and our allies," Kerry, a member of the Foreign Relations Committee, wrote in a letter to John Negroponte, the director of national intelligence. Kerry said the agency's reorganization of assets "is not a compelling rationale for curtailing efforts to bring this mass murderer to justice....Moreover, disbanding the bin Laden unit sends the message to the terrorists that they can kill thousands of Americans without being held to account."

How about another commercial:

"(tape plays Bush's 9/13/01 quote "The most important thing is for us to find Osama bin Laden. It is our number one priority and we will not rest until we find him.")

(tape plays Bush's quote from March 2003 "So I don't know where he is. You know, I just don't spend that much time on him...I am truly not that concerned about him.")

(voiceover) George Bush and the Republicans promised you almost five years ago that they would do everything in their power to find Osama bin Laden and his top lieutenants and bring them to justice for the horrific attacks of September 11. But while bin Laden keeps making audio and videotaped threats against America, Bush and the Republican leadership has shut down the CIA's "Alec Station" unit, the only U.S. counter-terrorism unit dedicated exclusively to hunting, capturing or killing bin Laden and Al Qaeda's leaders. After almost five years of tough talk and broken promises, they've simply given up.

(Tape plays Bush quote again..."The most important thing is for us to find Osama bin Laden. It is our number one priority and we will not rest until we find him.")

(Voiceover) George W. Bush has thrown in the towel on bin Laden. But he's still the number-one priority of Democrats. If we regain control of Congress, we'll re-open the critical CIA bin Laden unit and bring this brutal murderer to justice. Vote Democrat, and vote for leadership that will keep its promise to truly keep America safe from terrorists."

Lastly, Democrats must remind voters how the Busheviks have failed in the war on terror by diverting valuable financial, political and military resources away from Afghanistan--the country that housed, harbored and trained the 9/11 terrorists--and into Iraq. How they've let that country fall back into the hands of warlords, drug barons and the reconstituted Taliban as the fragile Democratic government of Hamid Karzai struggles to survive.

As Jamie Rubin, former Clinton State Department official and Sky News TV anchor, wrote in the New York Times Friday, Democrats need to overcome the image as "quitters, unwilling to hang tough in the fight against terrorism. Next time, the Democrats should try a different strategy. Instead of calling for troop cuts in Iraq, they should call for transferring forces and resources from Iraq to Afghanistan.

"By forcing a debate on transferring American forces back to Afghanistan," Rubin writes, "the Democrats can avoid the trap of allowing Republicans to claim they are weak. They can argue that their proposal is not a withdrawal from the front, but rather a deployment to an equally important front where American leadership can make the difference in securing a long-term victory. Democrats can justifiably argue their goal is to reverse the Bush administration's premature diversion to Iraq. If nothing else, such a debate would focus attention on the Bush administration's failure to finish the job in Afghanistan."

Our last commercial:

"When it comes to Iraq, the war on terror, and keeping America safe, Republicans say Democrats don't have a plan. To the contrary, we have a very good plan. It's the same plan we had almost five years ago when we voted to invade Afghanistan and wipe out Osama bin Laden, Al Qaeda and the Taliban government that harbored them. But as soon as Republicans took control of Congress the following year, they, and President Bush, took their eye off these vicious terrorists and chose to divert our much-needed political, financial and military resources to an unnecessary war with Iraq, which did not attack us, did not possess weapons of mass destruction as the Bush administration warned, and posed no threat to us whatsoever. And as a result, Osama bin Laden and his top henchmen remain free as they continue plotting their next murderous attack on U.S. soil. If Democrats can regain control of Congress, we'll put the fight against the 9/11 terrorists back where it belongs, in Afghanistan, and the focus back where it belongs, on Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda. We'll go after the enemy that attacked us, not the one that didn't. Vote for Democrats this November. We'll get America back on track in the war on terror.

C'mon, Democrats, get tough. It's time to out-Rove Rove. George Soros, are you listening?

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

So Much for "We'll Get bin Laden Dead or Alive"

For the past ten years the C.I.A.'s "Alec Station" unit's sole purpose was to hunt, track down and kill or capture Osama bin Laden and his top lieutenants. But in a story first broken by NPR this week, the Busheviks late last year closed the operation, reassigning agents to other divisions. While agency officials dismiss claims that the closure weakens the United States' effort to find Al Qaeda's leaders, others voice serious concern. Michael Scheuer, a former senior C.I.A. official and the first head of the division, said the move reflected a view within the agency that the threat from bin Laden had subsided, and warned that that view was mistaken. "This will clearly denigrate our operations against Al Qaeda," he said. "These days at the agency, bin Laden and Al Qaeda appear to be treated merely as first among equals."

What we do know is that President Bush's tough talk was just that.Talk. Remember this promise?: "The most important thing is for us to find Osama bin Laden. It is our number one priority and we will not rest until we find him." (Sept 13, 2001). Or, we'll find bin Laden "dead or alive." And,"we're gonna smoke 'em out." But these John Wayne-isms quickly turned into 2002's limp "I just don't spend that much time on be honest with you. I truly am not that concerned about him." And now the closing of the Alec Station unit is another chapter in the Book of Bush Lies. There are many reasons why the Bush neocons' ill-fated war in Iraq is unjust and a colossal failure. But the most unfortunate consequence is how it's diverted precious military, intelligence and financial resources away from the war against our real enemy, Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

The Repugs Keep Lying to Americans About Iraq, 9/11 and the War on Terror

It's been 4 1/2 years since the September 11, 2001 attacks on New York and Washington which killed 3000 Americans. It's been over three years since the Busheviks marched on Iraq and deposed Saddam Hussein. In the time since, there's been a complete lack of evidence connecting the fallen dictator to Osama bin Laden, as well as the government of Iraq to Al Qaeda. But that hasn't stopped the Repugs from morphing the two at every turn in their ongoing effort to legitimize the war and divert Americans' attention away from their misuse and abuse of intelligence to justify the invasion. Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rove and Rice are the main protagonists in this story, but the supporting cast of characters is miles long.

Case in point, Sunday's Meet the Press, where NBC correspondent Andrea Mitchell, subbing for Tim Russert, interviewed Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) about the Iraq war, terrorism and last week's Supreme Court blow to the Busheviks which prohibits military tribunals for Guantanamo detainees. Defending the administration, as well as his own vote for the war, McConnell said, "...The most important thing, we haven't been attacked again here since 9/11. We've been on offense. We've invaded Afghanistan, invaded Iraq, there are democratic governments now in both places....But these are the same kinds of people who attacked us here in the United States. They've not been able to do that again because the president made the fundamentally correct decision to get on offense, and we've gone after these people where they are, somewhere else, fighting them in places like Kabul and Baghdad so we don't have to have them again in Washington and New York.

Ah yes, the old fight 'em over there so we don't have to fight 'em over here bullshit. Do they ever tire of this inane rhetoric? Even after all the years of evidence to the contrary, they still want us to believe that we stormed Baghdad to strike back at the 9/11 terrorists. We get the whole Kabul/Afghanistan thing. The Taliban. Al Qaeda. Everyone supported that mission. The whole world was behind us. That's where we were fighting the terrorists who attacked us. So why then did we have to go into Iraq? Oil? Revenge for pops? Small-dick syndrome? You decide. What we do know is that it had absolutely nothing to do with what the Busheviks, including McConnell, say it did. That over 2500 U.S. soldiers have died in this charade makes it even more despicable.

In a move that completely shot to shit McConnell's credibility on the subject of the war, Mitchell quoted him from April 2003: "American success in Iraq showed that 'arm-chair generals and New York Times reporters' were wrong in their assessments of how difficult the war would be," and that rebuilding Iraq will be much easier than rebuilding Afghanistan because of Iraq's well-educated population and the oil to finance reconstruction. "Iraq has the potential to be a jewel in the Middle East." Uhm, wanna try that again Mitch? When asked if that was a miscalculation on his part, he pulled a bait and switch and criticized Democrats. "Well, certainly the taking of Iraq was what is expected. The aftermath has been much more difficult. And I think it's gone, the fact that it's gone on a while creates the kind of debates the Democrats are having among themselves over whether we get out by the end of the year or get out by next summer or begin to get out at some point. And people do become impatient."

While I understand the political currency gained in the Repugs' accusation that Democrats are divided over the war, the simple fact is, Democrats are united in wanting an end to this quagmire, and an imminent withdrawal of the troops. The recent Kerry/Feingold resolution called for complete withdrawal by July 1, 2007 and was defeated 86-13. However, the Levin/Reed measure, a compromise effort urging the Bush administration to begin withdrawing troops but with no set timetable, lost by a vote of 60-39. That's almost all of the 45 total Democratic Senators voting for it. Is that not unity? But the Repugs would of course rather focus on the fact that only 13 Senators supported the Kerry/Feingold bill. What these kool-aid drunken dopes don't realize is that this too demonstrates party unity. A solid majority of 32 Democratic Senators voted against this resolution.

But the main thing, as Schumer said, is that "The Democratic Party is united in holding the president's feet to the fire on oversight." Voters, he said, want an end to the war, "and I think they respect the fact that Democrats do have divisions and are debating this, and not just marching in lockstep to whatever the president does, because they're not happy with what the president is doing, and that's going to help us."

Washington Post's Dana Priest Bitch-Slaps Bill Bennett. It Was a Beautiful Thing to Watch

Earlier this year Washington Post beat reporter Dana Priest was awarded journalism's highest honor, the Pulitzer Prize, for her reports exposing the government's secret 'black site' prisons and other controversial counterterrorism tactics. On NBC's Meet the Press Sunday, conservative blowhard hypocrite William Bennett was quoted from April as saying that Priest was "not worthy of an award but rather worthy of jail." The basis of Bennett's argument echoes the Busheviks' incendiary rhetoric that the media is committing treason, putting the nation in grave danger by publishing articles on classified spy programs such as the NSA wiretappings and the SWIFT financial transaction-monitoring program. Priest, other journalists and in particular, the New York Times, have come under the Busheviks' fire.

But in response to Bennett's outlandish statement, Priest put the smack-down on the 'recovering' gambling addict when she told host Andrea Mitchell: "Well, it's not a crime to publish classified information. And this is one of the things Mr. Bennett keeps telling people that it is. But, in fact, there are some narrow categories of information you can't publish, certain signals, communications, intelligence, the names of covert operatives and nuclear secrets. Now why isn't it a crime? I mean, some people would like to make casino gambling a crime, but it is not a crime. Why isn't it a crime? Because the framers of the Constitution wanted to protect the press so that they could perform a basic role in government oversight, and you can't do that." As Jon Stewart's homeboy would say, "Oh snap!" As Priest delivered her "gambling" line, the bloviating Bennett became visibly disturbed as he winced, shook his head, wringed his hands and muttered what appeared to be something like "..a mistake," as in, it was a mistake to come on this show. Bennett had been combative and belligerent from the get-go, looking disgusted throughout, and as if his head was about to blow. Early on, he rudely interrupted Mitchell with, "Is that it? Is that it for me? when she turned from him to ask a question of another guest, former NY Times columnist William Safire. "No. No. Stand by," Mitchell responded as if she was dealing with a petulant 10-year-old. "I want to ask Bill Safire to weigh in on this."

Priest's bitch-slap was a beautiful thing to witness, and it was done in the most subtle, seemingly unrehearsed manner, yet with the overall effect of castration. And it was well deserved. Bennett is a classic Repuglican hypocrite, author of The Book of Virtues, a collection of parables on morality and personal responsibility; a guide for parents. Furthermore, during Bill Clinton's ugly, highly partisan impeachment hearings, Bennett was relentless in his attacks on the former president for his "sins." And then in the Spring of 2003, this virtue magnate was outed for having a very serious gambling addiction, which he fessed up to and likened to a "drinking problem." So much for morality, huh? It's the same old story with these Repugs: do as I say, not as I do.

Over the controversial SWIFT program in particular, Bennett was the show's lone defender of King George's attempt to crucify the media. "I've been in the Times for 30 years disagreeing with Times editorial policy right down the line," said Safire. "On this one, I think they did the right thing" in publishing their story last month exposing the Busheviks' tracking of terrorists' funds within the world banking system.

And the Wall Street Journal's John Harwood said he believes the controversy is nothing more than a drummed up effort on the part of Bush and the GOP to distract voters from the real issues: "If you're a Republican in the White House or in Congress, would you rather talk about immigration, gas prices, the estate tax, all the things that you can't get done right now, or would you rather go after The New York Times, the Supreme Court on the Guantanamo ruling...and say "They're tying our hands in the war on terrorism?"

One question that comes to mind is, if this is not a highly political ruse by the Busheviks to scapegoat the NY Times and divert attention away from their policy failures, and it's truly in the interest of national security, why then have they singled out the left-leaning NY Times and not the Wall Street Journal and Washington Post, which ran similar articles? Because they know that, overall, the press was justified in publishing these stories. As Times columnist Nicholas D. Kristof wrote Sunday, "Is the press a traitor when it tells you, or when it doesn't?"

Saturday, July 01, 2006

The King Returns to Graceland, and his Japanese Sidekick Rocks the House

George W. Bush, to some, may be the guy you want to have a beer with. But Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi is definitely the guy you want to Karaoke with. On a pilgrimage to Graceland, with Priscilla and Lisa Marie in tow, Koizumi did his best impressions of the King, Elvis , while that other king, George, stood idly by looking stiff as a board and completely without humor.

Koizumi's an Elvis fanatic, and called his visit to the mansion "a dream come true." He's erected a statue of the King back home, and the two share a birthday, January 8, as well as some pretty thick funky rock star hair. Throughout the tour, Koizumi shaked, rattled and rolled his way through the mansion, savoring every moment, especially in the famed Jungle Room where, to the horror of the tour guide, he donned an original pair of Elvis' oversized gold shades before crooning "Love me tender, love me sweet." Koizumi continued with "Wise men say, only fools rush in ..." while Priscilla looked at him as if he was the fool who had just rushed in.

"We need a karaoke machine," she then joked. "Hold me close. Hold me tight," Koizumi sang to her. He then bent down and simulated strumming a guitar, Elvis-style, and sang "Glory, glory, hallelujah." This whole scene would've given great inspiration to Salvador Dali. All the while, Bush looked as if he'd rather be home watching John Kerry's home movies.

Admittedly, we got caught up in the Elvis fever this week as well. In honor of the King, we thought we'd list a few of his tunes here with some little known anecdotes. Enjoy:

"Don't Be Cruel": Sung by the Guantanamo Detainees Quartet
"Heartbreak Hotel": The new hit single by Duke Cunningham & the Watergates
"Jailhouse Rock": Scooter Libby gets his freak on
"Hound Dog" ("you ain't never caught a rabbit and you ain't no friend of mine"): Sung by Harry Whittington to Dick Cheney
"Fools Rush In": Sung by the Brooks Brothers Riot Boys
"G.I. Blues": George W. Bush's favorite war song, as in "G.I. Wish I had had the Balls to serve in the military during Vietnam"
"Guadalajara": Bush confuses this song with having something to do with Guantanamo
"His Hand in Mine": Bush's musical homage to Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah
"My Way": A song about Bush's leadership style
"Kissin Cousins": Ken Mehlman sings about Southern Republican voters
"I Want You, I Need You, I Love You": Scott McClellan's love song to Jeff Gannon
"Long Legged Girl (With a Short Dress on)": Rove's love song to Ann Coulter
"Puppet on a String": Rove's love song to Bush
"Tutti Frutti": the Ken Mehlman opus
"Make the World Go Away": What Bush sings to himself every night before bedtime
"T-R-O-U-B-L-E": the GOP's midterm election theme song
"Fairytale": A catchy little tune about a president who actually thinks he won two elections
"Witchcraft": a song about how Bush actually won two elections

Key Florida House Seat Up For Grabs

Rep. Clay Shaw (R-FL) is in trouble. The 13-term Congressman from the state's 22nd district is running neck and neck with State Sen. Ron Klein (D)in a race in which the GOP is pulling out all stops to hold onto power. The party's big guns--Bush, Cheney, Rove--have campaigned in the state with Shaw in a desperate effort to save his seat. What's more, Klein's been raising more cash than the Republican incumbent.

The Repugs are scared. "Everyone that you can devote to him, every dollar that you can provide, every vote that you can turn, every person that you can get to, it's important to get it done this year for Clay Shaw," Rove has been urging the party's base. And with good cause. Shaw is one of President Bush's biggest supporters in the House, rubber-stamping his measures 9 out of 10 times. An email from Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) warns, "one can only imagine how much special-interest money President Bush and Karl Rove are going to put into this race."

Alan Abramowitz, professor of political science at Emory University, said Democrats have a good chance of gaining at least 15 and possibly 20 or 25 House seats. "Florida's District 22 is obviously one of the Democrats' prime targets," he said. Past elections may be a foreshadowing of things to come in November. In 2004, John Kerry won the district with 52%, while Democratic Senate candidate Betty Castor won 54%. In 2000, Gore took the district 52% to 48%.

Wrote Pelosi: "With Ron Klein as a Democratic candidate, we have the opportunity to change the leadership in Florida's 22nd district. Instead of being home to one of President Bush's biggest defenders, it can be home to a proud Democrat who has led the Florida state legislature. Ron will be the Congressman this district needs; he'll work to make health care affordable, fight for quality education, hold insurance companies accountable, protect the environment, and promote economic development that benefits everybody, not just a select few."

Shaw's biggest vulnerability may be the highly unpopular Medicare prescription drug plan, as the 22nd has the highest proportion of seniors in the country. Klein smells opportunity with this wedge issue, and frequently criticizes the program and its failure to negotiate the lowest prices. Shaw's also a strong proponent of the Iraq war, which, along with Bush's dreadful poll numbers, could spell even further trouble for him in this hotly contested race.

It's coming down to the wire. Democrats have the best chance in 12 years to take back the House, and they're wisely fighting a seat-by-seat war. Klein could very well be one of the 15 Democrats the party hopes to pick up to regain control.

Click here to contribute to the Ron Klein campaign before the June 30th 2nd quarter deadline.