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People Power

postedPosted in Politically Incorrect on March 2nd, 2005 by glennm

In the mid-1980s in the Phillippines, Corazon Aquino’s “people power” revolution swept dictator Ferdinand Marcos out of power and into exile, despite a long history of U.S. support for Marcos. Now the same thing is happening in Lebanon, as hundreds of thousands of protestors in “martyr’s square” yesterday forced the resignation of the Syrian-controlled president. Managing A Mideast Revolution [washingtonpost.com]. It’s already been dubbed the “Cedar Revolution,” for Lebanon’s famous forests.

This is a great time to be a democrat (small “d”). Here’s hoping that the Bush Administration lives up to the rhetoric from Dubya’s second inaugural address and doesn’t leave these democractic middle eastern revolutionaries twisting slowly in the wind like Bush senior did to the Kurds in March 1991, after encouraging them to revolt against Saddam Hussein.

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Banana Republic

postedPosted in Boob Tube, Media Matters, Politically Incorrect, War On Terrorism on January 21st, 2005 by glennm

Last evening on ABC’s World News Tonight, commentator George F. Will said that the unprecedented security surrounding the presidential inauguration made America “look like a banana republic worried about a restive tank regiment at the edge of town. It was unworthy of the occasion.” (Too bad they don’t post transcripts on the ABC Web site.)

It is really scary not only what 9/11 has done to liberty in America, but also that Will and I (once again) agree.

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Police State Security

postedPosted in Politically Incorrect, Pop Art, War On Terrorism on January 20th, 2005 by glennm

The media reports predicted that the security precautions for today’s 55th presidential inauguration in Washington, D.C. would be “unprecedented.” Well, one had to be there — as I was this morning and afternoon — to appreciate what 9/11 and the like have done to America.

Whole sections of downtown were locked off, blocked by buses and guarded by SWAT teams with high-powered rifles. Iron barricades lined all of Pennsylvania Avenue, so spectators were crammed together into small cordoned-off areas, and police and military personnel formed a human barrier for 1 1/2 miles down the entire parade route. In the skies surveillance aircraft hovered constantly, riot police with billy clubs in hand were everywhere, snipers positioned on every rooftop and it seemed like every other person in the crowd had a Secret Service radio ear-piece. (The photo below — click for the full-sized shot — is the presidential motorcade passing by on its way back to the White House. Note the salutes from the sailors on the right and across the street at the Justice Department.) Unbelievable. And scary.

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All of this contrasts sharply with Dubya’s attempt at stirring rhetoric of freedom and liberty. I remarked months ago that 9/11 was making D.C. look like Beirut. Today it looked more like the “Green Zone” in Baghdad. The ideals of America and our Constitution are indeed a beacon of hope. But while most of the country and the world will see only the photo op of Bush walking, smiling and waving for 1/2 block in front of the White House, the reality is that this Administration is so spooked it is afraid of its own citizens. Abraham Lincoln and John Kennedy are turning over in their graves. It’s just hard to understand how a president can pretend to represent the people when he governs inside a fortress, walled off from those who wait hours in the cold just for a glance. We now have a president and a government of the FBI, by the Secret Service and for the military — not the people.

So the question is, does Bush “put up” with this like Clinton, or does he really like the sterility of a capitol city and political culture in which the citizenry and its leaders are separated by guns, military squadrons and miles of barriers? I hope it is not the latter, but fear that’s exactly what is going on here.

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Pablum Politics

postedPosted in Politically Incorrect, War In Iraq, War On Terrorism on October 15th, 2004 by glennm

I generally detest George Will, politically and for his obsession with baseball, but he can be surprising. A Lethal Idea Still Lives [MSNBC].

This grotesque presidential campaign, which every day subtracts from the nation’s understanding of its deepening dilemmas, cannot end soon enough, or well. Concerning the issue that eclipses all others — the wars in Iraq and against Islamic terrorists — reasonable people can be simultaneously to the right of President Bush and to the left of John Kerry.

So here we are, in the final stretch of the campign, post-debates, and prominent Reagan-era conservatives have had it both with George Bush and with the pablum dished out in American politics today. Will says that more forces were and are needed in Iraq if the task can hope to be accomplished. “How do the administration’s nation-builders think elections are going to be held in this maelstrom.” Yet he correctly observes that:

Recently [John Kerry] said that even if he had known then what we know now, he would have voted to authorize the war. That is, even knowing that Saddam Hussein was not yet nearly the danger that intelligence guesses said he was, and even experiencing the occupation’s rapidly multiplying horrors, Kerry says: Make me president and I will more deftly implement essentially the same policy.

According to WIll, Kerry “seems incapable of mounting what the nation needs — a root-and-branch critique of the stunningly anticonservative idea animating the administration’s policy.” This is scary. Not just because there are so many people in our politically polarized country who like Stepford citizens are hypnotized by the caricatures of policy presented by the candidates, but also that Will and I agree — a pox on both their houses.

Neither the Democrats nor Republicans have any integrity on the most fundamental issues facing the country, So we’re stuck either with a second Bush term in which arrogant idealogs run amok with our foreign policy, making the United States more hated in the world than at any time since “The Ugly American,” or a Kerry administration that has over-promised and lacks the courage to execute the dramatic policy reversals necessary to extricate America from the quagmire of Iraq and smash terrorism, rather than catalyze it. This is not a choice, it’s a tragedy.

Who believes there are now fewer terrorists in the world than there were three years ago? The administration should be judged as it wants to be judged, by its performance regarding the issue it says should decide the election — national security. However, the opposition party is presenting an appallingly flaccid opposition.

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We Don’t Need No WMDs

postedPosted in Politically Incorrect, War In Iraq on October 7th, 2004 by glennm

Well this just proves not only that the Bush Administration never accepts responsibility for its mistakes, but refuses even to acknowledge when it screws up. Bush, Cheney Concede Saddam Had No WMDs [YahooNews.com].

As I’ve blogged previously, without weapons of mass destruction, the only reason to go to war in Iraq was to topple Saddam Hussein because he was a tyrant — to protect the human rights of Iraquis. That’s the most liberal rationale for war imaginable, even if the whole notion of “nation building” (which is what the United States is indeed engaged in in Iraq these days) had not been so firmly rejected by George W. before the 2000 elections.

The President likes to say that “9/11 shanged everything.” Yes, it did. But one thing it did not change is that using American military power to build democracy in the Third World is both quixotic and short-sighted. Liberty is only gained by revolution. Revolution has to come from within, not abroad. If the American Revolution were to have been imposed by the French — George Washington’s ally during the Reolutionary War — there would be no America today. One only says “give me liberty or give me death” if one is fighting for one’s own liberty. Foreigners cannot create liberty at the point of a gun.

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He’s a Conservative?

postedPosted in Politically Incorrect on February 4th, 2004 by glennm

Under President Bush, Nick Kristoff points out in a provocative op-ed piece titled Sex, Lies and Bush on Tape, “[government] spending has increased more rapidly than under any president since Lyndon Johnson, and Mr. Bush refuses to pay for it.” And what’s really scary is that few people — including Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan — seem to care at all.

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Yes, We Have No WMDs

postedPosted in Politically Incorrect, Rants, War In Iraq on January 26th, 2004 by glennm

The chief U.S. weapons-hunter in occupied Iraq, David Kay, now says that “we are very unlikely to find large stockpiles of weapons. I don’t think they exist.” Ex-Iraq Arms Hunter Blames Data for Failure | LATimes.com. So White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan announced in reaction that “Saddam Hussein’s regime was a gathering threat, and in a post-Sept. 11 world, we must confront gathering threats before it is too late.”

That’s well and true. But is it necessary to lie to your own people, and the world, in order to do so? The sad part is that the Bushies would have had the same overwhelming support of Americans — and the same opposition from the goodie-goodies and pacificsts at the UN and the EU — had they come straight and not manufactured stories about Saddam’s WMD stockpiles. Now, in hindsight, the whole thing is looking very much silly.

It’s way too late to argue that imminent threat of WMDs was not the principal justification for the war. That the Bush Administration’s continued efforts to try to deny and deflect reality shows only their disdain for real democracy or their underlying hubris — or maybe both.

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You Can’t Handle the Truth

postedPosted in Politically Incorrect, Rants, War In Iraq on January 15th, 2004 by glennm

Conservatives have had a field day with Ted Kennedy’s speech of yesterday, calling him a “gassbag” who cannot handle the truth. “The truth is,” according to Angela Phelps of Human Events, that “if any American lived a single day under the former dictator of Iraq, they too would have been screaming for regime change in Iraq.”

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Duh! No one disagrees with that. But this country has long ago — read nearly 100 years — given up on the Wilsonian notion that America can or should remake the world politically in her own image. When the Right argues such blatantly liberal notions as human rights as the basis for new war policies, something really weird is going on. And almost no one seems to notice or care how backwards this all is.

[A] unilateral US war with Iraq would actually be a travesty of Wilsonian principles. While Wilson was certainly prepared to use US armed force in pursuit of his aims, the core of his philosophy was a commitment to the development of international institutions and international law. This is something for which the US nationalists who now misuse his name have open contempt.

Some have called the Bush Administration’s philosophy “democratic imperialism,” with a small “d” and an emphasis on the second word. That’s the truth. But neo-conservatives can’t handle the fact that they have been spouting flamingly liberal doctrine in support of their imperialistic aims, so they just made up the imminent threat of WMDs. That’s the truth.

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War As a Political Product

postedPosted in Politically Incorrect, War In Iraq, War On Terrorism on January 14th, 2004 by glennm

In a major speech today, Sen. Ted Kennedy said the Iraq war was a ”political product” marketed by the Bush administration to win elections. ”The war has made America more hated in the world,” Kennedy said. ”And it has made our people more vulnerable to attacks both here and overseas.”

I don’t think any reasonable person would argue with this. It is also the case, however, that Saddam was a tyrant and deserved to be deposed. But as I have commented previously, without a clear and present danger — the immediate threat posed by WMDs and bio-terror weapons that Pres. Bush assured America and the world Saddam possessed and was ready to use — then the only reason to go to war was to protect the human rights of Iraqis. I personally don’t think the war can be justified on that basis alone and am convinced that the electorate would opposed the war if it were presented in that correct fashion.

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A Trial For Osama

postedPosted in Media Matters, Politically Incorrect, Rants, War In Iraq, War On Terrorism on January 9th, 2004 by glennm

Conservatives have had a great time the past month lambasting Howard Dean for suggesting that Osama bin Laden, if captured, should be put on trial and that his guilt should not be presumed. Well, just so happens that President Bush himself said the same thing — about the tyrant Saddam Hussein — in a December 15 news conference:

QUESTION: Mr. President, you said earlier this morning that in a trial that all of Saddam’s atrocities need to be brought out. He was in power more than 30 years. It probably would make for a long rap sheet.

You’re not supposed to pre-judge.

QUESTION: Yes. I’m just counting the years.

OK, good.

QUESTION: Do you believe that the invasion of Kuwait in 1990 should be included, as well as his assassination attempt against former President Bush?

So, where is the conservative anger when their own man makes the same “slip”? And why has the media not picked up on this, despite the Republican insistence that the media are a bunch of flaming, Democratic-leftie liberals?

That’ll all be decided by the lawyers. And I will instruct this government to make sure the system includes the Iraqi citizens and make sure the process withstands international scrutiny. But we’ll let the lawyers handle all that. And, as you know, I’m not a lawyer. And I delegate. And I’m going to delegate this to the legal community which will be reviewing all of this matter.

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