Tuesday, February 17, 2004

Al Franken's coming soon--hopefully to a radio near you!
REAL MEN HELP ;) : Read about "a benefit for the Palace Theatre, which was actually arranged between Al Franken and Palace director Peter Ramsey following a controversial moment there a few weeks ago, during a Howard Dean rally. Franken made headlines for helping remove a heckler from the audience. Ramsey took the stage last night alongside Franken, and explained how, in the midst of the disruption, while ABC newsmen George Stephanopoulos and Peter Jennings did nothing, Franken took action....."

I'm glad to see the New York Times reiterating what I (and so many others) have been saying for quite a while now. We need a complete investigation...not a cover-up.
PBS New Hour, February 11, 2004:
JIM LEHRER : Speaking of Terry McAuliffe, he's the one who started this issue about President Bush's National Guard Service during the Vietnam War, the White House yesterday issued some papers related to the president's service, does that put it to rest?

DAVID BROOKS: I think it's an idiotic issue. When somebody is running for president, you want to know what their service was in the military, how they behaved. But when somebody has already been president, you know how he behaves, we know how George Bush behaves under pressure because he's spent three years in the White House. Something that happened 30 years ago I don't think is relevant, I don't think it's important. He's a different man than who he was before Sept. 11, and I just think it's an inane issue.
David Brooks has been trying to say that what happened 30+ years ago..what the candidates might have said or done at that time... should be of little impact and/or political consequence when it comes to the 2004 Presidential election. I believe he's seeing that it will have an impact...and there will be political consequences. I find it interesting that he now turns the table a bit and begins to point the conservative finger at Democrats for Viet Nam, saying Truman and JFK's post-WWII "confidence took them into Vietnam and into the quagmire." Mr. Brooks claims "Scoop Jackson Democrats saw Vietnam as a bungled battle in what was nonetheless a noble anti-Communist war. Most of these people ended up as Republicans." He categorizes the rest of the Democrats as liberals who "saw the bungling and the lies as symptoms of a deep sickness in the military-industrial complex".
Brooks goes on to suggest that Reaganites "saw themselves as the heirs to Truman and Kennedy", resulting in a great American perception that "Reagan was right about the world, and that the Democrats were naïve."
You have to accept this premise in order to concur with the rest of Brooks' questions about current events. I found it very interesting that Brooks never once invoked the name of Dwight D. Eisenhower, Richard M. Nixon (and his "secret plan" to end the war), Gerald Ford, or Dem Lyndon Baines Johnson...as if they never existed.
Let's not forget that Reagan opposed the Helsinki accords signed by Gerald Ford and being used as a model for Middle East policy by today's Bush administration. Come on, David Brooks....would I leave Bill Clinton totally out of an article about the history of the War on Terror? Let's be more complete in our regurgitating of history lest we be seen as dishonest intellectuals!

Mr. Brooks seems to be indicting former President Carter for talking about "root causes like hunger and poverty". Is there something wrong with or naive about a President, past or present, addressing hunger and poverty anywhere in this world? Thankfully, Carter was never faced with a 9-11. We'd best understand that this is a far more sophisticated matter than the case David Brooks is making here. I concur that that after 9-11, the U.S. couldn't afford to sit back and wait to decipher or cure Middle Eastern terrorism's "root causes"...because the immediate causes are of a not so much economic in nature as they are depraved, homicidal, and obviously unpersuaded by any plea the Western world could make. I think, however, we rushed headlong into Iraq without a defined 9-11-connection, without a decent plan for after-battle activity...without the international-community, and with dubious reasoning. I don't believe it should ever have happened that way. I also credit most Americans with seeing things exactly as they are. Now that we are there in Iraq, we will have to consider "root causes" for the continued attacks upon our troops.
We will also have to consider an economic plan for the people of Iraq who have been systematically starved between years of international sanctions and robbery of its citizens by Saddam Hussein. If we want to "win hearts and minds", I think we'd better be a bit more "Carter" (who, by the way, was one of the most truly moral and diplomatic men who ever graced the Oval Office)..and a little less 'Hawk'...or at the very least, be a Hawk with sound, honest reasoning and a well-rounded plan.


Gregory Clark is a former Australian diplomat and honorary president of Tama University who, in the past, has written that 'right-wing foreign policy mistakes leave the way open to the left-wing indulgences." Clark said, in a Nation article in 1972, ".....it is remarkable that a country can go to war for six years without anyone bothering to challenge the obviously false premises on which that war was launched. Even the U.S. Congress has had enough sense of democratic responsibility to repeal the Tonkin Gulf resolution."--[NATION, JULY 8, 1972]

The Iraq war has been the near-perfect formula for Clark's theory to be tested in recent months. While some may cheer on the Bush administration for initiating this 'preventive' war, we can look upon it, to date, with much skeptcism as to its policy-wisdom. We can...and we do. Just as some academic careers were virtually destroyed for those who had dared to oppose the right wing hardline on Vietnam and China in the mid-sixties, we see our universities under fire today for taking a stand against right wing policies on Iraq. Some like to blame academia and left-wing commentators, but the left's indulgences are borne of every mistake made by Bush and Blair in their rush to war.

In today's Japan Times, Mr. Clark writes that as things stand today, the U.S. military-intelligence complex is now virtually out of control, arguing that the 'naivete of the Bush/Blair arguments over Iraq cries out for explanation'. (Clark compares Indonesia's occupation of East Timor and resulting atrocities to this type of naivete where hawks are allowed to run the larger portion of the 'show'). He comments that religious fundamentalism seems to have been allowed to seep into U.S. government leadership and that an eerie "veil of silence" has befallen those who spoke of Iraq becoming a hub of secular democracy while we watch it unfold into something far different..Iraq's "democratic elections" being a "nonsecular activity similar to that in that other "Axis of Evil" candidate, Iran."
CNN reports that Archbishop Desmond Tutu challenged Tony Blair and George Bush to apologize for their pursuit of what he considers to be a counter-productive and "immoral" war in Iraq. "How wonderful if politicians could bring themselves to admit they are only fallible human creatures, and not God, and thus by definition can make mistakes....Weak and insecure people hardly ever say, 'Sorry.' It is large-hearted and courageous people who are not diminished by saying, 'I made a mistake.'....Who makes the decision about which regimes should be changed? And what authority do they (Bush and Blair) have to do whatever they may think is right .....is it a matter of 'might is right' and to hell with the rule of international law?" were some of Tutu's statements in an evening lecture delivered at Church House, Westminster, in central London.

In the Denver Post, Walter Cronkite states that he believes the United States has suffered a major self-inflicted wound in his article about U.S. intelligence and our reasons for going to war in Iraq.

Jimmy Breslin says he believes we have a commander in chief who only "plays" soldier with other people's lives while his apparent goal in the early 70s was to dodge war altogether. Not only "dodge".. "he is a guy who ducked the war, dodged the war, reneged on any chance to go to war, and yet without even a hint of personal shame sends young people to die in a war that his record shows that he would duck." According to Mr. Breslin, "Bush went to Alabama and that pretty much ended his fighting career although he did battle cavities in a dentist's chair at Maxwell Field, Ala."