Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Wondered Through a Bookstore

Some random thoughts on walking through a Books-a-Million store this afternoon (Southeastern chain bookstore).

- the Christian Fiction Section - giggle giggle

- "Christianity for Dummies" - double giggle giggle

- Christian Living/Inspiration/Bibles - the religion books take up two whole aisles. If I were a Christian I would not necessarily be encouraged. Do they really want to get into bed with the marketing dept? Old Question, I guess.

- the Social Science section - Why are there two sections, one for Women's and Gay studies and 20 feet away another on "traditional" topics.

- more Social Science section - Why is it that half the titles in the "traditional" SS section belong in the Politics section.

Monday, January 29, 2007

On Timelines

President Bush is fond of saying that issuing any sort of timeline in Iraq would only encourage the insurgents. It must seem obvious to him that if you say, "US troops will pull out in six months," then the insurgents will just lie low for six months and attack when the US is gone. Let us ignore the assumption that US troops are not a primary target here. The real problem with this argument is that in order to be true to its main principle you are left with only one course of action, namely staying in Iraq indefinitely.

Now, If you believe that Cheney intends to turn Iraq in to another Okinawa, we will refrain from calling you a conspiracy nut - it just isn't quite crazy enough to qualify you. Discounting this disastrous idea, however, every jihadi in Iraq can comfortably assume that the US will pull out the majority of its troops someday. He may not be able to mark his calendar but he knows that patience will one day pay off. That's the problem with Bush/Cheney's ominous timeline warnings. If a timeline is a capitulation to the insurgents then so is a military deployment that is so obviously non-permanent.

Maybe your average American cannot imagine holding on to a plan for more than six months without abandoning it and going to the mall. Given a society where grudges are a matter of family and personal honor, it is dangerous foolishness to believe that the Iraqi insurgents and aggrieved Shi'a are going to just chill out. Or that by August they will have forgotten all that stuff about decades of persecution, religious fervor, tribal humiliation, fear of reprisal, oil money and desire to return to power and prestige. No, those employing violence to forward their goals will hunker down and wait for the day in six months, a year, five years when they operate free from American interference. It isn't the date-setting that emboldens the terrorists, its the certain knowledge that their day will eventually come.

Counter Argument 1 - It is America's lack of resolve to "win" that emboldens the insurgents. If this is the case then you have to convince the public that we will indeed be in Iraq for 10-15 more years. Good luck!

Counter Argument 2 - The Iraqi army will be able to handle the insurgency after an additional {random period of time} of being propped up. Well, The only competent military force in Iraq is busy ethnically cleansing Kirkuk in preparation for a vote on Kurdish independence. The Iraqi military has none of the helicopters or high-tech gear the US seems dependent upon to fight the insurgents. When we eventually leave, the bad guys will have exactly the same armaments as the good guys. By the way, who are the good guys? Is it the guys not infiltrated by death squads. The only military solution to Iraq will come in the form of a civil war. Preventing this will require a 100% Iraqi political solution. We can neither win this for them nor choose outcomes.

Friday, January 26, 2007

He Ain't Nothin' but a Hound Dog

Every time Bush says "I'm the Decider," am I the only person who can't help thinking of the hound dog, Napoleon, in the Aristocats who is always saying, "I'm the leader! I'm the one that says... ?"

We Lost The War on Terror on October 26, 2001

This is the date that the USA Patriot Act was signed in to law.

Read the following from Landscapes of Jihad by Faisel Devji, assistant professor of history at New York's New School University:
The hollowness of the World Trade Center, whose imposing towers crumbled so easily in the face of al-Qaeda's attack, represented the void at the heart of Western civilization itself, not least because the attacks of September 11 were followed by a significant if partial breakdown of America's much-vaunted culture of democratic rights and civil liberties, including even a suspension of certain provisions of the Geneva Convention...This fact was not lost upon any participant in the jihad, to whom it demonstrated that the West's moral superiority was not only hypocritical, because its boasted freedom was based upon the un-freedom of others, but hollow as well, because it could not preserve this freedom even for its own citizens. [Emphasis added]
And so we see that people in Muslim countries, even the terrorists, are quite sophisticated enough to see that the liberals are right: the World's acceptance of America's ideals of Freedom and Democracy are dependent on our own willingness to defend these ideals at home.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Real Perspective on US Health Industry

From Robert Reich:

America now has the only health-insurance system in the world designed to avoid sick people.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Obama Unelectable?

I was sitting in the choir room at my church on Sunday when one of the ladies entered, walked up to the minister and asked, "What religion is that Osama guy?"

Whoa! I had read that Barak Obama had attended an Islamic school (right wing read - Madrassa) for some years as a child in Jakarta but did not know that the fact had penetrated to Aging Methodist Sopranos. The discussion quickly turned to the "fact" that Barak had joined a United Church of Christ just recently in a cynical ploy to hide the fact that he is really a Muslim. I checked out Barak's church and discovered that the Trinity United Church of Christ subscribes to something called the "Black Value System" and a "non-negotiable COMMITMENT TO AFRICA." Rush Limbaugh will have Obama painted as a latter-day Black Panther in no time.

Now, I live in Alabama, a state that a Democrat has no real chance of carrying. That said, how can Barak Hussein Obama's campaign survive the next year-plus with the constant onslaught of innuendo and slander that it is going to receive from the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy?

Bonus for Republican conspiracy buffs: Are we to believe that a Muslim, Black Power, State Legislator from Illinois is a serious Presidential candidate? In reality, Obama's candidacy is a ruse to draw fire away from Hillary...

Update: Barak Obama has been a member of Trinity UCC since 1988.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Get Tom Friedman on the line

General George Casey's comments on the effects of the "Surge" as described by the BBC:

He said he expected "a gradual evolution over the next two to three months" and improvements "through the summer and fall". He added: "It'll take some time."

Sounds like the Next Six Months (tm) will be crucial!

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

The War Tax

The time has come for congress to step up and do what President Bush has refused to do for four years: Pay for the War.

The expected 2007 price tag for Iraq is $100 billion. President Bush and Senator McCain are acknowledging that the number of casualties will increase when we send in 21,500 more troops. Since we are calling on these men and women to make the ultimate sacrifice, it is time for America to make a wee little sacrifice itself.

I propose a $100 Billion tax be imposed on Americans across the board with part of the sum coming from an excess-profits tax on the defense and petroleum industries. The tax would be linked to the number of troops in Iraq - say $1,000,000 per soldier. When the war is over, the tax is gone. Fair enough?

It may be symbolic but it will keep the cost off our grand children's credit cards and bring the war home.

[Ed: Had to add sunset provision to tax plan]

Tuesday, January 9, 2007

What's That in Your Closet

Why would the Bush administration feel it was a good idea to bring in Fred F. Fielding as the President's legal counsel? Why would they feel the need to have someone who was deputy counsel to none other than Richard Nixon? What are they expecting? What do they have to hide?

This could get very interesting.