Archive for the ‘War’ Category

The Top 8 Dumbest Things about the Republican Party

May 1, 2009

This feature is part one of a two-part series centered on the two major political parties in the United States.  For The 8 Dumbest Things about the Democratic Party, click here.

Is the Republican party going to be ok?

Is the Republican party going to be ok?

8.  Republicans believe that The War on Drugs can be solved if we throw everyone into prison.

Republicans get to take credit for the first recorded usage of the term “War on Drugs.”  It was used by Richard Nixon in 1969 as a way to fire up the base of the party against the counter-culture hippies that despised the Vietnam War.

Thanks to the War on Drugs, our prisons are overfilled.  The cost is so high to run some of these prisons that they have to be sold to private companies.  The legislature of California actually considered selling San Quentin prison this year because of the terrible financial shape that the state is in.

And drug cartels love the illegality of drugs more than Republicans do.  Drug demand in the United States will continue and the cartels increasingly find clever ways of evading the DEA.  In fact, cartels are now building semi-submergable vessels that can avoid RADAR and infra-red in Costa Rica.  They pack these boats with up to seven tons of cocaine and park it on a deserted beach in the United States. If they can get seven tons of cocaine to the coast of the United States without being detected, they can get seven tons of anything into our country.

Legalize drugs.  Pull the rug out from under the black market.  Levy taxes on the drugs and use that money to educate kids and help addicts get help.  This is exactly what happened during prohibition.  Legalizing drugs will help to stop the violence and the kidnappings in Mexico and in the southwest.

7.  Republicans demonize higher education.

From discounting professors in their “ivory towers” to laughing in the face of modern economic theory, Republicans love to rally their base on the premise of their shared mediocrity.  Ann Coulter believes that American teachers are “inculcating students in the precepts of the Socialist Party of America—as understood by retarded people.” (link)

There are intellectuals in the party, but you’ll find few conservatives that know them by name.  For every David Brooks, there is a Carrie Prejean.  For every George Will, there is a Joe the Plumber.

This isn’t to say that there are plenty of idiots in the Democratic Party as well.  The difference is that Janeane Garafalo doesn’t get microphone time at the Democratic Convention, while Joe the Plumber, a moron, is viewed as some everyman harbinger of truth in the Republican Party.  The problem with this outlook is that it eventually permeates into the politicians themselves.  The Palin phenomenon.  A folksy former sportscaster that bounced around from college to college without any sense of history or moder political theory is voted into the governorship of Alaska.  Same thing happened with Michelle Bachmann.

The hard right tarnishes the image of the Republican Party just like the Taliban tarnishes the image of Islam.

6.  Republicans believe that corporations are more trustworthy than the government.

Let’s get this out of the way quickly.  The government has done some shitty thingsBut they have also done plenty of good things.   Let’s look at the current financial crisis as a microcosm for the shittyness of government versus the shittyness of corporations.

The government allowed for corporations to create the derivatives market as well as offer subprime mortgages to people that couldn’t afford them.  That’s shitty.

The corporations took these allowances and had a field day.  Not only did they offer subprimes to the people that couldn’t pay them, but they bundled the mortgages into a security and bet on the outcome of the security.

Johnny thinks Group A of subprime mortgage holders will only pay back 40% of the loan while Philp believes that Group A will pay back 80%.  Johnny decides to bet $32,000 on the outcome even though he only has $1,000 in the bank.  Philip bets $28,000 even though he only has $900.  Group A only pays back 40%.  Johnny wins.  Now how the fuck is Philip supposed to pay him?

5.  Republicans believe that the government doesn’t belong in your pocketbook, but it does belong in your ovaries and in your bedroom.

It seems that every time the Republican party is asked about fiscal policy, the only two words on their lips are “tax cuts.”  We’re in a war?  We Need Tax Relief.  We’re in an economic booming period?  More tax cuts.  We’re in a recession?  Tax cuts, tax cuts, tax cuts.

People used to be offended if one was yellow and one was dark brown.

People used to be offended if one was yellow and one was dark brown.

Republicans believe that the best judge for whether you should carry your child is the federal government.  In fact, they believe that your Church should have no say in the matter.  They believe that a marriage between gay people somehow infringe on their rights.  There are going to be gay people that your children are going to be exposed to whether they are allowed to marry or not.  What difference does a certificate matter to you?

4.  Republicans believe that the Second Amendment of the Constitution is the only important one.

Not a peep came from the Republican party when George W. Bush all but suspended the Fourth Amendment with the warrantless wiretapping program.  Hell, even after he left office and we discovered that John Yoo had readied an additional memo that would have limited the First Amendment, there was no significant backlash at the Drudge Report and Red State.

But when anyone says that you probably shouldn’t be able to carry an assault weapon capable of shooting 30 times in 10 seconds, Republicans go apeshit.

Here is my compromise.  You can buy any gun you want.  However, that gun is only allowed to fire three bullets before you reload.  Gun manufacturers must make it so that a reload takes more than thirty seconds.  Military and police guns do not have to follow these regulations.

Many Republicans will say that that inhibits their ability to protect their family in case the government comes to get them.  But that’s idiotic.  The government has nuclear weapons, genius.  If they want a police state, then they’re going to get one.  Until then, three shots is all you get.

3.  Republicans say they reject big government when they are out of power, but balloon government when they are in power.

I don’t know how much longer Republicans will fall for this nonsense.  During the reigns of Reagan, Bush, and W. Bush, government grew on a massive scale.  Hell, George W. Bush added the entire Department of Homeland Security.  Government spending went through the roof with all three GOP presidents.  None of them ever balanced a budget or saw a surplus.

fiscal-conservative

It wasn’t until Bill Clinton balanced the budget late in his second term that many Americans finally realized that “fiscal responsiblity” did not belong on the Republican party platform.  Of course, the minute W took office, he squandared the surplus by adding significant tax cuts for the wealthy.  Most republicans don’t realize that the government has to PAY for tax cuts.  It is a signficant loss in revenue.  I’ll allow you to argue supply-side economic theory when a Republican balances the budget.  Until then, Bill Clinton’s “socialistic” 3% tax hike for wealthy people balanced it just fine.

2.  Republicans have shitty sources.

I don’t give a damn what some politician “believes” about global warming or Evolution.  If I want to hear about global warming, I’ll talk to chemists, geologists, and climatologists.  If I want to hear about Evolution, I’ll talk to a biological anthropologist or primatologist. There is no “big science” lobby.  These people do not get paid anywhere close to the bullshit experts from the oil lobbying firms.  They are scientists whose reputation is contingent upon their adherence to the scientific method.

Many, many scientists would like nothing more than to disprove global warming or Evolution.  They would be instant celebrities in the scientific world and they would be written about in textbooks for centuries.    But that doesn’t happen.

1. The people that vote for Republicans

On April 15, 2009 an estimated 189,000 people across the United States participated in Tax Day Tea Parties.  While simultaneously calling for an increase in defense spending, tea partiers were enraged at the 3% increase in taxes for people who make over a quarter of a million dollars a year.  Only 5% of working families in the United States will see a tax hike.

But don’t tell that to the teabaggers.

Sure, you get freedom of speech.  You just dont get to dictate policy when your guys lost.

Sure, you get freedom of speech. You just don't get to dictate policy when your guys lost.

If you asked them, taxes were through the roof on everything.  Even though the protests were sponsored by Fox News as well as two of the biggest lobbying firms in Washington, the majority of tea-party goers swallowed the kool-aid that this was a grassroots movement.

To be fair, the most vocal people on Fox and CPAC do not represent Republican voters collectively.  After all, the most moderate candidate in the Republican primaries John McCain won the 2008 Presidential nomination.  I suppose the proof of where the party is headed won’t be known until 2012.  If a Jindal, Palin, Romney, or Gingrich is selected, then they’re going in the wrong direction.  But if Jon Huntsman Jr.  is able to secure the nod, we may see a more reasonable, more intelligent Republican party.

All that and I didn’t even mention getting us into crazy wars, justifying torture, and the annual gay sex scandals.

O’Reilly tries to correct Obama with Britain-bashing

April 30, 2009

Bill O’Reilly giddily “corrected” an answer Obama gave during his press conference last night on “The O’Reilly Factor” relating to the torture of detainees in the United States.  Here is the clip.

Thats the biggest projection since Ryus Ultra-Hadoken.

That's the biggest projection since Ryu's Ultra-Hadoken.

For those of you who haven’t seen the above video, I’ll try to give a fair interpretation of what was said by both Obama and O’Reilly.

Obama: Churchill understood that if you start taking intelligence shortcuts by torturing detainees, then that corrodes the character of a country.

O’Reilly: Obama should have used a better example than the British Government.  Afterall, they tortured several members of the Irish Republican Army.

Does Bill O’Reilly think that the average viewer of the O’Reilly Factor is so dumb, that they do not know that Winston Churchill was out of power and even dead by the time things started heating up the IRA in the 1970s?  Clearly Obama was evoking the pedastool that the world puts Churchill on when discussing war and foreign policy, not the actions of the entire history of the British government.

What’s next O’Reilly?  Maybe we can’t fully trust the marriage vows of Gordon Browne because Henry VIII went through so many wives.  Different times, different leaders, different situation.

I’m about to pull a Fox News.  Bill O’Reilly is sympathetic to terrorists.  With a name like O’Reilly and a proven track record of agressive attacks on the Britsh Government’s handling of the terrorist-Nazi-socio-fascist-communists of the IRA, I have to wonder who O’Reilly really pals around with on the weekends.  He’s got his eyes on Northern Ireland.

RWP Rating: Unusual

Five Democratic members of Congress arrested during Darfur protest (video)

April 27, 2009

Reps. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.), John Lewis (D-Ga.), Donna Edwards (D-Md.), Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), and Lynn Woolsey (D-Calif.), were arrested Monday during a protest to end the genocide in the Darfur region of the Sudan.

A video of the arrest is available here:

[kyte.tv appKey=MarbachViewerEmbedded&uri=channels/197059&tbid=k_97&premium=true&height=500&width=425]

Newt Gingrich in ’97: “There is no place for torture and arbitrary detention”

April 27, 2009

Good old Newt Gingrich has been in politics too long.  Quotes from his past are beginning to catch up with him and the Democratic Party just may have found a flip-flop moment that could put Gingrich in hot water with his Republican base.

Funny how being opposed to torture may actually hurt the future Republican Presidential Candidate

Being opposed to torture may actually hurt the future Republican Presidential Candidate.

In 1997, then Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, released a statement that said the following:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: OCTOBER 30, 1997
SPEAKER’S STATEMENT ON VISIT OF PRESIDENT JIANG
Washington, D.C. — House Speaker Newt Gingrich released the following statement today following his meeting with Chinese President Jiang Zemin.

“As I said in China this spring, there is no place for abuse in what must be considered the family of man. There is no place for torture and arbitrary detention. There is no place for forced confessions. There is no place for intolerance of dissent.” “While we walked through the Rotunda. I explained to President Jiang how the roots of American rule of law go back more than 700 years, to the signing of the Magna Carta. The foundation of American values, therefore, is not a passing priority or a temporary trend.

That last sentence is the kicker.  Gingrich cannot hide behind the “everything changed after 9/11” bullshit that has been used to justify both torture and arbitrary detention.

In a recent interview with Greta Van Susteren, Gingrich was grilled by the side-of-the-mouth talker.  It’s not really too big of a surprise because Van Susteren’s husband is one of Sarah Palin’s advisers, so she has a vested interest in Gingrich losing the 2012 nomination.  In any case, here is the interview:

VAN SUSTEREN: But you said a minute ago that it was torture, waterboarding…
GINGRICH: No, I said it’s not something we should do.

VAN SUSTEREN: OK. Is it torture or not?

GINGRICH: I — I — I think it’s — I can’t tell you.

VAN SUSTEREN: Does it violate the Geneva Convention?

GINGRICH: I honestly don’t know.

I can’t tell you?  What the fuck?  Do you know whether waterboarding is torture or not and you’re just following some stupid Republican talking point?

I do agree with Gingrich on his original statement, but I’m sure you’ll see him backpedal like no other during the primaries.  We should be opposed to torture every day.  A post 9/11 world is only an excuse for those who seek to undermine the very foundations of this country.

RWP Rating: Strange

Quick Link: Taliban officials execute couple accused of adultery (DISTURBING VIDEO)

April 27, 2009

I have to warn you.  This video is very real and very disturbing.  I think it’s important for people to watch these types of videos in order to understand the conditions that these people live under.  The Taliban is gaining strength in Pakistan right now.  Aren’t you glad all our troops are in Iraq?

Video: Telegraph

Montana town wants Guantanamo Bay detainees, federal lawmakers reject the idea

April 24, 2009

Two Democratic Senators from Montana have spoken out about allowing Guantanamo Bay detainees into a state jail.  A new jail constructed in Hardin, Montana was to be the new home for the prisoners.  Local Hardin officials have insisted that they do want to house the detainees in order to help pay the cost of the jail as well as create jobs in a troubled economy.

I hope better transportation will be provided when they move.

I hope better transportation will be provided when they move.

Greg Smith, the Two Rivers Authority director, said “Somebody has to stand up and put (the Guantanamo prisoners) in their backyards. It’s our patriotic duty.”  Despite this local opinion, Senators Jon Tester and Max Baucus apparently believe that housing the criminals in their state will hurt them politically in Montana’s other districts.

Baucus said “we’re not going to bring Al-Qaeda to Big Sky Country – no way, not on my watch.”  Tester reiterated Baucus’ sentiment without the hometown charm saying he is “against any proposal to bring Guantanamo detainees to Montana.”

Montana’s sole Representative Republican Denny Rehberg also chimed in on the issue, taking it one step farther: “we should be doing everything possible to keep them out of our country, let alone our state.”

Rehberg is a pretty typical lobbyist dicksucker, so I’m not too surprised about him.  But Tester and Baucus need to realize that their state is perfect for housing these detainees.  Hardin is a town of less than 4,000 people and there are no large cities that detainees could escape to if they were somehow freed. Not to mention the fact that every single damn person in Montana owns a gun and will not hesitate to fire at trespassers.  One of my friends learned that the hard way.

We need to follow the rule of law.  Hell, Baucus voted for giving Gitmo detainees Habeas Corpus, so he shares my sentiment.  I just feel like this is all being done for political expediency.  It may not be popular in Missoula and Billings, but if Hardin residents want to work and are willing to provide top-notch security, then some federal bureaucrats, who probably shouldn’t even have a say in this (what does Governor Brian Schweitzer think?)  should just let it happen.

RWP Rating: Unusual

Full Story: Billings Gazette

California GOP cries racism over popular Tea Party sign

April 23, 2009

At the tea party I attended, I saw little to no racist signs.  One loon in the corner that was yammering about Obama’s birth certificate aside, the protest mostly focused on demonizing the Democratic leadership.  I know that isn’t what the teabaggers wanted me to get out of it, but that is what it ultimately was.

Several days after the tea parties have ended, the California GOP is actually accusing tea baggers of racism.  Who saw that coming?  Anyway, the sad part about their cries is that the sign in question is simply not racist.  Apparently, their just not as used to playing the race card as the Democrats are.

This is it.

This is it.

Aside from being one of the only truly bipartisan signs, this is an odd message for any Republican to be delivering.  But that’s the point.  This sign was actually created by Ron Paul supporters.  The GOP in California wants to back as far away from this sign as possible.

If Israel didn’t have a Star of David on their flag, then maybe this sign could be considered racist.  But the first thought that went through my head upon seeing it was this:  We give money and weapons to Israel who end up killing a whole bunch of Palestinians.  That isn’t an opinion.  That’s fact. The last scuffle between the two ended with several hundred dead Palestinians and two dead Israelis.

You could make a similar sign using hands from Hezbollah and Hamas dumping cash into a funnel with a Palestinian flag on it and ending with dead Israelis.  That’s not racist.  It’s fact.   People have a right to be mad about shit like this.

The bottom line is that the word “racist” is thrown around far too much these days.  If the California GOP deems this sign “racist” then that stops all real discussion about the policies that the sign is critiquing.

RWP Rating: Bizarre

Full Story:  Concord Monitor

The real reason Dick Cheney keeps talking shit about Barack Obama

April 21, 2009

If you’ve been watching cable news lately, you’ll know that Dick Cheney won’t keep his mouth shut about how unsafe we all are now that Barack Obama is President.  Cheney contends that terrorists provided crucial information to the United States when they were tortured.  Now that Obama has stopped all torture, they are less likely to provide more.  Click here to see a bit of what I will be discussing.

Cheneys a hater.

Cheney's a hater.

Cheney is banking on the fact that the American public doesn’t know much about the confessions of the supposed terrorists.  He is also saying that the methods, especially waterboarding, are so damn effective that we can’t possibly get good intel without their use.  Let’s analyze each of these premises in some detail.

Even though few people in the United States know it, torture is what got the United States to invade Iraq, at least if you are to assume that Cheney and company went to the waterboarding table in good faith (ie, had a conclusion to invade Iraq and just wanted to find any reason to do so).   Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi, a trainer for al-Qaeda, was tortured by the United States until he “confessed” to a link between Iraq and al-Qaeda.  al-Libi said that “Iraq trained al-Qaeda in bomb-making, poisons, and gases” (George W. Bush, October 2002).

Now we now that this intelligence was completely bogus.  There was absolutely no link between Iraq and al-Qaeda.  No training, no trading, nothing.  The methods led to a false confession, which led to an illegal invasion.   So much for good intel.

Imagine if that were a US troop, in the hands of al-Qaeda.

Imagine if that were a US troop, in the hands of al-Qaeda.

The second premise from Cheney is that the torture methods used under the Bush Administration were so damn effective that no terrorist could resist a good waterboarding.  Unfortunately for Cheney, this is bullshit.

Recent memos released by the Obama Admistration that were written by the Bush Justice Department say that Abu Zubaydah, an operator of an al-Qaeda training camp, was waterboarded 83 times in a single month.  If waterboarding were so effective, why the additional 82 sessions?  Even worse was the torture of 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed who was waterboarded 183 times in one month.  Once again, if torture is so effective, why doesn’t KSM confess sooner?

Dick Cheney knows that torture doesn’t work.  He knows it leads to bad confessions.  But it’s almost as if he is on the campaign trial right now, disparaging Obama’s foreign policy constantly.   And that is exactly what he wants you to believe.

If the Obama Justice Department were to begin a special prosecution against Bush Administration officials that knowingly violated the Geneva Conventions  and the United Nations Convention against Torture, Cheney wants the public to view it as a political hitjob.  If Obama is seen by the public as playing politics by going after Bush officials, it may hurt him politically and may actually affect the outcome of the investigation.

Obama has to realize that the American people are on the side of law.  Torture is a crime in the United States.  Period.  If a lawyer from the Obama Justice Department were to write a memo justifying rape, rape would still be illegal.   And this whole “let’s just concentrate on looking forward” business is stupid.  Bernie Madoff could tell a judge that he already stole the money, let’s just look forward and not get bogged down in an investigation.  It sets a terrible precedent.

Now is the best time for this investigation.  If it gets dragged out, it’s more time the Republicans will have to convince the public that it is all a political game rather than justice for a group of thugs.   Leave the CIA agents that administered the torture alone.  But nail every motherfucker that ordered the Code Red to the wall.

US Marine arrested in Boston airport with guns and explosives in luggage

April 20, 2009

Justin Reed, a United States Marine from North Carolina, was arrested at Logan International Airport in Boston after guns and explosives were found in his checked luggage.   Just days after a report from the Department of Homeland Security warned of an incline in right-wing extremism that may permeate our military, Reed will become the poster child of current conservative tomfoolery.

If it were a black person, Fox would talk about the rise of militant blacks in the US.

If it were a black person, Fox would talk about the rise of militant blacks in the US.

The scary part of this report is that Boston was Reed’s destination city and not his departure.  TSA officials in Las Vegas apparently missed:

A locked handgun box containing a semi-automatic handgun, a fully loaded gun magazine, several boxes of 9 mm and 7.62 mm ammunition, three model rocket engines containing an explosive mixture, military pull-type fuses, switches, electronics kit boxes with various components, and a hand grenade fuse assembly with detonator.

So when a gun shaped device goes through a metal detector, a TSA official in Las Vegas doesn’t bother to check it out?  I can imagine that bomb components can be any matter of shapes and sizes, but to miss a handgun in inexcusable.

Any bets that Fox won’t even report this news tomorrow?

RWP Rating: Strange

Full Story: The Boston Globe

Initial thoughts after launch of North Korean missile

April 5, 2009

This post needs proper context.  Last night, before any real story was written on the subject, CNN put up a banner on their website that said: “BREAKING NEWS: North Korea launches unspecified rocket, Japanese and South Korean officials confirm.”  I wrote this short reaction before reading any additional information.

My heart is thumping. North Korea just launched an unspecified rocket. South Korean and Japanese officials have confirmed it. Is this how a third war starts? Or do we swing a big dick and just fucking nuke them back to primordial ooze?

I wonder how long it takes for a missile to reach central Oregon. Fifteen minutes? Twenty? Maybe much longer. We couldn’t have predicted the methods of September 11, but we could predict these methods. Does the United States really have the best defense system in the world? We’re about to find out. Good luck.

Let’s be fair to me because I love being fair to me.  It’s an overreaction, obviously.  But here is the grain of truth in this reaction:  Americans have been made to feel that we are born with targets on the back of our heads.  That we are the grand prize for any rogue nation on Earth.  Yes, Israel is targeted by Iran, but we feel like if Iran could target us instead, they would.  Likewise, Japan and South Korea may be targets one and two for North Korea, but we feel that if Kim Jong Il had his way, we would be within range of his missiles.

It’s a bizarre phenomenon.  The United States is the only nation that has ever used a nuclear weapon.  We have the most powerful weapons arsenal in the world, with hydrogen bombs that make what we dropped on Japan look like hand grenades.   Yet our Fear is unsurpassed by the rest of the nations in the world.

So what is the solution in this mess of a world we find ourselves in?  I don’t know.  But I do know what might help.  The United States needs to stop spending so much money on defense and become more assimilated into the international community.  Let’s allow some of our allies to pitch in for defense.  Too many of our allies simply rely on the unholy wrath of the United States to protect them.  Let’s spread our nuclear arsenal around and ensure that if an attack were to take place, our enemies would know that they would be attacked from 200 different positions around the world.

We need all the cooperation we can get in a world where nuclear technology and missile technology is getting cheaper and easier to develop.

-JL