Archive for July, 2007

On the first anniversary of the American incursion into Vietnam, a handful of college professors and radical beatniks started to make a little noise, but were dismissed as nuts.

At two years a few more had joined the movement, largely still members of the same “nut” crowd.

At three years, with the introduction of the hippies into the fray, thousands started to show up to demonstrate.

At four years, there were hundreds of thousands.

On the fifth anniversary, millions of protesters took to the streets! The resounding voice of the American public spoke, and the United States withdrew from a quagmire in which there was no hope of victory.

Flash forward.

Prior to the start of the Iraq invasion, millions marched in protest worldwide; half a million in Florence, Italy, 1.5 million in Rome, 1 million in London, half a million in New York City, 200,000 in San Francisco. Almost every large community had some form of protest. Entire cities were shut down.

Marking the one year anniversary the numbers of demonstrators were large (still in the hundreds of thousands) but probably half that prior to the invasion.

Two years after, the numbers were down to tens of thousands.

Three years after, a few hundred showed up.

This year, four years after the invasion, more people were killed in one week in car bombs in Iraq than showed up to protest. And the quagmire continues.

Have we given up? Have we all been cowed into submission by the Evil Empire?

Many of us are posting in blogs, or talking about how terrible it all is while we drink our Starbucks. Some of us sit and seethe while watching the TV news, then flick over to American Idol. A lot of people are counting down the last 18 months of Bush’s presidency in the mindset that it can’t possibly get any worse.

It can get worse, and probably will.

Bush’s Attorney General, Alberto Gonzalez, testifying under oath, claimed 73 times not to be able to recall crucial details of conversations with other senior-level administration officials. He also claimed that the Constitution did not automatically grant the right of habeas corpus, which is completely incorrect.

Gonzalez is either incompetent to perform the duties of his office or perjuring himself and obstructing justice, both of which are grounds for removal from office. In either case, the Bush administration have been protected by his actions.

The declarations of executive privilege, under which the Bush administration have ducked a vast number of Congressional subpoenas, have undermined Congressional process entirely.

The assertion that Vice-President Cheney is not required to comply with regulations on the executive or legislative branches of Government, citing allegiance to whichever branch allows him to evade regulations, has undermined process in all three branches of Government.

The Bush administration, under the most recent version of their Continuity Of Government plan, has the option to declare martial law when there is a catastrophic event. The power to define a catastrophic event, for these purposes, lies with… the Bush administration.

This gives the administration the power to suspend elections and prolong Bush’s presidency indefinitely. A terrifying prospect, if ever I heard one.

The mountains of evidence are overwhelming. The violations of the once-sacrosanct Constitution and other American laws abound, and the Bush administration lurch in their ineptitude from the disastrous to the catastrophic with nary a thought for G.I. Joe, never mind Average Joe.

The calls for impeachment grow ever louder outside the hallowed halls of Congress, a veritable sea of noise which threatens to drown out any voice calling for more moderate approaches or bipartisan cooperation.

Why is it, then, that impeachment has been off the table for so long? Why is the very notion considered anathema?

It is hardly that there have been no high crimes or misdemeanors. It is not even a simple case of the Democratic Party being “chicken”.

Bush, Cheney and their assorted friends and minions, however, do still have substantial “pull” in this country. Impeachment proceedings would effectively turn Bush and Cheney into martyrs, taking a hit for taking a stand in the name of their party, their country and their God. These men would become a rallying point around which the Republican base could mobilize. Anyone with any dislike for or unease about the Democrats would finally have somewhere to take a stand, despite the relative weakness of the current crop of Republican candidates.

In short, impeaching Bush might result in a moral victory for the Democrats but would place them at huge risk for an electoral defeat.

Any senior Democrat involved in the proceedings would also see a probable end to their chances of assuming higher office themselves further down the line, since they could easily be challenged over the impeachment issue by their opponents.

Allowing the Bush crowd to run out their final year and a half in power, however, gives the Democrats further opportunities to point at the ongoing shambles, strengthening their own relative virtues in the public perception.

Perhaps in February 2009, a newly-minted Democratic President will have the opportunity to arraign many members of the current administration on charges of war crimes, falsification of intelligence, obstruction of justice, leaking classified information and a host of other infractions. The people responsible for these illegal acts can be tried and convicted with much less of the political circus which would otherwise be inherent in the process, thus allowing the new administration to get on with running the country and salvaging its reputation as a bastion of real freedom and democracy.

Despite some efforts, the Constitution has yet to be dealt a killing blow. Another eighteen months of Bushism may be a small price to pay for restoring it to its former glory in years to come.

But then… once martial law is imposed, impeachment proceedings can be shut down as quickly as they can be initiated. Maybe there wouldn’t BE a Democratic President in 2009. It would hardly be sensible for an administration to issue decrees which protect their own power at the expense of the Constitution and then willingly hand over the reins to someone who would use those decrees against them.

Some have suggested that later this year Cheney will step down, citing health concerns, and a more moderate (supposedly) Vice-President appointed, to boost the GOP’s chances of winning in 2008 and keeping the tyrannical, totalitarian streak alive.

Others have suggested that there will be another attack on a U.S. target, probably blamed on Iran, to fire up the public so that they won’t rebel when martial law is declared.

Who can say what further rabbits are to be pulled from the Bush hat?

So… to impeach, or not to impeach? That is the question. If we’re lucky, we have 18 months to answer it.

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Well done, Iraq

This weekend, Iraq’s national soccer team won the Asian Cup, largely due to the efforts of their three-man strike team of one Sunni, one Shiite and one Kurd.

People of all three sects set aside their conflict and celebrated together as brothers, if only for a short time.

The next time I’m obsessing about soccer when talking to Americans and they make some disparaging comment about the relevance of the sport, I will have something to point to.

The NBA doesn’t do this. The Super Bowl doesn’t do this. Even the World Series doesn’t do this.

So congratulations to the Iraqi team for an achievement on the pitch which reverberates well outside the stadium.

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In answer to the recent furore over tax-exempt religious entities being given federal funding for faith-based initiatives, I opined to a colleague that there should be some means of ensuring that the money be distributed equally among all faiths rather than predominantly to Christianity. My colleague suggested that something so equitable would never work in today’s America. However, an all-out American Gladiators kind of winner-take-all slugfest would give unfair advantage to the religions which condone violent action. As such, here is our compromise solution:

(camera showing wide angle on a stage and a side desk, pans around and zooms in on SIMON COWELL.)

SIMON: Good evening and welcome to Religious Idol, America’s new faith-based initiative in which you, the audience, will decide whose faith has the greatest doctrines and dogmas! Your vote will either send a preacher to the next round, or right back to the backwater parish where he or she belongs. You, America, will decide who is a great messenger of the Almighty, and who is just bloody terrible! The winner will receive an automatic sainthood in the faith of his or her choice as well as a five-album contract to record his or her greatest sermons. I am your heavenly host Simon Cowell. With me at the judge’s desk is, as always, the lovely Paula Abdul, who may or may not be sleeping with a contestant who may or may not have taken a vow of celibacy! And acting as our guest judge this evening is His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI. We have also negotiated a sizable offer to have the ghost of Jerry Falwell inhabit the studio for this season – keep an eye out for him, since you never know what might happen!

PAULA: And with little further ado, here is our first contestant, His Holiness the Dalai Lama! And no, I’m definitely not sleeping with this one. Probably. But then, America doesn’t know what’s actually in my ever-present water glass. Now let’s hear it for Mr. Lama!

(Peace, love, tolerance, civil disobedience, and an end to suffering and hunger across the world. Rapturous applause ensues.)

SIMON: Jesus Christ! That was bloody awful!

BENEDICT: Zat vas not Jesus Christ.

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Fox Logic

In a stunning example of “what ass-backward planet are YOU from?”, Fox News has claimed that national health care (not coincidentally being proposed by a number of Democratic candidates) will lead to an increase in terrorism.

While I understand that a couple of doctors in Britain’s National Health Service were part of a recent terrorist plot, this particular logic is much like claiming that since a very small number of Americans have been put behind bars for child molestation, ALL Americans must be child molesters and therefore sex should be made illegal nationwide.

Perhaps it’s just me, but I think that the only logical conclusion which can be drawn here is that two terrorists, who both happen to be doctors, executed a poorly-conceived and ultimately failed plot. Here’s hoping that all terrorist plots are similarly poor in execution. Go team!

Ultimately, I think the greatest cause of post-9/11 terrorism is people protesting the continued presence of Western noses in countries where they do not belong. Primarily military presence. So let’s now take a page out of the Fox News playbook, and inflate this notion to disproportionate levels:

1. Terrorism is continuing because the West has a military presence in Islamic territory, and

2. The military action in said territory was (while again poorly conceived and doomed to failure) initiated by a Republican President with authorization from a Republican Congress, ergo

3. Republicans cause terrorism.

Q.E.D. (quod erat Democraticum?)

Do I honestly believe this? Of course not. There are plenty of good people out there who are members of the Republican Party. Some of them might even be in positions of power (but not many.)

Ultimately, a lack of education, poorly-informed opinions, corporate hegemony and religious extremism… THESE are the 21st-century weapons of mass destruction.

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WASHINGTON – In a controversial but not entirely unexpected decision, President Bush decided today that his good buddy and former vice-presidential chief of staff I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby didn’t need to serve jail time after all. ***

Sources close to the Bush camp say that the president was “extremely concerned” at the idea of Mr. Libby serving time, due to the extreme measures likely to be inflicted upon him by other inmates at the federal penitentiary.

“After all,” said one source, who wished to remain anonymous since this is a fictitious statement, “nobody could survive thirty months in a federal pen with the nickname ‘Scooter’.”

In related news, an inmate in a Texas jail who was facing a death sentence has been given a stay of execution by the Supreme Court after being judged mentally incompetent to understand his punishment. Having subpoenaed the late president John F. Kennedy and the well-known spiritual leader Jesus Christ as witnesses to his appeal, the defendant was allowed to live. ***

President Bush praised the decision and welcomed the legal precedent, calling it a victory for mentally retarded Texan criminals everywhere.

*** These bits are actually true.

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