Be concerned. Be very concerned.
The debate is hot, the language heady, the metaphors many. Op-ed pages alternately bemoan "The End of the Internet" or curse "Net Neutrality Nonsense." Allegations fly about the stifling of free speech, the holding back of progress and corporate hegemony. Indeed, network neutrality has become something of a cause celebre in the digital world, pitting a slew of high-profile Internet content providers and consumer-advocacy groups against major phone and cable companies, and federal lawmakers against each other.
Here is an opportunity to pursue this issue with Bill Moyers. Everyone concerned with the freedom of the blogosphere should check it out!
Be concerned. Be very concerned.
Watching a Bill Moyers program on PBS, the thing that touched me most was the dear man who lives on welfare and who lost everything in Katrina. He has his own radio station, which he built himself, and which he ran 24 hours a day by himself during part of that storm just to keep the local people up on what was happening, where to go for food, water, safety, etc.
Would you have any idea of how we bloggers could get together as a group and make him one of our charities, at least once?
The interviewer asked him what makes you want to give and share, when you've lost everything? The answer was, "That's what you do."
Equal to Shakespeare any day!
Mystery Man runs for President!
Duncan Hunter is the guy of whom no one (almost) knows anything at all.
All I know about him is that he's got a prestigious seat on the House Committee on Armed Services, which he knows he about to lose with the upcoming political tsunami which will sweep him and his kind out of the majority.
I know the rumors: he has taken dirty money from dirty hands from under a dirty table.
But the really big thing I know is that he's had this really silly idea of making beautiful Santa Rosa Island into a private hunting reserve for disabled veterans to hunt elk on. He has persisted in this, even though the vets have turned him down, expressing complete bewilderment and disinterest. "That's not us," they have said. After failing several times, Hunter has managed to get an earmark in pending legislation about his elk on Santa Rosa.
All of which has caused me to ask every one I know, "What can be this man's ulterior plan for Santa Rosa Island?"
Now he wants to run for President? What is his scheme? I challenge readers to do the research because I am truly stumped as to what this guy is up to and what will he do if he ever gets his smarmy hands on our Island?
Personally, I think George Bush is not only the worse president in history, but also the worse president (possible) of all time, ever. So I am not one who believes Congressman Hunter has a snowball's chance in hell to become president. But I think this man is a crooked as California's fabled Highway 1.
The Esperanza Fire fueled by winds burns near homes in Banning, Calif., 140 kilometres east of Los Angeles on Friday.
This fire was set by an arsonist. A $500,000 reward has been posted for information leading to his arrest.
Whoever it turns out to have been will be charged with murder. Work on battling the blaze has killed four firefighters, and left a fifth firefighter hospitalized in critical condition with burns over 90 percent of his body.
No punishment will be enough for the person or persons who started that fire, but I have in mind an old Greek or Roman punishment. Each leg and each arm were chained to the backs of four horses facing away from the criminal, and then, at a signal, four men whipped the horses.
Several states will be voting on amendments to the laws of their states denying the right of same-sex partners to marry. These efforts are being led in large part by religious groups who believe strongly that marriage should be solely between one man and one woman, and that God created us to live that way and produce children. If they prefer to live their religious views as they state them (and there are religious people who fail) that is fine. However, this is supposed to be a democracy, where citizens can live in religious freedom, or even without religion. That is a major point of law which religious extremists apparently are not aware of.
But there are some questions which come to mind for me so that, if you are one of the above belief and will or would vote yes on such a proposition, I can understand what exactly motivates you.
If such a law passed, it would undoubtedly be entirely because of yes votes by people who do not approve of the homosexual lifestyle, and it is obvious that there are many more heterosexuals in the world than homosexuals. In other words, homosexuals will never fully benefit from the “freedoms” of this “democracy”.
If such a law passed in your state, how would that benefit YOU? (I assume you would vote yes for your benefit rather than for the people who want to commit to a same-sex marriage.) If you had a same-sex couple living next to you or in your neighborhood, would you expect them to stop living together? Perhaps you could expect them to move away entirely?
In any event, you and the other people who got such a bill passed would be sending a message to homosexuals in general, and possibly to people you know, that they were onto and undesirable. Could that be construed as a kind of punishment?
To show you that I am aware of religion and religious thought, I ask the question so popular with Christians in this day and age, “What would Jesus do?”
There are 3 things really eating at me, especially during this election season:
1. Taxes: Who the hell do you think is going to pay for the things which the American people want and need? Do you want clean water, good roads, clean environment, education, etc.? If you do, then don’t you think that you have some responsibilities to achieve them?
I know, a lot of people don’t give a damn about such things, but do you admire them for that? I also know that most Republicans, as well as many Democrats, are for lower taxes, especially the rich. Does that fit into your value system? Do you ever think about the good of the People as a Whole when you vote? The Republicans, in particular, have appealed to your sense of personal greed so that you will think only of yourself and abhor the selfishness of those of little means and no hope when you step into the voting booth.
2. Walls: St. Ronald was also big on using the lower taxes ploy in his agenda. But he said one thing when he was president, “Mr. Gorbachev, take down this wall!”, for which he was applauded by almost all Americans. My, how things have changed!
Now it is ultra-fashionable to hate and fear all illegal immigrants. But can you tell them apart from the legal immigrants? I can’t. Maybe, to be on the safe side, we (in this Nation of Immigrants) should hate all immigrants and wall them all out. That ought to improve international and personal relations!
Also, why do you think they are here? Could it possibly be that they are from countries of even more burgeoning populations than ours, and they are coming with the Statue of Liberty beckoning them? Free trade just ain’t working, except for those on top. And they are coming to hope for work at what amounts to slave wages in this country, where Americans are delighted to welcome them and pay them just that way.
3. Embryo stemcell research, which is really a twofer when you add in overpopulation: What I don’t quite get is why, if you believe using a human embryo for research is murder, throwing them away isn’t also murder. I would think that the Right to Lifers would insist they be brought to life as complete human beings.
But that prospect should be more than a critical thinking mind can absorb. Shouldn’t it be obvious that, if you fill a jar with water, at some point the jar will be unable to hold any more water and will overflow? So, too, if you think of each drop as a human being, there will be no answer to the dilemma already facing the earth except total catastrophe.
Bush went, uninvited, to Iraq, ousted Sadaam Hussein, and set up a government and its leaders of his own choosing. He announced, after the “election” (we also have had two “elections”, by the way) that the governing of Iraq was to be handled by and for the people of Iraq, as they chose.
Now, however, Iraq has gone absolutely to hell. That, as you might guess, is entirely the fault of Prime Minister Maliki, so the Bush Bunch is going to step back in and do a great deal of governmental oversight.
Now, I understand, many Iraqis wish they had Sadaam back. In spite of his mass graves, which are as nothing compared to Bully Bush’s mass graves, he maintained a semblance of order now missing from Iraq.
The thought has occurred to me, could it just be that Sadaam was right all along?
I heard someone on TV just now, say that we couldn’t leave Iraq until they could manage their country and the situation there by themselves, something we have heard many times by many people. This was said just as I walked to the sink to wash my coffee cup and empty the water down the sink. Suddenly, it came to me, the analogy that I have been looking for:
Bush may not have liked the water in Iraq’s sink, but the water was cleaner then than it is now. Unfortunately, Bush pulled the plug on the day he invaded Iraq. Iraq has lost its clean water and there is nothing he or anyone else can do to get it back. Anyone who does wrong, whether by design or through poor judgment, owes the person or people he has harmed a mea culpa and a willingness to accept what loss of reputation he deserves, the size and severity of such punishment in accordance with the harm he has done.
The water is rapidly running farther and farther away.
Richard Dawkins says Religion is a dangerously irrational mirage.
Troy Jollimore's review of Dawkins's book, The God Delusion. Jollimore teaches philosophy at California State University Chico.
"He's a brilliant man," one of my colleagues once said of Richard Dawkins, "but so impolite." I agree, but think he chose the wrong conjunction: If I had to identify Dawkins' cardinal virtues, I would say that he is brilliant, articulate, impassioned and impolite. As Emerson famously said, "Your goodness must have some edge to it -- else it is none." "The God Delusion" is a fine and significant book, and this is largely due to Dawkins' willingness to employ the sharp edges of his intellect to cut through a paralyzing propriety whose main effect is to stifle conversations -- about religion, about intellectual responsibility, about politics -- that we very much need, at this particular moment in our history, to be having.
Some will accuse Dawkins of being not just impolite but also intolerant. He is indeed a kind of crusading atheist, and makes no bones about his opposition not just to religious extremism but also to all species of religious faith -- a phenomenon he regards as fundamentally irrational and deeply dangerous. Religious moderates, he points out, have an unfortunate tendency to lend their perceived legitimacy to more extreme faith-based positions. They do this in large part by encouraging the common belief that accepting religious claims in the utter absence of evidence, and treating them as immune to rational criticism, is perfectly reasonable behavior. Dawkins writes,
As long as we accept the principle that religious faith must be respected simply because it is religious faith, it is hard to withhold respect from the faith of Osama bin Laden and the suicide bombers.Elsewhere he approvingly quotes a statement from Jerry Coyne, University of Chicago professor of evolution and ecology, that
The alternative, one so transparent that it should need no urging, is to abandon the principle of automatic respect for religious faith. This is one reason why I do everything in my power to warn people against faith itself, not just against so-called 'extremist' faith.
the real nature of the conflict ... [is] not just about evolution versus creationism ... To scientists like Dawkins and [E.O.] Wilson, the real war is between rationalism and superstition.In a certain sense of "intolerance," this sort of view surely is intolerant of religious faith. And there is no question that it will make some people unhappy. (Others, by contrast, will take great delight in Dawkins' wit and wickedness; he is particularly amusing in his footnotes.) But the danger of offending someone is inherent in any exercise of free speech, particularly speech that is critical of society's sacred cows, and the idea of sacredness is surely the biggest sacred cow of all. Sadly, with respect to religion, tolerance of religious belief is taken to license a profound intolerance toward those who would question such belief. The result is a society in which important political and moral decisions are heavily influenced by voters' religious views but in which people whose lives and behaviors are restricted by these decisions are regarded as rude, subversive or downright immoral if they attempt to raise questions about whether "but I just believe it" (or the equally weak "but my holy book says so") really constitutes an adequate justification.
As Dawkins points out, criticizing someone's religion is almost universally regarded as offensive, whereas a believer's right to criticize behaviors of which they disapprove (homosexuality, promiscuity and any number of other examples) is not only protected but frequently lauded as an expression of religious freedom.
Dawkins is at his best in his exposure of one of the big lies of our time: the claim that there is simply no conflict between religion and science. This claim, which is rendered almost obligatory by the social pressure to tolerate all manner of religious beliefs, can be fleshed out in a number of ways: that science is based on evidence or reason, while religion is a matter of faith; that science answers the "what?" questions, while religion addresses the "why?" questions; that science concerns facts and religion values; and so forth. To borrow Stephen Jay Gould's fancy term, science and religion are "non-overlapping magisteria" -- two entirely distinct areas of inquiry, each with its own subject matter and its own methods of treating that subject matter.
Many find this a lovely thought. But the all-inclusiveness of what Dawkins wittily refers to as the "Neville Chamberlain school of evolutionists," no matter how well intentioned, must ultimately fail because religious believers are themselves committed in their daily lives to the very concepts of evidence and objective truth on which science is founded (we simply couldn't survive without them) and because the account of the universe revealed by the scientific research that proceeds on this foundation is one that leaves increasingly less room for anything recognizable as God.
Advocates of intelligent design are in fact correct to claim that Darwinian biology is not religiously neutral, just as its critics are entirely correct to point out that because intelligent design is presented as a scientific program -- its basis is the claim that there are good scientific reasons for dissatisfaction with the Darwinian position -- it must be evaluated scientifically (a test it spectacularly fails). There is no peculiarly religious "magisterium" within the bounds of which creationism, intelligent design or any other religious view can be legitimate, without its being more broadly legitimate: If the claim that complex life forms display the work of an intelligent designer is correct, then current biological theories are simply flat-out wrong, end of story.
This is true, moreover, whether the designer is pictured as directly creating the complex life in question or as simply guiding or initiating the process of evolution, for it is essential to evolution via natural selection that it is unsupervised, unguided and unintended. Once a designer is introduced, there is nothing left for natural selection to explain. And no intelligent designer -- unless it was a sadist -- would choose to work through such a tedious, inefficient and downright cruel method as natural selection.
Dawkins does not attempt, in this book, to summarize the vast array of experimental findings that support the plausibility of the Darwinian explanation. (Those who desire this might begin with his 1986 book, "The Blind Watchmaker.") Instead he sticks mostly to the conceptual level in an effort to explain why, given that the Darwinian story is indeed supported by the empirical evidence, it provides a much better explanation of the observable phenomena than does "the God hypothesis."
Step 1 of this effort is a whirlwind dismantling of many of the most influential arguments in favor of God's existence, including Aquinas' "first cause" arguments, Anselm's notorious ontological argument and the argument from experience. An entire book could easily be devoted to this topic -- indeed, whole shelves have been dedicated to the ontological argument alone -- but while some readers may find the treatments too quick or, on occasion, a bit glib, Dawkins' dispatchings of various fallacious "proofs" of God's existence are on the whole sensible, and in places quite insightful.
Step 2 deals with the "argument from improbability," which appears most commonly as the well-worn argument from design. The basic structure of the argument, in its traditional form, is admirably simple. Many things in the world appear to have been designed; it is highly improbable that apparently designed objects would occur in the absence of a designer; thus we can conclude that a designer exists. Multitudes of believers have found some version of this argument persuasive. But as Dawkins points out, the argument not only does not work, but it also actually suggests the opposite of what it is supposed to, for the simple reason that any designer capable of producing such complex and intricate mechanisms is at least as unlikely to have occurred on its own as are the mechanisms themselves. (In fact, because designers tend to be considerably more complex than their designs, the "natural" occurrence of the designer is presumably far less likely.) Moreover, the inference to a designer based in the improbability of complex life forms having happened by chance is based on a profound misunderstanding of evolution via natural selection, which, as Dawkins points out, is not in the relevant sense a process of chance:
No indeed, chance is not the likely designer. That is one thing on which we can all agree. The statistical improbability of phenomena such as Euplectella's skeleton is the central problem that any theory of life must solve. The greater the statistical improbability, the less plausible is chance as a solution: that is what improbable means. But the candidate solutions to the riddle of improbability are not, as is falsely implied, design and chance. They are design and natural selection. Chance is not a solution. ... Natural selection is not only a parsimonious, plausible and elegant solution; it is the only workable alternative to chance that has ever been suggested. Intelligent design suffers from exactly the same objection as chance. It is simply not a plausible solution to the riddle of statistical improbability. ... Any entity capable of intelligently designing something as improbable as a Dutchman's pipe (or a universe) would have to be even more improbable than a Dutchman's pipe. Far from terminating the vicious regress, God aggravates it with a vengeance."The God Delusion" ranges widely enough that I cannot hope to do justice to all its parts. For my own part, I was greatly cheered to discover that the commonly cited example of Albert Einstein as a scientist who believed in God is flatly contradicted by several of Einstein's own statements (he himself referred to the claim as "a lie which is being systematically repeated"). (The degree of religiosity of the Founding Fathers, it turns out, tends to be similarly overestimated.) I was intrigued by his presentation of John Hartung's argument that the New Testament, while representing a partial improvement over the Old, still falls well short of acceptable moral standards ("Love thy neighbor," it appears, applies only to members of the in-group of Israelites, and most expressly does not include heathens), and I was amused by Dawkins' demolishing of the idea of the Bible as a reliable source of moral guidance.
Do those people who hold up the Bible as an inspiration to moral rectitude have the slightest notion of what is actually written in it?Indeed, it should be said that while it deals with matters of the utmost gravity and urgency, "The God Delusion," particularly in its early chapters, is a very funny book. To those readers tired of being told that they must bow respectfully before every absurd or bizarre superstition they encounter, and who worry about the effects of this atmosphere of hyper-tolerance on the health of our society, Dawkins' irreverent and penetrating work will seem a breath of fresh air.
Don’t you just love the current rage for “responsibility” since it has become infused with the values of the religions right?
When Bush finally took “responsibility” for preemptively starting the war in Iraq, he accepted it as a badge of courage and leadership rather than as a stigma for which he should apologize.
And now Dennis Hastert has “accepted responsibility” for the Mark Foley mess, announcing that he is very sorry about the whole thing, but that that does not mean he should resign his office. Bush augmented his prestige by calling to say that he supported him completely.
This tragedy has added, I am sure, to the stature of both men within their party and as symbols of this great, godfearing country to the world.
I know I’ve asked this question before, but it’s time for me to ask it again. What am I missing here? Why is it that nations which already have nuclear weapons can demand that nations which do not have them cannot also develop them? Not only that, but the UN seems to support that point of view.
If the nuclear nations would also agree to destroy their nuclear weapons at the same time, I could understand their demands. They have not made that offer, to my knowledge. On the contrary, Bush (it is very difficult for me to write his name or his present office without wincing) stated early on in his regime that we had nuclear weapons and he was fully prepared to use them. And he has had new nuclear weapons developed to add to his arsenal.
If you were the head of a country without nuclear weapons and you were threatened by a man who evidently thinks of himself as led by God, what would your reaction be?
It was a dark hour indeed on Thursday when the United States Senate voted to end the constitutional republic and transform the country into a "Leader-State," giving the president and his agents the power to capture, torture and imprison forever anyone -American citizens included - whom they arbitrarily decide is an "enemy combatant." This also includes those who merely give "terrorism" some kind of "support," defined so vaguely that many experts say it could encompass legal advice, innocent gifts to charities or even political opposition to US government policy within its draconian strictures.
All of this is bad enough - a sickening and cowardly surrender of liberty not seen in a major Western democracy since the Enabling Act passed by the German Reichstag in March 1933. But it is by no means the full extent of our degradation. In reality, the darkness is deeper, and more foul, than most people imagine. For in addition to the dictatorial powers of seizure and torment given by Congress on Thursday to George W. Bush - powers he had already seized and exercised for five years anyway, even without this fig leaf of sham legality - there is a far more sinister imperial right that Bush has claimed - and used - openly, without any demur or debate from Congress at all: ordering the "extrajudicial killing" of anyone on earth that he and his deputies decide -arbitrarily, without charges, court hearing, formal evidence, or appeal - is an "enemy combatant."
That's right; from the earliest days of the Terror War -September 17, 2001, to be exact - Bush has claimed the peremptory power of life and death over the entire world. If he says you're an enemy of America, you are. If he wants to imprison you and torture you, he can. And if he decides you should die, he'll kill you. This is not hyperbole, liberal paranoia, or "conspiracy theory": it's simply a fact, reported by the mainstream media, attested by senior administration figures, recorded in official government documents - and boasted about by the president himself, in front of Congress and a national television audience.
And although the Republic snuffing act just passed by Congress does not directly address Bush's royal prerogative of murder, it nonetheless strengthens it and enshrines it in law. For the measure sets forth clearly that the designation of an "enemy combatant" is left solely to the executive branch; neither Congress nor the courts have any say in the matter. When this new law is coupled with the existing "Executive Orders" authorizing "lethal force" against arbitrarily designated "enemy combatants," it becomes, quite literally, a license to kill - with the seal of Congressional approval.
How arbitrary is this process by which all our lives and liberties are now governed? Dave Niewert at Orcinus has unearthed a remarkable admission of its totally capricious nature. In an December 2002 story in the Washington Post, then-Solicitor General Ted Olson described the anarchy at the heart of the process with admirable frankness:
[There is no] requirement that the executive branch spell out its criteria for determining who qualifies as an enemy combatant.
There won't be 10 rules that trigger this or 10 rules that end this. There will be judgments and instincts and evaluations and implementations that have to be made by the executive that are probably going to be different from day to day, depending on the circumstances.
And underlying this edifice of tyranny is the prerogative of presidential murder. Perhaps the enormity of this monstrous perversion of law and morality has kept it from being fully comprehended. It sounds unbelievable to most people: a president ordering hits like a Mafia don? But that is our reality, and has been for five years. To overcome what seems to be a widespread cognitive dissonance over this concept, we need only examine the record - a record, by the way, taken entirely from publicly available sources in the mass media. There's nothing secret or contentious about it, nothing that any ordinary citizen could not know - if they choose to know it.
Six days after the 9/11 attacks, George W. Bush signed a "presidential finding" authorizing the CIA to kill those individuals whom he had marked for death as terrorists. This in itself was not an entirely radical innovation; Bill Clinton's White House legal team had drawn up memos asserting the president's right to issue "an order to kill an individual enemy of the United States in self-defense," despite the legal prohibitions against assassination, the Washington Post reported in October 2001. The Clinton team based this ruling on the "inherent powers" of the "Commander in Chief" - that mythical, ever-elastic construct that Bush has evoked over and over to defend his own unconstitutional usurpations.
The practice of "targeted killing" was apparently never used by Clinton, however; despite the pro-assassination memos, Clinton followed the traditional presidential practice of bombing the hell out of a bunch of civilians whenever he wanted to lash out at some recalcitrant leader or international outlaw - as in his bombing of the Sudanese pharmaceutical factory in 1998, or the two massive strikes he launched against Iraq in 1993 and 1998, or indeed the death and ruin that was deliberately inflicted on civilian infrastructure in Serbia during that nation's collective punishment for the crimes of Slobodan Milosevic. Here, Clinton was following the example set by George H.W. Bush, who killed hundreds, perhaps thousands, of Panamanian civilians in his illegal arrest of Manuel Noriega in 1988, and Ronald Reagan, who killed Moamar Gadafy's adopted 2-year-old daughter and 100 other civilians in a punitive strike on Libya in 1986.
Junior Bush, of course, was about to outdo all those blunderbuss strokes with his massive air attacks on Afghanistan, which killed thousands of civilians, and the later orgy of death and destruction in Iraq. But he also wanted the power to kill individuals at will. At first, the assassination program was restricted to direct orders from the president aimed at specific targets, as suggested by the Clinton memos. But soon the arbitrary power of life and death was delegated to agents in the field, after Bush signed orders allowing CIA assassins to kill targets without seeking presidential approval for each attack, the Washington Post reported in December 2002. Nor was it necessary any longer for the president to approve each new name added to the target list; the "security organs" could designate "enemy combatants" and kill them as they saw fit. However, Bush was always keen to get the details about the agency's wetwork, administration officials assured the Post.
The first officially confirmed use of this power was the killing of an American citizen, along with several foreign nationals, by a CIA drone missile in Yemen on November 3, 2002. A similar strike occurred on December 4, 2005, when a CIA missile destroyed a house and purportedly killed Abu Hamza Rabia, a suspected al-Qaeda figure. But the only bodies found at the site were those of two children, the houseowner's son and nephew, Reuters reports. The grieving father denied any connection to terrorism. An earlier CIA strike on another house missed Rabia but killed his wife and children, Pakistani officials reported.
However, there is simply no way of knowing at this point how many people have been killed by American agents operating outside all judicial process. Most of the assassinations are carried out in secret: quietly, professionally. As a Pentagon document uncovered by the New Yorker in December 2002 revealed, the death squads must be "small and agile," and "able to operate clandestinely, using a full range of official and non-official cover arrangements to ... enter countries surreptitiously."
What's more, there are strong indications that the Bush administration has outsourced some of the contracts to outside operators. In the original Post story about the assassinations -in those first heady weeks after 9/11, when administration officials were much more open about "going to the dark side," as Cheney boasted on national television - Bush insiders told the paper that "it is also possible that the instrument of targeted killings will be foreign agents, the CIA's term for nonemployees who act on its behalf.
Here we find a deadly echo of the "rendition" program that has sent so many captives to torture pits in Syria, Egypt and elsewhere - including many whose innocence has been officially established, such as the Canadian businessman Maher Arar, German national Khalid El-Masri, UK native Mozzam Begg and many others. They had been subjected to imprisonment and torture despite their innocence, because of intelligence "mistakes." How many have fallen victim to Bush's hit squads on similar shaky grounds?
So here we are. Congress has just entrenched the principle of Bush's "unitary executive" dictatorship into law; and it is this principle that undergirds the assassination program. As I wrote in December, it's hard to believe that any genuine democracy would accept a claim by its leader that he could have anyone killed simply by labeling them an "enemy." It's hard to believe that any adult with even the slightest knowledge of history or human nature could countenance such unlimited, arbitrary power, knowing the evil it is bound to produce. Yet this is exactly what the great and good in America have done.
But this should come as no surprise. They have known about it all along, and have not only countenanced Bush's death squad, but even celebrated it. I'll end with one more passage from that December article, which sadly is even more apt for our degraded reality today. It was a depiction of the one of the most revolting scenes in recent American history: Bush's state of the Union address in January 2003, delivered live to the nation during the final warmongering frenzy before the rape of Iraq:
Trumpeting his successes in the Terror War, Bush claimed that "more than 3,000 suspected terrorists" had been arrested worldwide - "and many others have met a different fate." His face then took on the characteristic leer, the strange, sickly half-smile it acquires whenever he speaks of killing people: "Let's put it this way. They are no longer a problem."
In other words, the suspects - and even Bush acknowledged they were only suspects - had been murdered. Lynched. Killed by agents operating unsupervised in that shadow world where intelligence, terrorism, politics, finance and organized crime meld together in one amorphous, impenetrable mass. Killed on the word of a dubious informer, perhaps: a tortured captive willing to say anything to end his torment, a business rival, a personal foe, a bureaucrat looking to impress his superiors, a paid snitch in need of cash, a zealous crank pursuing ethnic, tribal or religious hatreds - or any other purveyor of the garbage data that is coin of the realm in the shadow world.
Bush proudly held up this hideous system as an example of what he called "the meaning of American justice." And the assembled legislators ... applauded. Oh, how they applauded! They roared with glee at the leering little man's bloodthirsty, B-movie machismo. They shared his sneering contempt for law - our only shield, however imperfect, against the blind, brute, ignorant, ape-like force of raw power. Not a single voice among them was raised in protest against this tyrannical machtpolitik: not that night, not the next day, not ever.
And now, in September 2006, we know they will never raise that protest. Oh, a few Democrats stood up at the last minute on Thursday to posture nobly about the dangers of the detainee bill -but only when they knew the it was certain to pass, when they had already given up their one weapon against it, the filibuster, in exchange for permission from their Republican masters to offer amendments that they also knew would fail. Had they been offering such speeches since October 2001, when the lineaments of Bush's presidential tyranny were already clear - or at any other point during the systematic dismantling of America's liberties over the past five years - these fine words might have had some effect.
Now the killing will go on. The tyranny that has entered upon the country will grow stronger, more brazen; the darkness will deepen. Whitman, thou should'st be living at this hour; America has need of thee.
George W. Bush is a fascinating, if terrifying, study in contradictions, a man who professes a strong belief in God, who has been responsible, to date, for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people, including as many of our own armed forces as were killed by the “terrorists” on 9/11, not to mention mostly innocents.
He has VALUES, the first of which is his own persona and the legacy which he will leave for history. Most often when he comes to a podium to make a speech on a serious matter, he approaches with his little smirk and wink at someone in the audience, then launches into his speech in all seriousness, insisting that he will change his mind on nothing and that the rest of us just do not understand what is really going on.
If, on the other hand, his wisdom and agenda are questioned by the world, but especially by the many enemies he has made, the power available to him, and his personal ego and sense of his manliness as a world leader take over, and his VALUES become values on a much smaller scale. And that is what they have done. A little prevarication here and there becomes OK.
The plan to bring democracy to the Middle East, and presumably eventually the rest of the world, must go through. Although there has been very little mention of it, democratization undoubtedly is only the first step, to be followed by Christian conversion. Evangelists are already working there.
To keep his own record clean, Bush has taken no responsibility for the war in the Middle East, because according to him that was all caused by the terrorists and he is waging war (or considering it) in ever-increasing areas of the world to keep us safe at home. On the other hand, he is happy to take credit for the period during which we have not been attacked. It is hard to prove a negative, but nothing might have been planned during this time by the terrorists, which is hardly to his credit, considering the ports, airports, etc. which are still very vulnerable. (If we are attacked again, will he take the blame?)
To be on the safe side, he has deemed it wise to keep America and the world in a state of constant fear by saying that there will be future attacks, but we don’t know when or where. And he tops that off by saying that will be the responsibility of the presidentS who follow him (if, as I have said before, he doesn’t decide not to relinquish power when his term is up).