Monday, August 30, 2004

War with Iran

I'm hearing an awful lot of noise about a possible attack on Iran. Here is one of the more alarmist articles.

The scenario is basically that Israel or the United States attacks the nuclear power plant in Iran or threatens to. Iran either retaliates or else launches one of them there famous pre-emptive strikes the U.S. is so high on. There are lots of U.S. troops in the region, so lack of intercontinental missiles will be no prob for the Iranians.

As pessimistic as I am about so many things these days, I think we may actually escape this particular threat. The reason? I'll call it the North Korea factor.

First, a summary of reasons to be concerned:

1. There is an election on and Bush is by no means guaranteed a win. Just like Poppy, Bush launched his war too soon in the re-election cycle to benefit from the boost. I think at once point during the first Gulf War, Poppy had a 90+% approval rating. It was way too soon to peak, however, and Bush went down.

2. The Israeli spy scandal. Not only does it provide yet ANOTHER need for a distraction, it is also directly related to Iran, as the purported spy was involved in formulating Iran policy. In addition, the above article (and I don't know anything about the guy who wrote it, so you'll have to judge his analysis on your own) suggests that the outing of Franklin was accomplished by other forces (CIA) trying to derail invasion plans. Once again, if this split between the administration and CIA is real and not just a sideshow, I am in the perplexing position of having to root FOR the CIA. Given how many "former CIA" are making the rounds of talk shows and leftist websites like Counterpunch, it does lend credence to the idea that this is a real split. So, says the article, if Bush is going to act, he'll have to act quickly.

3. The neo-cons (what I really mean here is anyone and everyone in our ruling elite who feel a need to take over the Middle East whether for ideological reasons or personal financial gain) really don't mind the mess in Iraq. It makes Bush look bad, but half of "likely voters" don't seem to care. Even if those voters did, their agenda is simply to destroy what exists in the Middle East, and they never had much concern with what replaced it as long as it led to a higher degree of U.S. control. Thus, arguments that the U.S. can't handle another war right now are irrelevant. Plainly speaking, they'll just bomb shit and sort it out later.

These are all pretty compelling arguments. In fact, I think I feel a little ill. But take heart, dear reader! All is not lost!

You see, Iran has NOT been under sanctions for 12 years. Most of their children have been allowed to grow up to draft age (not that they'd have to draft anyone should war come with the U.S and Israel.) Their military has not been dismantled.

Now, I'm not saying that Iran could come over here and take over the place, just that they wouldn't be an easy score like Iraq. I call this the North Korea factor, because North Korea actually admitted to developing nuclear weapons and the U.S. left them alone, despite their presence on the "Axis of Evil" list. Sure, I know the main reason we let them be is that they don't have that Texas Tea, but their ability to defend themselves surely played a role in the decision.

In short, the U.S., already getting its ass kicked in Iraq, could seriously lose against Iran. I'm placing my hopes in the belief that this fact will at least postpone any Iran invasion for awhile.

Of course, I'm just grasping at silver linings here. Gotta look for hope where you can find it.

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

Evangelical Christians: Oppressed minority or soon to be running a theocracy near you?

A sweet looking couple was found dead in an apparent execution while camping on a remote beach in California a couple of days ago. The man and woman were both shot in the head evidently while they were asleep. A picture of them accompanies this story on CNN.

I post this, because one of the prevailing theories is that this was a "hate crime", that the two were killed because of their "evangelical beliefs."

Have you spotted the little problem with this story? I thought you could! That's right, the campers were asleep on a remote campground and it is rather difficult to tell if someone is an evangelical Christian when they are sleeping. Our DNA testing just isn't that good yet.

Clearly this was a planned murder. It is unlikely that someone simply was wandering this remote beach with a gun hoping to find sleeping Christians to murder. The police say, at least, that it wasn't a robbery and that no sexual assault was apparent.

So a random stranger is ruled out. Someone knew these two and knew they were there. So the police figure that someone met these two, found out they were Christians and then stalked them till they were in a remote area, waited for them to be asleep and then killed them. That definitely qualifies as hate, but sure doesn't make a lot of sense.

My worry is that we, and more importantly, our nation's growing movement for a theocratic state, are being shown just how "oppressed" evangelicals are in this country. These two are the latest martyrs, even if a more sensible investigation rules out a hate crime.

Are the Christians really that oppressed? Well, given that they've got Bush in the White House and Asscroft at Justice, it's pretty hard to make that case. To say you are oppressed while running the country is a bit of a stretch. But read their sites...they make this stupid claim anyway.

The real story, of course, and the one story that makes me consider a Kerry vote, is that a network of rightwing Christian loons are extremely influenctial in the government these days. And Bush is one of them. I could go into this more, but, as usual, Maureen Farrel does an excellent job here. As I've stated before, perhaps imperialism abroad and fascism at home is preferable to imperialism abroad and Christian theocratic fascism at home. Kerry is against gay marriage, but none of his followers, after all, are calling for execution of homosexuals.

So, I will conitinue to weigh my concerns about this theocratic takeover, including whether it is a real issue or a diverting sideshow. Though, at this point, I'd have to say that, since whoever gets elected will be the fall guy for the horrible things that are going to happen in Iraq and elsewhere, I'm not sure I'd vote for Kerry even if I DID like him!

Monday, August 23, 2004

Rooting for the CIA???

We've indeed entered Wonderland when I find myself rooting for the CIA. Although I expressed support for the "outing" of Victoria Plame on the principle that all CIA agents ought to be outed to keep them from overthrowing governments and whatever else they do to earn their pension, I find this story disturbing.

The move is to put all of CIA under the direct control of the Executive Branch. Discussion is still continuing as to whether or not they should actually call it the Gestapo.

This, in political science, is called a REALLY BAD THING. With moves to give CIA authority to make arrests within the United States, this clearly shows where we are heading.

May ve see your papers, please?


Monday, August 16, 2004

Shout Out to Chavez

A shout out to my man Hugo Chavez of Venezuela who has survived the recall vote fairly comfortably. This, of course, is the same man who came BACK into power only 24 hours after being ousted by a coup backed by the U.S.

Chavez has figured out a very well kept secret in politics, in countries where the poor are the vast majority, if you side with the poor, you can win elections. This, of course, is only true if you work to build a powerful, grassroots movement. The Democrats strategy in the U.S. is a little different. They mention the poor once every 4 years or so and then ignore them.

Now, all the poor people in Venezuela have gone back to their villages to prepare flowers to throw in the paths of invading U.S. troops. And they will, too. People like to be invaded and occupied. I wonder why the U.S. can never get invaded and occupied. I mean, aren't WE worth being occupied? WE have oil! WE have flowers to throw at occupying armies! We have really pretty flowers, in fact. Iraq is a desert. They probably didn't even HAVE decent flowers to throw in front of our tanks. Maybe THAT'S why they turned on the U.S. invaders...they RAN OUT OF FLOWERS!

What the hell was I talking about? Oh, Venezuela. Yes. They provide us about 15% of our oil. So, we will be trying to kill Chavez. Oh, we'll hire someone, of course. We can't ACTUALLY invade till all those troops Bush just announced he was pulling from bases in Europe and Asia get home.

Hmmm...problem. Venezuela doesn't even have pretend WMD's. I guess we'd better start laying the groundwork for the need to kill Chavez. I don't know...why don't we say that Venezuela about "destabilizing the region"? Yeah, that's good. We need more. How about "consorting with rogue states"? "Exporting revolution!" That's a good one. Americans hate exported revolutions. And, naturally, we'd better start talking about how much Chavez hates America and freedom. This is gonna be a tough sell, so you'd better get started posting on Free Republic and stuff. Oh, and keep calling Chavez "The Dictator Hugo Chavez." That will prove he hates freedom. Oh, and don't say anything about the oil. We wouldn't want people to get the wrong idea.

I'm not THAT arrogant

Thought I'd correct a "misstatement", or, less charitably a Freudian slip in my last post. I was talking about being glad our local NAACP is planning to do electoral monitoring. I said the following: "The planning is in very early stages, and having no idea who I am, they aren't involving me in this early phase." On rereading, it sounded like I meant that if the DID know who I was, they would certainly be BEGGING me to be involved. Well, ummm...that's...I'm not...errr. Anyway, what I meant was that they are in the beginning stages and currently it is NAACP members who are behind this effort. They are hoping to build a coalition in the coming weeks.

Here in America, we are taught that if everyone does what is in his or her own interest, the magic of the marketplace, that creepy invisible hand, will make everything work out for the most benefit for all. We won't argue economics right now, but the Olympics have taught us that this certainly is NOT the case in basketball. The Americans got spanked, leaving Iverson to say that Puerto Rico just gave America a glimpse of "how the game is supposed to be played."

It turns out that five people playing as a tightly coordinated team could accomplish far more than five guys who simply act as individuals, even if the team players don't have individuals with the same level of talent. This idea, of course, is UNAMERICAN and smacks of COMMUNIST PROPAGANDA. I'm looking into whether CHINA is behind this devilish plot to denigrate market forces. China, you see, used to be COMMUNIST till they got McDonalds.

Adding insult to injury was the Iraqi Soccer team, who kicked the ass of the star-studded Portuguese team. It is alleged that Uday Hussein used to torture Olympic athletes who did not perform to his liking. I guess torture is not a great Olympic training tool, as Iraq has never won a medal.

Uday is dead, but the Iraqis faced numerous other obstacles. For example, their stadium was destroyed. I've seen this fact mentioned all over the internet, but for the life of me I can't find out HOW it was destroyed. There must be something going on over there.

The Iraqi team couldn't even get money to travel to Greece, but the Australian airforce flew them in gratis. No doubt, the Americans will use the Iraqi success to show the rightness of the invasion, but, again, having teams of dedicated, team players defeating HIGHLY ACCLAIMED SUPERSTARS, is very bad for the American psyche. And, of course, the American men's soccer team didn't qualify, so the showdown I would love to see will not happen.

Saturday, August 14, 2004

Wish I Could Go To New York

I have a strange and wonderful job. I am a teacher who for last year and this year is working exclusively with one family. Obviously, they have a little money, but they also have three kids who can't make it in regular classrooms due to learning disabilities. Don't get the wrong idea, all three are brilliant; chess champions at various times, the whole deal. But regular classrooms just don't work so I am "homeschooling them".

I mention this, because our school year starts just before the Republican Convention. I would love to go to New York for that, but I just can't take the time off right at the beginning of the year. Not to mention the risk that a striking police force could mean days of waiting to get processed should arrests ensue.

So, somebody go and raise hell in my name, will ya?


I continue to read about the Kerry/Nader debate. This article from Counterpunch is about Clinton but it is EXACTLY the sort of thing I expect from Kerry. Unless liberal democrats dominate the House and Senate (that sound you hear is me NOT holding my breath) it will be Republicans and conservative Democrats he'll be dealing with. Not bad for Kerry, because that seems to be his comfort zone anyway.

The problem here is the "Nixon goes to China" phenomenon. Clinton got away with stuff that, I believe, would have led to far greater protest if carried out by a Republican. The Welfare Destruction Act is the worst of the lot, with the Anti-Terrorism (read Anti-Constitution) law a close second. Of course, any President who starts a war tends to get what he wants anyway, and Iran is looking awful tasty about now.

I am pleased to report that my local NAACP is, in fact, planning some election monitoring for Tennessee. The planning is in very early stages, and having no idea who I am, they aren't involving me in this early phase. I was hoping that members of our local peace group would jump on the chance to work in a coalition with the historic (albeit often a bit conservative) NAACP on such a project as this. I don't know what the thinking of my local group is, but I put this out for other groups out there. Many "left" groups I have worked with tend to complain that nearly all their members are white and then fail to take advantage of opportunities to work in coalition with organizations representing people of color.

It is, I think, the willingness to accept the leadership of, and not just partnership with, organizations like NAACP that can really strengthen the ties between "white liberal" organizations and organizations from other sectors of society.

Usually, white liberals' main interaction with, say, African-American organizations, is insisting that the leadership of those organizations condemn the latest thing that some prominent African American has said, whether it be Farrakhan or Sister Souljah or Ice T or Jesse or whoever the hell.

I hope that I don't get held responsible for everything various dumb ass white people say, or I'll NEVER have time for anything else.

We on the "white left" (I'm sorry, I don't know what else to call it), really need to do better at working with people where they are and not insisting they support all of our agenda.

This includes working with white people to our own right and left. While not, I think, an official act of the leadership of our local peace group, one protester at a recent anti-Bush rally was told to stop bashing Kerry. I'll admit, it is getting so easy to bash Kerry that it's almost not sporting anymore. But still, you get my point.

Meanwhile, the Libertarians, who take some positions I can't stand, are really coming on strong against this and other wars. After all, war is the ultimate abuse of government power. is one of many libertarian sites ripping all kinds of holes in the logic of empire. (That, actually, is not that hard to do either, unless you have U.S. press credentials.)


I enjoyed the opening ceremony of the Olympic games. Obviously, the Olympics are so corporate now that it can be tough to watch, and they interrupted the opening ceremonies plenty with commercials.

It was interesting to watch the reaction of the crowds. Big ovations for Palestine and Cuba, for example. If Katy Couric and Bob Costas had cut out what, I guess, was supposed to be witty banter, the opening production would have been very cool. U.S. sports announcers continue to make the mistake that viewers are tuning into the events to listen to THEM.

The U.S. was received warmly as well, and here Costas did a good job of explaining the Greek hostility to American foreign policy but how they differentiated that from the American people. It was instructive for our highly provincial nation, and also a lesson. You can disagree with a country without hating (or in our case, killing, maiming and otherwise destroying) its people. Imagine that.

I still think that Olympic sports should be held in the nude, however. The games really lost something since the introduction of clothing for the modern games. I guess I'm just old fashioned.

Monday, August 09, 2004

More on Kerry and other Ruminations

I have a friend in Los Angeles who says we should support Kerry, but hers is the best argument so far. It goes like this:

Kerry offers very little. We know that. In her opinion, the one advantage is that under Kerry, organizers can begin working on ISSUES rather than just AGAINST Bush. This argument, of course, makes one big assumption: that there is some sort of movement that actually will work on a progressive agenda beyond just "Stop Bush."

My fear, of course, is that Kerry will be greeted with a one or two year "honeymoon" in which the same "progressives" who urged us to support him urge us not to attack him so as not to hinder his ability to "get things done." If we aren't "unified", how on Earth will he get enough support to overcome what may still be a Republican majority in Congress? In fact, if he IS elected, he will come under a withering attack from the right as soon as his hand hits the Bible. Probably before. I doubt he will be able to take that pressure. This is what I see happening, and my friend agrees, so she is advocating among progressive organization to do some large scale organizing to have a realistic progressive agenda to push on a rather visionless Kerry. Progressives, she argues, need to be FOR something, and not just AGAINST stuff.

There are other assumptions here, of course. One assumption is that we'll have elections. Another is that there will be some level of correspondence between the votes cast and the announced results. My L.A. friend is not naive, however, and is hoping for a margin of victory high enough that Kerry will be able to overcome vote shenanigans. That's a tough one, because you only need to identify a few swing states with lots of electoral votes up for grabs, adjust your Diebold voting machines to give Bush the slimmest of leads (something in the believable range), add water and poof, you have a victory. Any complaints about vote shenanigans will be filed under C for Conspiracy Theory.

In any event, if you vote for Kerry using this same logic, I suppose I will forgive you.

A few more random notes.

Just after remembering it myself, I saw this article on the episode of "The Lone Gunmen" (The Spin-off from the X-files) in which a "terrorist" takes over a passenger plane by remote control and nearly succeeds in running into the World Trade Center. This episode aired nearly a year before 9/11 and the writers were suprised no one else notice, though the article does not probe into where their idea came from. The writer primarily responsible for that idea was not available for comment.

I also want to point out the strange and tragic death of Athan Gibbs. Gibbs was founder of Truvote, whose sole purpose was to create a voting machine that was electronic and verifiable. His system sounded good. You vote electronically. A paper receipt is displayed under plastic to be confirmed by the voter before being deposited in a locked ballot box for use in possible recounts and you are given a code number to check on the web to see if your vote was recorded correctly. It sounds like the company was making inroads. Unfortunately, Gibbs was killed when he "cut off an 18 wheeler" on I-65 here in Nashville and his car was totalled. I haven't been able to find too many more details on the wreck. It may have been coincidence, but it sure was convenient for the bad guys. As a side note, the African American Pastor Gibbs sounds like he was really a great and sincere man. You can read about Truvote at their websitehere. There is as of yet no mention of Mr. Gibbs' death or whether this will change their plans, though an article in the local press seems to suggest that they may not be able to move forward but will continue to try.

Speaking of electoral fun, I'm having the darndest time getting anyone interested in doing poll monitoring during the election. It's a little strange, though since I am a nobody, perhaps my suggestions are seen as unimportant. I have contacted my local NAACP chapter, People for the American Way, (doing vote monitoring in some states, though I think not Tennessee), claims to be working on nationwide vote monitoring) and my local electoral officials. I have received no responses. From anyone. My local peace group has no interest, siting voter registration as more important. Of course, since you have to stop registering voters well before the elections, the two ideas are not at all mutually exclusive. Perhaps the locals just see me as too curmudgeonly to work with. However, I still think it should be a high priority of activists, especially of the mainstream Democrat variety.

I also think instant run-off voting should be a huge item on the agenda. It works like this: you vote for whichever unlikely third party candidate you want to, but then you make a second choice, which counts in the event that your first choice doesn't win and your second choice would be in a run-off. (Of course, we don't have run-offs for President, so that would need to be changed as well.) That allows you to vote your conscience as well as worry about more pragmatic political issues. I've probably oversimplified it, but that's the gist of it.

Enjoy the meteor showers!

Monday, August 02, 2004

Breaking: Sophisticated Al-Qaida Terrorist Network Replaced by Morons

Dream's End has learned that the Al-Qaida Terrorist (or trrrssst as Bush pronounces it) Network has suffered some sort of internal coup. Perhaps even Bin Laden himself has been captured or killed. Our evidence? Simple:

You may have noted the unusual raising of the terror alert level to "orange" in only three places, NYC, New Jersey and DC. In fact, the intelligence leading to this rise in alert level was far more specific than that. Our Department of Security for the Fatherland announced that they've discovered exactly which buildings will be targeted. They announced those buildings publicly.

Clearly, any terrorist network worth its salt will flip over to CNN from whatever reality program they happened to be watching, note that Ridge was onto them, and CHANGE THE FREAKIN' TARGET. I can envision the chatter this way (please note, this is an entirely speculative recreation of a hypothetical conversation. I am not now, nor have I ever been a member of Al-Qaida.).

Terrorist One: Boss, turn on CNN quick!

Boss Terrorist: What? I'm watching Survivor. Leave me alone!

Terrorist One: No, Boss. This is serious. The Department of Fatherland Security has announced the targets we were planning to bomb. They're onto us!

Boss Terrorist: So pick another target! Now leave me alone, the commercial's almost over.

Granted, this conversation is not that realistic, as surely the Boss Terrorist would pick the new target. But then my Survivor joke wouldn't work, so I took some liberties.

Since the Protectors of the Fatherland felt comfortable announcing the target, clearly they have insider information that the former nearly omniscient and omnipowerful terrorist network was taken over by clueless idiots. Evidently, they envision the above conversation thusly:

Terrorist One: Boss, turn on CNN quick!

Boss Terrorist: What? I'm watching NOW, with Bill Moyers. Leave me alone!

Terrorist One: No, Boss. This is serious. The Department of Fatherland Security has announced the targets we were planning to bomb. They're onto us!

Boss Terrorist: SO WHAT? The only reason we are planning this attack is to support the candidacy of John Kerry. It doesn't matter if we pull it off or simply get caught in the process. In fact, I've got Kerry on the other line, so I've gotta go.

So there you have it! Soon, our Fatherland will have captured these dangerous terrorists and we'll all be safer.

Please note: The announcement of the raising of the alert level has nothing to do with any of the following:

Generating increased fear in order to manipulate the populace.

Setting the stage for further alerts to give more excuses to crack down on protests at the Republican Convention (as if they'd need any).

Setting the stage for going to Code Red in order to postpone elections.

Preparing us psychologically, in the event of an actual "terrorist attack" to hold the mutually contradictory beliefs that a) Terrorists succeeded in attacking the U.S. despite the fact that the Bush administration knew their exact plans and b) Only the Bush administration can save us from terrorist attacks.

Odd note to end with:

Somehow I came across the following website: Liberal Dose. That link takes you directly to an article about why this angry liberal (you know he's angry because he says 'fuck' a whole lot) is supporting Kerry. I can understand well meaning people with the "Anyone But Bush" philosophy. Fear is a powerful force. However, I took the time to make a few remarks in opposition to this view by hitting the "comments" button at the bottom of the article. Hit the link and you can see's right on the bottom there...wait...wait...IT'S GONE!

Not only were my comments and the comments of another poster deleted, the very ability to make comments has been deleted! This may actually be a coincidence as Squawkbox, through whom I enable comments on this site, occasionally goes down, and perhaps this is the same thing here. However, I'd expect a little broken HTML code to appear on the page if that were the case, and I didn't notice any.

One more note, for those of you who are security minded. I certainly do not log the IP numbers (the identifying number for your computer over the internet) of visitors. However, I imagine Squawkbox may. In fact, I know nothing about those folks and they could be run by the NSA for all I know. So if you want to post but are worried about that sort of thing, go through some kind of anonymous proxy first, such as Anonymizer I don't want anyone getting into trouble for something they say on my site.

Dream's End...Protecting Your Security While Changing the World.*

*Offer not Valid in Texas and Florida