Friday, September 19, 2003

Kennedy's Complaint

Sen. Ted Kennedy is being attacked today for making what I believe are some very obvious points about the Bush administration's conduct before and during the war in Iraq.

Kennedy essentially said that the case for going to war against Iraq was a fraud and that the Bush administration relied on "distortion, misrepresentation, a selection of intelligence" to justify their case for war.

Based on what we know now, there is little that Bush partisans can say to refute this statement.

Now, I think that Kennedy took his partisan attack a little too far when he said that the whole case for war had been "made up in Texas" as a way to help Republicans on the political front. I have no doubt that the timing of the attack - that the rush to build up support for the war just prior to the mid-term elections last year - was politically motivated. However, I also accept that most if not all members of the Bush team truly believed that taking out Saddam was a good and necessary thing.

The real question is not whether Saddam needed to be overthrown, but how we went about doing it - hyping up dubious allegations (i.e. Lying) to make the threat from Iraq seem more serious than it was; and forging ahead with a pre-emptive attack without the support of the large majority of our traditional allies; and refusing to curtail Bush's massive budget-busting tax cuts to help pay for the invasion and its aftermath.

But Kennedy also made another allegation that hasn't gotten much attention up to this point and is something I find very interesting. He said the Bush administration has failed to account for nearly half of the $4 billion the war is costing each month and went on to says that he believes much of the unaccounted-for money is being used to bribe foreign leaders to send in troops.

I'd like to see some of the Bush administration's defenders address that issue rather than just casting aspersions at Sen. Kennedy.

Thursday, September 18, 2003

Don't Let It Be

Here's one for my Christmas wish list! The Beatles' "Let It Be" minus Phil Spector's syrupy string arrangements. This is a dream come true for all those Beatles fans who wished that Spector had just let it be to begin with.
Anyone who has the Beatles Anthology CDs has already had a taste of this with the stripped down version of "Let It Be" with just Paul and his piano.

Wednesday, September 17, 2003

Ritter's ratings

I'm not surprised that ABC decided to continue production of the sitcom "8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter." Considering the amount of publicity the show has received in the wake of star John Ritter's sudden death, it is sure to receive high ratings for the episodes filmed just prior to his death. The high ratings will continue for the first several episodes after that in which they will have the sitcom characters react to Ritter's death, however, interest will begin to wane after that and ABC will cancel the series before the year is out. That's my prediction, anyway.

By the way, before all of this happened I had no idea that John Ritter was the youngest son of Tex Ritter.

Tuesday, September 16, 2003

No tax cut left behind

An interesting article in the Washington Post today
about the No Child Left Behind legislation. School officials are quoted saying the program's goals of 100 percent student proficiency on standardized tests are unrealistic. I have to sympathize with Rep. John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) who notes that setting a goal any lower than 100 percent sends a message that is OK to let some students fall overboard.

But it is not the goals of the program that are the real problem here. The No Child Left Behind Law was a bi-partisan effort that combined George W.'s insistence on standardized testing with Sen. Kennedy's push for more education funding. But guess which side is getting the short shrift.

Critics of the law, such as George Mason University educational psychologist Gerald W. Bracey, are less hard on its goals than on what they say is a severe lack of money. For the 2004 fiscal year, congressional Democrats want the $32 billion initially authorized for No Child Left Behind, rather than the $22.6 billion Bush has requested.

"If you want to try to get poor kids to high proficiency, you take the JFK man-on-the-moon-in-a-decade approach and fund the program adequately," Bracey said. "To succeed, this task needs an $87 billion supplemental appropriation more than the rebuilding of Iraq needs an $87 billion supplemental appropriation."

If we funded our public education system the same way we fund our military programs we would have the strongest education system in the world to match our strongest military in the world.

Monday, September 15, 2003

Mass graves ignored in 1988 are propaganda fodder in 2003

The Associated Press has a story today
that fails to provide the reader with some essential background information:

"Secretary of State Colin Powell visited a mass grave Monday to highlight perhaps the single biggest human-rights abuse of Saddam Hussein's brutal regime - the chemical weapons murder of some 5,000 people in March 1988."

What the story fails to tell us is how the U.S. responded to this "single biggest human-rights abuse" at the time it happened.

How did we respond? We ignored it, of course.

You see, in 1988, the U.S. was supporting Saddam Hussein in his war against Iran because our biggest concern at that time was the fundamentalist regime headed by the Ayatollah Khomeini.

ABC News has a good historical summary of that forgotten period of our history here.

"There was real concern in Washington that this Islamic revolution in Iran would catch fire, and would scorch the rest of the region," said Kenneth Pollack, a former Iraq analyst for the CIA and the National Security Council, "that the Iranians would go on a march and roll through Baghdad and into Riyadh and into the Saudi oil fields and effectively be able to corner the world's oil market."

So we were more concerned with securing the world's oil market in 1988 than we were with a few thousand Kurdistan casualties. The Kurdistan massacre took place in March 1988 - a very inconvenient time for the U.S. which was at the same time preparing to help strike a critical blow to Iran just one month later that would help Iraq to win the war...

"Soon after the United States began supplying Saddam's Iraq with critical intelligence, the American military launched an active — and secret — campaign against Iran. U.S. helicopters attacked Iranian gunboats from a secret platform in the Gulf. And on April 18, 1988, the U.S. military destroyed much of the Iranian navy just as Iraq launched a major offensive."

1988 is also the year that George Herbert Walker Bush became president. How did Bush Sr. respond to "the single biggest human-rights abuse of Saddam Hussein's brutal regime" ?
Why, he "signed a secret executive order, National Security Directive Number 26, that called for even closer ties between the United States and Iraq."


The E-N ran another version of this story Tuesday from the Washington Post that provides just a smidgen of background info.

"Although the United States condemned the Iraqi government's use of chemical weapons as a "grave violation" of international law, the Reagan administration did not sanction Hussein, who was regarded as a U.S. ally because of his war against Iran's Islamic revolutionary government. At the time, the State Department said there were "indications" that Iran had used chemical artillery shells against Iraqi positions in the area.

Asked today about the U.S. response, Powell, who was Reagan's national security adviser, told reporters that "there was no effort on the part of the Reagan administration to either ignore it or not take note of it." But when speaking to about 250 relatives of victims, Powell said there should have been a more aggressive response."

Notice how at the time that the massacre occurred, the Reagan administration tried to blame it on Iran.
The story also points out that Powell was "Reagan's national security adviser" at the time. Do you think he believed at the time that Iran was responsible for the gas attack rather than Hussein?
Today, Powell says there was no effort to ignore the attacks, but what about efforts to cover them up and mislead the American people about their origins?
Of course, we only covered up the attacks temporarily. We were more than happy to uncover them a few years later in time to drum up support for Gulf War I and now Powell is forced to use them again since there are no contemporary examples of WMD usage in Iraq that he can point to.

The other P.C. - Patriotically Correct

I'm glad to see that Johnny Depp is enjoying box office success this week despite the barbs that have been cast his way following an interview in which he allegedly compared the U.S. to "a dumb puppy that has big teeth" in reference to the U.S. invasion of Iraq.

Oh my!!! How dare Johnny Depp have the audacity to criticize the U.S.! And what's worse, he did so from his home in FRANCE!!!! The horror!!

Depp tried to clarify his remarks a few days later, saying that they were taken out of context, and apologized to anyone who may have been offended - but of course all to no avail.

We Americans are easily offended by such things these days and we relish the opportunity to pass judgments and condemnations onto those who are not adequately P.C. (Patriotically Correct). We have no use for such wussy notions as "forgiveness," so his apologies will fall on deaf ears.

Already, it seems that Depp has dethroned Natalie Maines of the Dixie Chicks as the latest poster child for the new PC revolution. Just check out the lovely comments thread from the folks at Free Republic.