Thursday, January 04, 2007

(from Daily News)
WASHINGTON - President Bush has quietly claimed sweeping new powers to open Americans' mail without a judge's warrant, the Daily News has learned.

(from Alternet)
"Casualties" in the military sense is the total number made unavailable for duty from all causes, including deaths and wounds suffered in combat as well as injuries, accidents and illness in a war "theater" such as "Operation Iraqi Freedom" (the official Pentagon name for the invasion and occupation). So whether caused by "hostile" (24,965 as of Dec.27) or "non-hostile" (25,406 as of Dec. 2) causes, the Pentagon's own web sites record a toll of more than 50,000 so far in "OIF."

now, for those of you out there who think that saddam hussein's death is "great news" or a "vindication of our reasons for invasion" or "justice served", let me remind you of a few facts.
1) all of the weapons of mass destruction that he purportedly had in stock (which he evidently began dismantling after 1991) were supplied to him by us.
2) while our government has been recently declaring his war against Iran in the 1980's as "barbaric" and "unwarranted", it was supplying him with weapons, logistics and advisors during the actual event.
3) when he gassed the Kurds, mass-killed dissenting Shiites and executed family members our government turned a blind eye, because he was conveniently the enemy of our enemy (Iran).
4) when our government claimed that hussein was not allowing unfettered access to supposed weapons making sites just before our current invasion and had kicked out the UN inspectors, it was lying. the UN had reported in the months prior to the current invasion that hussein had stopped all obstuction and they were making spot checks of anything they wanted without advance notice and previously assigned "bodyguards". the UN inspectors also said that they were told by our government that it could not guarantee their safety when it started the "shock and awe" campaign and told them to get out of Iraq then and there (less than a week prior to the initial bombing).
5) NOT ONE weapon of mass distruction was found when, since and after we invaded this time. not one. the "smoking gun" seems to have been our government's ineptitude. remember that we went from 9/11 connections (that never had a shred of credibility) to WMD and its "mushroom cloud in 40 minutes" capability to "he's a brutal dictator" to "either we fight them over there or we fight them over here" to the spread of democracy (not necessarily in that order).
6) while some Iraqis celebrate his death, many more mourn the fact that it now seems that life was better back then. all they had to do was live their lives quietly and let hussein live out his derangement and everything was acceptable. they had electricity, gas, water, schools, mosques and churches, freedom (somewhat) of the press, women could hold public jobs and walk in the streets without having to wear black from head to toe...all of these things look very good to a country that cannot even send their children to school without bodyguards, cannot open their stores without fear of kidnapping and execution, do not know someone who has fallen prey to the myriad killing squads or US forces, and dare not publicly display their ethnic affliliation.
7) a somewhat popular argument for toppling hussein is that "we created him, we were reponsible for taking him out". this is given by war hawks to those of us who mention that we did indeed (while not creating him) back, arm and enforce his rule for many years. but this argument is fellacious an dissembling. the only reason he turned on the USA is because, after the Iran/Iraq war, our government encountered much criticism by foreign leaders for arming him in the first place with weapons of bacteriological and viral nature. because of this assault we stopped. when we stopped he retaliated through hyperbole and condemned us. instead of coming clean and admitting our mistake, we began a long war of detraction. and when Iraq invaded Kuwait we found our "out" as it were. we were much better friends with Kuwait at the time than we were with Iraq.
8) although it has not been completely verified or completely dismissed, the argument remains that iraq invaded Kuwait (in 1990?), because Kuwait was slantdrilling for oil into Iraqi soil. to make it simple, the argument goes that kuwait began the drilling on their territory, but drilled at a 45 degree angle (or so) to tap oil preserves in Iraq. simple to do, hard to detect without seismic stations (which all mideast nations have for this very reason and for oil reserve exploration). if it's true, we have a secular mideast nation attacking an islamic nation based on theft.
9) secular. our government wants "democracy" to spread and shine throughout the world. while it's only a 231 year old experiment many of us can agree that it seems to be working somewhat. but we just kicked the shit out of one of the only secular governments in the mideast. and secular is what we want. so long as a country is ruled by islamic law or sharia law we will make no inroads. they will accept our help in whichever avenue, but we cannot infringe on their holy writ for that is ultimate law. for example, Saudi Arabia: we supply them with military hardware and they send us terrorists to blow up our buildings and kill our citizens. but we still have no beef with them. then there's Pakistan. we supply them with military hardware and the ability to make a nuclear bomb, they declare they're on our side in the War On Terror, but harbor the Taliban and al-quaeda. and we claim we can't invade that sovereign nation in order to attack terrorists when we had invaded Iraq and Afghanistan for that very reason. and Iraq and Afghanistan were sovereign nations. and we have no beef with Pakistan. Somalia is in the midst of an Islamic takeover and we stand back, even though the citizens don't want Islam and are being mass killed for it. do we have any sense of balance? or are we letting our government become just like the militias and sects that dominate all of these other countries? the one thing that will destroy us as a nation and idea is sectarian difference. and there's no better way to achieve this than to polarize the people, which is what has been happening for the last 20 years. you're either pro-abortion or you're not. you're either pro-handgun or you're not. you're either faith-based or you're not. you're either democrat or you're fascist. you're either republican or you're a terrorist sympathiser.

which may or may not get me to my point. killing saddam hussein was a stupid idea by our government. we paid for the trial and we knew how it would be decided. there was never a question of his guilt based on the accusations. and the fact that he was an asshole. but every country is ruled by an asshole. it's the nature of the beast. you want power, you will do whatever you have to do to achieve it. any country, every country. and the very act of killing hussein has made him a martyr. while the USA could not carry out the actual execution, its "we're not involved and this decision is that of the Iraqis alone" defense is seen as so much bullshit by the world and by most of the US citizens themselves. we caused this and we allowed it to happen. and, even as we claim to want to reach out to all Iraqis, we let the Shiite government lynch this man. he wore no hood and his executioners did (in Iraq and other countries the wearing of a hood or mask while killing another is seen as an act of cowardice). he was taunted by his executioners, which is also not allowed. he was killed on a holy day, which is not allowed. the current Iraqi government displayed complete and utter disregard for the rules and tenets that they claim adherence to every time they enter a mosque to pray. which makes them the same as our rulers.
at work i heard one fellow say that saddam hussein's death was "great news". i asked him why. he said "it's great. he deserved to die". i asked him how this affected his daily life and why he should be so glad. he replied "i don't know. i'm just happy that he's dead after all the people he killed". i asked him if, based on that, it would be okay for me to come into work with a smile on my face if our President Bush was assassinated, because of the 3000 soldiers and between 50,000 and 600,000 Iraqis that had died because of his decision to attack. he laughed and said it WAS okayso long as i didn't get happy if the lead singer of Slayer died.
and that's when i knew i still liked living in America. we can disagree on just about everything, but not when it comes to rock and roll.