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This Is What Democracy Looks Like
Today's Note From a Madman
Monday, July 9, 2007
A Real Associated Press Headline
Iraqi: U.S. pullout could mean civil war
"We have held discussion with members of Congress and explained to them the dangers of a quick pullout and leaving a security vacuum. The dangers could be a civil war, dividing the country, regional wars and the collapse of the state.
"In our estimation, until Iraqi forces are ready, there is a responsibility on the United States which is to stand with the (government) as the forces are being built,"
-Iraqi foreign minister Hoshyar Zebari
Just a quick question to Minister Zebari: Just what do you think is going on now? It seems Zebari, a Kurd, hasn't checked the newspapers lately, or, for that matter, even looked out of a window because his countrymen and women and children are dieing each and every day, along with their American protectors. With hundreds of Iraqi civilians and dozens of American troops being killed each week on the streets of Iraq, one wonders how much worse it could get?
When should our troops leave Iraq, Minister Zebari? Maybe we should stay until the last man. After all, it's not like we have need for our troops right here at home, is it?
And one wonders why Iraq's new foreign minister. a Kurd, is addressing members of our Congress to plea for us to stay. Perhaps knowing that it is a Kurd - an ally - who is asking then these pleas won't fall on deaf ears.
The American people want our troops to come home, and for many reasons. For one, we're tired of losing the future of America for a no-win situation, even though Bush stood in front of that banner on the USS Abraham Lincoln which read "Mission Accomplished" over four years ago. Yes, the American people no longer have the stomach to prosecute a war where our soldier are the common targets for both sides (three sides, if you include al-Qaeda in Iraq). There already is a civil war in Iraq and no one side our allies.
The fear is that, upon our leaving Iraq, there will be a void filled by the likes of the Shi'ite Iranians to the east and the Sunni Syrians on the west. It is a real fear, but it doesn't quite add up to the big real fear that a weakened United States endangers not just the United States; not just Iraq; but the entire world. If the US has been the great beacon which has lighted the world for the past dozen or so generations, and if you think that a strong US is necessary to help keep peace in the world, then there is no other choice than to move our troops out of harm's way and allow the pieces to fall where they may in Iraq.
Those who want us to stay in Iraq indefinitely are missing the point. There is no reason why we couldn't keep a NATO-sponsored peace force, with a NATO base in the Kurdish territory. You see, for some reason, they still like us. The Kurds would, no doubt, welcome a base which would help protect them, the oil fields and the other parts of Iraq which they don't control from hostile neighbors. If we remove our troops as police in Iraq we could also use some of them - again, as part of a NATO force - we could also guard the borders of Iraq which they share with those nations we deem "hostile".
Sure, by keeping our troops in Iraq, Bush's "base" of "haves and have mores" get to keep stealing money from the American people as they raise gas prices and continue in their war-mongering and profiteering ways, but it's finally time to do something for the other 99.9 percent of us. Bringing our troops home before their burn-out becomes permanent is "thing-one" to do.
...and If That Weren't Bad Enough
According to the same foreign minister, Hoshyar Zebari of Iraq, Turkish forces are lining up along the border they share with Kurdistan (the Kurdish territory in Iraq). According to Minister Zebari, a Kurd himself, 140,000 Turkish troops are lined up and waiting on the border, to do what is anybody's guess.
The US has yet to determine whether the report is accurate or not.
For better than a generation now, Kurdish separatists and Turkish authorities have clashed on the subject of Kurdish independence, and the new Iraqi foreign minister wants us to do something about it.
Someone ought to tell this guy we haven't completed "Job-One" yet. he's already looking to start a new project.
The timing of Zebari's Turkish announcement leaves the Bushies with even more reason to stay in Iraq. We can forget about the excuse, "Let's wait for the surge to work," - now the Bushies are going to claim that our soldiers need to stay there to protect our allies, the Kurds, from the Turks.
By the way, Turkey is the only real Democracy in that part of the world who is also an ally of the US.
Not only don't we negotiate with our enemies, but now we can begin pissing off our friends! Brilliant!
"Turkey is building up forces on the border. There are 140,000 soldiers fully armed on the border. We are against any military interference or violation of Iraqi sovereignty,"
I'm curious... Just what would the Iraqis do IF the Turks decided to come into Northern Iraq? Maybe they could shake a harsh fist in the air or spit on them. After all, after four-plus years of training, and noting that they still need us to patrol their nation, it appears that's all they're capable of.
"Our military forces are over-occupied with securing the streets and we do not have forces enough to open a new front."
It's almost comical!
And the Bushies, of course, appear to have no idea what's going on. In their lust for war, and knowing that they would, indeed, succeed in removing Saddam Hussein from power, they forgot to look at the northern part of Iraq and the hostilities that have been going on there since the middle of Ronald Reagan's presidency. In keeping with their "Policy of SURPRISE" and "We would have moved Heaven and Earth to (fill in the blank)", it appears that might they have another such moment on their hands, and this time, it involves two allies. And if you believe that these incompetents have a handle on what's going on "over there", then their actions are nothing less than criminal.
"We've been working with them and recognize that problem that exists there. But we're also encouraging them that an incursion into Iraq is not the way to solve this,"
-Defense Department spokesman Bryan Whitman
If you're keeping score, we now have two enemies and one friend lined up on the borders of Iraq waiting... There can be no doubt that President Bush and the Bushies are going to use these new developments as reason enough to keep out troops in Iraq indefinitely. This is just the break they were looking for. Certainly, they will argue, we can't leave the Iraqis with the possibility of a brand new incursion into their territory, can we? And , they will add, it's our friends, the Kurds, who are in danger now.
I'm beginning to think that this guy Zebari is just the right guy for the Bush team in Iraq. After all, it appears that he has their best self interests at heart.
Ed Rendell Stands Up
Today, Ed Rendell, the Democratic Governor of Pennsylvania, shut down his and government furloughing all non-essential employees while he and the Republican-led Senate argued over the budget. You see, the Republicans want to raise the state's "debt ceiling" to allow for the state to owe lots of money while Rendell, a fiscally responsible chap, doesn't want to allow them that option. As it stands now, the state shows a budget surplus, but we've all seen what Republicans can do with surpluses.
Similar to the Budget surplus left to George Bush by his predecessor Bill Clinton, the Pennsylvania Republicans want to remove the Keystone State's rainy day fund for more spending programs with less accountability.
Additionally, Gov. Rendell wants to put an energy surcharge and apply it to a fund for alternative energy programs and electricity conservation. It's a very proactive move by a Governor of a very big state and Rendell, appropriately, won't budge
"We have a $650 million surplus in Pennsylvania,"
-Republican Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi
"I can't believe that a man who would call himself governor would do this to state employees,"
-Republican Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati
Those statements of the purely political type are indicative of a party which has lost its way. Throwing money at today and ignoring the future is precisely how the Bush administration has failed in its economic policies and, given their way, it is precisely what the PA Republicans would do. Rendell won't let them.
"I sincerely hope that this will be a one-day furlough, and I have reason for optimism,"
Rendell, for his part, is more optimistic. But one wonders if he realizes that the party of George W. Bush would rather point fingers and place blame than sit down and try to iron out their differences. While Rendell speaks about fixing the situation and saving the future, the Republicans in Harrisburg squawk about "obstructionism" and the hurt to the people of Pennsylvania. It's the same recipe and rhetoric they used inside the Beltway and it's the same that they're going to keep on using until the people they're supposed to represent stand up and say "NO MORE!"
Do you all remember the 2000 campaign, and after, when George W. Bush told us all that the Clinton surplus "is not the. government's money, it's your money, and I'm going to give it back to you?" He didn't did he? Instead he gave it to his "base" of "haves and have mores" and created a new "base" of "have even mores"; he allowed the energy companies to make our national policy; he allowed polluters to write pollution laws; and he created a budget and a trade deficit that we may never recover from. The Pennsylvania Republicans are following that same plan.
Get ready for the Karl Rove tactics which took this nation to where it is today
It's a good thing the people of Pennsylvania have a man like Ed Rendell to stand up for them.
Fox News Hits a New Low
“National healthcare: Breeding ground for terror?” read the on-screen headline, as the Fox News host Neil Cavuto and the commentator Jerry Bowyer solemnly discussed how universal health care promotes terrorism.
Say what? Mr. Cavuto and Mr. Bowyer argued that universal health would require bringing in additional Doctors from foreign countries and they just may be terrorists. Now, how's that for reasoning?
Neil Cavuto is without a doubt the most amateurish boorish business analysis I ever heard. I can simply ignore his ignorance but this was a new moral low even for a Fox News commentator.
REMEMBERING INDEPENDENCE DAY
by Victoria A. Brownworth
copyright c 2007 Journal-Register Newspapers, Inc.
Independence Day in Philadelphia has always had special meaning for me, imbued as it is with our nation’s richest history, the predicate for our democracy, which is one of the few true democracies in the world.
My maternal grandfather, Edwin Coutant Moore, was an historian, a co-founder of the Philadelphia Society for the Preservation of Landmarks and long-time curator of the Powel House, home of the first mayor of Philadelphia, Samuel Powel. The Powel House was also a stop on the Underground Railroad, as Philadelphia was the seat of the abolitionist movement.
My grandfather transferred his love of history to me when I was quite young, and I never lost the fascination. Living as he did at the Powel House in the historic district of Philadelphia, he would take me for walks to Independence Hall, showing me the various historic landmarks along the way, telling me stories about the early years of the nascent colonies.
I am reminded of those walks and talks most especially on Independence Day. I may have been a child of only five or six, but I understood the excited, urgent tone in my grandfather’s voice: These were things I was meant to remember always, because they were very important.
This Independence Day was beautiful–none of the sweltering heat that the Founding Fathers suffered under as they were crafting their answer to King George III with the Declaration of Independence.
But it was an odd event held at Independence Hall this year, a bittersweet celebration in which the reason we commemorate the day was virtually ignored.
A block away at Sixth and Market Streets lies the cavernous hole that is the archeological dig of the President’s House, the home of the first president of the United States when Philadelphia was the capital. It was this site–and what was uncovered there–that was the focus of the commemoration at Independence Hall on July 4th.
Beneath the street, enmeshed in the ruins, lies not merely the exciting archeological find of the first bow window design that George Washington made for his house, nor the other bits and pieces of the life of the first president. Also lying within the carefully deconstructed site are shards of shame from the early years of this nation: the residue of slavery. Sharing the President’s House with George and Martha Washington were nine household slaves, owned by Martha Washington’s family. There were Giles, Paris and Austin, three men who worked the stables. Hercules, the main cook for the household and his son, Richmond, who helped in the kitchen. Moll cared for Martha Washington's two grandchildren. Christopher Sheels was the President’s body servant and Oney Judge was Martha Washington’s body servant.
The commemoration on Independence Day was devoted almost wholly to these nine men and women. There was a scene from a play by Philadelphia playwright, Thomas Gibbons, which depicted an exchange between Oney and Austin. The latter had accidentally let slip to Martha that Oney was trying to learn to read; Martha threatened to sell her if she discovered this again. There were sad songs sung about the two and other reminiscences of their lives, heretofore unremarked, as well as commentary by two of the preservationists and archeologists from the dig. Those comments were also about the slaves.
The gripping and shameful story of these slaves should not be dismissed nor diminished, and is certainly a matter for discussion, but I question the weight it was given in the commemoration of the nation’s metaphoric founding.
Like most Americans, Philadelphians are largely ignorant of their nation’s rich history. Most Americans have no idea what July 4th celebrates, as poll after dismal poll reminds us. We rank so low among Western nations in our knowledge of the basics–math, science, language–that its not surprising we know little of history, either.
Thanks in part to my grandfather’s enthusiasm, I love history. My degrees are in history; I think of myself as an historian, first and foremost. As an historian, I am always excited by new discoveries like the ones at the President’s House site. I also understand the desire on the part of the Mayor, whose only positive legacy in his two terms in office will be orchestrating the dig at the site, to be attentive to the project.
But–and this is an important caveat–Independence Day is not Juneteenth, it is not the commemoration of the ratification of the Fourteenth Amendment, but a commemoration of the founding of the Republic. And frankly, in a nation whose populace is as willfully ignorant as ours so often is, we really cannot afford to miss an opportunity to remind people of what July 4th means historically.
There are many unseemly and vile chapters in our nation’s history. The wholesale slaughter of Native Americans, the acquisition of slaves, the internment of Japanese Americans in camps during World War II, the building and use of the atomic bomb, the HUAC hearings in the 1950s, the invasion of Iraq, the torture of prisoners at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo. These are all chapters Americans of conscience would like to have erased from our history, because they have wrought such a terrible legacy, past and present, on our nation.
However, there are also many great achievements for which we should all be proud. The Declaration of Independence and the Constitution (no matter how much the current President and his gang try to dismiss their importance) are the fundament of our democracy. There are no other documents akin to them in any government in the world. They are the living, breathing documents of a nation’s change and growth and expansion, they are monumentally important–to all Americans, regardless of race, gender, ethnicity or religion.
Perhaps because my love of history is so great and my love of Philadelphia equally strong, I found the commentary and focus of the Independence Day commemoration at Independence Hall to be not just inappropriate, but ahistorically so.
There should be a special dedication ceremony devoted specifically to the President’s House site and the totality of what it means. But to have the only mention of George Washington, who chose to be president and not king, and thus helped save the colonies from becoming yet another monarchy, be solely in the context of his flaws (which at the time were hardly his alone), was wrong. Replacing the monumental history of July 1776 with political correctness does nothing to assuage our collective guilt as a nation for the shame of slavery, all it does is diminish the importance of the day and what it means.
Political correctness has its place. So too does recognition of our nation’s past–and present–sins. Yet there were no skits about the current war, no commentary suggesting the irony in the fact that the British tortured many Americans and then killed them and we are doing the same thing now in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo, no sad songs lamenting the deaths of American soldiers in Iraq. And yet this, too, is our history, as lamentable as any other dark chapter in our nation’s book of days.
It has become a commonplace to negate the importance of the founders of America, to refer to them as DWM–dead white men–to minimize the intellectual, political and social achievements of geniuses like Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson and Thomas Paine or the courage of those like Washington or John Adams.
Yet these men, their vision and outright brilliance, are the reason we have a republic today. Because of the strength and power of that individual and collective vision, and the fact that they were willing and brave enough to risk their lives to create the world’s first true democracy, we live in that democracy today.
Throughout more than half of Africa now, slavery is still a fact of life. And like the slave trade of old, it is black men trading in other black men and women’s lives.
But slavery is part of America’s past, not its present, in part because of those documents we were supposed to be celebrating on July 4th, and because of the clarity of vision and purpose of the men who crafted them. Slavery was amended out of our legal system. This is *not* Niger or Sudan or Chad, where trafficking in humans is a thriving business in 2007.
George Washington, like so many of his peers, owned slaves. It is a shameful reality. But it is not the sum of who he was. He was a leader who wrested this nation from the grasp of King George III, who led and won the Revolutionary War.
History is more than just chronology and a surfeit of facts. It is the examination of that chronology and those facts, a contextualizing of an era’s best and worst attributes.
Some of our nation’s best and finest moments were in July 1776. To ignore the importance of those events to Americans and supplant the commemoration with stories of our worst moments as a nation, was simply wrong. At a time when the nation’s current leadership–the President, Vice President and other members of the Administration–seem intent on subverting the Constitution and undercutting the Bill of Rights, it is more vital than ever that we take every opportunity to remind Americans of what democracy means, how it came about and why we must protect it in every way we can–just as the men who drafted those documents did in July 1776.
In response to, " Did you ever go to a book store like Barnes & Noble? There are dozens of Coulter's books on the shelves and even more printed without ever being sold," Eddie Konczal writes:
Man Coulter's books almost give book burning a good name!
And in response to, "By the way, how well is Bill O'Reilly's book "The O'Reilly Factor for Kids" selling? There are plenty of those books in Barnes' & Noble's kid's section as well, tucked in next to the likes of 'Good-Night Moon,'" Eddie writes:
and "Curious George".
Hey - "Good Night Moon" is a cute book! Seriously, what better way to bring up the "birds and the bees" with your kids than with Bill "Phone Sex" O'Reilly?
And in response to, Coulter's "I'm more of a man than most liberals," Eddie writes:
She has that right - though not in the way she intended. She's about as feminine as a Hummer and has the sex appeal of an ice pick, and if I've offended any ice picks I apologize!
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