Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Partisanship Is Killing Our Country

Hello everyone-it has been some time since I have written here. I have been pre-occupied with other endeavors but a couple of newsworthy stories have prompted me to do a little venting. The issue at hand is the ever growing problem of partisanship.

As you know; the latest health care bill was passed in the House and is now heading to the Senate for debate and a vote. I confess; I am not terribly optimistic about its passage there. We can thank Sen. Joe Lieberman for that. Lieberman has trouble deciding which party to ally himself with but, in this case, he has jumped on the Republican bandwagon. Sixty votes are needed for the bill to pass and Lieberman’s decision has all but assured that the number will not be reached. Presently, the Senate is comprised of 58 Democrats, 40 Republicans, and 2 Independents. For the bill to have any chance; the two Independent votes are crucial. Lieberman is one of those Independents and has single handedly squashed the hopes of the majority of Americans who favor health care reform and the public option. My only hope is that the voters from Connecticut finally bounce his sorry ass from office in 2010.

To illustrate the omnipresent partisan voting practices in Congress; one need only look at the final tally in the House. Out of the 216 available votes from the GOP-only one voted in favor of the bill. I find it hard to believe that the other 215 voted against it based on its merits. Toeing the party line has become the norm in Congress and I see no end in sight. It’s clear that the motivating factor when voting is to simply oppose the other party. To hell with what the American people want. Anything thought to have been proposed by the Obama administration is assured of a NAY vote from the Republicans. This philosophy does little for the betterment of our nation at a time when it is sorely needed.

To further emphasize the presence of partisanship in Congress; a look at the voting results for Sen. Franken’s (D-MN) amendment to the Defense Appropriations Bill will tell us more. Senator Franken’s amendment seemed like a sure bet given its content. To summarize: The amendment prohibited the government from granting contracts to companies that included, in my opinion, an unconstitutional clause in their employee contracts. The clause, neatly cloaked in fine print, prohibits employees from exercising their right to due process granted to us all in the 14th Amendment. “Essentially, due process guarantees that persons have a right to be fairly heard before they can be deprived of life, liberty, or property.” (Rush; The Dictionary of Criminal Justice 5th Edition, 2000)

What caused Sen. Franken to propose this amendment was a case involving a female employee of KBR (Haliburton) who was raped while working in Iraq. Upon returning to the U.S. after the incident; she intended to file criminal charges against the perpetrators and to sue KBR, only to find that her employee contract prohibited her from doing so. Her desire to seek justice through the criminal and civil court was declined based on the aforementioned clause. As if that isn’t repulsive enough; the vote for the amendment proved to be equally nauseating.

During the debate on the Senate floor, Sen. Jeff Sessions claimed it was not the purview of the government to decide what can and can’t be included in a private company’s employee contracts. He went on to say that it was not up to the Senate to decide who should benefit from taxpayers dollars. It’s important to note that, only weeks earlier, this moron was calling for the immediate freeze of government aid to ACORN. I can only assume that he forgot about that little diatribe. While ACORN receives, on average, $1.5 million per year from the government; KBR/Haliburton and Blackwater have received over $25 billion in contracts since 2001!!

After the debate and Session’s blustering; the amendment came to a vote. The results: 30 of the 40 GOP senators (75%) voted AGAINST the amendment!! The amendment passed thanks to the 10 Republican senators who voted with their conscience as opposed to their allegiance to the GOP. I found this story to be one of the most disgusting examples of how partisanship is tearing this country apart. I urge everyone who lives in a state where their senator voted against this to cast a vote for ANYONE who opposes them in the next election. If you don’t; consider yourself complicit in denying that poor woman her right to due process and remember-the next time, it may be you!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Is It Any Wonder?

In the field of criminology, there exist an exhaustingly high number of theories that attempt to explain the reasons for criminal behavior. Among them are: biological, genetic, learned, environmental, and psychological, to name a few. One can find a degree of validity in each but, in my opinion, few provide us with a direct correlation between child abuse and juvenile crime, with the exception of one. Dr. Lonnie Athens, viewed by many as a maverick, devised a unique method to study the criminal mind. His method, coupled with his life experiences, is presented in Richard Rhodes’ book "Why They Kill." For the purpose of this article; I will focus on the effect child abuse has in the creation of juvenile offenders. It should come as no surprise that I gravitated toward, and embraced the theory of a maverick.

A brief history of Lonnie Athens is necessary to help us understand how and why his theory differs from those presented by such respected and well known criminologists as Joseph Wilson, Richard Herrnstein and Charles Murray. Unlike the others; Athens was a victim of abuse from his father, a Greek immigrant. According to Rhodes, it is not uncommon for some who are victims to seek explanations. “Hypervigilance is in any case one price children pay for childhood abuse.” (Rhodes, pg. 14) While the majority of criminologists rely on various statistics and other forms of empirical data; Athens chose to take a more hands-on approach. From Rhodes:

"Much later Athens would write scornfully of academic criminologists who present themselves as experts on criminal violence without ever had personal experience of such violence or contact with violent criminals. Their usual rebuttal to his challenge, he noted, was that “one need not actually have heart trouble or some other terrible disease to discover a cure for it.'That was true, he agreed,'but one must at least see, touches, smell, and examine actual diseased hearts if he ever hopes to know anything about them.' Athens had certainly seen, touched, smelled and examined more than enough violence in his tumultuous childhood to know what he was talking about."

I plan to address Athens’ approach in a future article but for the sake of brevity; I will focus on the theory itself. His theory on “Violentization” is composed of 4 stages. The first stage being Brutalization which translated refers to various forms of abuse. The first form, Violent Subjugation, concerns the most common and recognized cases of child abuse. “During this experience, bona fide or would be authority figures from one of the subject’s primary groups uses violence to force her to submit to their authority.” (Athens, L. (1992) The Creation of Dangerous Violent Criminals. Pg. 28)

Athens refers to the second form of brutalization as Personal Horrification. This has proven to be equally damaging but is rarely presented to the public by the media. The absence of sensationalism is a likely explanation for its absence. “Here the subject does not himself undergo violent subjugation, but witnesses another person undergoing it.” (Athens, pg. 38) The long term effects of personal horrification are considered to be equally contributory to eventual juvenile crime and beyond. Both forms instill a sense of helplessness in the child.

The third and final form of brutalization is Violent Coaching. This form is far more common than most would think. I was fortunate in the sense that I was never subjected to any of these brutalization practices but witnessed violent coaching on more than one occasion. Once again, I will defer to Dr. Athens to explain this form. “Novices are taught that they should not try to pacify, ignore, or run from their protagonist, but should personally attack them” It is little wonder that the transition from Phase1-Brutalization, to Phase 3-Violent Performances, is both understandable and almost natural. My intention is not to condone this metamorphosis but attempt to explain it. Dr. Athens himself is evidence that not all children follow this path however its influence is indisputable.

I chose to skip Stage 2-Belligerency, for the simple fact that I don’t wish to lengthen this article any more than is necessary (in other words, I don’t want to bore you). My intention is not to minimize the importance of Stages 2 and 4-Virulency, which is why I strongly recommend anyone interested to purchase Dr. Athens’ book. As previously stated, the transition from brutalization to violent performances is understandable and illustrates the need to recognize and address abuse as early as possible. “The subject, now belligerent, awaits only the proper circumstances to test his newly developed resolve to attack people physically with the serious intention of inflicting grave injury upon them.” (Athens, pg. 63) It is reasonable to argue that, at some point, we are all capable of distinguishing right from wrong. It is also reasonable to argue that a juvenile who has been subjected to years of violent subjugation, personal horrification, and violent coaching does not necessarily possess the capability to differentiate between the two. What they perceive to be “normal” can be vastly different from what is socially acceptable behavior.

The purpose of this article is to draw attention to the implications of ignoring the plight of abused children. The longer a child is subjected to any kind of abuse; the greater the cost is to society. My friend Mike Tikkanen writes in his book Invisible Children: “Nationally, four years is the average length of time for sexual abuse of a child within a toxic family before they are removed.” Four years of any form of abuse will inevitably lead to psychological problems that may require therapy. The likelihood that many will turn to crime further adds to the cost, not to mention the danger that will be incurred. Programs and services designed to prevent and address these issues are the first to be slashed by our short-sighted legislators. Perhaps if they took the time to consider the long-term effects and costs that result from their ignorance; they may look elsewhere when confronting budgetary woes.

I strongly recommend that anyone interested or concerned purchase the following books:
1)The Creation of Dangerous Violent Criminals by Lonnie H. Athens. Available at Amazon for $20.00
2) Invisible Children by Mike Tikkanen. Available at for $16.95

Thursday, August 27, 2009

RAGE-Adoloscent Illiteracy

I received a phone call Monday from a gentleman from Minnesota. Since I have redirected my focus from politics to child abuse and juvenile justice issues; I have been in touch with people from an organization called Invisible Children ( and KARA (Kids at Risk Action). Bob, the gentleman from Minnesota, is an active member of these organizations. To say he is passionate about these issues would be a gross understatement. We talked about a number of topics but one issue was particularly important to Bob (not to minimize the others)-literacy. I confess the fact that this is a major contributing factor to juvenile crime had completely escaped me. After our conservation, I decided to look into this further. Suffice it to say: Bob “knows of what he speaks.”

I would like to begin with a quote from the State Superintendent of Wisconsin regarding literacy. (

“At its core, literacy is the ability to read and write. While this ability remains the nexus of literacy of adolescents, additional abilities are needed to maximize learning in all content areas. In Wisconsin, we must infuse this core with the ability to invent, design, create, compute, and communicate so that adolescents can make critical judgments, solve real-world problems, and become productive citizens who lead rewarding lives.”

While researching the correlation between illiteracy and delinquency, I came across a paper by Lois S. Mohr-Corrigan entitled "Illiteracy and Juvenile Delinquency." In this paper, a series of studies and interviews were used to help explain, not justify, how illiteracy can lead to frustration and anger in youths. “Aggression is one of many emotions harbored by illiterate adolescents.” Their inability to express themselves leads them to delinquency as a means to release their anger. Michele Kipke, a source cited in the paper, explains how the pressure of being accepted during adolescence can adversely affect an individual throughout the course of their life. “…once shunned as an outcast for not fitting in, those feelings can follow an illiterate person around for the rest of his or her life, affecting every facet with its negativity.” It is here that teachers and other school officials can provide support to those affected. School is often the starting point for future successes and failures.

After studying Criminal Justice in college, my interest in the various theories explaining juvenile behavior prompted me to purchase a number of books concerning the varying theories. One of the books I purchased is entitled "Child and Youth Security Sourcebook." “Effective schools convey the attitude that all children can achieve academically and behave appropriately, while at the same time appreciating individual differences…Students who do not receive the support they need are less likely to behave in socially desirable ways.” Once again, the significance of recognizing and dealing with illiterate students is magnified. I daresay we have failed to do either in an effective manner.

While President Bush’s No Child Left Behind Act gave the impression that the government was taking a more active role in improving education; it did little for the illiterate. Encouraging states to elevate their testing standards may have benefited those proficient in reading and writing skills; it exposed those with learning disabilities and the illiterate. This may have proven to be advantageous if the schools were equipped to address these problems but that was simply not the case. In 2002, $24.4 billion was earmarked for the new project. A paltry $1.2 billion was allocated for basic reading programs in 2002 which was a considerable increase from the amazingly low $286 million available in 2001.

Attending to the special needs of illiterate students has long been the purview of school counselors. Perhaps a portion of the aforementioned $24.4 billion should have been diverted to the American School Counselor Association. “Although ASCA recommends a 250 to 1 ratio of students to school counselors (WOW!), the national average is actually 475 (2006-2007) school year.” ( In the state of Illinois, the ratio is 1172 to 1!! Only 4 states have managed to adhere to the 250 to 1 ratio. Is it any wonder that thousands of illiterate children are allowed to “fall through the cracks”? Research has consistently shown that poor academic achievement contributes to crimes committed by delinquents.

In my conversation on Monday; Bob expressed his frustration concerning the absence of rage regarding illiteracy. His desire for societal rage; rage akin to that prevalent during the civil rights movement, is understandable. My research has opened my eyes to the blatant disregard for thousands of youths. The fact that this apathy has led to the incarceration of so many has certainly infused a rage within me. I would like to close with a quote from Michael S. Brummer, Visiting Fellow at the U.S. Department of Justice.

“The link between academic failure and delinquency is strong…Schools are apparently contributing to the delinquency problem by continuing to provide traditional programming that…leaves many students, after six years of instruction, unable to read accurately, fluently, and effortlessly with comprehension…What brings about the delinquency is not the academic failure per se, but sustained frustration which results from continued failure to achieve selected academic goals.” Derived from Brummer’s book "Retarding America: The Imprisonment of Potential."

Monday, August 24, 2009

Brandon Hein and the Murder-Felony Rule

While perusing through the latest edition of Newsweek, I came across an op-ed entitled WRONG PLACE, WRONG TIME. The piece dealt with the plight of Brandon Hein, a young man who has been in prison for close to 14 years. Young Hein was sentenced in 1995 under the murder-felony rule that is only recognized in 24 states today. Reading this story brought me back to my days of studying Criminal Justice at Colorado Tech University. I recall, at the time, that I felt that the rule was inherently flawed in several ways. The penalty for being found guilty of felony-murder is limited to two options; death or life without the chance of parole. Though his sentence was commuted by Governor Schwarzenegger earlier this year; Brandon will still not be eligible for parole for another decade. A young man, who killed no one, will end up spending at least 24 years behind bars.

For those unfamiliar with Brandon’s story; I will do my best to summarize the events that led to his incarceration. On May 22, 1995, Brandon and a couple of his friends had been drinking and were in search of some marijuana. When they stopped by an acquaintance’s home to purchase the marijuana; a fight broke out between one of Brandon’s friends and one of the boys selling the marijuana. Unfortunately; a knife was introduced into the fight and the death of one of the dealers resulted. This occurred in Agoura Hills, CA; close to the site of the famous O.J. acquittal and the Menendez brothers’ hung jury. It’s also important to note that the youth who was killed was the son of a police officer.

I would like to clarify that I am in no way defending the actions of any of the youths. The problem I have is the American concept of the punishment befitting the crime. In cases where the murder-felony is invoked; the prosecution is at a distinct advantage since intent, a major component in any other murder case does not need to be established. Simply put: Anyone who is in the company of someone who commits a crime where a murder occurs is automatically charged with felony-murder. In this case; the crime was an apparent attempted robbery of an illegal substance. It is little wonder that 26 states do not have this rule. Had the tragedy not happened; I highly doubt the police would have been involved at all. I digress.

From the U.S. Supreme Court case Enmund v. Florida (1982):
“Neither deterrence of capital crimes nor retribution is a sufficient justification for executing petitioner. It is unlikely that the threat of the death penalty will measurably deter one such as petitioner, who does not intend to kill. As to retribution, this depends on the degree of petitioner’s culpability, which must be limited to his participation of the robbery.”

I am aware that judicial jargon is often difficult to decipher but let’s concentrate on the final line. “As to retribution, this depends on the degree of petitioner’s culpability, which must be limited to his participation of the robbery.” Aside from the fact that the robbery was of an illegal substance; Brandon’s sole participation was the robbery itself. While many, if not most, Supreme Court decisions are deemed to be precedents-Enmund v. Florida has been completely ignored.

To further highlight the injustice of Brandon’s case, let’s take a look at the sentencing guideline for 1st degree murder and its definition. In California, the sentence for 1st degree murder is 25 years to life. This leaves open the possibility of parole-Brandon’s doesn’t it. 1st degree murder is defined as: “An intentional killing by means of poison, or by lying in wait, or by any other kind of willful, deliberate and premeditated action.” First of all; Brandon’s sentence, even with the Governor’s commutation, is more severe than someone found guilty of premeditated murder. Second; by definition, 1st degree murder is FAR more heinous than anything Brandon did.

I consider the case of Brandon Hein to be both appalling and embarrassing for the entire judicial system. While Americans sit in judgment of Iran, China, and North Korea regarding their inhumane treatment of prisoners and their judicial system in general; an 18 year old young man has been forced to spend the most important years of his life in a maximum security prison. In order to reduce the budget woes of the state; California has announced that they intend to release 40,000 prisoners over the next two years. If Brandon Hein is not among the 40,000 released; the entire California legislature and its judicial system should be ashamed of themselves.

For anyone interested in learning more about Brandon; visit http://

Friday, August 21, 2009

The Tragic Story of Dae'von Bailey

The recent arrest of Marcus Fisher in Las Vegas, the murderer of 6 year old Dae'von Bailey, has brought the failure of the Department of Social Services to the attention of citizens nationwide. Fisher had been pursued and is now being charged with the murder of Dae'von Bailey on July 23rd. This article will address the apathy (fiscally rationalized)prevalent and how easily and often, neglected and abused children are allowed to fall through the cracks. What you will discover is that, all too often, these tragedies could have been avoided simply by people doing their jobs. You will also see how budget cuts in many states have resulted in the deaths of children who are forced to live in similar conditions that Dae'von lived in.

Fisher was arrested on August 19th after evading police since the murder. His arrest was the result of a manhunt that involved members of the LAPD, Las Vegas PD, and the U.S. Marshall's Service. I think it's important to note that this multi-agency task force was created in a matter of days. The irony of this will become clear as the details of young Dae'von's story is unveiled.

"In the months before he died, Dae'von told adults at school that Fisher had punched him in the stomach and had slammed his head into a bathroom sink. He repeated the complaints to social workers who interviewed him and to medical professionals who examined him for injuries. But he was sent back twice to his violent home."

There is definitely enough blame to be placed concerning this horrible story. There are also a number of questions that need to be answered. The question that I have is: Why is it possible for law enforcement agencies to coordinate efforts to apprehend a single person when schools, social service agencies, and the medical community are unable to share information that would have saved the life of a young boy?? Much of the blame for the inefficiency of the DSS can be placed on the fact that these agencies are often the target for budget cuts. California, a state deeply affected by the present economic climate, has proposed to slash $3.3 billion from the system.

"According to research from 2008, 14 children who died under the protection of child welfare agencies in L.A. were neglected because of 'breakdowns in the system in which some agencies knew about potential abuse but failed to share their information with other agencies. In other cases, investigators found that poor decisions by social workers had contributed to their deaths.'"

Though budgetary problems contribute to the allowance of neglect and abuse perpetrated against children; it does little to excuse the death of Dae'von and others. The L.A. County Department of Children and Family Services had received an estimated 12 complaints of abuse concerning Dae'von; many of which were reported by the school. Despite these complaints, the agencies involved were unable to effectively work together to remove Dae'von from an obviously dangerous environment. Yet, after the murder; a multi-agency task force was quickly formed (no problem with coordination there). Is it too much for us ask that people do their jobs?

Information for this article was derived from the following sources:,0,3577922.colum?track=rss

Saturday, August 15, 2009

If You Build It; They Will Come

For the past seven months, I have devoted my writing to the political arena. This is a volatile area under normal circumstances but with the advent of health care reform; the debates have become more heated and frustrating. Liberals and conservatives have both established their positions on the topic and unwavering would be an accurate description of these positions. The problems lie with the distortion of the intent of the bill by the conservatives and the ever-changing promises being made by President Obama. Sarah Palin’s allegation of the existence of “death panels” and Obama’s willingness to deal with the special interest groups he promised to avoid has fueled an already blazing fire.

My original objective when I began blogging was to be somewhat of an advocate for the need of reform in the Juvenile Justice system. Looking through the nearly 50 articles I have written; I became aware that only one of them dealt with the system and its need for reform. The present political landscape coupled with my detraction from my original goal has induced me to redirect my focus. A blatant case of exploitation and corruption was brought to my attention by a fellow blogger and friend. This story, which continues to unfold, has certainly caught my attention and will be the topic of this article.

Two judges in Pennsylvania have pleaded guilty to a litany of charges leveled against them in U.S. Federal Court. These are the result of an investigation prompted by Bob Schwartz, president of the Juvenile Law Center. For those interested in reading more on the investigation; visit The sordid details of the investigation were reported to the public by Amy Goodman of DEMOCRACY NOW. According to Goodman; Schwartz chose to begin the investigation after receiving a number of complaints regarding the excessive sentencing practices of judges Mark Ciavarella and Michael Conahan.

Schwartz’s investigation led him to cases dating back to 2003. The two judges have “pleaded guilty to taking bribes for placing youths in privately owned jails.” It is estimated that the two received a staggering $2.6 million. Along with the bribery charges; they are also charged with wire fraud and income tax fraud (tough to declare bribery revenue). What I find equally, if not more detestable is the allegation that both Ciavarella and Conahan were complicit in facilitating the construction of these detention centers.

During my research, I found an article by John Schwartz of the New York Times on a web site aptly called: PEOPLE YOU’LL SEE IN HELL. In the article, Schwartz details the ease in which these sentencing practices were allowed to go unnoticed. By doing so; he touches on some of the flaws inherent to the entire system: Flaws that I will be addressing in a future article. Due to the seriousness and magnitude of this injustice; the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania assigned a Special Master, Senior Judge Arthur E. Grimm, to the case.

"The special master had submitted an 11-page report that there was routine deprivation of children's constitutional rights."

Due to Judge Grimm’s findings, hundreds of juvenile records were ordered expunged by the Supreme Court.

Goodman of DEMOCRCY NOW had the opportunity to interview two of the juveniles sentenced by the judges. Jamie Quinn, a first time offender and 14 years old at the time, was charged with simple assault and harassment. This incident revolved around an argument Ms. Quinn had with a friend that resulted in a “slap.” Despite the fact that no injuries were reported; Jamie was ordered to serve a 4 month sentence at PA Child Care; one of the privately owned detention centers Ciavarella and Conahan received bribes from and assisted in their securing funds to be constructed.

The other victim of this travesty that was interviewed was Kurt Kruger, another first time offender. Kruger was deemed to be a “lookout” for his girlfriend who was shoplifting. According to reports; Kruger had moved out of his home due to problems between Kurt and his father. Because of this, he never received notification that the court had chosen to go forward with the charges. He believed they had decided to ignore this frivolous charge because his girlfriend (the one who actually shoplifted) was never summoned to appear. When Kruger missed his scheduled hearing; an arrest warrant was issued. After his arrest, without the benefit of counsel, he was sentenced to by Ciavarella in a 90 second hearing!

Perhaps the most troubling case (not to minimize the others) involved 15 year old Hillary Transoe. Hillary was charged with harassment for posting a parody of her high school Vice President on her MySpace page. She was sentenced to 3 months in one of the detention centers. Three months for a parody?? Wow-considering some of the things I pulled in high school; Ciavarella or Conahan might have sentenced me to life! These are just a few examples of the injustices perpetrated by these judges between 2003 and 2008. An increasingly large number of civil suits have been filed as a result of these discoveries.

As I mentioned previously; there are a number of constitutional rights that are habitually ignored in our Juvenile Justice system. Given the fact that hundreds of records have been expunged due to the revelations brought to light by this investigation; it is only natural to question how many lives have been irrevocably damaged. As a condition of their guilty plea, Ciavarella and Conahan have agreed to an 87 month sentence in a federal prison. I’m sorry; that’s not good enough for me. I would like to see them spend 87 months for every life they ruined because of their pathological greed.

One of the things I plan to address in a future article will be the change in focus of the juvenile judicial system. The long accepted approach of counseling and rehabilitation has been replaced by a more punitive guideline. While health care reform is dominating the attention of our legislators and society; juvenile justice reform has been all but ignored for decades. Bringing this to the attention of as many people as possible is my new objective. I can only hope that people are more receptive to new ideas and possible solutions to juvenile justice than they have been to health care reform.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Bounced From TODAY.COM

I was recently banned from posting my articles to a political blog site known as TODAY.COM. The reason, or reasons, for my expulsion remain unclear though I confess I have developed a seemingly obvious theory. What troubles me most is the outright fabrication I was given by the administration as cause for my dismissal. I will attempt to give you the abridged version of what transpired so as not to bore you.

This saga began some weeks ago when a sudden influx of the Christian Right (fundamentalists) began posting their articles in the political forum at TODAY.COM. One article in particular, : Contradictions In the Bible, was the catalyst for the ensuing firestorm. For purposes of clarification; TODAY.COM is structured in a fashion that enables the writers to engage in debates concerning the articles posted. It's important to note that my own feelings regarding religion are not pertinent to this argument. The objection many of us had was with the propagating of religious views in a venue that was dedicated to politics.

One particular writer; one of great passion and well respected, became increasingly agitated as more of these articles began to appear. I can assure you-he was not alone. I should inform you that there is a separate section at TODAY.COM designated for articles pertaining to religion. The aforementioned was very outspoken, as is his way, concerning the presence of these articles as well as their content. A rather heated debate broke out and in one of his replies; the administration censored his comment claiming that courtesy was more important than content. This is an odd perspective in a political blog site. I found it rather ironic to find a blatant infringement of the 1st Amendment perpetrated in said forum. They refused to post his comment and informed him of that via e-mail. He then proceeded to post the e-mail, which was censored, and this resulted in his expulsion. Many of us were of the opinion that we were all being punished since we were now going to be deprived of his unique style and perspectives on both domestic and foreign issues. A couple of writers, myself included, voiced our objection by way of articles and tributes-all to no avail.

On Sunday of this week; I made a personal and, what I thought to be, a respectful plea for his reinstatement.

"I respectfully request that you reconsider your position concerning dsent (Naked Emperor) and allow him back into your political section. His passion and perspectives are sorely missed..."

The reply I received was a nonsensical attempt at rationalizing their decision by citing how he had violated the "Terms and Conditions" of their site. Heil Hitler! Though I confess to expecting nothing less; they included completely false allegations against myself.

"Please know that we've had no problem with your published content but are concerned with your efforts to repeatedly contact us with complaints about other bloggers without merit for the mere fact that their politics are different than your own or because a fellow blogger/friend of yours was dismissed."

Ignoring their grammatical errors and that incredibly long run-on sentence; I have NEVER contacted them to complain about any bloggers' differing views. When I responded to refute these ridiculous assertions; I found myself in the same company as my friend-BANISHED!

"We are sorry that you are not happy blogging in the network and since you feel the need to keep contacting us repeatedly in this manner we have no recourse but to deactivate your account... Our decision is based on your actions of the past few weeks where you've continually complained about other bloggers and how works."

Once again; I have never complained about another blogger to them and I have challenged them to back up their bullshit. I do admit to inquiring why one particular author, who just happened to be the central figure in the previously mentioned debate, was consistently being given the "Featured Blog" slot. TODAY.COM is a site where you are paid (if you want to call it that) based on the amount of traffic your article generates. Being given that slot is a definite advantage. The fact that I find her articles to be nothing more than baseless, unsubstantiated rants is irrelevant. I made my inquiry utilizing TWITTER and once I received their horseshit explanation; I let it go. END OF STORY! Apparently; along with being lousy writers, they are a bit reactionary as well.

What I find disturbing is both their unfounded allegations directed at me and their ability to expel anyone who disagrees with their convoluted view of what is acceptable to post. They seem to have no problem allowing racial slurs to be posted on their site. Since their claim that I "repeatedly" contacted them is easily refuted; I am unable to come up with any other explanation. What confuses me is the fact that advertisements pay for their site yet they chose to expel two writers who contributed to their readership. However: what truly bothers me is that I had developed an enjoyable camaraderie with a number of fellow writers, albeit via e-mails and comments to articles, that I am sure to miss.

To close: for good or bad-I will be posting here on a regular basis where there is no fear of censorship. I will definitely miss the interaction available at TODAY.COM but I can live without the hypocrisy. My friend also posts here and you can find him at: I strongly recommend you visit his site as I have no doubt you will enjoy reading his articles as much as I do.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Pakistan Needs To Make Up Their Mind

An article recently published in the New York Times has both infuriated and confused me. This article deals with complaints made by Pakistani officials concerning our increased presence in Afghanistan. I admit that this entire situation has a personal side to it. One of my best friend’s sons, whom I babysat as an infant, is an officer in the USMC. He is presently deployed in Afghanistan and as a platoon leader; is in the middle of this “increased presence.” I have previously written articles voicing my objection to their president’s, Ali Zardari, method of requesting aid via the Washington Post. Presently, we have pledged $1.5 billion per year for the next 5 years to help stimulate Pakistan’s economy. Considering we have done such a superb job stimulating our own; forgive me if I find a considerable amount of irony in that gesture.

“Pakistani officials have told the Obama administration that the Marines fighting the Taliban in southern Afghanistan will force militants across the border into Pakistan…”

I have apparently been mistaken in my perception that this was a joint effort. I had assumed that the Taliban posed as great a threat to Pakistan as it does to the U.S. In fact; after my posting about Zardari on a different site; I received the following comment from a Pakistani national. (I wasn’t aware I had such a broad readership.)

Zameer said:
this author from USA has critized upon the opinion written by our elected president of Pakistan in Washington post ; Remember ,Zardari has all the basic rights to write , speak or propagate for Pakistan and people of Pakistan has given him this right ; I am a common man in Pakistan ; i think if president Zardari is demanding more and more support from USA , then he is doing very well ; his Pakistani troops (both civilian and army are being killed by Taliban ; and if Zardari does not stop them , then Mr. author , your throat will also be cut by some Taliban leader one day ; face the facts and do not mix up the things ; When your own secretary of state Hilary Clinton admits and takes the responsibility of creation of alqaeda and Taliban then why you cry over Mr. Zardari if he writes the same truth in Washington post ; please do not bother regarding nuclear arsenals of Pakistan rather bother your own pentagon which was attacked by alqaead in 9/11 despite all security arrangements ; Zardari is not corrupt ; no court has been able to find proofs of his corruption ; correct your record accordingly '; Mr. Zardari is not only leading anti terrorism war for Pakistan’s survival rather yours survival as well;

OK Zameer; you got it. Though I find my friend’s accusations to be absurd; it displays why I am so confused over this sudden change in attitude regarding the pursuit of the Taliban. It’s important to note that Zardari was quoted as saying; “This is our war. It is our wives and children who are being killed.” Wrong again Zardari! Has he forgotten that 3,000 innocent Americans were killed by these people? He has consistently sought our help in fighting these insurgents and now they consider our more concerted effort to be a threat to their security.

“Pakistani officials still consider India their top priority and the Taliban militants a problem that can be negotiated. In the long term, the Taliban in Afghanistan may even remain potential allies for Pakistan…” WHAAAAT?

Yes, the Taliban has long been applauded for their willingness to negotiate. You need only ask the innocent civilians in Afghanistan to find out how willing the Taliban is to reach peaceful resolutions. My confusion is based on the sudden change of heart. It was less than 2 weeks ago that the Pakistani Army confronted the Taliban in the Swat Valley with considerable success.

“Last year, Washington presented evidence to Pakistani leaders that Mr. Haqqani, working with Inter-Services Intelligence, was responsible for the bombing last summer of the Indian Embassy in Kabul that killed 54 people.”

Ah hah-now I’m starting to get it! Haqquani is an Afghan Taliban leader who the U.S. contest is operating under Pakistani protection. So, apparently, as long as the Taliban strikes at India from time to time-they get a pass. Joe Klein writes in Time Magazine:

“In the latest National Interest, Bruce Riedel-who led the Obama Administration’s Afghanistan and Pakistan policy review-suggests that a coup led by Islamist, Taliban-sympathetic elements of the Pakistani army remains a very real possibility. Pakistan has at least 60 nuclear weapons. The chance that al-Qaeda sympathizers might gain access to those weapons is the real issue in Afghanistan and Pakistan.”

From what I can ascertain from all of this is that while our young men and women are risking their lives; Pakistan has redirected their focus from the Taliban back to India. Of course; India has always been Pakistan’s biggest threat. However, to attempt to detract our focus away from our objective is bullshit. To Pakistan I say: If you don’t wish to join us anymore-stay the fuck out of the way. This is our fight and always has been. To even suggest that we change direction is a slap in the face to our soldiers. So step aside Pakistan and let our troops do their job and when we’re done-you can do all the negotiating you want with those murdering pieces of shit. What do you have to say for yourself now Zameer?

Thursday, July 23, 2009

With China Looking Elswhere; America Needs Another Sucker

I have recently purchased a subscription to BUSINESS WEEK for the sole purpose of further educating myself on subjects of finance. I don’t consider myself ignorant regarding the economic climate prevalent today or ignorant to the ways of corporate America. However, when it comes to global and even governmental investments; I often find myself perplexed. There are many on this site whose knowledge far surpasses mine and I’m not the type who is content with “limited knowledge.” I suppose my competitive nature is responsible for that and it is also what drives me to better understand subjects that confuse me. Unlike some; on matters that I don’t feel qualified to comment on-I refrain from doing so. I have learned a great deal from writers on this site regardless of political ideology and I’m grateful for that. OK-enough of my introduction.

In the July 27th issue; an article on China’s investment philosophy provided me with a better understanding of our national debt. Our reliance on China to purchase U.S. Treasury notes has helped our economy remain afloat-barely. This practice now appears to be in serious jeopardy. “Why would we want to keep subsidizing irresponsible U.S. behavior that will inflate the dollar and hurt us?” This question was posed by Wenran Jiang, a political science professor at the University of Alberta. Because of this; there is a growing trend to purchase hard assets (yes-I know what that means) as opposed to purchasing relatively worthless pieces of paper. China presently owns $2.1 trillion worth of “low-yield, inflation sensitive U.S. Treasuries.” Scary!!

While China is yet to call in those markers; they are beginning to take a different course. Just in the last two months, China has either purchased or shown interest in such diverse foreign companies as GM’s Opel in Germany, an appliance manufacturer in New Zealand, as well as oil fields in Iraq. Allow me stray a bit and ask this question: Considering the money and, more importantly, lives we have sacrificed in defense of the Iraqis-shouldn’t they be negotiating a sale with us? Just a thought. According to BUSINESS WEEK, China’s overseas investments last year doubled to a total of $52 billion. This brings their overall foreign investment total to $170 billion which equates to 1/30 of U.S. overseas investments. I’m not even going to attempt the math but that’s a shitload of investing. Next question: What happened to OUR investments?

Recently, I posted an article citing profits reported by such companies as Bank of America, Citigroup, and JPMorgan Chase. Though many have explained this with examples of government incest and other “smoke and mirror” explanations; there may be another one. China is considered to be relatively new to the world of mergers and acquisitions so they have sought advice and counsel from outside sources. This is where my confusion comes roaring back. “The mergers-and-acquisitions craze is good news for lawyers, accountants, and investment bankers. JPMorgan Chase and Morgan Stanley have both worked on high-profile China bids.” WHAAAAT? Aren’t these the same idiots who were involved in ridiculously speculative investments that have contributed to our financial demise? I can tell you this much: If I’m going to stake someone in a poker tournament-it won’t be someone who just busted going all-in with deuce-seven. (How do you like that analogy?)

From what I can see; should China continue to venture into the world of mergers and acquisitions, we’re going to need someone else willing to gamble on us. Given our current situation; that is not going to be an easy task.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Tailback's Gay Weekend

My wife and I recently returned home from a brief vacation which included visiting our dear friends. Our friends happen to be a married couple of the same sex. Normally; I would not feel compelled to even mention that but considering the crux of this article deals with the gay community; I felt it was pertinent. I consider Tara and Trish to be two of my closest friends. Though I have only known them for about 3 years; they have become very important to me. My wife has known them for much longer and has worked with Trish in the medical field for over 13 years.

On Friday night; we sat around a campfire surrounded by gays from every walk of life. I confess to having laughed harder and longer than I have in years. It’s important to note that I wasn’t laughing at them but with them. While doing this; I couldn’t help but think that these are the very people that some deem to be threats to our way of life. I also thought of Sal Hepatica’s (nobebop) article that focused on the treatment that gays are still subjected to in the military. How ANYONE could consider this group to be a threat to anything is beyond me. The fact of the matter is that they would prefer to be left alone but righteously seek the same rights accorded to all Americans.

Many of the recent debates in the blogsphere have revolved around government intervention in the private sector and the concern over the Obama administration’s attempt at increasing the control it has over individual’s rights. These concerns are definitely without merit and I have chosen to address the control concerning the gay community. I have no intention of taking a partisan stand on this subject since members of both parties are guilty of this. Of course, running point for this asinine opposition to gay rights is the Christian Right. Given the recent revelations of hypocrisy by a couple of their more outspoken leaders; my advice to them is to shut the hell up for a while. I digress.

While researching, I came across a couple of judicial decisions that speak directly to our right to pursue “liberty” in accordance with the 14th Amendment. In Lochner v. New York (1905) it was deemed that “no person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.” This decision protected all citizens from any intervention by the state. Though the decision focused on employment issues; the content of the decision is precedent setting by its very verbiage.

In Pierce v. Society of Sisters (1925), the ruling dealt directly with the Due Process Clause found in the 14th Amendment. “Justice James Clark McReynolds went on to list other rights guaranteed by the Due Process Clause, including ‘the right of the individual…to marry, establish a home and bring up children…and generally to enjoy these privileges long recognized at common law as essential to the orderly pursuit of happiness by free men.” Does anyone else notice the absence of the word heterosexual? However; “happiness by free men” does jump out at me. More on these decisions can be found at:

As an aside; one of the people I met was the grandson of the infamous Al Capone, Chris Knight. Chris was kind enough to give me a copy of his book SON OF SCARFACE: A MEMOIR BY THE GRANDSON OF AL CAPONE. It’s a story of Chris’ frustrating search for the true identity of his father and the omnipresent roadblocks he confronts in his quest. You can purchase the book from Amazon and I strongly recommend that you do. I have found it to be fascinating and the reader begins to formulate their own theories as each chapter poses more and more questions.

In closing: I would like to say that our country faces far greater threats than the possibility of people of the same sex marrying. To date: 6 states have legalized gay marriage while 30 states have constitutional amendments banning gay marriage. Disgusting! I’ll leave you all with one question: Does the fact that Sue and Jill from across town wish to be married affect you in any way? If the answer is no, and it certainly should be; I suggest you follow the advice I gave to the Christian Right.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Time To Wipe That Egg Off Your Face DICK!! Pt.2

In mid-January of this year; I stood on a hill and watched as George W. Bush rode silently into the sunset-back to his beloved Texas. As I waved goodbye, excitedly, I suddenly noticed something that disturbed me greatly. There was only one horse! “Come back George”, I screamed, “You forgot something.” Unfortunately, he was too far away and couldn’t hear me. He continued to ride, while leaving behind the biggest ass this country has ever seen. While our former president has remained relatively obscure, with the exception of an interview or two; one in which he stated he couldn’t recall ANY mistake he had made (OK George-keep riding)-DICK Cheney has continued to be a very large pain in my ass. With assistance from his daughter; he has consistently blustered about the benefits of such things as torture and the ignoring of the 4th Amendment. All the while; his conservative sheep hang on his every word. Get on the goddamn horse DICK!

In an excellently written article yesterday; my friend guitarman called for all of us to attempt to see both sides of the aisle. With sincere apologies to my buddy; I can’t do that in this particular article. Though I am in complete agreement with him; when it comes to Cheney, my disdain for the man far outweighs my desire to refrain from partisan commentary. However, I will take this opportunity to voice a bipartisan opinion (emphasis on “opinion”) regarding the current circus taking place on the Hill concerning this “secretive” CIA program. Yesterday, my conservative friend scotty starnes( and I do consider him to be a friend) contended that this program was exposed in 2002 in the NY Times. That assertion is refuted in an article in today’s Washington Post: “The program was active in fits and starts, and it was essentially killed in 2004 because it was deemed ineffective, former and current intelligence officials said. It reemerged briefly in 2005 but remained largely dormant until this year.” I am of the opinion (again, opinion) that the Democrats are making “much ado about nothing.” Though I don’t subscribe to the theory that this is a way to detract attention away from Nancy Pelosi; I do believe it is merely another case of political chest thumping. The fact of the matter is that this program has never been considered “fully operational” (whatever that means) and has not produced a single success story. This appears to me to be more of an indictment against the effectiveness of our intelligence community than it does of any deception. Grow up Congress! Our country is going down the toilet and you’re engaging in pissing contests.

OK-back to DICK. I have often fantasized about Cheney extolling the virtues of torture in a small venue filled with former POWs from the Vietnam War. Clearly, my fantasies have been a bit altered from the ones I had in my teens, 20s, and even 30s. (Whoa; a vision of Angie Dickinson just popped into my head-whew!) There have been Cheney disciples who have contended that “waterboarding” is nothing more than pouring water over someone’s head. Anyone who has had the misfortune of witnessing a “waterboarding” session will tell you that it is a hell of a lot more than that. Morons! This point may prove to be a moot one given the very real possibility that a special prosecutor will soon be named to investigate this topic. In an article in NEWSWEEK entitled "INDEPENDENT’S DAY: Obama Doesn’t Want To Look Back, But Attorney General Eric Holder May Probe Bush-Era Torture Anyway": it describes the difficult position Holder finds himself. Torn between his allegiance to Obama (which shouldn’t even be part of the equation) and his pledge to uphold the law’s of the country; Holder has been hesitant to pull the trigger. However; after carefully reviewing all of the CIA tapes available-many claim his decision has been made. Bad news for Bush and the boys! From the NEWSWEEK article: “As he pored over reports and listened to briefings, he became increasingly troubled. There were startling indications that some interrogators had gone far beyond what had been authorized in the legal opinions issued by the Justice Department, which were themselves controversial. (DUH-look out John Yoo) He told one intimate that what he saw ‘turned my stomach’”. Given Holder’s past history as a rather strict judge and one who didn’t hesitate to dole out severe punishments; my guess is that he witnessed a little more than waterboarding.

As I said; the past couple of weeks haven’t been kind to DICK. The Inspector General has determined that the 8 year long wiretapping program was proven to be ineffective at best. Forget the fact that this program pissed all over our rights protected by the 4th Amendment. Cheney, in his infinite wisdom, has insisted that this program was invaluable in the battle against terrorism. Time to pull your pants up DICK-bagged AGAIN! This revelation begs the question: What was the price tag for this useless program? The conservatives have justifiably complained about the excessive spending by the Obama administration. I haven’t heard of any complaints voiced by them regarding this example of excessive spending by the previous administration. This is not to say that Obama’s programs have been productive-they haven’t been but let’s be careful with the hypocrisy. From what I can see: Obama certainly inherited a lousy situation but he has done little to improve it and has, in fact, exacerbated it.

I would be remiss if I didn’t address one more thing my conservative friend commented on yesterday. He had the audacity to compare Cheney’s deceit with that of Joe Biden’s. I have no intention of going to bat for Biden but I do have two questions. 1) Has Biden’s deceit ever resulted in the denial of a state’s right to sovereignty? 2) Has Biden’s deceit ever resulted in the death of over 3,400 Americans? I challenge anyone to refute the notion that DICK played a crucial role in our invasion of Iraq. His “vision” for the Middle East (see Pt.1) along with his role in deceiving all Americans were both major contributors to our entering into a war we had no business being in. There were no WMDs! Iraq posed no threat to the U.S.! No ties between Iraq and al Qaeda have ever been established!

In closing; I confess that my perception of Cheney may be construed as obsessive. The very sight of this vile creature ignites my long forgotten violent tendencies. I am left with the hope that Holder’s investigation comes to fruition and this blight to our history is finally held accountable for his criminal acts. With any luck; he can continue his pontificating from the confines of Leavenworth where he is sure to see the “benefits” of real torture. Don’t even try to deny me this fantasy! Thanks for listening.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Time To Wipe That Egg Off Your Face DICK!! Pt.1

The past couple of weeks have not been kind to that beloved humanitarian, Dick Cheney. A couple of issues have come to light that have confirmed my belief that he is, and always has been, a cancer to our way of life. There are few, if any, figures in our country’s history that I detest more than Cheney. Much of my disdain for the sociopath began with his role in the Iraq War and his part in running Colin Powell out of town. Though Powell left of his own accord; it was Cheney’s deceitful nature that the General had grown tired of. As Secretary of State and the former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; Powell was undoubtedly the most knowledgeable in regard to military matters. Though originally a proponent of our invasion of Iraq; Powell quickly saw through the charade the Bush administration had employed as a justification for the invasion. As a man of honor; he simply could not be part of an administration that had used faulty intelligence and admitted forgeries as a means to con the American people and Congress. For those who disagree, I have but one question: How many of those pesky WMDs have we found?

Cheney’s secretive and deceitful nature can be traced back to 2001 when he headed an energy task force. Not surprisingly; this task force worked without any oversight and was secretive in its very existence. If ever there was a conflict of interest; this was it! From Howard Fineman’s THE THIRTEEN AMERICAN ARGUMENTS : “Earlier in that year of 2001, in one of the Bush administration’s first official acts, Cheney had convened a task force to study the country’s energy needs, and how to meet them. Its membership and meetings were shrouded in secrecy, but there was no hiding Cheney’s personal agenda, which he had brought with him from his job at the energy company Haliburton…” (I’m not done with Haliburton) While Cheney advocated, and eventually prevailed in his quest to deny the recently held right of individual states to deny the installation of gas, oil, or electrical lines; he purchased a $2.67 million dollar home in Maryland. Cheney’s home had a beautiful and completely unobstructed view of the Chesapeake Bay-no power lines blocking the VP’s view.

Let’s fast forward to 2003. While the White House is already under fire concerning the veracity of the administration’s reasons for entering the war in Iraq; Nobel Prize winning journalist Nicolas Kristof uncovered another case of deceit perpetuated by the Bush/Cheney dynamic duo. The alleged purchase of uranium from Niger by Iraq had been deemed to be bullshit. Worse yet; it was discovered that the documents used as evidence of these purchases had been forged by the CIA. Ooops!! No one expected the ever vigilant and sworn protector of our Constitution to take this lying down. From Scott McClellan’s (Bush’s Press Secretary) book WHAT HAPPENED: INSIDE THE BUSH WHITE HOUSE AND WASHINGTON'S CULTURE OF DECEIT : “The vice president, whose credibility and integrity were specifically being questioned (imagine that), and his office would take a leading role in these efforts, beginning in late May 2003…the vice president’s office quickly learned the identity of Kristof’s unnamed source. It was former ambassador Joseph Wilson, who’d been sent to Niger to investigate the uranium allegation in January 2002. Under the cloak of anonymity, the vice president and trusted aide Scooter Libby began an effort to discredit Wilson with selected journalists.” Apparently, the much ballyhooed “liberal media” was left out of the loop.

Both Fineman and McClellan shed some light on Cheney’s vulgar, pretentious, and arrogant “vision” for the Middle East. (I’m close to vomiting) From Fineman: “He (Bush) drew upon theories that had been offered to him in his earliest briefings, by Paul Wolfowitz, Dick Cheney, and others. World peace, they advised him, required that Arab and Muslim nations be modernized and democratized. They had to be made, or at least reformed, to understand if not fully accept the Western idea of pluralism and secular democracy.” UNBELIEVABLE!! Many have stated that the Islamic world detested us long before the Bush regime assumed power and of that; I have no doubt. Iran alone has every reason to despise us considering the fact that their coup in 1953 was masterminded by, you guessed it, the CIA. Couple that with our support and the eventual granting asylum to that vile, sadistic piece of shit, The Shah; and I for one, don’t blame them. That being said; this attitude the Bush administration had concerning the entire Middle East did little to change their perception. Given the fact that Bush rarely went to the bathroom without first consulting Karl Rove or Cheney; his adoption of this Middle East approach was a given. From McClellan: “For Bush, removing the ‘grave and gathering danger’ that Iraq supposedly posed was primarily a means for achieving the far more grandiose objective of reshaping the Middle East as a region of peaceful democracies.” Is anyone else feeling ill?

I have dedicated too much time and effort into the history of Cheney’s propensity to be both secretive and full of shit; not to mention his sordid ideology. Because of this, I have chosen to make this into a two part article in the hope that I don’t bore you to tears. So, for those of you who are interested in reading more about the adventures of that great American after he left office; stop by tomorrow. Until then…

Friday, July 3, 2009

Zardari and The Washington Post

President Asif Ali Zardari of Pakistan has been using the Washington Post as his forum for requesting aid from the U.S. while, at the same time, engaging in defaming our country. In January of this year, he wrote an op-ed in the Post congratulating President Obama on his victory. The agenda of Zardari became obvious when he went on to encourage the President to influence Congress to pass the Enhanced Partnership with Pakistan Act which called for $1.5 billion in aid to Pakistan annually for 5 years. See: http:// Though the bill passed; Zardari’s attacks on the U.S. appear to be hypocritical considering his own record of corruption among other allegations. In the article; he basically blames the U.S. for the present state of Pakistan. He cites our withdrawal from the region in the 80s after the Soviet invasion as the reason for the influx of Islamic extremists such as al Qaeda and the Taliban. Conversely, he goes on to say; “This is our war. It is our children and wives who are dying.”

Yesterday; The Washington Post chose to publish another of Zardari’s unusual pleas for aid. In it, he points to our “debacle in Vietnam” and our propensity to court dictators naming the Shah of Iran and Marcos of the Philippines as examples. http:// As stated earlier; Zardari is the last person to be questioning the actions of any government or individual. One would think this approach to be counter-productive yet he knows that the future of Pakistan is a major priority of the Obama administration. “Pakistan has repeatedly been identified as the most critical external problem facing the new administration.” Obviously using this as leverage; he implores the governments in Europe to join the U.S. in providing financial aid as well as equipment and technology to help fight the insurgents.

What infuriates me is that we continue to coddle this less than reputable con artist. I must confess that my anger is exacerbated by the fact that there is some validity to his accusations. That being said; this is a man who has spent close to 11 years in prison for crimes ranging from corruption to murder and conspiracy to commit murder. See: http:// For a man who persistently cites the poverty prevalent in his country; his own financial worth is estimated to be close to $2 billion. Much of his fortune is alleged to have been amassed illegally. He rejected a capital gains tax that would have helped the poor in Pakistan. Though I admit to not putting much stock in Wikipedia; it is reported that Zardari and his wife, former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, embezzled $1.5 billion from the government.

The problem I find is that we are not in a position to allow Pakistan to take on the Taliban alone. Presently; the Taliban has been able to infiltrate deep into Pakistan. Some reports claim that they are only 40 miles outside of Islamabad, Pakistan’s capital. Access to Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal poses a very real threat for the U.S. and its’ allies. Never known for my own diplomatic abilities; I do believe it’s time we tell this thief that if he wants our support; it may be time to cease with his personal attacks on our country. While our granting asylum to the likes of the Shah may be despicable; it’s not for this criminal to criticize us.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Obama's Conundrum

“I wish I hadn’t said that.” How often have we all thought that? Certainly, some more than others but we’ve all said things that we wished we could have taken back. I would think our President is thinking along those lines as the chaotic climate in Iran continues to escalate. When the election results were announced and the protests began; Obama stated that there were no significant differences between the incumbent and alleged victor President Ahmadinejad and his opponent, Mir Hossein Mousavi. The President’s statement, in my opinion, was a safety net of sorts implemented to maintain the possibility of future negotiations with Iran.

In light of the continued violence and statements made by those who are truly in charge, the clerics; that difference appears to become more and more significant. Ayotollah Ahmed Khatami, a senior cleric, declared in a prayer sermon (yeah, a prayer sermon) “that the government should punish leaders of protests, who were supported by the united States and Israel, strongly and with cruelty so it will be a lesson for everyone.” How very holy of him!! I confess that I originally thought that the President’s olive branch extension was a wise move considering the previous administration’s position proved to be fruitless. Well, my new position is a simple one: Screw them!!

A recent article in Newsweek entitled Theocracy and Its Discontents by Fareed Zakaria outlines the power structure in Iran and the possibility of its complete collapse. While President Ahmadinejad can promise to be receptive to the West’s new approach (which is bullshit anyway); the fact remains that he does not set foreign policy. Foreign policy is set by those men of God, the Guardian Council and its Supreme Leader, Ayotollah Ali Khamenei. The persistence of the protestors is perceived by many to be a serious blow to the religious regime. These protests are akin to those in 1979 which enabled these hypocritical bastards to assume control. “Although Iran is Shia and most of the Islamic world is Sunni, Khomeni’s rise to power was a shock to every Muslim country, a sign that Islamic fundamentalism was a force to be reckoned with.” Now, the very tactics employed by the late Ayotollah Khomeni are being used to bite his successors right in their holy asses.

The point of this article (I admit to being derailed) is that though Obama may be right when he says he sees little difference; it has nothing to do with Ahmadinejad and Mousavi. It has to do with the fact that as long as the present regime, cloaked in religious dogma, has control; there is no chance of any reversal in Iran’s dealings with the U.S. They have long memories and vindictive tendencies. They will never forgive the U.S. for masterminding the coup of 1953 or its unholy alliance with the Shah preceding and following (not our finest hour) his removal from power.

Perhaps the President doesn’t need to retract his statement but clarify it. There is no difference, and there won’t be, until those men of God are removed from power. We have enough to deal with here at home with our own religious zealots who justify violence with religious rhetoric (abortion clinic bombings and murders). In regard to Iran; it may be prudent to step back and wait and see how effective these protests turn out to be.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Big Government, Personal Liberties, and the Far Right

In these days of omnipresent whining by the far right pundits and blogggers concerning the threat of “big government”; it’s important to remind them of the history of their leaders. Though this may appear to be yet another attack on the Bush administration; that is not the objective. The premise of this article is the propensity of those from the far right to assail any move made by the present administration that they deem to be a threat to their personal liberties. All the while; conveniently forgetting or ignoring legislation that was enacted prior to President Obama and the Democrats gaining control.

In Howard Fineman’s book The Thirteen American Arguments: Enduring Debates That Define and Inspire Our Country; he speaks of former President Bush in this fashion:

"From the start, he was a federal-power man. His signature domestic initiative, the 'No Child Left Behind Act' called for the most aggressive expansion of the federal role in 40 years…This proposal, which the Republican controlled Congress enacted in 2001, called not only for setting national test standards, but for a regulatory regime to oversee what had been a state responsibility: elementary and secondary education."

This legislation was advocated by a president who hailed from Texas. One would be hard pressed to find a state that defends its right to sovereignty more than Texas: the possible exception being Vermont.

To further emphasize my point; one need only look at former Vice President Dick Cheney’s energy task force. While the energy companies complained about states having the right to block their oil and gas lines; they urged the government to nullify the rights accorded to the individual states. “Not surprisingly, the group adopted the companies’ view. It was not surprising in part because both Cheney and Bush agreed with them. Four years later, Congress wrote the measure into law.” Correct me if I’m wrong (and I’m sure some will), but I don’t recall any outrage voiced from the far right concerning this blatant example of government intervention.

The events of 9/11changed the way all Americans felt regarding our previously held belief that we were undeniably safe at home. The World Trade Center bombing in 1993 may have alarmed some but it appeared to have been long forgotten. This opened the door for still more “chest thumping” by our government.

"The events of 9/11 led the President and Congress to erect a vast new edifice of federal bureaucracy in the name of security. The relationship between the FBI and state and municipal police agencies, long a delicate and contentious one, changed fundamentally after 9/11. Successive versions of the Patriot Act gave federal authorities, from the FBI to the NSA, dominion over investigative and arrest powers that once belonged to the locals."

For anyone to even suggest that these powers have not been abused is absurd. It’s as if the ghost of J. Edgar Hoover is in our midst. Again, where was the outrage?

I could cite other examples such as the passage of a bill that gave the president the power to order the individual states’ National Guard into action: a power long held by the states. Of course, this new power was neatly cloaked in a 439 page defense bill. This little maneuver usurped a 200 year old law. But I digress (again). The point of all this is while the far right bitches and moans about “big government” and the threat of socialism; they seem to forget the posturing of the former administration.

I would like to know what difference there is between the present administration’s desire to reform a deeply flawed health care system and the complete takeover of the educational system by its predecessors. What is the difference between the government’s intervention in the auto industry and and enacting laws that enable oil companies to run their lines wherever they please? I anticipate, welcome, and encourage answers to these questions. Perceptions vary as do ideologies and that is what separates us from other countries. Before I close, I feel it is important to note that the book I derived much of my information from was endorsed by that iconic right winger, Newt Gingrich. “In an impressively thought provoking, original approach, Fineman revisits the great defining arguments that will deepen your understanding of America.”

Sunday, May 24, 2009

We thought binLaden was hard to catch

In the latest issue of Newsweek, I read an article that both horrified and bewildered me. The atrocities depicted were as troubling as any I have ever read or heard about. Normally; I oppose any US involvement in other country’s problems unless it directly affects our nation. However, in this case, I applaud former President Bush for his advocating our assistance to help put an end to this reign of terror. The problem is that despite our efforts, as well as those by the United Nations, the atrocities continue.

Joseph Kony has been hunted by the Ugandan government for 23 years. He is the leader of an insurgent organization called the Lord’s Resistance Army. When Idi Amin’s dictatorship ended in 1979; Uganda didn’t exactly transform into a “kinder, gentler nation.” In fact, it opened the door for the creation of new, more ruthless groups trying to gain control of the country. Among them was a group led by now President Museveni. Unlike other groups; Museveni’s guerillas were known for their discipline and refusal to harm innocent civilians. Many Ugandans viewed this group as true liberators and because of this; Museveni was allowed to fight his way to Kampala and assume power.

Once Museveni became president, he essentially declared war on the most viscous groups. At the top of his list was the Lord’s Resistance Army led by Kony. Well known for his pathological cruelty and complete disregard for human life; Kony became the primary focus of the government. “Kony has forced new male recruits to rape their mothers and kill their parents. Former LRA members say the rebels sometimes cook and eat their victims.” To date, the LRA is responsible for the slaughter of an estimated 65,000 civilians.

What troubles and confounds me is the inability to stop this animal. Not only was President Museveni obsessed with Kony; President Bush and the United Nations were as well. In 2006, a mission called Operation Lightning Thunder was devised with the support of the UN and US military intelligence operatives. A group of US trained soldiers were given the task of capturing or killing Kony and his rebels. The mission proved to be another disastrous failure as all of the soldiers were killed, their commander beheaded, and Kony was nowhere to be found.

Over the years; negotiations with the LRA have taken place. Though Kony normally sends David Matsauga, his chief negotiator and fall down drunk; Kony himself has attended these talks on occasion. This begs the question: Why not simply capture him during these talks? When then assistant secretary of state for African affairs asked that very question, Museveni replied “We don’t ambush people. If we’re in the bush and somebody’s back is turned, before we’ll strike, we cough.” Are you kidding me? Not only do they refuse to “ambush” him; they provide food for what Kony claims to be his 5,000 troops. More credible sources estimate the amount to be 800. Is anyone else bewildered by all of this?

The International Criminal Court issued a warrant for Kony’s arrest in 2005. The reason for why it took that long escapes me. I assume that would have given the Ugandan government the right to apprehend him and hand him over to the ICC to stand trial for his crimes against humanity. Apparently, my assumption was wrong. While the name binLaden strikes fear in governments throughout the world; Kony remains an enigma. I went through a text from college (2007) which focused on terrorism worldwide and there was not one mention of Kony or the LRA. One critic of Museveni, Norbert Mao, stated “I suspect the incompetent management of the military may be deliberate.” That is a very bold accusation but considering Kony’s ability to evade capture for 23 years; it may very well be a valid one.

All information was derived from the May 25th issue of Newsweek. The article is entitled Hard Target: The Hunt For Africa’s Last Warlord written by Scott Thompson.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Cheney continues to dig a deeper hole

As if Dick Cheney hasn’t made a big enough ass of himself already by defending the torturous acts allowed during Bush’s tenure; he has decided to amplify his image by siding with Rush Limbaugh over Colin Powell. Let me see if I have this correctly: He prefers to ally himself with an obnoxious political pundit who has never proposed an alternative agenda over a retired 4-Star General and a former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. It is important to note that Cheney and Powell have been at odds for years.

Limbaugh, once again, chose to play the race card stating that Powell endorsed President Obama purely on the fact that they both happen to be black (I can’t believe anyone takes this moron seriously). This is just another example of the ignorance exemplified by Rash every time he opens that big mouth of his. Powell has admitted to endorsing Obama but he insists he remains a member of the Republican Party. “He has described himself as a Republican and a right of center conservative, though not as right as others would like.” Ahhh-now I get it. By not adhering to Limbaugh’s neo-conservative ideology, he has betrayed the party. How dare Colin Powell strive for bipartisanship to help his country get out of the mess it is in?

Colin Powell was originally a proponent of the war in Iraq but became increasingly disgruntled with the handling of the war and the methods used to curb terrorism. Now what would a 4-Star General know about military affairs? Bush, Cheney, and Rumsfeld were all in agreement over the handling, or mishandling, of “suspected” terrorists. Powell, a soldier in every sense of the word, expressed his objection to these practices and eventually gave up his position of Secretary of State after GW’s first term. This opened the door for another Bush puppet, Condoleezza Rice who, like Cheney, continues to defend the horrid treatment advocated by the Bush administration. I believe her effectiveness was shown when she was stumped by a question asked by a 4th Grader!

In a CBS interview on Face the Nation, Cheney continued to defend said practices and demanded the release of CIA memos that allegedly show the successes attained by implementing torture as a means of interrogation. President Obama, along with his national security adviser retired Marine General James Jones; contend that these tapes prove nothing since no other means of interrogation were ever tried. Cheney went on to say that when Guantanamo Bay closes and these suspected terrorists are brought to US soil, the threat to national security will be drastically heightened. General Jones refuted that assertion as well. Cheney believes that allowing these prisoners rights in a fair trial is a bad precedent. OK!

Dick Cheney received 5 deferments when he became eligible for the draft during the Vietnam War. After flunking out of Yale, he earned a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from the University of Wyoming. If you’re wondering where I’m going with this-here it comes. How does someone with absolutely no military experience become Secretary of Defense; as he did under the elder Bush? And what right does he have to challenge the views of the likes of Colin Powell and Gen. James Jones on issues of national security and military matters? While Limbaugh gets paid a handsome sum to spew his vile diatribes; Cheney appears to do it out of sheer arrogance. His defense of, and apparent alliance with Limbaugh prove to be just one more example of the trouble the GOP is in.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Rehashing the deceit of the Bush regime

The revelation of deceit perpetrated during the Bush regime is by no means an original concept. However, I have begun reading a book entitled WHAT HAPPENED by Scott McClellan, former Press Secretary for George W. Bush. McClellan has been criticized by both the right and left for choosing to reveal the inner workings of the Bush administration. The left is angry because he failed to speak out against these blatant deceptions earlier and the right simply views him as a turncoat. They contend that he wrote the book based on a lucrative offer by the publisher, Public Affairs, not because of any crisis of conscience. Regardless of his reason; his book soared to #1 on the New York Times Bestseller list. Though I have only read a few chapters of WHAT HAPPENED, I find it to be both fascinating and appalling.

The author began as a true believer in George W. Bush and was honored to be a part of something he envisioned as the beginning of a historical change in American politics. Well; he had the historical aspect right. Unfortunately for McClellan, his Camelot-like perception was quickly and painfully crushed. “I believed in George W. Bush’s leadership and agenda for America, and had confidence in his authenticity, integrity, and judgement. But today the high hopes that accompanied the early days of his presidency have fallen back to earth.” It would be difficult to debate Bush’s authenticity but arguing about his integrity and judgement would be too easy.

The crux of McClellan’s opening chapters is the deceit practiced to justify the our entry into the war in Iraq. The role the CIA played in this is both criminal and expected. Bush based his reasoning for waging war on the threat of Iraqi nuclear capabilities and their attempt at furthering those capabilities. This was predicated on the discovery of Iraq’s interest in purchasing uranium, also known as yellowcake, from Niger. The fundamental problem with that is the fact that it never happened and the president and his lemmings were fully aware of that. Adding insult to injury; Mohamed ElBardari, the director general of the United Nations’ nuclear inspection and verification division, claimed that the allegations were anything but credible (nice job CIA) and there was “no evidence or plausible indication” that Iraq was involved in any form of a nuclear build-up. He issued this statement just days before Bush authorized the beginning of Operation Iraqi Freedom. I must confess that I consider that operational term to be somewhat ironic at this point.

I have always been of the opinion that Bush was/is either too ignorant or too arrogant to admit when he has mud on his face. Proof of that would be the interview in which he stated that he could not think of a single mistake he made as president. If he had simply called me; I could have helped him with that answer. To further exacerbate this problem was his statement that became known as “the sixteen words” in the inner circle of the White House. “The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa.” That’s it GW, blame it on the Brits! This alleged transaction was found in documents that were admittedly forged by the CIA! To encapsulate; Bush sent our young men and women off to fight a war based on a lie that he was fully aware of.

Much of the verification of this deception was credited to, at the time, an unnamed source. That source proved to be former Ambassador Joseph Wilson who had been sent to Africa in January of 2002 to investigate the collusion between Iraq and Niger. Once the source was revealed; Vice President Dick Cheney, who was concerned about his credibility (why would that be in question?), and his shadow Scooter Libby began a campaign of covertly attacking the veracity of Wilson. According to McClellan; Richard Armitage, Karl Rove, and McClellan’s predecessor, Ari Fleischer (I can’t imagine those shoes were difficult to fill) joined forces with Cheney and Libby in their attack on Wilson. The author went on to say that Bush himself aided this band of idiots with his handling of the documents pertaining to the yellowcake fiasco. What took place next is one of the most disgusting and diabolical things ever initiated by high ranking members of our government.

As a means of retaliation; the aforementioned group “anonymously” leaked the identity of Wilson’s wife to the press. Wilson’s wife, Valerie Plame, just happened to be a covert CIA operative. In their pathological zeal to avenge Wilson’s perceived betrayal, they jeopardized the life of a government official and the lives of anyone professionally affiliated with her. These vindictive bastards were responsible for decision and policy making for the most powerful nation in the world. For lack of a better phrase: I find that fact to be very, very scary. More to come…