Saturday, March 25, 2006

As Free As It Gets

March 19, 2006, three years and counting in the Neocons’ strategy of introducing democracy and individual freedom in the Middle East as a way to defeat the dominance of theocracy and dictatorships prevalent in the region. The strategy at first glance – the same way it was theorized and planned – is a failure. War is easy compared to maintaining freedom and peace. Nothing ruins a theory like reality.

The Iraqis are using their newfound freedom to select their own future oppression. The Shiites will apply their majority to control the future of Iraq. The mullahs will control the government as they do in Iran – unless civil war blows the whole thing apart.

Rather than a favorable turn of introducing American style democracy in the Middle East, the Pottery Barn chards are the altered balance of power among literally age-old rivalries, which could cost us all dearly in the coming years. The Neocon theory that just keeps on giving.

However, Iraqis are exercising their newfound freedom, in spite of the current dangerous situation. It is right there in front of us. One aspect of this new freedom is the spread of cell phones and satellite television, and of course the free vote. They are exercising their new found freedom in ways that will only become apparent after it is loss.

But with any open society comes the freedom to exploit and victimize for individual profit or for dedicated groups to push their own private agendas – thus, the insurgency, the kidnapping, and the killings. If the Americans had taken absolute control of Iraq like a conquering army, there would be no insurgency, no mass looting, and of course, no freedom.

While they do not long for the return of Saddam, Iraqis do long for the return of law and order as any normal person would. The Iraqi current freedom will be the first victim. Its loss will be welcomed because included with the loss of freedom will be the gaining of security from further harm and danger.

The time of the Americans in Iraq will become known as the freest they have ever been or ever will be.

Perhaps, just perhaps, their time of freedom, the time the Americans were there, may be enough. The idea of individual freedom like a seed has been planted. Whether the experience of freedom was long enough to have an affect, only time will tell.

If it does, the descendent of Neoconservatism will claim credit for their brilliant strategy. The mullah and theocrats will be faced with a problem similar to that the British faced in America two hundred years ago. The hate they have been teaching in their schools will turn on them, as well it should.

You can't put the freedom genie back into the bottle. It is like a Trojan horse from which will spill out all manner of expression, which will problem any oppressive society. It is by far our most powerful weapon.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Sunshine Week Starts at Home

I'm all for more transparency in government. I don't need to see everything, but somebody does. They can inform me when something needs my attention. That is the job of journalist and the MSM. Openness in government is a good thing.

The Cheney Stratagem – even as he was sworn in as VP, he still had other priorities – was to increase the power of the executive which had eroded following Watergate. His plan also included more secrecy with the increased power. In the administration's sixth year, he seems to be exercising his agenda. The sunshine initiative flies in the face of the Chaney Stratagem (like getting shot in the face). Openness doesn't prevent a more powerful president; it just lets us see what he (or she) is doing with all that power.

STOP THE PRESSES!! Oh, wait, that's not right, wrong century. STOP THE BLOGGING!! When I read that Sunshine Week was being sponsored or pushed by American Society of Newspaper Editors (ASNE), I was taken aback. I have a problem with professional journalist calling for more transparency in government. The callers for illumination should illuminate themselves. We certainly need sunshine in government but we need it in MSM just as much – perhaps even more so. I expect my government to be opaque – it is in the interest of politicians to do so – but not my news providers. Why would anything other than transparency be in their interest? Unless, like the politician, they have something to hide. They are now part of the news.

The unnamed source is a cancer in the body journalistic. News should be transparent. We look at the facts and draw our own judgment. MSM is a vessel to deliver the news. Like inert, transparent glass, it should deliver its contents untainted and unobscured, allowing the consumer to judge.

If you hold back something that relates directly and significantly to the news then you become part of the news. When I read most news stories coming out of Washington that are based on an unnamed source, I notice the elephant in the new story is the question of who leaked the information and why, and of course, that goes unanswered. The most important aspect of the story goes unreported. How is that good journalism?

The defense of the whistleblower only hold water outside of Washington. Most if not all stories involving the national government has little to nothing to do with whistle blowing. They have more to do with interagency or personal rivalry, administration spin, or individual ambition than pointing out some wrong doing in the government. At least that is my guess; I have no hard evidence since it goes unreported.

The reporters who live by the unattributed source have a vested interest in maintaining that relationship. They are certainly not going to kill the goose that is laying those golden, byline, top of the fold, Pulitzer eggs. That is what editors are supposed to do. However, they are more worried about sunshine in government than in their own house.

No one denies the importance of gatekeepers to hold back the insignificant and fact cluttering aspect of any story; but when the actual lead his kept hidden because access to the rest of the story would be lost is unethical. They have compromised their journalistic souls for access and the lesser story. Some sunshine is sorely needed here.

I’ve been banging away all over the blogoshpere and I’ll say it here again: Blogs are the best thing to happen to journalism since the First Amendment.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

No to Bush Impeachment

Over at the TMP Café Josh Marshall and Matt Yglesias are are arguing against impeachment of Bush. I couldn’t agree more. Although, I believe he committed an impeachable offense – maybe several – I still don’t think Congress should begin the proceeding to impeach the President. I consider the impact of all the impeachment hype and goings on to the nation (and of course myself) before I would satisfaction of some patrician revenge. He certainly did more wrong than lying about having an affair with an intern.

Clinton’s legacy will pay for his indiscretion; we will all pay for Bush’s. However, in view of what happened in this country during Clinton’s impeachment, I would rather Bush’s legacy be trashed after he leaves than put the country through another impeachment process again. We need to be concerned about the civil war in Iraq escalating to include the whole of the Middle East rather than getting even with Bush for screwing the whole world up. We need to worry about Bush's fighting a war while cutting taxes and the eventual double digit inflation and the eroding of Baby Boomers' retirements.

LBJ's Curse on the Second Term is a curse on us all.

Not only do I think the impeachment is a bad idea, I hope the Republicans maintain control of the Senate and House for at least two more years. If the Democrats were to take control of either house, the investigations will begin. That will become the major news story day after day, with all kinds of charges and leaks – that is until another white girls comes up missing.

I wonder if things got really bad would the Republicans go out and kidnap a white girl just take the heat away from them. They certainly didn’t mind digging them up to attack Clinton.

Tip was oh so right: All politics is local. It would be better for me and mine if there was no impeachment of Bush or Democratic majority after the '06 election.

Will I live to regret should my wish come true because the Bushies and the Republican majority will do more damage in the next three years than any undue hype during an Congressional investigation or impeachment? I can only hope the old line Republicans with whom I differ but also trust can bring to bear their more traditionally conservative influence.

Monday, March 06, 2006

02/22/06 – Beginning of Iraq Civil War

The Askariya Shrine was blown up Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2005. I want to mark that day down. Not just draw a line in the sand, but drive a stake into the bedrock. This may be the start of the inevitable civil war. I had hoped we would be out of the country before it started, but it doesn’t appear that is going to happen. We are going to get caught in the crossfire. I hope we are checking on accessible flat roofs from which a helicopter can come and go in the Green Zone.

We may need to know where they are. I trust the military will see this coming and be prepared, however, I don’t believe the current administration will see it coming. They have never been any good at intelligence – their ideology gets in the way and colors their interpretations of cold hard facts – and if they plan any emergency exit strategy, they would be admitting defeat for the Bush Doctrine in the Middle East.

I don’t want to tell you I told you so but: I TOLD YOU SO!
Here is my third post ever, July 24, 2004, in which I saw the civil war coming. And later, here shortly after in September of the same year I warn of its coming with the added point that as long as the Americans are there, Iraqis are as free as they have ever been or will be. I’ve said it many, many times and here they all are. Oh, it’s coming baby!

It feels unusual to be in a country were the inhabitants hate each other more than they hate Americans. We are dealing with ancient rivalries: Persians against Arabs, Shiites against Sunnis, both against Jews. Americans are a relatively new group to hate in this region.

The people in charge of Iran know this could get way out of hand and are trying to quell the violence as much as possible, and seem to be accomplishing that, at least, in the short run. But it’s the long run that will get you baby!

We are waiting for the other shoe to drop. There is going to be another big explosion or mass killing. Something will push the civil war further along. Eventually, it will escalate beyond anybody’s or any group’s control. Nice legacy, Bush. Of course, the right wingnuts, Rove, and Neocons will find away to blame the MSM or liberals.

And as an added bonus, this war will not be limited to just Iraq. What we need to recognize is that rather than some idealistic introduction of democracy and individual freedom into the Middle East, we have changed the balance of power among age old adversaries. The Shiites will now control Iraq or a large part of it should the civil war break up the country. They will align with Iran – if they have not already done so. (The overthrow of Saddam may have been an Iranian grand scheme to begin with. The Neocons’ naive foreign policy played right into their hands.)

The civil war may build slowly. While bombs and public attacks make a lot of noise and attract attention. Pulling someone out into the night and shooting them in the back of the head could go on unnoticed until the numbers start to add up. Even though the Sunnis are a minority, they are going to get help from the rest of the Arab world. The Whahabis – who believe the Shiites are infidels somewhat like Americans – will move across the Saudi Arabian border to aid their Sunni brothers in Iraq.

Although the Kurds are Sunnis, their treatment at the hands of Saddam and the Bath Party makes it unlikely they will join with the Sunnis. More likely, they will want to set up their own independent state. Turkey cannot allow the Kurds to form an independent state. Turkey has had its own problems with Kurdish terrorist. To them, an independent state for Kurds would be a breeding ground for terrorist. They would move militarily across their border to insure what they feel is their own security.

The civil war in Iraq could spread out to other countries in the Middle East. It seems I’m not the only one who think this is so.

Adding to all this is Iran striving to obtain the atomic bomb. That threat is greater to the Arab countries than America or Europe. If Iran gets the bomb, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and other Arab nations are going to have to do the same.

Of course in all probability the civil war will be a whole way different than I’ve pictured here. That’s what is wrong with war. It’s such an open ended equation. You should never NEVER initiate war. It never turns out anywhere near what was planned. If history is any indication, none of the possible out comes will be to the war initiators liking. You should only go to war when you don’t have any other choice.

Who knows, maybe this is the beginning of Armageddon the religious nuts have been harping about. Stay tuned.