March 26th, 2004 ~ The latest crisis to beset the Bush administration is former White House counter-terrorism expert, Richard Clarke's new book "Against All Enemies: Inside America's War on Terror". In several TV appearances and in subsequent testimony this week before the Congressional 9/11 commission, Clarke has detailed the failures of the Bush AND Clinton administrations to address the threat of Al Qaeda and Usama Bin Laden prior to the 2001 attacks.
Clarke's testimony managed, in one day, to strip the thin veneer of bipartisanship from the 9/11 commission even as administration spin doctors launched an all out campaign to discredit him and his book. Personally, I find this all ripping good entertainment, but question the ultimate probative value. Thus far, pundits of both persuasions seem focused on the pre-9/11 aspects of the book and have had little to say about the post-9/11 White House machinations leading America to war with Iraq.
Regardless of what the 9/11 commission puts in their final report, I think it's safe to say they will determine that few people (either inside or outside the White House) thought Al Qaeda capable of such a well orchestrated and devastating attack on our mainland prior to 9/11. We've paid a terribly high price to learn how wrong we were.
The essential point of Clarke's book and, indeed, his Congressional testimony, is whether we've compounded that error since 9/11 by dissipating our anti-terrorism efforts with the Iraq war. I believe we have and I am well pleased to hear an expert of Clarke's stature supporting that belief with solid evidence. If this creates a precarious political position for the President and his cronies, well, that's just too bad. Their post-9/11 tasks were clear and unambiguous. If the American People choose to judge them on their decisions come November 2nd, they have only themselves to blame.
March 20th, 2004 ~ Even as our OPEC enemies begin to strangle our economy with our own foreign oil umbilicus, the controversy surrounding the secrecy of Vice President Cheney's "Energy Taskforce" deepens. On March 18th, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia refused to recuse himself from the upcoming April hearing of the Vice President's motion before the Court, seeking to reverse a lower court ruling that Cheney turn over documents pertaining to the 2001 taskforce under the Freedom of Information act.
Once more, in relation to this administration's behavior, I am reminded of the words of the brilliant 17th Century philospher, Baruch (Benedict) Spinoza, who wrote in Chapter 7 of his "Tractatus Theologico-Politicus"...
"It has been the one song of those who thirst after absolute power, that the interest of the state requires that its affairs should be conducted in secret. ...but the more such arguements disguise themselves under the mask of public welfare, the more oppressive is the slavery to which they will lead. ...better that right counsels be known to enemies than that the evil secrets of tyrants should be concealed from the citizens. They who can treat secretly of the affairs of a nation, have it absolutely under their authority; and as they plot against the enemy in time of war, so do they against the citizens in time of peace."
March 15th, 2004 ~ Today, Spanish voters elected a socialist Prime Minister, Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, in the shadow of last Thursday's obscene Madrid train bombings which claimed almost 200 lives. While outgoing P.M. Jose Maria Aznar's government desperately attempted to link the bombings to the Basque separatist group E.T.A. prior to the election, international investigators have grown more and more confident over the last few days that this was the work of Islamic fundamentalists if not Al Qaeda itself.
This disclosure spelled doom for Aznar's administration as many Spanish citizens had protested Spain's involvement going into the Iraq war and had continued protesting right up to today's election. Incoming P.M. Zapatero campaigned on a promise to withdraw Spanish troops from Iraq as one of his first official acts.
Since Al Quaeda had identified Spain as the "weakest link" in the coalition nearly two years ago (according to a Reuters report), the bombings were strategically timed to draw outrage against the Aznar government just prior to the elections. There is speculation throughout the civilized world that this characteristically bloodthirsty strategy will be used again to sway upcoming elections elsewhere; perhaps even in the United States.
I can assure any of Al Qaeda's creatures reading this that such a strategy will have absolutely no effect on our elections; nor will it soften our resolve to hunt you down and kill you wherever you may be. We Americans have our political differences about the war in Iraq, but only in so far as that war may have affected our capacity to hunt you down and kill you sooner. As far as you are concerned, it makes no difference whether John Kerry or George W. Bush win the election in November. We, the People of the United States of America, will be coming for you now. You will die as you have lived; as mad dogs to be destroyed to protect humanity from your tragically diseased minds.
March 14th, 2004 ~ The economics of terrorism...
We are currently engaged in a war. Our enemies are sworn by blood oath to murder as many of us as they can and to bring our society to ruin. Our enemies are the sons and in some cases the daughters of the middle east OPEC nations.
Their parents do not care if their sons and daughters give up their lives to accomplish their missions. They only care that we might hunt them down BEFORE they can accomplish their missions. They know that our economy is highly vulnerable because of our extreme dependence on their oil. They know that if they make the oil more expensive, our tax revenues will decrease and our defenders will have fewer resources with which to hunt down our enemies. They know this will give them more blood money to pass on to our enemies.
This is why OPEC announced in late September a 3.5 percent cut in production effective November 1st, 2003; just as America entered the high heating oil demand Winter season. This is why OPEC today announced another reduction of 1.5 MILLION barrels per day, effective April 1st, 2004; just before the high gasoline demand Summer season. They KNOW we're about to launch an Afghan offensive against their twisted spawn. They KNOW we will not bend our knees to their blood-cults. All they can do is attack our middle east oil dependent economy. They KNOW this is our Achilles Heel.
As we enter the 2004 election cycle, we must ask ourselves: "WHY do we have this Achilles Heel?" "WHO is responsible for our having this Achilles Heel?" "HOW do we repair this treacherous breach in America's defenses?"
I cannot answer the first two questions as so much of this administration's energy policy has been conducted in secret. Hopefully some of our Senators and Representatives will be patriots enough to draw those covert deliberations into the clean light of public scrutiny. But I CAN answer the third question.
We, as a nation, must demand our legislators provide whatever funding is required to perfect and deploy Fusion Powerplants across this nation within five years. Congress must also put intense pressure on our automotive industry to accelerate the introduction of hybrid-electric vehicles and to grant Americans significant tax breaks to switch to their use. Finally, within that same five year period, we must be processing biomass additives at an accelerated rate to extend the capacity of current domestic vehicle fuel and home heating oil production.
This will allow America to use current domestic oil production for petrochemicals, home heating, and vehicle fuels. We can then cut off the monetary support of our sworn enemies completely. We will leave the insane to roast in their damned deserts; atop their golden thrones and embroidered cushions. They will not have a handle on America with which to attack us. Furthermore, such a massive national undertaking will create tens of thousands of new American jobs and new American industries to revitalize our economy.
If ensuring America's security and prosperity is important to you, I urge you to consider this plan as you look at the candidates for President as well as for Congress this year. Either their loyalties lie with the American People, or they lie with our OPEC enemies. You will know when you review their records and listen to their positions where their loyalties lie. If we trust our own common sense and ignore the Corpocracy's spin doctors, we have a chance. Otherwise, we are lost. Let's choose wisely.
March 9th, 2004 ~ Administration economists have been appearing on television quite a bit lately, to claim that outsourcing American jobs is good for the economy. The question is: which economy?
Certainly, the Global Economy of the corporate investment markets, stand to gain from the cost-cutting that cheap, offshore labor affords. And there's no question that Americans, coerced by our tax laws into participating in 401k's and IRA's, will see immediate - if short-lived - improvements in their retirement portfolios. But our Domestic Economy, made up of goods and services bought and sold on a community level, is rapidly disappearing beneath the wheels of mega-commerce.
In a craven effort to mask this disappearance, the administration put pressure on the Federal Reserve Board to reduce interest rates, thereby allowing Americans to acquire or refinance home mortgages and pump some much needed cash back into the domestic economy. Ultimately, though, this was an exercise on the order of a snake eating its own tail. Such an economy cannot grow or even be sustained for long.
So what happens when outsourcing continues over a protracted period of time?
First, it rattles the very consumer base expected to buy the products and services produced by offshore labor. Even the still employed buy fewer products and contract for fewer services out of uncertainty about their own futures; regardless of how inexpensive those products or services may be. Thus begins an inexorable downward spiral in the retailing and service sectors. And guess what that means... You got it: fewer jobs.
Next, we see greater and greater debt incurred as the unemployed struggle to sustain all they've worked so hard for; making financial stocks look better for a short time. But with shrinking 401k and IRA portfolio inflow, as well as increasing personal bankruptcy filings, even these stocks eventually take a downturn. Insurance companies, too, are impacted as unemployed Americans fall off the corporate benefit roles and must invariably choose between immediate needs and potential needs. Again... fewer jobs in the financial sector.
Obviously, unemployed Americans will pay less in taxes; escalating the budget gap at all levels of government. Cost cutting must take place there as well and since politics dictates priorities, essential services - personnel dependent services such as education, police, and fire - often feel the axe first. Once more... fewer jobs in the government sector.
Eventually rampant unemployment and dwindling consumer capital usher in an America not seen since 1934. Make no mistake about it. We WILL be required to foot the bill tomorrow for the corporate shenanigans of today. We got stuck with the bill in 1934; we'll get stuck with the bill in 2004.
Is there any way to bail us out of the BIG BAILOUT? Yes!
In the mid-1930's, the FDR administration launched a revolutionary set of economic initiatives known collectively as "The New Deal". We now need a "NEW New Deal"; creative ideas to generate the sort of recovery FDR generated back in the 1930's.
The first step is for our government to encourage corporations to hire and retain American workers. I would suggest a new "employment incentive" income tax on all corporations operating within the United States, based upon 1997 employment figures. Corporations would be offered a per-employee credit toward that tax for every American citizen in their employment during the entire year.
The second step is also tax-related. Our Senators and Representatives MUST pass legislation allowing the unemployed to use their 401K and IRA accounts for retraining or starting a new business without early withdrawal penalties. If Un-American corporations can get a tax break for shipping our jobs overseas, shouldn't We, the People of the United States of America, get a tax break to train for new jobs or to start our own businesses?
The third step is ours. November is coming and with it the opportunity for creative solutions. We can let the status quo turn America into a squalid, third-world nation, or we can reclaim the standard that other nations aspire to. The choice is ours. Let's choose wisely.