October 30th, 2004 ~ Just in time for our elections, Usama bin Laden (or Osama as he is now called), has released a video via the Pakistan news bureau of al Jazeera. In this tape he addresses the American people directly to hold each of us personally accountable for our nation's foreign policies and therefore his and al Qaeda's actions in response to those policies. I, for one, readily acknowledge the role our nation's foreign policies have had in creating bin Laden and al Qaeda.
If not for our slavery to middle east oil, the bin Laden family and other prominent Saudi families would not have had the money to fund the abominations perpetrated by their twisted spawn. If not for our petro-dollars funding the perversions of Islam known as Wahabbi madrassas, Osama would have no fresh teenagers to strap explosives to. If not for our government's covert support of the Taliban during the Mujahidin war against the Soviets in Afghanistan, bin Laden and al Qaeda would not have had a safe place to fine tune their murderous plans against defenseless civilians throughout the world.
I, personally, do not want to support al Qaeda and bin Laden any longer. I agree with him that we each have a personal responsibility to help rid the world of monsters like him. If you agree, then I urge you to write your Senators and Representatives TODAY, calling for our government to break the oil, coal, and nuclear lobbies' active supression of domestic fusion power research. Let's get our billions back from the ITER highway to nowhere and revitalize our own American programs; programs which had come so close to a breakthrough that the energy cartel had to quickly shut down all funding in the FY 2005 budget.
Thanks for the personal message, Usama/Osama. I pray I have a chance to express my appreciation by bringing my dog to pee on your grave very soon.
October 29th, 2004 ~ In four days, America will choose a president. Our only real choices are encumbent George W. Bush or challenger John Kerry. Bush is promising the American middle class security, prosperity, and health during the next four years of his administration. Kerry is promising pretty much the same things. Bush has already had four years of a Republican controlled Congress to at least give us a hint of how he intends to make good on those promises. Kerry has had 20 years in the Senate - many of those years during Democratic majorities - to do the same.
Neither can extricate us quickly from the steaming pile Bush has driven us into without leaving Iraq a twisted theme park for Wahabbi sociopaths and former Baath henchmen. Regardless of who wins, Iraq is going to continue to cost us dearly for some time to come. Neither can stanch our nation's arterial bleeding of skilled jobs overseas. Even with tax incentives to keep jobs in America, there are too many other factors at play which make this trend irreversable. Both are loyal party functionaries who speak to their core constituencies first and the rest of America second. So, what distinguishes these two candidates from each other?
One distinguishing difference is the mindset of a President who cannot run for office after this election and one who can. If Bush wins, he's a kid in a candy store. Cheney claims to not want the office, so Bush would have carte blanche to serve his corporate masters, mindless of any poll numbers short of one calling for his impeachment. Kerry, on the other hand, has long-term political aspirations; as does his Vice Presidential running mate, John Edwards. Both would be conscious of the public's views on a variety of issues and would, I believe, try their best to ensure a Kerry re-election in '08 as well as an Edwards bid for the top spot in 2012.
Another fundamental difference is how each candidate views the exploding national debt. Four years ago, we were finally looking at surpluses in the Federal budget and were paying billions toward our several trillion dollar national debt. Now, Federal spending has skyrocketed back into the red once more. Kerry clearly claims fiscal responsibility as a core principal of his campaign and while his plans can be daunting for a non-CPA to slog through, they're available for all to see. The only times I've seen Bush get near any numbers is when he's totaling up the costs of Kerry's campaign promises; seldom are the numbers readily at hand for his own.
Have you ever known anyone denied medical treatment by an insurance company, or injured just using a product as it was intended to be used? Have you ever known someone whose credit was erroneously ruined by a credit bureau and even after repeated attempts to correct the error, the bureau refused to change it's report? If so, then you also know one more defining difference between the Bush and Kerry camps.
Bush and Cheney are pushing HARD to enact federal tort reforms, eradicating "frivolous" law suits altogether and severely restricting "pain and suffering" awards for suits of merit. The only problem is that legislation proposed thus far is REALLY vague on what is to be considered frivolous and what is not. Kerry and Edwards are both former trial lawyers who believe everyone deserves their day in court. Personally, I feel a law allowing jurors to penalize a plaintiff for a suit THEY determine to be frivolous might be a reasonable and effective way to weed out lard-buckets who sue fast food chains for their own gluttony, but that's just my opinion. I guess my point is that with Kerry and Edwards, I see a greater likelyhood of my opinion counting more than those of corporate lobbyists.
Finally, I find I can't discount the Vietnam war experiences of the two candidates. Despite Bush campaign proxies painting Kerry as another "Hanoi Jane" (thanks in large part to Kerry's own statements before Congress as a returning vet), he at least did serve on active duty. Kerry has seen the horrors of war with his own eyes. Kerry knows that cold lump in the gut when someone is trying their best to kill you. That doesn't mean, as Commander in Chief, he would be able to avoid sending America's men and women in uniform into harm's way if the situation warranted it. That only means he would be CERTAIN the situation warranted such action and would commit sufficient resources to get the job done with a minimum of American casualties.
So, while neither candidate strikes me as another Lincoln or Roosevelt, I do see a difference in which candidate will be responsive to all Americans and not just to a select few. For me, for now, this is sufficient.
October 11th, 2004 ~ uperman died yesterday. Unfortunately I'm talking about the real Man of Steel; actor, director, activist, and author Christopher Reeve. Reeve was admitted to a Westchester hospital near his home on Saturday after a cardiac arrest brought on by a severe infection. He slipped into a coma at the hospital and died Sunday afternoon at the age of 52.
While Christopher Reeve had an illustrious acting career prior to his injury in 1995, which left him paralyzed from the neck down, he is best remembered for his role as 'Superman' in the 1978 film by the same name. For many, however, Reeve became a real superhero after his devastating accident, offering inspiration to those similarly disabled and offering hope to many more through his advocacy of embryonic stem cell research.
Reeve is survived by his wife Dana, sons Will and Matthew, and daughter Alexandra. The family has requested that donations be made to the Christopher Reeve Paralysis Foundation.
October 9th, 2004 ~ The one advantage to being a zealot is the comforting certainty of always being right. The followers of Wahabbi "holy man", Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, felt this certainty yesterday as they methodically tortured to death British civilian, Kenneth Bigley, for having the raw courage to attempt an escape. Our President shared their certainty during last night's second Presidential debate in his unwavering conviction that Saddam Hussein was a greater threat to America than either Iran's Mohammad Khatami, or North Korea's Kim Jong Il; despite incontrovertible evidence that both now have advanced nuclear weapons programs courtesy of our anti-terrorism "ally", Pakistan. Thus, we are inexorably drawn to the disadvantages of zealotry.
Zealots cannot acknowledge mistakes. Mistakes are made by those uncertain of their course and when one is guided by divine providence, there can be no uncertainty. If zealots cannot acknowledge their mistakes, they obviously can't correct them; which puts them into a fugue state relative to the rest of humanity, because the second core attribute of a zealot is the need to proselytize.
The "mission" of zealots is not only to be right, but also to convince the rest of the world that they're right. It was not sufficient for the Taliban to maime, murder, and terrorize the people of Afghanistan in the name of Allah. They needed to sanctify their bloodthirsty quest for a Sharia state by wrapping their atrocites in the snowy white raiments of righteousness. The world would, naturally, ignore the crimson dripping from their butcher's apron as necessary sacrifices on the altar of perfection.
Our President now seems determined to wage democracy on a region of the world that has no historical familiarity with the concepts of individual liberty or human rights. In the process, he wants the American people to accept this mission as an essential part of the larger war on terrorism. I'm convinced the President sees these two distinctly different goals as fitting together hand in glove. But the rest of us have trouble reconciling the escalating costs of the Iraq "regime change" with defending America against terrorist attacks.
His tone of voice during the debates expressed more clearly than his words, a deep sense of frustration that he even has to explain what, to him, is an obvious linkage. But then, he has the advantage of a zealot's clarity of vision. We don't need a zealot's clarity to see that the nascent democracy in Afghanistan is a side effect of our primary mission there; to hunt down and destroy those who attacked us. If the resulting power vacuum lent itself to the establishment of a democratic state, well that's peachy, but it's not what we were there for.
Now, even that bit of serendipity is threatened by our ongoing nation building in Iraq. Resources that should be deployed against a recovering Al Qaeda insurgency along the Pakistani border are, instead, diverted to the Iraq operation. Al Qaeda operations in Sudan, Nigeria, Somalia, Indonesia, and elsewhere grow unopposed as resources are diverted to Iraq. I don't mean to sound callous, but what possible value to the American People is establishing an Iraqi democracy, if in the process we allow our proven enemies to regroup, adapt, recruit, and plot yet more atrocities against America?
We've already seen what happens when we take our eye off the ball. We've started something in Iraq we must now finish. That's a given. But we also need to finish the job in Afghanistan and track our enemies down wherever they may be. That requires a mind unclouded by utopian dreams. That requires a mind willing to acknowledge mistakes and correct those mistakes. We do not have that today. Hopefully, by November third, we will.
October 5th, 2004 ~ Lost amidst today's preparation for the Vice Presidential debate is yesterday's 21st Century equivalent of the historic Wright brothers' flight at Kittyhawk. Yesterday, veteran test pilot Brian Binnie captured the coveted " Ansari X-Prize" for the "Spaceship One" team of Paul Allen and Burt Rutan. The full import of this privatization of space travel will be felt in the months and years to come, but for now, I wish to offer my heartfelt congratulations to these American pioneers for their incredible achievement.
October 1st, 2004 ~ Merck pharmaceuticals announced late yesterday its voluntary recall of the arthritis drug, Vioxx after a three-year study indicated an increased likelyhood of heart related problems for people taking the drug. Ironic, then, that the FDA - which has a mandate to protect Americans from dangerous drugs - let Vioxx on the market, even as it spearheads efforts to shortcircuit the re-importation of lower cost drugs from Canada on "safety concerns". Please feel free to let your Senators and Representatives know how you feel about this agency and it's Commissioner, Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, Lester Crawford, acting more like a big pharmaceutical lobby than a branch of our own government.