Search This Blog

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

The Importance of Obama's Election to the U.S. and the World

The attached note of celebration comes by way of a friend in England. Thanks, B.K.!

And here’s a YouTube video from another friend on how important this election was to Israel; Thanks, A.A.!

These as just a couple of examples as to why yesterday was so important for us and our standing as a world leader.

(And in case you need a review of the last 8 years and what yesterday’s decision came down to, here’s another video courtesy of A.A. that sums it up beautifully;

While it's personally tempting (and easy) to go back to the 2000 election of W as the proverbial beginning of the end, I would mark March of 2003 and the decision to invade Iraq as the real start of the tarnishing of our national reputation and decline of America as an admired and respected society, culture, and world power. These last 5+ years, in my opinion, have witnessed an ever-worsening and troubling decline in this great nation's respect and standing among the peoples of this planet. Maybe Obama’s election signals an awakening by the populace that we can't keep electing leaders who don’t understand - or worse, choose to ignore the fact - that the decisions made by the U.S. affect the rest of the people with whom we share this one world.

One thing is certain in our form of democracy - we have no one to blame but ourselves for the last 8 years. We allowed it to happen. We allowed ourselves as a nation to be overwhelmed by fear, hatred, greed, selfishness, and prejudice. We allowed ourselves to be duped by the frankly childish and xenophobic "us against them", "if you're not with us, you're against us", and "tax breaks for the wealthy" dogma of the Bush administration.

Things will not only be different over the next 4 years, I believe that they will be far, far better thanks to last night's election.

This election proves something. It proves that there is still hope in America, and that 'hope' can and will overcome fear. It proves that there is a desire in this country for a new direction and a new definition of what leadership means. It proves that we are willing to cast aside fears and prejudices. It proves that the majority of voters want America's leaders to once again conceive of a vision of the future that is inclusive and embraces all peoples without suppressing or oppressing them. It proves that we want a president who is committed to policies that will once again raise this nation up so that we become what other nations can embrace, admire, support, and respect.

This is truly an historic time for us and our country. We seem finally to be reaching a point when fear, prejudice, and, yes, race is losing its potency and relevance, especially to the future generations of citizens and voters.

My son is a prime example. I am very, very proud of him for lots of reasons, and yesterday was one more reason why.

He sent me a few text messages yesterday and last night. One of them came at 8:46am - a very early hour for a college sophomore! - encouraging everyone to get out and vote. It's awe-inspiring to know that a 19 year old on the threshold of adulthood is this excited and this engaged about a presidential election.

Here’s what really got me.

He said in one of his messages last night that it was one of the happiest days of his life. He knows and understands the gravity of the decision and that these are truly historic times with tremendous impact on his future. He knows that Obama's election signals a new set of ideals and guiding principles for our society and for the leadership of our government. It gives me great comfort and hope for our future knowing that he and others like him will be our future leaders.

So here's a toast to all of us - Americans, Brits, Afghanis and Iraqis!

Here's to Kenyans and Texans, to Christians and Muslims!

Here's to heterosexuals and homosexuals, to Evangelicals and atheists!

Here's to all of us as we take the next great step in our nation's history and to Barack Obama's historic presidency!

"Nor have we seen evidence indicating that Iraq cooperated with al Qaeda in developing or carrying out any attacks against the United States." 9/11 Commission Report, p.66

-------------- Forwarded Message: --------------
Subject: Yippee!
Date: Wed, 5 Nov 2008 12:14:18 +0000

Hi Greg

What a fantastic feeling. To wake up and see that the USA has looked beyond short term self-interest and elected a man and a party committed to changing the way that the country interacts with the rest of the world fills me with joy. This day wil be seen as the day that the American people stopped looking backwards and embraced the changes that need to take place for all of our futures. Many of us here in Europe looked on horrified at the messages and choices coming out of the Republican camp. We asked ourselves how so much hatred, poor judgement and insularity could ever be considered electable. Thankfully the people saw through the rhetoric and gave us all a better chance. It was interesting to see how different demographics voted according to the exit polls. The BBC have an excellent breakdown of where Obama won (see This shows that America has grown up. It's not just about looking after #1 if we want to secure a better future. We all have a duty to our neighbours, fellow citizens and other countries.

From all of us over here Congratulations, Thank You and Well Done.

I'll be having a beer or three tonight to celebrate with you!

Saturday, October 4, 2008

January 2008 Letter to Rep Murphy of PA 18th District on Cost of Iraq Invasion and Occupation

Dear Representative Murphy,

The data at the end of this letter is quite alarming. I am sharing it with you in the hopes that it may awaken in you the recognition that the foreign and fiscal policies of the Bush administration in the prosecution of the so-called War on Terror's front in Iraq has been, if nothing else, a tremendous misappropriation of public money.

In the case of the 18th District of Pennsylvania, the calculation of our share of this $489 billion and rising military action is $1 billion through 2007. It's time to change our policies and change the way tax dollars are being spent. In truth, it's long past time we stopped throwing lives away, as well as good money after bad, and put an end to the mounting and incomprehensible damage to our stature as the world's leading nation and the debt we are creating for future generations.

Representative Murphy, I also want to take this opportunity to express my deep dissatisfaction with your continued support of military action in Iraq. The way in which you and the dwindling numbers of supporters frame it is, in my opinion, falsely patriotic, disingenuous, and speaks only to the blind faith created by fear *and* party politics - something you say should not be considered when making decisions about how to fund this operation.

You said in your floor speech to Congress on February 15, 2007 ( that you, "...want the American men and women serving in Iraq to come home." You go on to talk about how you are "...deeply concerned about the direction of this war", how you want, "the United States to actively engage in diplomatic efforts with all Arab nations" and that you, "want Republicans and Democrats to sit down together and discuss how to make these things come to fruition."

Who could argue with any of that? On the face of it, I don't. I am assuming your position hasn't changed in the last 11 months since the speech is still available on your web site.

The way that I read the rest of your speech, however, is as an attempt to make supporting the *invasion* of Iraq sound like a requirement for patriotism and a determinant of whether or not citizens actually support the troops. Perhaps even more disturbing is your statement that you want the troops (and presumably your constituents) to know that, "policy comes before politics, and that no poll, no political plan, no political threats, should ever, ever, undermine our allegiance to doing what is right for our soldiers and our nation. I want them, to know that their work, their risks, their fighting, has meaning and purpose and must be immune to the politics of Washington."

Are you saying that what your constituents, or even what your political adversaries, want doesn't have meaning or purpose? Are you saying that only you and those who share your ideas know,"...what is right for our soldiers and our nation"? Are you saying that those who disagree with you about putting more and more troops into harm's way, leaving them there until this undefined and ill-conceived mission is somehow defined as "accomplished", and running up the unfunded debt, perhaps into the trillions of dollars, are unsupportive of the troops?

Perhaps you simply haven't asked the right people, or you've simply chosen not to listen to voices of dissention. That seems to be a common practice lately within your party and the current administration. (For the record, I am and always have been registered as Non-Partisan.)

Let me take a moment to share some polling data with you. This first set comes from an August, 2007, Zogby International poll found at If I may, I'd suggest you pay particular attention to the data on congressional approval ratings.

"Just 24% give the president favorable ratings of his performance in handling the war in Iraq, but confidence in Congress is significantly worse – only 3% give Congress positive marks for how it has handled the war."

"Slightly more than half (54%) believe the U.S. should set a timeline for the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq, and 55% believe the U.S. should begin the phased withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq by the end of this year."

And what do those brave men and women serving or who have served this great country have to say?
"Dissatisfaction with how the war in Iraq is being handled is also considerable among past or current members of the military and their families – nearly three in four (71%) give the president negative ratings on his handling of the war and [more] than half (54%) said they don’t trust the President’s judgment when it comes to the Iraq war. Nearly half (47%) say they lack confidence in Bush’s ability as Commander in Chief – 41% said they have no confidence in him at all. The vast majority (96%) also have a negative view of how Congress has handled the war, but there is disagreement about what Congress should do to support the troops. While half said Congress should fully fund the war in Iraq to maintain current troop levels, 29% would favor attaching requirements for phased withdrawal to Iraq war funding and 16% believe Congress should cut all funding for the war in Iraq and bring the troops home." conducted a poll of its readers in July, 2007 (,13319,142665,00.html). Here's what they said:

"Nearly 60 percent of readers who participated in a recent poll said the United States should withdraw its troops from Iraq now or by the end of 2008. More than 40 percent of the respondents agreed the pullout should begin immediately because "we're wasting lives and resources there."

Gallup's January 2008 survey of relatives of service members ( would seem to confirm that there are knowledgeable and affected voices of dissension to which you need to be listening:
"Of the 7% of Americans who report having a close family member who has served in Iraq or Afghanistan since 9/11, 51% say it was a mistake to send troops to Iraq, while 47% say it was not a mistake. That compares with 58% of those without a close relative serving in Iraq or Afghanistan who say entering Iraq was a mistake."
The point of this poll data, Representative Murphy, is to reinforce the one plain fact that your words and deeds lead me to believe that you have forgotten. You and every other elected official work for us. You are our voice, not the other way around. You were elected to do one thing - represent us, not ignore us while you pursue and support agendas and policies that are grounded in nothing more than the very same party politics that you claim, "... undermine[s] our allegiance to doing what is right for our soldiers and our nation." You, sir, are engaging in the most reprehensible form of petty party politics by using the brave men and women in uniform as mere political pawns to score points with a misguided and stubborn minority of citizens still supporting you, this administration, and a failed Iraq policy.

I have on final point to take up with you - framing the debate. I think that you and everyone else who support the *invasion* really should stop calling this a war. Random House Webster's Dictionary, Third Edition, defines war as "armed conflict between nations or factions." Exactly with what nation or faction are we at war? If you say al Qaeda, then you must know that the intelligence is in on this, and there were no ties between Iraq, al Qaeda, and the *crimes* of 911 sufficient to justify invading Iraq at a cost of almost 4000 dead soldiers, more than 60,000 wounded soldiers, and estimates that put the number of Iraqis killed as a result of this invasion at 700,000.

The 9/11 Commission Report states, "Bin Ladin was also willing to explore possibilities for cooperation with Iraq even though Iraq's dictator, Saddam Hussein, had never had an Islamist agenda - save for his opportunistic pose as a defender of the faithful against 'Crusaders' during the Gulf War of 1991. Moreover, Bin Ladin had in fact been sponsoring anti-Saddam Islamists in Iraqi Kurdistan, and sought to attract them into his Islamic army." (2001, p.61).

You must also know that the 9/11 Commission Report goes on to say that, "Bin Ladin himself met with a senior Iraqi intelligence officer in Khartoum in late 1994 or early 1995. Bin Ladin is said to have asked for space to establish training camps, as well as assistance in procuring weapons, but there is no evidence that Iraq responded to this request." (2001, p.61).

You must also know that the 9/11 Commission Report states in no uncertain terms that in 1999, "...Iraqi officials offered Bin Ladin a safe haven in Iraq. Bin Laden declined, apparently judging that his circumstances in Afghanistan remained more favorable than the Iraqi alternative. The reports describe friendly contacts and indicate some common themes in both sides' hatred of the United States. But to date we have seen no evidence that these or the earlier contacts ever developed into a collaborative operational relationship. Nor have we seen evidence indicating that Iraq cooperated with al Qaeda in developing or carrying out any attacks against the United States." (2001, p.66).

Representative Murphy, 9/11 was as tragic an event as any in our history, but it was not an attack by a nation against which a military invasion could be justified or expected to resolve anything, including bringing those in al Qaeda to justice. This is particularly true when it comes to Iraq. I had no disagreement then and still don't with the decision to invade Afghanistan. The Taliban government was clearly aiding and abetting a criminal organization that had perpetrated a crime of tremendous proportion in our country. What seems to have never been taken into account by this administration and those who support its decisions is that 9/11 was a reprehensible and barbaric crime - and only a crime, if such a word as "only" can be used in this context. It was committed by a small group of extremist criminals, the leader of which remains at large 6 ½ years later.

9/11 should have been treated as a crime from the beginning; otherwise, how do you explain the lack of an invasion of Junction City, KS? Junction City was, after all, guilty of harboring Timothy McVeigh, this nation's worst domestic terrorist.

Greg Russak


Taxpayers in Congressional District 18 (Murphy) will pay $1 billion for the cost of the Iraq War through 2007. For the same amount of money, the following could have been provided:
232,687 People with Health Care OR
1,204,156 Homes with Renewable Electricity OR
23,090 Public Safety Officers OR
17,097 Music and Arts Teachers OR
87,005 Scholarships for University Students OR
70 New Elementary Schools OR
10,176 Affordable Housing Units OR
295,717 Children with Health Care OR
142,038 Head Start Places for Children OR
16,560 Elementary School Teachers OR
15,395 Port Container Inspectors
Copyright 2007 National Priorities Project [1]

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Palin Interview: Are You Kidding Me?

Ok, I've been pretty busy with work lately, so I admit that I'm still catching up. Frankly, I don't pay that much attention to mainstream media and watch even less TV news.

So I have to ask, at the risk of sounding sexist, can we all agree that the lipstick is off this pig?

I mean, come on! Can someone please explain to me the thought process that leads to the conclusion that this is an individual with any grasp whatsoever of anything of importance? She can't even regurgitate talking points with any sense or clarity.

Am I the only one who sees Palin as 4 more years of "good ol' boy" imbecilic leadership? Can anyone make an argument to the contrary without doing what McCain seemingly did throughout that snoozer of a debate, and that's start off every response with an attack or criticism of the opposition?

Without playing the "at least they aren't Democrats" card, what possible attributes, characteristics, and - most important - policy platforms make her and McCain attractive?
....Is it the drilling in pristine wilderness and off shore for what amounts to be just over 3 years worth of energy supplies (which, BTW, Palin and McCain disagree about)?
...Is it the continuation and possible expansion of the failed aggressive foreign policies and immoral (if not illegal) invasion and occupation of other countries a la the WWII mentality that led McCain to say we'd be in Iraq for a hundred years?
...Maybe it's the "comfort" of having so-called leaders who secure their ill-gotten power by trying to make us afraid of everything and everyone in the rest of the world so that we spend untold sums of money building idiotic fences that accomplish nothing more than to prove our idiocy?
...Or maybe its the ever-growing encroachment and role of government into our lives by the party who professes to be for small government (even in the face of the last 8 years) so that gays and lesbians can't marry and have the same rights and protections as heterosexual couples, or, even better, who want to roll-back Roe v Wade so that women no longer can make choices only they should make?

And in the final analysis, what does this say about McCain if he truly believes that this is the quality and caliber of individual he wants helping him to address even the simplest issues? Can someone - anyone - help me to see the Palin selection as anything but cheap - and failed - political thinking by McCain and his handlers to bolster his so-called "maverick" leadership?

I'm serious. I really cannot conceive how anyone can think that this Republican ticket is what this country needs.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Georgia Down, America Left Powerless by Bush, McCain More of the Same

I have to say it and no one will be surprised to hear it from me. It's ironic (but not at all unexpected) to hear this administration admonishing the Russians for something that they (the Bush cabal) are just as guilty of doing. Invading and occupying.

I think it's just one more huge bit of evidence as to the complete lack of leadership that exists in the Bush administration, and the total and absolute failure this administration has been on both the domestic and world stages, especially since March of 2003. They had no credibility with the rest of the world before this week and they have none now that the Russians have waltzed into Georgia. Now Bush - and by extension, we - look like self-righteous demigods telling other nations they can't do what we do. No damn wonder we're called Ugly Americans. At least November will bring a change - a real change - and we can start to put the past and old ways of thinking about things behind us....hopefully for good.

As for the Russians, don't think for a minute that the music has stopped and the Russians are content to sit the next one out. That tune will keep playing now that we're, a) spread so thinly militarily and more importantly, b) have practically no allies left on the geo-political stage. You think the Russians are happy about what's happened over the last 20 years? Do you think for one minute that their "success" in Georgia isn't green-lighting them for the rest of the Balkans, the European "divider" states of Ukraine and Belarus, the Baltics, along their southern borders in countries like Afghanistan, Pakistan, and their pseudo-ally, Iran?

It won't happen tomorrow, but I think it will happen. The Russians, under Putin, are going to try and reconstitute their USSR-era place of prominence on the world stage. Make no mistake, Putin is the real Wizard of Oz controlling Russian actions from behind the curtain. We shouldn't expect anything less than the start of very some serious chilling in American-Russian relations.

And what are we going to do about it? What can be done? Rattle our saber.....rally world support.....economically isolate the world's 7th largest oil reserve ( I don't know, but I'm not optimistic considering the failed state of domestic and world geo-politics left behind by Bush.

I think our best chance to influence Russia and other misguided political leaders the world over is to flush our neo-conservative leaders and their failed belief systems and policies, especially as they manifested themselves over the past 7 years. It seems to me that neo-cons just refuse to think in big-picture mode, and recent incarnations of that political mindset seem truly incapable of really and sincerely engaging the world. "Bring it on" schoolyard thuggery has gotten us nowhere.

McCain is pretty much more of the same - a losing approach at being nothing more than the world's bully. If Obama is to be believed, at least he's willing to accept the social and political realities of the world - that not everyone wants to be an American, nor should they be - and that talking is the first step toward peace.

I know what some of you are thinking. I'm talking about globalism or giving up our form of government for some U.N.-led world society....kumbaya, eh? Wrong.

As a student of leadership, I can tell you that every single expert I've ever read on the subject agrees that the true mark and measure of a great leader is one who leads only by virtue of the authority and support granted him or her by their followers. Strong-arming like Bush's tactics are doomed to failure.

People only become true followers by choice, not by coercion or force. They expect their leaders to acknowledge and embrace the skills, experience, and knowledge that followers have as the real foundation of power. That means leaders can't do everything themselves, aren't always right, that they need to sincerely engage their followers in the decision-making process, and that when mistakes are made they are addressed openly and truthfully. None of this seems to be very well understood by Bush and now McCain. More of the same for the next 4 years? No thanks.

How refreshing it would be for the next American president to acknowledge that the last 5 (if not 8) years of American leadership have been a failure. I'm not suggesting a mean-spirited, throwing-under-the-bus of Bush and Company, but an open and sincere change in leadership principles to demonstrate that, as a true leader of world affairs, we are going to do things very differently. No more dictating terms and pretending we never make mistakes and, instead, more willingness to take the wants and needs of other country's and the rest of the world into account. No more thinking like some kind of medieval fiefdom or a conquering nation.

The next president will unfortunately inherit a complete lack of political and moral credibility for the U.S. with the world community thanks to the last 7 years of this failed Bush administration. The blame is not all Bush's. For most of that time he enjoyed a rubber-stamp Republican Congress which has now, regrettably, turned into a gutless one that still has no visible or viable Democratic opposition unity or leadership.

The Russians aren't stupid. They know that we need them and that we really aren't in a position - perhaps even can't if we want to - stop whatever it is the Russians want to do along their borders. Think about it. This administration has all but bankrupted this great country on every level - political, financial, and moral. As for the options that were and may be still open to us regarding the Russian incursion into Georgia, I think we did and are doing all that's possible considering that this administration has no moral authority or credibility left in the world, the lack of military resources notwithstanding.

Bush is leaving behind a geo-politically scorched earth. He's squandered every bit of credibility we had with the rest of the world, and it should come as no surprise when equally-backward thinkers like Putin take advantage.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Fitna the Movie

The latest video to presumably draw attention to the threat to Western society from radical Islamists got me thinking about religiosity in general, human thinking about religious beliefs, where else such violent beliefs are preached, and what is supposed to be the point of a video like Fitna.

First, there's absolutely no excuse for and never can be any for acts of terrorism regardless of who perpetrates them upon whom. It's inconceivable to me that we as a species still want to use force as a means to resolve conflicts, solve problems, and force ideologies upon one another, and that we will gladly kill each other doing so.

As far as I’m concerned, violence is a primitive, lizard-brain response. It is a product of “mentally retarded” thinking. Not the physiological / neurological condition but a conscious and intentionally backward thought process. I just don't understand how after millions of years of evolution and thousands of years of social development, our species continues to think that killing one another is an acceptable way to deal with each other.

It’s also why I have a hard time with the hypocrisy of opposing abortion but defending capital punishment; how as a society we demand rights like bearing arms and yet still have one of the most violent societies with the greatest numbers of the population in prisons.
(see,,, and

But that’s a discussion for another day. Back to Fitna.

I'm sure that this next statement will not go down well with some. Religiosity – especially fervent and blind-faith kinds of religiosity - has elements of intellectually backward thinking in it, too. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not criticizing or condemning anyone with a belief. Here’s what I mean.

If everyone with an overly zealous religious belief could somehow and someday put aside the teachings of their religion that tell them that their beliefs are superior to others and that those who believe differently need to be either converted or eliminated, then it stands to reason that some measure of the violence that plagues us disappears.

Take note. I'm not saying you have to abandon the belief. Personally, I don't care if people want to believe in a Hebrew god, a Christian god, a Muslim god, a bunch of gods living on top of a Greek or Italian mountain, or elves, or The Force. All I'm saying is that believers need to accept others and their beliefs without the backward and primitive compulsion to convert or kill the non-believer. Is it so hard to put the lizard brain away?

So the immediate question for me was, “How’s that possible when the belief itself calls for either conversion or destruction?”

My answer to that turned out to be pretty simple; how about just a little more thinking and little less blind faith? People with strong beliefs can still have them, they just need to apply the tiniest bit of rational thinking and recognize that it’s ok if someone else doesn’t believe as they do. Threats and subsequent violence occurs only because believers share this “convert or kill” core value in their religion. Reject that and you’re on your way to peace.

Which brings me to this about religious thinking; I think that the last thing that should happen is for any religion to become the basis for governing rule. Secular democracy is, to my thinking, the only way for societies to peacefully exist. Religion – any religion – has absolutely no productive role to play in governing society exactly because every major religion teaches this fundamental belief that all other beliefs cannot be tolerated.

Before looking at other texts, I think it’s important to appreciate a couple of points.

As with the passages of the Quran quoted in the “Fitna” film, one needs to keep in mind that no two translations ever are the same. See if you’re interested in seeing how the Quran is translated 3 different ways.

Let’s also not forget that other religious texts like the Bible are also translations and that, “Translating word for word is both impossible and inadequate” (see

The other thing people should guard against is taking any translation or individual passage out of its complete context. I readily admit that I have never read the entire Quran or Bible, and have not done so now. Not doing so actually makes this point for me – I’m not judging either book or its teachings, only showing how similar passages and teachings can be found in more than one place.

That being said, the Quran isn’t the only religious text that calls its followers to violence. The following are a few passages courtesy of made easier to find courtesy of

Starting with the Old Testament since that covers the Jews and the Christians:

Exodus 22:20 (King James Version)
“He that sacrificeth unto any god, save unto the LORD only, he shall be utterly destroyed.”

Deuteronomy 13:5 and 10 (King James Version)
5: And that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams, shall be put to death; because he hath spoken to turn you away from the LORD your God, which brought you out of the land of Egypt, and redeemed you out of the house of bondage, to thrust thee out of the way which the LORD thy God commanded thee to walk in. So shalt thou put the evil away from the midst of thee.
10: And thou shalt stone him with stones, that he die; because he hath sought to thrust thee away from the LORD thy God, which brought thee out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage.

And just in case anyone thought that violence was limited to the Old Testament, here’s a passage from the New Testament which, as believers would tell you, contains the direct teachings of Jesus himself:

Luke 19:27 (King James Version)
“But those mine enemies, which would not that I should reign over them, bring hither, and slay them before me.” (Remember, this is supposed to be Jesus himself speaking if one is to believe the Bible.)

Here’s a New Testament passage about the “warm reception” the Jews gave to Paul for one of his sermons:

Acts 22:22 (King James Version)
And they gave him audience unto this word, and then lifted up their voices, and said, Away with such a fellow from the earth: for it is not fit that he should live.

Again, I’m not condoning or supporting the teachings of the Quran (or the Bible, for that matter). I’m only making the point that before anyone condemns the Quran for being the *only* religious text that calls its followers to violence, it’s simply not the case.

What I’m curious about is what Geert Wilders or anyone else thinks needs to be done? Should every practicing Muslim be converted to Christianity or put to the sword? Should Western societies expel every Muslim as a potential terrorist? Should imams who preach for violence be silenced under current or new hate laws, and where does the line get drawn between freedom of religion and freedom of speech? If the KKK still can march and spread their message, why not others?

I don’t profess to have the answers. All I can do is encourage tolerance and understanding instead of proselytizing and religious self-righteousness, intellect instead of blind faith, and laws that criminalize criminal behavior and not religious beliefs.

What I can’t help thinking is that if people had no religion at all would we be having these problems? If there were no religious differences and no need to convert or kill the non-believers, would we still find reasons to want to kill those who are different? When are we going to evolve in our thinking so that belief systems aren’t the foundation for violence?

Islam, like every other religion and belief system, has a power structure that depends upon a large amount of unquestioning faith. So long as believers allow themselves to be led around like sheep we’ll probably never see real peace; otherwise, how does the Pope or a Shiite cleric retain their power without a follower’s blind faith?

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Bush and Chaney can't lose

No matter how badly things will continue to go in the Middle East and in the world in general as a result of the greed, incredibly piss-poor judgment and cowboy politics that have governed this great country for the last 8 years, the Bush/Chaney cabal can't lose.

What??? Yes, you read it correctly. Whatever happens, they can't lose.

First, they and their supporters will always say they weren't to blame for what I consider to be an absolute, utter and complete failure of their administration. They have become the masters of deception. They have taken every advantage at every turn to create and leverage fear in the minds of what used to be a rational populace. What I think is that their "failure" has been premeditated and warrants impeachment.

They and their supporters will always say ridiculous things like "Better to have fought them over there than over here", "Hussein presented a threat to Americans", and "We need to open up ANWR and the continental shelves to oil and gas production".

As for the whole "Better to have fought them over there", it's as if we all suddenly found ourselves in some bad World War II movie and were in jeopardy of a Normandy-like invasion. I had and still have no argument with removing the Taliban from power. They clearly were involved in the heinous crime of 911. The events of 911, however, were and always will be just that - criminal acts. They should have been viewed through the prism of law enforcement not some Bush-contrived declaration of war by some foreign government or sovereign nation. Just because some idiot like bin Laden "declares war" doesn't mean that war has been declared....unless, of course, such a declaration is exactly what is wanted.

Yes, the combined military forces of free nations under the auspices of the U.N. was the right move with Afghanistan. Everyone in the free world was in support of America on September 11, 2001. Everyone in the free world knew that we were the one country that could lead a global movement to address terrorism. Everyone was behind us starting that movement with the Taliban as it would send a clear signal to any government who harbors and supports terrorists that the world - not just America, but the world - would no longer stand for it.

Where we lost all credibility in the world was when Bush, Chaney, Rumsfeld, Powell and all the rest of them conjured up lies in order to justify their indefensible and inconceivable left turn into Iraq.

Bush and his supporters will continue most certainly cling to the lies about what a serious threat Hussein was because of his ties to terrorism and WMD programs. The facts are in. There weren't any of either. ( and

And when it comes to oil, they'll keep saying that, in addition to Mideast instability (which they've done nothing but exacerbate), part of the reason oil is so high is because companies are being kept from opening new domestic fields. There's no debate if anyone's willing to look at the facts.

The amount of oil in places like ANWR and the continental shelves will have very little effect on the price of a commodity that is dictated by a global market. All anyone has to do is the math.

According to the CIA (yes, *the* CIA), 2005 estimates of American oil consumption are just over 20million barrels of oil a day ( The best estimates of domestic reserves in ANWR and the outer continental shelves (OCS) that are currently off limits are 42 billion barrels and 18 billion barrels, respectively. and

Sounds like a lot of oil until you consider:
1. The technically-recoverable oil is more like 15.6 billion in ANWR, making for a total of ANWR and OCS of about 24 billion barrels. 24 billion (if it were even possible to have it all at once) divided by 20 million barrels consumed per day (making the silly assumption that consumption hasn't changed since 2005 estimates) works out to be 1200 days, or about 3 years and 3 months.
2. It will take years before even the first barrels reach the market and puts at risk eco-systems that can never be replaced.
3. Oil is a fungible. No matter what our paltry reserves are, they aren't enough to drive global markets on way or another.

So, in my opinion, there's one thing we can all be fairly certain about. No matter how unstable things become in the Middle East and around the world, Bush and Chaney can't lose. They will keep doing what they've always done - blaming every and anyone but themselves for failed political leadership - while personally profiting from the mess they've created.

What, after all, could be better for a couple of oil men financially and politically than a growing global demand for oil in the face of an ever-shrinking supply, coupled with political turmoil and social unrest which they helped to create, all of which combines to keep oil prices rising?

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Opening ANWR and continental shelves isn't the answer

As filling up our tanks sneaks up on a 3-digit expense, some misguided people think the answer is to do even more domestic drilling. Not only will it not help, it's unnecessary. One reason is that almost 75% - about 33 million acres - of public lands that oil companies already have access to currently lie idle. (

What it will do is put some of the most precious, non-renewable environments our species has left into the hands of the very same kinds of people who have already demonstrated a willingness to gladly destroy these last natural jewels for whatever profit they can wring from them.

You don't have to stay silent. You can make your opinions known to the very people who supposedly represent us.