Friday, April 28, 2006

Comments on "A Really Repellent Spectacle"

With all the blathering on about high gas prices, Thomas de Zengotita makes the point on Huffington Post that the really repellent spectacle is that THIS is what is getting Americans all up in a lather. Not Iraq, not Katrina, not the Thousand Points of Scandal emanating from the Second Bush Presidency.

Sad but true, there are no quick solutions to our energy situation; yet our elected representatives think they can present us with the appearance of one in the form of tax moratoriums (not enough and not addressing the real problem anyway) and $100 rebate checks that are laughably off-target and insulting to most. (What, they're going to BRIBE is back into complacency?)

The only short-term fix that makes any kind of sense is to repeal the obscene tax breaks given to oil companies. These were allegedly passed to 'encourage' the oil companies to search more and drill more. Aren't their record-high profits encouragement enough? Besides, they're OIL companies. Searching for and drilling for oil is their JOB. I could see the government giving tax incentives to those sectors of our economy that are both vital to our national interest and struggling economically, but the oil companies are anything but struggling.

We need to apply long-term fixes, something the American public is sadly deficient at. Without sustained intelligent leadership (and yes, that means telling people what to DO) there will be no lasting solution to this problem.

We need one or more alternatives to fossil fuels, alternatives that *work.* Solar and wind, where feasible, to provide land-based power. Nuclear, if we can clean it up (man, wouldn't workable fusion be NICE?) along with better power storage technology to provide mobile energy for our transportation infrastructure.

We also need to reorganize where we are and who and what we move around. It's a pity we can't remake the geography of our cities and towns back to where it was in the 40s and 50s, before the mass exodus (exodii?) away from the cities and into suburban sprawl, but aside from the tremendous disruption such a change would entail there are now too many of us, and too many of us wanting to work in the city and live in the country.

We also don't all have to move around so much. Many jobs could be done from home, with an average computer, broadband access and VPN access to the corporate LAN. Those who say "you can't manage/work/communicate effectively this way" need to learn some new skills or adapt old ones. Email and telephones work well enough for most things, and teleconferencing can help with the rest. Even if people came into the office three days weekly instead of five it would help.

Regarding the goods we transport around the nation, more of it should be moved into the electronic realm for good. Didn't someone (Larry Ellison?) once say something like "why are we moving atoms around when we really only have to move electrons?") He was talking about software distribution, but nowadays and in the near future it could be so much more.

All of these are long-term shifts, socially seismic in nature, which will require a prolonged, focused and stubbornly determined effort on the part of our national leaders to implement. Instead of proclaiming a war "on" something (poverty, drugs, terrorism, insert adjective here) let's proclaim a war *for* something, a Manhattan Project for Energy.

It will take that kind of effort. Sadly, I don't see our government -- or our nation, for that matter -- rising to the task until we are sufficiently challenged. That challenge will come. The question is -- how bad will it get before we finally move off our backsides and get started? How many people will suffer and die along that road to necessity?

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Tax Cuts Benefit The Wealthy. Who'dve Thought?

This just in from the "No Shit, Sherlock" department of the New York Times...

The first data to document the effect of President Bush's tax cuts for investment income show that they have significantly lowered the tax burden on the richest Americans, reducing taxes on incomes of more than $10 million by an average of about $500,000.

An analysis of Internal Revenue Service data by The New York Times found that the benefit of the lower taxes on investments was far more concentrated on the very wealthiest Americans than the benefits of Mr. Bush's two previous tax cuts: on wages and other noninvestment income.

Read the full article here. (Free Registration Required)

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

"If I were Bush?" Oh Geez.

I had a friend who responded to my previous post -- Time To Talk War Crimes, Indeed) -- with the rhetorical question, "what would you have done if you were Bush?" Here is my response...

Well, since you asked...

  • If I were Bush I would NOT have attacked Iraq since there was no true proof they were a threat to us. (There were no WMDs. None. How could there have been proof?)
  • If I were Bush I would not keep implying that Iraq had anything to do with 9/11. They had nothing to do with it. That was all Osama, the Taliban and Afghanistan. In fact Saddam hated/distrusted Osama; didn't like the religious nut cases.
  • If I were Bush I would not bomb hospitals.
  • If I were Bush I would not permit torture or inhumane treatment in the prisons we run, in any way, shape or form, ever, and I would immediately fire and prosecute anyone who did. Anyone.
  • If I were Bush I would not lie about wiretapping phone calls in this country. (Several months ago he reassured the press that a court order would be needed to do that; now we know they've done it in secret, bypassing a court set up for that very purpose.)
  • If I were Bush I would not create a prison in the legal limbo that is Guantanamo so I could indefinitely hold detainees away from any legal recourse or protection, in violation of internationally recognized civil rights, just on a suspicion.
  • If I were Bush I would not work so hard to create and perpetuate tax cuts that mostly benefit the wealthy while cutting services to the poor and undereducated.
  • If I were Bush I would meet with the NAACP at least once a year, like every president before him.
  • If I were Bush I would not clamp such a heavy hand of privacy over the entire government. The rate of documents that have been classified has increased dramatically since he took office, many of them formerly unclassified.
  • If I were Bush I would not have let my Vice President write the country's energy policy only with input from big business leaders in the energy industry, shutting out any environmentalist input and keeping the minutes of the meetings secret.
  • If I were Bush I wouldn't gut the EPA; I'd fund them better and tell them to get back to prosecuting polluters like they used to. I wouldn't create an initiative called "Clear Skies" that lets polluters pollute more. I wouldn't promote a program called "Healthy Forests" that lets big lumber log more trees in our national forests.
  • If I were Bush I would not keep asking for "emergency funding" to pay for the Iraq war. I would roll it into the regular budget so everyone could see what it costs and so Congress could debate it.
  • If I were Bush I would retool "No Child Left Behind" so it would help students actually pass those tests they're forced to take. Oh, and I'd fund it adequately too.

I could go on for a LONG time. (See 1000 Reasons.) This man is the worst president ever. Worse than Nixon. He's an international criminal. He's a liar. He's beholden to big business and his oil buddies in the Middle East. I oppose this man and just about everything he's done.

I also know the cost of freedom is not free. I'm ex-Navy. But how did attacking Iraq preserve, protect or defend our freedom?

It is NOT unpatriotic for me to say these things. In fact it is my patriotic duty to stand up and speak out. He is ruining this country. I love this country, but I am suspicious of this government and this president.

But in the end, in my previous e-mail it is not about what I said, but what I read. I encourage you to take the time to read about the attack on Falluja, or the article about how our policies in Iraq directly contradict the Nuremberg WWII war crimes trials. You'll see that our ship of state is being steered down a tragic road.

We're not supposed to be the bad guys, but now we are. Thanks to Bush.

Time to talk War Crimes, Indeed.

In "Time To Talk War Crimes", Robert Parry lays out a powerful argument for charging George Bush with war crimes.

In the Neuremberg trials after World War II, "...U.S. Supreme Court Justice Robert Jackson, who represented the United States at the Nuremberg Tribunal, made clear that the intent was to establish a precedent against aggressive war." The idea was that it should be against international law to attack another country.

Yet that is just what America did in attacking Iraq. It was not in response to an attack; Osama bin Laden and the Taliban in Afghanistan did that. It was not to root out WMDs. None were found, none existed. Instead, we now hear of Condi Rice saying that Iraq was part of a culture that hated us. As if that were justification enough.

Add to that this article by Noam Chomsky, "Returning to the Scene of the Crime: War Crimes in Iraq", taken from his upcoming book. It describes the American attack on Fallujah in Iraq. The article details the U.S. bombing of hospitals, clearly a war crime, and the cordoning off of the city to prevent men aged 18-45 from leaving before the bombing starts. "The attack began with a bombing campaign intended to drive out all but the adult male population; men ages fifteen to forty-five who attempted to flee Falluja were turned back."

Is this not inhumane? Is this not the height of criminality?

Read these articles and weep.

Follow up: More on this topic in "If I were Bush? Oh Geez.."