The most interesting tactics to prevent looting

According to CNN, Honduras officials have taken the most unusual steps to stop potential looting.

The Brazilian request for a Security Council meeting came after the Honduran government isolated the embassy by cutting water, power and phone lines to the building, U.S. State Department spokesman Ian Kelly confirmed to reporters Tuesday.

Brazil’s foreign minister, Celso Luiz Nunes Amorim, called the action a “very serious” move that violated international law.

Police said that utilities were turned off in the area surrounding the embassy to discourage looting after supporters of Zelaya converged in front of the building Tuesday.

So if you are like me, you have to wonder how cutting the water, electricity, or phone would prevent looting.  If someone is breaking in to my place, being able to call the police would be useful.  If undesirables are gathering, being able to shine lights on them and see them would be useful, so keep the electricity on.  Water?  Maybe that could help defend by turning the hose on.

I really can’t see how cutting any of these utilities would help prevent forest fires looting.  So I am going to have to side with the Brazilians on this, it is retailation for having overthrown President Zelaya in the embassy.



Bill Kristol calls Iraq a win

This morning on Fox News Sunday, Kristol called Iraq a win.  So I guess we will be removing the US military presence.  After all a win is in a sense completing something.  At the end of the Superbowl today, when one of the teams wins the game, that means that it is over and eventually the winners (after post game celebration) will walk off the field.


Plenty of Kool-Aid in the X-cel Energy Center

I watched Laura and George Bush, Fred Thompson and some of Joe Lieberman give speeches at the RNC last night.   Besides making feel a little ill, the general impression was that the attendees have drank the Kool-Aid.  Granted, while I didn’t see much of the DNC, I probably would have that same impression of those attendees to that too.

These conventions seem a little too much of the true believers, the protesters on the outside notwithstanding.  It is like the national fervor that takes over during the Olympics with the chants of U-S-A.

Probably the thing that bugs me the most is the ending with God Bless America.  Not because they mention God, I am not militant atheist, but the idea of American exceptionalism and that God only blesses one country – America.  How about God blesses the whole world, or humanity, not just America.

I guess when you look at America’s military adventurism, like the illegal invasion of Iraq, you could make the case for our exceptionalism as we really haven’t paid a price in the international courts or the UN.  Although the price that we have paid in the occupied countries do give lie to the exceptionalism, well maybe exceptional foolishness.

Okay that got a bit off track, but considering the military and foreign policy focus of last nights speeches, it is close enough.  I will excuse myself for now.


Question of the Day – July 26, 2008

Now that Nicolas Sarkozy has warmly welcomed Barack Obama, will the right wing pundits turn on him?

When will Iraq and Afghanistan have their Independence Day?

July 4, 1776 is what we recognize and celebrate as the beginning of Independence from British colonial rule.

Many people will spend today talking about how great America is, how we have exported the concept of democracy and self-rule across the world.  Basically a American exceptionalism that America is the greatest.

But as an occupying force in Iraq and Afghanistan, as a nation that is interfering with the self-rule, the self determination in these countries, can we really, honestly claim that mantle of exporters of democracy.

Now for those who have blind faith in American Exceptionalism you may say I am traitor, you may suggest that I leave the country, and I disagree with both of those quite strongly.

This is my response to those that say, “if you don’t like America, then why don’t you leave.”  Well first, I am not a coward, I don’t give up on that which I love, I stand by it.  If you had a brother that was into drugs, would you abandon your brother, or would you work to help you brother get past this self-destructive behavior and get better?  I would, and for America, I will stand by and work to make the country a better place.

So let’s get to work to helping Afghanistan and Iraq become independent of our foreign influence, so that they can have a day, like we have today, to celebrate.


Ready for some self torture?

Well then read the infamous torture memo, all 5o pages of it (pdf).

The obvious joke with this memo, is that Alberto Gonzalez doesn’t remember getting it!

But looking at the the introduction of this, it is clear that the Bush administration was looking to see how far they could go with torture.  And by asking for a memo from  the Department of Justice, trying to establish a get out of jail free card.

I am not going into the whole memo, remember 50 pages, and not just 50 page, but 50 pages of legalese and precedent.  This is why people don’t like lawyers, well that and the cost.

I do find it interesting that starting on pages 27-31 they are looking at international decisions.  I couldn’t find it on the web, but I thought death penalty supporters were ticked off when the Supreme Court ruled, based on international opinion, on ending the death penalty for juveniles or the mentally retarded (different decisions).

Page 31-46 includes the justification, or legal reasoning (tortured or otherwise), for the unitary executive concept.  My show tunes translation, “Anything you can do, I can do better,” well not a great translation, I just wanted to throw it in.  What it really means is that war gives the president licenses to do just about anything he wants.  That this constitution jujitsu will allow the president to decide that something he does is right, because the constitution allows him because he is the commander in chief.

So if you are ready for some self torture, go take a look.


4,000 dead

We have now passed the 4,000 mark in the number of dead soldiers in Iraq.  We invaded Iraq a little over 5 years ago.  On May 1st, 2003, President Bush declared “Mission Accomplished.”  Yet we stayed in Iraq and so many American soldiers have died.

To this day, it is hard to find any justification for the invasion.  It has been so hard to justify it, that it is like a moving target.  Al Qaeda is there (no they weren’t), Al Qaeda is working with Saddam (no they weren’t), we need to bring freedom to Iraqis (Dafur??), weapons of mass destruction (ever thought you should let the weapon inspectors finish their job),  and Saddam is a really bad guy (why aren’t we in North Korea?).

Not only was it an unjustified invasion, but it caused us to take our eye of the prize, Osama Bin Laden who went from wanted dead or alive, to I’m just not that into him.

Of course this isn’t the whole story, it doesn’t come close to talking about the instability for Iraqis, the huge numbers dead or displaced.  Unreliable water and electricity, or high unemployment.  Or the attempts to push through oil contracts that are favorable to multinational corporations.

If you really want to support the troops, bring them home and then fund the VA so that they supported to meet their needs, especially TBI and PTSD.


Fidel is leaving, but our policy remains the same, hypocrisy manifested

So Fidel is resigning, that communist bogeyman in our backyard will no longer be in control.  You might think this would change our policy, end the embargo, but no, that would be requiring us to be consistent in our foreign policy and that won’t happen.  According to the AP we have this from Dubya,

“They’re the ones who suffered under Fidel Castro,” Bush told a news conference in Rwanda. “They’re the ones who were put in prison because of their beliefs. They’re the ones who have been denied their right to live in a free society. So I view this as a period of transition and it should be the beginning of the democratic transition in Cuba.”

“Eventually, this transition ought to lead to free and fair elections — and I mean free, and I mean fair — not these kind of staged elections that the Castro brothers try to foist off as true democracy,” Bush said. “The United States will help the people of Cuba realize the blessings of liberty.”

Shouldn’t free and fair elections be those that represent the people.

  • This could lead to socialist governments like Hugo Chavez, who will remain bogeyman #2 (or he might move up to #1) in Latin America, but didn’t we support a coup attempt against him?
  • Elections could lead to undesirable results like Hamas winning in Palestine, or Hezbollah in Lebanon, our aid to Palestine dried up because we didn’t like the results.
  • Or we could support those non-democratic leaders like Musharraf in Pakistan who became a leader via coup, because he is “helping” us fight the war on terror.
  • Or advocate better trade relations (kind of the opposite of an embargo) with China which has sham elections and is also communist county like Cuba.  And they invaded Tibet, have cracked down on a religion.

It is time for the embargo to end.  This policy is holding our democracy hostage to Cuban Americans hatred of the Cuban government.  If we truly believed that democracy was the ideal result in Cuba, we would tear down this wall that is an embargo and expose the Cuban populace to the advantages of our economic model and our democratic process.

You will hear a lot of reasons for maintaining the embargo and a majority if not all of them will come from Cuban-Americans that lost property when Castro came to power.  They shouldn’t dictate America’s foreign policy.