Friday, March 10, 2006

Consequence of the Bush 9/11 Agenda

DPW pulled out of the deal to manage a terminal at six U.S ports after it became apparent that Congress had the votes to block the business transaction. Protectionism and racism are slowly becoming melded together in U.S. policy just like domestic economics and foreign investment are being blurred through globalization. Ironically, President Bush and his Administration found themselves on the rational side of a debate that deals with fear-mongering in post-9/11 America.. This is the same administration that has used the events of September 11th, 2001 to their political advantage at every opportunity that presented itself. Fear has been the centerpiece of the President’s foreign policy and domestic security agenda.

First, immediately following 9/11, the far reaching PATRIOT Act was enacted and justified out of fears of terrorists infiltrating our borders, despite the fact that none of the new provisions would have prevented the attacks had they been in place. Then, we were told that Iraq was an imminent threat because Saddam had reconstituted WMD programs, and had connections to al-Qaeda to justify the invasion without U.N. support thereby creating the doctrine of preemptive war. Further, in conducting the war on terrorism, prisoner abuse scandals surfaced at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay. Later, we learned torture conducted by the CIA and other agencies around the world was deemed necessary in order to extract critical information, no matter how unreliable that info turned out to be, the Geneva Convention be damned. Recently, it was revealed that the NSA was conducting domestic wiretapping of telephone calls with foreign origin authorized by President Bush that bypassed the FISA courts and the need for warrants, with no attempts to update the FISA program to make the wiretapping legal.

Now, when the security of our sea ports are apparently at stake, the President only learns of the deal between P&O and DPW through the media, and expresses support because of the advice of his administration who conducted the review of the business transaction deemed there was little national security risk in allowing the UAE owned company to manage a terminal at six ports. In fact, anybody connected with the actual operations of our sea ports universally agree that the transaction is of little consequence to security, because little would actually change. Nevertheless, the fear mongering continued, exacerbated by the media, swallowed up by the American people, and finally Congress, with the 2006 elections looming and the President’s approval rating floundering. In essence, President Bush got caught in his own fear based backlash which could have dire consequences to our future economic stability, because it will scare away foreign investment and further alienate the modernized Arab world, allies we badly need to fight the global war on terrorism. Bush successfully alienated many of our western allies with the invasion of Iraq, yet has maintained the importance of having moderate Muslim allies in Pakistan, the UAE, and Saudi Arabia. Unfortunately, a majority of Americans have already fallen under the spell of isolationism, protectionism, anti-globalization, fear-mongering, and the quasi-legal tactics used to superficially give them a sense of security while sacrificing a little of their forgotten values and freedoms that are uniquely American. The moral of this story: Do not fear the facts!

Quotes to ponder:
“What luck for the rulers that men do not think.” – Adolph Hitler

“They that can give up essentially liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.” – Benjamin Franklin

Thursday, February 23, 2006

On Second Thought...

I formally retract the statements I made in my previous blog entry. Having fallen into the trap of mass hysteria and fear monograms by the media, I failed to give this story time to breathe, and therefore posted my opinion in ignorance. The ports deal is simply a business transaction that is becoming commonplace in today's global economy. The fact is most of our ports are at least partly managed by foreign companies, including China. The case against this ports deal has turned into little more than ethnic bigotry and pure ignorance of seaport security and management. There will be no changes to security procedures at the six ports that DPW is buying from P&O. U.S. Customs and Border Protection will still be screening what goes in and out of the country. There will be no terrorists being hired or sneaking into our country through these ports as a result of this transaction. One legitimate argument is that DPW is a government controlled entity and not publicly traded, but that has little affect on how the business will operate.

Sorry folks but President Bush is right about this one. Unless a legitimate security concern surfaces during a Congressional investigation into this deal, there is no reason to believe that this Administration is jeopardizing our national security in allowing this deal to happen. The president may have been out of the loop on this, since he only found out about this deal a few days ago, but it appears the necessary steps have been taken to ensure that there were no national security issues with this deal. Nonetheless, Congress is doing its job by calling for greater transparency and further scrutiny of this transaction. It is a global economy; multinational corporations and foreign investment are necessary components of globalization and inter-dependence. Outsourcing is also a major characteristic, and continues to be a concern. However, Americans must learn to adapt to the realities of the global economy no matter how painful the transition because nothing can stop it. This controversy over ports management should shift to a discussion on how to deal with globalization effectively without sacrificing our ideals or national identity while maintaining our security. In other words, a concern about seaport security is an issue separate from a simple business transaction, although greater transparency is necessary.

Monday, February 20, 2006

National Insecurity

The Bush Administration have approved the sale of the British firm Peninsular & Oriental Steam Navigation Co., which managed six U.S. seaports in New York, New Jersey, Baltimore, Philadelphia, New Orleans, and Miami, to Dubai Ports World of the United Arab Emirates (UAE). In case you didn't get that, ask Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff how the administration could allow the management of our national security to be sold to a company in Dubai, which was used as an operational and financial base by terrorists, and is directly adjacent to Saudi Arabia, home to 15 of 19 of the 9/11 hijackers. Chertoff claims that after a classified review of the national security implications of this sale, it was determined to be safe. This is coming from the same man put in charge of the bureaucratic boondoggle known as the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

No one has forgotten what happened during Hurricane Katrina, when the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) failed to act quickly to the disaster unfolding in the gulf coast. However, many are not aware that FEMA is under the umbrella of the DHS and Secretary Chertoff, whom former FEMA director Michael Brown reported. A recent report by a Congressional committee on Hurricane Katrina found that the response by the DHS and Sec. Chertoff to the disaster was inadequate and lacked initiative among other things. The DHS is responsible for the federal response to both natural disasters and acts of terrorism on our soil, requiring decisive leadership, and a quick response with immediate resources made available to the affected area. Unfortunately, the level of red tape in the newly created DHS is a terrible hindrance on its effectiveness. Nonetheless, there is no excuse for poor leadership in the face of a disaster at any level of government, and accountability is crucial to a healthy democracy. Chertoff could use some leadership advice from the former mayor of New York City Rudy Giuliani.

In any case, I do not believe many Americans would be comfortable with any foreign entity given the responsibility to manage seaport security in the U.S., let alone a company based in the Middle Eastern country of the UAE. Additionally, I do not believe many will care that the Bush Administration considers the UAE to be allies in the war on terror, especially given the track record of that part of the world. Is it necessary to mention that Pakistan and Saudi Arabia are also “allies” of this administration, who are known to have extensive terrorism activities within their own borders? Do we really want to put our trust in a company that could potentially be infiltrated by members of al-Qaeda? Perhaps President Bush feels overconfident with the National Security Agency (NSA) illegal wiretapping program to stop any such occurrence. Happy President's Day!

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Bush-Abramoff Photo Op

Today the Kickapoo tribal leader from Texas, Chief Raul Garza, released the first photo with President Bush and Jack Abramoff in the same room to The New York Times. Abramoff was seeking a contract with Garza and his Casino, and set up the opportunity for Garza to attend a meeting at the White House for state legislators on May 9, 2001 supporting the Bush tax cut. Abramoff appears in the background as the President is shaking Garza’s hand.

Apparently, there are additional photographs, which have yet to be released that suggest some contact between Bush and Abramoff. However, since there is no proof former lobbyist Jack Abramoff had any influence in policy making for the Bush Administration, the presumption of innocence is justified. Any intelligent person must recognize the fact that the President of the United States will have his picture taken thousands of times with various individuals whom have no connection with him. However, a conspiracy theorist would presume that since there are photos that have Bush and Abramoff in the same room they must have had dealings with one another. That line of thought is completely ridiculous in the context of today’s open society that includes the tabloid saturation of virtually all mass media content. A picture may be worth a thousand words, but what they are saying is in the eye of the beholder absent any definitive proof.

Click on the title of this blog entry to see the photograph for yourself and the source article.

Friday, February 10, 2006


I am sorry to disappoint all those liberal readers out there, but the recent news of Ex-Cheney Staffer I. Lewis Libby allegedly testifying he was ordered to leak classified information may not be what it appears. As in most cases of a legal nature, it is much more complicated then that. Like it or not, the way many of the major media outlets are reporting on this story is sensational in nature, and without any solid proof to back up the claims. In fact, it is almost as if every journalist has taken a page out of Michael Moore's book on how to juxtapose and arrange information in a way that portrays the "bad guy" in a bad light. For all of you have seen any of his films, I urge you to also watch "Michael Moore Hates America," a film by Michael Wilson of Minneapolis, MN. The negativity and sensationalism must end, and real positive solutions to obvious problems need to be brought forth in its place.

The five big corporations may indeed own most of the major media, but they hire liberal journalists whose only job is to sell the product of information to the public. Unfortunately, the cheapest and most efficient way to do that, thanks to the free market, is sensationalism. Making judgments before we have all the facts is irresponsible, and the public should be allowed to reach their own conclusions once those facts are available, not be force fed it by half-baked sensational stories filled with half-truths, innuendos, and an assumption of guilt until proven innocent. The court of public opinion has been hijacked by those who want you to believe what they believe, and do not want you to draw your own conclusions, because that would be dangerous.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

State of the News

Yesterday was a big news day: Alan Greenspan's last day as Chairman of the Federal Reserve, Judge Samuel Alito confirmed as Associate Supreme Court Justice, and the President delivered his sixth State of the Union address. What you may not have heard was that anti-War activist Cindy Sheehan was invited to attend by Rep. Lynn Woolsey, D-Cal. and had a ticket for Gallery 5, Seat 7, Row A. She was removed from the chambers because she was wearing a T-shirt that read “2,245 Dead, How Many More?" She was charged with a misdemeanor for violating House chamber rules, but the charges of "unlawful conduct" were later dropped by the police.

In addition, as is tradition, the Democrats responded to the President's State of the Union, this time with newly elected Virginia governor Tim Kaine. The obvious message being conveyed by Kaine was "there is a better way," and supposedly, the Democrats are the ones to provide it. Unfortunately, Kaine never gave specific alternatives, only criticism, for the Bush Administration's policies, giving credibility to President Bush's jab at the Dems in his address that "hindsight is not wisdom, and second-guessing is not a strategy." The clear lack of leadership and a positive message will continue to cripple the Democratic Party, no matter how much the President's Administration mismanages its foreign policy or domestic agenda. (P.S. Pay no attention to Bush's proclamation of the American addiction to oil; nothing will be done to begin addressing it under this Administration.)

Samuel Alito replaces Justice Sandra O'Connor, the first woman appointed, and often the decisive vote on a split bench of the U.S. Supreme Court. Alito's nomination was opposed primarily because it was feared the balance of the court would be shifted towards a strong conservative direction, away from a moderate court under Chief Justice Rehnquist and Justice O'Connor. John Robert's nomination was not as highly contested because he was a conservative replacing another conservative in Rehnquist. Nonetheless, the President of the United States is granted the duty in the Constitution to appoint justices to the Supreme Court, with approval of the Senate. In fact, President Clinton appointed two liberal members to the court, Justice Ginsberg and Justice Breyer, with near unanimous support by the Republican controlled Senate.

Alan Greenspan, who served 18 years as Chairman of the Federal Reserve, was appointed by Ronald Reagan, and reaffirmed by Presidents H.W. Bush, Clinton, and W. Bush. Ben Bernanke was appointed by President Bush to replace Greenspan, perhaps the most famous Fed. Reserve Chairman and considered to be on of the best ever to have served at the position because of his laisseze-faire philosophy to the free market, and his record of short recessions, and the longest economic prosperity interval in the 1990s thanks to his timing of interest rate manipulation. Bernanke is expected to follow a similar approach to the economy. Stay tuned for a return to the gold standard after a collapse of the Reserve system due to massive debt! (Read Ayn Rand's "Atlas Shrugged", Greenspan's favorite novel.)

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Bush to Palestinians: Good for you!

On Thursday, for those of you who do not pay any attention to international news, (unfortunately typical for many Americans), Hamas, a terrorist organization posing as a political party, won a strong majority in the Palestinian Parliament. Apparently, Palestinians felt that the Fatah party was not doing enough to establish a Palestinian state and wipe out the nation of Israel. There was almost a universal reaction to this fair democratic election, shock and awe. However, President Bush chose not join the rest of the human race in expressing displeasure with the choice made by the Palestinian people to give Hamas control of the Palestinian parliament. In fact, Mr. Bush essentially praised the Palestinian people for giving a well-known terrorist organization control of their government.

What the heck is going on here? This same man has made it his personal mission to spread democracy across the Middle East by any means necessary. I guess he has his wish, except the catch is a democratically elected Hamas. Does the President really believe it is OK for a terrorist group to have control of a democratically elected government? What would have happened if a similar result had occurred in Iraqi elections while at the same time American troops were attempting to provide security? Does anybody really believe that this President would have simply proclaimed it was the right of the Iraqi people to give control of their legislature to extremists? Maybe the party platform of Hamas is not clear enough for President Bush, which calls for the destruction of Israel, anti-Americanism, and Islamic fundamentalism, not to mention being one of the most prominent terrorist groups in the world, second to al-Qaeda. Why did not President Bush simply denounce this election and hold the Palestinians accountable for this faux pas like the rest of the world, not to mention his own cabinet? Does the establishment of a Palestinian state remain a goal for Mr. Bush? Imagine a democratically elected government both sponsoring terrorism and backed by President Bush, how ironic!

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Lobbying Reform: K Street Style

This sudden movement to reform lobbying practices in Washington has a peculiar feel to it. First, Congressmen are walking around acting like they are in shock from all the recent scandals, because they have never happened before. They are talking about this being the most corrupt Congress in our history and proposing new restrictions on lobbying that feeds the “culture of corruption.” The problem is these Congressmen are part of the problem, and corruption has been around long before many of them were born. They are trying to convince us that this is a new and unique situation, and that there proposals will somehow prevent future scandals involving lobbyists and lawmakers. The Democrats are especially being disingenuous when they claim this problem is purely a Republican scandal, because they are in the minority. They act like the Democrats have always been in the minority, not acknowledging that their party prior to the 1994 mid-term elections, were the majority for many years, and lost that majority for the same "culture of corruption" that has now been created under Republican leadership. The Abramoff scandal has shed new light on a very old problem. Ironically, none of the new proposals by either party would have prevented the Abramoff situation from occurring, because everything he did is in fact currently illegal. All the fixes being proposed by the current corrupt lawmakers address currently legal and common practices by lobbyists and their lawmaking cohorts.

The only thing truly unique about the current corruption under Republican leadership is something called the K Street Project, dating back to 1995 and championed by former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay. This project rewards lobbyists with influence in drafting legislation in return for contributions to fund-raising specifically for the Republican Party and for hiring Republicans to top positions in their lobbying firms. The direct link between Wall Street corporate interests and Washington Republican lawmakers via Washington lobbyists has never been more blatant or disgustingly appalling. While this practice continues, it has never been as robust as it was under Rep. Tom DeLay’s leadership before his indictments and resignation of his leadership position in the House. Additionally, the K Street Project essentially allowed businesses to write government regulations benefiting their own industry, as was allegedly the case under Dick Cheney’s energy task force. Whatever is good for the capitalists must also be good for Democracy, right? In that case, if all corporations are trustworthy enough to regulate their own industry, and are beholden to no one except their own share holders, why even have a government? We don’t need an overarching bureaucracy watching over other narrowly interested corporate bureaucracies, right? Just ask Tom DeLay and Jack Abramoff.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Domestic Surveillance

The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) was created in 1978, and intended to give the President the power to wire-tap telephone conversations relating to suspected criminal activity of foreign origin. President Bush has correctly argued that FISA is outdated and too restrictive in the post-9/11 world. However, the President is given incredible leeway to obtain a warrant in order to legally wire-tap. Not only does the President have a 72 hour emergency window after a wire-tap to get a warrant from a judge, which are rarely rejected, in war time the President has 15 days to notify Congress without the need for a warrant, and can then ask for an indefinite extension to continue the surveillance legally. Unfortunately, the President decided against approaching a judge or Congress after 9/11 to invoke his FISA powers in the interest of national security. He violated the separation of powers as defined in the Constitution and broke the law. This behavior is decidedly not conservative because it is an unequivocal expansion of federal and executive authority.

The argument made by the President to justify his actions may be well intended and honorable on its face, but why didn’t he simply get a warrant, which he most certainly would have been granted immediately following 9/11? The secret FISA court grant wire-tapping warrants ex post facto on a regular basis, and rarely challenge such requests. President Bush argues that FISA would not act quickly enough for the number of warrants that would have been required, and Congress may not have granted all of his requests for reforming and updating surveillance rules. President Bush has not even made an attempt to improve FISA, like what was done for domestic law enforcement and intelligence gathering through the PATRIOT Act, which was passed into law in a matter of days after 9/11. Congress would have easily and quickly approved any changes to FISA the President requested in the days following 9/11, maybe even having it as a part of the PATRIOT Act. All it would have taken was a submission by the President to Congress outlining the provisions he would like to see in the revised act. Why didn’t President Bush and his Administration propose FISA reform four years ago when the domestic surveillance began and subsequently became illegal with no congressional or judicial oversight?

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Bush Becoming a "Compassionate" Conservative?

I must give the President some credit over the last couple of months for the various speeches he has made where he has been more open to moderate criticism of his Iraq policy. This is most certainly in stark contrast to the overall attitude the Administration has stubbornly held ever since the very beginning. The perception that the neoconservatives had effectively hijacked the Republican Party and the Bush Administration had gradually gained credibility up until now. Although there remain some stubborn elements within the Administration, particularly Mr. Rumsfeld, and Mr. Cheney, President Bush appears determined to change this perception and assert "compassionate" conservatism as he had promised during his 2000 campaign. This new direction by the President really began shortly after Hurricane Katrina when the President boldly promised massive aide to rebuild New Orleans and the affected areas. When President Bush took responsibility for the failure of the federal government to respond quickly enough, and then followed up with concessions about failures in his Iraq policy in recent speeches, it demonstrated his "compassionate" conservative side.

However, yesterday the President took a step backwards by attempting to set boundaries for the debate over the Iraq war. He disingenuously grouped the extreme left who talk about conspiracies for oil and the alliance with Israel as reasons for going to war, with moderates who blame the intelligence community for mishandling the information pertaining to WMDs in Iraq. You cannot have it both ways, Mr. President. Either the American people are allowed to express their dissenting views in times of war openly and without fear of being accused of providing comfort to the enemy, or all dissenting opinions or suggestions are disregarded and a change of course in the tides of war is blocked, therefore preventing any possibility of success in Iraq.

I believe the most recent remarks accusing certain dissenters of aiding the enemy is purely a political move to scare swing voters into keeping Republicans in power for the upcoming midterm congressional elections, because otherwise those Democrats will cause failure in Iraq by pulling out before the job is done. The problem with the argument is that in fact a majority of Democrats in Congress are not in favor of leaving Iraq on a whim. The votes tallied that were opposed to the Iraq Resolution presented by Republican Senator Duncan Hunter in response to Democrat Senator John Murtha's call for redeployment of the troops prove this point. Although many liberals may prefer a quicker withdrawal from Iraq than the President, including DNC chairman Howard Dean, this is not indicative of any effort by Democrats on the Hill to end this war before the Iraqi government is stable enough to handle its own security.

We all want the same thing, which is success in Iraq. Even the harshest critics of Bush's Iraq policy, which include former members of his Administration, not just Democrats, want America to succeed in making Iraq stable and secure, but may have another way to go about it. All the criticism and dissent over Iraq is about bringing alternative ideas and strategies at a critical juncture of this war. Now is not the time to play politics by accusing these patriotic Americans of aiding the enemy, Mr. President. Please get back on board your train of compassionate conservatism and keep an open mind to the criticism that may provide an alternative route to true victory.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

A New Year For Corporate America

After taking a month off from my blog, I have decided taking a break from politics can do wonders for the spirit. In the future, I plan to keep my individual blog entries shorter in hopes that I will have the energy and motivation to write more frequently.

Now that the "War on CHRISTmas" is over, we can move on to more important issues, such as the Supreme Court confirmation hearings for Judge Alito. It never ceases to amaze me the amount of garbage that comes out of the mouths of ideologues who are dead set on a particular viewpoint, regardless of any evidence that may serve to undermine their arguments. In general, paranoia, cynicism, stubbornness, ignorance, and apathy seem to be the primary characteristics of such individuals and groups. In fact, just about any special interest group could be found guilty of spreading empty rhetoric or misleading propaganda that has little supporting evidence at one time or another. I believe this to be the case from both the supporters and opposition groups to Judge Alito's confirmation to the U.S. Supreme Court. Whenever these groups run an ad about Alito, they manage to leave out details that may lead the viewer or listener to a different conclusion than what they intend. One way to discern the truth is to do the research, such as at Unfortunately, not many citizens seem to have the time, energy, or motivation to question what they hear in the media, especially if what they hear fits their own particular point of view. This problem of bias is difficult to overcome and perhaps inherent to human nature, but is only reinforced by how media ownership is currently structured.

Nevertheless, media reform is an ongoing process, and will take time. I like to think I play a small part in this, but that may be wishful thinking. Anybody who reads my blog should remember that I can't change things on my own, but writing can inspire others to join in and create a real movement of change. My intention is not to destroy capitalism or corporations, just to bring about a broader involvement from informed citizens in the process of making public policy decisions shaping our media, rather than leaving it up to the corrupt technocrats in Washington.