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Date:2005-12-20 21:33
Subject:Why do the Intelligent Design people hate apples?
Security:Public

The topic of the day today is Intelligent Design (ID). Proponents of this philosophy are trying to get it included into school curriculum under the "science" heading. However, at the root ID is not a science, but rather a convenient means to fill in the gaps in current scientific knowledge...oh yeah, and a way to sneak God into school as well (being the trusting sort, I'll assume that this last part was merely a byproduct of the advocacy of the scientific merits of ID, rather than the overall intent to begin with). There are two main thoughts in the way ID is argued today. First, if things are really complicated, they couldn't happen without God - I call this the, "God has too much time on his hands" theory. Second, if you don't have an answer to a question, I might as well insert God into the discussion because I know you can't prove me wrong - I call this the, "Because God said so" theory.

As to the complexity issue, there are mutations happening every day in our world, and not all of them seem to have any purpose. I know someone with a third nipple and I have yet to discover exactly how that mutation will somehow save his life the next time he is being chased by a pack of hungry wolves (I have been sure to warn him to not get too cocky next time he is walking through the woods...I can only hope he listened...). So why, my dear ID proponents, did God turn my friend into a freak of nature (sorry Eddie)? I can't wait to hear the big master plan behind the great Nipple-schism that God kicked off in our genetic code in 1971. According to ID, science can't explain it, God must have done it, and there must be a plan. The point is, there is complexity in the world, and just because we haven't figure it out yet doesn't mean it MUST have been planned out thoroughly in advance by a deity.

As to the second point (the 'Because God said so' theory), some ID activists have been pushing for a phrase to be read at the beginning of some science classes, essentially as a footnote to the entire course which states that "what you are about to hear is just what a million scientists think and have proved to varying degrees, but you should feel free to ignore it and just answer all of your test questions with "Because God said so". (As a side note, the ID proponents are ACTIVISTS in that they are fostering something counter to popular opinion and trying to get it pushed forward anyway through the courts and school boards...I can't WAIT to see George Bush let loose on these people!!) They would like to include words (as scientific theory mind you) that would say that anything that hasn't been thoroughly worked through by science yet should be defaulted to having been created or caused by God. So, if we can't explain some of the gaps in the evolution process, they want kids to learn that it is possible that God is the reason for the gap. Following that logic, we could also insist that we include words that say that flying monkeys from the land of Narnia might have also done it, but if we go down the path of including all possibilities no matter how unproved or un-provable, the school books will eventually become so heavy to carry that our children will all grow up with humpbacks (hmmm....is THAT part of THE plan too???) You see, this "Because God said so" approach is NOT a theory. It is nothing more than a advertisement for God at the end of every topic that hasn't been fully understood yet.

Kid: "How can space be infinite?"
Teacher: "Well, we don't know yet but we are making advances in quantum mechanics and the super-string theory that are getting us closer to those answers"
Religious Watch Officer assigned to the class: "In the mean time kids, we want you to think about how the existence of God obfuscates the reason for needing to answer that question. Space is as infinite as God wants it to be. This undeniable 'scientific' fact was brought to you by the letters 'J', 'E', 'S', 'U' and 'S'...the extra 'S'...that stands for 'Salvation!"

Ten years ago, we hadn't mapped the human genome. Fifty years ago, brain surgery was impossible (except for the art of drilling holes into your skull to release the demons, which was known as trephining). 100 Years ago travel by jet was beyond comprehension. 200 years ago electricity would have been magic. In some parts of the world TODAY, the idea of putting cold soup into a plastic box and waiting 3-5 minutes (cooking times may vary depending on wattage) only to find a piping hot stew would STILL be considered magic. ID would have told all of us that God could only explain the mechanics behind those things. In fact, 500 years ago it was heresy to even insinuate that the world wasn't flat and orbited by the Sun. I think we all look back on those times and giggle at the naivety of those simple people and their narrow thinking. While some ID proponents say that I am narrow-minded for not allowing ID into the classroom, I'd like to refer you back to one of the words I used a minute ago...heresy. It was a religious doctrine that insisted that the world was flat and that the Sun orbited the Earth. For hundreds of years, religion had decided what it KNEW to be right, and prevented anyone from saying otherwise. You see what happens when you allow non-science into science? Why are we so eager to go back to those days?

And what if we tell the kids that the gap in the chain of evolution was perhaps due to God's hand. Then what? Class dismissed? Will it become anti-God to challenge that theory? Are we to assume that if Intelligent Design says God's supernatural hand may be at work in the order of the universe that we should stop trying to validate and understand that? When people died of disease many years ago, people said "It was his time, it was God's will". Should we have left it at that, or was it a good idea to learn to put up sneeze-guards at the salad bar because of teeny-tiny organisms that are out to get us? It is fine to say that God made bacteria, but do you really want science to end there? No, you want us to investigate, discover, and cure. So, pray tell, how does telling me that God might be behind the bird-flu help me in that pursuit? How would inserting the possibility that God might be the reason that compasses point North have helped us to understand the REAL reason and the mechanics that drive it? How is that piece of information or the inclusion of that "theory" helping to move SCIENCE along?

It isn't, and it won't, and therefore ID is not a scientific theory, it is a religious doctrine of faith (or perhaps a doctrine of unquantifiable assumptions). If you want your kids to think that everything in the world today is the way God made it and the way God wants it to be, you can tell them that at home, in church, or in future modifications to the Pledge of Allegiance. I don't know why you need to sit in class so that when a teacher says the apple fell out of a tree becasue of gravity, you can respond with, "Or, maybe it was because that apple was a sinner and didn't deserve to be in the tree". But as we know, you people have had it in for apples for a long, long time...

I call 'em as I see 'em.

Jay Corvid

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Date:2004-11-21 22:51
Subject:Hmmm, Get Nuked, or owe France? Hold on, I'm still thinking...
Security:Public

So let's start out by saying that Bush has stated on several occasions that it would be "intolerable" to allow Iran to gain nuclear weapons. When he was interviewed by Bill O'Reilly prior to the election, Bush agreed that if Iran were to acquire such weapons, it would be "a failure" of U.S. foreign policy. He also said that there would be "no circumstance under which we would allow Iran to develop nuclear weapons". With that backdrop, let's look at the current events...

The U.S. cannot invade Iran. Aside from being currently stuck in Iraq, Iran has a population nearly three times the size of Iraq and has a much tougher army. Maybe we could just launch a few missiles? We could, but we are trying to avoid direct confrontation, especially with our troops in Iraq. Iran would have a hard time invading the U.S., but if we were to assume an aggressive posture and they felt lucky, they have direct access to our troops who already have enough problems. We don't have the support infrastructure in place to handle defending Iraq from itself AND Iran at the same time. Yes, it's sad that we are in a state where we have to protect our troops FROM Iran...seems rather backwards to me.

Maybe Israel will take care of it like they did with Iraq 20 years ago? Well, we did sell them quite a few bunker busting bombs earlier in the year (although as an aside, it could hardly be called a sale when we gave them $100 million, which they turned around and handed back to us in exchange for the bombs – At least this way we get to say that we gave financial aid to another country, AND we made a profit on some military surplus...government accountants should be shot). However, the jets used by the Israelis couldn't make it all the way to Iran and back without refueling which would require our help. This of course puts us back in the same situation we were in before. Additionally, the Iranians learned from what the Israeli's did in Iraq and have spread their facilities out all over the country. Some are literally buried under residential neighborhoods, others are simply decoys meant to look like nuclear sites. Bottom line, if you are going to launch a pack of missiles, you had better be damned sure you get it right. Anyone feel like rolling the dice based on the competence of the United States intelligence service?

Therefore, the U.S. needs support from the rest of the world. Yes, the same world that we have spent the last 2 years thumbing our nose at and alienating through our steadfast refusal to capitulate on any and all topics. Even ignoring the damage we have done to our credibility, and dismissing the world support we had post 9/11 but squandered on Iraq, will the rest of the world support us? To show support, the first thing they would have to do is refer the issue to the U.N. Security Council, and then pass a resolution, with no one vetoing it. Think this will happen?

Well, Russia has been helping Iran build nuclear facilities for quite a few years and the first of which is scheduled to go live in 2006. This is the same approach that Clinton used with North Korea, whereby we build them a power plant and we reclaim all of the spent fuel. They get their power plant, and we get the safety of getting the spent fuel back. However, despite repeated statements of opposition by President Bush, Russia continues to help Iran with it's nuclear ambitions, and also has established agreements with Iran to develop oil and gas deposits, jointly produce aircraft, and co-operate in communications and the metals industry. I don't see much help coming from there. China, whose need for fuel grows exponentially every year, signed a deal with Iran in late October which will funnel gas to China for the next 25 years, and also grants China rights to develop oil and gas field sin the Persian Gulf. One week later, China stated that they would oppose any effort to refer Iran to the U.N. Security Council over the issue of Tehran's nuclear program, citing that to do so would "just make the issue more complicated". Toss in France and you already have 3 of the permanent members of the Security Council that will prevent us from gaining the support we need.

You know what, maybe I'm over-reacting. Maybe Iran, a country that has enough oil to keep it powered until the Sun burns out, really does feel like it needs a nuclear reactor. A quick look at this timeline should give us an idea...

2003 – Iran is pressured to stop turning uranium gas into enriched uranium via centrifuge (step 2 of the bomb making process)
10/11/2004 – Iran announces it has converted a few tons of uranium into gas (using step 1 of the bomb making process). They confirm that they won't enrich the uranium gas, but vow to continue all other activities.
10/17/2004 – Iran begins (publicly) converting uranium gas into (potentially) bomb grade material using its 1,500 centrifuges and announces that it plans to have 50,000 centrifuges by the end of 2005.
11/1/2004 – Britain, Germany, and France warns Iran that they will back the U.S. in taking Iran before the U.N. Security Council if they don't stop enriching uranium gas. Iranian lawmakers chant "Death to America" as they outline a bill to force the Iranian government to continue to enrich the gas. Note that Europe turned up the pressure, but the Iranians want American blood.
11/15/2004 – Iran agrees to stop enriching uranium gas...in a week.
11/18/2004 – Iran says it will start enriching the gas again unless Europe supports them at the 11/25 IAEA meeting on Iran.

You see how that works? They agree to not do step 2, while they are busy doing step 1. Then they agree to not do step 1, and they begin doing step two (having already done what they needed to do at step 1). They say they will halt their activities, in order to make the world understand that they are peaceful, and then 3 days later threaten to start again (before they have even stopped, mind you) unless Europe gives them a pass at the IAEA meeting next week. You will note, of course, that Iran made no mention of needing the support of China or Russia at that meeting...I wonder why. Iran continues to spin it's centrifuges like mad up until the moment of the deadline, at which time they can cease step 2, and move on to step 3 of the process, taking the enriched uranium and start the weapon making process. Should things not go their way on 11/25, they can just start doing all 3 steps again, because China and Russia are still going to veto any U.N. action AND Iran only needs to stall for a few more months to a year anyway. If things do go there way on 11/25, they can just start doing all 3 steps again, because it will take some time for anyone to notice, and when they do, they will just have to start the process of referring them all over again (and China and Russia...I know, broken record...).

So there you have it. Iran gaining nuclear weapons would be intolerable and a colossal failure of foreign policy. Bush said he will never let Iran get a hold of nuclear weapons, as this would represent an grave threat to the security of the United States. Bush has said that our military doesn't need to be any bigger, we won't have a draft, and that he will do whatever is necessary to protect our country. He said that he will never leave the safety of the United States in the hands of foreign powers, and that we must take any actions necessary to face terror overseas so that we don't have to face it on our shores.

I can't wait to see how Mr. Bush will talk his way out of all of this when Iran winds up with nuclear weapons next year. But then again, I may be way off base. Maybe France will save us yet. I'm not sure which is worse, having one of our cities get nuked, or having to be beholden to France. Either way, we have Bush (and 52% of you) to thank for it.

Jay Corvid


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Date:2004-10-27 20:16
Subject:Reality meets Perception
Security:Public

There has been widespread discussion about those who have been classified as "undecided" with regard to the upcoming election. If you were unfamiliar with what that word meant and heard some of these discussions, you might be inclined to think "undecided" means "morally bankrupt and dim-witted". "Undecided" has become a dirty word, and I think it has also become quite mis-used. Those who are undecided are not typically in this category because they don't care about the elections, or even because they are more mis-informed (or under informed) than the rest of us. Rather, they have piled up the perceived good and bad about each candidate, and are left with the scales teetering somewhere in the middle. Because no single issue (economy, foreign policy, social issues, etc) tips the scales solidly in one direction or the other, they are forced to start trying to apply weights to each issue in their mind. Are civil unions more important than spending policy, is security more important than trade relations, is ducking the draft worse than speaking out against your country, is good hair better than a neat southern accent. It is this balancing act that I am writing about tonight. It is my opinion that the majority of those whose decision is not yet set in stone are primarily struggling to identify which way they lean on this particular issue: Which is more important to me, the reality of a failure to date in Iraq or the perception that Bush will keep me safer? The reason is simple. These are the two largest concerns held by most Americans these days - What's happening in Iraq, and the war on terror. There is a trade off, because many people feel that Iraq is a disaster that Bush got us into, but they also think Bush will keep them safer than John Kerry. I'll highlight both issues briefly...

Reality: The conservatives do a good job of trying to balance between saying that Iraq is going well and just saying that it could be worse. But no one is contending that Iraq has been a smashing success, and by not saying so, I think it's the intellectually honest position to take. There are still lots of deaths, lots of people without power and water, no economy to speak of, less than 10% of the planned reconstruction for 2004 has taken place, Al-Sadr, Fallujah, Najaf, Zarqawi, etc. Many Americans, whether they feel the war was justified or not, are squirming about the speed of progress and whether it will all be worth it when it's all said and done. I don't presume to know the answer, but the "undecided" voters are looking at where we are over a year later and are wondering if Iraq a) is just not going well right now, b) is a potential disaster, or c) was a failure from the very beginning. Precisely because no one knows the answer to that yet, they face the prospect of voting for Bush with a fair amount of trepidation.

Perception: Bush has traditionally received high marks for being a strong leader and tough on terror. The undecided voter understands that America is not out of the woods yet with respect to terror, and that there is still work that desperately needs to be done. Bush was the face of our anger and resolve to the world after 9-11, and he led us through the emotions and angst of that time. He led us through the war in Afghanistan, where America stood up, fought back, and taught those who would do us harm that there would be a stiff price to pay for doing so. It was because of this period in our history that most people look on Bush as being strong and decisive. He has become the nations "security blanket" that we, for whatever reason, feel better just knowing that it's nearby, that it is there to protect us if we need it. Without even considering any facts, and with all things being equal, people just feel safer with Bush.

So the undecided voter sees the reality of failure in Iraq with no way of knowing how it will end, and yet they have a perception that Bush will keep them safer than any other candidate. So which is more important they wonder. How to make a decision? Thankfully for them, I am here to bring clarity to their restless minds.

The reality of the issues we are facing in Iraq speak for themselves. Sure, we are building schools and hospitals, and sure we are working on the power and water, and elections will be held at some point, but none of that matters unless Iraq can find peace and a government that can lead their people. By saying that Iraq has become a crisis is not the same thing as saying that Iraq is a failure or a mistake, but it is saying that unless we solve the very real problems it will certainly become a failure. Further, there is a point at which the level of cost in terms of life and money will make the cost/benefit equation tip in the wrong direction. I don't think we (both as individuals and as a country) know if we are going to cross that point or not. And none of us know what the long-term impact will be in either event. But the reality is that "undecided" voters have to think in these terms. It isn't going as expected, things are bad, and I'm questioning the worth and likely outcome of the entire affair.

But let's look at the perception that Bush is able to keep us safer than his opponent. Listening to Sean Hannity, Michael Graham, Bill Krystal, Clifford May, Dick Cheney, etc. I hear that the simple fact that we haven't been attacked again is proof that Bush's policies have worked. Is that a fair assessment? Not really when you consider that Al Qaeda waited many years before attacking the World Trade Centers again. Additionally, we know it took over a decade to plan 9-11 and to carry it out, so why would we expect them to be able to hit us with another sensational attack within three years? And do you really think that if we get hit again that the Republicans will then say, "I guess Bush's policies failed", or do you think they'll say "we have to be right every time, the terrorists only have to get lucky once,"? I think we both know.

Ok, so what about security? Ports continue to let in more uninspected cargo than inspected cargo. When it came up in the debates that we only inspect 10% of all cargo, Bush's response was that we inspect all cargo classified as "high risk" and that we had made process changes and agreements with other countries to ensure that ships and their cargo were secured before leaving port to America. For this to make you feel safe however, you have to trust that countries like Canada, Mexico, and France are doing their part - the same countries that allowed the first batch of terrorists into the U.S. And to be frank, I don't have a high level of comfort with us being able to somehow reliably divine which cargo containers are high risk, which ones are not, and to stay one step ahead of terrorists who will be trying to sneak bombs over here on the most innocuous cargo container full of baby food, bibles, and toilet paper. If you think I'm going over the edge here and that our government can certainly prevent any of this material from crossing our border, go jump on the Internet and find out how much marijuana and cocaine are grown/harvested within our borders compared to how much we consume each year.

Our borders are not secure, and we have had senior officials within the Border Patrol threaten to resign because they didn't feel they had the tools they needed to keep the borders closed. What about our airports? Surely they have improved. The Department of Homeland Security revealed on September 22nd that during their latest study they were able to sneak bombs and guns past screeners in 15 out of 15 airports. Representative John Mica, R-Fla, the chairman of the house aviation subcommittee, said the results on weapons were "bad enough", but the results on explosives were "absolutely horrendous." The bottom line is that you are never going to find plastic explosives with a metal detector, no matter how hard you try. So why do they only occasionally check passengers using trace detection equipment? Would you feel safe if they only made 1 out of every 20 people walk through a metal detector? Three years and the means that was used to kill 3,000 Americans is still wide open.

The top two leaders of the group that attacked us are still on the loose, but we are killing their followers, shutting down their bank accounts, and forcing them to hide in caves. We must be safe, right? And yet, in 2003 Donald Rumsfeld said in an internal memo (that was of course leaked to the press) that we lacked the proper metrics to know if we were making any progress on the war on terror. He pointed out that while we freeze assets, we don't know what percent of the total that is, nor do we know if the donations the terrorists are receiving are increasing faster than we can track them down and freeze them. He also pointed out that while we were killing a lot of potential and active terrorists, we have no idea how many are being created due to the unpopular nature of some of our activities, and how quickly new terrorists are being turned out by the mosques. And, we still don't know. If the Bush administration did know, we would hear those facts every day, especially during election season. The bottom line is we don't know if we are winning the war on terrorism. We are winning battles, but we have no concept of the impact on the greater war. What we do know, is that terrorist attacks have gone up since 9/11/2001 (thanks the report on terrorism that came out early in 2004) and that there are still plenty of individuals in the world that would love to kill us all.

So this brings me back to the original question - Why is Bush perceived as being more capable of making us safe? Is it because he will attack those who attack us? No, because that is reactive and not what any of us are looking for. Is it because he will go after those that are the largest threat to us? Well, out of the three members of the axis of evil, one has nukes, one is within a year of having them, and one was at least 5 years away from being able to have them, if they ever decided to even try. Guess which of the three Bush attacked.

In the final analysis, any conservative can (and likely will) attempt to argue specific points about what I've said and I'll be more than happy to discuss. However, what I am getting at for those who are "undecided" is that the perception that Bush will make us safer is based more on emotional baggage than it is on anything practical that the Bush administration has done in the past 3 years. If you want to analyze all of the evidence and decide if Bush will make you safe, I'm all for it. However this knee jerk, gut-feeling that Bush will make us safe is not only unfounded, but it is in and of itself, dangerous. He has created a foreign policy that attempts to allow us to invade any country we think is a threat without the agreement of the world, but which also forces us to rely on the rest of the world to work with us to ensure our safety (monitoring ports, pressure Iran and North Korea, sharing intelligence, etc.). It's one thing to slap your neighbor, it's another thing to slap them and then say that you expect them to help protect your property when the wolves come. Answer this question - If we were to experience another 9/11 style attack tomorrow, do you think we'd have the same level of support around the world when we wanted to invade the "responsible" country as we did in Afghanistan? To not recognize that in order to track down weapons of mass destruction and rogue terrorists, that we need the full and undivided cooperation of every foreign country in the world, is to ignore that which is inextricably tied to our security and survival as a free nation.

So to the "undecided" voter, I ask that you re-evaluate your perceptions of President Bush. Look at the example of Iraq, and you will see that Bush is not an effective leader, and then look at our national security, and you will see that he is also not endowed by God with some uncanny ability to make us safe. Perception often has more to do with why people chose their candidates than reality does, but having a good understanding of reality will prepare you to make a better choice.

Jay Corvid

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Date:2004-10-18 19:52
Subject:"He may be wrong, but at least he's consistent"
Security:Public

People make their Presidential selections often for silly reasons. Who looks the best, who makes you laugh, which college they went to, etc. None of those factors amount to much in the way of Presidential potential, and yet facts like these sometimes make the decision, or at the least become the tie breaker. To professional arm-chair political pundits such as myself, these things drive me nuts, but people are people. However, when I hear strong-willed, involved, and well-versed individuals toss out one of these head-scratchers I...well, apparently I head to the Internet to talk about it. What I heard today I have heard before, but somehow it resonated differently with me this morning.

While driving in to work, I heard a local conservative radio personality say (essentially) this, "I'd rather vote for a guy who sticks to his guns no matter what, than a guy like Kerry who doesn't even know what his opinion is from one minute to the next." Your view as to whether Kerry is a "flip-flopper" or not, and the counter-argument about Bush's own "re-statements of his opinion" notwithstanding, this statement really grates at me. What it is saying when you break it down is this, "Consistency trumps Reason". Before you 'righties' have a fit, let me explain (if you are already starting to shake and feel that vein in your head ready to blow, go ahead and call me a "socialist" or something to relieve the pressure, but then please come back and keep reading).

So what are conservatives actually comparing with that statement? First, keep in mind that the statement is not passing judgment on Kerry or Bush, although it does attempt to describe them from the speakers' perspective. It is saying that given two options, they'd pick the first guy. Digging into the actual statement, I think we understand the latter half, the person who changes their mind. You can muse on the merits of changes in direction on your own time, that isn't important here. That part of the statement is saying that changes in direction, be it once or ten times, is bad (regardless of if it's the 'right' thing to do or not). That's easy to understand.

It's the first part of that message that is most disturbing to me. You see, if the guy who "sticks to his guns" was truly right all of the time, then that statement would have no meaning. Who wouldn't prefer someone who is not only 'right', but who knows it and sticks with it. The above comparison only works if the guy who "sticks with his guns" is WRONG. What the comparison really says, "I would rather have someone who is consistent, even when they are wrong, than someone who changes their mind too frequently, irrespective of whether or not he comes down on the right side of things at the end".

This statement speaks volumes about many of the Bush supporters I see today, and is what also drives the "anybody but Bush" fervor as well. It's the apparent decision by the Bush administration that it is better to be strong and resolute, and to appear driven before the eyes of the people, than to run the risk of showing what may be perceived as poor leadership by re-directing. People, even Presidents, are fallible and I am not asking for Bush to come before the people on his knees, simpering and begging for forgiveness for his transgressions. However, the administration is so concerned by this duality, that not only will they not admit mistakes, but they have time and again refused to make necessary and crucial changes for fear of being seen as irresolute. For those of you who even now are becoming dizzy by furiously nodding your head with this approach, I ask you this simple question. Is it better to be right, or is it better to be perceived as right?

This isn't to say that Bush hasn't admitted any of his mistakes. He did admit that they were mistaken about what the situation would be in Iraq immediately after the war. But that's the only time I can recall him doing so, and he has avoided repeating it like it was the black death. In a press briefing earlier in the year he was asked about his mistakes and he stuttered and stammered until all he could come up with was, "I'm sure I'll think of something," (which if you watch FoxNews, you will see a clip of it during a frequent pro-Kerry commercial). During the debates, he dodged the question, rambling on about some unnamed appointments.

There was a "New Voter Project" where people ages 18-30 asked the three main candidates 12 questions, which the candidates responded to in written form. One question asked when it was appropriate for a leader to change their opinion. When should "thoughtful reconsideration not be derided as flip-flopping"? The question wanted each of the three men to include in their answer a time when they had an "honest change of opinion on a topic of national importance". Even though Nader responded about a time he ate a hot dog, and Kerry's response ducked giving an example, can you guess what Bush's response was? If you can't guess, try this question. Who was the only candidate to not answer all of the questions, and what was the only question he did not answer? If you guessed Bush, and the question about "thoughtful reconsideration", then you have the answer to both questions. Even away from the bright lights of a crowded debate, and with all of the time and support staff available to him, and despite the fact that he gave the most lengthy answers to quite a few of the other questions, Bush simply couldn't answer the question. He couldn't even fake a response.

I have railed against Bush time and again, but that's not why I'm writing this. I am writing this time to challenge those who support Bush. I have heard over and over and again this election season about Kerry's flip-flops, and how Bush conveys a consistent and unerringly precise direction. I've heard countless Bush supporters showing the same inflexibility and lack of thoughtful reconsideration with statements like "Bush is my guy, no matter what," and "consistency of message is what's important in the face of terror." I challenge you today to rethink those statements. The old saying of "those who do not learn from their mistakes, are destined to repeat them" is true, but not entirely applicable here. The new saying is, "those who do learn from their mistakes, but who are too stubborn to admit and learn from them, are doomed to make our entire country repeat them".

If your candidate can't be honest with you about his mistakes, and more importantly resists the call to make it right, how confident can you be that if the next decision he makes, one that may affect you very personally, turns out to be wrong, that it will be corrected? Can you reasonably expect a President who won't even answer a question about "thoughtful consideration" to exercise it?

Let's not make the rally cry of our next President "he may be wrong, but at least he's consistent." If you go to the polls in a few weeks to vote for Bush with that thought in your head, I hope and pray you can take a lesson from this discussion, and rethink some of your own mistakes before you pull that lever.


Jay Corvid

P.S. To read the Q&A sponsored by the New Voters Project, follow this link (look at question #11 for Bush's response to the question...or lack of response, rather).

http://youthdebate.newvotersproject.org/the_candidates_respond.html



Follow these links to read the responses to this post...

http://www.livejournal.com/community/politicsforum/363348.html

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Date:2004-10-13 11:05
Subject:Bush Relying on Other Countries for OUR Security
Security:Public

One of the main arguments Bush uses against Kerry is that the Senator would rely on other countries giving the go-ahead for international security actions. He has continued to attack the so-called "global test" as being weak in the face of important decisions, and he has stated time and again that the United States must maintain control of issues that affect our own security. I don't disagree. In fact, neither does Kerry, regardless of how Bush spins it. The difference lies in this question, "Is it in the best interest of the United States to have strong and dedicated allies, while we do what we must to solidify our National Security?" The answer, is clearly yes.

Note that this question does not ask if we should we bend to whatever the rest of the world wants. Nor does it say that we would not act unless we had international agreement. Rather, it says that when we are taking actions, we will be more successful if we have broad support from around the world. This means we would get troop, monetary, intelligence, and reconstruction support. However it would also mean that we would not find ourselves on the business end of trade sanctions (as has happened in the past 2 years for the steel and other industries) and other unrelated international activity due to the strains on our relations.

To date, this is the point that the Bush administration has missed. As we have seen, there was no growing and gathering threat in Iraq that would have prohibited us from continuing to work with the rest of the international community. Granted, it is "possible" that we shouldn't have know better given the intelligence we had, however war was not the only option. We could get sidetracked by talking about this in greater detail, but that isn't my point here. Rather, the point is that Bush actually campaigns on the basis that he will act alone whenever necessary. The seeming ease with which he casts off the concerns of potential allies borders on being overly cavalier. If this was really his policy, this approach ultimately serves to hurt our economy, as friction generated between countries does not simply vanish when it comes to non-security related issues.

And yet the fascinating part of this, is that Bush isn't actually following this "act alone" model, despite the frequency with which he advocates it. He certainly did in Iraq, making the case that America will not sit on the sidelines, waiting for other countries to decide what to do to make us safe. However, when it comes to the other two members of the Axis of Evil, the ones that either do have nuclear weapons or are about to have them, President Bush has stated that he is relying on other countries to handle the situation.

In the case of North Korea, the President said that the best way to handle that existing nuclear threat is to disengage from the process entirely and to let the local Asian countries figure it out. With regard to Iran, he stated in the second debate that he is letting France, Germany, and the U.K. put the pressure on this burgeoning nuclear nation. In one case, he won't even get involved, and the other, he is letting two countries who opposed us in our last security effort lead the charge (including France who is rapidly being shown to have been complicit with our recent "greatest enemy" - Saddam). This shows three things. First, it shows that there IS another option to war when faced with a country that has WMD's, something which we lost sight of in Iraq. Second, it shows that Bush also has a "global test" of his own in that he is not acting on his own (and in the case of North Korea, not at all). Third, it shows that he will at times place the security of our country in the hands of other countries, even those that have not shown themselves to be acting in our own best interest of late.

To be intellectually honest, Bush shouldn't be saying that he will "not rely on other countries to defend us", but rather he should be saying that he won't "rely on other countries to defend us, unless we don't have the resources available to do it ourselves, in which case we will hope for the best." Bush is trying to capitalize on the emotional value of statements that speak to him protecting us at all costs, and not being beholden to anyone at all, ever, under any circumstance. And yet, he can't actually do this in practice, not because he doesn't want to, but because we don't have the resources.

You see, we went into Iraq virtually alone, from a monetary and boots on the ground standpoint, because we could. We did it because we had the troops available. But, now that we are stretched thin, we don't have the luxury of pursuing those countries that are a threat to us right now. By not being more thoughtful, or at the very least careful, about which effort we chose to engage in, we have now been forced to leave our security to the efforts of those countries that didn't even support us in Iraq. Further, it has led to our administration waffling in the face of terror threats in Russia. Again, rather than being intellectually honest and attacking the terror attacks in Russia, we have instead labeled it a political issue that Russia should negotiate it's way out of. This has led to open and public showings of contempt by Russian officials, stating that "some Western powers" are supporting these (Chechian) terrorists (referring to the U.S. granting asylum to two of their leaders, and telling Russia to negotiate with terrorists). By saying he will protect us at all costs, Bush hopes to use our emotions to gain support. However, the downside is that he is also alienating our country from the rest of the world, not only for our security, but for our economic needs as well.

Finally, despite saying that he would not rely on other countries for our security, we now see Bush scheduling a G8 Summit to discuss the topic of Iran. The U.S. cannot get full international support for dealing with Iran, and we are unprepared to do anything on our own. When asked direct questions during the debates, Bush routinely answered that other countries were applying pressure on Iran. I'll leave you with this final clip from a CNN article today.

"In September, the head of the IAEA concluded there was concrete evidence Iran was deceiving the international community about its nuclear energy program and moving ahead with a clandestine program to develop nuclear weapons.

The U.S. has been unable to win international support for an automatic trigger to refer Iran's case to the United Nations for possible economic sanction if it does not halt its uranium enrichment program in coming weeks.


The intelligence indicates a growing and gathering threat in Iran. The clock is ticking, and the rest of the world is not acting quickly. Bush maintains that the G8 and the UN Security Council are the appropriate tools for handling this growing crisis. So which is it? Follow the Iraq model of "doing whatever is necessary", or let France and Germany protect us by following the North Korea model of "let the other countries handle it"? With the exception of stump speeches and debate one-liners, all indications from the Bush administration are the latter.

Jay Corvid


Follow these links to read the responses to this post...

http://www.livejournal.com/community/bush_vs_kerry/116667.html

http://www.livejournal.com/community/politicsforum/354574.html

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Date:2004-07-29 11:13
Subject:Bushs' Terrorist Factory
Security:Public

A report out today from the British Parliament warns that Afghanistan could, "implode with terrible consequences" unless more troops are sent to quell the mounting violence in that country. I have stipulated all along that the war on terror was best served by remaining in Afghanistan to finish what was begun, rather than by diverting our focus on what turned out to be a lame duck Iraq. We have not finished off Al Qaeda, have not captured the top two leaders, have not finished off the Taliban, nor captured their top leader.

During the run up to the war in Iraq, the Bush Administration warned that we would be in Iraq for as long as 15 years after the war to rebuild and ensure a stable government. That was in a country that had a single leader, and a military force that ruled the entire country. In Afghanistan, however, we pulled the vast majority of our troops out within six months of "victory", leaving the many local warlords with complete autonomy outside of the capital.

Further, the U.S. is not pouring reconstruction money into Afghanistan as it is in Iraq, which has lead to an explosion of the opium trade in that country. Opium is the single largest crop grown there, and is the only driving force behind their economy. The standing "government" dares not go after those in the drug trade because the reaction would lead to a near-immediate ouster of Kharzai, to be replaced by warlord-driven land grabs.

To quote the report, "There is a real danger if these resources are not provided soon that Afghanistan -- a fragile state in one of the most sensitive and volatile regions of the world -- could implode, with terrible consequences."

In his eagerness to move into Iraq, Bush abandoned Afghanistan and left it to the wolves. Iraq was far better off economically and had a much more advanced infrastructure than did Afghanistan, and yet the government's focus is entirely on rebuilding the oil-rich Iraq. Why did the Administration say that we must remain in Iraq for 10-15 years, but we pulled out of Afghanistan before the bodies were cold?

Within Iraq, less than a handful of the 52 most wanted Iraqi leaders are not in custody or dead 9 months after the start of the war, and the top three on the most wanted list are dead or writing poetry in a jail cell. None of those leaders played a dramatic role in making 9/11 possible.

Within the Afghan/Pakistani areas, the two top Al Qaeda leaders, as well as the leader of the government that supported them, are still on the loose and have been so for over 2 years since the Afghan war. All 3 played a dramatic role in making 9/11 possible.

And yet, Bush claims to be tough on terror. He is creating all of the circumstances required for terrorism to flourish in the very same country that produced the worst terrorists we have ever faced. Wide-spread poverty, economic instability, a rampant above ground drug trade capable of financing millions of dollars to terrorist organizations, and a weak, unpopular, and floundering government that is completely unable to defend itself or it's people. Without a government to protect them, nor economic opportunities to give them another option, Bush has created a breeding ground for terror, and has conveniently left in place several experienced terrorist leaders with an established agenda and a taste for blood.

And yet Bush has the stones to claim that someone else is soft on terror.

Jay Corvid

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Date:2004-07-26 01:34
Subject:Hypocrisy Redefined
Security:Public

I’ve seen a lot of interesting things transpire over the past month since I’ve posted. I thought I’d take a moment to point out what I find to be the latest in the string of Republican hypocrisies.

1) On the one hand, the Republicans preach that they are about family values and being the only ones who apparently know right from wrong. They are quick to criticize, as are the Democrats, but the Conservatives do it with a seeming moral imperative – "You are sinners, unless you are us." And yet, when a man named "Dick", who also happens to be the sitting Vice President, says "Go fuck yourself" on the floor of Congress, do we hear the right wing shuddering from their ivory tower? Do we hear condemnation for such an inappropriate, albeit witty and thoughtful, use of language in the sacred halls of Congress? No. Instead we hear, "it’s about time" and "it was long overdue." I don't mean to call them hypocrites, but if they are going to be the moral sounding board of America then they should hold themselves to their own standard. After all, we've heard them say time and again during the Clinton years, "words mean things".

2) During a Democratic rally, Whoopi Goldberg and a few other speakers apparently made some "off-color" comments about George Bush. The Administrations crack team of rabid offense-takers leapt into the fray, shouting "how dare you," and "that's completely inappropriate!" It seems that they feel as if making racy comments about a sitting President is off-limits and completely un-American. Thank goodness that nothing like that happened during that sticky little situation with Bill Clinton a few years back. I mean, if a few remarks during a single campaign event could spark such outrage, I shudder to think what might have happened if anyone had taken advantage of our former Presidents transgressions by making similar comments. Luckily, the Conservatives were above such things, which is why the Lewinsky ordeal was handled with so much professionalism and decorum.

3) When Kerry picked Edwards as his running mate, there was some discussion about what Edwards would bring to the ticket. Would he be able to bring North Carolina with him? Would his youth and good looks bring in the female vote? Could Kerry and Edwards hug and shake hands often enough to break the Guiness World Record for heterosexual male embracing (as an aside, this is currently held by Mike Tyson during one of his prison stints)? But what I found to be most interesting was the comments from El Fatbo (some call him Rush) and Sean "you are un-american" Hannity. Both of these intellectual giants repeated time and again, "Where is the balance on the Democratic ticket!?!" I point out that they did it "repeatedly" because in fairness, even I have said some things that later on I thought, "whoops, glad no one caught that pile of stupidity." Yet they continued to rail on this for days. Apparently, these brilliant men have ascertained that a Presidential ticket is somehow lacking if the Prez and Veep are too similar in philosophy. It would seem that their theory indicates that if you have people in these powerful positions that are too far on the same side of the political spectrum, that untold horrors and doom could be the only conceivable outcome. We NEED checks and balances between these two positions, otherwise the very Earth could rip asunder, dogs and cats could co-habitate (provided of course that they are of different genders, as proscribed by law), and who knows, maybe an unnecessary and costly war could spring up!! My only question for "God-I-need-a-Rush" and Stiff-hair is this...Have either of you ever listened to Dick Cheney? This is a man who said four years ago (regarding homosexual marriages), "I think different states are likely to come to different conclusions, and that's appropriate" but now thinks that a Constitutional amendment is necessary and that the States shouldn't have any say in the matter. This, of course, coming from a man whose own daughter is a lesbian! Cheney is so far up Bush's backside that you can see Dick whenever Bush opens his mouth. ***Aside: Yes, I did sent that last sentence to Whoopi for her next speech...it may have been juvenile of me, but I still find it funny***

4) Finally, in possibly the biggest hypocrisy of all, Bush entered the war in Iraq making dozens of statements regarding the welfare and support of the troops. He went on an on about how they would have whatever they needed, every tool available in our arsenal, if they need it they will have it, whatever the commanders on the field say they need, etc. etc. What follows below are some of the findings in the latest Government Accountability Office report, re: Pentagon Bloat Hurting Readiness...

- Of the 481 mobilized Army National Guard soldiers in six GAO case studies, 450 had at least one pay problem associated with their mobilization. "DOD's inability to provide timely and accurate payments to these soldiers, many of whom risked their lives in recent Irag or Afghanistan missions, distracted from their missions, imposed financial hardships on the soldiers and their families and has had a negative impact on retention."

- There were "substantial logistical support problems," resulting in shortages in field supplies, backlogs of materials delivered to the wrong place in the theater, cannibalization of vehicles due to a lack of new parts and armor, unnecessary duplicate supply orders, and a missing $1.2 billion in supplies that were shipped but never received.

- Of 50,000 maintenance work orders opened for six Navy battle groups, 58 percent of them could not be completed due to the repair parts not being available.

- The DOD was found to be selling chem/bio suits, purchased by the Government for $200, over the internet for $3. The study also found that the DOD sold thousands of defective bio-suits to law enforcement agencies across the country.

- The Pentagon squandered over $153 million due to purchasing (but not using) airline tickets, buying upgrades to business and first class, and to making double payments for airline tickets (reimbursing personnel for tickets that they never paid for in the first place).

- To make matters worse, the DOD has been pouring money into "fixing" this issue, but this is what the report had to say about that, "{the DOD has made} encouraging progress in addressing specific challenges, after about three years of effort and over $203 billion in reported obligations, we have not seen significant change in the content of DOD’s architecture or in its approach to investing billions of dollars annually in existing and new systems."

"Our troops will have everything they need, when they need it." George Bush.

Hypocrisy redefined.


Jay Corvid

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Date:2004-06-07 22:25
Subject:Pardon me sir, but I have misplaced my spine...may I borrow yours?
Security:Public

George Tenet resigned as the head of the CIA last week, but it is widely believed that this was not a decision that he made, as much as it was a request from the President. For the sake of fair play, I'll discuss the merits of this belief, but then I want to discuss with you what this means about the President and what it may mean for the rest of us in the future.

Personal Reasons?
Mr. Tenet said that he was resigning from office for one reason only, for the "well-being of my wonderful family." However, this seems unlikely for several reasons. First, there have been no reports of any illnesses or other situations that would call for him to leave the job he clearly (and by all accounts) loved so much. Second, Tenet was not the type of person who would leave his position with only five months to go before a Presidential election. He indicated that he wanted to spend more time with his son, but his son is about to start his Senior year in high school, which is an odd time to chose to begin bonding with your only child. Bottom line, it doesn't make sense.

We'll miss you?
Even if Tenet was leaving for personal reasons, after the President said that he was a "strong and able leader and I will miss him", the President would surely have asked him to reconsider, right? When asked if the President had asked Tenet to reconsider, Scott McClellan's answer was, "Mr. Tenet did a great job, and the President was pleased with his service." Translation, "No, we were afraid that if we asked him to reconsider that he might." This sentiment may have been telegraphed based on a related question, also to Scott McClellan during a White House Press Briefing in February of 2004. Clip of that below...

Q: Does he anticipate the Director staying on through the course of the investigation?
MR. McClellan: I'm sorry -- through?
Q: Through the investigation, the commission --
MR. McCLELLAN: Director Tenet is -- the President appreciates the job he is doing, and he is in that position and we appreciate his service.

Once again, we see a non-answer to questions about Tenet's longevity. Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld, who was traveling in Asia on Friday, told the crew on the USS Essex that the United States would have stopped the September 11, 2001 attacks if American intelligence had gotten better inside information. He further went on to imply that because we cannot count on Intelligence, that we have little choice but to pursue pre-emptive strikes on terrorists before they can act. Translation, "Be nice to us about Iraq, I only invaded because I couldn't trust the CIA to sniff out terrorists." And we already knew Colin Powell's feelings when he said last month that the sources of his allegations regarding Iraq before the United Nations were "inaccurate and wrong, and in some cases, deliberately misleading...and I regret it". Translation: "Your shoddy work cost me my credibility and now I have to eat crow, thanks."

No time like the present?
Ok, so if that isn't the reason he is resigning, what is? Was he asked to leave? The administration is of course denying that they asked him to leave, but let's look into our crystal ball to see if there may be some reason why now would be an exceptionally good time for Tenet to take a powder...

In the next 2-3 months, there will be several reports on the American intelligence service, the first one being the Senate Intelligence Committee report due later this month. Early reviews of the document indicate that it focuses almost entirely on the CIA's faults, and that it is a "very stinging report of failure inside the CIA", according to one of the members of the committee. The presidential commission on the 9/11/2001 attacks, a commission that the President was originally against, will be producing their report this summer as well. This commission has already strongly condemned the CIA and is expected to recommend dramatic changes to the Agency in report. With these reports coming out just prior to an election year, either Bush has to take the blame or he has to make someone else fall.

Don't let the door hit you on the way out.
But is it fair to roll poor Mr. Tenet in this way? Hasn't he done a good job, in fact a "superb" job to quote the President? Maybe this is just one of those overblown scandals that are not truly worthy of the attention they get. Maybe Tenet had a long history of successes, and the pressure he is feeling now is due to something recent and dramatic, which is only now forcing the President to push for his resignation. Let's look at Tenet's record to see if we can figure out if he has had a history of successes, or if this is a sudden and unexpected fall from grace.

Under Tenet's watch:
1) Two U.S. embassy's were destroyed by terrorism
2) The USS Cole was bombed by terrorists
3) The worst domestic terrorist attack in the country's history
4) The perpetrator of said attack is still free nearly three years later
5) A country was invaded due to faulty information regarding weapons of mass destruction
6) A high level CIA operative's name was leaked, ruining her cover.
7) There are investigations into the appropriateness of the means used by the CIA and Military Intelligence to conduct interrogations overseas
8) Highly classified intelligence information found it's way to Ahmad Chalabi, and then to Iran

To quote Senator Richard Shelby (Republican from Alabama and former Intelligence Committee chairman), "There were more failures of intelligence on his watch as director of the CIA than any other in our history." And mind you, these aren't small oversights. From 9/11, to referring to the case of WMD's in Iraq as a "slam-dunk", Tenet has continually been so far off the mark that one is forced to question what the 'I' stands for in CIA.

Take a deep breath
So let's recap for a moment. Tenet's claim to be leaving for personal reasons has not convinced anyone on either side of the aisle. The President and his top advisors have already washed their hands of the whole affair, and no one was willing to ask him to stay. He is leaving now because of the sheer volume of incriminating and condemning information that is about to become public (ok, not a lot of new information really, but the 'official' word that it was in fact the fault of the CIA). He knows that he cannot survive that volley, and if he is allowed to stay, the administration fears that he could take the President down as well. And more importantly, we have learned that his legacy is one fraught with failures, poor judgment, shoddy follow-up, and controversy. He could have been let go on any number of occasions, for most of the events listed above, but for some reason he has held on this long. And here is where I want to focus. Why has such an abysmally incompetent CIA director been allowed to hang on, to the point where only one person in the history of the CIA, has held that job longer than he has? Why has President Bush not held Tenet accountable for his failings in the past, and why does he now ask for Tenet's resignation in secret, rather than demanding his resignation publicly?

The obvious answer, and perhaps the most cynical, is that Tenet has his own side of the story. There have been allegations and conjecture that Bush was pushing for the war in Iraq, even pushing the CIA analysts to keep cutting the data until it showed up the way he wanted it. Now that we have learned more about Chalabi, we realize that the intelligence he (Chalabi) was providing was entirely trumped up, something that Tenet may have tried to convince the President of. When Bush and Colin Powell came out in February and spoke about the dearth of reliable information regarding the WMD in Iraq, Tenet came out the next day and made a rare public speech. In that speech, he pointed out that he never said "imminent threat" and none of the pre-war reports that the CIA provided to the Bush administration indicated that time was running out. In short, he came out and refuted the administrations claims that Iraq was fraught with poor intelligence. What this means, is that the February speech by Tenet may just be a sampling of what we would hear if Bush came after the Director publicly. And with all of that being said, while this may actually be the truth, what I find to be almost more disturbing is the next possibility for why Bush has not handled Tenet before now.

President Bush is known for his loyalty. This traditionally admirable quality can be taken too far, and it is possible that this is the case with Tenet. Bush kept Tenet when he took office at the urging of his father, Bush Sr. Since that time, President Bush has spoken out in support of Tenet after each and every intelligence failure that we've had. It is my belief that Bush simply trusts his people to a fault, and that he doesn't hold them accountable for the mistakes they make. As long as you support Bush and stay in line with his agenda, he will stay loyal to you. This is evident not only with Tenet, but also with Rumsfeld who has also been implicated in a variety of high profile issues in the past four years. Not enough troops in Iraq, poorly equipped troops, poor post war planning, and micro-managing troop deployments which has lead to numerous cases of troops being detached from their equipment. Yet as in the case of the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse scandal, even though we learned that the President was displeased about not being kept informed by Rumsfeld, Bush came out and stated what a "superb job Rumsfeld is doing."

However, if Bush thinks that by having Tenet leave in this manner that he will insulate himself from criticism when the intelligence reports come out in a few months, I feel that he is making a strategic mistake. By waiting for years, through numerous failures, and then by sending Tenet off by calling his service "superb" and "great" and "key in the fight against terror", how does Bush expect that when the criticism comes, to not share in that accountability? Even once Tenet is gone, if you have yet to decry him and his failings, and are even lauding him as a great director, then you are showing that you are blind to the realities of the situation, and that even if someone new comes into that position, you will yourself remain as a barrier to progress! How many opportunities will you give your people to let the country down before you will take action, Mr. President?

Blinded by loyalty, naively trusting his team to improve their already dubious track record, and with his own judgment in question, I have grave concerns for another four years with Bush in office. Mistakes happen, but if your leadership style is to never hold anyone accountable, to reward failure, and to trust your people even when they repeatedly let the team down, then maybe the job of President of the United States of America is not for you. How many soldiers have to die, how many international bridges do we need to burn down, and how many wars do we have to start before you ask Rumsfeld to step down? Please show me that you have some capacity to learn from your mistakes, even if those who work for you do not.

Jay Corvid

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Date:2004-05-16 23:14
Subject:When being mean simply isn't enough, become a state delegate...
Security:Public

Please read the following bolded clip from our friends at www.VirginiaIsForHaters.org ...

The Virginia General Assembly passed a law April 21 banning all contracts between partners in homosexual relationships. Not just marriage, all contracts.

At the center of HB 751 is this language:

"A civil union, partnership contract or other arrangement between persons of the same sex purporting to bestow the privileges or obligations of marriage is prohibited. Any such civil union, partnership contract or other arrangement entered into by persons of the same sex in another state or jurisdiction shall be void in all respects in Virginia and any contractual rights created thereby shall be void and unenforceable."


After hearing about this law, and reading up on it, I penned the following email to our dear friend, Delegate Bob Marshall, who was kind enough to sponsor the bill...


*********************************************************

Date: Thu, 29 Apr 2004 20:42:51 -0400
From: Jay Corvid
Subject: Deplorable
To: Del_Marshall@house.state.va.us

I am an affluent white male who, as is evidenced by the state sanctioned ring I wear on my left hand, is as heterosexual as they come. And, despite the fact that I work an average of 60 hours a week (in Virginia, by the way) and have numerous other activities that keep my calendar quite full, I feel compelled to spend a moment to let you know how I feel regarding your recent sponsorship of HB751. If you aren't
sure where this is headed, I invite you to glance at the subject line of this email.

I sit here completely vexed by the decision passed by the Virginia General Assembly, which serves to further alienate and punish the homosexuals in our community. And what really galls me about this whole matter, is that you and some of your colleagues seem to eagerly seek out every possible means of de-stabilizing and de-humanizing some of your own citizens, in your malicious fervor to impress your own moral values upon everyone you have sworn to represent. You see, committing an act of evil is one thing, but to do it with a gleam in your eye and with hate in your heart, is something else entirely. Think I have gone to far? Please allow me to
explain.

There are those who are against gay marriage, and rally from behind the shield of "the sanctity of marriage." Despite the rampant rate of divorce in this country (even without gay marriage), I can understand (if not respect) their view. Just as the racist bigots of the not-to-distant past ultimately learned in the case of civil rights, these individuals will succumb to fairness and justice in time.

However, what you have done goes far beyond that. You are not doing anything as noble as the concept of "saving marriage." You had the opportunity to leave marriage as it is, and to provide another recourse for those whom you have deemed unfit to be bonded by matrimony. You had the option to turn this into a win-win situation, but instead, you chose the mean-spirited and malicious path of denying civil unions in order to prevent people who are in love from being able to take care of each other. And for good measure, you even pushed further to lay the groundwork to prevent their ability to have durable powers of attorney, health care directives,
and wills. These were not the actions of a man protecting something. These were the actions of a man who hates. A man who is so caught up in his own self-righteousness that he cannot even tolerate the existence of a thought he doesn’t
share. You could have simply said, "no civil unions." But you didn’t. You took it further. You turned what could have been simply a display of poor character and insensitivity, into an act of cruelty.

I suppose that in the future it is conceivable you will be viewed as the sacrosanct protector of contractual obligations. Maybe the Queen of England will make you a
Knight of the Realm for valiantly standing firm, buoyed by your religion, against the stalwart foes of contract law. These things are possible, but more likely I see your actions and those of your colleagues, to be remembered as the death throes of a bygone era, where intolerance and inhumanity struggled for one last gasp of air, before being overcome by humanity’s irresistible strides towards equality.

You know, it’s a funny thing. Throughout the history of the world, there were always those who sought to hold people back and to restrict the rights of others, and during those times they enjoyed the support of many of their colleagues and
neighbors. Yet the measure of time has always held constant. Whenever we look back, those that used their power to deny the rights of others and to limit the liberty of their people, are without fail condemned for their actions and are reviled for their lack of character. And unerringly, in the long run their efforts have always failed, always been torn down by those who followed.

I would humbly ask that you keep this final thought in mind as you continue your service to the people.

Jay Corvid

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Date:2004-05-02 14:08
Subject:WMD to be explained?
Security:Public

It has occurred to me that at some point Bush will have to explain the lack of WMD's in Iraq. While everyone seems to have written off the possibility that the WMD's will be located, you still occasionally hear from the Bush administration that "they may still be found in Iraq." However, by my way of thinking, the ongoing race for the Presidency will again put focus on the purpose of the war, and whether there was any need for it especially if it continues to go poorly. As Bush has yet to make anyone accountable for the lack of accurate intelligence, I am forced to assume that they are going to continue avoiding this approach as the election nears. Instead, my guess is that they are instead busy doing leg work to "find out where the WMD's went."

This administration is not keen on admitting that it was wrong, and even though they take advantage of the occasional fall guy (like blaming the intelligence failures on the rest of the world), they would much prefer to come up with other plausible, even if unprovable, explanations that would in some way vindicate them entirely.

So I would expect that sometime between now and September we will hear a story about how we have "proof" that the WMD's are in Syria, Iran, or somewhere else. Satellite imagery will be leaked to the press that shows trucks rolling across a border or some big holes in the ground somewhere. Now, these pictures won't show WMD's but they will allow the Administration to say "These trucks were dumping WMD's in those holes," with no real way to refute it. Without invading, the target country (be it Syria, Iran, NK, etc) we will have no way of saying that this didn't actually happen, but will allow Bush to give his on-the-fence supporters something to latch onto.

The only thing better than that would be for Bush to find a way to be able to implicate the U.N., France or Hans Blix in the process. By doing so, he could not only toss out an explanation to the WMD's, but also cast doubt on those who stood against him.

And if this does happen, my questions are going to be, "where have those pictures been for the past year, and when are we invading Syria (or wherever we are going to say the WMD's are)?" They will of course say that we can't invade right now and that we will take other measures to control the WMD's. Of course, then my question will be, "When did we come up with other measures for controlling WMD'S? I thought we invaded Iraq because that was the only option???"

I may be wrong, and I'm taking a sizable risk by tossing this prediction out there, but I'm feeling pretty good about it. And why would now be the first time I've ever been wrong. Play the odds people, go with me on this one. But if you don't agree, be sure to reply now so that I can know who I need to laugh at when I'm shown to be correct.

Jay Corvid

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Date:2004-04-12 17:16
Subject:"I don't think they'll do that..."
Security:Public

So the "new" Iraq is in the process of determining what it will look like in the Post-Saddam era. They are mired in confusion caused by the lack of self-determination they have lived with for the past several decades, and are ill-equipped to resolve this matter on their own. The U.S. has a game plan for the nascent government, however a game plan only works if the players are willing to follow it.

By way of analogy, imagine a child that was not permitted to make any decisions on his own throughout his first 18 years of life. When he finally goes off to college, he is unable to bring any logical decision making abilities to bear, and he is forced to learn by taking actions and analyzing the outcomes. Or, in extreme cases, he can find himself completely paralyzed and unable to develop clear decisions, and then is forced to learn through the repercussions of inaction.

This is not ideal for an individual, however it is catastrophic for a country that does not have the luxury of muddling through such growing pains over an extended period of time. In the case of the American revolution, the leadership had time to envision what the future they desired would look like, and could act accordingly. Since Iraq did not revolt against their leadership, they are finding themselves suddenly without any direction at all and are reliant on a foreign power for that guidance. To further complicate the issue, it just happens that the foreign power that is guiding them is also one that much of the country does not trust, and one which has very clear ideas about the end result in mind. Ultimately however, Iraq will have to decide the government it wants on it's own. Which brings me to my point for this article.

The U.S. government is running it's game plan, which coincidentally happens to be the same one attempted in Vietnam, and that is to quickly give control of the country to it's citizenry. The premise being, we tell them that democracy is the way to go, they love it, and they skip merrily down that path with us staying in the background to answer questions about which animal to use for each political party, how much soft money is good money, and how to deal with drunken senators frolicking naked in wading pools. The end result is that the country looks like it is in control of itself very quickly, and that the U.S. is perceived as being hands-off which makes everyone happy (I know lots of people within the U.S. that would prefer that our government followed a hands-off approach domestically as well, so I can sympathize).

However, this only works if the new political parties behave themselves and keep skipping merrily towards where we want them to go. And anyone who follows politics at all knows full well that the only course of action that you can get everyone to agree on is the directions to the buffet line at State dinners - and even then you have some buffoon moving the wrong way down the line, filling his pockets up with lemon torte and roast beef with gravy because he doesn't have a plate yet. As we saw in Vietnam, and as we are starting to see in Iraq, not everyone is onboard with our vision of their future.

The most ringing example of our dawning understanding of this fact is the identical response we get from our leadership when the following question is asked - "What do we do if Iraq democratically chooses to elect a fundamentalist regime?" The answer I have now heard from Condy Rice, Rumsfeld, President Bush and just this weekend from Paul Bremer is, "I don't think they'll do that...". This is not only not answering the question, but it also tells us that this is not something the U.S. would approve of, otherwise the answer would be more supportive. To put another way, the U.S. will not allow a fundamentalist, Iran-style, government to be put into place in Iraq.

So herein lies the problem. Saddam, for all of his shortcomings, was the only obstacle in the path of the fundamentalist muslim powers in that country. He kept the majority Shiites at bay through brute force. The U.S. cannot do this, and so now we are faced with the dilemma of how we prevent the strongest and most unifying force in Iraq from, well, unifying.

Aside from the irony of going to a country to give them freedom, and then telling them that they cannot have the government they want, my issue is the futility of attempting to do so. Governments are not static, they evolve over time. What you establish today, will likely be changed at some point in the future. For example, at one point the U.S. believed in the pursuit of happiness, but now we are seeking a Constitutional Amendment to prevent two individuals of the same sex from that pursuit (oops, I slipped in a dig at Bush, but old habits die hard). The point is, even if we get the government in Iraq that we want today, how are we going to prevent it from changing to something else later on.

It is my assertion that even if we institute an American style Democracy in Iraq, we will not be able to control who they elect. And, whomever they elect will have the authority to change their own style of governing through Amendments and pursuant legislation. If the citizens truly want a fundamentalist regime, then they will evolve to one over time, and what will the U.S. government be able to do about it? Short of invading and trying again after each election that the U.S. doesn't agree with, the answer is very little. Even imposing economic or other sanctions will only make us look like hypocrites.

The bottom line in all of this is that it is the obligation of the United States to ensure that the Iraqi government is established in a democratic and fair manner, even if it isn't the one we want. If it is truly the government of their people, it is not appropriate for us to "veto" it, as doing so will only further alienate our two countries. Iraq has to determine it's own fate, and as we see with the burgeoning discontent in Iran, progress from this state is not impossible, even if slower than we would like. Without buy-in from the Iraqi people, their new government will be viewed as a puppet of the U.S. and it will be at risk of being overthrown in the future, thus causing them more unrest and destruction.

We can either fight against the inevitable, and come out a loser, or we can support the direction of the country and still be better off than we were with Saddam. In closing, I think it is important to remember that "Fundamentalist Muslim" doesn't translate directly to "Kill Americans" any more than "Pro-American" translates to "Kill Muslims".

Jay Corvid

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Date:2004-04-05 16:18
Subject:Flip-flopping inside the Bush House of Glass
Security:Public

If I were Al Franken (which thankfully I'm not) that title would have read, "Flip Floppers, and the Flops that Flip them." Moving on...

George Bush seeks to paint John Kerry as an aimless wanderer, skipping merrily down the halls of Congress, casting votes with gay abandon and without regard to consistency. And while Kerry hasn't helped his case by saying things like "I voted for it, before I voted against it," listening only to the Bush camp isn't a wise course either. So in the greatest tradition of giving the other side of the story, I'm going to give you the perspective the Bush camp doesn't want you to hear. I'm sure that I will get a phone call from Bush, accusing me of being a soft-money supporter of Kerry and try to put us both in jail for campaign finance wrong-doings, but I'll run the risk because I care about all of you knowing the truth.

So let's have it. Below are Bush's flip flops, and the reasons for Kerry's. I'll update both lists as new ones arise.

Bush George (see, I flip-flopped the names there...aren't I clever)...
1) Bush devoutly opposed the creation of the Department of Homeland Security as proposed by the Democrats in the months that followed 9-11. Several months later, he went on national TV to demand it's creation. He even went as far as using it on the 2002 and now 2004 campaign trail as a measure of how well he has handled the war on terror.
2) Bush was against the creation of a Committee to look into the intelligence failures that lead up to 9-11 until the pressure from other Republicans and the families of the victims convinced him to change his mind.
3) Bush was adamant that Condoleeza Rice not testify publicly before the 9-11 Committee. Until weeks later when it was pointed out to him that other Presidents had allowed their NSA chief to speak publicly and on the record to similar committees in the past (as in after the bombing of Pearl Harbor). Not only a flip-flop, but it was brave "leadership" only after he found out that everyone else thought it was ok.
4) Bush felt that the subject of Gay marriage was best left to the States to decide. Then he proposed the creation of a Constitutional amendment several months later.
5) Bush ran on a platform of fiscal conservatism and promised fiduciary discipline. He then proceeded to run up the largest deficit in real dollars that this country has ever seen.
6) Bush was for imposing steel tariffs on imports from other countries to protect American jobs in that industry. Then the EU complained about them and Bush caved. Whether you agree with the tariffs or not, Bush flip-flopped.
7) Bush was against the Sarbanes-Oxley corporate reform bill, feeling that we didn't need the creation of an independent body to oversee corporate accounting. A few months later, after the WorldCom debacle, suddenly Bush was caught saying "I look forward to prompt action by the Senate so that I can sign this important legislation into law." Leadership after the fact again. Nice work.
8) Bush was against the McCain-Feingold campaign finance bill, which would make soft money contributions to political candidates. Not only did he end up signing it after originally opposing it, now he is attempting to wield it to his advantage against John Kerry. Guess you lucked out on that particular flip, eh Bush.
9) When questioned about the "Mission Accomplished" banner aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln in his speech after the war, Bush stated that the banner was put up by the ship's crew and that his administration had nothing to do with that. Several months later the White House conceeded that not only did they put the banner up, but they also produced and paid for it. Is this flip-flopping or is it just lying?
10) The Baath party used to be bad and Bush felt that there was no way to allow anyone tied to Saddam's regime to stay in power. He felt that he had to completely tear down the military and rebuild it from the ground up, which is why they don't currently have much of a military. However, suddenly Bush feels that the Generals under Saddam are not only good guys who had nothing to do with filling all of the mass graves with hundreds of thousands of dead Iraqi's, but that they also should be put in charge of the new armies (i.e. the new head of the Fallujah Protection Army). This is the second sign of a sped up time table for withdrawing from Iraq (the first being an almost instantaneous agreement with Al Sistani to "hand over power" on June 30th, even though it had never been discussed prior to January).
11) And why leave Dick Cheney out of things? During the 2000 election campaign, he had this to say on gay unions, "It's really no one's business in terms of trying to regulate or prohibit behavior in that regard. I think different states are likely to come to different conclusions, and that's appropriate. I don't think there should necessarily be a federal policy in this area." That is before he flip-flopped and betrayed his lesbian daughter, Mary, and proved that he is the mindless 'yes' man that everyone always believed him to be. On the plus side, his wife Lynne is staying true to her beliefs and continues to push for states rights in this regard.

Why John Kerry changed his mind a few times...
1) Kerry was against the first war, but for the second. Was that a flip flop or was it two entirely different wars? It was the latter if you missed it. He was against the first because he didn't want to meddle in a middle-eastern problem. One that ultimately, regardless of how much money the US pours into it, is going to have to be sorted out by the middle-east on it's own. And technically Kerry wasn't "for" the second war, he was for granting the President the power to conduct a war if necessary which many people feel never reached that point.
2) First he voted for the $87 billion package for the rebuilding in Iraq (which the Republicans term as 'money for the troops' which is in reality only a small portion of what the money is actually for). When that package was voted down (by Republicans, by the way) he voted against the next package because they removed a line that would have raised the taxes to actually pay for it (by rolling back one of Bushs' earlier tax breaks). He was for the measure, he just didn't want to pay for it with more debt.
3) Kerry is for stricter gun controls, but is an avid hunter. Kerry must be good enough to take down a deer/quail with a rifle, whereas those who attack him for his stance must feel that they need a rocket-propelled grenade or an M-16 to do the same.
4) Kerry is a Veteran, who protested the war when he got home. Kerry fulfilled his obligation to his country, even though he was against the war. When he got home, he tried to lobby to end the war to save the lives of his comrades in arms who were still in harms way. Hmm, as I was writing that it struck me as being rather patriotic more than a sign of wavering convictions.
5) Kerry changed his mind regarding the separation wall in Israel. But then again, so did Israel when they saw the impacts it was having and have since started removing some sections. Something there is about a wall (name the poem...) wherein you can't always tell the affect it has until it exists.

Jay Corvid

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Date:2004-03-08 17:48
Subject:Did I ever mention how awful I feel about deaf kids not being taught how to yodel...
Security:Public

So I have broken the Bush presidency down into four chunks of time for analysis.

First, the pre-9/11 period. This is from the start of his Presidency through 9/10/2001.
Second, the 9/11 period. This is the timeframe between the date of 9/11 and the end of the Afghanistan war, meaning when the Taliban fell from power.
Third, the Iraq period. This period begins when we pulled our troops out of Afghanistan and covers up until the time we realized that there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.
Finally, fourth we have the pre-election period. This is from the time we realized that Iraq was not the threat we had made it out to be, all the way up until present day.

On to the analysis -

Pre-9/11 period: Does anyone remember anything Bush did that was either a) worthwhile, or b) controversial? I dare say that while I'm sure he did "something", I cannot find anyone who can think of anything. To be perfectly fair, I guess he did give out $60 billion in tax refunds to families, which sounds nice, but it will be eclipsed by spending later on so why even mention it. I only bring this time period up because it is worth looking at in comparison to the Pre-Election time period.

9/11 period: During this period of his time in office, I have to admit Bush did a fine job. We found out who was to blame for the attacks and we went after them. We ousted the Taliban and we put a serious dent in Al Qaeda and Bin Laden's quality of life. Bravo! However, is this something we should really give Bush much credit for? From where I sit, the moment the first plane hit the first tower of the World Trade Center, the next year was a script that any President had no choice but to follow. I can't think of a single President, past, present or future, that wouldn't have done exactly the same thing. Letting it go unpunished was never going to happen, and to get at Al Qaeda we had to go through the Taliban. Again, not saying he did a bad job, just saying that the response he followed was pretty much a foregone conclusion after the terrorists checked in at the airport that day. What he did should not have required much thought. All you needed to do was just ask about 80% of all Americans what we should do and you would have gotten the same answer.

The Iraq period: This is where things start breaking down. Bush decided that finishing Al Qaeda off was less important than attacking Iraq. He pulled out of Afghanistan, leaving a void of leadership, which the warlords were quick to take advantage of. The new government only maintains control of the capital city, and even there they have to worry about terrorists and the Taliban seeking to re-exert their power. Iraq itself was a mess. We pissed off the world in order to save ourselves from a "grave and gathering threat" that turned out to be about as threatening as anyone would expect a third world nation to be. We lowered our standing in the eyes of the world, we raised the ire of many Iraqi's and up-and-coming terrorists, and we gained nothing by it.

The Pre-Election period: Once we found no WMD's in Iraq, we found out that Bush really wanted to liberate the Iraqi people, and that WMD's were only a secondary goal. We also suddenly found out that Bush had a passion for helping out the poor immigrant workers with a new (out of nowhere) guest worker program. Bush's conscience suddenly got the better of him and he decided that the institution of marriage was breaking down and a constitutional amendment was crucial. We've also learned that Bush feels that Homeland Security should take a backseat to making it easy for Mexicans coming into the country, so long as they promise to only stay 3 days and stay near the border. And apparently Bush now thinks that his tax cuts need to become permanent, where as he didn't seem to think that was the case when he had them implemented. And my goodness, where would the US be if we don't make it to the Moon and Mars in the next few years! Let us not forget that we now have troops pouring back into Afghanistan again to hunt Bin Laden to ground, now that he is finally known to be a threat to the United States.

These are just examples of the heart-felt and driving topics that define the President, but which only now has he decided to make known to us. I think that it is really special of him to make sure that we know what he really finds to be important so close to election time. If I didn't know all of these things about him, through his previous actions, decisions, policies, speeches and etc. until the last four months, then I might not have known who to vote for in November. All I can do now is wonder how I could have missed all of this during the first 3 years of his time in office. I guess I really don't watch enough news if I didn't know how passionate he was about all of this until just now. It's just funny how he was in office for most of an (uneventful) year before 9/11 but I never heard about any of this...

To sum up these four periods of time...

Pre 9/11 Period : ???
9/11 Period : Not requiring any thought
Iraq Period : No evidence...of any thought
Pre-Election Period : Bush suddenly cares about the Iraqi people, Guest Workers, the institution of marriage, Mexicans who only want to be here for 3 days, Taxpayers, Star Trek fans, and bringing Bin Laden to justice. I wonder who we will find out that Bush has always cared deeply for next...

Jay Corvid

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Date:2004-02-22 18:53
Subject:Humorless, nay!
Security:Public

So, while this isn't typical of me, I thought I'd post this bit of fluff just because it fits so well. On the one hand, it made me laugh. On the other, it made me realize that one day, I will RULE the WORLD ...unless I get sidetracked by my goal of creating a toilet capable of identifying the gender of the user upon approach and modifying the seat position accordingly (it almost works but I keep falling in when I try to sit down...)

Ask not for whom the bell tolls, just worry about why I'm ringing it.


Which Family Guy character are you?

Jay Corvid

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Date:2004-02-16 17:19
Subject:Fair and Balanced Body Counts
Security:Public

As everyone is so fond of counting all of the innocent lives that are taken as part of the War in Iraq, I thought I would help out in my own way. Here I will keep track of all of the civilians that are killed by terrorists. Specifically it seems odd to me that the Muslim community overseas has such a violent reaction to the incidental deaths caused by Americans, yet they gloss over the death toll caused by other Muslims. I can only assume that they feel that Muslims being killed by other Muslims is fine and dandy. I will keep a record of their stunning successes for them...

From end of war until 1/30/04 - estimated 300 civilian deaths from terrorists in Iraq.
2/1/04 - 109 Iraqi's killed by twin bombings at two Kurdish party offices in the northern city of Irbil. No coalition soldiers in area.
2/10/04 - 55 Iraqi's killed outside a police station applying for jobs South of Baghdad (car bomb). No coalition soldiers in area.
2/11/04 - 47 Would-be Iraqi soldiers killed in central Baghdad (car bomb). No coalition soldiers in area.
2/14/04 - 20 Iraqi police killed in police station attack in Fallujah. No coalition soldiers in area.
2/16/04 - 2 Iraqi children killed by a grenade in an elementary school trashcan in Baghdad. No coalition soldiers in area.
2/18/04 - 11 Iraqi civilians killed at a coalition base checkpoint (car bomb). No coalition casualties.
2/21/04 - 1 Iraqi civilian killed at the home of an Iraqi police chief (gun battle). No coalition soldiers in area.
2/21/04 - Oil pipeline bombed in Northern Iraq. No casualties, but another example of anti-Iraqi tactics by other muslims.
2/22/04 - 1 Iraqi civilian killed by a makeshift bomb along a road near Mosul. No coalition soldiers in area.
2/23/04 - 8 Iraqi's killed at/near a police station in Kirkuk (car bomb). No coalition soldiers in area.
3/02/04 - 169 Iraqi's killed in the Shia holy city of Karbala during Muslim holy day (parcel bombs) and in front of the Shia temple of Imam Musa al-Kadhim during religious ceremony (rocket fire). No coalition soldiers in area.

Iraqi's killed by terrorists from 2/1/04 until 3/2/04 = 423

I was going to update this regularly, but the figures for February speak for themselves. I don't think I need to go on.

Jay Corvid

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Date:2004-02-03 23:53
Subject:Brother, can you spare $8 Trillion?
Security:Public
Mood: nervous

You are sitting there looking at your computer, inside your nice warm home, listening to the TV in the background as the remnants of your 3 course dinner float gently through your intestines. What else could you be thinking of other than the national debt. Me too, so that’s why we are here.

Most peoples feeling about the national debt is that it is something “bad”. It is a somewhat vague evil that while we feel our hearts quicken a pace briefly when we hear it (*doom* *doom*), but we don’t really know why. Heck, I had two helpings of chocolate cake after dinner tonight, how bad could it be? I’ll give you the Corvid overview to get us up to speed…

First, quick definitions. Deficit = the amount of money we are spending above what we make in a year as a country. If we make $200 and we spend $300, our deficit is $100. The Debt is the sum of all of our deficits. If we have had 4 years of $100 deficits, we have $400 of debt. Ok, the national debt took off in about 1983. At the time, the debt was about $1.5 Trillion and had been essentially constant since the end of WWII. In the past 20 years, that debt has grown to over $7 Trillion and is growing at it’s quickest pace ever in terms of real dollars. These are the facts, and they are undisputed.

Now, at this point I could go into more detail about how we got where we are and who was responsible, but that would detract from my main point so I won’t do that. Should you want to get me into a debate about this, I will be happy to do so, however.

The national debt is financed by buying “shares” of the country. You buy a $100 savings bond, with the understanding that in 5 years, the country will give you $105 back (this is obviously a simplified example). When five years rolls around, we don’t have the money to pay you back, and now we don’t need $100, we need $105. Rather than give you $105, we give you a savings bond worth $111 in five more years. And guess what we do when those five years are over? Yep, we give you more savings bonds. This works as long as one fact remains constant…people WANT to buy our bonds. If people decide that they don’t want to buy our bonds anymore, we can’t pay our interest by issuing more bonds. This will be important later…read on.

So what is bad about the debt? Well, debt must be paid back, but who owns our national debt? Well, the primary buyer of our government debt is…our government. One arm of the government finances the other. The problem here is that if the country hits hard times, the buying arm of the government won’t have the funds needed to buy outstanding bonds (without printing more money and causing rampant inflation). If someone isn’t ready to start buying up the 40% of the deficit on a continual basis, we will start having problems.

The next largest owner of the national debt is us. Americans buying bonds from the US government. This debt actually serves as a safe and secure (currently the most secure) means of investment. The payoff is low, but it is VERY VERY reliable. The US government has NEVER defaulted on a debt. This will also become important later…read on…

The last owner I want to talk about is the 25% owned by foreign investors. This 25% is a cap imposed on the structure of our debt to keep the government from becoming beholden to foreign powers. However, this 25% represents a drain on our economy in that the government is paying that interest outside of our own country.

Ok, all well and good. So what’s the problem? First, we are currently spending $178 Billion dollars on paying off the interest on this debt every year. This means that we aren’t even lowering our debt when we spend this money. It also means that roughly $40 Billion is paid to other countries for the 25% of our debt that is foreign owned. As a point of reference, it is costing us $87 Billion to keep 150,000 troops in Iraq for a year and to reform their government. With every year that passes, we could occupy and reform 2 entire countries for what we are paying to cover JUST our interest payments.

So that isn’t a good use of our money, but is that it? No, it can be worse. Remember when I said this strategy of refinancing our debt with more debt will work only as long as people are willing to buy our bonds? Well, here is the problem. Let’s say a depression hits and unemployment rises, lowering taxable income. The government can’t pay off the interest and the people can’t afford to buy more bonds. The government is forced to either print more money (which causes rampant inflation, devaluating the dollar, and ends us in the same boat, just a year later with weaker money) or they have to default. If the US EVER defaults on a savings bond, the economy will crash. And when I say “crash”, I mean the kind of bad where if you were walking down the street with a wheelbarrow full of $20 dollar bills and someone wanted to rob you, they would dump out the money and keep the wheelbarrow. I hate to over dramatize things, but in this case you can’t. I would be amazed if any economist would say otherwise.

So the bottom line is that we can shoulder the debt as long as 1) we can pay off at least the interest, and 2) nothing bad ever happens (the size of the “bad” that it will take to knock us out will get smaller and smaller as our debt grows larger and larger). We could keep this up for 100 years, or we could collapse in 5 if the right sequence of events were to happen. I don’t like running that risk, so if we can agree that we need to pay the debt off, how do we do it? This is the real crux of the issue as we are in a society where no one wants to give anything up, AND every so often they come up with something new they want. Not very conducive to paying off debt.

If you try to cut spending on transportation, someone will say that we need more roads. Try to cut the farm subsidy, and someone will complain that all the farms will fold. Try to cut Medicare, and people will say the poor can’t buy their prescriptions. Try to cut defense spending, and people will say that Guam might invade. If you throw in all of the illegitimate concerns (like the addition of the funding for a Hooters to our most recent Energy bill) on top of these legitimate ones, you get what we have today (lots of debt).

So after all of this, I give you two questions to answer. First, what do we cut? Now keep in mind that you can only give up spending that matters to YOU. You can’t give up something you don’t care about because in the final analysis, everyone is going to have to give up something they don’t want to. So what are you willing to give up so that we can stop spending more than we have (i.e. going to Mars) and what are you going to give up that you already have so we can pay off our existing debt (i.e. higher taxes or less spending on education/defense, etc.)?

Second, what do you think about this plan. We currently elect our supreme court justices to open-ended terms. They can only be replaced when they chose to leave. The purpose of this is so that their opinions cannot be swayed by any administration or by the desire to be re-elected. What if we have a new office that is dedicated to providing financial oversight, rather than judicial oversight. This panel, like the supreme court, would be responsible for deciding when and if any administration could run a deficit in any given year (sometimes a deficit may be necessary in times of crisis), AND they would have to approve future budgets. They would be given a “constitution” that would delineate what they were to allow, and not allow in budgets. For example, they would keep our government from buying $2,000 flat screen monitors for everyone in Homeland Security when they have plenty of non-flat screen monitors laying around in a warehouse. They would keep pork out of legislation (like the aforementioned Hooters) and have overall responsibility for the budget. The President, who can be swayed based on the desire to be re-elected, would no longer be able to collaborate with his constituents to do things that are not in the country’s best interests. I have more thoughts and can go into more detail, but posing the high level plan now.

The National Debt is hanging over us like a grim shadow. From day to day, it doesn’t hurt us, but when this country can least afford more problems, that is exactly when this debt will bite us on the rump. All politicians know this to be true, but none of them want to be the one to tell their constituents that they can’t have what they want, AND that they have to give up something they already have in order to pay off the existing debt. The politicians are incentivised (based on the need to be re-elected) to continue as usual. Something will have to change for them to do the right thing, and the only way I see is to put someone in a position where they have nothing to gain from doing the wrong thing. None of us would run our personal finances this way, why should we allow our government to do it?

This hasn’t been a sexy post, but it’s an important one. If you feel slighted, send me your email address and I’ll see if I can find some porn to send you to make amends.

Jay

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Date:2004-01-20 21:10
Subject:The Constitution is not a toy…put that down!
Security:Public

I was going to post about something else tonight, but the President moved me. Sadly, I was moved in such a way as to once again speak out against the leadership of my country. Given my previous post, I feel inclined to first point out that I love my country deeply. I am not on one side of the aisle or another, but rather take each issue on it’s own merits. The balance of my beliefs on those issues is what decides my vote and I have cast that vote for Democrats, Republicans, and third parties alike. However I am deeply saddened by what my President said this evening, and once again I must say as much.

The Constitution must be held as a sacred document in our country. That doesn’t mean that it cannot be amended, but the spirit of it must remain alive. That spirit being the fundament of the nation which we all enjoy the benefits from. Freedom and the pursuit of happiness cannot be simply words we toss around in political debate, but must be felt near and dear to all of us, and must guide us in the decisions we make. Without these principles upon which we stand, we stand for nothing but a mockery of our own hollow words. It is for this reason that I find President Bush’s words this evening particularly offensive.

Tonight, President Bush gave support to the banning of homosexual unions. Further, he went as far as to say that he would support a Constitutional amendment declaring such unions to be illegal and unsupportable by ALL Americans. Let’s not lose sight of what that means. It means that, as a country, we must no longer support the rights of a portion of our population. By modifying our very Constitution, the document that says to the world “this is what we stand for”, we are saying that we want freedom for all, except for in this one case. Is this issue really the single freedom we want to exempt from our Constitution? Is the supposed harm caused by the union of two individuals of the same sex so destructive that we feel the need to insert the very first denial of rights in the very document that defines us? Think about this…what does the right to the “pursuit of happiness” mean to you? What does “freedom” mean to you?

Let’s drill into the specifics…

1) Religious or Civil? If marriage were simply a religious artifact, then I would say “leave it up to religions to decide if they find it to be acceptable.” But that isn’t all that marriage is in this country. Married people have the ability to pass their money and assets on to their spouse, without tax. Married people can visit each other in the hospital, cover each other with their medical benefits, and enjoy a variety of other CIVIL benefits. So what is the purpose of these CIVIL benefits? To promote family? To promote fairness? Well if this is the case, then why does this not apply equally to all unions? The simple reason is because these are civil benefits yes, but they are grounded in religious beliefs. Unless the United States established a religion while I wasn’t looking, I don’t see how this can be appropriate. Take away all of those civil benefits, you will get no argument for me. To the 50% of all married couples out there who are going to end up divorced, I hope for your sake that Bush doesn't read the part of the Bible that says getting divorced is not allowed under any circumstances...

2) Once you grant the Government the power to decide who can be married, beware of what may come. It is not unthinkable, had this precedent been set prior to the civil rights movement, that the government may have decided that inter-racial unions were also objectionable. It may decide that people who are not of similar age, ethnicity, citizenship, background, class-standing etc. are no longer worthy of union. I think many of you would object to these decisions, but either the Federal government can decide whom we marry, or they cannot.

3) I won’t argue the benefits of heterosexual marriage. I can see the value. However, drinking alcohol is not “beneficial” yet we as a country allow people to drink. We give them the freedom to exhibit certain behavior, even if it isn’t in their own best interest. We restrict these behaviors in some cases for the “greater good” as in the case of drug use. But are we really equating the damage that can be done by serious narcotics, to the “damage” caused by two people who (lets face it) aren’t going to marry members of the opposite sex anyway? Given that 50% of all heterosexual unions end in divorce, can we really keep a straight face when we say that this country cannot survive without preserving the “sanctity of marriage”? If you can find the way to abolish adultery, spousal abuse, neglect, alcoholism, and all of the other causes of marital failure to the Constitutional amendment then you will still not have the moral high ground, but you will at least be approaching even-handedness.

4) I would like to hear the evidence that homosexual unions actually cause harm. This assertion seems to be part of the prima fascia case against such unions, but where is the evidence that warrants such a rare amendment to the Constitution? I’ve heard statistics saying that homosexuals are less “faithful” than heterosexuals. First, I don’t see much faithfulness in today’s heterosexual relationships. Second, I haven’t seen any statistics regarding the faithfulness of “married” homosexuals that would indicate that they are any less faithful than joined heterosexuals. This is because we have artificially controlled the environment, so we aren’t allowing any real study of the facts.

5) Finally, should children have a parent of each sex? I don’t know, should children have parents of the same race, class, religion, or political view? If you had asked if a child should have one black parent and one white parent 40 years ago, you would have felt the business end of a fire hose, yet it doesn’t seem like a big issue now as long as they are loving parents. Why would we think it would be any different for homosexual unions. This is nothing more than a self-fulfilling prophecy. The more we say it is a travesty, the longer people will tend to believe it. Give it a shot for 40 years, and it won’t seem like a big issue any more.

The Federal government wasn’t granted the right to govern who we marry, so given our Constitution the way it stands today, the responsibility to make those decisions lie with the States. Just because any administration doesn’t like what the states and their judges decide, it doesn’t mean that they have the right to over-rule it. Bush railed against judges who were “forcing their arbitrary will on the people.” I say that this administration is attempting to do that on their own. This is not simply an issue about homosexual unions. This is dangling our country on a dangerous precipice, where each administration of our Federal government can, at a whim, change the guiding principles of our country. Because administrations come and go, and because the political climate changes so frequently, we must be very cautious before changing the precepts upon which this great nation was founded. The Constitution was meant to grant us freedoms, not to be bent to the mercy of the whim of political thought. To attempt to do so shows unfathomable arrogance, and demeans all we have held sacred since our founding.

Jay Corvid

http://www.livejournal.com/users/jay_corvid/

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Date:2004-01-13 10:20
Subject:Beat the Bush
Security:Public

So I've posted on other sites on this topic, but I've never done a summary. It's time to Beat the Bush, not beat around it.

Background Info:
1) I didn't vote for Bush
2) I voted for Gore
3) I didn't want to vote for Gore

With that said, when September 11th happened, one of my many thoughts that day was "I'm glad Bush will be responding to this rather than Gore". And although I didn't specifically know Afghanistan was going to be the ultimate battleground of the war that started that day, I did know that Bush was going to make someone pay for what had happened. And I was, for perhaps the first time in my life, 100% behind whatever my President was about to do (whatever it was going to be). War's have a tendency to do that to people.

I thought of Gore, and while I do believe that he would have also taken us to Afghanistan, I just didn't see him being able to carry off the image of a "tough" and determined President. For our response to be effective, it had to be razor-sharp, deliberate, and 100% successful. There had to be no question in anyone’s minds that if you attack us, the price is severe, and there is no escaping it. I didn't feel that Gore would come through with that.

In the past few years, Bush went from the guy I didn't want, to the guy I was glad we had, to the guy that only seems to be effective when we need a junkyard dog. Bush has let me down, even past the low expectations I had for him, and the most recent few weeks have firmly pushed me over the edge. As I said initially in this post, I have made disparate comments on other journals/communities, but I would like to summarize my issues. Here we go…

1) Afghanistan – We failed in Afghanistan. We entered the country, pushed out the leaders and then we left. Warlords once again run the areas outside of the capital, and there is no UN or US control outside the city gates. This country is destined for more instability, and the US will be to blame for leaving it the way we did. We haven’t given them the financial or military or restructuring aid we promised and we will hear this over and again in the years to come as one more time the US caused a problem and broke our word.

2) Bin Laden – We didn’t catch him. We didn’t kill him. The man responsible for 9/11 is still free. We gave up on finding him and we told the world “you CAN get away with it”. We should have 100,000 troops still coming Pakistan and Afghanistan looking for him, but we don’t. We use the excuse of the terrain being so big and so hostile that we can’t find him, but if we left the troops we had in place, we could have gotten him by now and I think making that statement to the world was crucial. Instead, we gave up on the guy who took 3,000 Americans lives, to go after a guy who has never taken a single American life that we didn’t put in front of him.

3) Nukes – We pulled out of the only somewhat successful anti-nuke proliferation treaty in existence in the same year we told the UN to go fly a kite. Despite the arguments for doing either of those (which I have my own opinions on), the signal it sends to the rest of the world, with nothing being done to counteract it, is that the US is operating above and outside of the global community. When the US needs to act, it should, but you can’t say “Screw the UN” for Iraq but then give China grief when they do the same for Taiwan. And regarding North Korea, Clinton's plan may not have been perfect, but when you look at where we were pre-Bush and where we are now, here is the difference - Before: Negotiations were ongoing, we had cameras on their reactors to make sure they weren't cheating, they didn't have 8,000 fuel rods being produced that can be turned into nuclear weapons, and the didn't have 3-7 nukes ready to go. After: They are threatening war, negotiations aren't happening, the cameras are gone, they do have 8,000 fuel rods being turned into weaponizable material, and we think they have 3-7 nukes ready to go. Sounds like the wrong direction to me.

4) Iraq – Now that the damage is done, we have to make Iraq a better place. However we shouldn’t have gone. Bush said “Saddam is a card-carrying member of Al Qaeda” but no one bought it. So he said “We have to free the people from the tyranny of a cruel dictator!” but everyone pointed out that there are lots of other dictators, why Saddam? He had no answer. So then he said “They have WMD’s and they might just give them to terrorists,” and that finally resonated with the still fearful populace, who remembered 9/11 like it was yesterday. People said, “wait, we’ll find them in time.” Maybe we will, but from everything that has been seen so far, they had not rebuilt their WMD infrastructure, had no “ready-to-fire” stockpiles, and all the government can say is “Maybe Syria took them.” Further, no-one has taken responsibility or been held accountable for what everyone is now saying was bad intelligence. I want to know why not.

5) Troop levels in Iraq – Before the Iraq war, the first general who was to be in charge said we needed 250,00 US troops and another 10,000 foreign troops to be successful. He was removed from his position. The second general said we needed 250,000 total troops. He was removed from his position. The third one said essentially, “Whatever we have is sufficient” and he kept his job and led the charge. We had enough troops to take Iraq, and it was never really in question. The reason the original generals wanted the additional troops was two-fold. First, with more troops than you “need” you can ensure a minimum of casualties by dominating with troops, as well as with technology. Second, you need that many troops to control the ground situation, case in point, the rampant looting. We don’t hear about it much, but the damage caused in those first few weeks is costing us billions of dollars to fix (repairing damage done to government and infrastructure facilities during the vandalism/rioting/acts of retribution). Bush claims he is giving his commanders whatever troops they need, but only after he made it very clear how many he would approve. That puts troops and the mission at risk.

6) Responsibility to our troops – Bush promised, both before and after the war, that our troops would have whatever they needed. However, soldiers are having to ask their families to buy them army surplus equipment in the states and have it shipped to them. They are paying for their own vital equipment (like body armor) because the US isn’t supplying them with it. It isn’t as if they are asking for cruise missiles that take 4 months to make, they are asking for equipment that can be bought in the States by anyone on the street. It is unconscionable that they don’t have what they need, that they have to pay for it themselves, and that the government isn’t doing anything about it. You can see discussions about this on Scarborough Country on MSNBC on practically a nightly basis, and in other media as well. The other video that I’ve seen shows troops welding whatever metal they can find to their vehicles. Most of the vehicles are for troop transport and patrolling and are not hardened. Because they are fighting a guerilla style war, their patrols are getting attacked on a regular basis, but the vehicles used for those activities are not typically bullet-proofed because they aren’t designed to be “combat” vehicles. This came up in a press conference with Bush in the late summer and he said the problem is actively being addressed and will be taken care of. It hasn’t, and that disgusts me.

7) Immigrants – It strikes me as odd that a person who has repeatedly stated that he is for family, job growth, securing our borders, the need to enforce our laws, and a free-market economy, suddenly wants to give anything to ILLEGAL immigrants. I will do an entire post on this at a later time, but this is contrary to his party, everything he has said in the past, and convenient timing given that this decision would curry the favor of the largest minority in the country.

8) Star Trek – Ok, so Bush gives a $60 billion tax cut by giving $300 back to all taxpayers. Then he gets in a war that costs us $87 billions just for supporting the second year’s costs. Then he doesn’t outfit our soldiers they way they should be and runs the highest deficit this country has ever seen. So what does he do? He says we need to be spending money to send people to Mars! I thought he was against big government (creating a new branch of the government and hiring tens of thousands of people) and big programs that suck money away from the taxpayers. Why on earth would you give people a tax break, and then spend the rest of their tax money on space travel? Sure, if our economy was better and our debt smaller (which is another post I will make someday soon) then sure, it is something we should do someday, but I can’t understand why he thinks now is the right time for this. This is fiscally irresponsible, and bordering on criminal in my opinion.

9) Quantanamo - I'm not sure I get the value of having prisoners for two years. Any information they had is no longer useful and if they haven't talked by now, they aren't going to. I'm not the bleeding heart type, but a rational mind is telling me that they have outlived their usefulness to us. Either put them on trial for their crimes, or if you can't, then cut them loose. Its becoming clear that we are violating their rights by detaining them this long, we aren't winning any friends in the International community, and we aren't getting anything out of having them anyway.

He failed in the first war, contrived the second, and has blown the federal economy. Further, from what I can tell, his domestic policies and the goals he is coming up with are only going to further exacerbate the problem. I don’t see a cohesive strategy for the country and I’m becoming increasingly worried that he really may not know what he is doing and is simply responding to what his advisors are telling him he should do. That isn’t leadership and that is typically something I look for in a leader.

JC

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Date:2003-12-22 21:02
Subject:Please don't vote!
Security:Public
Mood: disappointed

Ok, this will be a quick one. My guidance to most people is to please not vote in any elections. I see the "Rock the Vote" ads and bumper stickers and the advocacy for "Get out there and vote" all the time and I have to tell you, this is a horrible idea. You see, this push to get people out to vote only serves to water down the voting pool by adding in those who are completely unaware of what is going on in the world. The simple fact is that most people don't watch the news, read the paper, talk about key issues (foreign policy, fiscal policy, trade, the environment, social reform, etc) or even know the names of the people currently in office.

It is my strong belief that our elected officials should be elected by people who are knowledgeable about the world and our country's role in it. Otherwise we are going to have the blind (and ignorant) leading us with their dubious voting methods (throwing darts at a list of candidates, going for the individual with the best name, randomly picking based on party affiliation, picking the person who looks most like the person you first slept with, or simply by voting for the candidate that some guy you were talking to in line down at the welfare office was going to vote for).

Further, I question the motives of the people behind this activism. It isn't like they are saying, "Get involved in what is going on in the world," or "Go read a newspaper." No, they are just saying go out and vote. They don't seem to care if you develop an informed opinion or if you are just trying to find an excuse to be late for work at the dirt factory every few years. The people who genuinely care about what is going on in the world/country already vote. Why should some uninformed yokel go out and vote simply because someone told them they should, thereby canceling out the vote of a truly informed and involved citizen?

Some people talk about making voting mandatory. What a horrendous idea. Right now we at least have the peace of mind in knowing that the stoner who only wakes up long enough to eat some twinkies will never be able to muster the motiviation or energy to stumble into the voting booth. Take that comfort away by making it mandatory, and I just don't know what I'll do - maybe spend each election day handing out donuts and shiny things to distract the morons. But, being even-handed and fair, and knowing that I always have the most appropriate solutions, I'll provide you with the conditions necessary to make mandatory voting workable. First, everyone has to pass a current events test just prior to voting. If they fail, they pay a $500 fine. After the second failure in a row, they spend 2 weeks breaking rocks out in the Arizona desert. On the third failure (of a lifetime, it does not need to be consecutive), they are deported to a non-democratic country of their chosing (and of course, at their cost). I guarantee that this would greatly improve not only the intelligence of our citizens (mostly by removing the brainless 3 elections from now) but also the sense of "ownership" for the 200-300 people that are left.

If you truly care about the direction of the country and have strong opinions and are behind a candidate (I don't even care if you are just voting against someone rather than voting for someone) then by all means go vote. But if you don't fall into this category, please don't subject the rest of the country (or the world for that matter) to the whims of your apathy.

Jay

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Date:2003-12-08 17:57
Subject:Waste of Energy
Security:Public
Mood: aggravated

So I just finished my daily reading of Aljazeera.net and I'm a tad aggravated. Now, I know when I go there that I am going to get aggravated because they slant their opinions just enough so that they are anti-American without really seeming to be anti-American. I'd rather they just say, "Dear reader - we are a middle eastern paper and thusly, we don't like Americans. We are going to try to write our articles to be fair and balanced, but like the American papers, we aren't really going to hit the mark. Just thought you should know."

In any case, what irritated me today was an article that reviewed Operation Iraqi Freedom "The Aftermath" (which just using the word "Aftermath" in and of itself tells me that its going to be slanted) in which it went on about the poor shape of the local economy since the war. For example, the oil rich nation is now exporting close to what it did before the war, but they have to import gasoline because they are no longer refining the oil themselves (yet). Due to the need to import, the large draw of gasoline to keep tanks and military vehicles running, there is a huge shortage of gasoline in the country.

First, I'm not going to apologize for the need to keep our tanks in working order. If the tanks weren't there, Sadam would be. I think that's a fair trade off given that its for the short term.

Second, the local economy wasn't all that great to begin with. Most everyone worked for the government prior to the war in some capacity (army, police, or extensive civil service) and now that the regime is gone and a new government in early stages, there is a lot of unemployment. Ok, but how many advanced countries have 80% of their populations employed by the government? Sure, lots of people had jobs, but they were sitting at the Iraqi equivalent of the Department of Motor Vehicles, getting low pay and no chance at a "bright" future. You'd think that instead of looking at the $55 they used to make each month, they'd look forward to the $75 they may make a month if they take advantage of their new freedoms. Short term thinking (and to my mind, whining). Yes it's tough now, but one would hope that not everyone in that society had their life long aspirations to be squeaking out a living working in a dead end job (working for a dictator).

Third, they site smuggling as a huge problem. Ok, I'll grant you that a black market is not the way to run a country, but it's that very black market that is getting them what they need. Meaning, they don't get gasoline for .30 a gallon anymore, but at least they can still get gas even if they have to pay .60 a gallon for the next year. And who do they blame for the smuggling? They don't say it directly, but of course it's the United States for not securing the borders. However, the United States has insecure borders (witness terrorists wandering into the country, drug smuggling, illegal immigrants, etc) and even without all the distracting problems that exist in Iraq today, we still can't keep our own borders completely buttoned up. The point is, governments don't stop smuggling as much as good economies do. Quit whining about today and plan for tomorrow.

Lastly, everyone is quick to blame America or Bush or the UK for all of Iraq's problems, but I'd like to point out that Iraq was not a paradise even before the first Iraqi war. Back then they were all complaining about having to live under Sadam with his killings, tortures, profiteering, etc. Now they are complaining (and many of them are doing worse than that) about us. Well you know what, some day you people might have to give up on whining because from where I sit, it hasn't gotten you very far. Maybe if you put your energy towards rebuilding your country, rather than sabotaging your own oil pipelines and blowing up your own police forces you would get further. Some day the Americans will leave and you won't be able to blame us for your problems forever (even though you will). Be prepared that when we do leave, which is what you claim you want, that you will be responsible for what happens there. YOU will be responsible for your government. YOU will be in charge of what laws you pass, the economy you grow, and how you treat your neighbors. You can say that we Americans screwed everything up, but 10 years later, if Iraq isn't exactly what you want, you will only have yourselves to blame. And this time, don't expect us to come in and fix it.

One final note. Those preceding comments were to the average Iraqi citizen. These comments are for those behind the attacks on American and Iraqi troops and civilians. Right now you have it pretty good. You are getting funding from around the world, and you have your own private little crusade with lots of power and holy "honor". You must feel pretty powerful, being able to send men out to fight and die for you, and if they are willing to give their lives for you, then more power to them. BUT, be prepared that some day, the people you send off to do your dirty work for you, while you sit getting richer, hiding in the shadows, some day those people might wake up. Some day those people may begin to see prosperity in Iraq and elsewhere in the world, and they may realize that they can do better than to keep on fighting against the tide of progress. They may decide that a life of God inspired destruction is not what He had intended. They may even figure out that killing innocents and supposed "non-believers" isn't the only way to go to heaven, and that in fact, they can even do that by living a long and good life devoid of violence and fear in their hearts. And when and if that day comes, I hope you will finally be prepared to die for your cause, because rest assured, you will. And the only legacy you leave behind will be the memories of those who died with your encouragement, with dreams of regaining that $55 a month, working for a dictator.

Energy mis-spent, is energy wasted.

Jay

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