S.M.B. - Logic and Rhetoric
Saturday, January 03, 2004

It's pretty pathetic that I'm toying around with a rubik's cube, but frankly, I don't feel like writing about the news right now. School doesn't start up until the 20th, the Iowa caucus will be over by then, I hope my sleeping patterns will change, I gotta stop this nocturnal shizzy, it's terrible for getting up.

In any case, I hope you college kids are having fun, I'm trying my best; as for everybody else, I hope work isn't too stressful or that your corporate president doesn't try to ship away your job, cut your compensation, take away your benefits or hire illegal immigrants in your stead.

To you Catholics out there, happy three king's day (Tuesday).


Thursday, January 01, 2004

Happy New Year everybody!





From the Village Voice:

Local activists are closely watching a case winding through the federal courts in Miami. There, a federal prosecutor has dusted off a 19th century law designed to prevent bar owners from luring sailors ashore with booze and prostitutes to file charges against Greenpeace in connection with an April 2002 case in which two activists tried to hang an anti-President Bush banner on a container ship headed into port.

If convicted of conspiring to illegally board a ship, Greenpeace could be sentenced to five years' probation and a $10,000 fine, and be required to allow federal probation officers to oversee certain parts of its organization.

While it's not uncommon for individuals to be charged in such cases, activists say this is the first time an advocacy organization has faced criminal penalties for its followers' actions. With 2004 promising to be a huge year of street activism -- from the presidential political conventions to the anti-war movement to the re-energized abortion debate -- advocacy groups from Operation Rescue to the American Civil Liberties Union say the Justice Department is using this tactic to chill criticism of the government.

Monday, December 29, 2003

I think the Hawks and wingnuts are just going to change the subject. They'll start yelling about mass graves and the brutality of Saddam's dictatorship, they'll say "he gassed his own people!!"

For this to stick, I think the public has to be reminded why these people said they were invading, that they lied, that their political allies are cashing in, and that Iraq is not being rebuilt, it is being sold.

So this is another important story, but in context, it still doesn't seem like Bush, Blair and company will be brought to justice.

Sunday, December 28, 2003

Right now, on the brink of the election year, it seems likely that Howard Dean will be the Democrats' Presidential Nominee, and will run in a general election campaign against George Bush. Dean is being attacked by the ruthless campaign ads, press releases and speeches of Richard Gephardt, John Kerry and, our best Democratic enemy, Joseph Lieberman.

I personally decided to withdraw my support, contributions and volunteering for the Dean campaign a few weeks ago, but that does not place him below my support in the future. Nonetheless, it is very disturbing that Howard Dean is being attacked in the current fashion by people who could potentially be working with him as President in the future. Howard Dean's statements and record are being distorted. Personally, to vote for any of the viable Democratic presidential candidate is becoming a less attractive option for me, given how Howard Dean's chief rivals have decided to use the unjust Iraq war as a wedge issue and are trying to goad voters into buying into an "anybody but Bush" mentality.

The "anybody but Bush" mentality is self-destructive for Democrats in the long-term.

Rather than organize themselves around a set of core values and a general thrust of policy and politics, the Democrats risk becoming an "anti-party" that is concerned mainly with preventing Conservative Republican destruction of the social contract rather than providing a distinct agenda that seeks to solve Americas problems.

The candidates are saying that Howard Dean cannot beat George W. Bush. What will they say if he gets the nomination? Will Joe Lieberman, a highly popular Senator in his home state, campaign for Dean despite his "belief" that Dean cannot beat Bush? If Dean is so bad, and Howard Dean's and John Kerry's policy positions are 90% identical, then why is John Kerry more electable than Howard Dean? Furthermore, if these Democrats believe that Howard Dean cannot beat Bush, why would they support him in the general election? Is it worth supporting an unelectable candidate? If Dean cannot actually beat Bush but gets the nomination anyway, perhaps the other presidential Democrats ought to campaign for Representative and Senate hopefuls instead. But such tactics will only hurt the Democrats.

The more any Democrat hopefuls play the "Dean can't beat Bush; anybody but Bush" card, they help make it more of a reality, these statements help Bush and hurt all Democrats; these statements boil down the Democratic agenda to one point: the replacement of Bush, and its not simply about that.

They attack because Dean said: “I hope very much [the capture of Saddam] will begin to diminish attacks on our troops, but I do not think it will make America’s homeland safer.”

This is the issue that pisses me off. Dick Gephardt, John Kerry and Joe Lieberman have tried so fucking hard to cash-in on the capture of Saddam Hussein by accusing Howard Dean of making it a political issue.


In the process of attacking Dean for the above statement, Gephardt, Kerry and Lieberman are making the Republican case against the anti-war movement. Furthermore, the national terrorism threat level was increased from 'elevated (yellow)' to 'high (orange)' A WEEK AFTER SADDAM WAS BUSTED!

John Kerry said Howard Dean is among "those who doubted whether Iraq or the world would be better off without Saddam Hussein." This statement is below the belt and more right-wing than anything that George W. Bush suggested in his address concerning the capture of Saddam:

I also have a message for all Americans: The capture of Saddam Hussein does not mean the end of violence in Iraq. We still face terrorists who would rather go on killing the innocent than accept the rise of liberty in the heart of the Middle East. Such men are a direct threat to the American people, and they will be defeated. (George W. Bush)
George Bush never said in the linked address that America's homeland is safer now that Saddam is captured, and I am not sure that Director of Homeland Security, Tom Ridge, would disagree, after all, he said a week after Saddam's capture:

The information we have indicates that extremists abroad are anticipating near-term attacks that they believe will either rival, or exceed, the attacks that occurred in New York and the Pentagon and the fields of Pennsylvania nearly two years ago.

Recent reporting reiterates and this is a constant stream of reporting, that al-Qaida continues to consider using aircraft as a weapon. And they are constantly evaluating procedures both in the United States and elsewhere to find gaps in our security posture that could be exploited. Our actions, our considerable actions, are directed against their efforts. (Tom Ridge)
It is apparent (well... not to the extreme hawks and Democratic opportunists...) that the potential for anti-American terrorism is greater because of the Bush Government's ignorance of Osama bin Laden's location and their focus on Saddam Hussein rather than al-Qaida. Gephardt, Kerry and Lieberman agree with Bush's belief that Saddam Hussein posed a large enough threat to the U.S. for our country to divert precious resources away from efforts to eliminate the al-Qaida network at a time when people like Senator Bob Graham (D-Florida) were saying al-Qaida posed too big a threat for U.S. forces to be committed to regime change in Iraq.

Gephardt, Kerry and Lieberman need to be reminded why being against the war is the right choice.

Gephardt, Kerry and Lieberman are wrong, and now they are attacking Dean, insinuating that he is an ally of Saddam Hussein's and indifferent to the suffering of the Iraqi people and the dangers posed against Americans. The problem that Gephardt, Kerry and Lieberman will have is in convincing Democratic voters, including me, that the invasion, conquest and occupation of Iraq was the right decision.

Lest you forget, upwards of 8,000 Iraqis have died as a result of military strikes since this war began on March 20th. The Warriors, including too many Democrats, are changing their reasons for going to war. Colin Powell told the world that Iraq had Weapons of Mass Destruction on February 5th, 2003. Gephardt, Kerry and Lieberman agreed even before Powell made his powerpoint presentation that day.

Gephardt, Kerry, Lieberman and Bush cannot change their records concerning this war. That nobody has spotted weapons of mass destruction in Iraq has destroyed their credibility with the smart voters of the Democratic Party. David Kay, the chief weapons inspector in Iraq, is about to quit. George Bush at worst lied about Iraq's weapons programs and at 'best' was negligent concerning intelligence about Iraq.

Bush lied about this war and continues to lie about the Iraq situation now. Initially, I could believe that John Kerry was 'duped' by George Bush, because Kerry trusted the President. Gephardt, Lieberman and Edwards all forcefully supported and promoted this unjust war. But perhaps they would see that Iraq was not an imminent danger to the U.S. after several months of free access for military and other weapons inspectors who searched without finding the stockpiles that would actually threaten the lives of Iraq's camels, much less New Yorkers.

Instead of seeing the obvious and adjusting their wisdom, they have denied the facts for political expediency, Bush, Edwards, Gephardt, Lieberman and Kerry. Saddam's capture definitely does not make us safer if Iraq does not even have a weapons arsenal. At worst, Saddam could've strapped on a pipe-bomb vest, hopped into a car and blown himself up by a soldier checkpoint, killing a few more young troops.

When it comes down to it, there are few policy differences between Howard Dean and Kerry, Lieberman, Gephardt and Edwards. There are many more similarities than there are differences on this front. The differences between Dean and the others are mainly stylistic; Dean gets fiery, impassioned and rowdy. Dean doesn't sound so much like he's reading when he speaks to people. Dean shoots from the hip. Dean doesn't take himself so seriously that he holds back, but he takes himself seriously enough to hit back when someone attacks him.

Other than that, Dean is against the invasion of Iraq and the others are not. All of these candidates, however are for the occupation, and I do not particularly see how each would bring the troops home quicker than any other, that is Dennis Kucinich's and Al Sharpton's issue. Nonetheless the initial support for the war is the substantive difference between Dean and the pack that trails behind him.

For Democratic voters, these facts will not make Howard Dean the enemy unless they buy into the belief that anybody is an acceptable alternative to George W. Bush, no matter how wrong on the issues, no matter how similar to Bush on key issues like peace, economics and social justice, no matter how incredibly bland. What Gephardt, Kerry and Lieberman don't understand is that BUSH is the enemy for Democrats because of his policies, his lies, and his games. Rank and file Democrats probably impulsively agree with Howard Dean more than they agree with Bush.

Howard Dean is attacking what many Democrats, myself included, see as a two-headed monster--the extreme Conservative agenda and the Democrats complicitness with the extreme Conservative agenda. The concern is real, and many Democrats are frustrated that the progressive agenda would or could ever take a back seat to the D.L.C.'s political power. Regular Democrats understand that political power is not given to candidates for power's sake or the politician's glory but that power is given to improve the lives and opportunities of regular Americans.

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