Archive for White House

Exporting Hate & Terror In The Name Of God

Posted in Politics, Religion with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 19, 2010 by halmasonberg

Sounds like something one might accuse Al Qaeda of. But what if it were suggested the United States of America were on a religious crusade all its own? Last year, former French President Jacques Chirac told the world that, while the White House was assembling its “coalition of the willing” to invade Iraq, then president George W. Bush appealed to their common faith in Christianity during a private chat. According to Chirac, Bush stated:

“Gog and Magog are at work in the Middle East…. The biblical prophecies are being fulfilled…. This confrontation is willed by God, who wants to use this conflict to erase his people’s enemies before a New Age begins.”

While this is old news by now and a quote I’ve referenced before, it seems to have been one-upped by a recent report that weapons maker Trijicon has been supplying high-powered rifle sights to the U.S. Army and Marines with coded references to specific Bible passages. One such reference on the gun sights is 2COR4:6, also known as Second Corinthian 4:6 of the New testament:

“For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.”

These “Jesus-encoded” sights are being used by U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan in the training of Iraqi and Afghan soldiers. Oddly enough, U.S. Military rule prohibits proselytizing of any religion in Iraq or Afghanistan. The whole notion behind this rule was to prevent any country or individual from claiming the United States was on a religious “Crusade.” Well… it seems some, including but obviously not restricted to the president who led us into those very wars, were, indeed, on a religious crusade. So where does that leave us now?

The American people were lied to about WMDs, our own CIA directly misled Congress, we defied the United Nations, we angered and alienated much of the world with that defiance, we resorted to torture tactics we swore we would never use, we engaged in a preemptive strike against another country for the first time in our nation’s history, and over 100,000 human lives have been lost that would not have been otherwise… At what point do Americans realize that the Bush Administration turned the United States of America into a rogue nation and desecrated almost everything we have claimed to stand for? And still I see people finding reasons to support that same administration, all the while professing that President Obama is attempting to destroy our nation, trying to make us a socialist country, a totalitarian country, even a fascist country.

So while the largest corporations in the States get fat on the blood of Iraq, including Trijicon who have a $660 million multi-year contract to provide up to 800,000 sights to the Marine Corp and even more to the U.S. Army, America’s own citizens have been tossed into a deep recession. And the president who has managed to prevent that recession from becoming a full-on depression, all the while trying to repair a deeply damaged health care system that doesn’t care for its own, has come under attack as a man who is trying to destroy this country and everything it stands for.

At what point do we heed the lessons and shame of Joseph McCarthy and the fear that drove that man and his many, many followers? At what point do we face up to the fact that our country and its citizens were lied to, led astray? At what point do we, as a nation, choose to enter into adulthood and face our own demons? When do we, as Dick Cheney would call it, “Man-up”?

A recent hearing in the U.K. on that country’s involvement in the war in Iraq revealed that the U.S. was already discussing plans to invade Iraq less than a month after George W. Bush took office. This was, if you haven’t already figured it out, long before the 9/11 attacks. These plans are well-documented in the Downing Street Memo transcribing the minutes of a meeting between Tony Blair’s senior ministers on July 23, 2002.

That same recent U.K. hearing also reportedly revealed that Blair lied to the public when he claimed that Britain’s objective in the invasion of Iraq was ‘disarmament’ and not ‘regime change.’

Too bad we haven’t yet had hearings of our own on this side of the Atlantic. Maybe it would open some of those tightly shut eyes still mourning the loss of the good Christian president who so valiantly protected our nation through what is known as the Bush Doctrine which includes a policy of “preventive” war which held that:

The security environment confronting the United States today is radically different from what we have faced before. Yet the first duty of the United States Government remains what it always has been: to protect the American people and American interests. It is an enduring American principle that this duty obligates the government to anticipate and counter threats, using all elements of national power, before the threats can do grave damage. The greater the threat, the greater is the risk of inaction – and the more compelling the case for taking anticipatory action to defend ourselves, even if uncertainty remains as to the time and place of the enemy’s attack. There are few greater threats than a terrorist attack with WMD.

To forestall or prevent such hostile acts by our adversaries, the United States will, if necessary, act preemptively in exercising our inherent right of self-defense. The United States will not resort to force in all cases to preempt emerging threats. Our preference is that nonmilitary actions succeed. And no country should ever use preemption as a pretext for aggression.

But what is it we’ve actually done? According to the above-mentioned U.K. hearing:

In the public record, there is a large amount of evidence that vividly illustrates Bush’s long-standing intent to invade Iraq, Bush’s willingness to provoke Saddam Hussein into providing a pretext for war, the fact that the Iraq war began with an air campaign almost a year before the March 2003 invasion and months before Congress approved the war, Bush’s widespread attempt to crush dissent and manipulate information to justify the lies he used to start the Iraq war and the lack of planning for the aftermath of the Iraq war as well as the lack of a fundamental understanding of the Iraqi society.

To further illustrate then President Bush’s “mission” as he saw it, I quote a passage from his 2003 State of the Union address:

“Americans are a free people, who know that freedom is the right of every person and the future of every nation. The liberty we prize is not America’s gift to the world, it is God’s gift to humanity.”

Unfortunately, men like George W. Bush never seem to understand that what they see as the “right” way for America is not the only way. I’m not saying all nations shouldn’t be free, I’m saying that we, America, do not have all the answers and it is beyond arrogant to assume we do. It is downright criminal to take that misguided belief and stake human lives on it. Especially when that belief is weighed down by religious conviction; by a man and an administration with little understanding of the culture, people and religions of the countries they are invading. Many great nations before ours have fallen in pursuit of the very same fallacious ideologies that drove Mr. Bush and his followers.

But how do you get a country and its people to follow along on such a path? Author Naomi Klein wrote in her book The Shock Doctrine that the Bush Administration exploited  a “window of opportunity that opens in a state of shock, subsequently followed with a comforting rationale for the public, as a form of social control.”

For any country to grow, it must take a cold, hard look at itself. It must ask the difficult questions. We have an opportunity now to start fixing the deep damage that was incurred during the Bush Administration and the 9/11 attacks on our country. Both victimized the American people. Neither wound is anywhere close to being healed. But in taking that deep look, we might find that we–as abhorrent a notion as it is–may have temporarily become our own worst enemy and the exporters of the very thing we claim to be fighting against.

Obama In 3-D

Posted in Home Theater, Politics with tags , , , , , on May 21, 2009 by halmasonberg

As a home theater geek, I thoroughly enjoyed this pic of the President and First Lady, staffers and friends, watching part of the Super Bowl broadcast in 3-D in the White House Theater (the First Theater?).

obama3dtheatre

Obama, Rahm And The Stimulus Outreach

Posted in Politics with tags , , , , , , , , on February 13, 2009 by halmasonberg

Obama 2008Not everyone is thrilled with President Obama’s insistence that reaching across the isle to Republicans is of the utmost importance. I, however, believe it is crucial. It is one of the reasons (the many reasons) I voted for Mr. Obama. And I have no love for Republicans as a whole. Particularly those who still believe the Bush Administration was a good thing for America and the world. Those individuals and myself live in two different countries of mind. But… We do share the same country so far as physical geography goes and we share the same laws and neighbors. And I would love to see that country be one where we are adult enough to work together to help sustain what has the potential to be the greatest country in the world. Not a superior country, mind you, but an admirable, enviable one. An example for others, as it were. A role model. We have not been that for some time now. Not that all is bad in Shangrila, but we have some serious growing up to do. And I strongly admire that President Obama has been trying to take us there. No easy task. No short road. And I’m glad to see that, when push comes to shove, he will eventually do the right thing and stand up for his own beliefs when he must. It’s a shame the stimulus package turned out not to be the area where the two parties could come together. Though not for lack of trying. 

Following an interview with White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, the Wall Street Journal reports:

White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel conceded President Barack Obama and his team lost control of the message for selling their massive stimulus bill last week, fixating on bipartisanship while Republicans were savaging the legislation...

Mr. Emanuel owned up to one mistake: message. What he called the outside game slipped away from the White House last week, when the president and others stressed bipartisanship rather than job creation as they moved toward passing the measure. White House officials allowed an insatiable desire in Washington for bipartisanship to cloud the economic message a point coming clear in a study being conducted on what went wrong and what went right with the package, he said.

But, he said, Washington should have learned something about Mr. Obama as well, with the shift from bipartisan overtures to outright mockery of his opposition.

He has an open hand, Mr. Emanuel said. But he has a very firm handshake.

The Huffington Post adds:

According to Emanuel, the White House “lost” control of the message for four days. He suggested that the president decided to change his tone after the House vote, when not a single Republican voted for the bill…

When the president spoke to House Democrats at a February 5th retreat in Williamsburg, Virginia, he’d moved from courting Republican support to attacking them as obstructionists who clung to “”false theories of the past.”

A top aide added:

“The President’s always going to reach out to people in both parties. I mean we have these upcoming summits, one on fiscal reform, and another one on health care. There’s gonna be Republican participation, and that will never change.”

 

Obama Takes Oath Of Office AGAIN! Just In Case…

Posted in Politics with tags , , , , , , , on January 21, 2009 by halmasonberg

56554917After Chief Justice John Roberts’ little flub during the inauguration, both he and Barack Obama got together again, this time in the White House Map Room, to allow Mr. Obama to say the oath of office just one more time in what White House counsel Greg Craig called, “an abundance of caution.”

Take no chances. I’m all for that.

Quote Of The Week: GOP Hitman Roger Stone Regrets Bush

Posted in Favorite Quotes, Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 20, 2008 by halmasonberg

img-bs-top-sarlin-stone-174_061744447265Roger Stone, according to thedailybeast.com, “has had a hand in everything from Nixon’s dirty tricks to Eliot Spitzer’s resignation to spreading discredited rumors of a Michelle Obama ‘whitey’ tape during the 2008 Democratic primaries.”

However, the biggest feather in Stone’s cap was the “Brooks Brothers riot” of the 2000 election recount (wonderfully recreated in Danny Strong and Jay Roach’s HBO film RECOUNT). Stone led a massive group of pro-Bush protesters to intimidate the Miami-Dade County election board and succeeded in stopping the recount and, many would say, gave George W. Bush the White House. 

So it’s fascinating to hear Mr. Stone’s reflections on that event today:

“There have been many times I’ve regretted it. When I look at those double-page New York Times spreads of all the individual pictures of people who have been killed [in Iraq], I got to think, ‘Maybe there wouldn’t have been a war if I hadn’t gone to Miami-Dade. Maybe there hadn’t have been, in my view, an unjustified war if Bush hadn’t become president.’ It’s very disturbing to me.”

Obama, McCain & Afghanistan’s Downward Spiral

Posted in Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 9, 2008 by halmasonberg

Barack Obama said in the last two debates that we dropped the ball in Afghansitan; that we took our eye off the prize, let Osama Bin Laden get away, have allowed the Taliban to regroup and regain its strength, and all because the Bush Administration decided–for reasons that turned out not to be true–to place the bulk of our military in Iraq, a war which has gone horribly awry and continues to consume the attention of most of our troops. Obama’s words from the first debate:

“Now six years ago, I stood up and opposed this war at a time when it was politically risky to do so because I said that not only did we not know how much it was going to cost, what our exit strategy might be, how it would affect our relationships around the world, and whether our intelligence was sound, but also because we hadn’t finished the job in Afghanistan.

“We hadn’t caught bin Laden. We hadn’t put al Qaeda to rest, and as a consequence, I thought that it was going to be a distraction. Now Senator McCain and President Bush had a very different judgment.

“And I wish I had been wrong for the sake of the country and they had been right, but that’s not the case. We’ve spent over $600 billion so far, soon to be $1 trillion. We have lost over 4,000 lives. We have seen 30,000 wounded, and most importantly, from a strategic national security perspective, al Qaeda is resurgent, stronger now than at any time since 2001.

“We took our eye off the ball. And not to mention that we are still spending $10 billion a month, when they have a $79 billion surplus, at a time when we are in great distress here at home, and we just talked about the fact that our budget is way overstretched and we are borrowing money from overseas to try to finance just some of the basic functions of our government.

“So I think the lesson to be drawn is that we should never hesitate to use military force, and I will not, as president, in order to keep the American people safe. But we have to use our military wisely. And we did not use our military wisely in Iraq.”

Sen. Obama’s comments from second debate:

“So what happened was we got distracted, we diverted resources, and ultimately bin Laden escaped, set up base camps in the mountains of Pakistan in the northwest provinces there. They are now raiding our troops in Afghanistan, destabilizing the situation. They’re stronger now than at any time since 2001. And that’s why I think it’s so important for us to reverse course because that’s the central front on terrorism. They are plotting to kill Americans right now. As Secretary Gates, the Defense secretary, said, the war against terrorism began in that region, and that’s where it will end. So part of the reason I think it’s so important for us to end the war in Iraq is to be able to get more troops into Afghanistan, put more pressure on the Afghan government to do what it needs to do, eliminate some of the drug trafficking that’s funding terrorism.”

Sen. Obama also pointed out that Sen. McCain did and continues to support the decision to go into Iraq in the first place, and that Sen. McCain still believes that Iraq is the more important front in the battle against terrorism.

Mr. McCain’s comments from the second debate:

“So we are peacemakers and we’re peacekeepers. But the challenge is to know when the United States of American can beneficially effect the outcome of a crisis, when to go in and when not, when American military power is worth the expenditure of our most precious treasure.

“And that question can only be answered by someone with the knowledge and experience and the judgment, the judgment to know when our national security is not only at risk, but where the United States of America can make a difference in preventing genocide, in preventing the spread of terrorism, in doing the things that the United States has done, not always well, but we’ve done because we’re a nation of good.

“And I am convinced that my record, going back to my opposition from sending the Marines to Lebanon, to supporting our efforts in Kosovo and Bosnia and the first Gulf War, and my judgment, I think, is something that I’m — a record that I’m willing to stand on.

“Sen. Obama was wrong about Iraq and the surge. He was wrong about Russia when they committed aggression against Georgia. And in his short career, he does not understand our national security challenges.”

Given the above differences, I wanted to make everyone aware of an article in The New York Times today addressing the situation in Afghanistan:

Afghan policemen operating in Kandahar Province on Wednesday discovered cans of acid that could be used to make explosives.

A draft report by American intelligence agencies concludes that Afghanistan is in a “downward spiral” and casts serious doubt on the ability of the Afghan government to stem the rise in the Taliban’s influence there, according to American officials familiar with the document.

The classified report finds that the breakdown in central authority in Afghanistan has been accelerated by rampant corruption within the government of President Hamid Karzai and by an increase in violence by militants who have launched increasingly sophisticated attacks from havens in Pakistan.

The report, a nearly completed version of a National Intelligence Estimate, is set to be finished after the November elections and will be the most comprehensive American assessment in years on the situation in Afghanistan. Its conclusions represent a harsh verdict on decision-making in the Bush administration, which in the months after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks made Afghanistan the central focus of a global campaign against terrorism…

…The downward slide in the security situation in Afghanistan has also become an issue in the presidential campaign, along with questions about whether the White House emphasis in recent years on the war in Iraq has been misplaced…

…Inside the government, reports issued by the Central Intelligence Agency for more than two years have chronicled the worsening violence and rampant corruption inside Afghanistan, and some in the agency say they believe that it has taken the White House too long to respond to the warnings.

Henry A. Crumpton, a career C.I.A. officer who last year stepped down as the State Department’s top counterterrorism official, attributed some of Afghanistan’s problems to a “lack of leadership” both at the White House and in European capitals where commitments to rebuild Afghanistan after 2001 have never been met… officials in Washington were just beginning to wake up to the problem.

“It’s taken them a long time to realize it, but now they know it’s pretty grim,” he said…

…Mr. Obama has accused the White House of paying too little attention to Afghanistan as it poured the vast bulk of American military resources into the war in Iraq, while Mr. McCain has defended the administration’s decision, saying that Iraq remains the more important front in the battle against terrorism.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 81 other followers