Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Ford dies, and the whitewash of history begins again.

Former U.S. president Gerald Ford is dead at the ripe old age of ninety-three.

There is a tendency to whitewash history whenever an ex-president dies, and the ongoing slap in the face to history (not to mention millions of Americans) now occurring in the wake of Ford's demise is no exception.

This is the Truth Zone, and like it or not the truth must always be told--no matter how unpleasant.

And it is this: Gerald Ford, by most accounts a truly nice guy who was respected and even liked by many, pardoned a disgraced former president for high crimes he committed in office. That one action has had far-reaching consequences both horrible and obscene, and that will continue to haunt our nation to its end.

Richard Nixon resigned the presidency rather than be impeached by Congress. His lies and his crimes in office, which included illegally spying on American citizens and ordering the break-in at the Watergate Hotel to obtain sensitive information on the Democratic Party, helped to further injure the American psyche, which was already reeling from the horrors of the Vietnam era.

The team of "plumbers," as they were called due to their job of plugging up "leaks" coming out of the executive branch, botched this particular job and were arrested. It has been speculated that the "plumbers" were trying to plant listening devices so Nixon could spy on the Democrats, which had based its national headquarters at the Watergate. As the news story developed, it came out that among those arrested for the break-in was a former CIA spook by the name of James McCord. McCord's official job at the time happened to be with the aptly titled Committee to RE-Elect the President (CREEP).

CREEP was eventually exposed as being tied to the "plumbers" via diverted funds controlled by former Attorney General John Mitchell. The Washington Post reported that the break-in was part of an organized effort on the part of Nixon's re-election campaign of spying and sabotage. Nixon was in it up to his eyeballs, as was the rest of his administration.

Coming on the heels of the lies of the Vietnam war, told by power-hungry politicians who abused the public trust (with the price being American and Vietnamese blood), this outrage prived to be the proverbial straw that broke the proverbial camel's back.

The writing was on the wall; people directly involved in the break-in, from John Dean to McCord, were spilling their guts and putting CYA into full effect. Nixon then took extreme steps to protect his own ass, openly trying to shut down the investigation of his crimes and coming into open conflict with Congress. The president had created a Constitutional crisis unprecedented in the history of the United States, and became the prime conspirator in the biggest cover-up in American history--all to try and save his own neck from the noose.

By the time the shit had hit the fan, it was all over for Richard Nixon's presidency. The U.S. House of Representatives began drafting the Articles of Impeachment. On August 9, 1974 Nixon resigned the office of the presidency in disgrace.

Richard Milhouse Nixon had dragged the United States of America through a hell of his own making, all in the interests of his own paranoid ambitions. His crimes, his cover-up of said crimes, and confrontations with Congress tore apart a nation that was in the throes of the most divisive war in its history. He was a selfish, lying, heartless piece of shit utterly devoid of any human feeling except fear and contempt -- one for himself, and the other for everyone else and everything America was supposed to stand for.

Nixon flew off on an airplane to his political exile. He should have been taken in handcuffs and ankle chains to a federal prison.

But the wounds Nixon inflicted on America, with Watergate as his weapon, would never heal. Vice President Gerald Ford, who was sworn in as the 38th president of the United States an hour after his predecessor's resignation, decided for some unfathomable reason that putting the fucker in prison for the rest of his miserable life would somehow cause more damage. So, one month after his predecessor left the White House in disgrace, Ford issued a full pardon for Nixon.

I want you, dear reader, to think about what I have told you. I want you to think about all the shit Richard Nixon did to this country, and what the ramifications of Ford's pardon were. The 38th president of the United States was rightly voted out of office in a landslide in 1976. To a peanut farmer named Jimmy Carter, who was one of those very rare politicians to actually mean it when he said he would restore honesty and integrity to the White House.

Carter's successor, Republican Ronald reagan, and vice president George H.W. Bush would go on to commit treason against the United States in the 1980s by selling weapons to a declared enemy state -- Iran -- and using the profits to fund a terrorist army in Nicaragua trying to overthrow the democratically-elected government. Both men managed to lie their way out of impeachment proceedings, because the Congress of that decade took to heart Ford's misguided message that punishing criminal and treasonous executives would somehow do more harm to the nation than good. Once again, America was damaged by way of letting a criminal president get away with criminal acts that in the case of Iran/Contra were also treasonous.

George H.W. Bush went on to become president himself, unfettered by the shackles of impeachment -- which forbid impeached officials from ever holding public office again. Bush would launch a war against iraq over what amounted to a border dispute with neighboring Kuwait. A permanent American military presence was established in the land of Mecca, Islam's holiest city. Islamic extremist Osama bin Laden, fresh from helping Afghanistan repel the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, saw this and determined that Isalm itself was under attack by the West -- and America became the embodiment of everything he saw wrong with the West.

Republicans, who had swept into control of Congress in 1994, actually did cause harm to America by impeaching president Bill Clinton for lying about an extramarital affair. They went on to keep control of Congress in the following election cycle, and also managed to steal the presidency through electoral fraud and an illegal Supreme Court ruling placing George W. Bush in an office he neither won nor deserved.

Bush Jr. went on to lie us into an invasion and occupation of Iraq, having allowed a major terrorist attack by al-Qaeda to happen on American soil on his watch, and having abandoned the fight against the organization in Afghanistan. Bush has illegally wiretapped American citizens, and with the aid of a compliant, Republican-controlled Congress gutted the Constitution. High crimes and treason in office, worthy of impeachment and imprisonment. Just like Richard Nixon.

I want you, dear reader, to think back on Ford's pardoning of Nixon and imagine what might have happened if he had allowed the skeevy fucker to be convicted and sent to prison.

Iran/Contra might not have happened, because Reagan and Bush Sr. would have been able to look at what happened to Nixon once he was caught and had second thoughts. Maybe, having sold weapons to Iran anyway, they might have been impeached and removed from office by a Congress that learned from precedent that if a president breaks the law, he should be held accountable. The first Gulf War might not have happened, because of Bush Sr. being unable to run for president after being impeached. And George W, Bush would never have been able to steal the presidency, the American people having the memory of a convicted traitor from the Bush crime family with which to sweep another Democrat into office.

While Ford's reasoning for pardoning Nixon were probably noble, the road to hell, as they say, is paved with good intentions. That one horrible decision that rightly cost him election in 1976 cost America and the rest of the world literally millions of lives in the following decades. The smallest decision by a world leader has ramifications that reach out and affect people across time and continents.

This is why any president, be he alive or newly dead, must be judged based on the whole truth. And it is why the whitewash of history following the death of Ford is so tragicly detrimental, not only to this nation but to future generations and history itself. His pardoning of Nixon did not heal the nation in the aftermath of Watergate. It merely caused the wounds inflicted to fester and worsen.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Disappearing Islands and Banned Shrubbery

Some people I've debated with over the issue of Global Warming think the whole thing is a myth; they think it's all a bunch of hooey and that the changes in weather patterns worldwide are normal.

In the 1989 film Erik the Viking, a character by the name of King Arnulf (played by the movie's director Terry Jones, of Monty Python fame) of the island nation of Hy-Brasil, continues to deny his realm is sinking into the sea even as the waves are closing over his head. That's an apt description for what the Global Warming deniers are doing. Only they aren't in the process of sinking into the rising ocean -- yet.

But as reported in The Idependent this weekend, whole islands are in fact being claimed by rising ocean levels.
Rising seas, caused by global warming, have for the first time washed an inhabited island off the face of the Earth. The obliteration of Lohachara island, in India's part of the Sundarbans where the Ganges and the Brahmaputra rivers empty into the Bay of Bengal, marks the moment when one of the most apocalyptic predictions of environmentalists and climate scientists has started coming true.
Pretty scary opening, huh? Sounds like the stuff of alarmists "overreacting," right? But wait, there's more:
It has been officially recorded in a six-year study of the Sunderbans by researchers at Calcutta's Jadavpur University. So remote is the island that the researchers first learned of its submergence, and that of an uninhabited neighbouring island, Suparibhanga, when they saw they had vanished from satellite pictures.
This is not laughing matter. Another quote from the article:
Refugees from the vanished Lohachara island and the disappearing Ghoramara island have fled to Sagar, but this island has already lost 7,500 acres of land to the sea. In all, a dozen islands, home to 70,000 people, are in danger of being submerged by the rising seas.
This is happening now, dear readers. These islands aren't disappearing in some far off future. They're being swallowed up now. We have a choice; we can acknowledge the problem of Global Warming once and for all, and do something about it, or we can become like King Arnulf, willfully and stupidly oblivious to the waters claiming his nation.

In other news, is reporting that George W. Bush has been banned from visiting the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem. According to the website:
BETHLEHEM, April 01, 2003 (Online): The Church of Nativity, widely believed to be the birth-place of Jesus Christ, decided to ban entry each of the US President George Bush, his Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, British Prime Minister Tony Blair and his Foreign Secretary Jack Straw the privilege of visiting this sacred place, which is one of the holiest Christian shrines.

The move came in protest of "the aggressive war these leaders have waged against Iraq," top Clergy of the church said.

Pretty harsh, huh? But again, there's more:
The Church Parishioner Father Panaritius made the decision public at a massive protest demonstration organized by Orthodox institutions in front of the Church of Nativity."They are war criminals and murderers of children. Therefore the Church of Nativity decided to ban them access into the holy shrine for ever," the parishioner said.
This happened nearly four years ago, but I just learned about it today -- the day after Christmas, the day thought to be the birthday of Jesus Christ. Considering that Bush falsely holds himself to be a Christian, this is a pretty sharp repudiation of the boy. I'm actually surprised this fact doesn't seem to have ever gotten more press in the mainstream media. Then again, given its timidity, maybe I'm not as surprised as I perhaps should be.

You just know you and your agenda are fucked when even God turns His back on you. Hey, Shrubya! Did you consider that maybe the Democratic victory this year might have been a sign from the God you pretend to worship? That maybe even He is through putting up with you and your crimes?

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Cheney To Commit Perjury

Looks like Dick Cheney is going to lie under oath on behalf of I. Lewis Libby, his former chief of staff, in the CIA leak case still underway. The prosecutor, Patrick Fitzgerald, may nail the vice dictator for it, or not. But one thing is clear: Cheney is not going to tell the truth.

Libby, you may remember, was indicted after getting caught lying about what he knew in the investigation of who leaked the identity of a covert CIA operative whose husband exposed a lie told by the Bush regime concerning Iraq's non-existent nuclear weapons program.

More on this story as it develops.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Ohio Legislature's Answer For Everything: Guns

Ohio's Republican-dominated legislature is pretty much the most batshit insane legislative body in the U.S., if not the world, preferring the persecution of gays and the handing out of guns to anybody who wants them over actually getting anything done (the Ohio GOP has also never passed up an opportunity to cut corporate taxes and slash environmental and health regulations).

Our Republican "governor" is an ineffectual moron who couldn't wipe his own ass without hundreds of pages of instructions explaining how to do it -- and he'd still find a way to screw it up.

So it comes as no surprise that the Buckeye State's GOP decided to override outgoing governor Bob Taft's veto of a poorly written gun law that makes it even easier for criminals to hide their guns from police officers.

According to the Cleveland Plain Dealer, Ohio House Bill 347 further relaxes restrictions on carrying guns, altering the current concealed carry law to allow motorists to drive with their weapons holstered and hidden from view. The law also wipes out municipal bans on assault weapons.

Surprisingly, polls show most Ohioans are actually supporting Taft on this one. This despite his single-digit approval ratings. There's a good reason for this; it's probably the only smart thing he's done as governor.

Why? Mainly because there is absolutely no credible evidence suggesting guns help lower the crime rate. In fact, the only real study by gun lobbyists supporting their erroneous assertion about more guns causing a reduction in crime was thoroughly debunked. The methods of John Lott, the NRA's gun guru, have also been called into question, and on more than one occasion. Statistics support the fact that street crime is not affected by concealed carry; you are more likely to be killed with a gun by a loved one, than by a stranger.

But don't tell that to the Ohio legislature, which is still going to be run by Republicans after the next session begins in January. Their answer to everything appears to be to let just anyone have guns -- consequences be damned. This presents a danger to the safety of law enforcement, and a gross infringment of the right of communities to self-government.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Why Impeachment Should Be Pursued

Reading the letters in response to a dual column on impeachment (one by David Corn, the other by Jennifer Van Bergen), one gets the distinct impression that even those who are undecided on the issue feel it should remain an option.

I have the following argument to make in favor of impeaching George W. Bush and Dick Cheney: if we don't, we're letting criminals get away with murder -- both literally and figuratively. When the ugliness of Iran-Contra played out, it became clear that Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush (the president and vice president, respectively) had committed treason against the United States.

Congress investigated the scandal, which involved the selling of arms to Iran by the Reagan administration and using the profits to fund the terrorist Contras in Nicaragua. Yet the Legislature stopped short of impeaching both traitors. The fact innocent people died as a result of that treason did not seem to matter.

The precedent set was terrible, and it had long-lasting consequences that haunt America to this day. Had Bush Sr. and Reagan been impeached, the former never would have become president and gone on to wage the first war against Iraq. Al-Qaeda might not even exist today, the chief reason for its formation being the establishment of an American military presence in Saudi Arabia -- the home of Mecca, Islam's holiest city.

And we certainly would not have George W. Bush, the elder Bush's son, occupying the White House. We would not be bogged down in another pointless war in Iraq.

But impeachment did not happen then. And the rest, as they say, is history. What will happen down the line if Democrats fail to exercise their Constitutional duty to impeach and remove George W. Bush and Duck Cheney?

The answer, of course, is a future Bush regime (or some other power-mad executive) committing high crimes in office -- with the terrible assumption, vindicated by history, that a sitting occupant of the White House may commit any crime (no matter how vile) and get away with it because Congress is afraid of what voters will do in response.

Hundreds of thousands of innocent Iraqis are dead from the current war, and thousands of American soldiers have been killed. These are acts of murder, for which the current Bush regime is directly responsible.

There is ample evidence Bush and Cheney have committed literally hundreds of impeachable offenses. Democrats have a duty to begin investigations leading to impeachment. And they must carry out this duty without fear.

Because, really, did the Republicans bother to think about the consequences when they impeached then-president Bill Clinton in the House of Representatives? No, they didn't. They did it and still maintained power. Voters did not hand control of both Houses of Congress to the opposition.

So enough cowardice on the part of Democrats. Start the investigations, and begin the impeachment process. If nothing else, it'll prevent Dick Cheney from ever being able to run for president.