Bush Calls on Middle East to open arms to democracy

Hussein’s fall a ‘watershed’ for the world

WASHINGTON – President Bush on Thursday challenged Iran, Syria and two crucial American allies in the Middle East – Egypt and Saudi Arabia – to begin embracing democratic traditions and to view the fall of Saddam Hussein as “a watershed event in the global democratic revolution”.

Although not personally invited to participate, Libya’s tinpot dictator Moammar Khadafy announced plans to surrender his repressive 27 year stranglehold on this oil-rich North African nation. “But of course!”, he said, “It is amazing to me that we just didn’t think of this before.”

Fundamentalist Islamic leaders worldwide praised Bush’s bold new steps toward peace. The feeling was that, deep in their hearts, they always knew they could count on justice and meaningful reform from their old friend America. Even Osama bin Laden praised Bush’s “courageous vision and inspirational world leadership.”

The reaction was not as uniformly enthusiastic everywhere around the globe. In Tikrit, Iraq, the birthplace of Saddam, a Gallup poll released Thursday showed 99.7 percent of respondents felt Bush was doing a poor job, up from 99.4 percent a week ago.

Alex Forbes
© November 7, 2003

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Shock & Awe: Invasion and Protests

No matter what else you thought about it, ground forces are now less than a day from Baghdad. Some question whether Hussein survived the bunker-busters. The Iraqi military gives the appearance of being in disarray. Surrendering Iraqi units surpass American preparations to receive and process Iraqis who just want to go back to civilian life.

For the record, we would have preferred staying with the diplomatic process, or even a more proactive combination of psy-war (propaganda), political activism, and brazen capitalist enticements. For our money, one sniper should have taken Saddam out a decade ago, or perhaps American billions should have finished the job in Desert Sand when a majority of our allies still backed us.
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Bickersons at Saddam’s Palace

ANNOUNCER: Don Ameche and Frances Langford as John and Blanche Bickerson in “The Honeymoon is Over.”


ANNOUNCER: The Bickersons are discussing vacation plans in bed. It’s 3 o’clock in the morning and Mrs. Bickerson is still holding out for “Paris in Springtime” . Poor husband George, victim of “raucous insomnia” or “Whimper’s Malady” is holding out for their originally booked Baghdad tour. The argument reaches a climax during an acute attack of his strange ailment, inarticulateness. Listen.

“The Bickersons”, a 1940’s radio show whose name became synonymous with marital discord, was a little before my time. It’s becoming increasingly clear that the War In Iraq is a little before George’s time.
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Islam: A Violent Religion?

The ever-watchful media recently covered a Washington flap pitting President Bush against some of his own fellow conservatives. Many conservatives with insider access to the presidential ear are newly of the opinion that Islam is inherently a violent religion. In the words of one, “the more you find out about Islam, the more violent it appears to be.” Bush, no doubt mindful for once of sensitivities abroad, disagrees.

Considering that this conservative clique is still dominated by right-wing religious ideologues of fundamentalist Christian persuasions, this charge is not raising too many eyebrows in Washington D.C., where the self-serving ways of the theocratically inclined have a habit of insinuating themselves into the highest political decisions.

Telling them “easy for you to say” is like taking candy from a baby. If you delight in viewing world history this way, the track record of Christianity in instigating western civilization’s major wars and pograms is one that makes Atilla the Hun look like Mother Theresa. You should be aware there are many outspoken and prominent critics of Islam who still cannot forgive the transgressions of the Ottoman Empire a millenium ago when they kicked the Christians out of the Middle East and darn near finished them off in Italy. In fairness, there are many Moslems who still cannot forgive Christians for their role in the same unspeakable yet ancient religious turf wars. The Christians started it with the Crusades, but you knew that.

We’ll take the high road. Let’s hand the American conservatives back some of their own advice. Religion doesn’t kill people; people kill people. America already has its Robertsons, Falwells and Lou Sheldon. As the world has learned in the past year, the Islamic nations also have theirs.

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War on Iraq? Timing is everything!

When JFK faced down Khruschev over the Cuban Crisis, he had the deck stacked in his favor. We had U2 photos of the missile freighters in Havana Harbor. We had photos of the missiles and launchers. We had world attention and we had a sense of urgency. When Kennedy presented his findings on TV to the nation and the world, Khruschev was caught red-handed. clear and present danger was clearcut and unequivocal. I remember well when he faced down Khrushchev and the missiles were (eventually) withdrawn. I was in the Armed Forces at the time. Within days, my unit was setting up Hawk missile batteries all up and down the Florida Keys.

President Bush has his hands full trying to restore normalcy to Afghanistan, hunting down Al Qaeda, and protecting the life of President Hamid Karzai in Kabul. Saddam is no Khruschev. His tinpot regime in Baghdad bodes no good to any nation, especially to his closest Arab League neighbors. But Iraq is no USSR.
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Clock Radios For Troubled Times

“I’m so mad that I would write the Mayor a letter, if I could only write, if he could only read.” – Al Capp

We have one of those new clock radios that does almost everything.

It’s light, portable enough for travel, and it plays AM, FM and CD. For those who can figure out how to program it, it also offers built-in sound tracks for waterfalls, rain showers and a variety of natural sounds to sooth. The sound quality is good, and it’s reliable. It has a battery backup, which saves an hour of figuring out how to reset everything if the power goes out.

The function buttons are small and hard to read. Some of the programming function key sequences are diabolical. I keep the instructions in the nightstand drawer, folded upon to the page on “how to set the time”.
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Osama bin Laden – Notes and Analysis

How much do you know about Osama bin Laden?

Osama bin Laden – Notes and Analysis


We do not have to differentiate between military or civilian. As far as we are concerned, they are all targets.” — Osama Bin Laden, interview with ABC reporter John Miller, May 1998Osama bin Laden appears far more capable and dangerous than we thought, even following the unfolded horrors of Tuesday, September 11, 2001. Bin Laden sees himself as the new Islamic Messiah. Contrary to the teachings of the Koran, bin Laden has created a series of political fatwahs, or religious edicts, which sanction the use of any force against any human or government that interferes or “meddles” with his goals. He has founded a movement in which there can be no surviving dissenters or loyal opposition, and its goal is establishment, by force and terror, of a worldwide Islamic state. With Osama bin Laden either dead or alive, the bin Laden organizational structure and mission may be dangerously close to being able to pull this off, or else assure near-total world destruction, if not stopped very shortly.
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Beijing 2008

Let the name-calling begin …

  “They can’t do this to us … but who are we?”

Associated Press photo by Greg Baker

Rep. Tom Lantos, the House
  International Relations Committee’s top Democrat.
What he said “This decision will allow the Chinese police state to bask in the reflected glory of the Olympic Games despite having one of the most abominable human rights records in the world.”
What he didn’t “My head hurts. I refuse to think about it any more.”
Chinese President Jiang Zemin
What he said “Comrades. We express our deep thanks to all our friends around the world and to the IOC for helping to make Beijing successful in its Olympic bid.”
What he didn’t “Now how will we ever keep that lackey dog media out of our ‘private internal affairs’?”

Critics think it’s a victory for the global communist conspiracy of world domination, a subject we as a nation happen to know something about.
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Deadly Circle of Questions: Sudan


Deadly Circle of Questions

In Khartoum we bombed Shifa Pharmaceuticals Industries Co., the Sudanese company suspected of manufacturing a “precursor chemical” which could be used by Iraq to manufacture ‘VX’, a deadly nerve gas.

The evidence: a scoop of dirt obtained from outside the pharmaceuticals plant. How did we obtain the sample? How did we document its origin and analysis? How could the precursor contaminant have gotten into the soil? What is the necessary link between the sample and the factory? Where’s the “proof” ?
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Deadly Circle of Questions: Sri Lanka

We took advantage of a lazy Saturday afternoon to catch up on reading. We caught a San Francisco Chronicle article entitled “Sri Lanka’s Future Down A Rough Road.” The article was bylined by Dexter Filkins of the Los Angeles Times. It bothered us.

What we learned:

Sri Lanka is an island about the size of West Virginia, 30 miles off the south coast of India. Sri Lanka has been embroiled in a civil war for 15 years. Principals are 19,000 government troops, and 5,000 “Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam”, a feared and popular guerrilla band. The government represents the predominantly Buddhist ethnic Sinhalese population (75%), while the Tigers state that they represent the predominantly Hindu Tamils (18%). The military battle is over turf. The Tigers control a sizeable chunk of Sri Lanka territory, control of which has grown and shrunk over the years. The battle now focuses on a 19-mile stretch of government road that cuts through the Tamil “stronghold”.
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