11/17/2004

Crime Scene Investigation: Iraq

Fans of the TV series "Crime Scene Investigation" understand the importance of scientific evidence in solving crimes. Witness statements, along with forensic evidence found at the crime scene, are used to build a case against one or more suspects and to eliminate others as possible suspects.

The most important crime scene in the world today is Iraq, where the United States launched a war of occupation against a sovereign nation in violation of the United Nations Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. According to an October 2004 study by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, more than 100,000 Iraqi civilians have been killed since the onset of the war in March 2003. The study, which does not include the more recent fatalities in Falluja, found that 95 percent of the 100,000 civilian deaths are due to air strikes and artillery.

The prime suspects in this illegal war of occupation are George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Colin Powell, Condoleezza Rice, and Paul Wolfowitz. Justice will not be served until these perps are escorted out of their offices in handcuffs, leg irons and belly chains to stand trial before the World Court. The suspects, in order to build their case for a unilateral, preemptive war in Iraq, lied to Congress and the American people. Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11. It did not have long-range missiles. It had no re-constituted nuclear weapons program, no chemical weapons factories, no mobile labs or stockpiles of chemical weapons. The United Nations inspections had been working just fine and there was no need to go to war.

The suspects used repetition in the mass media to whip up a climate of fear among the American people. They built their case for war on old intelligence, fabricated intelligence, artist renditions of non-existent mobile labs, false speculation about aluminum tubes, and -- worst of all -- they conjured up images of nuclear clouds in order to scare the American people into supporting the war. The suspects said the war would be a vital part of some vague, undefined "war on terrorism" and would bring freedom, democracy and liberation to the Iraqi people.

But war is the ultimate form of terrorism and, while we can speak of the 100,000 dead Iraqis and the 1,200 dead American GIs, the real crime scene in Iraq can best be seen in the living wounded. The dead are quickly buried and out of our sight, but the wounded show the constant reminders of what happens when shards of metal rip through human flesh. We can see the missing eyes, ears and limbs. We can see the half-faces. We can see the burn scars, the twitching. We can see urine flowing through the catheter tubing. We can see the crutches and wheelchairs. And, of course, some illnesses -- such as those caused by depleted uranium weapons -- may not begin showing up for months or even years after exposure.

After all of the evidence is logged in, the present death, destruction, and torture in Iraq is far greater than the past crimes against humanity committed by Saddam Hussein, and the Iraq war may one day rival the horror of the Jewish holocaust. The world desperately needs a mass movement to prosecute the criminal perpetrators of the war and to bring the troops home now!

11/03/2004

The results are in: Bush wins

It appears that USA voters have chosen the warmongering buffoon over the windsurfing intellectual.

Ralph Nader was right all along. It should come as no surprise to progressives that Kerry failed to differentiate himself politically from Bush or to go after Bush. In the months leading up to the Iraq war, the Bush administration lied to the American people and to Congress about the reasons for going to war. Bush committed impeachable acts, yet Kerry failed to grow a spine and go after him on this. Kerry correctly said that Iraq was the wrong war at the wrong time, but he -- like Bush -- said that the troops must "stay the course" and somehow "win" the occupation of Iraq. More than 1,100 US troops and 100,000 Iraqi civilians have died because of Bush's illegal war, yet Kerry -- again, like Bush -- had no definitive plan or timeline to bring the troops home.

Another fatal mistake that Kerry made was his failure to promote single payer health care for all Americans. People are sick and tired of what passes for a health care system in this country, yet Kerry did not capitalize on this sentiment. Instead, he offered a confusing mish-mash of proposals that voters could not understand or get behind.

Instead of going on the offensive with a clear platform that the majority of Americans could relate to and get behind, Kerry let Bush define the media debate. Bush did not need to have a platform. All he had to do was keep "on-message" by labeling Kerry as inconsistent and weak. Bush and Cheney forced Kerry to be on the defensive, always having to refute charges that he would compromise the nation's security and increase taxes on small businesses.

I will be surprised if the United States of America survives the next four years of a Bush presidency. Bush voters, concerned mostly with themselves and their pocketbooks, have just given a death sentence to untold numbers of young men and women who will be called off to fight in new wars, perhaps in Syria or Iran for starters. Bush voters have just said that it is OK to ignore the effects of global warming, to let American jobs go overseas, and to roll back civil liberties. The worst president in history now has four more years to wreak havoc upon the US Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

All that progressives can do now is keep fighting and step up the pressure on Congress to deny Bush any free passes. Personally, I will be supporting the impeachment of George W. Bush and Dick Cheney. See http://www.votetoimpeach.org

11/01/2004

What to do on November 3rd

On November 3, 2004, all citizens who care about democracy in the United States must get to work for electoral reform. The United States, with its two-party monopoly on political discourse and its disproportional representation, has one of the most backward, antiquated democracies in the industrialized world.

The first step in electoral reform is voter registration. This should be a simple, convenient process. All states must pass same-day registration laws so that citizens are able to register and vote on election day.

Second, states must remove all ballot access obstructions -- such as signature gathering and percentage systems -- for third parties. The present system is set up by the Democratic and Republican parties to keep third parties out of the electoral process, but smaller parties should be valued and welcomed as part of the democratic process.

Third, abolish the electoral college so that citizens can directly decide, by popular vote, who our president and vice president will be. House Joint Resolution 109, sponsored by Illinois Congressman Jesse Jackson, Jr., would add an amendment to the U.S. Constitution eliminating the electoral college.

Fourth, develop a system for instant run-off voting. This system is also known as "direct democracy." Citizens will vote for their first three choices in order of preference. The City of San Francisco is using an instant run-off system in 2004, so the success or failure of this experiment will do much to help us prepare for a national instant run-off election.

Fifth, stop all paid political advertising and require broadcasters to devote free air time for public forums and candidate debates. This requirement should be tied to the FCC license renewal process. The airwaves are not owned by the broadcasters, but by the public. Broadcasters lease the airwaves from us with the stipulation that they will serve the public interest. Paid advertisements have become nothing but negative personal attack ads, whereas debates and candidate forums offer more thoughtful discussions about real issues.

Sixth, the election season can be shortened considerably if the statements and platforms of all candidates are published and distributed free to every voter. This, along with televised debates and candidate forums, is a much better use of federal election funds.

These suggestions for electoral reform are merely suggestions off the top of my head and do not represent a final list of needed reforms, but I see these as the most crucial now. Proportional representation also needs to be addressed so that women and minorities are fairly represented in government. Also, voting machines need to be capable of instant run-off voting and counting proportional votes and we need to rethnk the wisdom of excluding felons and former felons from active participation in the electoral process. Citizenship and voting could be an important and inexpensive rehabilitative program. Why exclude them?

Readers should begin the process of electoral reform in their own states by urging their representatives to support HR 109 and by working with state legislators to overturn ballot access obstructions and provide for same-day voter registration.