Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Drones: Terrorism U.S. Style

Long overdue Congressional hearings are underway examining the Administration’s use of drones in the Middle East. An article in The Verge highlights testimony from a Yemini journalist whose village was bombed only six days earlier in order to take out a single man suspected of having ties to al Qaeda. The strike succeeded in killing the suspected terrorist as well as six other people. Imagine that. You drop a bomb into a populated area and there is collateral damage.

An interesting point brought out in the article is that the Obama Administration claims that it uses drones only in cases where it is “unfeasible” to capture a suspect, but the Yemini witness says there was no reason why the alleged terrorist could not have been arrested by local authorities. I imagine this isn’t the first such case.

What is clear from the hearing so far is that part of the intended purpose of drone bombings is to strike fear in the hearts of would be terrorists. “You want to be a terrorist? Okay, but you’re putting your entire village in danger,” goes the thinking. The reality, however, is that it is magnifying the hatred of America among Muslims and it is being used as a recruiting tool by groups like al Qaeda. We seem to be under the delusion that terrorism actually works except when it is used against us.

All you have to do is look at what we are experiencing right here in the U.S. in the days since the Boston Marathon bombings. Dial up FOX News or Limbaugh or Hannity and you’ll get an earful of anti-Muslim hysteria. What we fail to understand is that their conservative counterparts in Yemen and Pakistan and Afghanistan are doing the exact same thing to stir up anti-American sentiments.

Drone bombings are wrong on many levels, but perhaps the worst consequence of their use is that they are helping plant the seeds of hatred among young Muslims who are growing up watching innocent people being torn apart by American bombs. 

Monday, April 22, 2013

When children run the nursery

Former Representative Gabrielle Giffords wrote an editorial for the New York Times expressing her disappointment in the Senate vote shortly after the attempt to expand background checks failed on Capital Hill. Their bile agitated, the usual right-wing suspects assaulted the survivor of gun violence from all angles, spewing personal attacks that questioned not merely her judgment, but her sanity. Of all the repulsive verbiage hurled at Giffords by the chorus of cowards, one word from Kevin D. Williamson’s tirade in the National Review Online stood out to me: Childish. Childish?

No sir, being childish is wanting to play cowboys and Indians beyond the age of 8 or 9.

Being childish is believing that more guns in the hands of more people will make America a safer place.

Being childish is throwing a temper tantrum and holding your breath every time someone utters the phrase “reasonable gun control.”

Being childish means you see the world in black and white, good and bad. Adults understand there are subtleties, shades of grey and trade-offs.

Being childish is to misunderstand the difference between justice and vengeance. Adults understand the distinction.

Being childish is being Ted Nugent.

Go home, Homer. You're drunk. No, wait....

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

An innocent life is an innocent life

I grieve for the victims of the tragic Boston bombings yesterday, but at the same time, it is incredibly hypocritical of Obama to talk about finding and bringing to justice the perpetrators as we continue to drop bombs from drones that kill innocent men, women and children. Where is the justice for them?

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Our illegal and immoral drone program

Evidence continues to grow that America’s semi-secret drone program is far more complex and far more deadly than anyone in the Obama Administration has let on. The program has been justified over the years as one that only targets senior al-Qeada members, but evidence is mounting that a) targets are far more diverse, and include a variety of low-level Afghan and Pakistani militants, and b) the number of civilians killed is far higher than the Administration or CIA has admitted in public statements.

We are executing “suspected” terrorists who have not been tried and convicted of any crime, and murdering innocent civilians. This is outrageous and criminal.  We are doing it because there is no one on the planet big enough to tell us to stop.

Why is Obama condoning a program that murders innocent civilians? How is it that an individual as intelligent as Obama could be convinced this is a good idea? What if a drug lord from Mexico was hiding in Arizona? Would we tolerate the Mexican government sending over a drone to bomb his hiding place in a Phoenix suburb?

Our drone program is illegal and immoral and the Administration has been lying to us about it. It may have started under Bush, but Obama continues to defend and expand it. He should be shutting it down.  

Friday, April 05, 2013

Why aren't you angry?

Here's a rather graphic representation of the growth in income inequality in the USA since the 1960s; plotted on a chart where the income growth of the bottom 90 percent is represented by an inch-high bar; the growth of the top 10 percent needs a 163 foot-tall bar; while the top 0.01% need a 4.9 mile-high bar to represent their real wealth growth in the same period.

If you still aren’t convinced that the elite in America have rigged the game in their favor over the past several decades, here’s a startling graphic that should change your mind in a hurry.

Cory Doctorow at Boing Boing makes this observation:

“The top 1 percent enjoyed 81 percent of all the increased income since 2009. Just over half of the gains went to the top one-tenth of 1 percent, and 39 percent of the gains went to the top 1 percent of the top 1 percent. Ponder that last fact for a moment -- the top 1 percent of the top 1 percent, those making at least $7.97 million in 2011, enjoyed 39 percent of all the income gains in America. In a nation of 158.4 million households, just 15,837 of them received 39 cents out of every dollar of increased income.”

Aided and abetted by Washington, a thimbleful of Americans are hauling in truckloads of cash while the rest of us stress over paying the rent each month. And we shouldn’t fool ourselves into believing this is only a Republican failing. There are plenty of Democrats who are willing to play along. Who do you think finances their campaigns?

Why does this not anger us to action?