The Watch

The Watch is concerned about the increasing pressure towards feudalism in the United States from corporations, social regressives, warmongers, and the media. We also are concerned with future history concerning our current times, as non-truths which are “widely reported” become the basis for completely false narratives.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Tin Foil Hat Watch

I've got my tin foil hat on... Got yours?

This Blackwell guy -- the Secretary of State in Ohio -- has got to go. Apparently in 2004, he signed an order decreeing that exit polling within 100 feet of a voting place is illegal.

Now, why on earth would the Secretary of State of Ohio want to put a stop to exit polling in Ohio -- a state that had very strange results in the 2004 election... As I recall, the only way anyone was able to explain how Boosh won Ohio was to pretend that huge numbers of people voted for Boosh but were so ashamed of their vote that they lied to the exit pollsters and claimed they had voted for Kerry.


Oh wait. Isn't Blackwell a Republican who owns Diebold stock; and isn't Diebold run by a chief executive -- also a Republican -- who promised (in writing) to help deliver the State of Ohio to Boosh in 2004; and don't Diebold machines lack a verifiable paper trail; and aren't Diebold machines easily hackable?


You tell me: why shouldn't I have a tinfoil hat on???

-John Locke

Rumsfeld Incompetency Watch

Ronald Dumsfeld made the news again...

He told reporters to "just back off" when they asked him to explain the most recent "setbacks" in Iraq (like the raging civil war).

"You ought to just back off..." he whined.

Hmmm... yes. Just back off and wait to see if this administration can do anything right, because let's face it, their record of achievement so far in Iraq (as well as the rest of the world) is simply amazing to behold.

Why doesn't someone in the "press" hold this a-hole's feet to the fire???

All they would have to do is cite a number of administration quotes like "Mission Accomplished", "insurgency in its last throes", "days or weeks, I doubt months", "dead-enders", "stay the course", etc, then point out that these great quotes all came at great times for the administration and were touted to the American public as evidence that we were winning or had won this damn war. Remember, this is the WAR PRESIDENT we are talking about. The war is the primary reason he won reelection: can't change corpses in mid-stream or somesuch nonsense.

Anyway, the fact that we're spending close to half a trillion dollars on this mess, the fact that we're losing three or four soldiers a day, the fact that the Iraqis are losing 100 or more civilians a day, the fact that we're embroiled in the middle of a civil war with no real allies -- all of these facts should mean that "back off" is not an acceptable response by any stretch of the imagination.

Such a level of incompetence in the whitehorse has not been seen for decades, if ever. How dare Dumsfeld refuse to answer serious questions about his competence and the competence of the Boosh Adminstration???

I've been watching for almost six years now, and I have yet to see even a glimmer of competence.

-John Locke

Dick Cheney Truth Watch

So Dick Cheney was caught telling the truth this past week. Amazing. Even more amazing, the Boosh administration is now denying that he told the truth...

What am I talking about? I am talking about waterboarding, that most noble of interrogation pasttimes (i.e. torture).

The VP (or should that be TP, for Torture President?) was being interviewed by a conservative talk show host and was asked whether "a dunk in the water" for some suspected terrorists is a "no-brainer". The TP responded, "Well, it's a no brainer for me..."

This truthfulness was a breath of fresh air for Cheney and the Boosh Administration. However, the next day, they realized that being truthful can get you in trouble, because some crazy people concerned about human rights picked up on his statement...

So, the administration reversed course and claimed that Cheney was only talking about a "dunk in the water" and not about waterboarding. For those of you who are clueless out there, waterboarding is where the Boosh administration gestapo strap you to a board, put a cloth bag over your head, and dump water on your head, which induces a severe gag reflex to the point that you think you are drowning. For those of you who have never had a near-drowning experience, it is not a f#cking walk in the park. Anyway, they make you continue to believe that they are crazy enough to kill you until you sign a confession to stop the torture. Then they use that forced confession to try you in a military tribunal where you have no right to see the evidence against you.

According to Wikipedia, waterboarding can cause "extreme pain and damage to the lungs, brain damage caused by oxygen deprivation, and sometimes broken bones because of the restraints applied to the struggling victim. The psychological effects can be long lasting. Waterboarding can also result in death." CIA volunteer agents exposed to waterboarding lasted an average of 14 seconds before capitulating.

For the record:

Pol Pot of the Khmer Rouge used similar tactics; he was the much beloved
leader of Cambodia.

At least one Japanese officer was tried and convicted of waterboarding
during World War II.

The US Department of State formally recognizes Tunisia's poor human rights
record in part due to their propensity for submerging the heads of prisoners in

Anyway, the Boosh administration is now saying that Cheney does not advocate waterboarding but does advocates dunking prisoners in water to elicit confessions... Unless my junior high history classes fail me, that's called dunking or ducking and was used in the Salem Witch Trials to elicit confessions from "witches". The "witch" was tied to a pole that was dunked under water. Duckings were repeated until either the "witch" died by drowning or until she confessed so that she could be put to death another way, such as hanging or burning at the stake...

Since there were a lot of "witches" back then, we know that dunking or ducking or waterboarding are very reliable ways of getting people to confess...

"You know as a matter of common sense that the vice president of the United States is not going to be talking about water boarding. Never would, never does, never will," Snow said. "You think Dick Cheney's going to slip up on something like this? No, come on."

Yes, actually, yes, I do.

OH COME ON! Cheney's denial of his brief episode of truthfulness is ridiculous. It is ridiculous to claim that somehow he was not talking about waterboarding, since waterboarding is all the rage in this Administration and has been in the press ever since it was leaked that the CIA was waterboarding people to obtain confessions.

This is so beyond the pale, it's simply not credible.






When are the american people going to wake up and realize that the whitehorse has been h1jacked by a bunch of immoral and insane lunatics??? I don't want these people "defending" me by torturing people. Period. And I really don't want them torturing me.

I repeat my suggestion that the next time Rumsfeld, Cheney, or the Boosh testify in Congress, we strap them to a waterboard and waterboard them until they confess. (After all, it's not torture, right?)

-John Locke

New Jersey Gay Marriage Watch

Ah god... It was sooooooo close.

The New Jersey Supreme Court handed down its decision regarding gay marriage. They overturned the decisions of the trial court and of the appellate court...

It was a unanimous decision that same-sex couples deserve ALL of the rights given to heterosexual couples -- which is wonderful. It is especially wonderful that it was a UNANIMOUS decision. Among the statements in the decision:

"the unequal dispensation of rights and benefits to committed same-sex partners can no longer be tolerated under our State Constitution."

"Times and attitudes have changed, and there has been a developing understanding that discrimination against gays and lesbians is no longer acceptable in this State..."

"HELD: Denying committed same-sex couples the financial and social benefits and privileges given to their married heterosexual counterparts bears no substantial relationship to a legitimate governmental purpose. The Court holds that under the equal protection guarantee of Article I, Paragraph 1 of the New Jersey Constitution, committed samesex couples must be afforded on equal terms the same rights and benefits enjoyed by opposite-sex couples under the civil marriage statutes."

However, it was a 4 to 3 decision that same-sex couples did not deserve the right to be "married," which is in the end, very disappointing.

Overall, it may be a net-good decision, but it is still a sad day for the state of New Jersey. The Supreme Court opted for giving the legislature the chance to put a "separate but equal" into the law books.

I was thinking about it last night. Would interracial couples be satisfied with a "separate-but-equal" domestic partnership??? NO. No one would. Because it's separate AND inferior ... it necessarily demeans the relationship of the people in the union.

Civil marriage is just that -- civil -- and therefore the demesne of the state. If they offer civil marriage to heterosexual couples, then they'd goddamn better offer it to same-sex couples. Otherwise, it is simply NOT EQUAL. Conversely, if they only want to offer domestic partnerships to everyone, then fine. Let's see how straight people like them apples.

Furthermore, to some degree, the decision is still a farce, because only "marriage" would force other states to recognize it as such. (DOMA is clearly unconstitutional, but the ACLU, Lamda Legal, Equality California, and others are biding its time on that one -- too much hate right now and too much risk of a Constitutional Amendment eradicating all the gains in the past decades).

We'll have to wait and see. It would be nice to see NJ leaders actually lead, do something right, and grant same-sex couples the right to marriage.

-John Locke

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Death of Habeus Corpus

For those of you who haven't seen it, the following link is a video of Keith Olbermann on MSNBC, talking about the death of Habeus Corpus -- the direct result of the Military Commissions Act.

The following is an email I wrote in support of Mr. Olbermann's editorial:

Dear Mr. Olbermann:

Thank you so much for speaking out against the Military Commissions Act; your speech was both impassioned and dead-on. Unfortunately, I have a feeling we will be seeing each other in the camps...

-John Locke

Here is a transcript of Mr. Olbermann's editorial:

And lastly as promised, a special comment tonight on the signing of the Military Commissions Act and the loss of habeas corpus.

We have lived as if in a trance.

We have lived as people in fear.

And now, our rights and our freedoms in peril, we slowly awake to learn that we have been afraid of the wrong thing.

Therefore, tonight have we truly become the inheritors of our American legacy.

For, on this first full day that the Military Commissions Act is in force, we now face what our ancestors faced, at other times of exaggerated crisis and melodramatic fear-mongering: A government more dangerous to our liberty, than is the enemy it claims to protect us from.

We have been here before and we have been here before led here by men better and wiser and nobler than George W. Bush.

We have been here when President John Adams insisted that the Alien and Sedition Acts were necessary to save American lives, only to watch him use those acts to jail newspaper editors.

American newspaper editors, in American jails, for things they wrote about America.

We have been here when President Woodrow Wilson insisted that the Espionage Act was necessary to save American lives, only to watch him use that Act to prosecute 2,000 Americans, especially those he disparaged as “Hyphenated Americans,” most of whom were guilty only of advocating peace in a time of war.

American public speakers, in American jails, for things they said about America.

And we have been here when President Franklin D. Roosevelt insisted that Executive Order 9066 was necessary to save American lives, only to watch him use that order to imprison and pauperize 110,000 Americans while his man in charge, General DeWitt, told Congress: “It makes no difference whether he is an American citizen, he is still a Japanese.”

American citizens, in American camps, for something they neither wrote nor said nor did, but for the choices they or their ancestors had made about coming to America.

Each of these actions was undertaken for the most vital, the most urgent, the most inescapable of reasons. And each was a betrayal of that for which the president who advocated them claimed to be fighting.

Adams and his party were swept from office, and the Alien and Sedition Acts erased.
Many of the very people Wilson silenced survived him, and one of them even ran to succeed him, and got 900,000 votes, though his presidential campaign was conducted entirely from his jail cell.

And Roosevelt‘s internment of the Japanese was not merely the worst blight on his record, but it would necessitate a formal apology from the government of the United States to the citizens of the United States whose lives it ruined.

The most vital, the most urgent, the most inescapable of reasons. In times of fright, we have been only human. We have let Roosevelt‘s “fear of fear itself” overtake us.

We have listened to the little voice inside that has said, “the wolf is at the door; this will be temporary; this will be precise; this too shall pass.”

We have accepted that the only way to stop the terrorists is to let the government become just a little bit like the terrorists. Just the way we once accepted that the only way to stop the Soviets was to let the government become just a little bit like the Soviets.

Or substitute the Japanese.

Or the Germans.

Or the Socialists.

Or the Anarchists.

Or the Immigrants.

Or the British.

Or the Aliens.

The most vital, the most urgent, the most inescapable of reasons.

And, always, always wrong.

“With the distance of history, the questions will be narrowed and few: Did this generation of Americans take the threat seriously, and did we do what it takes to defeat that threat?”

Wise words.

And ironic ones, Mr. Bush, your own, of course, yesterday, in signing the Military Commissions Act. You spoke so much more than you know, Sir.

Sadly, of course, the distance of history will recognize that the threat this generation of Americans needed to take seriously was you.

We have a long and painful history of ignoring the prophecy attributed to Benjamin Franklin that “those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.”

But even within this history we have not before codified the poisoning of habeas corpus, that wellspring of protection from which all essential liberties flow.

You, sir, have now befouled that spring.

You, sir, have now given us chaos and called it order.

You, sir, have now imposed subjugation and called it freedom.

For the most vital, the most urgent, the most inescapable of reasons.

And again, Mr. Bush, all of them, wrong.

We have handed a blank check, drawn against our freedom, to a man who has said it is unacceptable to compare anything this country has ever done to anything the terrorists have ever done.

We have handed a blank check, drawn against our freedom, to a man who has insisted again that “the United States does not torture. It‘s against our laws and it‘s against our values” and who has said it with a straight face while the pictures from Abu Ghraib Prison and the stories of waterboarding figuratively fade in and out, around him.

We have handed a blank, check drawn against our freedom, to a man who may now, if he so decides, declare not merely any non-American citizens “unlawful enemy combatants” and ship them somewhere, anywhere, but may now, if he so decides, declare you an “unlawful enemy combatant” and ship you somewhere, anywhere.

And if you think this hyperbole or hysteria, ask the newspaper editors when John Adams was president or the pacifists when Woodrow Wilson was president or the Japanese at Manzanar when Franklin Roosevelt was president.

And if you somehow think habeas corpus has not been suspended for American citizens but only for everybody else, ask yourself this: If you are pulled off the street tomorrow, and they call you an alien or an undocumented immigrant or an “unlawful enemy combatant,” exactly how are you going to convince them to give you a court hearing to prove you are not? Do you think this attorney general is going to help you?

This President now has his blank check.

He lied to get it.

He lied as he received it.

Is there any reason to even hope he has not lied about how he intends to use it nor who he intends to use it against?

“These military commissions will provide a fair trial,” you told us yesterday, Mr. Bush, “in which the accused are presumed innocent, have access to an attorney and can hear all the evidence against them.”

“Presumed innocent,” Mr. Bush?

The very piece of paper you signed as you said that, allows for the detainees to be abused up to the point just before they sustain “serious mental and physical trauma” in the hope of getting them to incriminate themselves, and may no longer even invoke the Geneva Conventions in their own defense.

“Access to an attorney,” Mr. Bush?

Lieutenant Commander Charles Swift said on this program, Sir, and to the Supreme Court, that he was only granted access to his detainee defendant on the promise that the detainee would plead guilty.

“Hearing all the evidence,” Mr. Bush?

The Military Commissions Act specifically permits the introduction of classified evidence not made available to the defense.

Your words are lies, Sir.

They are lies that imperil us all.

“One of the terrorists believed to have planned the 9/11 attacks,” you told us yesterday, “said he hoped the attacks would be the beginning of the end of America.”

That terrorist, sir, could only hope.

Not his actions, nor the actions of a ceaseless line of terrorists, real or imagined, could measure up to what you have wrought.

Habeas corpus? Gone.

The Geneva Conventions? Optional.

The moral force we shined outwards to the world as an eternal beacon, and inwards at ourselves as an eternal protection? Snuffed out.

These things you have done, Mr. Bush, they would be “the beginning of the end of America.”
And did it even occur to you once, sir, somewhere in amidst those eight separate, gruesome, intentional, terroristic invocations yesterday of the horrors of 9/11 -- that with only a little further shift in this world we now know, just a touch more repudiation of all of that for which our patriots died—did it ever occur to you once that in just 27 months and two days from now when you leave office, some irresponsible future president and a “competent tribunal” of lackeys would be entitled, by the actions of your own hand, to declare the status of “unlawful enemy combatant” for—and convene a Military Commission to try—not John Walker Lindh, but George Walker Bush?

For the most vital, the most urgent, the most inescapable of reasons.

And doubtless, Sir, all of them, as always, wrong.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

California Courts Watch

On Friday, October 6, 2006, in a 2-1 decision, the California Court of Appeals reversed a lower court’s decision that declared that gays and lesbians had the constitutional right to marry in California. Among the many unconscionable things written in the decision, was the quote: “California law does not prohibit gays and lesbians from marrying, so long as they marry a person of the opposite sex.”

Wow. Who would have thought that the court system could be so enlightened… It is clear that the two judges who voted to overturn the trial court’s decision have no friends who are gay, because the opinions that they issued were so dramatically uneducated, it defies belief.

The “moderate” judge, who ruled that gays and lesbians do not have the right to get married concluded that IF sexual orientation is not a choice, then the denial of marriage rights to gays and lesbians would be “suspect” (subject to a higher level of judicial review) and thus implied that the ruling would have gone the other way.

Let’s see here… Who, among anyone who has a good friend who is gay or lesbian, believes even for a moment that your friend chose their sexual orientation – that they chose to be gay or lesbian? No? No one? That’s right folks, because people simply do not choose their sexual orientation.

If people did choose their sexual orientation, then it might happen something like this…

Scene: young boy, just turned 12 years old, sleeping in bedroom. Sun just beginning to rise through window, birds chirping.

Enter Father, stage right.

Father: Rise and shine, sleepyhead! Happy twelfth birthday, Son! Today’s the big day!

Son: (rubbing eyes) Wha???

Father: This is it! Your twelfth birthday!

Son: (Looks at clock) So? It’s six o’clock in the morning. I want to sleep!

Father: Come on, get up! Its time to decide your sexual orientation, Son!

Son: Huh? (More forcefully) What??

Father: (Exasperated) Today is the day you get to decide your sexual orientation!!!

Son: I heard you, but I don’t understand.

Father: (Laughing) Ok, Ok. I was so excited I forgot to explain… (Sits on side of bed, holding Parental Pamphlet) Everyone has to choose their sexual orientation, Son. There a number of orientations to choose from, but you have to pick one. Now, there’s no pressure, and your Mother and I will support whatever decision you make, but there comes a time in a person’s life when you have to pick an orientation, and that day is today!

Son: Oh. Ok. Go on.

Father: Well, like I said, you have a number of choices: heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual, transgender, etc… The list goes on (points at Pamphlet), but those are the main choices. There are some sub-choices, but let’s stay simple for now.

Son: Ok.

Father: To help you out, let me recap what each of the main four choices are:

Heterosexual: First off, let me start by saying what a FINE choice this would be. Both your Mother and I are firmly and completely 100% heterosexual! We made that choice years ago and we never looked back. No regrets at all! Heterosexual means that boys are attracted to girls and vice versa. Most everyone (at least 90% of the population) picks this one. And why wouldn’t they??? It’s definitely a great choice. Since most people are heterosexual, you will fit in with everyone else. No one will pick on you because you chose to be heterosexual. Choosing to be heterosexual means that you can get married to the person of your dreams (by definition a girl) and you and your wife can raise a family with all possible legal protections. Most people will assume you are heterosexual, and you will find it easy to make friends and make small talk about your family, which in turn will help you build a career at work. No one ever gets fired for being heterosexual, that’s for damn sure.

Ok, now homosexual: This means that instead of being attracted to girls, you will be attracted to boys. (Shudders) I can’t really think of any advantages to this, but I can think of a number of disadvantages. First, you will be in the minority. Less than 10% of the population is gay, so you will part of a pretty small minority. You may get picked on some. (Laughs). What am I saying??? You WILL get picked on. You may get beat up. Hell, some homosexuals even get killed because they are gay. So there’s that. To avoid getting picked on, beat up, or killed, many gays choose to live in the closet, which means they live secret lives and pretend that they are not homosexual; they have fewer true friends because they live in the closet, and are more prone to depression and suicide because society doesn’t accept them. You can get fired for being gay. Up until recently, in some states it was illegal for two consenting homosexual adults to have sex in private – however, the Supreme Court recently declared such laws unconstitutional. Many Americans are hoping that the current administration will appoint more conservative justices to the Court, and that decision can be overturned soon. With the exception of one state, you won’t be able to marry the person you are attracted to, and you will be discriminated against in terms of legal protections, taxes, and just about everything else. Oh yes, a lot of Americans (some of them not too stable, and some being politicians) believe that you will go to hell for being homosexual, and will say many nasty things about you. But since these people are criticizing a minority, their behavior is tolerated and sometimes rewarded.

Bisexual: This means you can go either way -- attracted to both boys and girls. Kind of like a switch hitter in baseball, I guess. This is not a bad choice -- certainly better than homosexual, but not as good as heterosexual in terms of societal acceptance. Not that society accepts bisexuals, mind you. Just that you can get away with being attracted to boys by publicly being attracted to girls. ‘Nuff said.

Transgender: Don’t understand this much. From the Parental Pamphlet I got a few weeks ago in preparation for your twelfth birthday, it seems that transgender people are confused. They can’t decide whether they want to be a boy or a girl. This confusion can range from just being a cross-dresser and, in the case of a boy, wanting to wear women’s clothing, to wanting to go all the way and change sexes. (Draws close and whispers) Means you get your you-know-what CUT OFF! (Leans back) Definitely not accepted by society -- can definitely get you fired. And you definitely don’t want to go announcing that you are transgender to anyone – like homosexual behavior, this can easily get you killed. Strictly speaking, being transgender is more about your own identity rather than who you are attracted to, but since you have to decide your orientation, you also have to decide your identity as well… Most people will just think you’re mentally unbalanced, so it’s probably better than we stop talking about this choice anyway.

Father: Anyway, so today you get to choose your sexual orientation. What’ll it be, Son?

Son: Hmmmm… So many choices… I guess… No… I… Uh….

Father: Come on, come on! Spit it out!

Son: (Excited) Ok. You convinced me: I want to be gay!

Father: (Face crumpling) WHAT?!? (Collapses on floor). I am a failure as a father! (Wails)

Son: (Laughing) Oh, come on Dad! I was just pulling your chain! I was kidding! I want to be heterosexual!

Father: (Shakily) Oh, my dear Jesus. You had me there, I must say. Whew! (Wipes sweat off brow).

Son: Come on, Dad! Do you think I am stupid? Why on earth would I CHOOSE to be gay??? That’s ridiculous!

Father: (Big grin) Yep, sure is, Son! Hey! Why don’t you pull the same trick on your Mother? She will just DIE! (Snickers and smacks Son on back). Then we can all go celebrate!

Exit Father and Son, stage right.

Yeeeeeessssssssss… We all choose our sexual orientation. Riiiiiiight... Because we can all remember that special day when we chose what our sexual orientation would be, right? But apparently, the judge in the case was looking for specific scientific proof and evidence that people do not chose their sexual orientation; and if that proof had been provided, the judge would have voted the other way. But it’s hard to prove scientifically that we don’t choose our orientation, even though no one EVER talks about making such a decision.

Recent cases in other states have been decided equally stupidly. My favorite argument in the New York Supreme Case (which ruled against gays’ and lesbians’ right to marry) was that marriage is to protect heterosexual couples’ babies, since heterosexual couples can get pregnant accidentally, and thus need more legal protections to help hold their families together. Since homosexual couples cannot get pregnant accidentally, those couples will only get pregnant or adopt children when their relationships are already stable, so they don’t need the legal protection that heterosexual couples need. My jaw hit the floor when I heard that argument.

Anyway, the California case will now be decided by the California Supreme Court, which is not a surprise -- the case was always going to end up there no matter what the Appeals Court decision was. I just hope the Supreme Court is more enlightened than the Appeals Court, because the Appeals Court decision was pretty stupid.

-John Locke

Friday, October 13, 2006

Reality Check in Iraq and the Upcoming Election Watch

OK, so, we’ve now been fighting the Iraq war for over three and a half years. And it’s been three years, five and a half months since Bush victoriously landed on the Abraham Lincoln aircraft carrier and delivered a stirring speech, declaring an “end to major combat,” with a huge “Mission Accomplished” banner hanging over his shoulder. So, heading into the mid-term elections, it seems fitting to see how we’re doing and how this administration and this Republican-led congress are doing...

At the time Bush declared an end to major combat, only 137 US military members had been killed. Today, we’ve lost a total of 2757 soldiers, and 20,895 soldiers have been wounded.

Even before the war, Rumsfeld announced that the war “could last six days, six weeks. I doubt six months.” Cheney echoed this daft assessment, saying, “I think it will go relatively quickly… weeks rather than months.” We’re now almost three and a half YEARS into this war, and the US Army just announced that it is planning to keep the existing level of troops in Iraq until 2010. Of course, the Army claims that they can scale down the level of troops at any time… But just when exactly do they think that the violence and civil war are going to end?

On March 16, 2003, Cheney went a step further in a Press the Meat interview; Cheney was asked “If your analysis is not correct, and we’re not treated as liberators, but as conquerors, and the Iraqis begin to resist, particularly in Baghdad, do you think the American people are prepared for a long, costly, and bloody battle with significant American casualties?” Cheney’s response: “Well, I don’t think it’s likely to unfold that way, Tim, because I really do believe that we will be greeted as liberators.”

Liberators, eh? In a recent poll, over two thirds of Iraqis indicated their desire to see our American troops dead. They don’t want us to liberate them anymore; they don’t want us to leave; they want us dead. Iraqis who blow up our soldiers are heroes to the Iraqis, not terrorists. Anyone think that Abu Ghraib and Bush's policies advocating torture (among many other things we have done or not done) might have contributed to this?

On December 30, 2002, Budget Director Daniels predicted that the cost of a war with Iraq could be in the range of $50 billion to $60 billion. Counting next year’s budget, we’ve now committed very close to half a trillion dollars to this war. Let’s see what half a trillion dollars looks like, written out: $500,000,000,000,000. That seems like a lot.

Remember the “Coalition of the Willing”? We were told that 49 countries were willing to help out in the war. “You forgot Poland!” wailed Bush during a debate with John Kerry. Poland has now reduced its forces to 900 and has committed to keeping them there, possibly until 2007 (only a few months away). Thanks, Poland! Even the Brits -- who really empowered Bush’s megalomaniacal push towards war -- are wavering; Britain’s top military commander announced today that the Brits’ presence was exacerbating the situation in Iraq and aggravating the security situation around the world. I predict that soon after Blair quits, the Brits will be going home…

Remember the claims of Weapons of Mass Destruction that started off this entire thing??? None were found, and as it turns out, Iraq had abandoned its attempts to building biological, chemical, and nuclear weapons long before the war.

Remember the claims that Iraq was harboring Al Quaida? That was also not true, since Saddam Hussein hated and feared Al Quaida.

Remember the claim that as the Iraqis stand up, our forces will stand down? Our troop levels are essentially unchanged. And the Iraqis lose 25 police officers a day. So the Iraqi security forces are not standing up; they’re dying.

Well, okay, we might have messed up a little, but at least we got Saddam Hussein, right? Hussein is alleged to have caused the deaths of 100,000 to 200,000 Iraqis in a period of approximately 20 years. Not exactly a great guy – in fact, clearly an evil guy.

However, as it turns out, we beat him hands down. A study by Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and funded by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology found that as of June, 2006, an estimated 655,000 Iraqis had been killed as a result of the war – that’s about 2.5% of the total population in Iraq. Over 600,000 of those deaths were violent in nature; and an estimated 30% or so were caused directly by Coalition forces. And that’s just in three and a half years.

Now up until this paper was published today, the most authoritative count of civilian casualties was thought to be from the Iraq Body Count, which estimates that there have been between 44,000 and 49,000 reported civilians killed – based on news reports, not interviewing actual civilians. I note that the IBC has correctly and ethically declined to comment on the Johns Hopkins study until they have studied it.

Bush however, was willing to state that he was sure that the study was flawed, even before the study was published and even before he or anyone on his staff had read the report. Bush did not indicate any specific complaints or criticism regarding the methods used – he just declared that it was wrong. Note that General Tommy Franks of the US Central Command has declared that “We don’t do body counts,” so if the military is not counting, it’s not clear on what authority Bush was relying when he denied the possibility that our actions and inactions had killed well over half a million Iraqis. Most of the time, US and British officials decline to say how many Iraqis we have killed; now, however, they all seem quite happy to name 50,000 as a rough number. Even if it’s only 50,000 – which I doubt – how is this a success??? This is in three and a half years. Even assuming that the number of Iraqi deaths is somehow only magically 50,000, we will likely surpass Saddam Hussein’s achievement within a few years, since the violence is continuing to increase, not decrease. After seeing the carnage on television day after day and reading about how we killed X number of insurgents here and Y number of insurgents there, and Z number of tortured bodies were found across Bagdad, and M number of car bombs went off, killing N number of passersby – all in one day – I have to believe that the number of Iraqi casualties is far closer to the 655,000 estimate than the 50,000 estimate.

In the meantime, Bush is running around the country, campaigning for whatever Republican that is willing to be seen in public with him, and repeatedly claiming that the Democrats have become the party of “Cut and Run”. Even some Republicans are now demanding a change in strategery for Iraq. When asked if he can think of any mistakes he’s made since he became President, Bush seems unable to think of any significant missteps. Yet he proclaims anyone who disagrees with him as weak on defense, and implies that they are traitors. Karl Rove and Dick Cheney and Ronald Dumsfeld and all the Republican strategists echo the same stupid mantras. If you’re not with us, you’re against us. If you don’t support the President, you are a traitor. If you don’t believe that we should stay the course, you want to “cut and run”.

I don’t know if any of the Republicans are watching the same war that I am watching, but I no longer think we are losing this war; I think we have lost. I think every single thing about this war has been a colossal fuck up (excuse the profanity). I don’t have any great answers to the problems in Iraq. I know that no matter what we do, civil war is a foregone conclusion, since it is happening right now. The best we could do if Bush and the Republicans were not in charge would be to withdraw from view (similar to John Murtha’s plan) and see if we can get the UN or Arab nations to help stop the insanity that we created. That’s the best I can offer. In the meantime, it seems that we have managed to lose Afghanistan as well… But that’s a separate topic.

Given that all the polls show that the Republicans have lost the edge for every single major issue, including “morality” and “security”, I fully expect Bush to announce a major “shift” in policy, or to try to scare Americans by tweaking the Terror Color Code, or to whip up a foiled terror attack, or some other such nonsense right before the election. And all I can say is, in the upcoming elections, please, please, please vote against any and all Republicans. I don’t care who they are; I don’t care whether they are running for national, state, or local offices. Vote against them, because we really need a system of checks and balances in our government, and you can’t have that when one political party controls all three branches of government. The Republicans got us here, and now it’s time for them to go.

Long Live the Republic

-John Locke

PS. Dear NSA, CIA, FBI, KGB, and Bush: I am not a terrorist. I love the US. Please don't spy on me.