2012 Afghanistan Economy Elections Health Care Iraq National Issues Uncategorized War

Obama Is Not Progressive

Originally written for the Progressive Democrats of Hawaii Blog, July 17, 2011

Thinking or hoping otherwise will not make this statement any less true. Barack Obama is not progressive. For my part, I never believed he was and one only need look at his time in office thus far for evidence.

Let’s start with health care, if only because the issue is at, or near, the top of my priority list. While it’s true there are some good things in the Affordable Health Care Act, like extending to 26 the age under which parents can choose to continue to cover their children, or eliminating the ability of insurance companies to deny coverage because of a preexisting condition, there’s no denying that when it’s all said and done, it is little more than a massive handout to health insurance companies.

While on the campaign trail, Obama said he’d prefer a single-payer-type system of health care if he had his choice, but when the debate on health care reform was in full swing in 2009, he denied making any such statement. And while there was some lip service from the White House paid to a “public option” to compete with private insurance, no such option was remotely considered seriously, despite polls which consistently showed a majority of Americans supported such an option.

Afghanistan General Topics Iraq National Issues War

Afghanistan: A ‘Just War?’

President Obama, in his address accepting his Nobel Peace Price, referred to the notion of ‘just war.’ Early in his remarks, he says:

The concept of a “just war” emerged, suggesting that war is justified only when certain conditions were met: if it is waged as a last resort or in self-defense; if the force used is proportional; and if, whenever possible, civilians are spared from violence. Of course, we know that for most of history, this concept of “just war” was rarely observed. The capacity of human beings to think up new ways to kill one another proved inexhaustible, as did our capacity to exempt from mercy those who look different or pray to a different G[-]d. Wars between armies gave way to wars between nations — total wars in which the distinction between combatant and civilian became blurred. And while it’s hard to conceive of a cause more just than the defeat of the Third Reich and the Axis powers, World War II was a conflict in which the total number of civilians who died exceeded the number of soldiers who perished.

Here he refers to basic principles, a checklist of sorts, that helps define what constitutes a ‘just war.’ As a country in the midst of two wars, the President makes no apologies for either the war in Iraq or Afghanistan, only states that one of them is drawing to a close. If a war is illegal, it follows naturally that the war is also unjust. One might conclude from statements Obama made during his campaign, that he would agree the Iraq war was not only ill advised, but illegal, and therefore unjust. As our nation’s focus has slowly shifted, since Obama took office, from Iraq back to Afghanistan, his administration has done nothing to punish, or even investigate, those responsible for the illegal war in Iraq.


dems fall on their faces…. again!

these days i find myself generally pissed off at the democratic party, both on the national scene and here in hawaii.  now, i’ll admit that i’ve never been a huge fan of the party to begin with, as i feel it offers (nationally anyway) only moderate differences in policy to the republicans.  anyone who doesn’t think the dnc is just as much in bed with big business as the republicans is, in my opinion, simply fooling themselves.  but i digress….

every attempt made by democrats in congress to end this pointless, not to mention illegal, war has been met with bitter failure.  republicans (with a few exceptions) refuse to leave the side of their trusted leader (even if he is a big horse’s ass).  i think democrats continually fall short of what is absolutely needed, ending the war, but i understand to some extent the necessity for compromise.  of course, on the other side, republicans will not budge and democrats are assailed with insults from every side whenever they present any kind of change in course or policy.

take for example the most recent defeat of senate democrats to put limits on how long troops can stay in the field and how long they must have at home.  in the past, republicans have been able to use their trusted mantra “democrats don’t support our troops.”  this time, however, even a monkey (though maybe not our president) could see that argument wouldn’t fly, so they showcased others from their bag of tricks: “this is a veiled attempt to change the course of the war through legislation.”  it may or may not be true, but the fact of the matter is this bill, in my opinion, was the best shot by democrats to date.  of course, they failed again, and i’ll tell you why; once again, they let the republicans control the conversation.  once again, the democrats were forced into a defensive position.

it didn’t, however, need to be that way.  not once did i hear any democrats insist than any republican who didn’t support the bill wasn’t supporting the troops either.  democrats should have fought, tooth and nail, insisting that this bill wasn’t an attempt to change course, but that the bill does support our troops and shows our gratitude for all they do by giving them a proper rest between tours of duty.  give them time to see their friends and loved ones.  give the military time to replenish their supplies so when those troops do return to the field, they do so properly equipped.

of course, the dems didn’t say any of this (at least not that i heard).  they once again got beat by their own cowardice, too afraid to appear on the wrong side of any issue.  they got beat by their own ineptitude and inability to frame and control the debate.

i’m so frustrated at this point, i don’t even know what to say anymore….

Iraq War

lying liars (thanks al)

i came across an article today on salon about some documents from the now extinct Coalition Provisional Authority.  while the article is interesting insofar as it makes readers aware of the wealth of information available on the CPA website, i found myself skimming through it looking for the pearls, of which there are a few.

on pearl in particular i want to discuss here, if only briefly.  in the article, the author talks about a document he found giving various explanations for a decrease in violence in the Anbar province:

Microsoft Word’s “Mark up” feature shows the time and date of the deletion and the identity of the person doing the deleting, but it doesn’t give the original author of the passage or when it was written. The title and hints in the text point to a memo written by one person in December 2003 or January 2004, when daily attacks on coalition forces in Anbar, the heavily Sunni province west of Baghdad that is the heartland of the insurgency, were the lowest in many months. These were the CPA’s salad days. Prior to the al-Sadr uprising and the Abu Ghraib scandal and the failed siege of Fallujah later in 2004, the CPA believed that it was succeeding in reshaping Iraq. In his book “The Assassins’ Gate,” George Packer depicts late 2003 and early 2004 as the last phase of quiet isolation for the CPA, before the facts on the ground began to impinge on its Green Zone idyll. “Why Are the Attacks Down” shows the CPA on the cusp, as the author gives a half-dozen different theories for the short-term decline in violence.

i have to admit i find the fact that they have several theories amusing, though i understand that any or all (or none) of their guesses could have contributed to the downswing in violence.  however, the one i find particularly interesting (and amusing) is the one which refers to the notion that insurgents may be quieting down because they thought we were leaving:

“What they” — meaning the Iraqis — “have gotten wrong,” says the memo’s author, “is the idea that the military will be leaving Iraq in June, which one individual said he was sure was a major factor in the diminishing attacks. Oh well, this is one time it might be best that folks don’t fully understand things.”

i’ve read this bit a few times now, and i chuckle every time.  ‘why,’ you ask?  well, i chuckle because nowadays any notion that we should leave iraq is countered by the administration with (among may reasons) the insistence that, if we were to in fact leave, violence would erupt (the author of the article points this out, as well).  apparently bush hasn’t read this (or probably any) document from the CPA.  the man doesn’t read.

this could mean one of three things. one, the nature of the conflict and violence in iraq has changed since this document was printed (i can’t see how). two, either bush isn’t aware this document exists, or just hasn’t read it (given his record, this is completely plausible). three, he is aware of this document (though i still doubt he actually read it) and is simply has no intention of leaving and is trying to scare the American public into staying in iraq.

the point is this: you can’t believe a single word that comes out of the mouth of that man.  the same goes for any and all the cronies in his administration.  so, if the US were to withdraw from iraq, the violence would probably decline.

while i haven’t tested it to great extent, i think it is safe practice to believe the exact opposite of whatever idea or policy on which the bush administration is trying to sell you.

Iraq War

Clarification on Iraq

I’ve been talking to one of my very best friends about the war in Iraq and what the correct course of action should be. For some time I’ve believed that we should leave. Immediately. We shouldn’t be there in the first place and the result of our illegal coup has been increased violence in the region, complete loss stability, an upsurge of sectarian violence, a financial boon for US corporations, the needless deaths of thousands of US military and civilian personnel, and the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians. Of course we shouldn’t be there. We shouldn’t have gone in the first place and this president (and vice-president) must absolutely be held accountable for these deaths and the blatant violation of US and international law.Having said all this, the question has crept into my brain; is an immediate withdrawal of our troops the best course of action? Would the region stabilize upon our departure, or would things continue to spiral out of control? While few would argue that Saddam was a horrible dictator, with all that’s happening now, is Iraq really better off? Iraqis are potentially in more danger now, than they were four or five years ago and the country’s infrastructure is in ruins. It appears the only people to have benefited from this war are the US corporations that supply the military with its weapons and those who won no-bid contracts of the reconstruction (which is months, if not years behind schedule).

So, what is the upside to leaving? What’s the positive? What’s the moral argument? I mean, shouldn’t we stay and make every effort to clean up this horrible mess we’ve made? Instead of sending the 21,500 more troops as a temporary stop gap measure (which military experts don’t even think will make a difference), why not sent the roughly 150,000 it has been suggested it will really take to put an end to the violence? Why not cancel the contracts with those companies that have not done the necessary work and instead have corporations from around the world BID on new contracts?

Should we really leave? Should we really quit before the job we set out to do is finished? Do we not have some responsibility, some moral obligation to finish what we started and do right by the Iraqi people?

My position hasn’t changed and I still think we should leave; we are there illegally and I honestly can’t trust this administration to do anything right. At the same time, I have some doubt and feel there may be some moral justification in staying to clean up this horrible mistake of ours.