Monday, April 30, 2007

When Will It End?

Many Middle-East experts have made the case that the American invasion of Iraq was just what Osama bin Laden wanted. To Bin Laden, the chief threat to Islam is the United States; he claims that the US wants to occupy Muslim countries and steal their resources. He uses this claim, conveniently supported by US actions, to recruit new terrorists and build up his network of dangerous extremists. The Bush administration appears to have gone out of its way to make bin Laden look good. They fell for the bait, and he's been reeling them in ever since.

For the most comprehensive, most well-documented case yet available that this is precisely what has happened, take a look at this article in the latest issue of Foreign Affairs. The author, Bruce Riedel, is a senior scholar at the Brookings Institution, studying and writing about Middle East Policy. His expertise includes counter-terrorism, Arab-Israeli issues, Persian Gulf Security, and south Asia.

The Bush-Cheney invasion and occupation of Iraq is Osama's dream come true. It's the best thing that ever happened for radical Islam. If Osama, squatting in some Pakistani cave, could have been asked what would best advance his insane cause, he couldn't have asked for anything better than this incompetent misadventure. (The next American blunder he'd undoubtedly like to see is an American attack on Iran.)

Bush and his yes-men and -women in Congress endlessly repeat the White House propaganda line that if we leave Iraq, the terrorists will follow us home. The illogic of this nonsense is so transparent it beggars the imagination, but it's become almost the last resort of Bush and his thugs. It ignores the fact that nothing is stopping terrorists from coming here right now--certainly not our under funded, unprotected ports. It ignores the fact that what is tearing Iraq apart is a sectarian civil war, instigated by our violent intervention in a country about which our President knew, apparently, absolutely nothing. It ignores the fact that the entire reason that al Qaeda has established a presence in Iraq is the arrival of an American invasion force. It ignores the fact that al Qaeda is stronger now than it was 5 years ago because of this very invasion, which took the pressure off al Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan and gave bin Laden breathing room to survive another day, to recruit, to scheme, and to plan more attacks on the West and in Muslim countries (such as Algeria, Indonesia, and Morocco) that he wants to destabilize.

It's hard to imagine a foreign policy more devastatingly bad for American interests than this Bush-Cheney disaster. No one knows what will happen in that beleaguered country, but to experts like Bruce Riedel, the only sensible course is phased withdrawal. That's the plan that the majority in the House of Representatives and the Senate has proposed and that Bush refuses to implement. Meanwhile death and chaos in Iraq spread; Americans and Iraqis die; Osama plots. Whose side is Bush on?

Sunday, April 15, 2007

April 21, 2007 Peace Rally

Our work to encourage our neighbors to call for an end to the U.S.
occupation of Iraq must continue. Please join BlueNovember.Org -

Saturday, April 21, 2007
1 PM to 3 PM
Pine Grove and Sanborn
Port Huron, Michigan

This is a peaceful event. Engaging negatively with
passersby and interfering with traffic are prohibited.

Signs will be available, but you may bring your own messages of peace.

Taxes, Again

Last week the Times Herald published a guest opinion piece by Craig Ellis. His argument, a monotonously familiar one, is that Michigan citizens pay too much in taxes and get little in return. BlueNovember member Jackie Jablonski knew that his claims are contradicted by the evidence and contacted Call Back. The paper--what a surprise!--declined to print what she said:

For a CPA, Craig Ellis has a funny way with numbers. My sources say that New Jersey has the third highest tax burden in the country, with Michigan way behind at 20th. It’s also relevant that a recent study shows that children are far better off in states that pay the highest taxes than are children in states that pay the lowest. Check it out at And remember that Oliver Wendell Holmes said, “Taxes are the price we pay for civilization.”

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Taxes and Services

The City of Port Huron is facing a crisis with its sewer separation program and will probably be forced to increase, perhaps even double, what it charges for water. One reason for this that no one seems to be pointing out is that the Republicans in Lansing have gutted the state budget over the last decade. In their mindless drive to cut state taxes, they have made it nearly impossible for the state to serve its citizens in a reasonable way. When Port Huron first planned for the sewer separation project, it expected to get a million dollars per year in revenue-sharing funds from the state, as reported by Mike Connell in today's Times Herald (Mike's column is not on line).

No one enjoys paying taxes, of course, but the Republican obsession with cutting them to the point where our government simply cannot perform the functions we expect of it has contributed to the mess that Port Huron finds itself in today. The state budget has been slashed to the bone. The Republicans who control the legislature claim that tax cuts create jobs and improve the business climate. Has the economy improved? Are businesses moving to Michigan? Are there new jobs in St. Clair County? Or are the wealthy putting more cash in their stock portfolios while the rest of us pay higher water bills and wonder whether the State Police will have enough troopers to cope with the next emergency?

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Step It Up 2007

If you care about the future of our planet and how it is threatened by climate change, plan to meet at the Peace Pole in Pine Grove Park in Port Huron between noon and 2:00 PM, on Saturday, April 14. This is part of a nationwide effort, Step It Up 2007, organized by Bill McKibben and many others, to raise awareness of this cataclysmic threat to environmental, social, and political stability and to send a message to Congress that we want the United States to join the worldwide effort to do something about it. Over 1300 actions and rallies are planned, with all 50 states represented.

Here's a link to a letter in Friday's Times Herald from Christine Danner, who has taken the lead in organizing Port Huron's Step It Up 2007 event.

And if you still have doubts about what the consequences of global climate change will be, take a look at the latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, discussed here in today's New York Times.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Who's Bush Working For?

Here's Tony Auth's 25 March 2007 cartoon (forwarded to me by an astute citizen and member of BlueNovember):

It illustrates with tragic conciseness one of the many horrible consequences of Bush's insane Iraq war. All around the Islamic world, it has become easier for Osama bin Laden to get young men to join his terrorist legions.

One of the chief arguments in Osama's radical rant is that the West is out to destroy Islam. When Bush and his pack of neocon loonies opted to invade and occupy an Islamic country that had absolutely nothing to do with the attacks of September 11, it gave Osama the best recruiting tool he could ever have hoped for. Add to that the unavoidable fact that the Iraq disaster means that the U.S. can't pay adequate attention to the places where al Qaida is actually active--Afghanistan and Pakistan--and you have a combination of arrogance, ignorance, and incompetence that suits Osama's needs perfectly. Osama needs Bush, just as Bush needs Osama.