Monday, January 31, 2005

The president's challenge to friendly dictators.; By Duncan Currie [ an editorial assistant at The Weekly Standard..]

~~~ ~ : America has never based it’s diplomatic relations with other nations on the standards of freedom in those nations. Our Foreign Policy has always been , based on whether the Government –-- [which could be either a dictatorship or a republic or some other political hybrid] -- generally supported American Business interests and American Military policies. This has been true since the inception of this nation.

To be fair , the USA is not unique here. This Morally Blind Foreign Policy of ; “As long as you do not help my enemy, you are my friend ! (Even if you are a murdering crook)” , seems more to be an axiom of history than a particular American invention.~~ TP

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Washington (The Daily Standard) -:

The president's challenge to friendly dictators.
By Duncan Currie [ an editorial assistant at The Weekly Standard..]

FDR REPORTEDLY SAID IT FIRST, though the story could be apocryphal. Sizing up Anastasio Somoza, Nicaragua's brutal (but pro-American) dictator, Roosevelt quipped, "Somoza may be a son of a b-tch, but he's our son of a b-tch."

Prescient words, if he in fact spoke them. During the Cold War, America, through sheer necessity, cultivated ties with lots of SOBs, including military regimes in Nicaragua, Guatemala, Chile, Spain, Zaire, South Vietnam, Indonesia, South Korea and the Philippines.

Conservatives often justified such alliances by the lesser-of-two-evils canon. To wit, forging pacts with nasty pro-American dictatorships prevented the rise of even nastier pro-Soviet dictatorships. So it was both moral and pragmatic to prop up "our SOBs," lest "their SOBs" take power.

But when the Soviet Empire jumped on the fast lane to the ash heap of history, many felt the our-SOB principle should go with it. Absent a global Communist threat, they reasoned, how could America continue to support despots? Then came September 11, and the subsequent war on terror. Few questioned the prudence of warming up to Pakistani strongman Pervez Musharraf. If "coddling" Musharraf helped snuff out the Taliban--and it did--then we could overlook the general's autarchic rule. Likewise, hardheaded geopolitics demanded we keep our close links with tyrannies in Egypt and Saudi Arabia. Despite his pro-democracy rhetoric, Bush had to pick his battles wisely. And toppling U.S. enemies in Afghanistan and Iraq took precedence over nudging nominal U.S. allies toward liberalization. (Still, it was hard not to wince when Bush hosted Saudi crown prince Abdullah at his Texas ranch.)

Does the president's second inaugural mark a change in course?
President Bush would do well to follow suit. For, alas, we still need our SOBs. And we'll need them long after Bush leaves office. That may not be morally satisfying. But international politics has ever been thus. As Charles Krauthammer once observed, "The essence of foreign policy is deciding which son of a bitch to support and which to oppose--in 1941, Hitler or Stalin; in 1972, Brezhnev or Mao; in 1979, Somoza or Ortega. One has to choose. A blanket anti-son of a bitch policy . . . is soothing, satisfying and empty. It is not a policy at all but righteous self-delusion."

Duncan Currie is an editorial assistant at The Weekly Standard.


"Clinton Named UN Envoy to Tsunami Zone, Peace Effort",,Feb. 1 2005, (Bloomberg)...

~ I think this is the perfect job for Bill Clinton, and I mean that as a compliment.
I wish him luck. ~~ tp

Feb. 1 2005, (Bloomberg)
Clinton Named UN Envoy to Tsunami Zone, Peace Effort
-- Former U.S. President Bill Clinton agreed to be United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan's envoy for tsunami recovery in Asia and spur efforts to resolve conflicts in two of the countries hit by deadly waves.

Democrat Clinton's appointment adds to his role as an emissary for Republican President George W. Bush's effort to increase private donations to relief and reconstruction operations. Clinton and former President George H.W. Bush have been traveling throughout the U.S. to raise money and last week said they would go to the region.

The Dec. 26 disaster left more than 280,000 dead or missing in 12 countries around the Indian Ocean, devastated coastal economies and prompted the largest multinational relief operation in history.

BUT I CHALLENGE anyone to produce a documented instance , that Bill Clinton ever lied to the American public in the matters of War & Peace ~` by ~ TP

` `Comment below next article ~~ ` TP

By PAUL NOWELL, Associated Press Writer

February 1, 2005
"Helms Pleads to Keep Clinton Out of U.N."

CHARLOTTE, N.C - They may both be out of office, but Bill Clinton - remains the ultimate boogeyman for former Sen. Jesse Helms. In a fund-raising a letter for his senatorial library, Helms invokes the specter of the former president leading the United Nations after Kofi Annan retires next year.

"I'm sure you might agree that putting a left-wing, undisciplined and ethically challenged former President of the United States into a position of such power would be a tragic mistake," wrote the 83-year-old Republican, who left office in 2003 after five terms. >>>>>>

~ ~ ~ Bill Clinton balanced the budget mess he inherited from the Reagan- Bush administrations.

Bill tried to get the Insurance companies out of health care.

Mr. Clinton was the first US President not to overthrow every little western hemisphere country who did not tow the American business interests line.

And Bill Clinton is still much better respected in the Global community that any American President of the past generation. { And certainly better than the Dubuya Bush or his Dad]

Okay , so he lied about a personal matter of intimate relations.

A point that was so distantly tangential to the Whitewater investigation that it was simply a Ken Starr sham.

Bill Clinton did not lie about committing a criminal act , but simply a human act , one that people lie about -- in grossly huge numbers -- everyday.

[As a matter of fact it is often good etiquette to lie on this topic. I, for one, never liked folks who kiss and tell. ]

BUT I CHALLENGE anyone to produce a documented instance , that Bill Clinton ever lied to the American public in the matters of War & Peace , or even Jobs & Interest Rates.

Mr. Clinton on Foreign & Domestic Policy issues was the most forthcoming and honest President this nation ever had. That is not to say I agree with everything he said.

But at least when I came home at the end of the day to watch the news, I knew the President of the United States was shooting strait with me.

As opposed to the “Reagan – Bush I – BUSH II – Dick Chaney” team and their formalized policies of Dis-Information that they feed to the American Public and to the world each & every day.

Bill Clinton has got my vote UN Secretary General,, and I predict here today he will get that Job after Kofi Annon leaves. ~~
~~ TP


Sunday, January 30, 2005

"First Amendment No Big Deal,Students Say." , By BEN FELLER AP Education Writer

This article below about how American High School students dismiss the First Amendment as too broad & granting too much freedom , is quite distressing.

However I would not be surprised if a poll of adults turned out any different. Most American Citizens, [or at least most that i know] , fail to grasp the most basic principles that are the foundation of our free society.

As Hodding Carter III is quoted below : "Ignorance about the basics of this free society is a danger to our nation's future." A very true and important concept. You cannot protect rights you do not understand!

The first Amendment is America's first defense against tyranny rising from within our own boarders.

Those who think "it can't happen here" should read the book with that title by Sinclair Lewis or Philip Roth's latest "The Plot Against America".

The rights embodied in the First Ten Amendments of the American Constitution are what separate our Democracy from Dictatorships.

During the 1960's , Free Speech was an "it" thing among the kids.
Will the 2000's be the decade of peer-pressured - constrained speech ?
A country where the legal entitlement of first amendment rights are so generally misunderstood, that they will be asserted less and less by the general population?

Remember Big Corporations & Rich People are ALWAYS excreting -- and are always looking to expand--- their constitutional rights & powers.~~~~
~~~~ TP

Monday, January 31, 2005 4:01 p.m. ET

By BEN FELLER AP Education Writer
"First Amendment No Big Deal,Students Say."

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The way many high school students see it, government censorship of newspapers may not be a bad thing, and flag burning is hardly protected free speech.

It turns out the First Amendment is a second-rate issue to many of those nearing their own adult independence, according to a study of high school attitudes released Monday.

The original amendment to the Constitution is the cornerstone of the way of life in the United States, promising citizens the freedoms of religion, speech, press and assembly.

Yet, when told of the exact text of the First Amendment, more than one in three high school students said it goes "too far" in the rights it guarantees. Only half of the students said newspapers should be allowed to publish freely without government approval of stories.

"These results are not only disturbing; they are dangerous," said Hodding Carter III, president of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, which sponsored the $1 million study. "Ignorance about the basics of this free society is a danger to our nation's future."

"The last 15 years have not been a golden era for student media," said Warren Watson, director of the J-Ideas project at Ball State University in Indiana. "Programs are under siege or dying from neglect. Many students do not get the opportunity to practice our basic freedoms."

On the Net:

Future of the First Amendment report:


Saturday, January 22, 2005

"The Rise of Open-Source Politics"; By Micah L. Sifry, The Nation.

~~~ Really great article here below by Micah L. Sifry from 'The Nation" .
The interenet as a Political Tool is still evolving, and right now the Repulicans have a slight Cyber-Political edge. The Republican rank and file , the religious right & Big Biz , are all simply more lkely to give money or take other direct cyber -inspired -action, mostly because wealthier folks are more likely to have broadband internet , whithout which , one is quite cyber-limited in expresing political power.

However as broadband & wireless internet trickles down into the the many urban & rural areas with lower incomes , and now little broadband , a shift may still come , to where the 'political power' of cyberspace may tilt back towards the left ~~TP

The Rise of Open-Source Politics
By Micah L. Sifry, The Nation
Posted on January 20, 2005, Printed on January 21, 2005
Whether you're a Democrat in mourning or a Republican in glee, the results from election day should not obscure an important shift in America's civic life.

New tools and practices born on the internet have reached critical mass, enabling ordinary people to participate in processes that used to be closed to them. It may seem like cold comfort for Kerry supporters now, but the truth is that voters don't have to rely on elected or self-appointed leaders to chart the way forward anymore.

The era of top-down politics – where campaigns, institutions and journalism were cloistered communities powered by hard-to-amass capital – is over. Something wilder, more engaging and infinitely more satisfying to individual participants is arising alongside the old order.

View this story online at:

Monday, January 10, 2005

Where Was God? ; By WILLIAM SAFIRE

January 10, 2005

Where Was God?



In the aftermath of a cataclysm, with pictures of parents sobbing over dead infants driven into human consciousness around the globe, faith-shaking questions arise: Where was God? Why does a good and all-powerful deity permit such evil and grief to fall on so many thousands of innocents? What did these people do to deserve such suffering?

After a similar natural disaster wiped out tens of thousands of lives in Lisbon in the 18th century, the philosopher Voltaire wrote "Candide," savagely satirizing optimists who still found comfort and hope in God. After last month's Indian Ocean tsunami, the same anguished questioning is in the minds of millions of religious believers.

Turn to the Book of Job in the Hebrew Bible. It was written some 2,500 years ago during what must have been a crisis of faith. The covenant with Abraham - worship the one God, and his people would be protected - didn't seem to be working. The good died young, the wicked prospered; where was the promised justice?

The poet-priest who wrote this book began with a dialogue between God and the Satan, then a kind of prosecuting angel. When God pointed to "my servant Job" as most upright and devout, the Satan suggested Job worshipped God only because he had been given power and riches. On a bet that Job would stay faithful, God let the angel take the good man's possessions, kill his children and afflict him with loathsome boils.

The first point the Book of Job made was that suffering is not evidence of sin. When Job's friends said that he must have done something awful to deserve such misery, the reader knows that is false. Job's suffering was a test of his faith: even as he grew angry with God for being unjust - wishing he could sue him in a court of law - he never abandoned his belief.

And did this righteous Gentile get furious: "Damn the day that I was born!" Forget the so-called "patience of Job"; that legend is blown away by the shockingly irreverent biblical narrative. Job's famous _expression of meek acceptance in the 1611 King James Version - "though he slay me, yet will I trust in him" - was a blatant misreading by nervous translators. Modern scholarship offers a much different translation: "He may slay me, I'll not quaver."

The point of Job's gutsy defiance of God's injustice - right there in the Bible - is that it is not blasphemous to challenge the highest authority when it inflicts a moral wrong. (I titled a book on this "The First Dissident.") Indeed, Job's demand that his unseen adversary show up at a trial with a written indictment gets an unexpected reaction: in a thunderous theophany, God appears before the startled man with the longest and most beautifully poetic speech attributed directly to him in Scripture.

Frankly, God's voice "out of the whirlwind" carries a message not all that satisfying to those wondering about moral mismanagement. Virginia Woolf wrote in her journal "I read the Book of Job last night - I don't think God comes well out of it."

The powerful voice demands of puny Man: "Where were you when I laid the Earth's foundations?" Summoning an image of the mythic sea-monster symbolizing Chaos, God asks, "Canst thou draw out Leviathan with a hook?" The poet-priest's point, I think, is that God is occupied bringing light to darkness, imposing physical order on chaos, and leaves his human creations free to work out moral justice on their own.

Job's moral outrage caused God to appear, thereby demonstrating that the sufferer who believes is never alone. Job abruptly stops complaining, and - in a prosaic happy ending that strikes me as tacked on by other sages so as to get the troublesome book accepted in the Hebrew canon - he is rewarded. (Christianity promises to rectify earthly injustice in an afterlife.)

Job's lessons for today:

(1) Victims of this cataclysm in no way "deserved" a fate inflicted by the Leviathanic force of nature.

(2) Questioning God's inscrutable ways has its exemplar in the Bible and need not undermine faith.

(3) Humanity's obligation to ameliorate injustice on earth is being expressed in a surge of generosity that refutes Voltaire's cynicism.