Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Roe v. Wade Musings

I have to admit that I'm troubled by any legal maneuvering which allows abortion to be legal through the third trimester. The science hasn't changed much from the science available in 1973. Bob Woodward wrote an interesting article in 1989 concerning the papers of deceased Justice William Douglas and the concepts "quickening"(16-18 weeks) and viability (24-28 weeks) and the need to "draw a line". The right to the procedure had to be weighed against the life that is developing in the womb. Clinton's term "ensoulment" (or viability) was the rationale for continuing the status quo. The Roe v. Wade decision legalized abortion rights for women and the decision is in the news since Alito's nomination and Roberts confirmation process.

Perhaps the folks who want a right to the procedure should hope that Alito turns back the clock. My reasoning is that there will be no hiding behind the Justices robes by those who talk the talk of illegalizing abortion-on-demand, but send their girlfriends to the abortion clinics in their home states to prevent a political mess an illegitimate child of an affair could cause(one recent case comes to mind in Georgia). Many folks in Congress actually do have convictions about the evils of abortion, but not all who espouse an end to the right to an abortion. I believe it would be a wonderful occasion for those who write and pass our laws to be on record under different circumstances. Much has changed in the 32 years of the decision's impact on America.

I believe there must be a line drawn, but many of the folks who use the issue to promote GOP 'virtues' in other blogs I frequent are disingenuous at best. On one hand, they advocate cutting the poor and working poor's needs out of the budget of the U>S or their home state to save money for defense contractors to raid the Treasury with the help of GOP pals(not that all "defense-friendly" Congressman are GOP---plenty of Dems are supplied campaign donations). Children's programs are anathema to many conservative voters with whom I am familiar. They want to "save the children" by outlawing abortions at ANY stage of development, yet don't want to spend the money to make a productive life possible for some of these children.

The attitude that seems to be growing in Arkansas blogs and among folks I know personally is to end all subsidies for children and poor Americans. I agree that folks on welfare who can work, shouldn't be entitled to a lifelong handout from the government. But, the Draconian crap I hear and read each day is shameful for the richest country on earth. Then to hear the despicable ideology of Bill Bennett exposed really shows me the truth of what I've heard growing up among a Southern Baptist community of believers. Most of the Christians I've known from my hometown are truly bigoted folks. Not that most would like to relive the "good old days" of murder and intimidation (some I knew actually participated in racial violence in their younger days or had relatives involved and bragged about their roles in some of the most horrendous acts of violence against blacks after the First World War), but many like to flash a wink to such thinking without an overt approval. The Christ can't be happy about such views.

I have no fear about the restriction of abortion because I'll never have children, but those who believe in the right should welcome this issue centerstage for Congress to act(the right wing are bound to demand a Congressional ban on abortion rights on a national level). There won't be any hiding; a Congressman's view and vote will mean everything. Will those who talk about illegalizing abortion blink? I suspect a number of "reliable" votes against abortion will reconsider the impact of their actions. Then, the American people can have their "knockdown, dragout" debate across the nation and fracture this nation worse than those alive today could ever conceive. I don't want the crazies to start taking the debate to the streets with their cynical violent notions(almost exclusively the purview of the right wing concerning the issue). However, the Court won't be a hindrance to their ideas of abolition and allowing New York to provide legal abortions while Texas outlaws it won't be acceptable to the right wing. A full-fledged fracas might be just what the nation needs at this point of our history. Politics are increasingly retreating to the days of American politics when horrible, unsubstantiated ad hominems were hurled with the desired results.

I don't have a crystal ball to divine the future of our nation, but from the climate of today, this issue is the last thing we need to further our division. A pragmatic approach would be to "draw the line" once and for all (at least until science proves the evil of abortion at all stages of pregnancy) and allow legality up to that line. Pragmatism is increasingly dying among the American electorate, so I have no faith that the issue will be resolved without rancor. The Civil War and the issues at stake are still alive and well among Southern voters 140 years later. The abortion rights issue will be equally as powerful I suspect. The debate about abortion seems to be potentially as violent as the debate about the legality of slavery and I don't want to see such parallels arise. We must promote pragmatic views and action or we'll see serious levels of bloodshed I fear.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Your tax dollars at work

The Department of Defense is thinking of creative ways of spending American tax dollars. The DoD has been considering a zeppelin-esque aircraft designed to carry an "entire battle ready Unit of Action" from an American base to the front line. The craft dubbed WALRUS is to provide the capacity to transport "500-1000 tons of military payload across 6,000 miles within 4 days."

I hope they won't be as easily shot down as dirigibles used during WW I by the Germans to bomb London. I suppose this isn't the Hindenburg, but that's a lot of war materiel and tax dollars to move in an airship. Isn't it? Maybe it's a great idea. Dunno. There may be a smaller prototype by 2007, so it won't be long until we get a look at DARPA's(Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) project if it survives budget constraints. An article about the WALRUS, appeared on the website Live Science September 2005. Lockheed Martin and Aeros Aeronautics each received approximately $3Million for Phase I of the project.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Reversing Bremer

CS Monitor had a nice article on the hopes of regathering Saddam's once 400,000 strong army our brilliant first leader of the 'New Iraq', Paul Bremer, gets the credit for disbanding after the American invasion. The Monitor interviews former Iraqi officers whom the new Iraqi government would like to see rejoin the military. Bremer gets blamed for the decision, but Rumsfeld/Cheney/Wolfowitz/Bush must have approved. The decision is credited with the May '03 rebellion that killed scores of American troops. Sunnis who served Saddam and have managed to survive and not join the rebels (or no longer fight alongside) could be quite useful to unifying the Iraqi 'nation'.

If trust was an issue when the Sunni-commanded force was disbanded and sent home, a heavily Shiite force as exists today can't be much more trustworthy. Brits blamed Shiite-dominated police for many of their troubles and the murdered reporters in S. Iraq has to be an issue of concern. A blended force of Sunnis, Shiites, and Kurds must be the aim of the new Iraqi government to get a grip on the incessant bombings. Violent politics are nothing new for Iraq. They'll always have folks who resort to the use of arms to settle disputes, but the major truck/car-bombings have got to be curtailed.

Zarqawi MUST have ample support from Iraqis in order to continue his murder and mayhem spree. Thus, strong-armed assaults as we've witnessed from afar the past weeks in the upper-Euphrates region bordering Syria will ultimately fail to provide the Iraqi government a needed boost. Not that the assaults are useless, but it's ONE part of the necessary approach to squelch the insurgency. Most Sunnis refused to support the uprisings of 1920 in the Shiite-dominated middle and lower Euphrates region and the Brits' air power demolished the rebellion with 500 British (and Indian)dead in 2 months of fighting with approximately 6,000 Iraqis killed. Thankfully, the Shiites have largely decided not to kill Coalition forces since their violent explosion of rebellion in spring 2004. The al-Sadr uprising provided a glimpse of how inadequate our troop numbers have remained. Separating Zarqawi and his allies from their base of support MUST be achieved before any American troops are withdrawn.

Rebuilding the once formidable regional power must be achieved and the regathering of former officers and troops from Saddam's force is crucial. Granted, the worst of the old regime should never be trusted with troops again, but there are plenty who either have no butchery in their past or have relatively minor infractions to besmirch their service. Bremer should be vilified for the decision to disband the army if indeed he is the singular culprit. The decision to disband is evidence of a bungled post-war administration of Iraq after the invasion was completed. The White House has run this war 'on the cheap' and American lives have been lost needlessly because of their brilliant decisions. Rumsfeld and Cheney are obviously more highly qualified than Gen. Shinsecki, since their assessment differed widely from that of the well- trained American general and their war-waging model won. Gen. Franks knew he could defeat the Iraqi army with 150,000 troops, but keeping the peace is a far different subject. Franks said he expected more troops later and those troops never materialized.

If you were pro or con concerning the invasion of Iraq, one thing is crystal-clear about the handling of the war by the White House. The Bush administration were in over their heads. Regarding the war in Vietnam, supposedly one of the "lessons learned" was for the White House to stop trying to run wars and let the military establishment perform their duties as trained. Bush and Company failed to learn that lesson and have to take the blame for the failures in the war to date. They can whine about Democratic Congressman all they want, but those folks weren't allowed any input into the war except to vote to authorize the use of force(not that it would have made a bit of difference in whether Bush and Co. launched the invasion--they would have anyway) and more money for the Bush administration to spend on this fiasco.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Autumn begins...

James Wright said it best in his poem Autumn Begins in Martin's Ferry Ohio :

"In the Shreve high football stadium,
I think of the Polacks nursing long beers in Tiltonsville,
And gray faces of Negroes in the blast furnace at Benwood,
And the ruptured night watchman of Wheeling Steel,
Dreaming of heroes.

All the proud fathers are ashamed to go home.
Their women cluck like starved pullets,
Dying for love.

Therefore, their sons grow suicidally beautiful,
At the beginning of October,
And gallop terribly against each other's bodies."

I've never read a more meaningful poem about football, not that I've ever read any poem about football. In the context of coal and steel country, one can get a true idea about the therapeutic value for those whose days of 'suicidal' beauty have passed them by. The kids don't know any better; it's a competition and kids love to compete. Like the Friday Night Lights motif of Odessa versus Permian, where sons of the bosses played for one city and the sons of the workers played for the other, something culturally beneficial can be achieved through sport.

Sport transcends the ages. Pushing one's body to achieve things ordinary people only dream of accomplishing is a tribute to youth and a tribute to the magnificence of the human body. Endurance is the first accomplishment. Throw in 11 guys who want to knock you flat on the ground every play and one hell of a moment is reached in the life of the young student-athlete. It's really easy in July, when pre-season work is at its height to simply quit putting one's body through hell. It's certainly easy in August on the first day of full pads and everyone is competing to be the first to knock someone on their ass, the temperatures are hot and humid and ideas of air-conditioning and TV viewing on the couch calls like a siren: Give it up!

This time of year as the AR playoffs begin tomorrow is a time to remember the kids who've played the game. Kids who have served in our armed forces and paid with their lives have played the game. Many have played the game including great statesmen, line workers in factories, managers at local discount stores, doctors, lawyers, engineers, pipe-fitters, heavy-equipment operators, convenience-store clerks, the list is endless. The game has been revived for 2005 as it has for over a hundred years of intermural play. Etching the names of participants on the epitaph of our cultural heritage, each season's revival lends to the excitement of discovering the next great athlete or the next great competitor who doesn't know the meaning of the word 'lose'.

Quitting is not an option for the young men possessed of pride of accomplishment. One doesn't need to be a superlative athlete to be a success on the gridiron. Desire and the courage to overcome the requisite nagging aches, pain, and injuries are sufficient for many. I've gained respect for a number of kids who lacked the physical ability to be on the field for very long during a game, but have practiced every day and have worked hard to help teammates get better and have survived an entire season without quitting. A lot of pride is discovered within the hearts of those kinds of kids and they know the meaning of James Wright's timeless description of the game. Anyone who has buckled a chinstrap and galloped terribly into another body knows the meaning of the seemingly meaningless activity.

Wish all the kids well if you're destined to watch a high school game this weekend in AR. They deserve the proud moment and may never forget the compliment.

Playoffs return

Tomorrow night across Arkansas, the yearly rite of passage for young student-athletes from high schools public and private will begin on the gridiron. Playoff football has been around for all of my lifetime and I had the privelege of playing in the AR football playoffs in 1986. My team had a bad first quarter and spent the rest of the game playing catch-up. Almost caught the 2nd ranked team in AR in the 4th quarter, but too little, too late. It was the coldest temperature I ever endured on the gridiron and the game was in S. Arkansas of all things.

These are the moments many of the kids will treasure for a lifetime. After my team lost, a particular player who had long had a bit of an attitude problem was bawling after an effort no one would have predicted a year prior. He was a selfish player who shirked authority. His senior year as a running back and safety was the height of his life. He literally played his heart out and I felt nothing but admiration for him during and after that game. He impelled the team to scratch and claw its way back into the game and with his iron will, we almost pulled off what seemed impossible at halftime.

Unfortunately, the gutty player everyone thought to be a selfish, undisciplined football player had certainly reached his peak. The next year, he stabbed a man to death in a Great Lakes city and was sent to prison. The reason for the stabbing, I'm told, was a dispute over illegal acts both had been committing at the time. For what it's worth, the night on the gridiron in S. Arkansas proved to me once-and-for-all that the young man had heart and had at least a degree of integrity. Growing up in a small, poor town didn't give him much of a chance to succeed in life. He made the key decisions that led to a life where murder and mayhem follow as viable courses of action, so he's responsible. Society didn't tell him to move up north and take up criminal activity.

I choose to remember the young man as he was that senior season on my hometown football team. Several of my friends from that team are dead or in prison and I miss them all. Some have built good lives for themselves and for those folks, I commend them. Student-athletes are best advised not to take these days for granted. Time spent on the practice field, the weight room, and the gridiron are not moments to mechanically endure; enjoy every moment while you have a chance to shine. From Fayetteville to Eudora, Pocahontas to Texarkana, student-athletes will have an opportunity to shine and impel themselves to play their hearts out and leave their best on the field. Some will have played their last high school football game tomorrow evening; for them, my advice is to use the experience as a beginning, not an ending. Redeem the lessons you've learned and the capacities your body has exhibited for good use. If times are down and you seem to have no hope, remember how you gutted through the last windsprints at the end of practice or how you hustled every moment on the field and made plays you otherwise wouldn't have made had you stopped and watched the action as it passed you by.

It's always a joy to see all the cities and small towns who earned the honor of playing for a state title. Immutable lessons are learned in sport and the common thread for us all is the yearning to compete and succeed at challenging activities. Football is a challenge that most never experience. For those kids, I'm sorry you didn't take the opportunity, got cut from the team, or for health reasons couldn't participate. Most of the moments on the field will linger in the minds of these kids for a lifetime. Congratulations to those who survive this week and for those who will be unbeaten in the playoffs at the end. For those who play for the eventual champions of each classification, ENJOY! Even if you play in college, there are no guarantees you'll not be injured or that your dreams will emerge as you'd hoped. Some will become big names in college play; some will not. I wish all these young men all the best in their lives.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005


On the same day 10,000+ voters rejected a 1/2 % sales tax increase to support county road improvement and maintenance in Benton County, a survey of Fayetteville citizens was released to the city council. In the survey, 68% of residents were favorable to extending the 3/4 % tax to pay for infrastructure improvements. Is this a good sign for the $143 Million dollars of road improvement vote tentatively scheduled for spring '06? A north-south corridor between 112 and 62 would be very beneficial for the need to ease traffic congestion for western Fayetteville and motorists traveling thru Fayetteville from western Washington County each day. An improved Rupple Road and Persimmon (east-west) could ease some pressure in Wedington and 6th street vicinities at the I-540 interchanges. I would like to see my ward, represented by Lioneld Jordan, in western Fayetteville get some major road improvements we've needed for some time.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Pakistani peril

With the troubling developments in both Afghanistan and Iraq for the U.S., more troubling developments seem to be occurring with our ally Pervez Musharraf. In his nation's provinces South(and North) Waziristan, bordering Afghanistan, and Baluchistan, battles have raged and natives are restless. Since partition in the late 1940s, Pakistan has occupied the western fringe of the British Indian territory(as well as present-day Bangladesh on the eastern fringe until political separation). Throughout the history of Pakistan, the western provinces have largely been allowed self-governance. Foreigners are traditionally distrusted, even Pakistani forces, much like the Afghan distrust of foreigners in the rural tribal areas. The turmoil in South Waziristan warranted the use of Pakistani airpower to attack the foreign fighters(some foreigners apparently are o.k.) and native tribal fighters. According to BBC's Zafar Abbas, airpower has never been used to quell domestic insurgencies until the three recent air attacks on the growing insurgency.

The steps taken to combat insurgents in S. Waziristan are troubling as are the earthquake disaster and the poor country's inability to deal with domestic disasters of the magnitude of the recent earthquake largely affecting Kashmir, the endless thorn in the side of both India and Pakistan. Indian influence has been exerted in Afghanistan for years and is now on the rise again as Pakistan's proxy force, the Taliban, is no longer able to diminish their influence. Pakistan's military is taxed by the needs of checking the huge Indian army. When the Soviets invaded Afghanistan in the late 70s, Indira Gandhi amassed 400,000 forces along the Pakistani border, leading the Pakistani leader Zia to believe his nation was the real target of the Soviets to insure a secure path to the Indian Ocean. Violence throughout the nation are sources of concern for anyone hoping to see Musharraf survive as leader of one of the most important allies in the War on Terror.

In Baluchistan, Musharraf faces a restless native population which required help from Mohammad Reza Shah's (Iran) forces to quell in the mid-70s. The Baluchistan Liberation Army has been killing Pakistani police and troops with regularity. Rebels are angry at the Punjabi domination of the nation since partition. Punjabis traditionally run the Pakistani armed forces and hence the nation. They are also perturbed that new settlers in their region along the coast of southwestern Pakistan will outnumber Baluchis, since plans to make Gwadar, a coastal city in Baluchistan, a major hub of commerce(religious and tribal leaders don't want another Karachi forming). Also, the heart of Taliban country in Afghanistan is just across their border as is Iran. Pakistan helped build the Taliban into a formidable force, even lending troops to some of the operations, during the Afghan Civil War. Now they have to take a firm hand in combating Taliban and fundamentalist foreign al-Qaeda forces threatening the effort to rebuild Afghanistan into a self-governing, stable nation.

Since the earthquake, India has helped Pakistan as much as it believed it could. Hopefully, the recent thaw in relations can be very helpful in possible future peace negotiations, which Musharraf has spurned for his reasons as has the Indian leader of the day. Musharraf is afraid negotiation and possible concessions to Hindu-dominated India will further anger the Pakistani military leadership (as well as fundamentalist religious leaders) responsible for promoting the Taliban reign in Afghanistan who weren't thrilled about Musharraf's complicity in their proxy's downfall. The religious warfare in Kashmir, clashes among majority Sunni and minority Shiite factions, the potential for warfare with Shiite Iran, weakening influence in Afghanistan, tribal uneasiness and outright rebellion in the western provinces, the al-Qaeda foreign fighters including new arrivals crossing the border into Afghanistan at will, the recent natural disaster, and the countless attempts on Musharraf's life has made it difficult for him not to crack down and hope to avoid assassination in the process.

For all our sakes, let's hope Musharraf can lead his country through these troubling times and western aid is requisite in this effort. With the trouble brewing for U.S. forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, American armed forces are in greater peril of a widening of this conflict into a war throughout S. Asia meaning more losses of American lives than any of our nation's neo-con experimenters ever envisioned. Wise use of U.S. resources for the region is particularly vital to securing a future without a major landwar in S. Asia. Iraq is nothing compared to what could potentially erupt, particularly with the latest rhetoric of the newly elected president of Iran.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Is Paris Burning?

Quite a situation might be brewing in France this fall with a riot sparked by the deaths of two African-born teenagers. The two were electrocuted after hiding in an electrical substation while fleeing police--a claim denied by police. Immigrants, ten percent of the French population, in the Paris suburbs have rioted for 7 days. More backlash against immigration is likely to be forthcoming for our beleaguered ally. Europe has been uneasy with the steady flow of immigrants, particularly Muslims, for a number of years in unlikely places such as traditionally tolerant Netherlands. Most Europeans have expressed outrage over the Iraq invasion by the U. S. because they are worried about possible repercussions like the terrorist attacks in Spain and U.K. Many Europeans, after centuries of nearly incessant warfare, don't have the stomach for combat and they are afraid of straining relations with Islam further inciting terrorist acts and the attacks in Spain and U.K. confirmed the fears for most.

Turkey has sought entry into EU for years and has been on track for admission since 1999 and in October of 2005 admission talks ,which may last 10 years, began. Although a Muslim nation's entry into EU could be an important step in the West's War on Terror, Europeans are nervous about the high unemployment in Turkey and the lack of shared traditions regarding human and civil rights and the role of the military in maintaining its 90 years of secular rule. Germany has had a number of hate-crime incidents against Turkish immigrants and fear higher numbers once they can cross borders with ease as citizens of an EU member nation.

However, Turkey may feel more pressure to continue cold-shouldering the American effort in Iraq. Turkey refused to allow American forces to invade across their southern border with Iraq. Could they continue their disconnect with the U.S. regarding the Iraq War so as not to inflame the ire of France and Germany, two key members of EU? Turkey is likely more afraid of fundamentalist backlash in their 'secular' Muslim nation and a future angry Iraq nation if it ever regains its ability to self-govern. Ataturk single-mindedly tried to drag his people into modernity and forming a secular government was an important component in that effort after the First World War ended and the old Ottoman Empire had officially crumbled after choosing the wrong side of the conflict.

Paris may not burn, but its suburbs are a different matter. I'm certain many Americans are glad to see an eruption by a largely disenfranchised immigrant population, including a number of illegal immigrants, in France, since the perception exists that they don't properly support American foreign policy and have done business with nations and governments hostile to America, including Iraq until the day the invasion began(they are still involved in business transactions in Iraq). France hasn't cornered the market on doing business with brutal, undemocratic nations; the U.S. has had its hands in business transactions with some deadly world leaders over the years.

Times are tough economically throughout the world and closing borders is the usually the first step toward solving problems, particularly in heavily industrialized nations like France and the U. S., like lost jobs and stagnant business environments. The U.S. has its own immigration concerns with the porous Mexican border and also have concerns with the equally porous Canadian border, particularly their large Muslim population of potential al-Qaeda minions. NW Arkansas is full of Latin American immigrants from Mexico as well as many Central and South American countries. The Mexican government have attempted to shut their southern door tight(with some prodding by the U.S.), but have no qualms about aiding their own citizens who wish to cross the U.S. border.

The entire western industrialized world will always lack workers, particularly in western Europe, where negative growth has been recorded in population for Germany in particular for years. NW Arkansas has a number of jobs they can't fill with citizens, but immigrants manage to find their way here looking for any work. The immigration issue will be prominent in democratic nations forever because there is a good reason to seek residency and eventual citizenship, if possible, within their borders. Our way of life is a model for the world, despite some of the problems. I hope that never changes.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005


The Cards have begun preparation for next season. Suppan will be back. Marquis shouldn't be back despite winning the Silver Slugger award. Marquis was a real bonehead against the Astros. He popped up a crucial bunt and flubbed an easy play to first. Jim Edmonds wins his EIGHTH Gold Glove, sixth for the Redbirds. Dunno how much longer Jim will be in St. Louis, but it's been great to watch him in center these past years. It's time Matt Morris left the Cards. He's had a decent career in St. Louis, but his time has passed. Good luck Matty Mo! We'll miss you (sorta). Cards need more consistency and another left-handed starter would be nice for Christmas. Mulder, despite disappointing outings in the post-season, looks like an excellent acquisition as every Card follower believed he would be. Talking about the Cards have me thinking about the Diamond Hogs. Can't wait for Van Horn and the Hogs to start play in February. Should be a treat to watch this year.


I was reading the Morning News a few weeks ago and Levon Helm is singing again after his cancer recovery. It would be nice to hear him sing again. He's appeared in Arkansas a number of times over the years, but the last time he was in Fayetteville, I believe his daughter was the sole vocalist for the Barnburners. If you have money and time to travel to upstate New York, you can join him for the Midnight Ramble for $100 'donation'. Sounds like a real treat for the music lover. The Band were a true one-of-a-kind; their moment still shines.

Beware of buck

Buck attacks man in his daughter's bedroom in Bentonville Friday night. The only question...did he have to kill the beast? Deer jerky would be a fine treat this time of year. ALL hunters should have to wrestle their prey. Something not right about an 80 year old on a 4 wheeler who can hardly walk taking down such a majestic creature. No offense to all the old dudes I knew at deer camp down in S. Arkansas; I loved your dirty jokes, your lack of inhibition in swilling a bottle of Wild Turkey, and constantly stoking the fire to a nice room temperature of 96 degrees to keep the camp nice and toasty with the air maybe 40 degrees outside.

I have a healthy respect for bear and boar bowhunters. At least a miss would perhaps earn harsh consequences for poor aim. If more hunters were the hunted, I suspect a whole lot fewer folks would fill the woods with their inability to make a sane decision with a gun in hand, particularly those who've fired at sounds. I know at least 4 people who have been accidentally shot while hunting. I have been hit a number of times in a dove patch by falling sharpnel from other shooters--never broke skin. Be careful if you are going hunting this season and don't be a fool when you have a weapon in hand and for God's sake DON'T drink before or while you hunt.

Congratulations Mr. Goldsberry. You survived to tell the tale!! ..and you have a freezer full for the winter.

Plame affair

I've been watching the news, as many Americans, of the investigation of the leak by the White House about the identity of CIA agent Valerie Plame. The CIA operative's position with the government, reported by Bob Novak on July 14, 2003 , was political payback for former ambassador Joe Wilson, husband of Plame, who refuted 'evidence' that Saddam was shopping for uranium in Niger in a March 2002 report commissioned by the CIA, a key factor in selling the invasion of Iraq to the American people and the U.N. I've heard conservatives laugh away the implications by stating "she was never in danger" or "this whole thing is actually a smear campaign by the Democrats against the Bush administration." Limbaugh, Snow, O'Reilly and other conservative windbags believe it's much ado about nothing, but I guarantee you these guys know better. One of the reasons McCarthy was so successful at his assault on dissenting views was the ordinary American of the day supported his actions. Plame's husband, former appointee by the elder Bush, dissented publicly with Bush the Younger's advocacy of pre-emptive warfare policy in Iraq and his wife paid the price, despite her work to preserve freedom and the American way of life (isn't that what every conservative American would say about CIA agents?) through the nuclear age. I hope the action by Libby and presumably(though I'm sure the evidence is being destroyed as we speak and for the past two years) Cheney is not acceptable to ordinary Americans, though I believe it is. Olly North's litany of lies during Iran-Contra was acceptable to ordinary Americans until he blamed the White House--not wise to blame the right's champion Reagan, though breaking the Bolen Amendment was perfectly acceptable to GOP cronies. The truth is Americans can act downright UnAmerican if the right buttons are pushed and the right fears exploited. It seems, in honor of Ann Coulter's sinister pronouncement that anyone who doesn't agree with her is treasonous, the GOP has increased the stakes with this bit of political payback, which could be construed as treasonous, as a Paul Krugman column of July 2003 suggests.

The 60 Minutes program of last Sunday(Oct. 30, 2005) explained the Plame affair through the eyes of fellow CIA operatives. Plame's identity as a CIA operative is 'classified' as Non Official Cover, meaning, she has no diplomatic immunity from arrest, prosecution, jailing, or execution if she's discovered as a CIA operative in another country. In other words, her job with the CIA inherently includes risk and now that she's 'outed' as an agent, anyone associated with Plame or her 'company', Brewster-Jennings and Associates might have been exposed to the danger of discovery as covert agents by governments hostile to the U.S. and the free world, Walter Pincus(former associate of Sen. Fulbright) and Mike Allen reported in the Washington Post in October 2003. Novak had no qualms about naming Plame's CIA front employer on CNN and mentioning she donated $1,000 to the Gore campaign (in today's America, proof-positive of Plame's sinister aims on our way of life). Anyone who studies WMD proliferation must have contacts in very dangerous nations to monitor their efforts in acquiring components and producing weapons, so this is no small affair as GOP cronies in the press have been asserting.

There is no doubt the Bush administration was playing hardball against an analyst's husband who wouldn't accept the bullying by the Bush administration and spoke against the 'smoking gun evidence' for invasion and the analyst was fair game. If a Democratic administration had committed this cavalier act, there would be outrage in the conservative windbag community for certain. Hell, Clinton was impeached over a blowjob. Blowing the cover of a CIA analyst for political reasons is a despicable act, particularly by the Vice President's most valued aide and national security adviser in the White House.

If ever there is evidence of GOP hypocrisy, this case is definitive evidence that loyal opposition is intolerable to Republicans. 'Accept the GOP view of the world or else,' is the implication. The intelligence community in America and the free world should be deeply perturbed by the actions from the Vice President's office. If ordinary Americans aren't equally perturbed, then they are complicit too. The guru of 'dirty tricks', Karl Rove, whose activities in Illinois in the 70's for GOP agitators in his 'dirty tricks' school was mentioned(though not his name--he was still a nobody, except to Republican Party chairman George H.W. Bush who was angry about another Republican blowing the whistle on Rove's enterprise to the press) in All the President's Men by Woodward and Bernstein illustrating the scope of Nixon's antics, must be suspected of involvement, naturally, though there might be no evidence to support a conviction for any of the participants in this act of treachery.

I noticed in the news today that an American soldier accused of 'fragging' a superior in Iraq stands the chance of execution. What if Plame was harmed or her field associates aiding her covert work have been or will be harmed, even killed? Would this act of treachery be described as a 'fragging'(though the traditional term means killing a superior, not a lower ranking official--I suppose it would be better characterized as mere murder)? I am astounded at the behavior of the party which I once believed had the best interests of America at heart. I'll never be seduced by their rhetoric again, particularly with George W.'s reckless, inept administration as a glaring example. All the Republicans defending the action are equally as reckless and inept, and throw seditious into the mix of adjectives for this act. Our government has failed us again. The acts from the Vice President's office were indefensible at best, treacherous at worst.

What the hell is happening here? If this type of behavior is tacitly acceptable to the majority of voters, we are in trouble. Our democratic heritage is in serious jeopardy if we allow our highest elected officials to play politics with our national defense and squelch all opposition by ruining careers and possibly causing lives to be lost. The Iraq War was sold to the populus with a litany of lies,half-truths, and legitimate fear of yet another attack within our borders. 2,000+ American military personnel have suffered the ultimate price for this invasion. Possibly 100,000 Iraqis have died in this conflict, though I've seen much lower estimates. The Coalition bombed Iraq at will for years, prior to the 2003 invasion and the 'no-fly' zone had been extended to include most of Iraq. Was this invasion necessary? Obviously, most American voters accepted the pre-emptive policy because they re-elected the man responsible for our troops' presence within Iraq's borders. Where do we go from here? I'm beginning to fear that answer more than ever under the present circumstances.