Thursday, January 24, 2008

Global Warming, and My Two Cents

Okay, so it’s time for me to chime in with my two cents on this topic. Everyone else seems to want to contribute to the conversation. Why not me? This is a good thing, all this participation. Especially since so many people disagree so fundamentally. We get a good healthy debate.

There are those who claim our planet is being ravaged by greenhouse gasses, CO2 emissions, hole in the ozone, melting polar ice caps etc. Al Gore won a Nobel Prize for what was essentially a PowerPoint slide show telling us as much. He wasn’t saying anything new; he was just a household name giving it some much needed street cred.

On the other side of the argument, we have people who claim that the whole thing is made up. There is no global warming, they say; it's a myth. If there is a climate change happening, then it’s just the planet going through what it’s gone through since long before there were people. Ice Age, Warm Age, sunrise, sunset. They tell us that to think mankind is influencing it is just crazy at best, egomania on a global ecology scale at worst. We are but a blip in the history of the planet, which has gone through warming and cooling phases since there were dinosaurs. If there is a global shift, we’re reading too much into it.

Both sides have scientist saying they’re right. Both have indisputable facts to back it up. Both sides accuse the other of cooking the books. When the satellites tell us that the North Pole has less ice than it ever did, the global warming people say “we were right! We told you so!” When snow falls a few miles outside of Los Angeles as it did today, the naysayers say “You were wrong! We told you so!” Back and forth we go playing ideological ping-pong, and it’s easy to get confused. But no matter who you believe, you’re bound to be backed up by a slew of experts telling you you’re right.

So what’s the truth? If the truth is of the inconvenient variety, and we are contributing to climate shift through pollution, it behooves us to pay attention. If the naysayers are right, then we can tune out a well-meaning but inaccurate message.

The problem for me is the naysayers think we can continue to use oil like there's no tomorrow. As a nation we go through it like drunken sailors on shore leave. Now, I love plastic and other petroleum products as much as anyone, I love making my car go “vroom” as much as any other red-blooded American. But the truth is we don’t have an endless supply of oil. Yes, there are places we have yet to tap, but this isn’t the same world it was 100 years ago. Back then, Texas tycoons tapped into oil fields gushing with what seemed more oil than we could ever need. But things are changing. In 2004, a barrel of oil was selling for $50. Recently, we’ve seen it at $100. You don’t need to be an economics major to know that’s bad. We’re considering legislation that would let us tap oil wells in our national parks. This is a huge red flag. We have more people, more uses for petroleum products, and fewer places to drill than ever before, and it’s not going to get any better.

Let's not forget that our lust for cheap oil often has us in bed politically with people we might otherwise be at war with. Look no further than the Middle East to see just how desperate and crazy we are to get our hands on oil. Even if there were no environmental laws surrounded where and how we drill for oil, the inescapable truth is, we’re going to run out at the rate we’re going. And it will probably happen in my lifetime.

So our choice, regardless of the global warming question, is what are we going to do when the oil runs out? Forget the gas in your car for a minute. Look around your home, your office, your car and count how many plastic items you see. When the oil is gone, there will be no more new plastic. When the oil is gone, there will be no more synthetic materials. Think about that. Plastic is a petroleum product. You don’t have to agree with any particular ideology to know that oil is running low, and there are only two things that will keep us from running out: a plague that kills most of humanity, or our willingness to collectively wean ourselves off of the petroleum teat and look for other ways to meet and sustain our needs.

I personally believe hybrid cars are a good step. True, it doesn’t solve the problem by itself, but our willingness to drive vehicles that run on something other than solely gasoline demonstrates the more important thing: a willingness to try new things.

We have so many good ideas for how to provide energy: solar, wind, water. The nice thing about these types of energy is that they are clean and renewable. This means we don’t have to worry about running out or filling up landfills with toxic by-products. I can't believe that as a nation (at the very least New Jersey) we haven't already thrown ourselves headlong into developing these resources. It amazes me that we'd rather go to war to get our hands on a resource that's running low anyway than to develop technologies to replace our need for it. I’m not suggesting we all go back to living in teepees.

I’m not suggesting we hug trees and put flowers in our hair. Those of you pro-business, right-wing types, try it this way: if the Earth was a business, and you were a potential investor, wouldn’t you look at the long-term sustainability of that investment? Seeing as how we currently have no other planets to live on, maybe we ought to think about our ability to sustain ourselves and our way of life. And if our way of life means consuming a finite resource that is dwindling, then maybe it’s time to consider making a change.

I know, people hate change. We like to be eased into new things slowly, like getting into a hot bath. I’m old enough to remember when we phased out cars that ran on leaded gasoline. People complained. I remember when seat belts became mandatory. People complained. And yet years later we accept these as normal, even preferable. Now, when we see someone driving a car without a seatbelt, it is the exception rather than the rule. I believe that if we can accept that an idea is truly in our best interests, we will come around to accepting it eventually.

Which brings me back to global warming, finally. The final truth is, I don’t care if it’s true or not. I don't thing it matters, ultimately. We shouldn't have to have a global catastrophe looming over us to make us re-examine our stewardship of the planet. Even if global warming is junk science, the steps being suggested by the global warming crowd are good ideas. We should be willing to lighten our collective footprint on the planet even if it's not going to save us from disaster. We have the technology available today to provide for our needs that don't require chimney stacks billowing smog into the air. Fifty years ago that wasn't the case. But in the 21st century, we have enough collective intelligence amongst us to reason out ways to scratch our collective itches that don't require us to destroy the rainforests.

I like Al Gore, and I admire him for speaking out, but I'm not a scientist; I don't know one way or the other if he's right. The odds are, mankind’s pollution does have an adverse affect on the environment, and we need to do whatever we can to be responsible to the planet. So, buy a hybrid car. Recycle, and buy recycled goods. Insist on paper instead of plasticat the grocery store. And while you're at the grocery store, buy some organic food, just to try them. You don’t have to believe in global warming to believe that these are good things. Driving hybrids doesn’t have to be an environmental statement; it can just be your way of saying that you’re tired of getting screwed at the gas pumps. Buying organic doesn’t have to be about loving Mother Earth; it can be about not wanting to put pesticides and growth hormones in your body or your families’. See? You can still be a selfish bastard and make choices that are good for the planet.

You’ll notice that I’m not telling you how to vote. This isn’t about politics. This is about having clean air, clean water, and clean land. This is about passing on to future generations a planet that’s in as good a shape (or better) than we inherited from our parents. Plus, we never have to see that commerical with the indian at the trash dump, crying his single tear. Someday it will be great to turn to our kids and grandkids and be able to take a little credit for the clean world they live in. Sure, they won't appreciate it - kids never do.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Blaming "Illegals" For Everything That's Wrong

You've been had, folks.

There are serious issues in this country, and nothing is going to fix them except admitting the system we use is broken, and opening ourselves up to the idea of changing our policies, no matter how uncomfortable it makes us. Our only other choice is to wallow in the mess we have and complain. We may as well shout at the wind.

You've been tricked. You look at your life and everything that's wrong. You see the traffic - too much of it. You look at the taxes they take out of your paycheck and say you should be able to keep your money, or at least more of it. You look at the news and hear everything that's bad and you say to yourself, why? Why is it like this? Surely there must be some evil force behind it all, making my life hard. It can't just be that life sometimes doesn't give you everything you want, right when you want it; no, there is evil afoot, keeping things bad.

You think, if I'm getting screwed, someone else must be getting the benefit. It's so simple, you think - if I am losing, someone else must be winning. So we look around for someone who is getting a bigger piece of the pie. Someone who gets government money, or benefits from our government's generosity and we point our fingers and say "There! There is the person who is reaping the rewards for MY suffering!"

We listen to talk radio, watch Fox News, and they tell us it's all the IMMIGRANTS' fault. Look at them, coming to OUR country and getting on welfare, getting free medical care in OUR emergency rooms, killing and raping OUR women and children, driving on OUR roads without licenses or insurance. Who do these people think they are? How dare they enjoy the richness of our country? THEY'RE the reasons everything is so bad in this country! If we could just get rid of them, everything would be wonderful! There would be no crime! We'd never have to wait to see a doctor again! Our kids would all get straight A's and get top-quality educations! Our streets would be safe again! Oh, what a paradise it would be, if only we could get all of those dirty filthy criminal immigrants rounded up and deported! Oh sweet dreams of paradise!

You've been spoon-fed lies in the form of statistics that sound so convincing. You've been shown news reports that were spun in such a way as to give you just the right conclusion. You've been trained and conditioned to believe that ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS are the cause of all your misery, and that they're a bigger threat to our way of life than Al Qaeda, AIDS and the Legion of Doom.

You've been told that these people lurk in your own towns, waiting for you to let your guard down so they can steal your car, rape your daughters, use up all the medical care and make babies. SOMETHING MUST BE DONE, you get told, and in your panic, you buy it. You buy all of it.

What they aren't telling you is that immigrants, whether here legally or illegally, are just trying to survive. They don't have the benefit of citizenship, and the comfort we enjoy. Their lives are lived in the shadows, in secret. They've waited for years for the beauracracy of the American Immigration system to give them legal status. Many of these people work demeaning, low-paying jobs, cannot get health benefits, cannot get protection from the police, for fear that someone is going to ask to see their papers. They have families, some here, some back in their native countries that are counting on them to provide the kind of financial support that they can't get in their own countries.

These people aren't living in mansions, sitting behind powerful desks in big offices. They're washing cars. They're busing tables. They're mowing lawns. They're nannying. They're cooks, construction workers, farmhands, and waitresses. They are the servant class in our great society, and we benefit from them as much as they benefit from us. They're not making a lot of money, but even what they make is better than they did back in their home countries. They don't complain, except when they get treated as something less than human. They only want a chance to make a life for themselves. They aren't greedy.

And yes, some people come to this country illegally and commit crimes. They rob, they steal and they kill. And they should be punished, no matter how sad their hard-luck story is. They shouldn't be allowed to stay in this country. Let's forget for a moment that these ne'er-do-well's make up a very small portion of the overall immigrant population. Let us not forget that we have a slow and incompetent system that fails to provide people the documentation they need, when they need it. Ask yourselves; in your own dealings with the government, when have they ever been prompt or accurate? The red tape in any government agency is enough to choke on, and how much more so when working for people who aren't even taxpaying citizens? Instead of streamlining the immigration process, we just throw money at hiring more guards, more border patrol agents, more guns and badges. We don't address the problem. It's easier to give you a scapegoat - it's easier to say "it's the mexicans' fault" than it is to take a serious look at the problem.

The next time you find yourself complaining about "the mexicans", ask yourself - what would it be like if all the illegal immigrants left? How would it affect me? It would, you can be sure. But would it be a positive thing? Ask yourself how many cheap goods and services you enjoy, from fruit at the supermarket to low prices at Wal-Mart, to beautifully manicured lawns and cheap prices at your favorite restaurant. Imagine the people who provide those goods and services, many who are paid less than minimum wage, who don't get health insurance, suddenly having a right to those things. What would that do to the prices you pay? They would SKYROCKET. And you could console yourself that at least no illegals are stealing jobs anymore. When you pay two to three times what you currently pay for fruit, when your lawnmowing service doubles its prices, when your favorite restaurants double the prices on the menu, will it make you happy to pay it, knowing that we live in an illegal-immigrant-free society?

Let's try to keep in mind, that this is a nation of immigrants, and immigrants' descendents. Your ancestors, whenever they came here, may just as easily have come illegally. History conveniently omits that the pilgrims at Plymouth Rock were illegally here; they didn't have the approval of the people who were already here, they just showed up. The settlers at Jamestown didn't get written authorization from the natives before building their colony. Christopher Columbus, Cortez, and all the European explorers who paved the way for the white man were illegal aliens. They just chose to disregard the laws of the indigenous people. They simply didn't care. Under the banner of "Manifest Destiny", they just went where they wanted, took what they wanted, and killed anyone who got in their way. Lewis and Clark didn't offer to wash the dishes of the people whose land they were invading; they didn't offer to cook and clean. In the early 1900's wave after wave of immigrant came to Ellis Island to build a new life. And from these immigrants we got the mafia, the drug trade, bootlegging, and murder for hire.

And let's not forget that many of them had blond hair and blue eyes.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

The Greatest Nation?

I, for one, have heard just about enough from people who think that our nation is the greatest. Don’t get me wrong. I love my country. I was born here, and I’ve never visited any other countries, even Canada and Mexico. It’s hard for me to mentally grasp a society where the United States isn’t the center of the universe. I’ve seen the stars and stripes flown so many times, I sometimes forget that it’s not the planet’s flag, just my little nook.

And to be fair, our influence does span the globe. American companies have established presences in literally every nation, and very conspicuously. Try finding a city anywhere on the globe where you can’t buy a Coke. As an American, you can feel at home travelling abroad in Europe or Asia. The hotel clerks all speak English, there’s a McDonald’s or a Pizza Hut in most cities, and the American dollar holds up well while travelling abroad.

But the uber-patriots among us insist that we are the greatest nation. True, we are a great nation, but the greatest? I wonder. Here are some statistics complied in recent years which lend suspicion to the claim:

  • USA Ranking on Adult Literacy Scale: #9 (#1 Sweden and #2 Norway)- Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • USA Ranking on Healthcare Quality Index: #37 (#1 France and #2 Italy)- World Health Organization 2003
    USA Ranking of Student Reading Ability: #12 (#1 Finland and #2 South Korea)- OECD PISA 2003
  • USA Ranking of Student Problem Solving Ability: #26 (#1 South Korea and #2 Finland)- OECD PISA 2003
  • USA Ranking of Student Science Ability: #19 (#1 Finland and #2 Japan)- OECD PISA 2003
  • USA Ranking on Student Mathematics Ability: # 24 (#1 Hong Kong and #2 Finland)- OECD PISA 2003
  • USA Position on Timeline of Gay Rights Progress: # 6 (1997) (#1 Sweden 1987 and #2 Norway 1993)- Vexen
  • USA Ranking on Women's Rights Scale: #17 (#1 Sweden and #2 Norway)- World Economic Forum Report
  • USA Ranking on Life Expectancy: #29 (#1 Japan and #2 Hong Kong)- UN Human Development Report 2005
  • USA Ranking on Political Corruption Index: #17 (#1 Iceland and #2 Finland)- Transparency International 2005
  • USA Ranking on Journalistic Press Freedom Index: #32 (#1 Finland, Iceland, Norway and the Netherlands tied)- Reporters Without Borders 2005
  • USA Ranking on Quality of Life Survey: #13 (#1 Ireland and #2 Switzerland)- The Economist Magazine
  • USA Ranking on Environmental Sustainability Index: #45 (#1 Finland and #2 Norway)- Yale University ESI 2005
  • USA Ranking on Overall Currency Strength: #3 (US Dollar) (#1 UK pound sterling and #2 European Union euro)- FTSE 2006
  • USA Ranking on Human Development Index (GDP, education, etc.): #10(#1 Norway and #2 Iceland)- UN Human Development Report 2005
  • USA Ranking on Infant Mortality Rate: #32 (#1 Sweden and #2 Finland)- Save the Children Report 2006

Now I’m not suggesting we all pack our bags and flee for the greener pastures of our European counterparts. I wouldn't want to be accused to doing the old "cut and run" just because things weren't going swimmingly here. What I am suggesting is this: if we truly believe that our nation has the capacity to be great, even the greatest nation on earth, we need to acknowledge these statistics and challenge ourselves.

When we look at the greats, whether they be sports heroes, explorers, inventors, businessmen, we don’t see people who coasted on previous successes. In many cases, the heroes of yesterday, the pioneers in their field, the household names we associate as benchmarks of quality and success were met early on by failure, often on a colossal scale. Edison and Einstein failed in their early efforts, and if they had accepted defeat our world would have suffered the loss of their many contributions. Some of our heroes started failing young and didn’t make good until much later in life. Michael Jordan was cut from his high school basketball team. Milton Hershey's first chocolate store went out of business because no one liked his candy. J. C. Penney was institutionalized - twice. One urban legend suggests that Walt Disney was fired as a young illustrator working for an advertisement company (his pink slip, where a reason for dismissal was called for, said "singular lack of artistic ability"). What makes them great in retrospect is not that they failed, but that they challenged themselves to rise above those failures.

As a nation we need to acknowledge that there is work to do. If we truly want the title of “greatest nation”, and to be able to quantify that claim, then we need to aspire to our potential. This is a radical notion, because it means switching from the “business as usual” approach of funding the military-industrial complex and turning our focus to health and education, to human rights and the environment.

If we devote ourselves to these causes as entirely as we have devoted ourselves to war over the last 65+ years, we will start seeing our names at the tops of some of those lists. Then we can call ourselves the greatest; not just for topping a list, but for not settling for good enough when excellence was within our grasp.

The Issues in 2008: My Own Analysis

There’s a good reason “analysis” starts with “anal”: most of the time, people are just plain talking out of their asses. They get the facts (which in a perfect world would stand on their own merits) and attempt to interpret what it all means. Leave soothsayers, oracles, and sages of the past, pundits of today aren’t content to live in the age of information, where raw data hurls itself into cyberspace moment to moment. These folks feel the need to tell you what to make of it, denying you your own abilities. Instead of reading the stars, interpreting comets and eclipses, casting the bones or reading tea leaves, they take election results and try to tell us not just who won but why they won or lost.

Occam's razor stipulates that "entities should not be multiplied beyond necessity". In other words, keep it simple. If one candidate lost, it’s because more people voted for another candidate. As to why, there are probably as many reasons as there are voters.

My problem with these post-mortem pundits is that they attempt to simplify a complicated process in such a way as to guide the candidates to address some issues and downplay others. They want to make the election about which candidates offered the best sound bite. Call me a purist, but I think the best policy is for the candidate to tell us what they would do and would not do if elected. I’m not concerned with their gender, their race, their religion, or anything about their personal lives. If a candidate told me that if elected, they’d likely sleep with half their staff, it wouldn’t phase me a bit, so long as they managed to find time to address the business of governing in between dalliances.

So what are my issues? What would a candidate have to care about to get my vote?

  • End the damn war already. Bush was right (for once): mission accomplished. We’ve established there are no WMD’s, we’ve gotten Saddam out of power, we’ve established democratic elections. We’ve got missiles that can be launched from the Pentagon that hit with pinpoint accuracy from hundreds and even thousands of miles. We’ve got satellites that can read a newspaper headline from space. So we leave, and our last edict to the Iraqi people is this: we’re watching, and if you guys pull any shenanigans, we won’t waste our soldier’s lives by sending in ground troops. We’ll simply push a button from here and start blowing stuff up over there until you guys come to your senses. In the meantime, keep up the cheap oil, watch the human rights violations, and don’t allow terrorist organizations to set up shop. Other than that, do whatever you want. We can bring the troops home and let them patrol the borders, just to shut the minutemen up.
  • Abortion and gay marriage: these are state issues, not federal. Just shut the hell up about it already. Let each state decide and if someone is pro-life or pro-choice, they can move to whatever state best reflects their particular point of view. End of discussion.
  • Education has got to be a priority. A nation of dumbasses is a nation that is easy to control, but also easy to conquer. An educated nation won’t beat the drums of war every time Toby Keith comes out with a new album. We need more doctors, more engineers, more scientists, more computer programmers. We need to pay our teachers a wage that reflects the value they hold. We need to make college affordable for everyone. If we spent the money we’ve devoted to our war efforts to making K-12 education on par with what kids in Europe get, we’d be better off.
  • 9/11 did NOT change everything. We’re still supposed to be the good guys, and that means that we do not torture. Ever. Even to save lives. History judges us by our deeds, and I will not explain to future generations why my people’s moral compass failed to find true north.
  • Big business needs to keep out of Washington. We’ve all seen way too many issues stemming from corporation’s influence over the government. From having environmental laws written by the companies that do the polluting to no-bid contracts for Halliburton, from insurance companies ruining the healthcare system in this country to Enron, we have had enough. Fix it already.

    Who would I vote for? That’s another blog for another day.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Okay, someone has got to say this

First, there is no "War On Terror". How can there be a war against a feeling? We may as well have a "war on nervousness" or a "war on anxiety".
I get that this is supposed to be our way of saying that we're sick of terrorist groups taking potshots at us.
I get that we want the world to understand that if you attack the Untied States, we're going to blow your country up.
The problem with a "war on terror" is that it's way too vague. In every other war, it was against a specific nation or group of nations. In World War II for instance, we could see a soldier in a German uniform of a Japanese uniform and just shoot him. No need for remorse; he wore the uniform of the enemy, he got shot; end of discussion. The "war on terror" is mostly against civilians, and the problem there is the constant risk of shooting an innocent person. It would be convenient for our side if everyone who hated America and was dedicated to harming us in some way could agree on some common uniform. But they don't, and so our "war on terror" is constantly waged hoping we actually shoot the enemy, and not some poor shmuck that was in the wrong place at the wrong time.
The problem is, we get it wrong more often than we think. We arrest, imprison, and kill innocents all the time. The vast majority of detainees held at Guantanamo Bay have no history with, or allegiance to any terrorist organizations. My guess is, if they ever get released they will want membership in any group promising to overthrow the U.S. government. And who can blame them? Taken from their homes, flown halfway around the world and put in a prisoner of war camp, denied legal representation, denied a chance to see what "evidence" exists against them, kept in the dark, I'm surprised we've gotten away with it this long.

Also, if we were really interested in going after the nations from whence these 9/11 hijackers came, we'd have gone after Saudi Arabia with guns blazing. Now, I know our relationship with them is… complicated. We're not happy about the fact that 15 of the 19 9/11 bad guys were Saudi Arabian, we wish they were nicer to Israel, we sure wish they were a democracy instead of being ruled by a king, but gosh darn it, they've got so much cheap oil! It makes it hard for us to hold a grudge about all that other stuff, and it also exposes why we're so concerned about sending troops to that part of the world in the first place.

And speaking of 9/11, we had it coming. There, I said it. We piss all over the world, we refuse to forgive the debts of third world nations, we refuse to sign international treaties banning the use of land mines (after over 100 nations signed it), we consume way more than our fair share of natural resources, we pollute the planet and mock anyone who tries to suggest alternative energy or the idea that the planet could be changing as a result of our policies and practices. We have more money, more waste, and less of a clue about our own impact than any other nation, bar none. We tell ourselves that we are the police force for the entire planet, forcing democracy on other nations while fixing our own elections. We blast other nations for human rights abuses while we execute the mentally retarded. As a nation, we are arrogant, wasteful, rude, ignorant, and way too heavy handed when we deal with other nations. I'm surprised we don't have attacks on the scale of 9/11 once a week. It certainly would balance out the karmic scales.

All of this is assuming that the 9/11 story we got from the government is in fact accurate and true. And this is a generous assumption. Let's just admit it folks; our government has been systematically spoon feeding us propaganda for so long, we've lost the ability to distinguish between the truth and the lies. A lone gunman assassinated Kennedy? The attack on Pearl Harbor was completely unprovoked and caught us totally by surprise? America didn't have concentration camps in World War II? Bush won the election in 2000? We had no idea that terrorists were planning 9/11? If you believe any of those things, then you drank the Kool-Aid. Sorry to be the one to tell you.

Ready for some more truth?

There is no such thing as "Islamo-fascism". There are no "Islamo-fascists". It would be great if there were. They could wear uniforms, appoint generals, and give us something organized to shoot at. The Muslims of the world don't want you dead. They hate our government; and they have good reason to hate them. But they aren't stupid. They understand that there is a huge difference between the American government and its people. They don't want you dead any more than you want them dead. They want what we want; to live in peace, to have their sovereignty respected, and to be allowed to manage their own affairs. But when we (the United States) disrespect their right to self-government, when we bomb their cities, when we kill their women and children, when we set up military bases on their holy lands, they are eventually going to get so pissed that they come after us, even if it means certain death for them. Someone once said it is better to die on your feet than to live on your knees. I can see the wisdom in that, and apparently so can they.


There was absolutely no link between 9/11 and Iraq.

Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden were never in cahoots against us. They didn't even like each other.

The only reason people like Osama bin Laden, Saddam Hussein, etc even exist is because we created them:

Those WMD's Iraq supposedly had? The only reason our government was so convinced Saddam Hussein had them was because WE SOLD THEM TO HIM in the 80's. We didn't want to go to war with Iran ourselves, so we did we what we always do in cases like that: we financed, trained and provided intelligence to our enemy's enemies. Iraq and Iran hated each other, and we hated Iran too. So, we give Iraq a bunch of weapons, training and intelligence, and say "Sic 'em!"

Osama bin Laden rose to power in the 80's too, thanks once again to our policy of funding our enemy's enemy. The U.S.S.R. invaded Afghanistan, and a bunch of "freedom fighters" fought them off, eventually winning. This was in no small part due to our providing them with weapons, training and intelligence. Sound familiar? This is pretty much Standard Operating Procedure when it comes to American foreign policy. We didn't have the balls to declare war on the Soviets (most likely because we knew we'd get our asses handed to us) so instead we took the opportunity to fund another of their enemies. The problem was, after the Soviets were gone we stopped supporting those "freedom fighters". And they got pissed. And guess who was one of the leaders of those groups was? If you guessed Osama bin Laden, you're right. Nice job.

So, the problems we have in the Middle East are mostly of our own creation. We prop up despots and then it turns and bites us in the ass 20-30 years later. We make enemies and then use propaganda to make us look like victims.

The American public needs to start calling its own government on its lies. We need to get our facts, and call our so-called "leaders" on the carpet to answer for their transgressions. It's time for a little revolution in this country.