Saturday, January 06, 2007

Cellphones in Iraq and Other Ramblings

Has anyone else stopped to ponder the double dose of bad news delivered to us by cellphones in Iraq? First they're used as a way to trigger IEDs when one of our military vehicles is driving by, and then we get the Saddam hanging video that's made his execution just another fiasco for the United States and our beleaguered President. How about this for a better scenario: "The government of Iraq wishes to announce the execution of Saddam Hussein. Here is a picture of his body, similar to the ones after his sons were killed."

No, that would have been too easy. The genius who thought up this war wanted to use the execution as a way to establish credibility for the Iraq government, but thanks to a cellphone, it turned into a hideous, sectarian event run by apparent thugs who seemed to be wearing whatever they happened to put on that morning. I forget...was it Casual Friday over there when this happened? Oh well, at least the hoods matched.

Meanwhile, I'm up at 5:19 a.m. ready to write the big first anniversary post for the Portland Freelancer only to discover it was the 9th of January - not the sixth. Didn't Jimi Hendrix have a song called "If 6 was 9"?

Maybe I should take a clue from the multi-day Gerald Ford funeral and start in on the first year remembrances early. Maybe not. By the way, am I the only one in America who still thinks the pardon of Richard Nixon was a bad idea? It was very popular this week to say that everyone now thinks pardoning the President was the right thing to do. The country couldn't afford another prolonged national trauma, blah, blah, blah.

I always get suspicious when politicians talk about the American People like we're children to be protected by the wise adults in Washington. So what would have been gained from trying President Nixon? How about sending a clear message to future Presidents that if they break the law, they are going to pay. One of the positives about Saddam's hanging, is that future leaders of Iraq will always have that image in their heads when they decide to torture someone.

I wish we had tried Nixon. That way, if for example, the current American President just happened to break a hundred times more laws than Nixon ever thought about, he would do so under the threat of imprisonment. Who knows, maybe that would even have made George think twice. And if the country couldn't take a prolonged trial, the President could always do the patriotic thing and plead guilty. After all, our brave leaders hunkered down in the Rose Garden, love to talk about how patriotic they are, don't they? Nixon or Bush would gladly do the right thing for America, even if it meant hurting themselves, wouldn't they?

Instead we had two of Gerald Ford's other gifts to the American People - Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney - hellbent on returning the presidency to a protected above-the-law status. Throw in the Warren Commission and I think Gerald Ford really screwed America big-time. Didn't anybody have a problem with the likes of Cheney and Rumsfeld talking about how decent Ford was? Consider the source - as they say. The only wave of affection I felt was when the Woodward interview came out and Gerald spoke from the grave about the Iraq War. That was the "Right on" moment for me.

By the way, since we're heading for a blog anniversary, I would love to hear from the right wing comment makers who got all misty when the NSA leak happened. They argued stridently about how limited the NSA sweep was. Now that the President has claimed the power to read our mail, don't you agree that we were right about this clown? He is out of control and thinks he can do any damn thing he wants.

That's the problem here, and one of the reasons he feels so confident is that he did not witness President Nixon going to prison. Instead, if the hard-partying young George W was even sober enough to pay attention during Watergate, all he learned was that the President can commit a crime and not go to prison. Just like with Daddy during Vietnam, the elders gather and get you out of it.

So we skipped the trauma back then and now we have a list of presidential crimes that would have made Saddam proud: Preemptive strikes against sovereign nations, torture, and then the small stuff like stripping our Constitutional-protected rights to privacy as in this mail-reading situation.

Where are these brave comment makers now? Where are the hopeless team players who defended the NSA treatment of international phone calls made by United States citizens? How do they feel about this domestic mail reading business?

One thing progressives knew was that - if this is what the White House officials admitted they were doing - there had to be more. Just like we sensed early on that Nixon was a crook. Meanwhile the right wing base acted like the NSA thing was only for calls made from Osama's cave. Damn it - there's those cellphones again.


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