Thursday, January 25, 2007

...And Then, There Was "The State of the Union"

This is a "Ceci's News and Views" Special Report:

Gone was the "Bring Them On" rhetoric along with the constant mention of Saddam Hussein. After all, for the last few years, Mr. Saddam was the cornerstone of President George W. Bush's speeches, especially when he was preaching to the choir about the events in Iraq. However, a notable absence from his words last night was to the survivors of Hurricane Katrina. The rebuilding of their city was left behind in the dust. Even more apparent is the lack of mention afforded to the outcome of the NSA program. That alone affected a lot of Americans.

And still, his platitudes reeked of California Governor Arnold Schwartzenegger's actions before the November 2006 elections. In short, Mr. Bush appropriated liberal causes only to save his derriere from the fryer when having a low approval rating of 28 per-cent.

Oh yes, his remarks were expedient, to be sure. Being quick is nice. However, sincerity and inspiring is better. Unfortunately for the President of the United States, the speech did not display the latter. It was the same, bland, "deer-in-the-headlights" wording that we have put up with for the last six years. The only thing that was "self-evident" reflected when the pandering was going to stop.

But that wasn't all reflected in Mr. Bush's words. Oh, yes, my friends, the State of the Union Address was something more, much more. Shall we see?

Cutting the Budget Deficit

Here are his words from the State of the Union Address:

First, we must balance the federal budget. (Applause.) We can do so without raising taxes. (Applause.) What we need to do is impose spending discipline in Washington, D.C. We set a goal of cutting the deficit in half by 2009, and met that goal three years ahead of schedule. (Applause.) Now let us take the next step. In the coming weeks, I will submit a budget that eliminates the federal deficit within the next five years. (Applause.) I ask you to make the same commitment. Together, we can restrain the spending appetite of the federal government, and we can balance the federal budget.

This is a very big statement to make when a plethora of money has been poured into the War on Terrorism, the conflicts abroad as well as the large tax breaks given to corporations. Unfortunately, his proposal is rather a "pie in the sky" approach. He spent the surplus left by President Clinton's Administration. This is also hard to believe knowing the hints thrown at us in speeches related to an escalation of hostilities with Iran. Frankly, simply cutting programs (and especially those that help the Middle, working classes and the poor) will not work to achieve this end.

It would take a miracle to halve the deficit. Knowing how much money America is in the hole, we are right now treading toward a "debtor status" if we are not there already. The frustrating thing is that it sounds good when it is spoken in its attempts to draw back the disaffected. In the end, we will all feel it when it hits us in the pocketbook, regardless of political platform. Sadly, the people who will probably feel the worst hurt from his tight-fisted tactics are those who voted against their best interests in the past elections.

What is also critically important to note about his policies regarding the economy is this tidbit from Op-Ed They are rather interesting points to consider when weighing style and substance:

Continuing Bush's economic policies would do little to stimulate growth and would worsen the country's fiscal health.

BUSH'S TAX CUTS THE LARGEST CONTRIBUTOR TO BUDGET DEFICITS: Tax cuts "have been the single largest contributor to the reemergence of substantial budget deficits." The Congressional Budget Office reports that tax cuts enacted from 2001 to 2006 were responsible for 51 percent of the deterioration in the budget. "Between 2001 and 2006, the passage of the Bush tax cuts without the offsetting savings have cost $1.2 trillion in lost revenues, or more than 80 percent of the cumulative deficit during this period."

Only a third was due to increases in security spending, and about a sixth to increases in domestic spending.

DEFICITS HAVE MUSHROOMED UNDER BUSH: Bush has "never proposed a balanced budget since it went into deficit, never vetoed a spending bill when Republicans controlled Congress and offered little sustained objection to earmarks until the issue gained political traction last year." Bush and Congress took an inherited surplus and have transformed it into a mountain of debt -- the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) reports that legislation enacted over the last six years increased the national debt by $2.3 trillion, including $633 billion in interest payments alone. "The budget outlook for the period 2002 to 2011 deteriorated by $8.5 trillion from 2001 to 2006 and for 2006, it decreased by $753 billion."

When you factor in all the money Mr. Bush spent over the last years, it is virtually impossible to take his assurances as affirmative. What it accounts for is that the American President raised the level of debt so high for the sake of his policies, there is no way that he can set out what he proposed in the State of the Union. Instead, he had set in motion the slow descent of financial drudgery due to poor policies, both foreign and domestic resulting in the lack of consideration and foresight.

More Woes for Health Care

Again, from the State of the Union address:

A future of hope and opportunity requires that all our citizens have affordable and available health care. (Applause.) When it comes to health care, government has an obligation to care for the elderly, the disabled, and poor children. And we will meet those responsibilities. For all other Americans, private health insurance is the best way to meet their needs. (Applause.) But many Americans cannot afford a health insurance policy.

The problem with his ideas about health care is that the Middle Class ends up paying the costs for the uninsured:

First, I propose a standard tax deduction for health insurance that will be like the standard tax deduction for dependents. Families with health insurance will pay no income on payroll tax -- or payroll taxes on $15,000 of their income. Single Americans with health insurance will pay no income or payroll taxes on $7,500 of their income. With this reform, more than 100 million men, women, and children who are now covered by employer-provided insurance will benefit from lower tax bills. At the same time, this reform will level the playing field for those who do not get health insurance through their job. For Americans who now purchase health insurance on their own, this proposal would mean a substantial tax savings -- $4,500 for a family of four making $60,000 a year. And for the millions of other Americans who have no health insurance at all, this deduction would help put a basic private health insurance plan within their reach. Changing the tax code is a vital and necessary step to making health care affordable for more Americans.

The nature of this proposal is the fact that instead of going to the rich (after all, aren't they paying taxes too?), he tries to take money out of the pockets of those who need their money the most. Instead of providing relief, he is robbing Peter to pay Paul. This suggestion in the State of the Union is rather poor policy, even though it might sound good to the Americans who need it the most. He could have proposed socialized health care, which is sponsored by the government. However, he is taking it out of the hands of the government and placing it on the people's hands to insure citizens who are unable to afford health care.

What is important to note is that with all the money spent on defense while building up the deficit, some of that funding could have been diverted to set up a very good system in this country. It is already bad that the lack of jobs has caused a plethora of Americans to be unemployed and unable to pay for their daily expenses. It is worse when he pits the Middle Class against the Working poor while the rich come off unscathed. So, are you convinced that he was only speaking to the "haves" and the "have mores"?

Op Ed News seems to think so:

Bush's health care plan fails to help the nearly 47 million Americans without health insurance, will cause employers to drop health coverage without any real alternative, and put health care out of reach for millions of Americans.

UNINSURED AMERICANS WILL RECEIVE LITTLE HELP AND MUST TURN TO EXPENSIVE COVERAGE: This scheme would replace one regressive, flawed tax deduction with another -- and since most uninsured Americans pay low or no taxes, they would receive little help from this plan.

In addition, Karen Pollitz, a Georgetown University researcher who co-authored a 2001 study on the individual health-insurance market for the Kaiser Family Foundation, found that people who aren't in perfect health are largely unable to buy individual health insurance.

In her study, Pollitz found that "roughly 90% of applicants in what's known as less-than-perfect health were unable to buy individual policies at standard rates, while 37% were rejected outright." Individual health insurers may deny coverage to people based on their medial history, or put them in "a high-risk category that it makes health coverage too expensive."

BUSH'S PLAN WILL DISCOURAGE EMPLOYERS FROM OFFERING QUALITY COVERAGE: Sixty-one percent of companies offer at least some of their employees health insurance, a drop of 8 percentage points since 2000.

Once you read the analysis presented by, the sadder it seems. There is more of a lack of empathy than people seem to think if the policies regarding health care are truly enforced. This would create a system in which the winners continue to be people who are stil on top.

Iraq And All That Stuff

Most of the meat of his speech centered on the War on Terror, Iran and Iraq. Afghanistan was hardly mentioned. And of course, there was the same obligatory nods toward a specific soldier and his family (while they sit behind the beaming Mrs. Bush). These things are good to be noted. However, this "feel good" tactic does not seem to help the drastic situation made more caustic by ineptitude and negligence when it comes to foregin diplomacy. Clearly, Mr. Bush will not "cut and run" from his policy of not listening to the American people as well as Congress. The sad thing is that no matter how many "no confidence" resolutions our politicians pass, the American President is dead set on adding more troops overseas. Unfortunately, there will be a plethora of tears to be shed as a result of the escalating casualties.

Even more cumbersome is the continued harping on issues that solicit the fear and ire of the American people. In the past, terror and national security has always been Mr. Bush's bread and butter. When all of his other policies fell short in the eyes of United States citizens, one mention of "terrorism" and everyone snaps back into obeyance. The problem with this approach is that people are tired of being scared. Some even want to be ensconsced in normality. It is unfortunate when terrorism is mentioned, immigration is also included in the same breath. That alone presents a tiresome, but necessary lean toward the nostalgia relegated to the nationalistic residue inflicted by September 11, 2001.

And while the fear and terror has been stirred up to a gigantic crescendo, there is this little nugget to note along with the plea for more troops:

And one of the first steps we can take together is to add to the ranks of our military so that the American Armed Forces are ready for all the challenges ahead. (Applause.) Tonight I ask the Congress to authorize an increase in the size of our active Army and Marine Corps by 92,000 in the next five years. (Applause.) A second task we can take on together is to design and establish a volunteer Civilian Reserve Corps. Such a corps would function much like our military reserve. It would ease the burden on the Armed Forces by allowing us to hire civilians with critical skills to serve on missions abroad when America needs them. It would give people across America who do not wear the uniform a chance to serve in the defining struggle of our time.

This proposal conveys two things. First, it seems as if the "Civilian Reserve Corps" reflects an armed mercenary group. Secondly, the proposal glosses over the fact that military is already filled with people who volunteered. With that being said, one has to wonder what he meant with this suggestion. Are the civilians supposed to be like the Peace Corps? Or, are they more like a militia to help in the fighting? Or, is this the next step toward conscription?

The scary notion also derived from such a stance is the fact that if hostilities spread toward Iran, the "Civilian Reserve Corps" paves a way toward a draft as a possibility. It is horrible that even the National Guard has to undergo more tours overseas than necessary. Unfortunately, with troops being strained already in two places of war (Iraq and Afghanistan), one more would set things to a head.

With the casual mentions of Iran within the rhetoric of building support for the war, there is a constant foreshadowing of a wider theater of conflict America cannot afford (monetarily and humanistically) to fight. Iran is a bigger fish in the Middle East with a fully equipped army. If Mr. Bush proposes that Iran might be brought into the larger scale of conflict in that region in the world, a draft would be definitely brought into the realm of reality. Yet, even he must remember the times during the Vietnam era what the draft did to tear the country apart. With that being said, his promise at the beginning of his run in the 2000 election of being a "Uniter" ends up being thrown out the window. That is neither here, nor there by now. Because of his widespread rhetoric of fear and terror, one could only propose he forgets the emotionalism and protests over the draft. Thus, such a policy of dealing with Iran in a state of war must be tailored carefully enough that tensions could be solved diplomatically instead of "carrying a big stick".

Mr. Bush's words, nevertheless, was truly shameful on this accord. It is frustrating that he would bring up Iran in the same breath as Afghanistan and Iraq. He has already bitten off more than he can chew with a conflict brought about by his own doing. Surely, the President of the United States must have overestimated what might happen in the Middle East by America's insertion there. What makes him think that bringing more troops in the Middle East will make things more secure, let alone lower the growing sectarian violence there? Civilians will not tip the scale in this accord. Instead, their involvement would only bring further proof that the United States is operating an "occupation". In this stance, war is never humanitarian. The price of democracy cannot be bought by the waving of a gun.

Where We Are In Light of the State of the Union

All in all, Mr. Bush's words only provided a smoke screen over the larger problems festering at the surface abroad and within the nation. Hearing how the President did not mention a lot of the difficulties that Americans are experiencing, the State of the Union right now dims in comparison to the United States leader has provided last night. It is not easy to say this because the message brought about by such a speech is to keep citizens abreast on how the country is doing. The worst of it all, what it did was reinforce the lie that everything between the borders of the East and West coast was all right.

That made his words rather hard to hear, especially in light what the public already knows through the stories reported about the present Administration. It has even gotten to the point that even though the media cheerleaders still exist, there are items daily that seem to dim the glow of the "rah rah" atmosphere. When especially there are people we know in our daily life who are serving overseas, suffering due to lack of employment and health care, and loved ones struggling to make ends meet, his words fall false.

It's not to say that Mr. Bush's words were laughable. They weren't. It is simply the fact that the speech fell flat on the matters most important to the nation. Instead, the text focused upon pipe dreams that are hard to make into reality. Consquently, the State of the Union appeared on television to be little more than a dog and pony show in which the false belief applies to the notion that when the President speaks, people will applaud. Those claps are wasted because they only serve to heighten the irony that juxstaposes itself against the realities brought about by the policies of the current Administration.

The only thing to take heart is the fact that Mr. Bush's words, highly scrutinized to be sure, can only help Americans to be more cautious and intelligent about choosing their next national leadership next year. Let the lesson be learned that the choices we pick can not only affects us politically and fiscally, but in terms of sustaining our nation in times of distress and crisis. The other thing hopefully learned is that the people of the United States (if not the world) will not be fooled.

We have already been there and done that.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Good News

Some exciting news has come to pass during the last week. I am among my ATS family once again. My "absence" has been lifted. It has been wonderful to be back with my friends and to catch up on the news going on. I am especially thankful for all the well wishes sent to me upon my return. The e-mails, comments and posts sent to me made my day. :)

With the kind notes from the people I care about on ATS and off, I believe that the best part of being part of something important is not posting; it is the marvelous friends that I have made over my tenure there. It is their support, kindness and well wishes that have brought me the upmost happiness. And during my "absence", their words had brought me comfort and care when I was down. It is their words that I cherish.

Both here and the "blog from X-mas past" (hopefully present), their ideas, ruminances and assurances have brought me hope, comfort, inspiration and courage. And I thank them for their interest and friendship. I definitely thrilled to be among them once again.

That leaves some news about the coming changes on this blog and my activity on that forum.

For now, I am mainly focusing on blog writing when I can due to work and real life. As for the posting? That will be in a little while. As much as I relish a good debate with others on the forum, I would much quietly settle back and take things slow for now. No fistacuffs for a while--a *long* while.

What does that mean for the blog here? This blog will still be written because there is still a lot of writing to be done here. I enjoy talking about politics and society. And of course, I have many things to discuss, especially with the aftermath of the State of the Union address last night.

So, don't think for a minute that this blog will be abandoned. It will not. It is now that my life has widened up for a bit on-line and off. And it is time to put everything into focus.

One thing is very certain: I enjoy writing and conversing with others thoughtfully on the events of the day. I will continue to do so.

Please continue to visit here and post your comments. I enjoy them and will try to write back when I can. Sometimes, my work makes it hard to respond to you right away, but I always make an effort to try and post my comments back to you because you took the time to leave interesting and fascinating remarks here from time to time.

And yes, when the spirit moves me, I'll will become very long winded. But I assure you that I will put as much effort into it as I can to produce meaningful and meticulous think pieces in order to generate discussion and thought.

And remember, if you have something you would like to contact me in regards of the blog or if you would like to say hi, send an e-mail to:

And again, the only thing I don't like is spam.

Other than that, I thank you all for reading the blog these past months.

Now, it's time to dig deep into the issues of the day! :)

Take good care,

Ceci :)

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Thoughts About Sen. Hillary Clinton As Democratic Presidential Candidate

Senator Hillary Clinton (D.-NY) announced on her website that she is setting up an exploratory committee for her candidacy as President of the United States Saturday. As soon as she said the word, the news unleashed a flurry of mixed emotions inside and out of the Democratic party.

Okay. We know what the Republicans are saying about Sen. Clinton. In fact, I'm sure that some of the Right Wing Pundits are grinding their axes at this moment. They're probably thirsting for a little tidbit to spin into the slightest controversy as a way to produce another weapon of mass distraction.

As if the reportage on the lost boys were enough.

After a day of thinking about it, there are definite feelings about whether Sen. Clinton clinches the Dems nominee for President. Answers from the callers of my favorite talk show (progressive, of course) revealed that some would not vote for the New York Senator because she represents a "professional politician" (whatever that means). The criticism also went forth that if she were to be elected, it would be more of the same old thing. After all, the last twelve years were capitalized by two dynasties: the Clintons and the Bushes. A vote for her would surely be beating the same drum instead of producing someone different. And of course, the fundraising from Rupert Murdoch doesn't help her case.

On the positive side, there are Dems who think she is a strong choice and representative of future trends in the United States. Instead of an office which has historically elected men, a strong woman would be apropo to usher in change. She is definitely a political survivor who has stood up for what she believed in as First Lady. She also took charge whenever she sat in hearings. However, other Dems are rather distressed by her lack of a stand on the second Iraqi War. Not to mention her absence on several important issues that begged for one politician on the left to speak up.

Well, Sen. Russ Feingold (D.-Wisc.) and Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D.-Ohio) spoke up at key times at the risk of their reputation and standing in Congress. Mr. Feingold, with a few other colleagues, pressed for a Censure for President Bush. Mr. Kucinich has constantly questioned the financial benefits that oil corporations received while the working class were stiffled by the constant rise in gas prices. Rep. Barbara Lee (D.-Calif.) took a stand at the very beginning of the Iraqi War by refusing to endorse her support for a conflict she still had questions on.

But, some ask, where was Hillary?

And now, she presents a message announcing her interest in being the President of the United States, if elected.

Very timely, to be sure. Her message to her constituents and supports happened nearly a week after Senator Barack Obama (D.-Ill.) announced plans to explore his options for running for the top job in the land.

Sen. Clinton would be formidable opponent to be sure. She possess the savvy and the insight to work the wheels beyond the Beltway. She would not wilt from the criticism thrown at her. However, the misgivings of those Dems who are not so willing to have her run might be the lynchpin. One would have to wait and see whether she can win over this percentage of the party who still levy questions toward her positions and political alliances in the past.

No doubt, the elections in November 2008 will be very important for the entire country. After all, the current Administration has set a precendent what not to look for a leader. With the choices out there putting their hats in the ring, it is understandable that the American citizens are rather gunshy right now. After all, what is needed is some who can lead, mop up the messes overseas and can bring our troops home. What is also needed is someone who is very charismatic and inspiring. Unfortunately for the last eight years, that was sorely missed even when the United States had fallen into dire straits due to terrorism and conflict abroad.

If anything, there has been the whispering whether Former Vice-President Al Gore would run. Let's face it: Mr. Gore recieved a bum deal in 2000 when the Supreme Court ruled in the matter propelling Mr. Bush into office. Since then, the Vice-President had quietly retreated (much to the chagrin of some) and worked toward the cause of global warming. His participation in the film, An Inconvenient Truth(2006), brought him to the forefront once again. Especially on the talk show I had listened yesterday evening, there are still calls from some wishing that he would run. It showed that people do not forget what happened in 2000. And of course, some might even wonder whether we would be better off in America if he was President instead of the current one.

The nominees, in any stretch, must be chosen carefully. Whether it is Sen. John McCain (R.-Arizonia) or Rudolf Guilliani (R.-New York) or even Mr. Obama or Mrs. Clinton, people have to realize that the person chosen must be able to work with foreign governments in a diplomatic and intelligent manner, to restore civility and politeness back to government, not to mention return professionalism and tact back to the White House.

As Americans, we cannot afford to have another politician in office who does not appreciate the gravity of their station as President of the United States. Furthermore, we need someone who works toward national security peacefully through smart negotiation and demonstration of knowledge regarding cultural sensitivity when dealing with international matters. What is most important is someone who can proactively work with building our domestic issues back so that United States citizens can benefit instead of suffer.

We'll just have to see how these early candidates pan out. And then, there will be definite picture which way the citizens of America want to go with their leadership.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Ready For A Little Trivia?

Bizarre as it is, I came across the line of (American)Presidential succession in an interesting book by Ben Schott called Schott's Original Miscellany (2002). Since this is always discussed in political circles, I thought it would be appropriate to post it here as a part of trivia. Read them and see what you think. Without further ado, here they are:

Presidential Succession:

Speaker of the House
President Pro Tempore of the Senate
Secretary of State
Secretary of the Treasury
Secretary of Defense
Attorney General
Secretary of the Interior
Secretary of Health and Human Services
Secretary of Housing and Urban Development
Secretary of Transportation
Secretary of Energy
Secretary of Education
Secretary of Veterans' Affairs

Schott, Ben. Schott's Original Miscellany. New York: Bloomsbury, 2002: 132.

Fascinating, to say the least.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

What Should We Pay Attention To?

While the country is fascinated by two lost boys, a curtain is lowered over the investigations occurring about warrantless wiretapping, the second Iraqi War and its implications on the American people. But never mind. News stories about losing weight and news pilots saving deers are quite more important than the public's right to know about what the House and the Senate are going to do about getting to the truth.

America is in the midst of a crisis. Not only are our civil liberties still being played with and swept under the rug; the United States citizen's right to know is also being played with by the release of more propaganda which seems to sugar coat the mess created overseas. There isn't any attempt to mend fences with other countries. Instead, we have a national leader who continues to ignore advice and beat the hawkish drums when it comes to dealing with the chaotic nature of the Middle East.

What is even more appalling are the answers coming from Mr. Bush's colleagues while they are in the Congressional hot seat. Although it is doubtful that anyone was surprised by the answers given by Mr. Gates, Dr. Rice and others, still their replies leave more questions than the bland assurances that everything is going all right--along with the need for 20,000 more troops.

(Does anyone hear echoes of Dr. Strangelove?)

The attention paid toward Iran is equally troubling. That is one conflict that America does not need, nor want. It is frustrating that diplomacy or other methods of easing tensions in an already heightened situation are not applied. Instead, what we have is more tough talk, not to mention shutting out the advice of the wise and the prudent. Speculation instead of proof has taken over. It is frightening how far such speculation will go in order to make things worse.

The pushing of the doomsday clock to five minutes before midnight reflects the dire need for Americans to pay attention to what our government is doing. It also dictates a yearning that we the people have to respond to such changes in foreign policy before it gets too late.

Right now, it is high time to be concerned about the domestic and foreign policies affecting the nation because eventually they will spill over into our personal lives. We cannot afford to turn a blind eye to what is going on. Instead, the news urges us to be more vigilant--especially when it is our loved ones, friends and family going overseas to fight the wars of those comfortably ensconsced in office.

Bush, Gonzales Catching Up to Critics About Wiretapping Program

Believe it or not, the elections of November 2006 propelled changes going beyond a new Congress. The domestic wiretapping program, a cornerstone of the NSA, will slowly die a quiet death. U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales defended the use of the program in a hearing Thursday. Suffice it to say, he did all he could to paint a happy face on such an open misuse of the First and Fourth Amendments of the Constitution.

Even he could realize that the winds of change have taken over the government. After all, the investigations due to oversight committees are beginning. "Scooter" Libby is now on trial (which alone sets precedents enabling sitting national leaders to testify). I need not say this again, but I must: the chickens are definitely coming home to roost. Watch the feathers fly in the coming days.

It won't be pretty. Feast your eyes on this short blurb from Reuters UK:

(I've included the juicy parts for your viewing pleasure on the blog)

U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales fended off lawmakers on Thursday who demanded to know why the administration took more than five years to obtain court approval of its war-time domestic spying.

"I somewhat take issue ... with (Republican) Senator Arlen Specter's innuendo that this is something we could have pulled off the shelf and done in a matter of days or weeks," Gonzales told the Senate Judiciary Committee. "This is a very complicated application. We worked on it a long time."


Critics have charged that President George W. Bush overstepped his authority after the Sept. 11 attacks with the domestic spying program as well as other measures such as holding terrorism suspects indefinitely without charges, and interrogations that some said amounted to torture.

Gonzales said the Justice Department had recently reached an agreement with a secret court, which gives out warrants under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, that would allow swift approval to monitor international communications.


Gonzales was noncommital, prompting Chairman Patrick Leahy, a Vermont Democrat, to ask: "Are you saying you might object to the court giving us decisions that you've publicly announced?"

Gonzales said, "There's going to be information about operational details about how we're doing this that we want to keep confidential."


Bush insisted he had inherent war-time presidential powers to order the spying program. However, Gonzales said the Justice Department stepped up efforts to bring it under FISA.

In a letter to congressional leaders on Wednesday, Gonzales said the program would not be renewed. Instead electronic surveillance would be subject to approval from the secret but independent FISA court, as demanded by critics.

Although the non-renewal of the program seems to be an attempt of contriteness on the part of appeasing the critics of the program, still Mr. Gonzales' statements did nothing to reassure the fact that the lesson has been learned about the overstepping of Executive Privilege. It is appalling that no one thought of going to the FISA court in 2001 when trying to implement this program. Instead, it seemed as if it was full steam ahead in terms of asserting power over the American people.

Mr. Gonzales' testimony today did nothing to resolve the conflict proposed by the need for an "Imperial Presidency" during wartime. Knowing his law credentials, even he has to realize that the system of Checks and Balances were there in order to place the President in check regarding matters such as this one. Unfortunately, hind-sight is 20/20. And now, closing the program is not going to sweep the past under the rug. The cases of Rasul v. Bush (2004) and Hamdan v. Rumsfeld(2006) saw to that.

This is yet another attempt to justify a program that clearly raised Constitutional questions about the rights of American citizens. In fact, to try and put a good side on wiretapping easily conveys a sense of dictatorship. That alone flies in the face of a democracy. In light of this, one has to wonder whether the Founding Fathers are turning in their graves with all the handiwork done regarding this program.

There isn't a sense of guilt over what has been done in the past. And judging from the comments, there wasn't nary a regret over questions regarding the program's uses and applications. Highlighting this issue only conveys that the dark days of the past cannot be erased so easily.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Does Mr. Bush's Comments Come Too Late?

I don't know whether Mr. Bush's comments on the recent executions in Iraq were meant to soothe tensions overseas or in America, but they are quite curious. They are interesting because of the history involved between American and Iraq. No matter how it might look, read the comments of the President of the United States and see what you think. This comes from the Associated Press and CBS News.

The President's remarks come from his interview with Jim Lehrer on PBS. It aired Tuesday on the "News Hour With Jim Lehrer" show:

President Bush said Tuesday the unruly execution of Saddam Hussein "looked like it was kind of a revenge killing," making it harder to persuade a skeptical U.S. public that Iraq's government will keep promises central to Bush's plan for a troop increase.


Mr. Bush criticized the circumstances of Saddam's hanging last month, as well as Monday's execution of two top aides, including Saddam's half brother.

"I was disappointed and felt like they fumbled the — particularly the Saddam Hussein execution," the president told Lehrer.

A cell phone video of Saddam's Dec. 30 hanging showed the deposed Iraqi leader being taunted as he stood on the gallows with a noose around his neck. An official video of the execution of Saddam's half brother showed that the hangman's noose decapitated him. Both hangings provoked outrage around the world, but particularly among Saddam's fellow Sunnis in Iraq.

Mr. Bush said he had expressed his displeasure about the way Saddam's execution was handled to al-Maliki. The president announced what he called a new strategy for the war last week, with much of it hinging on his trust in al-Maliki's government to make radical changes.

"It basically says to people, 'Look, you conducted a trial and gave Saddam justice that he didn't give to others. But then, when it came to execute him, it looked like it was kind of a revenge killing,"' the president said.

"It makes it harder for me to make the case to the American people that this is a government that does want to unify the country and move forward," Mr. Bush said. "And it just goes to show that this is a government that has still got some maturation to do."

Although there is more to say about this matter later, I just wanted to post the excerpts of this story for you to read the latest comments from the American leader. Opinion-wise, there is a lot of underlying irony involved. After all, Mr. Bush's recent words mark a departure from his earlier sentiments of "bringing it on". However, this "change of heart" is only meant to sell a platform that doesn't resemble any sort of cogent plan. Instead, it further dictates a policy of virtually ignoring the findings and research made on U.S. foreign policy and its involvement in the Middle East. It makes you wonder, doesn't it?

Is This The Final Chapter for Mr. Castro?

As I was doing my late night reading on-line, I came across this report revealing the grave condition of Cuban leader, Fidel Castro. The Boston Globe has something to say on this matter:

Cuban leader Fidel Castro is in serious condition after three failed operations on his large intestine for diverticulitis complicated by infection, the Spanish newspaper El Pais reported.

Castro, 80, suffered a serious infection that worsened to peritonitis, the newspaper said in today's editions. It cited two medical sources at the Madrid hospital where a surgeon who visited Castro in December works.

Castro's prognosis is "very serious" and he is being fed intravenously, the paper said.

Diverticulitis is the inflammation of pouch-like bulges in the intestinal wall. Peritonitis is an infection of the lining of the abdominal cavity.

A first operation to extract part of Castro's large intestine and reconnect the colon was a failure and the link broke, releasing feces into the abdomen that caused another peritonitis, the newspaper reported.

A second operation to clean and drain the infected area and perform a colostomy also failed, the paper said. Castro underwent a third operation to implant a Korean-made prosthesis, but it did not work and was replaced by one brought from Spain.

I guess you have to treat this as a "watch" or "wait" type of story. There have been many changes in the health of Mr. Castro lately that if one report has him knocking on death's door, there is another that has him completely fine with pictures. A lot can be said about the Cuban leader. However, you can say that he is probably the the most resilient person who has survived many obstacles during his long career (exploding cigars notwithstanding).

Whatever one might say is that time is slowly letting the curtain lower on one particular part of history. This is definitely a new era that is coming about. The leaders of the past are slowly going away from us. And, now, history has yet to unleash newer and a different brand of leadership that will propel the story of the earth and its peoples to another level.

It makes you wonder what kind of people will take the helm of our nations in the future. Will we get more into the realm of "Big Brother"? Or will someone step up with a lot of intelligence and courage that will help the world instead of hurt it?

Who knows? But, we are in for exciting and very noteworthy days which chaotically reveal the pathways to the future.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Ceci's Special, Part II: Communication As A Form of Courage

Along with the thoughts about MLK day, I reflected deeply about what it means to speak your mind thoughtfully and courageously. In my past incarnation as a poster on a forum, I had undergone a transformation. At first, I was really shy and quiet because I didn't know what to say. As time went on, I began to express myself about politics and society. It was slow at first because I had always been very careful and conscientious about others.

In many ways, I still hold fast to the ideals of meticulousness and thoughtfulness when it comes to discussing pertinent issues. Other times, I began to get bolder and throw caution to the wind. Some of that got me into trouble--especially in bitter debates that left both pro and con sides scathed. It is hard trying to discuss issues sometimes with people who are set in their ways. It is even harder conversing with those who want to pull the rug right from under you just for their personal entertainment.

In some debates that I have had in the past, everything but the kitchen sink was thrown at me. Sometimes, the words expressed by my opponents in a topic were rather harsh and uncalled for. But I grew a thick skin and defended myself--sometimes, to no avail. It was here that I discovered a small kernel of wisdom about discussing politics: it is dirty and rather personal when you've mentioned something that rubs the other conversant raw. And then, the accusations fly. It always ends with scorched earth, one way or another.

There had been many times in conversations like these I felt like washing my hands over and over. But that is because I have a conscience. I have discovered that there are people in the world who don't care how dirty their hands get because they just don't give a damn. In fact, it even soils their entire attitude. In that sort of brutality, I've learned that sometimes, I've got to let it go despite what my opponents in a debate think about me and my opnions. However, that lesson is a tough and long one coming. I had to fall into the trap many times before the realization struck me.

And then, there are people who misunderstand or intentionally ignore what you are trying to say. You try to explain it over and over, just hoping once that it would get through their minds. But even then in the midst of heated discourse, there are just some people who don't want to get it and will not. In fact, they will do whatever they can not to understand your side of things. They opt instead to try and bring personality into it. And when you express an opinion that doesn't jibe with their world view, suddenly, you are painted with mental or behavioral disorders, let alone other pathological accoutrements that they will not only convince themselves or others that you have.

That is why I've come to the point that having conversations on tough topics not only requires a tough skin; it also is a mark of courage and bravery in the face of unwinnable odds.

It takes courage to hold your ground and continue to discuss things despite the fact that you might be alone in your beliefs about a given issue. Believe you me. It is not for the faint of heart, not by any means. When one finds one's self against others who refuse to understand a particular subject, you have to have nerves of steel. It requires more tact and communication skill than what is being let on. If you ever find yourself at the tail end of a fight, don't be convinced that you are the one who lacks "communication skills".

After talking about this notion with others, I've found out that those who are willing to throw out accusations such as that one are far more mired in their own inability to express themselves than you. They also lack the tenacity to face their convictions, opting for the easy road of taunting and accusations instead. And when it comes to courage, they have none if they can't open their minds enough to converse about the issue without resorting to the underhanded tactics.

However, no one is free of playing dirty. Sometimes you have to do it simply to defend yourself. Here too, it is apt to note that some people do not like someone who is at the tail end of their criticism to do just that. It is far easier to give up and to walk away.

If you feel the strength of your convictions and are willing to go with it in the end, then you will hold all the marbles. However, one cannot let themselves become crystallized in their position. Having good communication skills is possessing open-mindedness even when it gets hard. One always has to see the other side of things and hear the other side out.

The most courageous thing to do, I have realized, is to retain that open-mindedness even when debates and discussions get dirty. Even in the worst of circumstances, I find myself researching the other side in order to have a well-rounded perspective on the topic. It is a lot to ask that the other side to do the same.

In the end, you must sometimes deal with your own manner of communicating and not let others rail-road you into thinking that your positions or sentiments are wrong.

There is more to say about this later, perhaps in part 3. But, to make a long story short, courage is a powerful and redeeming force if one uses its potential while taking the higher road.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

MLK Day Should Be Used to Promote Tolerance and Brotherhood

Tomorrow is the federal holiday in America to celebrate the legacy of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King. To some, it is a day off of work. To others, it is time to deeply think about where we've come as a country and how much further we have to go to eradicate intolerance.

This past year, more than most, I have been thinking and dealing with the issues surrounding diversity and tolerance because they have affected me in intimate ways on-line and in the "real world". In this search for more understanding between individuals, it is appropriate to use the MLK holiday as a time to read his speeches and think about how one can use his words to increase respect among all individuals.

Rev. King's acts during his lifetime not only helped African-Americans self-actualize and further integrate themselves within American society; his teachings promoted the tenets of peace in a troubled world. We, as Americans, have a debt to pay to the civil rights leader, especially when the events of 9/11 has brought to the forefront increasingly uncomfortable issues that the United States still hasn't dealt with.

In the present day, we still have to deal with the negativity attached to nationalism and patriotism openly promoted by the Bush Presidency. Single-handedly, the policies endorsed by the current Administration did more to hurt and divide the country than anything else. By using the theory of Terror Threat Management and fear, Americans are often found looking over their shoulder and scrutinizing their neighbors in every little way. It has even gotten to the point that due to issues of "national safety", anyone is suspect.

This is not how America ought to be. It should be remembered that all of us, no matter what heritage or background, should be treated decently and humanely. However, the increasing lack of respect and civility that has been fostered due to social and political opinions has become the order of the day. This ill will should be stopped. Efforts must be made to learn about each other and to begin employing strategies to stop the utter ignorance that intolerance brings.

It's been said in a lot of ways, but I'll repeat it here: change begins with us as individuals.

That means using MLK Day as a time to get to know your neighbors, to ask about what you can do to promote peace and understanding as well as to work on healing a nation rife with misunderstanding when it comes to different cultures. It also conveys that one should not stay silent when it comes to intolerance; it is time to break past crystallized attitudes and rewrite the thought patterns that have unwittingly undermined togetherness.

Some might think that to stop talking about the issues of intolerance will eradicate it. That is precisely the problem. If people are not willing to confront their own attitudes on a daily basis, then we are in definite trouble. The silence must be stopped. Instead, discussions--no matter how emotional--must continue. I believe that conversations about the state of society when it comes to diversity have to be approached even when it hard to speak about. Because it is so personal and emotional, talks about the legacy of civil rights and diversity are often excitable.

(Heck, I ought to know from my past experiences as a poster.)

However, when trying to be more understanding of others, one must be brave. Rev. King took that first step. We should also summon our courage and reach out. If we don't, we build walls instead of tear them down.

If anything, this is a critical time to take a stand. America is in dire need for people to be concerned about one another. We cannot afford to be cynical or tired of discussing diversity when it continues to shape the policies in our nation and the rest of the world.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Nail Biter at the New Galen Center

Funny. While I was writing the latest political ramblings, I watched the UCLA Bruins battle the USC Trojans in the new Galen Center (the new facility in which the "other" team plays basketball). *Sigh*. It was hard to type while sitting on the edge of my seat. During the majority of the game, UCLA was behind ten points. After last week's loss to the University of Oregon and their plummet from number one to four, I thought, "When it rains, it pours".

But, you have to hand it to my team. With utter determination, the Bruins bounced back and rallied to win against their mid-town rivals. All starters played great despite the constant droning of the hated Trojan fight song. Darren Collison, of course, was sensational. Aaron Aflalo and Lorenzo Mata weren't bad either. Mata surprised me. He did a spectacular job with making it to the hoops with ease.

But, the Bruins have to work with their first quarter sluggishness. If they play lackidasial in the first half, they reap what they sow when they trail behind the other team (case in point with their last game against Oregon). However, I was pleased with the free throws made by UCLA.

Conventional wisdom always says that free throws are what eventually wins the game. You can always say the three-pointers help things along, but it always comes down to the charity strike. In this area, my team keeps on improving.

In the end, I was impressed with their ability to be resilient when the chips are against them. They don't call UCLA the "gutty little Bruins" for nothing. ;)

Mr. Bush and His "Legacy"

A lot of talk has gone on in the media about Mr. Bush's legacy. In fact, The New York Times recently had a very fascinating article about how the Republicans have to grapple with this legacy when it comes to the 2008 elections. The item put it bluntly that with no appointed successor from the current President of the United States, the Republicans have to deal with the increasing unpopularity of the war as well as their stance against the current Administration's policies:

On the Hill, meanwhile, even those who did support the president’s plan in Iraq offered less than the hearty endorsements of the troop surge. Some, like Mr. Warner, said they needed more information before they committed to any increase. At an Armed Services Committee hearing on Friday, Mr. Warner asked the Pentagon to provide results of the war game analyses it has done to evaluate the results of adding more troops.

In the House, as fierce a partisan as Representative Jack Kingston said he was not ready to lend full support, but looked forward to hearings on the plan.

Other Republicans supported the president but emphasized that the commitment in Iraq must not be open-ended — a Democratic refrain. And they argued for the need for benchmarks to evaluate the success of the increase, all of which leaves room for them to peel away from the president if the war does not show more success soon.

Heading toward 2008, Republicans are no longer expecting the kind of party discipline on the war that they expected in 2006. Instead, party leaders say members must speak their consciences.

To the most cynical, it might seem that the rats are trying to jump from the sinking ship. Believe it or not, GOP candidates will have to make a decision: to either save themselves or to continue in blind allegiance to the current administration despite the widespread criticism from America's foreign policy. Strangely enough, the article mentions something that is central to this decision: the fact that they might have to find their consciences in order to survive politically.

When Mr. Bush and his policies were bandied about in the press and in his speeches, there was no question of whether his colleagues would have a conscience or not. Especially before the November 2006 elections, empathy seemed miles away when it came to questions regarding America's participation in Iraq. Despite pertinent questions about the President's policies overseas, they staunchly stood behind their leader without question. It seemed at times that their denial of the wrongs committed during the "occupation" seemed rather stifling.

The shoe had to drop when the scandals started to seep over the surface. As if the problems of former Representative Tom Delay wasn't enough, the Foley and Abramoff scandals were the tip of the iceberg. By November 2006, these stories along with the realisation of the increasing casualties of war had brought about a sense of disgust--along with sentiment overseas.

Talk about "cutting and running". By all indications of this article, it seems that "cutting and running" is precisely what GOP candidates are doing to ensure their own political survival.

And survival is what exactly what they are focusing on when considering the endeavors of Mr. Bush and his stance toward Iraq.

They say politics is a fickle business. When popularity of a party or a policy sweeps the citizenry, the national leaders embrace it with all their fervor. And then, when bottom falls out, those astute enough to see the winds of change distance themselves enough to stay out of the fray. To make a long story short, siding with the President right now is a tricky business due to the fact that the public has gotten wind of the ineptitude and the sheer arrogance when dealing with national and international policy. It is to the point that no matter how much propaganda is being pushed toward nationalism and supporting the troops, not even blindness will turn away the criticism that has erupted over the troubled policies that Mr. Bush has embraced.

This is a time of reckoning for both the Dems and the GOP. For the GOP, they have to embark upon their own soul searching efforts in order to stay buoyant in rocky political times. The Dems have to see this fact and use it to their own advantage. Not only do they have to stay faithful to their "First 100 hours" policy (of which they have made good on), but also they have to use this time to introduce civility and a search for the truth to satiate five years of inquiries posed by those who have scrutinized the actions of the current Administration.

All in all, yes, Mr. Bush has to be very concerned about how historians will treat him. But, one might suppose that his so-called "legacy" might be out of his hands if his own party begins to question his actions.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Oversight Committees Are Needed To Correct Goverment

On the political front, there is a lot of news regarding the hearing which placed Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and others into the hot seat. While there, her pained, but cool demeanor tried to dampen the rising criticism about the Iraqi war. However, it all seemed to only deflect the issue. Not only that, it highlighted the desperate need for investigations to happen in order to get answers to the most dire issues that is affecting all of us.

There seems to be the train of thought that the American people cannot take seeing their leaders prosecuted for the wrongs they committed in government. This idea was especially communicated during the funeral of former President Gerald R. Ford. The problem with this idea is that our politicians are under the perception that we as citizens faint at the sight of any governmental bloodletting that seems to happen. This idea also seems to convey the lack of faith in our understanding of events, let alone the absorption of the gravity that investigations might reveal.

Yes, Americans are slowly starting to wake up about the travesty their country is in. The events that have painted the last five years have finally come to the surface because there is a growing tiredness about being led around and around without any stoppage. To put it more bluntly, people are sick and tired of the BS that is being fed to them from the media and the propaganda that seems to hide the realities of a government that is troubled and fractured, to say the least.

It is eye-opening that despite it might hurt, some Republicans have even faced facts and criticized the handling of America's foreign policy. The party that seemed to be formed by Tom "The Hammer" Delay and propagandized by Karl Rove seems to be trying to change their spots. It might be the fact that some are politically astute to how the temper of the American people can change with the times. After all, the November 2006 elections were one in which frustration had bubbled over and people started to see their consciences when it came to wanting to get the goverment back to serving its constituents.

Contrary to the fear that the American people "might not take what comes out", investigations are good when they aren't used for petty partisan tactics. There are facts about our current situation in the world that need to be known. In the past, certain documents had come to light (such as the Dowling Street documents) to alert the public about how the need for war has been created. Mr. Bush's speech this week also gave some warning signals about why a search for the truth needs to be done.

When it is all said and done, it would be nice if historians would say that depsite the dark ages of America during the Bush era that there were responsible politicians who looked past the media fluffery and punditry to try and set things right. A public accounting can start to find the soul of the United States. We've had it up to here with denial. And denial can only resolve to cloud the issue and make things worse than it already is.

When putting national and international events into perspective, there needs to be some accounting and admittance of what went wrong. For future leaders, this time can turn into one that could teach them what and what not to do when leading the people. For the rest of us, this time can teach us not to turn to denial when seeing the writing on the wall and to be more responsive when our national leaders do not do what we sent them to the Capital for.

For the future journalists out there, these times can also teach them a thing or two about not being hushed into silence when approaching the subject matter that affects all of us. The Fourth Estate also needs to clean house. It becomes increasingly tiresome to hear the cheerleading of certain individuals who are cowed into silence and preventing the public's right to know. Furthermore, those in the media not only have to be competitive for stories, but to also stand by their colleagues when one of them is penalized regarding their freedom of speech.

Most of all, the tenets of the Constitution should be reconsidered, especially when they have been toyed with by the passage of past laws that restrict civil liberties. 9/11 was a horrible and unspeakable event, for sure. But one thing must come to mind when considering this fact: a democracy ceases to exist if we leave our life, liberty and pursuit of happiness in hands of the selfish who do nothing but abuse it. To root out the abuse, this is more than relevant.

The beauty of such committees is the fact that like Watergate and the Iran-Contra Scandals it will be publicized on television. Although the media is more centrally corporate than it has been in the past, this step must be taken in order for us to get to what we desire to know, warts and all.

And believe it or not, the warts are exactly what is needed.

Some News about the Blog

Hello all,

Before I write more about the realm of society and politics, I would like to announce a contact e-mail for Ceci's News and Views. If you would like to contact me about the blog or drop a note to say hello, here it is:

It is there for you to send your comments and suggestions as well as other matters that might need to come to my attention. :)

All I ask is that you do not send spam.

In the new year, there is more to come from the blog, so stay tuned and continue reading!

Take good care,

Ceci :)

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Tarnished Tinsel and Political Waves

My holiday was quite all right for the most part. I got a chance to see family and friends, not to mention travel a little in order to get away from it all. I reveled in bowl and basketball games (although I'm quite saddened over the Bruins' loss to Oregon last week :( ). However, it wasn't so bright enough to cover the little ripples of change coming over Washington D.C. and the rest of the nation.

It was sad to hear about the deaths of James Brown (who I still remember Mr. Brown performing "Living in America" in the "Rocky" movies.) and Yvonne De Carlo (the most fascinating "Munster" of them all). The melancholy nature of the passing of President Ford also clouded the holiday season because no matter what political stripe you are, it is a solemn and rather reflectful experience in seeing a former national leader pass.

During the televising of the entire event of Former President Ford's Funeral activities, it was quite interesting and impressive to hear the memories of my older family members--especially when it came down to their perception of the people who attended the ceremonies. It was also fascinating to hear them recall how they perceived the record of Mr. Ford's work in office, especially when it came down to his pardoning of Mr. Nixon. And still, the most interesting thoughts came about when they watched and commented on Mr. Ford's widow, Betty Ford.

For the most part, the consensus came that she held herself up pretty well until the internment. The weight of his passing seemed to take a toll on her. Even here, despite the political differences, one can feel a sense of sadness to see her small frame lean against her military escort as she was led to the final resting place of the President. Apart of the drama and cinematic fervor of the Reagan funeral (not to mention Mrs. Reagan in her large sunglasses behind the family in the National Cathedral), Mrs. Ford and her family were stoic and rather melancholy as they followed Mr. Ford on his final journey to his Presidential library in Grand Rapids, Michigan. It was quiet and rather sad to note that the past has gone on.

The only ironic and rather amusing thing about the entire event was seeing the dignitaries such as Vice-President Cheney, the past Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and even the ever ubiquitous Henry Kissenger try to pray and sing the hymns (well, rather mouthing the words). It was hard not to notice that only former President Clinton actually sang and closed his eyes when he prayed while the others only seemed to go through the routine--in a sense of an opinion.

(It's up to you to figure out that conundrum.)

Now, as the curtains closed on one era, still yet another very present one hovers at the surface.

While facing the defeat regarding the (American) football teams of Michigan (in the Rose bowl) and UCLA (in the Emerald Bowl) and watching the vibrant proposal between Boise St. player Ian Johnson and his girlfriend (the head cheerleader), the news of Saddam Hussein's execution came to the fore. That too, was a startling event. It is hard to believe that after all these years the Iraqi leader was dead. There is yet more to be said about this event. But to make a long story short, his death (and the capturing of it on-line and television) marks the beginning of more contentious times in Iraq.

Mr. Saddam's death has caused a lot of controversy, to say the least. And it becomes more marked in the speech given by the current Present of the United States, George W. Bush. Mr. Bush's speech today was rather hard to hear despite his usual look of a "deer in the headlights". When thinking about the Iraqi leader's execution and putting it into perspective, the call for more troops seems to exacerbate a situation already brimming over the surface. Mr. Bush still didn't believe that Iraq was in the midst of a civil war. Yet, it seems rather futile to send more American lives over to the Middle East to try and clean up a situation all of his doing.

For the most part, he was doing his part to stop the bleeding that has already occurred since the bombs fell on Baghdad in 2003. His "take" on Iraq was more of the same old thing. After all, his catch phrases were words we've all heard before in so many speeches--especially when trying tie the war in Iraq to 9/11.

I guess, it is cynicism on my part to note that his speech did nothing to shed light on the problems occurring from the "occupation" and the disaster it produced afterward. His words did nothing to console the lives already lost, nor did it provide any ample growth from a sort of understanding of the weight of his decisions. Instead, it sounded false. It also conveyed a sense of not really feeling the weight of responsibility regarding what the President and his colleagues had done to another country.

His words were probably those considered when "preaching to the choir": a group of Americans who still stick their heads in the sand when it comes to the realities of what this conflict has done not only to the nation, but the world. To them, it probably sounded reassuring.

To the rest of us, however, it only meant the same old song and dance in a continuous loop.

The good thing about this time is that a lot of us know this, especially after a law came on the books regarding the President having the power to read people's mail.

The frightening thing is the mention of turning the war drums toward Iran. I wonder if anyone has attempted to ask our national leader if he has bitten off more than he can chew?


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