Tom's Thoughts

Location: Granite Falls, North Carolina, United States

I'm an ordained United Methodist minister no longer pastoring churches, a former media producer with skills ten years out of date, a writer trying to sell my first novel, and a sales associate keeping body and soul together working for the People's Republic of Corporate America. I'm married to the most wonderful woman in the world, who was my best friend for 17 years before we married.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Connecting Dots

I don't like cliches, but I can't think of a better way of expressing my thoughts of late than "connecting the dots."

I've been connecting some dots lately, and I don't like the picture that is emerging.

Dot 1: George W. Bush made his first million in the Carlyle Group, in business with the brother of Osama bin Laden.

Dot 2: After Al Qaeda started terrorist attacks on U. S. Embassies and other sites, President Clinton placed a bounty on Osama bin Laden's head. Al Qaeda attacked the U. S. S. Cole in October of 2000, and it was not determined until December of that year that it was Bin Laden's al Qaeda.

Dot 3: After Bush moved into the Oval Office one month later, the first thing he did was take the bounty off Osama bin Laden's head.

Dot 4: During the Clinton Administration the CIA had Osama bin Laden in its sights, but the Royal Family of Dubai protected him.

Dot 5: Bush tried to allow this same Royal Family of Dubai to own American ports.

Dot 6: Bush was warned, early in his administration that "al Qaeda [was] determined to attack inside U. S." He ignored it, and told the staffer who brought it to his attention, "Okay, you've covered your ass. Now get out."

Dot 7: Al Qaeda operatives flew planes into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, and would have done more damage in Washington but for the brave passengers of Flight 93, while Bush sat and read, "My Pet Goat," AFTER having been told the attacks were in progress.

Dot 8: A day or so after 9/11, when all air traffic was prohibited in the U. S., Bush allowed the bin Laden family to fly out of the U. S. without asking any of them for information about their relative Osama.

Dot 9: Bush declared, in the greatest speech of his presidency, that al Qaeda was the enemy and declared of Osama bin Laden that he was "wanted: dead or alive."

Dot 10: When American forces had Osama bin Laden surrounded at Tora Bora, he cut and ran to go invade Iraq. He used lies to justify a war against Osama bin Laden's mortal enemy, Saddam Hussein.

Dot 11: Repeatedly, in press conferences, Bush has admitted that Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11, but he refuses to stop linking the two in speeches by himself and his vice-president. Even now, he continually portrays the fight in Iraq as a fight against al Qaeda.

Dot 12: Al Qaeda in Iraq is NOT Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda, and even so it comprises at most 5% of the opposition the American troops are facing in Iraq.

Dot 13: Al Qaeda is a creature of and supported by the Royal Family of Saudi Arabia.

Dot 14: Bush is close to the Saudi Royal Family, and was photographed walking through the Rose Garden holding hands with the prince who is the head of the Saudi Royal Family, the major factor in support of al Qaeda and the hateful Wahabi movement that feeds it.

Dot 15: Osama bin Laden is still making videos taunting us, and Bush brushes them off.

I don't like the pattern here. What do you see?

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Continuing what I started Yesterday

I just learned today that Greg Anrig, Jr. has a new book out: “Why Right Wing Ideas Keep Failing.”

He says when the ideas put forth by Grover Norquist and Richard Mellon Scaife and Rupert Murdoch ( and they complain about George Soros, for cryin' out loud) are actually put into practice the result is a disaster for everyone. Prime example: New Orleans (heckuva job).

Another example: Colorado. Some years ago the state passed the so-called, "Taxpayers Bill of Rights (TABOR). The result: the roads in Colorado are crumbling, many lost productive man-hours waiting at the underfunded DMV, many wasted productive man-hours spend in needless traffic jams because the state can't afford to maintain, much less widen or build new, roads. The right-wing "think" tanks propose more political hiring so that one's ideological visions can be realized (if you're George W; didn't propose it for Bill C). Result: A competent FEMA that was so outstanding during Florida hurricanes before did such an unspeakably lousy job in NOLA. Check out TPM Cafe for the book club discussion of it.

Good idea for a Christmas gift. Only problem is, those who would benefit most from reading it are the most likely to reject it out of hand without reading it.

Ah, well, maybe some day I can read it.

So many books, so little time.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Conservatives' track record

A fellow commenter at Glenn Greenwald's blog in Salon, Jeff Smith has a page posted titled "Why Conservatives are Always Wrong." (

He makes some really good arguments. In fact, I can't find any fallacies in his arguments. I look on it as an evangelical Christian, of course, but I tend to agree with much of what he says. I want to share a sample of the history of Conservatism from his post:

Æ In the 16th century, medical pioneers set out to chart the workings of the human body. Where the old doctrines relied on sacred symbols and mystical “spirits” and “humours,” the new science mapped internal organs, watched blood circulate and began to uncover the physical causes of disease. These first steps toward modern medicine filled conservatives with horror, and they tried hard to bring the whole enterprise to a stop. They opposed the use of autopsies to learn how the body worked. They insisted that disease was caused by Satan’s influence, epidemics by collective sin, and mental illness by demonic possession. And even as the scientific facts were becoming known, later conservatives kept up the fight against further new developments, like vaccines and anesthetics – which, they said, violated “nature” and usurped God’s right to decide who should suffer and die.

Æ In the 17th century, while Galileo was fighting his battles, other debates were getting underway over the sources of government power – whether it lay within families and was rightly conferred by birth, or whether it rose from the people and should rest on the consent of the governed. Against proposals for electing rulers and other novel “democratical” ideas, conservative opinion came down firmly on the side of aristocratic privilege and the so-called divine right of kings.

Æ In the 18th century, movements developed with the aim of reforming the system of criminal justice. Liberal thinkers argued for speedy and public trials, rejected the “cruel and unusual” in favor of penalties that fit the crimes, and supported modest efforts to see that even prisoners were treated humanely. Why did these arguments need to be made? Because at a time when dozens of minor offenses carried the death sentence, when political and religious dissent was criminalized and when legal penalties included literally cutting people to bits, conservatives thought the laws were, if anything, too soft.

Æ In the 19th century, women were still unable to vote, own property or practice professions. When reformers called for giving them these rights, conservatives invoked both nature and the Bible to prove that women were created subservient to men, belonged in the home, and didn’t need to participate in public decision-making because men knew their interests better than women themselves did.

Æ In the 20th century, another movement declared that people should be treated equally regardless of race. Progressive reformers like Martin Luther King Jr. called on America to live up to its founding promise, and to honor Scripture’s true meaning, by guaranteeing civil rights for all. Conservatives – including some still alive today – replied that King was distorting both the Constitution, which left it up to each state to decide how racist to be, and the Bible, which licensed white supremacy based on some tale of an ancient curse. Defiantly standing in the schoolhouse door (literally and figuratively), conservatives darkly warned that “unnatural” mixing of the races would lead to all manner of social evils.

He does point out, however, that twice in history conservatives have provided a needed balance to liberal excesses: during the Reign of Terror after the French Revolution and in opposing Communism. Both went over the line and led many liberal and progressive minds astray.

But on the whole, history sides with the liberals.

Good work, Jeff.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

On "Supporting the Troops"

Yellow ribbons abound since 9/11 six years ago. Hypocritically, they are all over big, gas-guzzling SUV's without which there would be no need for troops in Iraq, as if that were really effective in keeping gas prices down. Remember that before we cut and ran when we had Osama surrounded so that we could go attack Saddam, Gas was $1.60 a gallon.

"Support the Troops!" they yell. Yet anyone who expresses doubts about the stupid policies that have put the troops in harm's way is accused of "not supporting the troops." Those who want to bring the troops to safety are "not supporting the troops." Those who want to uphold the Constitution are accused of "not supporting the troops." Well, you know the drill.

I submit to you that sending troops into battle without adequate armor is not supporting the troops. Sending the troops into battle without adequate rest is not supporting the troops. Giving no-bid contracts to KBR/Halliburton to feed the troops out-dated food is not supporting the troops.

I submit to you that forcing injured troops back into battle without adequate recuperation is not supporting the troops

We are accused of being hypocritical for saying we support the troops but oppose the war that has killed 3700 of them. They say more and more and more have to die so that we won't "fail" in Iraq, even though there is no definition given for what victory would actually be, as Ambassador Crocker admitted to Congress yesterday.

I submit to you that it is hypocritical to say you support the troops, yet support sending them to face death and dismemberment for no good cause (no, Iraq is not part of the "war on terrorism." It is feeding al Qaeda and making America and the rest of the world less safe). You are not supporting the troops when you blindly follow the would-be dictator that has fired every General whose military judgment disagrees with those of the chicken hawks who never served this country in uniform, and that includes the Commander-in-Chief, who went AWOL from the Air National Guard when drug testing started.

I say, support the troops by impeaching the Liar-in-Chief and his power behind the throne, Cheney.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Remembering 9/11

The sixth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks is this week, so it's a good time to look back over the history and look at how things developed before and since.

It goes back to the Russian invasion of Afghanistan. The Carter, Reagan, and Bush I Administrations supported the local fighters, the Mujahadeen, in their fight against the Russians. One of the Mujahadeen leaders was Osama bin Laden, whose brother was in the Carlyle Group with George W. Bush.

Once the Russians were gone, the freedom fighters' attention was turned toward Saddam Hussein, who was threatening Kuwait. Osama bin Laden went to the Saudi royal family asking for permission to take Saddam out. Instead, the Saudis brought in the Americans to get the Iraqis out of Kuwait. That was an abomination to bin Laden and his group, which he called, "the Base." In Arabic, that name is al Qaeda. Therefore, al Qaeda turned against America.

They coordinated simultaneous attacks on American embassies in Africa, and allies of theirs bombed the World Trade Center. The Clinton Administration hunted down the criminal bombers, arrested them, tried them in open court, convicted them, and they are now serving sentences. President Clinton put a bounty on Osama bin Laden's head, and the CIA almost had him in its sights, but the royal family of Dubai protected him. Meanwhile, Clinton's people also thwarted the Millennium Plot against the L. A. airport, attacks on the Lincoln and Holland Tunnels, and Saddam Hussein's plot against George H. W. Bush. All while leaving the Constitution intact.

In October, 2000, the U. S. S. Cole was attacked. It took until December that year to determine that al Qaeda was behind that attack. Of course, everyone's attention in December that year was focused on hanging chads in Florida. In January, when George W. Bush moved into the Oval Office, the first thing he did was remove the bounty from Osama bin Laden's head.

The World Trade Center remained a target of the terrorists, however, and in full knowledge of that Rudy Guliani had New York's emergency management headquarters moved there, against the advice of his emergency services coordinator.

In August, 2001, the Daily Briefing came to the White House titled, "al Qaeda Determined to Strike in U. S." Bush and co. ignored it.

Then a group of criminals, mostly from Saudi Arabia, flew planes into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, and would have done more damage but for the brave passengers on Flight 93.
The next day or so, when all air traffic was grounded, the Bush Administration allowed the bin Laden family to fly out of the U. S., without asking them first if they knew anything about the whereabouts of their relative, Osama.

The Bush Administration's response to the attacks was to invade Afghanistan and overthrow the Taliban government that sheltered Osama bin Laden. Then, when they had Osama surrounded, they cut and ran so they could go over and attack Iraq, which, Bush has repeatedly stated in news conferences, had nothing to do with 9/11, even though they used 9/11 as a justification for taking out Osama's enemy, Saddam.

A high-ranking member of al Qaeda was in Iraq before America invaded, but the invasion prevented Saddam from his sworn task of hunting him down.

Now, we have overthrown Saddam, and a civil war has broken out among the three different groups that were cobbled together into a nation after WWI. Our presence as an occupying army has given them all a focus for their hostility. Plus, the Iraq war has been the best recruiting tool al Qaeda has ever had. Al Qaeda didn't have a presence in Iraq before the war, but they're there now.

Also, Bush has tried to turn U. S. ports over to the royal family of Dubai, the protectors of Osama bin Laden.

Now, according to the latest polls, 70% of Iraqis want us out of their country within the year. At the same time 70% of Americans want us to pull out within the year, and over 60% of American service personnel want us to withdraw from Iraq within the year. It seems the only people who want us to stay are the Iraqis the Americans are propping up in Iraq, and those over here who believe the Bush lies about Iraq being connected to 9/11.

Meanwhile, Afghanistan's opium crop now provides most of the world's heroin, and Osama bin Forgotten is still making videos taunting us. What we need to do is pull out of Iraq and strike al Qaeda. The Bush Administration should be held to account for letting Osama still be running free to taunt us.


Friday, September 07, 2007

On "Success" in Iraq

Next week, Gen. Petraeus will give Congress a report the White House has written saying that the "surge" is working wonderfully, and we need to stay in Iraq so that the next President will be the one recorded as "losing" there.

Gen. Petraeus has a history of being consistently wrong about Iraq, and he has a history of incompetence when it comes to running the war there. It was under his command that so many weapons went missing and wound up in the hands of those who were using them against Americans.

One thing that will by hyped is the lower level of "violence" in certain neighborhoods. Well, the reason the violence is down there is because the ethnic cleansing has been completed there. Plus, they don't count mass bombings as happened at that ethnic enclave last week as "sectarian violence." If you're shot in the back of the head, it's sectarian violence, but not if you're shot in the front.

And they will hype Anbar Province as proof the surge is working. Actually, it proves the opposite. The Sunnis in Anbar have taken over for themselves and we have withdrawn troops there, not "surged" them.

Trust the Bushevik liars to turn anything around to prove their point, even though it has nothing to do with reality.