Young People are Right to Question the Power of Voting

There’s been a lot in the news lately about young people getting disillusioned with democracy and the power of voting whether in this country or around the world.  There have always been cynics who say voting doesn’t matter because after all what’s 1 vote when there’s 300 million potential voters in this country.  And in a sense that’s true, but collectively we could theoretically make a difference.  For generations, people have been proud to live in a democratic society and it has been considered your patriotic duty as an American to vote.

Today’s 18-30 year olds are the first generation in American history to lose that sense of patriotic duty and they’re right to do so.  Three factors are to blame for this: 1) the media, 2) the current economy, and 3) our current politicians on both sides of the aisle.

Let’s start with the media.  Media used to ensure democracy.  They were the whistleblowers and the fact checkers.  They reported the news straight without political bias.  Cable news didn’t exist so there were no bs partisan channels claiming to be fair and balanced.  People got the news straight and formed their own judgements as to what they believed was right or wrong.  This no longer exists.  Partisans posing as newscasters tell you how to feel.  And when you can choose to watch channels that cater to things you’re already inclined to believe, it creates a hyper-partisan society of stupid, ignorant people who think they know everything and really know nothing.  This climate is terrible for democracy.

The current economy is also bad for our notion of democracy.  Part of the problem is that we naively believe there should be a quick fix and if our government doesn’t accomplish it tomorrow then they aren’t representing us properly.  But most of the problem is that when the economy is bad, people become more fearful.  When people fear something, they become even more partisan and biased and lash out against those who aren’t like them…..the “others”, whether that refers to differing political beliefs, racism, bigotry, class warfare, whatever the case may be for each individual.  One manifestation of this fear is the creation of the tea party, but they are not the only ones, just the most noticeable.

The third problem is our current politicians, but in a sense they exist as they do now as a result of the first two problems.  If media was working to educate this country instead of destroy it for higher ratings, our politicians could work together and compromise to do what’s right for America without fearing backlash from their media created hyper-partisan bases.  And if the economy wasn’t so bad, they wouldn’t have to worry so much about re-election and they would be more willing to work together.

When politicians become desperate and worry about getting defeated in the next election, they dig their heels in and appeal to their bases.  Why?  Because their bases are their donors.  They buy elections, especially now that our corrupt and sorry excuse for a “Supreme Court” has decided that corporations are people and they should be able to contribute UNLIMITED funds to politicians.  Every American should be outraged by this.  We need a constitutional amendment declaring that corporations are not people and a strict limit on campaign contributions.  We have set up a system where the richest candidate will always win.  That is not democracy.  Corporations and wealthy individuals now have the power to buy elections more than ever.  In this environment, politicians have no choice but to become more partisan or face near certain political death.

Here’s the sad truth about politicians.  Even those that run for office with the greatest of intentions end up corrupted by the system because at the end of the day, they will do whatever is necessary to be re-elected.  In today’s media and today’s economy, they feel they have no choice but to continue down the path of doom in the hopes that they will be re-elected and can make a difference in the future.  Unfortunately, election season never ends anymore and we’re always looking 2-4-6 years down the road to the next election.

All this boils down to one thing.  Nobody represents average Americans and there is no light at the end of the tunnel.  Is it really surprising to anybody that young people are losing faith in democracy?


The Question of Palestinian Statehood

Winston Churchill famously once said, “You can always count on the Americans to do the right thing – after they’ve tried everything else.”  In reality, that quote is an insult.  But we like Churchill so we overlook the second half of the quote and focus on the first half.  Truth is, if you actually think about it, Churchill’s right.  That’s exactly what we do.

This past week, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas approached the United Nations about recognizing the Palestinian state.  This scares the US and Israel because pretty much the entire world supports that…..with good reason.  Recognizing the Palestinian state gives them leverage and power and influence when they have had none.  The world is changing, and we can either get on board and support the inevitable or cling to misguided notions of empire and colonialism.

The day will come when Israel and Palestine will co-exist as they were always meant to.  President Obama knows this.  He also knows the right thing to do is support their bid (or at least abstain from voting).  The problem is this.  There are too many people who wrongly believe Obama is a Muslim, not that there should be anything wrong with that anyway!  As a country, the majority of Americans hate Muslims whether they’ll admit it or not.  They have misguided notions of what Islam is and the threat posed by it.  If Obama were to accept Palestine’s bid in the UN, he would be attacked mercilessly and the tea baggers would start up with their “he’s a Muslim” accusations once again.

But that isn’t the problem.  The problem is that it wouldn’t end there.  The Israeli lobby is the most powerful lobby in the United States.  They have most politicians in their pockets, along with think tanks, media, etc.  I’m not trying to get into some Israeli conspiracy bs because I certainly don’t believe in that.  I’m just saying they have major influence.  They would jump on the tea party bandwagon and run Obama right out of the White House.  As if his re-election wasn’t already in jeopardy, this would destroy him.

So like Churchill said, the Americans get things right, after they try everything else.  Obama will veto Palestine’s bid, but their overwhelming support in the General Assembly will at least get them observer status.  And eventually the United States will back Palestinian statehood.  We just have to get it wrong a few times.  It’s really too bad because if Obama wasn’t black and didn’t have a Muslim father (even though he never knew him and was raised a Christian), this wouldn’t be an issue.  A purely white Obama would have supported Palestine.

And for the record to all those who blindly support Israel at the expense of the Palestinians…….this is the #1 recruiting tool for al-Qaeda.  US politicians use propaganda to say “they hate us for our values” but this isn’t remotely true (as the Arab Spring has proven).  They hate us for our policies, and our anti-Palestine policy is top on the list.  Ron Paul had the courage to point this out in one of the debates a couple weeks ago and was practically booed off the stage.  Gotta love ignorance….

Also for the record, I am in no way anti-Israel.  I support both countries aspirations equally.

Assessing the Republican Field

I watch all the Republican debates and I find myself extremely disappointed not only with the field of candidates, but also with the outcome of straw polls and favorability ratings.  It’s not exactly encouraging for the future of America.

In the current field, there are really only two candidates that should even have a shot at the nomination: Mitt Romney and Jon Huntsman.  Unfortunately, at this time I’m left rooting for Romney because America is too stupid to recognize what an amazing candidate Jon Huntsman is.  Knock diplomacy all you want, but it is far more important than 99% of Americans realize, and Huntsman is a phenomenal diplomat.  He’s also a very strong moderate Republican who is loyal to his party but also understands how to compromise.  As the former governor of Utah, he has a better economic record than Romney, Perry or anyone else who might run.  This is the type of candidate we should all be looking for.  The last thing this country needs is for some right-wing zealot to reach the presidency and further destroy the country.  The fact that his highest favorability rating has been around 2% is both disappointing and scary.

Romney is similar, but I wonder about his viability because he’s willing to say and do whatever is necessary to appease the base.  He gets accused of flip-flopping and a lot of the time I’d argue it’s justified.  This isn’t a very presidential quality.  It also reeks of the same mistakes the last moderate nominee, John McCain, made.  Remember Sarah Palin?  She makes just about anyone look like a genius.  The only politician in America that I can think of that is less intelligent than her is…..

Michelle Bachmann.  What has this country come to when we actually let a lunatic run for president and be taken seriously?  This woman is so stupid she can’t even get basic facts right.  She’s also a fear monger and an outright liar.  She’s a prime example of what is wrong with this country’s education system.  I was living overseas during the 2008 election in one of the few countries in the world that didn’t care whether Obama or McCain won the election.  Their philosophy was that with either party, American foreign policy is essentially the same.  In this country, we ignorantly think there’s a difference between Democrats and Republicans when it comes to foreign policy, but the truth is they are right, 99% of the time there is absolutely no difference in their actions, just their rhetoric.  But when McCain nominated Sarah Palin for Vice President, public opinion immediately turned strongly in favor of Barack Obama.  Why?  Not because she was a woman.  Because she was an idiot.  And to the rest of the world, having an idiot as president of the most powerful country in the world is a VERY scary thing.  Most Americans don’t care about this but they really should.  The fact that we don’t just shows how ignorant this country has become.  I can’t even imagine what people overseas would think if America nominated the only person in America who makes Sarah Palin not look that bad….Michelle Bachmann.

Then there’s Perry.  I must admit the thought of another Texas governor so quickly becoming president doesn’t exactly appeal to me, but even setting that aside, who is this guy?  The Republican field has a hard time labeling him because he is both extremely conservative and extremely liberal.  Where would he govern from?  Under normal circumstances, I would say that makes him a moderate, but nothing he does is moderate.  It’s almost like he doesn’t know what party he wants to belong to.  He takes hard-line positions on social issues, foreign policy, “Obamacare”, and taxes, but as Ron Paul pointed out, taxes have gone up in Texas quite a bit under his leadership, a large chunk of the jobs he’s taking credit for creating are actually government jobs, and the man supports the Dream Act (although he won’t call it that), free education for illegal immigrants, and mandated STD vaccinations for pre-teen girls.  The last of which is also cause for concern because he CLEARLY did that as a political favor to a longtime supporter and former employee, which by definition shows he’s corrupt.  Do we really need another corrupt politician in the White House?  Remember Dick Cheney and Halliburton…..  Furthermore, he has a reputation for phoning it in, getting others to do all the work for him.  He likes to win elections but he’s not willing to put in the effort to do the job after he does so.  That would be a terrible quality for the hardest job in the world.

Then there’s the rest of the field, which frankly are too irrelevant to even bother addressing.  I can only hope America wakes up and notices Jon Huntsman, or Chris Christie wakes up and realizes the nomination is his if only he would run.

On a side note…..bravo Tea Party on showing just how ignorant and heartless and wrong for America you are during these debates.  I cannot believe these people would boo a United States Marine just for being gay, or cheer in favor of letting someone without insurance die, or any of the other ludicrous things they have been supporting in these debates.  It is disgusting.  You claim to represent real America and American values.  Those are NOT American values and they never will be.  Keep it up and you’re just going to scare the rational, educated, patriotic, compassionate, sane part of America into re-electing Obama.

Follow Up

So I was right about the American hikers in Iran, I just had the wrong week 🙂  I was under the impression the UN meeting was a week before it was.  My apologies for not verifying that beforehand.  Nevertheless, my argument that they would be released the day before Ahmadinejad’s speech proved to be accurate, and I was a week ahead of the story.

On another subject, life is hectic right now, but I’m going to do my best to start writing every day.  Time to get to work.

Releasing the American Hikers in Iran

It is no coincidence that Iran’s President Ahmadinejad announced the two American hijackers would be released from prison in the coming days on $500,000 bail the day after their first civilian nuclear plant opened.  Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal were essentially being used as hostages.  They needed to guarantee nobody would try to take out the Iranian nuclear plant before it opened (not that it presents any danger and it is perfectly legal, but the idea of it scares naive Americans, so there is always a threat of action).  When sanctions already prevent you from having much leverage, you’ll take what you can get and that’s exactly what they did.

What you see now with the reports questioning whether or not they’ll actually be released is the result of a constant power struggle within Iran’s leadership between the Guardian Council and the office of the president.  In actuality, the president has very little power.  Yet the Ayatollahs know they have to hide just how little power the president has under the guise of democracy.  This forces them to occasionally bend to the will of the president (or at least compromise minimally to make it appear that way) so they can maintain this facade.

There are a couple of reasons Ayatollah Khamenei doesn’t want them released.  Leverage in the form of human capital never goes bad.  Clearly Iran will be needing that leverage for the foreseeable future.  Khamenei doesn’t benefit from their release.  Good will gestures are almost never reciprocated by the US, so Iran really can’t hope to get anything back in the form of a trade.  Finally, there’s an important point to consider here.  While common wisdom in the US suggests these hikers were either 1) incredibly stupid, or 2) kidnapped and taken across the border, nobody really considers the third possibility…..that they very well may be spies.

We don’t admit when our spies are captured, but generally there is a subtle difference between how our government handles the capture of regular citizens vs. the capture of spies that those of us in the industry can recognize if we’re astute enough.  I suspect that there’s a very good chance these people were spies.  I would also point out to the vast majority of people who really don’t know much of anything about Iran that if you’re an American with no intention of spying or stirring up trouble in any way, they loveeeeeeeee having American tourists visit their country.  They will dote on you and try to give you a wonderful impression of the country because they want you to go home and tell everyone you know how great Iran is and how wrong our media is about them.  I point this out merely so people will consider the validity of the third possibility.

Having said all that, President Ahmadinejad wants the Americans freed.  He especially wants them freed today or tomorrow because he’s coming to New York to address the United Nations and needs their release for a number of reasons.  1) It will buy him good will at the UN.  2) He can do interviews with the American press and use it as a humanitarian gesture when he argues the US isn’t doing its part to improve their relationship.  3) He cares deeply about his reputation and wants to look like the Americans savior.  He pulled this same stunt when Sarah Shourd (the third hiker captured) was released.

Ahmadinejad’s UN address puts a time limit on how long Ayatollah Khamenei and the Guardian Council can stall the release of the prisoners.  Ultimately, I believe Ahmadinejad will win.  When he’s on the world stage, the Ayatollahs have to have his back.  It is very much like how most American politicians will not criticize the president on foreign soil regardless of party.  Therefore, if Bauer and Fattal are not released within 24 hours of this post, I will be profoundly shocked.

Reflections for 9/11

Yesterday I visited the Newseum and Smithsonian Museum of American History to see the 9/11 exhibits they were featuring this week.  If you live in the DC area, I strongly suggest visiting them while you can.  They have the top of the World Trade Tower, wreckage from all the planes, things from the victims, heroes, and terrorists.  It’s the kind of thing where you’re going to see grown men cry, but it’s something every American should see.

There’s a theme you see throughout the exhibits and in the people you meet.  9/11 changed us forever, both collectively as a nation and as individuals.  On September 10th, 2001, I was about to start my senior year of high school.  I was applying for business schools, thought I’d study accounting or marketing in college.  My family loved politics, they were rabid ditto heads, but I wasn’t all that interested in any of it.

On the morning of September 11th, 2001, I was visiting my grandmother and I was asleep in bed downstairs.  I woke up to the sound of the upstairs tv (my grandma was practically deaf so it was quite loud).  She almost never watched tv, especially in the morning, so I knew something important happened.  I wandered into the downstairs family room and turned on the tv to see the smoke billowing out of the World Trade Center.  I’m ashamed to say I assumed it was in a foreign country and I turned off the tv and went back to bed.  I wouldn’t realize til later that day what happened.

Today, I am a very different person.  9/11 changed my life personally.  I felt drawn to politics, especially international relations and the Middle East.  I analyze Middle East affairs and terrorism for a living.  I’ve lived in the Middle East.  I’ve studied politics, history, religion, things I never cared for 10 years ago today.  Today I would never turn off the tv if something major happened in ANY country in the world.  For those of us who didn’t personally lose loved ones on 9/11, I wonder if there was anyone more affected by the events of that day than those of us who were in high school at the time.

When you’re in high school, the world revolves around you.  You don’t care about anything outside your bubble.  It’s also the time when you have to figure out what you want to do with your life.  9/11 forced us to think outside our bubbles.  When you’re faced with a new reality at a time where you have to decide what course your life will take, there are options open to you that aren’t necessarily open 5-10 years down the road.

I wonder how many thousands or millions of us were so affected by that day that it forever changed the course of our lives.  How many of us born in the 1980’s were inspired to enlist in the military when we wouldn’t have otherwise?  How many were inspired to go into politics?  How many were inspired to go into intelligence?  I made the decision to pursue the career I did because I decided that for my life to have meaning and for me to make a difference, I needed to help prevent the next 9/11.  So today I wonder….how many of us are there?

Why Obama Is A Bad President….And Should Take A Lesson From Professional Sports

Tonight President Obama presented the American Jobs Act to Congress, and once again he made the same mistake he always seems to make.  He doesn’t know how to negotiate.

Despite popular misconception, President Obama has proven to be the most conservative democratic president of the last century.  In part, this is probably because he truly is a centrist.  But in part, it’s because he has no idea how to get what he wants.  In everything he does, from the stimulus bill to health care reform to this new proposal, he presents a plan that is 60-75% conservative and 25-40% liberal.  In a negotiation, you have to compromise.  A true compromise nets you roughly 50% of what you want.  When your starting point is 25-40% liberal and you give half, then you end up with 12-20% of what your party wants.  (This is why Obama’s approval rating is so low.  His base is pissed!)

Add to that the fact that you have a Republican party that would rather see Obama fail than see America succeed and a Democratic party (including the president) that is so pathetically weak that it’s too scared to stand up for what it believes in, and you’re guaranteed massive failure.  That’s why the deficit negotiations were such a disaster.  The Republicans succeeded in getting 100% cuts and 0% taxes despite the American people wanting a mix of both.  Any credible economist will tell you cutting spending in a recession is terrible policy.  It has caused the stock market to tumble (again), job growth has already shrunk even further, and when the next round of cuts approach it is going to get far worse.

The president needs to learn how to fight.  And he needs to take a lesson from the NFL and NBA negotiations.  We saw with the NFL what we will see this fall with the NBA.  The owners asked for far too many concessions, the players union asked for far too many benefits.  They squeezed each other to get as much leverage as possible and then they compromised.  Neither side got all of what they want, but they got a workable, reasonable, negotiated solution.

If either side had been stupid enough to propose the final compromise as their starting point, they would have been extremely disappointed with the ultimate outcome.  Whether you propose something outrageous or something reasonable, your opponent (whether it’s sports or politics) is going to cry foul and claim you’re asking too much.  This is how negotiation works.  It does you no good to start by proposing things Republicans would normally approve.  You start by proposing Democratic ideas and then compromise with the things you know they would approve.

This is why America is failing.  This is why the public is pissed at the President and Congress.  This is why we hate Democrats and Republicans.  The Republicans have become the party of the stupid and the Democrats have become the party of the weak.  Who represents middle America?  Who represents the non-ignorant class?  Who represents what is in the best interest of the country?  I don’t know….  I guess right now the answer is nobody.

Reacting to a Revolution

Revolutions aren’t an easy thing to react to.  We plan for the status quo.  Whether we like Gaddafi or not, at least we know what we’re getting.  Of course we did learn one thing from our experience with Iran.  Propping up dictators is never the way to go.  And in Gaddafi’s case, it would be impossible for the United States to justify propping him up after all the atrocities he’s committed, most notably Pan Am flight 103.

But when you’re already bogged down in two wars, your economy is in disarray, and politicians reach a point where they feel it’s morally ok to threaten withholding aid to Hurricane Irene victims until they can extort further spending concessions out of the president, is there really much you can do?

Full scale war is out of the question.  The military just can’t take on another war right now even if the money was there to pay for it.  But doing nothing at all sends a bad signal as well.  It’s like a backdoor way of supporting Gaddafi, whether that’s the intention or not.  We learned that in Egypt when we were slow to respond forcefully to the revolution and impending fall of Mubarak’s regime in a way the rebels and the world expected.  Saying you’re on their side just isn’t enough when you’re the leader of the free world and your country has a history of taking action throughout the world.

There are no guarantees with revolutions.  Coalitions tend to fall apart and whichever faction is the strongest (and usually the most ruthless) takes power.  It’s certainly possible that a regime worse than Gaddafi’s will come to power.  But regardless of the makeup of the future Libyan government, one thing is for sure.  The odds of that regime being favorable to the United States are far greater if we support them than if we don’t.  Even if that new government is made up of extremists.

Our nightmare scenario is another Iran.  Yet Iran is far more liberal and democratic than some of our greatest allies in the Middle East (case in point: Saudi Arabia).  If the nature of a regime was the defining factor in their foreign policy, our alliances would be very different.  Nobody wants to be the enemy of the United States, especially in the Middle East.  So whatever faction of the Libyan coalition comes to power, they will more than likely want to be on friendly terms with us, and they can justify having good relations with us (even if their rhetoric would suggest otherwise) because we supported their revolution.

For this reason, I skeptically hope President Obama made the right decision by joining the coalition in Libya and providing air support to the rebels.  I suspect it was the right balance between not doing enough (Egypt) and doing too much (Iraq).  But only time will tell.

But I will say this…..props to the president for getting Europe to man up and take the lead in a military operation for the first time since World War II!!

Why Iran Should Pursue Nuclear Weapons

There are very few times when a truly crazy person comes to rule a country (in politics we call them irrational actors).  In today’s world, the only irrational actors are Kim Jong Il and Moammar Gaddafi (if you even consider him the leader anymore).  While there are other leaders we like to think are crazy, most notably Iran’s Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the simple truth is that just because we hate them that doesn’t make them crazy.

Case in point.  A few years ago I did an analysis locating the Nash equilibrium between Iran’s nuclear options and America’s potential reactions to it and I think it’s still relevant today.  Between doing nothing, pursuing nuclear energy and pursuing nuclear weapons, I concluded that from Iran’s perspective doing nothing was the worst alternative.  They need nuclear energy.  They have an energy crisis in that country and they rely on selling oil to other countries to prop up their own economy.  They also subsidize their oil, so by selling oil to Iranians they lose more than just their profits.

As an enemy of the U.S., they know they will be accused of pursuing nuclear weapons whether they do or not.  If they are going to suffer the consequences regardless of their intent, they might as well pursue weapons while they’re at it too.  This is the rational thing to do.  Especially when you consider their recent history with the U.S.

In 1953, we made what I would argue was the biggest U.S. foreign policy blunder of the 20th century when we overthrew the democratically elected leader of Iran, Mohammad Mossadeq, in a coup based on erroneous paranoia that he was secretly a communist.  Iran was a country that loved America with an approval rating over 90%.  It was the highest in the world, even more than our greatest ally, Britain.  They looked at us as beacons of hope, a country that inspired freedom and democracy.  We pissed that away.  And we installed a Shah that would become one of the most brutal dictators of the century.  It led to the Iranian Revolution, the creation of Hezbollah, and the election of Ahmadinejad.  The Middle East and the world would be a far different and better place for America if we had not been so stupid.

I mention this history because it is the driving factor for why Iran should pursue nuclear weapons.  Countries with nuclear weapons do not go to war.  The U.S. will not attack a country with nuclear weapons.  We say we will, but we won’t.  Not first anyway.  Doesn’t matter who is president.  Nobody wants to start a war where nuclear weapons can be used as a method of last resort.  This is why the Cold War stayed cold.  So if you’re the leader of Iran and you know that you cannot trust the United States to stay out of your internal affairs and you’re too weak militarily to go up against the greatest superpower the world has ever known, what do you do?  You get nuclear weapons to ensure the U.S. won’t go to war with you or try to overthrow your government.

Yes, Dick Cheney is a War Criminal

Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, hit back at criticism leveled by Dick Cheney towards his former boss, former Secretary of State Colin Powell, by accusing him of attacking others in the Bush administration to deflect criticism and avoid prosecution for war crimes.  Wilkerson got one thing wrong.  Cheney isn’t afraid of prosecution.  He is far too arrogant for that.  But the simple truth of the matter is he is a war criminal.

Waterboarding is torture.  How we got to a place in this country where sane people can argue otherwise is pretty unbelievable.  When the United States signs on to international law, it becomes domestic law as well.  As a signatory to the Geneva Conventions, the United States violated Article 3 by torturing detainees.  As an intelligence expert, I would argue that torture doesn’t work (I can cover that in a separate post), but that doesn’t matter.  What matters is ceding the moral high ground.  Do we want to be associated with regimes like the Nazis?

More importantly, anyone who argues waterboarding is ok forfeits their rights to be outraged the next time an American soldier is tortured.  This is the reason we have the Geneva Conventions to begin with.  Civilized nations are supposed to act with a higher moral standard.  I won’t torture you if you won’t torture me.  Simple as that.  Well not anymore.  We can’t be trusted not to torture others, so they will find it easier to justify torturing our soldiers.  They’ll probably even make the same bs arguments that it isn’t torture.

There were many other incidents of torture, like Abu Ghraib, like extraordinary renditions, events that were not isolated and evidence shows were authorized from the very top.  But torture isn’t Cheney’s only crime.  Unjustified, preemptive war is also a war crime.  What happened in Iraq is inexcusable.  Hundreds of thousands of lives lost on a war of false pretenses.  As early as September 12, 2001, Dick Cheney worked to twist 9/11 into an excuse to justify an invasion of Iraq.  The evidence was there before launching the war that Iraq didn’t try to purchase uranium from Niger, that Iraq wasn’t building weapons of mass destruction, that Iraq had no connection to Osama bin Laden or al-Qaeda, that Iraq frankly was no threat at all to the United States at that point.

Ironically, the very secular Saddam Hussein expelled or killed members of al-Qaeda and other Islamist groups.  His enemy was Iran, not the United States.  He wanted Iran to think he had a WMD program so they would not start another 10 year war against Iraq.  He was more scared of that possibility than a US bombing campaign.  He didn’t believe the US would invade, remove him from power and destroy the country.

Of course, none of this begins to touch on his domestic crimes.  Unwarranted surveillance, illegal.  Outing a CIA agent, not only illegal but treasonous.  Unfortunately, the United States will continue to pay a huge price for Dick Cheney’s crimes.  Our reputation has been destroyed abroad.  If you want to deny that, I suggest taking a trip overseas.  Reputation matters.  Countries help countries they like.  They trade with countries they like.  Our foreign policy goals and our economic goals would be achieved far easier if we didn’t choose to become a pariah.  Throw on top of that trillions of dollars lost on a war of false pretenses.  Do you know what a difference that would make to the debt and deficit crises?  Think about what even a small fraction of that money would mean if it could have been used to create jobs here at home.  Was Iraq worth the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression?  I’m not suggesting it caused the crisis, but that money would have been better spent here at home.

I’m getting off on a tangent, so I’ll return to the main point.  Torture, illegal war, treason….yes, Dick Cheney is a war criminal.  For him to attack an honorable man like General Colin Powell, who spent his entire life serving his country, a man who is well respected by both Democrats and Republicans, is despicable.  Colin Powell is and was a great leader, a moral authority, and a representative of everything good this country stands for…..things Dick Cheney never was and never will be.  Please, Dick Cheney, just disappear into retirement and let us try to forget you.  Or better yet, might I suggest taking a trip to Europe where they’ll be sure to give you a nice cell to live out your days.