Archive for the ‘Editorial’ Category

Checkpoint: 2011 May

Patriotism means to stand by the country. It does not mean to stand by the President. -Theodore Roosevelt


We are talking about citizenship. If one claims to support the president no matter what, then that person must support what Mr. Roosevelt said, right? Okay, that was cheap. Try this one: If one claims to support the president no matter what, then they must vote to re-elect whoever the preseident currently is, right?   Of course not!  Again, we are talking about citizenship. If and when we stop thinking for ourselves, if and when we start blindly supporting the individual serving as President, if and when we start making “no matter what” assertions as citizens, then we fail as a citizenship and a country.  As we already are.


America is not equal to the American President. America is all of us. The people, the land, the policies, the way we as humans treat others not like us. Thinking that America is equal to the American President is mindless ignorance that makes it easy for us to be led around by the media, the politicians, and to ignore the atrocities committed by them. We have become comfortably numb.


The problem is that we all find it far too easy to just blindly follow along with whatever the politicians are doing, and whatever the media tells us, and absolve ourselves of responsibility. Again, as citizens. We as citizens find it easy to ignore the atrocities committed by our politicians in our names. And then we wonder why the world hates us? As citizens, we are responsible for our country and its actions.


We all clearly know how to complain… but what can we do as a people, to change all this?


People love to complain about TSA.  The TSA is not the enemy here, any more than a “well-regulated (military)” is. They are just tools. Rudness to TSA, hatred towards our military is just cruelty to our fellow citizens. They’re just trying to do a job and survive, like the rest of us. The enemy here MIGHT BE our elected politicians, who are clearly more interested in themselves and their power than those they were called to serve. And I certainly detest many of those politicians, and what they are doing. But I believe the real enemy here is our own ignorance and apathy. Quote: “Which is worse, ignorance, or apathy? Who knows? Who cares?” Funny, but true. I believe most of us who can still think for ourselves are trying to fight THAT enemy, and none other, and trying to make our once-great country truly great again. Before it becomes too late.



Pearl Harbor

Sixty-eight years ago today the US Naval Base at Pearl Harbor (Hawaii) was attacked and brought America into the Second World War.

Since then countless politicians have attempted to use the attack when warning against another suprise attack in other areas.

A ‘bolt from the blue’ attack – that Pearl Harbor has come to symbolize – could be seen more as a bookmark in history when warface has dramatically changed. Look at the Pearl Harbor attack. It basically signalled the end of the battleship as the dominant player in naval warfare, and heralded the rise of the aircraft carrier.

Taken in this context – the terrorist attacks on 9/11 (2001) could be seen as another ‘Pearl Harbor’ – and with it, announced the rise of ‘asymmetric’ warfare.

What happens next? Only time will tell.



The staff at ThreatAxis was appalled today to learn of the fatal shooting of four police officers in a Washington State coffee shop that the BBC and others are calling an Execution.


The report said that at least one gunman walked into a coffee shop and started shooting. A sheriff’s spokesman said the attack was "like an execution".  The four officers were working on their laptops, minding their own business, probably just doing paperwork, when the attack occurred.  Only the officers were shot by the assailant, nobody else was targeted or injured. It is clear that this was an open attack on local law-enforcement officers.


It seems to this correspondent that the United States already has enough troubles with threats abroad, and doesn’t need this type of behavior from its own citizens. Of course, such an assertion would fall upon deaf ears: the assailant clearly didn’t even care about those people working to protect him and his town on just a local level; how could such a one care about his country or the larger problems that threaten us all? 


This type of apathetic, sociopathic behavior feeds right in to the terrorists’ mindsets and goals.  By striking out without warning, without provocation, in a place where there was an expectation of safety, this person has lowered himself to the level of terrorist, and has struck a blow against the people of Washington and the people of the United States, on behalf of the radical terrorist organizations worldwide who seek to destroy the United States completely.


We were fighting enemies from without, how tragic that we must also look for enemies within.


Our hearts and condolences go out to the people of Parkland, Washington, their police department, and the families of the four officers who were senselessly killed today.


Incursions 1

It has not been a very good day for Muslims.


In Somalia, the BBC reported, a 33-year-old man was stoned to death for adultery.  Witnesses reported seeing blood spouting from his head during approximately seven continuous minutes of stoning, before the man finally died. While this may not raise too many eyebrows, try this one on:  the girl – presumably younger – who is pregnant with the man’s child, has been sentenced to death as well, as soon as she gives birth.  Still not strong enough for you? Last year they stoned to death another girl for the same thing.  She was 13.


On the other side of the world, a U.S. Army Major reportedly started shooting at a military base, killing 13 and injuring 28 others in a spree apparently prompted by his upcoming orders to go to Afghanistan.  See it coming? That’s right, the Major was Muslim.  Not only that, but he was a devout, practicing Muslim, born in America to Palestinian parents. He was reportedly wearing full religious clothing at the time of the shooting, and was heard screaming the Arabic phrase "Allahu Akbar!" [God is great] before he started shooting.


Not a good day for Muslims at all.


Islam is not, of course, the only religion to suffer from prejudice caused by a few bad apples… or even the only group. Intermountain west Mormons are all branded as closet polygamists thanks to the FLDS matter last year.  Catholic leaders are all suspected of being closet molesters, thanks to the failures of a few.  Even your regular law enforcement officer is disliked by most, even though most people don’t even know any officers personally.


However, you won’t find a police department that has a published goal of killing everyone who isn’t an officer like them.


The incidents in Somalia prove that religious fervor trumps law and morality with almost no contest. The incident at Fort Hood shows that religious belief trumps loyalty to country, patriotism, and military order – again with almost no contest.  And while there are many religious groups that could be called "fervent", none of them link that fervor with global killings as easily as radical Muslims apparently do.


Of course, the Major’s family is claiming that he was "being harassed" because of his religion. But it’s quickly becoming clear that the shooting wasn’t about harassment. The Major didn’t kill the people who were harassing him. He opened fire in a public area of Fort Hood – just down the hall from a graduation ceremony for new soldiers! Make no mistake – this was no victim of harassment. This was a man who wanted to punish others for daring to try to send him to Afghanistan. And he accomplished this punishment using indirect yet highly effective means: killing innocents.  Which is, if I’m not mistaken, a rather common thread in the world of radical Islam.


One soldier at Fort Hood pointed out that this was going to make everyone look at Muslims – and especially Muslim soldiers – in a more negative light.  Indeed it will, and should. Because nobody ever thought that the Muslim Major could kill at least 13 people in cold blood… until after he actually did it.  This is not a case of prejudice. Judgement wasn’t passed until after the act occurred.  As long as people choose to associate with a group noted for their willingness and eagerness to enforce their religious views with violence, those people will be subject to deeper scrutiny.  Because it is from that group of people that the threats clearly and consistently seem to emerge.


One less SSBN cruising the high seas

During a speech the UN today – British Prime Minister Gordon Brown proposed taking one of the four UK Trident ballistic missile nuclear submarines out of service to jump start Nuclear Non-proliferation talks.

Will this change the UK deterrent posture? Probably not. The normal cycle – is one on active patrol, one just coming back from patrol, and two in workups ready to go out on patrol. So instead of two in workups – there would be only one in workups.

It makes sense from a budgetary standpoint – one less submarine (and crew) to have to maintain (i.e. pay for). And in that the Trident’s on both sides of the Atlantic (American and British) are nearing their end of life (the first US Ohio class is scheduled to be decommissioned in 2029, and the design studies for the next generation SSBN have already begun) – reducing the requirement for the follow-on class will reduce the money required for that project.

[It is possible that this has been something that has been under consideration since earlier this year – when HMS Vanguard was involved in an ‘incident’ with a French SSBN. It is possible that the damage from that ‘incident’ along with the current economic crisis has just made the decision to reduce the force – more politically viable]

What is disconcerting about this – is that with only one boat on patrol – and one boat close to patrol – the UK deterrent force is vulnerable.

But let’s be clear. Today’s announcement really doesn’t change the vulnerability in any way. It just may be the first step in its elimination at the hands of a future government.


Stress Pandemic


Of course we are all now familiar with the latest media-consumption craze: the global swine flu pandemic. 


Concerning this, I cannot help but notice that, since this has started capturing the media’s attention, I myself have been feeling sick.


Every day, and every night, we are bombarded with media frenzy over this news.  We’re told to wait.  We’re told to worry.  The media pumps this up into a huge disaster, using words like “pandemic” and “no resistance” and “deaths”.


Don’t get me wrong:  sickness and death are tragic.  But as the fine print in every media report points out:  The regular flu kills tens of thousands each year.  And this current version of swine flu is turning out to be less fatal, per infected person, than the regular flu is.




I realize the media has a job to do, but I can’t help wondering if the media itself isn’t contributing to this problem.  By constantly parading this story in front of everyone, they’re making everyone worry.  Raising everyone’s stress levels. And, as a result, lowering everyone’s resistance.  The “dirty laundry” is probably more virulent than the flu itself.


Other things are more important: Dealing with the outbreak itself, fixing the economy, fixing credit, putting ethics back into credit card companies, and fixing taxes.


But, maybe, someday, someone ought to take thought to “fixing” mainstream media.


“Kick ’em when they’re up!  Kick ’em when they’re down!” certainly does seem to fit!  And I’m certainly being kicked, and I’m certainly being brought down by it. 


Enough, please. I’m going to die someday, and there’s nothing I can do about this flu outbreak that I wasn’t already doing anyway.  Please, big media, let me get back to my life – regardless of how much of it I have left!


Soldier Suicides

A very disturbing trend is emerging pertaining to the mental health and well-being of our military personnel. It is the rate of military and soldier suicides. 

In 2008, there were 138 confirmed suicides – an average of 11 per month. In the first two months of 2009, there were 42 – more than double the average rate.  Although the data space for this trend is fortunately small, the thinking seems to be that one of the chief driving factors in these suicides is shortened leaves coupled with multiple redeployments to Iraq.  This factor has been present in the bulk of the recent suicides investigated thus far.

This is a clear danger, on numerous levels. First, and most obviously, it shows that we are stretching our military too thinly.  We forget the all-too-important truth that our military personnel are in fact people, and subject to the same limitations as anyone, especially in the area of traumatic stress. We cannot expect these people to function properly if they are pushed beyond reasonable limits.  Of course, war could be agreed to itself be beyond reasonable limits, but there is a significant different between serving a tour in Iraq followed by a tour at home, and serving a tour in Iraq, having intertour leave cut short, and being immediately redeployed to Iraq. Repeatedly. If Congress finds it necessary to continue our presence there, it should find the funding to hire additional personnel to cover the force requirements in a healthy, safe, sane way – one which does not jeopardize the safety of our personnel.  Congress’ failure to do so is itself a significant threat.

Second, it highlights the problems we still face in Iraq. The situation there is obviously dangerous, and unhealthy. It is also significant, since we have forces deployed there in a state of war. This only increases the burden placed on soldiers already stretched to the limits.  It is imperative that we protect the situation in Iraq, yes. But is is more imperative that we protect our own people, especially our military.

Third, and perhaps the most frightening, such a situation is not one that is conducive to military participation numbers.  Requiring such extreme duty of our personnel is bound to increase attrition rates dramatically. Not only will re-up/re-enlistment rates drop, but new recruitment rates are bound to drop as well. 20 years ago, the Army ran 3-minute television sports with graphics and music entitled "Be all that you can be." In contrast, today’s "Army Strong" spots are short, subdued, and quiet. Indeed, there is very little to be said.

The increase in suicide rates is troubling and disturbing on its own.  But there is much more to it.  The rate increase is an indicator of a systemic problem in the maintenance of a military force. Failure to treat and maintain our force properly could ultimately result in its self-destruction.  These things must be prevented at all costs, and must be addressed at the highest levels with top priority. 

If we fail, we fall.


Now, Big Brother IS Watching


The news of the day was at once innocuous, and stunning:  The BBC reported that Internet Service Providers in the European Union were now under government mandate to log their users’ email messages and internet telephone calls.  Although the mandate does not require ISPs to store the contents of the email, or a recording of the call, it certainly doesn’t forbid it either… and whether such additional records exist ot not, the law on its face it does allow for the monitoring of communications between individuals, and the establishment of "connections" and/or relationships therefrom.

The ways in which this data could be used are many, and the ways in which it could be misused are there as well.  And there are inconsistencies in the announcement that beg for clarification.  For example, the UK Home Office said that "effective safeguards are in place and … the data can only be accessed when it is necessary and proportionate to do so", which implies that the data would only be used to solve crimes as an investigative tool.

But in almost the same breath, they justify this law by saying that "Communications data … plays a vital part in … prevention of terrorist attacks, as well as contributing to public safety more generally."  Prevention?  Contributing to safety generally?  This is a broad mandate that tells the true story: The EU government intends to engage in data-based profiling.  Who you call, or who calls you – even accidentally – now determines who you are.  You might become flagged as a terrorist without ever knowing it, until it’s too late.

For those who might roll their eyes at such a prediction, one need only look back at the lessons of history. The advances of technology are increasing rapidly – even exponentially.  The assumptions about the fabric of our world, which we have grown up with, which we have indoctrinated ourselves with, are turning out to be, if not false, certainly flimsy, and falling away rapidly. Consider the concept of identity theft.  Try explaining identity theft to a "you" of 20 years ago.  Even 10 years ago, this was relatively unheard-of.  Now, an entire industry exists to "serve" the "victims" of identity theft.  And now, a new portion of your identity – your political and ideological affiliations – are up for grabs… or at least interpretation.

What the EU government is doing with communications data is clearly akin to what the US government did in the 1970s with credit reporting.  Called the "Fair Credit Reporting Act", this set of laws codified how credit data could be gathered and used. When words like "Fair" and "Consumer Protection" are used, we automatically assume safety and "goodness" – it becomes a blind spot – the existence of which is proven by the sheer vastness of the identity theft and credit management industry.

Now, what will we have? Clearly there will be a log showing everyone I email, and everyone who emails me.  There will be a log showing everyone I call, even over the Internet, and everyone who calls me.  And since it’s all data, and is person-to-person data (as opposed to person-to-company data reported to credit bureaus), there will be the automatic existence of person-to-person-to-person data.  For example, if terrorist Jim calls the local pub to order a pizza, and I order a pizza from that pub, I will be linked to terrorist Jim. 

And how will I even know this has happened?  Will there be a "terrorist bureau" that I can order my "terrorist report" from?  Will I get a free report each year, from each of the top three "terror reporting agencies?"  What about my "terror score"?  Anything above a 340 and you can be imprisoned for 7 days without cause, you know.

This codification of data gathering, and its stated purposes, are, in this author’s opinion, one of the biggest threats to freedom we have ever seen.  The BBC report quotes a citizen as saying this only got passed by "stretching the law". 

It’s easy to see why.


Going Mobile

BlackBerry Upgrade!

Originally uploaded by bluemarla

If you haven’t noticed – we have tweaked ThreatAxis so that if you try to read if via your mobile device (Crackberry, iPhone, Android) you will get an optimized version of the site for your device.

If you have any issues with this – please let us know.


[UPDATED] Red Bear Rising


After years of living with the Cold War, many of us were surprised and chagrined to see Russia’s more relaxed, apparently friendly stance towards the world.  For a while, Russia almost dropped off the news map, as Russia became rather self-absorbed with their charismatic new leader, Vladimir Putin.  Clearly, however, that was not a time of narcissicsm; rather, it was a time of internal growth, stabilization, and unification. And it seems, now, that we may be starting to see the fruits of that growth.

Most of the world knows about the gas row in Ukraine last month, resulting in the cut off of Russian natural gas to the EU.   Not to mention the whole conflict with Georgia that was in the news last year. These incidents represent a much more aggressive stance than that which we’ve experienced from our global neighbor in past years.

Indeed, the indications seem to be that Russia is trying to return to what it perceives as its remembered time of greatness as a world leader.


  • Last week, when the EU hinted about concerns over the murders of two Russians who were speaking out against the government, Russia responded not by trying to deny, feign ignorance, or cover up, but rather by accusing the EU of its own human rights abuses.
  • And today, Nikolai Bordyuzha, former KGB leader who is now the general secretary of the ODKB (or, in western alphabet, CSTO – think: Russian version of NATO), announced that Russia and its allies will be creating a joint-air defense system of its own, running the entire breadth of Russia, and encompassing Belarus, and most likely the other member countries of the ODKB.

For a long time, Russia has directed anger at NATO, condeming it for both its actions and for being what Russia calls “a puppet of the U.S.”  Now it seems Russia wants to play the same game.  Given the growing desire of Russia to return to the world stage, combined with the continuning problems in the middle east, and the ongoing struggles in Europe, the ODKB (which indicated some time ago that they would welcome an application from Iran to join its ranks) may well be a much larger player in the coming months and years.

Not to mention Russia itself.

UPDATE – Threat Watcher here – and let’s not forget the sudden development that Kyrgyzstan is closing Manas Airbase to the US.  Don’t know where Kyrgyzstan is?  Or why this is important?  Manas is the primary US supply point for getting men and material (food, bullets, etc) in and out of Afghanistan.

According to the New York Times;

The United States has leased the Central Asian base since after the 2001 invasion of Afghanistan, but American officials said they believed that Russia was using an offer of more than $2 billion in loans and grants to Kyrgyzstan to force the United States out of the region, colloquially referred to as “the Stans.”

Now that the Russian economy is back on its feet (thanks to sales of gas & petroleum to the West), the Russians can reassert control over the former Soviet Republics via ‘soft’ power.  No longer does the Kremlin need to deploy a Guards Shock Army to maintain power – all they have to do is to keep the money flowing.




As one ThreatAxis member makes last minute preparations tonight before departing to Afghanistan tomorrow, this correspondent has been given to wonder about the apparent attempts of the United States to focus more on Afghanistan… and less on Iraq.

Media and other groups around the world are just beginning to notice this trend.  Ever a leader, the BBC reported on this very issue, outlining several of the problems faced by the United States and its allies during the coming months.

The issue is twofold. First, Iraq. There can be no doubt that the war in Iraq was grim. Former President George W. Bush sacrificed his own political career and reputation being what he was supposed to be: a leader listening to his people. Americans have quickly and conveniently forgotten that they are all complicit in the Iraq war to some degree: On September 12th, 2001, everyone was calling for retribution, and crying out in favor of war.  Regardless of any political niggling that may have come later, regardless of perceptions about weapons of mass destruction, President Bush did not push America into war.  America pushed the President into war.

And into war they went.  Iraq is now ostensibly “free” – free of its tyrranical and genocidial dictator, at least – but the official analysis of the security situation there remains “fragile, reversible, and uneven” throughout Iraq.  This key phrase says it all. Right or wrong, the United States went in to Iraq, and this brings with it responsibility to do what is possible to rebuild the nation for its innocent civilians.  The dictator was evil, the terrorists were obviously there… but the civilians were still innocent.  The people who are yammering for their “troops to come home” are the same irresponsible yet ultimately responsible people who were screaming for war and retribution seven years ago.

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A NATO look at Georgia

Previously, we posted commentary about the ironies in the Georgia-Russia situation.  In August, ThreatAxis pointed out that we should not necessarily assume that Russia was the bad guy in that conflict – something we are prone to do because of past history – but that we should rather take an unbiased, courageous look at both sides of the equation – that perhaps Georgia might even actually be the aggressor here!  With world opinion headed the other way, it was an aggressive stance for us to take.

Interestingly, as time passes, it’s looking more and more like we were dead right.

Today the International Institute for Strategic Studies said that the “balance of evidence suggests that Georgia started this war.” The comments were made by Dr. John Chipman, the Director-General of the IISS.  For a long time, NATO has been considering whether to offer membership to Georgia – something that this writer is strongly opposed to – and something which now the IISS and others are also suggesting might be bad.  To unilaterally accept Georgia into NATO would accomplish very little positive.  It would, however, antagonize Russia, and plunge NATO into what is barely a step away from a civil war.

But, the west loves to antagonize Russia.  In another previous post, ThreatAxis outlined the ongoing problems in perceptions with Russia, and took the stance that maybe the Cold War really was over (imagine that!).  Now, it seems that others are noticing this glaring truth as well.  In the same speed, Dr. Chipman said that “There have been major errors of presentation of policy towards Russia. The US and Nato have in the past told Russia to accept whatever was happening. There was no give and take.”

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Ahoy! Pirates! [UPDATED]

Why is this situation not getting the attention it deserves?

As long as the pirates can keep funnelling money to support the radicals destabilizing Somalia – there will be a safe haven for terror.  There is no way that the Somali government (if one still exists) can even compete when you are talking about the radicals getting millions of dollars in ransom for each ship.

Stop the pirates and you have a chance to restore order to Somalia.

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The Sky is not falling – yet

No matter who wins next week – the defense establishment of the United States will be changing drastically over the next four years.

The economic/credit crisis that has turned into a world-wide economic slump – will make sure that the military will only get the bare minimum’s (I hope) to maintain some sort of effective force.

The West privately laughed when the Russians had to park/dock/mothball/ground most of their once feared armed forces when they went through their own collapse post-Yeltsin.  Now the shoe is on the other foot.

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The last soliders to die in WW1

The BBC has posted an excellent article here about the last soliders to die in World War 1.  These individuals died within moments of the ceasefire and armistice declared that would bring an end to the war, in innocent, non-combat, yet still all-too-fatal situations.  This amazing article is well worth the read and the time to review.


There is much we can learn from history, which is why the work of our historians is so valuable.  In this case, I am struck by the tragic lack of safety experienced by these men who thought that now, certainly, finally, they were safe.  I am also struck by the magnitude of loss that can occur as a result of the decisions made by individuals, whether out of aggression, fear, communications delays or failure, or just plain fatigue.


As we approach the 90th anniversary of the end of World War I, let us remember all those who gave their lives, in combat or perceived safety, for the freedom we enjoy now, and the peace we may yet experience in our lifetimes.  And let us remember those who still fight, with the hope that they may achieve that peace we all seek.  Our hearts and gratitude go with you all.


Recognizing Independence – Recognizing Agendas

In follow-up to my post yesterday, I’m amazed at the news that came out overnight.  You’ve really gotta love the irony here.


The BBC reported last night that Russia has now formally recognized the independence of the two Georgian provinces.  And the opinion of the masses seems to agree with the Russians’ move.


But, shockingly, our own country, the United States, is quoted as saying that this recognition is "regrettable."  And the opinion of other countries’ governmental leaders seems to agree with the US government’s opinion.


All of this over what to this writer’s eyes seems to be nothing more than a desire for a people to achieve independence from a parent state… a parent state that itself recently won independence from its parent state… all the while being condemned by a "superpower" that itself celebrates its own independence on an annual basis!


But don’t take my word for it.  You can read an excellent writeup by the BBC giving a much more unbiased opinion on the situation in Georgia here.


At what point, I’d like to know, did we become mindless pawns of our countries’ governments?  At what point did we give up all attempts at rational thought and just let our political masters run over us unchecked? We have a situation where our "leaders" are saying one thing… and almost all of the "people" are saying another, much more obvious thing… this is so obvious as to be blinding.  It makes me wonder just what the agendas really are here.


The Big Bad Bear?

Ahh, Russia.  How we love to hate you!  We love to hate you so much, and have hated you for so long, that it’s become a habit… an addiction.  In fact, it’s become quite pathetic.

Though the concept of being a patriot, or a revolutionary, is, tragically, long-since dead in the industrialized world, almost everyone still identifies in one form or another with their country of birth, or citizenship, or residence.  Whether we live in a democracy or dictatorship, there is a predisposition to love and trust our own country – or, more to the point, our own country’s government – and at the same time to hate and mistrust other countries – and in that direction, it’s not the government we end up hating, but the actual people of the country in question. This is why we, in America, for example, think we’re so great (because we listen to our endless-motion propaganda machines) while the rest of the world hates us (because our government has made choices that – although “we the people” didn’t make them – we are blamed for.)

So let’s take a hard look in the mirror before we go arbitrarily handing out condemnation worldwide.

In 2001, we were brutally attacked… by terrorists.  Not by a country, even though we were happy to go invade Iraq in retribution.  Not by a religion, even though we’re happy to blame Muslims worldwide in disgust.  And when that attack came, we all cried out for war.  We all cried out for revenge.  Conveniently, most Americans have forgotten this fact.  They have forgotten their anger of that day, and how they directed their anger at evil Iraq and evil Islam, and demanded retribution for the twin towers.  Now, they’ve found a new focus:  The excitement of blaming the mideast has worn off, to be replaced with the pain of the loss of our troops there, so now they’ve found a new drug:  let’s blame George Bush!  The new axis of evil!  Never mind the fact that there were less than 5 “abstainers” out of all the senators and all the representatives who “voted” for war.  Never mind that those people were just doing what their constituents wanted. Oh no – it couldn’t be us!  We couldn’t be the problem!  In such danger of having to face the truth, we turn instead to our scapegoat:  the President of the United States!  Because we all know that everything is his fault.  The war, the attacks, high taxes, smoking, acid rain:  It’s gotta be Bush’s fault!

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