Even in absurdity, sacrament. Even in hardship, holiness. Even in doubt, faith. Even in chaos, realization. Even in paradox, blessedness
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"Life expands or shrinks in proportion to one's courage." ~Anain Nin
Spiritual Starvation - A Meditation
And it's ironic, isn't it? Americans proclaim in large number, we are religious, we go to our houses of worship, we are true believers in this or that God. Religion is touted constantly in the media and in the talk of our neighbors.
But I don't think spiritual poverty has anything to do with religion, paradoxical as that may seem. I think it has much to do with human connection, with the sense one gets when one can be part of something larger than oneself, in fellowship with others. Where sacrifice is voluntary in the service of those very invisible treasures that nourish our spirit.
For after all, what is democracy? Can you touch it, buy it at a shopping mall, smell it like a flower? Can you paint it like a landscape, see it like a sunrise? Where does it exist if not in our spirits and our hearts? What is freedom? Is it visible to the naked eye? Is it something one can grasp with one's open hand? What is love, respect, honor, justice? Can they be purchased on the stock market? Can they be manufactured by industry? We put great stock in these invisible things, but how do they come about, and how do we gain common language to make them come about?
I think that whether Americans realize it or not, we are all starving. We are starving for something more than material gain, even more than the safety and happiness of our families and loved ones. That alone cannot be enough to nourish our spirit. We have a human connection with each and every person in this whole world; we are all made of the same stuff, we are all affected by what happens to each one of us.
This problem preceded the Bush Administration, but has been made far more severe during its reign. Modern life has always been a trade-off, convenience and material gain at the expense of spiritual growth. The Industrial Revolution was a marvelous thing and spared much of humankind the backbreaking labor which led to early death and miserable existence. But it also created the factory environment where humanity became part of a giant machine, ripped from the land, divorced from our bonds with nature.
In each generation of Americans there have been visionaries who have inspired us to overcome our own material greed, who have reminded us of those invisible fruits that are necessary for our psychological and spiritual survival. Our Founding Fathers were of that breed. They saw that liberty and self-rule, never before seen on this earth, were as essential to a healthy human psyche as food and drink were to a healthy human body. Later we had those who showed us that as long as one of our number were enslaved, none of us were free. And that as long as some were hungry and cold, we could not be happy in our satiety and warmth.
Hastert knew there was a lizard in the lockerroom, did nothing.
Jeez, what a weekend. What a perfect shitstorm for the knuckledraggers:
Rep. Thomas Reynolds, head of the House Republican election effort, said he told Speaker Dennis Hastert after learning a fellow GOP lawmaker sent inappropriate messages to a teenage boy.
Stormy Weather: Woodward Exposes Gloom
With the midterm elections only five weeks away, Bush and his political minions have been striving mightily to direct the attention of voters away from Iraq and toward the threat of a terrorist attack. But Iraq keeps coming back into the headlines. Before the Woodward book began landing in stores late last week, portions of a National Intelligence Estimate began leaking out, suggesting that the war in Iraq was undermining the war on terror. The leaked portions of the NIE, a document representing a consensus of the U.S. intelligence community, disclosed the somewhat unsurprising conclusion that Iraq was turning into a training ground for terrorists. Bush responded by authorizing the declassification of other portions of the NIE, suggesting that if American forces were to quit Iraq, the problem would only grow worse. But simply "staying the course" in Iraq may not satisfy American voters who can see only darkness at the end of the tunnel.
9/11 Panel Members Weren’t Told of Meeting
Members of the Sept. 11 commission said today that they were alarmed that they were told nothing about a White House meeting in July 2001 at which George J. Tenet, then the director of central intelligence, is reported to have warned Condoleezza Rice, then the national security adviser, about an imminent Al Qaeda attack and failed to persuade her to take action.
Details of the previously undisclosed meeting on July 10, 2001, two months before the Sept. 11 terror attacks, were first reported last week in a new book by the journalist Bob Woodward.
The final report from the Sept. 11 commission made no mention of the meeting nor did it suggest there had been such an encounter between Mr. Tenet and Ms. Rice, now secretary of state.
Viddy Thursday: Olbermannia!
On 911, 5 years on. Our Murrow.
Viddy Thursday: Olbermannia!
On dissent and inaction.
Viddy Thursday: Olbermannia!
Debunking Condi'd claim that the administration was left "no strategy" for dealing with al-Qaeda.
On the letters page of the Guardian last week, a Dr Alan Kendall attacked the Royal Society for "smearing" its opponents. The society had sent an official letter to Exxon, complaining about the oil company's "inaccurate and misleading" portrayal of the science of climate change and about its funding of lobby groups that deny global warming is taking place. The letter, Kendall argued, was an attempt to "stifle legitimate discussion".
Perhaps he is unaware of what has been happening. The campaign of dissuasion funded by Exxon and the tobacco company Philip Morris has been devastatingly effective. By insisting that man-made global warming is either a "myth" or not worth tackling, it has given the media and politicians the excuses for inaction they wanted. Partly as a result, in the US at least, these companies have helped to delay attempts to tackle the world's most important problem by a decade or more.
Should we not confront this? If, as Kendall seems to suggest, we should refrain from exposing and criticising these groups, would that not be to "stifle legitimate discussion"?
There is still much more to discover. It is unclear how much covert corporate lobbying has been taking place in the UK. But the little I have been able to find so far suggests that here, as in the US, there seems to be some overlap between Exxon and the groups it has funded and the operations of the tobacco industry.
An Olbermann must read: "A textbook definition of cowardice"
Mr. Clinton quoted Abraham Lincoln’s State of the Union address from 1862.
New Terror That Stalks Iraq's Republic of Fear
The republic of fear is born again. The state of terror now gripping Iraq is as bad as it was under Saddam Hussein. Torture in the country may even be worse than it was during his rule, the United Nation's special investigator on torture said yesterday.
"The situation as far as torture is concerned now in Iraq is totally out of hand," said Manfred Nowak. "The situation is so bad many people say it is worse than it had been in the times of Saddam Hussein."
The report, from an even-handed senior UN official, is in sharp contrast with the hopes of George Bush and Tony Blair, when in 2003 they promised to bring democracy and respect for human rights to the people of Iraq. The brutal tortures committed in the prisons of the regime overthrown in 2003 are being emulated and surpassed in the detention centres of the present US- and British-backed Iraqi government. "Detainees' bodies show signs of beating using electric cables, wounds in different parts of their bodies including in the head and genitals, broken bones of legs and hands, electric and cigarette burns," the human rights office of the UN Assistance Mission in Iraq says in a new report.
The horrors of the torture chamber that led to Saddam Hussein's Iraq being labelled "The Republic of Fear", after the book of that title by Kanan Makiya, have again become commonplace. The bodies in Baghdad's morgue " often bear signs of severe torture including acid-induced injuries and burns caused by chemical substances, missing skin, broken bones (back, hands and legs), missing eyes and wounds caused by power drills or nails", the UN report said. Those not killed by these abuses are shot in the head.
Human rights groups say torture is practised in prisons run by the US as well as those run by theInterior and Defence ministries and the numerous Sunni and Shia militias.
The pervasive use of torture is only one aspect of the utter breakdown of government across Iraq outside the three Kurdish provinces in the north. In July and August alone, 6,599 civilians were killed, the UN says.
One US Army major was quoted as saying that Baghdad is now a Hobbesian world where everybody is at war with everybody else and the only protection is self-protection.
Kennedy: Will The Next Election Be Hacked?
The debacle of the 2000 presidential election made it all too apparent to most Americans that our electoral system is broken. And private-sector entrepreneurs were quick to offer a fix: Touch-screen voting machines, promised the industry and its lobbyists, would make voting as easy and reliable as withdrawing cash from an ATM. Congress, always ready with funds for needy industries, swiftly authorized $3.9 billion to upgrade the nation's election systems - with much of the money devoted to installing electronic voting machines in each of America's 180,000 precincts. But as midterm elections approach this November, electronic voting machines are making things worse instead of better. Studies have demonstrated that hackers can easily rig the technology to fix an election - and across the country this year, faulty equipment and lax security have repeatedly undermined election primaries. In Tarrant County, Texas, electronic machines counted some ballots as many as six times, recording 100,000 more votes than were actually cast. In San Diego, poll workers took machines home for unsupervised "sleepovers" before the vote, leaving the equipment vulnerable to tampering. And in Ohio - where, as I recently reported in "Was the 2004 Election Stolen?" [RS 1002], dirty tricks may have cost John Kerry the presidency - a government report uncovered large and unexplained discrepancies in vote totals recorded by machines in Cuyahoga County.
Even worse, many electronic machines don't produce a paper record that can be recounted when equipment malfunctions - an omission that practically invites malicious tampering. "Every board of election has staff members with the technological ability to fix an election," Ion Sancho, an election supervisor in Leon County, Florida, told me. "Even one corrupt staffer can throw an election. Without paper records, it could happen under my nose and there is no way I'd ever find out about it. With a few key people in the right places, it would be possible to throw a presidential election."
Katrina is still with us: I Know This Little Boy In New Orleans
I know the little boy in this picture.
No, I don't know him personally. But he is roughly the same age as my small son. This boy is beautiful, innocent, vulnerable and probably very scared in this photo.
I know this young boy.
He doesn't like vegetables. He prefers macaroni and cheese, chicken nuggets and hot dogs. He watches too much television and loves SpongeBob SquarePants and Yu-Gi-Oh. He used to like Pokémon, but thinks it's lame now.
He tries hard to not cry when he scrapes his knee or bumps his head. But sometimes he does and he feels better when his Mommy holds him. He likes to hug his grandparents and be spoiled when he visits them. He gets to stay up later at their house. He likes that.
He hates for people to know it, but he is afraid of the dark and has a nightlight in his room. He sleeps with a stuffed dog, but doesn't want his friends to know.
He can't really match his clothing yet, and has to be nagged to clean his room and do his chores. But he's filled with pride when he accomplishes his work. He knows his family isn't rich, but his bed is warm at night and his parents make sure he always has good meals.
He doesn't like girls yet, even though his parents tell him he someday will.
He knows a big storm came, with lots of water. And he hates where he is now.
He's embarrassed in public bathrooms and doesn't understand why he is now living in such a bad place. He's glad he doesn't wear diapers any longer so his parents don't have to worry about that. He wants to go home.
He loves Mountain Dew and Gatorade but has been so thirsty that water sounds better than anything he's ever had to drink.
He knows his bedroom, with his stuffed animals and Spiderman poster, is gone. It's under water now, which scares him even more. He hasn't yet learned to swim.
He wonders why his Mommy is crying so much and why his Daddy is so angry. He's worried because he knows his grandmother has been lost. He misses her.
He doesn't understand why it's taking so long for anyone to come and help him and why his family has to stay so long in the scary place where the Saints play football.
He doesn't like the dark or the heat or loud noises or yelling – and for days and days in his young life, that is all he has experienced.
Ice core evidence of human impact on CO2 in air
Air from the oldest ice core confirms human activity has increased the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere to levels not seen for hundreds of thousands of years, scientists said on Monday.
Bubbles of air in the 800,000-year-old ice, drilled in the Antarctic, show levels of CO2 changing with the climate. But the present levels are out of the previous range.
"It is from air bubbles that we know for sure that carbon dioxide has increased by about 35 percent in the last 200 years," said Dr Eric Wolff of the British Antarctic Survey and the leader of the science team for the 10-nation European Project for Ice Coring in Antarctica.
"Before the last 200 years, which man has been influencing, it was pretty steady," he added.
The natural level of CO2 over most of the past 800,000 years has been 180-300 parts per million by volume (ppmv) of air. But today it is at 380 ppmv.
"The most scary thing is that carbon dioxide today is not just out of the range of what happened in the last 650,000 years but already up 100 percent out of the range," Wolff said at the British Association Festival of Science in Norwich, eastern England.
CO2 was close to 280 ppmv from 1000 AD until 1800 and then it accelerated toward its present concentration. Wolff added that measurements of carbon isotopes showed the extra CO2 coming from a fossil source, due to increased human activity.
The ice core record showed it used to take about 1,000 years for a CO2 increase of 30 ppmv. It has risen by that much in the last 17 years alone.
"We really are in a situation where something is happening that we don't have any analog for in our records. It is an experiment that we don't know the result of," he added.
Emotional devastation surfaces from Katrina
A year after Hurricane Katrina scoured the Gulf Coast, the storm still rages in the minds of survivors, who now suffer twice as much severe mental illness as existed in the region before landfall, researchers reported Monday.
Katrina forced 500,000 people to evacuate and carved its initials in a swath of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama.
The first major attempt to probe survivors' mental status found that about 15% of residents of the counties and parishes struck by the storm, or 200,000 people, have depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder and other forms of mental illness, twice as many as before.
About 11% now have severe mental illness, compared with 6% before the hurricane. Nearly 20% said they had mild to moderate mental illness, compared with under 10% before.
Katrina: Lest We Forget
I can't find it in me to post anything else today. Sure, life goes on, but for thousands, perhaps millions, it hasn't, and has changed for the worse. We will never forget.
War Widow To Bush: "You're Here To Serve The People. And The People Are Not Being Served With This War."
I just got off the phone with Hildi Halley, a woman from Maine whose husband is a fallen soldier. Yesterday President Bush met with her privately, and news of their meeting was reported in a local Maine paper, the Kennebec Journal. The paper shared few details of the meeting, saying simply that Halley objected to Bush's policies and that she said Bush responded that there was no point in them having a "philosophical discussion about the pros and cons of the war."
7 Facts Making Sense of Our Iraqi Disaster
With this terror triumvirate at the center of Iraqi society, we now enter the horrible era of ethnic cleansing, the logical extension of multidimensional terror.
When the U.S. toppled the Hussein regime, there was little sectarian sentiment outside of Kurdistan, which had longstanding nationalist ambitions. Even today, opinion polls show that more than two-thirds of Sunnis and Shia stand opposed to the idea of any further weakening of the central government and are not in favor of federation, no less dividing Iraq into three separate nations.
Nevertheless, ethnic cleansing by both Shia and Sunni has become the order of the day in many of the neighborhoods of Baghdad, replete with house burnings, physical assaults, torture, and murder, all directed against those who resist leaving their homes. These acts are aimed at creating religiously homogeneous neighborhoods.
This is a terrifying development that derives from the rising tide of terrorism. Sunnis believe that they must expel their Shia neighbors to stop them from giving the Shiite death squads the names of resistance fighters and their supporters. Shia believe that they must expel their Sunni neighbors to stop them from providing information and cover for car-bombing attacks. And, as the situation matures, militants on both sides come to embrace removal -- period. As these actions escalate, feeding on each other, more and more individuals, caught in a vise of fear and bent on revenge, embrace the infernal logic of terrorism: that it is acceptable to punish everyone for the actions of a tiny minority.
Iraq's Civil War: What Next?
The debate is over: By any definition, Iraq is in a state of civil war. Indeed, the only thing standing between Iraq and a descent into total Bosnia-like devastation is 135,000 U.S. troops -- and even they are merely slowing the fall. The internecine conflict could easily spiral into one that threatens not only Iraq but also its neighbors throughout the oil-rich Persian Gulf region with instability, turmoil and war.
The consequences of an all-out civil war in Iraq could be dire. Considering the experiences of recent such conflicts, hundreds of thousands of people may die. Refugees and displaced people could number in the millions. And with Iraqi insurgents, militias and organized crime rings wreaking havoc on Iraq's oil infrastructure, a full-scale civil war could send global oil prices soaring even higher.
However, the greatest threat that the United States would face from civil war in Iraq is from the spillover -- the burdens, the instability, the copycat secession attempts and even the follow-on wars that could emerge in neighboring countries. Welcome to the new "new Middle East" -- a region where civil wars could follow one after another, like so many Cold War dominoes.
And unlike communism, these dominoes may actually fall.
"...[S]truggling to find a way to protect the president from public accountability."
The far more difficult question is the implication of Taylor's ruling. If this court is upheld or other courts follow suit, it will leave us with a most unpleasant issue that Democrats and Republicans alike have sought to avoid. Here it is: If this program is unlawful, federal law expressly makes the ordering of surveillance under the program a federal felony. That would mean that the president could be guilty of no fewer than 30 felonies in office. Moreover, it is not only illegal for a president to order such surveillance, it is illegal for other government officials to carry out such an order.
For people working in government, this opinion may lead to some collar tugging. If Taylor's decision is upheld or other courts reject the program, will the president promise to pardon those he ordered to carry out unlawful surveillance?
Natural Resources are Fuelling a New Cold War
...[T]he natural resource that greases the wheels of the global economy is running out. All oil-producing states are working close to capacity and slacks or stoppages on the part of one of the major producers can't be compensated by the others. Former White House energy advisor Matthew Simmons evokes a genuinely horrific scenario: He calculates that the price of a petroleum barrel may rise as high as "$200 to $250" in the coming years -- a far cry from today's $73 and July's nominal record of $78.40. Such an extreme price increase would unhinge the entire world economy and spell ruin even for large corporations.
Should the world be trembling in fear? Should everyone be afraid that gas and heating will soon no longer be affordable? Concern over such issues is certainly spreading in Germany, a country whose energy security is good compared to many others. Should we shiver with fear of anticipated bloodshed over resource allocation? The superpower China is hunting these resources especially aggressively. Should we fear the war that comes from the cold?
The good news is that it's improbable, despite all the dangers and bottlenecks, that fossil fuels will become the much cited unaffordable "black gold" overnight, or that they will even no longer be available in sufficient quantities. Besides, human inventiveness has always been able to discover or invent new energy sources.
The bad news is that the age of cheap oil and natural gas is definitely over. At the very latest, the next generation will be bitterly punished for our reckless overconsumption of fossil fuels. Renewable energies and energy efficiency together won't be enough to cover the shortfall, either. In the longterm, even if renewable resources like solar power, wind power and biomass -- which are urgently needed -- are added into the energy mix with oil, natural gas, coal and nuclear energy, they will still only be able to cover one-quarter of the energy needs of industrialized nations. That's the best-case scenario.
Ideological trench fights over secure fuels aside, most reputable scientists agree that the historical "peak" of oil production will be reached in five to 10 years, despite improvements in drilling technology and the expansion of production to include oil shales and oil sands, which are difficult to process. From that point on, oil production will head downhill -- despite increasing worldwide demand.
Earth's population consumed 83 million barrels of oil per day last year. According to calculations by the International Energy Agency (IEA), the Paris-based club of oil-importing states, the number will have climbed to above 90 million by 2010, and it will have reached about 115 million in 2030. The more fiercely fossil fuels blaze in our ovens, burn in our engines and power our generators, the faster a country can develop. US energy analyst Daniel Yergin has written that "petroleum remains the motive force of industrial society."
Now, at a time when the oil age is irrevocably racing towards its conclusion, more and more people are trying to become a part of it. They are led by emerging nations like China and India -- two countries that know their growth engine will inevitably start to stutter without a constant supply of resources. Petroleum is their elixir for survival.
Breaking from Hersh: Bush helped to plan Levantine War
In the days after Hezbollah crossed from Lebanon into Israel, on July 12th, to kidnap two soldiers, triggering an Israeli air attack on Lebanon and a full-scale war, the Bush Administration seemed strangely passive. “It’s a moment of clarification,” President George W. Bush said at the G-8 summit, in St. Petersburg, on July 16th. “It’s now become clear why we don’t have peace in the Middle East.” He described the relationship between Hezbollah and its supporters in Iran and Syria as one of the “root causes of instability,” and subsequently said that it was up to those countries to end the crisis. Two days later, despite calls from several governments for the United States to take the lead in negotiations to end the fighting, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said that a ceasefire should be put off until “the conditions are conducive.”
The Bush Administration, however, was closely involved in the planning of Israel’s retaliatory attacks. President Bush and Vice-President Dick Cheney were convinced, current and former intelligence and diplomatic officials told me, that a successful Israeli Air Force bombing campaign against Hezbollah’s heavily fortified underground-missile and command-and-control complexes in Lebanon could ease Israel’s security concerns and also serve as a prelude to a potential American preëmptive attack to destroy Iran’s nuclear installations, some of which are also buried deep underground.
Israeli military and intelligence experts I spoke to emphasized that the country’s immediate security issues were reason enough to confront Hezbollah, regardless of what the Bush Administration wanted. Shabtai Shavit, a national-security adviser to the Knesset who headed the Mossad, Israel’s foreign-intelligence service, from 1989 to 1996, told me, “We do what we think is best for us, and if it happens to meet America’s requirements, that’s just part of a relationship between two friends. Hezbollah is armed to the teeth and trained in the most advanced technology of guerrilla warfare. It was just a matter of time. We had to address it.”
Sy laying it all out on the TeeVee screen.
Cheney and "Al-Qaeda Democrats"
As the Mideast sits on the brink of regional war, Vice President Dick Cheney spent his time yesterday holding a teleconference to discuss the outcome of the Democratic Senate primary in Connecticut.
Cheney said that to “purge a man like Joe Lieberman” was “of concern, especially over the issue of Joe’s support with respect to national efforts in the global war on terror.” He explained:
The thing that’s partly disturbing about it is the fact that, the standpoint of our adversaries, if you will, in this conflict, and the al Qaeda types, they clearly are betting on the proposition that ultimately they can break the will of the American people in terms of our ability to stay in the fight and complete the task.
Cheney’s argument assumes that the war in Iraq is helping the United States defeat terrorists. He’s wrong. His own State Department found last April that Iraq had become a safe haven for terrorists and attracted a “foreign fighter pipeline” linked to terrorist plots, cells and attacks throughout the world. An overwhelming bipartisan majority (84%) of national security experts believe we are losing the war on terror, and 87 percent think Iraq has had a negative impact.
Disgusting as usual: Bush and Cronies Seek Political Gains From Scaring the Bejeezus Out of You.
Weighed down by the unpopular war in
The London conspiracy is "a stark reminder that this nation is at war with Islamic fascists who will use any means to destroy those of us who love freedom, to hurt our nation," the president said on a day trip to Wisconsin.
"It is a mistake to believe there is no threat to the United States of America," he said. "We've taken a lot of measures to protect the American people. But obviously we still aren't completely safe."
His remarks came a day after the White House orchestrated an exceptionally aggressive campaign to tar opposition Democrats as weak on terrorism, knowing what Democrats didn't: News of the plot could soon break.
But Bush aides on Thursday fought the notion that they had exploited their knowledge of the coming British raid to hit Democrats, saying the trigger had been the defeat of Democratic Senator Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut by an anti-war political novice.
"The comments were purely and simply a reaction" to Democratic voters who "removed a pro-defense Senator and sent the message that the party would not tolerate candidates with such views," said Snow.
Who's Counting? The Diebold Bombshell
Recently, computer security expert Harri Hursti revealed serious security vulnerabilities in Diebold's software. According to Michael Shamos, a computer scientist and voting system examiner in Pennsylvania, "It's the most severe security flaw ever discovered in a voting system."
Even more shockingly, we learned recently that Diebold and the State of Maryland had been aware of these vulnerabilities for at least two years. They were documented in analysis, commissioned by Maryland and conducted by RABA Technologies, published in January 2004. For over two years, Diebold has chosen not to fix the security holes, and Maryland has chosen not to alert other states or national officials about these problems.
Basically, Diebold included a "back door" in its software, allowing anyone to change or modify the software. There are no technical safeguards in place to ensure that only authorized people can make changes.
Afghanistan close to anarchy, warns general
The most senior British military commander in Afghanistan today described the situation in the country as "close to anarchy" with feuding foreign agencies and unethical private security companies compounding problems caused by local corruption.
The stark warning came from Lieutenant General David Richards, head of Nato's international security force in Afghanistan, who warned that western forces there were short of equipment and were "running out of time" if they were going to meet the expectations of the Afghan people.
The assumption within Nato countries had been that the environment in Afghanistan after the defeat of the Taliban in 2002 would be benign, Gen Richards said. "That is clearly not the case," he said today. He referred to disputes between tribes crossing the border with Pakistan, and divisions between religious and secular factions cynically manipulated by "anarcho-warlords".
Corrupt local officials were fuelling the problem and Nato's provincial reconstruction teams in Afghanistan were sending out conflicting signals, Gen Richards told a conference at the Royal United Services Institute in London. "The situation is close to anarchy," he said, referring in particular to what he called "the lack of unity between different agencies".
He described "poorly regulated private security companies" as unethical and "all too ready to discharge firearms". Nato forces in Afghanistan were short of equipment, notably aircraft, but also of medical evacuation systems and life-saving equipment.
The Distance from Guernica to Lebanon
On April 26, 1937, during the Spanish Civil War, the German Air Force, siding with fascist dictator Francisco Franco, began a bombing campaign against the city of Guernica. Some 1,600 people were killed, and the city was reduced to rubble. Guernica is remembered as the first time air power was used against a civilian population with the intent of causing complete destruction.
When it happened, Guernica shocked the world. Today, we do not shock so easily. Lebanon is being sacrificed without so much as a casual protest.
Israel has bombed power plants, roads, and bridges all across Lebanon. Israel has bombed gas stations and fuel depots, grain silos, lighthouses, the seaports in Beirut, Tripoli, Jounieh and Tyre. Beirut's airport is in flames. Beirut's Shi'a suburbs have been almost completely demolished. Firefighters are pleading for help, because they do not have enough water to put out the blazes. (1)
I think of Guernica.
Israel has ordered all of the people living in Southern Lebanon to flee their homes and villages. Avi Dichter, Israel's Minister of Internal Security, told us that "tens of thousands of Lebanese who will flee towards the north will create the right pressure on Hezbollah." (2)
Two nights ago, eighteen people in the South were burned alive when Israel bombed their fleeing convoy with incendiary shells. Eleven of the dead were children under the age of twelve. Mahmoud Ghannam, the father of two of the killed children, broke down when he saw their bodies. He struck himself in the head repeatedly and cried, "my God, my God. I can't make out the faces of my children. They are burnt black... Which ones are my children?"
A copy of Pablo Picasso's famous painting of the annihilation of Guernica was hung outside the chambers of the UN Security Council, as a reminder of why the United Nations was created, and of what the Security Council is supposed to prevent. In 2003, the United States ordered the eleven foot painting covered, so as not to even subtly embarrass American diplomats pressing for a war against Iraq.
Living in Lebanon today, I cannot forget. I remember Guernica.
Gorbachev: 'Americans Have a Severe Disease'
Mikhail Gorbachev is generally regarded as the man who broke down the "iron curtain" that separated the communist world from the West and thawed the Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union.
Now, 15 years after a coup removed him from power and the Soviet Union dissolved, he has some stern words for the United States, whose relationship with Russia has soured lately.
"We have made some mistakes," he said, referring to recent attacks on Russia's democracy. "So what? Please don't put even more obstacles in our way. Do you really think you are smarter than we are?"
The former general secretary of the Soviet Union Communist Party accused Americans of arrogance and trying to impose their way of life on other nations.
"Americans have a severe disease -- worse than AIDS. It's called the winner's complex," he said. "You want an American style-democracy here. That will not work." ...The former Soviet leader had severe criticism for two of the most important people in the Bush administration: Vice President Dick Cheney and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld.
"They are just hawks protecting the interests of the military -- shallow people," he said.
Is he drinking again?
All of his blunders, missteps and gaffes at the G8 must leave one to wonder: is our fount of moralistic bombast sliding rather quickly off the wagon? Or is he purely delusional? The pig? The massage? The endless diversions during press conferences? His behavior is quite unpresidential. He certainly didn't have many of his handlers with him this time. Is this what happens when the man with his finger on the button rolls up his sleeves and gets to work on solving the world's greatest dilemmas? Good thing his peepee and doodoo are classified as secret.
Who's Counting: Cheney's One Percent Doctrine
In his heralded new book, "The One Percent Doctrine," Ron Suskind writes that Vice President Dick Cheney forcefully stated that the war on terror empowered the Bush administration to act without the need for evidence or extensive analysis.
Suskind describes the Cheney doctrine as follows: "Even if there's just a 1 percent chance of the unimaginable coming due, act as if it is a certainty. It's not about 'our analysis,' as Cheney said. It's about 'our response.' … Justified or not, fact-based or not, 'our response' is what matters. As to 'evidence,' the bar was set so low that the word itself almost didn't apply."
There is a complex interplay between an act's possible consequences, evidence, and the probabilities involved. And sometimes, of course, the probability justifying action of some sort is even less than 1 percent. Vaccines are routinely given, for example, even for diseases whose risk of being contracted is much less than 1 percent.
That being granted, the simplistic doctrine of "if at least 1 percent, then act" is especially frightening in international conflicts, not least because the number of threats misconstrued (by someone or other) to meet the 1 percent threshold is huge and the consequences of military action are so terrible and irrevocable.
Zinn: Patriotism and the
In celebration of the Fourth of July there will be many speeches about the young people who "died for their country." But those who gave their lives did not, as they were led to believe, die for their country; they died for their government. The distinction between country and government is at the heart of the Declaration of Independence, which will be referred to again and again on July 4, but without attention to its meaning.
The Declaration of Independence is the fundamental document of democracy. It says governments are artificial creations, established by the people, "deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed," and charged by the people to ensure the equal right of all to "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." Furthermore, as the Declaration says, "whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it." It is the country that is primary--the people, the ideals of the sanctity of human life and the promotion of liberty.
When a government recklessly expends the lives of its young for crass motives of profit and power, while claiming that its motives are pure and moral, ("Operation Just Cause" was the invasion of Panama and "Operation Iraqi Freedom" in the present instance), it is violating its promise to the country. War is almost always a breaking of that promise. It does not enable the pursuit of happiness but brings despair and grief.
Mark Twain, having been called a "traitor" for criticizing the U.S. invasion of the Philippines, derided what he called "monarchical patriotism." He said: "The gospel of the monarchical patriotism is: 'The King can do no wrong.' We have adopted it with all its servility, with an unimportant change in the wording: 'Our country, right or wrong!' We have thrown away the most valuable asset we had -- the individual's right to oppose both flag and country when he believed them to be in the wrong. We have thrown it away; and with it, all that was really respectable about that grotesque and laughable word, Patriotism."
If patriotism in the best sense (not in the monarchical sense) is loyalty to the principles of democracy, then who was the true patriot? Theodore Roosevelt, who applauded a massacre by American soldiers of 600 Filipino men, women and children on a remote Philippine island, or Mark Twain, who denounced it? Today, U.S. soldiers who are dying in Iraq and Afghanistan are not dying for their country; they are dying for Bush and Cheney and Rumsfeld. They are dying for the greed of the oil cartels, for the expansion of the American empire, for the political ambitions of the president. They are dying to cover up the theft of the nation's wealth to pay for the machines of death. As of July 4, 2006, more than 2,500 U.S. soldiers have been killed in Iraq, more than 8,500 maimed or injured. With the war in Iraq long declared a "Mission Accomplished," shall we revel in American military power and insist that the American empire will be beneficent?
Our own history is enough to make one wary. Empire begins with what was called, in our high school history classes, "westward expansion,"a euphemism for the annihilation or expulsion of the Indian tribes inhabiting the continent, in the name of "progress" and "civilization." It continues with the expansion of American power into the Caribbean at the turn of the 20th century, then into the Philippines, and then repeated Marine invasions of Central America and long military occupations of Haiti and the Dominican Republic. After World War II, Henry Luce, owner of Time, LIFE, and Fortune, spoke of "the American Century," in which this country would organize the world "as we see fit." Indeed, the expansion of American power continued, too often supporting military dictatorships in Asia, Africa, Latin America, the Middle East, because they were friendly to American corporations and the American government. The record does not justify confidence in Bush's boast that the United States will bring democracy to Iraq.
Palast: GRAND THEFT MEXICO
The election race south of the US border is officially too close to call. Now, where have we heard that before?
As in Florida in 2000, and as in Ohio in 2004, the exit polls show the voters voted for the progressive candidate. The race is “officially” too close to call. But they will call it - after they steal it.
Reuters reports that, as of 8pm eastern time, as voting concluded in Mexico, exit polls showed Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador of the “leftwing” party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD) leading in exit polls over Felipe Calderon of the ruling conservative National Action party (PAN).
We’ve said again and again: exit polls tell us how voters say they voted, but the voters can’t tell pollsters whether their vote will be counted. In Mexico, counting the vote is an art, not a science - and Calderon’s ruling crew is very artful indeed. The PAN-controlled official electoral commission, not surprisingly, has announced that the presidential tally is too close to call.
Calderon’s election is openly supported by the Bush administration.
On the ground in Mexico city, our news team reports accusations from inside the Obrador campaign that operatives of the PAN had access to voter files that are supposed to be the sole property of the nation’s electoral commission. We are not surprised.
The complex patterns of the natural world often turn out to be governed by relatively simple mathematical relationships. A seashell grows at a rate proportional to its size, resulting in a delicate spiral. The gossamer network of galaxies results from the simple interplay between cosmic expansion and the force of gravity over a wide range of scales. As our catalogue of natural phenomena has grown more complete, more and more scientists have begun to look for interesting patterns in human society.
While affected governments collect records of past attacks, the random nature of such wars means that these data are of limited use in predicting future attacks. When classified according to their frequency and intensity, however, the events of any insurgent war appear to follow a power law. It should come as no surprise that weaker attacks are more common than stronger attacks, but a power law distribution makes a much more specific prediction. It turns out that if individual conflicts (for example, a terrorist attack or a guerilla raid) are classified according to the resulting number of fatalities n, then the number of such conflicts occurring in any given year is proportional to n raised to a constant power.
Let’s look at a specific example. In the case of the Iraq war, we might ask how many conflicts causing ten casualties are expected to occur over a one-year period. According to the data, the answer is the average number of events per year times 10–2.3, or 0.005. If we instead ask how many events will cause twenty casualties, the answer is proportional to 20–2.3. Taking into account the entire history of any given war, one finds that the frequency of events on all scales can be predicted by exactly the same exponent.
Look at the silly monkey: DISTRACTION
Bush, in his remarks on both subjects, gay marriage and Zarqawi, struck a restrained, almost subdued tone. On Saturday he said, “As this debate goes forward, we must remember that every American deserves to be treated with tolerance, respect, and dignity. All of us have a duty to conduct this discussion with civility and decency toward one another.” On Monday he said, “America is a free society which limits the role of government in the lives of our citizens. In this country, people are free to choose how they live their lives.” (Never mind that he was proposing to use the very taproot of American government, the Constitution, precisely to prevent people from choosing how to live their lives.)
Gore: Bush is 'renegade rightwing extremist'
Who must I blow to make this man president?
In an interview with the Guardian today, the former vice-president calls himself a "recovering politician", but launches into the political fray more explicitly than he has previously done during his high-profile campaigning on the threat of global warming.
Denying that his politics have shifted to the left since he lost the court battle for the 2000 election, Mr Gore says: "If you have a renegade band of rightwing extremists who get hold of power, the whole thing goes to the right."
On Simple Human Decency
Here are those tropes: the president is ignorant; the president is cruel; the president is a zealot; the president is a tool of the corporations; the president hides his agenda from the people; the president's agenda endangers the people; the president is a thief; the president is a madman; the president is a fraternity boy; the president is a warlord; the president is a drunkard; the president is a criminal; the president is protected by his cronies; the president is a smug prevaricator; the president should be removed from office.
True, George W. Bush is an ignorant, cruel, closed-minded, avaricious, sneaky, irresponsible, thieving, brain-damaged frat boy with a drinking problem and a taste for bloodshed, whose numerous crimes have been abetted by the moral corruption of his party cohort and whose contempt for American military lives alone warrants his impeachment, but what has it ever won us to say so? How has it profited the people for their writers to argue that a wealthy, comfortable citizen deserves a wealthy, comfortable retirement when we all know full well that he has earned confinement and conviction and perhaps even a request for that barbaric death penalty he so loudly supports?
The War They Wanted, The Lies They Needed
For more than two years it has been widely reported that the U.S. invaded Iraq because of intelligence failures. But in fact it is far more likely that the Iraq war started because of an extraordinary intelligence success—specifically, an astoundingly effective campaign of disinformation, or black propaganda, which led the White House, the Pentagon, Britain's M.I.6 intelligence service, and thousands of outlets in the American media to promote the falsehood that Saddam Hussein's nuclear-weapons program posed a grave risk to the United States.
The Bush administration made other false charges about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction (W.M.D.)—that Iraq had acquired aluminum tubes suitable for centrifuges, that Saddam was in league with al-Qaeda, that he had mobile weapons labs, and so forth. But the Niger claim, unlike other allegations, can't be dismissed as an innocent error or blamed on ambiguous data. "This wasn't an accident," says Milt Bearden, a 30-year C.I.A. veteran who was a station chief in Pakistan, Sudan, Nigeria, and Germany, and the head of the Soviet–East European division. "This wasn't 15 monkeys in a room with typewriters."
In recent months, it has emerged that the forged Niger documents went through the hands of the Italian military intelligence service, SISMI (Servizio per le Informazioni e la Sicurezza Militare), or operatives close to it, and that neoconservative policymakers helped bring them to the attention of the White House. Even after information in the Niger documents was repeatedly rejected by the C.I.A. and the State Department, hawkish neocons managed to circumvent seasoned intelligence analysts and insert the Niger claims into Bush's State of the Union address.
By the time the U.S. invaded Iraq, in March 2003, this apparent black-propaganda operation had helped convince more than 90 percent of the American people that a brutal dictator was developing W.M.D.—and had led us into war.
Never Sleep with NPR on
So I wake up this morning to hear all kinds of presidential adulation over the death of Zarqawi. Yay. Seriously, there is one less nasty human around today (if we are to believe every word of this, hook line and stinker). But what the media isn't getting is that al-Qaeda isn't an organization dependent on top-down leadership; it depends on rhetoric. As long as Uncle Sam via the grarly puppet hands of Dick and Donald swings its missile-tipped phallus around the middle east, there will be more rhetorical fuel for anti-Americanism. Some new figurehead will soon be removing others in grainy machete-macabre films, and believe me, I hate to be a pessimist. Yet Iraq, Iran, and Afghanistan are powder kegs of our own failed policies, and the only thing that George is right about is that this will take a long time, and the rest of the world will be the ones cleaning up our collective mess.
Hightower: Inside Donnie Rumsfeld's Orwellian Pentagon
...[T]hese men of zeal -- Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, et al. -- are hardly well-meaning. They are deliberately and determinedly striving to impose the AntiAmerica on our own land -- an unrecognizable America of supreme executive authority, constant surveillance of the citizenry, secret government and suppression of dissent. Their chief weapon is fear. They feverishly wave the bloody flag of 9/11, shouting that the citizenry must surrender liberties or be attacked again by The Madmen, that we mustn't question authority for this only encourages The Madmen, that all government operations must be cloaked in a dark veil of secrecy to keep The Madmen off balance, and that executive and police power must drastically expand to protect us from The Madmen.
While claiming that they must "secure" America for a post-9/11 world, the BushCheney zealots are taking us back to a pre-1776 world. They have been astonishingly successful in a remarkably short time, insidiously taking autocratic step after step, which a compliant Congress and the establishment media have mostly missed, ignored, minimalized or applauded. These two "institutions of vigilance" have failed us. So it is up to "We The People" to assert ourselves against this dangerous rise of authoritarianism in Bush's America.
Alter: A New Open-Source Politics
Will 2008 bring the first Internet president? Last time, Howard Dean and later John Kerry showed that the whole idea of "early money" is now obsolete in presidential politics. The Internet lets candidates who catch fire raise millions in small donations practically overnight. That's why all the talk of Hillary Clinton's "war chest" making her the front runner for 2008 is the most hackneyed punditry around. Money from wealthy donors remains the essential ingredient in most state and local campaigns, but "free media" shapes the outcome of presidential races, and the Internet is the freest media of all.
No one knows exactly where technology is taking politics, but we're beginning to see some clues. For starters, the longtime stranglehold of media consultants may be over. In 2004, Errol Morris, the director of "The Thin Blue Line" and "The Fog of War," on his own initiative made several brilliant anti-Bush ads (they featured lifelong Republicans explaining why they were voting for Kerry). Not only did Kerry not air the ads, he told me recently he never even knew they existed. In 2008, any presidential candidate with half a brain will let a thousand ad ideas bloom (or stream) online and televise only those that are popular downloads. Deferring to "the wisdom of crowds" will be cheaper and more effective.
The children of Guantanamo Bay
The notorious US detention camp in Guantanamo Bay has been hit by fresh allegations of human rights abuses, with claims that dozens of children were sent there - some as young as 14 years old.
Lawyers in London estimate that more than 60 detainees held at the terrorists' prison camp were boys under 18 when they were captured.
They include at least 10 detainees still held at the US base in Cuba who were 14 or 15 when they were seized - including child soldiers who were held in solitary confinement, repeatedly interrogated and allegedly tortured.
The disclosures threaten to plunge the Bush administration into a fresh row with Britain, its closest ally in the war on terror, only days after the Attorney General, Lord Goldsmith, repeated his demands for the closure of the detention facility. It was, he said, a "symbol of injustice"
A John Bircher? Now Is the Time for a Left-Right Alliance
I'm currently a life member of the John Birch Society and formerly served on the staff of the organization for 13 years.
So why should any left-winger reading this care a fig about what I have to say?
Because of a conversation I had with another conservative magazine writer recently. In frustration at the unconstitutional excesses of the Bush administration, I blurted out to him: "The only people doing any good out there are the people at Air America." I expected to shock him with the statement, but his two-word reply shocked me: "And MoveOn.org."
We were both exaggerating for effect, but fact is, as my journalist friend continued, "We probably only disagree on, maybe, 25 percent of the issues." I'd have put the percentage a little higher, though I tacked an ending onto his sentence: "…and those issues aren't especially important right now."
When Air America started, I told myself and my friends that it would fail because it would be redundant. The Left already controls all the television networks besides Fox, along with most of the major newspapers. But here we are a year later, and the most penetrating news analysis on television is – and I'm not exaggerating here – Jon Stewart's Daily Show on Comedy Central.
I tuned into the Boston Air America affiliate when I became a community radio talk show host almost two years ago, thinking that I could use a few of their wild statements as a springboard to bounce my counterpoint. And although I got a few yuks out of quips about "Airhead America," I found that I agreed with the hosts more than I disagreed with them.
They criticized the Bush administration for deceiving us into the Iraq war. No problem there. They criticized Alberto Gonzales for his torture memos. Again, no problem. They criticized deficit spending, the PATRIOT Act, and corporate welfare. Hurray, hurray, and hurray!
So I called into a few "progressive" radio talk shows, identifying myself as a "right-wing radio talk show host," and explained my understanding of these issues. Stephanie Miller told me that I was a "not a very good right-winger." A liberal show host at my radio station even called me a "liberal."
But my views haven't changed one bit since I joined the John Birch Society during the Reagan administration. So this is not a conversion story.
What's changed is that the Bush administration has simply gotten that bad and that, according to some polls, we are almost at the point where most genuine conservatives realize it.
The Left and Right will never agree on the issues that liberal talk show host Ed Schultz likes to call "God, Guns, and Gays." Nor will we agree on most economic issues, such as Social Security or whether the federal government should have a role in health care.
Unlike the Hannitized Dittobots who call the so-called "right-wing" radio talk shows, you won't find me sporting "Club Gitmo" gear. I realize that what happened at Abu Ghraib could happen to any American faster than you can say "Jose Padilla."
These are some issues of common concern that could lead to cooperation between Right and Left. Does a "rebel alliance" against the evil neocon empire sound crazy? Not only has it already begun to take shape today, it's happened before.
Oh Really? Bush calls terror fight WWIII
Why stop there G-man? Why not go for the gusto and call it Armageddon?
In an interview with the financial news network CNBC, Mr Bush said he had yet to see the recently released film of the uprising, a dramatic portrayal of events on the United Airlines plane before it crashed in a Pennsylvania field.
But he said he agreed with the description of David Beamer, whose son Todd died in the crash, who in a Wall Street Journal commentary last month called it "our first successful counter-attack in our homeland in this new global war, World War III".
Mr Bush said: "I believe that. I believe that it was the first counter-attack to World War III.
"It was, it was unbelievably heroic of those folks on the airplane to recognize the danger and save lives," he said.
Oh, and how come we only get to hear about this from Australian news?
Please do: Gore Redux
A movie about Al Gore giving a PowerPoint presentation about global warming doesn’t sound all that exciting, but if you liked “March of the Penguins,” you’ll love “An Inconvenient Truth.” Gore is as relentless in his travels to save the planet and faces almost as many obstacles as those penguins making their way across the tundra.
Getting the country to face up to global warming is his life’s mission, and it could be his ticket to the presidency. Voters yearning for a principled leader who truly believes in something may find what they’re looking for in the former vice president. Gore told NEWSWEEK that he’s in the middle of a campaign, but it’s not a campaign for a candidate. “Been there, done that,” he said.
Nobody believes him. By not playing the overt political game, Gore may be putting in place the first issue-driven campaign of the 21st century, one that is premised on a big moral challenge that is becoming more real with soaring gas prices and uncertain oil supplies. A senior Democrat who once ran for the White House himself but harbors no illusions the party will turn to him in 2008 looks at Gore and marvels, “This guy is running the best campaign I’ve seen for president.”
Outlaw President: Bush challenges hundreds of laws
President Bush has quietly claimed the authority to disobey more than 750 laws enacted since he took office, asserting that he has the power to set aside any statute passed by Congress when it conflicts with his interpretation of the Constitution.
Among the laws Bush said he can ignore are military rules and regulations, affirmative-action provisions, requirements that Congress be told about immigration services problems, ''whistle-blower" protections for nuclear regulatory officials, and safeguards against political interference in federally funded research.
Legal scholars say the scope and aggression of Bush's assertions that he can bypass laws represent a concerted effort to expand his power at the expense of Congress, upsetting the balance between the branches of government. The Constitution is clear in assigning to Congress the power to write the laws and to the president a duty ''to take care that the laws be faithfully executed." Bush, however, has repeatedly declared that he does not need to ''execute" a law he believes is unconstitutional.
Catastrophe: Arms still pouring into Sudan's Darfur
Arms are still pouring into Sudan's embattled Darfur region in violation of a U.N. arms ban, U.N. experts said on Thursday.
The arms come from neighboring countries as well as nations outside the African continent, the panel of four experts said. They urged the Security Council to strengthen the embargo and better enforce it.
Their latest report mentioned by name only Chad as an arms source, but earlier reports have also cited Eritrea and Libya.
The council imposed an arms embargo on all non-government forces in Darfur in July 2004, to help end a civil war that has raged in the region since February 2003.
The conflict has pitted Sudanese rebels against government forces and allied militias, who have killed tens of thousands and driven 2 million people from their homes into miserable camps in Sudan and neighboring Chad.
U.S. Rep. John Murtha, continuing his criticism of President Bush's handling of the Iraq war, said today it would take more than Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's resignation to restore Bush's credibility in the Middle East and with the American public.
The only way Bush can show he is ready to seriously change direction and pursue a diplomatic solution to the war is if he makes "substantial" changes in his administration, Murtha told about 100 people attending a luncheon sponsored by the World Affairs Council of Pittsburgh at the DoubleTree Hotel, Downtown.
"Nobody can believe these guys anymore," Murtha, D-Johnstown, told reporters after his speech, in which he listed the reasons he believes the Bush administration has "mishandled, mischaracterized and misrepresented" the planning and management of the war.
Whether it's Bush's fault or not that things are going badly in Iraq, Murtha said, "he's getting blamed for it, so he needs to make some substantial changes" in his top staff. "He's got to let loyalty and friendship take a subservient position to the good of the country."
Unless "we replace the people responsible for the failed plan" the U.S. will not be able to get the international help and cooperation it needs, Murtha said during his half-hour speech. He also again criticized Rumsfeld, saying he andBush "were wrong when it came to Iraq" but "won't admit it."
Though the president touts the elections in Iraq as evidence of success in the war, Murtha said in reality "we have lost the hearts and minds of both the Iraqi people, and as the polls indicate, of the American public and, obviously, of the world."
Indian tribe, downwinders: Stop Nevada blast
Members of an Indian tribe and two nuclear fallout "downwinders" are asking a federal court to halt plans for a huge non-nuclear explosion that is expected to generate a mushroom cloud over the Nevada desert in June.
"This is a worst nightmare come true for downwinders," said Robert Hager, a Reno-based lawyer representing four members of the Nevada-based Western Shoshone tribe and two residents of Utah.
He said the June 2 detonation of a 700-ton ammonium nitrate and fuel oil bomb at the Nevada Test Site would kick up radioactive fallout left from nuclear weapons tests conducted from 1951 to 1992... The 21-page request for a temporary restraining order and a preliminary injunction predicts a 10,000-foot mushroom cloud, and calls the blast a "clear and present danger" to the health of people living to the east, or downwind of the vast Nevada Test Site.
The document names as defendants Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Linton Brooks and James Tegnelia, the directors of two federal agencies planning the test.
Defense Department, National Nuclear Security Administration and Defense Threat Reduction Agency officials each declined comment Thursday, saying they had not immediately seen the court documents submitted to U.S. District Court in Las Vegas.
The court filing claims the test, dubbed "Divine Strake," would irreparably desecrate land the Western Shoshone tribe has never acknowledged turning over to the U.S.
John Dean: If Past Is Prologue, George Bush Is Becoming An Increasingly Dangerous President
Bush is following the classic mistaken pattern of active/negative presidents: As Barber explained, they issue order after order, without public support, until they eventually dissipate the real powers they have -- until "nothing [is] left but the shell of the office." Woodrow Wilson, Herbert Hoover, Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon all followed this pattern.
Active/negative presidents are risk-takers. (Consider the colossal risk Bush took with the Iraq invasion). And once they have taken a position, they lock on to failed courses of action and insist on rigidly holding steady, even when new facts indicate that flexibility is required.
The source of their rigidity is that they've become emotionally attached to their own positions; to change them, in their minds, would be to change their personal identity, their very essence. That, they are not willing to do at any cost.
Wilson rode his unpopular League of Nations proposal to his ruin; Hoover refused to let the federal government intervene to prevent or lessen a fiscal depression; Johnson escalated U.S. involvement in Vietnam while misleading Americans (thereby making himself unelectable); and Nixon went down with his bogus defense of Watergate.
George Bush has misled America into a preemptive war in Iraq; he is using terrorism to claim that as Commander-in-Chief, he is above the law; and he refuses to acknowledge that American law prohibits torturing our enemies and warrantlessly wiretapping Americans.
Americans, increasingly, are not buying his justifications for any of these positions. Yet Bush has made no effort to persuade them that his actions are sound, prudent or productive; rather, he takes offense when anyone questions his unilateral powers. He responds as if personally insulted.
Further Proof: "The war in Iraq was coming, and they were looking for intelligence to fit into the policy..."
What did this high-level source tell him?
Outrage, again: The Billion-Dollar Baghdad Embassy
That's the estimate, though only half of it has been appropriated so far, a billion dollars to build a new embassy in Iraq . It will be the largest on the globe, the largest the world has ever seen, the size of Vatican City in Italy .
U.S. embassies typically cover ten acres. This one, a 104-acre complex, will be comprised of 21 buildings, its own water wells, an electricity plant and wastewaster-treatment facility that makes the huge compound completely independent of Iraq , whose "interim government" sold the land to the U.S. in October 2004. Terms of the agreement do not appear to be readily accessible.
The massive compound will include two major diplomatic office buildings, homes for the ambassador and his deputy, apartment buildings for staff, and a recreational facility that will provide a swimming pool, gym, commissary, food court and American Club.
In this case, the devil is less in the details than in the monumental size and cost of the endeavor. The likeness to a small fortified city is frightening to those who object to a permanent presence of the U.S. in Iraq, already destroyed by American bombs and depleted uranium, and the core of such fear lies in the question of WHY the U.S., already dangerously in debt back home and dangerously despised in Iraq and most of the mideast, is pounding its chest with such a noisy bravado. Is this the finale of "Shock and Awe"?
Those working in the embassy-city are protected by extraordinary security, overseen by U.S. Marines. Structures will be reinforced to 2.5 times the standard. There will be five high-security entrances as well as an emergency entrance/exit, according to a U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee report.
Foreign relations? Presumably the hope was at some point to look for olive branches, the U.S. and Iraq shaking hands and agreeing to go back to "go" and start all over. So from whom is such vast and expensive protection necessary? Were we ever within even shouting distance of being "liberators"? What kind of thinking would pour so much into a country that the White House says we want to turn over to the Iraqis as soon as possible? After all, we're the folks who brought "freedom" to Iraq . So why this elaborate expenditure at the same time that the people of the U.S. have finally awakened and turned against the invasion and occupation of a country that we now know never posed a threat to the U.S. or anyone else?
It's a hair past income tax time. Shouldn't those of us who filed have a word to say about where our checks are going? We've said, "No more. We want out as soon as possible." And yet the building goes on, about a third completed as of this writing.
Shall we take comfort in Mr. Bush's reassurances and hope he has a secret plan? Shall we look at the bright side and wonder how this impressive compound of compounds would work as an orphanage for the children whose parents we've blown to bits?
Rumsfeld Potentially Liable for Torture
A December 20, 2005 Army Inspector General’s report, obtained by Salon.com this week, contains a sworn statement by Lt. Gen. Randall M. Schmidt that implicates Secretary Rumsfeld in the abuse of detainee Mohammad al-Qahtani. Based on an investigation that he carried out in early 2005, which included two interviews with Rumsfeld, Gen. Schmidt describes the defense secretary as being “personally involved” in al-Qahtani’s interrogation.
If, like me, you are in the business of ideas, the presidency of George W. Bush is a dream come true. That is not because the president is fond of the product I produce; on the contrary, he may be the most anti-intellectual president of modern times, a determined opponent of science, a man who values loyalty above debate among his associates. But governance is impossible without ideas, and by basing his foreign and domestic policies on so many bad ones, President Bush may have cleared the ground for the emergence of a few good ones...
It is beyond my powers to know whether America's next president will be a Republican or a Democrat. But I do know that some future president will be faced with undoing the damage of a man sufficiently lacking in intellectual curiosity to question the bad ideas upon which he built his administration. Academics and intellectuals with an independent cast of mind — whether liberal or conservative — have played little role in the Bush administration, given, as it is, to reiterating talking points and insisting on absolute loyalty to the man in charge. But that is all the more reason why academics and intellectuals will find themselves in great demand when the leaders of this country eventually decide that their foreign and domestic policies will have to confront the real world around them, not the imaginary one bequeathed to them by their ideology. When that happens, future historians will look back on the Bush years as paving the way for a golden age of intellectual inquiry.
Zinn: America’s Blinders
If we don’t know history, then we are ready meat for carnivorous politicians and the intellectuals and journalists who supply the carving knives. I am not speaking of the history we learned in school, a history subservient to our political leaders, from the much-admired Founding Fathers to the Presidents of recent years. I mean a history which is honest about the past. If we don’t know that history, then any President can stand up to the battery of microphones, declare that we must go to war, and we will have no basis for challenging him. He will say that the nation is in danger, that democracy and liberty are at stake, and that we must therefore send ships and planes to destroy our new enemy, and we will have no reason to disbelieve him.
But if we know some history, if we know how many times Presidents have made similar declarations to the country, and how they turned out to be lies, we will not be fooled. Although some of us may pride ourselves that we were never fooled, we still might accept as our civic duty the responsibility to buttress our fellow citizens against the mendacity of our high officials.
We would remind whoever we can that President Polk lied to the nation about the reason for going to war with Mexico in 1846. It wasn’t that Mexico “shed American blood upon the American soil,” but that Polk, and the slave-owning aristocracy, coveted half of Mexico.
We would point out that President McKinley lied in 1898 about the reason for invading Cuba, saying we wanted to liberate the Cubans from Spanish control, but the truth is that we really wanted Spain out of Cuba so that the island could be open to United Fruit and other American corporations. He also lied about the reasons for our war in the Philippines, claiming we only wanted to “civilize” the Filipinos, while the real reason was to own a valuable piece of real estate in the far Pacific, even if we had to kill hundreds of thousands of Filipinos to accomplish that.
President Woodrow Wilson—so often characterized in our history books as an “idealist”—lied about the reasons for entering the First World War, saying it was a war to “make the world safe for democracy,” when it was really a war to make the world safe for the Western imperial powers.
Harry Truman lied when he said the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima because it was “a military target.”
Everyone lied about Vietnam—Kennedy about the extent of our involvement, Johnson about the Gulf of Tonkin, Nixon about the secret bombing of Cambodia, all of them claiming it was to keep South Vietnam free of communism, but really wanting to keep South Vietnam as an American outpost at the edge of the Asian continent.
Reagan lied about the invasion of Grenada, claiming falsely that it was a threat to the United States.
The elder Bush lied about the invasion of Panama, leading to the death of thousands of ordinary citizens in that country.
And he lied again about the reason for attacking Iraq in 1991—hardly to defend the integrity of Kuwait (can one imagine Bush heartstricken over Iraq’s taking of
Given the overwhelming record of lies told to justify wars, how could anyone listening to the younger Bush believe him as he laid out the reasons for invading Iraq? Would we not instinctively rebel against the sacrifice of lives for oil?
I had no idea this ever happened...
"The ground swelled up," said Anderson. "It was just like the ocean - there was a wave every 200 feet or so."
It was the day the government nuked Mississippi.
At precisely 10 a.m. on Oct. 22, 1964, a nuclear bomb exploded 2,700 feet beneath the loblolly pines of Lamar County. Within a microsecond, the clash of plutonium atoms heated an underground salt dome to the temperature of the sun.
On Saturday, the world will mark the 60th anniversary of the first atomic bomb test at Alamagordo, N.M. The anniversary is significant to Anderson and his neighbors because no Americans live closer to a nuclear-test site. The 1,052 other U.S. nuclear blasts occurred in sparsely populated sections of Nevada, New Mexico, Colorado and Alaska or in the Pacific Ocean.
Time has erased much of the evidence and memory of two underground nuclear explosions here - the only times the United States detonated atomic bombs east of the Mississippi River.
Some residents fear that the bomb has caused cancer. Others think that's just a bunch of hooey.
Federal and state officials say that residents are safe.
Of course they do. [via mefi]
Take care of this, willya? Bush Left Leak Details to Cheney
Bush merely instructed Cheney to "get it out" and left the details to him, said the lawyer, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the case for the White House. The vice president chose Libby and communicated the president's wishes to his then-top aide, the lawyer said.
It is not known when the conversation between Bush and Cheney took place. The White House has declined to provide the date when the president used his authority to declassify the portions of the October 2002 National Intelligence Estimate, a classified document that detailed the intelligence community's conclusions about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.
The new information about Bush and Cheney's roles came as the president's aides have scrambled to defuse the political fallout from a court filing Wednesday by the prosecutors in the complex, ongoing investigation into whether the identity of CIA officer Valerie Plame was disclosed to discredit her husband, former Ambassador Joseph Wilson, an Iraq war critic.
Sy Hersh: THE IRAN PLANS
The Bush Administration, while publicly advocating diplomacy in order to stop Iran from pursuing a nuclear weapon, has increased clandestine activities inside Iran and intensified planning for a possible major air attack. Current and former American military and intelligence officials said that Air Force planning groups are drawing up lists of targets, and teams of American combat troops have been ordered into Iran, under cover, to collect targeting data and to establish contact with anti-government ethnic-minority groups. The officials say that President Bush is determined to deny the Iranian regime the opportunity to begin a pilot program, planned for this spring, to enrich uranium.
American and European intelligence agencies, and the International Atomic Energy Agency (I.A.E.A.), agree that Iran is intent on developing the capability to produce nuclear weapons. But there are widely differing estimates of how long that will take, and whether diplomacy, sanctions, or military action is the best way to prevent it. Iran insists that its research is for peaceful use only, in keeping with the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, and that it will not be delayed or deterred.
There is a growing conviction among members of the United States military, and in the international community, that President Bush’s ultimate goal in the nuclear confrontation with Iran is regime change. Iran’s President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has challenged the reality of the Holocaust and said that Israel must be “wiped off the map.” Bush and others in the White House view him as a potential Adolf Hitler, a former senior intelligence official said. “That’s the name they’re using. They say, ‘Will Iran get a strategic weapon and threaten another world war?’ ”
Top Pentagon Brass: "Why I Think Rumsfeld Must Go"
In 1971, the rock group The Who released the antiwar anthem Won't Get Fooled Again. To most in my generation, the song conveyed a sense of betrayal by the nation's leaders, who had led our country into a costly and unnecessary war in Vietnam. To those of us who were truly counterculture—who became career members of the military during those rough times—the song conveyed a very different message. To us, its lyrics evoked a feeling that we must never again stand by quietly while those ignorant of and casual about war lead us into another one and then mismanage the conduct of it. Never again, we thought, would our military's senior leaders remain silent as American troops were marched off to an ill-considered engagement. It's 35 years later, and the judgment is in: the Who had it wrong. We have been fooled again. From 2000 until October 2002, I was a Marine Corps lieutenant general and director of operations for the Joint Chiefs of Staff. After 9/11, I was a witness and therefore a party to the actions that led us to the invasion of Iraq—an unnecessary war. Inside the military family, I made no secret of my view that the zealots' rationale for war made no sense. And I think I was outspoken enough to make those senior to me uncomfortable. But I now regret that I did not more openly challenge those who were determined to invade a country whose actions were peripheral to the real threat—al-Qaeda. I retired from the military four months before the invasion, in part because of my opposition to those who had used 9/11's tragedy to hijack our security policy. Until now, I have resisted speaking out in public. I've been silent long enough.
I am driven to action now by the missteps and misjudgments of the White House and the Pentagon, and by my many painful visits to our military hospitals. In those places, I have been both inspired and shaken by the broken bodies but unbroken spirits of soldiers, Marines and corpsmen returning from this war. The cost of flawed leadership continues to be paid in blood. The willingness of our forces to shoulder such a load should make it a sacred obligation for civilian and military leaders to get our defense policy right. They must be absolutely sure that the commitment is for a cause as honorable as the sacrifice.
Cutting and Running in Baghdad
As usual, President Bush, Vice President Cheney, and their stalwart secretaries of state and defense, are johnnies-come-lately in their ability to understand how far gone Iraq is. Perhaps, as has been the case in the past, that is because they continue flagrantly to disregard what they are told by analysts in the U.S. intelligence community. Before, during, and after the invasion of Iraq, with a rising sense of alarm, the CIA, the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research (INR), and other agencies warned the Bush-Cheney team that the destruction of Iraq's central government could tumble the country into a civil war. In 2004, of course, the president famously dismissed such CIA warnings as "just a guess." Well, guess what, Mr. President? It's civil war. And it isn't pretty.
To kook or not to kook: Report from Iron Mountain
By 1980, the book was out of print. The controversy seemed forgotten. World peace had not materialised. But in the 1990s, Lewin discovered that bootleg editions of his book were being distributed by and to members of rightwing militia groups who claimed it was an authentic report. His 1972 admission seemed to have bypassed rightwing America. Lewin sued for copyright infringement, though the groups argued it was a public domain document – i.e. an official document – and that Lewin’s name as author was part of the government deception. In short, they argued that the publication was genuine, but, once leaked, the government did damage control and claimed it was a hoax, asking Lewin to admit to it.
President Hugo Chavez is spending billions of dollars of his country's oil windfall on pet projects abroad that are aimed at setting up his leftist government as a political counterpoint in the region to the conservative Bush administration...
With Venezuela's oil revenues rising 32 percent last year, Mr. Chávez has been subsidizing samba parades in Brazil, eye surgery for poor Mexicans and even heating fuel for poor families from Maine to the Bronx to Philadelphia. By some estimates, the spending now surpasses the nearly $2 billion Washington allocates annually to pay for development programs and the drug war in western South America.
The new spending has given more power to a leader who has been provocatively building a bulwark against what he has called American imperialistic aims in Latin America. Mr. Chávez frequently derides Mr. Bush and his top aides. In March, he called Mr. Bush a "donkey," a "drunkard" and a "coward," daring him to invade the country.
But with the biggest oil reserves outside the Middle East, Mr. Chávez is more than an irritant. He is fast rising as the next Fidel Castro, a hero to the masses who is intent on opposing every move the United States makes, but with an important advantage.
"He's managed to do what Fidel Castro never could," said Stephen Johnson, a scholar at the conservative Heritage Foundation. "Castro never had an independent source of income the way Chávez does. Chávez is filling a void that Castro left for him, leading nonaligned nations."
When President Bush signed the reauthorization of the USA Patriot Act this month, he included an addendum saying that he did not feel obliged to obey requirements that he inform Congress about how the FBI was using the act's expanded police powers.
The bill contained several oversight provisions intended to make sure the FBI did not abuse the special terrorism-related powers to search homes and secretly seize papers. The provisions require Justice Department officials to keep closer track of how often the FBI uses the new powers and in what type of situations. Under the law, the administration would have to provide the information to Congress by certain dates.
Bush signed the bill with fanfare at a White House ceremony March 9, calling it ''a piece of legislation that's vital to win the war on terror and to protect the American people." But after the reporters and guests had left, the White House quietly issued a ''signing statement," an official document in which a president lays out his interpretation of a new law.
In the statement, Bush said that he did not consider himself bound to tell Congress how the Patriot Act powers were being used and that, despite the law's requirements, he could withhold the information if he decided that disclosure would ''impair foreign relations, national security, the deliberative process of the executive, or the performance of the executive's constitutional duties."
Bush wrote: ''The executive branch shall construe the provisions . . . that call for furnishing information to entities outside the executive branch . . . in a manner consistent with the president's constitutional authority to supervise the unitary executive branch and to withhold information . . . "
Good ol' Canada: U.S. deserter tells of atrocities
A "trigger-happy" U.S. army squad leader shot the foot off an unarmed Iraqi man and soldiers kicked a severed head around like a soccer ball, a U.S. war deserter told an Immigration and Refugee Board hearing Thursday.
Joshua Key, the first U.S. deserter with combat experience in Iraq to apply for refugee status in Canada, told the board he witnessed numerous atrocities committed by U.S. forces while serving eight months as a combat engineer.
Key, 27, said he was never trained on the Geneva Convention and was told in Iraq by superior officers that the international law guiding humanitarian standards was just a "guideline."
"It's shoot first, ask questions later," Key said of his squad's guiding principles. "Everything's justified." (Sounds like typical Bush rhetoric)
Key is one of five members of the U.S. armed forces asking for asylum in Canada... With visible bags under his eyes, Key told the hearing he suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder and frequently has nightmares over what he witnessed in Iraq. He recalled participating in almost nightly raids on homes of suspected insurgents in Ramadi and Fallujah as a member of the 43rd Combat Engineer Company.
He said that while the raids seldom turned up anything of interest, he often saw soldiers ransack the homes and steal jewelry or money, while superior officers looked the other way.
He also said several Iraqis were shot dead, and that they were cases of soldiers "shooting out of fear and inventing reasons afterward." In Ramadi, Key said he saw the beheaded bodies of four Iraqis beside a shot-up truck and witnessed several members of the Florida National Guard kick a severed head "like a soccer ball."
Keep 'em guessing: Insulating Bush
Karl Rove, President Bush's chief political adviser, cautioned other White House aides in the summer of 2003 that Bush's 2004 re-election prospects would be severely damaged if it was publicly disclosed that he had been personally warned that a key rationale for going to war had been challenged within the administration. Rove expressed his concerns shortly after an informal review of classified government records by then-Deputy National Security Adviser Stephen J. Hadley determined that Bush had been specifically advised that claims he later made in his 2003 State of the Union address -- that Iraq was procuring high-strength aluminum tubes to build a nuclear weapon -- might not be true, according to government records and interviews.
Really, shouldn't this kind of thing be reserved for mindless TeeVee speculative drama? Chimp looks more and more like a Manchurian Candidate every passing day of his utterly contemptuous "administration."
Two years into the crisis, the western Sudanese region of Darfur is acknowledged to be a humanitarian and human rights tragedy of the first order. According to recent reports by the World Food Program, the United Nations and the Coalition for International Justice, 3.5 million people are now hungry, 2.5 million have been displaced due to violence, and 400,000 people have died in Darfur thus far. The international community is failing to protect civilians itself or to influence the Sudanese government to do so.
Blumenthal: The Apocalyptic president
In his latest PR offensive President Bush came to Cleveland, Ohio, on Monday to answer the paramount question on Iraq that he said was on people's minds: "They wonder what I see that they don't." After mentioning "terror" 54 times and "victory" five, dismissing "civil war" twice and asserting that he is "optimistic", he called on a citizen in the audience, who homed in on the invisible meaning of recent events in the light of two books, American Theocracy, by Kevin Phillips, and the book of Revelation. Phillips, the questioner explained, "makes the point that members of your administration have reached out to prophetic Christians who see the war in Iraq and the rise of terrorism as signs of the apocalypse. Do you believe this? And if not, why not?"
Bush's immediate response, as transcribed by CNN, was: "Hmmm." Then he said: "The answer is I haven't really thought of it that way. Here's how I think of it. First, I've heard of that, by the way." The official White House website transcript drops the strategic comma, and so changes the meaning to: "First I've heard of that, by the way."
But it is certainly not the first time Bush has heard of the apocalyptic preoccupation of much of the religious right, having served as evangelical liaison on his father's 1988 presidential campaign. The Rev Jerry Falwell told Newsweek how he brought Tim LaHaye, then an influential rightwing leader, to meet him; LaHaye's Left Behind novels, dramatising the rapture, Armageddon and the second coming, have sold tens of millions.
But it is almost certain that Cleveland was the first time Bush had heard of Phillips's book. He was the visionary strategist for Nixon's 1968 presidential campaign; his 1969 book, The Emerging Republican Majority, spelled out the shift of power from the north-east to the south and south-west, which he was early to call "the sunbelt"; he grasped that southern Democrats would react to the civil-rights revolution by becoming southern Republicans; he also understood the resentments of urban ethnic Catholics towards black people on issues such as crime, school integration and jobs. But he never imagined that evangelical religion would transform the coalition he helped to fashion into something that horrifies him.
In American Theocracy, Phillips describes Bush as the founder of "the first American religious party"; September 11 gave him the pretext for "seizing the fundamentalist moment"; he has manipulated a "critical religious geography" to hype issues such as gay marriage. "New forces were being interwoven. These included the institutional rise of the religious right, the intensifying biblical focus on the Middle East, and the deepening of insistence on church-government collaboration within the GOP electorate." It portended a potential "American Disenlightenment," apparent in Bush's hostility to science.
Hardly Surprising: Bush shuns Patriot Act requirement
When President Bush signed the reauthorization of the USA Patriot Act this month, he included an addendum saying that he did not feel obliged to obey requirements that he inform Congress about how the FBI was using the act's expanded police powers.
Bush signed the bill with fanfare at a White House ceremony March 9, calling it ''a piece of legislation that's vital to win the war on terror and to protect the American people." But after the reporters and guests had left, the White House quietly issued a ''signing statement," an official document in which a president lays out his interpretation of a new law.
In the statement, Bush said that he did not consider himself bound to tell Congress how the Patriot Act powers were being used and that, despite the law's requirements, he could withhold the information if he decided that disclosure would ''impair foreign relations, national security, the deliberative process of the executive, or the performance of the executive's constitutional duties."
Why Oh Why Are We Ruled by These... Whatever They Ares?
Interesting that [Bush] cannot remember "Federal Reserve" on the fly. Also interesting that he does not know that the Federal Reserve controls the overnight federal funds rate, but does not control--it influences--long-term rates. Interesting that he thinks his power to veto appropriations bills is the power to "make suggestions" about spending levels.
Who is the "they"? And did "they" really tell him to say that?
Two Years Before 9/11, Candidate Bush was Already Talking Privately About Attacking Iraq, According to His Former Ghost Writer
Two years before the September 11 attacks, presidential candidate George W. Bush was already talking privately about the political benefits of attacking Iraq, according to his former ghost writer, who held many conversations with then-Texas Governor Bush in preparation for a planned autobiography.
"He was thinking about invading Iraq in 1999," said author and journalist Mickey Herskowitz. "It was on his mind. He said to me: 'One of the keys to being seen as a great leader is to be seen as a commander-in-chief.' And he said, 'My father had all this political capital built up when he drove the Iraqis out of Kuwait and he wasted it.' He said, 'If I have a chance to invade·.if I had that much capital, I'm not going to waste it. I'm going to get everything passed that I want to get passed and I'm going to have a successful presidency." Herskowitz said that Bush expressed frustration at a lifetime as an underachiever in the shadow of an accomplished father. In aggressive military action, he saw the opportunity to emerge from his father's shadow. The moment, Herskowitz said, came in the wake of the September 11 attacks. "Suddenly, he's at 91 percent in the polls, and he'd barely crawled out of the bunker."
That President Bush and his advisers had Iraq on their minds long before weapons inspectors had finished their work - and long before alleged Iraqi ties with terrorists became a central rationale for war - has been raised elsewhere, including in a book based on recollections of former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill. However, Herskowitz was in a unique position to hear Bush's unguarded and unfiltered views on Iraq, war and other matters - well before he became president.
In 1999, Herskowitz struck a deal with the campaign of George W. Bush about a ghost-written autobiography, which was ultimately titled A Charge to Keep : My Journey to the White House, and he and Bush signed a contract in which the two would split the proceeds. The publisher was William Morrow. Herskowitz was given unimpeded access to Bush, and the two met approximately 20 times so Bush could share his thoughts. Herskowitz began working on the book in May, 1999, and says that within two months he had completed and submitted some 10 chapters, with a remaining 4-6 chapters still on his computer. Herskowitz was replaced as Bush's ghostwriter after Bush's handlers concluded that the candidate's views and life experiences were not being cast in a sufficiently positive light.
President Bush Increasingly Uses Rhetorical Straw-Man Arguments to Combat Unnamed Critics
"Some look at the challenges in Iraq and conclude that the war is lost and not worth another dime or another day," President Bush said recently.
Another time he said, "Some say that if you're Muslim you can't be free."
"There are some really decent people," the president said earlier this year, "who believe that the federal government ought to be the decider of health care ... for all people."
Of course, hardly anyone in mainstream political debate has made such assertions. When the president starts a sentence with "some say" or offers up what "some in Washington" believe, as he is doing more often these days, a rhetorical retort almost assuredly follows.
The device usually is code for Democrats or other White House opponents. In describing what they advocate, Bush often omits an important nuance or substitutes an extreme stance that bears little resemblance to their actual position. He typically then says he "strongly disagrees" - conveniently knocking down a straw man of his own making.
Intolerable abuse of power: The Letter of the Law
In the dark days after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, a small group of lawyers from the White House and the Justice Department began meeting to debate a number of novel legal strategies to help prevent another attack. Soon after, President Bush authorized the National Security Agency to begin conducting electronic eavesdropping on terrorism suspects in the United States, including American citizens, without court approval. Meeting in the FBI's state-of-the-art command center in the J. Edgar Hoover Building, the lawyers talked with senior FBI officials about using the same legal authority to conduct physical searches of homes and businesses of terrorism suspects--also without court approval, one current and one former government official tell U.S. News. "There was a fair amount of discussion at Justice on the warrantless physical search issue," says a former senior FBI official. "Discussions about--if [the searches] happened--where would the information go, and would it taint cases."
FBI Director Robert Mueller was alarmed by the proposal, the two officials said, and pushed back hard against it. "Mueller was personally very concerned," one official says, "not only because of the blowback issue but also because of the legal and constitutional questions raised by warrantless physical searches." FBI spokesman John Miller said none of the FBI's senior staff are aware of any such discussions and added that the bureau has not conducted "physical searches of any location without consent or a judicial order."
...in a little-noticed white paper submitted by Attorney General Alberto Gonzales to Congress on January 19 justifying the legality of the NSA eavesdropping, Justice Department lawyers made a tacit case that President Bush also has the inherent authority to order such physical searches. In order to fulfill his duties as commander in chief, the 42-page white paper says, "a consistent understanding has developed that the president has inherent constitutional authority to conduct warrantless searches and surveillance within the United States for foreign intelligence purposes." The memo cites congressional testimony of Jamie Gorelick, a former deputy attorney general in the Clinton administration, in 1994 stating that the Justice Department "believes, and the case law supports, that the president has inherent authority to conduct warrantless physical searches for foreign intelligence purposes."
Our Fourth Year: This is why occupation must end now.
Eman Waleed, 9, lived in a house 150 yards from the site of the blast, which was strong enough to shatter all the windows in her home. "We heard a big noise that woke us all up," she recalls two months later. "Then we did what we always do when there's an explosion: my father goes into his room with the Koran and prays that the family will be spared any harm." Eman says the rest of the family—her mother, grandfather, grandmother, two brothers, two aunts and two uncles—gathered in the living room. According to military officials familiar with the investigation, the Marines say they came under fire from the direction of the Waleed house immediately after being hit by the ied. A group of Marines headed toward the house. Eman says she "heard a lot of shooting, so none of us went outside. Besides, it was very early, and we were all wearing our nightclothes." When the Marines entered the house, they were shouting in English. "First, they went into my father's room, where he was reading the Koran," she claims, "and we heard shots." According to Eman, the Marines then entered the living room. "I couldn't see their faces very well—only their guns sticking into the doorway. I watched them shoot my grandfather, first in the chest and then in the head. Then they killed my granny." She claims the troops started firing toward the corner of the room where she and her younger brother Abdul Rahman, 8, were hiding; the other adults shielded the children from the bullets but died in the process. Eman says her leg was hit by a piece of metal and Abdul Rahman was shot near his shoulder. "We were lying there, bleeding, and it hurt so much. Afterward, some Iraqi soldiers came. They carried us in their arms. I was crying, shouting 'Why did you do this to our family?' And one Iraqi soldier tells me, 'We didn't do it. The Americans did.'" Time was unable to speak with the only other survivor of the raid, Eman's younger brother, who relatives say is traumatized by the experience. U.S. military officials familiar with the investigation say that after entering the house, the Marines walked into a corridor with closed doors on either side. They thought they heard the clack-clack sound of an AK-47 being racked and readied for fire. (Eman and relatives who were not in the house insist that no guns were there.) Believing they were about to be ambushed, the Marines broke down the two doors simultaneously and fired their weapons. The officials say the military has confirmed that seven people were killed inside the house--including two women and a child. The Marines also reported seeing a man and a woman run out of the house; they gave chase and shot and killed the man. Relatives say the woman, Hiba Abdullah, escaped with her baby.
JACK ABRAMOFF TALKS ABOUT HIS RELATIONSHIPS
Abramoff discusses his relationship with:
President Bush, who claims not to remember having his picture taken with Abramoff. According to Abramoff, at one time, the president joked with Abramoff about his weight-lifting past: "What are you benching, buff guy?"
Tom DeLay, who once referred to Abramoff as one of his closest friends. Abramoff explains his working relationship with DeLay, saying, "I didn't spend a lot of time lobbying Tom for things, because the things I worked on were usually consistent with the conservative philosophy." Abramoff has "admired Tom DeLay and his family from the first meeting with him," he tells Margolick. "We would sit and talk about the Bible. We would sit and talk about opera. We would sit and talk about golf," Abramoff recalls. "I mean, we talked about philosophy and politics."
Ken Mehlman, who recently claimed he didn't really know Abramoff. According to documents obtained by Vanity Fair, Mehlman exchanged e-mail with Abramoff, and did him political favors (such as preventing Clinton administration alumnus Allen Stayman from keeping a State Department job), had Sabbath dinner at Abramoff's house, and offered to pick up Abramoff's tab at Signatures, Abramoff's own restaurant.
Newt Gingrich, whose spokesman Rick Tyler tells Margolick that "Before [Abramoff's] picture appeared on TV and in the newspapers, Newt wouldn't have known him if he fell across him. He hadn't seen him in 10 years." A rankled Abramoff says "I have more pictures of [Newt] than I have of my wife." Abramoff shows Margolick numerous photographs: "Here's Newt. Newt. Newt. Newt. More Newt. Newt with Grover [Norquist, the Washington conservative Republican Über-strategist and longtime Abramoff friend] this time. But Newt never met me. Ollie North. Newt. Can't be Newt … he never met me. Oh, Newt! What's he doing there? Must be a Newt look-alike.… Newt again! It's sick! I thought he never met me!"
Helen Thomas: Lap Dogs of the Press
Despite the apologies of the mainstream press for not having vigilantly questioned evidence of WMD and links to terrorists in the early stages of the war, the newspapers dropped the ball again by ignoring for days a damaging report in the London Times on May 1, 2005. That report revealed the so-called Downing Street memo, the minutes of a high-powered confidential meeting that British Prime Minister Tony Blair held with his top advisers on Bush's forthcoming plans to attack Iraq. At the secret session Richard Dearlove, former head of British intelligence, told Blair that Bush "wanted to remove Saddam Hussein through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD. But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy."
The Downing Street memo was a bombshell when discussed by the bloggers, but the mainstream print media ignored it until it became too embarrassing to suppress any longer. The Post discounted the memo as old news and pointed to reports it had many months before on the buildup to the war. Los Angeles Times editorial page editor Michael Kinsley decided that the classified minutes of the Blair meeting were not a "smoking gun." The New York Times touched on the memo in a dispatch during the last days leading up to the British elections, but put it in the tenth paragraph.
All this took me back to the days immediately following the unraveling of the Watergate scandal. The White House press corps realized it had fallen asleep at the switch--not that all the investigative reporting could have been done by those on the so-called "body watch," which travels everywhere with the President and has no time to dig for facts. But looking back, they knew they had missed many clues on the Watergate scandal and were determined to become much more skeptical of what was being dished out to them at the daily briefings. And, indeed, they were. The White House press room became a lion's den.
A Veteran’s Letter to the President
We were patriots sworn “to protect and defend”. Today I conclude that you have dishonored our service and the Constitution and principles of our oath. My dad was buried with full military honors so I cannot act for him. But for myself, I return enclosed the symbols of my years of service: the shoulder boards of my rank and my Naval Aviator’s wings.
Until your administration, I believed it was inconceivable that the United States would ever initiate an aggressive and preemptive war against a country that posed no threat to us. Until your administration, I thought it was impossible for our nation to take hundreds of persons into custody without provable charges of any kind, and to “disappear” them into holes like Gitmo, Abu Ghraib and Bagram. Until your administration, in my wildest legal fantasy I could not imagine a U.S. Attorney General seeking to justify torture or a President first stating his intent to veto an anti-torture law, and then adding a “signing statement” that he intends to ignore such law as he sees fit. I do not want these things done in my name.
Are you from the past? More Than Half of Americans Reject Evolution
"Surveys repeatedly show that a substantial portion of Americans do not believe that the theory of evolution best explains where life came from." They are "not so quick to agree with the preponderance of scientific evidence."
The US has already fallen behind Europe in leading the world... way behind. While I'm not an atheist, it's times like this me must give good ol' Richard Dawkins a refreshing read and remember that there is so much wrong and counterevolutionary on many levels about giving credence to fundamentalist belief systems.
Ivins: The Progress Myth in Iraq
...Brother Rumsfeld warns us, “We do know that their goal is to try to break the will; that they consider the center of gravity of this—not to be in Iraq, because they know they can’t win a battle out there; they consider it to be in Washington, D.C., and in London and in the capitals of the Western world.”
I’m sorry, I know we are not allowed to use the V-word in relation to Iraq, because so many brilliant neo-cons have assured us this war is nothing like Vietnam (Vietnam, lotsa jungle; Iraq lotsa sand—big differences). But you must admit that press conferences with Donny Rum are wonderfully reminiscent of the Five O’Clock Follies, those wacky but endearing daily press briefings on Southeast Asia by military officers who made Baghdad Bob sound like a pessimist.
Rumsfeld’s performance was so reminiscent of all the times the military in Vietnam blamed the media for reporting “bad news’” when there was nothing else to report. A briefing officer once memorably asked the press, “Who’s side are you on?” The answer is what it’s always been: We root for America, but our job is to report as accurately as we can what the situation is.
You could rely on other sources. For example, the Pentagon is still investigating itself to find out why it is paying American soldiers to make up good news about the war, which it then passes on to a Republican public relations firm, which in turn pays people in the Iraqi media to print the stuff—thus fooling the Iraqis or somebody. When last heard from, the general in charge of investigating this federally funded Baghdad Bobism said he hadn’t found anything about it to be illegal yet, so it apparently continues.
Meanwhile, Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad told the Los Angeles Times Iraq is “really vulnerable” to civil war if there is another attack like the al-Askari bombing. By invading, said Khalilzad, the United States has “opened the Pandora’s box” of sectarian strife in Iraq.
Bush Admin: McCain Torture Ban Doesn't Apply to Gitmo
But of course!
Bush administration lawyers, fighting a claim of torture by a Guantanamo Bay detainee, yesterday argued that the new law that bans cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment of detainees in U.S. custody does not apply to people held at the military prison.
Keillor: Impeach Bush
These are troubling times for all of us who love this country, as surely we all do, even the satirists. You may poke fun at your mother, but if she is belittled by others it burns your bacon. A blowhard French journalist writes a book about America that is full of arrogant stupidity, and you want to let the air out of him and mail him home flat. You hear young people talk about America as if it's all over, and you trust that this is only them talking tough. And then you read the paper and realize the country is led by a man who isn't paying attention, and you hope that somebody will poke him. Or put a sign on his desk that says, "Try Much Harder."
Do we need to impeach him to bring some focus to this man's life? The man was lost and then he was found and now he's more lost than ever, plus being blind.
The Feb. 27 issue of the New Yorker carries an article by Jane Mayer about a loyal conservative Republican and U.S. Navy lawyer, Albert Mora, and his resistance to the torture of prisoners at Guantánamo Bay. From within the Pentagon bureaucracy, he did battle against Donald Rumsfeld and John Yoo at the Justice Department and shadowy figures taking orders from Dick (Gunner) Cheney, arguing America had ratified the Geneva Convention that forbids cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment of prisoners, and so it has the force of law. They seemed to be arguing that the president has the right to order prisoners to be tortured.
One such prisoner, Mohammed al-Qahtani, was held naked in isolation under bright lights for months, threatened by dogs, subjected to unbearable noise volumes, and otherwise abused, so that he begged to be allowed to kill himself. When the Senate approved the Torture Convention in 1994, it defined torture as an act "specifically intended to inflict severe physical or mental pain or suffering." Is the law a law or is it a piece of toast?
Wiretap surveillance of Americans without a warrant? Great. Go for it. How about turning over American ports to a country more closely tied to 9/11 than Saddam Hussein was? Fine by me. No problem. And what about the war in Iraq? Hey, you're doing a heck of a job, Brownie. No need to tweak a thing. And your blue button-down shirt -- it's you.
Venezuelan-Owned Citgo Faces Congressional Inquiry For Offering Discounted Oil to U.S. Poor
In Washington, Republican Congressman Joe Barton of Texas has launched an investigation into one of the world’s major oil companies. But he is not investigating whether any of the oil giants are engaging in price gouging at a time when gasoline and heating oil casts are skyrocketing. Instead Barton has set his sights on the only oil company that actually dared to lower its prices last year - at least for the poorest Americans. Last week Barton demanded the Venezuelan-owned company Citgo produce all records, minutes, logs, e-mails and even desk calendars related to the company’s novel program of supplying discounted heating oil to low-income communities in the United States. The Citgo program, which began late last year in Massachusetts and the South Bronx, provides oil at discounts as high as 60% off market price.
Heh. Obvious, isn't it? Cutting into good ol' 'Merican profits is a big no-no, even in the midst of altrusim. Remember to get your gas at Citgo, folks.
37 million poor hidden in the land of plenty
The flickering television in Candy Lumpkins's trailer blared out The Bold and the Beautiful. It was a fantasy daytime soap vision of American life with little relevance to the reality of this impoverished corner of Kentucky.
The Lumpkins live at the definition of the back of beyond, in a hollow at the top of a valley at the end of a long and muddy dirt road. It is strewn with litter. Packs of stray dogs prowl around, barking at strangers. There is no telephone and since their pump broke two weeks ago Candy has collected water from nearby springs. Oblivious to it all, her five-year-old daughter Amy runs barefoot on a wooden porch frozen by a midwinter chill.
It is a vision of deep and abiding poverty. Yet the Lumpkins are not alone in their plight. They are just the negative side of the American equation. America does have vast, wealthy suburbs, huge shopping malls and a busy middle class, but it also has vast numbers of poor, struggling to make it in a low-wage economy with minimal government help.
A shocking 37 million Americans live in poverty. That is 12.7 per cent of the population - the highest percentage in the developed world. They are found from the hills of Kentucky to Detroit's streets, from the Deep South of Louisiana to the heartland of Oklahoma. Each year since 2001 their number has grown.
Annexing Khuzestan; Battle-Plans for Iran
Bush has no intention of occupying Iran. Rather, the goal is to destroy major weapons-sites, destabilize the regime, and occupy a sliver of land on the Iraqi border that contains 90% of Iran’s oil wealth. Ultimately, Washington will aim to replace the Mullahs with American-friendly clients who can police their own people and fabricate the appearance of representative government. But, that will have to wait. For now, the administration must prevent the incipient Iran bourse (oil-exchange) from opening in March and precipitating a global sell-off of the debt-ridden dollar. There have many fine articles written about the proposed “euro-based” bourse and the devastating effects it will have on the greenback. The best of these are ‘’Petrodollar Warfare: Oil, Iraq and the Future of the Dollar’‘ by William R. Clark, and ‘’The Proposed Oil Bourse’‘ by Krassimir Petrov, Ph.D.
The bottom line on the bourse is this; the dollar is underwritten by a national debt that now exceeds $8 trillion dollars and trade deficits that surpass $600 billion per year. That means that the greenback is the greatest swindle in the history of mankind. It’s utterly worthless. The only thing that keeps the dollar afloat is that oil is traded exclusively in greenbacks rather than some other currency. If Iran is able to smash that monopoly by trading in petro-euros then the world’s central banks will dump the greenback overnight, sending markets crashing and the US economy into a downward spiral.
The Bush administration has no intention of allowing that to take place. In fact, as the tax-cuts and the budget deficits indicate, the Bush cabal fully intends to perpetuate the system that trades worthless dollars for valuable commodities, labor, and resources. As long as the oil market is married to the dollar, this system of global indentured servitude will continue.
Mutual Back Scrtatching, Ltd: U.S. Has Royalty Plan to Give Windfall to Oil Companies
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The federal government is on the verge of one of the biggest giveaways of oil and gas in American history, worth an estimated $7 billion over five years.
New projections, buried in the Interior Department's just-published budget plan, anticipate that the government will let companies pump about $65 billion worth of oil and natural gas from federal territory over the next five years without paying any royalties to the government.
Based on the administration figures, the government will give up more than $7 billion in payments between now and 2011. The companies are expected to get the largess, known as royalty relief, even though the administration assumes that oil prices will remain above $50 a barrel throughout that period.
...the projected largess could be just the start. Last week, Kerr-McGee Exploration and Development, a major industry player, began a brash but utterly serious court challenge that could, if it succeeds, cost the government another $28 billion in royalties over the next five years.
In what administration officials and industry executives alike view as a major test case, Kerr-McGee told the Interior Department last week that it planned to challenge one of the government's biggest limitations on royalty relief if it could not work out an acceptable deal in its favor. If Kerr-McGee is successful, administration projections indicate that about 80 percent of all oil and gas from federal waters in the Gulf of Mexico would be royalty-free.
"It's one of the greatest train robberies in the history of the world," said Representative George Miller, a California Democrat who has fought royalty concessions on oil and gas for more than a decade. "It's the gift that keeps on giving."
Rock the Vote: Ousting Hamas?
The United States and Israel are discussing ways to destabilize the Palestinian government so that newly elected Hamas officials will fail and elections will be called again, according to Israeli officials and Western diplomats.
Likewise, Shrub and Shootin' Dick won (lost) a smaller mandate than previously understood. We're doing such a great job of supporting *democratically elected governments* these days!
The Democrats Need a Spiritual Left
For years the Democrats have been telling themselves "it's the economy, stupid." Yet consistently for dozens of years millions of middle income Americans have voted against their own economic interests to support Republicans who have tapped a deeper set of needs.
Tens of millions of Americans feel betrayed by a society that seems to place materialism and selfishness above moral values. They know that "looking out for number one" has become the common sense of our society, but they want a life that is about something more --- a framework of meaning and purpose to their lives that would transcend the grasping and narcissism that surrounds them. Sure, they will admit that they have material needs, and that they worry about adequate health care, stability in employment, and enough money to give their kids a college education. But even more deeply they want their lives to have meaning --- and they respond to candidates who seem to care about values and some sense of transcendent purpose.
Many of these voters have found a "politics of meaning" in the political Right. In the Right wing churches and synagogues these voters are presented with a coherent worldview that speaks to their "meaning needs." Most of these churches and synagogues demonstrate a high level of caring for their members, even if the flip side is a willingness to demean those on the outside. Yet what members experience directly is a level of mutual caring that they rarely find in the rest of the society. And a sense of community that is offered them nowhere else, a community that has as its central theme that life has value because it is connected to some higher meaning than one's success in the marketplace.
It's easy to see how this hunger gets manipulated in ways that liberals find offensive and contradictory. The frantic attempts to preserve family by denying gays the right to get married, the talk about being conservatives while meanwhile supporting Bush policies that accelerate the destruction of the environment and do nothing to encourage respect for God's creation or an ethos of awe and wonder to replace the ethos of turning nature into a commodity, the intense focus on preserving the powerless fetus and a culture of life without a concomitant commitment to medical research (stem cell research/HIV-AIDS), gun control and healthcare reform., the claim to care about others and then deny them a living wage and an ecologically sustainable environment --- all this is rightly perceived by liberals as a level of inconsistency that makes them dismiss as hypocrites the voters who have been moving to the Right.
Yet liberals, trapped in a long-standing disdain for religion and tone-deaf to the spiritual needs that underlie the move to the Right, have been unable to engage these voters in a serious dialogue. Rightly angry at the way that some religious communities have been mired in authoritarianism, racism, sexism and homophobia, the liberal world has developed such a knee-jerk hostility to religion that it has both marginalized those many people on the Left who actually do have spiritual yearnings and simultaneously refused to acknowledge that many who move to the Right have legitimate complaints about the ethos of selfishness in American life.
Imagine if John Kerry had been able to counter George Bush by insisting that a serious religious person would never turn his back on the suffering of the poor, that the bible's injunction to love one's neighbor required us to provide health care for all, and that the New Testament's command to "turn the other cheek" should give us a predisposition against responding to violence with violence.
Imagine a Democratic Party that could talk about the strength that comes from love and generosity and applied that to foreign policy and homeland security.
Imagine a Democratic Party that could talk of a New Bottom Line, so that American institutions get judged efficient, rational and productive not only to the extent that they maximize money and power, but also to the extent that they maximize people's capacities to be loving and caring, ethically and ecologically sensitive, and capable of responding to the universe with awe and wonder.
Imagine a Democratic Party that could call for schools to teach gratitude, generosity, caring for others, and celebration of the wonders that daily surround us! Such a Democratic Party, continuing to embrace its agenda for economic fairness and multi-cultural inclusiveness, would have won in 2004 and can win in the future.
Abramoff says he met Bush "almost a dozen" times
Jack Abramoff said in correspondence made public on Thursday that
"The guy saw me in almost a dozen settings, and joked with me about a bunch of things, including details of my kids. Perhaps he has forgotten everything, who knows," Abramoff wrote in an e-mail to Kim Eisler, national editor for the Washingtonian magazine.
Abramoff added that Bush also once invited him to his Texas ranch. Jack Abramoff said in correspondence made public on Thursday that
"The guy saw me in almost a dozen settings, and joked with me about a bunch of things, including details of my kids. Perhaps he has forgotten everything, who knows," Abramoff wrote in an e-mail to Kim Eisler, national editor for the Washingtonian magazine.
Abramoff added that Bush also once invited him to his Texas ranch.
141 Programs Bush Wants to Cut or Kill
Highlights of Terminated Programs:
AGRICULTURE: Watershed protection and flood prevention operations, $75 million.
What an ass.
Criminality-a-go-go Double Pack!
In the latest twist in the debate over presidential powers, a Justice Department official suggested that in certain circumstances, the president might have the power to order the killing of terrorist suspects inside the United States. Steven Bradbury, acting head of the department's Office of Legal Counsel, went to a closed-door Senate intelligence committee meeting last week to defend President George W. Bush's surveillance program. During the briefing, said administration and Capitol Hill officials (who declined to be identified because the session was private), California Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein asked Bradbury questions about the extent of presidential powers to fight Al Qaeda; could Bush, for instance, order the killing of a Qaeda suspect known to be on U.S. soil? Bradbury replied that he believed Bush could indeed do this, at least in certain circumstances.
"The diplomatic strategy had to be arranged around the military planning", the president told Mr Blair. The prime minister is said to have raised no objection. He is quoted as saying he was "solidly with the president and ready to do whatever it took to disarm Saddam".
Oh, and a note to my dear friends in the UK. This 'Labour' government of yours isn't doing so well. Would Gordon Brown be any better? Makes me wonder whether Neil Kinnock can be revived for some of that old fashioned Labour ideal.
Gore Vidal's State of the Union
Today, the 31st of January, in the hallowed year, election year, of ’06, could be a memorable day if we all do our part, which is simply to concentrate, among other things, and do perhaps what a couple of groups have decided would be useful for the President, I guess his State of the Union. We might give him some idea of our state, which is one of great dissatisfaction with him and his regime. And there's talk of perhaps demonstrating in front of the Capitol or here or there around the country to show that the union is occupied by people who happen to be patriots. And patriots do not like this government.
States of Union and Dis-Union
Tonight, a man will address the nation to say that everything is just fine, and it's getting even better. The man will smile, wink, and nod, and lift up his hands in a flurry of passionate rhetoric. He will extol the common American virtues, and pause for raucous applause. He will believe every word he says.
We, however, will not.
It has become almost passe to speak of the President of the United States as a tool, because it's become so obvious. It's like going around saying that the sky is, indeed, blue. We've gathered this by now. To spare a dollop of credit, I think the man truly believes what he's saying, though this Pygmalion won't ever see the world beyond his carefully maintained sphere. He handlers know, his most trusted staffers know, and the man behind the convenience store drinking malt liquor knows it too: like latter-day Reagan, George W. Bush has strings attached. Many.
We know that we live under a tattered and torn constitution, and to quote the man speaking tonight, "it's just a goddamned piece of paper." That settles that. I've long said that things must devolve before they evolve, and for that, I must thank, without handshake, the man. He has brought us to the very bottom of the crucible, and we as a nation are busy pulverizing ourselves and the rest of the world with a maddening rhythm. I can only hope that from this brutal place that something alchemical may occur, should we add the right elements.
I do not, of course, celebrate the global misanthropy which this man has been a party to unleashing. More damage than history will care to record has been exacted on the climate, biodiversity, culture, dialogue, international relations, the economy, human rights, et cetera. Yet, as in homeopathy, it's that little drop of that which we wish to stave off that has now entered the thinking person's bloodstream. Yet what to do, amid the partisan jabber?
Simple: start, earnestly, the work of evolving. This means paying little mind to the Little Mind of Government, Media, and the many tentacles of distraction. Even if in November the elections see a partisan change, acknowledge and move on. An electoral reconfiguration is a very, very tiny piece in the puzzle- so much more lies with a strengthening of individual will, local action, and internal fortitude. Personal and social evolution should be controlled through the stamina and passion of the individual heart than by subscriptions to pre-ordained social movements. The most powerful social movements in history were always the ones that were not manufactured, but spontaneous, individually authentic, and based upon the Person and not the State. Such things begin quietly, as whispers.
We are at a point where we have access to more information, ideas, and collective imagination than ever before. Surely, this ought to be enough to lay a transformative foundation socially, as it's already changing who were are internally. There is as much danger in losing the self in this time as there is in fighting to establish the self. The Government, while sitting atop an apex of power and tyranny, is indeed beginning to lose its seat. It, as an entity, is terrified of losing strength, and losing it to empowered individuals. I do not see a revolution marching to Washington and dismantling the State; rather, I see this paradigm losing relevance and any scrap of authority as humanity does the work that governments used to do; care for itself, reach out and forge real bonds with the rest of the world, self-educate, and finally, to be the bold pioneers that grow and become through the ardor of reaching our chosen frontier.
While the man is speaking a scripted speech, I invite you to ignore it. Bake something wonderful. Make love. Go stargazing. Be rapt in the sensuous. Think upon your dreams, your cause for hope, your contribution to goodness, your virtues, your genuine and valid opinions... the State of Your Own Wondrous Union.
An affordable endeavour? Cost of Iraq war could top $2 trillion
The cost of the Iraq war could top $2 trillion, far above the White House's pre-war projections, when long-term costs such as lifetime health care for thousands of wounded U.S. soldiers are included, a study said on Monday.
Columbia University economist Joseph E. Stiglitz and Harvard lecturer Linda Bilmes included in their study disability payments for the 16,000 wounded U.S. soldiers, about 20 percent of whom suffer serious brain or spinal injuries.
They said U.S. taxpayers will be burdened with costs that linger long after U.S. troops withdraw.
"Even taking a conservative approach, we have been surprised at how large they are," said the study, referring to total war costs. "We can state, with some degree of confidence, that they exceed a trillion dollars."
Before the invasion, then-White House budget director Mitch Daniels predicted Iraq would be "an affordable endeavor" and rejected an estimate by then-White House economic adviser Lawrence Lindsey of total Iraq war costs at $100 billion to $200 billion as "very, very high."
Chopra: The Peace Economy
These are all "soft" alternatives to our other great exports, aerospace technologies, weapons, foreign military bases, and war itself. Since 1960 the U.S. has adapted to losing its smokestack industries (primarily steel), its energy base (oil), and now its large-scale manufacturing (automobiles). Change is hard, but if we can adapt to those things, we can adapt to becoming a global "soft" economy.
Peace is soft. It doesn't hide in fear behind borders. It accepts influences from outside. It makes friends of foreigners. GM knows that it can't survive without making cars in China, so that step has been taken. The oil industry realized that it had to concede the lion's share of energy revenues to Middle Eastern regimes (unthinkable at the end of World War II), so that has happened as well.
The economics of peace consists in giving the military-industrial complex a new role. Step by step the military boondoggle must be diverted into such peaceful uses as rebuilding the nation's infrastructure, funding a future for the poor, providing meaningful jobs for the elderly after they retire, and feeding the world. The Soviet Union had such a devastated infrastructure that it was like a Third World country with a space program. We are well on the way to becoming a military empire with impoverished masses at home.
The NSA's domestic surveillance activities that began in early 2001 reached a boiling point shortly after 9/11, when senior administration officials and top intelligence officials asked the NSA to share that data with other intelligence officials who worked for the FBI and the CIA to hunt down terrorists that might be in the United States. However the NSA, on advice from its lawyers, destroyed the records, fearing the agency could be subjected to lawsuits by American citizens identified in the agency's raw intelligence reports.
Because this is important...
Congressman Barr and I have disagreed many times over the years, but we have joined together today with thousands of our fellow citizens-Democrats and Republicans alike-to express our shared concern that America's Constitution is in grave danger.
"Judge Doom's" Application for Employment
I can't quote the whole thing here since it's an image file, but not surprisingly, ScAlito believes in "the legitimacy of a government role in protecting traditional values." That meaning, of course, that many pervert that gets the slightest wood over Brokeback Mountain ought to be rounded up and publicly shot, paying for the bullet beforehand. I kid mostly, but this kind of openly political statement (and others, read the app) deeply concern me. If the Preznit is so serious about not selecting activist judges, why did he pick Alito?
Turn down the heat: Inuit sue US over climate policy
People living in the Arctic have filed a legal petition against the US government, saying its climate change policies violate human rights. The Inuit Circumpolar Conference (ICC) claims the US is failing to control emissions of greenhouse gases, damaging livelihoods in the Arctic.
Its petition to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights demands that the US limits its emissions. Temperatures in the Arctic are rising at about twice the global average. The Arctic Climate Impact Assessment, a vast scientific study which took four years to compile, found that the region will warm by four to seven degrees Celsius by the end of the century, with summer sea ice disappearing within 60 years.
Peekaboo: Is the Pentagon spying on Americans?
“It means that they’re actually collecting information about who’s at those protests, the descriptions of vehicles at those protests,” says Arkin. “On the domestic level, this is unprecedented,” he says. “I think it's the beginning of enormous problems and enormous mischief for the military.”
Some former senior DOD intelligence officials share his concern. George Lotz, a 30-year career DOD official and former U.S. Air Force colonel, held the post of Assistant to the Secretary of Defense for Intelligence Oversight from 1998 until his retirement last May. Lotz, who recently began a consulting business to help train and educate intelligence agencies and improve oversight of their collection process, believes some of the information the DOD has been collecting is not justified.
Happy Place: Bush in the Bubble
Bush may be the most isolated president in modern history, at least since the late-stage Richard Nixon. It's not that he is a socially awkward loner or a paranoid. He can charm and joke like the frat president he was. Still, beneath a hail-fellow manner, Bush has a defensive edge, a don't-tread-on-me prickliness. It shows in Bush's humor. When Reagan told a joke, it almost never was about someone in the room. Reagan's jokes may have been scatological or politically incorrect, but they were inclusive, intended to make everyone join in the laughter. Often, Bush's joking is personal—it is aimed at you. The teasing can be flattering (the president gave me a nickname!), but it is intended, however so subtly, to put the listener on the defensive. It is a towel-snap that invites a retort. How many people dare to snap back at a president?
Dubya, the Obvious: Costly Withdrawal Is the Price To Be Paid for a Foolish War
Maintaining an American security presence in the region, not to mention withdrawing forces from Iraq, will involve many complicated problems, military as well as political. Such an endeavor, one would hope, will be handled by a team different from — and more competent than — the one presently in charge of the White House and Pentagon.
For misleading the American people, and launching the most foolish war since Emperor Augustus in 9 B.C sent his legions into Germany and lost them, Bush deserves to be impeached and, once he has been removed from office, put on trial along with the rest of the president's men. If convicted, they'll have plenty of time to mull over their sins [via metafilter]
Bush’s closest advisers have long been aware of the religious nature of his policy commitments. In recent interviews, one former senior official, who served in Bush’s first term, spoke extensively about the connection between the President’s religious faith and his view of the war in Iraq. After the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, the former official said, he was told that Bush felt that “God put me here” to deal with the war on terror. The President’s belief was fortified by the Republican sweep in the 2002 congressional elections; Bush saw the victory as a purposeful message from God that “he’s the man,” the former official said. Publicly, Bush depicted his reëlection as a referendum on the war; privately, he spoke of it as another manifestation of divine purpose.
The former senior official said that after the election he made a lengthy inspection visit to Iraq and reported his findings to Bush in the White House: “I said to the President, ‘We’re not winning the war.’ And he asked, ‘Are we losing?’ I said, ‘Not yet.’ ” The President, he said, “appeared displeased” with that answer.
“I tried to tell him,” the former senior official said. “And he couldn’t hear it.”
Tsunami Remembered: The Day the Sea Came
For the earth, it was just a twinge. Last Dec. 26, at 7:59 a.m., one part of the planet's undersea crust made an abrupt shift beneath another along a 750-mile seam near the island of Sumatra. The tectonic plates had been grating against each other for millenniums, and now the higher of the two was lifted perhaps 60 feet. For a planet where landmasses are in constant motion across geological time, the event was of no great moment. But for people - who mark the calendar in days and months rather than eons - a monumental catastrophe had begun, not only the largest earthquake in 40 years but also the displacement of billions of tons of water, unleashing a series of mammoth waves: a tsunami. These surging mounds of water raced toward land with the speed of a jet aircraft and then slowed as they reared up to leap ashore at heights of 50 feet and higher. They were long as well as tall, stampeding inland and carrying with them all they were destroying. People caught in the waves became small ingredients in an enormous blender, bludgeoned by concrete slabs and felled trees, stabbed by jagged sheets of glass, tangled up in manacles of wire.
The number of the dead and missing is now estimated at 232,000. And while this includes victims from a dozen nations, more than two-thirds - some 169,000 - came from a single place, the Indonesian province of Aceh. And of Aceh's mortal toll, more than half - some 90,000 - came from a single city, Banda Aceh, and its immediate surroundings. This provincial capital was a place of large government buildings, two major universities, a historic mosque, stores and restaurants, a harbor and a fishing fleet. It sits in the northwest nub of Sumatra, where converging sea lanes from the Malay Peninsula, India and Arabia once sustained a flourishing trade in aromatic spices. The location, for centuries so favorable, was a mere 155 miles from the earthquake's epicenter. Banda Aceh was swamped by the tsunami within 30 minutes of the tremor.
The devastation left its own peculiar boundaries. Roughly a third of the city - the two miles nearest the Indian Ocean - was flattened and denuded, with only an occasional tree or shank of cement escaping the sledgehammer strength of the waves. A mile or so farther inland, the destruction was more erratic, its effects less a consequence of battering than of flooding. The rest of the city entirely evaded the water's horrific reach; hours went by before some of its residents even knew the day was anything other than sunny and serene...
That morning, as usual, Jaloe, who was 46, was out the door soon after sunup. His wife, Yusnidar, and their three children, Mukhlis, 15, Mutia, 14, and Azarul, 5, were left at home. Their rented wooden shack - just a 12-by-12-foot space diced into three tiny rooms - was but 50 yards from the Aceh River, near where it meets the sea. Jaloe carried breakfast with him - coffee as well as a bar of sticky rice sweetened with coconut milk and packed in banana leaf. In an hour, he was four miles off the coast, within sight of the tree-covered Breueh Islands. The water was remarkably tranquil. Barely a bird arced across the deep blue sky...
It was damning stuff -- just the kind of evidence the Bush administration was looking for. If the charges were true, they would offer the White House a compelling reason to invade Iraq and depose Saddam. That's why the Pentagon had flown a CIA polygraph expert to Pattaya: to question al-Haideri and confirm, once and for all, that Saddam was secretly stockpiling weapons of mass destruction.
Revision Thing: A history of the Iraq war, told entirely in lies
We found the weapons of mass destruction. We found biological laboratories. And we found more weapons as time went on. I never believed that we'd just tumble over weapons of mass destruction in that country. But for those who said we hadn't found the banned manufacturing devices or banned weapons, they were wrong, we found them. We knew where they were.
We changed the regime of Iraq for the good of the Iraqi people. We didn't want to occupy Iraq. War is a terrible thing. We've tried every other means to achieve objectives without a war because we understood what the price of a war can be and what it is. We sought peace. We strove for peace. Nobody, but nobody, was more reluctant to go to war than President Bush.
Secret Scrutiny: In Hunt for Terrorists, FBI Examines Records of Ordinary Americans
The FBI came calling in Windsor, Conn., this summer with a document marked for delivery by hand. On Matianuk Avenue, across from the tennis courts, two special agents found their man. They gave George Christian the letter, which warned him to tell no one, ever, what it said.
Under the shield and stars of the FBI crest, the letter directed Christian to surrender "all subscriber information, billing information and access logs of any person" who used a specific computer at a library branch some distance away. Christian, who manages digital records for three dozen Connecticut libraries, said in an affidavit that he configures his system for privacy. But the vendors of the software he operates said their databases can reveal the Web sites that visitors browse, the e-mail accounts they open and the books they borrow.
Christian refused to hand over those records, and his employer, Library Connection Inc., filed suit for the right to protest the FBI demand in public. The Washington Post established their identities -- still under seal in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit -- by comparing unsealed portions of the file with public records and information gleaned from people who had no knowledge of the FBI demand.
The Connecticut case affords a rare glimpse of an exponentially growing practice of domestic surveillance under the USA Patriot Act, which marked its fourth anniversary on Oct. 26. "National security letters," created in the 1970s for espionage and terrorism investigations, originated as narrow exceptions in consumer privacy law, enabling the FBI to review in secret the customer records of suspected foreign agents. The Patriot Act, and Bush administration guidelines for its use, transformed those letters by permitting clandestine scrutiny of U.S. residents and visitors who are not alleged to be terrorists or spies.
The FBI now issues more than 30,000 national security letters a year, according to government sources, a hundredfold increase over historic norms. The letters -- one of which can be used to sweep up the records of many people -- are extending the bureau's reach as never before into the telephone calls, correspondence and financial lives of ordinary Americans.
Comprehensive: Who Is Lying About Iraq?
Among the many distortions, misrepresentations, and outright falsifications that have emerged from the debate over Iraq, one in particular stands out above all others. This is the charge that George W. Bush misled us into an immoral and/or unnecessary war in Iraq by telling a series of lies that have now been definitively exposed.
What makes this charge so special is the amazing success it has enjoyed in getting itself established as a self-evident truth even though it has been refuted and discredited over and over again by evidence and argument alike. In this it resembles nothing so much as those animated cartoon characters who, after being flattened, blown up, or pushed over a cliff, always spring back to life with their bodies perfectly intact. Perhaps, like those cartoon characters, this allegation simply cannot be killed off, no matter what.
Nevertheless, I want to take one more shot at exposing it for the lie that it itself really is. Although doing so will require going over ground that I and many others have covered before, I hope that revisiting this well-trodden terrain may also serve to refresh memories that have grown dim, to clarify thoughts that have grown confused, and to revive outrage that has grown commensurately dulled. [via metafilter]
Spreading Freedom: US forces used chemical weapons during assault on Fallujah
Powerful new evidence emerged yesterday that the United States dropped massive quantities of white phosphorus on the Iraqi city of Fallujah during the attack on the city in November 2004, killing insurgents and civilians with the appalling burns that are the signature of this weapon.
Ever since the assault, which went unreported by any Western journalists, rumours have swirled that the Americans used chemical weapons on the city.
As a legal noose appears to be tightening around the Bush/Cheney/Rove inner circle, a shocking government report shows the floor under the legitimacy of their alleged election to the White House is crumbling.
The latest critical confirmation of key indicators that the election of 2004 was stolen comes in an extremely powerful, penetrating report from the Government Accountability Office that has gotten virtually no mainstream media coverage.
The government's lead investigative agency is known for its general incorruptibility and its thorough, in-depth analyses. Its concurrence with assertions widely dismissed as "conspiracy theories" adds crucial new weight to the case that Team Bush has no legitimate business being in the White House.
Nearly a year ago, senior Judiciary Committee Democrat John Conyers (D-MI) asked the GAO to investigate electronic voting machines as they were used during the November 2, 2004 presidential election. The request came amidst widespread complaints in Ohio and elsewhere that often shocking irregularities defined their performance.
According to CNN, the U.S. House Judiciary Committee received "more than 57,000 complaints" following Bush's alleged re-election. Many such concerns were memorialized under oath in a series of sworn statements and affidavits in public hearings and investigations conducted in Ohio by the Free Press and other election protection organizations.
The non-partisan GAO report has now found that, "some of [the] concerns about electronic voting machines have been realized and have caused problems with recent elections, resulting in the loss and miscount of votes."
Raging Chimp: Bush's Increasing Mental Lapses and Temper Tantrums
Senior aides describe Bush as increasingly “edgy” or “nervous” or “unfocused.” They say the President goes from apparent coherent thought one moment to aimless rambles about political enemies and those who are “out to get me.”
“It’s worse than the days when Ronald Reagan’s Alzheimer’s began setting in,” one longtime GOP operative told me privately this week. “You don’t know if he’s going to be coherent from one moment to the next. What scares me is if he lapses into one of those fogs during a public appearance.”
Aides say Bush, who has always had trouble focusing during times of stress, is increasingly distant during meetings, often staring off into space during discussions on the nation’s security and other issues.
Noonan: A Separate Peace
I think there is an unspoken subtext in our national political culture right now. In fact I think it's a subtext to our society. I think that a lot of people are carrying around in their heads, unarticulated and even in some cases unnoticed, a sense that the wheels are coming off the trolley and the trolley off the tracks. That in some deep and fundamental way things have broken down and can't be fixed, or won't be fixed any time soon. That our pollsters are preoccupied with "right track" and "wrong track" but missing the number of people who think the answer to "How are things going in America?" is "Off the tracks and hurtling forward, toward an unknown destination."
I'm not talking about "Plamegate..." I'm not talking about "Miers." I mean . . . the whole ball of wax. Everything. Cloning, nuts with nukes, epidemics; the growing knowledge that there's no such thing as homeland security; the fact that we're leaving our kids with a bill no one can pay. A sense of unreality in our courts so deep that they think they can seize grandma's house to build a strip mall; our media institutions imploding--the spectacle of a great American newspaper, the New York Times, hurtling off its own tracks, as did CBS. The fear of parents that their children will wind up disturbed, and their souls actually imperiled, by the popular culture in which we are raising them. Senators who seem owned by someone, actually owned, by an interest group or a financial entity. Great churches that have lost all sense of mission, and all authority. Do you have confidence in the CIA? The FBI? I didn't think so.
But this recounting doesn't quite get me to what I mean. I mean I believe there's a general and amorphous sense that things are broken and tough history is coming.
Merry Fitzmas:Dick in the know
I. Lewis Libby Jr., Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff, first learned about the C.I.A. officer at the heart of the leak investigation in a conversation with Mr. Cheney weeks before her identity became public in 2003, lawyers involved in the case said Monday.
Gone Tomorrow: Anticipated disappearance
Albert Einstein claimed he never thought of the future. “It comes soon enough,” he said. FOREIGN POLICY decided to not grant 16 leading thinkers that luxury. Instead, to mark our 35th anniversary, we asked them to speculate on the ideas, values, and institutions the world takes for granted that may disappear in the next 35 years. Their answers range from fields as diverse as morals and religion to geopolitics and technology. We may be happy to see some of these “endangered species” make an exit, but others will be mourned. All of them will leave a mark. [via ?]
The fidgeting clearly corresponded to the questioning. When Lauer asked if Bush, after a slow response to Katrina, was "trying to get a second chance to make a good first impression," Bush blinked 24 times in his answer. When asked why Gulf Coast residents would have to pay back funds but Iraqis would not, Bush blinked 23 times and hitched his trousers up by the belt.
When the questioning turned to Miers, Bush blinked 37 times in a single answer -- along with a lick of the lips, three weight shifts and some serious foot jiggling. Laura Bush, by contrast, delivered only three blinks and stood still through her entire answer about encouraging volunteerism.
In an increasingly hazardous world teetering on increasingly dangerous technology in the control of a most dangerous and unstable nation, a nation that has returned US to the morality of the Dark Ages and its justice based upon torture, invasion and mass murder, a nation controlled by the satanic cult-driven motive of world domination and control via the enslavement of all people, a robust, inquiring press that informs the American people as opposed to pimping for its dangerous politicians is what is really needed.
I came here today because I believe that American democracy is in grave danger. It is no longer possible to ignore the strangeness of our public discourse . I know that I am not the only one who feels that something has gone basically and badly wrong in the way America's fabled "marketplace of ideas" now functions.
How many of you, I wonder, have heard a friend or a family member in the last few years remark that it's almost as if America has entered "an alternate universe"?
I thought maybe it was an aberration when three-quarters of Americans said they believed that Saddam Hussein was responsible for attacking us on September 11, 2001. But more than four years later, between a third and a half still believe Saddam was personally responsible for planning and supporting the attack.
At first I thought the exhaustive, non-stop coverage of the O.J. trial was just an unfortunate excess that marked an unwelcome departure from the normal good sense and judgment of our television news media. But now we know that it was merely an early example of a new pattern of serial obsessions that periodically take over the airwaves for weeks at a time.
Are we still routinely torturing helpless prisoners, and if so, does it feel right that we as American citizens are not outraged by the practice? And does it feel right to have no ongoing discussion of whether or not this abhorrent, medieval behavior is being carried out in the name of the American people? If the gap between rich and poor is widening steadily and economic stress is mounting for low-income families, why do we seem increasingly apathetic and lethargic in our role as citizens?
Letter from Louisiana: High Water
Kalamu ya Salaam told me that he thought the suffering was far from over. Hurricane Rita has made recovery even more difficult. For the moment, people are focussed on the grace of their own survival, and are grateful for the small and large acts of compassion that have come their way. And yet, he said, “you are going to see a lot of suicides this winter. A lot of poor people depend entirely on their extended family and their friends who share their condition to be a buffer against the pain of that condition. By winter, a lot of the generosity and aid that’s been so palpable lately will begin to slow down and the reality of not going home again will hit people hard. They will be very alone.
“People forget how important all those Social Aid and Pleasure Clubs are for people. It’s a community for a lot of folks who have nothing. Some people have never left New Orleans. Some have never seen snow. So you wake up and you find yourself beyond the reach of friends, beyond the reach of members of your family, and you are working in a fast-food restaurant in Utah somewhere and there is no conceivable way for you to get back to the city you love. How are you going to feel?”
Typical of this Gov't: National Archives Indian Records Discarded
Federal officials are investigating how National Archives documents of interest to Indians suing the Interior Department were found discarded in a trash bin and a wastebasket. The discovery came to light on Sept. 1, when Archives staff noticed federal records in one of the trash bins behind the National Archives Building near the Capitol. They notified the Archives' inspector general, Paul Brachfeld, whose staff recovered the documents. They found at least a portion of the documents were Bureau of Indian Affairs records dating to the 1950s... in a letter last week to an Interior Department official.
Brachfeld's office began investigating, and ``what appear to be Indian records were discovered in a waste basket in the stack areas at Main Archives,'' Baron wrote. Taken together, the two dumping incidents ``may be intentional acts aimed at unlawfully removing or disposing of permanent records from the Interior Department,'' he wrote.
Babies were floating on a mattress, and the baby fell off the mattress. And nobody couldn’t find him., and they had a bunch of men trying help find him. I come up with the baby. It feels good, you know, to save lives, because I have seen people get killed and die, but I have not seen that many people at one time. What I went through, I never thought I feel the way I feel about life. Living, you know, is beautiful, and God sent us to a place that we never been.
I even saved a dog. That’s how intimate this thing wa. It was intense, it was scary, it was a situation you’ll never forget. I heard the dog screaming. The dog was trapped in the twines where a tree had fallen. He was standing up on his hind legs trying to keep his head above water. He was trembling. But the dog was real friendly to me. He must have known I was the onliest person going to save him. I held him in my arms and brought him to this porch.
Frank Rich on Bush: I Care About the Black Folks
Taking responsibility, as opposed to paying lip service to doing so, is not in this administration's gene pool. It was particularly shameful that Laura Bush was sent among the storm's dispossessed to try to scapegoat the news media for her husband's ineptitude. When she complained of seeing "a lot of the same footage over and over that isn't necessarily representative of what really happened," the first lady sounded just like Donald Rumsfeld shirking responsibility for the looting of Baghdad. The defense secretary, too, griped about seeing the same picture "over and over" on television (a looter with a vase) to hide the reality that the Pentagon had no plan to secure Iraq, a catastrophic failure being paid for in Iraqi and American blood to this day.
This White House doesn't hate all pictures, of course. It loves those by Karl Rove's Imagineers, from the spectacularly lighted Statue of Liberty backdrop of Mr. Bush's first 9/11 anniversary speech to his "Top Gun" stunt to Thursday's laughably stagy stride across the lawn to his lectern in Jackson Square. (Message: I am a leader, not that vacationing slacker who first surveyed the hurricane damage from my presidential jet.)
The most odious image-mongering, however, has been Mr. Bush's repeated deployment of African-Americans as dress extras to advertise his "compassion." In 2000, the Republican convention filled the stage with break dancers and gospel singers, trying to dispel the memory of Mr. Bush's craven appearance at Bob Jones University when it forbade interracial dating. (The few blacks in the convention hall itself were positioned near celebrities so they'd show up in TV shots.) In 2004, the Bush-Cheney campaign Web site had a page titled "Compassion" devoted mainly to photos of the president with black people, Colin Powell included.
Some of these poses are re-enacted in the "Hurricane Relief" photo gallery currently on display on the White House Web site. But this time the old magic isn't working. The "compassion" photos are outweighed by the cinéma vérité of poor people screaming for their lives. The government effort to keep body recovery efforts in New Orleans as invisible as the coffins from Iraq was abandoned when challenged in court by CNN.
Lest we forget: Katrina Day 21
We do remember that NOLA is where are cameras are. My thoughts go to all those places where the cameras aren't, and to my good friend Jen Wo who is in Gulfport, Mississippi right now volunteering for the Red Cross.
Conyers: "This report closes the book on the Bush Administration's attempts to evade accountability by shifting the blame to the Governor of Louisiana for the Administration's tragically sluggish response to Katrina. It confirms that the Governor did everything she could to secure relief for the people of Louisiana and the Bush Administration was caught napping at a critical time."
Surprise: Louisiana officials did everything right
The Congressional Research Service (CRS) issued a report Tuesday afternoon asserting that Louisiana governor Katherine Blanco took the necessary and timely steps needed to secure disaster relief from the federal government...
Dionne: End of the Bush Era
The Bush Era is over. The sooner politicians in both parties realize that, the better for them -- and the country.
Recent months, and especially the past two weeks, have brought home to a steadily growing majority of Americans the truth that President Bush's government doesn't work. His policies are failing, his approach to leadership is detached and self-indulgent, his way of politics has produced a divided, angry and dysfunctional public square. We dare not go on like this...
The breaking of the Bush spell opens the way for leaders of both parties to declare their independence from the recent past. It gives forces outside the White House the opportunity to shape a more appropriate national agenda -- for competence and innovation in rebuilding the Katrina region and for new approaches to the problems created over the past 4 1/2 years.
The federal budget, already a mess before Katrina, is now a laughable document. Those who call for yet more tax cuts risk sounding like robots droning automated talking points programmed inside them long ago. Katrina has forced the issue of deep poverty back onto the national agenda after a long absence. Finding a way forward in -- and eventually out of -- Iraq will require creativity from those not implicated in the administration's mistakes. And if ever the phrase "reinventing government" had relevance, it is now that we have observed the performance of a government that allows political hacks to push aside the professionals.
Roberts: The princess and the frog
Bufo... was menaced by big guys. In his case, the big guy was a San Diego developer who wanted to get his hands on the soil from Bufo's breeding ground. This would have been the end of Bufo and all his kind. The US Fish and Wildlife Service - Bufo's bodyguards if you will - stopped the developer. So the developer went to court. A three-judge panel in California ruled for Bufo and against the builder. For their authority, they relied on that commerce clause.
Step forward Judge Roberts - that pivotal nominee for the Supreme Court. Everyone has been trawling through his record to see how he might tip the balance of the Court. A response of his to Bufo gives us the best clue so far. Writing a commentary, Roberts was critical of those three judges who rescued Bufo from extinction. Bufo, he said, ought not to have been protected by the interstate commerce clause, because "he is a hapless toad that for reasons of its own lives its entire life in California."
Amid a slew of stories this weekend about the embattled presidency and the blundering government response to the drowning of New Orleans, some journalists who are long-time observers of the White House are suddenly sharing scathing observations about President Bush that may be new to many of their readers.
Is Bush the commanding, decisive, jovial president you've been hearing about for years in so much of the mainstream press?
Maybe not so much.
Judging from... blistering analyses... it turns out that Bush is in fact fidgety, cold and snappish in private. He yells at those who dare give him bad news and is therefore not surprisingly surrounded by an echo chamber of terrified sycophants. He is slow to comprehend concepts that don't emerge from his gut. He is uncomprehending of the speeches that he is given to read. And oh yes, one of his most significant legacies -- the immense post-Sept. 11 reorganization of the federal government which created the Homeland Security Department -- has failed a big test.
Total Information Awareness - Katrina Day 14
Two weeks now, and the scope of the disaster and its disastrous response widens and become even more sad as time goes by. American citizens are living in 'camps' where few can enter or leave, environmental collapse threatens the Delta, and the criminal negligence of the government becomes more apparent. But, there is the goodness of humanity emerging, and like any American morning, people are slowly waking up to the gravity of this nation-shattering event. On a personal note, my dear friend and colleague Jen Wo leaves today to be a Red Cross volunteer in Alabama. You go girl. Bring them hope.
We must remember, and for the sake of justice, we must rebuild.
Sources include Kos, Sploid, Metafilter, Huffington Post and the randomness of the internet.
Katrina Outrage Quickie
Total Information Awareness - Katrina Day 11
I'm not getting off the bus until we know where we're going...
Transcript of Daily Show exchange on Kos about sums it up:
Jon Stewart: The president has vowed to personally lead the investigation into the government's failed response to Katrina? Isn't that a job perhaps someone else should be doing? Samantha Bee: No, not at all, Jon. To truly find out what went wrong, it's important for an investigator to have a little distance from the situation. And it's hard to get any more distant from it than the president was last week..
Also, I'd like to thank Daisy Wififred from Animated Stardust for this encouragement:
Thank you for the work you have been doing in getting info out to people like me so far away but whose heart is very close to the abandoned and struggling many on your side of the pond. The BBC has kept us very well informed and I suspect the public here knows rather more than many of those in the States as I suspect even as some of your news people broke lose of the 'chains' midst the horrer thay were being asked to report on the leash will almost certainly be being tugged again now and misinformation and disinformation will begin to take the upper hand if people like you do not continue to bring in to the light the reality, the truth for so many lives and for so many deaths caused not just by a president and his men but by a society that got all wrapped up in a dream that many have woken to find nightmare. For all the cracks and mismanagement here as far as health, social services, education, infrastructure etc are concerned, and they are systems run by human beings so of course there are failings, in time of real need from the poorest to the richest are remembered and as a society we have not lost the understanding that taxes feed, educate, care and house us all even when there are some that are rich enough to provide that for themselves they understand that if the whole community is not endeavoured to be given the same opportunity the rich might as well be living in cardboard boxes for it is true no man is an island..
I have spent an insane amount of time gathering and sorting through all this info, at the expense at times of my sanity. But from this information, my hope is more and more humanity, and more and more global sanity.
For their sake, we must remember, and rebuild.
Sources include Metafilter, Kos, Sploid, Eschaton, AmericaBlog, Crooks and Liars, and Talking Point Memo..
Total Information Awareness - Katrina Day 10
Here's another burst...
For their sake, and for the sake of their children,
we must remember, and rebuild.
Sources include Kos, Americablog, ThinkProgress, Metafilter, Sploid, and Intervention.
Apologists and naysayers are trying to make a dent in the zeitgeist today, but the momentum seems to lie with those of us, from the left, right, neutral and previously apathetic, are keeping up the tidal wave of cries for accountability. The logic of those glad to make excuses for the Worst Preseident Ever is fairly simple to deconstruct. Sure, many of those in State government probably made a few mistakes, but not at the collosal level that helped to drown an entire city... it comes down to levee funding, and appointing completely inexperienced people by way of patronage to fill positions vital to national security. The accountability trail stops at the Oval Office door.
Here's a few new developments:
Image from Kos, stories from Kos, Sploid, Rawstory, Billmon, AmericaBlog.
Total Information Awareness - Katrina Day 9
Regular blogging on my relatively regular schuedule will resume soon, but for now, all attention needs to go to this. We can't let the fuckers get away. So, no rest for those in their blazing desire to expose the wicked:
We must remember, and rebuild.
Pic by Fliss of Sunday's candlelight vigil. Link to her Flickr entry.
Nero, or Caligula?
From the WWL ongoing coverage:
3:32 P.M. Ben Morris, Slidell mayor: We are still hampered by some of the most stupid, idiotic regulations by FEMA. They have turned away generators, we've heard that they've gone around seizing equipment from our contractors. If they do so, they'd better be armed because I'll be damned if I'm going to let them deprive our citizens. I'm pissed off, and tired of this horse$#@@."
3:11 P.M. - From all corners of this country, hundreds of would-be rescuers are wending their way to the beleaguered Gulf Coast in buses, vans and trailers. But government red tape has hampered many who ache to help Katrina's victims.
Louisiana's Jefferson Parish is desperate for relief, but parish President Aaron Broussard says officials of the Federal Emergency Management Agency turned back three trailer trucks of water, ordered the Coast Guard not to provide emergency diesel fuel and cut emergency power lines.
Why? FEMA has not explained. But the outraged Broussard said Sunday on NBC's "Meet the Press" that the agency needs to bring in all its "force immediately, without red tape, without bureaucracy, act immediately with common sense and leadership, and save lives."
The government says it is doing the best it can in the face of a massive and complicated disaster.
"Even as progress is being made, we know that victims are still out there and we are working tirelessly to bring them the help they need," said Michael Brown, head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
Some of the delays can be explained by the need to control a volatile situation. Long lines of volunteers are being stopped on freeways on their way into New Orleans.
"Anyone who self-responded was not being put to work. The military was worried about having more people in the city. They want to limit it to the professionals," said Kevin Southerland, a captain with Orange Fire Department in Orange County, Calif., a member of one of eight 14-member water rescue teams sent to New Orleans at FEMA's request.
10:12: A.M. - Jefferson Parish President Aaron Broussard: I'm not surprised at what the feds say, they're covering their butts. They're keeping the body counts down because they don't want to horrify the nation. It's worse than Iraq, worse than 9-11. They just don't want to know how many were murdered by bureaucracy.
10:10 A.M. - Broussard: I know what the body count is so far, but I won't horrify the nation.
Total Information Awareness - Katrina Day 8
I had a great roundup all set and Firefox went all to hell. So, I'm trying to put it all back together. Anyway, this will not rest until our sisters and brothers are in real homes and not Thunderdomes.
We must remember, and rebuild.
Sources include Metafilter, Americablog, Crooks and Liars, Talk Left, emails and perousal.
Total Information Awareness - Katrina Day 7
Here's the latest roundup of must-reads...
And, most importantly...
We must remember, and rebuild.
Sources for the above include Metafilter, ThinkProgress, Americablog, through email and random perousal.
Total Information Awareness
Here's some key information and stories for us to begin the process of understanding this massive event.
We must remember, and rebuild.
Sources for the above include Metafilter, Dailykos, Sploid, Americablog, Crooks and Liars, emails and personal digging.
A powerful indictment from Krugman...
Before 9/11 the Federal Emergency Management Agency listed the three most likely catastrophic disasters facing America: a terrorist attack on New York, a major earthquake in San Francisco and a hurricane strike on New Orleans. "The New Orleans hurricane scenario," The Houston Chronicle wrote in December 2001, "may be the deadliest of all." It described a potential catastrophe very much like the one now happening.
Nagin: "They're spinning a line of bull..."
MP3 of interview with Mayor Ray Nagin. [via metachat]
This man has tremendous courage, and an incredible dedication to the people of his city. The very end of the interview is incredibly poignant. He reflects great virtue.
Bless this man.
The administration specifically cut the funds to fix these specific levees, in order to specifically divert that Corps money to Iraq, despite urgent warnings and predictions of catastrophic disaster if the levees were breeched. The administration specifically cancelled the Clinton-backed flood control program to preserve and restore the wetlands between New Orleans and the gulf, instead specifically opening parts of that buffer zone for development.
Nobody anticipated this disaster? It was identified by FEMA as one of the top three likeliest major disasters to strike America...
As the atmosphere warms, it generates longer droughts, more-intense downpours, more-frequent heat waves, and more-severe storms. Although Katrina began as a relatively small hurricane that glanced off south Florida, it was supercharged with extraordinary intensity by the relatively blistering sea surface temperatures in the Gulf of Mexico.
The consequences are as heartbreaking as they are terrifying. Unfortunately, very few people in America know the real name of Hurricane Katrina because the coal and oil industries have spent millions of dollars to keep the public in doubt about the issue.
The reason is simple: To allow the climate to stabilize requires humanity to cut its use of coal and oil by 70 percent. That, of course, threatens the survival of one of the largest commercial enterprises in history.
The only certainty here now is uncertainty.
Across the south hundreds of thousands of Americans have been unceremoniously dumped: displaced by Katrina in rest stops and hotel lobbies; among strangers in shelters and in hospitals.
And for most there is no going back, for weeks, and more probably, months.
They sleep where they can.
...[A]n older woman was interviewed after taking part in the "looting" of a store for food. After giving her full name, she expressed a great deal of remorse for what she was doing, saying that every time she'd ever seen looters on television, she'd been extremely upset by it and never thought she'd be in their shoes. Well, shame on anyone who would make these people -- who are in the middle of a literal hell on Earth -- feel as if scavenging for bread and clean water from flooded and abandoned stores is somehow wrong or shameful.
Photo essay: As Katrina Struck, Bush Vacationed
What Bush saw: At El Pueblo Mirage, guests relax on the luxurious greens
It appears that the money has been moved in the president’s budget to handle homeland security and the war in Iraq, and I suppose that’s the price we pay. Nobody locally is happy that the levees can’t be finished, and we are doing everything we can to make the case that this is a security issue for us.
-- Walter Maestri, emergency management chief for Jefferson Parish, Louisiana; New Orleans Times-Picayune, June 8, 2004.
Things in Louisiana and Mississippi are going to absolute hell. Please donate. Please volunteer. Please give blood, food, clothes to the Red Cross. Please expand your compassion wide and do something. Too many people just aren't quite noticing... there's not enough Guard troops (they're in Iraq), flood prevention funding for NOLA was severely cut by Bush in 2003, and poor fucker, he's cutting his vacation short by two days. I rarely use raw language on this site, but I've just got to say it... fuck him. This is a major "wake up" situation here. The government has failed in a criminally negligent manner to protect the population by redirecting critical resources away from the states and into a black hole of a false war. Citizens rising up with their compassion and giving to those who will directly help those in the Gulf States is a way to subvert a useless government through direct action by its people.
Doing something compassionate right now is revolutionary, and American. Godspeed Louisiana, Alabama and Mississippi.
Mulkey: Cindy Sheehan's courageous stand
...Sheehan has helped move the national conversation on the war to the tipping point. For while the Bush administration continues to predict victory in Iraq and admits to no errors in judgment, truth is finally taking hold. As we knew it ultimately would, the reality of this bloody tragedy (over 1,800 American and perhaps 100,000 Iraqi deaths) has trumped this administration's hubris, arrogance and wishful thinking (being greeted as liberators, finding weapons of mass destruction and quickly exiting after transforming Iraq into a western-style democracy). At this time 54 percent of Americans believe it was a mistake to enter Iraq in the first place, 61 percent believe Bush is mishandling the war and Bush's approval rating, according to a recent poll, now stands at 36 percent.
One woman's courageous stance has reawakened us to our power, to the fact that a single citizen can make a difference and that millions of us standing together can create transformation.
They are going to know that I’m not going to give up and today was really hard when I came in and saw Casey bigger than life over there. I miss him so much and I miss him more every day, but like that song “Joe Hill,” Casey’s not dead. I see him in all of your eyes and Casey will never die. And they can kill the body, but they can’t kill the love and the spirit, and no matter how hard they try they can’t do that.
Twit, Pat Robertson: You know, I don't know about this doctrine of assassination, but if he thinks we're trying to assassinate him, I think that we really ought to go ahead and do it. It's a whole lot cheaper than starting a war. And I don't think any oil shipments will stop. But this man is a terrific danger and the United ... This is in our sphere of influence, so we can't let this happen. We have the Monroe Doctrine, we have other doctrines that we have announced. And without question, this is a dangerous enemy to our south, controlling a huge pool of oil, that could hurt us very badly. We have the ability to take him out, and I think the time has come that we exercise that ability. We don't need another $200 billion war to get rid of one, you know, strong-arm dictator. It's a whole lot easier to have some of the covert operatives do the job and then get it over with.
Non-Twit, Thinking Person: Well, Gee, why not call upon the Thunder God to just plain smite him... y'know, send a hoard of locusts or even a few busloads of bingo-happy lepers? Why pull out the big guns? You, know, Pat-dear, you'll have to do a little work around with that whole Sixth Commandment thing? Oh, and you of all people ought to know what happens when you martyr someone who is the hotness, right? If you do it, be sure to wash your hands, m'kay?
...A single act of courage and determination can come to define a larger issue. Last Saturday, Mrs. Sheehan set up a roadside camp near Bush's ranch, which is now known as Prairie Chapel (The man truly has no shame), and vowed to remain there until Bush agreed to meet with her and answer questions about the war that has claimed the life of her son, Casey, and more than 1,800 others. In the week since, she has become a magnet for other antiwar activists and, perhaps as important, she has forced a gutless White House press corps to confront an issue it can no longer ignore: that a majority of Americans are rapidly losing faith in the scoundrels who lied us into a war with no coherent strategy for ending it.
See also: Someone tell the president the war is over.
global struggle against a violent preident
...The president and his people - who have spent the last four years reaching for their dictionaries (the way gunfighters once reached for their six-guns) whenever they wanted to redefine our world to fit their needs - suddenly, and quite atypically, broke ranks over a definition. A week ago, led by Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, the president's top men and women began using a new phrase. The global war on terror (fondly, if inelegantly, known as GWOT) was to be no more. It was now the "global struggle against violent extremism" (or G-SAVE) and General Richard B Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, explained why. He told the National Press Club that he had "objected to the use of the term 'war on terrorism' before, because if you call it a war, then you think of people in uniform as being the solution".
...In July, 2005, General Richard Myers, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, announced that there was not actually any "War on Terror:" ' General Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told the National Press Club on Monday that he had "objected to the use of the term 'war on terrorism' before, because if you call it a war, then you think of people in uniform as being the solution." ' (Question: Does this mean we can have the Bill of Rights back, now?)
The American Right, having created the Mujahideen and having mightily contributed to the creation of al-Qaeda, abruptly announced that there was something deeply wrong with Islam, that it kept producing terrorists.
a study of falsity
Paul Cameron, 65, who received his doctorate in psychology at the University of Colorado-Boulder in 1966, received widespread notice in 1983, when he cofounded the Institute for the Scientific Investigation of Sexuality. That organization eventually turned into Cameron's Family Research Institute. Cameron used his tiny think tank as a vehicle to publish reports saying homosexuals were more likely than heterosexuals to commit crimes and to molest children.
The American Psychological Association quickly launched an investigation into Cameron's methodology after receiving complaints from some of its members. The association sent Cameron a letter in December 1983, saying it had decided to ''drop you from membership" because he had not cooperated with the investigation. (Asked if the association still has concerns about Cameron, a spokeswoman, Rhea Faberman, said: ''We are concerned about Dr. Cameron because we do believe that his methodology is weak.")
In 1984, the Nebraska Psychological Association issued a statement saying it ''formally dissociates itself from the representations and interpretations of scientific literature offered by Dr. Paul Cameron."
The American Sociological Association issued a resolution saying: ''Cameron has consistently misinterpreted and misrepresented sociological research on sexuality, homosexuality, and lesbianism."
Any day now, the checks would come.
Any day now, the forces of darkness would stop holding back the checks.
Any day now, Jesus Himself would return in a spaceship, bringing news that President Clinton had signed a secret law in 2000 abolishing the Internal Revenue Service, with the heavenly acronym NESARA. This law (which supposedly stands for the National Economic Stabilization and Recovery Act) would expose the "Republican Party" for what they are: literally reptile space aliens posing as fiscal conservatives.
The bombers have paralysed Baghdad. I have spent half my time living in Iraq since the invasion. The country has never been as dangerous as it is today. Some targets have been hit again and again. The army recruiting centre at Al-Muthana municipal airport in the middle of Baghdad has been attacked eight times, the last occasion being on Wednesday, when eight people were killed. The detonations of the suicide bombs make my windows shake in their frames in my room in the al-Hamra Hotel. The hotel is heavily guarded. At one time the man who looked for bombs under cars entering the compound, with a mirror on the end of a stick, carried a pistol in his right hand. He reckoned if he did discover a suicide bomber he had a split second in which to shoot him in the head before the driver detonated his bomb.
The bombers, or rather the defences against them, have altered the appearance of Baghdad. US army and Iraqi government positions in Baghdad are surrounded by ramparts of enormous cement blocks that snake through the city. Manufactured in different sizes, each is named after an American state, such as Arkansas and Wisconsin. These concrete megaliths are strangling the city by closing off many streets.
For all the newspaper and television coverage of Iraq the foreign media still fail to convey the lethal and anarchic quality of day-to-day living...
Sure it'd be nice if we could trust the Bush administration to do the right thing as it seeks to protect us from terrorist attacks -- but it’s proven that we can’t. And even if the White House had a shred of credibility left, we shouldn't. This nation was founded on skepticism and distrust of those in power. Our founding fathers didn't even trust themselves to do the right thing, creating specific rules for what a president should -- and shouldn’t -- be allowed to do, and giving the legislative branch oversight over how the executive branch fulfilled its duties. Remember "trust but verify?" It's just another way of saying oversight.
It's amazing the extent to which Congress has ceded that responsibility. This negligence of its constitutional duties is what allowed us to get so deeply into the disastrous war in Iraq in the first place.
Karl Rove seems never to have admired democracy, leaving a trail of filthy politics among the corpses of his political opponents. Karl Rove has always reeked of political trickery and as Americans, we are concerned with Karl Rove’s unethical and unpatriotic personal behavior. That's why citizens across America are fed up and outraged--especially by Rove's suspected role in Plamegate. America is asking, "Is it treason? And what then?"
There are remarkable people gathered here who in the face of this relentless and brutal aggression and propaganda have doggedly worked to compile a comprehensive spectrum of evidence and information that should serve as a weapon in the hands of those who wish to participate in the resistance against the occupation of Iraq. It should become a weapon in the hands of soldiers in the United States, the United Kingdom, Italy, Australia, and elsewhere who do not wish to fight, who do not wish to lay down their lives - or to take the lives of others - for a pack of lies. It should become a weapon in the hands of journalists, writers, poets, singers, teachers, plumbers, taxi drivers, car mechanics, painters, lawyers - anybody who wishes to participate in the resistance.
The evidence collated in this tribunal should, for instance, be used by the International Criminal Court (whose jurisdiction the United States does not recognize) to try as war criminals George Bush, Tony Blair, John Howard, Silvio Berlusconi, and all those government officials, army generals, and corporate CEOs who participated in this war and now profit from it.
A spot-on analysis: NPR's Schorr says that the real issue in the Karl Rove controversy is not a leak, but a war, and how America was misled into that war. [WMP or Real Player req'd]
those dastardly birdwatchers!
Law enforcement officials say that because the birdwatchers have equipment such as binoculars, telescopes and cameras, they have the potential to commit acts of espionage. The areas they use are sometimes close to military bases, dams and sewage plants. Because they have "sophisticated gear and [are] looking at things not normally photographed by the common citizen in this area, they may be stopped and asked a few questions..."
What, me tweet?
my best to you
It was a train on the Piccadilly line between King's Cross and Russell Square and literally it was just a very loud bang. The train derailed.
There was smoke everywhere. There was no fire but the smoke was quite oppressive.
There were a lot of serious injuries down there as well. A lot of serious head injuries.
A guy by me thought he was going to die, I'm hoping he got out OK.
ignorant and ironic
The G8 leaders and the business interests their summit promotes can absorb our demands for aid, debt, even slightly fairer terms of trade, and lose nothing. They can wear our colours, speak our language, claim to support our aims, and discover in our agitation not new constraints but new opportunities for manufacturing consent. Justice, this consensus says, can be achieved without confronting power...
The G8 leaders have seized this opportunity with both hands. Multinational corporations, they argue, are not the cause of Africa's problems but the solution. From now on they will be responsible for the relief of poverty.
They have already been given control of the primary instrument of US policy towards Africa, the African Growth and Opportunity Act. The act is a fascinating compound of professed philanthropy and raw self-interest. To become eligible for help, African countries must bring about "a market-based economy that protects private property rights", "the elimination of barriers to United States trade and investment" and a conducive environment for US "foreign policy interests". In return they will be allowed "preferential treatment" for some of their products in US markets.
a cloak and dagger republic
Driven in part by fears of terrorism, government secrecy has reached a historic high by several measures, with federal departments classifying documents at the rate of 125 a minute as they create new categories of semi-secrets bearing vague labels like "sensitive security information."
A record 15.6 million documents were classified last year, nearly double the number in 2001, according to the federal Information Security Oversight Office. Meanwhile, the declassification process, which made millions of historical documents available annually in the 1990's, has slowed to a relative crawl, from a high of 204 million pages in 1997 to just 28 million pages last year.
The increasing secrecy - and its rising cost to taxpayers, estimated by the office at $7.2 billion last year - is drawing protests from a growing array of politicians and activists, including Republican members of Congress, leaders of the independent commission that studied the Sept. 11 attacks and even the top federal official who oversees classification.
In his June 28 speech, President Bush asserted that the invasion of Iraq was undertaken as part of "a global war against terror" that the United States is waging. In reality, as anticipated, the invasion increased the threat of terror, perhaps significantly.
Half-truths, misinformation and hidden agendas have characterised official pronouncements about US war motives in Iraq from the very beginning. The recent revelations about the rush to war in Iraq stand out all the more starkly amid the chaos that ravages the country and threatens the region and indeed the world.
In 2002 the US and United Kingdom proclaimed the right to invade Iraq because it was developing weapons of mass destruction. That was the "single question," as stressed constantly by Bush, Prime Minister Blair and associates. It was also the sole basis on which Bush received congressional authorisation to resort to force.
The answer to the "single question" was given shortly after the invasion, and reluctantly conceded: The WMD didn't exist. Scarcely missing a beat, the government and media doctrinal system concocted new pretexts and justifications for going to war.
In his speeches, George Bush regularly calls for a return to or the reinforcement of traditional, even eternal, family values and emphasizes the importance of personal "accountability" for our children as well as ourselves. ("The culture of America is changing from one that has said, if it feels good, do it, and if you've got a problem, blame somebody else, to a new culture in which each of us understands we are responsible for the decisions we make in life.") And yet when it comes to acts that are clearly wrong in this world -- aggressive war, the looting of resources, torture, personal gain at the expense of others, lying, and manipulation among other matters -- Bush and his top officials never hesitate to redefine reality to suit their needs. When faced with matters long defined in everyday life in terms of right and wrong, they simply reach for their dictionaries.
Prevarication and the art of ruling
I will suggest that we look at the Bush administration through the lenses of three controversial theorists who have had much to say about secrecy in both its religious and political dimensions: the German-born political philosopher, Leo Strauss, the Florentine philosopher, Niccolň Machiavelli, and the French postmodern theorist, Jean Baudrillard. I have chosen these three, seemingly disparate, theorists because they correspond to and help make sense of three of the most important forces at work in the Bush administration, namely: 1) the Neoconservative movement, which is heavily indebted to Strauss' thought and has a powerful presence in the Bush administration through figures like Paul Wolfowitz (a student of Strauss) and the Project for a New American Century; 2) the manipulations of Bush's pious public image by advisors like Karl Rove (a reader of Machiavelli) and Vice-President Dick Cheney (often compared to Machiavelli), who have used the President's connections with the Christian Right for political advantage;  and 3) an astonishingly uncritical mainstream media, whose celebration of Bush's image as a virtuous man of faith and general silence about his less admirable activities is truly "hyperreal," in Baudrillard's sense of the term.
stand for justice
That's how Voices in the Wilderness members began our statement explaining why we'd decided to stay in Baghdad during the 2003 Shock and Awe bombing of Iraq. During the long war of the economic sanctions, we had stood at the bedsides of numerous mothers who held dying infants and looked at us with imploring eyes, asking "Why?" We saw too much of the catastrophic military and economic violence inflicted on ordinary Iraqis to ever consider giving up on efforts to end UN/US economic sanctions. We had returned to our homes haunted by the gasps of children in hospital wards that served as little more than "death rows" for infants, and we had tried to alert people in the U.S. and the U.K., people with some level of control over their governments, about how those governments brutally and lethally punished Iraqi children for political actions they could not control.
Where you stand determines what you see. For the latter half of June, eight of us will do plenty of standing, again in opposition to economic punishment of ordinary Iraqis, with children bearing the hardest punishment. We're fasting for fifteen days leading up to the June 28-30 UNCC deliberations over whether to saddle the poorest Iraqis with billions of dollars of Saddam Hussein's debt.
We're standing in Geneva, which is one of the most comfortably elegant cities in the world, and where the future of one of the world's most desperate countries will be decided...
The ancient Israelites had a word for it: hochma , the science of the heart. Intelligence, feeling and perception combine to inform your own story, to draw others into a shared narrative, and to make of our experience here together a victory of the deepest moral feeling of sympathy, understanding and affection. This is the moral imagination that opens us to the reality of other people’s lives. When Lear cried out on the heath to Gloucester, “You see how this world goes,” Gloucester, who was blind, answered, “I see it feelingly.” When we succeed at this kind of programming, the public square is a little less polluted, a little less vulgar and our common habitat a little more hospitable. That is why we must keep trying our best.
downing street masquerade
The White House refuses to respond to a letter dated May 5 from 122 congressional Democrats about whether there was a coordinated effort to “fix” the intelligence and facts around the policy, as the Downing Street memo said...
Conyers and a half-dozen other members of Congress were stopped at the White House gate last night when they hand-delivered petitions signed by 560,000 Americans who want Bush to provide a detailed response to the Downing Street memo.
When Conyers could not get in, an anti-war demonstrator shouted, “Send Bush out!” Eventually, White House aides retrieved the petitions at the gate and took them into the West Wing.
“Quite frankly, evidence that appears to be building up points to whether or not the president has deliberately misled Congress to make the most important decision a president has to make, going to war,” Charles Rangel, senior Democrat on the House Ways and Means Committee, said earlier at the event on Capitol Hill.
Conyers pointed to statements by Bush in the run-up to invasion that war would be a last resort. “The veracity of those statements has, to put it mildly, come into question,” he said.
war is a lying game
It's bad enough that the Bush administration had so little international support for the Iraqi war that their "coalition of the willing" meant the U.S., Britain, and the equivalent of a child's imaginary friends. It's even worse that, as the Downing Street memo confirms, they had so little evidence of real threats that they knew from the start that they were going to have manufacture excuses to go to war. What's more damning still is that they effectively began this war even before the congressional vote.
With Congressman John Conyers about to hold hearings, coverage of the Downing Street memo is finally beginning to leak into the media. In contrast, we've heard almost nothing about the degree to which this administration began actively fighting the Iraq war well in advance of the March 2003 official attack--before both the October 2002 US Congressional authorization and the November United Nations resolution requiring that Saddam Hussein open the country up to inspectors.
I follow Iraq pretty closely, but was taken aback when Charlie Clements, now head of the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee, described driving in a Baghdad neighborhood six months before the war "and a building would just explode, hit by a missile from 30,000 feet -'What is that building?'" Clements would ask. "'Oh, that's a telephone exchange.'" Later, at a conference at Nevada's Nellis Air Force Base, Clements heard a U.S. General boast "that he began taking out assets that could help in resisting an invasion at least six months before war was declared."
pigmentocracy of power
For three weeks, Bolivia has been paralyzed by blockades and protests, an uprising that forced the president, Carlos Mesa, to resign last week. The protesters, primarily indigenous Indians, want to nationalize Bolivia's vast natural gas reserves, South America's second largest; BP has quintupled its estimate of Bolivia's proven reserves to 29 trillion cubic feet, worth a whopping $250 billion. The Indians are in a showdown with the International Monetary Fund and companies like British Gas, Repsol of Spain and Brazil's Petrobras that have already invested billions of dollars in exploration and extraction.Many are calling developments of the past several years in Bolivia a war against globalization, but in fact this is more of a struggle over who has power here. An American Indian majority is standing up to the light-skinned, European elite and its corruption-fueled relations with the world.
The way most newspapers and TV news tell it, there's little going on in Africa except poverty, famine, disease, and even genocide. But there's more to Africa than hardship. And there are growing efforts to try to present a fuller, more rounded picture of this continent to the world... A prominent challenge came this week from Rwandan President Paul Kagame. Speaking in Kenya at the International Press Institute's annual gathering, he defied the media to tell the whole story.
"I urge you to play your role, not merely as watchdogs and whistle-blowers, but as advocates and educators in our joint venture to make Africa ... a better place," he said.
He further argued the negative portrayal hurts Africa's efforts to fix its problems. "One of the reasons why Africa has not been able to attract enough foreign direct investment, which we need for our development, is the constant negative reporting," he added.
it's about freedom... yeah.
In a 300-page annual report, the group also accused the US government of damaging human rights over its attitude to torture and treatment of detainees. This encouraged and fuelled abuses by governments in all regions of the world, the human rights advocates said... The televised beheading of captives in Iraq, the bombing of commuter trains in Madrid and the siege at a school in Beslan in Russia showed that "four years after 9/11, the promise to make the world a safer place remains hollow", secretary general Irene Khan said.
Who are they? I mean the people obsessed with control using the government to threaten and intimidate; I mean the people who are hollowing out middle class security even as they enlist the sons and daughters of the working class to make sure Ahmad Chalabi winds up controlling Iraq’s oil; I mean the people who turn faith-based initiatives into Karl Rove’s slush fund; who encourage the pious to look heavenward and pray so as not to see the long arm of privilege and power picking their pockets; I mean the people who squelch free speech in an effort to obliterate dissent and consolidate their orthodoxy into the official view of reality from which any deviation becomes unpatriotic heresy. That’s who I mean. And if that’s editorializing, so be it. A free press is one where it’s okay to state the conclusion you’re led to by the evidence.
A Glimpse into the Future
It's customary when composing scenarios like this to say up front that nobody can predict the future and only fools attempt to, blah blah. It seems true that history is anything but linear. Events unfold fractally, so to speak, with surprising zigs and zags, with unexpected amplifications, resonances, and outcomes, showing up would-be smartypants prophets like me. But it strikes me as more foolish, in the face of what may be epochal and disruptive change in how we live, to put on a show of excessive humility and pretend that we can't make any sense of our unfolding circumstances...
We've thrown away our national wealth on free parking, cul-de-sac housing subdivisions, strip malls, fried food huts, and the other ridiculous accessories of the system. What will become of it all? A fraction of it will be retrofitted for sustainable living, the rest is apt to become materials salvage operations (steel, aluminum, copper), and ruins.
he's just a schmo
The capture of a supposed Al-Qaeda kingpin by Pakistani agents last week was hailed by President George W
Al-Libbi’s arrest in Pakistan, announced last Wednesday, was described in the United States as “a major breakthrough” in the hunt for Osama Bin Laden.
my dinner with knucklehead
“The problem I have with gays is that they wanna put their gayness in my face!”
“Oh, you’ve seen those gay pride parades, with the leather and the bare buttocks. And have you seen Will and Grace? It’s nothing but gay, gay, gay.”
“So you think people should keep their sexuality to themselves?”
“So you’re anti-Pamela Anderson?” (Being a courteous guest, I didn’t tell him that I consider Pamela Anderson to be a drag queen, a person who has drug out gender to a hilarious extreme, a person so femme that she makes the Marilyns, both Monroe and Manson, seem butch.)
“That’s not true!” my sister yelled from the other room. “He goes bug-eyed whenever she’s on tv!”
“And when straight people get married,” I said, “and drive around town honking their car horns and towing cans and streaming crepe paper, you’re against that flaming heterosexuality too?”
“That’s not flaming heterosexuality. They’re celebrating a sacred union. And they’re quite discrete. Not like those gays.”
“Ahh, I see,” I said, thinking about all the times I’d seen brides hoist their skirts and tuxed fellas ratchet garters up their thighs, while het guests whooped as if it were a good old-fashioned ho’ down.
yeah, and I'm sure he was reading the da vinci code too.
The new Pope, Benedict XVI, was actively investigating secret societies including the Knights Templar and the Illuminati, it was revealed yesterday. Details were exposed by a local newspaper in Hertfordshire, England. Cardinal Ratzinger was head of the Inquisition, the arm of the Church set up to investigate, persecute or eliminate heretics. But the curious thing is, we now know that he started his investigation shortly before he was elected as the new Pope. Did he know something? He certainly made no secret of his ambition to become Pope.
And on the Eighth Day, Man Destroyed the Earth
Why do so many conservatives yawn, laugh derisively or change the subject at the first mention of Earth Day? How can they be so apathetic to the same earth that their preachers praise as �God�s creation�? Why don�t all Christians hold the Bush administration accountable for decisions that threaten our water, our air, and life itself? Having listened to countless conservative sermons on the subject, and to evangelicals and fundamentalists (not necessarily the same people), I�ve discovered that their denials of scientific evidence regarding environmental destruction aren�t really believed at a deep level. Instead, this �reactive thinking� has been learned from others.
Reactive thinking is a rehearsed mental security system of sorts, composed of unexamined assumptions and learned replies that defend the individual from complex, unpleasant or frightening realities. Reactive thinking accounts for most of the trouble that environmentalists are running up against, now that the pollution-friendly Bush administration is in control. This applies especially to the conservative Christian Bush supporters who should, being Christian, care that human beings are ruining the world that they believe God created in seven days.
There is a right way and a wrong way to engage religious voices in the public square. I believe "Justice Sunday" reflects the latter and highlights several disturbing trends. I agree with the Rev. Dr. Susan Brooks Thistlethwaite, president of the Chicago Theological Seminary, who called "Justice Sunday" sacrilegious and said, "The radical religious right turned a sanctuary into a political platform." As a Baptist minister for more than 40 years with a profound respect for religious freedom and pluralism, I fear it will get worse. In fact, I think we are teetering on the brink of theocracy and the Christian Right could conceivably use the battle over the judiciary and weakening support for reproductive rights to push us over the edge. Unfortunately, although Frist has been vigorously, and appropriately, criticized for his poor judgment and political opportunism in taking part in the telethon, the greater problem of sectarian religious manipulation of public policy debates has been minimized. President George W. Bush brushed off a question about the role of faith in politics at his April 28th press conference with the innocuous response that "people in political office should not say to somebody you're not equally American if you don't agree with my view of religion." Rather than give a high school civics lesson, he should have had the courage to disavow the religious arrogance and extremism of "Justice Sunday."
reality based community roundup
...Today's Republicans seem hell-bent on squelching the ability of the minority in this country to express dissent. This is in keeping with other Republican actions to undercut the legislative process. And in the filibuster fight they are doing it with utter disregard for the rule of law so central to our democracy. There is, of course, a way to change the rules if they so choose -- and that is to follow the rules. When they decide instead to break the rules and push our democracy into uncharted, uncertain terrain, the results are often not to the liking of the American people.
looting a culture
The picture there is appalling. More than 150 Sumerian cities dating back to the fourth millennium BC - such as Umma, Umm al-Akkareb, Larsa and Tello - lie destroyed, turned into crater-filled landscapes of shredded pottery and broken bricks. If properly excavated, these cities - covering an estimated 20 sq km - could help us learn about the development of the human race.
But the looters have destroyed ancient monuments, erasing the region's history in a tireless search for a cylinder seal, a sculpture or a cuneiform tablet that they can sell to a dealer for a few dollars. It is tough, poorly paid work carried out by jobless Iraqis with no way of earning a better income.
coulter also off the list
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) does not list right-wing domestic terrorists and terrorist groups on a document that appears to be an internal list of threats to the nation’s security. According to the list — part of a draft planning document obtained by CQ Homeland Security — between now and 2011 DHS expects to contend primarily with adversaries such as al Qaeda and other foreign entities affiliated with the Islamic Jihad movement, as well as domestic radical Islamist groups.
It also lists left-wing domestic groups, such as the Animal Liberation Front (ALF) and the Earth Liberation Front (ELF), as terrorist threats, but it does not mention anti-government groups, white supremacists and other radical right-wing movements, which have staged numerous terrorist attacks that have killed scores of Americans.
Today, the rights of individuals are being eroded: by government, by corporations, by society itself. This icon — the Individual-i — represents the rights of the individual. It represents the right to privacy and anonymity in the information age. It represents the rights to an open government, due process, and equal protection under the law. It represents the right to live surveillance free, and not to be marked as "suspicious" for wanting these other rights. It recognizes that a free society is a safe society, and that freedom is founded upon individual rights. The battle for individual rights is just beginning; our side needs a symbol. We hope to see this symbol displayed proudly wherever individual rights are valued.
ok, seriously. this is just wrong.
In 1937 Ratzinger’s father retired and the family moved to Traunstein, a staunchly Catholic town in Bavaria close to the Führer’s mountain retreat in Berchtesgaden. He joined the Hitler Youth aged 14, shortly after membership was made compulsory in 1941... Ratzinger was enrolled in an anti-aircraft unit that protected a BMW factory making aircraft engines. The workforce included slaves from Dachau concentration camp. Ratzinger has insisted he never took part in combat or fired a shot — adding that his gun was not even loaded — because of a badly infected finger. He was sent to Hungary, where he set up tank traps and saw Jews being herded to death camps...
The Economic Tsunami
It seems that there are a growing number of people who believe as I do, that the economic tsunami planned by the Bush administration is probably only months away. In just 5 short years the national debt has increased by nearly 3 trillion dollars while the dollar has continued its predictable decline. The dollar has fallen a whopping 38% since Bush took office, due largely to the massive $450 billion per year tax cuts. At the same time, numerous laws have been passed (Patriot Act, Intelligence Reform Bill, Homeland Security Bill, National ID, Passport requirements etc) anticipating the need for greater repression when the economy takes its inevitable nosedive. Regrettably, that nosedive looks to be coming sooner rather than later.
The administration is currently putting as much pressure as possible on OPEC to ratchet up the flow of oil another 1 million barrels per day (well over capacity) to settle down nervous markets and buy time for the planned bombing of Iran in June. Like Fed Chief Alan Greenspan's artificially low interest rates, the manipulation of oil production is a way of concealing how dire the situation really is. Rising prices at the pump signal an upcoming recession, (depression?) so the administration is pulling out all the stops to meet the short term demand and maintain the illusion that things are still okay. (Bush would rather avoid massive popular unrest until his battle-plans for Iran are carried out)
But, of course, things are not okay. The country has been intentionally plundered and will eventually wind up in the hands of its creditors as Bush and his lieutenants planned from the very beginning. Those who don't believe this should note the methodical way that the deficits have been produced at (around) $450 billion per year; a systematic and orderly siphoning off of the nation's future. The value of the dollar and the increasing national debt follow exactly the same (deliberate) downward trajectory.
The Long Emergency
A few weeks ago, the price of oil ratcheted above fifty-five dollars a barrel, which is about twenty dollars a barrel more than a year ago. The next day, the oil story was buried on page six of the New York Times business section. Apparently, the price of oil is not considered significant news, even when it goes up five bucks a barrel in the span of ten days. That same day, the stock market shot up more than a hundred points because, CNN said, government data showed no signs of inflation. Note to clueless nation: Call planet Earth.
Carl Jung, one of the fathers of psychology, famously remarked that "people cannot stand too much reality." What you're about to read may challenge your assumptions about the kind of world we live in, and especially the kind of world into which events are propelling us. We are in for a rough ride through uncharted territory.
It has been very hard for Americans -- lost in dark raptures of nonstop infotainment, recreational shopping and compulsive motoring -- to make sense of the gathering forces that will fundamentally alter the terms of everyday life in our technological society. Even after the terrorist attacks of 9/11, America is still sleepwalking into the future. I call this coming time the Long Emergency.
Important Changes to Your Citizenship Agreement
To help you understand the changes in the terms of your Agreement, We explain the most important changes in the Summary of New Terms below. The changes described will take effect for citizenship cycles beginning Jan. 20, 2005, and will apply to all existing and future balances on your account.
the undoing of america
...The old American republic is well and truly dead. The institutions that we thought were eternal proved not to be. And that goes for the three departments of government, and it also goes for the Bill of Rights. So we're in uncharted territory. We're governed by public relations. Very little information gets to the people, thanks to the corruption and/or ineptitude of the media. Just look at this bankruptcy thing that went through--everybody in debt to credit cards, which is apparently 90 percent of the country, is in deep trouble. So the people are uninformed about what's being done in their name.
And that's really why we are in Iraq. Iraq is a symptom, not a cause. It's a symptom of the passion we have for oil, which is a declining resource in the world. Alternatives can be found, but they will not be found as long as there's one drop of oil or natural gas to be extracted from other nations, preferably by force by the current junta in charge of our affairs. Iraq will end with our defeat.
What... are future generations to think of the concept that individual members of a densely overpopulated species can claim unchallenged ownership of large sections of the earth, to nurture or destroy as they see fit? Considering the conflict between a finite planet and the infinite expansion of Homo Sapiens, does it make any more sense for people to be able to own pieces of the world than it does for people to own other people? If the concept of private ownership were followed to its logical extreme, it would be possible for one fabulously wealthy person, or corporation, to buy every acre of land on the surface of the earth, and to hold the rest of humanity hostage by withholding earthly resources.
As ridiculous as that scenario might seem, today’s economic trends make it increasingly possible for the wealthy (largely in the form of corporations) to claim massive portions of the earth’s surface. Prevailing attitudes toward private property in land also make it increasingly practical for those corporations to claim all the natural resources they can monopolize from their holdings, and to extort more wealth from the rest of society with the resources that they hoard.
no tomorrow like tomorrow
The depredations of this system are no longer symptomatic of a class that is aggrandizing their power, but of a class astride a system that -- almost like like the yeast used to make a bottle of wine, that expands madly toward its own point of no return to extinction -- is in an inevitable decline. That's hard to see sometimes, because they have accumulated so much power, and because that system has so penetrated every dimension of our lives all over the world. And the chieftains of communications have so monopolized the images we see of the world and the interpretations of that world to which we are exposed that this power is magnified, while this decline is denied and minimized. But recognizing the accumulation of insults to humanity in this system's billions of daily doses of misery and defeat does not imply that we have failed by failing to defeat the system in each and all of its symptomatic forms.
No concept lies more firmly embedded in our national character than the notion that the USA is "No. 1," "the greatest." Our broadcast media are, in essence, continuous advertisements for the brand name "America Is No. 1." Any office seeker saying otherwise would be committing political suicide. In fact, anyone saying otherwise will be labeled "un-American." We're an "empire," ain't we? Sure we are. An empire without a manufacturing base. An empire that must borrow $2 billion a day from its competitors in order to function. Yet the delusion is ineradicable. We're No. 1. Well...this is the country you really live in:
The Media will eat itself
Gannon just a tip of the propaganda iceberg. What ho, Titanic?
Every president has sought to manipulate the media. But historians say that Bush, unhappy with what he calls "the filter," is courting controversy in his quest for innovative formats. Several conservative commentators have been paid to trumpet Bush policies in their work; one recipient, Armstrong Williams, is being investigated by the Federal Communications Commission. And two agencies have disseminated pro-Bush videos that look like TV newscasts, without disclosing the Bush sponsorship - a breach of federal law, according to the Government Accountability Office.
too many other things to worry about?
I lost a friend last week. These things happen - I'm bad at people, after all - but I can't say I'm not pissed off. Last week I also talked to a nice lady who was great at describing loss, the details of loss, the amputated future, the lack of company. Because I'm bad at people it took me a long time to remember she was so well-informed because her husband died a while ago. I mean, ages ago, but she hasn't forgotten him. Which is odd, isn't it ? She wants to be able to talk to her husband, I want to be able to talk to my friend - but we shouldn't. We should be over it.
How do I know? Because I should be caring about how a bony tart and a petulant clothes horse choose to christen their spawn. I should be fretting over whether a lack of established royal precedent at Windsor register office will cause Camilla to spontaneously combust... Then I would be part of the real world, the things that matter, the questions that deserve every scrap of media attention they get.
Ignore the vanity of the Bushites
What time is it for America? If the Boston Tea Party was first light and the Gettysburg Address dawn, where between the sunrise and sunset of empire is the United States now? To judge from his inauguration speech... President Bush thinks it is about time for morning coffee: much to be proud of but big tasks â€” maybe the proudest of all â€” still ahead. To end tyranny on Earth is no small ambition...
I think itâ€™s about half past four. For America-2005-Iraq, think of Britain-1899-Boer War. Ever-heavier burdens are being loaded upon a nation whose economic legs are growing shaky, whose hegemony is being taunted and whose sense of world mission may be faltering. â€śOvercommitted?â€ť is the whisper.
Not that you would hear it in the din of drums and trumpets. More display is made in the spending of an inheritance than in its quiet accumulation, and the perfumed blossoms of July and August are heaviest after the nights have already begun to draw in. Like economic booms or summer solstices, empires have a habit of appearing at their most florid some time after their zenith has passed. Of the rise and fall of nations, history tends to find that the era of exuberance occurs when the underlying reasons for it are beginning to weaken. There is a time lag between success and swagger.
living in a theocracy
...They had guys wearing the traditional US (military) uniforms over time walk out in order while scenes from a Jesus movie I cant recall played... I know it's ridiculously bad taste but yes, that really is Jesus on the cross in the first pictureâ€¦in behind our troops. When the final modern troop stepped out too the front and center he thrust his rifle one handed into the air to shouts of approval, the Jesus footage was still playing, and at that particular point even my dad was uncomfortable.
bill moyers on apocalypticism
Theology asserts propositions that cannot be proven true; ideologues hold stoutly to a worldview despite being contradicted by what is generally accepted as reality. When ideology and theology couple, their offspring are not always bad but they are always blind. And there is the danger: voters and politicians alike, oblivious to the facts.
Ten Underreported humanitarian crises
Guess the dateline: United States officials were surprised and heartened today at the size of turnout in XXX's presidential election despite a XXX terrorist campaign to disrupt the voting.
What I heard about Iraq, an exhaustive accounting of executive doublespeak:
In 1992, a year after the first Gulf War, I heard Dick Cheney, then secretary of defense, say that the US had been wise not to invade Baghdad and get ‘bogged down in the problems of trying to take over and govern Iraq’. I heard him say: ‘The question in my mind is how many additional American casualties is Saddam worth? And the answer is: not that damned many.’
In February 2001, I heard Colin Powell say that Saddam Hussein ‘has not developed any significant capability with respect to weapons of mass destruction. He is unable to project conventional power against his neighbours.’
That same month, I heard that a CIA report stated: ‘We do not have any direct evidence that Iraq has used the period since Desert Fox to reconstitute its weapons of mass destruction programmes.’
In July 2001, I heard Condoleezza Rice say: ‘We are able to keep his arms from him. His military forces have not been rebuilt.’
George Bush's second inaugural extravaganza was every bit as repugnant as I had expected, a vulgar orgy of triumphalism probably unmatched since Napoleon crowned himself emperor of the French in Notre Dame in 1804.
The little Corsican corporal had a few decent victories to his escutcheon. Lodi, Marengo, that sort of thing. Not so this strutting Texan mountebank, with his chimpanzee smirk and his born-again banalities delivered in that constipated syntax that sounds the way cold cheeseburgers look, and his grinning plastic wife, and his scheming junta of neo-con spivs, shamans, flatterers and armchair warmongers, and his sinuous evasions and his brazen lies, and his sleight of hand theft from the American poor, and his rape of the environment, and his lethal conviction that the world must submit to his Pax Americana or be bombed into charcoal.
Soapbox: A Sampling 20th Century Political Speech (real audio)
The world's governments, churches and even terrorist-affiliated groups have thrown themselves into the tsunami relief effort. You would expect that passing judgment about which kinds of aid and which modes of delivery work best would be a complicated matter. But you would be wrong. In Europe, at least, the public has separated the heroes from the scoundrels with a simple yardstick -- lost vacation time. Chancellor Gerhard Schroder of Germany stands among the winners. He rushed back from a post-Christmas vacation in his native Lower Saxony to set up a crisis center in Berlin, and has since been a whirlwind of activity, pledging more than half a billion dollars in aid and devoting his New Year's address to the disaster.
Prime Minister Tony Blair of Britain, who chose not to cut short his own vacation in Egypt, finds himself cast as the arch-goat. Blair's government was quite active during the days that followed the tsunami. But even though Britain has offered substantial assistance to the wave-damaged region, that is somehow insufficient. For the past month, the British news media have savaged their prime minister for his ''colossal act of disrespect.'' According to an editorial in The Independent, ''Blair has failed to grasp the essence of leadership.''
And don't forget the part about how Congress allotted hundreds of millions of dollars for the futile WMD search, with no public accounting of the money, and the entire budget and the expenditures are to remain classified, by order of the Defense Intelligence Agency. Ha ha. Sigh.
This is about the time your head spins all the way around and you shudder in disbelief and you stifle a giggle and hold your sides and restrain yourself from gagging, think happy thoughts about sex and love and trees because otherwise you just smash your head with a brick and throw puppies into paper shredders to numb the pain and quiet the screams.
In the light of your failure to elect a competent President of the USA and thus to govern yourselves, we hereby give notice of the revocation of your independence, effective today. Her Sovereign Majesty Queen Elizabeth II will resume monarchical duties over all states, commonwealths and other territories except Utah, which she does not fancy. [thanks, Ramya!]
Sy Hersh: The Coming Wars
“This is a war against terrorism, and Iraq is just one campaign. The Bush Administration is looking at this as a huge war zone,” the former high-level intelligence official told me. “Next, we’re going to have the Iranian campaign. We’ve declared war and the bad guys, wherever they are, are the enemy. This is the last hurrah—we’ve got four years, and want to come out of this saying we won the war on terrorism.”
Good work, everybody.
You knew this was coming: Conservatives Pick Soft Target, A Cartoon Sponge [via MeFi]
"Does anybody here know SpongeBob?"
Empire and Militant Christianity: How Americans Were Seduced by War
If Americans persist in these misconceptions, America will "share the fate of all those who in ages past have looked to war and military power to fulfill their destiny. We will rob future generations of their rightful inheritance. We will wreak havoc abroad. We will endanger our security at home. We will risk the forfeiture of all that we prize."
"No shit!" This telling metaphorical find was just the lead graphic on CNN.com
Despite demands by human rights groups in the US that the two companies be barred from further contracts in Iraq - where CACI alone employed almost half of all interrogators and analysts at Abu Ghraib - CACI International has been awarded a $16 million renewal of its contract. Titan, meanwhile, has been awarded a new contract worth $164m.
Opposing Bush: A Form of Mental Illness?
“When the 109th Congress convenes in Washington in January, Senator Bill Frist, the first practicing physician elected to the Senate since 1928, plans to file a bill that would define ‘political paranoia’ as a mental disorder, paving the way for individuals who suffer from paranoid delusions regarding voter fraud, political persecution and FBI surveillance to receive Medicare reimbursement for any psychiatric treatment they receive,” writes Hermione Slatkin, Medical Correspondent for the Swift Report. “Rick Smith, a spokesman for Senator Frist, says that the measure has a good chance of passing—something that can only help a portion of the population that is suffering significant distress.”
Um, this is pretty much the WORST THING EVER. I suppose we must all take our Soma rations so we can all be happy little workers, now.
Cue widespread outrage.
The Madness of George W. Bush: A Reflection of Our Collective Psychosis
India's untouchables forced out of relief camps: Kuppuswamy Ramachandran, 32, a Dalit or untouchable in India's rigid caste hierarchy, said he and his family were told to leave a relief camp in worst-hit Nagapattinam district where 50 more families were housed. "The higher caste fishing community did not allow us to sleep in a marriage hall where they are put up because we belong to the lowest caste," Ramachandran said. "After three days we were moved out to a school but now the school is going to reopen within three days and the teachers drove us out..."
Also, Earth "still ringing" after Indian Ocean earthquake: Australian National University scientists said Sunday that hyper-sensitive gravity measuring equipment showed minute reverberations may continue for weeks.
100 things we didn't know this time last year
73. Ducks have regional accents. London ducks shout out a rough quack to be heard above the urban din; those in the West Country make a quieter, softer sound.
86. You can see the back of your own head in some parts of the universe as time and light are so curved. The universe is neither flat, nor football shaped - it looks like a flat-sided trumpet, German physicists believe.
More on the crisis is South Asia:
Eerily, the Bam earthquake in Iran occured exactly one year ago today.
We made our way out of the hotel, through the incredible rushing water. First of all we climbed up into a tree for a couple of minutes but then that began to fall down because of the water. We were swept along for a few hundred metres, trying to dodge the motorcycles and the refrigerators and the cars that were coming with us.
UPDATE: More here.
Qualifications for a director of national intelligence? "I'm going to find somebody who knows something about intelligence," Bush disclosed. Timeline for Iraq? "We'd like to achieve our objective as quickly as possible." Vladimir Putin's turn toward autocracy? "If we disagree with decisions, we can do so in a friendly and positive way."
When the subject turned to Social Security, the president made clear that questions about his views on the subject were strictly out of bounds
An annual tradition we could all do without: Top Censored Stories of 2004
An excerpt from #15:
"Homeland security" has become the new mantra since September 11, 2001, and has been the justification for increasing U.S. military expansion around the world. Part of this campaign has been the varied and persistent appeals by the Pentagon to Congress for exemptions from a range of environmental regulations and wildlife treaties. The world's largest polluter, the U.S. military, generates 750,000 tons of toxic waste material annually, more than the five largest chemical companies in the U.S. combined. This pollution occurs globally as the U.S. maintains bases in dozens countries. In the U.S. there are 27,000 toxic hot spots on 8,500 military properties inside Washington's Fairchild Air Force Base is the number one producer of hazardous waste, generating over 13 million pounds of waste in 1997. Not only is the military emitting toxic material directly into the air and water, it's poisoning the land of nearby communities resulting in increased rates of cancer, kidney disease, increasing birth defects, low birth weight, and miscarriage.
Which is to say, "environmentalism is peace building, y'all."
In the midst of the prosperity and affluence of Western ‘democracies’ there is a pervasive sadness and sense of impotence about the future of our societies, of humanity and of the natural world. Many well-informed people have focused those negative feelings on the idea of‘globalisation’. For them the very term carries with it a sense of global despoliation, greed, oppression, injustice and irreparable loss. At the same time, many of us in the West are uncomfortably aware that the unprecedented material abundance we enjoy is being bought at the expense of the rest of the world’s peoples, natural resources and wildlife. Within the societies forced to pay the costs of today’s form of globalisation, tens of millions of citizens are seething with anger, envy and frustration.
Yet today’s globalisation is but the latest—and hopefully temporary —phase of a globalising process that has been going on for thousands of years. In effect, we humans are a global species: we have evolved the capacity to inhabit virtually every corner of the planet. Thus some form of ‘globalisation’ is part of our destiny. What is in question is the form that human globalisation will take in its next manifestation.
You can follow all of the breaking news from the Ukraine on the wonderful blog Le Sabot Post-Moderne.
Compare the situation to Russia, where an authoritarian Putin faced off against corrupt oligarchs. In Ukraine, authoritarianism and oligarchy are fused. Yanukovych isn't just another unscrupulous candidate, he's the main man of Akhmetov -- the duke of Donetsk and the richest man in Ukraine. The current president, Kuchma, is the head of a different clan, Dnepropetrovsk. The presidential administrator is Medvedchuk, who happens to run the Kiev-based Medvedchuk-Surkis clan. He also owns the two biggest Ukrainian TV stations, which is awfully convenient.
By energizing the forces of reaction, George W. Bush has sown the seeds of defeat for his party: We Won, You Just Don't Know It Yet
Given his expanded majorities in Congress, Bush will likely get most of what he wants--and therein lies another danger for him. If he governs as his base demands, his second term will be a disaster. His zealously uncompromising fundamentalist supporters are loudly demanding a far-right Supreme Court that would be wildly out of step with the American middle. Though a majority of Americans support choice, Bush's base is determined to overturn Roe v. Wade. Moderate Republicans like Arlen Specter, terrified of a massive backlash if Bush's Christian soldiers get what they want, is already feeling their sting. Karl Rove made a Faustian bargain with these people. It worked in the short term, aiding Bush's reelection. Now they want payback, and Bush will be forced to deliver.
Let us hope so. The greater the uncompromising hubris of the right wing, the more problematic, and politically perilous, Bush's second term will be. All of the Republican talk of a mandate-echoed by a subservient national media--is a fatal misreading of what happened on November 2. The fundamental post-welfare state reality is that there are two minority parties in America, divided mostly by culture: the Republicans, who hold the ideological allegiance of roughly a third of the electorate, built on a core base of white evangelical Christians and lower-middle class voters, particularly in the South, and the Democrats, who have roughly the same size following, drawn from the well educated and minorities, particularly on the coasts. The party that wins elections is the one that induces greater motility in the non-ideological third in the middle.
Poverty and unemployment are on the rise and 45 million Americans are living without health insurance. Although our elected officials refuse to acknowledge the irreversible and irrefutable damage being done to the planet we have now thoroughly trashed, there is a really big elephant residing in America’s ecological living room. OK, so I may be a bit of a downer and I’m not the most fun at a party these days, but it’s not all my fault. It’s kind of hard to be jovial during such times of duress. So what’s the deal? Are you angry? Is it something we did or didn’t do? Or is this some sort of test? Obviously we’re failing miserably if it is.
John Kerry was faced with three options. One, fight on publicly rather than conceding and put the nation into a media frenzied limbo. Two, concede and go on with his life, turning his back on his promise to his supporters to ensure that “every vote will be counted.” Most people are assuming that John Kerry opted for the second of these while John Edwards, his runningmate, opted for the first, and since Kerry was the big dog, he won out. But people who think this are thinking in Bush terms, all or nothing, either you are for the war or against it, that either Senator Kerry was for recounting the votes or he was against it. The reality is, John Kerry has chosen a third, much smarter course – just as he said he would all along. John Kerry realized that to launch a public campaign calling the vote into question would be disastrous. In fact, he likely realized he would we walking right into a Bush-set booby trap.
The stolen election of 2004 courtesy of Electronic Voting:
In a cynical view, and one that is likely accurate, the election of 2004 may have been nothing more than an elaborate trial balloon, a "good cop-bad cop" theater that is mandated every few years to uphold the appearance of legitimacy. Our candidates lie, all the while gauging the effectiveness of long-term manipulation programs. They think, are the people still gullible and uninformed? What slogans and illusions can we fool them with? Is the "war on terrorism" mindset still unwavering? How far can we push them? Will they accept the baseball bat in the face, or the velvet glove to the nose?
...for the past quarter century or so, the conservatives and Republicans had been working very assiduously to build their own media infrastructure. Much of that came out of the bitterness they felt after the Watergate ouster of Richard Nixon, the defeat in Vietnam, which they blamed in some part on elements of the American public that had turned against the war. So, the conservatives went out, very -- (and we know their -- we have their thinking and their writings on this) to build their own establishment and in large part to build their own media. They began with money from conservative foundations, later on Reverend Moon stepped in with hundreds of millions of dollars that he brought in for the Washington Times and other publications. Later on, the talk radio came into this, and eventually FOX news. So it's really almost a -- a vertically integrated media infrastructure that the conservatives now have, and it reaches across the country.
A bizzare pattern of impossible anomalies is unleashed in this MeFi Electiontheft special. I was listening to reports last night regarding the 400% surge of repug votes in a primarily Dem county in Florida... there's no way this election was fair. Observers from freedom lovin' countries like the Kingdom of Putin have cried foul. Even Nader is crying foul. I have a feeling that as wave upon wave of reports comes in, the legitimacy of the presidential shoplifter will come into play.
Also, please check out Black Box Voting, an amazing compendium of information on the politics behind electonic voting systems.
Surpise, it's Fraud! Post-mortem Ohio Ground Report
Countless other frauds occurred, such as postcards advising people of incorrect polling places, registered Democrats not receiving absentee ballots, duly registered young voters being forced to file provisional ballots even though their names and signatures appeared in the voting rolls, longtime active voting registered voters being told they weren't registered, bad faith challenges by Republican "challengers" in Democratic precincts, and on and on and on.
Hope, upon hope, upon hope.
Loxahatchee, Fla.: (From the West Palm Beach area.) This morning, I left my husband at home with my one-year-old twin sons, took my four-year-old son to preschool then waited 45 minutes in line to vote. The weather was perfect, the people were waiting patiently and the process went smoothly. Then I went home to stay with the twins while my husband went to vote. I watched them playing outside and thought of my other son at school and thought about the importance of today. I visualized the celebrations later this evening when Kerry is declared the winner. I may even have "prayed" to any deity or spirit / god or goddess that cared to hear my thoughts to make it so and spare us from another four years of this regime and salvage my sons future and the position of this country in the world. When I look at my three sons, I desperately hope that by the time they are old enough to vote, they live in a better world. And my heart breaks for all the mothers whose children have been sacrificed unjustifiably or who have to explain to their children why daddy isn't going to come home again.
Oh, this is huge. So many reports about magnificent turnout, and this momentum is very likely to mean one thing: we are in the process of rewriting history, renewing our stake in destiny, and preparing for democratic and non-violent regieme change.
If you haven't done it yet, you know what to do.
Get Out The Vote!
I've got the car packed for a late-night drive to Greensboro for a week-long training for work. I will be nail-biting and celebrating in spirit with y'all while the upcoming Kerry victory is tallied a hundred and some-odd miles away in my hotel room.
I've already voted, so I won't have the thrill of the lines, the momentum, the crackling energy of change that is tangible and statistically tenable right now. I have an "unquiet" faith that good fortune and the will of the people, indeed, the will of the mysterious justice of the collective consciousness of humanity will prevail, and how.
In this, the final post of the final day of the campaign, I implore you to become a part of the revolution tomorrow. Join with your citizens in affirming and creating equity and liberty in the American conversation. This regieme has done well to cause significant impact on the planet, like never before. Stopping this devastation is imperative, and it's up to you.
How's that for a responsibility? You can do it, we can do it, and it's happening right now.
For now, that's today's programming. I'll see you tomorrow, posting from some anonymous place in foreign territory. Meanwhile, read the good words of Mr. Mike, and rest easy tonight, for there's major work to be done tomorrow. It's spirited work. This transition is a holy, in an odd sort of way. Our goal is to discover why.
Michael Moore: One Day Left
Get Out The Vote!
I believe in an America that will lead all free nations in the fight against terrorism, and will not in the process abandon the freedoms brave Americans and others fought and died for. I believe in an America that won’t send my cousin off to fight with veterans of the Vietnam War because a former frat boy whose daddy hid him in the National Guard wouldn’t take the political risk of using enough troops to prosecute his trumped-up, fraudulent war. I believe in an America that doesn’t use the threat of terrorism as a bludgeon in the voting booth.
Get Out The Vote!
Bush Win Would Mean Dark Times; World Would Perceive Support For Preemptive War
The presidential election on Tuesday is one of the most crucial in American history. There are many reasons -- in foreign policy and on the domestic front -- why President George W. Bush should not be reelected. Among them is the dominance of the radical right in his advisory councils, who are taking the United States down the wrong road at the start of the 21st century.
More Fear and Loathing from our man Hunter S:
Armageddon came early for George Bush this year, and he was not ready for it. His long-awaited showdowns with my man John Kerry turned into a series of horrible embarrassments that cracked his nerve and demoralized his closest campaign advisers. They knew he would never recover, no matter how many votes they could steal for him in Florida, where the presidential debates were closely watched and widely celebrated by millions of Kerry supporters who suddenly had reason to feel like winners...
...All we have to do is get out and vote, while it's still legal, and we will wash those crooked warmongers out of the White House.
Bush administration lawyers argued in three closely contested states last week that only the Justice Department, and not voters themselves, may sue to enforce the voting rights set out in the Help America Vote Act, which was passed in the aftermath of the disputed 2000 election.
And here's another reminder of how our would-be overlords (anonymous senior Repug strategists) are thinking right now: "anything that makes people nervous about their personal safety helps Bush."
Vile, disgusting intimidation and pap. Get out the vote, peeps.
Is the crackhead faking a handful of registrations for Jeffrey Dahmer the same kind of thing as wiping 17,000 voters in Nevada, 23,000 voters in Florida, 30,000 voters in Ohio completely off the rolls? The other part of the ground war that's being waged this weekend is to make you think that they are.
The surprise is on him...
Nice attempt at an October Surprise... Darth Bin Laden rises up from the sea of forget to smite us all! Are we expected to whimper like a helpless Penelope for a Dudley Doright to come and save the day? Please. If anything, this video is proof of Bush's grave ineptitude and will be a reminder of everyone waiting to vote of why they're in line; to vote for a hopeful future.
I've been waiting for their last desperate grasp, the BOO!, and this frankly is a feeble attempt to sway the undecided, whom the extreme wing of our democratic society take to be feeble minds. They shall see the light, my friends, when the truth collapses around them, to the tune of American regieme change. The "fact" that some government officials tried to stop the tapes from being played on al-Jezeera speaks volumes about the embarrassing thud such a hot potato makes when it lands before the [p]Resident's feet.
This will sway the undecided; it will sway them into logic, reason, and to pull the lever for defeating public enemy number one, a sad, jealous puppet who rules with an iron fist up his a**.
Never Forget: Internets Vets for Truth
All the rumors on the internets are here, fit for your consumption. A compendium of the most persuasive web videos related to, well, the political truth of the rise and fall of Dubya.
...many Christian fundamentalists feel that concern for the future of our planet is irrelevant, because it has no future. They believe we are living in the End Time, when the son of God will return, the righteous will enter heaven, and sinners will be condemned to eternal hellfire. They may also believe, along with millions of other Christian fundamentalists, that environmental destruction is not only to be disregarded but actually welcomed -- even hastened -- as a sign of the coming Apocalypse.
The Church of Bush
Postal Experts Hunt for Missing Ballots in Florida, and in NC. Asheville, NC.
Yup. Right here. Mine.
I sent off my absentee ballot certified return receipt requested over a week ago, and no postcard back yet with a signature. I spent $5 for my ballot to *not* be received at the Board of Selections. So, I'm hand delivering a second absentee ballot tomorrow, and whomever I hand it to will have to sign a receipt ackonledging that it will be properly counted.
Mr. Bush, listen up: You've got six days left. You can run but you can't hide.
Secret plans for the war in Iraq were passed to British Army chiefs by US defence planners five months before the invasion was launched, a court martial heard yesterday.
America has never had consecutive elections with a disputed outcome. But if voters don't give Bush or Kerry a clear victory, this election could produce competing charges of voter fraud and voter suppression, recounts, multiple lawsuits and even a split between the winner of the popular vote and the winner of the electoral college. Those were the key elements of the postelection warfare in 2000, which ended only when the U.S. Supreme Court stopped the Florida recount and allowed Bush to squeeze out the nation's second narrowest electoral college majority despite losing the popular vote.
Wolf Packs for Truth:
They told us we were shooting a Greenpeace commercial! When the camera crew showed up, we wondered why they were all driving Hummers. Our agent assured us it was a Greenpeace commercial and they paid TWICE our hourly steak rate. Little did we know we were being tricked into this vicious campaign attack ad.
Use this website to convince your fence-sitting friends WHY little George must be expelled:
"Judging him on his record, George W. Bush’s spiritual transformation seems to have consisted of little more than staying on the wagon, with Jesus as a sort of talismanic Alcoholics Anonymous counselor... The evidence of Bush's therapeutic approach to Jesus lies in his apparent disinterest in sin. Bush's "steadfast unwillingness to fess up to a single error betrays a strikingly un-Christian lack of attention to the importance of self-criticism, the pervasiveness of sin, and the centrality of humility, repentance, and redemption."
(via Joshua via Ramya)
Joe gets up at 6 a.m. and fills his coffeepot with water to prepare his morning coffee. The water is clean and good because some tree-hugging liberal fought for minimum water-quality standards.
With his first swallow of coffee, he takes his daily medication. His medications are safe to take because some stupid commie liberal fought to insure their safety and that they work as advertised.
All but $10 of his medications are paid for by his employer's medical plan because some liberal union workers fought their employers for paid medical insurance -- now Joe gets it, too.
He prepares his morning breakfast, bacon and eggs. Joe's bacon is safe to eat because some girly-man liberal fought for laws to regulate the meat packing industry.
In the morning shower, Joe reaches for his shampoo. His bottle is properly labeled with each ingredient and its amount in the total contents because some crybaby liberal fought for his right to know what he was putting on his body and how much it contained.
Joe dresses, walks outside and takes a deep breath. The air he breathes is clean because some environmentalist wacko liberal fought for laws to stop industries from polluting our air.
He walks to the subway station for his government-subsidized ride to work.
It saves him considerable money in parking and transportation fees because some fancy-pants liberal fought for affordable public transportation, which gives everyone the opportunity to be a contributor.
Joe begins his workday. He has a good job with excellent pay, medical benefits, retirement, paid holidays and vacation because some lazy liberal union members fought and died for these working standards.
Joe's employer pays these standards because Joe's employer doesn't want his employees to form a union.
If Joe is hurt on the job or becomes unemployed, he'll get a worker compensation or unemployment check because some stupid liberal didn't think he should lose his home because of his temporary misfortune.
Its noontime and Joe needs to make a bank deposit so he can pay some bills. Joe's deposit is federally insured by the FSLIC because some godless liberal wanted to protect Joe's money from unscrupulous bankers who ruined the banking system before the Great Depression.
Joe has to pay his Fannie Mae-underwritten mortgage and his below-market federal student loan because some elitist liberal decided that Joe and the government would be better off if he was educated and earned more money over his lifetime.
Joe is home from work. He plans to visit his father this evening at his farm home in the country. He gets in his car for the drive. His car is among the safest in the world because some America-hating liberal fought for car safety standards.
He arrives at his boyhood home. His was the third generation to live in the house financed by Farmers' Home Administration because bankers didn't want to make rural loans.
The house didn't have electricity until some big-government liberal stuck his nose where it didn't belong and demanded rural electrification.
He is happy to see his father, who is now retired. His father lives on Social Security and a union pension because some wine-drinking, cheese-eating liberal made sure he could take care of himself so Joe wouldn't have to.
Joe gets back in his car for the ride home, and turns on a radio talk show. The radio host keeps saying that liberals are bad and conservatives are good. He doesn't mention that the beloved Republicans have fought against every protection and benefit Joe enjoys throughout his day.
Joe agrees: "We don't need those big-government liberals ruining our lives! After all, I'm a self-made man who believes everyone should take care of themselves, just like I have."
Irony at it's finest: this one goes out to all the would-be Repugs out there just chomping at the bit to steal another one...
A Lakewood Republican stealing campaign signs late one night got nabbed when he ran across a low- hanging driveway chain, fell face first onto a pilfered sign and the concrete and knocked himself unconscious.
How many Bush administration officials does it take to change a light bulb?
None. There’s nothing wrong with that light bulb. There is no need to change anything. We made the right decision and nothing has happened to change our minds. People who criticize this light bulb now, just because it doesn’t work anymore, supported us when we first screwed it in, and when these flip-floppers insist on saying that it is burned out, they are merely giving aid and encouragement to the Forces of Darkness.
-- John Cleese
Dumbya's Big Joke, and the frightening punchline.
This video is heart-wrenching, but it is a glaring example of everything that is wrong with George W. Bush's presidency and the Bush administration's policies. The original video is from an event in March 2004. During Bush's speech, he thought it would be funny to show pictures of himself (e.g., looking under a desk) while he joked about not finding WMDs in Iraq. If Bush had an ounce of compassion or the tiniest bit of empathy, he would understand that his lies are killing people. The victims of his war won't find his jokes very funny. Bush lied to the America people and the American people deserve better.
Bush's own church calls for his repentance, because even the Thunder-God's Chosen One can f*ck up.
John Kerry for President
Nothing in this life is remotely perfect by consensus. No system, process, regieme, philosophy or spiritual ideal is so absolutely symmetrical, precise and beautifully logical as as to earn that label by social agreement. Perfection is an internal, subjective and relative ideal, and we operate in the world by choosing the closest approximations to what internally sets each individual's secret standard. From a brand of coffee, to brand of religion, to brand of politics, we make the best choices possible, even if they do not fully overlap with our concepts of the perfect experience.
That said, today I waited in line at my post office to send in my absentee ballot certified-return receipt requested, my level of guarantee that my singular vote is counted, and hopefully, counted toward creating a change which is far from perfect in a system that is far from perfect. I might not have to go to that level of inconvenience, the wait, the high postage to send a letter with such a guarantee of delivery, but the questionable execution of our democratic principles forces me to be damn sure that my opinion is legally registered. It's sad that I or anyone needs to go that far. America is seriously wounded on the battlefield, and the war is one of conscience, and it was launched by a stolen presidency upon the values that framed this nation. Voting now means more than ever before, even if that vote may get 'lost,' shredded, not counted or ignored, for it's one of the last few legal voices endowed to the citizenry that has not been overruled by higher interests in the food chain of modern polemics. Perfection here isn't even under consideration, we've long passed that point and now are forced to settle for varying degrees of croneyism. Some croneys are villains, some are hacks, and some are well intentioned folks who are yet products of the system. Few politicians are immune from hucksterism, and many are infected beyond repair, and the systems falls further into disrepair as a result of that. Some, a rare breed, do attempt to represent their people with ethics, morals, and justice at heart, even if they do not meet the high standard of great leaders.
George W. Bush and his draconian administration of stooges and criminals represents the most corrosive and toxic of threatening elements to the Constitution of the United States. He must be stopped with the best of our institutions, that of our status as a republic, and the vote must be the sentence which indicts and dethrones one of the most tyrannous presidencies of American history. While casting my vote for a candidate whose ideals do not reflect my personal embodiment of political and philosophical values, and for a party that has often sold its soul and pandered for favor in the most embarrassing ways, it is essential that George W. Bush be defeated (again) and that we settle on the best possible constellation of thoughts and ideas which could regenerate democracy in this country. John F. Kerry and the Democratic Party may not be prefect, and I may grit my teeth on some positions, but today I gladly sent my ballot on its way to history, one potential history which I'm urging my readers to help make real on January 20th, 2005:
THE 44TH PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES, JOHN FORBES KERRY
This is not an easy endorsement to make. I am not fond of the Senator's positions on guns, marriage, militarism and the private sector. I am concerned about his voting record. Yet he has the best chance to reverse some very severe damage, and create a little hope for the disenfranchised many in this nation. There are many things I like about the Senator, though; his statesmanship, his eloquence, his intelligence, and his deep understanding of the value of diplomacy. While the Democrats are one-half of a sick partisan dualism in this country, Senator Kerry I believe would at least listen to the marginalized that so-called third parties represent. Bush came into the pirated office claiming he will unite, not divide, and the exact opposite has happened. We can only grow, and I believe the Senator has the capacity and erudition to uphold the best of America, which will call us to join with each other to renew and rebuild the shattered alliance of our suppressed diversity.
We should not fear the squandering of our votes. We should not fear the squandering of our rights. We should not fear that the government will grossly misrepresent and lie to drag us into an unwinable war. I believe that if we vote our conscience, and the true will of the people prevails, we can begin to fear three less things, and hopefully, expect more out of our less than perfect Union, which is still our home, still a democracy, still a land of opportunity.
Severely disturbing: Teachers' T-Shirts Bring Bush Speech Ouster
Three Medford school teachers were threatened with arrest and thrown out of the President Bush rally at the Jackson County Fairgrounds Thursday night, after they showed up wearing T-shirts with the slogan "Protect our civil liberties."
The women got past the first and second checkpoints and were allowed into the Jackson County fairgrounds, but were asked to leave and then escorted out of the event by campaign officials who allegedly told them their T-shirts were "obscene." WTF???
This is absolutely brilliant, you must see it: Pirates & Emperors
Krugman: Block the Vote
The important point to realize is that these abuses aren't aberrations. They're the inevitable result of a Republican Party culture in which dirty tricks that distort the vote are rewarded, not punished. It's a culture that will persist until voters - whose will still does count, if expressed strongly enough - hold that party accountable.
Obviously, the guv'mint isn't that worried about this. But we should be; after all, where they fail in accountability is our responsibility.
The Internet is buzzing (at least the Internet I am familiar with – who knows what is being said on the other internets Bush mentioned during the second debate) with speculation about the odd bulges in the back of Bush’s suit jacket in all three debates. The White House has denied that Bush is wearing a radio receiver, but they don’t have a lot of credibility these days, and the video captures are suspicious at best.
Live-ish debate play-by-play with Robin, Joshua, Spiced Green Onion Dip, the Puss Party's Nominee for President and Vice-President Ursula and Avatar the Cats, and Jaybird, your humble scribe...
(Before the debate)
Spiced Green Onion Dip: Mmmm, I'm good. I think I'm better than the current major party candidates for president. Eat me, please.
Ursula: I need to lick my paw right now.
Jaybird: Where the hell are Joshua and Robin?
Jaybird: Fuck, I lost the beer!
Joshua: I'll go get it.
(making the hot cider, first minutes of debate)
Robin: Just looking at this makes me mad.
Jaybird: Red spotty ties, Bush has the advantage in lighting and zoom.
Robin: Don't type everything I say!
Robin: We can't get meds from Canada, but we can get flu shots?
Jaybird: What's with the slanty mouth?
Joshua: (did not see case of smashed beer along the road)
Joshua: Look at the dumb ass!
Joshua: Ursula, you fill the tax gap.
Robin: They wouldn't have to back to school if their job didn't go overseas.
Spiced Green Onion Dip: No one's eating me.
Jaybird: (Bush) just got shorter!
Joshua: (Bush) is talking about taxes, what about jobs?
Jaybird: (To Bush) You're doing a real good job of promo sting tolerance...
Jaybird: The action of one state to another, THAT'S HOT.
Robin: There's a separation of church and state, this doesn't matter...
Robin: It's going to be a real ideal when people are back using coathangers...
Robin: What the hell is a maternity group home?
Jaybird: They don't use the information technology? WTF?
Joshua: (Bush: In 2006, senior citizens will get prescription coverage with Medicare) But no food!
Robin: Why hasn't he done anything (about Social Security) in the past four years?
Ursula: Lick self.
Spiced Green Onion Dip: Yay! I'm being eaten!
Jaybird: He talked about immigrant amnesty before 9/11! How can he attack Kerry on what heproposed???
Joshua: He didn't say he would secure the borders?
Joshua: Minimum wage is 25 minutes worth of work to get a loaf of bread.
Joshua: Just because you raise the standards doesn't mean that those jobs will be available...
Robin: Education doesn't fucking do anything in terms of pay.
Spiced Green Onion Dip: See, I'm good! Go dip, it's your birthday!
Jaybird: How can he say that Iraqis are protecting their country! Look at the last week of car bombings, Dead children in the street. Yeah, they're doing a great job. We're just there to run the street sweeper.
Jaybird: (Bush's) top spiritual adviser called Islam a 'wicked' religion. You obviously have problem equivocating that.
Robin: In case the faith fails, at least you'll have an assault weapon.
Robin: Remember when Bush had the recovery workers stop digging (at Ground Zero) so he could make his speech?
Jaybird: Bush is the greatest divider in American history.
Joshua: Why does he keep harping on Senator Kennedy?
Joshua: (Moderator: We're all married to strong women) ...so you wan to get together sometime?
All: (worried about Kerry not having the last word)
Robin: Even though I love that painting, I've cut the funding to the arts and everything creative.
Avatar: Ahahahahaha, it was I, the prissy one, who had the beer all along! Ahahahahaha, never underestimate the power of the vice presidency!
(now, we'll leave it the 'hack' pundits)
Found the following links which all seem to point to the same company that is suspected of tearing up Democratic voter registration forms in Las Vegas. It has set up registration drives in Pennsylvania, Minnesota, Michigan, Ohio, West Virginia, Florida and Nevada and is accused of the same things in most if not all of these states. Sproul & Associates is a Republican consulting firm run by Nathan Sproul, former head of the Arizona Republican party and Arizona Christian Coalition.
Amateur Revolution (via Ming TV)
...far-flung developments have all been driven by Pro-Ams -- committed, networked amateurs working to professional standards. Pro-Am workers, their networks and movements, will help reshape society in the next two decades.
Kenyan environmentalist and human rights campaigner Wangari Maathai has won the Nobel Peace Prize. She is the first African woman to be awarded the peace prize since it was created in 1901.
We've just been informed that this is such good quality wood that it will actually PROTECT you from the terrorists and various other enemies of the United States! This is truly an excellent buy!
I burst out laughing in this quiet cafe upon stumling across this strange debate reference.
Foreign-born children are healthier when they arrive in the United States than those of the same age who were born in the country, a study shows.
Thousands of Fla. Voters May
Thousands of Floridians who think they're registered to vote could be turned away at the polls Nov. 2 because their voter registration forms weren't completely filled out, officials said Friday. Secretary of State Glenda Hood said some groups registering voters are turning in application forms with information missing, such as unchecked boxes asking whether applicants are citizens, mentally incompetent or felons.
Only a genuine division of
Only a genuine division of power in multicultural Sudan can put an end to the country's bitter sibling rivalries...
Sudan is sometimes described as "Egypt's little brother". The phrase is meant to give a sense of the kinship between the two nations, but "little brother" also seems an apt personification of the country: if Sudan were a single human being, it might well be someone's troubled younger sibling - an overgrown teenage boy with floppy, uncontrollable limbs and a violent identity crisis.
Sudan is Africa's biggest country. It stretches from the Red Sea in the east and the border of Egypt in the north down to lush, tropical jungles in the south, encompassing hundreds of tribes who speak more than 100 languages.
You'll notice in the yellow table at the top of this page to a purportedly "highly scientific" electoral vote prognostication system. You'll just have to trust me here, but I've been doing my research... heh heh. Each week or as changing conditions merit, I'll post a new prediction, and virtually flip 538 coins just for fun's sake. This week, Puppet and Puppetmaster are ahead by 1-2 EVs, but there are many facotrs that could chage that.
The most important factor is YOU! Get out there and register, the deadline is Oct. 8th. Then, on Nov. 2nd, please for the love of All Creation, vote and vote wisely.
This is one hell of
This is one hell of an October surprise, albeit a few days early. Here i was expecting some staged terror spectacular, and it's just plain and simple disefranchisement and dirty tricks, the Occam's Razor of political skulldudgery.
Carter fears Florida vote trouble
Voting arrangements in Florida do not meet "basic international requirements" and could undermine the US election, former US President Jimmy Carter says. He said a repeat of the irregularities of the much-disputed 2000 election - which gave President George W Bush the narrowest of wins - "seems likely".
Juan Cole: If America were
Juan Cole: If America were Iraq, What would it be Like?
What would America look like if it were in Iraq's current situation? The population of the US is over 11 times that of Iraq, so a lot of statistics would have to be multiplied by that number.
Thus, violence killed 300 Iraqis last week, the equivalent proportionately of 3,300 Americans. What if 3,300 Americans had died in car bombings, grenade and rocket attacks, machine gun spray, and aerial bombardment in the last week? That is a number greater than the deaths on September 11, and if America were Iraq, it would be an ongoing, weekly or monthly toll.
And what if those deaths occurred all over the country, including in the capital of Washington, DC, but mainly above the Mason Dixon line, in Boston, Minneapolis, Salt Lake City, and San Francisco?
Bush by the numbers by
Bush by the numbers by 'A Wolf Who Sends Flowers.'
0 Number of times Bush mentioned Osama bin Laden in his three State of the Union addresses.
73 Number of times that Bush mentioned terrorism or terrorists in his three State of the Union addresses.
83 Number of times Bush mentioned Saddam, Iraq, or regime (as in change) in his three State of the Union addresses.
Michael Moore: Enough of the
Michael Moore: Enough of the handwringing! Enough of the doomsaying!
Do I have to come there and personally calm you down? Stop with all the defeatism, OK? Bush IS a goner -- IF we all just quit our whining and bellyaching and stop shaking like a bunch of nervous ninnies... It's never over for them until the last ballot is shredded. They are never finished -- they just keeping moving forward like sharks that never sleep, always pushing, pulling, kicking, blocking, lying.
Demonstration of 5 voting system
Demonstration of 5 voting system hacks using real software, including a monkey. Yes, a monkey. (via MeFi)
In Washington DC on Wed. Sept 22, five experts will demonstrate various manipulations of the actual Sequoia and Diebold software to be used in the Nov. 2 election. Experts range in skill level from Dr. Herbert Thompson, a security expert and the author/editor of 12 books, to Baxter, a chimpanzee.
Bill Moyers: Journalism Under Fire
Bill Moyers: Journalism Under Fire
Our job remains essentially the same: to gather, weigh, organize, analyze and present information people need to know in order to make sense of the world. You will hear it said this is not a professional task—John Carroll of the Los Angeles Times recently reminded us there are “no qualification tests, no boards to censure misconduct, no universally accepted set of standards.” Maybe so. But I think that what makes journalism a profession is the deep ethical imperative of which the public is aware only when we violate it—think Jayson Blair, Stephen Glass, Jack Kelley. Ed Wasserman, once an editor himself and now teaching at Washington and Lee University, says that journalism “is an ethical practice because it tells people what matters and helps them determine what they should do about it.” So good newsrooms “are marinated in ethical conversations…What should this lead say? What I should I tell that source?” We practice this craft inside “concentric rings of duty and obligations: Obligations to sources, our colleagues, our bosses, our readers, our profession, and our community”—and we function under a system of values “in which we try to understand and reconcile strong competing claims.” Our obligation is to sift patiently and fairly through untidy realities, measure the claims of affected people, and present honestly the best available approximation of the truth—and this, says Ed Wasserman, is an ethical practice.
Far Graver than Vietnam 'Bring
'Bring them on!" President Bush challenged the early Iraqi insurgency in July of last year. Since then, 812 American soldiers have been killed and 6,290 wounded, according to the Pentagon. Almost every day, in campaign speeches, Bush speaks with bravado about how he is "winning" in Iraq. "Our strategy is succeeding," he boasted to the National Guard convention on Tuesday.
Retired general Joseph Hoare, the former marine commandant and head of US Central Command, told me: "The idea that this is going to go the way these guys planned is ludicrous. There are no good options. We're conducting a campaign as though it were being conducted in Iowa, no sense of the realities on the ground. It's so unrealistic for anyone who knows that part of the world. The priorities are just all wrong."
Building Corporate Crap at Sacred
Building Corporate Crap at Sacred Sites: Wal-Mart at Mexico Ruins Sparks Protest
Burning incense and sounding a conch shell horn, residents of an ancient Mexican city protested on Saturday at the construction of a Wal-Mart store on the edge of the ruins.
If he can't find his
If he can't find his heart, does that mean it's not there> This question especially relevant to cyborgs.
Who Cares About the Truth?
To many, it seemed naďve to worry about something as abstract as the truth or falsity of our claims when we could concern ourselves with the things that really mattered -- such as protecting ourselves from terrorism and ensuring our access to oil. To paraphrase Nietzsche, the truth may be good, but why not sometimes take untruth if it gets you where you want to go?
Global opinion favours Kerry over
World opinion is overwhelmingly in favour of John Kerry, the Democrat candidate, to win the US presidential election, according to a poll covering 35 countries. In 30 countries, many of them staunch allies of the US, the public favoured Mr Kerry over President George W. Bush by a two-to-one margin, according to a poll conducted by GlobeScan, a public opinion group, and the University of Maryland. Only Poland, Nigeria and the Philippines backed Mr Bush, while India and Thailand were a statistical tie.
Frances floods WNC: Well, we're
Frances floods WNC: Well, we're getting it too folks. It's been raining for quite some time, and heavily. I'll try to post pics of the creeks and rivers, they're full of big muddy rage. Schools and things are closed, shelters (!) are opened, and drug stores are all out of the little plastic granny hoodies.
Please watch this. Please? Love
Please watch this. Please? Love Docs (Quicktime req'd)
*Check out their website. Non-partisan my foot.
Censored! The 10 big stories
Censored! The 10 big stories the national news media ignore.
"Corporate media has abdicated their responsibility to the First Amendment to keep the American electorate informed about important issues in society and instead serves up a pabulum of junk-food news..."
"My Pet Goat" ptII
"My Pet Goat" ptII
Thankfully, some candor: Kerry says
Thankfully, some candor: Kerry says Bush 'unfit to lead this nation'
"Misleading our nation into war in Iraq makes you unfit to lead this nation. Doing nothing while this nation loses millions of jobs makes you unfit to lead this nation. Letting 45 million Americans go without health care makes you unfit to lead this nation. Letting the Saudi royal family control our energy costs makes you unfit to lead this nation. Handing out billions of government contracts to Halliburton while you're still on their payroll makes you unfit. That's the record of George Bush and Dick Cheney, and it's not going to change."
Meanwhile, now that the
Fear factor: By entering a
Fear factor: By entering a 2-digit code in a hidden location, a second set of votes is created. This set of votes can be changed, so that it no longer matches the correct votes. The voting system will then read the totals from the bogus vote set. It takes only seconds to change the votes, and to date not a single location in the U.S. has implemented security measures to fully mitigate the risks.
More RNC Protest Pics, some
More RNC Protest Pics, some NSFW.
Reagan Home for the Criminally
While the Ronald Reagan Home for the Criminally Insane specializes in “bad taste for a good cause” there is no skit or graphic that we could ever come up with that can match the bad taste of the Bush Administration’s continued attempts to exploit the tragedy of September 11th to further their political agenda.
I'm tracking this week's
I'm tracking this week's protests at NYC Indymedia:
Can the ethnic cleansing in
When Amina saw the janjaweed approaching, she hurried the donkeys to a red-rock hillock three hundred yards away. She assumed that Mohammed had fled in another direction, but she turned and saw that he had remained at the wells, with the older boys and the men, in an effort to protect the animals. He and the others were surrounded by several hundred janjaweed. As the circle closed around her son, she ducked behind the hillock and prayed.
Swift Boat Veterans for Truth:
Swift Boat Veterans for
Ladies and gentlemen, the Bushism
Ladies and gentlemen, the Bushism has returned: Reprising a War With Words
Earlier this month, President Bush was almost done with a speech to a group of minority journalists when he dropped a rather startling proposal. "We actually misnamed the war on terror," he said. "It ought to be the Struggle Against Ideological Extremists Who Do Not Believe in Free Societies Who Happen to Use Terror as a Weapon to Try to Shake the Conscience of the Free World."
Or, if you prefer to abbreviate, SAIEWDNBIFSWHTUTAAWTTTSTCOTFW.
Judge Redefines Freedom of the
A judge's decision to punish five reporters for refusing to identify their sources for stories about nuclear scientist Wen Ho Lee threatens to chill vital newsgathering at a time of increased government secrecy, advocates say. U.S. District Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson on Wednesday held the reporters in contempt and fined each of them $500 a day until they reveal their source. He said the information was needed for Lee, a former nuclear weapons scientist once suspected of spying, to litigate his privacy lawsuit against government officials.
Outrage, pt. 3001: The long
State police officers have gone into the homes of elderly black voters in Orlando and interrogated them as part of an odd "investigation" that has frightened many voters, intimidated elderly volunteers and thrown a chill over efforts to get out the black vote in November.
Outrage, part 3000: 'Data Quality'
Outrage, part 3000: 'Data Quality' Law Is Nemesis Of Regulation
Herbicide approvals are complicated, and there is no one reason that atrazine passed regulatory muster in this country. But close observers give significant credit to a single sentence that was added to the EPA's final scientific assessment last year.
Hormone disruption, it read, cannot be considered a "legitimate regulatory endpoint at this time" -- that is, it is not an acceptable reason to restrict a chemical's use -- because the government had not settled on an officially accepted test for measuring such disruption.
Washington > Campaign 2004
The Federal Bureau of Investigation has been questioning political demonstrators across the country, and in rare cases even subpoenaing them, in an aggressive effort to forestall what officials say could be violent and disruptive protests at the Republican National Convention in New York.
"The message I took from it," said Sarah Bardwell, 21, an intern at a Denver antiwar group who was visited by six investigators a few weeks ago, "was that they were trying to intimidate us into not going to any protests and to let us know that, 'hey, we're watching you.' ''
Kick ass: International team to
Thirteen Democratic members of the House of Representatives, raising the specter of possible civil rights violations that they said took place in Florida and elsewhere in the 2000 election, wrote to U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan in July, asking him to send observers.
OOPS, they did it
OOPS, they did it again! Unmasking of Qaeda Mole a U.S. Security Blunder... ya think? Another surprisingly bad mishandling of security operatives, reminiscent of a more paranoid Keystone Cops. "The revelation that a mole within al Qaeda was exposed after Washington launched its "orange alert" this month has shocked security experts, who say the outing of the source may have set back the war on terror. Reuters learned from Pakistani intelligence sources on Friday that computer expert Mohammad Naeem Noor Khan, arrested secretly in July, was working under cover to help the authorities track down al Qaeda militants in Britain and the United States when his name appeared in U.S. newspapers."
Peace Pilgrimmage arrives at Hiroshima
After eight months and 4,500 km of walking since Roxby Downs Uranium Mine in South Australia, the International Peace Pilgrimage (IPP) arrives at Hiroshima Peace Park on August 6. The walk joins the commemorations at the Atomic Dome, to remember the hundreds of thousands of people who were killed by the atomic bomb on this day in 1945, and acknowledge the millions of others who continue to be affected by the nuclear industry globally. Australian Aboriginal Elders are presently touring Japan and will Speak at Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
The latest GOP meme: Eugenics
The latest GOP meme: Eugenics Backer Causes Stir in Tenn. Race
He is an unapologetic supporter of eugenics, the phony science that resulted in thousands of sterilizations in an attempt to purify the white race. He believes the country will look "like one big Detroit" if it doesn't eliminate welfare and immigration. He believes that if blacks were integrated centuries ago, the automobile never would have been invented.
A very telling malapropism: ""Our
A very telling malapropism:
A timeline of terror alerts
A timeline of terror alerts since 9/11, and the corresponding poltics behind them. Impressive and scary.
Danger to Human Dignity: the
Danger to Human Dignity: the Revival of Disgust and Shame in the Law
The law, most of us would agree, should be society's protection against prejudice. That does not imply that emotions play no legitimate role in legal affairs, for often emotions help people to see a situation clearly, doing justice to the concerns that ought to be addressed. The compassion of judge and jurors during the penalty phase of a criminal trial, for example, has been held to be an essential part of criminal justice, a way of connecting to the life story of a defendant whose experience seems remote to those who sit in judgment. Emotions are not intrinsically opposed to reason, for they involve pictures of the world and evaluations. But there are some emotions whose role in the law has always been more controversial. Disgust and shame are two of those.
Howard Dean Still Makes Sense
"I am concerned that every time something happens that's not good for President Bush he plays this trump card, which is terrorism. His whole campaign is based on the notion that "I can keep you safe, therefore at times of difficulty for America stick with me," and then out comes Tom Ridge. It's just impossible to know how much of this is real and how much of this is politics, and I suspect there's some of both in it."
What we can do to
We are in a tragic and signal moment, a catalytic moment, where the world sees the need, has the means, and yet continues to experience a failure of will. Giving the Sudanese government 30 more days--and then asking Kofi Annan for a report to the UN Security Council--assures 30 more days of death and destruction. Given the nature of the genocidal process being carried out in Sudan--engineered, intentional famine and epidemic disease--30 more days translates into months of additonal famine, and hundreds of thousands of additional lives lost.
Now it is the public's turn. It is our turn. The time is now for our action. We must ask our leaders to act now, not in 30 days.
Good morning. Let's talk about
Let's talk about Bush: he's retreating into a sullen and reclusive world of his own, on strong antidepressants for his erratic behavior (while a key member of his campaign advises unhappy workers to pop 'em too) and now the most succint case against him has been made by the son of the man he emulates the most.
And the Punditocracy is still giving him a fighting chance? Please. Anyway, there's still Dick Cheney [Quicktime req'd, more comic relief from Jason Woliner].
In His Own Words (Shrub,
In His Own Words (Shrub, Quicktime req'd)
Pakistan delivers on the July
Pakistan delivers on the July surprise, but alas, it's not the big cheese. Good going on capturing a dangerous figitive, but nice try to divert attention away from a major step tonight toward overthrowing Prince George.
We're having a Kerry fundraiser here tonight, and despite the cats' own political ambitions, they will mingle as big John takes the reins.
Krugman: Opinion > Op-Ed Columnist:
Krugman: Fear of Fraud
It's election night, and early returns suggest trouble for the incumbent. Then, mysteriously, the vote count stops and observers from the challenger's campaign see employees of a voting-machine company, one wearing a badge that identifies him as a county official, typing instructions at computers with access to the vote-tabulating software. When the count resumes, the incumbent pulls ahead. The challenger demands an investigation. But there are no ballots to recount, and election officials allied with the incumbent refuse to release data that could shed light on whether there was tampering with the electronic records. This isn't a paranoid fantasy. It's a true account of a recent election in Riverside County, Calif., reported by Andrew Gumbel of the British newspaper The Independent. Mr. Gumbel's full-length report, printed in Los Angeles City Beat, makes hair-raising reading not just because it reinforces concerns about touch-screen voting, but also because it shows how easily officials can stonewall after a suspect election.
The Metrosexual Superpower: The stylish
The Metrosexual Superpower: The stylish European Union struts past the bumbling United States on the catwalk of global diplomacy.
Just say no... ...to
...to homophobic, sexist, mean and repugant movie-star governors.
Not-a-Joke: Bush Channels God "Bush
Not-a-Joke: Bush Channels God
"Bush reportedly told [a group of Amish], 'I trust God speaks through me. Without that, I couldn’t do my job.’"
So, of course, that means that Kerry channels the Prince of Darkness. Poor fellow. I think he's confused with Yog-Sothoth, the Soul Eater.
The UN: 10 Stories the
The stories are not ones that have never been reported, but are often second-rung issues that need more thorough, balanced and regular attention. The list itself is a snapshot of the most compelling stories that, at this point in time, the Department of Public Information believes are in need of more media attention. And the top story is merely the first among equals.
Moyers: Democracy in the Balance
Moyers: Democracy in the Balance [via MeFi]
How do we nurture the healing side of religion over the killing side? How do we protect the soul of democracy against bad theology in service of an imperial state?
Will Chimpy and the goon
Will Chimpy and the goon squad, led by a seething, drooling Karl Rove, pull off a July Surprise?
This public pressure [to capture bin Laden] would be appropriate, even laudable, had it not been accompanied by an unseemly private insistence that the Pakistanis deliver these high-value targets (HVTs) before Americans go to the polls in November... Pakistani security officials have been told they must produce HVTs by the election. According to one source in Pakistan's powerful Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), "The Pakistani government is really desperate and wants to flush out bin Laden and his associates after the latest pressures from the U.S. administration to deliver before the [upcoming] U.S. elections."
The Post has a
The Post has a 'Dewey beats Truman' moment.
Edwards Vp" href="http://www.usaviation.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=11966">It's John
At least, according to this aviation board, with sightings of new decals being applied to the campaign plane in Pittsburgh. If not, than that makes quite a few people, including yours truly, total fools for calling this one based on silly criteria. The buzz is 9am tomorrow, he'll announce without the veep there, for total surprise factor.
Maybe it's the Buddha...? Or Tutankhamen? There's gravitas for ya.*
*Keeping in mind that all politics is an illusory game.
The Stop Bush Project This
This site is a documentation of anti-Bush sentiment from around the world expressed through graffiti, placards, flyers and other spontaneous, 'guerilla' means. The images are a gallery of visitor donated photos.
The Devil made me do
The Devil made me do it: NC Supreme Court Orders God's Return to Courtroom
North Carolina's Supreme Court ordered a judge Tuesday to restore references to God used when he enters the courtroom and when witnesses swear to tell the truth.
Family values with a hooker
Family values with a hooker on each arm: Sex pros get ready for party
With thousands of Republicans set to invade the city this summer, high-priced escorts and strippers are preparing for one grand old party. Agencies are flying in extra call girls from around the globe to meet the expected demand during the Aug. 30-Sept. 2 gathering at Madison Square Garden. "We have girls from London, Seattle, California, all coming in for that week," said a madam at a Manhattan escort service. "It's the week everyone wants to work."
Terminator my ass... isn't there
Terminator my ass... isn't there anything more important to do than to decide when to kill things, Arnie? Schwarzenegger Wants Strays Killed Faster
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger wants to repeal a state law that requires animal shelters to hold stray dogs and cats for up to six days before killing them. Instead, there would be a three-day requirement for strays. Other animals, including birds, hamsters, potbellied pigs, rabbits, snakes and turtles, could be killed immediately.
I'm a little unsettled about
I'm a little unsettled about Ralph Nader. Four years ago, I was very excited about having a progressive choice on the ballot, and have been a long-time fan of Green Party politics. This year is very different, with a true danger of Nader swinging key states to the Forces of Darkness.
Kerry ain't my cuppa green tea per se, but I'll have no hesitation (with my paper ballot) voting for Kerry because this is just too damn important this go 'round. [links via MeFi]
YOU MUST BE HAPPY: Bush
YOU MUST BE HAPPY: Bush to screen population for mental illness
President Bush plans to unveil next month a sweeping mental health initiative that recommends screening for every citizen and promotes the use of expensive antidepressants and antipsychotic drugs favored by supporters of the administration.
Several items of note: Rummy
Several items of note:
Bush told he is playing
Al-Qaida may 'reward' American president with strike aimed at keeping him in office, senior intelligence man says
Anonymous does not try to veil his contempt for the Bush White House and its policies. His book describes the Iraq invasion as "an avaricious, premeditated, unprovoked war against a foe who posed no immediate threat but whose defeat did offer economic advantage.
"One way to keep the Republicans in power is to mount an attack that would rally the country around the president."
A reader over at Eschaton
A reader over at Eschaton does some super-sleuthing: take a gander at this photo from Resident Bush's last cabinet meeting, and read the very interesting transcription that follows...
Are you amazed? Interrogation abuses
Are you amazed? Interrogation abuses were 'approved at highest levels'
New evidence that the physical abuse of detainees in Iraq and at Guantanamo Bay was authorised at the top of the Bush administration will emerge in Washington this week, adding further to pressure on the White House.
Terror inquiry snares art exhibit
Visitors to "The Interventionists" exhibit at MASS MoCA are greeted by a sight unusual even for the cutting-edge art museum. One of the galleries in the show devoted to contemporary political art is oddly vacant, dominated by empty tables and a sign explaining that the materials intended for the display have been impounded by the FBI.
The seized materials, including simple bacteria, have become part of a case that some feel is pitting artistic expression against the sweeping anti-terrorism powers of the federal government. In addition to confiscating the makings of the art installation, federal officials have subpoenaed the artists involved in the work and may be pursuing charges of biological terrorism.
Interviewing ourselves on foreign policy:
Interviewing ourselves on foreign policy: a discussion with the always hard to pin down John and Jane Q. Public.
This story is making the
This story is making the rounds in several channels, and this particular version is being vigorously fact-checked. The author of this piece had substantial involvement in the Reagan and Bush I admins. So, I think it's seriously worth looking at:
President George W. Bush’s increasingly erratic behavior and wide mood swings has the halls of the West Wing buzzing lately as aides privately express growing concern over their leader’s state of mind. In meetings with top aides and administration officials, the President goes from quoting the Bible in one breath to obscene tantrums against the media, Democrats and others that he classifies as “enemies of the state.”
One head rolls, more to
One head rolls, more to follow.
Bury the 'surprising' news on
Bury the 'surprising' news on a holiday: Cheney office denies role in Halliburton deal
A reference to such an arrangement was made in an internal Pentagon e-mail from an Army Corps of Engineers official to another Pentagon employee...
This is priceless, found via
This is priceless, found via atrios.
Remarks by President Gore
"It's been raining a lot
"It's been raining a lot and the topsoil is loose," Duffy said. "You know this president. He likes to go all-out. Suffice it to say he wasn't whistling show tunes."
Kos respectfully declines. Rainfall my foot.
Bush White House checked with