Latest Op-Eds: Pentagon, Oil, Immigration, 9/11, Bush and Clinton, Radical Fame, "Israel Lobby," John Kerry, by Floyd, Clothier, Williams, Partridge, Pringle, Mickey Z, Goodman, Weiss
Hideous Kinky: Moral Nullity as Normality in Pentagon Plans, Chris Floyd
Dubai Purchase: Now that President Bush has approved a plan to allow the Government of Dubai to purchase U.S. plants that manufacture parts for jets and tanks, the Dubai government says a purchase of Interstate-10 will be next.
New Orleans Jazz Festival: In an effort to reflect New Orleans post-Katrina demographics, last night the Festival featured John Ashcroft singing "Let The Eagle Soar."
Limbaugh Drug Deal: Charges of drug fraud will be permanently dropped against Rush Limbaugh, who is out of jail on bail, providing he pays the State of Florida $30,000 and agrees to meet regularly with a drug therapist. Jeb Bush announced that the Limbaugh deal will be provided to every Florida resident accused of drug fraud in the future.
NFL Draft: Running back Reggie Bush was thought by most to be the draft's first choice.In a major surprise, the last-place Houston Texans used their first choice in the draft to select running back Ricky Williams, who last week was suspended from play for a year due to drug infractions.
FEMA Decision: President Bush has decided not to eliminate FEMA and start over. Instead, he announced that FEMA will be privatized and become part of the American Red Cross. The name of the joint organiation will be Red FEMA, funding will be provided through voluntary donations, and its new head will be Jack Bauer.
Gas Rebate: Senate Republicans propose that a gas rebate of $100 be given to each citizen, providing citizens agree to support oil and natural gas drilling in Alaska. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist said that if the plan works, $125 will be given to each citizen if they "shut up about Iraq."
Mexican National Anthem: Mexican immigrants attending the New Orleans Jazz Festival have begun a protest to change the Mexican National Anthem to "Let The Eagle Soar."
Quote: "No longer perceived by the public as a rock of security, Bush's rigid leadership is seen as the source of turbulence. Security was his promise, but disorder has become his byproduct. So Rove must depend on the tricks of his trade -- arousing fear of gays and other threats (Hollywood) to traditional family values, as he did in 2004; spinning national security to cast the Democrats as weak and unpatriotic, as he did in 2002; using well-financed front groups and his regular corps of political consultants to outsource smears and produce them as television and radio commercials, as he did to destroy John McCain in the Republican primaries of 2000 and John Kerry in 2004; and conducting whispering campaigns about the personal lives of those he seeks to annihilate, as he has done since his devastating rumor-mongering about then Texas Gov. Ann Richards as a "lesbian" helped install his patron in the Lone Star Statehouse in 1994 as the springboard for the White House." --Sidney Blumenthal
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Editorial: A Call For A Six-Year Presidential Term With No Renewals, Jerry Politex
With the mid-term elections coming up next November, the real question at present is how we're going to live for two and a half more years under Bush. By now, most of us know that Bush thinks of himself first, his corporate puppet-masters second, and his party third, with the American people being an afterthought, except for the meaningless government propaganda that generally keeps placid citizens in line in this country. As Bush might say, "My job is to decide, Tony Snow's job is to tell reporters what I've decided, the reporters' job is to write it down, and your job is to support my decisions."
With more and more essays about how to survive Bush's second term appearing, folks are learning to hunker down and grit their teeth, waiting for it all to be over. Meanwhile, the nation is going down the drain. To be fair, the corporate, far right, and theocon dislikers of Clinton felt the same way during Clinton's lame duck years, although with far less cause. But it need not be that way. Over fifty years ago, federal rules were changed to limit Presidential tenure to two four-year terms. Why not change the rules again and make the system more sensitive to the wishes of the voter? Let's limit the President to one six-year term, ending in what is now the mid-term elections in the second Presidential term. Let's face it, if a loser like Bush can get two terms in office, the two-term Presidential system is beyond repair.
Like most Presidents since Nixon, Bush has asserted near-dictatorial powers and has acted accordingly, and Congress has not doing enough to stop him. In the future, when we elect a bad President, and we will, we'll most likely be stuck with him/her for eight years, and that's too long. The bad seed President, take Bush for example, will know he has two years at the end of his second term to really screw the nation big time, and there's nothing we can do to stop him, since most members of Congress act as though impeachment is something done to certain fruit trees during harvest season. Remember, when Bush left Texas for the White House and someone asked for his advice in cleaning up the mess he left behind, his response was, "That's the problem for the new Governor, I'm outta here."
For too many politicians in office today, the system is more important than the country, so it's up to us to change the system of Presidential tenure to one six-year term, because they're not going to do it. If we don't, I can only quote George Bush, again: "Fool me once, shame on...err...you. Fool me...fool me...err...twice...err..." Well, you get the idea.
One of the consistent deformities in American policy debate has been challenged by a couple of professors, and the reaction proves their point so neatly it's almost funny....For having the sheer effrontery to point out the painfully obvious - that there is an Israel lobby in the United States - Mearsheimer and Walt have been accused of being anti-Semitic, nutty and guilty of ''kooky academic work.'' Alan Dershowitz, who seems to be easily upset, went totally ballistic over the mild, academic, not to suggest pretty boring article by Mearsheimer and Walt, calling them ''liars'' and ''bigots.'' Of course there is an Israeli lobby in America - its leading working group is the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. AIPAC calls itself ''America's Pro-Israel Lobby,'' and it attempts to influence U.S. legislation and policy.
Several national Jewish organizations lobby from time to time. Big deal - why is anyone pretending this non-news requires falling on the floor and howling? Because of this weird deformity of debate. In the United States, we do not have full-throated, full-throttle debate about Israel. In Israel, they have it as a matter of course, but the truth is that the accusation of anti-Semitism is far too often raised in this country against anyone who criticizes the government of Israel.
Being pro-Israel is no defense, as I long ago learned to my cost. Now I've gotten used to it. Jews who criticize Israel are charmingly labeled ''self-hating Jews.'' As I have often pointed out, that must mean there are a lot of self-hating Israelis, because those folks raise hell over their own government's policies all the time. I don't know that I've ever felt intimidated by the knee-jerk ''you're anti-Semitic'' charge leveled at anyone who criticizes Israel, but I do know I have certainly heard it often enough to become tired of it.
And I wonder if that doesn't produce the same result: giving up on the discussion. It's the sheer disproportion, the vehemence of the attacks on anyone perceived as criticizing Israel, that makes them so odious. Mearsheimer and Walt are both widely respected political scientists - comparing their writing to The Protocols of the Elders of Zion is just silly.... Whether you agree or not, it is a discussion well worth having and one that should not be shut down before it can start by unfair accusations of ''anti-Semitism.'' In a very equal sense, none of this is academic. The Israel lobby was overwhelmingly in favor of starting the war with Iraq and is now among the leading hawks on Iran....In my case, being pro-Israel. I'm looking forward to hearing from all you nutjobs again. --moreParody: What's New? by Burke/Haggart, with Jerry Politex
I understand. Oh, screw!
Response: John Kerry's Short-Memory Speech, Part II, Jerry Politex
Before responding to Ivan Carter's defense of John Kerry's position on the Bush War Resolution passed by Congress prior to the Iraq war, "John Kerry's War Vote And The 2004 Elections," I'd like to offer a few generalizations that will put my condemnation of John Kerry's support of Bush in context.
The implicit point I was hoping to introduce was that there is not enough difference between the Dems and the Repubs, particularly with respect to foreign policy. Further, when the two parties are forced to choose between positions of political privilege and the American people, they'll chose positions of political privilege, hands down. In that sense, the Repubs sell out the American people in two ways: they serve a small wealthy minority of citizens and they're willing to sell out the American people to reinforce their own political security. The Dems sometimes vote in favor of the American people at the expense of the wealthy minority who actually run a country that has been near-totally corrupted by big bucks. Harry Truman was right: the buck does stop at the oval office.
The bottom line is that neither John Kerry nor Hillary Clinton would change the D.C. status quo, and in that sense they're no better than John McCain and George Bush. The corruption will continue, the buck will rule, the corporations will select our future presidents, and the middle class will continue to be destroyed; the undemocratic processes of voting machine fraud, electoral college politics, the two-party system, eight year lame duck presidencies, and political redistricting, and the selling of America to foreign governments will continue. Neither John Kerry nor Hillary Clinton will stop that, let alone John McCain. In his essay below, Bob Herbert has hopes that the nation could clean up Bush's mess once he leaves office. Personally, I doubt it. Washington politics are such that it's much easier to create a system and pass a law than revise them. That's the built-in nature of a bureaucracy.
Now to Ivan Carter's defense of John Kerry's vote for Bush's Iraq War Resolution in his letter to the Washington Post's Dana Milbank. The defense is this:
"Here is what Kerry stated in his speech to the Senate in support of the resolution authorizing the use of force; "in order to force inspections, you need the [legitimate] threat of force."
"He also stated; "Let me be clear, the vote I will give to the President is for one reason and one reason only: To disarm Iraq of weapons of mass destruction, if we cannot accomplish that objective through new, tough weapons inspections in joint concert with our allies."...
"This issue of flip flopping on Iraq dominated 2004, so this bears repeating here one more time; Kerry, before the full Senate, just before the resolution vote; "Let me be clear, the vote I will give the President is for one reason and for one reason only, to disarm Iraq of WMD's if we cannot accomplish that" through weapons inspections."
I don't find Carter's defense persuasive. It's easy to say Kerry didn't flip-flop on his support of the Bush Resolution when you only consider the flip. The flop was Kerry's statement at the Grand Canyon, which I read in the Washington Post after seeing him make it the previous evening on national TV. Intelligent people change their minds all the time, based on new facts and further thought, so the flip-flop issue is bogus. Not changing your mind no matter what is bullheaded. However, as I originally wrote:
"John Kerry lost me three months before the 2004 presidential elections. While visiting the Grand Canyon that August, a reporter asked Kerry about the non-existent "weapons of mass destruction" in Iraq. "Knowing what we know now," the reporter asked, would Kerry have given Bush the authority to go to war in Iraq. Kerry answered, ""Yes, I would have voted for the authority. I believe it was the right authority for a president to have." This has not been the only time Kerry's defended the idea of giving Presidents black checks, even for questionable policies based on undisclosed information. Since the Iraq war resolution was based on the premise that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, in his Grand Canyon interchange Kerry was defending his gift to Bush of the "blank check" that Sen. Byrd warned about during the floor debate, a blank check that Kerry said elsewhere he never gave."
In short, one can't vote for a bill and then say you only voted for part of it, and then, at a later date, ignore your later defense of the part you say you didn't vote for. Unless, like Kerry, you're a politician. Happens all the time in Washington. The coin of the political realm is the lie, and Kerry's far from broke.
If George W. Bush could have been removed from office for being a bad president, he would have been sent back to his ranch a long time ago. If incompetence were a criminal offense, he'd be behind bars. But that's just daydreaming. The reality is that there are more than two and a half years left in the long dark night of the Bush presidency — nearly as long as the entire time John Kennedy was in office.
The nation seems, very belatedly, to be catching on to the tragic failures and monumental ineptitude of its president. Mr. Bush's poll numbers are abysmal. Republicans up for re-election are running from him as if he were the bogyman. Callers to conservative talk radio programs who were once ecstatic about the president and his policies are now deeply disillusioned. The libertarian Cato Institute is about to release a study titled "Power Surge: The Constitutional Record of George W. Bush." It says, "Unfortunately, far from defending the Constitution, President Bush has repeatedly sought to strip out the limits the document places on federal power." While I disagree with parts of the study, I certainly agree with that particular comment.
In the current issue of Rolling Stone, Sean Wilentz, a distinguished historian and the director of the American Studies program at Princeton University, takes a serious look at the possibility that Mr. Bush may be the worst president in the nation's history. What in the world took so long? Some of us [,like Bush Watch,] have known since the moment he hopped behind the wheel that this reckless president was driving the nation headlong toward a cliff....The sins of the Bush administration are so extensive and so egregious, they could never be adequately addressed in a newspaper column. History will be the final judge. But I've no doubt about the ultimate verdict...The major task of Congress and the voters for the remainder of the Bush presidency is to curtail the destructive impulses of this administration, and to learn the lessons that will prevent similar horrors from ever happening again.. --more
Analysis: Bushism as Greek Drama: "Hubris" and "Tragic Flaws," Bernard Weiner
The world of theatre that I've swum in for decades as a drama critic provides a useful prism through which to view today's political events and players. This is especially true when thinking about drama from ancient Greece and Europe's Renaissance. Those periods remind us how often human tragedy repeats itself over the centuries. (Which is why many modern directors return so often to the wisdom of these ancient plays, often staging them with contemporary conceits so as to make the connections overt for their audiences.)
Much of ancient Greek drama focuses on the disastrous results of "hubris," an overweening pride and arrogance that can lead rulers to go outside the ethical/legal boundaries. (See "Oedipus Rex," "Antigone," "The Orestia.") Almost invariably, because their reckless attitude upsets the delicate balance required for proper rule, punishment or even tragedy results -- and not just personal, but for society as a whole....
Now we have Bush Junior, who has attempted to codify his power-grabbing hubris by claiming that the President can do whatever he chooses to do as long as he does so as "commander in chief" during "wartime." Using this dictatorial theory, Bush has authorized torture, illegal spying on U.S. citizens, breaking & entering into citizens' homes and computers without their ever knowing such violations of privacy occurred, leaking classified information to friendly reporters, and on and on. The scale of Bush's hubris is unprecedented in American history, which may be why, five years into his rule, even friends and conservative supporters are opposed to his unconstitutional grab for power.
Many of them recall Bush's predilection for operating outside the laws and traditions of our democratic republic; three times he has expressed an affinity for dictatorship. What may have been Freudian-slip jokes when uttered several years ago -- such as: "it would be much easier if this was a dictatorship, as long as I get to be the dictator" -- now don't seem so funny. Which brings us to the next theatrical concept from the Greeks, and honed in the works of Shakespeare in the Elizabethan period in England more than 400 years ago: the "tragic flaw."... --moreOil Puppets: Bush And Cheney Pay Off The Guys Who Pull Their Strings (excerpts), Maureen Dowd
Gasoline prices may be hurting average folks, but the oilers who helped put the Boy King and the Duke of Halliburton in office with lavish donations are enjoying record profits and breathtaking bonuses. The Oilmen in the Oval, incompetent in so many ways, have brilliantly achieved one of their main objectives: boosting the fortunes of the oil industry and the people who run it. All those secret meetings the vice president had back in 2001, letting the energy and oil big shots help write our energy policy — one that urged more oil and gas drilling — worked like a charm. In all their years in government, Mr. Cheney and the Bushes have never done anything to hold the oil companies' feet to the fire, or get Americans' feet off the gas pedal.
As Representative James Clyburn, Democrat of South Carolina, noted, "The Republicans are the party with the keys to the executive washrooms of Halliburton, Exxon and the big oil corporations." Consider Lee Raymond, the recently retired chairman and chief executive of Exxon. Recently, we learned about his stunning secret compensation: he got more than $686 million from 1993 to 2005, according to a Times story, which calculated: "That is $144,573 for each day he spent leading Exxon's 'God pod,' as the executive suite at the company's headquarters in Irving, Tex., is known." The only oil baron who isn't cashing in these days is Saddam. We pulled up to the pump in Baghdad and plunked down $10 billion a month, and we're still not getting any gas out of it. Instead of easing our oil dependence and paying for Iraq's reconstruction, the bungled invasion and subsequent nuclear sparring with Iran have left even Republicans looking for Priuses.
The last time W. began wringing his hands about our addiction to oil — in the State of the Union address — the vice president was dismissive about the notion of sacrifice afterward. And the energy secretary clarified the president's words, saying they shouldn't be taken literally and that the idea of replacing Middle East oil imports with alternative fuels was "purely an example." Even if W. shows up on TV in a gray cardigan, it's patently preposterous for the Republicans to make this argument, after selling us on the idea that it's our manifest destiny to get into giant cars and go to giant Wal-Marts and giant Targets and buy more giant bags of stuff. Now they're telling us to squeeze into tiny electric cars and compete for precious drips of oil with the Chinese and Indians who are swimming in enough of our dollars to afford cars.
The U.S. could have begun developing alternative fuels 30 years ago if Dick Cheney hadn't helped scuttle an ambitious plan in the Ford administration.... W.'s big move [yesterday] was to ever so slightly beef up a federal investigation into oil company price manipulation that's been under way since Katrina. "It's a great idea," said the Democratic leader, Senator Harry Reid. "So good that we passed a law last year calling for that." --more
Letters: John Kerry's War Vote And The 2004 Elections, Ivan Carter
Politex, Re your Bush Watch piece yesterday, Campaign 2008: John Kerry's Short-Memory Speech, I invite you to read this email to reporter Dana Milbank, and the Ombudsman of the Washington Post. It not only goes to the heart of the 2004 election, the first third also covers the WMD issue and why Kerry gave his support. It might offer a different persepctive. Please consider. --Ivan Carter, Editor, Press The News
...The following is an email sent March 30 [,2006] to reporter Dana Milbank and Ombudsman Deborah Howell of the Washington Post. It addresses the WMD intelligence issue in the few months prior to military engagement with Iraq, the two presidential candidates respective positions during that time, and the media's coverage of the issue.
Dear Mr. Milbank:
Your still timely article, "Seldom-Discussed Elephant Moves Into Public's View," from last year, noted that a group -- you called them "wingnuts" -- offered a $1,000 reward to any reporter who got the President to answer a specific question about the Downing Street memo.
As you note, the President (who didn't really answer the question) responded; "My conversations with the Prime Minister was, how can we do this peacefully."
But what did the "this" refer to? Disarmament -- the stated purpose of the war? Or the removal of Hussein -- the implied purpose during the election campaign?
Much of the media didn't seem to have a problem with the Administration's ambiguity on this. Why?
The main question raised above has still not been examined: Whatever the "this," was that the President referred to as our goal, what was the plan to achieve it, in the President's words, "peacefully"?
Also, why did that plan fail?
These questions were all also largely ignored by the media. Why?
Because the administration intended all along to go into Iraq, and so ["needed"?] to be unclear about it? If that is the answer, what does this have to do with the role of the media, and the issues raised above?
Especially given that; a) this was potentially the most important policy choice of the administration; b) it was the defining issue of the election, and, most importantly, c) the Administration ran its campaign for reelection based upon the theme of trust, candor, and forthrightness (as the President himself put it almost every day, "at least you know that I mean what I say") -- and upon the theme that their opponent, in marked contrast, did not.
Why is this still extremely relevant today? It is not because of the Bush campaign's characterizations of both Bush and Kerry during that same election, but the media's role regarding these characterizations, relative to the facts, and the reasons why.... --more of the letter to Milbank"The Israel Lobby": What's Offensive Is Some of the Negative Reactions to It , Richard Cohen
During the Jim Crow era, many American communists fiercely fought racism. This is a fact. It is also a fact that segregationists and others often smeared civil rights activists by calling them communists. This technique is sometimes called guilt by association and sometimes "McCarthyism." If you think it's dead, you have not been following the controversy over a long essay about the so-called "Israel Lobby."
On April 5, for instance, The Post ran an op-ed, "Yes, It's Anti-Semitic," by Eliot A. Cohen, a professor at the John Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies and a respected defense intellectual. Cohen does not much like a paper on the Israel lobby that was written by John Mearsheimer of the University of Chicago and Stephen Walt of Harvard University. He found it anti-Semitic. I did not. But I did find Cohen's piece to be offensive....Unfortunately, Cohen's piece is not unique. The New York Sun reported on its front page of March 24 an allegation from Alan Dershowitz that some of the quotes from the Israel lobby paper "appear on hate sites." Maybe they do, but Mearsheimer and Walt took those quotes (about press coverage of Israel) from a book written by Max Frankel, a former editor of the New York Times. To associate Mearsheimer and Walt with hate groups is rank guilt by association and does not in any way rebut the argument made in their paper on the Israel lobby....
My own reading of the Mearsheimer-Walt paper found it unremarkable, a bit sloppy and one-sided (nothing here about the Arab oil lobby), but nothing that even a casual newspaper reader does not know. Its basic point -- that Israel's American supporters have immense influence over U.S. foreign policy -- is inarguable. After all, President Bush has just recently given Israel NATO-like status without so much as a murmur from Congress. "I made it clear, I'll make it clear again, that we will use military might to protect our ally Israel," Bush said. This was the second or third time he's made this pledge, crossing a line that previous administrations would not -- in effect, promulgating a treaty seemingly on the spot. No other country gets this sort of treatment.
Israel's special place in U.S. foreign policy is deserved, in my view, and not entirely the product of lobbying. Israel has earned it, and isn't there something bracing about a special relationship that is not based on oil or markets or strategic location but on shared values? (A bit now like Britain.) But I can understand how foreign policy "realists" such as Mearsheimer and Walt might question its utility and not only think that a bit too much power is located in a specific lobby but that it is rarely even discussed. This may be wrong, but it is not (necessarily) anti-Semitic. In fact, after reading the Mearsheimer-Walt paper, the respected Israeli newspaper Haaretz not only failed to discern anti-Semitism but commended the paper to its readers.
--moreGood King Bushislos: The White House Shakeup Song, by Madeleine Begun Kane
Bolten's cleaning house they claim.
Many think that Don must go.
Miers may just lose her job.
Selling our economy.
Don't forget Dub's spokesman Scott.
Rove lost power, so they say.
--moreToday's Pick: THE MORAL CONSEQUENCES OF ECONOMIC GROWTH by Benjamin M. Friedman (Knopf Books) Economic growth, democracy, and freedom.
Campaign 2008: John Kerry's Short-Memory Speech, Jerry Politex
John Kerry lost me three months before the 2004 presidential elections. While visiting the Grand Canyon that August, a reporter asked Kerry about the non-existent "weapons of mass destruction" in Iraq. "Knowing what we know now," the reporter asked, would Kerry have given Bush the authority to go to war in Iraq. Kerry answered, ""Yes, I would have voted for the authority. I believe it was the right authority for a president to have." This has not been the only time Kerry's defended the idea of giving Presidents black checks, even for questionable policies based on undisclosed information. Since the Iraq war resolution was based on the premise that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, in his Grand Canyon interchange Kerry was defending his gift to Bush of the "blank check" that Sen. Byrd warned about during the floor debate, a blank check that Kerry said elsewhere he never gave.
British Journalist John Pilger would describe such a remark as one more example of the myth that Kerry's world view is different from Bush's. In a piece posted on Anti-War.com in March of that campaign year, Pilger quotes Press Action editor Mark Hand: "Kerry and his colleagues in the 'progressive internationalist' movement are as gung-ho as their counterparts in the White House...Come November, who will get your vote? Coke or Pepsi?"
In a recent speech in Boston marking the 35th anniversary of John Kerry's Senate testimony on the war in Vietnam, Kerry said that in 1971 "Many people did not understand or agree with my act of public dissent. To them, supporting the troops meant continuing to support the war, or at least keeping my mouth shut. But I couldn't remain silent. I felt compelled to speak out about what was happening in Vietnam...."
New York Times columnist Bob Herbert, who attended Kerry's Boston speech defending the right to dissent, called it "important and moving." Kerry said, "I believed [in 1971], just as I believe now, that the best way to support the troops is to oppose a course that squanders their lives, dishonors their sacrifice and disserves our people and our principles....I come here today to affirm that it is both a right and an obligation for Americans to disagree with a president who is wrong, a policy that is wrong and a war in Iraq that weakens the nation."
Believing that he's listening to a John Kerry who has finally found his way to a firm position on the war that will benefit his party, Herbert observes, "I've felt all along that Democratic politicians, including Senator Kerry, have hurt themselves with their muddled messages on Iraq. Most elected Democrats have been petrified almost to the point of paralysis by their fear of being seen as soft on national security. So they've acquiesced to one degree or another in a war that in their heads and in their hearts they knew was wrong....Kerry, who voted to authorize the use of force in Iraq, gave the impression of a man who had found a voice he'd been seeking through trial and error for a long time..."
As the poster child for the Dem Party's foreign policy timidity during the last presidential campaign, launching his campaign while standing in front of an aircraft carrier, it's hard to believe that Kerry, annointed by Teddy Kennedy in 2004, would try to run again in 2008. However, there are signs that he might. Recent polls have him beating Bush if the 2004 election were held this year, his campaign war chest of $15 million is second only to Hillary's, and he has proven to be a very successful fundraiser for Dem candidates throughout the nation. Another sign that Kerry might try to run again in 2008 is his present willingness to deliver self-serving speechs that depend upon the deplorably short memory of the American voter for their positive effect.
The administration has never provided
a detailed estimate of what the war is really costing.
Americans deserve to know how much of their hard
earned money is being flushed down the toilet by this
administration in Iraq.
...The trade deficit means that America is living beyond its means, spending far more than it earns. (In 2005, the United States exported only 53 cents' worth of goods for every dollar it spent on imports.) To pay for the excess of imports over exports, the United States has to sell stocks, bonds and businesses to foreigners. In fact, we've borrowed more than $3 trillion just since 1999. By rights, then, the investment income — interest payments, stock dividends and so on — that Americans pay to foreigners should be a lot larger than the investment income foreigners pay to Americans. But according to official statistics, the United States still has a slightly positive balance on investment income. How is this possible? The answer, almost certainly, is that there's something wrong with the numbers.
Daniel Gros of the Center for European Policy Studies...argues — compellingly, in my view — that what's really happening is that foreign companies are understating the profits of their U.S. subsidiaries, probably to avoid taxes, and that official data are, in particular, failing to pick up foreign profits that are reinvested in U.S. operations. If Mr. Gros is right, the true position of the U.S. economy isn't as bad as you think — it's worse. The true trade deficit, including unreported profits that accrue to foreign companies, isn't $800 billion — it's more than $900 billion. And America's foreign debt, including the value of foreign-owned businesses, is at least $1 trillion bigger than the official numbers say....
Right now, forensic analysis seems to say that the U.S. trade position is worse, not better, than it looks. And the answer to the question, "Why haven't we paid a price for our trade deficit?" is, just you wait. --more
Bush Foreign Policy: Former NSA Director Odom Dissects Iraq Blunders, Michael Hammerschlag
Former National Security Agency Director Lt. General William Odom dissected the strategic folly of the Iraq invasion and Bush Administration policies in a major policy speech at Brown University for the Watson Institute- America’s Strategic Paralysis . "The Iraq War may turn out to be the greatest strategic disaster in American history. In a mere 18 months we went from unprecedented levels of support after 9-11..to being one of the most hated countries…Turkey used to be one of strongest pro-US regimes, now we’re so unpopular, there’s a movie playing there- Metal Storm, about a war between US and Turkey. In addition to producing faulty intel and ties to Al Qaida, Bush made preposterous claim that toppling Saddam would open the way for liberal democracy in a very short time... Misunderstanding the character of American power, he dismissed the allies as a nuisance and failed to get the UN Security Council’s sanction… We must reinforce international law, not reject and ridicule it.”
Odom, now a Yale professor and Hudson Institute senior fellow, was director of the sprawling NSA (which monitors all communications) from 1985-88 under Reagan, and previously was Zbigniew Brzezinski’s assistant under Carter. His latest 2004 book is America’s Inadvertent Empire.
Even if the invasion had gone well, Odom says it wouldn’t have mattered: “The invasion wasn’t in our interests, it was in Iran’s interest, Al Qaida’s interest. Seeing America invade must have made Iranian leaders ecstatic. Iran’s hostility to Saddam was hard to exaggerate.. Iraq is now open to Al Qaida, which it never was before- it’s easier for terrorists to kill Americans there than in the US.. Neither our leaders or the mainstream media recognize the perversity of key US policies now begetting outcomes they were designed to prevent… 3 years later the US is bogged down in Iraq, pretending a Constitution has been put in place, while the civil war rages, Iran meddles, and Al Qaida swells its ranks with new recruits.. We have lost our capacity to lead and are in a state of crisis- diplomatic and military.”
Odom believes in an immediate phased withdrawal. “There isn’t anything we can do by staying there longer that will make this come out better. Every day we stay in, it gets worse and the price gets higher.” He decried the “sophomoric and silly” titled war on terrorism. “Terrorism cannot be defeated because it’s not an enemy, it’s a tactic. A war against Al Qaida is sensible and supportable, but a war against a tactic is ludicrous and hurtful… a propaganda ploy to swindle others into supporting one’s own terrorism ... and encourages prejudices against Muslims everywhere. What if we said, ‘Catholic Christian IRA hitmen’? The hypocrisy is deeper than this. By any measure the US has long used terrorism. In ‘78-79 the Senate was trying to pass a law against international terrorism- in every version they produced, the lawyers said the US would be in violation.”... --moreGoodby, Scott: Names For WH Propagandist Scott McCellan, ed. Jerry Politex
Scott McClellan is the baby panda of the press corps....a metaphor magnet...a punching bag, a rock 'em sock 'em robot, a cog in the greater machine, Piggy from "Lord of the Flies."...an abused puppy...a human traffic cone...always getting beaned between the eyes...the last kid to get picked for the team...the type who gets lied to...---Ana Marie Cox
Bush Amok: U.S. Planes Are Already Making Practice Bombing Runs Along Iran's Borders, Chris Floyd
Twelve hours. One circuit of the sun from horizon to horizon, one course of the moon from dusk to dawn. What was once a natural measurement for the daily round of human life is now a doom-laden interval between the voicing of an autocrat's brutal whim and the infliction of mass annihilation halfway around the world.
Twelve hours is the maximum time necessary for American bombers to gear up and launch an unprovoked sneak attack -- a Pearl Harbor in reverse -- against Iran, The Washington Post reports. The plan for this "global strike," which includes a very viable "nuclear option," was approved months ago and is now in operation. The planes are already on continuous alert, making "nuclear delivery" practice runs along the Iranian border, The New Yorker reports, and waiting only for the signal from President George W. Bush to drop their payloads of conventional and nuclear weapons on some 400 targets throughout the condemned land.
And when this attack comes -- either as a stand-alone "knock-out blow" or as the precursor to a full-scale, regime-changing invasion, like the earlier aggression in Iraq -- there will be no warning, no declaration of war, no congressional hearings, no public debate. The already-issued orders governing the operation put the decision solely in the hands of the president. He picks up the phone, he says, "Go," and in 12 hours' time, up to 1 million Iranians will be dead.
his potential death toll is not pacifist hyperbole; it comes from a National Academy of Sciences study sponsored by the Pentagon itself, as The Progressive reports. The NAS study calculated the kill rate from "bunker-busting" tactical nukes used to take out underground facilities -- such as those housing much of Iran's nuclear power program. Another simulation using Pentagon software was even more specific, measuring the aftermath from a "limited" nuclear attack on the main Iranian underground site in Esfahan. The result? Three million people killed by radiation in just two weeks. Bush now has about 50 nuclear "earth-penetrating weapons" at his disposal.
Nor is the idea of a nuclear strike on Iran mere "liberal paranoia."... --morePlamegate: Outing The CIA Agent - Keep It Simple
Valerie Plame was a CIA agent in July 2003, and the fact that she was a CIA officer was classified. The responsibilities of some CIA employees require that their association with the agency be kept secret, because disclosure has the potential to damage national security in ways that range from preventing the future use of the agents, to compromising intelligence-gathering methods, to endangering the safety of CIA employees, and people who they may be associated with. Valerie's status was not widely known. The special prosecutor verified that her friends, neighbors, and college classmates had no idea she had another life.
Her cover was blown in July 2003. The first public outing was when Robert Novak published a story about Valerie and her husband Joe Wilson on July 14, 2003, noting her status as a CIA agent, and quoting senior administration officials as his sources.
As a condition for working with classified information, on January 23, 2001, Libby signed a Classified Information Nondisclosure Agreement, which states in part: I understand and accept that by being granted access to classified information, special confidence and trust shall be placed in me by the United States Government. In signing the Agreement Libby goes on to state: I have been advised that the unauthorized disclosure, unauthorized retention, or negligent handling of classified information by me could cause damage or irreparable injury to the United States or could be used to advantage by a foreign nation. Scooter clearly violated this oath. To begin with,... --moreBoo, Hu ! A Week In The White House (excerpts), Maureen Dowd
Dick and Rummy are in Karl's old office, eating Chinese leftovers. "Serves Karl right, by golly," Rummy says. "He's so arrogant. Won't listen to anybody about anything. Goodness gracious, imagine having somebody in such an important job who doesn't take any advice or pay attention to dissenting opinions. An autocrat ruthlessly ruling over his own little kingdom. Even Laura can't stand his peacock-preening." Dick grunts his assent, his mouth full of ginger-scented dumplings.
The Bush mandarins are feeling more sweet than sour. It's been a fun week, sidelining Rove, firing the C.I.A. officer who was a source for reporters (including for The Washington Post's Pulitzer-winning articles) on the agency's overseas gulag, plotting against Iran, messing with China's head, rolling like a Tiananmen tank over the retired generals who tried to lead a democratic uprising against Rummy. "Here's to winning the Battle of the Potomac," Rummy said with a wolfish grin, clinking Scotch glasses with Dick. "Another tactical mistake by the military."
The Kid whizzes down the West Wing hall on his Razor scooter. "Hey, dudes, listen to my fortune cookie," he calls out. " 'Though effective, appear to be ineffective.' " Dick and Rummy exchange knowing looks. "Hu's on first?" Rummy howls, and cracks up, as he does every time he makes the joke...."That little Commie thought he could come here and act like we're the second-rate power, like we're supposed to kowtow to him just because China can call in its marker anytime on hundreds of billions of our national debt."..."The Kid thinks it's a real staff shake-up," Dick scoffs. "Yeah," Rummy chuckles. "Throwing overboard a press spokesman who we'd been throwing overboard every day for three years. How painful was that? We might have shuffled the cards — including Andy — but we're still dealing. The Kid's wheeling and we're dealing." --more
Human Rights: Words To Ponder, William Fisher
I recently e-mailed Neil Hicks, the director of international programs for Human Rights First, seeking his thoughts on a new poll of the U.S. public that shows rapidly declining support for President Bush's pledge to spread democracy throughout the world. His response was more eloquent than any words of mine. Here it is:
"It is not surprising that there is growing skepticism among Americans about the goal of actively promoting democracy in other countries through U.S. policy. There are several reasons for this, in my view:
"First: the administration's democracy promotion strategy has been very broadly defined and yet invoked inconsistently from country to country. While the headline principles of freedom, women's empowerment and elections are proclaimed frequently, there is no consistent benchmark for implementation of democracy at the specific country level, which is the only place where the practical impact of the policy can be discerned. This leaves the actual content of the policy somewhat amorphous, and makes it easy for its critics to accuse the U.S. government of engaging in double standards and pursuing these goals selectively in its own interests.
"Second:... --moreHuman Rights: Life in a Spherical Human World, Dr. Gerry Lower
The United Nations has recently been enmeshed in establishing a new "Human Rights Council" and a draft resolution has appeared from the president of the General Assembly, Kofi Annan (1). It begins by reaffirming the concept of human rights and it notes that human rights are "universal, indivisible, inter-related and interdependent" (1). Just how human rights are so related is not specified, although this knowledge is obviously relevant to the work of the United Nations in promoting human rights.
Within the world of Natural Philosophy and Democracy there is a far more human definition of freedom than that characterizing America under the dominion of religious capitalism, one which transcends the freedom to be legal (obedient) or ethical (politically-correct). That would be the freedom to be honestly human. This dialectic synthesis provides freedom OF religion and freedom FROM religious oppression and despotism.
These freedoms recognize that we are already “born free” TO DO anything we want - provided we are willing to suffer the consequences. The path to real freedom, freedom of thought and word and action, comes down more to eliminating unfairness and injustice and unnecessary oppression - as built right into the ancient cultural "isms."
These are the only two freedoms in a democracy that stand alone, i.e., freedom of religion and freedom from religious oppression, the two essential objectives of the separation of church and state. In other words, democracy allows one to believe as one chooses (we trust ourselves to think for ourselves) and democracy allows one to be free from imposed restrictions and beliefs.... --moreUndemocratic: How America Is Rigged For Republican Rule (excerpts), Paul Krugman
"I have a vision — maybe just a hope — of a great revulsion: a moment in which the American people look at what is happening, realize how their good will and patriotism have been abused, and put a stop to this drive to destroy much of what is best in our country." I wrote those words three years ago in the introduction to my column collection, "The Great Unraveling." It seemed a remote prospect at the time: Baghdad had just fallen to U.S. troops, and President Bush had a 70 percent approval rating.
Now the great revulsion has arrived. The latest Fox News poll puts Mr. Bush's approval at only 33 percent. According to the polling firm Survey USA, there are only four states in which significantly more people approve of Mr. Bush's performance than disapprove: Utah, Idaho, Wyoming and Nebraska. If we define red states as states where the public supports Mr. Bush, Red America now has a smaller population than New York City. The proximate causes of Mr. Bush's plunge in the polls are familiar: the heck of a job he did responding to Katrina, the prescription drug debacle and, above all, the quagmire in Iraq.
But focusing too much on these proximate causes makes Mr. Bush's political fall from grace seem like an accident, or the result of specific missteps. That gets things backward. In fact, Mr. Bush's temporarily sky-high approval ratings were the aberration; the public never supported his real policy agenda....That's not a prediction for the midterm elections. The Democrats will almost surely make gains, but the electoral system is rigged against them. The fewer than eight million residents of what's left of Red America are represented by eight U.S. senators; the more than eight million residents of New York City have to share two senators with the rest of New York State.
Meanwhile, a combination of accident and design has left likely Democratic voters bunched together — I'm tempted to say ghettoized — in a minority of Congressional districts, while likely Republican voters are more widely spread out. As a result, Democrats would need a landslide in the popular vote — something like an advantage of 8 to 10 percentage points over Republicans — to take control of the House of Representatives. That's a real possibility, given the current polls, but by no means a certainty.... But even if the Republicans hang on to their ability to stonewall, it's hard to see how they can resurrect their agenda.... --more
Anti-Semitism? Self-Censorship and Israel Lobby Bad For Both U.S. and Israel, Tony Judt
IN its March 23rd issue the London Review of Books, a respected British journal, published an essay titled "The Israel Lobby." The authors are two distinguished American academics (Stephen Walt of Harvard and John Mearsheimer of the University of Chicago) who posted a longer (83-page) version of their text on the Web site of Harvard's Kennedy School.
...Some would prefer, when explaining American actions overseas, to point a finger at the domestic "energy lobby." Others might blame the influence of Wilsonian idealism, or imperial practices left over from the cold war. But that a powerful Israel lobby exists could hardly be denied by anyone who knows how Washington works. Its core is the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, its penumbra a variety of national Jewish organizations. Does the Israel Lobby affect our foreign policy choices? Of course — that is one of its goals. And it has been rather successful: Israel is the largest recipient of American foreign aid and American responses to Israeli behavior have been overwhelmingly uncritical or supportive....
The essay and the issues it raises for American foreign policy have been prominently dissected and discussed overseas. In America, however, it's been another story: virtual silence in the mainstream media. Why? There are several plausible explanations. One is that a relatively obscure academic paper is of little concern to general-interest readers. Another is that claims about disproportionate Jewish public influence are hardly original — and debate over them inevitably attracts interest from the political extremes. And then there is the view that Washington is anyway awash in "lobbies" of this sort, pressuring policymakers and distorting their choices. Each of these considerations might reasonably account for the mainstream press's initial indifference to the Mearsheimer-Walt essay. But they don't convincingly explain the continued silence even after the article aroused stormy debate in the academy, within the Jewish community, among the opinion magazines and Web sites, and in the rest of the world. I think there is another element in play: fear. Fear of being thought to legitimize talk of a "Jewish conspiracy"; fear of being thought anti-Israel; and thus, in the end, fear of licensing the expression of anti-Semitism. How are we to explain the fact that it is in Israel itself that the uncomfortable issues raised by Professors Mearsheimer and Walt have been most thoroughly aired?...
The damage that is done by America's fear of anti-Semitism when discussing Israel is threefold. It is bad for Jews: anti-Semitism is real enough (I know something about it, growing up Jewish in 1950's Britain), but for just that reason it should not be confused with political criticisms of Israel or its American supporters. It is bad for Israel: by guaranteeing it unconditional support, Americans encourage Israel to act heedless of consequences. The Israeli journalist Tom Segev described the Mearsheimer-Walt essay as "arrogant" but also acknowledged ruefully: "They are right. Had the United States saved Israel from itself, life today would be better ...the Israel Lobby in the United States harms Israel's true interests." BUT above all, self-censorship is bad for the United States itself. Americans are denying themselves participation in a fast-moving international conversation. Daniel Levy (a former Israeli peace negotiator) wrote in Haaretz that the Mearsheimer-Walt essay should be a wake-up call, a reminder of the damage the Israel lobby is doing to both nations. The end result — a failure to consider a major issue in public policy — is a great pity.
...It will not be self-evident to future generations of Americans why the imperial might and international reputation of the United States are so closely aligned with one small, controversial Mediterranean client state. It is already not at all self-evident to Europeans, Latin Americans, Africans or Asians. Why, they ask, has America chosen to lose touch with the rest of the international community on this issue? Americans may not like the implications of this question. But it is pressing. It bears directly on our international standing and influence; and it has nothing to do with anti-Semitism. We cannot ignore it. --moreBushco: Stop Us Before We Kill Again! by Bernard Weiner
The essence of Bush&Co. strategy, from January 2001 to today, can be boiled down to this: We'll continue doing whatever we want to do until someone stops us. So, if you're wondering whether the U.S. will back off from attacking Iran, or whether corporations will no longer be given the ability to dictate Administration environmental policy, or whether domestic spying on U.S. citizens will cease, or whether Scalia might recuse himself on cases he's already pre-judged -- if you still harbor any or all of those illusions, forget about it.
Since Bush&Co. openly carry out the most reprehensible crimes, with nobody being able to prevent them from moving on to even worse atrocities, it's almost as if their unconscious is screaming out for a political intervention, reminiscent of that old plea from a tormented serial-killer: "Stop Me Before I Kill Again!" But consciously, as they sense their time in power may be coming to an inglorious end and as they read their quickly-sinking poll numbers, they can't help themselves from issuing their traditional, in-your-face dare: "Stop me if you can, losers!"
This big-A "Attitude" started long before Inauguration Day, when Karl Rove & Dick Cheney were devising their strategy and theory of governance. It goes something like this: We need only one vote more than the other guys -- on the Supreme Court, in the Senate, in the popular vote totals in key states. Once we get our victory by whatever means necessary, we are then the "legitimate" rulers. We can claim The People Have Spoken and that we have a "mandate" for action and can do whatever we want. If you don't like it, tough. If you're foolhardy enough, you can try again at the next election and see where that gets you, suckers -- our side counts the votes! --moreHumor: Hu Visits The White House, by James Sherman, with Jerry Politex
(We take you now to the Oval Office. President Bush is speaking with his new White House Chief of Staff, Josh Bolton)
George: Josh! Nice to see you, welcome to the White House. What's happening?
Josh: Sir, as you know, this week you're being paid a visit by the leader of China.
George: Great. Lay it on me.
Josh: Hu is the new leader of China.
George: That's what I want to know.
Josh: That's what I'm telling you.
George: That's what I'm asking you. Who is the new leader of China?
George: I mean the fellow's name.
George: The guy in China.
George: The new leader of China.
George: The Chinaman!
Josh: Hu is leading China.
George: Now whaddya' asking me for?...
Immigration: Yes, More Immigrants Will Lower Wages, George J. Borjas
What happens when immigrants enter the labor market? The 1964 edition of Paul Samuelson's influential introductory economics textbook gives the common-sense answer: "By keeping labor supply down, immigration policy tends to keep wages high. Let us underline this basic principle: Limitation of the supply of any grade of labor relative to all other productive factors can be expected to raise its wage rate; an increase in supply will, other things being equal, tend to depress wage rates." Mr. Samuelson wrote this just before the 1965 policy shift that sparked the resurgence of immigration, so he emphasized that restrictions "keep wages high." Today we are concerned with the mirror-image implication: As immigration increases the size of a skill group (such as low-educated workers), the wage paid to that group should fall.
Despite the intuition behind Mr. Samuelson's conclusion, economists have found it surprisingly difficult to document that immigration does, in fact, lower the wage of competing workers. In 1997, the National Academy of Sciences concluded that "the weight of the empirical evidence suggests that the impact of immigration on the wages of competing native workers is small." Recent research has finally begun to demolish the peculiar (yet influential) notion that an influx of more than 16 million foreign-born workers, which increased the size of the workforce by nearly 15%, had little impact on wages. In part, the problem has been that economists were looking for the wage effect in all the wrong places....
Because local labor markets adjust to immigration, I have argued that the impact of immigration is best measured at the national level. In fact, by examining national wage trends for narrowly defined skill groups for the last 40 years, the wage effects of immigration become quite visible. These trends suggest that a 10% increase in the size of a skill group (for example, a 10% increase in the number of workers who are high school graduates and are around 30 years old) reduces the wage of that group by 3% to 4%. It turns out that this wage response is roughly what one would have expected to find if one looked at the vast academic literature that estimates adjustments in labor demand (a literature that typically has little to do with immigration). In short, the national wage effects replicate what we think we know about labor demand in the U.S. labor market....
National wage trends confirm the common-sense notion that immigration has labor market consequences: A larger pool of competing workers lowers relative wages. This does not imply that immigration is a net loss for the economy. After all, the wage losses suffered by workers show up as higher profits to employers and, eventually, as lower prices to consumers.* Immigration policy is just another redistribution program. In the short run, it transfers wealth from one group (workers) to another (employers). Whether or not such transfers are desirable is one of the central questions in the immigration debate.
*"Lower prices to consumers" assumes that lower wage costs are passed on to the consumer, which they are not, for various reasons, one being the wages and retirement packages being given to CEOs. --Politex --moreRummy: Decider Bush Backs Denier Rummy (excerpts), Maureen Dowd
With Iraq in chaos, the military riven and depleted, the president poleaxed, the Republican fortunes for the midterm elections dwindling, and Republican lawmakers like Chuck Hagel questioning Rummy's leadership and Democratic ones like Dick Durbin proposing a no-confidence vote in the Senate, [Sec. of Defense Rumsfeld]...made it sound as if the generals want him to resign because he made reforms. But they really want him to resign because he made gigantic, horrible, arrogant mistakes that will be taught in history classes forever.
He suggested invading Iraq the day after 9/11. He didn't want to invade Iraq because it was connected to 9/11. That was the part his neocon aides at the Pentagon, Wolfie and Doug Feith, had to concoct. Rummy wanted to invade Iraq because he thought it would be easy, compared with Iran or North Korea, or compared with finding Osama. He could do it cheap and show off his vaunted transformation of the military into a sleek, lean fighting force. Cloistered in a macho monastery with "The Decider" (as W. calls himself), Dick Cheney and Condi Rice, Rummy didn't want to hear dissent, or worries about Iraq, the tribes, the sects, the likelihood of insurgency or civil war, the need for more troops and armor to quell postwar eruptions.
"He didn't worry about the culture in Iraq," said Bernard Trainor, the retired Marine general who is my former colleague and the co-author of "Cobra II." "He just wanted to show them the front end of an M-1 tank. He could have been in Antarctica fighting penguins. He didn't care, as long as he could send the message that you don't mess with Hopalong Cassidy. He wanted to do to Saddam in the Middle East what he did to Shinseki in the Pentagon, make him an example, say, 'I'm in charge, don't mess with me.' "... Just as with Vietnam, when L.B.J. and Robert McNamara were running the war, or later, when Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger took over, we now have leaders obsessed with not seeming weak, or losing face. Their egos are feeding their delusions. --moreParody: The Great Decider, by The Platters, with Jerry Politex
"I'm the decider and I decide what's best. And what's best is for Don Rumsfeld to remain as the secretary of defense." --George W. Bush, April 18, 2006
Oh yes I'm the great decider (ooh ooh)
Oh yes I'm the great decider (ooh ooh)
Too real is this feeling of make believe
Ooh Ooh yes I'm the great decider
Yeah ooh hoo
Ooh Ooh yes I'm the great decider
Bush War: Behind The Scenes At The Neil Young "Impeach Bush" Recording Session, Alicia
(In April 2006, Young confirmed on his own website that he will be releasing an album full of protest songs, entitled Living With War. Recorded using his famous electric guitar, Old Black, along with Chad Cromwell (drums), Rick Rosas (bass) and Tommy Brea (trumpet), it is intended to be a stinging rebuke of President George W. Bush and the War in Iraq. It is expected out later in 2006. --Wikipedia)
On Wednesday [April 5, 2006], I was at work when I got a call for a Neil Young session the next day. Needless to say, I was excited about it - Neil Young is one of my musical heroes. When my husband and I got to Capitol, we found 98 other singers, a collection of L.A.'s finest. All I knew was that we were singing on a new Neil Young record, but when the lyrics we were supposed to sing flashed on the giant screen, a roar went up from the choir. I'm not going to give the whole thing away, but the first line of one of the songs was "Let's impeach the President for lyin'!" Turns out the whole thing is a classic beautiful protest record. The session was like being at a 12-hour peace rally. Every time new lyrics would come up on the screen, there were cheers, tears and applause. It was a spiritual experience. I can't believe my good fortune at being a part of this.
It was also recorded on analog in the A room at Capitol Records, which they're talking about selling and turning into condos. No ProTools, no 'flying in', no Auto-Tune. Just real singing, and real songs, from a real artist. And to hire a hundred live singers? Incredible. I got a chance to talk with Neil for a minute, and I told him that every word of every song expressed what I've been screaming about since 2000. I've never been at a recording session that was more like being at church. Heck, I've never been to a church that was more like a church than that session. We stood up for 12 hours (except for lunch and dinner) and I got a massive headache by the end, but I didn't care. It was worth the price of admission. We finished the session by singing an a capella version of "America the Beautiful" and there was not a dry eye in the house.... --moreBush War: American Support For Iraq War In Sharp Decline, William Fisher
Only 20 per cent of Americans thinks President George W. Bush's goal of spreading democracy to other countries is "very important". And even among Republicans, only three out of ten favor pursuing this goal "strongly", with most of the erosion in Republican confidence occurring in the more religious wing of the party.These are some of the highlights of the second in a continuing series of surveys monitoring Americans' confidence in U.S. foreign policy conducted by the nonprofit research organization Public Agenda. The survey results were described in an article in the journal "Foreign Affairs" by the organization's chairman, opinion research guru Daniel Yankelovich.
The first survey, conducted in June of last year, found that the war in Iraq had reached a "tipping point" - which the survey defines as the moment at which a large portion of the public begins to demand that the government address its concerns. The 2006 survey found that public confidence in U.S. foreign policy has declined since then. The public has become less confident in Washington's ability to achieve its goals in Iraq and Afghanistan and hunt down terrorists.
Yankelovich reported that the war in Iraq continues to be the foreign policy issue foremost in the public's mind, and respondents consistently say that the war, along with the threat of terrorism, are the most important problems facing the U.S. in its dealings with the rest of the world. Concern about mounting U.S. casualties in Iraq is particularly widespread -- 82 percent of respondents to the June 2005 survey said they cared deeply about the issue; in January 2006, 83 percent said they did. Although the level and intensity of concern about Iraq has remained fairly stable, the public's appraisal of how well the United States is meeting its objectives there has eroded slightly. Last summer, 39 percent of respondents gave the government high marks on this issue; 33 percent did in January.
The erosion, moreover, comes almost entirely from Republicans: 61 percent gave the government an A or a B on Iraq in the first survey, but only 53 percent did in the second. Confidence in U.S. policy on Iraq is also down significantly among those who regularly attend religious services, who also show rising levels of concern about casualties. Yankelovich says one reason for the downward trend is skepticism about how truthful Washington has been about the reasons for invading Iraq. He notes that 50 percent of respondents said they feel they were misled -- the highest level of mistrust measured in the survey. --moreGlobal Warming: Big Oil's Fake Science Pays CEOs Well (excerpts), Paul Krugman
Global warming emerged as a major public issue in the late 1980's. But at first there was considerable scientific uncertainty. Over time, the accumulation of evidence removed much of that uncertainty. Climate experts still aren't sure how much hotter the world will get, and how fast. But there's now an overwhelming scientific consensus that the world is getting warmer, and that human activity is the cause. In 2004, an article in the journal Science that surveyed 928 papers on climate change published in peer-reviewed scientific journals found that "none of the papers disagreed with the consensus position." So how have corporate interests responded? In the early years, when the science was still somewhat in doubt, many companies from the oil industry, the auto industry and other sectors were members of a group called the Global Climate Coalition, whose de facto purpose was to oppose curbs on greenhouse gases. But as the scientific evidence became clearer, many members — including oil companies like BP and Shell — left the organization and conceded the need to do something about global warming.
Exxon, headed by Mr. Lee Raymond [,paid $686 million over 13 years,] chose a different course of action: it decided to fight the science. A leaked memo from a 1998 meeting at the American Petroleum Institute, in which Exxon (which hadn't yet merged with Mobil) was a participant, describes a strategy of providing "logistical and moral support" to climate change dissenters, "thereby raising questions about and undercutting the 'prevailing scientific wisdom.' " And that's just what Exxon Mobil has done: lavish grants have supported a sort of alternative intellectual universe of global warming skeptics. The people and institutions Exxon Mobil supports aren't actually engaged in climate research. They're the real-world equivalents of the Academy of Tobacco Studies in the movie "Thank You for Smoking," whose purpose is to fail to find evidence of harmful effects.
But the fake research works for its sponsors, partly because it gets picked up by right-wing pundits, but mainly because it plays perfectly into the he-said-she-said conventions of "balanced" journalism. A 2003 study, by Maxwell Boykoff and Jules Boykoff, of reporting on global warming in major newspapers found that a majority of reports gave the skeptics — a few dozen people, many if not most receiving direct or indirect financial support from Exxon Mobil — roughly the same amount of attention as the scientific consensus, supported by thousands of independent researchers.... --more
Big Bush Lies: Lies About Tax Cuts To Rich, A Warm-up To Lies About War (excerpts),
The Treasury Department has put out an exercise in spin called the "Tax Relief Kit," which tries to create the impression that most of the tax cuts went to low- and middle-income families. Conspicuously missing from the document are any actual numbers about how the tax cuts were distributed among different income classes. Yet Treasury analysts have calculated those numbers, and there's enough information in the "kit" to figure out what they discovered. An explanation of how to extract the administration's estimates of the distribution of tax cuts from the "Tax Relief Kit" is here. Here's the bottom line: about 32 percent of the tax cuts went to the richest 1 percent of Americans, people whose income this year will be at least $341,773. About 53 percent of the tax cuts went to the top 10 percent of the population. Remember, these are the administration's own numbers — numbers that it refuses to release to the public.
I'm sure that this column will provoke a furious counterattack from the administration, an all-out attempt to discredit my math. Yet if I'm wrong, there's an easy way to prove it: just release the raw data used to construct the table titled "Projected Share of Individual Income Taxes and Income in 2006." Memo to reporters: if the administration doesn't release those numbers, that's in effect a confession of guilt, an implicit admission that the data contradict the administration's spin. And what about the people Senator Grassley compared to Hitler, those who say that the wealthiest 1 percent of Americans will receive 40 percent of the tax cuts? Although the "Tax Relief Kit" asserts that "nearly all of the tax cut provisions" are already in effect, that's not true: one crucial piece of the Bush tax cuts, elimination of the estate tax, hasn't taken effect yet. Since only estates bigger than $2 million, or $4 million for a married couple, face taxation, the great bulk of the gains from estate tax repeal will go to the wealthiest 1 percent. This will raise their share of the overall tax cuts to, you guessed it, about 40 percent.
Again, the point isn't merely that the Bush administration has squandered the budget surplus it inherited on tax cuts for the wealthy. It's the fact that the administration has spent its entire term in office lying about the nature of those tax cuts. And all the world now knows what I suspected from the start: an administration that lies about taxes will also lie about other, graver matters. --moreMore Big Bush Lies: Bush Should Have Fired Rummy Long Ago (excerpts), Maureen Dowd
W. should have fired Rummy long ago, after the sickening news of Abu Ghraib and torture stories out of Gitmo. He should have fired him as soon as it became clear that the defense secretary who bungled the occupation and insurgency has no idea how to get out of Iraq and stop American kids from getting blown up day after day by homemade bombs. But W. took a break from a long holiday weekend (is there any other kind for him?) at Camp David to defend Rummy and tamp down the mutiny. The commander in chief is the one who put Rummy in charge of the botched postwar non-plan and hates admitting a mistake as much as his defense chief. He thinks that if he caves to keening generals, he will be seen by his base as weak. His whole presidency, his whole muscle-bound adventurism in Iraq, has been designed to prevent him from being labeled a wimp, as his dad was.
Mr. Bush's pretense — that he was just following the advice of the military when he endorsed Rummy's inadequate troop levels — rings hollow now that the former generals have spoken out about the defense secretary's airless policy of coercion. Convinced Iraq was all but won, Rummy prodded Tommy Franks to cancel the final Army division in the war plan, the First Cavalry Division. "Rumsfeld just ground Franks down," Tom White, the former Army secretary, told Michael Gordon and Bernard Trainor for "Cobra II," their Iraq war history. "The nature of Rumsfeld is that you just get tired of arguing with him." Retired Lt. Gen. Greg Newbold writes [lat] week in Time about the "invented war": "My sincere view is that the commitment of our forces to this fight was done with a casualness and swagger that are the special province of those who have never had to execute these missions — or bury the results."
Anyone who challenged the administration was painted as traitorous, so why not respected military leaders? A few Rummy apple-polishers raced forth [last week] to accuse the candid generals of undermining the military and the country. It's fitting that the military is attempting a coup of the civilian leadership, since the Iraq war followed the civilian leadership's coup of the military. With his Pentagon advisers Paul Wolfowitz and Richard Perle, Rummy set up a State Department within the Defense Department in 2002, to run diplomacy, and established their own C.I.A. within the Defense Department to ferret out "evidence" of a Saddam-Al Qaeda link, when the real C.I.A. couldn't. Finally, they set up their own Defense Department within the Defense Department, snatching back power from a military establishment they felt had grown too cautious about risking troops in combat. Rummy thought he could banish American skittishness after Vietnam with his new streamlined intervention policy. But he ended up enhancing American skittishness. If only he had followed his rule, derived from a Mark Twain quote in "Huckleberry Finn": "You can't pray a lie." --moreBig Bush Lies: You Can't Wash The Blood Off Your Hands, Mr. Powell, Evelyn Pringle
Last week I read an article by Rorbert Sheer, that said Colin Powell now says that he and his department's top experts never believed that Iraq posed an imminent nuclear threat, but that Bush followed misleading advice from Dick Cheney and the CIA in making the claim. To that I say, not so fast Mr Powell, the time to come clean has long passed. In fact, the window of truth-telling time for you ended when the first US soldier was killed in Iraq. This admission proves that Colin knew the truth and could have stopped the freight train long before it made it to Iraq.
Picture this. The day before Congress is to vote on the resolution, Colin Powell, the only Bush administration official with any hands-on experience with war, schedules a public news conference on all the major television networks, and says: "Saddam does not pose an imminent threat, I do not believe we need to go to war in Iraq, and I am quitting my job today because the administration is about to engage us in a war I cannot support." Think about that for a minute. And then think about how many members of Congress would have voted differently if Colin Powell had stepped up to the plate.... --more
"Bible Wrong Again": The surprising Gospel of Judas proves you just can't be too sure about all that God stuff, Mark Morford
Is it not just tremendous heaps of casually blasphemous fun to learn, once again and for the thousandth time, that the Bible -- that happy mish-mashed messed-up hodgepodgey cocktail of myths and folklore and revisionist propaganda and who's-your-daddy reproaches intermixed with lovely stories of redemption and hope and oh yes sin and hellfire and death -- is so full of colorful holes it might as well be a bedsheet from Baghdad Target?...Remember, like history, religion is written by the victors. It is then revised by the powermongers, leveraged by the fearful and wielded as a nasty weapon by the conservatives. Same as it ever was.... --moreBook Review: "Misquoting Jesus: Story Behind Who Changed the Bible and Why," Bryce Christensen
The popular perception of the Bible as a divinely perfect book receives scant support from [author Bart] Ehrman, who sees in Holy Writ ample evidence of human fallibility and ecclesiastical politics. Though himself schooled in evangelical literalism, Ehrman has come to regard his earlier faith in the inerrant inspiration of the Bible as misguided, given that the original texts have disappeared and that the extant texts available do not agree with one another. Most of the textual discrepancies, Ehrman acknowledges, matter little, but some do profoundly affect religious doctrine....In discounting not only the authenticity of existing manuscripts but also the inspiration of the original writers, Ehrman will deeply divide his readers. Although he addresses a popular audience, he undercuts the very religious attitudes that have made the Bible a popular book. --moreBunny 101: Everybody Loves Some Bunny, Sometime, VRRA Parody: Keaster Parade, by Irving Berlin, with Jerry Politex
In your Baghdad helmet, with all the blood upon it,
--moreToon Time: Sunday Funnies,Bell, Tomorrow, etc.
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Opinion: The Most Flagrant Iraq War Crime, Chris Floyd
Of all the war crimes that have flowed from the originating crime of President George W. Bush's unprovoked invasion of Iraq, perhaps the most flagrant was the destruction of Fallujah in November 2004. Now, as ignominious defeat looms for Bush's Babylonian folly, some of the key players in fomenting the war are urging that the "Fallujah Option" be applied to an even bigger target: Baghdad.
President Bush, several years after most Americans, has decided the nation can't be dependent upon foreign energy sources.
Economic Wasteland: "A perfect storm" of Fiscal Ruin: Bush Red Ink Run Amok,
One of the most secretive documents in Washington -- the official Financial Report of the United States Government....The report had been completed in early December but was issued on Dec. 15. The Treasury Department, which compiled it, did not even put out a news release announcing its existence...The total press run was 1,000 copies, and they have become such rarities that...I could probably take the one... procured for me and put it up for auction on eBay.
he cover letter in the report from Treasury Secretary John Snow contains the bad news. Whereas the budget deficit for fiscal 2005 was officially given as $319 billion, "the government's accrual-based net operating cost . . . was $760 billion in 2005." That $760 billion is the real difference between the money the government received and the obligations it added in the past year -- in other words, the unfunded costs being passed on to our children and grandchildren.
For years, the federal budget has been stated in cash terms, not the accrual accounting method, which Cooper said has been in use for five centuries and is now mandated for all private corporations. The difference, as he explained it, is this: If you go to Target and buy an item for cash, it's felt in your wallet immediately. If you buy the same item on a credit card, unless you are using accrual accounting, it is disguised until the bill arrives. The U.S. government has been running up bills -- notably the promises of pensions and health-care benefits for military veterans and millions of other retirees -- without putting the obligations on the books.
That is what is really scary about the financial report. It contains page after page of graphs showing the probable future course of income and expenditures for Social Security and Medicare. In each chart, the dotted line for spending climbs far faster than the solid line for revenue. Beginning a decade from now, the shortfalls explode in what Cooper calls "a perfect storm" of fiscal ruin. David Walker, the head of the Government Accountability Office, official bookkeeper for Congress, said at a briefing last week that the $760 billion accrual deficit "amounts to $156,000 of debt for every man, woman and child in America. For a family, it's like having a $750,000 mortgage -- and no house."
Walker, who has been traveling the country trying to spread the alarm, said flatly that if the tax cuts now in effect are made permanent, as President Bush is requesting, and spending continues to rise at the current rate, "the system blows up. More than half our debt is now financed by foreign countries, and they will exact a price." Digging out of this mess "will take 20 years," Walker said, but the first step is simply to reassert the budget controls -- spending caps and a "pay-go" rule that requires offsets for any new tax cuts or spending increases. The Republicans who let those lapse in 2002 refused once again this year to put them back in the budget resolution....--more Media: Bush Suck-Up Takes Over Village Voice, Is LA Weekly Next? Doug Ireland
The firing of Washington columnist James Ridgeway by the new management of the Village Voice, and the resignation of the distinguished Pulitizer Prize winner Sydney Schanberg from the paper, represent a sad moment in the history of the New York weekly. I was a columnist for the Voice for some seven years. Jim Ridgeway was not only a colleague but someone I had considered a comrade in the pursuit of truth for many years. Syd Schanberg, whom I also have known for years and whose work I have long admired, is the former New York Times reporter and Newsday columnist who is known to the larger public through the movie "The Killing Fields," describing his intrepid reportorial work for the Times in Cambodia during the Khmer Rouge takeover and his indefatigable and devoted search for his Cambodian colleague Dith Pran. Syd is one of the most distinguished names in Americn journalism. That these two superb journalists -- Schanberg and Ridgeway -- have now vanished from the Voice is a symbol of what is happening to that paper, and of what will most likely happen to all the other alternative weekly papers in the Voice chain (including the L.A. Weekly, for which I have also long written) under the new ownership and management of Michael Lacey's New Times corporation.
"Democracy Now" this morning had an informative discussion with Ridgeway, Schanberg, and other Voice writers that I urge you to listen to or read. Among other things, Schanberg -- explaining why he left the Voice -- quotes a definition of the new editorial line given by the new owner, Mike Lacey, to an editorial staff meeting: "He said, 'If I want to read regular criticism or bashing of the Bush administration, I'll read the New York Times. I don't want it in this paper.'” You can both read a transcript of, and listen to, the archived "Democracy Now" broadcast on what's happening to the Voice, by clicking here. The letter of protest below is signed by Village Voice writers and staffers, including some of the most able and valuable people still at the weekly, many of whom I'm proud to call friends. I associate myself entirely with their sentiments:... --moreParody: George Bush Wasteland, by The Who, with Jerry Politex
Out in Iraqi fields
Soldier, take my hand
The exodus is here
Georg Bush wasteland
Bush War: On "Preventive War," Kissinger Becomes Bush's "Useful Idiot," Walter Uhler
Having recently revisited the international law governing the use of military force by reading Christine Gray's book, International Law and the Use of Force, I approached Henry Kissinger's April 9, 2006, Op-Ed in the Washington Post with eager interest. Unfortunately, as I waded through his Rules On Preventive Force, I found myself in the midst of a smoke and mirrors justification for "extending" international law to permit the type of illegal preventive war that should earn President George W. Bush impeachment and a subsequent trial by a War Crimes Tribunal.
Like Mr. Bush in both editions of his National Security Strategy, Mr. Kissinger appears to intentionally confuse "preemption" with the actual type of illegal war that the Bush administration waged in Iraq and is contemplating against Iran. In fact, Mr. Kissinger devotes his first five paragraphs to preemption before actually turning to preventive war.
Thus, before proceeding any further, we must first establish definitions:... --moreBush War: Newspeak and the Corruption of Politics, Ernest Partridge
Language is the constant yet unnoticed current that carries our thoughts. Thus, in the game of politics, the party which controls the language, controls the contest. Newt Gingrich knows this, GOP strategist Frank Luntz knows this, and George Orwell, their apparent mentor, knew this.
So why don’t the Democrats know this?
I don’t mean to suggest that we are necessarily captive to the currents of language. Like a skilled navigator, one can factor the currents of language into the calculations of one’s judgment. But only if a person or a party takes the trouble to pause and take notice of the language. Regrettably, the Democrats have not. For a party that is allegedly preferred by intellectuals, the Democrats have been tactically naïve and stupid, prisoners of their discredited habits. To be sure, astute scholars such as George Lakoff have offered the Democratic Party chiefs the key to their jail cells and have shown them the way out, but they have been told, in effect, “Thanks, but no thanks.” And Noam Chomsky is regarded as “too extreme” and an embarrassment. Never mind that he is the foremost linguist of our time. In “The Principles of Newspeak,” an appendix to his novel, 1984, George Orwell wrote:...
--moreBush War: Bush Visits His Shrink, Again (transcript), Bernard Weiner
"The last time we met, sir, you had me thrown out of the White House, thinking me too aggressive with my questions. Now you're back for another session. What's changed?"
"It's worse. My world is falling apart. People aren't afraid of me anymore. The whole Plame and Iraq-intelligence and NSA spying stuff is coming at us full force, and we haven't got good answers. I can't sleep well. I have more nightmares. Not even the pills help. My wife, my doctors and my chief adviser more or less ordered me see you again. Otherwise, I wouldn't have come, believe me."
"I do believe you. Many clients in the early stages of counseling get very uncomfortable when the therapist brings up sensitive topics. It's not unusual for them to lash out at the therapist rather than doing the hard work of diving into that uncomfortable area and trying to deal with those issues."
"I don't believe in therapy, doc."
"Do you mean you don't believe it exists? Or that it doesn't work, at least that it wouldn't help you?"
"I've gotten to where I am today on the basis of my will and belief in myself, and I see no reason to question myself now."
"But you seem to be suggesting that you've lost your hold over people after years of doing what you're always done. So maybe it's the perfect time to re-examine your patterns and your behaviors and see if any changes need to be made. I'm happy to work with you, if you wish to do that."
"But if I start doubting myself, then the people will lose their faith in me, and I'll lose more of my self-esteem, and so on. It's a no-win situation. I want you to just move on to other areas, doc. But I want to make sure again that our confidentiality agreement is still in place; nothing I say leaves this room, right?"... --more
Iran: Powell Admits Lies About Iraqi WMDs, Blames Cheney, by Robert Scheer
On Monday, former Secretary of State Colin Powell told me that he and his department's top experts never believed that Iraq posed an imminent nuclear threat, but that the president followed the misleading advice of Vice President Dick Cheney and the CIA in making the claim....
I queried Powell at a reception following a talk he gave in Los Angeles on Monday. Pointing out that the October 2002 National Intelligence Estimate showed that his State Department had gotten it right on the nonexistent Iraq nuclear threat, I asked why did the president ignore that wisdom in his stated case for the invasion?
"The CIA was pushing the aluminum tube argument heavily and Cheney went with that instead of what our guys wrote," Powell said. And the Niger reference in Bush's State of the Union speech? "That was a big mistake," he said. "It should never have been in the speech. I didn't need Wilson to tell me that there wasn't a Niger connection. He didn't tell us anything we didn't already know. I never believed it." When I pressed further as to why the president played up the Iraq nuclear threat, Powell said it wasn't the president: "That was all Cheney."...
The harsh truth is that this president cherry-picked the intelligence data in making his case for invading Iraq and deliberately kept the public in the dark as to the countervailing analysis at the highest level of the intelligence community. While the president and his top Cabinet officials were fear-mongering with stark images of a "mushroom cloud" over American cities, the leading experts on nuclear weaponry at the Department of Energy (the agency in charge of the U.S. nuclear-weapons program) and the State Department thought the claim of a near-term Iraqi nuclear threat was absurd.
"The activities we have detected do not, however, add up to a compelling case that Iraq is currently pursuing what INR would consider to be an integrated and comprehensive approach to acquire nuclear weapons," said a dissenting analysis from an assistant secretary of state for intelligence and research (INR) in the now infamous 2002 National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq, which was cobbled together for the White House before the war. "Iraq may be doing so but INR considers the available evidence inadequate to support such a judgment."...
THE PRESIDENT played the scoundrel -- even the best of his minions went along with the lies -- and when a former ambassador dared to tell the truth, the White House initiated what Special Prosecutor Patrick J. Fitzgerald calls "a plan to discredit, punish or seek revenge against Mr. Wilson." That is the important story line. If not for the whistle-blower, former Ambassador Joseph Wilson, President Bush's falsehoods about the Iraq nuclear threat likely would never have been exposed. --moreIran: Bush Fantasyland Fools Plan Another War (excerpt), Maureen Dowd
...In this week's New Yorker, Seymour Hersh writes about the Pentagon planning for a possible strike against the nutty "apocalyptic Shiites," as the former C.I.A. agent Robert Baer calls the Holocaust-denying Ahmadinejad and his chorus line of clerics. Mr. Hersh quotes a source close to the Pentagon saying that Mr. Bush believes "that saving Iran is going to be his legacy." Which makes sense, in a wag-the-camel way, since saving Iraq is not going to be his legacy.
The Bush hawks, who have already proven themselves cultural cretins in Iraq, seem to still be a long way from that humble foreign policy they promised. A former defense official told Mr. Hersh that the plan was based on an administration belief that "a sustained bombing campaign in Iran will humiliate the religious leadership and lead the public to rise up and overthrow the government." The official's reaction: "What are they smoking?"
Just as Rummy dismissed questions back in August 2002 about a possible invasion of Iraq as a media "frenzy" — even as plans were well under way — the defense chief shrugged off The New Yorker story as "Henny Penny, the sky is falling." Noting that the president is "on a diplomatic track," He Who Should Be Fired said that while W. was obviously concerned about Iran as a country that supports terrorists and wants W.M.D., "it is just simply not useful to get into fantasyland." Yes, the reality-based community of journalists should stay out of fantasyland, which is already overcrowded with hallucinatory Bushies.
W. defended his authorization of a leak to rebut Joseph Wilson's contention that the administration had hyped up a story about Niger selling Saddam uranium. "I wanted people to see the truth," the president said. Of course, sometimes in order to help people see the truth, you've got to tell them a big fat lie....
--moreThe Dollar: Iran Oil Euro Exchange No Serious Threat To Dollar (excerpt), Paul Krugman
George Whitty, Nyack, N.Y.: To what extent do you believe Iran's declared plans to open an oil exchange denominated in euros this spring factors into the Bush administration's plans for war there? And to what extent do you believe that Iraq's efforts in a similar direction had to do with Bush's subsequent invasion there? Needless to say, any change from the current system in which dollars must be purchased to buy oil would bring about enormous changes in the world dynamic.
Paul Krugman:...First, the currency denomination of oil sales just doesn't matter very much. The U.S. derives...advantages from the special role of the U.S. dollar....Foreign individuals hold a lot of U.S. currency — actual green stuff. This is, in effect, a zero-interest rate loan. Second, foreign governments, especially in Asia, hold a lot of reserves in low-interest U.S. bonds, another form of cheap loan. Neither of these decisions is likely to change because oil prices are set in euros rather than dollars. So the alleged motivation isn't there. Third, whom do you imagine is dictating U.S. foreign policy based on sophisticated economic arguments? John Snow? Karl Rove? In general, it's a bad idea to assume that people in power know what they're doing. And to imagine that this administration, of all administrations, is driven by deep economic concerns is an unlikely fantasy.
--moreThe Dollar: Krugman And The Big Picture, Jerry Politex
While I have no major disagreements with Paul Krugman's answer to the specifics in George Whitty's questions, I suspect that Krugman and I may part ways on the "big picture" implications. Two major oil producers, Iran and Venezuela, are at the forefront of an anti-U.S. push to move away from the U.S. dollar. While it's not going to happen overnight, it could happen in a decade or two. What will individuals and governments do with all the dollars they have if they don't buy oil? They'll continue to do what they're doing now: buying up the U.S. with American dollars.
No longer an owner society, the U.S. is being turned into a one party renter society with two classes, rich and poor, and, while our trade deficit grows and well-paying jobs disappear, war is being used to fuel corporate profits. How long will the world put up with that before it pulls the plug on the dollar? Finally, while Bush foreign policy is based on "national interest," which is generally defined as oil and the continuation of the world dollar, the Bush administration knows exactly what it's doing to the domestic economy, and it's only good for the top 10% of the nation, who might survive the resulting financial storm that's bound to come as a result.
Ten Questions: Grading Our MBA President, William Fisher
There is a consensus among CEOs and business school professors that there are just short of a dozen indispensable characteristics that are essential for an effective chief executive. Since the current chief executive of America Inc. is the first to hold a Masters degree in Business Administration, how does George W. Bush stack up? What are these basic tenets? And how's our president doing? --more"The Israel Lobby": Why Can't The U.S. Emulate Debates In Israel? William Pfaff
London`s Financial Times performed an American public service in its weekend edition, calling editorially for open and honest discussion of the influence of Israel on American foreign policy. The call came amid the resounding silence in "responsible" American circles concerning the paper recently issued by two highly regarded political scholars, Stephen Walt of Harvard and John Mearsheimer of the University of Chicago, discussing the "Israeli lobby" in Washington and its effect on American foreign relations. So far as one can make out, in the mainstream American press, only United Press International, the International Herald Tribune, the Christian Science Monitor, the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post have carried articles on the paper. The IHT`s was an opinion piece by Daniel Levy, a former advisor to Ehud Barak, calling for open discussion of the lobby. The UPI and the Monitor provided professionally detached news reports.
The document has not otherwise lacked attention. The blogosphere is full of it, with both attacks on it and defenses and praise. The authors themselves predicted that the mainstream media would ignore or attack their argument, which is essentially that the influence of Israel on American policy has distorted it to Israel`s advantage, and sometimes to American disadvantage. They say that Israel`s friends in the United States have succeeded in convincing Americans that Israeli and American national interests are inseparable, which they are not, and have tried and often succeeded in suppressing or punishing critical discussion of the relationship. What are very striking are the virulence as well as the volume of the attacks being made on the authors. The Ku Klux Klan smear has been the least of it. Their paper has been compared to Nazi propaganda of the 1930s and to the czarist-era forgery, "The Protocols of the Elders of Zion" (which still circulates in the Arab world). In fact, Mearsheimer and Walt are recognized and respected political scholars in the so-called realist tradition, which regards the defense and promotion of the national interest of states as the chief purpose of foreign policy. Their paper is a responsible document of public importance.
The venom in the attacks made on it risks the opposite of its intended effect by tending to validate the claim that intense pressures are exercised on publishers, editors, writers and American universities to block criticism, intimidate critics and prevent serious discussion of the American-Israeli relationship. In Israel itself, there has for many years been frank, cool and reasoned discussion of the subject. Leading figures, including retired officers and intelligence officials, as well as peace activists, have in the past warned that the actions of Israel`s friends in America could eventually rebound against Israel itself, with harm to Jews elsewhere. Some also have noted that the leading U.S. lobby group, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, is further to the right in its views than Israeli public opinion, and has interfered in Israeli politics through support for the Likud party and by undermining Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. The note of panic in some of the attacks on Mearsheimer and Walt contrasts with the fact that what they say is no secret in American foreign policy circles. People have for years taken for granted the informal censorship, or self-censorship, exercised in the government and the press on this issue.
It is a fact of democratic life in the United States that determined interest groups annex their own spheres of federal policy....In the Israeli case, the lobbying effort is linked to a foreign government, even if the lobbyists sometimes take a policy line not that of the government. Moreover, the lobbying involves issues of war and peace. President George W. Bush said a few days ago that, in connection with the supposed threat of Iran, his concern is to protect Israel. Critics ask why Israel should not protect itself. The same has been asked about Iraq. In this respect, the controversy over the Israeli lobby is potentially explosive. This is why denials, secrecy and efforts at intimidation are dangerous. David Levy is right when he says that Israel itself would be served "if the open and critical debate that takes place over here (in Israel) were exported over there," meaning the United States. --moreChristofascism: Christian Sues University For Right To Be A Bigot
Ruth Malhotra says her Christian faith compels her to speak out against homosexuality. But the Georgia Institute of Technology, where she's a senior, bans speech that puts down others because of their sexual orientation. Malhotra sees that as an unacceptable infringement on her right to religious expression. With her lawsuit, the 22-year-old student joins a growing campaign to force public schools, state colleges and private workplaces to eliminate policies protecting gays and lesbians from harassment. The religious right aims to overturn a broad range of common tolerance programs.... --moreFraming: "Undocumented Immigrant" or "Undocumented Worker" = Illegal Alien
Leaden Prayers: Bush doesn't pray for divine guidence, he prays that decisions he makes on his own are right. --Sen. Joe Biden on Bill Maher
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Iran: Don't Underestimate The Madness Of King George (excerpts), Paul Krugman
...First, it's clearer than ever that Mr. Bush, who still claims that war with Iraq was a last resort, was actually spoiling for a fight. The New York Times has confirmed the authenticity of a British government memo reporting on a prewar discussion between Mr. Bush and Tony Blair. In that conversation, Mr. Bush told Mr. Blair that he was determined to invade Iraq even if U.N. inspectors came up empty-handed.
Second, it's becoming increasingly clear that Mr. Bush knew that the case he was presenting for war — a case that depended crucially on visions of mushroom clouds — rested on suspect evidence. For example, in the 2003 State of the Union address Mr. Bush cited Iraq's purchase of aluminum tubes as clear evidence that Saddam was trying to acquire a nuclear arsenal. Yet Murray Waas of the National Journal reports that Mr. Bush had been warned that many intelligence analysts disagreed with that assessment.
Now there are rumors of plans to attack Iran. Most strategic analysts think that a bombing campaign would be a disastrous mistake. But that doesn't mean it won't happen: Mr. Bush ignored similar warnings, including those of his own father, about the risks involved in invading Iraq. As Joseph Cirincione of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace recently pointed out, the administration seems to be following exactly the same script on Iran that it used on Iraq: "The vice president of the United States gives a major speech focused on the threat from an oil-rich nation in the Middle East. The U.S. secretary of state tells Congress that the same nation is our most serious global challenge. The secretary of defense calls that nation the leading supporter of global terrorism. The president blames it for attacks on U.S. troops."...
Now people with contacts in the administration and the military warn that Mr. Bush may be planning another war. The most alarming of the warnings come from Seymour Hersh, the veteran investigative journalist who broke the Abu Ghraib scandal. Writing in The New Yorker, Mr. Hersh suggests that administration officials believe that a bombing campaign could lead to desirable regime change in Iran — and that they refuse to rule out the use of tactical nuclear weapons....Does this sound far-fetched? It shouldn't. Given the combination of recklessness and dishonesty Mr. Bush displayed in launching the Iraq war, why should we assume that he wouldn't do it again?...
--moreIraq: The Real Reason Bush Wants Another Regime Change, Chris Floyd
So now we are down to the raw meat at last. One by one, the justifications mouthed by the makers of the Iraq War have been stripped away, revealed as gossamer tissues of lies and obfuscation: weapons of mass destruction, Iraqi involvement in Sept. 11, reducing terrorism and, of course, bringing democracy to the Iraqi people. This last rag has been the one clutched most fiercely of late by the warlords in Washington and London, but now it too has been cast aside. All that's left is the naked, slathering beast of power, imposing its will on a conquered land -- and blaming its victims, even as it chews them to pieces.
This past week saw an astounding display of hypocrisy and bad faith by those twin towers of the U.S. establishment: the government (or rather, the unconstitutional military junta fronted by President George W. Bush) and the corporate media. Together they made it abundantly clear that the elite now regard Iraqis as ungrateful, useless trash, unfit to choose their own leaders -- and unworthy of the "great sacrifice" America has made in looting and savaging their country in an unprovoked war of aggression....
The real reason for the frost job is that al-Jaafari is insufficiently enthusiastic about the Bush gang's long-running project to impose their own sectarian dogma on Iraq; that is, their extremist faith in the "free market," by which of course they mean a market controlled by handful of foreign fat-cats operating without any restraints. They much preferred the man al-Jaafari defeated, by one vote, to become premier: current Iraqi Vice President Adel Abdul Mahdi.
In February 2005, Mahdi, then finance minister, endeared himself to the Bush regime by openly declaring -- in front of the National Press Club in Washington, no less -- that Iraq would throw its oil fields wide open to foreign investment. This offer, placing the world's second-largest oil reserves in a few private hands, will be "very promising to the American investors and to American enterprise, certainly to oil companies," Mahdi announced. What's not to love about this guy?...
--moreToday's Pick: LAWLESS WORLD, by Phillipe Sands (Penguin Books) Bush and Blair lawlessness.
Leakgate: Bush Has Hog-Tied Fitzgerald and Hung Libby Out To Dry, Evelyn Pringle
With the latest revelations in the CIA leak case, the question on the minds of most Americans, is whether Bush and Cheney were the masterminds in an organized plot to destroy Joe Wilson by revealing his wife's name and status as a undercover agent of the CIA. Hands down, yes they were. And a brilliant scheme it was....
A concerted effort to destroy a critic is not a jailable offense. But it would seem that because they knew Valerie Plame was an under-cover operative, and knew the information was classified, that such a disclosure would be in legal terms "willful." In other words, a disclosure of information on purpose, even though they knew it was classified.
Although that may be true, being Bush and Cheney knew they were the culprits at the center of the investigation, they came up with a plan to hog-tie Prosecutor Fitzgerald and sabotage his investigation right from the start.... --moreMetaphor: Duke Is America: No One To Admire, Allan Gurganus
The university once offered respite from our country's most rabid competitive impulses. Once upon a time, there was even a core curriculum assuring that every student in every field had read the same great works, including sacred texts, Shakespeare, the Greeks. Once science reigned unchallenged by religious strictures. Once institutions of higher learning ranked ... higher.
Now corporate America, athletic America, Defense Department America form a unified competitive team. Duke's head basketball coach was recently offered tens of millions to lead a pro team. He refused, receiving a fancier leadership title and the full attention of Duke's new president.
A man nabbed for using Duke stationery to support his favorite Republican Senate candidate, Mike Krzyzewski gives inspirational talks to Fortune 500 corporations. Though silent about the scandal, he still appears in ads for American Express and Chevy. Does he keep the money, or his school? Guess.
When the children of privilege feel vividly alive only while victimizing, even torturing, we must all ask why. This question is first personal then goes Ethical soon National. Boys 18 to 25 are natural warriors: bodies have wildly outgrown reason, the sexual imperative outranks everything. They are insurance risks. They need (and crave) true leadership, genuine order. But left alone, granted absolute power, their deeds can terrify.
The imperative to win, and damn all collateral costs, is not peculiar to Durham — and it is killing us.
Why is there no one to admire? --moreToday's Pick: CHRONICLES OF NARNIA, by Andrew Adamson (Disney DVD) Based on the book by C.S. Lewis.
Dictator Bush: King Bush Explains Divine Right Of "Immaculate Declassification" Through Megaphone McClellan (excerpts), Maureen Dowd
When other officials leak top-secret stuff — even in cases where the whistle-blowers feel they are illuminating unlawful acts — they are portrayed by the White House as traitors who should be investigated and fired. After The Times broke the story about the president allowing unauthorized snooping in America, W. was outraged. The F.B.I. and Justice Department were sicced on the leakers. "Revealing classified information," W. huffed, "is illegal, alerts our enemies and endangers our country." Really, W. should fire himself. He swore to look high and ow for the scurrilous leaker and, lo and behold, he has himself in custody.
Since the Bush administration is basically a monarchy, he should pass the crown to Jenna. She couldn't do worse than this bunch of airheads and bullies....W. subscribes to the Nixonian theory that when a president does it, it's not illegal — or maybe it's the divine right of kings. God has been pretty active in Republican politics lately: Tom DeLay said God told him to drop out of his re-election race....the White House claims that when the president leaks something secret, it's not secret anymore. It's the Immaculate Declassification: intelligence is declassified by passing it on to a friendly reporter.
"The president believes the leaking of classified information is a very serious matter," Scott McClellan said. "And I think that's why it's important to draw a distinction here. Declassifying information and providing it to the public, when it is in the public interest, is one thing. But leaking classified information that could compromise our national security is something that is very serious. And there is a distinction." And thank goodness we have a White House that gets that distinction. Democrats who don't, he sniffed, are guilty of "crass politics." If W. wants the information out, it's good for the country to make it public. If W. doesn't want the information out, it's bad for the country to make it public. L'état, c'est moi. That's how we got mired in the Iraq war in the first place. The administration ruthlessly held back classified information that contradicted its bogus case for war, and leaked classified information that supported it.
--moreDictator Bush: Deaf, Blind, Grinning Demon Bush Has Us Up A Tree, Peter Clothier
...We ARE in trouble. All of us. In this contry. In the world. Yesterday, Sunday, I had finally begun to read the scary new Kevin Phillips book, "American Theocracy: The Perils and Politics of Radical Religion, Oil, and Borrowed Money in the 21st Century," in which the author is at pains to describe just how much trouble we're in.
We're in trouble with our energy needs amd the dwindling supplies of oil in the world's reserve. We're in trouble in the Middle East, with your war, with the rise of Muslim radicalism, with Iran and its increasingly threatening military activities (a new torpedo yesterday, Bush! A new radar-proof missile the day before!) We're in trouble with the unending conflict between Israel and the Palestinians and their neighbors. We're in trouble with the global economy and the accompanying mass migration of people in search of jobs, a better life, security... We're in trouble in Africa and other parts of the world with drought, disease and starvation. We're in trouble with our global climate and our delicate ecology, our pollution of the Earth we're given to live on.
And especially we're in trouble because you, Bush, our president, are not on the side of the angels in all this mess. You're on the side of the demons--the polluters, the war mongers, the greedy, the power hungry... --moreToday's Pick: THE RACE TO THE BOTTOM, Alan Tonelson (Westview books) Sinking U.S. living standards.
Libby Testimony: Bush Authorized Plamegate Leak, Lied To America About It On TV
Official Washington is scratching its collective head, trying to determine whether papers filed in federal court that were made public today drop a bombshell, pose a danger to the Bush presidency, or are just a sideshow in former White House aide I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby's legal troubles. Libby testified to a federal grand jury that he received "approval from the president through the vice president" to reveal classified information to a New York Times reporter. The material was from a national intelligence estimate that gauged Saddam Hussein's intentions toward developing nuclear weapons.
Has President Bush, who has publicly condemned leaks of secret material, broken the law, or is it within his powers to declassify information and allow it to be given to reporters, despite his condemnation of leaking? First, we have to remember what Libby has been charged with: that during the investigation into who leaked the identity of CIA employee Valerie Plame, he perjured himself, made false statements and obstructed justice. Libby was not indicted for leaking classified information, and in the court papers it is clear he said the material he leaked was no longer classified. The former chief of staff to Vice President Cheney says an administration lawyer advised him that the president had the authority to declassify sensitive documents....
Libby's claim could still cause political damage to a president who has spoken out strongly against leaks. For example:
Oct. 7, 2003: "I've constantly expressed my displeasure with leaks, particularly leaks of classified information."
Sept. 30, 2003: "There are too many leaks of classified information in Washington. … And if there's a leak out of the administration, I want to know who it is. And if a person violated the law, the person will be taken care of."
Joe Wilson, the husband of Valerie Plame, has already said Libby's claim ties the president directly to a campaign against his wife. The "outing" of Plame came after Wilson publicly disputed a claim by the Bush administration and the British government that Saddam Hussein sought nuclear material from the African country of Niger. Wilson believes the White House orchestrated a behind-the-scenes campaign to discredit him and his wife....
What does seem clear, if Libby is correct, is that the White House felt it had to declassify sensitive material in an attempt to counter Wilson's claims about Iraq's nuclear intentions. Former President Richard Nixon got in trouble by setting up an illegal "plumbers" unit to try to discover the sources of leaks, even if that meant breaking into offices, setting off the scandal known as Watergate. Now we may have a president who could find himself in trouble because he permitted a leak by making it legal.
--moreBig Bush Lies: Bush, Cheney Sought, Ignored Gvt. WMD Intel That Contradicted Their War Plans
The National Journal reported that George Tenet, then director of central intelligence, told prosecutors that the C.I.A. reviewed the uranium story at Mr. Cheney's behest. He said the C.I.A. concluded there was no evidence to support it. The National Journal said Mr. Tenet reported this to Mr. Cheney and other officials, but the vice president continued to peddle the Niger fairy tale to the public.
The intelligence report on Iraq, prepared in late 2002, has now been largely declassified. But the White House has kept secret a one-page summary prepared for Mr. Bush. According to The National Journal, that document said the State Department and the Energy Department had concluded that it also was not true that Iraq bought aluminum tubes to enrich uranium. During his State of the Union address in 2003, Mr. Bush said flatly that it was true. --NYT EdBig Bush Lies: Let's Focus On The Actual Leak, Not Questions Of Legality, Jerry Politex
According to an ABC story, Scooter "Libby testified to a federal grand jury that he received "approval from the president through the vice president" to reveal classified information to a New York Times reporter. The material was from a national intelligence estimate that gauged Saddam Hussein's intentions toward developing nuclear weapons."
For the moment, let's concentrate on what we know, assuming Libby is right. After Valerie Plame was outed by leaks and a federal investigation of the source of the leaks began, here is what Bush said to America about leaks in genral at a press conference on October 3, 2003:
"I've constantly expressed my displeasure with leaks, particularly leaks of classified information"
Given the Libby testimony, this, obviously, was a lie, if you think the above means Bush wants us to think he's against leaking. When Bush made the statement, he, himself, had authorized a leak, classified or not, and the leak was used to support the Bush/Cheney desire to go to war. Their war has resulted in the deaths of tens of thousands of people and a U.S. loss of a trillion dollars, and counting. Next, what is going to be done about it, given our flawed system of government?
Between September '03 and June '04, Bush was questioned about the leaking of classified information relevant to the Plamegate federal investigations, and each time he lied about his role in leaking classified information by declassifying it and then leaking it, if Scooter Libby's reported testimony to a federal grand jury is correct. Bush obviously knew what the reporters were asking: did someone in his administration leak Plamegate information and did he know about it, and his responses were geared to mislad them, as the following documented quotes indicate:
"I don't know of anybody in my administration who leaked classified information. If somebody did leak classified information, I'd like to know it, and we'll take the appropriate action."
"If there is a leak out of my administration, I want to know who it is. And if the person has violated law, the person will be taken care of. . . . I have told our administration, people in my administration to be fully cooperative. I want to know the truth. If anybody has got any information inside our administration or outside our administration, it would be helpful if they came forward with the information so we can find out whether or not these allegations are true and get on about the business."
"I'd like to know if somebody in my White House did leak sensitive information."
"I want to know the truth. ... I have no idea whether we'll find out who the leaker is, partially because, in all due respect to your profession, you do a very good job of protecting the leakers."
Reporter: "Do you stand by your pledge to fire anyone found to have done so?"
President Bush: "Yes. And that's up to the U.S. Attorney to find the facts."
"If someone committed crime, they will no longer work in my administration."--more Parody: Bush Is The Walrus, by John Lennon, with Jerry Politex
Walrus Bush sings: "The Magical Mystery Tour is dying to take you away, dying to take you away, take you today." --The Walrus Was George, Steven Laffoley
Bush: "I am he as you are he as you are me and we are all together."
Sitting on a outtake, waiting for the herse to come.
Mister homeland policeman sitting
Yellow matter custard, dripping from a dead man’s eye.
Bush hiding at Camp David waiting for the end to come.
So-called expert textperts choking all onlookers,
Bush and all his cronies, climbing up on babble tower.
--moreToday's Pick: LINKED, by Albert-Laszlo Barabasi (Plume Book) Network theory.
Oilcons: Let us now praise OIL (Our Iraqi Liberators), Mickey Z.
I say it’s never too early to start planning the predestined Iraq War veteran’s memorial. Why wait till the bombs start dropping on Iran or Venezuela or North Korea or Colombia? The whole mood will be blown by then. But, let’s face it: time is of the essence. So, for now, maybe we can just extend the oily-black wall they constructed for the Vietnam vets. (Can you imagine if Vietnam ever erected something similar for its dead? Look out Great Wall of China.) An obvious choice for remembering those who have done all the liberating in the Persian Gulf since 1990 would be, of course, a mock oil rig (sponsored by Halliburton)…but I think it might be more appropriate to hire the geniuses who created the mini-versions of New York and Paris in Las Vegas. Yeah, I can see it now...
--moreChriscons: "People who run everything can't complain that they're underdogs," Bill Maher
New Rule: People who run everything can't complain that they're underdogs. To whit, this week, there was a highly-attended conference in Washington called "The War on Christians." Because nothing quite says "I'm oppressed," like the opulent Regency Ballroom of the Omni Shoreham Hotel.
Ah, yes, whatever happened to that plucky little cult, Christianity? Oh, that's right, they're 80% of the American people, and have taken over all three branches of government, country music, public schools, the bestseller list, and until recently, Katie Holmes. You know, Christians, I don't mind that you're part of a dress-up cult that hates sex and worships magic but the paranoia, that does scare me.
Did you know that the Missouri legislature recently felt the need to propose a resolution declaring Christianity Missouri's majority religion. No kidding. Really, you mean people aren't saying, "Gosh, I'd like to go to Missouri, but...too Jewish." In Savannah, recently, a children's book about a baby penguin who is raised by two male penguins - ahh! - was removed from the library for its homosexual overtones. Because you know penguins, in those tuxedos, with the dreamy eyes. Huge fags!
The Christian right are now officially the party of paranoia. Secularists are attacking Christmas! Gays are attacking marriage! Liberals are attacking values! White girls are being abducted at an alarming rate! You know, if you're going to be that paranoid all the time, just get high.
And the worst part is, the people bitching loudest about being persecuted for their Christianity aren't Christians at all. They're demagogues and conmen and scolds. And the only thing they worship is power. If you believe Jesus ever had a good word for war or torture or tax cuts for the rich, or raping the earth, or refusing water to dying migrants, then you might as well believe bunnies lay painted eggs.
...Now - now I know George Bush says Jesus Christ changed his heart. But believe me, Dick Cheney changed it back....Thomas Jefferson called the type of Christian who trumpets his own belief in the divinity of Jesus rather than the morality of Jesus "pseudo-Christians." And that's who's running our country today. And since they thrive so much on turning water into "whining"—and get off on their endless pretend persecution, this Easter season, let's give them what they want. Let's go to the zoo, get some lions, and feed them Tom DeLay.
Bush Neocons: Bush's Grand Game: A "PNAC Primer" UPDATE, Bernard Weiner
When the Bush Administration keeps hauling out its "we-didn't-know-nothin'" spin -- about Katrina, 9/11, Iraq, torture -- in effect they're using incompetence as their defense. How can you try to censure or impeach us, they're saying, when we didn't know what was happening, what to do or how to do it? Their incompetence by this time has been well-documented and par for the Bush course. But, as the evidence demonstrates, in each of those cases they knew a lot more than they let on, having received adequate warnings of the scenarios that were about to unfold.
They knew the levees might well be breached in New Orleans and did nothing; more than 1000 died. They knew a major al Qaida attack was coming in late-Summer 2001, probably by air and aimed at icon American targets in New York and Washington, and did nothing; nearly 3000 died. They knew their own advisers had alerted them that Saddam had no WMD and no connection to the 9/11 attacks, but they went ahead anyway and lied the Congress and American people into Iraq; tens of thousands of U.S. troops and Iraqi civilians have died and are continuing to do so. They knew, because they had approved the "harsh" interrogation methods, that tortures were being carried out on prisoners in U.S. care, but they did nothing (until photos leaked to the press); more than 100 detainees have died, and many thousands more have been brutalized and/or humiliated. They knew that eavesdropping on American citizens was illegal without court-sanctioned warrants, but they went ahead anyway, convinced nobody would ever learn of their law-breaking.
All of that is reprehensible, and will be added to the list of charges for the eventual impeachment hearings of Bush and Cheney, and/or to the criminal trials of those two and their subordinates. But what I propose to talk about here are not specifics of the high crimes, misdemeanors and thorough-going bunglings. To do that is to focus on the trees while ignoring the forest; we need to go deeper and find out who planted the seeds.... --moreArab-Americans and other Muslim-Americans: BUSH'S MIXED SIGNALS, William Fisher
Last month, the U.S. Muslim World Advisory Committee of the United States Institute of Peace sat down for a talk with Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice and Under-Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy Karen Hughes. These are the kinds of meetings Arab-American and other Muslim-American groups have been having throughout the country with U.S. officials at various levels of government since soon after 9/11.
These meetings usually end with oh-so-diplomatic remarks about the "full and frank exchanges of views" and praiseworthy statements from each about each. Yet, though Arab-American and other Muslim organizations are reluctant to discuss the issue for the record, they tell me privately that they are worried that the Bush Administration is sending dangerously mixed signals precisely to those whose "hearts and minds" it claims to be trying to win. Consider the following:... --moreVerse: Ode To The Bugman, by Mad Kane
Tom's speech was jam-packed with some gems.
Bush Failure: The Bush Legacy Is A Void, A Hole In The Ground, Richard Cohen
President Bush is starting to look beyond his presidency. His focus is on his legacy, which he is sure will vindicate his decision to go to war in Iraq. But his most fitting memorial is likely to be where I was Sunday: the immense gash in Lower Manhattan known as Ground Zero. More than 4 1/2 years after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, the hole has yet to be filled....
Little wonder Bush focuses on posterity. The present has to be painful. His embrace of incompetents, not to mention his own incompetence, is impossible to exaggerate. Rummy still runs the Pentagon. The only generals who have been penalized are those who spoke the truth. (They should get some sort of medal.) Victory in Iraq is now three years or so overdue and a bit over budget. Lives have been lost for no good reason -- never mind the money -- and now Bush suggests that his successor may still have to keep troops in Iraq. Those of us who once advocated this war are humbled. It's not just that we grossly underestimated the enemy. We vastly overestimated the Bush administration....
Maybe we should leave Ground Zero as it is. The imagination can provide a fitting memorial to those who died. "We dig a grave in the breezes," Paul Celan wrote in his Holocaust poem "Death Fugue." We can dig ours as deep as the World Trade Center once was tall. The ugly emptiness will remind us always to be wary of the grand schemes of politicians. They can't build a building. They cannot capture a mass murderer. They cannot wage war in Iraq. This is their hole. It is, by dint of failure, George Bush's presidential library. His proper legacy is a void. --more
Bigotry: Editor: How Charges Of Anti-Semitism Can Contribute To Anti-Semitism, Peter Beaumont
["The Israel Lobby," by John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt,] "set out at exhaustive length to list every way in which it claimed US foreign policy had been captured on behalf of Israel by an all-encompassing lobby of academics, campaign groups, journalists and pro-Israeli activists in government. Among the fiercest critics have been Eliot Engel, a Democratic congressman from New York, who branded the authors 'anti-Semites', and the right-wing New York Sun, which likened the piece to the 'rantings' of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad....For their part, the two authors, despite the row, describe themselves as 'philo-Semites'. Wilmers says they are members of the Realist School of US Foreign Policy which insists that America should be guided by its own interests and not by Israel's....
Mary-Kay Wilmers, editor of the London Review of Books [,publisher of "The Israel Lobby,] believes...that the most angry denunciations of anti-Semitism - while designed to serve the purpose of censorship by those attempting to forestall criticism of Israel - may actually encourage anti-Semitism in the long run. 'It serves a purpose. No one wants to be thought of as anti-Semitic because it is thought of as worse than anything else, although it is not worse being anti-Semitic than being anti-black or Islamophobic. 'Really, one of the most upsetting things is the way it can contribute to anti-Semitism in the long run just by making so many constant appeals and preventing useful criticism of Israel. No one can say Israel's posture does not contribute to anti-Semitism, yet charges of anti-Semitism are used to justify that policy.'
--moreBigotry: John McCain Backs Falwell, Implies Bigotry Has A Place In Republican Party (excerpts), Paul Krugman
Last month Mr. Falwell issued a statement explaining that, in his view, Jews can't go to heaven unless they convert to Christianity.... Senator John McCain obviously believes that he can't get the Republican presidential nomination without Mr. Falwell's approval. During the 2000 campaign, Mr. McCain denounced Mr. Falwell and the Rev. Pat Robertson as "agents of intolerance." But next month Mr. McCain will be a commencement speaker at Liberty University, which Mr. Falwell founded. On "Meet the Press" yesterday, Mr. McCain was asked to explain his apparent flip-flop. "I believe," he replied, "that the Christian right has a major role to play in the Republican Party. One reason is because they're so active and their followers are. And I believe they have a right to be a part of our party."
So what has happened since the 2000 campaign to convince Mr. McCain that Mr. Falwell is not, in fact, an agent of intolerance? Maybe it was Mr. Falwell's TV appearance with Mr. Robertson on Sept. 13, 2001, during which the two religious leaders agreed that the terrorist attack two days earlier was divine punishment for American immorality. "God continues to lift the curtain and allow the enemies of America to give us probably what we deserve," said Mr. Falwell, who also declared, "I really believe that the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the A.C.L.U., People for the American Way — all of them who have tried to secularize America — I point the finger in their face and say, 'You helped this happen.' " Or maybe it was Mr. Falwell's appearance on "60 Minutes" in October 2002, when he declared, "I think Muhammad was a terrorist." Muhammad, he said, was "a violent man" — unlike Mr. Falwell, I guess, who said of terrorists that we should "blow them all away in the name of the Lord."...
And that's why it's important to hold someone like Mr. McCain — who is still widely regarded as a moderate, in spite of his extremely conservative voting record — accountable when he cozies up to Mr. Falwell. Nobody thinks that Mr. McCain shares all of Mr. Falwell's views. But when Mr. McCain said that the Christian right has a right to be part of the Republican Party, he was in effect saying that Mr. Falwell's statements are within the realm of acceptable political discourse....If you choose to make common cause with religious extremists, you are accepting some responsibility for their extremism. By welcoming Mr. Falwell and people like him as members of their party, Republicans are saying that it's O.K. — not necessarily correct, but O.K. — to declare that 9/11 was America's punishment for its tolerance of abortion and homosexuality, that Islam is a terrorist religion, and that Jews can't go to heaven. And voters should judge the Republican Party [and John McCain] accordingly.
Illegal Immigration: Corporatists vs. Racists (and Labor is Left Behind), Thom Hartman
The corporatist Republicans ("amnesty!") are fighting with the racist Republicans ("fence!"), and it provides an opportunity for progressives to step forward with a clear solution to the immigration problem facing America. Both the corporatists and the racists are fond of the mantra, "There are some jobs Americans won't do." It's a lie. Americans will do virtually any job if they're paid a decent wage. This isn't about immigration - it's about economics. Industry and agriculture won't collapse without illegal labor, but the middle class is being crushed by it.
The reason why thirty years ago United Farm Workers' Union (UFW) founder Caesar Chávez fought against illegal immigration, and the UFW turned in illegals during his tenure as president, was because Chávez, like progressives since the 1870s, understood the simple reality that labor rises and falls in price as a function of availability....Working Americans have always known this simple equation: More workers, lower wages. Fewer workers, higher wages....
Democratic Party strategist Ann Lewis just sent out a mass email on behalf of former Wal-Mart Board of Directors member and now US Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton. In it, Lewis noted that Clinton suggests we should have: "An earned path to citizenship for those already here working hard, paying taxes, respecting the law, and willing to meet a high bar for becoming a citizen." Sounds nice. The same day, on his radio program, Rush Limbaugh told a woman whose husband is an illegal immigrant that she had nothing to worry about with regard to deportation of him or their children because all he'd have to do - under the new law under consideration - is pay a small fine and learn English. The current Directors of Wal-Mart are smiling. Meanwhile, the millions of American citizens who came to this nation as legal immigrants, who waited in line for years, who did the hard work to become citizens, are feeling insulted, humiliated, and conned....
It's frankly astonishing to hear "progressives" reciting corporatist/racist/conservative talking points, recycled through "conservative Democratic" politicians trying to pander to the relatively small percentage of recently-legal (mostly through recent amnesties or birth) immigrants who are trying to get their relatives into this country by means of Bush's proposed guest worker program or the many variations thereof being proposed. It's equally astonishing to hear the few unions going along with this (in the sad/desperate hope of picking up new members) turn their backs on Caesar Chávez and the traditions and history of America's Progressive and Union movements by embracing illegal immigration.
Every nation has an obligation to limit immigration to a number that will not dilute its workforce, but will maintain a stable middle class - if it wants to have a stable democracy. This has nothing to do with race, national origin, or language (visit Switzerland with it's ethnic- and language-dived areas!), and everything to do with economics. Without a middle class, any democracy is doomed.... The Republican (and Democratic) corporatists who want a cheap labor force, and the Republican (and Democratic) racists who want to build a fence and punish humanitarian aid workers, are equally corrupt and anti-progressive. As long as employers are willing and able (without severe penalties) to hire illegal workers, people will risk life and limb to grab at the America Dream. When we stop hiring and paying them, most will leave of their own volition over a few years, and the remaining few who are committed to the US will obtain citizenship through normal channels. --moreToon Time: Sunday Funnies,Bell, Tomorrow, etc.
Immigration Battle Royal
(By Ward Sutton)
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How to Eliminate Illegal Immigration: The Fence will not work. No fence will work. The Great darn Wall of China will not work. Do not build a fence. It will not work. They will come anyway. Over, under or through. Some of you think a fence will work because Israel has one. Israel is a very small country. Anyone who says a fence can fix this problem is a demagogue and an ass.
Numero Two-o, should you actually want to stop Mexicans and OTMs (other than Mexicans) from coming to the United States, here is how to do it: Find an illegal worker at a large corporation. This is not difficult—brooms and mops are big tipoffs. Then put the CEO of that corporation in prison for two or more years for violating the law against hiring illegal workers....In 1986, the Reagan administration took a shot at immigration reform and reinstated penalties on employers. They weren’t enforced worth a darn, of course. In 2004, only three American companies were threatened with fines for hiring illegal workers. Doesn’t work if you don’t enforce it....
Got it? You can also imprison the corporate official who actually hired the illegal and, just to make sure, put some Betty Sue Billups—housewife, preferably one with blond hair in a flip—in the joint for a two-year stretch for hiring a Mexican gardener. Thus Americans are reminded that the law says it is illegal to hire illegal workers and that anyone who hires one is responsible for verifying whether or not his or her papers are in order. If you get fooled and one slips by you, too bad, you go to jail anyway. When there are no jobs for illegal workers, they do not come. Got it? --Molly Ivins
What happened in the village of Abu Sifa, in the rural Al-Isahaqi district north of Baghdad, on the Ides of March? The murk of war – the natural blur of unbuckled event, and its artificial augmentation by professional massagers – shrouds the details of the actual operation. But here is what we know.
We know that U.S. forces conducted a raid on a house in the village on March 15. We know that the Pentagon said the American troops were "targeting an individual suspected of supporting foreign fighters for the al-Qaeda in Iraq terror network," when their team came under fire, and that the troops "returned fire, utilizing both air and ground assets." We know that the Pentagon said that "only" one man, two women and one child were killed in the raid, which destroyed a house in the village.
We know from photographic evidence that the corpses of two men, four shrouded figures (women, according to the villagers), and five children – all of them apparently under the age of five, one as young as seven months – were pulled from the rubble of the house and laid out for burial beneath the bright, blank desert sky.... --moreBaghdad Burning, a "Girl Blog from Iraq," reports that the crawl on a Baghdad TV channel had the following in Arabic: “The Ministry of Defense requests that civilians do not comply with the orders of the army or police on nightly patrols unless they are accompanied by coalition forces working in that area.” She writes, "The situation is so bad on the security front that the top two ministries in charge of protecting Iraqi civilians cannot trust each other. The Ministry of Defense can’t even trust its own personnel, unless they are 'accompanied by American coalition forces'”.
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