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BUSH WATCH...celebrating our 10th year...August, 2008

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Top World Stories: Tuesday September 2, 2008:

U.S.: Democracy Now! Host Arrested at GOP Convention; Says Secret Service Took Her ID (w video), WPo
U.S.: Amy Goodman DNC Copwatch; Riot Cops Hide ID Badges, Include Reporters (video), YT
U.S.: Protesters march at GOP convention to denounce Iraq war, Guardian
U.S.: Gustav does the Republicans a favour by silencing Bush and Cheney, Times
U.S.: White House strategy is to help McCain win in November, Independent
U.S.: How John McCain and Sarah Palin differ on the issues, Times
U.S.: Seventeen, pregnant and unmarried: Palin's girl becomes an election issue, Independent
U.K.: 'Free loans' offer to UK homebuyers, BBC
U.K.: Recession fears push pound down, BBC
EUROPE: Russia's buffer zone creates ghost villages in Georgia, Times
EUROPE: Anger at death of Kremlin critic, BBC
ASIA: Japanese PM in shock resignation after just one year, Times
ASIA: Bangkok under state of emergency, BBC
ASIA: The Continuing Crisis in Thailand, Asia Sentinel
ASIA: China Quake Kills 32, Destroys 258,000 Homes, AP
ASIA: Nepal: Girls First, Goddesses Later, Asia Sentinel
ASIA: 2,000 Feared Dead as Floods Swamp Hundreds of Indian Villages,
ASIA: Malaysian Politics Descends Into Chaos, Asia Sentinel
ASIA: Japan PM in Surprise Resignation, BBC News
ASIA: 5 Afghan children killed in raids, AP
AFRICA: Uganda: Come Clean on Your 'Secret' Nile Pact With Cairo,
AFRICA: S Leone President Declares Assets, BBC News
AFRICA: Development: Accra Agenda for Action - A Step Backwards?, IPS
AFRICA: Italy Seals Libya Colonial Deal,  BBC News
AFRICA: Zimbabwe Lifts Ban on Aid Groups, but Its Effects Linger, NYT
AFRICA: Sudan: President Shows Signs of Victory As He Tours Juba,
WORLD: Can engineering the earth save it from catastrophe?, Independent
BUSH WATCH:  Volunteer Headline Editor(s) Needed For Middle East, South America

100+ More Today's Stories

Quietly seeks to make war powers permanent, by declaring indefinite state of war. NYT downplays importance of threat. --Raw Story

Here is Palin's response to a candidate questionnaire for the Alaska 2006 gubernatorial race: Are you offended by the phrase “Under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance? Why or why not? PALIN: "Not on your life. If it was good enough for the founding fathers, its good enough for me and I’ll fight in defense of our Pledge of Allegiance." FACT: The original Pledge of Allegiance was written in September of 1892 by Francis Bellamy for "The Youth's Companion" magazine in Boston....Congress officially recognized the Pledge of Allegiance in 1942....The words "under God" were added in 1954 by then President Eisenhower.--Daily Koss/

PALIN'S POSITIONS: Pro-Life, Pro-Creationism/Intelligent Design, Pro-Death Penalty, Pro-Gun Rights, "strongly promoted oil and natural gas resource development in Alaska, including opening the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to drilling," "does not believe that global warming is man-made," "supported a non-binding referendum for a constitutional amendment to deny health and retiree benefits to gay couples," "editorial by the Anchorage Daily News described Palin as "a total beginner on national and international issue," "Palin: I've been so focused on state government, I haven't really focused much on the war in Iraq." --Wikipedia

"PALIN LAUGHS [,does not disagree,] as opponent, a female cancer survivor, is called "bitch," "cancer," mocked for her weight" (audio) --You Tube

Bush Watch Special: Riots in Thailand

PM Samak "has no plan to confront, engage, negotiate or mandate an end to the political crisis", Bangkok Post Ed
Mr Samak is right: there is no good reason for an elected government to resign in the face of a street protest, particularly one which has been declared illegal by the courts. By the same token, Mr Samak is also wrong: there is no good reason for a government to hang on when it is clearly unable and unwilling to deal with such a strong protest....The sad truth is that the Samak administration now seems intent only on surviving....It is clear the prime minister and his cabinet are mesmerised by the political crisis on Bangkok's streets. The electorate's approval of eight months ago is quickly evaporating."

PAD "protest leaders...represent the middle class as well as an establishment of royalists and aristocrats who feel threatened by the emerging [democratic] power of the poor...working class" as labor unions vow pro-PAD job actions, NYT

Silent majority must "condemn the PAD's blatant hijacking of Thailand's democratic system", Bangkok Post

PAD Demands Thai PM Step Down (with pics), Bangkok Post

Politics of Thai Rioters (PAD) Come Closest to Right Wing GOP Fundamentalists, IPS

PAD rallies populated by middle-aged, elderly protesters hailing from Muslim South, Asia Times

PAD Riots Backed By Anti-Democratic Wealthy Elite, NYT

PAD Welcomes Miliatry Intervention, Calls For 70% of Parliment Selected By Their Moral Leader, Asia Times

PAD Targets Tourism in Effort To Shut Down Thai Government, Financial Times


OBAMA DELIVERS THE GOODS: Video and Numerous Articles


Of course Sarah Palin, the darling of far right talk shows, has the credentials to be President if McBush wins. She's a lock-step conservative to the right of McBush, and her relevant experience consists of being the Mayor of a town of 6,000 in Alaska and of being the Governor of the 4th smallest state in the Union, with a population of 700,000, which would make Alaska the population equal of a medium city in the U.S., cities like Omaha and DesMoines. Thus, McBush's first presidential-level decision suggests we would be in for a Bush-like, very bumpy ride if he were President. --Politex

"Joe Biden...: 'I know Hillary Clinton. Hillary Clinton is a friend of mine, and governor [Palin], you’re no Hillary Clinton.'” --Gail Collins
Sarah Palin: Hillary Clinton? I don't like Hillary's "whining." --Newsweek

NYT's David "Woody" Brooks Speaks To His Readers

from Brook's "A Speech to the Delegates" (NYT, 8/29/08)..."One path before us leads to the past, and the extinction of the human race. The other path leads to the future, when we will all be dead. We must choose wisely."

from Woody Allen's "My Speech to the Graduating Class" (NYT, 1979)..."One path leads to despair and utter hopelessness. The other, to total extinction. Let us pray we have the wisdom to choose correctly."



With speeches by Kaine, Richardson, and Gore; with mini-speeches by a group of average Americans, even some Republicans, and with Obama's acceptance speech, this very successful unconventional convention featuring an unconventional candidate comes to a close. Obama was right to forego the soaring rhetoric which he is capable of to answer his critics: he outlined with much specificity what he wants to do as President, and he attacked McCain for his wrong-headed continuation of Bush policy. Tellingly, he reminded us that during the eight terrible years of Bush, McCain voted Bush over 90% of the time. That led to his final point, the theme of the convention: this election is not about him, it's about the diverse people who make up America who have been screwed over and over by McCain, Bush, and Cheney in the name of the elitists, the economic top 5% of the country. That's why Obama stressed that 95% of American families will see their taxes go down if he is elected. Obama made it clear that this is what he means by "change."

Unfortunately, Obama failed to describe how he will attempt to revive our Constitution, our Bill of Rights, and the rule of law dismantled under Bush. He also failed to tell us what he plans to do about Bush-type Presidential signing statements. Unfortunately, none of the instant pundits called that to our attention. Listening to Democratic speech after Democratic speech these four days, I don't recall a single speaker alludding to this. Not Hillary, not Bill, not Gore, not Pelosi, not Reed. Kucinich came closest with a vague phrase about the harm Bush did to "national and international law," even though he is pushing to have Bush impeached on those very grounds. It appears that the leading Dems who would have brought it up were cut out by the DMC: Jimmy Carter and Sen. Finegold. Why? Two reasons: the DNC censored (they call it "vetted") all speeches but the big dog's because they didn't want to be accused of being anti-(Patriotic Act)-American; and, frankly, both Presidential candidates are reluctant to diminish the Presidential powers stolen by Bush. And forget third parties, folks like Ron Paul and Ralph Nader, who might very well bring it up, will only have a negative effect on the election of the candidate they are closest to. --Jerry Politex

WHY IS BUSH WATCH NOT AT THE CONVENTION? A hundred+ bloggers have been given credentials by the DNC. Why not BUSH WATCH? Because BUSH WATCH did not apply for a credential: not in 2000, not in 2004, not in 2008. Few alternative Dem-leaning political sites can make that statement; only COMMON DREAMS, to our knowledge, started up around the same time we did, and no one did it earlier. By or after 2004, DEMS. COM, TRUTHOUT, and BUZZFLASH, among others, came aboard. But why has BUSH WATCH, the oldest site devoted to Bush activities, since it was founded in 1998 during Bush's first term as Tx. Gov, why has BUSH WATCH never gone to the Dem Convention, credentialed or otherwise? Because Jerry Politex, BUSH WATCH's general editor, went to national conventions of the MODERN LANGUAGE ASSOCIATION for years, sometimes as an official, and by the time BUSH WATCH was born, he was all conventioned out, as was other members of the BUSH WATCH team. By the way, neither DEMS.COM, TRUTHOUT, COMMON DREAMS, nor BUZZFLASH, to name a few, have been credentialed by the 2008 DNC. But what about the future? BUSH WATCH will still be a net presence, under a new name, of course, and we thank our loyal readers for that decision. --Politex

THE RUSH LIMBO HOUR: Bush-Walker Speaks (1943): "I dream of a world where no tycoon need ever lose a dime of profit just because it came from the blood of innocent people. I dream of a world where the rabble keep their mouths shut and the well-born can exercise their God-given privileges in any way they see fit. I see a world where votes go uncounted and judges take orders, where bribes flow and kickbacks abound, where public service and private enrichment are joined in one great, golden revolving door. I see a world where war, corruption and deceit are exalted, where stupidity is rewarded and arrogance enthroned in power. And if I can't get us there, if I fall along the way, then maybe my son or my grandson will pick up the banner and lead us to that promised land. --Chris Floyd

CHINA LIED, IOC LOOKED THE OTHER WAY: As the curtain falls on the Beijing Olympics, the race is on to define the legacy of one of the most controversial games in history....For human rights defenders, the labels for the games vary from the "genocide Olympics" to the "Olympics of repression"....Draconian security measures ensured that no protests marred the course of the games. Having set up three protest zones, Beijing leaders then refused to grant any permits to people who wanted to protest. Two elderly women in their seventies were sentenced this week to a year of "re-education through labour" after they repeatedly sought a permit to demonstrate their wrongful eviction from their Beijing homes. Journalists covering the few isolated attempts by foreigners to stage protests were roughed up and threatened. The offenders were quickly expelled and no domestic media ever mentioned the incidents...."As we feared, the Beijing Olympic games have been a period conducive to arrests, convictions, censorship, surveillance and harassment of more than 100 journalists, bloggers and dissidents," Reporters Without Borders secretary-general Robert Ménard said in a statement. "This repression will be remembered as one of the defining characteristics of the Beijing games." --IPS

Historically, the record is clear. For six decades, the United States has been a center-right country, voting for an unabashedly liberal candidate for president only once, in 1964. Republicans have won nine of the past 14 elections. It is even more striking to look at the margins of those elections. Only twice in 60 years has a Democrat managed to win at least 50 percent of the vote – Lyndon Johnson with 61 percent in 1964 and Jimmy Carter with 50.08 percent in 1976. For perspective: Nearly half of all today's Americans had not been born the last time a Democrat won a majority. And almost two-thirds were not alive the last time a Democrat surpassed 51 percent. So no Democrat should ever anticipate a landslide win. --George Condon


Monday, August 25

The POW Excuse: The Only Way McBush Can Win, Jerry Politex, Maureen Dowd

It's obvious that we should only elect a prisoner of war to the presidency. After all, prisoners of war are honest, loyal, and, by definition, have all the experience and policies America needs. And if they are not always honest, or forget what they say from one day to the next, that's because they were prisoners of war. Actually, they deserve to be given the inside lane to the presidency, simply on the basis of being prisoners of war. Clearly, McBush is running on a prisoner of war platform. Consider Dowd:

1. "During the 2000 race, [Maureen Dowd's mother] listened to news reports about John McCain confessing to dalliances that caused his first marriage to fall apart after he came back from his stint as a P.O.W. in Vietnam. I figured, given her stringent moral standards, that her great affection for McCain would be dimmed. “So,” I asked her, “what do you think of that?” “A man who lives in a box for five years can do whatever he wants,” she replied matter-of-factly.

2. "The Rev. Kirbyjon Caldwell, the pastor who married Jenna Bush and who is part of a new Christian-based political action committee supporting Obama, recently criticized the joke McCain made at the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally encouraging Cindy to enter the topless Miss Buffalo Chip contest. The McCain spokesman Brian Rogers brought out the bottomless excuse, responding with asperity that McCain’s character had been “tested and forged in ways few can fathom.”

3. "When the Obama crowd was miffed to learn that McCain was in a motorcade rather than in a “cone of silence” while Obama was being questioned by Rick Warren, Nicolle Wallace of the McCain camp retorted, “The insinuation from the Obama campaign that John McCain, a former prisoner of war, cheated is outrageous.”

4. "When Obama chaffed McCain for forgetting how many houses he owns, Rogers huffed, “This is a guy who lived in one house for five and a half years — in prison.”

5. "As Sam Stein notes in The Huffington Post: “The senator has even brought his military record into discussion of his music tastes. Explaining that his favorite song was ‘Dancing Queen’ by Abba, he offered that his knowledge of music ‘stopped evolving when his plane intercepted a surface-to-air missile.’ ‘Dancing Queen,’ however, was produced in 1975, eight years after McCain’s plane was shot down.”"

"The McCain campaign, after initially mumbling something about how Mr. Obama eats arugula, quickly resorted to its all-purpose answer: you can’t criticize the candidate because he’s a former P.O.W. Maybe the campaign hopes that the Obama people will fall into a reflexive cringe, the same way they did when Wesley Clark made the entirely reasonable point that having been a P.O.W., while it makes you a hero, doesn’t necessarily qualify you to become president. The central fact of this year’s election is that voters are fed up with Republican rule. The only way Mr. McCain can win the presidential race is if it becomes a contest of personalities rather than parties. --Paul Krugman


UNDEMOCRATIC NEWS MEDIA: In order for democracy to work, the media has the job of reporting what the candidates believe as well as what they do. Too often, this doesn't happen. Instead, the media constructs a narrative in advance of the events, then shoehorns the events into their narrative. Thus, news becomes theater, rather than reporting. According to a NYT story, this is what's happening at the Dem Convention. Obama and Hillary want to get out their economic message, but the media wants to talk about the split between the Obama side and the Hillary side: "A major distraction has been the news media’s attention to the lingering hard-feelings of some Clinton delegates here. That has frustrated not only Obama advisers trying to amplify their man’s message, but even some on the Clinton side. Mrs. Clinton’s longtime senior adviser, Ann Lewis, said on Tuesday that she had been visiting delegations both from states that Mrs. Clinton won and those that Mr. Obama won, and had been reassured by the party unity among the loyalists of the former rivals. Yet, when Ms. Lewis meets with reporters, she said, all the questions are about “the war going on.” Obama's difficulty in getting the media to focus on him and his economic message "could cost him the election," opines Jackie Calmes, who wrote the NYT story. --Politex

DAY TWO: The truth is not ready for prime time: watch Kucinich telling it like it is. (here) Wish Obama could do that!...Hillary gave a dynamite speech this evening: strong, clever, articulate. Many well-deserved standing ovations. A well-written speech with many highlights, a detailed, passionate cry to save the country with a vote for Obama. He couldn't ask for anything more. (video here)

"DON'T CAGE DISSENT": The bulwark against tyranny is dissent. Open opposition, the right to challenge those in power, is a mainstay of any healthy democracy. The Democratic and Republican conventions will test the commitment of the two dominant U.S. political parties to the cherished tradition of dissent. Things are not looking good. --Amy Goodman

WHY FORMER GOP REP. WANTS OBAMA: "The party that once emphasized individual rights has gravitated in recent years toward regulating values. The party of military responsibility has taken us to war with a country that did not attack us. The party that formerly led the world in arms control has moved to undercut treaties crucial to the defense of the earth. The party that prides itself on conservation has abdicated its responsibilities in the face of global warming. And the party historically anchored in fiscal restraint has nearly doubled the national debt, squandering our precious resources in an undisciplined and unprecedented effort to finance a war with tax cuts." --Jim Leach

WHAT DO THEY WANT? The diehard Hillary folks at the Dem Convention call themselves PUMA, which stands for "party unity my ass." A Brit pundit didn't understand why the PUMA Dems would rather vote for McBush than Obama, given their Dem ideology. I think the answer is that they want Hillary to run against McBush in 2012. It's that simple. And that simple-minded. --Politex

ANDREW SULLIVAN ON MICHELLE'S SPEECH: "“One of the best, most moving, intimate, rousing, humble, and beautiful speeches I’ve heard from a convention platform. Maybe she should be running for president.” Andrew Sullivan!

DAY ONE: Pelosi delivers boilerplate...a video about Jimmy Carter displays what a great man he is...Obama's half-sister speaks: half-Irish, as is Obama, and half Asian, who also speaks fluent Spanish and teaches American history...Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr. next: co-chair of the Obama campaign, great speaker, serious, bright, articulate, and has eyes for Obama's Senate seat...Carolyne Kennedy introduces a moving video about Sen. Ted Kennedy leads to a strong speech by the man, himself, still fighting for the little guy as he promises to return to the Senate in January to welcome Obama as President...Jim Leach, former GOP Rep. defeated in the last election, calls for an Obama win, because "country comes before party," and gives an excellent overview of Progressivism in both parties...Sen Claire McCaskill provides a break with more Pelosi-like boilerplate and thumbnail bios about her family and the Obama family...Which leads to a Michelle Obama video: "this guy has to be wierd," she says of Obama's arrival at her law firm, where she practiced law, a grad of Princeton and Harvard Law, from which Obama later graduated. (McBush was at the bottom of his class at the Naval Academy.) Moves into community service. Key word: "compassion."...Michell's brother, head basketball coach at Oregon State, introduces her...Wow, can she give a speech to thousands as though she's talking to a small group! Smart, direct, animated. Just great! (Video of Speech)...Your turn, Cindy.

U.S.: Michelle Obama claims The American Dream for her husband Barack, Telegraph
U.S.: Ted Kennedy proclaims Obama America's hope and dream, Times

INSECURITY IN THE HOMELAND: The eyes of the world are on the Beijing Olympics. Sportswriter Dave Zirin is reporting on the suppression of protests that are occurring there. He has an interesting perspective, as he is a member of the anti-death-penalty group infiltrated in Maryland. He told me, “Our taxpayer dollars went to pay people to infiltrate and take notes on our meetings, and it’s absolutely enraging … a lot of this Homeland Security funding is an absolute sham … it’s being used to actually crush dissent, not to keep us safer in any real way.” The lack of freedom of speech in China is getting a little attention in the news. But what about the crackdown on dissent here at home? Dissent is essential to the functioning of a democratic society. There is no more important time than now. --"Don't Cage Dissent"

DEM CONVENTION PROTESTS: Rocky Mt. News, Video (Pepper Spray),Colorado Legal Eagles, Gitmo Revisited, Video (includes bad language), Video (gassed), Rolloftop Video (no sound), More,

DEM CONVENTION PROTESTS: The reader can use the net to find the protest activities as they are happening. (Pelosi claims the security systems in place are ok, since the ACLU has decided not to sue.) Let's keep a running record of sources (please report those we have missed):

1. TWITTER: Sunday afternoon..."Walked out of my hotel into the middle of an anti-war protest on the 16th Street mall. Cops everywhere."

2. COLORADO INDMEDIA: Sunday, 8:50 am...Cindy Sheehan speaking to a crowd of close to 1,000 people at an anti-war rally at the State Capitol Building. Police presence light.

3. TWITTER ON C-SPAN: Sunday afternoon..."Planned Parenthood is handing out condoms with "Protect Yourself From John McCain" written on the pink matchbook cover."

[Sunday] afternoon saw the main pedestrian mall overtaken by a few hundred anti-war protesters, carrying banners saying: "It's the system, stupid". There were almost as many police on bicyles, horseback and on foot with assault rifles cradled close to their chests. The authorities have prepared chain-link holding cells in a disused warehouse in case of arrests - a facility protesters have denounced as a mini-Guantanamo. Tens of thousands of other activists have descended on the city to make their views known - --Guardian

Here at 1,609 metres above sea level, the air is fresh and clear, the people are friendly, and mountains soar invitingly in the distance: everything would be perfect, in fact, if it weren't for the Democratic convention. Protests are one of the biggest potential headaches: mayor John Hickenlooper has trained his police force to be prepared for demonstrators to "throw human excrement". Meanwhile, convention organisers seem to fear some rather creative objections from supporters of Hillary Clinton. They've already set up a "whip team" to try to keep them in line if they "start blowing kazoos", as one insider put it; now it emerges that among the items banned from Barack Obama's big nomination acceptance speech on Thursday are "shoes with wheels", "frisbees", and "cowbells". So if the Clintonites had been plotting some kind of morris-dancing-meets-Starlight-Express demonstration of their discontent, it'll be back to the drawing board. --Guardian

"If McCain wins, it's an affirmation of the decline of American civilization." --Cornell West, Convention Conversations, sponsored by Politico.

Barak Obama's selection of _____________________ for his Vice-President shows his weakness because _______________________, unlike John McCain, a prisoner of war, whose houses are a testament to his success as a great American. (Insert your favorite McCain-as-prisoner-of-war-story here.)

VEEP SPEECH: Both Christine and I reached the same conclusion listening to Obama and Biden Saturday: Based on the two speeches, Biden should be running for President, and Obama should be his Vice-Presidential selection. (And McBush should be running for dog catcher.) What Biden focused on, we can't afford four more years of Bush, is what Obama seems incapale of saying, and he could very well lose by not doing so. After all, the fact that he doesn't focus on the actions of the worst president in U.S. history is absurd, and it gives McBush a free pass. --Politex

OBAMA'S E-MAIL MESSAGE RE VEEP CHOICE: Friend – I have some important news that I want to make official. I’ve chosen Joe Biden to be my running mate. Joe and I will appear for the first time as running mates this afternoon in Springfield, Illinois — the same place this campaign began more than 19 months ago. I’m excited about hitting the campaign trail with Joe, but the two of us can’t do this alone. We need your help to keep building this movement for change. Please let Joe know that you’re glad he’s part of our team. Share your personal welcome note and we’ll make sure he gets it: Thanks for your support, Barack P.S. — Make sure to turn on your TV at 2:00 p.m. Central Time to join us or watch online at

BIDEN PROVIDES WHAT OBAMA NEEDS: Working Class Roots, Honesty, Loyalty, Experience

Some Friendly Advice For Obama
By Madeleine Begun Kane

Dear Obama, your speeches are great,
Like a confident, smart Head of State.
But when questioned you freeze
And appear ill at ease.
Loosen up or you’ll lose — no debate!
And when queried you need to be clear.
Don’t meander and stutter,  you hear?
Cuz you come off evasive
And  quite unpersuasive,
While John McCain’s lies sound sincere.
I’ll admit I was never a fan,
And I’m sick of the phrase “Yes we can.”
But I’m begging you, hide
Your pontificate-side,
Else you’ll lose to a confidence man.

SOLILOQUY: Obama Prepares For Presidential Debate
by Jerry "Shakespare" Politex

To speak, or not to speak : that is the question:
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous McCain,
Or to take arms against a sea of questions,
And by answering end them? To think: to speak;
No more; and by speaking to say we end
The heart-ache and the thousand natural shocks
That debates are heir to, 'tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wish'd. To think, to speak;
To speak: perchance to dream: ay, there's the rub;
For in that speech so labored, what dreams may come
When we have shuffled off this coiled rhetoric,
Must give us pause: there's the respect
That makes voters give us so long life;
For who would bear the whips and scorns of TV,
Oppressor Mac's wrong, my proud man's arrogance,
The pangs of despised self-love, the pundit's frowns,
The insolence of office and the spurns
That patient merit of the unworthy takes,
When he himself might his withdrawal make
With a bare statement? who would lobbyists bear,
To grunt and sweat in weary Washington,
But that the dread of something after office,
The undiscover'd country from whose bourn
No politico returns, puzzles the will
And makes us rather bear those ills we have
Than fly to others that we know not of?
Thus campaigns do make cowards of us all;
And thus the native hue of resolution
Is sicklied o'er with the pale cast of polls,
And enterprises of great pith and moment
With this regard their currents turn awry,
And lose the name of action.

FAITH-BASED FARCE: With each passing day, the Saddleback Church Forum grows more absurd. Now, we learn that Rev. Warren gave both Obama and McCain some of the questions in advance, the Rev. and his spokesman disagree on the number of advance questions, and a number of themes other questions were based on were also given in advance. (see NYT). At least Obama alluded to the arrangement in response to one question: “I cheated a little bit. I actually looked at this idea ahead of time and I think it is a — I think it’s a great idea.” At the time the audience was clueless to understand what he meant. Meanwhile, McCain went along with the deception: "I was trying to hear through the wall," was his response to the the Rev.'s pretend "cone of silence." We later learned McBush was actually in his car driving to the church while Obama was being questioned.
The "sieve of silence" might explain McCain's choice of the "cross in the dirt" story which supposedly happened to him, an old favorite that even appeared in McCain's Merry Christmas TV ad. Further, it turns out that readers at the FREE REPUBLIC conservative website have been calling McCain on it since 2005: "Hmmmm. Looks like McCain has been reading Solzhenitsyn." A previous Freeper had written: "Nothing 'Christian' about McCain's lack of principles."

FAITH-BASED MEMORY: Many were moved by McBush's recollection during the Saddleback Church Forum of his prison guard drawing a cross in the dirt. Since Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn is one of his favorite authors, McCain was probably moved when he read a similar story in THE GULAG ARCHIPELAGO. Both stories may be found here. --Politex

McBUSH, REV. WARREN CON OBAMA: This excerpt from the Faith Forum transcript of the two Q+A's between Rev. Warren, Obama, and McCain suggests that the Rev. is a dupe or a liar, and McBush has a character too weak to tell the truth:
PASTOR RICK WARREN, SADDLEBACK CHURCH: Now, what I decided is to allow for proper comparison, I'm going to ask identical questions to each of these candidates. So you can compare apples to apples. Now, Senator Obama is going to go first. We flipped a coin, and we have safely placed Senator McCain in a cone of silence....
[later] REV. WARREN: My first question [Mr. McCain], was the cone of silence comfortable you were in just now?
MCCAIN: I was trying to hear through the wall.
According to the Sunday NYT, McCain was not in a "cone of silence." Rather, "Interviewed Sunday on CNN, Mr. Warren seemed surprised to learn that Mr. McCain was not in the building during the Obama interview. A spokeswoman for Mr. McCain said he was en route to the church."
This may account for the swift glibness of McBush's answers. Unlike Bush at a prez debate with Kerry, he didn't even need to wear an electronic box on his back to get answers to the questions. --Politex

OBAMA-McCAIN FAITH FORUM: The prez candidates appeared for an hour each of Q+A by Pastor Ric Warren at his California mega-church. Obama hesitantly answered the tough questions in a careful, thoughtful manner, and we had a sense of a man personally wrestling with difficult moral and ethical questions. McCain took each and every opportunity to swiftly mouth Republican talking points in response to the same queuestions, preferring to come across as tough, rather than thoughtful, simplistic, rather than nuanced, disclosing little of his inner self. The audience applause was stronger for McCain than Obama. --Jerry Politex

I think Nicholas D. Kristof's conclusion in Malcontents Need Not Apply is a joke. After describing his Catch-22 attempt to get a legal demonstration permit during the Chinese Olympics, which pretty much details the impossibility of getting an actual permit, he sees the process as an improvememt over the previous Chinese totalitarian approach: "My hunch is that in the coming months, perhaps after the Olympics, we will see some approvals granted. China is changing: it is no democracy, but it’s also no longer a totalitarian state." My hunch is China has worked out a permit process, designed to give no permits, to adhere to the letter of its promise, made in order to get the IOC to approve the China Olympics. My hunch is when the Olympics ends China will go back to business as usual: no demonstrations, no permits. --Politex

After eight years, [Bush will] go out as he came in — ignoring reality; failing to foresee, prevent or even prepare for disasters; misinterpreting intelligence reports; misreading people; and handling crises in ways that makes them exponentially worse. He has spent 469 days of his presidency kicking back at his ranch, and 450 days cavorting at Camp David. And there’s still time to mountain-bike through another historic disaster....What was so galling about watching W.’s giddy sightseeing at the Olympics was that it underscored China’s rise as a superpower and, thanks to the administration’s derelict foreign and economic policies, America’s fade-out. --Maureen Dowd. Bush is either totally clueless or a liar: when Olympic reporter Bob Costos alluded to "America's problems," Bush said, "I don't see America having any problems." --Politex (video)

Given a daily reality in which “over-the-top parodies come to fruition,” [THE DAILY SHOW's Jon] Stewart said, satire like “Dr. Strangelove” becomes “very difficult to make.” “The absurdity of what you imagine to be the dark heart of conspiracy theorists’ wet dreams far too frequently turns out to be true,” he observed. “You go: I know what I’ll do, I’ll create a character who, when hiring people to rebuild the nation we invaded, says the only question I’ll ask is, ‘What do you think of ‘Roe v. Wade?’ It’ll be hilarious. Then you read that book about the Green Zone in Iraq” — “Imperial Life in the Emerald City” by Rajiv Chandrasekaran — “and you go, ‘Oh, they did that.’ I mean, how do you take things to the next level?” (NYT)

CHINA'S OLYMPIC REPRESSION: When Beijing was awarded the games seven years ago, the theory was that international scrutiny would force China’s government to grant more rights and freedom to its people. Instead, the Olympics have opened up a backdoor for the regime to massively upgrade its systems of population control and repression. And remember when Western companies used to claim that by doing business in China, they were actually spreading freedom and democracy? We are now seeing the reverse: investment in surveillance and censorship gear is helping Beijing to actively repress a new generation....The numbers on this trend are frightening....Naomi Klein

CROSS OF IRON: "Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed." --Dwight David Eisenhower, April 16, 1953

GOP AUGUST SURPRISE: "The outbreak of war in Georgia on Friday offers a disturbing and somewhat surreal taste of what to expect from John McCain should he become our nation’s Commander in Chief....McCain’s brain remains undeterred by reality, a fact that became painfully clear [Friday afternoon] in Des Moines when he...demanded, “The US should immediately convene an emergency session of the United Nations Security Council to call on Russia to reverse course.”...The problem with McCain’s bold demand about going to the UN is that Russia already tried doing exactly what McCain called for–and got rejected by McCain’s neocon pals in the Bush Administration. Early this morning, Russia convened an emergency session of the UN Security Council, calling on both sides to immediately cease hostilities, return to the negotiating table and renounce the use of force–but the last part about renouncing the use of force is exactly what Georgia’s president Mikhail Saakashvili refuses to do....According to a Reuters report from earlier in the day: "Georgia launched a major military offensive today to retake the breakaway province of South Ossetia. Rebel leaders said about 1,400 had been killed. The offensive prompted Moscow to send tanks into the region in a furious response that threatens to engulf Georgia, a staunch US ally, and Russia in all-out war....At the request of Russia, the U.N. Security Council held an emergency session in New York but failed to reach consensus early Friday on a Russian-drafted statement. The council concluded it was at a stalemate after the United States, Britain and some other members backed the Georgians in rejecting a phrase in the three-sentence draft statement that would have required both sides “to renounce the use of force,” council diplomats said." The meaning of this is clear: the United States and Britain are backing Saakashvili’s invasion." --Mark Ames, Friday, August 8

GOP AUGUST SURPRISE, PART 2: "Sen. John McCain's top foreign policy adviser prepped his boss for an April 17 phone call with the president of Georgia and then helped the presumptive Republican presidential nominee prepare a strong statement of support for the fledgling republic....The day of the call, a lobbying firm partly owned by the adviser, Randy Scheunemann, signed a $200,000 contract to continue providing strategic advice to the Georgian government in Washington." (Washington Post)..."The White House has started to panic over a July 9 meeting between Condi Rice and [Georgia President] Mikheil Saakashvili, desperate to suggest they didn't encourage Georgia's crack-down in South Ossetia. Given that panic, I wonder whether Karl Rove had any similar chats with Saakashvili when they were in Yalta together just days later?" --more...Empty Wheel, FiredogLake

THE FIX IS IN...AGAIN: Better get used to the idea: John McCain will probably be the next President of the United States. The fix is in, as it has been in every election since 2000. This follows from two overarching facts that the corporate media will not report, and the Democrats choose to ignore: 1. The ruling oligarchy can not allow a reformist Democrat to occupy the White House. 2. They have the means to prevent it, as they did in 2000, in 2004, and as they might do again in 2008. All other aspects of this “election” – issues, personalities, media blitzes – are secondary and perhaps even irrelevant. [Here are the specifics:] --Ernest Partridge

LIAR McBUSH: "John McCain recently tried to underscore his seriousness about pushing through a new energy policy, with a strong focus on more drilling for oil, by telling a motorcycle convention that Congress needed to come back from vacation immediately and do something about America’s energy crisis. “Tell them to come back and get to work!” McCain bellowed....Senator McCain did not show up for the crucial vote on July 30, and the renewable energy bill was defeated for the eighth time. In fact, John McCain has a perfect record on this renewable energy legislation. He has missed all eight votes over the last year — which effectively counts as a no vote each time. Once, he was even in the Senate and wouldn’t leave his office to vote....McCain’s campaign commercial running during the Olympics shows a bunch of spinning wind turbines — the very wind turbines that he would not cast a vote to subsidize....Bogus rhetoric designed by cynical candidates who think Americans are so stupid — so bloody stupid — that if you just show them wind turbines in your Olympics ad they’ll actually think you showed up and voted for such renewable power — when you didn’t." --Thomas Friedman, NYT

BREAKING NEWS: Mr. McCain's energy speech was interrupted yesterday when he said, "Hey you kids, get off my lawn! We're going to drill, were going to drill now, we're going to drill here!" At that, 10 men in hard hats and coveralls appeared. Armed with pneumatic hammers, they began to drill through the wooden stage. The broadly smiling Mr. McCain looked on, shaking his head "yes." --Politex

THE OLYMPICS: I love sports, I've been on basketball, baseball, football, soccer, and tennis teams over the years; I've won a few trophies as a runner; and I spend too much time watching sports on TV. But I'm not going to go out of my way to watch the Olympics this year. The International Olympic Committee is a joke. It selected China in spite of Beijing's severe pollution problem, which constitutes a very serious danger to the athletes, both indoors and out, then it got bent out of shape when American athletes wore protective breathing gear in front of TV cameras. Further, the IOC has not complained to China about its failure to carry out the human rights, etc. promises it made to get the venue in the first place. Let's face it, the tail of marketing and product placement is now wagging the dog. As the CEO of McDonalds said about criticism of the Olympics and China, his concern is to sell hamburgers. Period. The media, of course, is no better, shilling for the event through meaningless news stories. The handwriting was on the wall a few Olympics ago when the actual sporting events were clogged with soap opera-like back stories about the lives of the athletes, supposedly in order to attract a larger female audience. I don't watch soap operas. --Politex

OLBERMANN: You saw enough [of] Bush malfeasance by the end of 2003 to have titled [your] book “Worse than Watergate.”  Suskind says in "The Way of the World" that just the Iraq part is worse than Watergate.  Do you concur with his assessment?
JOHN W. DEAN, FMR. NIXON WHITE HOUSE COUNSEL:  Well, I do. I based mine largely on the excessive secrecy,...he has...added more detail and information about and the consequences of that secrecy. The central question in the 2008 campaign.  If we have another Republican administration, we‘re going to see more of the same that this sort of material that‘s revealed by Suskind. Those people have been well-implanted—as we learned from the testimony on the record and the inspector general‘s report of what‘s happening in the Department of Justice—this is really true throughout the government.  These people are there, that mentality is there.  And if there isn‘t a serious change of parties controlling the top of the government, we‘re going to see much more of this.

Rather than sparring on the Republican playing field to determine the rougher and tougher leader, Democrats should introduce more clearly substantive differences. How about this for a message — ending the war in Iraq now, making an Apollo-like investment in alternative energy and starting a revolution in health care to cover every American. I suggest making clear that this election is not about who is strong or weak, but about who is right or wrong. Maybe the key will be to emphasize that there will be real policy differences between a Democrat and a Republican in the White House next year and that those differences will — as they did in the past eight years — make all of the difference in the world to the country and the lives of its people. Mark Penn, Politico

Sexual Politics: McCain dipped in and out yesterday at the big bikers’ rally in Sturgis, S.D., to the roar of motorcycles and the admiration of veterans in attendance. We’re pretty sure then that when he offered up his wife to compete in the rally’s Miss Buffalo Chip contest, that well, he didn’t entirely get — as an ESPN writer suggests — that the contestants sometimes wind up topless, walk about in thongs or are otherwise scantily clothed.(NYT)...Reclining in a pool-side sun-lounger (see video), Miss Hilton [backs neither candidate, but says of the use of her image in the McBush celebrity ad]: "Hey America, I'm Paris Hilton and I'm a celebrity, too. Only I'm not from the olden days and I'm not promising change like that other guy. I'm just hot. But then that wrinkly, white-haired guy used me in his campaign ad, which I guess means I'm running for president. So thanks for the endorsement, white-haired dude....I want America to know that I'm, like, totally ready to lead." Discussing energy policy, which has this week emerged as the central issue of the Presidential campaign, Miss Hilton endorses a combination of Mr McCain's plan to increase offshore oil drilling and Mr Obama's scheme to offer more incentives for new energy technology. (Telegraph)...Even his own mother, the magical 96-year-old Roberta McCain, let slip that she thought the Paris Hilton-Britney Spears ad was “kinda stupid.” (Maureen Dowd)

McBush has decided that the voters will give him four years of continued conservative misrule, included war, welfare to the rich, and screwing the average American, by offering to change as little as possible and turning the spotlight on Obama, ala Rove-like lies, distortions, and slime attacks. As he moves up in the polls, it appears that Americans support his behavior. McBush is so clueless that he reads statements from cue cards at his own town hall meetings. What in the world does he plan to do when he debates Obama on national TV, wear a box on his back with George W. Bush inside? --Politex

It’s surprising that the lousy economy hasn’t yet had more impact on the campaign. Mr. McCain essentially proposes continuing the policies of a president whose approval rating on economics is only 20 percent. So why isn’t Mr. Obama further ahead in the polls? Mr. Obama, perhaps inhibited by his desire to transcend partisanship (and avoid praising the last Democratic president?), has been surprisingly diffident about attacking the Bush economic record. An illustration: if you go to the official Obama Web site and click on the economic issues page, what you see first isn’t a call for change — what you see is a long quote from the candidate extolling the wonders of the free market, which could just as easily have come from a speech by President Bush. --Paul Krugman

Attention Mr. Obama: McBush Has Howard Dean Moments
He Misreads His Plan: We will win by winning (see video)
"He shouts at clouds and the children who run across his lawn"

Fight Fire With Fire: Why Obama Must Focus On McBush's Character, Politex, Guy Reel

Two weeks ago Obama was ahead in most polls, now he's neck and neck with McBush. Why? Many commentators point to the McBush ads that personally attack Obama, constructed by the same Rove people who attacked Kerry personally and won. It's happening again, and Obama, like Kerry, acts as though he's powerless to stop it. But he's not.

Obama must give the average American what he wants. He must treat his opponent as though he were a product to be marketed, he must treat the campaign as though it was about two celebrities having hissy fits. That's what most Americans appear to want. The media and the corporations marketing their products have trained the American people to think that way, because it's in their best interests to have consumers who base their decision on emotions and drives, not the kind of rational thought that should be used to select a president. History suggests that most Americans base their choice of president not on what he and his party want to do, but on whom he appears to be.

Looking at past presidential elections, the Dems lose more often than not because they favor a voter decision based on the issues that will move the country forward, while the Repubs win because they favor a voter who decides on the basis of character assassination, since their plans for the country seldom benefit the average voter. Later this week I plan to provide further documentation for this belief. --Politex

As Guy Reel, an associate professor of mass communication at Winthrop University, writes:

"Look at the last two election cycles before this year, 2000 and 2004. Both times, George Bush and Karl Rove were able to cast the opponent as “not like us” — as “latte-drinking” limousine liberals. Gore was an extreme liberal phony who would surrender to environmentalists and who would raise taxes and expand government. Kerry was an extreme, liberal, flip-flopping socialist who “looked French,” was soft on terror and who would raise taxes and expand government. Never mind that Bush, of course, expanded government more than any president in history, weakened the U.S. military, jeopardized the war on terrorists and ensured a future determined by vast debt, and yes, the need for more taxes....

"And now, Obama is cast as an arrogant, presumptuous, overconfident, liberal, uppity, elitist celebrity who would raise taxes and expand government. He’s a little too smart, see? And a little too full of hisself. He ain’t like us. And we can’t trust him....And it seems apparent that this will be the Republicans’ Rovian playbook for the fall campaign. But what is equally obvious is that it’s easy to apply the same formula to define John McCain. Just ask yourself — what are the broad resonant themes about Republicans and about McCain? That is, what negative truths do voters think of when they think of Republican government and when they think of McCain?...

"To be blunt: He’s a crazy old man who can’t keep his stories straight. He’s a doddering fool. He’s a dangerous, burning fuse that cannot be trusted with the reins of government. It’s not so much that he’s a flip-flopper but that he doesn’t even remember his flips or flops. Even his own campaign says to ignore him. He shouts at clouds and the children who run across his lawn. You get the idea. And these resonant images and feelings fit in perfectly with voters’ resonant feelings about Republicans — the GOP nominee is an angry, arrogant, man whose policies, when he can remember them, will favor the rich and escalate the Bush incompetencies. t must be said that this isn’t about mere politics, although it would be an effective way to fight back against the highly negative campaign McCain is running. This is THE crucial issue of the campaign. These are dangerous times. We cannot afford to elect a doltish, forgetful, rash warmonger to lead the nation. Early in the campaign, the McCain camp went ballistic when Obama made a casual comment that McCain was “losing his bearings.” They shouted that this was ageism. They shouted it was an outrage about a “hero,” etc. These kinds of reactions demonstrate how effective these charges are, and how afraid of them the McCain campaign must be. Yet, amazingly, the Obama campaign backed down and has not since touched upon this crucial issue.

But it must. Obama and his campaign must fight back hard. This isn’t about age. It’s about competence. Perhaps in this case that’s tied to age, or, more accurately, to the patterns that some people fall into as they age — they may have difficulty processing simple events, or they cannot remember specific things that they say, or they become unnecessarily angry, or they view the world as a reflection of whatever thought happens to be passing through their minds at the time. All of these are characteristics evident in John McCain. Is he becoming unhinged? The man says things that are patently untrue, then says the opposite, which he then denies that he said. It’s easy to find reams of data detailing his flip-flops, his flashes of anger, his constant mistakes, his inability to be even remotely consistent on the most basic policies or facts. The pattern has become so alarming that some have wondered if he will even be able to finish the campaign. Again, this is not about age; it’s about the disturbing behavioral characteristics of John McCain.

"So this MUST be a key issue for Obama. If McCain is elected, his incapacities may well result in a government run not by the president, but by his vice president and ideological bureaucrats with their own particular agendas, not answerable to the people. Of course, that’s what happened upon Bush’s election. In Bush’s case it was intellectual and moral insufficiencies; in McCain’s case it is most likely mental impairment. This is the most important issue of the campaign, and it is the most resonant one for the American people. They’ve seen his dottiness first-hand; they know, deep down, that this is an important issue, even if he has been given such a free pass so far.

"The voters also know McCain is a temperamental, mean-spirited dinosaur who will support the failed policies of the past. So tell them both of those things in this campaign, over and over. If such a strategy is undertaken, some might worry about the fierce reactions from the McCain campaign and the right wing. But why feel qualms about telling the truth? The McCain campaign and Republicans have lied about Obama’s reasons for canceling a visit to wounded troops, tried to tie him to Britney Spears and Paris Hilton, and even, in Kafkaesque absurdities, compared him to Moses and blamed him for high gas prices.

"They are now trying the “resonant issues” they have used on Democrats for more than 30 years - a strategy that will likely last until the fall — that Obama hates the troops, is a tax-and-spend liberal, is weak on defense, and is unpatriotic. The only way to answer such pathetic charges is with the resonant arguments about McCain and the Republicans — he’s a crazy, dangerous and angry man who can’t remember what he says. He’ll favor the rich and give us more of the same Republican incompetence in managing the economy and foreign policy. At least, in Obama’s case, the charges will have the advantage of being true."

Bush Watch Op-Eds: August

The McBush Surge: Just What We Need, Another War President, Jerry Politex

August Surprise: Georgia War a Neocon Election Ploy?, Robert Scheer

Nowhere To Go: Will Obama Be The Last Conservative President?, Dem Strategist

BW Special: Georgia Invades South Ossetia...Russia Invades Georgia

In waning days Bush-Cheney-Rice try to figure out how to punish the Russian bear, SFC
If the question is 'who lost Georgia?' is the answer Dick Cheney?, LAT
  US issues harsh warning to Russia: Cold war map will not be redrawn, Gaurdian
Putin's war enablers: Bush and Cheney, Salon
  US accuses Russia of campaign of scorched earth in Georgia, Times
  Rice to push Georgia-Russia deal, BBC
Condi's cognitive dissonance, OpEdNews
  Putin's revenge: Russia agrees ceasefire – but the war of words still rages, Independent
  Putin outmaneuvers the West, Spiegel
Russia orders end to operation against Georgia; Invasion About Oil?
Sarkozy off to Moscow, Tbilisi to discuss Georgia crisis
Troops are sent into Georgia amid claims that Moscow is mounting a coup, Independent
Georgian army flees in disarray as Russians advance, Times
The beleaguered President who risked his country and links with the West, Independent
GEORGIA: Where the Cold War Never Ended
Klein: Neocons now think 'it's raining Nazis' in Georgia
Rice won't interrupt holiday for Georgia crisis
US aid to Georgia: $250K
Obama to Russia: 'No possible justification'
Bush: Russian response to Georgia 'disproportionate'
Cheney: Russia's actions 'must not go unanswered'
Russians Push Past Separatist Area to Assault Central Georgia
Medvedev says 'major part' of S.Ossetia operation over
On Slog to Safety, Seething at West
News Analysis: In Georgia and Russia, a Perfect Brew for a Blowup
Is this the first war between Russia and a former soviet state?, Spiegel
UN urges Russia to halt offensive in Georgia, Independent
Some weep, some rage as bombs pulverise capital, Independent
Georgia offers ceasefire as fighting continues, Reuters
We helped in Iraq – now help us, beg Georgians, Times

Bush Watch Special: White House War Crimes

U.S.: White House forged Iraqi Letter to create al-Qaeda Connection: Suskind, CBS
U.S.:  White House 'buried British intelligence on Iraq not having WMD's' , Times

Bush Watch Special: Bush Failed Economy

Bush budget deficit for 2008 seen at about $400 billion, Reuters
U.S.:  Freddie Mac losses soar to $821 million, Times
U.S.:  Many U.S. adults with chronic illness are uninsured, Reuters
U.S.: Housing lenders fear a coming tsunami of defaults , NYT
U.S.:  Prices hit US consumer spending, BBC
U.K.:  UK's biggest bank HSBC sees profits slump by 28percent as US asset writedowns and bad debts rise, Guardian

Bush Watch Special: The Anthrax Probe

U.S.:  US widow demands to know why "certifiable" scientist was not removed from his anthrax job, BBC
FBI's anthrax probe raises questions, WaPo
"Sources" Claim Scientist's Death Came Hours Before Scheduled Plea Bargain Meeting, WaPo
Evidence in Anthrax Case Is Said to Be Primarily Circumstantial, NYT
Anthrax Suspect’s Death Is Dark End for a Family Man, NYT
Suspect In Anthrax Killings Reportedly Kills Self, AP
Hounded Anthrax Gv. Scientist Found Dead, LAT

Dems Hall of Shame: Close To Half Voted Yes To Spy On Us, Protect Past Wiretapping Crimes

Baucus (D-MT), Bayh (D-IN), Carper (D-DE), Casey (D-PA), Conrad (D-ND), Feinstein (D-CA), Inouye (D-HI), Johnson (D-SD), Kohl (D-WI), Landrieu (D-LA), Lieberman (ID-CT), Lincoln (D-AR), McCaskill (D-MO), Mikulski (D-MD), Nelson (D-FL), Nelson (D-NE), Obama (D-IL), Pryor (D-AR), Rockefeller (D-WV), Salazar (D-CO), Webb (D-VA), Whitehouse (D-RI)

Note: All of the Republicans voted Yes, McCain was a no show, Webb is an Obama VP favorite.

Bush Watch Special: Killing Our Bill of Rights

U.S.: Bush's Justice Department repeatedly broke the law, New York Times
Journo: FISA vote 'step toward fascism'; ACLU sues gov't
US Senate passes surveillance law, BBC
Congressional Approval Falls to Single Digits for First Time Ever, Rasmussen
On July 4th We Celebrated Rule of Law; On July 9th Obama Helped Bury It, Gleen Grenwald
Bush Wiretap Bill Makes It Easier To Spy on Americans NYT Ed
AT+T, Verizon, etc. Went Along With Bush Illegal Wiretapping For "Multi-Billion Dollar Contracts" Salon
Senate Majority Approves Bush Illegal Wiretapping Without Looking At The Wrongdoing Evidence: Feingold
Obama Votes With Forces of Darkness, Hillary Says "No", Salon
Obama Supports "the continued growth of the lawless surveillance state", Glenn Greenwald
Obama Promised Filibuster To Defeat Warrantless Wiretapping, SF Chronicle Ed
Sellout: How Obama Won Wisconsin Primary With An Outright Lie, John Nichols
Majority of Dems Against Bill; Coward McCain a No Show, The Nation
Dems O-2 On Constitution; Feingold: Black Mark in US History , Raw

Op-Ed Roundup

Special Topics At Bush Watch: Asia Diary: India... Bush Threat... Crisis Economy... Bush Budget... Oil Wars [updated]... Bush Dictatorship... 20 Dem Tasks... Path to 9/11... Israel and the U.S.... Framing Fascism... Bush's Economic Dictatorship [excellent overview]... The Big Picture: A New Paradigm ... 2004 Election Stolen? ... Updated News Archives ...

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Thursday, August 21

The McBush Surge: Just What We Need, Another War President, Jerry Politex

It's a few days early for the op-ed pieces explaining how McBush's pro-Georgia surge helped to fuel his recent bump past Obama in a least one poll, the Reuters/Zogby poll released yesterday. Unlike the Bush surge in Iraq, the product of a non-surge from fighting an offensive war to defending the ground previously gained, the McBush surge was fueled by personal ad attacks on Obama's character and a decision to portray Georgia as a fragile democracy being crushed by a totalitarian Russian bear, a decision that grew out of a year's worth of visits to Georgia by McBush's campaign chief, until quite recently a paid lobbyist for Georgia, Condi, Karl Rove, and McBush, himself.

Although a new Quinnipiac poll released Tuesday has Obama still leading by 5 points, "the poll also finds McCain has a substantial edge on who voters think is best qualified to deal with the Russia crisis, 55%-27% -- suggesting that McCain had success with his efforts to brand himself as the leadership figure during the crisis by dispatching campaign allies to the region and generally filling the airwaves with a lot of tough talk. Indeed, almost a third of Democrats, and 55% of independents, prefer McCain to Obama on Russia," reports Greg Sargent at TPM.

Those voters and their media supporters who favor political propaganda over fact probably didn't observer McBush 4-day flip-flop on the subject. As a DAILY KOS writer notes, "Nobody outside Georgia tried harder to get the US to rush precipitously into the conflict with Russia than John McCain - even though by Monday he'd retreated to the point of merely urging more diplomatic pressure." The McBush campaign started out by saying, "the initial response from the Obama campaign was characterized by precisely the kind of rhetoric that the leaders of these nations warn against--a meaningless statement that equates the victim with the victimizer by calling on both sides to show restraint." After both Bush and Cheney agreed with Obama, calling for restraint, McBush fell in line with the majority U.S. opinion. The DK writer concludes, "His first reactions tell you what kind of president he'd be, however. And clearly he's bellicose in a way that makes even Dick Cheney look like a wuss."

Back at TPM, Jim N. gets it right: "Senator McCain showed  a strong willingness on Saturday night to attack evil!    But what does that really mean and where does his commitment end?     Tiananmen Square in China in the 80’s was EVIL!    How should we have confronted it?  Invade Beijing?       What about Darfur?    What about ….name your troubled nation of choice!    A willingness to interfere in other countries sounds great from the campaign platform, but the reality is that there is much more evil in the world than we can effectively combat as a single nation. John McCain’s entire history in Washington has been highlighted by a strong belief in American intervention to right the wrongs of the world.

"During the 80’s, John McCain was a strong supporter of another war.    He supported the Contra Army in Nicaragua.    Remember them?     They were the Nicaraguan rebels funded by Ronald Reagan during his administration.   (Interestingly enough the money for the Contras  was supplied by the US covertly selling weapons to IRAN!    Try explaining that on a bumper sticker.) In 2001, McCain told CNN within a month of 9/11 that we should attack Iraq because of 9/11!      ($658 BILLION dollars later we see how that is working out.)   Even the Bush administration now admits that Al Qaida was not in Iraq (pre-9/11) and that Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11.    But John McCain wanted to “hit back” at someone.  Unfortunately, taking time to be sure he had picked the right target to hit didn’t occur to him in 2001 as a Senator.  The big question is would a PRESIDENT McCain use any more judgment and wisdom in picking targets than Senator McCain has?    I would hope that America has seen the problems with 'cowboy diplomacy' but Senator McCain insists that 'there will be more wars'."

    Thursday, August 14

August Surprise: Georgia War a Neocon Election Ploy?, Robert Scheer

Is it possible that this time the October surprise was tried in August, and that the garbage issue of brave little Georgia struggling for its survival from the grasp of the Russian bear was stoked to influence the U.S. presidential election?

Before you dismiss that possibility, consider the role of one Randy Scheunemann, for four years a paid lobbyist for the Georgian government who ended his official lobbying connection only in March, months after he became Republican presidential candidate John McCain’s senior foreign policy adviser.

Previously, Scheunemann was best known as one of the neoconservatives who engineered the war in Iraq when he was a director of the Project for a New American Century. It was Scheunemann who, after working on the McCain 2000 presidential campaign, headed the Committee for the Liberation of Iraq, which championed the U.S. invasion of Iraq.

There are telltale signs that he played a similar role in the recent Georgia flare-up. How else to explain the folly of his close friend and former employer, Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili, in ordering an invasion of the breakaway region of South Ossetia, an invasion that clearly was expected to produce a Russian counterreaction? It is inconceivable that Saakashvili would have triggered this dangerous escalation without some assurance from influential Americans he trusted, like Scheunemann, that the United States would have his back. Scheunemann long guided McCain in these matters, even before he was officially running foreign policy for McCain’s presidential campaign.

In 2005, while registered as a paid lobbyist for Georgia, Scheunemann worked with McCain to draft a congressional resolution pushing for Georgia’s membership in NATO. A year later, while still on the Georgian payroll, Scheunemann accompanied McCain on a trip to that country, where they met with Saakashvili and supported his bellicose views toward Russia’s Vladimir Putin.

Scheunemann is at the center of the neoconservative cabal that has come to dominate the Republican candidate’s foreign policy stance in a replay of the run-up to the war against Iraq. These folks are always looking for a foreign enemy on which to base a new Cold War, and with the collapse of Saddam Hussein’s regime it was Putin’s Russia that came increasingly to fit the bill. Yes, it sounds diabolical, but that may be the most accurate way to assess the designs of the McCain campaign in matters of war and peace. There is every indication that the candidate’s demonization of Russian leader Putin is an even grander plan than the previous use of Saddam to fuel American militarism with the fearsome enemy that it desperately needs.

McCain gets to look tough with a new Cold War to fight while Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama, scrambling to make sense of a more measured foreign policy posture, will seem weak in comparison. Meanwhile, the dire consequences of the Bush legacy that McCain has inherited, from the disaster of Iraq to the economic meltdown, conveniently will be ignored. But the military-industrial complex, which has helped bankroll the neoconservatives, will be provided with an excuse for ramping up a military budget that is already bigger than that of the rest of the world combined....

For McCain to so fervently embrace Scheunemann’s neoconservative line of demonizing Russia in the interest of appearing tough during an election campaign is a reminder that a senator can be old and yet wildly irresponsible.

Monday, August 4

Nowhere To Go: Will Obama Be The Last Conservative President?, Dem Strategist

Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, Gov. Tim Kaine, and Sen. Evan Bayh are presently being vetted by the Obama VP team. In other words, instead of getting a progressive Dem to balance the ticket with the Centrist Obama, we're getting more of the same, plus a slap in the face to Hillary. As Cugel points out in the following Dem Strategist article, "It took conservatives 15 years before they got Ronald Reagan elected....Neo-con crusaders have been planting seeds for 20-30 years." Obama will not be the last conservative president. Vote Nader? Forget it. When an elderly woman asked Nader to respond to the idea that a vote for Nader is a vote for McCain, he called her a "political bigot." --Politex

If Obama wins...progressives are immediately going to start developing a rather LARGE list of policy differences with Obama.

There's going to be problems with his desire to ramp up the Afghanistan war, that's not going to go well and U.S. casualty rates are likely to soar. The more Afghanis feel that someone is trying to establish the rule of Kabul over them the more they will fight. They fought the Soviet installed regime, they fought the Taliban, they are fighting Karzai and the northern tribes that replaced the Taliban now. It's only going to get worse the more we try to exert control. This has the potential to be like JFK and Vietnam.

Then Iraq is still going to be a severe problem. Just because McCain and the media are trumpeting that "we've won! The surge worked!" doesn't make it true.... There's going to be the problem of "residual troops." What Obama wants and what progressives want (total evacuation of Iraq and leaving the country to the Iraqis without intereference) are night and day. Obama is talking about keeping hundreds of thousands of Americans (military advisers, economists, security personnel, experts of all stripes, spooks and CIA operatives, etc.) and lots of bases, including our Fortress Embassy and probably the Green Zone as well -- all under U.S. control, even if there is some fig-leaf "transfer" of autonomy over to the Iraqis. The Iraqis don't want any of this. It's a replay of Vietnam.

There will be plenty of domestic problems as well. The 70 vote defection on FISA ought to make something clear. The real lack is a progressive lobbying effort in Washington that controls money and clout. Many of these people aren't "Bush Dogs" at all, they are run of the mill Democrats who just aren't feeling any pressure from the left so they don't vote for liberal causes. Its a nice effort to develop this, but we'd be much better off targeting Democrats in blue districts who don't vote with us, than Bush Dogs in Rep +5 districts.

It took conservatives 15 years before they got Ronald Reagan elected. In the mean time how many "betrayals" by Rockyfeller Republicans did they have to endure? Noam Chomsky has called Nixon the "last liberal president" for his creation of EPA and various environmental laws, his espousal of "treatment first" drug policy, etc. He was in a liberal era and couldn't tilt nearly as far to the right as Bush can now, after Neo-con crusaders have been planting seeds for 20-30 years.

Obama might, if we are successful, be the "last conservative president." This is going to take a long time.

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