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Bush Stem Cell Lie: Bush Vetoes Stem Cell Bill, Although Cells
"would be destroyed in any case"
, Politex

The photo-op following Bush's veto of the stem cell bill passed by Congress was attended by "scores of children born as a result of an embryo-adoption program and their parents," according to NYT reporter David Stout. Looking at the children, Bush said, “These boys and girls are not spare parts.” Yet, later in the article Stout reports, "the bill approved by the Senate on Tuesday, and earlier by the House, would apply to excess embryos harvested for in-vitro fertilization that would be destroyed in any case if not used in research." GOP Senate majority leader Bill Frist and GOP anti-abortion senator Orrin Hatch were among 19 Republicans who backed the bill and rejected Bush, apparently understanding the distinction between the specifics of the bill and Bush's use of the children to confuse the issue.


Tuesday, August 1

The Future: Bush's Economic Dictatorship (excerpts), Part 4, Teresa Tritch

...The growing income gap — and the rise of the super-rich — demands attention. It is making America a less fair society, and a less stable one....

...C. The Too-Easy Answer

When confronted with evidence of growing income inequality, Bush administration officials invariably say the answer is more and better education. “We are starting to see that the income gap is largely an education gap,” said Trent Duffy, a White House spokesman, in a typical retort last January when tax data showed an increasing concentration of wealth among the highest-income Americans. Education is critically important to individuals, society, the economy and democracy itself, and deserves strong government support. But it is neither a satisfactory explanation, nor a remedy, for today's income inequality.

Today, according to the bureau, 37 percent of flight attendants have completed college, as have 35 percent of tour escorts, 21 percent of embalmers, and 13 percent of both security guards and casino dealers. Mr. Hacker notes that more people are expected to earn college degrees in preparation for well-paying professions. “But we cannot expect the economy will automatically create better-paid positions to match the cohort acquiring higher education,” he writes. Underscoring the point, the Bush administration's own Economic Report of the President in 2006 shows that average annual earnings of college graduates fell by 5 percent from 2000 to 2004. In those four years, the difference between the average yearly pay of a college graduate and a high school graduate shrank from 93 percent to 80 percent.

IV. The Future of Income Inequality

The fast-growing gap between the rich and poor and middle-class Americans is not something that has just happened. The Bush policies are an attempt to dismantle the institutions and norms that have long worked to ameliorate inequities — progressive taxation, the minimum wage, Social Security, Medicaid and so on. The aims that can’t be accomplished outright — like cuts in Social Security — are being teed up by running deficits that could force the shrinkage of government programs, even though the public would not likely condone many such cuts unless compelled to by a fiscal crisis. Such policies are grounded in an ideology that began taking shape some 30 years ago, when economic policy makers began to disdain the notion of harnessing and protecting society’s collective potential in favor of crafting incentives to align individuals’ interests with those of the market. This campaign has gone by many names — “starve the beast,” or “repeal the New Deal.” Economist Jared Bernstein of the Economic Policy Institute, a Washington think tank, calls that approach “you’re on your own,” or YOYO....

The problem now is that most any attempt to reduce inequality — even a measly increase in the minimum wage — is rejected as misguided. And policies that under one set of economic conditions might allow for a justifiable modicum of inequality are pursued beyond all reason. For instance, the rationale for the tax cuts in 2001 was to return the budget surplus that Mr. Bush inherited from President Clinton. The rationale for the tax cuts in 2002 and 2003 and 2006 was to stimulate the economy. The surplus has long since been replaced by big deficits, the jobless recovery ended three years ago and inequality is on the rise....


Monday, July 31

The Present: Bush's Economic Dictatorship (excerpts), Part 3, Teresa Tritch

...The growing income gap — and the rise of the super-rich — demands attention. It is making America a less fair society, and a less stable one....

III. Inequality During the Bush Years

For the last few years, the tide has been rising again, but most boats have been staying where they are, or sinking. One key reason is that the link between rising productivity and broad economic prosperity has been severed. Take another look at this graph. During the years that George W. Bush has been in the White House, productivity growth has been stronger than ever. But the real compensation of all but the top 20 percent of income earners has been flat or falling. Gains in wages, salaries and benefits have been increasingly concentrated at the uppermost rungs of the income ladder. The Bush administration would like you to believe that the situation will correct itself. Most recently, the new Treasury secretary, Henry M. Paulson, Jr., reiterated the administration’s viewpoint at his confirmation hearing in June when he said that “economic growth, job growth, productivity growth, hopefully will be followed by increases in wage income.” Well, hoping certainly won’t make it so.

Neither will growth alone. As the post-World War II history of income inequality illustrates, productivity improvement is only one piece of the prosperity puzzle. The economic health of most American families also depends greatly on what government does. If it merely “gets out of the way,” inequality is bound to persist and — if recent results are any indication of future performance — worsen. The Bush administration, though, has not even done anything as benign as get out of the way. The policies it has pursued — affirmatively and aggressively — have widened the gap between rich and poor.

A. The Tax Wedge

Tax cuts are the most obvious example. The Urban Institute-Brookings Institution Tax Policy Center computed the combined effects of tax cut legislation from 2001, 2003 and 2006. The tax cuts’ contribution to the income gap was significant. In 2006, the average tax cut for households with incomes of more than $1 million — the top two-tenths of 1 percent — is $112,000 which works out to a boost of 5.7 percent in after tax income. That’s considerably higher than the 5 percent boost garnered by the top 1 percent. It’s far greater than the 2.5 percent increase of the middle fifth of households, and fully 19 times greater than the 0.3 percent gain of the poorest fifth of households. The disparities are driven by tax cuts that overwhelmingly benefit the most affluent....

B. The Assault on Programs for the Poor and Middle Class

Tax cuts are not the only policies widening the gap between the rich and other Americans. Earlier this year, President Bush signed into law a measure that will cut $39 billion over the next five years from domestic programs like Medicaid and food stamps, and $99.3 billion from 2006 to 2015. The president and the Republican Congress have also done harm to the finances of the poorest Americans — and to the notion of basic fairness — by not increasing the federal minimum wage — it has been $5.15 since 1997 While C.E.O. salaries have been soaring, the take-home pay of waitresses and janitors has been hit hard by inflation. The Bush administration has also been trying, with mixed success so far, to pursue other policies that would have the effect of shifting money to the rich. The most ominous is its often-repeated desire to “address our long-term unfunded entitlement obligations.” That’s code for making tax cuts for the wealthy permanent while cutting Social Security....In 2004, over the objections of Congress, the administration overturned time-and-a-half regulation for overtime....


Sunday, July 30

The History: Bush's Economic Dictatorship (excerpts), Part 2, Teresa Tritch

...The growing income gap — and the rise of the super-rich — demands attention. It is making America a less fair society, and a less stable one....

II. A Brief History of Income Inequality

While it has long been the case that the rich do better than everyone else, it has not always been true that, in the process, the poor get poorer and the middle class gets squeezed. In post-World War II America, between 1947 and the early 1970’s, all income groups shared in the nation’s economic growth. Poor families actually had a higher growth in real annual income than other groups. Part of the reason was a sharp rise in labor productivity. As workers produced more, the economy grew and so did compensation — wages, salaries and benefits (see graph)....Government policies worked to ensure that productivity gains translated into more pay for Americans at all levels, including regular increases in the minimum wage and greater investment in the social safety net. Full employment was also a government priority. And, of course, unions were strong back then, giving workers bargaining power.

From the mid-1970’s until 1995, the trend reversed. The gap between the rich and poor widened at a rapid clip. The upper echelons — generally the top 20 percent of American households — experienced steady gains, while families in the bottom 40 percent were faced with declining or stagnating incomes. The growing divide coincided with a slowdown in productivity growth and a reversal in the government policies that had been promoting income equality. Legislators balked at raising the minimum wage and the earned income tax credit, a feature of the tax code that rewards the working poor by ensuring that work pays better than welfare. During the “supply side” era in the 1980’s, fostered by the policies of Ronald Reagan, taxes became less progressive. The goal of full employment was eclipsed by a focus on inflation fighting that remains to this day. As trade began to play an ever bigger role in the American economy, manufacturing jobs diminished and labor unions declined, reducing workers’ clout in setting compensation. Regulatory laxness reached its apex in the fiscal disaster of the savings and loan meltdown, which drained public resources from socially and economically useful programs and polices.

The trend toward increasing inequality was interrupted, briefly, in the late 1990’s. Productivity growth rebounded, and for a half decade, all income groups participated in the prosperity. Even then, the richest Americans had the best run, propelled largely by stock market gains. In fact, when the stock market hit its all time high in 2000, post-war income concentration also peaked. But government policies of the day helped to ensure that the lower rungs also had a boost. Clinton-era welfare reforms are often cast as a success story of market-based incentives. But in fact, they were supported by a big increase in the earned income tax credit to help solidify the transition from welfare to work. At the same time, budget deficits were conquered by shared sacrifice — a mix of tax increases and spending cuts affecting all groups....

That seems like ancient history now. Nearly everyone’s income fell in 2001 and 2002, due to the bursting of the Internet bubble in 2000, recession in 2001 and the ensuing jobless recovery. In the last few years, though, the trend toward inequality has reasserted itself — with a vengeance.

Sunday Funnies, Bell, Tomorrow, etc.

Israel Attempting to Rid the World of Anti-Semitism (By Mr. Fish)
The Rome Conference on Lebanon (By Martin Rowson)
The Rice Trip to Lebanon (By Martin Rowson)
Condi Plays Pin The Target on Lebanon (By Mr. Fish)
Tony Blair, Bush's Doormat (By Martin Rowson)
Meet Knuckles: Coming to a Secret Prison Near You! (By Mark Fiore)
This Modern World: Gloomy Gus and Perky Pete Read the News (By Tom Tomorrow)
Sutton Impact: Global Warming? Keep Laffin'! (By Ward Sutton)


Saturday, July 29

The Facts: Bush's Economic Dictatorship (excerpts), Part 1, Teresa Tritch

...The growing income gap — and the rise of the super-rich — demands attention. It is making America a less fair society, and a less stable one.

I. The Growing Divide

New figures show that from 2003 to 2004, the latest year for which there is data, the richest Americans pulled far ahead of everyone else. In the space of that one year, real average income for the top 1 percent of households — those making more than $315,000 in 2004 — grew by nearly 17 percent. For the remaining 99 percent, the average gain was less than 3 percent, and that probably makes things look better than they really are, since other data, most notably from the Census Bureau, indicate that the average is bolstered by large gains among the top 20 percent of households. In all, the top 1 percent of households enjoyed 36 percent of all income gains in 2004, on top of an already stunning 30 percent in 2003....

The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a Washington think tank, compared the latest data from Mr. Piketty and Mr. Saez to comprehensive reports on income trends from the Congressional Budget Office. Every way it sliced the data, it found a striking share of total income concentrated at the top(pdf) of the income ladder as of 2004. • The top 10 percent of households had 46 percent of the nation’s income, their biggest share in all but two of the last 70 years. • The top 1 percent of households had 19.5 percent (see graph). • The top one-tenth of 1 percent of households actually received nearly half of the increased share going to the top 1 percent.

These disparaties seem large, and they are. (Though the latest availabe data is from 2004, there are virtually no signs that the basic trend has changed since then.) The top 1 percent held a bigger share of total income than at any time since 1929, except for 1999 and 2000 during the tech stock bubble. But what makes today's disparities particularly brutal is that unlike the last bull market of the late 1990's — when a proverbial rising tide was lifting all boats — the rich have been the only winners lately. According to an analysis by Goldman Sachs, for most American households — the bottom 60 percent — average income grew by less than 20 percent from 1979 to 2004, with virtually all of those gains occurring from the mid- to late 1990's. Before and since, real incomes for that group have basically flatlined.The best-off Americans are not only winning by an extraordinary margin right now. They are the only ones who are winning at all....

As income has become more concentrated at the top, overall wealth has also become more skewed. According to the latest installation of a survey that the Federal Reserve has conducted every three years since 1989, the wealthiest 1 percent of Americans accounted for 33.4 percent of total net worth in 2004, compared to 30.1 percent in 1989. Over the same period, the other Americans in the top 10 percent saw their share of the nation’s net worth basically stagnate, at about 36 percent, while the bottom 50 percent accounted for just 2.5 percent of the wealth in 2004, compared to 3.0 percent in 1989....


Friday, July 28

Attacks On Truth: How Bush Turns Information Into Propaganda (excerpts) , Krugman

... A few days ago the Harris Poll reported that 50 percent of Americans now believe that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction when we invaded, up from 36 percent in February 2005. Meanwhile, 64 percent still believe that Saddam had strong links with Al Qaeda. At one level, this shouldn’t be all that surprising. The people now running America never accept inconvenient truths. Long after facts they don’t like have been established, whether it’s the absence of any wrongdoing by the Clintons in the Whitewater affair or the absence of W.M.D. in Iraq, the propaganda machine that supports the current administration is still at work, seeking to flush those facts down the memory hole. But it’s dismaying to realize that the machine remains so effective.

Here’s how the process works. First, if the facts fail to support the administration position on an issue — stem cells, global warming, tax cuts, income inequality, Iraq — officials refuse to acknowledge the facts. Sometimes the officials simply lie. “The tax cuts have made the tax code more progressive and reduced income inequality,” Edward Lazear, the chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, declared a couple of months ago. More often, however, they bob and weave. Consider, for example, Condoleezza Rice’s response a few months ago, when pressed to explain why the administration always links the Iraq war to 9/11. She admitted that Saddam, “as far as we know, did not order Sept. 11, may not have even known of Sept. 11.” (Notice how her statement, while literally true, nonetheless seems to imply both that it’s still possible that Saddam ordered 9/11, and that he probably did know about it.) “But,” she went on, “that’s a very narrow definition of what caused Sept. 11.”

Meanwhile, apparatchiks in the media spread disinformation. It’s hard to imagine what the world looks like to the large number of Americans who get their news by watching Fox and listening to Rush Limbaugh, but I get a pretty good sense from my mailbag. Many of my correspondents are living in a world in which the economy is better than it ever was under Bill Clinton, newly released documents show that Saddam really was in cahoots with Osama, and the discovery of some decayed 1980’s-vintage chemical munitions vindicates everything the administration said about Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction. (Hyping of the munitions find may partly explain why public belief that Saddam had W.M.D. has made a comeback.) Some of my correspondents have even picked up on claims, mostly disseminated on right-wing blogs, that the Bush administration actually did a heck of a job after Katrina....

...The climate of media intimidation [by the Bush administration] that prevailed for several years after 9/11, which made news organizations very cautious about reporting facts that put the administration in a bad light, has abated. But it’s not entirely gone....Who would have imagined that history would prove so easy to rewrite in a democratic nation with a free press?


Thursday, July 27

Op-Eds: The Latest from Ireland, Clothier, Australia, Kane, Pringle, and Mickey Z.

U.S. right-wing ministers visit Latvia and nation strikes at gays , Doug Ireland
Last Friday saw the conclusion of an international evangelical Christian conference in Riga that fanned the flames of anti-gay hate. Called “Let Your Kingdom Come,” the conference was attended by homo-hating pastors and missionaries from the United States—more evidence of increasing attempts by the U.S. Christian right to globalize Christian fundamentalist homophobia. American speakers at the conference focused on the struggle against the “oppressive power” of the gay rights movement. Scott Lively, president of the California-based Abiding Truth Ministries, said, “A war has begun between Christians and homosexuals.” Lively is co-author of the anti-gay book “The Pink Swastika.” The mission of Abiding Truth Ministries and its affiliated Pro-Family Law Center is to “oppose the ‘gay’ movement and its destructive agenda by providing essential pro-family information and resources,” according to Lively, who also leads the American Family Association of California. In 2004, Lively’s Pro-Family Law Center brought suit to have San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsome removed from office for performing “illegal” gay marriages....

From Iraq to Lebanon: Let sleeping giants lie , Mickey Z.
The “root cause” of the current Middle East reality show, we’re told, was the “unprovoked” kidnapping of Israeli soldiers. Historical context be damned, when it comes to waging war, my friends: pretext rules the day. All a belligerent government needs is a good international incident to inflame them...and if no such incident should occur, well, don’t look now but here comes the U.S.S. Maine steaming down the Tonkin Gulf. It’s an excuse we all learn in childhood: “He started it” or “She hit me first.” From this rudimentary alibi grows the convenient myth of the “sleeping giant.” By portraying oneself as the unwitting target of an unwarranted sneak attack; all the bases are covered. Not only are you claiming innocence and the role of victim, you might even be excused for reacting angrily...maybe even with a little too much force. This week marks 16 years since one such "overreaction....

Seven Suggestions For Bush , Peter Clothier
Bush, do you have any new game plans up your sleeve? You could yet surprise us all. Not likely, though. You'd need to do some serious rethinking, and I understand that's not your strong point. I do have a few suggestions for you, if you'll bear with me. They could be helpful:...

Notes on Today's News , BC, Bush Watch Australian Editor
Surprise, surprise! Rice and Bush thwarted the cease-fire and gave Israel approval to continue in their invasion of Lebanon, with the hope that this will further inflame the ME conflict, a Judeo-Christian/Islamic World War, with the neo-con's believing that the US/Israel will prevail and the Israeli/American Empire can then annex the entire oil-producing ME into their empire. If it weren't so disasterous for the world, it would seem like a Disneyland fantasy. They obviously feel they're invincible despite the US failed quagmire in Iraq and Afghanistan. Because they feel invincible they are refusing to read the history lessons, the failure of the British Empire when they tried to do the same. You'd think Blair would have remembered British history, but no.

Meanwhile, the Israeli war machine, supplied by America, is using illegal and immoral chemical weapons, undoubtedly supplied by America, the same type of weapons America used in Fallugia. My opinion yesterday, about the UN outpost bombing has been confirmed today. Last night, Tony Jones interviewed the Israeli Foreign Minister spokesman, Mark Regev, posing strong questions but of course, Regev lied and lied and lied. It's worth not only reading the transcript but also watching the live video by getting into the article, clicking Home, the report.

Teen Screen: Prescription Drug Pusher In Schools , Evelyn Pringle
Whenever a TeenScreen article appears in the mainstream media, it never discusses the fact that the survey is being used to label children with any number of mental illnesses. The point needs to be made that this so-called "suicide prevention tool" has a lofty purpose alright, but caring about whether or not kids commit suicide ain't it. According to attorney, John Whitehead, founder and president, of The Rutherford Institute, and author of the award-winning book, "Grasping for the Wind," TeenScreen is driven "by recommendations from President Bush's New Freedom Commission on Mental Health, which has called for mental health screening for all school-aged children, including those in preschool." "TeenScreen is sweeping across the nation," he warns, "and finding its way into our public schools." Although these programs are touted as suicide prevention tools, Mr Whitehead notes, "they seem to have more to do with drugging children than saving lives-and they are understandably raising an outcry among parents and child advocacy groups alike."

No Liebe For Lieberman , Madeleine Begun Kane
Joe Lieberman thinks he's entitled
To votes and devotion unbridled.
But a GOP whore,
Who's still wrong on the war,
Has to forfeit his Senator title


Wednesday, July 26

Op-Eds: The Latest from Fisher (2), Wiener (2), Australia, Miller, Kane, Kastelein, and Floyd

The Limits of Presidential Power , William Fisher
President George W. Bush's widespread use of so-called "signing statements" to unilaterally decide which parts of acts passed by Congress he will enforce continues to face mounting opposition as the practice came under sharp criticism from a blue-ribbon task force assembled by the nation's premier legal organization and a powerful member of the president's own party announced he will soon introduce legislation authorizing Congress to sue him in Federal Court....

While Beirut Burns , William Fisher
As rockets rain down on Lebanon and Israel, and the world stares into the abyss of a catastrophic Middle East conflagration, it was comforting to note last week that members of Congress refused to get depressed about the scary state of world affairs. Instead, they busied themselves by concentrating their attention on some of the really crucial domestic issues facing our nation. Like a Constitutional Amendment banning same-sex marriage. Even though the Senate resoundingly rejected action on this dangerous "values issue“ and even President Bush couldn't really work up much public enthusiasm for it, the House of Representatives persevered. Or at least the God Squad wing of the Republican Party persevered....

The dangers and glories of manipulating reality , Bernard Weiner
Digital photography is having profound effects on how information gets dispersed, and in reducing society's trust in the integrity of the visual image.

From Bombs in Beirut to the Ballot Box in November , Bernard Weiner
The disaster that is Bush policy in the Middle East provides a clear reason, if you needed more, why we must work twice as hard to defeat the GOP in the House and Senate in November. First job: To guarantee an honest election.

Betrayal of the Empire or Fealty to Humanity? , Jason Miller
“See the irony is what they need to do is get Syria to get Hezbollah to stop doing this shit and it’s over.” [George W. Bush]

the real irony here is that Israel picked this fight through its ongoing ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian people, including the siege it has waged against the 1.4 million Gaza residents since January. As of July 11, the ratio of Palestinian to Israeli deaths was 47:1 in Israel’s military incursion into Gaza. Through 7/19, Israel had killed 300 Lebanese civilians while losing only 29 of its own, 14 of whom were military personnel. Both territories subjected to Israeli state terrorism have suffered substantial damage to critical civilian infrastructure, including bridges, power plants, airports, and highways. Israeli infrastructure remains almost completely intact. Israel specializes in collective punishment of civilian populations....

Notes on Today's News , Bush Watch Australian Editor
As soon as I woke up this morning, turned on Sky News and learned of Israel’s attack on the UN observer post, I thought that was a deliberate strike, undoubtedly planned by both Olmert and Rice yesterday. Why? Because Rice made noises about a UN peacekeeping force to ‘appear’ to be doing something, but both the Israeli’s and Washington want the Israeli bombing to escalate to include other ME nations, not a cease fire and peacekeeping. Therefore, bombing of a UN post would make potential peacekeeper nations think twice about sending troops from their countries to be fired upon and killed by Israeli’s. I’m also quite sure that Rice and Olmert talked about Israel escalating the war with pre-emptive strikes on Iran and Syria, and then force all nations to ‘take sides’ in WWIII which the neo-con’s have been pushing for. David Hardacre in Lebanon, essentially confirmed my thoughts (Middle East Correspondent discusses UN bombing claims, ABC Au).

Excellent article by Max Hastings in The Age, ‘The West has forgotten that might is not right’ and IMO, he’s spot on. Ed O’Loughlin and Paul McGeough, both ME correspondents, both wrote excellent analyses in the Sydney Morning Herald. A leading Arabic voice in the USA, Dr James Zogby, was interviewed on Lateline last night, who feels that Israel’s attacks may boost Hezbollah’s support. See transcript, ABC Au.

Another article by Malcolm Fraser, ex-PM, of the same party as Howard, the way the Libs used to be before poodle Howard embraced neo-con thinking, expresses exactly what I feel about Howard, his blind obeisance to Bush and Co, which makes me sick. Howard rings the White House to see what he’s supposed to say, then repeats what the White House says, verbatim. Weak as…Bonsai!!

Of course, I agree with the letter written by Chomsky, Pinter, et al (Scoop) And, while we’re all watching Lebanon, Israel is tightening the noose on Palestine (Scoop). Meanwhile, two Aussie journos have had close calls today as Israel bombed venues they were interviewing at, a nursing home and a hospital. It might be wise for Aussie journo’s in Lebanon to NOT let the Israeli’s know where they are after the deliberate strike on the UN today, since all who are not rabid supporters of Israeli war crimes appear to be labelled as enemies to be attacked and killed or maimed.

Ode To The Groper , Madeleine Begun Kane
When diplomacy's needed, Bush gropes.
With his veto, he murders our hopes.
But there's one thing he's mastered:
It's causing disasters
So huge, we can't measure their scope.

Chris Floyd Sacked from Moscow Times - After Ten Years , Richard Kastelein
This is a personal message from me. Chris can speak for himself, and I'm sure he will when the time is right, but I just wanted to let everyone know that today, after more than a decade of working with The Moscow Times, Chris Floyd was 'let go' by the new editor, who said Floyd's column no longer fits in with the paper's plans. So that's it. After 10 years of the "Global Eye" column, and 12 years overall with the paper, it's over. After August 11, Floyd will no longer be published in the Moscow Times or, presumably, The St. Petersburg Times, which picked up the Moscow column each week. He will, however, continue to publish his writings here at Empire Burlesque.

Craven Image: The Senate Bows to Imperial Power, Chris Floyd
Well, that didn't take long. Two weeks ago we wrote here that the "lockstep, lickspittle" U.S. Congress would scurry to give their approval to the dictatorial powers asserted by President George W. Bush after the Supreme Court struck down those claims in the Hamdan case earlier this month. And lo and behold, last week Republican Senator Arlen Specter introduced a bill that would not only confirm Bush's unrestrained, unconstitutional one-man rule – it would augment it, exalting the Dear Leader to even greater authoritarian heights. a more abject surrender of Congressional authority – can scarcely be imagined. And the implications are profound. Besides providing what amount to ex post facto cover for Bush's clearly criminal domestic surveillance programs, the measure is a stinging confirmation that there is no crime the Bushists can commit that the craven rubberstamps in Congress will not countenance. Aggressive war, torture, rendition, indefinite detention, "extrajudicial killing" (i.e., murder), monumental corruption, spying on citizens, megalomaniacal assertions of tyrannical power – it's all good for the corporate bagmen, gormless goobers and extremist cranks now polluting the chambers on Capitol Hill....


Tuesday, July 25

Op-Eds: The Latest from Jenkins, Uhler, Brasch, Hammerschlag, Lendman, and Bosworth

We’re at War All Right – Right Here at Home , W. David Jenkins III
“There never has been a state that has benefited from an extended war." From Master Sun-Tzu’s “The Art of War.” John Walsh’s recent article, “Flunking the Art of War,” contained the above quote and I couldn’t help but see it in a completely different context from what Walsh had intended. Walsh was obviously and appropriately applying the ancient wisdom of Sun-Tzu in comparison to our modern day U.S. President of War- and his complete failure in Iraq- and the results of our leaving Israel and Lebanon to “duke it out” amongst themselves since nobody ever really read his “Roadmap to Peace.” As I read passages from the sixth century B.C., while at the same time wishing that Bush could have mastered literacy beyond the likes of “My Pet Goat,” a stark and disturbing thought came forth– America may not survive the war within its own borders let alone the international blunders Bush has duct-taped to his legacy....

Part-Time Principles: The Rhetoric of the Bush Morality , Walter Brasch
If the President of the United States was concerned about “morals” and the “sanctity of life,” he would have condemned hunting and the gun lobby that was one of the primary contributors to his political campaigns. He would have condemned the spurious and vicious attacks upon Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) in the 2000 primary contest, and the Swift Boat attacks upon Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) in the 2004 general election. There is a lot that the President of the United States could do to prove he is a moral leader, one who believes in the sanctity of life. But, his record, not his rhetoric, shows otherwise....

Senator Rick Santorum: Poster Boy for Obnoxious and Desperate Conservatism, Walter C. Uhler
Today, Mr. Santorum is the not-so-proud possessor of poor polling percentages, which indicate that even the good citizens of central and rural Pennsylvania (AKA the mostly "Alabamans" who live between Philadelphia and Pittsburgh) have tired of his empty, "bogus nostalgia and right-wing extremist ideology" about "the traditional family."... Thus, political desperation best explains Santorum's recent attempt to reframe the debate by announcing to Pennsylvanians and all Americans - during his speech to the National Press Club on July 20, 2006 - that "today the biggest issue facing our children's future is a war." However, with that speech - which was replete with reckless rhetoric designed to incite the mob and turn out the faithful on election day -- Santorum revalidated the timeless truth spoken by Samuel Johnson: "Patriotism is the last refuge of scoundrel."...

Why They Hate Us, Michael Hammerschlag
"They have a right to defend themselves from terrorism," intoned our Chump in Chief, and that was the end of any hope for American intervention or mediation of Israel's savage attack on the Hezbollah and innocent Lebanese. ‘Like an pricked enraged giant, striking out in every direction,’ said the BBC, as Olmert showed he wasn't the moderate the world believed when he carried out the Gaza withdrawal, but a clumsy second rater who makes even Sharon look wise....To every country but America, Israel is the one sowing terror with their inaccurate artillery, and huge air strikes. To this neocon President and cabinet, there is obviously nothing Israel can do that would be beyond the pale- out of bounds- and Israel is encouraged by this in their depredations....

World War III: Rapture-Ready? , Andrew Bosworth
There is no shortage of people itching for World War III. Fox News megaphones like Sean Hannity and Bill O’Reilly - as well as members of the Outer Party, like New Gingrich - have proclaimed, with a glint in their eye, the dawn of World War III. As usual, ordinary Israelis, Arabs and even Americans are about to pay a steep price – unless, of course, they belong to a fundamentalist sect, in which case they will be saved. Indeed, America’s own President and Sloganeer-in-Chief, George W., rushed a delivery of bombs to the region, hoping to accelerate the apocalypse. He forgot that Armageddon, if it comes, will be on God’s clock and not his. But George W. stands on the White House lawn nonetheless, face turned skyward, waiting for the warm glow – waiting to be beamed up to Heaven, like in Star Trek, while the rest of us sinners remain on earth to suffer the worst parts of the Book of Revelations. Similar thinking is mirrored on the other side of the planet....

The Crime Against Lebanon and Palestine. Iran and Syria Next? , Stephen Lendman
By any interpretation of international law, Israel today is committing massive and egregious war crimes and crimes against humanity against the defenseless people of Palestine and Lebanon. It's doing it with the full support and encouragement of the US and willful compliance of the West, most of the Arab world, the UN and the dominant corporate media worldwide acting as cheerleaders for the mass killing, crippling destruction, and immiseration of innocent civilians in Lebanon and the Palestinian Occupied Territories. Israel falsely claims its duel assaults are in response to Hamas' capture of an Israel Defense Forces (IDF) soldier near Kerem Shalom crossing, southeast of Rafah, on June 25 and Hezbollah's cross-border incursion on July 12, killing eight IDF soldiers in the exchange that followed and taking two others prisoner. ...


Monday, July 24

"It's very interesting when you think about it, the slaves who left here [Senegal] to go to America, because of their steadfast and their religion and their belief in freedom, helped change America. America is what it is today because of what went on in the past. Yet when I looked out over the sea, it reminded me that we've always got to keep history in mind. And one of the things that we've always got to know about America is that we love freedom, that we love people to be free, that freedom is God's gift to each and every individual. That's what we believe in our country. I'm here to spread that message of freedom and peace. Where we see suffering, America will act. Where we find the hungry, we will act. We're here not only on a mission of mercy, we're also here on a mission of alliance. And I want to thank you all for helping make that come true." --George W. Bush, July 8, 2003, Whitehouse.gov

Say what??? "History" is clear - until the Emancipation Proclamation, America loved slavery more than freedom. And African slaves didn't "leave" to "go to America" - they were shackled in chains and hauled to America on slave ships. Dan Quayle must have had W in mind when he said: "what a waste it is to lose one's mind." --Dems.com.

George W. Bush is shocked, shocked, I tell you, when anyone accuses him of being a racist. In Bush's world, he doesn't screw blacks because of the color of their skin, he screws them because they're not rich. But one thing's for certain, "the nasty racial roots of the G.O.P.’s triumph live on in public policy and election strategy," according to Paul Krugman in the excerpts that follow. Bush is responsible for those public poliies and those election strategies, and those actions are racist. When Bush was Texas Governor, he appointed a wealthy black friend to a high ranking state post, but he never attended the swearing in, which was held early on a Saturday morning, the media's death valley. Yet, Bush is angry, angry, I tell you, when someone calls the Bush family racist. But, as Krugman reminds us, "The Supreme Court probably wouldn’t have been able to put Mr. Bush in the White House in 2000 if the administration of his brother, the governor of Florida, hadn’t misidentified large numbers of African-Americans as felons ineligible to vote." When Bush policies keep screwing blacks and rewarding whites, his actions are racist, no matter what he claims is in his "heart." --Politex, July 24, 2006

Bush's Racism: Actions Speak Louder Than Hollow Words (excerpts) Paul Krugman

...G.O.P. policies consistently help those who are already doing extremely well, not those lagging behind — a group that includes the vast majority of African-Americans. And both the relative and absolute economic status of blacks, after improving substantially during the Clinton years, have worsened since 2000. The G.O.P. obsession with helping the haves and have-mores, and lack of concern for everyone else, was evident even in Mr. Bush’s speech to the N.A.A.C.P. Mr. Bush never mentioned wages, which have been falling behind inflation for most workers. And he certainly didn’t mention the minimum wage, which disproportionately affects African-American workers, and which he has allowed to fall to its lowest real level since 1955.

Mr. Bush also never used the word “poverty,” a condition that afflicts almost one in four blacks. But he found time to call for repeal of the estate tax, even though African-Americans are more than a thousand times as likely to live below the poverty line as they are to be rich enough to leave a taxable estate. Economic issues alone, then, partially explain African-American disdain for the G.O.P. But even more important is the way Republicans win elections. The problem with policies that favor the economic elite is that by themselves they’re not a winning electoral strategy, because there aren’t enough elite voters. So how did the Republicans rise to their current position of political dominance? It’s hard to deny that barely concealed appeals to racism, which drove a wedge between blacks and relatively poor whites who share the same economic interests, played a crucial role.

Don’t forget that in 1980, the sainted Ronald Reagan began his presidential campaign with a speech on states’ rights in Philadelphia, Miss., where three civil rights workers were murdered in 1964. These days the racist appeals have been toned down....But the nasty racial roots of the G.O.P.’s triumph live on in public policy and election strategy. A revelatory article in yesterday’s Boston Globe described how the Bush administration has politicized the Justice Department’s civil rights division, “filling the permanent ranks with lawyers who have strong conservative credentials but little experience in civil rights.” Not surprisingly, there has been a shift in priorities: “The division is bringing fewer voting rights and employment cases involving systematic discrimination against African-Americans, and more alleging reverse discrimination against whites and religious discrimination against Christians.” Above all, there’s the continuing effort of the G.O.P. to suppress black voting. In 2004, Ohio’s Republican secretary of state tried to impose a ludicrous rule on the paper weight of voter registration applications; last year, Georgia Republicans tried to impose an onerous “voter ID” rule. In each case, the obvious intent was to disenfranchise blacks....


Sunday, July 23

Faith-Based Cupidity: Eight Degrees of Evangelical Hypocrisy (excerpts) Frank Rich

[Bush to Reed:] ...While Mr. Bush’s Iraq project threatens to deliver the entire region to Iran’s ayatollahs, this month may also be remembered as a turning point in America’s own religious wars. The president’s politically self-destructive stem-cell veto and the simultaneous undoing of the religious right’s former golden boy, Ralph Reed, in a Republican primary for lieutenant governor in Georgia are landmark defeats for the faith-based politics enshrined by Mr. Bush’s presidency. If we can’t beat the ayatollahs over there, maybe we’re at least starting to rout them here.

[...to Mendelson to Enron:}...Back in 2001, many Americans gave the president the benefit of the doubt when he said that his stem-cell “compromise” could make “more than 60” cell lines available for federally financed study. Those lines turned out to be as illusory as Saddam’s weapons of mass destruction: there were only 22, possibly all of them now contaminated or otherwise useless. Fittingly, the only medical authority to endorse the Bush policy at the time, the Houston cancer doctor John Mendelsohn, was a Bush family friend. He would later become notorious for lending his empirical skills to the Enron board’s audit committee....No less cruelly deceptive was the photo op staged to sell Mr. Bush’s veto: television imagery of the president cradling so-called Snowflake babies, born via in vitro fertilization from frozen embryos that had been “adopted.” As Senator Arlen Specter has pointed out, only 128 of the 400,000 or so rejected embryos languishing in deep freeze in fertility clinics have been adopted. Many of the rest are destined to be tossed in the garbage.

[...to Robertson to Abramoff:]...Hypocrisy among self-aggrandizing evangelists is as old as Elmer Gantry — older, actually. But Mr. Reed wasn’t some campfire charlatan. He was the religious right’s most effective poster boy in mainstream America. He had been recruited for precisely that mission by Pat Robertson, who made him the frontman for the Christian Coalition in 1989, knowing full well that Mr. Reed’s smarts and youth could do P.R. wonders that Mr. Robertson and the rest of the baggage-laden Falwell generation of Moral Majority demagogues could not. And it worked. In 1995, Mr. Reed was rewarded with the cover of Time, for representing “the most thorough penetration of the secular world of American politics by an essentially religious organization in this century.” Actually, the Christian Coalition was soon to be accused of inflating its membership, Enron-accounting style, and was careening into debt. Only three years after his Time cover, Mr. Reed, having ditched the coalition to set up shop as a political consultant, sent his self-incriminating e-mail to Mr. Abramoff: “I need to start humping in corporate accounts!” He also humped in noncorporate accounts, like the Bush campaigns of 2000 and 2004.

[...to Rove to Lieberman:]...By 2005 Mr. Reed had become so toxic that Mr. Bush wouldn’t be caught on camera with him in Georgia. But the Bush-Rove machine was nonetheless yoked to Mr. Reed in their crusades: the demonization of gay couples as boogeymen (and women) in election years, the many assaults on health (not just in stem-cell laboratories but in federal agencies dealing with birth control and sex education), the undermining of the science of evolution. The beauty of Mr. Reed’s unmasking is the ideological impact: the radical agenda to which he lent an ersatz respectability has lost a big fig leaf, and all the president’s men, tied down like Gulliver in Iraq, cannot put it together again to bamboozle suburban voters. It’s possible that even Joe Lieberman, a fellow traveler in the religious right’s Schiavo and indecency jeremiads, could be swept out with Rick Santorum in the 2006 wave. Mr. Lieberman is hardly the only Democrat in the Senate who signed on to the war in Iraq, but he’s surely the most sanctimonious. He is also the only Democrat whose incessant Bible thumping (while running for vice president in 2000) was deemed “inappropriate and even unsettling in a religiously diverse society such as ours” by the Anti-Defamation League. As Ralph Reed used to say: amen.

Sunday Funnies, Bell, Tomorrow, etc.

Israel's Gloved Greeting (By Martin Rowson)
G-8 Views ME Conflagration (By Martin Rowson)
This Modern World: Gloomy Gus and Perky Pete Read the News (By Tom Tomorrow)
Sutton Impact: Global Warming? Keep Laffin'! (By Ward Sutton)
Everybody knows just what the *!@?! they must do (By Mark Fiore)
Gore vs Kerry: Who's Your Favorite Shoulda-Been?(By Ward Sutton)
Republicans Advise Dems: Vote Lieberman! (By Tom Tomorrow)
Wishing for Peace (By Mr. Fish)


Saturday, July 22

Bush Lies to NAACP: Can't we all just learn to get along? Greg Palast

God lost this time. I counted: Bush mentioned God only six times in his speech to the NAACP today. The winner was ‘faith’ — which got seven mentions, though if you count “The Creator” as God, well, then the Lord tied it.

Coming in right behind God and Faith, other big mentions in the First Home Boy’s rap included: The Voting Rights Act, his family’s “commitment to civil rights,” the “death tax,” rebuilding New Orleans and “public school choice” and “soft bigotry.”

As the philosopher Aretha Franklin once said, “Who’s zoomin’ who?”

Let’s take it one point at a time.

Death and Taxes — Inheritance taxes apply only to those who leave assets exceeding $2 million. Mr. Bush realized how crucial this issue was to the NAACP. He said, “The [current] ‘death tax’ will prevent future African American entrepreneurs from being able to pass their assets from one generation to the next.” His heart went out to the families of Gulf Coast flood victims who discovered that they could collect only the first two million bucks of their inheritance tax-free. Apparently, Mr. Bush heard that, among the 2,000 folk drowned in New Orleans, there were several millionaires. Luckily, the rumor proved false.

School Choice — Our Voucher Salesman-in-Chief offered the Black folk a truly exciting deal:“When we find schools that are not teaching and will not change, our parents should have a different option… charter schools and public school choice and opportunity scholarships to be able to enable parents to move their child out of a school that’s not teaching.”

What he meant in this statement that was nearly in English (“to be able to enable”?) was that his No Child Left Behind Act gives all parents the right to move their kids to better schools.

Indeed, the Behind Act does require school systems to offer that choice. In New York, for example, a third of a million students qualify under the law to escape poorly performing schools — but only 8,000 could do so. Mr. Bush forgot to include the money for the moves. But hey, his parents never asked for a handout to move him to Phillips Andover Academy.

Voting Rights Act — This was a big applause line. Bush gloated about his convincing the White Sheets Caucus of the Republican Party to go along with the renewal of the Voting Rights Act. But he forgot to mention the fine print. The Southern GOP only went along with renewing the law on the understanding that the law would never be enforced. Think I’m kidding? Check this: in July 2004, the US Civil Rights Commission voted to open a civil and criminal investigation of his brother’s Administration in Florida for knowingly renewing a racially-biased scrub of voter rolls. In April 2004, Governor Jeb Bush, of the “family committed to civil rights,” personally ordered this new purge of “felons” from voter rolls, despite promising never to repeat the infamous scrub of 2000. The new purge violated a settlement he signed with the, uh, NAACP.

It also violated the Voting Rights Act. The Civil Rights Commission turned the case over to the US Justice Department which, two years on, has yet to begin the investigation. That’s not to say President Bush did nothing. He swiftly replaced every member of the Commission who voted to investigate his brother.

Ownership Society — Our President was really excited recounting how he spoke to actual Black people in Mississippi, asking how many of them had 401(k) investment plans. Strangely, he didn’t ask them if they had health insurance. Since Mr. Bush took office, the number of African-American adults without it has grown to 7.3 million. That’s a kind of death tax, too, Mr. President. Our President completed the White-washing of his record by railing against, “the soft bigotry of low expectations. If you have low expectations,” he said, “you’re going to get lousy results.”

Well, the NAACP never expected much from this President, and the results have proved his point.


Friday, July 21

Bush and His Friends: Liars, Incompetents, or Incompetent Liars? , Politex

Paul Krugman recently gathered together a collection of before and after quotes which demonstrate the constant spin of Bush and his henchmen. As I have indicated in my latest book, Big Bush Lies, it's gotten to the point where neither Bush nor his friends can distinguish between lies and the truth. Here's what Krugman has collected to demonstrate this premise:

“The greatest thing to come out of [invading Iraq] for the world economy ... would be $20 a barrel for oil.” Rupert Murdoch, chairman of News Corporation (which owns Fox News), February 2003

“Oil Touches Record $78 on Mideast Conflict.” Headline on www.foxnews.com, July 14, 2006

“The administration’s top budget official estimated today that the cost of a war with Iraq could be in the range of $50 billion to $60 billion,” saying that “earlier estimates of $100 billion to $200 billion in Iraq war costs by Lawrence B. Lindsey, Mr. Bush’s former chief economic adviser, were too high.” The New York Times, Dec. 31, 2002

“According to C.B.O.’s estimates, from the time U.S. forces invaded Iraq in March 2003, $290 billion has been allocated for activities in Iraq. ... Additional costs over the 2007-2016 period would total an estimated $202 billion under the first [optimistic] scenario, and $406 billion under the second one.” Congressional Budget Office, July 13, 2006

“Peacekeeping requirements in Iraq might be much lower than historical experience in the Balkans suggests. There’s been none of the record in Iraq of ethnic militias fighting one another that produced so much bloodshed and permanent scars in Bosnia.” Paul Wolfowitz, deputy secretary of defense and now president of the World Bank, Feb. 27, 2003

“West Baghdad is no stranger to bombings and killings, but in the past few days all restraint has vanished in an orgy of ‘ethnic cleansing.’ Shia gunmen are seeking to drive out the once-dominant Sunni minority and the Sunnis are forming neighborhood posses to retaliate. Mosques are being attacked. Scores of innocent civilians have been killed, their bodies left lying in the streets.” The Times of London, July 14, 2006

“Earlier this week, I traveled to Baghdad to visit the capital of a free and democratic Iraq.” President Bush, June 17, 2006

“People are doing the same as [in] Saddam’s time and worse. ... These were the precise reasons that we fought Saddam and now we are seeing the same things.” Ayad Allawi, Mr. Bush’s choice as Iraq’s first post-Saddam prime minister, November 2005

“Iraq’s new government has another able leader in Speaker Mashhadani. ... He rejects the use of violence for political ends. And by agreeing to serve in a prominent role in this new unity government, he’s demonstrating leadership and courage.” President Bush, May 22, 2006

“Some people say ‘we saw you beheading, kidnappings and killing. In the end we even started kidnapping women who are our honor.’ These acts are not the work of Iraqis. I am sure that he who does this is a Jew and the son of a Jew.” Mahmoud Mashhadani, speaker of the Iraqi Parliament, July 13, 2006

“My fellow citizens, not only can we win the war in Iraq, we are winning the war in Iraq.” President Bush, Dec. 18, 2005

“I think I would answer that by telling you I don’t think we’re losing.” Gen. Peter Schoomaker, the Army chief of staff, when asked whether we’re winning in Iraq, July 14, 2006

“Regime change in Iraq would bring about a number of benefits for the region. ...Extremists in the region would have to rethink their strategy of jihad. Moderates throughout the region would take heart, and our ability to advance the Israeli-Palestinian peace process would be enhanced.” Vice President Dick Cheney, Aug. 26, 2002

“Bush — The world is coming unglued before his eyes. His naïve dreams are a Wilsonian disaster.” Newsweek Conventional Wisdom Watch, July 24, 2006 edition

“It’s time for Democrats who distrust President Bush to acknowledge that he will be the commander in chief for three more critical years, and that in matters of war, we undermine presidential credibility at our nation’s peril.” Senator Joseph Lieberman, Democrat of Connecticut, Dec. 6, 2005

“I cannot support a failed foreign policy. History teaches us that it is often easier to make war than peace. This administration is just learning that lesson right now.” Representative Tom DeLay, Republican of Texas, on the campaign against Slobodan Milosevic, April 28, 1999


Thursday, July 20

The Latest from Politex, Uhler, Floyd (2), Bosworth, Ostroy, and Fisher

Bush Stem Cell Lie: Bush Vetoes Stem Cell Bill, Although Cells
"would be destroyed in any case"
, Politex

The photo-op following Bush's veto of the stem cell bill passed by Congress was attended by "scores of children born as a result of an embryo-adoption program and their parents," according to NYT reporter David Stout. Looking at the children, Bush said, “These boys and girls are not spare parts.” Yet, later in the article Stout reports, "the bill approved by the Senate on Tuesday, and earlier by the House, would apply to excess embryos harvested for in-vitro fertilization that would be destroyed in any case if not used in research." GOP Senate majority leader Bill Frist and GOP anti-abortion senator Orrin Hatch were among 19 Republicans who backed the bill and rejected Bush, apparently understanding the distinction between the specifics of the bill and Bush's use of the children to confuse the issue.

'Bring It On' Still Alive and Well , Wm. Fisher
The punditocracy has lately been waxing eloquent about President Bush's softer, more conciliatory tone and less hysterical, more humble rhetoric, which many have trumpeted as "the end of cowboy diplomacy." Not on your Nellie. If you believe our cowboy in the White House has somehow morphed into world statesman, have a look at Dubya's two most recent choices for big promotions....

WW III? Gingrich Rachets up the Fear Rhetoric as Middle East Implodes and Bush's Military and Diplomatic Failures are Glaring , Andy Ostroy
"We are in the early stages of what I would describe as the third world war... I believe if you take all the countries I just listed, that you've been covering, put them on a map, look at all the different connectivity, you'd have to say to yourself this is, in fact, World War III." That was former House Speaker and 2008 presidential candidate Newt Gingrich on NBC's Meet the Press Sunday discussing the escalating violence in the Middle East and its ripple effect throughout the world. Surprise, surprise. Fear and war-mongering is the new cornerstone of the Republican Party, and its leadership, Gingrich included, will masterfully uses such scare tactics to continue distracting Americans away from key domestic issues so they can keep winning elections....

Serpent's Egg: Bush Nurses Nazi Vipers in Iraq , Chris Floyd
Over and over, the Bush Regime and its media apologists have peddled the same mendacious line in defense of their war crime in Iraq: "We're fighting the terrorists over there so we don't have to fight them over here." But in fact the brutal occupation is actually breeding a cadre of vicious terrorists intent on bringing death and destruction back home to America's streets, using the deadly skills they've learned – in the U.S. military. Hundreds, possibly thousands of neo-Nazis and "white power" extremists have infiltrated U.S. forces in a deliberate strategy to get training in weapons, urban warfare and covert operations, the Pentagon's own investigators report. These homegrown terrorists – avowed enemies of democracy, committed to sparking the same kind of horrific civil war in America that George W. Bush has spawned in Iraq – have wormed their way into some of most elite military units, as well as filling up the ordinary ranks with cretinous "race warriors." This infestation is being actively abetted by the Bush Regime. Who says? Well, Department of Defense investigator Scott Barfield for one....

Diplomatic Deception: The Calm Before the Firestorm , Chris Floyd
DK at Talking Points Memo has this exactly right: the new mainstream media meme of a "quieter, more diplomatic" Bush foreign policy is yet another steaming crock served up by Karl Rove and swallowed whole by the fat and sassy gluttons of the press. As DK and Kevin Drum point out, the Bush Administration's whimpering reactions to provocations by North Korea, to the alarming resurgence of the Taliban (who have essentially trapped the British Expeditionary Force in the south in a loose but deadly siege), to the horrific death spiral in the raging Iraqi civil war, to the continuing imbroglio with Iran, etc., don't stem from some deliberate choice of "letting diplomacy work" but are simply the result of the Bushists' own blithering incompetence and utter cluelessness about how to actually govern a country and conduct a coherent foreign policy.

Radical Islam and Iran , Bosworth
Are the fundamentalist movements of Hamas (in Gaza) or Hezbollah (in Lebanon) really tied to Iran? Radical Islam emerged in the 1930s, in Cairo, with the Muslim Brotherhood, which has recently gained political influence in Egypt. Similar fundamentalist groups emerged around the Mideast for local reasons, and they were further stimulated and radicalized by the Iranian Revolution of 1979. Mainstream Islam is compatible with modernism, science, and the steady empowerment of women – witness Turkey, for example, or Tunisia. But in places where western colonialism, class conflict or civil war was pronounced, people often adopted militant interpretations of the Koran. Samuel P. Huntington, author of The Coming Clash of Civilizations, once said something interesting about Islamic fundamentalism: that it was not an effort to modernize Islam but rather to Islamicize modernity. Radical Islam, therefore, became a vehicle of cultural resistance, even of preservation. The lower and middle classes thus moved towards radical Islam not only as a defense against the West but as a defense against the secularization of their societies by local elites – witness Egypt, for example.

Bush, Cheney and Rice: "MLAs" , Walter C. Uhler
I request your indulgence, at the outset, for my usage of indiscreet Bush/Cheney-talk. But, when President Bush recommended Iraq's "democracy" to President Putin last Saturday, I was reminded of Bush's remark to Dick Cheney about New York Times writer, Adam Clymer. Bush said, "There's Adam Clymer - major league asshole - from the New York Times." Cheney responded, "Yeah, big time." [Jake Tapper, Salon.com, Sept. 04, 2000] Thanks to their indiscretion, the whole world knows that Bush and Cheney are not above labeling people as "MLAs." Unfortunately, after five years of gross misrule by the Bush administration, we now know that - from the neocons and the former head of FEMA to our very top "leaders" - this administration has been overpopulated with MLAs. Events during this past weekend only reinforced the evidence....


Wednesday, July 19

"Prepubescent President": Bush grabs German Chancellor Angela Merkel from behind , video

BBC Transcript: Bush Language of Diplomacy: Speaking Ugly Words With A Mouthful , video

Note: This is an unbelievable video: Bush can be heard smacking his lips and pushing around a wad of bread in his cheek, while talking "shit" with Blair. (transcript below) Here, he's the epitome of the ugly American. For those of us who warned folks about the character of Bush years before he became president, we can only be saddened by the gullibility of the U.S. electorate. --Jerry Politex

Bush: And thanks for the sweaters - I know you picked em out yourself...

Blair: Oh yes absolutely - in fact I knitted it!!!

(laughter)

Bush: What about Kofi Annan - he seems all right. I don't like his ceasefire plan. His attitude is basically ceasefire and everything sorts out.... But I think...

Blair: Yeah the only thing I think is really difficult is that we can't stop this without getting international presence agreed. I think what you guys have talked about which is the criticism of the [inaudible word]. I am perfectly happy to try and see what the lie of the land is, but you need that done quickly because otherwise it will spiral.

Bush: Yeah I think Condi's [US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice] gonna go soon.

Blair: Well that's all that matters but if you... You see at least it gets it going.

Bush: I agree it's a process...I told her your offer too.

Blair: Well it's only if she needs the ground prepared as it were. If she goes out she HAS to succeed whereas I can just go and...

Bush: You see the irony is what they need to is get Syria to get Hezbollah to stop doing this shit and it's all over...

Blair: Dunno... Syria....

Bush: Why?

Blair: Because I think this is all part of the same thing...

Bush: (with mouth full of bread) Yeah

Blair: Look - what does he think? He thinks if Lebanon turns out fine. If you get a solution in Israel and Palestine. Iraq goes in the right way

Bush: Yeah - he's [indistinct]

Blair: Yeah.... He's had it. That's what all this is about - it's the same with Iran

Bush: I felt like telling Kofi to call, to get on the phone to Assad and make something happen.

Blair: Yeah

Bush: [indistinct] blaming Israel and [indistinct] blaming the Lebanese government....


Tuesday, July 18

Letters: Where is the Rage? , Shogg, Politex, Payne

Sometimes, when I read a sentence like Bob Herbert's-- "the American public doesn't seem to care that...," --well, just how is the "American public" supposed to show its distaste or dislike or whatever for Bush? I've voted against him, been more active in working against him and for others than I've ever done in my life--and I'm not alone. I'm one of many. Just what is it we're supposed to do? I sure as hell don't have the power to get MY thoughts or analysis published as Mr. Herbert does....

Most of us who strongly dislike and detest Bush and his cronies and his policies feel choked off and frustrated. The media barely covers most negative stuff about Bush and continues to cut Bush as much slack as you'd give a severely mentally impaired 8 year old boy w/behavioral problems who's trying to participate in Little League-- probably more. Despite MSN saying, oh pity poor Bush (an incredible op-ed article by Joan Vennochi not long ago) he has been successful in getting just about everything he (or Cheney, or the energy industry et al) wants, and it sounds as though the GOP is gearing up for another shot against Social Security, as opposed to doing anything constructive for the US public. I've written letters to the editor to the hilt....

I'd like to ask Mr. Herbert, just what is it we're supposed to be doing that we're not?... Is he planning on leading the march? But really, just what the hell is it the apparently monolithic public is supposed to be doing? --Shogg

***

Thanks, Shogg. I suppose Herbert would respond by saying if there were more folks like you, we wouldn't be in the mess we're in. What follows are excerpts from Michael Payne's piece in Online Journal, 'Where is the rage? Where is the outrage?' Like Herbert, Payne does not answer your question, but what is implied is that we need a more organized effort to wake people up, and we need more people to do it, and we need to frame the issue in terms that would galvanize people to action. The recent pro-immigration marches and rallies have demonstrated that people will express their will when it comes to their personal interests. --Jerry Politex

***

We are all part of an American society that continues to silently watch as our government pursues a foreign policy that threatens the very future of our democracy. A large segment of this society is currently in a state of conditioned silence. It watches as America is undergoing radical changes that are transforming this nation into an instrument of world domination with the objective of controlling this planet's energy resources. The overriding question is: what will bring this society out of this state of conditioned silence -- does it have the will or any desire to say, "Enough is enough, we will accept no more?" Or have the American people completely lost their will to dissent?

It seems that we have become a society that no longer may know what is right versus what is just plain wrong....The senseless deaths of our military and Iraqi civilians continue each and every day; this is complete madness! Is Big Brother wiretapping you and me? Does anyone care? America remains in a state of conditioned silence. Where is the rage? Where is the outrage? National opinion polls have determined that there is dissatisfaction, uneasiness, and a tiredness in the American people. The public now feels the Iraq war was a mistake and not worth it. Is America disillusioned simply because we are not winning? God, I hope not. Is there anything at all that can reach the American mind so that so many of us who profess "family values" can just get real damned mad when we witness our foreign policy going berserk? Yes, there is only silence, only a weary acceptance of these travesties foisted upon the American people, only the passive condoning of this insidious wrongheaded direction that those in control of our government are taking. Americans seem to have lost the will to question and challenge. Thomas Jefferson, one of our greatest patriots said, "Dissent is the greatest form of patriotism" and truer words were never spoken. If we completely lose our ability to question, to challenge and to dissent when our democracy is in jeopardy, then we will have become nothing more than passive sheep.

We in America are so very content with our lifestyles, our gas-guzzling SUV's, Hummers, huge pickup trucks, bigger and bigger homes that many cannot really afford, interest-only loans; and now, believe it or not, 50-years mortgages. We see the price of gasoline rapidly escalating and we watch as our government, the auto companies and the energy corporations have no plan or any desire whatsoever to try to solve the energy problems that are endangering our very future. It seems that the American mind is so fixed upon personal gain, the accumulation of wealth and material possessions that this fixation has negated and wiped out the former great influence of moral values in our society. It appears we have become slaves of consumerism and that this addiction has virtually wiped out the will, incentive and courage to dissent....


Monday, July 17

Tyrant Bush: If Bush Gets His Way Our Democracy Will Be Toast (excerpts) , Bob Herbert

Congress is dithering and the American public doesn’t even seem particularly concerned as the administration of George W. Bush systematically trashes such fundamental American values as justice, due process, respect for human rights and submission to the rule of law. In the kangaroo courts that the administration concocted to try detainees at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, a defendant could be prevented from seeing the evidence against him, would not have the right to attend his own trial and would not have the right to appeal the sentence to a civilian court....

The Bush-Cheney regime believes it can do whatever outlandish things it wants, including torturing people and keeping them incarcerated for life without even the semblance of due process. And it’s not giving up. The administration now wants Congress to authorize what the Supreme Court has plainly said was wrong. White House lawyers, in a torturous (pun intended) interpretation of the court’s ruling, seem to be arguing that the kangaroo courts, otherwise known as military commissions, will be quite all right if only Congress will say so. They’re not all right. They’re an abomination (like the secret C.I.A. prisons and the practice of extraordinary rendition) that spits in the face of the idea that the United States is a great and civilized nation....

Mr. Bush has tried to scrap the very idea of checks and balances. The Republican-controlled Congress has, for the most part, rolled over like trained seals for the president. And Mr. Bush is trying mightily to pack the courts with right-wingers who will do the same. Under those circumstances, his will becomes law. Justice John Paul Stevens, who wrote the majority opinion in the Hamdan case, referred to a seminal quote from James Madison. The entire quote is as follows: “The accumulation of all powers, legislative, executive and judiciary, in the same hands, whether of one, a few or many, and whether hereditary, self-appointed or elective, may justly be pronounced the very definition of tyranny.”...

There is every reason to be alarmed about the wretched road that Bush, Cheney et al. are speeding along. It is as if they were following a route deliberately designed to undermine a great nation. A lot of Americans are like spoiled rich kids who take their wealth for granted. Too many of us have forgotten — or never learned — the real value of the great American ideals. Too many are standing silently by as Mr. Bush and his cronies engage in the kind of tyrannical and uncivilized behavior that has brought so much misery — and ultimately ruin — to previous societies.


Sunday, July 16

Axis Of Idiots: Six Years And Counting Of Bush Phony Baloney (excerpts) , Frank Rich

...Only if we remember that the core values of this White House are marketing and political expediency, not principle and substance, can we fully grasp its past errors and, more important, decipher the endgame to come. The Bush era has not been defined by big government or small government but by virtual government....Like his father, George W. Bush always disdained the vision thing. He rode into office on the heels of a boom, preaching minimalist ambitions reminiscent of the 1920’s boom Republicanism of Harding and Coolidge. Mr. Bush’s most fervent missions were to cut taxes, pass a placebo patients’ bill of rights and institute the education program he sold as No Child Left Behind. His agenda was largely exhausted by the time of his fateful Crawford vacation in August 2001, so he talked vaguely of immigration reform and announced a stem-cell research “compromise.”

But he failed to seriously lead on either issue, both of which remain subjects of toxic debate today. To appear busy once he returned to Washington after Labor Day, he cooked up a typically alliterative “program” called Communities of Character, a grab bag of “values” initiatives inspired by polling data. That was forgotten after the Qaeda attacks. But the day that changed everything didn’t change the fundamental character of the Bush presidency. The so-called doctrine of pre-emption, a repackaging of the long-held Cheney-Rumsfeld post-cold-war mantra of unilateralism, was just another gaudy float in the propaganda parade ginned up to take America to war against a country that did not attack us on 9/11. As the president’s chief of staff then, Andrew Card, famously said of the Iraq war just after Labor Day 2002, “From a marketing point of view, you don’t introduce new products in August.” The Bush doctrine was rolled out officially two weeks later, just days after the administration’s brass had fanned out en masse on the Sunday-morning talk shows to warn that Saddam’s smoking gun would soon come in the form of a mushroom cloud.

The Bush doctrine was a doctrine in name only, a sales strategy contrived to dress up the single mission of regime change in Iraq with philosophical grandiosity worthy of F.D.R. There was never any serious intention of militarily pre-empting either Iran or North Korea, whose nuclear ambitions were as naked then as they are now, or of striking the countries that unlike Iraq were major enablers of Islamic terrorism. Axis of Evil was merely a clever brand name from the same sloganeering folks who gave us “compassionate conservatism” and “a uniter, not a divider” — so clever that the wife of a presidential speechwriter, David Frum, sent e-mails around Washington boasting that her husband was the “Axis of Evil” author....

Since then, the administration has fiddled in Iraq while Islamic radicalism has burned brighter and the rest of the Axis of Evil, not to mention Afghanistan and the Middle East, have grown into just the gathering threat that Saddam was not. And there’s still no policy. As Ivo Daalder of the Brookings Institution writes on his foreign-affairs blog, Mr. Bush isn’t pursuing diplomacy in his post-cowboy phase so much as “a foreign policy of empty gestures” consisting of “strong words here; a soothing telephone call and hasty meetings there.” The ambition is not to control events but “to kick the proverbial can down the road — far enough so the next president can deal with it.” There is no plan for victory in Iraq, only a wish and a prayer that the apocalypse won’t arrive before Mr. Bush retires to his ranch....

Sunday Funnies, Bell, Tomorrow, etc.

Jealousy: Bush Has New Dogfriend (By Steve Bell)
The Afghanistan War Needs a New Publicist (By Ward Sutton)
North Korea's Glorious Failure! (By Mark Fiore)
A Right-Wing Guide to Summer Blockbusters (By Tom Tomorrow)
Gore's Prediction: Corn Oil Fuel And... (By Mr. Fish)


Saturday, July 15

Bush Passive-Aggression: Bush "Clarifies Things" Between Israel And Its Enemies ,
Michael Shtender-Auerbach

As feverish international efforts are underway to halt the spiraling violence between Israelis and Palestinians in Gaza, Hezbollah in Lebanon has upped the ante by abducting two and killing eight Israeli Defense Force soldiers. Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert described the raid as an “act of war” – raising the ominous specter of a 2006 Middle East War. This clash has the potential to reach as far as Tehran – the financial and logistical backers of Hezbollah – and most certainly Syria, who promptly announced that Israel “deserved the attack.” Calls for restraint from the United Nations and the European Union, urging Israel to recognize that military escalation will ultimately undermine its national interests, will predictably fall on deaf ears. And the intensification of the conflict will be all the more inexorable because of the conspicuous absence of an indispensable player in the region, the traditional guarantor of stability and essential intermediary for peace: the United States.

That fact that America has opted to watch this clash from the sidelines, rather than launching an effort to quell or avert it, represents a pronounced and deliberate change in policy, and an extraordinary transformation – and miniaturization – of America’s role in the Middle East. Through three decades of Republican and Democratic administrations, Washington has played a vital role in tempering the military response that Israel so often employs when besieged. The United States and Israel have always operated within the “good cop – bad cop” paradigm, with America’s role as “good cop” allowing it to maintain its status as an ‘honest broker’ for peace in the region. By tacitly approving Tel Aviv’s disproportionate response, Washington is unveiling a new paradigm -- “bad cop – worse cop”—and in doing so, compromising its role as fair interlocutor.

From the very first meeting of his National Security Council six years ago, President George W. Bush made it clear that he wanted the U.S. to reverse 35 years of consistent engagement, dating back to President Richard Nixon, by trying to manage the Israeli/Arab conflict. “I don't see much we can do over there at this point,” he announced. When Colin Powell expressed grave concerns over the implications of the disengagement Mr. Bush envisioned, the President replied: ''Sometimes a show of force by one side can really clarify things." Are things clear now?

While the U.S. steps back to let a new wave of violence “clarify things,” Egypt, Jordan, and Turkey have taken the lead as “honest brokers” in trying to negotiate a peaceful solution to the current confrontation. But America is at risk from Presidential indifference. Even before Sept. 11, 2001, and particularly after, the fates of the United States and the Middle East are irrevocably intertwined. In an uncanny twist, the very act of sitting out this round and letting the conflict happen has ended up fueling the view in the Arab and Jewish worlds that some blame for the violence should be laid at Washington’s door. According to the Forward, a Jewish weekly paper, the White House “appears to have dropped any objections to Israeli efforts to topple the Palestinian Authority’s democratically elected Hamas government.”...Before the United States...tolerate[s] a full scale war between Israel and its neighbors in hopes that force can "clarify things," Americans should consider whether this might strengthen the extremists and their links to Iran and even Al Qaeda.... --July 13, 2006, CommonDreams. org


Friday, July 14

Bush Economy: Bush Needs Your Money For His Rich Friends (excerpts) , Paul Krugman

...Bush supporter: “Why doesn’t President Bush get credit for a great economy? I blame liberal media bias.” Informed economist: “But it’s not a great economy for most Americans. Many families are actually losing ground, and only a very few affluent people are doing really well.”...Many observers, even if they acknowledge the growing concentration of income in the hands of the few, find it hard to believe that this concentration could be proceeding so rapidly as to deny most Americans any gains from economic growth. Yet newly available data show that that’s exactly what happened in 2004.

Why talk about 2004, rather than more recent experience? Unfortunately, data on the distribution of income arrive with a substantial lag; the full story of what happened in 2004 has only just become available, and we won’t be able to tell the full story of what’s happening right now until the last year of the Bush administration. But it’s reasonably clear that what’s happening now is the same as what happened then: growth in the economy as a whole is mainly benefiting a small elite, while bypassing most families. Here’s what happened in 2004. The U.S. economy grew 4.2 percent, a very good number. Yet last August the Census Bureau reported that real median family income — the purchasing power of the typical family — actually fell. Meanwhile, poverty increased, as did the number of Americans without health insurance. So where did the growth go?

The answer comes from the economists Thomas Piketty and Emmanuel Saez, whose long-term estimates of income equality have become the gold standard for research on this topic, and who have recently updated their estimates to include 2004. They show that even if you exclude capital gains from a rising stock market, in 2004 the real income of the richest 1 percent of Americans surged by almost 12.5 percent. Meanwhile, the average real income of the bottom 99 percent of the population rose only 1.5 percent. In other words, a relative handful of people received most of the benefits of growth. There are a couple of additional revelations in the 2004 data. One is that growth didn’t just bypass the poor and the lower middle class, it bypassed the upper middle class too. Even people at the 95th percentile of the income distribution — that is, people richer than 19 out of 20 Americans — gained only modestly. The big increases went only to people who were already in the economic stratosphere.

The other revelation is that being highly educated was no guarantee of sharing in the benefits of economic growth. There’s a persistent myth, perpetuated by economists who should know better — like Edward Lazear, the chairman of the president’s Council of Economic Advisers — that rising inequality in the United States is mainly a matter of a rising gap between those with a lot of education and those without. But census data show that the real earnings of the typical college graduate actually fell in 2004. In short, it’s a great economy if you’re a high-level corporate executive or someone who owns a lot of stock. For most other Americans, economic growth is a spectator sport....


Thursday, July 13

Sick Puppy Watch: Bush Wants Judgeship For His Torture Lawyer (excerpts) , Maureen Dowd

...As three female protesters in Abu Ghraib-style orange jumpsuits and black headscarves stood vigil in the back of the Senate Judiciary hearing room, like the supernatural chorus in “Macbeth,” William Haynes was grilled about his worthiness to ascend to the federal bench when his main claim to the promotion is complicity in letting Dick Cheney dance a jig on the Geneva Conventions.

“The State Department characterizes the use of dogs as an interrogation aid as torture, cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment,’’ Senator Dick Durbin, a Democrat, said to the Pentagon general counsel. “We publicly condemned the countries of Libya and Burma for using dogs in interrogation. In November of 2002, you recommended that Secretary Rumsfeld approve the use of dogs to intimidate detainees at Guantánamo. The Department of Defense’s own investigation concluded that this technique migrated from Guantánamo to Iraq and Abu Ghraib. At least two members of the armed forces have now been convicted under the Uniform Code of Military Justice for using dogs to frighten detainees. It is striking that as these soldiers were prosecuted, you were being promoted. What message are we sending our troops? And what message are we sending the world, in light of your role in promulgating abusive interrogation techniques, like the use of dogs, stress positions and forced nudity. What message are we sending if we promote you to the second highest court in the land?" The senator added that the message would be terribly unfair: “Well, we’re going to dispatch a few privates, a few corporals, a sergeant, maybe it will get to a lieutenant, but it’ll never get upstairs. ... Apparently, upstairs there’s a promotion party. Downstairs people are being sent to prison.’’

Mr. Haynes, 48, lamely resorted to the argument that Abu Ghraib was simply a few bad apples, “the work of the night shift, without any authority whatsoever.” Even as the Bush administration was forced to concede, after being slapped back by the Supreme Court, that terrorism suspects must be accorded the rights enshrined in the Geneva Conventions, W. was trying to reward those who helped shred them. He nominated Mr. Haynes to sit on the Fourth Circuit court, the conservative Virginia go-to court for contentious cases on civil liberties and detention of foreign prisoners.

A group of 20 retired military officers sent a letter to Senator Arlen Specter, the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, expressing “profound concern” about Mr. Haynes and arguing that he promoted policies that “compromised military values, ignored federal and international law, and damaged America’s reputation and world leadership.’’ If all the Democrats are opposed and even one Republican is willing to vote no, the nomination could stall on a 9-to-9 vote. Harry Reid, the minority leader, hinted that Democrats might try to filibuster it if it is reported to the full Senate....[Don't hold your breath. --Politex]


Wednesday, July 12

Op-Eds: The Latest from Hersh, Brasch, Clothier, Floyd, Bosworth, Weiner, Ostroy, Mickey Z., Pringle, Miller, and Fisher

The military’s problem with the President’s Iran policy. , Seymour Hersh
On May 31st, Secretary of State Condoleezz Rice announced what appeared to be a majo change in U.S. foreign policy. The Bus Administration, she said, would be willing t join Russia, China, and its European allies i direct talks with Iran about its nuclear program There was a condition, however: th negotiations would not begin until, as th President put it in a June 19th speech at th U.S. Merchant Marine Academy, “the Irania regime fully and verifiably suspends its uraniu enrichment and reprocessing activities.” Iran which has insisted on its right to enric uranium, was being asked to concede the mai point of the negotiations before they started The question was whether the Administratio expected the Iranians to agree, or was layin the diplomatic groundwork for future militar action. In his speech, Bush also talked about “freedom for the Iranian people,” and he added “Iran’s leaders have a clear choice.” There wa an unspoken threat: the U.S. Strategi Command, supported by the Air Force, ha been drawing up plans, at the President’ direction, for a major bombing campaign in Iran....

Making Sense Out of Dangerous Nonsense , Bernard Weiner
...For both Israel and America, their occupations continue and appear to grow even worse. The very presence of these foreign troops on the ground, in Palestine and Iraq, is a large share of the problem, a running sore that creates a deepening infection in the local body politic, engendering a nationalistic resistance to throw the occupiers out. But the two military giants, each possessing overwhelming firepower, are caught in a quagmire of their own devising in trying to deal with shadowy, lightly-armed guerrillas who simply won't give up.

The End of Democracy Promotion in Iraq? , William Fisher
"America, in this young century, proclaims liberty throughout all the world, and to all the inhabitants thereof." So spoke President George W. Bush in his second inaugural address last January, vowing to help build democratic institutions and strengthen civil society in Iraq and elsewhere in the Middle East. Yet today, the Bush administration is substantially reducing funding for the organizations that are traditionally mandated to transform the president's vision into reality....

Bush Brags About $296 Billion Deficit and Kool-aid Repugs Cheer. , Andy Ostroy
With the new budget deficit numbers out, a reasonable expectation would be that President Bush would not only be sequestered at the Crawford ranch clearing brush, he'd be hiding in it too. Yet unlike any other president in history, this one believes a $296 billion deficit is actually something to brag about. It only goes to show that the Busheviks are so desperate for anything even remotely positive to tout that they'd use the deficit as something to be proud of. The performance bar is set so low for Bush that his operatives can now astonishingly point to a colossal failure and paint it as a success. In essence today, the 'good' news from Bush was that the news was not as horrifying as it could have been; that the previously projected $423 billion deficit for this year would be $127 billion smaller. Whoopee. Give the man a cookie. Is it too much to ask of this administration that they be measured against the Clinton days of record surpluses? Apparently so....

Bush's Mental Illness Screening Squad On the Move , Evelyn Pringle
On April 29, 2002, Bush kicked off the whole mental health screening scheme when he announced the establishment of the New Freedom Commission (NFC) during a speech in in New Mexico where he told the audience that mental health centers and hospitals, homeless shelters, and the justice and school systems, have contact with individuals suffering from mental disorders but that too many Americans are falling through the cracks, and so he created the NFC to ensure "that the cracks are closed." In words relevant here, the late President Ronald Reagan aptly described government intervention this way: "The nine most terrifying words in the English language are, "I'm from the government and I'm here to help." According to award-winning investigative reporter, Kelly O'Meara: "Nowhere is this quote more appropriate than when applied to George W. Bush's New Freedom Commission on Mental Heath."

American Dream: The Fleeting Lights of Freedom , Chris Floyd
{Re} the U.S. Supreme Court decision that struck down the ludicrous and lawless "military tribunals" concocted by President George W. Bush to serve as meat grinders for the captives in his Terror War. Led by the sprightly Led by the sprightly – if not spritely – 86-year-old Justice John Paul Stevens, a narrow Court majority delivered a stinging rebuke to Bush's assumption of imperial powers over the past five years, clearly rejecting the fundamental principle underlying the Crawford Caligula's foul misrule: that the president's unbridled will is the law. The ruling has been hailed as a "victory for democracy," the "light at the end of the tunnel," a "turning point" in the long struggle to reclaim the Republic from the usurping junta of the Bush Regime. But we have seen these lights before, and watched them fade. All the previous "turning points" – scandals, atrocities, judicial rebuffs, investigations, criminal convictions – have only led to more depredations; every seeming defeat of unlawful power becomes instead a springboard for its further advancement. There is no reason to think it will be any different this time....

Dick Morris Does Mexico , Andrew Bosworth
Dick Morris went all the way to Mexico to violate Article 33 of the Mexican Constitution, which says: “Foreigners may not, in any manner, involve themselves in the political affairs of the country.” But that is what Dick Morris did by immersing himself in the campaign as an “unofficial” advisor of Felipe Calderon - the right-wing darling of the international and banking community. Morris showed Mexico’s conservatives how to dirty up a campaign, how to smear and slander an opponent into defeat. His target? Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (AMLO), a center-left candidate for president. The Morris-Calderon campaign broadcast television commercials showing AMLO actually morphing into Hugo Chavez, and right-wing media printed countless magazines depicting AMLO as a pawn on a chessboard, with Hugo Chavez and Fidel Castro hovering over him diabolically....Felipe Calderon was in the doldrums before the injection of American-style smear campaigns....

Don't Support Our Troops , Mickey Z.
For some Americans, the phrase "support our troops" is little more than a euphemism for: "support the policies that put our troops in harm’s way." For Americans of the liberal persuasion-ever cautious not to offend those mythical fence sitters-the phrase "support our troops" is a safe way to avoid taking a principled stand against this war (and all war). Either usage of the phrase "support our troops" does nothing to challenge the latest mission in particular or the concept of military intervention in general....

Shall we be an 'English-only' nation? , Walter Brasch
During World War I, with Americans despising anything German, and the establishment newspapers fueling flames of patriotic intolerance, "sauerkraut" became "victory cabbage," hamburgers became "liberty sandwiches" and hamburger steak became forever etched into Americans' vocabularies as "Salisbury steak." In March 2003, when France didn't agree with the United States about why the world should invade Iraq, Rep. Robert W. Ney (R-Ohio), chair of the Committee on House Administration, ordered all restaurants in the buildings of the House of Representatives to rename french toast "freedom toast" and french fries "freedom fries." The White House also thought that was a reasonable thing to do while planning a "shock-awe-and-quagmire" invasion. Hundreds of restaurant owners throughout the country followed the Congressional will. In response to reporters salivating to report upon an international food fight, Nathalie Loisau, a spokeswoman for the French embassy in Washington, D.C., said, "We are at a very serious moment dealing with very serious issues and we are not focusing on the name you give to potatoes," (Apparently, Americans didn't have any problems with french horns or french poodles.) As absurd as the linguistic larceny that renamed food are the babblings of most of the nation's radio talk-show hosts and their ranting gaggle of jingoistic followers who demand the United States be solely an English-speaking country....

The Rendition of Christ , Jason Miller
Self-righteous hypocrisy and the banner of Christianity have been staples of the ruling elite in the United States as they have led their followers on a 200 year spree of economic and geographic expansion at the expense of those unfortunate enough to stand in their way.... Given that the psyche of most Americans has been battered with the notion that our country was founded by Christians intending to form a Christian nation, and that many of those besieged psyches have acquiesced and accepted this assertion as dogmatic truth, perhaps an analysis of the founder of Christianity would be instructive....

Big Ideas (A Poem of Partisan Politics) , Peter Clothier
Here’s what's up this morning, Bush:
I’m good and pissed. I’m fed up.
As my father used to say, I’m fed up
to the back teeth. Or as we here
in the US say, I’m sick and tired....


Tuesday, July 11

Aryan Nations Graffiti in Baghdad: Bush's neo-Nazi, Skinhead Military (excerpts) , Bob Herbert

...The U.S. military — its capabilities and its reputation so painstakingly rebuilt in the decades since Vietnam — is again falling victim to lowered standards, breakdowns in discipline and a series of atrocities that are nothing less than a betrayal of the many honorable men and women in uniform and the country they serve. The Army has had to lower its standards because most young Americans want no part of George W. Bush's war in Iraq. Recruiters, desperate to meet their quotas, are sifting for warm bodies among those who are less talented, less disciplined and, in some cases, repellent.

John Kifner reported in The Times last week about a study by a watchdog group that showed that recruiting shortfalls caused by the war in Iraq have allowed "large numbers of neo-Nazis and skinhead extremists" to infiltrate the military. The study, by the Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks racist groups, was titled "A Few Bad Men." It said that recruiters and base commanders, under intense pressure to fill the thinning ranks, "often look the other way" as militant white supremacists and anti-Semites make their way into the armed forces. The center quoted a Defense Department investigator as saying: "We've got Aryan Nations graffiti in Baghdad. That's a problem."

This comes 10 years after a Pentagon crackdown on extremist activity in the armed forces. The crackdown followed the Oklahoma City bombing, which was carried out by Timothy McVeigh, a gulf war veteran, and the murder of a black couple by skinheads in the Army's 82nd Airborne Division....It was already known that the Army had become more reluctant to release soldiers who were seriously out of shape, or pregnant, or abusing alcohol or drugs. The pressure to put somebody — anybody — in uniform also led to the lowering of standards for admission to the junior officer ranks. For example, minor criminal offenses that previously would have been prohibitive could suddenly be overlooked.... This is the sort of thing that happens when the military is run by power-hungry amateurs who lack the maturity and the sense of history to temper their arrogance.

As the Abu Ghraib scandal unfolded, I wondered how such completely and obviously unfit characters as Charles Graner Jr. and Lynndie England had not previously been weeded out of the military, which had bragged for so long about how high its standards had become. Now we're faced with the case of American soldiers suspected of raping an Iraqi teenager and murdering her and her family. This is one of at least five cases currently being investigated in which American troops have been accused of killing unarmed civilians. Marines are suspected of slaughtering 24 Iraqis, including women and children, in the western town of Haditha last November — a case that in its horror, if not its scale, recalls the My Lai massacre of Vietnam....


Monday, July 10

No Parachute For You: Show Cheney The Money , Mike Whitney

Well, as it turns out, Kiplinger Magazine ran an article based on Cheney's financial disclosure statement and, sure enough, found out that the VP is lying to the American people for the umpteenth time. Deficits do matter and Cheney has invested his money accordingly....This should put to rest once and for all the foolish notion that the "Bush Economic Plan" is anything more than a scam aimed at looting the public till. The whole deal is intended to shift the nation's wealth from one class to another. It's also clear that Bush-Cheney couldn't have carried this off without the tacit approval of the thieves at the Federal Reserve who engineered the low-interest rate boondoggle to put the American people to sleep while they picked their pockets.

Reasonable people can dispute that Bush is "intentionally" skewering the dollar with his lavish tax cuts, but how does that explain Cheney's portfolio? It doesn't. And, one thing we can say with metaphysical certainty is that the miserly Cheney would never plunk his money into an investment that wasn't a sure thing. If Cheney is counting on the dollar tanking and interest rates going up, then, by Gawd, that's what'll happen. The Bush-Cheney team has racked up another $3 trillion in debt in just 6 years. The US national debt now stands at $8.4 trillion dollars while the trade deficit has ballooned to $800 billion nearly 7% of GDP.

This is lunacy. No country, however powerful, can maintain these staggering numbers. The country is in hock up to its neck and has to borrow $2.5 billion per day just to stay above water. Presently, the Fed is expanding the money supply and buying back its own treasuries to hide the hemorrhaging from the public. Its utter madness. Last month the trade deficit climbed to $70 billion. More importantly, foreign central banks only purchased a meager $47 billion in treasuries to shore up our ravenous appetite for cheap junk from China. Do the math! They're not investing in America anymore. They are decreasing their stockpiles of dollars. We're sinking fast and Cheney and his pals are manning the lifeboats while the public is diverted with gay marriage amendments and "American Celebrity".

The American manufacturing sector has been hollowed out by cutthroat corporations who've abandoned their country to make a fast-buck in China or Mexico. The $3 trillion housing (equity) bubble is quickly loosing air while the anemic dollar continues to sag. All the signs indicate that the economy is slowing at the same time that energy prices continue to rise. This is the onset of stagflation; the dreaded combo of a slowing economy and inflation....The American economy is barrel-rolling towards earth and there are only enough parachutes for Cheney and the gang. The country has lost 3 million jobs from outsourcing since Bush took office; more than 200,000 of those are the high-paying, high-tech jobs that are the life's-blood of every economy.

Consider this from the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) June edition of Foreign Affairs, the Bible of globalists and plutocrats:

"Between 2000 and 2003 alone, foreign firms built 60,000manufacturing plants in China. European chemical companies, Japanese carmakers, and US industrial conglomerates are all building factories in China to supply export markets around the world. Similarly, banks, insurance companies, professional-service firms, and IT companies are building R&D and service centers in India to support employees, customers, and production worldwide." ("The Globally integrated Enterprise" Samuel Palmisano, Foreign Affairs page 130)

"60,000 manufacturing plants" in 3 years?!? "Banks, insurance companies, professional-service firms, and IT companies"? No job is safe. American elites and corporate tycoons are loading the boats and heading for foreign shores. The only thing they're leaving behind is the insurmountable debt that will be shackled to our children into perpetuity and the carefully arranged levers of a modern police-surveillance state....


Sunday, July 9

Why Bush Has Attacked The New York Times (excerpt), Frank Rich

...The third and most important explanation [for Bush's attack on the NYT] has nothing to do with the facts of the case or the law and everything to do with politics. For all the lynch mob's efforts to single out The Times — "It's the old trick, go after New York, go after big, ethnic New York," as Chris Matthews put it — three papers broke [bank spying] stories on their front pages. Even in this bash-the-press environment, the last spectacle needed by a president with an approval rating in the 30's is the national firestorm that would greet a doomed Justice Department prosecution of The Times, The Wall Street Journal and The Los Angeles Times.

The administration has a more insidious game plan instead: it has manufactured and milked this controversy to reboot its intimidation of the press, hoping journalists will pull punches in an election year. There are momentous stories far more worrisome to the White House than the less-than-shocking Swift program, whether in the chaos of Anbar Province or the ruins of New Orleans. If the press muzzles itself, its under-the-radar self-censorship will be far more valuable than a Nixonesque frontal assault....Will this plan work? It did after 9/11....

The Clash of Cultural "Isms", Dr. Gerry Lower

Samuel P. Huntington wrote "The Clash of Civilizations," when he was the Director of the Olin Institute for Strategic Studies at Harvard University. His now-famous essay was originally published in Foreign Affairs in 1993 and then expanded into a book. More recently, Huntington's analysis has been reconsidered by Prof. David R. Loy in the context of Dick Cheney's Bush administration and its promotion of neoconservative capitalism with an imperial bent toward self-righteousness and belligerence on the world stage. What Huntington attempted to develop over a decade ago was a new global paradigm that ostensibly brought "the new global mess into focus." Democratic societies do not go to war against each other and the Cold War era of struggle between nation-states and rival ideologies was over. Huntington foresaw that post-Cold War conflicts would be waged between "civilizations" which have "different languages, histories, institutions, and - most importantly - different religions"....

Sunday Funnies, Mr. Fish, Tomorrow, etc.

Look! America! It's Britney Spears!! (By Ward Sutton)
One of the most locked up countries around! (By Mark Fiore)
How a Lifelong Democrat Became a Republican! (By Tom Tomorrow)
Mi$$ion Accomplished (By Ward Sutton)
Founding Fathers Wait For Bush To Correct Constitution (By Mr. Fish)


Saturday, July 8

India Gets Bush-Brand Democracy (excerpts), Pankaj Mishra

Encouraged by a powerful lobby of rich Indian-Americans who seek to expand their political influence within both their home and adopted countries, President Bush recently agreed to assist India's nuclear program, even at the risk of undermining his efforts to check the nuclear ambitions of Iran. As if on cue, special reports and covers hailing the rise of India in Time, Foreign Affairs and The Economist have appeared in the last month. It was not so long ago that India appeared in the American press as a poor, backward and often violent nation, saddled with an inefficient bureaucracy and, though officially nonaligned, friendly to the Soviet Union. Suddenly the country seems to be not only a "roaring capitalist success story" but also, according to Foreign Affairs, an "emerging strategic partner of the United States." To what extent is this wishful thinking rather than an accurate estimate of India's strengths?

Looking for new friends and partners in a rapidly changing world, the Bush administration clearly hopes that India, a fellow democracy, will be a reliable counterweight against China as well as Iran. But trade and cooperation between India and China is growing; and, though grateful for American generosity on the nuclear issue, India is too dependent on Iran for oil (it is also exploring developing a gas pipeline to Iran) to wholeheartedly support the United States in its efforts to prevent the Islamic Republic from acquiring a nuclear weapon. The world, more interdependent now than during the cold war, may no longer be divided up into strategic blocs and alliances....The increasingly common, business-centric view of India suppresses more facts than it reveals. Recent accounts of the alleged rise of India barely mention the fact that the country's $728 per capita gross domestic product is just slightly higher than that of sub-Saharan Africa and that, as the 2005 United Nations Human Development Report puts it, even if it sustains its current high growth rates, India will not catch up with high-income countries until 2106.

Nor is India rising very fast on the report's Human Development index, where it ranks 127, just two rungs above Myanmar and more than 70 below Cuba and Mexico. Despite a recent reduction in poverty levels, nearly 380 million Indians still live on less than a dollar a day. Malnutrition affects half of all children in India, and there is little sign that they are being helped by the country's market reforms, which have focused on creating private wealth rather than expanding access to health care and education. Despite the country's growing economy, 2.5 million Indian children die annually, accounting for one out of every five child deaths worldwide; and facilities for primary education have collapsed in large parts of the country (the official literacy rate of 61 percent includes many who can barely write their names). In the countryside, where 70 percent of India's population lives, the government has reported that about 100,000 farmers committed suicide between 1993 and 2003.

Feeding on the resentment of those left behind by the urban-oriented economic growth, communist insurgencies (unrelated to India's parliamentary communist parties) have erupted in some of the most populous and poorest parts of north and central India. The Indian government no longer effectively controls many of the districts where communists battle landlords and police, imposing a harsh form of justice on a largely hapless rural population. The potential for conflict — among castes as well as classes — also grows in urban areas, where India's cruel social and economic disparities are as evident as its new prosperity. The main reason for this is that India's economic growth has been largely jobless. Only 1.3 million out of a working population of 400 million are employed in the information technology and business processing industries that make up the so-called new economy.

No labor-intensive manufacturing boom of the kind that powered the economic growth of almost every developed and developing country in the world has yet occurred in India. Unlike China, India still imports more than it exports. This means that as 70 million more people enter the work force in the next five years, most of them without the skills required for the new economy, unemployment and inequality could provoke even more social instability than they have already. For decades now, India's underprivileged have used elections to register their protests against joblessness, inequality and corruption. In the 2004 general elections, they voted out a central government that claimed that India was "shining," bewildering not only most foreign journalists but also those in India who had predicted an easy victory for the ruling coalition.

Among the politicians whom voters rejected was Chandrababu Naidu, the technocratic chief minister of one of India's poorest states, whose forward-sounding policies, like providing Internet access to villages, prompted Time magazine to declare him "South Asian of The Year" and a "beacon of hope." But the anti-India insurgency in Kashmir, which has claimed some 80,000 lives in the last decade and a half, and the strength of violent communist militants across India, hint that regular elections may not be enough to contain the frustration and rage of millions of have-nots, or to shield them from the temptations of religious and ideological extremism.


Friday, July 7

Bush Plays the Fascist Card (excerpts), Paul Krugman

...Anyone who was genuinely shocked by The [Wall Street] Journal's willingness to play the treason card [against the New York Times] must not have been paying attention these past five years. Over the last few months a series of revelations have confirmed what should have been obvious a long time ago: the Bush administration and the movement it leads have been engaged in an authoritarian project, an effort to remove all the checks and balances that have heretofore constrained the executive branch. Much of this project involves the assertion of unprecedented executive authority — the right to imprison people indefinitely without charges (and torture them if the administration feels like it), the right to wiretap American citizens without court authorization, the right to declare, when signing laws passed by Congress, that the laws don't really mean what they say.

But an almost equally important aspect of the project has been the attempt to create a political environment in which nobody dares to criticize the administration or reveal inconvenient facts about its actions. And that attempt has relied, from the beginning, on ascribing treasonous motives to those who refuse to toe the line. As far back as 2002, Rush Limbaugh, in words very close to those used by The Wall Street Journal last week, accused Tom Daschle, then the Senate majority leader, of a partisan "attempt to sabotage the war on terrorism." Those of us who tried to call attention to this authoritarian project years ago have long marveled over the reluctance of many of our colleagues to acknowledge what was going on. For example, for a long time many people in the mainstream media applied a peculiar double standard to political speech, denouncing perfectly normal if forceful political rhetoric from the left as poisonous "Bush hatred," while chuckling indulgently over venom from the right. (That Ann Coulter, she's such a kidder.)

But now the chuckling has stopped: somehow, nobody seems to find calls to send Bill Keller to the gas chamber funny. And while the White House clearly believes that attacking The Times is a winning political move, it doesn't have to turn out that way — not if enough people realize what's at stake. For I think that most Americans still believe in the principle that the president isn't a king, that he isn't entitled to operate without checks and balances. And President Bush is especially unworthy of our trust, because on every front — from his refusal to protect chemical plants to his officials' exposure of Valerie Plame, from his toleration of war profiteering to his decision to place the C.I.A. in the hands of an incompetent crony — he has consistently played politics with national security. And he has done so with the approval and encouragement of the same people now attacking The New York Times for its alleged lack of patriotism....


Thursday, July 6

Minimum Wage: No Justificaion For Screwing The American Worker (excerpts), Bob Herbert

...The federal minimum wage, currently $5.15 an hour, was last raised in 1997. Since then, its purchasing power has deteriorated by 20 percent. Analysts at the Economic Policy Institute and the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities jointly crunched the numbers and determined that, after adjusting for inflation, the value of the minimum wage is at its lowest level since 1955....If you're making the minimum wage, you're hurting. If Congress and the president don't raise the minimum wage by Dec. 2, it will have remained unchanged for the longest stretch since it was established in 1938. (The longest period previously was from January 1981 to April 1990 — a span that saw the entire Reagan administration come and go.)

Senate Republicans recently blocked a Democratic bill, sponsored by Senator Edward Kennedy, that would have raised the minimum wage to $7.25 an hour over the next two years. Jared Bernstein, a senior economist at the Economic Policy Institute, noted that while Republicans in Congress are standing like a stone wall against this modest increase in the poverty-level wage, "they are working as hard as they can to repeal the estate tax." "That," he said, "is just vicious class warfare." The most important pay increases for most members of Congress are their own, and they are diligent in that regard. Senator Clinton, in a floor speech supporting the minimum-wage hike, said, "During the past nine years, we've raised our own pay by $31,600."

Mrs. Clinton has introduced a bill that, in addition to raising the minimum wage to $7.25, would link Congressional pay raises to hikes in the minimum wage. Under the bill, the minimum wage would be increased automatically by the same percentage as any increase in Congressional pay. Polls have shown that Americans overwhelmingly favor an increase in the minimum wage. But the low-income workers who would benefit from such an increase are not part of the natural G.O.P. constituency. Thus, the stonewall. A separate study by the Economic Policy Institute found that in 2005, with the pay of top corporate executives up sharply, and with the minimum wage falling further and further behind inflation, "an average chief executive officer was paid 821 times as much as a minimum wage earner." That C.E.O., according to the study, "earns more before lunchtime on the very first day of work in the year than a minimum wage worker earns all year."

"The reality," said Senator Clinton, "is that a full time job that pays the minimum wage just doesn't provide enough money to support a family today. We have to acknowledge that fact and do something about it. As a country, we cannot accept that a single mother with two children who works 40 hours a week, 52 weeks a year earns $10,700 a year — let me say this again: $10,700 a year. That is almost $6,000 below the federal poverty line for a family of three." During the 1950's and 60's, the minimum wage was roughly 50 percent of the average wage of nonsupervisory workers. It has now fallen to 31 percent — less than a third — of that average.

As the Economic Policy Institute and the Center on Budget pointed out in their study: "Each year that Congress fails to raise the wage floor, its purchasing power erodes. The fact that the minimum wage has remained the same for nearly nine years means that its real value has declined considerably over that period. As inflation has accelerated recently due to higher energy costs, the real value of the minimum wage has fallen faster." There is no justification — none — for condemning the nation's lowest-paid workers to this continuing slide into ever deeper economic distress. "No one who works for a living should have to live in poverty," said Senator Kennedy....


Wednesday, July 5

Op-Eds: The Latest from Uhler, Samples, Floyd, Weiner, Ostroy, Mickey Z., Ireland, Miller, Partridge and Fisher

Immovable Object, Irresistible Force, Ernest Partridge
Surely, one of the most remarkable and enviable traditions of American politics has been that of the peaceful transfer of power. Never in our history has a President and his administration been removed from office by force of arms. Instead, it has been our tradition that when, following an orderly election, a new President is inaugurated, he is usually greeted by his predecessor at the White House, whereupon they ride together to the inauguration ceremony. Then the former President begins an honorable retirement, writes his memoirs, and accepts six-figure speaking engagements.

No longer. For perhaps the first time in our history, a significant number of administration officials and supporters, including perhaps the President himself, must keep themselves and their party in power to avoid criminal indictment, conviction, and imprisonment. For it can scarcely be doubted that these individuals have committed numerous crimes, as they have, in fact, proclaimed themselves above the law. Among these crimes: disclosure of a covert intelligence agent, waging an illegal war, lying to Congress, violation of the Geneva accords on treatment of prisoners, unlawful incarceration of both citizens and aliens, illegal surveillance of private citizens, bribery, and much more. These crimes are well known. Surely there are many additional crimes that have been successfully hidden by this secretive regime, but would likely be discovered and prosecuted should an opposition party take control of the government.

In addition, there are ill-gotten fortunes, and political and economic advantages at stake. Billions of dollars of public money have been “transferred” into the private hands of Bush and GOP supporters – much of that cash unaccounted for. Deregulation and tax policies have lavishly benefited the most wealthy among us, while the incomes and personal wealth of the poor and middle class have stagnated or even declined. Were the GOP to be driven from office and economic justice restored, all these gains and advantages might come to an end.

Thus the Busheviks simply can not afford to relinquish power. Not the White House in 2008, and not either house of Congress in November, for that would allow the opposition party to conduct Congressional investigations of the behavior of the Bush regime. This the GOP will not allow, and they are in a position to prevent it, whatever the cost and whatever the methods required, including election fraud, regardless of the wishes and the actual votes of the American people. There is abundant and compelling evidence that they have committed election fraud in the previous three national elections, notwithstanding the dogged refusal of the mainstream media to report this evidence or of the Democratic party to recognize the fraud and to initiate criminal and civil action against these crimes....

Getting Worried About Al Gore, Andy Ostroy
He's everywhere you turn these days. Saturday Night Live, Letterman, Larry King, The View to name a few. What's next, Desperate Housewives? His movie, "An Inconvenient Truth," as well as the book of the same name, have been out for weeks and The Goracle's been in heavy-duty promo mode. The problem is, with the exception of the hilarious SNL bit, Al seems more like his old stiff self than the passionate Democrat firebrand we've seen on the lecture circuit these past couple of years. Perhaps it's true that Al indeed suffers from TV camera-itis. Seems like whenever he's in front of that magic lens his body stiffens, his speech slows, and there's sighing. Oh God, lots and lots of sighing. His performances at times have made me wince....

Unfit to Lead the World,Walter C. Uhler
Appropriately, much has been made of the recent survey conducted by Foreign Policy and the Center for American Progress, which found that 84 percent (of the more than 100) of America's top foreign policy experts believed that the United States is not winning the war on terror. Not only do they dispute President Bush's insular and politically self-serving assertion that America is winning that war, they also "see a national security apparatus in disrepair and a government that is failing to protect the public from the next attack." [See "The Terrorism Index," July/August 2006] "Disrepair" is an understatement. Not only has former domestic policy advisor, John Dilulio, decried the "complete lack of a policy apparatus" within the Bush administration, where "policy analysis is just backfill, to back up a political maneuver," Colin Powell's former chief of staff, Lawrence Wilkerson, also has complained about policy formulation and implementation by a "cabal."....

Shadows On The Wall, S. Samples
Once again we are eager to accept appearance for reality. The Supreme Court ruling last week rejecting George Bush's military commissions to try Guantanamo detainees casts a huge shadow on the wall. Many are saying it not only curbed Bush and Cheney's unlimited presidential power grab, but absolved us of the responsibility of having to do anything about it.Such giddiness -- wishful thinking -- can almost be excused when you consider this is the first time in more than five years Bush has been confronted with a single check or balance. Almost excused....

Home free: American power in Mahmudiyah, Chris Floyd
Did you see her and want her so bad, that young, forbidden fruit? Did she once smile nervously at the checkpoint, and you thought it was just for you? Did you come on strong the next time around, flash a little money maybe, or lay a syrupy line on her that you got from a phrasebook? What did she do--recoil? Look away? Look disgusted? Look blank? What did she do to bring on the big hurt from a big, tough man like you? So you planned it all out....

Why I Support the "War on Terror", Mickey Z.
Yes, I support the "War on Terror." No, I'm not declaring public allegiance to the current jihad against a tactic (which is in actuality a war against terrorist attacks not perpetrated by the United States or its allies/client states)...I'm thinking of another meaning entirely for our new favorite word: "terror." As defined at Dictionary.com, "an overwhelming feeling of fear and anxiety" and/or an "intense, overpowering fear" characterize the brand of terror I speak of. Don Lutz, author of "The First Ism," has written that such "terror" is "what one feels when being kidnapped or raped." Lutz goes on to list other terrifying examples:

"Terror is what poor people worldwide feel when approached by uniformed, armed men; what animals feel in research laboratories; what people feel when their families are faced with starvation; what a child feels when an adult starts to hit; what millions of families feel when they hear planes overhead; what fish feel when hooked in the mouth; what people fell under threat of having loved ones tortured or killed; what forest dwellers feel when the loggers come in to clear-cut; what people feel when they are threatened with invasion; and what animals feel at slaughterhouses."

You want to wage war against terror, why not find a worthy adversary? No need for shady FBI stings, unconstitutional wire tapping, or panic-inducing color-coded warnings that conveniently pop up at the most politically expedient intervals; the variety of terror described by Lutz above is genuine and it's endemic. Perhaps a big step toward ending the use of terror as a tactic would be to alleviate the feeling of terror triggered across the globe by the home of the brave....

Israel: Ravening Wolves in Sheep's Clothing, Jason Miller
In Gaza, the elephant has finally removed its foot from the mouse’s tail. Much to the dismay of the mouse, the behemoth is not done with him. Not this elephant. He has decided to bring his immense weight to bear on the mouse’s miniscule body, sadistically reveling at the sight of the blood oozing from the mouse’s bodily orifices as it is gradually reduces it to a mass of flattened pulp. I abandoned my neutrality long ago. My thoughts, prayers, support, and activist efforts as an essayist, small Internet publisher, and dissident against the American Empire are with the Palestinians. I am deeply sickened by fact that the United States government finances Israel’s genocide against the Palestinians with my tax dollars. It enrages me that AIPAC and bellicose supporters of Israel dictate so much of our foreign policy.....

Politics-US: Signing Away the Constitution?, William Fisher
Last March, the U.S. Congress passed legislation requiring Justice Department officials to give them reports by certain dates on how the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is using the USA Patriot Act to search homes and secretly seize papers. But when President George W. Bush signed the measure into law, he added a "signing statement". The statement said the president can order Justice Department officials to withhold any information from Congress if he decides it could impair national security or executive branch operations....These are but two examples of more than 100 signing statements containing over 500 constitutional challenges President Bush has added to new laws passed by the Congress -- many times more than any of his predecessors. While he has never vetoed a law, many constitutional scholars say the president is, in effect, exercising a "line item veto" by giving himself authority to waive parts of laws he doesn't like....

Green Party Leader Leaves German Politics to Teach in U.S., Doug Ireland
Joschka Fischer, the German Green Party leader who, as his country's foreign minister, opposed the invasion of Iraq, is leaving politics and coming to the U.S. to take up posts at Princeton University's Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs and at the Council on Foreign Relations, Deutsche Welle reports today. The German public radio and television news service notes that Fischer was "the most popular German politician for a long time," and led the Greens into a coalition government with the Social Democrats and their highest electoral score ever....Fischer was famous for being unafraid to confront powerful U.S. leaders. For example, when asked his name by President Bush, he replied, “My name is Mr. Fischer. What’s your name?” (October 22nd, 2005). And to Donald Rumsfeld (at the 39th Security Conference in Munich), after a Rumsfeld peroration in favor of the Iraq war, Fischer looked him in the eye and told him, "Excuse me, I am not convinced."...

Five Intercepted NSA Communiques Revealed (Fiction), Bernard Weiner
The following memos, emails and phone calls, which allegedly were intercepted by the NSA, have come into our possession. I can't vouch for the absolute authenticity of these communiqués, but they seem to pass the smell test. See what you think. PHONE CALL FROM ROVE (In this one, Karl Rove appears to be talking with David S. Addington, a key legal architect of the Bush Administration's war/torture policies, now Dick Cheney's chief of staff. Here are excerpts from the phone conversation, as transcribed by the NSA.)...


Tuesday, July 4

Parody: You're A Grand Old Flag ,
George M. Cohan, with Jerry Politex

You're a grand old flag,
You're a high flying flag
But you're never made of asbestos.
You're the emblem of
The votes they love
Politicians have made you a mess.
All their hearts beat true
For a spare vote or two,
So they'll always lie and brag.
Never hypocrisy be forgot,
Keep their hands off the grand old flag.

Quote: The Real Meaning Of July 4th, Derek Maul, CSM
"This is our government; this country belongs to all of us." Indeed, how can freedom crumble when both the idea of liberty and the responsibility for its stewardship reside in the people? How can such a dream be eroded when authority is vested not in a favored few but with the average Joe? The extraordinary influence of American citizens is guaranteed in the very Constitution that breathed life into this nascent republic when it was struggling to find its feet.

However, every time government acts to increase the distance between real power and the people our government is commissioned to serve, we move a little further away from the meaning of July 4.That's why it concerned me so much last [year] when the Supreme Court aligned itself with government and corporate interests at the expense of the rights of individual property owners. It is not the first such move however; I smell the makings of a trend. When the government makes arrests on the basis of secret evidence; when taxing agencies overreach boundaries and abuse their power; when evidence increasingly suggests that, while we trusted them, leaders knowingly deceived us; when members of Congress award themselves privileges and benefits not available to those they purportedly serve; when the lifestyles of our representatives in Washington more closely resemble those of rock stars or European royalty than public servants.

People tend to withdraw when they feel powerless and "out of the loop;" people tend to stay away from the ballot box when they no longer feel any relationship to those who govern; people tend to live outside the political process when they stop believing it pertains to them.Don't get me wrong; I'm not worried that we're going to have another revolution in America. Instead, I'm worried that people aren't going to care any longer; I'm concerned that they won't believe any more.

Opinion: Letter From Oklahoma: July 4th, 2005 And I Can't Celebrate, K.J. Lovell
The current wave of change should send a wave of shock through any normal thinking person in America. The changes are daily and growing in gravity. We the people have voluntarily given up our civil and constitutional rights, whether through apathy or simply being too busy to pay attention to current events. We continue to do it daily with no regard to the big picture. Here are ten examples of where we could be heading:

Verse: I Am A Patriot, Steve Van Zandt
I am a patriot, and I love my country, Because my country is all I know.
Wanna be with my family, People who understand me. I got no place else to go.
And I ain ' t no communist, And I ain ' t no socialist,
And I ain ' t no capitalist, And I ain ' t no imperialist,
And I ain ' t no Democrat, Sure ain ' t no Republican either,
I only know one party, And that is freedom.


Monday, July 3

Parody: Ex-Adviser Says Bush Administration Member Wanted To
Bomb New York Times After 9/11
, Bill Brasin

Washington, D.C., July 3, 2006 (NYT). Since his appearance on 50 Minutes last Sunday, Ricardo Clark, former White House counterterrorism adviser, has faced a barrage of attacks from Bush Administration officials over his claims that the White House ignored the threat posed by al-Qaeda before Sept. 11 because of its obsession with the New York Times. Dick Cheney told Rash Limbaugh that Clark “wasn't in the loop, frankly, on a lot of this stuff”; Condoleezza Rice said Monday that "Ricardo Clark just does not know what he's talking about"; and her deputy, Stephen Hadley, in that same 50 Minutes broadcast said that the White House has found "no evidence" that conversations Clark claims to have had with President Bush even occurred. Clark has responded to his critics with a dollop of wistful regret, followed by an adamant refusal to back down. "It pains me to have Condoleezza Rice and the others mad at me," he told Mornin' 'Merica. "But I think the American people needed to know the facts, and they weren't out. And now they are."

Perhaps Clark's most explosive charge is that on Sept. 12, President Bush instructed him to look into the possibility that the New York Times had a hand in the hijackings. Here's how Clark recounted the meeting on 50 Minutes: "The President dragged me into a room with a couple of other people, shut the door and said, 'I want you to find whether the New York Times did this'.....the entire conversation left me in absolutely no doubt that George Bush wanted me to come back with a report that said, 'The New York Times did this.'" After Clark protested that "there's no connection," Bush came back to him and said "The New York Times, bin Laden — find out if there's a connection." Clark says Bush made the point "in a very intimidating way." The next day, interviewed on BPS' The NewsWhore, Clark sexed up the story even more. "What happened was the President, with his finger in my face, saying, 'The New York Times, a memo on the New York Times and al-Qaeda, a memo on the New York Times and the attacks.' Very vigorous, very intimidating." Several interviewers pushed Clark on this point, asking whether it was all that surprising that the President would want him to investigate all possible perpetrators of the attacks. Clark responded, "It would have been irresponsible for the president not to come to me and say, Ricky, I don't want you to assume it was al-Qaeda. I'd like you to look at every possibility to see if maybe it was al-Qaeda with somebody else, in a very calm way, with all possibilities open. That's not what happened."

***

After the president returned to the White House on Sept. 11, he and his top advisers, including Clark, began holding meetings about how to respond and retaliate. As Clark writes in his book, he expected the administration to focus its military response on Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda. He says he was surprised that the talk quickly turned to the New York Times.

"Rumsfeld was saying that we needed to bomb the New York times," Clark said to 50 Minutes. "And we all said ... no, no. Al-Qaeda is in Afghanistan. We need to bomb Afghanistan. And Rumsfeld said there aren't any good targets in Afghanistan. And there are lots of good targets at the New York Times. I said, 'Well, there are lots of good targets in lots of places, but the New York Times had nothing to do with it.

"Initially, I thought when he said, 'There aren't enough targets in-- in Afghanistan,' I thought he was joking.

"I think they wanted to believe that there was a connection, but the CIA was sitting there, the FBI was sitting there, I was sitting there saying we've looked at this issue for years. For years we've looked and there's just no connection."

Clark says he and CIA Director George Tenet told that to Rumsfeld, Secretary of State Colin Powell, and Attorney General John Ashcroft.

Clark then tells 50 Minutes of being pressured by Mr. Bush:

"The president dragged me into a room with a couple of other people, shut the door, and said, 'I want you to find whether the New York Times did this.' Now he never said, 'Make it up.' But the entire conversation left me in absolutely no doubt that George Bush wanted me to come back with a report that said the New York Times did this.

"I said, 'Mr. President. We've done this before. We have been looking at this. We looked at it with an open mind. There's no connection.'

"He came back at me and said, "The New York Times! bin Laden! Find out if there's a connection.' And in a very intimidating way. I mean that we should come back with that answer. We wrote a report."

Clark continued, "It was a serious look. We got together all the FBI experts, all the CIA experts. We wrote the report. We sent the report out to CIA and found FBI and said, 'Will you sign this report?' They all cleared the report. And we sent it up to the president and it got bounced by the National Security Advisor or Deputy. It got bounced and sent back saying, 'Wrong answer. ... Do it again.'

***

A Google search of "New York Times treason" will elicit around 7 million hits, according to one reporter. Among those, one would probably find the invective delivered by New York GOP Congressman Peter King on Fox News: “We’re at war, and for the Times to release information about secret operations and methods is treasonous.” He said he would urge Attorney General Alberto Gonzales to “begin an investigation and prosecution of the New York Times—the reporters, the editors and the publisher.” King added, “Nobody elected the New York Times to do anything. And the New York Times is putting its own arrogant, elitist, left-wing agenda before the interests of the American people,” reports WSWS.

In a joint statement,Dean Baquet, editor, The Los Angeles Times, and Bill Keller, executive editor, The New York Times, concluded a lengthy defense of their right to exist and do what they do: "We understand that honorable people may disagree with any of these choices — to publish or not to publish. But making those decisions is the responsibility that falls to editors, a corollary to the great gift of our independence. It is not a responsibility we take lightly. And it is not one we can surrender to the government."

--Bill Brasin was our campaign editor during the Gore-Bush presidential election, and reports in on various topics from time to time. Previous stories are archived here and here. Watch the cobwebs.


Sunday, July 2

Globalization: The Religion of Moneyism vs. The Fundamentalism of Islam (excerpts) ,
David R. Loy

...Religions unite civilizations by providing people with a common identity, which they are often willing to die and kill for. Religions are also the source and repository for our most cherished values; except perhaps in the modern West, where traditional religion has been losing a war of attrition with this-worldly values such as Enlightenment rationalism, secular nationalism, "moneytheism" and consumerism. For Huntington the social scientist and foreign policy mandarin, what is most important about religions is that the identity they provide is irreconcilable with other religious identities. A Jew is a Jew, a Muslim is a Muslim, and ne'er the twain shall meet. That is why religious differences are at the heart of the civilizational clash.

Again, things look rather different from a perspective more sensitive to religious values than to "realist" foreign policy (i.e., nationalist) values. The struggle over globalization is, at its heart, not just a clash of identities but a clash of values: the values which people of different cultures want to live by. In order to understand the contemporary conflicts that religions are involved in, we must also realize that the secular culture of the modern West does not really offer an alternative to religious values; rather, it offers this-worldly versions of them. Religion is notoriously difficult to define, but if we understand it functionally; as teaching us what is really important about the world, and therefore how to live in it; modern identities such as secular nationalism and modern values such as consumerism are not so much alternatives to religion as secular religions. They offer this-worldly solutions to the problem of ultimate meaning in life: for example, patriotic identification with one's nation (a poor impersonal substitute for genuine community) or the promise of a more sensuous salvation in consumerism (the next thing you buy will make you happy!).

The Cold War victory of the West means that capitalism now reigns unchallenged and so has been able to remove its velvet gloves. Because capitalism evolved within a Christian culture, they have been able to make peace with each other, more or less, in the contemporary West. Christ's kingdom is not of this world, we should render to Caesar what is Caesar's, and as long as we go to church on Sunday we can devote the rest of the week to this-worldly pursuits. From some other more traditional religious perspectives, however, the values of globalizing capitalism are more problematical....

...Tensions do not arise simply because of a clash of fissured, irreconcilable value systems, in which we need to focus on promoting our own. In the contemporary world all religions are under tremendous pressure to adapt to new circumstances, including new world-views and new values, for globalization means that re-negotiation with modern developments is constant. Fundamentalism -- clinging to old verities and customs -- is a common response, but the fact that some fundamentalists are willing to die and kill for their cause does not quite disguise the reality that the fundamentalist reaction to modernity is defensive, cramped and in the long run untenable in a fast-shrinking world where all civilizations are increasingly interconnected.

This does not mean that religious beliefs and values are incompatible with globalization. It means that the struggle between globalization and anti-globalization is in part an on-going negotiation between traditional religious concerns; most importantly, love and responsibility to something greater than our own egos; and the corrosive effects of a secular modernity that, when unchecked, tends to become nihilistic. For either side to "win" this struggle would be disastrous. Traditional religions need the challenge of modernity to wake them from their dogmas and institutional sclerosis. On the other side, the unrestrained dominance of corporate capitalism and its commodifying values would be catastrophic not only for human communities but for the entire biosphere.

The real test-case for their negotiation is Islam. Huntington discusses many clashes between civilizations, and most of them involve Islam. "Islam has bloody borders" (5). Without Islam, it would be difficult for him to make his case; thanks to Islam, it is easy, since the Islamic world seems to have trouble getting along with any other world.

Or so it seems from a Western perspective. That perspective, however, is hardly a neutral one. For most of their histories, the Christian West and the Islamic world have been each other's chief rivals. At first Islam had the edge, culturally as well as militarily. Medieval Christian theology and philosophy were revived by the rediscovery of classical Greek texts preserved by Islamic scholars; European science developed on an Arabic foundation. That is part of Islam's burden today: in contrast to early Christianity, which had to endure centuries of Roman persecution, Islam was immediately triumphant, establishing a mythic legacy that makes eclipse (including colonial and now economic subordination) by the modern West all the more difficult to bear.

There are other ways in which Islam stands out from other missionary religions such as Christianity and Buddhism. Unlike Jesus and Shakyamuni Buddha, Mohammed was not only a spiritual teacher but a political and military leader, in ways which were often quite progressive for his time, but some of which have become problematical as the world has changed. Because neither Jesus nor Shakyamuni provided a detailed political or economic program, it has been easier to adapt their teachings to radically different cultural conditions, including secular modernity. Today a Christian can pray in church on Sunday and more or less serve Mammon the rest of the week. A Muslim prays five times a day and follows more than a few customs from seventh-century Arabia, including studying and memorizing the Koran in Arabic.

Partly as a result of these differences, Islam has remained more traditionalist than either Christianity or Buddhism. No religion is monolithic, and all major religions have deep fissures of their own, including an unavoidable one between literal interpretations of scriptures and more adaptable metaphorical readings. There have been rationalist movements in Islam such as the Mutazilists in the ninth century, and more recently many other attempts at modernist reform, but they have generally been less successful than similar movements in Christianity and Buddhism. As a result, the contemporary image of Islam among most non-Muslims is of an extremely conservative, ritualistic and literalistic faith. Among the major religions, Islam is having the most difficulty adjusting to the modern distinction between an enervated sacred sphere and a more dynamic secular sphere. There are also political problems due to the legacy of Western colonialism (including the imposition of a nation-state structure that evolved in Europe and has not often grafted well onto non-Western cultures) and economic problems due to the neo-colonialism of Western-led globalization.

Yet there is another way to look at Muslim difficulties today. Of the world's missionary religions, Islam is the one most deeply concerned with social justice; and social justice is an increasingly important issue in the struggles over what kind of globalization we shall have. That is the other side of Muhammad's legacy as a political leader as well as a spiritual one. This theme is missing in Huntington, but we cannot understand Islamic values and present concerns without it. That is why it is not sufficient to emphasize the fissure between Islam and the West, a clash between their values and ours. A demand for social justice has become essential in a world where, according to the United Nations Development Report for 1999, almost a billion people in 70 countries consume less today than they did 25 years ago; where the richest twenty percent of the world's population now account for 86% of private consumption, the poorest twenty percent only 1.3% (a gap that globalization so far is aggravating); where, as a result, a quarter million children die of malnutrition or infection every week, while hundreds of millions more survive in hunger and deteriorating health.

Allah is a merciful God but He is also a God of justice and will judge us harshly if we do not accept personal and collective responsibility for the less fortunate. The third pillar of Islam is zakat, alms. Zakat is not so much charity as an essential expression of the compassion that all Muslims are called upon to show to those who need it. Muslims believe that everything really belongs to God, and material things should be used as God wishes them to be used. This means not hoarding but sharing with others who need them. That is why the capitalist idea of using capital to gain ever more capital; you can never have too much! ; is foreign, even reprehensible, to many devout Muslims.

By adapting so well to the modern world of secular nationalism, capitalism and consumerism, most Christians in the West have learned to finesse such concerns. The Bible tells us that the poor will always be among us, and in any case we must accept what the "social science" of economics tells us are laws of supply and demand, the importance of free trade, etc. Admittedly, the main effect of transnational capitalism so far has been to make the rich richer, but we must have faith that a rising tide of worldwide wealth will eventually lift all boats.

Islam is less willing to accept such equivocations, because it recognizes no God above Allah. The need to "have faith" that corporate globalization will eventually work to benefit almost everyone points to what is increasingly apparent: as Western culture has lost faith in any afterlife salvation, the West's economic system has also become its religion, because it now has to fulfil a religious function for us. Economics today is less a social science than the theology of that moneytheistic religion, and its god, the Market, has been able to become a vicious circle of ever-increasing production and consumption by pretending to provide us with a this-worldly salvation. Western-led globalization means that the Market is becoming the first truly world religion, rapidly converting all corners of the globe to a worldview and set of values whose religious role we overlook only because we insist on seeing them as secular.

Few people yet understand pro- versus anti-globalization struggles in such spiritual terms, but many instinctively feel what is at stake....the West is imposing new "religious" values on other civilizations in the economic guise of "free trade....

David R. Loy, Professor, Faculty of International Studies, Bunkyo University, Japan

Sunday Funnies, Mr. Fish, Tomorrow, etc.

Washington's new favorite dance move (By Mark Fiore)
You Gotta Love That Conservative Humor! (By Tom Tomorrow)
What If They Stole an Election and No One Cared? (By Ward Sutton)
Dems' 2008 Campaign Strategy (By Mr. Fish)


Friday, June 30

A New Vision: The West Against The Rest? (excerpts) , David R. Loy

When he wrote "The Clash of Civilizations," Samuel P. Huntington was the Eaton Professor of Government and Director of the Olin Institute for Strategic Studies at Harvard University. His now-famous essay was originally written for an Olin Institute project on "The Changing Security Environment and American National Interests," published in Foreign Affairs in 1993, and then expanded into a book.* As this genesis suggests, what it offers us is not some impartial overview of global civilization but the post-war world as perceived by the U.S. foreign-policy elite &endash; the "best and brightest" that previously gave us the Vietnam War and the "domino theory" that also rationalized U.S. support for Pinochet, the Shah of Iran, Marcos, Suharto, etc. Huntington himself was a consultant for the State Department in 1967, when he wrote a long position paper that supported U.S. goals in Vietnam but criticized the military strategy for attaining them.

I mention this not to make an ad hominem attack on Huntington's ideas but to clarify the purpose for his essay: determining the new security needs of the United States in the post-Cold War world. This becomes apparent in its second half, which is more obviously concerned about defending "the values and interests of the West" against those of other civilizations. This subtext is not always explicit but it determines what Huntington sees, and what he is unable to see.

What he sees is a new global paradigm that brings the new global mess into focus. The era of struggle between nation-states and rival ideologies is over. Democratic societies, in particular, do not go to war against each other. The new conflicts are between civilizations, which have different languages, histories, institutions, and &endash; most importantly &endash; different religions. Huntington lists seven or eight civilizations: Western, Confucian, Japanese, Hindu, Slavic-Orthodox, Latin-American, "and possibly African" (3). The differences between them are more fundamental than the old differences between political regimes or ideologies. Huntington claims that increasing interaction among people of different civilizations is enhancing the historical "civilization-consciousness" of peoples in ways that "invigorate differences and animosities stretching or thought to stretch back deep into history".

This challenges the usual and more irenic perception that increasing contact tends to decrease tensions. Today, more than ever, people from different parts of the world not only buy each other's commodities and consume each other's products but enjoy each other's music, films and TV shows, fashions and food; when they have the opportunity, many are eager to travel to far-away countries, to meet other people, and sometimes even to intermarry. Is this increasing contact and awareness also increasing inter-civilizational intolerance and strife, or decreasing it? Or does that question miss the point because the effects of all this interaction are too complicated to generalize about in either simpleminded way?

Civilizations, Huntington tells us, are the broadest level of cultural identity that people have, "short of that which distinguishes humans from other species". Why such cultural differences should be emphasized more than our similarities as fellow humans is not immediately obvious, except perhaps for the unfortunate but common tendency to identify ourselves by distinguishing our own interests from those of some other "out group." This is no minor point, if the subtext of Huntington's argument &endash; U.S. national security &endash; itself exemplifies such an "in group" defending its own interests at the cost of other groups. U.S. relations with Latin America is an obvious example: history suggests that the Monroe Doctrine (1823) was promulgated not so much to protect Central and South American countries from European interference as to monopolize U.S. interference....

We have supported constitutionalism, human rights, liberty, the rule of law and democracy in other countries when those values have produced leaders amenable to our own national interests. Those same values evidently resonate less loudly for us when they produce leaders who have different ideas. In 1954, for example, the U.S. sponsored a coup against the democratically elected government of Guatemala, which over the following years led to the deaths of over 100,000 peasants. In 1965 the U.S. overthrew the government of the Dominican Republic and helped to kill some 3000 people in the process. In 1973, the U.S. sponsored a coup against the democratic government of Chile that murdered or "disappeared" several thousand people. In the 1980s the U.S. sponsored a terrorist contra war against the government of Nicaragua, which led to the deaths of over 30,000 innocent people and to a World Court declaration that the U.S. government was a war criminal for mining Nicaragua's harbors. Another U.S.-supported war in the 1980s against El Salvador resulted in the deaths of 80,000 more innocent people. Lots of "collateral damage."

All those recent examples are from Latin America alone. Also in 1965, the U.S. sponsored or assisted a military coup in Indonesia that led to the deaths of well over half a million people. When President Bush declares that Iran is part of a new "axis of evil," we should remember why many Iranians return the compliment, viewing the U.S. government as "the Great Satan." Why? When Western oil interests were threatened, the CIA helped to sponsor a brutal coup that installed the widely detested Shah of Iran, whose notorious Savak secret service then proceeded to torture and kill over 70,000 Iranians between 1952 and 1979.

There are many more examples, unfortunately, but the point is made. Clearly, the problem here is something more than not living up to our own ideals. Nor do we just keep making mistakes, such as innocently backing the wrong sort of people. Once can be a mistake, twice may be stupidity, but this pattern of repeated violations of our own self-declared values amounts to something more sinister. "By their fruits shall you know them," as someone once put it. It is difficult to avoid the conclusion that our so-called values are not really our values, at least not when it comes to international relations. The basic problem is not a clash between our values and theirs, but between our (declared) values and our (short-term) interests....[tbc]

David R. Loy, Professor, Faculty of International Studies, Bunkyo University, Japan


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