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Dem Delegate Count (pledged, non-binding, and super-delegates): Obama, 1,929.5; Clinton, 1,753 --NYT. Obama 1,956; Clinton 1,776 --AP. May 21, 2008 (Needed: 2,026: Oama,95.2%; Clinton, 86.5%) (update)

The Latest Bush Watch Op-Eds

"Self-Deceived" Bush: Ex-Bush Press Sec. Explains Bush Lies Not Lies,
Says Bush Response To Cocaine Use Question "Probably Not True"
, Ken Herman

Unbalanced Bush: Long Time Bush Press Secretary Portrays Bush As A Self-Deceived Serial Liar, Politex

The Bush Legacy: Behind the Rise in Prices: A Plan to Torpedo the Dollar, Danny Schechter

Bush Watch News

Asia Diary: Adventures in India (8 parts), new page with pic

BW Special: Ex-Bush Press Sec. Adds To Long-Time Bush Watch Charge: Bush Is A Serial Liar

U.S.: Has McClellan handed victory to Obama?, Norman
U.S.: McClellan fuels Bush cocaine rumors, Atlantic Journal Constitution
U.S.: Bush a deluded man, writes former aide, Bloomberg
John Nichols: Bush Aide Scores White House War Propaganda
U.S.: David Corn to Scott McClellan: 'where's the apology?', Corn
U.S.: Former White House spokesman criticises Bush over Iraq, BBC
U.S.: Falling out with the President: the devious world of George Bush, Cornwell

Top World Stories: Friday, May 30, 2008:

US: Farms outsourced to Mexico, AP
U.S.: Warming seen depleting Great Lakes even more, Sandusky Register
U.S.: Guantánamo judge rules Omar Khadr, arrested at 15, can be tried as war criminal, Indybay
U.S.: ACLU rejects FISA “compromise', ACLU
U.S.: World Bank's $1.2bn fund to feed the poor, Borger
U.S.: The last Briton in Guantanamo faces death penalty, Verkaik
U.S.:Abused by America, betrayed by Britain ( 'special relationship' in action), Ed
U.S.: Scientists call on US to heavily cut carbon emissions, Glaister
U.K.: House prices: Nationwide reports fastest fall since 1991, Wearden
U.K.: Driven by the planet: the latest affordable cars are as eco-friendly as hybrids, O'Grady
M.E.: Olmert corruption: call for Israeli ruling party to choose new leader, Ryan
ASIA: Poll Alarm Bells Ring in India, Asia Times
ASIA: The Makings of a China-Latin Love Affair, Asia Times
ASIA: Malaysia: Amid Continuing Political Controversy, Badawi’s Changes Continue, Asia Sentinel
AFRICA: UNICEF Reports Five Million Child Deaths Every Year, IPS
AFRICA: Apartheid 'Not Root of SA Riots', BBC News

Today's 100+ More Stories: Bush Watch News and Opinion

Top Ten Op-Eds

Mark Weisbrot:
US Economy: The Worst Is Yet to Come
Robert Scheer:
Where Is the Outrage?
Susan Crane:
Reflection on Sami al-Haj
Ron Kovic:
Stopping the War Machine: Military Recruiters Must Be Confronted
Glenn Greenwald:
Israel Imposes a 10-Year Ban on American Critic of Israeli Policies
Douglas Milburn:
An American President Steps Over the Line (Again)
Ruth Ann Smalley:
Sustainable Communities
Ted Rall:
Kids in America(n Torture Camps)
Daniel G. Meyer:
Ending the School-to-Prison Pipeline
Deborah Burger:
More Insurance Will Not Solve Our Health-Care Woes

Bush Watch Special: Campaign For New US Dictator Continues

U.S.:Obama sets sights on finish line, MacAskill
U.S.: Pelosi sees Dem resolution by mid-June, Falcone
U.S.: Bush’s laws will be scrutinized if I become president, Obama says , Charles
U.S.: Murdoch says rock star Obama will win election, Usborne
U.S.: Obama wants to visit Iraq but doesn't intend to be shown around by John McCain, Zeleny
U.S. Sticking Bush to McCain, Munter
U.S.: Rubberman Joe Lieberman says he'll speak at dinner for Hitler apologist Rev.Hagee, AP

Bush Watch Special: Defining the U.S. Dictatorship

David Orr:
Refitting the Presidency to the Constitution
Mark Engler:
The World After Bush
Bill Moyers:
Democracy in America Is a Series of Narrow Escapes, and We May Be Running Out of Luck

Bush Watch Special: Housing Bubble Continues to Deflate

US: House prices falling at fastest rate in 20 years, Hopkins
U.S: Fallling US house prices curb consumer spending, Times
U.S.: Single-family home prices tumble in March, Reuters
U.S.: Family home prices tumble 5 times faster than last housing recession, NYT

Bush Watch Special: Nepal at the Crosswords

ASIA: Nepal Celebrates After Abolishing Monarchy, AFP

Rocky red road
Challenges ahead for Maoists after poll victory

Bush Watch Op-Eds

Population Bomb: Released Docs by State Dept. Show Mao Wanted To Unload "Excess" Chinese Women On U.S., transcript (AFP)
Bush War Song: Not Since Falusia. Kismet soundtrack, Jerry Politex
Gender Hate: "How would crude references to Obama’s sex organs play?" Coco, Kantor
US Downfall Started in the 70's: U.S. Consumer Economy Destroying the Country, Asia Sentinel
Barack's In Trouble: Hillary Has Been The Clear Winner Since March, Andy Ostroy
Dead at 82: Robert Rauschenberg, Titan of American Art, Slideshow
Should U.S. Invade? Has Burma Struck Oil? Is It Bankrolling A Nuclear Device With Its Profits?, Politex
Indications: Obama Could Lose November Election Due to Racism, Class Differences, Krugman
Supremely Conservative: Mac Wants An Even More Conservative Supreme Court, NYT Ed
Economic Policy: Hillary's Pragmatism, Barak's Visions, and Mac's Finger, NYT (D. Leonhardt)
Crimes Against Humanity: Israel Is Suppressing a Secret It Must Face, Johann Hari
More Bush Lies: All the President’s Liars, Mark Morford
Mac Attack: Here's The Dirt McCain Will Use Against Obama, Evelyn Pringle
Media Dreams: The Media Distracts Us While The Corporations Fleece Us, Politex; Samples
Dem Disaster: McCain Ignores Economy, Backs Bush War With Lies; Dems Ignore Mac, Rich
Recession or Depression? Bush Attacking Regulation Is Vote For A Depression, Politex, NYT, Krugman
Obama Bombs: Insane McCain will win it all — and handily too, William Smith
Bush Who? BW Spelled It Out Since '98, mail bag
Another Bush-type Liar: Phony Obama Proving To Be Just Another Politician, Krugman and Brooks
Dictator '08: Isn't It Time Obama and Hill Took Aim at Nation's Problems?, NYT Ed
Business: Bush Takes $138 Out Of Your Paycheck Each Month to Pay For His Iraq War, Stiglitz
Mail Bag: What's Wrong With Obama?, various
First Ladyitis: Gee, Thanks, Mrs. Obama, William Smith, etc.
Obamanation? Can Status Quo Obama Change To Match His Rhetoric? (excerpts), Dave Lindorff
Diet Coke vs. Diet Pepsi: Obama and Hillary: Do-Nothing Insiders Far From Progressive, Joel S. Hirschhorn

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

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Thursday, May 29

"Self-Deceived" Bush: Ex-Bush Press Sec. Explains Bush Lies Not Lies, Says Bush Response To Cocaine Use Question "Probably Not True", Ken Herman

Note: Ken Herman, political reporter for the Austin American-Statesman while Bush was Governor of Texas, is now at the Cox News Washington Bureau --Politex

The volume makes McClellan, a Texan picked by the president and paid by the people to help sell the war to the world, the first longtime Bush aide to put such harsh criticism between hard covers. It is an extraordinarily critical book that questions Bush's intellectual curiosity, his candor in leading the nation to war, his pattern of self-deception and the quality of his advisers.

"As a Texas loyalist who followed Bush to Washington with great hope and personal affection and as a proud member of his administration, I was all too ready to give him and his highly experienced foreign policy advisers the benefit of the doubt on Iraq," McClellan wrote. "Unfortunately, subsequent events have showed that our willingness to trust the judgment of Bush and his team was misplaced."

McClellan worked for Bush from 1999, when he signed on as a deputy in the governor's press office, until 2006, when he was forced out as White House press secretary.

"President Bush has always been an instinctive leader more than an intellectual leader. He is not one to delve into all the possible policy options — including sitting around engaging in extended debate about them — before making a choice," McClellan wrote. "Rather, he chooses based on his gut and his most deeply held convictions. Such was the case with Iraq."

In an interview Tuesday, McClellan said he retains great admiration and respect for Bush. "My job was to advocate and defend his policies and speak on his behalf," he said. "This is an opportunity for me now to share my own views and perspective on things. There were things we did right and things we did wrong. Unfortunately, much of what went wrong overshadowed the good things we did."

He said the Bush administration fell into the "permanent campaign" mode that can cripple a White House and has tainted much of Washington.

In the book — subtitled "Inside the Bush White House and Washington's Culture of Deception" — McClellan said that Bush's top advisers, including Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, "played right into his thinking, doing little to question it or cause him to pause long enough to fully consider the consequences before moving forward," according to McClellan.

"Contradictory intelligence was largely ignored or simply disregarded," he wrote.

In Iraq, McClellan added, Bush saw "his opportunity to create a legacy of greatness," something McClellan said Bush has said he believes is only available to wartime presidents.

The president's real motivation for the war, he said, was to transform the Middle East to ensure an enduring peace in the region. But the White House effort to sell the war as necessary due to the stated threat posed by Saddam Hussein was needed because "Bush and his advisers knew that the American people would almost certainly not support a war launched primarily for the ambitions purpose of transforming the Middle East," McClellan wrote.

"Rather than open this Pandora's Box, the administration chose a different path — not employing out-and-out deception, but shading the truth," he wrote of the effort to convince the world that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction, an effort he said used "innuendo and implication" and "intentional ignoring of intelligence to the contrary."

"President Bush managed the crisis in a way that almost guaranteed that the use of force would become the only feasible option," McClellan concluded, noting, "The lack of candor underlying the campaign for war would severely undermine the president's entire second term in office."

Bush's national security advisers failed to "help him fully understand the tinderbox he was opening," McClellan recalled.

"I know the president pretty well. I believe that, if he had been given a crystal ball in which he could have foreseen the costs of war — more than 4,000 American troops killed, 30,000 injured and tens of thousands of innocent Iraqis dead — he would never have made the decision to invade, despite what he might say or feel he has to say publicly today," McClellan wrote.

In a summation, McClellan said the decision to invade Iraq "goes to an important question that critics have raised about the president: Is Bush intellectually incurious or, as some assert, actually stupid?"

"Bush is plenty smart enough to be president," he concluded. "But as I've noted his leadership style is based more on instinct than deep intellectual debate."

McClellan also expresses amazement that Bush seemed flummoxed by a query by NBC's Tim Russert in February 2004 as to whether the invasion of Iraq was "a war of choice or a war of necessity." "It strikes me today as an indication of his lack of inquisitiveness and his detrimental resistance to reflection," McClellan wrote, "something his advisers needed to compensate for better than they did."

McClellan tracks Bush's penchant for self-deception back to an overheard incident on the campaign trail in 1999 when the then-governor was dogged by reports of possible cocaine use in his younger days.

The book recounts an evening in a hotel suite "somewhere in the Midwest." Bush was on the phone with a supporter and motioned for McClellan to have a seat.

"'The media won't let go of these ridiculous cocaine rumors,' I heard Bush say. 'You know, the truth is I honestly don't remember whether I tried it or not. We had some pretty wild parties back in the day, and I just don't remember.'"

"I remember thinking to myself, How can that be?" McClellan wrote. "How can someone simply not remember whether or not they used an illegal substance like cocaine? It didn't make a lot of sense."

Bush, according to McClellan, "isn't the kind of person to flat-out lie."

"So I think he meant what he said in that conversation about cocaine. It's the first time when I felt I was witnessing Bush convincing himself to believe something that probably was not true, and that, deep down, he knew was not true," McClellan wrote. "And his reason for doing so is fairly obvious — political convenience."

In the years that followed, McClellan "would come to believe that sometimes he convinces himself to believe what suits his needs at the moment." McClellan likened it to a witness who resorts to "I do not recall."

"Bush, similarly, has a way of falling back on the hazy memory to protect himself from potential political embarrassment," McClellan wrote, adding, "In other words, being evasive is not the same as lying in Bush's mind."

And McClellan linked the tactic to the decision to invade Iraq, a decision based on flawed intelligence.

"It would not be the last time Bush mishandled potential controversy," he said of the cocaine rumors. "But the cases to come would involve the public trust, and the failure to deal with them early, directly and head-on would lead to far greater suspicion and far more destructive partisan warfare," he wrote.

The book also recounts Bush's unwillingness or inability to come up with a mistake he had made when asked by a reporter to do so.

"It became symbolic of a leader unable to acknowledge that he got it wrong, and unwilling to grow in office by learning from his mistake — too stubborn to change and grow," McClellan concluded.

Wednesday, May 28

Unbalanced Bush: Long Time Bush Press Secretary Portrays Bush As A Self-Deceived Serial Liar, Politex

We're not at all surprised to learn from the pen of Scott McCellan in his new book, WHAT HAPPENED: INSIDE THE BUSH WHITE HOUSE AND WASHINGTON'S CULTURE OF DECEPTION, that Bush is a liar, "big time," and those around him are, too. We've been saying that since 1998, and we even wrote a book about it: BIG BUSH LIES. We plan to write more about McCellan and his book, but here's what we wrote in 2001:

Listening To Bush Lies Since 1998

Bush lies So often and in so many different ways that I've never had the patience to keep a list of them. However, when I write something and include the generalization that Bush lies, some readers will write in and say, "Oh, yeh? What did he lie about? I don't believe it." What follows, then, is an informal listing of just some of the lies he typically tells, starting from 2/01. Now, of course, we all know that Gore lies, Lott lies, Cheney lies, etc. But the difference between those liars and Bush is the Resident tells us that he is telling the truth when he is lying. Hence, he will tell us what he is going to do, like get his proposed tax cut from the surplus, then try to get his proposed tax cut from military and medicare funds, instead. Or, once he has actually begun a program, tell us lies about how or why the program has begun. Or tell a closed-door Dem meeting something and then swear up and down the next day that he didn't say it. Or saying, "Yes, Mam" and meaning "No, Mam." Or having a spinner say the opposite the next day. Or, get the idea.

Some Bush backers claim he's not a liar, he's just not very bright and doesn't remember things very well. That may be true, but we're sure Bush would not allow such an excuse in his "responsibility era." We're sure Bush would agree that if he's that dumb, he shouldn't be President. Other Bush backers claim that some of his lies are "technically correct" or "tailored to fit the audience," or some such circumlocution. What they're talking about are lies of omission rather than lies of commission. In lies of omission it's what they imply, not what they say. For example, the other evening Bush told Congress and the American people that he was putting a "lock box" on Social Security. Now, it's very clear that Bush wanted us to feel secure in the belief that he was protecting all of our Social Security funds for the future. No question, right? Yet, the very next day when his budget book was released, we learned that Bush told a lie of omission. What he didn't tell Congress and the American people is that he would later take from $.6 to $1 trillion out of that "lock box" to cover his tax cuts. No doubt, Bush lied. He wanted folks to believe something that he knew was not true. Of course, politicians do this all the time. It's second nature. In sum, the thing that really bothers us about Bush's lies is that he is also a hypocrite and pretends he's above lying. As a liar, he reinforces our assumptions about politicians. As a hypocrite, he reinforces our assumptions about his character.

Tuesday, May 27

The Bush Legacy: Behind the Rise in Prices: A Plan to Torpedo the Dollar, Danny Schechter


The financial crisis that we now face was created by design. It is intended to destroy the labor movement, crush the middle class, quash Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security, reduce our foreign debt by 50 or 60%, force a restructuring of America’s debt, privatize all public assets and resources, and create a new regime of austerity measures which will divert more wealth to the banking and corporate establishments.

The avatars of neoliberalism invariably use crooked politicians to spawn enormous “unsustainable” debt so that the nations’ riches can be transferred to ruling elites. It works the same everywhere. It’s a form of corporate colonization, only this time the victim is the good old USA.

In September, we saw early signs that the dollar was in trouble. The trade deficit registered at $70 billion but the Net Foreign Security Purchases (NFSP) came in at a paltry $33 billion. That means that our main trading partners are no longer buying back our debt which puts downward pressure on the greenback. The Fed had two choices; either raise interest rates substantially or let the currency fall. Given the tenuous condition of the housing bubble and the proximity of the midterm elections, the Fed did neither....

The United States runs a $200 billion per year trade deficit with China. If they’ve “got enough” we’re dead-ducks. After all, it doesn’t take a sell-off to kill the dollar, just unwillingness on the part of the main players to stop purchasing at the same rate.

if we accept the premise that the tax cuts, the expansion of the federal government, the doubling of the money supply, and the $10 trillion that was sluiced into the housing bubble were not merely “honest mistakes” made by “supply side” enthusiasts; then we must assume that this is all part of a loony plan to demolish the economic foundation-blocks of the current system and remake society from the ground up.

Domestically, that plan appears to involve the activation of the police state.

In the last few weeks the Bush administration has passed the Military Commissions Act of 2006 which allows the president to arrest and torture whomever he chooses without charging him with a crime. Also, unbeknownst to most Americans, Bush signed into law a provision which, according to Senator Patrick Leahy, will allow the president to unilaterally declare martial law. By changing The Insurrection Act, Bush has essentially overturned the Posse Comitatus Act which bars the president from deploying troops with the United States. The John Warner Defense Authorization Act of 2007 (as it is called) also allows Bush to take control of the National Guard which has always been under the purview of the state governors. Bush now has absolute power over all armed troops within the country, a state of affairs which the constitution purposely tried to prevent. The administration’s dream of militarizing the country under the sole authority of the executive has now been achieved although the public still has no idea that a coup that has taken place.

Internationally, the falling dollar means that America’s debt will be reduced proportionate to the percentage-loss of the dollar in relation to other currencies. This is a great deal for the U.S. First the Fed prints fiat money to buy valuable resources and manufactured goods and then it nabs a discount by depreciating its currency. It’s a “win-win” situation for Washington, although it will undoubtedly cheat unwitting foreign-creditors out of their hard-earned profits. It’s doubtful that their interests will weigh very heavily on the money-lenders at the US Treasury or the Federal Reserve.

The dollar faces a second crisis at home which is bound to play out throughout 2007. The $10 trillion dollar housing bubble is quickly losing air causing a precipitous drop in GDP. The housing industry is seeing its steepest decline in 30 years and home equity is beginning to shrivel. Housing has been the one bright spot in an otherwise bleak economic landscape. With the housing market slowing down and prices decreasing, the $600 billion of consumer spending which was extracted in 2005 from home equity will quickly evaporate triggering an overall slowdown in the economy. (Consumer spending is 70% of GDP)

By the Fed’s own calculations; “The total amount of residential housing wealth in the US just about doubled between 1999 and 2006 up from $10.4 trillion to $20.4 trillion. (“Times Online”) If these figures are accurate than we can assume that much of America’s “perceived” growth has been nothing more than the expansion of debt. In fact, that seems to be the case. Wages have been stagnant since the 1970s, 3 million manufacturing jobs have been outsourced, savings have shrunk to below 0%, and personal debt is soaring. We have become an “asset-based” society and when the principle asset begins to loose its value, we are in deep trouble. As housing prices continue to decline through 2007 we can expect a full-blown recession. If energy prices rear their ugly head again, (were they lowered for the elections?) it will just be that much worse. So, how will recession affect the dollar?

Capital has no loyalties. It follows the markets. When America’s bustling consumer market stalls, we’ll undergo capital flight just like everywhere else. The 3 million lost manufacturing jobs, the 200,000 lost high-paying high-tech jobs, the tax incentives for major corporations doing business outside the country; all signal that corporate America has already loaded the boats and is headed for more promising markets in Asia and Europe. A sluggish consumer market could further weaken the dollar and force Americans to begin saving again but, (and here’s the surprising part) the decision-makers at the Federal Reserve and the Treasury Dept don’t really care if the face-value of the greenback goes down anyway.

What really matters is that the dollar retains its position as the world’s reserve currency. That allows the Federal Reserve to continue to print the money, set the interest rates, and control the global economic system. The dollar presently accounts for 66% of foreign currency reserves in central banks across the globe, an increase of nearly 10% in one decade alone. The dollar has become the international currency, a de-facto monopoly. This is the goal of the globalists and the American ruling elite who dream of one system, the dollar-system; with us running it....

As long as oil is denominated in dollars, the central banks will be forced to stockpile American scrip regardless of its value. It’s no different than holding a gun to someone’s head. They will use our debt-plagued greenbacks or their cars and trucks will sputter, their tractors and factories will wheeze, and their economies will grind to a halt. It’s just that simple.

America cannot maintain its superpower status unless it continues to control the global economic system. That means the linkage between the dollar and oil must be preserved. The Bush troupe sees this as an existential issue upon which the future of America’s ruling class depends. By 2020, 60% of the world’s oil will come from the Middle East. Bush will do everything in his power to control the resources of the Caspian Basin, thereby expanding US dollar-hegemony and paving the way for a new American century. --The Dollar's Full-System Meltdown, Mike Whitney

2008: Now let’s fast-forward to the present, well after this widely foreseen crisis erupted. As oil prices climb, the public is angry. And who do they mostly blame? The oil companies and the oil producing states, of course. They have no clue that this crisis was the consequence of decisions made by the Bush Administration to devalue the dollar with its “crisis manager” Jim Wilkinson playing a central role.

Political writer Jerry Policoff questioned the “politicized polls” on who is responsible for the oil hikes. He noted that most people and pollsters don’t realize that the fall of the dollar precipitated all of this.

I asked him if he thought this squeeze had been orchestrated.

His response: “I don’t think there is any doubt about that, and the Saudis said as much when Bush asked them to rev up production to bring down the price. Their reaction was pretty much that the U.S. should stop undermining the value of its own dollar before asking other countries to take a financial hit on oil.”...

Of course, everyone in Washington already knew that doomsday was approaching. That’s the way the system was designed from the very beginning. It’s all part of the madcap scheme to “starve the beast” and transfer the nation’s wealth to a handful of western plutocrats. That’s explains why the Fed and the White House whirred along like two spokes on the same wheel; every policy calculated to thrust the country headlong toward disaster.

The administration never created a funding mechanism for the $400 million tax cuts or for the 35% expansion of the Federal government. Defense spending increased by leaps and bounds as did the “no-bid” contracts for friends of the Bush clan. At the same time, interest rates were lowered to rock-bottom to put as much money as possible into the hands of people who couldn’t meet the traditional criteria for a mortgage. And, if gluttonous waste, reckless overspending and “Mickey Mouse” loans were not enough; the Fed capped it off by doubling the money supply in 7 years; a surefire prescription for hyper-inflation.

Treasury Secretary Paulson was asked what he was going to do to strengthen the dollar. He waffled — claiming a “strong dollar” is important but then changing the subject to “market fundamentals” in a speech to pump up CONfidence. (The first three letters of that word gave the real mission away.) He avoided a straight answer with a flurry of “uh, uh, uh,” halting phrases and contradictory assertions. The speech was characterized as “optimistically pessimistic.” --Behind the Rise in Prices: A Plan to Torpedo the Dollar, Danny Schechter

Thursday, May 22

Population Bomb: Released Docs by State Dept. Show Mao Wanted To Unload "Excess" Chinese Women On U.S., transcript (AFP)

In a long conversation that stretched way past midnight at Mao's residence on February 17, 1973, the cigar-chomping Chinese leader referred to the dismal trade between the two countries, saying China was a "very poor country" and "what we have in excess is women." He first suggested sending "thousands" of women but as an afterthought proposed "10 million," drawing laughter at the meeting, also attended by Chinese premier Zhou Enlai.

Kissinger, who was President Richard Nixon's national security advisor at that time, told Mao that the United States had no "quotas" or "tariffs" for Chinese women, drawing more laughter. Kissinger then tried to highlight to Mao the threat posed by the Soviet Union and other global concerns as he moved to lay the groundwork for restoring diplomatic ties a year after Nixon's historic visit to China.

But Mao dragged the talks back to the topic of Chinese women.

"Let them go to your place. They will create disasters. That way you can lessen our burdens," Mao said.

"Do you want our Chinese women? We can give you ten million," he said.

Kissinger noted that Mao was "improving his offer."

Mao continued, "By doing so we can let them flood your country with disaster and therefore impair your interests. In our country we have too many women, and they have a way of doing things. "They give birth to children and our children are too many."

A shrewd diplomat, Kissinger seemed to turn the tables on Mao, replying, "It is such a novel proposition, we will have to study it.

" The two leaders then spoke briefly about the threat posed by the Soviet Union, with Mao saying he hoped Moscow would attack China and be defeated.

But Mao again lamented, "We have so many women in our country that don't know how to fight. The assistant Chinese foreign minister, Wang Haijung, who was at the meeting, then cautioned Mao that if the minutes of the conversation were made public, "it would incur the public wrath." Kissinger agreed with Mao that the minutes be scrapped.

But when Kissinger joked that he would raise the issue at his next press conference, Mao said, "I?m not afraid of anything.

"Anyway, God has sent me an invitation," said the Chinese leader, who coughed badly during the talks.

Mao died in September 1976. US-China diplomatic relations were restored in 1979.

Wednesday, May 21

Bush War: Not Since Falusia. Kismet soundtrack, Jerry Politex

Baghdad! Don't underestimate Baghdad!
A city rich in romantic oriental war

Baghdad! You must investigate Baghdad!
And learn a few Bush facts you never knew before

Far south of the Garden of Eden
You'll find hunreds of thousands bleedin'
Where every male and maiden
Is laden down...with the horror of
Baghdad, this irresistable town

When or where
Could you compare
Sudden death
To the death you find here?

Not since Falusia, not since Tyre,
Not since Afganistan turned to mire
For a sin of a kind that was never mined here!

Where or when ever again
Bush death
Like the death well known here?

Not since Falusia, not since Sidon
Not since the U.S. started slidin'
From the din of a gun that's always shot here!

War palaces take your breath,
War alley ways serve death,
Bush princes more autocratic here
Contracts more distinctly aromatic here

Where could you
Ever pursue
Bush death
With the zeal you feel here?

Not since Washington heard that crash,
Not since Crawford sounded that trumpet,
Not since Vietnam's garden of hangings went to pot,
Not since that village near
Karbala got
Shot up a Lot!

No, not since Falusia,
Not since Falusia-eh, eh-eh!

Monday, May 19

Gender Hate: "How would crude references to Obama’s sex organs play?" Coco, Kantor

As the Democratic nomination contest slouches toward a close, it’s time to take stock of what I will not miss.

I will not miss seeing advertisements for T-shirts that bear the slogan “Bros before Hos.” The shirts depict Barack Obama (the Bro) and Hillary Clinton (the Ho), and they are widely sold on the Internet.

I will not miss walking past airport concessions selling the Hillary Nutcracker, a device in which a pantsuit-clad Clinton doll opens her legs to reveal stainless steel thighs that, well, bust nuts. I won’t miss television and newspaper stories that make light of the novelty item.

I won’t miss episodes like the one in which the liberal radio personality Randi Rhodes called Clinton a “big f—in’ whore” and said the same about former vice presidential nominee Geraldine Ferraro. Rhodes was appearing at an event sponsored by a San Francisco radio station, before an audience of appreciative Obama supporters-one of whom had promoted the evening on the presumptive Democratic nominee’s official campaign Web site.

I won’t miss Citizens United Not Timid (no acronym, please), an anti-Clinton group founded by Republican guru Roger Stone.

Political discourse will at last be free of jokes like this one, told last week by magician Penn Jillette on MSNBC: “Obama did great in February, and that’s because that was Black History Month. And now Hillary’s doing much better ’cause it’s White B—- Month, right?” Co-hosts Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski rebuked Jillette.

I won’t miss political commentators (including National Public Radio political editor Ken Rudin and Andrew Sullivan, the columnist and blogger) who compare Clinton to the Glenn Close character in the movie “Fatal Attraction.” In the iconic 1987 film, Close played an independent New York woman who has an affair with a married man played by Michael Douglas. When the liaison ends, the jilted woman becomes a deranged, knife-wielding stalker who terrorizes the man’s blissful suburban family. Message: Psychopathic home-wrecker, be gone.

The airwaves will at last be free of comments that liken Clinton to a “she-devil” (Chris Matthews on MSNBC, who helpfully supplied an on-screen mockup of Clinton sprouting horns). Or those who offer that she’s “looking like everyone’s first wife standing outside a probate court” (Mike Barnicle, also on MSNBC).

But perhaps it is not wives who are so very problematic. Maybe it’s mothers. Because, after all, Clinton is more like “a scolding mother, talking down to a child” (Jack Cafferty on CNN).

When all other images fail, there is one other I will not miss. That is, the down-to-the-basics, simplest one: “White women are a problem, that’s — you know, we all live with that” (William Kristol of Fox News).

I won’t miss reading another treatise by a man or woman, of the left or right, who says that sexism has had not even a teeny-weeny bit of influence on the course of the Democratic campaign. To hint that sexism might possibly have had a minimal role is to play that risible “gender card.”

Most of all, I will not miss the silence.

I will not miss the deafening, depressing silence of Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean or other leading Democrats, who to my knowledge (with the exception of Sen. Barbara Mikulski of Maryland) haven’t uttered a word of public outrage at the unrelenting, sex-based hate that has been hurled at a former first lady and two-term senator from New York. Among those holding their tongues are hundreds of Democrats for whom Clinton has campaigned and raised millions of dollars. Don Imus endured more public ire from the political class when he insulted the Rutgers University women’s basketball team.

Would the silence prevail if Obama’s likeness were put on a tap-dancing doll that was sold at airports? Would the media figures who dole out precious face time to these politicians be such pals if they’d compared Obama with a character in a blaxploitation film? And how would crude references to Obama’s sex organs play? Marie Coco

Like so many women before, [Hillary] was heckled (in New Hampshire, a few men told her to iron their shirts) and called nasty names (“How do we beat the bitch?” Senator John McCain was asked at one campaign event)....Geraldine Ferraro, a Clinton supporter and the first woman to be the vice-presidential nominee of a major party...who clashed with the Obama campaign about whether she made a racially offensive remark, said she might not [vote for him in the Fall]. “I think Obama was terribly sexist,” she said. NYT

Friday, May 16

US Downfall Started in the 70's: U.S. Consumer Economy Destroying the Country, Asia Sentinel

In the mid 1970s, a transformation began in which the driving force of the US economy shifted from producers to consumers.  Today, measured by gross domestic product, consumption accounts for some 72 percent of the US.  It is no wonder then, that as economics is so synonymous with spending, that the stimulus package recently passed by the US Congress, is skewed heavily (90 percent) in favor of the consumer (where the votes are) at the expense of producers. But after a generation of consuming more than it has produced, the US has dissipated vast amounts of its wealth.

Unwilling to allow the citizenry to confront the reduced living standards that such dissipation requires, successive US governments have instead produced consumer booms in technology and real estate.  Inflated through a combination of deficit spending, borrowing and massive depreciation of the US dollar, the bubbles created by these policies have left future generations of Americans saddled with vast debts and an anemic currency.

But while the US has lost much of its wealth, the rest of the world, particularly Asia, has gained.  Since the late 1980s, a wave of economic enterprise has swept across the world.  Under the leadership of the Reagan-Thatcher-Gorbachev triumvirate, communism melted, opening the world to free trade, and brought some 2 billion new consumers to the market.  It also brought some 2 billion hard-working, low cost producers into direct competition with the developed west.

Today, Western consumers not only buy their clothes, toys and sneakers from BRIC [Brazil, Russia, India, and China] factory workers, but they are also likely to use service workers in those countries to manage help-desk call centers, prepare tax returns and read X-rays.  As a result, growth rates in BRIC countries has skyrocketed and corporate profits and stock prices followed suit, far outstripping the average performance of US stock markets.

The benefits of the great, new world consumer super boom have flowed mainly, as should be expected, to producer nations.  As an example, the S&P 500 Average Index rose by some 14 percent gross in 2006  (Incredibly, some 80 percent of mutual fund managers failed to equal even this return).  Further, when deductions were made for management fees, transaction costs, 3 percent inflation and the depreciation of the US. dollar, many American investors actually experienced a ‘real’ net loss in that year.  By contrast, the BRIC stock markets offered far superior yields in appreciating currencies with Brazil up 33 percent, India 47 percent, Russia 71 percent and China 131 percent.

One major impact of the increased manufacturing power of the BRIC nations, and even smaller countries like Vietnam, is a greatly increased thirst for raw materials.  As formerly impoverished populations gain wealth, demand for higher-quality food impinges upon the established demand of the ‘mature’ markets.  These two factors have greatly benefitted nations such as Canada, Australia and New Zealand that provide raw materials, energy and food.... The true dimensions of the changes heralded by the end of the Cold War are only now becoming clear.  The world looks headed for a gigantic economic boom.  Massive economic prizes will go to the producing economies.  Economies that produce less than they consume can expect some economic and political shocks.

  Wednesday, May 14

Barack's In Trouble: Hillary Has Been The Clear Winner Since March, Andy Ostroy

...When pundits and the Obama supporters use the math to bolster his position, you don't hear much about the pre-March/post-March math. But take a look at these stats: since March 1st, Clinton has won 400 delegates to Obama's 392, and 5,857,517 popular votes to Obama's 5,511,513. Pretty interesting, huh? Kind of changes the whole math myth, doesn't it? Truly puts everything in perspective, especially as argued by the Clinton campaign. Should the super-delegates, as the Obamacans would like, ignore what the numbers behind the numbers indicate?

It's important to note that, with the exception of his big win in North Carolina last week, Obama's campaign has been stagnant since he racked up an impressive string of victories in February. Since then, as the above data clearly indicates, the momentum has been all Clinton's. She's won the big key blue swing states, won both the delegate count and the popular vote, and held her own with impressive gains in polls against both Obama and McCain. She's clearly come into her own voice and connected with a critical part of the party's base, and has without question run a better campaign for the past three months. It's been she, not he, who's looked, acted and sounded like a winner. It's been Clinton, not Obama, who's impressed many on both sides of the aisle with her tenacity, resilience and ability to fight.

What about Obama's impressive early wins in states like Iowa, Missouri and Minnesota...where he not only won some key swing states, but also won the white vote? Well, the key word there is early. January and February--three and four months ago--is an eternity in politics. A lot has happened since then. Obama's campaign right now is in a virtual tie with Clinton as a result of his early and decisive victories. But they occurred before the Rev. Wright implosion. Before Bittergate, and the ensuing charges of elitism. It was before the country truly got to know Obama; who he is, and what he stands for. Is it a reasonable question to ask that, if there were do-overs in those states today, would he still win, and win as big? The results of some of the more recent primaries suggests not. And let's be sure about Iowa: Obama did not win core rural white, older voters as many claim. He won, as he typically has, with a younger, more educated, affluent constituency. The typical caucus voter....

Clinton won [West Virginia] by capturing an overwhelming majority of white, rural and working-class voters...the party's bread and butter....No Democrat has won the White House without winning West Virgina since 1916....Tuesday's results, when combined with those of other key states like Pennsylvania, Ohio, Florida and Indiana, should scare the bajesus out of any sane Democrat. The simple truth is, without the white working class vote, Obama cannot and will not win the general election against the GOP's presumptive nominee Sen. John McCain...So what do the next few weeks look like? Odds are, Clinton will have another resounding victory in Kentucky next week, while Obama is favored in Oregon. But, could Oregon provide an upset for Hillary? What happens if the events of the past three months give that state's voters pause, pushing them into Clinton's corner? Wouldn't that be a sure-fire sign that Obama's in deep trouble? And then there's Puerto Rico, with it's millions of voters and 55 delgates. Hillary is predicted to win handily here. That leaves Montana and South Dakota, which at this point could go either way. Come June 3rd, when the last primary is over, the delegate count and the popular vote tally could be quite different than today, and Clinton's momentum could be that much greater.

Tuesday, May 13

Dead at 82: Robert Rauschenberg, Titan of American Art, Slideshow

A painter, photographer, printmaker, choreographer, onstage performer, set designer and, in later years, even a composer, Mr. Rauschenberg defied the traditional idea that an artist stick to one medium or style. He pushed, prodded and sometimes reconceived all the mediums in which he worked.

Building on the legacies of Marcel Duchamp, Kurt Schwitters, Joseph Cornell and others, he thereby helped to obscure the lines between painting and sculpture, painting and photography, photography and printmaking, sculpture and photography, sculpture and dance, sculpture and technology, technology and performance art — not to mention between art and life.

Mr. Rauschenberg was also instrumental in pushing American art onward from Abstract Expressionism, the dominant movement when he emerged during the early 1950s. He became a transformative link between artists like Jackson Pollock and Willem de Kooning and those who came next, artists identified with Pop, Conceptualism, Happenings, Process Art and other new kinds of art in which he played a signal role.

No American artist, Jasper Johns once said, invented more than Mr. Rauschenberg. Mr. Johns, John Cage, Merce Cunningham and Mr. Rauschenberg, without sharing exactly the same point of view, collectively defined this new era of experimentation in American culture. Apropos of Mr. Rauschenberg, Cage once said, “Beauty is now underfoot wherever we take the trouble to look.” --NYT

Sunday, May 11

Should U.S. Invade? Has Burma Struck Oil, and Is It Bankrolling A Nuclear Device With the Profits?, Politex

The answers to the above questions are perhaps, no, and no, but maybe the rumors should be started to stimulate a U.S. invasion to get rid of the heartless killers who run that country. After all, the last decade has demonstrated that the U.S. has a history of getting oil by invading the country that has it, and jawboning countries going nuclear with threats of an invasion. In such cases, an excuse is needed, like getting rid of a dictator or a political leader who is a nut case: dictator Sadam in the case of Iraq, nut case Ahmadinejad in Iran. This is termed going to war in the "national interest," which really is about U.S. corporations making even more money. The U.S. puts its supposed concern for human rights into action when our "national interest" is being threatened. Period.

History also indicates that the U.S. goes into military action to protect a dictator, as was the recent case with Pakistan's Musharraf, only when our "national interest" is being threatened. Musharraf is our dictator, so that's ok. True, it may take more than eight months to get the public and our military machine in gear to fight another war, but there isn't that much difference between the Bush/Cheney war machine and the Obama/Clinton war machine, so this proposal still works into the next U.S. dictatorship. Remember folks, Bush destroyed the Magna Charter, and neither Obama nor Clinton are running on getting it back into our system of government.

At any rate, in January of 1990, the NYT's Steve Sesser suggested that we invade Burma for the same reasons we presently suggest. If this had been done, hundreds of thousands of deaths at the hands of the repressive killers who run Burma would have been prevented. --Jerry Politex

Can anyone really argue that we should grant any government - no matter how brutal or how unpopular - the right to terrorize or kill its citizens for as long as it can cling to power? Would it have been morally wrong for France, or the U.S., or the Soviet Union, to intervene in Pol Pot's Cambodia and thereby to have saved at least one million Cambodian lives?

I have been thinking about this issue since I visited Burma last April to research an article on that nation. The Government of Burma - the country now is called Myanmar -takes a back seat to none in the extent and severity of its repression. The dictator, Gen. Ne Win, overthrew a democratic Government in 1962, and his tyrannical rule has brought his country to ruin.

By the summer of 1988, the Burmese people could take no more. Led by students and monks, they rose in revolt. In what now seems almost a blueprint for what happened nine months later in China, that revolt was crushed by the Burmese Army.

Since then, hundreds of students have been murdered and thousands thrown into prison - so many that last July the Government cleared the jails of common criminals to make room for political dissidents. The U.S. Embassy in Yangon, formerly Rangoon, reported that ''torture, beatings and mistreatment'' of these dissidents are ''commonplace.'' Some dissidents have been used as human minesweepers, chained together and marched ahead of the Burmese troops, who have been fighting ethnic minorities in border areas.

Of the Government's two leading political opponents, one, former Defense Minister Tin U, was just sentenced to three years at hard labor. The other, Aung San Suu Kyi, the daughter of Burma's independence leader, is under house arrest.

In reporting on the 1988 revolt, I came to understand that the smallest gesture of U.S. military support -perhaps nothing more than a couple of battleships off the Burmese coast and a few warplanes over its skies -could have won the day for the Burmese people. Even today, with the army deeply split, merely the threat of American intervention might alone be enough to bring down the dictatorship.

In such clear-cut cases, would military intervention on human rights grounds be morally justified? If it is, a second question must be posed: How could the principle of big-power intervention on behalf of human rights be established without a future American or Soviet government perverting it to prop up, as in the past, repressive dictatorships? Could some effective international control mechanism be worked out - a Helsinki Accord with teeth?

I don't claim to know the answers. But the questions are certainly worth asking.

Friday, May 9

Indications: Obama Could Lose November Election Due to Racism, Class Differences, Krugman

Much of Mr. Obama’s initial appeal was the hope that he could transcend these divisions. At first, voting patterns seemed consistent with this hope. In February, for example, he received the support of half of Virginia’s white voters as well as that of a huge majority of African-Americans.

But this week, Mr. Obama, while continuing to win huge African-American majorities, lost North Carolina whites by 23 points, Indiana whites by 22 points. Mr. Obama’s white support continues to be concentrated among the highly educated; there was little in Tuesday’s results to suggest that his problems with working-class whites have significantly diminished.

Discussions of how and why Mr. Obama’s support narrowed over time have a Rashomon-like quality: different observers see very different truths. But at this point it doesn’t matter whose fault it was. What does matter is that Mr. Obama appears to have won the nomination with a deep but narrow base consisting of African-Americans and highly educated whites. And now he needs to bring Democrats who opposed him back into the fold.

It’s possible that this will happen automatically — that bad feelings from the nomination fight will fade away of their own accord. In recent decades, Democrats have had little trouble unifying after hard-fought primary campaigns.

But this time the division seems to go deeper than ordinary political rivalry. The closest parallel I can think of is the bitter intraparty struggles of the 1920s, which pitted urban, often Catholic Democrats against Protestant farmers.

So what can be done to heal the party’s current divisions?

More tirades from Obama supporters against Mrs. Clinton are not the answer — they will only further alienate her grass-roots supporters, many of whom feel that she received a raw deal. Nor is it helpful to insult the groups that supported Mrs. Clinton, either by suggesting that racism was their only motivation or by minimizing their importance.

After the Pennsylvania primary, David Axelrod, Mr. Obama’s campaign manager, airily dismissed concerns about working-class whites, saying that they have “gone to the Republican nominee for many elections.” On Tuesday night, Donna Brazile, the Democratic strategist, declared that “we don’t have to just rely on white blue-collar voters and Hispanics.” That sort of thing has to stop.

Wednesday, May 7

Supremely Conservative: Mac Wants An Even More Conservative Supreme Court, NYT Ed

On a day when Mr. Obama won a decisive victory in North Carolina and Mrs. Clinton eked out a win in Indiana, Mr. McCain spoke about his judicial philosophy. He is determined to move a far too conservative and far too activist Supreme Court and federal judiciary even further and more actively to the right.

Mr. McCain predictably criticized liberal judges, vowed strict adherence to the Founders’ views and promised to appoint more judges in the mold of Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito. That is just what the country does not need.

Since President Bush chose Justices Roberts and Alito, the Court has ordered Seattle and Louisville to scrap voluntary school integration, protected employers who illegally mistreat their workers, and constrained women’s right to choose and voters’ right to vote.

Mr. McCain did not mention, of course, how the Roberts-led Court blithely overruled Congress by nullifying a key part of the McCain-Feingold campaign finance law. He did wax nostalgic about what “the basic right of property” has meant “since the founding of America.” (He did not mention that in 1789 many women could not own property and African-Americans were property, but he did criticize the idea that values evolve over time.)

There was a moment when we were briefly cheered. Mr. McCain declared that “all the powers of the American presidency must serve the Constitution and thereby protect the people and their liberties.” We hoped that would be the start of a serious critique of how President Bush has violated cherished civil liberties: endorsing torture, ordering unlawful domestic spying and depriving detainees of the most basic right of habeas corpus. [Such a critique was not given.]

Monday, May 5

Economic Policy: Hillary's Pragmatism, Barak's Visions, and Mac's Finger, NYT (D. Leonhardt)

For all the similarities between the two Democrats, there is also a core thematic difference between them. Mrs. Clinton tends to favor narrowly focused programs, like the gas-tax holiday, that speak to specific voter concerns....Mr. Obama, on the other hand, leans toward broader programs meant to help nearly all middle- and low-income families.... The dueling instincts do not explain all the differences between the two Democrats. They also disagree about a health-insurance mandate (Mrs. Clinton favors one) and the capital-gains tax (Mr. Obama has indicated he would raise it more than Mrs. Clinton would). Mr. Obama is open to increasing the amount of income subject to the Social Security payroll tax; Mrs. Clinton has been critical of that idea. But their contrasting approaches do extend to a range of issues, including the current economic slowdown, the mortgage crisis and retirement savings....

The contrast between their approaches also highlights what many economists consider to be the biggest weakness of each candidate’s plan. As the economy has slowed, Mrs. Clinton has released a series of proposals — to stimulate growth, stem home foreclosures and, most recently, reduce energy costs — that have helped burnish her image as the candidate most in touch with the specific concerns of working families. Yet policy experts say these proposals have generally made for better politics than economics. But Mr. Obama gets lower marks from budget experts for fiscal discipline. His package of tax cuts and new spending would cost roughly $300 billion a year, while Mrs. Clinton’s would cost less than $250 billion. Economists said they were skeptical he could pay for his program without increasing the deficit....

Both campaigns defend their proposals. Mr. Obama’s advisers say he would pay for his plans by, among other things, raising the capital-gains tax more than Mrs. Clinton would and doing more to crack down on corporate-tax evasion. His broad cut in the payroll tax is an aggressive response to middle-class income stagnation, they say, and, because most senior citizens do not pay payroll taxes, they need additional help....Clinton advisers say that her remedies to the economic slowdown have been more focused than Mr. Obama’s and that, early on, she correctly identified the housing market as needing specific help. Her economic plans would provide short-term relief to families in the months and years before her longer-term plans — on energy conservation, for instance — would have an effect, the aides say....

The Clinton and Obama approaches still have many more similarities than differences. Whether through focused tax breaks or sweeping ones, both candidates would reduce taxes on middle-class households and raise taxes on those making more than $250,000 a year. Both Democratic candidates have also promised to regulate corporate America more closely than President Bush has and to spend more than $100 billion a year on an overhaul of the health-care system....

Senator John McCain, the presumptive Republican nominee, by contrast, would make permanent nearly all of the Bush tax cuts, including those on high earners. McCain advisers say allowing taxes on high earners to return to their pre-Bush levels would damage the economy when it is already vulnerable. Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Obama have also been more forthcoming than Mr. McCain about how they would pay for their plans. Mr. McCain has proposed almost $300 billion a year in new tax cuts, on top of President Bush’s cuts, but has offered little detail about how he would pay for them. Douglas Holtz-Eakin, the McCain campaign’s top economic adviser, has said Mr. McCain would later offer more details and that the tax cuts would spur economic growth, reducing their cost.

On many budget matters, Mrs. Clinton’s instincts seem similar to her husband’s. Both favor carefully crafted tax credits that can help people who most need it, that come with relatively modest price tags and that seem likely to survive a divided Congress. Mr. Obama sometimes talks of his vision of an “iPod government,” with simple programs that people can understand. He also talks of persuading voters and members of Congress, including Republicans, to support his plans.

Thursday, May 1

Crimes Against Humanity: Israel Is Suppressing a Secret It Must Face, Johann Hari

...Across the occupied West Bank, raw untreated sewage is pumped every day out of the Jewish settlements, along large metal pipes, straight onto Palestinian land. From there, it can enter the groundwater and the reservoirs, and become a poison....In order to punish the population of Gaza for voting “the wrong way”, the Israeli army are not allowing past the checkpoints any replacements for the pipes and cement needed to keep the sewage system working. The result? Vast stagnant pools of waste are being held within fragile dykes across the strip, and rotting. Last March, one of them burst, drowning a nine-month-old baby and his elderly grandmother in a tsunami of human waste. The Centre on Housing Rights warns that one heavy rainfall could send 1.5m cubic metres of faeces flowing all over Gaza, causing “a humanitarian and environmental disaster of epic proportions”.

So how did it come to this? How did a Jewish state founded 60 years ago with a promise to be “a light unto the nations” end up flinging its filth at a cowering Palestinian population?

The beginnings of an answer lie in the secret Israel has known, and suppressed, all these years. Even now, can we describe what happened 60 years ago honestly and unhysterically? The Jews who arrived in Palestine throughout the twentieth century did not come because they were cruel people who wanted to snuffle out Arabs to persecute. No: they came because they were running for their lives from a genocidal European anti-Semitism that was soon to slaughter six million of their sisters and their sons.

They convinced themselves that Palestine was “a land without people for a people without land”. I desperately wish this dream had been true. You can see traces of what might have been in Tel Aviv, a city that really was built on empty sand dunes. But most of Palestine was not empty. It was already inhabited by people who loved the land, and saw it as theirs. They were completely innocent of the long, hellish crimes against the Jews.

When it became clear these Palestinians would not welcome becoming a minority in somebody else’s country, darker plans were drawn up. Israel’s first Prime Minister, David Ben-Gurion, wrote in 1937: “The Arabs will have to go, but one needs an opportune moment for making it happen, such as a war.”

So, for when the moment arrived, he helped draw up Plan Dalit. It was — as Israeli historian Ilan Pappe puts it — “a detailed description of the methods to be used to forcibly evict the people: large-scale intimidation; and laying siege to and bombarding population centres”. In 1948, before the Arab armies invaded, this began to be implemented: some 800,000 people were ethnically cleansed, and Israel was built on the ruins. The people who ask angrily why the Palestinians keep longing for their old land should imagine an English version of this story. How would we react if the 30m stateless, persecuted Kurds in the world sent armies and settlers into this country to seize everything in England below Leeds, and swiftly established a free Kurdistan from which we were expelled? Wouldn’t we long forever for our children to return to Cornwall and Devon and London? Would it take us only 40 years to compromise and offer to settle for just 22 per cent of what we had?

If we are not going to be endlessly banging our heads against history, the Middle East needs to excavate 1948, and seek a solution. Any peace deal — even one where Israel dismantled the wall and agreed to return to the 1967 borders — tends to crumple on this issue. The Israelis say: if we let all three million come back, we will be outnumbered by Palestinians even within the 1967 borders, so Israel would be voted out of existence. But the Palestinians reply: if we don’t have an acknowledgement of the Naqba (catastrophe), and our right under international law to the land our grandfathers fled, how can we move on?

It seemed like an intractable problem — until, two years ago, the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research conducted the first study of the Palestinian Diaspora’s desires. They found that only 10 per cent — around 300,000 people — want to return to Israel proper. Israel can accept that many (and compensate the rest) without even enduring much pain. But there has always been a strain of Israeli society that preferred violently setting its own borders, on its own terms, to talk and compromise. This weekend, the elected Hamas government offered a six-month truce that could have led to talks. The Israeli government responded within hours by blowing up a senior Hamas leader and killing a 14-year-old girl.

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