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Weekend Edition: Saturday, September 30 through Sunday, October 1

Letters: Responses To "Is It Time To Eradicate The Democratic Party?" , various

I like to believe our best chance is to vote Democratic, with exceptions, depending on where you live. Yes, I know, that defeats the purpose of having a majority in the House/Senate, no matter what they are, but I have lost faith that even with a majority, our dreams will come true. I do believe that the Republicans will do their best to hack the election results and probably succeed. They don't want their extraordinary power lessened in any way, ever. I also believe we'll eventually have martial law after some horrific "event." I believe it will soon be unlawful to dissent in a time of "war."  I believe it likely there won't be a 2008 election for President after this "event." They've been setting us up for this--just listen to them. We're traitors if we don't support Bush; we're helping the terrorists by dissent; on and on and on.

How do we save ourselves from these people and their enablers?...Will nuking Iran destroy this regime? Will we simply implode from debt and stupidity and become a second-world (could be third-world, if our debtors are so inclined) country? The rest of the world is making plans for themselves and leaving the US out, and I can't blame them. We're going to reap what we've sown, and the "mythical little guy" will pay even more dearly, as usual. I don't have answers...only questions, and a keen sense of foreboding. -- Joyce Morrison, Shallotte, NC

***

Our system is very broken im no doctor i have no phd but i do alot of reaserch there are alot of alarm bells ringing but our goverment is trying to turn them off or make it illegal to hear them i tell as many people as i can that we're well headed down the wrong path most don't listen but some do that's how we beat this current crisis not at the goverment level but at the civialin level i believe it's time we as ordinary people flex our muscles and take back our country from special interesst and and the evil political game i dont want to live in a neocon state i will do what i can to spread the word 'cause knowledge is power....Edward

***

It doesn't matter what party, this Congress sold out the United States and we have no one to blame but ourselves for allowing the lies and deceptions to continue while they are destroying what this country stood for and destroying the United States Constitution which made this country not the men  This Congress is nothing but cowards who were too afraid to speak up for what is right and defend the United States Constitution, no matter what party.  We will have no excuses in saying how did we ever let this happen, even the media has failed to report the truth about this administration and its goals because of greed and profits.  That is all that matters to them also, not reporting the truth, that doesn't matter anymore, just like the media in Nazi Germany, only reporting the news that favors the master or should I say the new Furher Bush.

    This Congress became the Sluts and Pimps of this country who are selling everything to the big corporations for power, money, profits and greed.  They all are morally corrupt who no more care what is right for the people or this country than the greedy corporations.  I have written, signed petitions, made phone calls protesting their movements, but it doesn't matter, this Congress stopped listening to the people in 2000 when Bush and his cronies stoled the elections and no one was outraged.  This country has become complacent and complaceny will be more of the downfall of this country, as more and more of our rights are taken away.

    Welcome to the 4th Reich for it is now upon us, if anyone has any doubts, they should read the Rise and Fall of the 3rd Reich to see all the similarities.  See the similarities of Hitler, Goerring and Goebbel and Bush/Cheney, Rove and Rumsfield as they abuse their power to build a Fascist nation.  No difference anymore.  What a sad time, our forefather's and creators of a great nation would be in great shock if they could see what we have done to this nation all for Bush/Cheney and the PNAC and no one really seems to care anymore.  We have grown to be a self-centered and selfish lot of people who don't give a damn about anyone, the environment, the wildlife or the world, just me, me, me and what is in it for me. --Katherine Bailey

***

Boy you guys have sure helped things out here. A month before the election you want to "eradicate" the Democrats! Let's make sure that all your "followers" don't vote, or vote 3rd party in the coming election so we can show those wimpy Democrats who's boss!!. You've got a lot to answer for already, since third parties (Ralph Nader) helped put Bush in the White house. I spent the 60s and 70s working for civil rights (and against the Vietnam war). You remind me of the Socialist Workers Party during the civil rights days--spent their time attacking liberals, claiming that there was no difference between the parties and that  the Democrats wouldn't help blacks-- because they (SWP) didn't really want anything to change for black people. It gave them something to talk about. (Notice that they were wrong?)

  This is still a democratic government in the sense that you have to have the votes to get anything done. Let's go after the Democrats if they ever get back in power and could actually change anything, OK?  I've been reading your website ever since it started, but this idiocy marks the end of my bothering to read Bush Watch stuff.

[A later e-mail...]

Hey, I've already given my opinion on this subject, but then I got to wondering....Have you noticed the coincidence:   just when all sorts of breaking news, even a sex scandal (!), is making Bush and the Republicans the look bad, Bush Watch Jerry Politex comes up with the idea of eradicating the Democrats? Just a month before an election that could eradicate a lot of Republicans? Kind of like one of Bush's terror alerts? So is anyone else wondering who "Jerry Politex" is working for?  --Beverly Plank

***

I think the message we need to give Democrats cannot be reactionary generalizations. We need to protest specific Democrats such as the two Nelsons who voted for this torture bill, but also PRAISE Democrats who stand up against it. Remember, no matter how reprehensible and disgusting these particular Democrats may be (they’re Republicans really), we cannot allow their actions to taint the majority of those who voted AGAINST it.We need to focus more efforts in the Primary Elections in States where DINOS are running, and eradicate them specifically. Not only will it not unjustly punish those who already vote correctly, but it will send a healthy message that we will not stand by while DINOS spread through our party like a plague. -- Evan, Cranston, RI

***

Thank you! Finally someone is saying what I have been saying for two years. These [Democratic Party] cowards don't care about the average citizen or really any citizen. The only thing that motivates these people is the election, and they will do and say whatever it takes. --Gary Gobbato

***

If GOD was the Democratic nominee running for the Presidency ........He would lose. That's how powerful I believe the R Part has become. I cast my first vote at age 18 as a Democrat over 30 years ago.I am at a point now were I just don't give a damn anymore ..... I was led out of a local Wall Mart  by security a few weeks back for wearing a T shirt that read ........well you’ve seen "Meet the Fockers" ....... mine reads differently and has a picture of  BUSH and CHENEY ....Oh Well that was my last hurrah ......I'm too old for a prison camp. Regards, Abby Hoffman Fan

                                                                     

***

Senator Specter is wrong to say that [the Military Commissions Act of 2006] takes us back 900 years. In the first place, the English monarchy in 1215 was not even in the same ballpark, so far as mendacity, imcompetence, and cruelty as what we have in place now. The magna Carta turned a rather benign monarchy  into a fairer one ( for the aristocracy only ). In the second place, we only have to go back 70 or so years, to the Reichstag fire to find a more comparable situation to what we have now: Germany was a democracy when it was turned into a totalitarian state. You, who are denouncing the timidity of democrats for voting for this abomination, are displaying the same timidity in describing it. Why don't you call it what it is...The Hitler Act? --Dr James L Jenkins

***

I could not agree with you more.

I am deeply disturbed by the systematic dismantling of our democracy. As far as I am concerned, we live in a fascist state run by an administration that continues to amass dictatorial powers while Congress refuses to exercise its oversight responsibilities and the Supreme Court only bothers itself to rule on cases to preserve its own authority.

Stupid is as Stupid does and Republicans are Republicans. They cannot help themselves and you cannot get angry at charlatans for behaving like charlatans. I blame Democrats more than anyone else for the mess we are in right now. They are the only group that could have stopped or at least slowed things down a bit. Their complete lack of leadership and refusal to mount any serious opposition to anything in the last six years has brought us where we are today. I could fill a thousand pages with details of my disappointments with the Democrats. Here are a few of the major ones:

I blame Al Gore for not mounting a more vigorous defense in 2000. I like Al Gore, but he doesn't know how to fight. He lost the argument in front of the Supreme Court that every vote should be counted in a democracy... pathetic. I blame Tom Daschle and his asinine aversion to criticizing the president with regards to the "War on Terror." In war and politics, when you take a strategy or an issue off the table, your enemy will use it to defeat you. His misguided decision to cave in on the authorization to use force is the primary reason we are in Iraq today. He supported it so Democrats could say they were tough on terror and go back to talking about the economy in the run-up to the 2002 election. His strategy: Don't make waves. Don't say anything controversial. Stay under the radar and maybe we'll pick up a few more seats in the House and the Senate, failed miserably.

I blame the DLC and the DNC in 2004 for destroying a candidate with real grass roots support and a proven ability to energize the party's base. They took us for granted and anointed someone even more uninspiring than Al Gore. I am sick and tired of voting for wishy-washy, mush-mouthed, uninspiring candidates simply because they have a "D" after their name and I cannot imagine they would be worse than the Republican incumbent. On that note: I can't tell you how annoyed I am to listen to DLC Democrats (who in all honesty are virtually indistinguishable from Republicans) trying to remind us that Clinton was a DLC candidate. News Flash: The DLC did NOT get Clinton elected. Ross Perot got Clinton elected. He split the conservative vote enough to let Clinton squeak by. If Ross Perot had not been in the race, George H.W. Bush would have won his second term. End of discussion. So the DLC strategy didn't work in 1992. It didn't work in 2000. It failed again in 2002. Another miserable flop in 2004, and I am going to be very surprised if Republicans lose control of either house in November. It's time for a new strategy.

I also blame Kerry for waffling. I am still stupefied by his statement that knowing what he knew in 2004, he wouldn't have done anything differently in 2002. Whatever happened to that courageous young man who asked Congress "How do you ask someone to be the last person to die for a mistake?" I guess his DLC pollster told him he should distance himself from that comment. I blame Senate Democrats for fighting to preserve their right to filibuster judicial nominations and then refusing to execute that right. What was the point? I loathe the lack of discipline in the Democratic Party.

When you have an openly gay, pro-abortion member from the Northeast and an anti-gay, anti-abortion member from the Midwest, their votes cancel each other out when they get to Washington. Republicans set the agenda whether they are in the majority or not. With that in mind, Democrats don't need just six more seats in the Senate and 15 more seats in the House. They need a super-majority to change anything, and that will never happen. Not this year. Not with their "Don't make waves. Don't say anything."

Even if they do make some gains, if Democrats think they have to KEEP QUIET about something to GET elected, they are inevitably going to have to STAY QUIET about those issues to STAY elected. Bottom line: Zero sum gain. Nothing changes. We can expect them to deliver what they are promising us in the current campaign: NOTHING. Democrats have whined and wheedled about the president's budget proposals for six years and never once offered a proposal of their own. They have been critical of the president's policies, but rarely offer any substantive alternatives. It's embarrassing to hear conservative pundits say Democrats don't have a plan because:

(1) I hate conservative pundits.
(2) It is true. Democrats don't have a plan.

This torture bill is the greatest outrage of all.Democrats, true to their pathetic do-nothing form, were happy to sit on the sidelines yet again and watch a few "courageous" Republican Senators spar with the president (and eventually cave in anyway). In another surreal, stupefying moment, Nancy Pelosi seemed more outraged when Hugo Chavez referred to Bush as the Devil than she was about the fact that Bush was seeking to legalize torture.

Americans can no longer point an accusatory finger at the German civilians in the run-up to WWII and ask them "How could you let this happen?" We are all letting it happen in America today. What's the point of remembering the Holocaust and saying it should never happen again if we stand by and do nothing while Congress vests the president with the authority to "disappear" people he deems to be enemies of the state? What's the point of supporting an opposition party that does little more that squawk once in a while, but mostly rolls over and plays dead? So it can talk about more important things like the economy?

Over a hundred people a day are dying in Iraq. Over 100 people that we know of have died in U.S. custody. They weren't embarrassed or humiliated to death. They were tortured to death-by U.S. citizens. Bush has admitted to violating the War Crimes Act. He has admitted to violating the FISA provisions and all Nancy Pelosi can do is rail on Hugo Chavez for insulting the president. I am insulted. There is no need to eradicate the Democratic Party. There is nothing left to eradicate. It's not much of a party and it's not very democratic. --Richard Roman, Dallas, TX

***

I agree with you that congress [sic] completely sucks, having eviscerated the Magna Carta and the Bill of Rights in one shot.  I also agree that the Democrats are, at the moment, worse than useless, but unfortunately the Republicans are worse even than that.  We can’t forget, however, that it was the Green Party, more than anything else that put Bush into the White House in the first place.  There was a reason that the Republicans so eagerly supported them.

  American history is littered with the bodies of political parties that either did not serve their constituents or generally botched things.  Lincoln’s Whig party nearly bankrupted Illinois before their collapse.  Unfortunately, modern Americans are historical illiterates, and simply believe the Democrats and Republicans to be the 4th and 5th branches of government.  They can’t conceive of discarding either, and the parties themselves are interested only in their own continuance.

    Our current situation demonstrates the fundamental flaw in our system of government:  a sitting president will never be impeached by his own party.  Impeachment is a political tool rather than a check or balance between equal branches of government.  A president is impeached after a several year witch hunt for a personal relationship which is itself not illegal, while another is not impeached after brazenly breaking the law and admitting to it.  The only difference is the latter’s party is in control of congress.  It makes me think now that if Republicans were in control of congress in the early seventies, Nixon would have completed his term.

  I believe the problem is not actually congress, but other influences.  It now takes millions to run for congress, and hundreds of millions to become president.  This makes all candidates into whores.  The only ones that do not have to prostitute themselves are the ones that are already so rich that should they become elected they need only answer to themselves and not their constituents.  They have no choice but to sell themselves to the special interests; there is no other way to get elected.  What makes matters worse is the media is now a controlling special interest as well.  This was perhaps always true, but never in a way so damaging as today.  They don’t contribute money to candidates, but they contribute exposure which carries a higher value than all but the largest donations.  Unfortunately, they either play a game of he said, she said, without calling foul on the blatant lies and manipulations of the candidates, or they blatantly distort the message as Fox News does.  In any case, congress and the media are no longer our friends nor do they care for our interests.

  What we need now is a way for the populace to be represented.  We need votes to count, we need our representatives to be subject to our laws, and we need elections to be competitive.  There are some things we might achieve that could help.  If nothing else the Republican party, by exploiting every loophole and breaking every law, has given us a roadmap of ways to fix our broken Republic.

  • Pass a constitutional amendment to prohibit gerrymandering.
  • Create severe penalties for election tampering.
• Create runoff elections.
• Create national standards for elections.
• Require public financing of elections.
• We need someone, perhaps the FEC, to verify the veracity of candidates claims, and there should be an easily accessible list of significant distortions.
• And just to make a point, tie all congressional wage increases to increases in the minimum wage.
• Congress and the executive branch should not be the only ones policing themselves.  There should be a nonpartisan (or bipartisan) body who has the authority to look into our elected representatives’ misdeeds, including things that are classified.  Let them be the arbiter of what should be kept secret and what should be made public, and let them bring to trial those that deserve it when there is evidence to support it.  You can say that this violates the 5th amendment, however our elected officials are in a position to do such damage to the populace that one could argue that they should be held to a different standard.  And as they abridge our rights, we should likewise abridge theirs.

  Whatever we do, we must unseat the Republicans first.  So long as they are in power, we can make no forward progress.  And unfortunately, that means voting for Democrats.  Then once we put them in, we force the to fix things, through every legal maneuver that can be found.  They need to know we’re watching. --Stan Adermann

***

The cowardice of democrats and republicans against the revolutionary, regressive Bush/Cheney regime has no equel in American history. The democrats have thrown themselves under the bus in an attempt to save their own political skins. And now we see the last of the "moderate" republicans doing the same. The fascist beast will never be satisfied until it has compleate control of our society. There is no appesing the ideology of Bush, Rove and Cheney. All disenters are to be crushed, disappered and elimanated from the collective memory. I see no reason to support a political party that has made it's self irrelevent to the Democratic process. The democrats are complicit in the crime of turning the people's government over to a gang of criminals. The American people are also to blame for their ethnocentric, parochial worldview that blinded them to the coming reality. W. has his dictatoship. Just like he said he wanted. God help us! --Randall Roberson, Cuyahoga Falls, OH

***

Between the Dieboldt electronic machines and the repubs guarding the hen house and stealing another election , I have no doubt that the Dems will lose anotherelection...Bush stated when he first ran, " This would be better if this country was a dictatorship ship run as long as I am the Dictator." Well he is very close to doing that...But the American people deserve what they get...just like the Naziis in the 30's with Hitler... I was in world war II and we had a legal war to fight for our country... But now after 2700 guys losing their lives for nothing , the American people will have lost their sons and daughters for Bush and his gains and fortunes for his rich friends. But I wont be around for that...Most of us WW II vets are dying very fast, but I do feel sorry for the rest of you people that have to live under these conditions...cr

***

I agree with your assessment of the sorry state of our two party system, and the treacherous road that is being traveled in our name now by fearful men and women. As much is I am aghast by the lack of integrity in the Democrats, and their seeming lack of comprehension about their intended role as an “opposition” party, I am equally aghast at Republicans who would put forth such a bill in their own name.

  The Constitution and the Bill of Rights were written to protect all Americans, regardless of political affiliation. That one party should even contemplate a bill that would emasculate two of the three branches of government is abhorrent. That the other party would allow it or support it is equally abhorrent. Republicans and Democrats should take their upcoming break to climb up to a quiet place for some serious contemplation on what both parties have done in the name of liberty and justice for us all. --Richard Mann, Seattle

***

Yes indeed! The Democratic Party has no reason to exist. The destruction of the party is key to destroying the Republican Party. The Dems stand for NOTHING. They only exist to define the Republicans and are defined by the Republicans. Vote third party! Now that we can stop pretending that this is a democracy it's time to take to the streets. It's time for a general strike here in Amerika. As we slip, or should I say, fall headlong into dictatorship all I see are [chicken$%^&] Amerikins who are too ignorant and afraid to see what's realy going on. I can't believe the people I've met who think fascism is a good idea. The anti-terrorist bill pasted by both chambers is a testament to the [chicken$%^&] Congress. We don't have to worry about terrorists. We are being destroyed from within.

            Therefore let me say that I support a draft. No deferments. The kids are so ignorant today they need a painfull wakeup call. A draft is just the thing. I expect US citizens to be dissapearing soon. Amerikins don't deserve freedom or privacy or jobs or health care in this Yo Yo (your on your own) new world. The people of the United States are just a bunch of [$%^&*$#] slaves. And they are too dumb to know it....Bruce Peroini (DET)

***

Sir,  The consequences of your suggestion will do to our democracy exactly what Nader's extreme views did to the environment.  Unfortunately his stand against the  democratic party has resulted in unrecoverable damage to our environment and my grandchildren will suffer greatly for his sell out.  Keep on this course, Jerry, and you, also, will become irrelevant.  Robert

***

Its great you woke up but what I can't believe is that you and many others like you didn't wake up in the opening act and now you act pissed off? Well welcome to the new century!...Thomas

***

Yes it is time to eradicate the Dem. Party.  And very soon it will be time to do more than that if we do what the Declaration of Independence prescribed....Jerry Lobdill

***

In response to the article where Jerry Politex questions the survival of the Democratic Party. Wouldn't we then be called a Dictatorship?...Paul

***

The Democrat Party is no real opposition and third parties are locked out of the political system. How can any of this be changed? Seems to me like things are only going to get worse. Too much of America is too comfortable to do anything at this point. I think we'll have to see a lot more pain and anger before anything changes. Until revolution looks better than the daily grind, this is America for the long haul. Sorry. Bob

***

I think Bush, Cheney and company are a front for the most evil this world has ever seen.   I don't believe we can stop them.   They are so well funded and supported by this evil that no one can stop them now.   The American people are too spoiled and busy shopping (the rich) or too busy trying to stay alive (the poor) that this evil can grow without restraint.   The Democrats just want to be where the Republicans are.   They have no concern about out rights, the environment, health care,foreign relations, etc.   They  just want to be in power to promote their evil.    There is no consideration for right and wrong only how to get more power.   I believe it is too late for us.   This two party system is the death of America as we use to know it. The billionaires and CEOs (and selected politicians) will live on in their mansions around the world. Diane

***

Of course it’s time to act.  The scary thing is so many just sit by and watch these things happen, or worse yet support it.  I think our government has lost its way.  It’s no longer about ‘the people’ it’s all about power now.  The president and the republicans want more, and they’ve shown the lengths and tactics they’ll employ to get it....Shaman

***

The fact is that Democrats have been co-dependent for a long, long time.  The fact is that Wm. Jefferson Clinton was a terrible President who did more to undercut Liberal and Progressive principles than any Democrat ever!  The twelve senators who voted for the destruction of democracy will not be pushed out of the party.  They represent a very real fear among Americans that the nation is doomed to be the target of every madman in the world.  Americans want their Currier & Ives lives "back."  They will give up everything to have their home on a Hallmark Thanksgiving card.  They don't give a shit about France, Britain, Turkey, India, ... and they are afraid of China, Russia, and Iran ... because they have been taught since kindergarten to be afraid of people they do not understand....Jim

***

YOU NAILED IT. LET THE LARGE PROTESTS BEGIN. David

***


Weekend Edition: Friday, September 29

The Death of Freedom: Is It Time To Eradicate The Democratic Party? , Jerry Politex

The editors of the New York Times wrote the following on Thursday:

"Here’s what happens when this irresponsible Congress railroads a profoundly important bill to serve the mindless politics of a midterm election: The Bush administration uses Republicans’ fear of losing their majority to push through ghastly ideas about antiterrorism that will make American troops less safe and do lasting damage to our 217-year-old nation of laws — while actually doing nothing to protect the nation from terrorists. Democrats betray their principles to avoid last-minute attack ads. Our democracy is the big loser..

"We don’t blame the Democrats for being frightened. The Republicans have made it clear that they’ll use any opportunity to brand anyone who votes against this bill as a terrorist enabler. But Americans of the future won’t remember the pragmatic arguments for caving in to the administration. They’ll know that in 2006, Congress passed a tyrannical law that will be ranked with the low points in American democracy, our generation’s version of the Alien and Sedition Acts."

Bush Watch came into being in February of 1998, long before Daily Kos, Move On. Org, Dems. Com, etc. were born as progressive cogs in the Democratic Party's machine. Our political position has always been that the Democratic Party, being a co-dependent party in our corporate and corrupt two-party system, isn't much, but it's all we have, so it's better to vote Dem and get something than vote third party and get nothing. If, in 2000, the Greens, the Naderites, and Michael Moore had put their troops behind Gore, he would have won the electoral vote as well as the popular vote and we wouldn't be where we are today.

And where are we? Since then, our research shows, nearly 50% of the Senate Dems vote Republican on key legislation nearly 50% of the time. Right now, we're sitting in Amsterdam, far from home, trying to absorb a Dem-aided Senate vote that, along with a previous Dem-aided House vote, has pretty much put a stake through the heart of our Constitutional freedoms. "In the 253 to 168 roll call by which the House voted to pass a bill giving the president authority to detain, interrogate and try terrorism suspects before military commissions, 219 Republicans and 34 Democrats voted for the bill, while 160 Democrats, seven Republicans and one independent voted against it." (WP) In the Senate, what we call the Bush Torture act, "passed by a vote of 65 to 34 after senators rejected four amendments supported mostly by Democrats." (WP) These votes have destroyed many of the basic ideas that we have used for centuries to identify what makes us American. According to the editors of the New York Times, "these are some of the bill’s biggest flaws in the Military Commissions Act of 2006:

"Enemy Combatants: A dangerously broad definition of “illegal enemy combatant” in the bill could subject legal residents of the United States, as well as foreign citizens living in their own countries, to summary arrest and indefinite detention with no hope of appeal. The president could give the power to apply this label to anyone he wanted.

"The Geneva Conventions: The bill would repudiate a half-century of international precedent by allowing Mr. Bush to decide on his own what abusive interrogation methods he considered permissible. And his decision could stay secret — there’s no requirement that this list be published.

"Habeas Corpus: Detainees in U.S. military prisons would lose the basic right to challenge their imprisonment. These cases do not clog the courts, nor coddle terrorists. They simply give wrongly imprisoned people a chance to prove their innocence.

"Judicial Review: The courts would have no power to review any aspect of this new system, except verdicts by military tribunals. The bill would limit appeals and bar legal actions based on the Geneva Conventions, directly or indirectly. All Mr. Bush would have to do to lock anyone up forever is to declare him an illegal combatant and not have a trial.

"Coerced Evidence: Coerced evidence would be permissible if a judge considered it reliable — already a contradiction in terms — and relevant. Coercion is defined in a way that exempts anything done before the passage of the 2005 Detainee Treatment Act, and anything else Mr. Bush chooses.

"Secret Evidence: American standards of justice prohibit evidence and testimony that is kept secret from the defendant, whether the accused is a corporate executive or a mass murderer. But the bill as redrafted by Mr. Cheney seems to weaken protections against such evidence.

"Offenses: The definition of torture is unacceptably narrow, a virtual reprise of the deeply cynical memos the administration produced after 9/11. Rape and sexual assault are defined in a retrograde way that covers only forced or coerced activity, and not other forms of nonconsensual sex. The bill would effectively eliminate the idea of rape as torture."

Aided by Cheney as the idea man, whose goal is to have a country run by a president, not three separate but equal branches, and Rove as the strategy man, whose goal is to assure total Republican domination into the forseeable future, Bush uses fear generated by 9/11 to keep our citizens and the politicians in the Democratic Party in line, to have them accept the destruction of our freedoms in the name of security. For the average man, security means protection from bodily harm. For the Democratic Party politician, security means protection from political harm.

What we find particularly egregious is that this new "unthinkable" law, which Republican senator Arlen Specter said ""would take our civilized society back some 900 years" to a time before the Magna Carta was adopted, can be used to deny basic Constitutional rights to any American citizen for common infractions, such as stealing, which have nothing to do with terrorism. Just as the Bush administration expanded the definition of "torture" to fit its needs, the definition of a "terrorist" act can similarly be expanded. At least one Republican politician has already suggested that crimes against the state are, by definition, terrorist acts.

Here at Bush Watch we believe that if the Democratic Party can't defend our basic Constitutional freedoms, it has no reason to exist. Not only have Senate Democrats refused to filibuster against this law that tears out the very heart of our democracy, 12 Democrats voted for it: Carper, Johnson, Landrieu, Lautenberg, Lieberman, Menendez, Nelson (FL), Nelson (NE), Pryor, Rockefeller, Salazar, and Stabenow. According to the editors of the Washington Post, "Congress has allowed itself to be stampeded into a vote on hastily written but far-reaching legal provisions, in a preelection climate in which dissenters risk being labeled as soft on terrorism....Democrats...have been largely and cravenly absent from this month's debate..."

Everyone has a breaking point, a point where one says, enough is enough. Have we reached that point? Clearly, it's not enough to attempt to defeat those 12 Democrats that voted to destroy our democracy, for others with the same un-American beliefs will rise in their places, be they Republicans or Democrats. Is it time to send a clear and unambiguous signal to the Democratic Party that, even though it's presently a minority party, we will not continue to allow it to sell off our country, one dictatorial bill after the other, to allow Democrats to remain in office and serve as a false opposition to the ongoing Republican destruction of our democracy? Is it time to stop voting Democratic, hoping for the best, and being disappointed? Is it time to eradicate the Democratic Party and abandon the illusion of choice? is it time to send the only message that politicians understand? Is it time to say "no" to every single Democratic Party politician in the nation? Is it time for a painful regeneration?

If our present direction continues, eventually we could very well reach the time when the Democratic Party will have nothing to trade away, when the three branches of government no longer exist as a system of checks and balances, when the power of government is in the hands of a dictatorial president, when all Americans are judged under legislation applied to terrorists. Is now the time to act? Please let us know what you think. Contact us.


Thursday, September 28

Amsterdam Diary: Death in Amsterdam , Jerry Politex

"In 1999, 45 percent of the population was of foreign origin. If projections are right, this will be 52 percent in 2015. And the majority will by muslim." --quote and some of what follows from "Murder in Amsterdam: The Death of Theo van Gogh and the Limits of Tolerance," Ian Buruma (Penguin Press, 2006)

Not far down the canal from the Amstel Hotel, where Clinton stayed and rock stars stay, Cptn. Jan points out the street and park near where Theo van Gogh, political provocateur, controversial filmmaker, and great grandnephew of Vincent van Gogh, was pulled off his bicycle, shot in the stomach, and had his throat cut by Mohammed Bouyeri, a 26 year old, second generation Moroccan Dutchman. Boyyeri calmly planted his machete in van Gogh's chest, placed a letter next to it, and stabbed a small knife into its center to pin it to the dead body. The letter was a call to arms to destroy people Boyyeri believed "insulted the prophet Mohammed": ex-Muslim critic Hirsi Ali and her "masters," a cabel of "jews," which included the mayor of Amsterdam. Although political party leader Jozua van Aartsen was not a jew, he was included on the hit list. Standing over the body of van Gogh, the Moroccan youth told a bystander, "now you know what you people can expect in the future."

Holland, the home of Spinoza, has a well-deserved reputation for being second to none in Europe in its support of diversity and freedom of speech and action. Its people have created a tradition of compromise and negotiation over the centuries. On the other hand, its generally prosperous economy has, in the minds of some, created a sense of complacency, a kind of self-satisfaction that is unsure when challenged. Buruma uses the word "verongelijktheid" to describe it, a kind of affronted panic that the citizenry is being wronged by the world. Observers who continue to warn fellow-citizens about growing groups of Muslim fundamentalist immigrants that believe women are inferior to men, and religion, their religion, should create the laws of the state are branded as "racists." Their response: Is it wrong to be intolerant of intolerance? Others struggle for words to describe the conflict of ideas: "Enlightenment" vs. "Counter-Enlightment"? "Merchants of Fear" vs. "Arrogant Multiculturalists"? "Religious Fundamentalists" vs. "Enlightment Fundamentalists"?

At present, those who fear that there's a growing threat from the country's Muslim fundamentalist immigrants are moving into Holland's conservative parties, and those who are more concerned about following the country's tradition of multiculturalism are remaining in the liberal parties. Ideology aside, the fact remains that those politicians who are most articulate about their belief in the threat of Muslim fundamentalist immigrants have lost their freedom to carry on their normal, daily activities without armed bodyguards at their side...tbc

Insurgents: Revolution Just Ain't What It Used To Be , Mickey Z.

If you were to publicly declare your discontent with the U.S. government and your subsequent desire to abolish that government, the land of the free would likely reward you with an orange jumpsuit and a one-way ticket for an all-inclusive vacation at Guantanamo Bay. Now imagine if you instead chose to stand in front of a crowded room and utter something along these lines: "I think all men-and women-are created equal and are endowed with certain undeniable rights, including life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. To secure these rights, governments are created and derive their powers from the consent of the governed. Whenever any form of government tries to destroy or take away these undeniable rights, it is the right of the people to alter or abolish that government and replace it with a new one." Bingo: you're a high school history teacher. Okay class; turn to page 257. Today we'll be talking about Patrick Henry (and don't tell me "give me liberty or give me death" sounds an awful lot like what an insurgent might say).

Dirty Tricks: Gearing Up For Rove's Pre-Election "Surprises" , Bernard Weiner

Rove has a lot of dirty-trick arrows in his final weeks' quiver, and unless Democrats figure out how to respond to many of these initiatives, they could lose another midterm election.


Tuesday, September 26

Song: Comma Man , Bernie Taupin/Elton John, with Jerry Politex

CNN aired an interview with President Bush in which he declared that one day the Iraq war will look like "just a comma." --Editor and Publisher, Sept. 24, 2006

They packed my brags last night pre-flight
Mission accomplished by nine a.m.
And I’m gonna be high as a kite by then
I miss the "ranch" so much I miss my wife
It’s lonely at the top
On such a mindless flight

And I think it’s gonna be a long long time
Till touch down brings me round again to find
I’m not the man they think I am at home
Oh no no no I’m a comma man
Comma man burning out his fuse up here alone

Iraq ain’t the kind of place to raise your kids
In fact it’s hot as hell
And there’s no one there to raise them if they're all dead
And all this war stuff I don’t understand
It’s just my job to lie seven days a week
A comma man, a comma man

And I think it’s gonna be a long long time
Till touch down brings me round again to find
I’m not the man they think I am at home
Oh no no no I’m a comma man
Comma man burning out his fuse up here alone

***

Conference Called: On Presidential Power , Dean Lawrence R. Velvel

        This writer is deeply concerned over presidential power.  My concern is the opposite of that of the Vice Pretexter.  Apparently as a carry over from his Nixonian days, when Congress and the courts cut the imperial presidency back to a size more in keeping with the framers’ intent, the Vice Pretexter thinks the Presidency is too weak.  This writer thinks that, abetted by a sniveling Congress and a fearful, incompetent mass media, the Presidency has gotten dangerously close to all powerful, precisely what the founders feared in an Executive.  Because the framers feared another George the Third, they would fear George the Forty-Third. In his classic concurring opinion in Youngstown Sheet & Tube Co. v. Sawyer, Justice Jackson summarized some of the reasons the President has become so powerful, reasons that are further exacerbated today.  Here is what Jackson said:

"As to whether there is imperative necessity for such powers, it is relevant to note the gap that exists between the President’s paper powers and his real powers.  The Constitution does not disclose the measure of the actual controls wielded by the modern presidential office.  That instrument must be understood as an Eighteenth-Century sketch of a government hoped for, not as a blueprint of the Government that is.  Vast accretions of federal power, eroded from that reserved by the States, have magnified the scope of presidential activity.  Subtle shifts take place in the centers of real power that do not show on the face of the Constitution.

  "Executive power has the advantage of concentration in a single head in whose choice the whole Nation has a part, making him the focus of public hopes and expectations.  In drama, magnitude and finality his decisions so far overshadow any others that almost alone he fills the public eye and ear.  No other personality in public life can begin to compete with him in access to the public mind through modern methods of communications.  By his prestige as head of state and his influence upon public opinion he exerts a leverage upon those who are supposed to check and balance his power which often cancels their effectiveness.

  "Moreover, rise of the party system has made a significant extra constitutional supplement to real executive power.  No appraisal of his necessities is realistic which overlooks that he heads a political system as well as a legal system.  Party loyalties and interests, sometimes more binding than law, extend his effective control into branches of government other than his own and he often may win, as a political leader, what he cannot command under the Constitution."

              Today the President claims, and/or asks Congress to give him, more power than ever before.  He claims, has been given, or seeks power to fight wars against whomever he chooses and for as long as he chooses.  He claims the power to ignore laws passed by Congress.  He claims the right to operate secret prisons that hold unidentified prisoners.  He claims the power to torture.  He claims the right to imprison indefinitely people who may be – and in some cases admittedly have been, innocent. He claims the right to kidnap people off the streets of foreign countries.  He claims the right to electronically eavesdrop.  He claims the right to use secret evidence before military tribunals.  Etc., etc.  And to a considerable extent he has been able to exercise much of this claimed authority because, as Jackson said, he has unparalleled access to the (sycophantic) media and is the leader of (a disgraceful) political party -- and, one may add, the courts have lacked the intelligence or courage to stop him.

              This blogger is worried by the growth of despotic presidential power unmatched since Nixon’s days, and perhaps even surpassing Nixon’s.  For that reason, our law school (the Massachusetts School of Law) is going to hold a conference on October 14 and 15 called Presidential Power In America.  The topics to be discussed there will include both constitutional and political ones:  among them will be British antecedents and the intent of the framers regarding Executive power, the growth of Executive Power far beyond what was foreseen, the effect of the Supreme Court’s (infamous) 1936 decision on the foreign relations power in the Curtiss-Wright case, the failure of Congress to assert and maintain its power, constitutional doctrines regarding delegation of power to the President by Congress, the media’s failure to hold the Executive accountable or even to report what the Executive is doing, the use of executive privilege, the growth of secrecy, the use of the state secrets doctrine and the effect of leaking, the use of military tribunals, the use of torture, and the effect of war and national security in causing permanent growth of Presidential power.

              These and other crucial subjects relating to presidential power will be assessed by speakers and panelists ranging from prominent scholars and authors who began dealing with these issues as long ago as the days of Viet Nam (e.g., Richard Falk, Louis Fisher), to young reporters who have broken huge stories such as the one on George Bush’s infamous signing statements (Charlie Savage of The Boston Globe).

              Because of the importance of the question of presidential power, the proceedings of the conference will be videotaped, edited and made available on Internet video, with excerpts also being made available on standard television.  Also the proceedings will be published by Cambridge Scholars Press, a British publisher.

              Because of the importance of the topics, the prominence of the speakers, and many readers’ deep concern over what has occurred under the Bush Administration, some of the readers of this blog might like more information about the conference or might even wish to attend.  You can obtain additional information, including a full description of each speaker and panelist, and the specific expertise of each, by visiting www.mslawevents.com, or by contacting Jeff Demers at (978)681-0800, demers@mslaw.edu.

***


Monday, September 25

A Failing Empire: Beware the Ides of Chavez (excerpts) , Gerry Hiles

It should come as no surprise when I say that such as Hugo Chavez (around the world) are articulating the present and rapidly developing outcomes of many decades - some can justify a much longer period - of the US Empire chucking it's weight around the world without any regard for whomever is attacked and with scant regard for what the CIA has called "blow back" on the US for the unintended consequences of it's own part in establishing US global hegemony. I was amazed - about 4-5 years ago - to read that hardly anyone in the US knew that they were part of an empire!! Astounding!!...

It is good to see that the skeleton has come out of the cupboard, but maybe too late to stop the juggernaut now? Who really knows? Who really knows where the housing bubble seat in the juggernaut will end up ...10% soft landing, 50% crash, total wipe-out? But a lot of people around the world have long-since experienced sundry poppings of the overall bubble of the Empire, when it has gone all-out to at least maintain the illusion that all problems are off-shore in such forms as "the commies", devil -incarnates like Qadafi and Saddam Hussein and now "Islamo-fascists", or them supposedly ubiquitous "terrorists" (to more or less quote the sometimes ubiquitous Bush). A lot of people around the world, and notably in South America, have been ruined by the US dominated IMF and World Bank. And I think anyone who is a critic of banking, central banks and fiat currency would have little problem with me suggesting that the IMF and the World Bank are scams, whether or not he or she shares any of my other views. In any case, whether or not you like or loath Hugo Chavez, he is the most prominent sign of "blow-back" from decades of US economic hegemony and, probably, avoiding the fact that the US has been technically bankrupt from around 1971 ... as too many have shown...for it to be necessary for me to elaborate....

Maybe it was a good idea to have a war with Mexico and annex what are now the southern states, but it wasn't a good idea to keep going via a war with Spain and the annexation of the Philippines ... well just pragmatically (leaving aside ethics for instance) what economic purpose has been served by semi-incorporating the Philippines?? Sure it provides a geographic location for military bases and the forward projection of the Empire, but that is a drain isn't it! And what about nearly a thousand other similar "forward projections", with many of them being large military installations ... especially the massive and 'permanent' bases now being built in Iraq plus the biggest and most complex US Embassy in the world? I know that many Americans believe and continue to pointlessly debate the myth that it was never intended to occupy Iraq permanently - continue to imagine that the "the troops will come home" - but that was never the case (except that troop numbers would have been reduced if there hadn't been the thoroughly predictable "blow-back" of massive resistance to occupation and, consequently, no chance of the war "paying for itself" with the seizure of the oil fields). And that is mainly what it has all been about, hasn't it?

The US oil-based economy got "the writing on the wall" when the Texas oil-fields went into decline back in the early 70s, but rather than stop to wonder if it was really good idea to keep on - and accelerate - in the same direction, the so-far results are a vastly over-extended attempt to control the oil and gas resources of the whole of the Middle East region, a vastly over-extended "printing" of the dollar, a desperate and vastly over-extended attempt to maintain oil-dollar hegemony - through economic and military means - and the growing revolt in the rest of the world (blow-back) that's illustrated by figure-heads like Chavez and Ahmadinejad. But still the juggernaut rolls on and if it is not stopped - if Iran is blitzkrieged - for the US it will be a giant Enron and/or Amaranth nationally in every context. And as for the rest of the world?...Some signs of hope are that most of the rest of the world, including Russia and China, is setting aside ideological and religious differences and trying to set up cooperative arrangements...No other nation is AS dependent on oil as the US is. So maybe the rest of the world might fare better....Competition and individualism - which has become a virtual religion in the US and most of the "West" - is an aberration for a species which, more than any other (because of our relative fundamental physical defects in "naturally surviving") must either cooperate or perish.


Weekend Edition: Friday, September 22

Op-Eds: Weiner, Partridge, Miller, Freeman, Platt, Harris, Lubar

King of Pain: Control the Dictionary, Control the World , Bernard Weiner

The battle over "torture" of prisoners -- what Bush calls "alternative procedures" of interrogation -- is being fought over who defines those key words. It's a fight to the finish, and, surprise!, has something to do with the upcoming election.

Corporate Cancer: The Scorpion, the Frog, and the Corporation , Ernest Partridge

Corporations strive to maximize the returns on the investments of their stockholders. Unfortunately, if corporations are unconstrained by law or regulation, they can, by simply “doing what they do,” suck the life out of the economy that sustains them.

Loving Labor’s Losses: Whoredom is optional , Jason S. Miller

When George Bush spoke at a maritime training center in Piney Point, MD on Labor Day, 2006, ostensibly he was a respected leader paying tribute to the hard-working men and women forming the backbone of the nation’s economy. In reality, Bush is a pimp for the moneyed interests and corporations who wield most of the wealth and power in the United States. Bush, his administration and Congress represent the interests of this tiny slice of the United States population with unwavering dedication. Money, profits, and property are the paramount elements in their perverse system of values. And by their reckoning, people are commodities. Those amongst the population who are fit to work are whores who exist to service their needs and satisfy their desires. And the aristocracy’s goal is to entice or extort their whores to perform as cheaply as possible. Disabled, infirm, elderly, and unemployable individuals are “useless eaters” who have no intrinsic value because they cannot produce profits. Ergo federal programs supporting their meaningless existences are rapidly shrinking. Consider this excerpt from Bush’s laudatory speech:...

The Founding Fathers: Democrats They Ain't , Samuel Freeman

Sunday, 17 September, was “Constitution Day.” According to Federal law, every indoctrination institution (i.e. school) receiving Federal funds, including colleges and universities, is supposed to have events and/or classroom instruction venerating the Constitution. I’m not sure why, especially as the current administration is busy shredding it. Then again, such is probably the reason--turn the Constitution into a meaningless icon like the Declaration of Independence; give lip service to concepts like freedom of speech; worship the paper; but ignore its provisos and prohibitions (e.g. Congress must declare war, the government cannot torture, Habeas Corpus). To be frank, I am no fan of the Constitution, no “little ‘d’ democrat” should be. American Conservatives like to assert that the United States is not a democracy, but a republic (see Pat Buchanan) -- as though the two concepts are mutually exclusive. For once, conservatives are at least partially correct. Though a republic can be a democracy--a democratic-republic -- the U.S. is a republic, but demonstrably is not a democracy....

THAILAND: LETTER FROM A VELVET COUP , Alan Platt

Talk about a velvet revolution. The overnight coup d'etat which ousted the appalling Thaksin Shinawatra (right) and replaced him with a military and police alliance, was orchestrated with such seamless panache, that it recalls Thai Airways famous slogan, "Smooth As Silk". And as I now look out across the tranquil city of Bangkok the day after the-day-after, basking under glorious Wedgwood blue skies as rainy season starts to slide into South East Asia's legendarily balmy winter, I'm reminded of the old farmer in Maine who, upon being informed that the Nazis had marched into Poland, looked up at the sky and said, "Well, they've got a lovely day for it." Oh, one hates to sound frivolous at such a time, of course, but the very fact that one can is testament to the sophistication with which the country has so painlessly purged itself of the heinous Thaksin, or "Toxin" as he's known around here....

Letter from Rome: ORIANA FALLACI--THE ENJOYMENT OF HATE , Judy Harris

ROME - Italy's feisty queen of journalism, Oriana Fallaci, died of cancer in her native Florence at age 77 on Friday morning, September 15. Corriere della Sera's obituary, which runs Sunday morning, is not unusual in its oozing ecstatic phrases about her, with not a sobering doubt expressed. Seen from here, this is somewhat curious, for she was hardly without serious flaws...In recent years, Fallaci moved sharply to the right, and became an obsessive, xenophobic racist, producing three short, incendiary post-9/11 books....Her books were so rabidly racist that even Christopher Hitchens (who constantly harps on the dangers of "Islamofascism") wrote (in The Atlantic) that "The Rage and the Pride" was "a sort of primer in how not to write about Islam."...

One-Liner: UN Watch , David Lubar

Chavez calls Bush "The Devil," proving he doesn't know Dick.


Thursday, September 21

Op-Eds: Uhler, Velvel, Jenkins, Jones, Ross, Brasch

Crackpot Christianity, Part III: Bush and the Third Great Awakening" , Walter Uhler

...The reason why America has not heard from an American Christian with the stature of a Reinhold Niebuhr is because America now appears incapable of producing such formidable Christian heavyweights. Instead, we get "theologians" like Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, James Dobson and D. James Kennedy, who appear incapable of judging the Bush administration's illegal, immoral invasion of Iraq as Niebuhr surely would - in strict accordance with Christian ethics....

Pretexting Torture: Bob Herbert’s Recent Truths And Their Consequences. , Dean Lawrence R. Velvel

On Monday Bob Herbert of The Times became the first mass media figure I know of to at least partially recognize a truth whose underlying basis has been urged here virtually since this blog began in May 2004. To wit: the real reason that Bush, Cheney and the other pretexters (“pretext,” meaning to lie or, at minimum, to falsely pretend) want there to be retroactive immunity for the federal crime of torture is that the higher-ups are guilty of this felony, are guilty of a crime punishable by up to life imprisonment or execution for those who murdered prisoners and up to life imprisonment for coconspirators like Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz and the rest of that pretexting crowd. Yet, though Hebert had the courage to recognize the foregoing truth, even he, who was among the first to say Bush is incompetent, did not have the courage to explicitly say that Bush and Cheney are liable for crimes. Instead Herbert spoke only of a need “to cover the collective keisters of higher-ups who may have authorized or condoned war crimes,” and he said that, if defendants can see the evidence against them, there is a “possibility of evidence emerging that could lead to charges of war crimes against high ranking officials.” ...

King of Pain: Bush is Frantic To Change The Torture Laws , W. David Jenkins III

This country and the rest of the world are witnessing a President and a Vice President lobbying Congress to legalize torture – plain and simple and despicable. Their actions are not based on any altruistic goal to protect the people of this country from terrorists, but represent an attempt to legalize what has been illegal for almost sixty years. They broke international laws and they know it and now they need to have those laws “amended” - retroactively mind you – or they could face big trouble....

Neo-Fascism 102: Bush's road to dictatorship, John Calvin Jones

Bush wants legal authority to detain and punish people in secret, by executive fiat, wants to order others to torture, wants to dispel with the need to get court authorization to spy on Americans, and be relieved from criminal liability. This is what it means to move toward a dictatorship, a fascist state. In defending the judgments at Nuremberg and in creating a mechanism to deter and punish aggressive war, Robert Jackson, the chief American prosecutor there held that “the ultimate step in avoiding periodic wars, which are inevitable in a system of international lawlessness, is to make statesmen responsible to law.” If Bush succeeds and the Congress leaves him unresponsible, he will continue to be irresponsible, and it will be difficult to make future presidents responsible to the law, the Constitution or the public....

King of Pain: FBI agents say US using wrong interrogation methods , Sherwood Ross

FBI agents responsible for getting a confidant of Osama Bin Laden to betray Al Qaeda's innermost secrets say the Bush administration's rough interrogation tactics employed against other captives since 9/11 are the wrong approach. The agents had a role in debriefing Jamal Ahmed Al Fadl, a Sudanese citizen who is "arguably the United States' most valuable informant on Al Qaeda," according to author Jane Mayer writing in the September 11th issue of The New Yorker magazine.... "Just building a relationship with a person, and knowing your subject matter, is what works," says Anticev, an FBI special agent on the New York-based Joint Terrorism Task Force. Anticev said he spoke in great detail to Fadl, who walked into the US Embassy in Eritrea in 1996 and identified himself as Al Qaeda, "and everything that he told us panned out."...

Back-patting: The Bush Magical Mystery Political Capital Tour , Walter Brasch

Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Condoleezza Rice and the rest of the gang that thinks they’re a war cabinet supporting the man who thinks he’s a war president used the fifth anniversary of 9/11 to tell the world how great they are....


Wednesday, September 20

Op-Eds: Wokusch, Ostroy, Mickey Z., Clothier, Samples, NSWBC, Kane

Rumsfeld’s Guinea Pigs: US Citizens at Risk for Military-Weapons Testing , Heather Wokusch

It barely made news last week when Air Force Secretary Michael Wynne called for the testing of nonlethal weaponry on US citizens in crowd-control situations. According to Wynne, "If we're not willing to use it here against our fellow citizens, then we should not be willing to use it in a wartime situation." But it's naïve to think that once developed, US military weapons will only be used against foreign populations. The Bush administration's "you're with us or against us" mentality leaves little room for domestic dissent, and as the line blurs between military and national security technologies, folks back home will find themselves increasingly targeted. One example of a crowd-control device possibly coming to your hometown is Raytheon's Active Denial System heat-beam...

Countdown to November: Polls Show Democrats Gaining Momentum in Bid to Recapture Senate , Andy Ostroy

A new SurveyUSA poll shows Tennessee Democratic U.S. Senate nominee Harold Ford Jr. leading Republican candidate Bob Corker, 48%-45%. This race was earlier predicted as a toss-up by pundits, but Ford has been gaining steadily. Rasmussen Reports show that in Montana, Jon Tester leads Sen. Conrad Burns 52%-43%. Additionally, in one of the tightest races, Missouri Democratic challenger Claire McCaskill now leads Sen. Jim Talent 45%-42%. In Rhode Island, Sheldon Whitehouse has widened his lead to 51%-43% over incumbent Lincoln Chafee, up from a 6% advantage in August. In Ohio, Rep. Sherrod Brown, who's challenging Sen. Mike DeWine for his Ohio seat, leads 47%-41%. Over in Pennsylvania, the 3rd highest-ranking Republican Rick Santorum trails challenger Bob Casey Jr. by 14 points, up from 11 points last month, according to The Hill. Last but not least is the brewing battle in Virginia, with Sen. George "Macaca" Allen unexpectedly fighting for his political life against tough-as-nails war hero Jim Webb. Survey USA has Allen ahead of Webb just 48% to 45%, a statistical dead heat....

Dog-Eared Notebooks: Why Blogs? , Mickey Z.

We all want something out of life, but the opinion-makers and spin doctors have effectively cut off any constructive avenues. Hence, we find other ways to belong, ways that are outside the public arena. The function of the mainstream media is to make sure we stay there. Running parallel to the fads, trends, and crazes, the corporate media is an equally potent impetus for the proliferation of blogs. More specifically, it's the shrinking limits of debate within the corporate-dominated elite media that have inspired many a blogger. I know, in a land where freedom of the press is considered sacred and the media is usually portrayed as a collection of closet Leninists yearning to sacrifice Christian Coalition virgins on the altar of Fidel Castro, this rationalization may at first seem odd. However, once you recognize how narrow the parameters of media debate have become, independent blogs suddenly appear downright seditious.....

A Picture: Iran and the EU , Peter Clothier

I was fascinated by a picture in yesterday's New York Times, Bush. You might have seen it. If not, I'd give you a link to it except that, when I checked online, I discovered to my dismay that the entire top third of the print version had been lopped off. What were they thinking? Anyway, this means that you'll have to make do with my verbal description: Below, in the lower two-thirds, two men in business suits shake hands with every appearance of cordiality. The one to the left, in silk shirt but tieless, is Ali Larijani, Iran's negotiator with the six global powers on Iran's nuclear program. To the right, in shirt and tie, the foreign policy chief for the European Union, Javier Solana. They could almost be twins. Both wear rimless spectacles. Both are smiling. Larijani wears a beard, neatly-trimmed Western style. They are posed for the news cameras. Look behind them, now, to the top one third that was cropped in the online version and where things get interesting. .....

Return to New Orleans: No Mercy , Sheila Samples

A year after triumphantly declaring that work in the Gulf Coast region would be "one of the largest reconstruction efforts the world has ever seen," after promising that "Americans will look back at the response to Hurricane Katrina and say that our country grew not only in prosperity, but also in character and justice," George Bush had the audacity to return to New Orleans. Unbelievable. Bush wore the same blue photo-op shirt of a year ago, with sleeves rolled up to show he meant business. With his trademark nod and wink, he said he accepted full responsibility for the government's breakdown in responding to the devastation -- a breakdown which cost many additional lives. After adding that he'd learned his lesson, Bush then launched into his incoherent, all-too-familiar babble that help is on the way.....

KILL THE MESSENGER: A Documentary on State Secrets Privilege & U.S. Whistleblowers , NSWBC

“Kill the Messenger,” a documentary produced by Zadig Productions, directed by French filmmakers Mathieu Verboud and Jean Robert Viallet, is scheduled to air on Canal + in France on September 19, 2006. The film will also be aired in Belgium, on BeTV, and Australia, on SBS, this fall. The documentary explores the abuses behind the State Secrets Privilege as invoked in FBI Whistleblower Sibel Edmonds’ case as well as highlighting the travails and persecution of US national security whistleblowers. The filmmakers, Verboud and Viallet, spent nearly two years interviewing witnesses and researching the invocation and implementation of the state secrets privilege in Edmonds’ case. Based on their documented findings and interviews with experts such as David Albright, Philip Giraldi, John Cole, Joseph Trento, Glenn Fine, David Rose, and others familiar with Edmonds’ case, the film presents a terrifying picture of Turkish networks’ activities in global nuclear black-market, narcotics and illegal arms trafficking activities in the United States, and examines the extraordinary efforts of officials within the US Government to insure that the secrecy surrounding Edmonds’ case be maintained at any cost – from Edmonds’ termination from the FBI, to invoking the State Secrets Privilege, to gagging the US Congress....

Verse: Bush Clouds Issue With "Clarity" , Mad Kane

Clarity in torture rules?
Bush must think we're drooling fools.
What he really wants and needs
Are pardons for his lawless deeds.


Tuesday, September 19

Bush Torture: King of Pain is Running Scared (excerpts), Bob Herbert

...The people at the top are getting scared...The fog of secrecy is lifting, and the Bush administration is frightened to death that it will eventually have to pay a heavy price for the human rights abuses it has ordered or condoned in its so-called war on terror. The Supreme Court has ruled that the Geneva Conventions apply to the prisoners seized by the administration, which means that abusing those prisoners — as so many have said for so long — is unquestionably illegal. And there is also the possibility that the Democrats, if they ever wake up, may take control of at least one house of Congress, giving them the kind of subpoena power and oversight that makes the administration tremble. Bush, Cheney & Co. are desperately trying to hold together a house of cards that is ready to collapse because their strategy and tactics for fighting terrorism were slapped together with no real regard for the rule of law. What we’ve seen over the past few years has been a nightmare version of the United States. Torture? Secret prisons? Capital trials in which key evidence is kept from the accused? That’s the stuff of Kafka, not Madison and Jefferson.

The reason President Bush has been trying so frantically to get Congressional passage of his plan to interrogate and try terror suspects is that he needs its contorted interpretations of the law to keep important cases from falling apart, and to cover the collective keisters of higher-ups who may have authorized or condoned war crimes. There’s no guarantee that the administration can properly bring to justice even the worst of the bad guys, people like Khalid Shaikh Mohammed and 13 other high-profile prisoners who were recently transferred from a secret C.I.A. program to the detention center at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. These are men accused of the most heinous of offenses, crimes that would subject them to the death penalty. But it’s widely believed that some or all of them were tortured. In civilized countries, evidence obtained by torture is inadmissible in a court of law. The Bush administration would also like to deny terror suspects, even those facing the death penalty, the right to see evidence against them that is classified. This is a concept that is so far beyond the pale it makes most legal scholars gasp....

One of the biggest concerns of the administration is the possibility of evidence emerging that could lead to charges of war crimes against high-ranking officials. The president and others in the administration have argued that they are seeking changes in the law in order to protect soldiers and ordinary interrogators in the field against war crimes accusations. But there are already clear guidelines — short of war crimes prosecutions — for dealing with soldiers and civilian interrogators who abuse prisoners. The Abu Ghraib prosecutions are a good example. The people who would have to worry, if war crimes were found to have been committed, would be those at the top of the command structure who crafted policies that were illegal and ordered them carried out — or who turned a blind eye to atrocities. “Those are the ones,” said Mr. Horton, “who are vulnerable.”


Monday, September 18

Bush Torture: King of Pain

There's a big black spot on the sun today
It's the same old thing as yesterday
There's a Bush brain caught in a high tree top
There's our flag-pole rag and the wind won't stop

I have stood here before inside the pouring rain
With the world turning circles running 'round my brain
I guess I'm always hoping Cheney'll end this reign
But it's Bush's destiny to be the king of pain.

--by Sting, with Paul Krugman and Jerry Politex

***
King of Pain: Bush Wants To Torture Innocent People To Show Us That He Can (excerpts), Paul Krugman

...Why is Mr. Bush so determined to engage in torture? Let’s be clear what we’re talking about here. According to an ABC News report from last fall, procedures used by C.I.A. interrogators have included forcing prisoners to “stand, handcuffed and with their feet shackled to an eye bolt in the floor for more than 40 hours”; the “cold cell,” in which prisoners are forced “to stand naked in a cell kept near 50 degrees,” while being doused with cold water; and, of course, water boarding, in which “the prisoner is bound to an inclined board, feet raised and head slightly below the feet,” then “cellophane is wrapped over the prisoner’s face and water is poured over him,” inducing “a terrifying fear of drowning.” And bear in mind that the “few bad apples” excuse doesn’t apply; these were officially approved tactics — and Mr. Bush wants at least some of these tactics to remain in use.

I’m ashamed that my government does this sort of thing. I’d be ashamed even if I were sure that only genuine terrorists were being tortured — and I’m not. Remember that the Bush administration has imprisoned a number of innocent men at Guantánamo, and in some cases continues to imprison them even though it knows they are innocent. Is torture a necessary evil in a post-9/11 world? No. People with actual knowledge of intelligence work tell us that reality isn’t like TV dramas, in which the good guys have to torture the bad guy to find out where he planted the ticking time bomb. What torture produces in practice is misinformation, as its victims, desperate to end the pain, tell interrogators whatever they want to hear. Thus Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi — who ABC News says was subjected to both the cold cell and water boarding — told his questioners that Saddam Hussein’s regime had trained members of Al Qaeda in the use of biochemical weapons. This “confession” became a key part of the Bush administration’s case for invading Iraq — but it was pure invention.

So why is the Bush administration so determined to torture people? To show that it can. The central drive of the Bush administration — more fundamental than any particular policy — has been the effort to eliminate all limits on the president’s power. Torture, I believe, appeals to the president and the vice president precisely because it’s a violation of both law and tradition. By making an illegal and immoral practice a key element of U.S. policy, they’re asserting their right to do whatever they claim is necessary. And many of our politicians are willing to go along. The Republican majority in the House of Representatives is poised to vote in favor of the administration’s plan to, in effect, declare torture legal. Most Republican senators are equally willing to go along, although a few, to their credit, have stood with the Democrats in opposing the administration.

Mr. Bush would have us believe that the difference between him and those opposing him on this issue is that he’s willing to do what’s necessary to protect America, and they aren’t. But the record says otherwise. The fact is that for all his talk of being a “war president,” Mr. Bush has been conspicuously unwilling to ask Americans to make sacrifices on behalf of the cause — even when, in the days after 9/11, the nation longed to be called to a higher purpose. His admirers looked at him and thought they saw Winston Churchill. But instead of offering us blood, toil, tears and sweat, he told us to go shopping and promised tax cuts. Only now, five years after 9/11, has Mr. Bush finally found some things he wants us to sacrifice. And those things turn out to be our principles and our self-respect.


Friday, September 15

Bush's Path to 9/11: How Bush Removed Antiterrorism Protections, Without Providing Replacements, Part 3, Jerry Politex

3. Pre-9/11 Dire Warnings With Little Response

The Bush administraqtion's focus in the months leading up to 9/11 was upon funding and creating a missile-defense system, on Iraq and its imagined "weapons of mass destruction," and the WMDs of other "rogue nations." This course of action was taken despite the fact that a proliferation of U.S. intelligence reports increasingly warned of something totally different: an attack on the U.S. from cell-based terrorist groups.

On December 20, 2000, Richard Clarke, Bush's antiterrorism advisor, along with representatives of the FBI, the CIA, and the Clinton State Department, met with Colin Powell to brief him on antiterrorism. Yet, at his confirmation hearings on January 17, 2001, Powell raised around 20 issues during his testimony, and none of them were on antiterrorism or al-Qaida (Associated Press, March 3, 2004).

Clarke later said, "Prior to September 11th, a lot of people who were working full time on terrorism thought it was no more than a nuisance. They didn't understand that Al Qaeda was enormously powerful and insidious and that it was not going to stop until it really hurt us. John [O'Neill] and some other senior officials knew that. The impatience really grew in us as we dealt with the dolts who didn't understand" (http://www.newyorker.com/fact/content/?020114fa_FACT1).

Clarke could have considered a corollary reading of the Bush administration's inaction: as has been too often the case in these 6 long years, if a program does not fit into the conservative/neocon agenda begun in the Reagan years and expanded since by the same group of men and women and their heirs, it is shunted off to the side and generally ignored. "The central notion that Mr. Bush did not make terrorism as high a priority as hindshight shows it should have been is one that he himself has admitted. Mr. Bush said as much in an interview with Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward for his book on the response to September 11" (Christian Science Monitor, april 1, 2004).

In the summer of 2001, intelligence warnings escalated and were, according to CIA director George Tenet, repeatedly communicated to top officials in the Bush White House. New York Times writers David Johnston and Adam Nagourney note:

"Tenet, who briefed Bush on threats almost daily, 'was around town literally pounding on desks, saying that something is happening, this is an unprecedented level of threat information,' said Richard Armitage, the deputy secretary of state, who was quoted in a congressional report last year. But even as the warning spiked in June and July that year, there appreared to e little sense of alarm at the White House, officials of the Central Intelligence agency told the commission" (New York Times, March 28, 2004).

Michael Tomasky observes: "When the Bush administration started hearing more intelligence noises in June and July of 2001, why didn't it--and Rice, specifically, since this was her baliwick--convene the same kind of daily meetings the Clinton administration had when it heard similar noise? The obvious answer...is that it wasn't a high priority and the facts could not make it so. And a [Clinton administration] model existed, then not even two years old, for how to avert catastrophe (American Prospect, April 4, 2004).

Further, Bush "officials acknowledged that U.S. intelligence officials informed President Bush weeks before the September 11 attacks that bin Laden's terrorist network might try to hijack American planes" (ABC News, May 6, 2001). After 9/11 Rice was quoted as asking, who could have imagined that terrorists would use airplanes to attack us? Given the numerous reports in the press and in official Washington during that time, one is tempted to answer, just about everyone but you, Ms. Rice. On August 6, 2001, Bush "received a one-and-a-half page briefing advising him that Osama in Laden was capable of a major strike against the U.S., and the plot could include the hijacking of an American airplane (NBC September 10, 2002).

"On September 4, 2001, a foeign-policy principals group chaired by Rice 'apparently approved' a draft terrorism directinve, according to a 9/11 commission report. Among other things, the directive envisioned an expanded covert action program against Al Qaeda" (Christian Science Monitor, April 1, 2004).

But by then, it was too little, too late.


Thursday, September 14

Bush's Path to 9/11: How Bush Removed Antiterrorism Protections, Without Providing Replacements, Part 2, Jerry Politex

2. Bush Downgrades Anti-Terrorism

Condi Rice brought a set of understandings, a corporate style, and certain administrative experiences to her job at the White House, which explains her focus in the months prior to 9/11, asserts Douglas Jehl and David Sanger (New York Times, April 4, 2004). She decided that while working as Bush's National Security Advisor, her three concerns would be to concentrate on traditional world power politics, bringing her professional and educational background as a "Europeanist" to the table; paring down the Security Council to make it more operational, delegating authority in the corporate manner; and helping Bush to achieve his campaign pledge of creating a missile-defense system, satisfying both senior-level Republican bureaucrats and defense contractors, the latter being part of the corporate group that put Bush in the White House. Rice had no missile-defense background skills, other than the intelligent use of her enthusiasm for supporting Bush's agenda.

Although "in Februrary 2001 George J. Tenet, the director of central inttlligence, told Congress that terrorism was the top threat facing the United States, Jehl and Sanger report that Rice's deputy, Steven Hadley, "deeply connected to the neoconservative wing of the administration," which included, among others, Cheney, Rumsfeld, and Rumsfeld's Defense Department Deputy, Paul Wolfowitz, was assigned the task of overseeing the Bush administration's antiterrorism policy. Prior to 9/11, the neoconservatives in the Bush adminstration were more interested in Iraq and missle defense than antiterrorism.

Under the Clinton administration, the military came up with a plan to pressure the Taliban to get rid of bin Laden, using military, economic, diplomatic, and political means. The Bush administration never acted on the plon, according to David Johnson and Eric Schmitt, writing in the New York Times (April 4, 2004). In June of 2001 Hadley told Wolfowitz to start preparing a plan to take the place of Clinton's, but Rumsfeld, his boss, never ordered new military options to remove bin Laden.

During the first eight months of the Bush administration, over at the Department of Justice, which funds the FBI, Attorney General John Ashcroft was downgrading terrorism as a priority and slashing the Department's antiterrorism budget. In April of 2000, eight months before the election, Clinton's Attorney General, Janet Reno, gave terrorism her top priority and requested greater funding in that area: "In the near term as well as the future, cybercrime and counterterrorism are going to be the most challenging hreats in the criminal justice area. Nowhere is the need for an up-to-date human and technical infrastructure more critical," she said.

Ashcroft's budget goals memo, written five months prior to 9/11, doesn't include counterterrorism as a strategic goal and, prior to 9/11, Ashcroft ignored the annual FBI request for more translators and counterintelligence agents to deal with a backlog of intelligence, and was attempting to slash both the FBI and homland defense-type counterterrorism funding. Even after 9/11, the FBI requested $1.3 billion in supplemental funding for counterterrorism through Ashcroft, and was only given $530 million by the White House. "Attorney General John Ashcroft not only moved aggressively to reduce DoJ's anti-terrorist budget but also shift DoJ's mission in spirit to emphasize its role as a domestic police force and anti-drug force. These changes in mission were just as critical as the budget changes, with Ashcroft, in effect, guiding the day to day decisions made by field officers and agents. And all of this while the Administration was receiving repeated warnings about potential terrorist attacks," reports the Center for American Progress, based on internal government documents (March 22, 2004).


Wednesday, September 13

Bush's Path to 9/11: How Bush Removed Antiterrorism Protections, Without Providing Replacements, Part 1, Jerry Politex

1. Rice's 9/11 Missile Defense Speech

"On September 11, 2001, national security adviser Condoleeza Rice was scheduled to outline a Bush administration policy that would address 'the threats and problems of today and the day after, not the world of yesterday.' --but the focus was largely on missile defense, not terrorism from Islamic radicals" (Washington Post, April 4, 2004).

Condoleeza Rice never gave the speech, of course, because on that day she was in a White House bunker, along with Dick Cheney, in the presence of Richard Clarke, the President's advisor on antiterrorism, who was serving as Crisis Manager in the Situation Room, directing the nation's actions in immediate response to the 9/11 destruction of New York City's World Trade Towers and a portion of the Pentagon.

According to U.S. officials interviewed by the Washington Post, the text of Rice's speech did not include even one mention of Osama Bin Laden or Islamic extremist groups. Instead, its focus was on Bush's missile defense system that has been desired by Republican administrations since Reagan's, perhaps because the same players, such as Dick Cheney, have been involved in its promotion, both as high-ranking government officials and as high-ranking defense industry businessmen.

As Ivo Daalder, a staff member of Clinton's national security council and a foreign policy analyst at Brookings, told the Guardian (April 2, 2004), "senior officials in the Bush White House took office with the same foreign policy concerns and outlook that they had eight years earlier working for the first President Bush. "When they left in January 1993, they hit the pause button. The intervening eight years were missing. They left believing ballistic missile defense was the way to a secure America, and came in believing ballistic missile defense was the best way to secure America."

The Rice speech was the norm, not the exception, to the Bush policy since he began his administration eight months earlier. "There were zero references to al-Qauda during these months. That's according to Federal News Service, which transcribes every presidential utterance...Of course the president did mention terrorism, terrorists, and counterterrorism 24 times before 9/11. But eight of those comments referred to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Another eight involved a range of terrorism threats, including ethnic terrorism in Macedonia and Basque separatists in Spain. In the remaining eight references to terrorism, the new president offered his idea for how to combat it: the Regan-era missile-defense system formally known as Star Wars," writes columnist Marie Cocco (Newsday, March 30, 2004).

"A quick data-retrieval search helps prove the point...that the administration was far more consumed with missile defense than with counter-terrorism.Type in 'Condoleezza Rice' and 'missile defense," and you'll find 56 citations in The New York Times for stories containing those two phrases between January 20 and September 11 of 2001. Do the same for 'Condoleezza Rice and 'terrorism' and you'll turn up 14 Times citations. Seven of those are about the Israelis and the Palestinians, a couple others about India and Pakistan, and one about Moammar Qadafi. Since newspapers (especially the newspaper of record) tend to write about what a sitting administration is talking about, this is pretty fair indication of where the Bush administration ranked al-Qaeda as a priority" (American Prospect, April 4, 2004...http://www.prospect.org/web/page.ww?section=root&name=ViewWeb&articleId=7562).

Two days before the 9/11 attacks, Rice told "Meet the Press" that Bush was about "to get serious about the business of dealing with this emergent threat. Ballistic missiles are ubiquitous now." In the Rice speech, she was to reveal that Dick Cheney, former Secretary of Defense, former head of Halliburton, a defense contractor, had been named by Bush "to oversee a coordinated national effort to protect against a terrorist attack using weapons of mass destruction" (Washington Post, april 2, 2004).


Tuesday, September 12

Cherry-Picking Intel: Cheney Now Says Saddam Did Not Have WMD's, But He Would Have Gone To War, Anyway, Russert Interview

...MR. RUSSERT: But Mr. Vice President, the primary rationale giving—given for the war in Iraq was Saddam had weapons of mass destruction. You—on August of 2002, this is what you told the VFW. Let’s just watch it.

(Videotape, August 26, 2002):

VICE PRES. CHENEY: Simply stated, there is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction.

(End of videotape)

MR. RUSSERT: In fact, there is grave doubt, because they did not exist along the lines that you described, the president described, and others described. Based on what you know now, that Saddam did not have the weapons of mass destruction that were described, would you still have gone into Iraq?

VICE PRES. CHENEY: Yes, Tim, because what the reports also showed, while he did not have stockpiles—clearly the intelligence that said he did was wrong. That was the intelligence all of us saw, that was the intelligence all of us believed, it was—when, when George Tenet sat in the Oval Office and the president of the United States asked him directly, he said, “George, how good is the case against Saddam on weapons of mass destruction?” the director of the CIA said, “It’s a slam dunk, Mr. President, it’s a slam dunk.” That was the intelligence that was provided to us at the time, and based upon which we made a choice.

MR. RUSSERT: So if the CIA said to you at that time, “Saddam does not have weapons of mass destruction, his chemical and biological have been degraded, he has no nuclear program under way,” you’d still invade Iraq?

VICE PRES. CHENEY: Because, again, look at the Duelfer Report and what it said. No stockpiles, but they also said he has the capability. He’d done it before. He had produced chemical weapons before and used them. He had produced biological weapons. He had a robust nuclear program in ‘91. All of this is true, said by Duelfer, facts. Also said that as soon as the sanctions are lifted, they expect Saddam to be back in business.

MR. RUSSERT: But the rationale was he had it. A growing threat. All the while, North Korea, which had one or two potential bombs in 2000 when you came into office, now has double or triple that amount. So again, you took your eye off of North Korea to focus on Iraq....

***

Liar: Cheney Now Says Saddam Had Nothing To Do With 9/11, But His Propaganda Has 85% U.S. Soldiers and 43% Americans Believing It, Russert Interview

MR. RUSSERT: But let’s look at what you told me on that morning of September 16, 2001, when I asked you about Saddam Hussein. Let’s watch.

(Videotape, September 16, 2001):

VICE PRES. CHENEY: At this stage, the focus is over here on al-Qaeda and the most recent events in New York [that is, 9/11]. Saddam Hussein is bottled up at this point.

MR. RUSSERT: Do we have any evidence linking Saddam Hussein or Iraqis to this operation?

VICE PRES. CHENEY: No.

(End of videotape)

MR. RUSSERT: You said Saddam Hussein was bottled up.

VICE PRES. CHENEY: Mm-hmm.

MR. RUSSERT: And he was not linked in any way to September 11.

VICE PRES. CHENEY: To 9/11.

MR. RUSSERT: And now we have the Select Committee on Intelligence coming out with a report on Friday, it says here, “A declassified report released [Friday] by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence revealed that U.S. intelligence analysts were strongly disputing the alleged links between Saddam Hussein and al-Qaeda while senior Bush administration officials were publicly asserting those links to justify invading Iraq.”

You said here that it was pretty well confirmed that Atta may have had a meeting in Prague, that that was credible. All the while, according to the Senate Intelligence Committee in January and in June and in September, the CIA was saying that wasn’t the case. And then the president...

VICE PRES. CHENEY: Well, let me, let me—on that—well, go ahead.

MR. RUSSERT: No, go ahead.

VICE PRES. CHENEY: No, I want a, I want a chance to jump on that.

MR. RUSSERT: OK, but, but you said it was pretty well confirmed that it was credible and now the Senate Intelligence Committee says not true, The CIA was waving you off.

VICE PRES. CHENEY: No.

MR. RUSSERT: Any suggestion there was a meeting with Mohamed Atta, one of the hijackers, with Iraqi officials?

VICE PRES. CHENEY: No....what I told you was exactly what we were receiving at the time. It never said, and I don’t believe I ever said, specifically, that it linked the Iraqis to 9/11. It specifically said he had been in Prague, Mohamed Atta had been in Prague and we didn’t know...

MR. RUSSERT: Well, I asked you, I said, “is there a connection between Saddam and 9/11 on September ‘03” and you said “we don’t know.”

VICE PRES. CHENEY: (Unintelligible). That’s right.

MR. RUSSERT: So you raised that possibility.

VICE PRES. CHENEY: It was raised by the CIA who passed on the report from the Czech Intelligence Service.

MR. RUSSERT: All right. Now the president has been asked, “What did Iraq have to do with the attack on the World Trade Center?” and he said “nothing.” Do you agree with that?

VICE PRES. CHENEY: I do. So it’s not...

MR. RUSSERT: So it’s case, case closed....

MR. RUSSERT: The bottom line is, the rationale given the American people was that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction and he could give those weapons of mass destruction to al-Qaeda and we could have another September 11. And now we read that there is no evidence, according to the Senate Intelligence Committee, of that relationship. You’ve said there’s no involvement. The president says there’s no involvement.

***

Embarrassing: Cheney Tries Double-Talk To Support His Manipulation Of Intel, Russert Interview

MR. RUSSERT: Will we do anything to stop the Iranians from having a nuclear bomb?

VICE PRES. CHENEY: We have said repeatedly that we think they should not have a nuclear bomb. And we have also made it abundantly clear we want to solve the problem diplomatically. But the president has always emphasized no options have been taken off the table.

MR. RUSSERT: Is there a problem with our country and the world if the president came forward and said, “I have intelligence which says Iran is this far advanced,” and people in the world and the people in the country say, “Is that the same intelligence that you had on Iraq, Mr. President?”

VICE PRES. CHENEY: Well, the—of course, much of the information that’s been available on what Iran is doing is the result of inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency. Inspectors have been kicked out of Iraq. Obviously, here you’ve got more access from an international body that I think most people wouldn’t question.

MR. RUSSERT: But you rejected their intelligence leading up to Iraq.

VICE PRES. CHENEY: Right.

MR. RUSSERT: I asked you on this very program...

VICE PRES. CHENEY: That’s correct.

MR. RUSSERT: ...about ElBaradei and you said he’s wrong.

VICE PRES. CHENEY: Yes. It wasn’t consistent with our report.

MR. RUSSERT: But he was right about Iraq.

VICE PRES. CHENEY: I haven’t, I haven’t looked at it. I’d have to go back and look at it again....


Monday, September 10

U.S. Fascism: 10 Indications of an Implicit Collusion Between the ABC Corporation and the Bush Government, Jerry Politex

It's not likely that ABC, members of the Bush administration, and producers of "The Path to 9/11" met in secret and came up with a plan to screen a distorted, 5 hour fiction that attacks the Clinton administration and lets the neocon Bush administration pretty much off the hook with respect to the events of 9/11. It's not likely that they met to decide to screen it during 9/11 week, the most significant week of the Bush 2006 election campaign, or to provide "educational" study guides for the nation's schoolchildren, to plan to have President Bush support the film on television immediately after its screening, and to destributed it without charge theoughout the world. Everyone knew what page they were on; formal meetings were not necessary. It's classic fascism in action: corporate America produces and distributes the propaganda, and the President swears to it, all without formally meeting to grind out the specifics. Happens all the time in present-day America. Here are 10 indications of their implicit collusion:

1. ABC's knowledge a year in advance that the film was being made by a pro-Bush ultra-right evangelical group, and that the pro-Bush activist who set up ABC's contact with the group was a leading Hollywood right-wing conservative.

2. ABC's year-long attempt to keep the project and its funding secret, perhaps even within ABC and its parent company, Disney, while allowing its pro-Bush, theocratic producers to rally its ideological forces through vague, "coded" language (for example, the film was described to its conservative followers as "pro-American," and its showing a fight for "civil liberties") on numerous right-wing websites and blogs.

3. ABC's decision to allow the film to be fictional, dramatized distortions of historical fact, rather than a well-researched documentary.

4. ABC's decision to hire the pro-Bush co-chairman of the 9/11 Commission as co-producer, while ignoring any other member of the committe who might provide balance.

5. ABC's decision to allow the film's makers to attack Clinton through distortions of fact, while ignoring key happenings with respect to pre-9/11 that took place during the Bush administration.

6. ABC's decision to allow a pro-Bush evangelical website connected with the film's director to produce a glowing review of the film a week before the film was released to mainstream critics.

7. ABC's decision to send out 900 DVD's of the film to pro-Bush conservative pundits and, at the same time, its refusal to honor the request of mainstream critics and Clinton supporters for preview copies.

8. ABC's TV program description reads "A dramatization of events in The 9/11 Commission Report, which is a lie. ABC cautions, in the film, itself, that many of the events were based on other sources, and ABC and its film producers have admitted that some of the dramatized events were made up, with no sources at all.

Although ABC has said editing on the film to address criticism of it would continue up to the Sunday night screening, a viewing of the first 3/5th of the film indicates that the factual errors called to ABC's attention remain, even to the agit-prop treatment of Sec. of State Albright as a shrill, cartoon character.

9. ABC's decision to show "The Path to 9/11" without commercials to eliminate outside oversight.

10. ABC's decision to involve a private educational agency in using the film as a project to inform the nation's children of the "facts" sorrounding 9/11, knowing that numerous significant events in the presentation are false.


Sunday, September 10: Weekend Edition Special Report

Top 10 Errors: ABC Corporation's Distortion of History Far-Reaching, Joe Conason [numbers ours]

ABC's docudrama "The Path to 9/11" is a false version of history. It popularizes right-wing myths by exaggerating Clinton's failures and Bush's successes, depicting events that never happened.

1, According to Richard Clarke, Whie House anti-terrorism czar under Clinton and Bush, his former assistant Roger Cressey and others with direct knowledge of the circumstances, Clinton "approved every request made of him by the CIA and the US military involving [the use of force] against bin Laden and Al Qaeda." Planned operations to take out bin Laden either by ground assault or missile strike didn't happen because senior intelligence and military officials told the president that they could not be conducted successfully.

2. Especially shameful, by the way, is former 9/11 Commission chairman Tom Kean's endorsement of that particular tall tale, as a consultant to the ABC production team. A nice enough man, although never the sharpest mind on the commission (or anywhere else), the former New Jersey governor may be promoting the party line on 9/11 now because his son Tom Kean Jr. is the Republican Senate nominee in his home state (and recently benefited from a fundraising appearance by former President Bush). But Kean's strange willingness to ignore his own findings does not change the facts.

3. The movie shows former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright -- who is played as a fussy, irritable Margaret Dumont-style matron -- thwarting a missile strike against bin Laden's desert camp by warning his Pakistani friends in advance. That never happened, either.

4. And in its most blatant appeal to right-wing pathology, the movie repeatedly suggests that Clinton was either distracted or prodded by the Monica Lewinsky scandal and the ensuing impeachment, taking action or deferring action for political reasons. Clarke has repeatedly denied that considerations of that kind influenced policy on any occasion.

5. Clarke has said that the Clinton administration didn't fully comprehend the threat from al-Qaida until the U.S. Embassy bombings in Africa in 1998. (Neither did Clinton's critics.)

6. And it is also true that Clinton didn't mount a full-scale assault on the al-Qaida camps in Afghanistan, as Clarke advised, but that decision, regrettable as it now seems, was influenced by broad geopolitical considerations. And Bush declined that option as well, until after the 9/11 attacks.

7. If the producers of "The Path to 9/11" unfairly indict the Clinton administration with fabricated scenes and notions, they go out of their way to exonerate the Bush White House by ignoring certain damning facts -- and creating substitutes that make the president look better. The movie shows a smarmy, condescending Condoleezza Rice demoting Clarke in January 2001 when she takes over as national security advisor. Clarke tries to warn her that "something spectacular" is going to happen on American soil, and she assures him that "we're on it," which they assuredly were not.

8. Indeed, the script downplays the neglect of terrorism as a primary threat by the incoming Bush team -- and never mentions the counterterrorism task force, chaired by Vice President Dick Cheney, that never met for nine months before 9/11.

9. The famous Aug. 6 presidential daily briefing, which warned the vacationing Bush that al-Qaida intended to strike here, is given due attention. But the movie then shows Rice telling her associates that "as a result of the Aug. 6 PDB, the president wants to take real action" against al-Qaida. But the 9/11 Commission report's section on the PDB clearly states that the August warning was not followed up on by Rice:

"We found no indication of any further discussion before September 11 among the President and his top advisers of the possibility of a threat of an Al Qaeda attack in the United States." No action was contemplated before 9/11 and the movie's attempt to claim otherwise is another distortion.

10. Nowrasteh's most egregious fictionalizing occurs in Act 4, which depicts a supposed strike on bin Laden's Afghan redoubt that is called off at the last second by Sandy Berger, Clinton's national security advisor, who says, "I don't have that authority." Under cover of night, a CIA agent known only as "Kirk" leads a Special Forces team into the remote mountain compound where the al-Qaida chief is hiding. "The package is ready!" cries Kirk over the satellite phone, but Berger aborts the operation because he doesn't want to take responsibility.

That incident simply never occurred. As Clarke himself would have told Nowrasteh, no CIA officer ever tracked bin Laden to his hideout. Neither did Ahmed Shah Massoud, the Northern Alliance leader who is shown guiding the aborted operation. The handsome, charismatic Massoud, later assassinated by al-Qaida agents, asks Kirk angrily, "Are there any men left in Washington, or are they all cowards?" That sort of rhetoric is frequently uttered by actors portraying characters such as Massoud and O'Neill, who are no longer around to dispute the script.

Had Nowrasteh consulted the 9/11 Commission report, not only would he have found no evidence to support his exciting imaginary assault on the bin Laden compound, but he would also have learned that the underlying assumptions were completely wrong. The report states explicitly, as Clarke and other senior officials have affirmed, that Clinton and Berger ordered the CIA and the military to use any force necessary to get bin Laden.


Saturday, September 9: Weekend Edition Special Report

Follow The Money: ABC Corporation Up To Its Armpits In Clinton Evangelical Smear Traced Back To Hollywood Ultra-Conservative Activist David Horowitz, Funded By "Right-Wing Sugardaddies", Max Blumenthal

Less than 72 hours before ABC's "The Path to 9/11" is scheduled to air, the network is suddenly under siege. On Tuesday, ABC was forced to concede that "The Path to 9/11" is "a dramatization, not a documentary." The film deceptively invents scenes to depict former President Bill Clinton's handling of the Al Qaeda threat.

Now, ABC claims to be is editing those false sequences to satisfy critics so the show can go on -- even if it still remains a gross distortion of history. And as it does so, ABC advances the illusion that the deceptive nature of "The Path to 9/11" is an honest mistake committed by a hardworking but admittedly fumbling team of well-intentioned Hollywood professionals who wanted nothing less than to entertain America. But this is another Big Lie.

In fact, "The Path to 9/11" is produced and promoted by a well-honed propaganda operation consisting of a network of little-known right-wingers working from within Hollywood to counter its supposedly liberal bias. This is the network within the ABC network. Its godfather is far right activist David Horowitz, who has worked for more than a decade to establish a right-wing presence in Hollywood and to discredit mainstream film and TV production. On this project, he is working with a secretive evangelical religious right group founded by The Path to 9/11's director David Cunningham that proclaims its goal to "transform Hollywood" in line with its messianic vision.

Before The Path to 9/11 entered the production stage, Disney/ABC contracted David Cunningham as the film's director. Cunningham is no ordinary Hollywood journeyman. He is in fact the son of Loren Cunningham, founder of the right-wing evangelical group Youth With A Mission (YWAM). The young Cunningham helped found an auxiliary of his father's group called The Film Institute (TFI), which, according to its mission statement, is "dedicated to a Godly transformation and revolution TO and THROUGH the Film and Televisionindustry." As part of TFI's long-term strategy, Cunningham helped place interns from Youth With A Mission's in film industry jobs "so that they can begin to impact and transform Hollywood from the inside out," according to a YWAM report.

Last June, Cunningham's TFI announced it was producing its first film, mysteriously titled "Untitled History Project." "TFI's first project is a doozy," a newsletter to YWAM members read. "Simply being referred to as: The Untitled History Project, it is already being called the television event of the decade and not one second has been put to film yet. Talk about great expectations!" (A web edition of the newsletter was mysteriously deleted yesterday but has been cached on Google at the link above).

The following month, on July 28, the New York Post reported that ABC was filming a mini-series "under a shroud of secrecy" about the 9/11 attacks. "At the moment, ABC officials are calling the miniseries 'Untitled Commission Report' and producers refer to it as the 'Untitled History Project,'" the Post noted.

Early on, Cunningham had recruited a young Iranian-American screenwriter named Cyrus Nowrasteh to
write the script of his secretive "Untitled" film. Not only is Nowrasteh an outspoken conservative, he is also a fervent member of the emerging network of right-wing people burrowing into the film industry with ulterior sectarian political and religious agendas, like Cunningham.

Nowrasteh's conservatism was on display when he appeared as a featured speaker at the Liberty Film Festival (LFF), an annual event founded in 2004 to premier and promote conservative-themed films supposedly too "politically incorrect" to gain acceptance at mainstream film festivals. This June, while The Path to 9/11 was being filmed, LFF founders Govindini Murty and Jason Apuzzo -- both friends of Nowrasteh -- announced they were "partnering" with right-wing activist David Horowitz. Indeed, the 2006 LFF is listed as "A Program of the David Horowitz Freedom Center."

Since the inauguration of Bill Clinton in 1992, Horowitz has labored to create a network of politically active conservatives in Hollywood. His Hollywood nest centers around his Wednesday Morning Club, a
weekly meet-and-greet session for Left Coast conservatives that has been graced with speeches by
the likes of Newt Gingrich, Victor Davis Hanson and Christopher Hitchens. The group's headquarters are at the offices of Horowitz's Center for the Study of Popular Culture, a "think tank" bankrolled for years with millions by right-wing sugardaddies like eccentric far right billionaire Richard Mellon Scaife. (Scaife
financed the Arkansas Project, a $2.3 million dirty tricks operation that included paying sources for
negative stories about Bill Clinton that turned out to be false.)

With the LFF now under Horowitz's control, his political machine began drumming up support for Cunningham and Nowrasteh's "Untitled" project, which finally was revealed in late summer as "The Path to 9/11." Horowitz's PR blitz began with an August 16 interview with Nowrasteh on his FrontPageMag webzine. In the interview, Nowrasteh foreshadowed the film's assault on Clinton's record on fighting terror. "The 9/11 report details the Clinton's administration's response -- or lack of response -- to Al Qaeda and how this emboldened Bin Laden to keep attacking American interests," Nowrasteh told FrontPageMag's Jamie Glazov. "There simply was no response. Nothing."

A week later, ABC hosted LFF co-founder Murty and several other conservative operatives at an advance
screening of The Path to 9/11. (While ABC provided 900 DVDs of the film to conservatives, Clinton administration officials and objective reviewers from mainstream outlets were denied them.) Murty returned with a glowing review for FrontPageMag that emphasized the film's partisan nature. "'The Path to 9/11' is one of the best, most intelligent, most pro-American miniseries I've ever seen on TV, and conservatives should support
it and promote it as vigorously as possible," Murty wrote. As a result of the special access granted by ABC, Murty's article was the first published review of The Path to 9/11, preceding those by the New York Times and LA Times by more than a week.

Murty followed her review with a blast email to conservative websites such as Liberty Post and Free Republic on September 1 urging their readers to throw their weight behind ABC's mini-series. "Please do everything you can to spread the word about this excellent miniseries," Murty wrote, "so that 'The Path to 9/11' gets the highest ratings possible when it airs on September 10 & 11! If this show gets huge ratings, then ABC will be more likely to produce pro-American movies and TV shows in the future!"

Murty's efforts were supported by Appuzo, who handles LFF's heavily-trafficked blog, Libertas. Appuzo was instrumental in marketing The Path to 9/11 to conservatives, writing in a blog post on September 2, "Make no mistake about what this film does, among other things: it places the question of the Clinton Administration's culpability for the 9/11 attacks front and center... Bravo to Cyrus Nowrasteh and David
Cunningham for creating this gritty, stylish and gripping piece of entertainment."

When a group of leading Senate Democrats sent a letter to ABC CEO Robert Iger urging him to cancel The Path to 9/11 because of its glaring factual errors and distortions, Apuzzo launched a retaliatory campaign to paint the Democrats as foes of free speech. "Here at LIBERTAS we urge the public to make noise over this, and to demand that Democrats back down," he wrote on September 7th. "What is at stake is nothing short of the 1st Amendment."

At FrontPageMag, Horowitz singled out Nowrasteh as the victim. "The attacks by former president Bill Clinton, former Clinton Administration officials and Democratic US senators on Cyrus Nowrasteh's ABC
mini-series "The Path to 9/11" are easily the gravest and most brazen and damaging governmental attacks on the civil liberties of ordinary Americans since 9/11."declared.

Now, as discussion grows over the false character of The Path to 9/11, the right-wing network that brought it to fruition is ratcheting up its PR efforts. Murty will appear tonight on CNN's Glenn Beck
show and The Situation Room, according to Libertas in order to respond to "the major disinformation campaign now being run by Democrats to block the truth about what actually happened during the Clinton years."

While this network claims its success and postures as the true victims, the ABC network suffers a PR catastrophe. It's almost as though it was complacent about an attack on its reputation by a band of political terrorists.

Fantasy Leadership: ABC Corporation's Film Just Following Bush's Lead (excerpts), Maureen Dowd

In Hollywood, reality comes with quotation marks around it, as in fixed and scripted “reality” shows. In New York, hybrids of fiction and nonfiction are lavishly rewarded; publishers want the reality part to sell the fiction part and the fiction part to enhance the reality part. In Washington, the Bush team is on a cynical and dangerous new pre-election push to present its fantasies about Iraq as reality, accusing reality-based critics of “moral or intellectual confusion,” as Rummy put it. When a reporter asked President Bush a couple of weeks ago what Iraq had to do with 9/11, he blurted out the truth: “Nothing.” But momentarily dismissing that fantasy isn’t about to dissuade him from others. “One of the hardest parts of my job is to connect Iraq to the war on terror,’’ President Bush told Katie Couric this week. I bet. Making up is hard to do....

Conservatives are crowing at the prospect of an ABC movie written by one of their own that blames 9/11 on a flaccid Clinton national security team. Bill was distracted by the Monica fallout, just as W. was distracted, on Osama and Katrina, by his insistence on living life as usual in Crawford. Bill had no natural inclination to use American force and fumbled on how to strike back at Osama. W., petulantly, did not want to focus on terrorism because his predecessor had. W. had a clear narrative thread in 2001; all he needed to do was go after the bad guys who hit us. Instead, he obsessed about other bad guys who happened to pose no danger to us....

The ABC movie promoted itself as a serious work based on the 9/11 commission report and featuring Tom Kean, the commission’s co-chairman, as a co-executive producer. (It’s impossible to imagine Earl Warren producing a movie about the events in Dallas.) But if it’s making a claim upon people’s attention as a trustworthy and accurate description of events that bear on all our lives, you’ve got to stick with the truth....Why do presidents and filmmakers dealing with the most stunning events in recent American history feel the need to go beyond facts? Isn’t the dire actuality enough?...


Friday, September 8: Weekend Edition

Editorial: "The Path to 9/11": Follow the Money, Jerry Politex

Many observers have little doubt that the main purpose of "The Path to 9/11" is to support the distorted version of world events favored by the Bush administration with an eye towards minimizing Republican congressional defeat in November so Bush can continue to screw our country big time in his last, two-year gasp as Decider-in-Chief. It won't take much, since CNN informed us the other day that 43% of the American people still think Saddam had a hand in 9/11. CNN senior political analyst and American Enterprise Institute resident fellow Bill Schneider reported that the 43% in question tend to be uneducated, while those who believe Saddam had nothing to do with 9/11 tend to be the opposite: educated readers who get their news from numerous sources, rather than "24." Cyrus Nowrasteh, the author of "The Path to 9/11," is involved in the making of "24." Figures.

As for that 43%, it's not likely that the ABC film will change their view of the correctness of Bush's invasion of Iraq, since they're not apt to see any difference between documented fact and made up dramatization. The Rovean thinking goes that if the American public sees the Clinton administration as being responsible for taking its eye off the ball prior to 9/11, then the horrendous mistakes and misdeeds of the Bush administration sorrounding that event will not be seen in such a harsh light, leading to the voters cutting Republican candidates some slack for backing Bush since 9/11. The facts, of course, are quite different. As I wrote in "9/11, Bush Lies, and the Puppet Presidency" (BIG BUSH LIES, 2004), the Clinton admistration developed a plan to get rid of Bin Laden, but the Bush administration shelved the plan once in power. While DOJ's Janet Reno gave anti-terrorism her first priority and called for an even larger budget for it, Bush's John Ashcroft slashed anti-terrorism budgets and programs once he took over.

In "Path to 9/11" we're seeing one of the most blatant attempts in history to shape the facts to reflect a predetermined point of view, not just for the U.S., but for international consumption as well. As is so often the case in politics, we have to follow the money. Since there are no sponsors of the show (there are no commercials) one wonders how ABC is picking up the financial slack for presenting 5 hours of non-commercial TV on its commercial network. Not with distribution rights or unit sales, since ABC is freely providing both over the internet. Nothing has been said about the funding source in any of the many news and opinion reports published to date. Until we learn more about where the money for such an expensive undertaking is coming from, our experience of the workings of the Bush administration suggest that this Bush propaganda project is being carried out with corporation and government working hand-in-hand to change history for political ends. In other words, what we're seeing is a classic case of fascism in action.

Note: Donna Woodka, an alert Bush Watch reader, calls our attention to Joseph Cannon's Cannonfire this afternoon. Cannon reports that funding for the ABC 9/11 mockumentary is thought to be $40 million, and "the impetus -- and perhaps the cash -- seems to have come from a bizarre Christian cult called Youth With a Mission (YWAM), founded in the 1960 by Loren Cunningham, father to David Cunningham, the film's director." Cannon adds, "The financing of YWAM remains mysterious."

***
Poli-Haiku #1

Spreading more Bush lies
Isn't very wise, we say.
Boycott ABC.

***
Greedy 1%: How Bush Is Screwing 99% Of Americans (excerpts), Paul Krugman

...Political analysts tried all sorts of explanations for popular discontent with the “Bush boom” — it’s the price of gasoline; no, people are in a bad mood because of Iraq — before finally acknowledging that most Americans think it’s a bad economy because for them, it is. The lion’s share of the benefits from recent economic growth has gone to a small, wealthy minority, while most Americans were worse off in 2005 than they were in 2000. Some conservatives whine that people didn’t complain as much about rising inequality when Bill Clinton was president. But most people were happy with the state of the economy in the late 1990’s, even though the rich were getting much richer, because the middle class and the poor were also making substantial progress. Now the rich are getting richer, but most working Americans are losing ground.

Second, notice the amount of time that inequality’s apologists spend attacking a claim nobody is making: that there has been a clear long-term decline in middle-class living standards. Yes, real median family income has risen since the late 1970’s (with the most convincing gains taking place during the Clinton years). But the rise was very small — small enough that other considerations, like increasing economic insecurity, make it unclear whether families are better or worse off. And that’s the point: the United States as a whole has grown a lot richer over the past generation, but the typical American family hasn’t. Third, notice the desperate effort to find some number, any number, to support claims that increasing inequality is just a matter of a rising payoff to education and skill. Conservative commentators tell us about wage gains for one-eyed bearded men with 2.5 years of college, or whatever — and conveniently forget to adjust for inflation. In fact, the data refute any suggestion that education is a guarantee of income gains: once you adjust for inflation, you find that the income of a typical household headed by a college graduate was lower in 2005 than in 2000.

More broadly, right-wing commentators would like you to believe that the economy’s winners are a large group, like college graduates or people with agreeable personalities. But the winners’ circle is actually very small. Even households at the 95th percentile — that is, households richer than 19 out of 20 Americans — have seen their real income rise less than 1 percent a year since the late 1970’s. But the income of the richest 1 percent has roughly doubled, and the income of the top 0.01 percent — people with incomes of more than $5 million in 2004 — has risen by a factor of 5. Finally, while we can have an interesting discussion about questions like the role of unions in wage inequality, or the role of lax regulation in exploding C.E.O. pay, there is no question that the policies of the current majority party — a party that has held a much-needed increase in the minimum wage hostage to large tax cuts for giant estates — have relentlessly favored the interests of a tiny, wealthy minority against everyone else.

According to new estimates by Thomas Piketty and Emmanuel Saez, the leading experts on long-term trends in inequality, the effective federal tax rate on the richest 0.01 percent has fallen from about 60 percent in 1980 to about 34 percent today. Meanwhile, the U.S. government — unlike any other government in the advanced world — does nothing as more and more working families find themselves unable to obtain health insurance....

***
...We have made it clear to all nations, if you harbor terrorists, you are just as guilty as the terrorists, you're an enemy of the United States and you will be held to account. (Applause.) --from transcript of President Bush's speech to the 88th Annual American Legion National Convention, September 5, 2006

The Pakistani government and pro-Taliban militants announced that they signed a peace accord Tuesday aimed at ending five years of violent unrest in a tribal region bordering Afghanistan....The agreement, which one official said offered an "implicit amnesty" to foreign and local militants, highlights the Pakistani military's inability to crush a violent pro-Taliban insurgency on its own soil. --from International Herald Tribune, September 5, 2006


Thursday, September 7

Op-Eds: Uhler, Floyd, Harris, Miller, Ross and Kane

Deceit About Iraq: "Things Related and Not" , Walter C. Uhler

As they did during the mid-term congressional election campaign of 2002 and the presidential election campaign of 2004, President Bush, Vice President Cheney and Defense Secretary Rumsfeld are once again attempting to scare Americans into voting for Republicans in November. They certainly should, because their very political lives depend upon November's outcome. But, what's astounding -- given their massive campaign of deceit about Iraq - is the thought that they still possess even an ounce of residual credibility with either the news media or the electorate. After all, Mr. Bush trumpeted false claims about Iraq's possession of weapons of mass destruction and ties to al Qaeda, in order to lead us into an unnecessary war we are now losing. Ironically, given his false claims about Iraq's ties to al Qaeda, in mid-2005 the CIA reported, "Iraq may prove to be an even more effective training ground for the Islamic extremists than Afghanistan." Thus, instead of bringing democracy, our deceitful, bumbling President brought international terrorism to Iraq - as well as its proliferation around the world....

Aid and Comfort: The New Bush-bin Laden Alliance , Chris Floyd

Is anyone really surprised at this? Bush has never had the slightest intention of catching Osama bin Laden. He needs bin Laden like he needs air or water. Without bin Laden, he is nothing. Without bin Laden, he wouldn't be a "War President" wielding dictatorial powers over a cowed, confused nation. Without bin Laden -- whom Bush has now taken to quoting as an expert on world affairs -- the Potomac pipsqueak would be just another failed, one-term president named George Bush, a national joke, a trivia quiz answer, a half-forgotten goober ridiculed for a feckless reign that made Jimmy Carter look like Bismarck. Without bin Laden, Bush never would have had the chance to seal his prejudices and inadequacies in the blood of tens of thousands of innocent people. How could he ever give up bin Laden, who gave him his truest self? Bush is bin Laden, bin Laden is Bush: they gaze at each other lovingly across the smoldering ruins of cities and the festering pits of mass graves, and whisper tenderly one to the other: "You complete me."....

Letter From Rome: BERLUSCONI--THE PARTY'S OVER , Judy Harris

For women in particular, this has been Italy's summer of violence. First, a Muslim girl was brutally murdered by her father and brother because, as her mother put it, "she was not a good Muslim."On August 18, some days after a Gay Pride event, an Italian Lesbian woman of 35 identified only as "Paola" was attacked and raped by two men at the Tuscan town of Torre del Lago. Meeting yesterday with journalists at the national gay and lesbian association ArciGay's headquarters in Florence, Paola, who was flanked by the national president of ArciLesbica, Titti de Simone, who is also a member of Parliament from Rifondazione Comunista, said she was convinced that the two men had noticed her at a Gay Pride event and planned a punitive assault....

Let's face it, the end of summer was more amusing under Berlusconi than under the grayer shade of Prodi pale. There would always be something to laugh about: Silvio's deep suntan setting off his whitened teeth, the pictures of him on his boat wearing his yachtsman's cap, his smacking an obviously appalled Cheri Blair on the back in Sardinia, the bandanna covering his hair transplant, the face-lift surgery that didn¹t quite work, his TV flack Emilio Fede bursting into tears of joy at a Berlusconi victory... But the party for Berlusconi is really over, and however bland Prodi may appear, he has chalked up his first one hundred days with a rousing success in foreign policy and movement on the home front on the crucial issue of conflict of interest, an election promise which well-known blogger/comedian Beppe Grillo doubted would ever be kept....

Dictator Studies Dictators: Bush's Role Models , Sherwood Ross

As the day he departs the White House draws relentlessly closer, President Bush might be pardoned for wondering what historians will make of him and his Administration. My guess is they will not see him as an innovator so much as a man who took many of his ideas from previous rulers. Unfortunately, most of his role models were dictators, wise guys who knew how to rationalize launching a war of aggression, torture captives, and conceal urgent truths from the public. Like Defense Secretary Rumsfeld, Mr. Bush says "we don't torture," so apparently he doesn't consider sleep deprivation(SD)torture. Stalin knew better because his NKVD used it all the time. He called SD "the conveyor belt." Prisoners kept awake for days on end by a succession of thugs would admit to any crime. One NKVD torturer cruelly boasted to the father of an imprisoned 14-year-old boy, "Your son just confessed to writing (the Russian epic) Eugene Onegin." China's contemporary Communists, like the Bush military, also employ SD today.

The Administration denies it is torture to imprison captives for years without charging them with a crime. On this score, Hitler knew better. According to historian Piers Brendon, author of The Dark Valley, Hitler used this ugly technique at Dachau "to break the spirit of inmates." Until the Washington Post exposed secret U.S. prisons in Europe, the Red Cross didn't know about them to inspect them. And when the Red Cross sought access to the very visible CIA compound in Kabul, the CIA turned it down. Hitler, too, opposed outside scrutiny of his jails. As Brendon noted, "Only a few foreign observers were admitted to Hitler's concentration camps and then only under the strictest conditions." When President Bush looks in his mirror, he also sees a benevolent individual. Hitler also thought he was a pretty decent guy....

The American Way: Your Extinction Will Quell Your Moral and Intellectual Confusion , Jason Miller

Persistently ticking off the precious seconds in humanity’s “Countdown to Extinction”, the Doomsday Clock of the Bulletin for Atomic Scientists has advanced to seven minutes of midnight. Yet despite nuclear terror unleashed on Japan, an arms race of monumental proportions, the collapse of the Soviet Union, and widespread nuclear proliferation, somehow humanity has managed avoid nuclear apocalypse for 60 years. Perhaps the virtual certainty of “mutually assured destruction” will freeze the hands of the Doomsday Clock and continue humankind’s stay of execution.

As if the possibility of nuclear devastation was not enough of a concern, Donald Rumsfeld recently informed us that those who oppose the Iraqi Occupation and the abrogation of Constitutional law lack courage and are confused morally and intellectually. "Terrorism" is an existential threat to the “civilized world” and the Bush administration is justified in all of its “counter-terrorism” measures, according to Rumsfeld. Remember, if nuclear war does not annihilate us, the “terrorists” will. As you ponder the threat of “terrorism”, do not forget to consider that the many invasions mounted by the United States military and the IDF have killed millions more innocent civilians than the asymmetrical warfare waged by over-matched victims of imperial oppression.....

Two Haiku: Our Current "Leaders", Mad Kane

The Rumsfeld Trap

Rummy's just one man.
It's The Policies, Stupid.
See forest, not trees.

The Difference Between Republicans & Democrats

Republicans chide
The press, when it tells the truth.
Dems decry press lies.


Wednesday, September 6

Op-Eds: Cook, Pringle, Ross, Miller, and Mickey Z.

What Next?: Israel’s deceptions as a way of life, Jonathan Cook

Editor’s note: We at Virtual Citizens seek to offer opinion and journalistic pieces that will inform others and aid their understanding of the correct focus and emphasis of government policy and action. Journalist Jonathan Cook contributes his views about Israel and we present them here in the hope that Americans – within and without government – will end their support of the overtly racist and apartheid-like state of Israel. We believe in peace and social justice, not arming one group...to attack, slaughter and oppress others – which is the current U.S. policy vis-a-vis Israel, and has been so since the 1970s, if not before.

Big Pharma: Bankrupting the U.S. Health Care System, Evelyn Pringle

Big Pharma is bankrupting the nation's health care system by convincing prescribing doctors to over-medicate patients with expensive psychiatric drugs and then send the bills to government programs like Medicaid and Medicare. The peddling of the new generation of psychiatric drugs that include the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors antidepressants (SSRIs), and atypical antipsychotics that began arriving on the market in the late 1980s, has become a cottage industry in the US. Between 1986 and 2004, the sale of antidepressants went from $240 million to $11.2 billion and the sale of antipsychotic drugs rose from $263 million in 1986 to $8.6 billion in 2004.These two classes of drugs combined went from $500 million to nearly $20 billion in 2004, which translates to a 40-fold increase, according to award winning journalist, Robert Whitaker, author of Mad In America. A University of Georgia study published in the June 2006 issue of Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, found that three-quarters of people prescribed antidepressant drugs receive the medications for a reason not approved by the federal FDA....

Civil War: The United States of England, Sherwood Ross

Let’s view the American Revolution for what it actually was: a sort of internal adjustment where predominantly English-speaking Colonists won the same rights to govern themselves and plunder others as the Britons who remained behind. As historian Niall Ferguson writes in “Empire”(Best Books), “The Hollywood version of the War of Independence is a straightforward fight between heroic Patriots and wicked, Nazi-like Redcoats. The reality was quite different. This was indeed a civil war which divided social classes and even families.” About the same time London was dispatching Redcoats to shoot Africans who refused to pay tribute, Americans were dispatching blue coats to shoot Native Americans unlucky enough to occupy territory in their path. And just as the Crown took over India and Africa by force and violence, Americans employed like tactics to steal half of their good neighbor Mexico....

Inalienable Human Rights: ACLU Sets the Standard in Struggle for “Liberty and Justice for All”, Jason Miller

As I did background research for this piece, I was utterly astounded at the number of Websites and writers devoted to stopping, hating, and opposing the ACLU....Since its founding in 1920 (supported by such luminaries as Helen Keller and Supreme Court Justice Felix Frankfurter), the ACLU has fought tenaciously to preserve the Bill of Rights and subsequent amendments to the Constitution guaranteeing individual liberties. In a nation principally governed by a de facto aristocracy from its founding (many of the Founding Fathers were highly resistant to the inclusion of the Bill of Rights in the Constitution), We the People need an organization like the ACLU, despite some of its extremist leanings....

Feeling Free? No innocent bystanders in America, Mickey Z.

The next time you're feeling "free," see how far you can walk without being legally compelled to stop...to let cars drive past. The light turns red and viola: you are no longer free to continue walking because in America, the car culture rules. This essentially invisible totalitarian salvo was recently complicated when a big white SUV crept up into the crosswalk, making it virtually hopeless for yours truly to cross the damn street even when the light changed to green. I fixed my gaze on the mechanized monster before me and immediately saw all that is wrong with America....


Tuesday, September 5

Leave No Tree Behind: Bush is Killing Our Land (excerpts), Nicholas Kristof

...[Our] wilderness and trail system is a legacy of past presidents, beginning with Teddy Roosevelt. There aren’t many ways in which our lives today are shaped by a president who governed more than a century ago — or in which President Bush will affect our grandchildren’s grandchildren in the 22nd century — but wilderness policy is one. Until now, the pattern has been for presidents of both parties to expand protections of natural areas, with a bipartisan record of adding to national forests and other protected areas. Mr. Bush has also added to the wilderness system here and there, but at a broader level he has reversed the trend by leading a stealth campaign to tilt the balance toward development.

“There have been systematic efforts to weaken protections for wilderness-quality lands across the public lands estate, and to make it harder to protect these places in the future,” notes Peter Rafle of the Wilderness Society. Last month, a federal judge blocked an administration scheme to harvest timber in California’s Giant Sequoia National Monument, criticizing it as “incomprehensible.” But step back and you see that the administration’s approach is entirely comprehensible: it’s a systematic effort to increase the private exploitation of federal lands even if that means losing their character forever.

A few examples:

¶Last year, Mr. Bush formally repealed President Clinton’s “Roadless Area Conservation Rule,” which had provided broad protections for 58 million acres of national forest lands without roads.

¶Mr. Bush has also used his “healthy forest” initiative as a way to promote logging over wilderness. He is right that forests are too vulnerable to fires today, but dispatching commercial logging crews is not the solution for most areas.

¶In some parts of the country, Mr. Bush in effect has adopted a “no more wilderness” policy. In 2003, the administration announced that millions of acres of land in Utah and elsewhere in the West would never again be considered for designation as wilderness.

¶The administration has offered oil and gas leases on 70,000 acres of proposed wilderness in Colorado and 190,000 acres in Utah. Once oil or gas development occurs, the land is lost — no longer eligible to be included in the wilderness system.

¶Mr. Bush is trying to turn vast, pristine parts of Alaska into oil wells; some oil and mineral development is essential, but the past bipartisan sense of balance is lost. Mr. Bush is pushing to drill in many Alaskan lands that had been protected by past Republican presidents....

In 100 years, Mr. Bush’s mistakes in Iraq may not matter anymore, but our wilderness heritage lost on his watch can never be restored.

Note by Politex: In 100 years Bush's mistakes in Iraq will still matter to the families of the dead American soldiers (2500+) and Iraqi civilians (41,000+).


Monday, September 4

Leadership? Why Joe Needs to Go And Hillary Needs to Stay...As Senator, NYT Ed

Mrs. Clinton’s biggest flaw is her unwillingness to risk political capital for principle. That is not to say that she lacks principles, but whenever her moral convictions become politically inexpedient, she will struggle to find a way to cloak them in vague rhetoric or deflect attention with a compromise that makes the danger go away. All that is an issue of leadership, and it will be grist for discussion if she decides to run for president in 2008. Right now we are talking about a Senate race, and Hillary Clinton has been an excellent senator for New York....

Mrs. Clinton has been a happy surprise for many doubters since she first won office in 2000. Everyone expected her to be intelligent and hard-working. But despite her obvious ambition for higher office, she has been focused on issues that are important to the state, as well as accessible and aggressive in fighting for New York’s interests. She works well with both her Democratic colleagues and with Republicans, who found her far more collegial than they expected. Given the relatively powerless position of Senate Democrats, she has scored a few real wins — most recently in pressuring the Bush administration to allow the “morning-after pill” to be sold over the counter. She has found the right balance between bipartisanship and the responsibility of the minority party to be both watchdog and whistle-blower on behalf of the public. She has also reflected, at least in a general way, the opinions of the majority of her constituents on the war issue....

Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Lieberman have behaved very differently on the Iraq issue from the beginning. In 2002, Mr. Lieberman stood next to President Bush in the Rose Garden when he announced an agreement on a resolution to authorize use of force. Mrs. Clinton, on the other hand, urged that the resolution be regarded not as a go-ahead to invade, but as leverage in negotiations with the United Nations. She argued in the Senate debate that the president should work to get strong United Nations backing for a demand that Saddam Hussein allow weapons inspectors back into Iraq. If that failed, she said, the United States’ effort would still win it international support for an invasion later.

She was certainly not a dove. Her husband’s administration was convinced that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction and Mrs. Clinton clearly believed Iraq was a grave threat to international peace. But as the conflict went on, she became increasingly critical of the way it was being conducted. Mr. Lieberman not only defended it, he also chastised other Democrats for criticizing the president during a time of war. A few months ago, Mrs. Clinton joined most Senate Democrats in supporting a resolution that called for American forces to begin leaving Iraq this year, without setting a specific deadline for withdrawal. Mr. Lieberman opposed the resolution and spoke out against it in the Senate. Mr. Lieberman’s actions, it seemed to us, made it easier for the Bush administration to continue pursuing what was obviously becoming a hopeless strategy. Mrs. Clinton was very different. She has performed the proper function of a senator from the minority party — holding the majority accountable.

All that said, she has hardly been a profile in courage. Almost every move Mrs. Clinton has made regarding Iraq reflected her desire to find — or create — a center position on every issue. The resolution she endorsed was extremely vague, more of a potential political embarrassment to the administration than a restriction on the military. Her speech in 2002 was classic triangulation, in which she posed two clear opposing positions and then placed herself in between. And her clash with Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld last month, while dramatic, was late in the game, and an obvious attempt to make it clear to the restive antiwar voters that she was not an appropriate target....


Friday, September 1

Op-Eds: Ostroy, Floyd, Fisher, Uhler, Weiner, Partridge, Almdale, Hammerschlag, Collins, and Mickey Z.

Lies, Lies and More Lies: Bush Fires More Weapons of Mass Deception at American Legion Propaganda Speech, Andy Ostroy

Honest Abe he's not. But for just a second last week we had a rare moment of truth (albeit off the cuff and under pressure from a dogged reporter) when President Bush admitted that the Iraq war had "nothing" to do with the war on terror. All that of course changed Thursday during Bush's first in a brand-new series of PR speeches designed to justify the Iraq war, bolster the Busheviks' image and perhaps salvage the midterm elections for Republican incumbents.

Speaking before thousands of veterans at the American Legion convention in Salt Lake City, UT, Bush was in rare form, once again masterfully morphing Saddam and bin Laden, Iraq and al Qaeda, in an effort to confuse the hell out of Americans and scare them into the voting booths. It was a most shameful, pathetic and desperate display of lies and deception, and it came a day after his miserable failure of a Defense Secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, accused those against the war of being like Nazi-era appeasers. Just when you think this administration cannot sink any lower they find new cracks in the political pavement through which to crawl and spew their bile.

Goats and Hussars: A British Harbinger of American Defeat, Chris Floyd

Don Rumsfeld is fond of historical analogies when pontificating about Iraq; he particularly favors comparisons to the Nazi era and the Allied occupation of Germany after World War II. Unfortunately, any historian will tell you that Rummy's parallels are invariably false, even ludicrous. So we thought we'd give the beleaguered Pentagon warlord a more accurate and telling analogy to chew on. Try this one, Don....

Al Qaeda: A PERFECT NEW COVER , William Fisher

If past is prologue, it won't be long before the chattering class in Washington, D.C. identifies a young man named Junaid Ahmad as the poster child for a clever new "cover" for Al Qaeda "sleepers" in America. Mr. Ahmad is 24 years old. And he is among a rapidly increasing number of first generation Muslim-Americans who have decided to pursue careers in the law....

Part II: Crackpot Christianity , Walter C. Uhler

During the weekend of August 26-27, 2006, Americans were given another opportunity to see "Crackpot Christianity" in action. All they had to do was tune in to The Coral Ridge Hour and watch its presentation of Darwin's Deadly Legacy. I watched it Saturday evening and was respectively amused and appalled by the show's infantilism and dishonesty. Although it would not persuade any educated American, the show's dishonesty implies a staggering contempt for its intended audience -- the untaught. Knowing the audience, I expected such buffoonery and mendacity. As I demonstrated in an earlier article (Crackpot Christianity and America's Current Moral Degeneration, at http://www.walter-c-uhler.com/Reviews/crackpot.html), the overwhelming majority of America's Christians know next to nothing about the origins and actual composition -- let alone the myriad contradictions -- of the holy book they ostensibly revere. Why would they know anything more about the evolutionary biology so many of them despise?...

Democracy Denied: Hastert Terminates All State Legal Authority Over Elections, Michael Collins

San Diego Superior Court Judge Yuri Hofmann rendered his decision in the election challenge in California’s 50th Congressional District. He dismissed the request for a recount and for discovery of the facts of the Busby-Bilbray election stating specifically that "Once the House asserts exclusive jurisdiction and selects a candidate, the court no longer has jurisdiction" (emphasis added). The judge argued that the June 13 swearing in alone was sufficient to establish Bilbray’s “election.” The event had the power to take away any and all citizen rights and immediately rescind authority over their own elections. Requests for a recount resulting from major problems with the election were deemed insufficient and the rights of voters to due process were cast aside in deference to Speaker Hastert or any future Speaker....

9-11 Narcissism: Celebrating ourselves for being victims, Michael Hammerschlag

The Oliver Stone movie World Trade Center is another moving hagiopic to the terrible sacrifice of 9-11, designed maybe to redeem him from the wilder theories of JFK. But it isn't the time for such a movie, we've been celebrating ourselves for being victims in 9-11 for 5 years now, and it's too much. It's time to stop congratulating ourselves for something we didn't do....

The Bush Agenda: All The News that Fits, Ernest Partridge

It is difficult to understand how anyone with even a modicum of critical intelligence, can still believe the right-wing complaint that the mainstream media (MSM) "has a liberal bias." Evidence to the contrary is overwhelming, and new evidence appears almost daily. The latest? The London airline bomb plot.

20 Things We Know: Five Years After 9/11, Bernard Weiner

Things that were hazy five years ago are crystal clear today: CheneyBush have used and abused the tragic events of 9/11 and have got us into unwinnable wars abroad, and helped create an American brand of fascism domestically....

Fascism: THE 9 PRINCIPLES OF FASCIST PROPAGANDA, Chuck Almdale

Fascism is in the news again: Islamo-fascist, Judeo-fascist, Christo-fascist, crypto-fascist, neo-fascist. Everyone knows fascism was terrible, therefore the word creates a strong emotional reaction in the listener, but few still understand what fascism was, is, or why some recent name-callers are themselves fascists. As unsupported name-calling is no more than naked propaganda, analyzing propaganda itself is the best place to start, and who better to start with than a past master of the form, Adolf Hitler himself.

Tax Dollars at Work: Porn and the CIA, Mickey Z.

One doesn't exactly have to waste hours scouring accurate expenditures to get the feeling that U.S. decision makers fall neatly into the Austin Powers camp of spying. It might be comforting to convince ourselves that the CIA is efficient and necessary, but here's a fine example of American "intelligence" to help snap us out of our denial...and it involves one-time Indonesian president, Sukarno....


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