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Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Today's 100+ bush headlines: Selected from around the world
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Opinion: Bush's Leaving Will Not Be Pleasant, Chris Floyd

Last week, America's troubled sleep was shattered by a trumpet blast of truth sounding deep in Washington's corridors of power, where the rule of the Lie has held sway for so long. This intrusion of reality into the bloodstained fantasyland of the Bush Regime comes late in the day for the moribund Republic -- perhaps too late -- but it has struck a mighty blow against the Lie's adherents, driving them into spasms of hysterical panic, like rats exposed suddenly to the light. The unlikely instigator of this historic upheaval was U.S. Representative John Murtha, the 73-year-old conservative Democrat and war hawk, one of many "opposition" leaders who once strongly backed President George W. Bush's murderous folly in Iraq. Murtha, a Vietnam vet, has been a stalwart of the military-industrial complex for decades, supporting U.S. wars around the world and showering legislative largess on the weapons industry -- which has obligingly kicked back lobbying contracts to his kin and friends, The Los Angeles Times reports.

But a penchant for typical backroom grease is not necessarily incompatible with political courage. And Murtha showed plenty of the latter when he rocked Washington with a truly revolutionary act in these degraded times: stating the obvious. Calling Bush's war "a flawed policy wrapped in an illusion," Murtha said U.S. forces should "redeploy" out of Iraq immediately; otherwise, Iraqis will never feel free, the insurgency will grow, terrorism will spread and the United States will sink further into debt and dishonor, putting the nation's very survival at stake....

None of this means the Bush nightmare is over, of course; not by the longest shot. This gang will grow ever more vicious as their support crumbles; in fact, it's a good bet that the worst is yet to come. The Bushists know that they have prison sentences hanging over their heads if they ever lose their grip on power. They will either do "whatever it takes" to keep holding the whip hand -- in which case we are in for political and social strife the likes of which America has not seen since the Civil War -- or, at the very least, they will make things bad enough that the nation's power elite will negotiate a settlement, as in Richard Nixon's day: We won't prosecute you if you'll just go away. In any case, it won't be pleasant....

Opinion: Vice Vader Won't Give George Back To His Father, Maureen Dowd (excerpts)

Things had been going so smoothly. The global torture franchise was up and running. Halliburton contracts were flowing. Tax cuts were sailing through. Oil companies were raking it in. Alaska drilling was thrillingly close. The courts were defending his executive privilege on energy policy, and people were still buying all that smoke about Saddam's being responsible for 9/11, and that drivel about how we're fighting them there so we don't have to fight them here. Everything was groovy.

But not anymore. Cheney could not believe that Karl had made him go out and call that loudmouth Jack Murtha a patriot. He was sure the Pentagon generals had put the congressman up to calling for a withdrawal from Iraq. Is the military brass getting in touch with its pacifist side? In Wyoming, Vice shoots doves. How dare Murtha suggest that Cheney dodged and dodged and dodged and dodged and dodged the draft? Murtha thinks he knows about war just because he served in one and was a marine for 37 years? Vice started his own war. Now that's a credential!

Now all these idiots are getting caught, even Scooter. DeLay's on the ropes and the Dukester is a total embarrassment, spending bribes on antique commodes and a Rolls-Royce. Vice should never have let an amateur get involved with defense contracts....And now John Warner wants Junior to use fireside chats to explain his plan for Iraq. When did everybody get the un-American idea that the president is answerable to America? Vice is fed up with the whining of squirrelly surrogates like Brent Scowcroft and Lawrence Wilkerson on behalf of peaceniks like George Senior and Colin Powell. If Poppy's upset about his kid's mentor, he should be man enough to come slug it out. Poppy isn't getting Junior back, Vice vowed, muttering: "He's my son. It's my war. It's my country."

Quip: "Your Honor, Mr. Libby thought it was legal. He wrote it on a legal pad."

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Tuesday, November 29, 2005

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The Crusade: Bush Public Diplomacy Czarina "In Dangerous Denial", William Fisher

America’s newest public diplomacy czarina, Karen Hughes, is in dangerous denial and needs professional help. She believes that how we treat prisoners in the ‘global war on terror’ is unlikely to have a serious adverse affect on how people think of the United States. Ms. Hughes, longtime Bush confidante and now Undersecretary of State for Public Diplomacy, told the House of Representatives International Relations Committee that the United States treats detainees humanely and in compliance with US laws and values. In response to a question from Rep. Gary Ackerman, a Democrat from New York, she added, "We were sickened as the rest of the world was by the pictures from Abu Ghraib. Democracies are not perfect, but we do hold people responsible."...

 One of the Congressmen reminded Ms. Hughes that the people of the Arab Street are smart – they know when they’re being conned. They should; they’ve been being conned for years by their own repressive and authoritarian governments. And, despite the self-serving propaganda of government-owned media, they also know that their governments rarely hold anyone responsible or accountable for mistreating prisoners, much less sending them to jail....

It should not come as a surprise to Karen Hughes that, thanks largely to the Internet, an awful lot of people in the Middle East and elsewhere know that the Justice Department lawyer, Jay Bybee, who wrote the now-famous memo justifying torture, got promoted to a lifetime appointment as a Federal judge. Or that then-White House Counsel Alberto Gonzales, who sold that memo to President Bush, was elevated to Attorney General of the United States. Or that some of the more egregious prisoner interrogation practices were approved by none other than our Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld. Or that others were okayed by General Ricardo Sanchez, our top Army field commander in Iraq, who is now awaiting his fourth star. Or that General Geoffrey Miller, our commandant at Guantanamo, was sent to Iraq to “migrate” GITMO’s interrogation methods to Abu Ghraib and other prisons in Iraq and Afghanistan – and that a top Army general overruled a military investigator’s recommendation that he be reprimanded. Or that Vice President Dick Cheney has been lobbying Congress to exempt the Central Intelligence Agency from Senator John McCain’s anti-torture proposal. Or that the Bush Administration will neither confirm nor deny press reports that the United States runs a network of ‘black site’ prisons in Eastern Europe and Southeast Asia....

The Crusade: Bush's Holy War In Iraq, Seymour Hersh

Bush’s closest advisers have long been aware of the religious nature of his policy commitments. In recent interviews, one former senior official, who served in Bush’s first term, spoke extensively about the connection between the President’s religious faith and his view of the war in Iraq. After the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, the former official said, he was told that Bush felt that “God put me here” to deal with the war on terror. The President’s belief was fortified by the Republican sweep in the 2002 congressional elections; Bush saw the victory as a purposeful message from God that “he’s the man,” the former official said. Publicly, Bush depicted his reëlection as a referendum on the war; privately, he spoke of it as another manifestation of divine purpose....

“The President is more determined than ever to stay the course,” the former defense official said. “He doesn’t feel any pain. Bush is a believer in the adage ‘People may suffer and die, but the Church advances.’ ” He said that the President had become more detached, leaving more issues to Karl Rove and Vice-President Cheney. “They keep him in the gray world of religious idealism, where he wants to be anyway,” the former defense official said. Bush’s public appearances, for example, are generally scheduled in front of friendly audiences, most often at military bases. Four decades ago, President Lyndon Johnson, who was also confronted with an increasingly unpopular war, was limited to similar public forums. “Johnson knew he was a prisoner in the White House,” the former official said, “but Bush has no idea.”...

Current and former military and intelligenc officials have told me that the President remain convinced that it is his personal mission to brin democracy to Iraq, and that he is impervious t political pressure, even from fello Republicans. They also say that he disparage any information that conflicts with his view o how the war is proceeding....The former senior official said that after the election he made a lengthy inspection visit to Iraq and reported his findings to Bush in the White House: “I said to the President, ‘We’re not winning the war.’ And he asked, ‘Are we losing?’ I said, ‘Not yet.’ ” The President, he said, “appeared displeased” with that answer. “I tried to tell him,” the former senior official said. “And he couldn’t hear it.”

Big Bush Lies: Definition of a Lie: "2. Something that misleads or deceives" (Merriam-Webster's Unabridged Dictionary)
Bush Lie #3 (of 55): "Here's what -- we've discovered a weapons system, biological labs, that Iraq denied she had, and labs that were prohibited under the U.N. resolutions."
Source: President Bush, Russian President Putin Sign Treaty of Moscow, White House (6/1/2003).
Why This Statement is A Lie: This statement was misleading because it claimed the purpose of the trailers was to produce biological weapons without disclosing that engineers from the Defense Intelligence Agency who examined the trailers concluded that they were most likely used to produce hydrogen for artillery weather balloons.

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Monday, November 28, 2005

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Rewriting History: Bush's Scorched Earth Policy, W. David Jenkins III

This administration has a history of attacking its critics on any level, be it personal or professional. Its members are capable of unleashing such usually successful, coordinated firestorms of vitriol against their enemies that they escape accountability time and time again. They are doing now what they have always done when caught with their political pants down – they spin, lie, stone-wall and cover up.

That’s what they did with 9/11, Valerie Wilson, the Energy Task Force, ties to Enron, Abu Ghraib, Guantánamo, Operation Able Danger, Sibel Edmonds, Campaigns 2000 and 2004, Rendition and Torture, Cindy Sheehan, the Information Awareness Office, Patriot Act abuses, Guckert/Gannon, Katrina, Bunnatine (Bunny) Greenhouse, Halliburton, the Downing Street Memos and, of course, Iraq and the suppression of intelligence that did not fit their criteria.

That’s quite a list and I’m certain I’ve missed a few examples but when you look back on all of these episodes, you have to wonder how it’s possible that almost a third of the country can still support this administration. Maybe Dr. Joseph Mengele was right when at Nuremberg he stated, "The more we do to you, the less you seem to believe we are doing it."...

Opinion: The Myth Of The Corporate Deal, Paul Krugman (excerpt)

Many of the corporate giants of the 1960's, companies whose pre-eminence seemed permanent, have fallen on hard times, their places in the business hierarchy taken by new players. General Motors is only the most famous example. So what? Meet the new boss, same as the old boss: why does it matter if the list of leading corporations turns over every couple of decades, as long as the total number of jobs continues to grow? The answer is...corporations can't provide their workers with economic security if the companies' own future is highly insecure.

American workers at big companies used to think they had made a deal. They would be loyal to their employers, and the companies in turn would be loyal to them, guaranteeing job security, health care and a dignified retirement. Such deals were, in a real sense, the basis of America's postwar social order. We like to think of ourselves as rugged individualists, not like those coddled Europeans with their oversized welfare states. But as Jacob Hacker of Yale points out in his book "The Divided Welfare State," if you add in corporate spending on health care and pensions - spending that is both regulated by the government and subsidized by tax breaks - we actually have a welfare state that's about as large relative to our economy as those of other advanced countries.The resulting system is imperfect: those who don't work for companies with good benefits are, in effect, second-class citizens. Still, the system more or less worked for several decades after World War II.

Now, however, deals are being broken and the system is failing. Remember, Delphi was once part of General Motors, and its workers thought they were totally secure. What went wrong? An important part of the answer is that America's semi-privatized welfare state worked in the first place only because we had a stable corporate order. And that stability - along with any semblance of economic security for many workers - is now gone....Instead of trying to provide economic security through the back door, via tax breaks designed to encourage corporations to provide health care and pensions, we should provide it through the front door, starting with national health insurance....Workers can no longer count on loyalty from their employers.

Tomorrow: Parable: Failure Is Our Middle Name

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Sunday, November 27, 2005

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France: New Brownies In The Wings, William Fisher

Years from now, we’re likely to remember two things about Hurricane Katrina: The massive human suffering caused by the incredibly dysfunctional response from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, FEMA, and President Bush’s iconic kudo to FEMA’S clueless head: “You’re doing a heckuva job, Brownie!” The ‘Brownie’ the president was referring to was, of course, Michael Brown, then FEMA’s hapless director. Days after Bush’s remark, Brownie was ordered back to Washington and later fell on his sword and resigned in disgrace (though he attempted to defend himself before a Senate hearing and remained on the payroll as a “consultant” for several more months).

But in Washington, there’s always a long line of mediocrities waiting in the wings to serve their country. And President Bush seems to have a particular knack for nominating them. Here are three of the more recent:...

Big Bush Lies: Bush, Cheney Lie About Present As Well As Past, Frank Rich (excerpt)

The cover-up is failing. No matter how much the president and vice president raise their decibel levels, the truth keeps roaring out. A nearly 7,000-word investigation in last Sunday's Los Angeles Times found that Mr. Bush and his aides had "issued increasingly dire warnings" about Iraq's mobile biological weapons labs long after U.S. intelligence authorities were told by Germany's Federal Intelligence Service that the principal source for these warnings, an Iraqi defector in German custody code-named Curveball, "never claimed to produce germ weapons and never saw anyone else do so." The five senior German intelligence officials who spoke to The Times said they were aghast that such long-discredited misinformation from a suspected fabricator turned up in Colin Powell's presentation to the United Nations and in the president's 2003 State of the Union address (where it shared billing with the equally bogus 16 words about Saddam's fictitious African uranium).

Right after the L.A. Times scoop, Murray Waas filled in another piece of the prewar propaganda puzzle. He reported in the nonpartisan National Journal that 10 days after 9/11, "President Bush was told in a highly classified briefing that the U.S. intelligence community had no evidence linking the Iraqi regime of Saddam Hussein to the attacks and that there was scant credible evidence that Iraq had any significant collaborative ties with Al Qaeda."

The information was delivered in the President's Daily Brief, a C.I.A. assessment also given to the vice president and other top administration officials. Nonetheless Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney repeatedly pounded in an implicit (and at times specific) link between Saddam and Al Qaeda until Americans even started to believe that the 9/11 attacks had been carried out by Iraqis. More damning still, Mr. Waas finds that the "few credible reports" of Iraq-Al Qaeda contacts actually involved efforts by Saddam to monitor or infiltrate Islamic terrorist groups, which he regarded as adversaries of his secular regime. Thus Saddam's antipathy to Islamic radicals was the same in 2001 as it had been in 1983, when Donald Rumsfeld, then a Reagan administration emissary, embraced the dictator as a secular fascist ally in the American struggle against the theocratic fascist rulers in Iran.

What these revelations also tell us is that Mr. Bush was wrong when he said in his Veterans Day speech that more than 100 Congressional Democrats who voted for the Iraqi war resolution "had access to the same intelligence" he did. They didn't have access to the President's Daily Brief that Mr. Waas uncovered. They didn't have access to the information that German intelligence officials spoke about to The Los Angeles Times. Nor did they have access to material from a Defense Intelligence Agency report, released by Senator Carl Levin of Michigan this month, which as early as February 2002 demolished the reliability of another major source that the administration had persistently used for its false claims about Iraqi-Al Qaeda collaboration. The more we learn about the road to Iraq, the more we realize that it's a losing game to ask what lies the White House told along the way. A simpler question might be: What was not a lie?...

SOONER or later - probably sooner, given the accelerating pace of recent revelations - this embarrassing information will leak out anyway. But the administration's deliberate efforts to suppress or ignore intelligence that contradicted its Iraq crusade are only part of the prewar story. There were other shadowy stations on the disinformation assembly line. Among them were the Policy Counterterrorism Evaluation Group, a two-man Pentagon operation specifically created to cherry-pick intelligence for Mr. Cheney's apocalyptic Iraqi scenarios, and the White House Iraq Group (WHIG), in which Karl Rove, Karen Hughes and the Cheney hands Lewis Libby and Mary Matalin, among others, plotted to mainline this propaganda into the veins of the press and public. These murky aspects of the narrative - like the role played by a private P.R. contractor, the Rendon Group, examined by James Bamford in the current Rolling Stone - have yet to be recounted in full.

No debate about the past, of course, can undo the mess that the administration made in Iraq. But the past remains important because it is a road map to both the present and the future. Leaders who dissembled then are still doing so. Indeed, they do so even in the same speeches in which they vehemently deny having misled us then - witness Mr. Bush's false claims about what prewar intelligence was seen by Congress and Mr. Cheney's effort last Monday to again conflate the terrorists of 9/11 with those "making a stand in Iraq." (Maj. Gen. Douglas Lute, director of operations for Centcom, says the Iraqi insurgency is 90 percent homegrown.) These days Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney routinely exaggerate the readiness of Iraqi troops, much as they once inflated Saddam's W.M.D.'s....

We're Watching: "Foyle's War, Season Two" (BBC)

Sunday Funnies:

Stay-the-Course Man! Leader of the free world (By Mark Fiore)
George Bush, Cheney's Meat Puppet (By Tom Tomorrow)
Thanksgiving Cartoon: Turkey Pardons Bush, Steve Bell
War Cartoon: Bush Bombs Al Jaeera, Steve Bell

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Saturday, November, 26, 2005


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Review: Don't Know Anything? Become A D.C. Consultant, Walter Brasch

“Michael Brown is now a consultant for emergency preparedness,” said a smug Marshbaum.

    “Michael Brown?” I said unbelieving. “You sure we’re talking about the same Michael Brown? The incompetent that Bush appointed to run FEMA? The guy who was more worried about what he looked like than what a catastrophic storm was doing to New Orleans? The one who disregarded every advance notice and blankly told us a couple of days after Katrina hit that the storm was bigger than anyone anticipated? The guy who hid out from the storm just as his boss had once hid out from the Vietnam War? That Michael Brown?”

    “Same one. All suited up and ready for action.”

    “Who’d hire that idiot?!”

    “Bunch of companies already have. Hadn’t been off the government payroll more than a month when he started lining up clients. Told the Rocky Mountain News, ‘If I can help people focus on preparedness, how to be better prepared in their homes and better prepared in their businesses—because that goes straight to the bottom line—then I hope I can help the country in some way.’ Now, that’s altruism. He’s a real patriot. Will probably make more from consulting than he ever did on the federal payroll. Even has a fancy office in Washington, D.C.”

    That fancy office, I learned, was in the high-rent posh office suite of Joseph Allbaugh, who ran George W. Bush’s first presidential campaign. For his loyalty, but certainly with almost no knowledge of emergency management, Allbaugh became Bush’s first FEMA director before he resigned to become a consultant and lobbyist, bestowing the nation’s disaster response to his college buddy Michael Brown. One of  Allbaugh’s clients, the Shaw Group, received two $100 million contracts, much of it for nailing FEMA blue tarpaulins on houses and buildings at a cost about ten times the normal rate.

    “So, you see, it’s all so simple. If you can’t do anything right, just be a consultant,” said Marshbaum.

    For once, I had to agree with him.

Opinion: Hey, It Won't Be Bush's Problem! Dave Zweife

These haven't been a good couple of months for President Bush. His approval ratings have plummeted so far that even staunch members of his own party are admitting they disagree with him on several key issues and some are now openly challenging some of his policies. As I predicted after the 2004 elections, we're going to have trouble in a couple of years finding people who will admit to having voted for him, just as nobody would fess up to having voted for "Tricky Dick" Nixon's re-election in 1972.

But Bush's personal political problems are nothing compared to the problems that now face our country, problems brought on by a reckless administration that seems to have little regard for the country's future. In a word, it's scandalous. A front page of USA Today last week showed it all in graphic detail. If we continue on the same track we are today, our annual $319 billion deficit will be more than $4 trillion in 2050, when our grandkids are nearing retirement. "We face a demographic tsunami," insists David Walker, the U.S. comptroller general. He compares the United States to Rome before the fall of the empire. The country faces deficits in its budget, its balance of payments, its savings and its leadership, he told USA Today.

And he's far from alone. Both conservative and liberal economic experts are starting to sound the alarm. We can't keep spending on everything from an incredibly expensive war to a Medicare drug program that mainly benefits insurance companies and cut taxes by hundreds of billions at the same time. As Sen. Barack Obama, the Illinois Democrat, wrote in the Chicago Tribune last week:

"For too long, the philosophy in Washington has been that you can spend without consequence or sacrifice. That we can fight a war in Iraq and a war on terror, protect our homeland, provide our citizens with Medicare and Social Security and maintain our domestic priorities, all while cutting taxes for the wealthy and funding every local project there is."

It's not a sustainable future for America, he added.

Now we have Alan Greenspan lumping the country's record trade deficit on top of all our other problems. There's going to come a time - perhaps earlier than we realize - that foreign lenders are going to stop funding that deficit we keep growing. As Maya MacGuineas of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget told USA Today, "I want to see a presidential election where the candidates are talking about what taxes they'll raise and what spending they'll cut." >What's for sure is that we simply cannot keep on the path we've been following the past five years.

Copyright 2005 The Capital Times

We're Listening: Count Basie, "100th Birthday Bash (Roulette Jazz)

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Friday, November 25, 2005

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Opinion: Reality Vs. The "Theory" Of Biblical Infallibility, Ernest Partridge

Heretofore, American society has been, in a sense, schizoid.   Educated elites, with the support of  enlightened commercial interests and government subsidies, have flourished atop a mass culture that was suspicious and dismissive of intellectual "eggheads," and stubbornly attached to traditional "old time religion."  And yet, the entire national economy has benefited enormously from scientific research, technological development and application, and public higher education, facilitating the opportunity for gifted and enterprising young people of modest means to join the elites -- a Jeffersonian "natural aristocracy of talent and virtue." But now that order has been overturned by the regressive right.  It has done so with the enlisted support of a faction of religious fundamentalism that is hostile to science and that demands and receives unprecedented influence in public policy....

There is a great deal at stake here. And yet scientists, secular scholars, and even liberal and moderate churches have been reluctant to challenge the fundamentalists, holding that such pre-modern beliefs should be “respected” as “private” and “personal.” Unfortunately, for their part, the fundamentalists have not displayed reciprocal respect and tolerance for contrary views about theology, scripture, or the grounds of morality. The fundamentalists take the issue of Biblical infallibility very seriously. As one of their leading spokesmen, Rev. Jerry Falwell warns,  if Christians are “able to say out loud that the Bible is not the inerrant word of God--that its inspiration is not really different from that of the Bhagavad-Gita or Thoreau's Walden or Maya Angelou's poems--then a great number of conservative and fundamentalist idols begin to topple."

In this case, I agree completely with the good Reverend: challenge “inerrancy,” and those “idols” become vulnerable. Which is precisely why I propose to criticize and refute the doctrine of the infallibility of the Bible. Once that is accomplished, the progressive will be better equipped to topple those conservative and fundamentalist idols.

Thanksgiving Cartoon: Turkey Pardons Bush, Steve Bell

Wall St. Journal: Fed Abramoff Probe Expands To Include 4 Lawmakers, 12+ Aides, 2 Former Bush Officials (excerpt)

WASHINGTON -- A Justice Department investigation into possible influence-peddling by prominent Republican lobbyist Jack Abramoff is examining his dealings with four lawmakers, more than a dozen current and former congressional aides and two former Bush administration officials, according to lawyers and others involved in the case. Investigators want to know whether Mr. Abramoff and his lobbying firm partners made illegal payoffs to lawmakers and aides in the form of campaign contributions, sports tickets, meals, travel and job offers, in exchange for helping their clients.The Justice Department's probe is far broader than previously thought....

Prosecutors in the department's public integrity and fraud divisions -- separate units that report to the assistant attorney general for the criminal division -- are looking into Mr. Abramoff's interactions with former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay of Texas, Rep. Bob Ney (R., Ohio), Rep. John Doolittle (R., Calif.) and Sen. Conrad Burns (R., Mont.), according to several people close to the investigation. Messrs. DeLay and Ney have retained criminal defense lawyers. Spokespeople for Messrs. Doolittle and Burns said they haven't hired lawyers....

It had been widely assumed in Washington that prosecutors were scrutinizing Mr. DeLay's dealings with Mr. Abramoff, who were longtime political allies. Mr. Abramoff took Mr. DeLay and several of his then aides on an expensive golf trip to Scotland several years ago. Mr. DeLay stepped down as House majority leader two month ago after he was indicted in Texas on unrelated campaign-finance charges. Until this week, prosecutors seemed to be focused primarily on whether Mr. Abramoff and his partner, Michael Scanlon, had bilked a half-dozen Native American tribes out of $80 million over four years. But a plea agreement made public Monday between prosecutors and Mr. Scanlon, and interviews with individuals and lawyers close to the investigation, show that the Justice Department is pursuing a much broader influence-peddling and bribery case....

Mr. Scanlon's guilty plea suggests that prosecutors may be setting a low threshold for bringing bribery charges. Mr. Scanlon pleaded guilty to bribing Mr. Ney by contributing just $4,000 to his campaign account in 2000 and an additional $10,000 to a separate Republican campaign fund. Prosecutors told Mr. Scanlon that if he made the contributions in exchange for some action or public statement by Mr. Ney, the donations amounted to bribery. That argument put pressure on Mr. Scanlon to plead guilty. Despite the surge in donor-financed campaign spending, the Justice Department, at least in the past 30 years, hasn't charged a lobbyist with bribery based on political contributions. The Justice Department won't discuss its tactics, but Washington lobbyists are watching closely. If it were to use a similar standard for other prosecutions, it might be easier for the Justice Department to bring cases against Mr. Abramoff and his lobbying partners.

We're Reading: John Hodgman's "The Areas Of My Expertise" (EP Dutton)

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Thursday, November 24, 2005

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Opinion: Three Views On Thanksgiving

The dinner was delicious, no matter what some people wrote later in Zagat, and after the football game, Miles Standish brought forth Jonathan Edwards, Puritanism's leading motivational speaker, who energized the crowd with his famous talk, "Cower Before God's Wrath, Ye Slimy Pusballs of Sin!"

And Governor Bradford reminded his flock that all honorable actions are accompanied with great difficulties, which must be overcome with answerable courages, and all ignored him because "CSI: Salem" was on. But all Americans owe much to those brave folk who supped that day.

For it is from those Pilgrims, the last WASP's to truly look good in black, that we have inherited the essential elements of the American character - our ability to look honestly at ourselves and find other people less intelligent; our ability to endure moments of amazing hardship before resorting to litigation; our ability to build this nation, so broad and strong, which the Chinese will one day be proud to own. --David Brooks, NY Times

***

The banquet room reeks and coils and sighs. It is full of bleak energy and missed opportunities, spiritual paranoia and repressed desire and dishonest laughter. The turkey comes out dry. There is not enough pie for Dubya. Rumsfeld slurps his scotch, drunkenly. Dick eyes the dark thigh meat. Condi has to pee. There is little to be thankful for, inside this room.

Outside, however, among the nation's awakening throngs, gratitude and hope are beginning to swell and grow anew. Only three years left. It's long but not that long. Every person in that gloomy room will be gone. History. Nothing left but an ugly stain, oily residue, scar tissue. The room will be refreshed. The turkey will be moist. There will be more cranberry sauce. This dark, warmongering chapter will finally end. Pie all around. --Mark Morford, S.F.Chronicle

***

The one thing I cherish about Thanksgiving is that it has remained commerce-free. Almost all the other holidays, especially Christmas, have been corrupted by commercialism. Even Thanksgiving is threatened by its proximity to Christmas -- with the sinisterly named "Black Friday," when shoppers arrive before dawn to save a buck or two. But as they stampede through the doors, as they elbow one another out of the way, as their greed distorts their faces, I have to remind myself that this is about the Christmas that is coming and not the Thanksgiving that has passed. --Richard Cohen, Washington Post

Opinion: Celebrate Un-Thanksgiving, Mickey Z.

Until the federal penitentiary was closed in 1963, Alcatraz Island was a place most folks tried to leave. On Nov. 20, 1969, the island's image underwent a drastic makeover. That was the day thousands of American Indians began an occupation that would last until June 11, 1971.

Even today, Alcatraz Island remains part of Native American culture as every November since 1975, on what is called "Un-Thanksgiving Day," Indians gather on the island to honor the occupation and those who continue to fight today....

Verse: A Rep From Ohio Named Jean, Madeleine Begun Kane

A Rep from Ohio named Jean
Called John Murtha a coward. How mean!
The Dems were quite riled
At her unprovoked bile.
She beat Hackett? How sad and obscene!

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Wednesday, November 23, 2005

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Opinion: Extreme Bush: The Good, Bad & Ugly, Bernard Weiner

I watched the newscast footage of Bush addressing an election-eve rally in Virginia a few weeks ago, and the guy looked and sounded somewhat inebriated, slurring his words, a goofy grin on his face, oversized mannerisms. I had read recent articles about Bush's inability to handle the enormous stress he's under these days (screaming and ranting at his aides), and the likelihood of his being on anti-depressants and/or hitting the bottle again, but just assumed those were sensationalist bloggers spreading some dirty fictions. But, oh my, when I watched the video clips of his sad performance at that Virginia rally, I began to wonder. It can't be easy being Bush these days, when all is collapsing around him. Consider:...

Opinion: Bush: "The President Who Invited America's Decline," Thomas L. Friedman (excerpts)

When I watch Mr. Bush these days...he looks to me like a man who wishes that we had a 28th amendment to the Constitution - called "Can I Go Now?" He looks like someone who would prefer to pack up and go back to his Texas ranch. It's not just that he doesn't seem to be having any fun. It's that he seems to be totally out of ideas relevant to the nation's future....Mr. Bush has two choices. One is to continue governing as though he's still running against John McCain in South Carolina. That means pushing a hard-right strategy based on dividing the country to get the 50.1 percent he needs to push through more tax cuts, while ignoring our real problems: the deficit, health care, energy, climate change and Iraq. More slash-and-burn politics like that will be a disaster.

It was appalling to watch Mr. Bush and Dick Cheney using their bully pulpits to act like two Rove attack dogs, accusing Democrats of being less than patriotic on Iraq. For two men who have fought this war without deploying enough troops, always putting politics before policy, without any plans for the morning after and never punishing any member of their team for rank incompetence to then accuse others of lacking seriousness on Iraq is disgusting....

"We are entering the era of hard choices for the United States - an era in which we can't always count on three Asian countries writing us checks to compensate for our failure to prepare for a hurricane or properly conduct a war," said David Rothkopf, author of "Running the World: The Inside Story of the National Security Council and the Architects of American Power. "If President Bush doesn't rise to this challenge, our children and grandchildren will look at the burden he has placed on their shoulders and see this moment as the hinge between the American Century and the Chinese Century. George W. Bush may well be seen as the president who, by refusing to address these urgent questions when they needed to be addressed, invited America's decline."

Quip: "Relax Mr. Abramoff, Mr. Bush doesn't say "Ka-ching" until he signs the bill."

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Tuesday, November 22, 2005

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Opinion: "The Belly Of This [Bush] Beast Will Never Be Full", Chris Floyd

Four years ago, President George W. Bush quietly assumed dictatorial powers with a secret executive order granting himself the right to imprison anyone on earth indefinitely, without charges or trial or indictment or evidence, simply by declaring them an "enemy combatant," on his say-so alone. This week, the assemblage of bootlickers and bagmen that befoul the U.S. Senate voted to codify the core of this global autocracy under the pretense of curtailing it.

With great self-fluffing fanfare, the Senate passed two measures ostensibly designed to stem the flood of torture and tyranny issuing from the White House. But the twinned amendments to a military spending bill have the curious effect of canceling each other out: The anti-torture measure leaves Bush's tyranny intact, while the anti-tyranny measure will allow torture to continue unabated. This switcheroo, we are told by one of the scam's sponsors, "will re-establish moral high ground for the United States," The Washington Post reports....

These draconian measures reach far beyond a handful of hard-core terrorists. According to the Pentagon's own figures, more than 21,000 innocent people have been caged without due process in Iraq alone, The Guardian reports. Hundreds more have been unjustly imprisoned around the world. A regime that thrives on fear requires a steady stream of "enemy combatants" to justify its unlimited "war powers." The belly of this beast will never be full.

Covert History: The Man Who Sold Us Bush's War, James Bamford

A clandestine operation — part espionage, part PR campaign — ...had been set up and funded by the CIA and the Pentagon for the express purpose of selling the world a war. And the man who had long been in charge of the marketing was a secretive and mysterious creature of the Washington establishment named John Rendon.

Thomas Twetten, the CIA’s former deputy of operations, credits Rendon with virtually creating the INC. “The INC was clueless,” he once observed. “They needed a lot of help and didn’t know where to start. That is why Rendon was brought in.” Acting as the group’s senior adviser and aided by truckloads of CIA dollars, Rendon pulled together a wide spectrum of Iraqi dissidents and sponsored a conference in Vienna to organize them into an umbrella organization, which he dubbed the Iraqi National Congress [INC]. Then, as in Panama, his assignment was to help oust a brutal dictator and replace him with someone chosen by the CIA. “The reason they got the contract was because of what they had done in Panama — so they were known,” recalls Whitley Bruner, former chief of the CIA’s station in Baghdad. This time the target was Iraqi President Saddam Hussein and the agency’s successor of choice was Ahmad Chalabi, a crafty, avuncular Iraqi exile beloved by Washington’s neoconservatives....

The key element of Rendon’s INC operation was a worldwide media blitz designed to turn Hussein, a once dangerous but now contained regional leader, into the greatest threat to world peace. Each month, $326,000 was passed from the CIA to the Rendon Group and the INC via various front organizations. Rendon profited handsomely, receiving a “management fee” of ten percent above what it spent on the project. According to some reports, the company made nearly $100 million on the contract during the five years following the Gulf War.

Rendon made considerable headway with the INC, but following the group’s failed coup attempt against Saddam in 1996, the CIA lost confidence in Chalabi and cut off his monthly paycheck. But Chalabi and Rendon simply switched sides, moving over to the Pentagon, and the money continued to flow. “The Rendon Group is not in great odor in Langley these days,” notes Bruner. “Their contracts are much more with the Defense Department.”

Rendon’s influence rose considerably in Washington after the terrorist attacks of September 11th. In a single stroke, Osama bin Laden altered the world’s perception of reality — and in an age of nonstop information, whoever controls perception wins. What Bush needed to fight the War on Terror was a skilled information warrior — and Rendon was widely acknowledged as the best. “The events of 11 September 2001 changed everything, not least of which was the administration’s outlook concerning strategic influence,” notes one Army report. “Faced with direct evidence that many people around the world actively hated the United States, Bush began taking action to more effectively explain U.S. policy overseas. Initially the White House and DoD turned to the Rendon Group.”...

Big Bush Lies: Definition of a Lie: "2. Something that misleads or deceives" (Merriam-Webster's Unabridged Dictionary)
Bush Lie #2 (of 55): "We recently found two mobile biological weapons facilities which were capable of producing biological agents."
Source: President Talks to Troops in Qatar, White House (6/5/2003).
Why This Statement is A Lie: This statement was misleading because it claimed the purpose of the trailers was to produce biological weapons without disclosing that engineers from the Defense Intelligence Agency who examined the trailers concluded that they were most likely used to produce hydrogen for artillery weather balloons.

Tom Tomorrow: George and Scott: Air Un-American

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Monday, November 21, 2005

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France: FRANCE AFTER THE RIOTS: 'Autism,' Repression -- and the Socialists' Impotence, Doug Ireland

This past week, the conservative Paris daily Le Figaro ran an opinion piece that was a rather surprisingly acute diagnosis of what caused France's violent rebellion of ghetto youth:...

What makes this acid diagnosis remarkable is that this guest commentary was written by Guy Sorman (left), a well-known conservative, free-market essayist who frequently appears on television. That a neo-Hayekian like Sorman endorses affirmative action by the State is powerful testimony indeed to the all-pervasive racism that was the principal root cause of the ghetto youths' rioting (see my own long analysis below: "Why is France Burning? The rebellion of a lost generation.")

Unfortunately, not a single major political figure or party supports adopting an affirmative action policy -- and it is unlikely to happen any time in the near future. Affirmative action runs counter to that "archaic republican discourse" which, in asserting all French citizens are "equal," refuses to recognize race or ethnicity as the basis for any government action --and which even prevents the government from gathering statistics based on race or ethnicity, making the socio-economic and educational progress of minorities impossible to measure, and rendering them officially invisible for all intents and purposes. (Unofficially, of course, people of color are routinely targeted by the police on the basis of ethnicity, and frequently discriminated against by government agencies.)...

News Report: Want More FEMA Aid? Vote GOP!

JACKSON, Miss., Nov. 19 Associated Press- When the federal government and the nation's largest disaster relief group reached out a helping hand after Hurricane Katrina blew through here, tens of thousands of people grabbed it. Crowds in Jackson, Miss., arrived at the Mississippi Trade Mart on Sept. 6, one week after Hurricane Katrina, only to discover that Red Cross caseworkers had handled as many claims as they could that day.

But in giving out $62 million in aid, the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the American Red Cross overlooked a critical fact: the storm was hardly catastrophic here, 160 miles from the coast. The only damage sustained by most of the nearly 30,000 households receiving aid was spoiled food in the freezer. The fact that at least some relief money has gone to those perceived as greedy, not needy, has set off recriminations in this poor, historic capital where the payments of up to $2,358 set off spending sprees on jewelry, guns and electronics....

The donors all across this nation thought they were giving money to put food in the mouths of people who had nothing and clothes on the backs of people who had lost everything," said State Representative John R. Reeves, who represents Jackson. "But that is not what happened here. There was a feeding frenzy. Free money was being handed out."...

In Jackson and two nearby counties, only 50 to 60 homes were declared uninhabitable, local emergency departments said. About 4,000 sustained damage, they said. Immediately after Hurricane Katrina made landfall, the Bush administration declared a disaster area along 15 Mississippi coastal counties, as well as 31 parishes in Louisiana. Residents there were eligible for federal emergency grants, housing assistance and money for repairs, medical bills and other costs.

But by Sept. 7, at Mississippi's request, the disaster zone was expanded as far as 220 miles inland, reaching 32 counties, including several that never experienced sustained hurricane-force winds. The zone eventually reached 47 counties. The disaster area in Mississippi - which is led by a Gov. Haley Barbour, a Republican ally of President Bush's - extends 200 miles farther north than that in Louisiana, which is led by Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco, a Democrat who at times criticized the federal storm response....

Local government officials were baffled by the payouts. Weeks after the storm, Larry J. Fisher, director of the Hinds County emergency department, got a call from a regional FEMA representative saying that staff members wanted to know why county officials had reported that so few homes were uninhabitable. FEMA has sent aid to thousands of county residents who claimed their homes were ruined, including 7,622 checks for $2,000 in emergency financial assistance. But Mr. Fisher counted only about 50 uninhabitable homes and perhaps 4,000 with any damage at all. To resolve the discrepancy, Mr. Fisher recalled, he was told: "You are going to increase your number."...When asked about the conversation, FEMA officials said they were not aware of it.

Rowson 'Toon: Done Deal: Bush White Phosphorus Sale

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Sunday, November 20, 2005

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France: The rebellion of a lost generation, Doug Ireland

As someone who lived in France for nearly a decade, and who has visited those suburban ghettos, where the violence started, on reporting trips any number of times, I have not been surprised by this tsunami of inchoate youth rebellion that is engulfing France. It is the result of thirty years of government neglect: of the failure of the French political classes -- of both right and left -- to make any serious effort to integrate its Muslim and black populations into the larger French economy and culture; and of the deep-seated, searing, soul-destroying racism that the unemployed and profoundly alienated young of the ghettos face every day of their lives, both from the police, and when trying to find a job or decent housing....

Under the headline "Budget Cuts Exasperate Suburban Mayors," Le Monde reports on how Chirac and his conservatives have compounded 30 years of neglect of the ghettos by slashing even deeper into social programs: 20% annual cuts in subsidies for neighborhood groups that work with youths since 2003, cuts in youth job-training programs and tax credits for hiring ghetto youth, cuts in education and programs to fight illiteracy, cuts in neighborhood police who get to know ghetto kids and work with them (when [Minister of Religion as well as Interior Minister] Sarkozy went to Toulouse after the first riots there, he told the neighborhood police: "You're job is not to be playing soccer with these kids, your job is to arrest them!" With fewer and fewer neighborhood cops to do preventive work that defuses youth alienation and violence, the alternative is to wait for more explosions of violence and then send in the CRS (Compagnies Republicaines de Securite, hard-line paramilitary riot police noted for rightwing political and racial prejudices). Budget cuts for social programs plus more repression is a prescription for more violence....

Opinion: Liar Bush Is Losing Both Wars, Frank Rich (excerpt)

While the war is lost both as a political matter at home and a practical matter in Iraq, the exit strategy being haggled over in Washington will hardly mark the end of our woes. Few Americans will cry over the collapse of the administration's vainglorious mission to make Iraq a model of neocon nation-building. But, as some may dimly recall, there is another war going on as well - against Osama bin Laden and company.

One hideous consequence of the White House's Big Lie - fusing the war of choice in Iraq with the war of necessity that began on 9/11 - is that the public, having rejected one, automatically rejects the other. That's already happening. The percentage of Americans who now regard fighting terrorism as a top national priority is either in the single or low double digits in every poll. Thus the tragic bottom line of the Bush catastrophe: the administration has at once increased the ranks of jihadists by turning Iraq into a new training ground and recruitment magnet while at the same time exhausting America's will and resources to confront that expanded threat.

...Only since his speech about "Islamo-fascism" in early October has Mr. Bush started trying to make distinctions between the "evildoers" of Saddam's regime and the Islamic radicals who did and do directly threaten us. But even if anyone was still listening to this president, it would be too little and too late. The only hope for getting Americans to focus on the war we can't escape is to clear the decks by telling the truth about the war of choice in Iraq: that it is making us less safe, not more, and that we have to learn from its mistakes and calculate the damage it has caused as we reboot and move on.... The arguments about how we got into Mr. Bush's war and exactly how we'll get out are also important. But the damage from this fiasco will be even greater if those debates obscure the urgency of the other war we are losing, one that will be with us long after we've left the quagmire in Iraq.

We're Watching: Takeshi Kitano's "Kikujiro" (Sony)

Sunday Funnies:

'Majority of Americans are un-American' (By Ward Sutton)
This week: 'Hide & Go Secret' (By Mark Fiore)
(Apologies to Bil Keane.) (By Mark Fiore)
Republicans: Stupid or Lying? (By Tom Tomorrow)
As the Polls Turn . . . (By Ward Sutton)
War Cartoon: "Phosphorus Is A Plant Nutrient, Suh," Steve Bell

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Saturday, November, 19, 2005

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Review: Good News, Bad News, William Fisher

As George W. Bush’s poll numbers plummet, questions about how his administration ‘sold’ the invasion of Iraq to the American people and its treatment of prisoners continue to dog the beleaguered president, stalling his second-term agenda. More than two years after the invasion of Iraq, the President still finds himself facing questions about whether the his Administration exaggerated or lied about intelligence relating to Saddam Hussein’s Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD).

...The war in Iraq and other issues have also cast public doubt on the ethical standards of the Bush Administration....The toll paid by the Administration for war-related and other issues has been high. According to a new poll, almost six in 10 -- 57 percent - say they do not think the Bush administration has high ethical standards and the same proportion says President Bush is not honest. The Associated Press / Ipsos survey found that just over four in 10 say the administration has high ethical standards and that Bush is honest. 

Notes and Errata: George W. Bush Gives Me Hope, Mark Morford

We cannot afford any more wars. The environment has been sold to the bone. The national spirit has been beaten like an Alaskan baby seal and the GOP has worked our last nerve, passed through the karmic blood-brain barrier, reached saturation to the point where even moderate Repubs and gobs of intelligent Christians are finally saying, Oh my God, what have we done, and how did it all go so wrong, and how much Prozac and wine and praying to a very disappointed Jesus will it take to fix it?

Which is why I'm here to tell you hope abounds. In fact, George W. Bush gives me hope....He gives hope because his narrow and myopic political ideology is right this minute being proved wildly unsound across the board, and his vicious leadership circle is revealing its true bloodstained colors and his party is crumbling at the center due to some of the worst policy decisions you will see in your lifetime. Simply put, the collapse of BushCo represents the intrinsic unworkability of a war-hungry, thuggish ideology. It is the failure of the bully, the innate defect in any political philosophy that has at its heart dishonesty, and fiscal irresponsibility, and death....

I know, it ain't over yet. You could easily argue that there are three toxic years left and there are plenty of other countries we can vilify and invade (we'd be bombing Iran right now if we weren't fresh out of both disposable U.S. soldiers and cash reserves) and there will be plenty of opportunities in the next 1,000 days for Bush to suck up to his terrified fundamentalist base and cause even more damage as he hunkers down and pretends to know how to go about the business of running the nation....

We're Listening: Orff: Carmina Burana (Sony)

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Friday, November 18, 2005

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Opinion: Celebrate Un-Thanksgiving, Mickey Z.

Until the federal penitentiary was closed in 1963, Alcatraz Island was a place most folks tried to leave. On Nov. 20, 1969, the island's image underwent a drastic makeover. That was the day thousands of American Indians began an occupation that would last until June 11, 1971.

Even today, Alcatraz Island remains part of Native American culture as every November since 1975, on what is called "Un-Thanksgiving Day," Indians gather on the island to honor the occupation and those who continue to fight today.

War Cartoon: "Phosphorus Is A Plant Nutrient, Suh," Steve Bell

Opinion: Bush's Bad Drug Plan, Paul Krugman (excerpt)

The Medicare drug benefit is an example of gratuitous privatization on a grand scale....gratuitous privatization: involving private corporations in the delivery of public services even when those corporations have no useful role to play....Last week I explained that the Medicare drug bill was devised by people who don't believe in a positive role for government. An insistence on gratuitous privatization is a byproduct of the same ideology. And the result of that ideology is a piece of legislation so bad it's almost surreal.

...The elderly have long been offered a choice between standard Medicare, in which the government pays medical bills directly, and plans in which the government pays a middleman, like an H.M.O., to deliver health care. The theory was that the private sector would find innovative ways to lower costs while providing better care. The theory was wrong. A number of studies have found that managed-care plans, which have much higher administrative costs than government-managed Medicare, end up costing the system money, not saving it. And on drug coverage, the 2003 bill went even further: rather than merely subsidizing private plans, it made them mandatory. To receive the drug benefit, one must sign up with a plan offered by a private company. As people are discovering, the result is a deeply confusing system because the competing private plans differ in ways that are very hard to assess.

But confusion isn't the only, or even the main, reason why the privatization of drug benefits is bad for America. The real problem is that we'll end up spending too much and getting too little. Everything we know about health economics indicates that private drug plans will have much higher administrative costs than would have been incurred if Medicare had administered the benefit directly. It's also clear that the private plans will spend large sums on marketing rather than on medicine. Last but not least, competing private drug plans will have less clout in negotiating lower drug prices than Medicare as a whole would have. And the law explicitly forbids Medicare from intervening to help the private plans negotiate better deals.

We're Reading: Mark Crispin Miller's "Fooled Again: How The Right Stole The 2004 Election..." (Basic Books)

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Thursday, November 17, 2005

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Opinion: Bush Gang Swore Saddam Was Behind 9/11 In Lawsuit, Evelyn Pringle

Much to the dismay of President Bush, Americans can remember all on their own, without any coaching from Democrats, that in the run up to war in Iraq, it was top official from the administration who were making the claim that Saddam was in cahoots with bin Laden and that he was secretly involved to 9/11.

The fact that the administration's disinformation campaign was entirely successful is evidenced by an October 2004, Harris Poll, taken three weeks before the last presidential election, which reported that 62% of all voters, and 84% of those planning to vote for Bush, still believed that Saddam had ''strong links" to Al Qaeda, and that 41% of all voters, and 52% of Bush backers, believed that Saddam had ''helped plan and support the hijackers" who had attacked the country on 9/11.

As we now know, the basis for these allegations were false but the saddest part of the situation is that many Americans are just now beginning to realize that Bush knew the stories were false for more than a year when he cited them as justification for taking the country to war.

The debate over who was most responsible for convincing the nation that there was a link between Saddam and 9/11 will probably continue for years but an important piece of the puzzle can be found by zeroing in on a woman by the name of Laurie Mylroie, a person who most people have never heard of....

Review: "Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price," David Denby

In the matter of the Wal-Mart company, of Bentonville, Arkansas, these facts may be stipulated: It employs roughly a million two hundred thousand men and women in the United States. The average wage for full-time hourly Wal-Mart employees is nine dollars and seventy cents an hour; the average annual income for such workers is about seventeen thousand dollars. Half of Wal-Mart’s employees cannot afford the company’s health-care plan for their children, so many apply for public assistance from state and federal Medicaid programs. Wal-Mart saves individual consumers hundreds of dollars every year, but when the company builds one of its gargantuan facilities at the edge of a small city or town, and then sells goods at reduced prices, the normal effect of shopping malls on retail businesses is doubled: long-standing stores get boarded up, wages and, often, property values decline; streets turn derelict and empty

So reads the docket. The people’s court will now convene. Most of this information, and a great deal more, can be found in Robert Greenwald’s accusatory new documentary, “Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price.” I harp on what is well established because Wal-Mart has, according to the Times, established a “war room” staffed by, among others, former officials of both the Kerry and the Bush election teams, in order to refute the alleged canards of its many critics....

[Greenwood] interview[s] ex-employees, and their sore and unhappy testimony is the heart and soul of the movie. Former store managers speak with evident shame of stiffing workers out of overtime pay, busting up attempts to unionize, pushing poor families onto public assistance. Some of these people may have been stymied at the company, but I wouldn’t discount their testimony for that reason. Current employees are interviewed, too, some of them in dark shadow, and they all speak of intimidation as a way of life.

...“Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price” is an organizing tool, a film for use. Greenwald plans to show it to church groups and at community meetings and to sell it as an inexpensive video. Much of it goes by in a blur, but I won’t easily forget a young woman with two kids, living below the poverty line, who says in passing that she works at Wal-Mart, cashes her check, and then shops at Wal-Mart. She may have other choices, but she has stopped making them. For all its missteps, the movie powerfully suggests that Wal-Mart is capable of demoralizing a community so thoroughly that it doesn’t have the spirit to carry on its life outside the big box. --New Yorker

Verse: A GOP Nursery Rhyme, Calvin Trillin

Scooter Libby told a fib. He
Shouldn't have told at all.
Though not slimy all the time, he
Has to take the fall.

Perma-slimer all-the-timer
Rove has got away.
Naught to plea to, he's now free to
Slime another day.

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Wednesday, November 16, 2005

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Opinion: Solving The Media Puzzle, Bernard Weiner

When I was growing up, my teenage mind needed to find the pieces to the confusing, chaotic puzzle that was reality. How to make sense of all this information that constantly was coming at me? Part of my solution was to become a journalist, getting right into the heart of the information barrage so that maybe I could more easily sort it all out. The result was a love-affair with, and long career in, journalism. Even today, I still use reporting and analyzing to help me make my way through the world's seeming chaos.

These thoughts came to me the other day as I was reading the morning paper. If I were a visitor from another planet, I imagined, what sense could I make of earthling, especially American, society from what one could read on this single day, November 11, 2005, in one hometown newspaper -- in this case, the San Francisco Chronicle? Were there connections, larger lessons, hidden clues that would help it all make sense? So here goes, one morning's newspaper seen as a political jigsaw puzzle. Here are the pieces; let's see how they fit together with each other, and with the information from television and the internet.

Opinion: Privatized Health Care Ignores Basic Economics, Paul Krugman (excerpts)

Good insurance is hard to come by, because private markets for health insurance suffer from a severe case of the economic problem known as "adverse selection," in which bad risks drive out good.To understand adverse selection, imagine what would happen if there were only one health insurance company, and everyone was required to buy the same insurance policy. In that case, the insurance company could charge a price reflecting the medical costs of the average American, plus a small extra charge for administrative expenses.

But in the real insurance market, a company that offered such a policy to anyone who wanted it would lose money hand over fist. Healthy people, who don't expect to face high medical bills, would go elsewhere, or go without insurance. Meanwhile, those who bought the policy would be a self-selected group of people likely to have high medical costs. And if the company responded to this selection bias by charging a higher price for insurance, it would drive away even more healthy people. That's why insurance companies don't offer a standard health insurance policy, available to anyone willing to buy it. Instead, they devote a lot of effort and money to screening applicants, selling insurance only to those considered unlikely to have high costs, while rejecting those with pre-existing conditions or other indicators of high future expenses.

This screening process is the main reason private health insurers spend a much higher share of their revenue on administrative costs than do government insurance programs like Medicare, which doesn't try to screen anyone out. That is, private insurance companies spend large sums not on providing medical care, but on denying insurance to those who need it most. What happens to those denied coverage? Citizens of advanced countries - the United States included - don't believe that their fellow citizens should be denied essential health care because they can't afford it. And this belief in social justice gets translated into action, however imperfectly. Some of those unable to get private health insurance are covered by Medicaid. Others receive "uncompensated" treatment, which ends up being paid for either by the government or by higher medical bills for the insured. So we have a huge private health care bureaucracy whose main purpose is, in effect, to pass the buck to taxpayers....

That system is now failing. And a rigid belief that markets are always superior to government programs - a belief that ignores basic economics as well as experience - stands in the way of rational thinking about what should replace it.

Quip: Aide: Mr. Bush, Harriet says you're the most brilliant man she ever met.
Bush: Harriet should get out more. I know people more brillianter than me.
Aide: Brilliant, sir, brilliant.

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Tuesday, November 15, 2005

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Opinion: Major Media Kept Fallujah Atrocity From American People, Chris Floyd

This week, the broadcast of a shattering new documentary provided fresh confirmation of a gruesome war crime covered by this column nine months ago: the use of chemical weapons by American forces during the frenzied, Bush-ordered destruction of Fallujah in November 2004.

Using filmed and photographic evidence, eyewitness accounts, and the direct testimony of American soldiers who took part in the attacks, the documentary – "Fallujah: The Hidden Massacre" – catalogues the American use of white phosphorous shells and a new, "improved" form of napalm that turned human beings into "caramelized" fossils, with their skin dissolved and turned to leather on their bones. The film was produced by RAI, the Italian state network run by a government that backed the war.

Vivid images show civilians, including women and children, who had been burned alive in their homes, even in their beds. This use of chemical weapons – at the order of the Bushist brass – and the killing of civilians are confirmed by former American soldiers interviewed on camera. "I heard the order to pay attention because they were going to use white phosphorous on Fallujah," said one soldier, quoted in the Independent. "In military jargon, it's known as Willy Pete. Phosphorous burns bodies; in fact it melts the flesh all the way down to the bone. I saw the burned bodies of women and children. Phosphorus explodes and forms a cloud. Anyone within a radius of 150 meters is done for."

The broadcast is an important event: shameful, damning, convincing. But it shouldn't be news. Earlier this year, as reported here on March 18, a medical team sent to Fallujah by the Bush-backed Iraqi interim government issued its findings at a press conference in Baghdad. The briefing, by Health Ministry investigator Dr. Khalid ash-Shaykhli, was attended by more than 20 major American and international news outlets. Not a single one of these bastions of a free and vigorous press reported on the event. Only a few small venues – such as the International Labor Communications Association – brought word of the extraordinary revelations to English-speaking audiences....

Interview: Bush Hand Alleged In Firing Of Progressive Columnist, w. Robert Scheer

"Last week, the Los Angeles Times Newspaper announced that it was firing longtime columnist Robert Scheer. Scheer has been at the Times for 30 years and was one of the most progressive voices at the paper. In recent years, his columns took on the Bush Administration and its justifications for the invasion of Iraq. Scheer believes that his firing was because of ideological reasons.

"In a posting at the Huffington Post blog, he wrote "The publisher Jeff Johnson, who has offered not a word of explanation to me, has privately told people that he hated every word that I wrote. I assume that mostly refers to my exposing the lies used by President Bush to justify the invasion of Iraq. Fortunately sixty percent of Americans now get the point but only after tens of thousand of Americans and Iraqis have been killed and maimed as the carnage spirals out of control. My only regret is that my pen was not sharper and my words tougher." --Democracy Now !

AMY GOODMAN: Well, Robert, can you talk about what happened?

ROBERT SCHEER: Well, what happened is that I had been the subject of vicious attacks by Bill O'Reilly and Rush Limbaugh. Sometimes Bill O'Reilly would sometimes go after me every day, and this went on for the last couple of years, and I’m still standing. I was a punching bag for those guys. I'm still standing, and the people who run the paper collapsed. And the big issue here, I think, is that the publisher took over the editorial pages, a guy named Jeff Johnson. He’s an accountant from Chicago, doesn't know anything about what newspapers are supposed to be about, and he made a decision to get rid of the column. It had run as a column -- I had worked at the paper since 1976, but the column had been running for 13 years, and I think it was a strong column, criticizing the war when the paper was supporting it.

And even as recently as last week, my last column, which I'm quite proud of, was on the Defense Intelligence Agency report that Senator Carl Levin released last week, and I wrote about how in February 2002 they knew there were no ties between al-Qaeda and Saddam Hussein, that the key witness was a phony. This was released. Eight months later George Bush went before -- spoke just before the Senate decided its decision and at that time knew that the key witness for this, really the only witness they had, was a phony, yet went and lied to the country. That column last week broke that news for the readers of the Los Angeles Times that the paper neglected to cover in any serious way. So, you know, it’s very disappointing.

The only other fact here that I would throw in, the paper is concerned about what the Bush administration thinks, because the Tribune Company bought the Times Mirror Corporation and now owns a television station, a very profitable one, in the same market in Los Angeles as the newspaper. And next year they have asked -- they have to get a waiver in order to be able to do that, because that violates the law right now. They expected Congress -- when they bought the property, they thought Congress would pass that law allowing them to have those two major outlets in the same market. It is now illegal, and in 2006 they are coming up for a waiver, and the Bush administration's F.C.C. could easily deny that waiver to them.

Big Bush Lies: Definition of a Lie: "2. Something that misleads or deceives" (Merriam-Webster's Unabridged Dictionary)
Bush Lie #1 (of 55): "I strongly believe [Saddam] was trying to reconstitute his nuclear weapons program."
Source: President Bush, Prime Minister Blair Discuss War on Terrorism, White House (7/17/2003).
Why This Statement is A Lie: This statement was misleading because it failed to acknowledge the intelligence community's deep division on the issue of whether Iraq was actively pursuing its nuclear program. The statement also failed to mention weeks of intensive inspections conducted directly before the war in which United Nations inspectors found no sign whatsoever of any effort by Iraq to resume its nuclear program.

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Monday, November 14, 2005

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Opinion: Our Gullibile Citizens Have Exhausted All The Alternatives, Ernest Partridge

“The Americans will always do the right thing” Winston Churchill once remarked, “after they’ve exhausted all the alternatives.” The American public may be running out of alternatives. If so, the Bush Administration and the Republicans have reason to be very worried. It is all too easy to despair over the ignorance and gullibility of “the American mind.” This is a public, after all, a majority of which rejects the theory of evolution – the central coordinating concept of the biological sciences. In addition, the National Science Foundation reports that more than a third of Americans believe in UFOs and that astrology “has scientific merit.”

And yet, amazingly, at many crucial moments in our history, public opinion has somehow moved toward a wise and appropriate point of view....Right now, something remarkable is taking place. At long last, however belatedly, the public is beginning to appreciate the shallowness and incompetence of George Bush and the unparalleled mendacity and corruption of his administration. Moreover, it has arrived at this realization on its own, despite the determination of the captive mainstream media to hide these manifest failures from the public, through distraction, non-reporting, and occasionally through outright lies.

For five years, the Rovian smoke and mirrors have worked spectacularly well. A majority of the public was persuaded that Saddam Hussein had Weapons of Mass Destruction, was somehow behind the 9/11 attacks and was an active agent of al Qaeda. At the same time, the skeletons of Bush’s past – his AWOL from the Air National Guard, his business failures, his insider trading, his suspected drug use – were all kept hidden in the closet. A package of lies about Al Gore was concocted to “prove,” ironically, that Gore was a “serial liar.” John Kerry, an authentic war hero, was successfully portrayed as a coward and a fake.

Thus did the Bush message machine vanquish the Democratic opposition and reduce it to pathetic impotence. However, there was one adversary that Bush, Inc. could not defeat: reality. And at long last, reality is retaliating and the public is taking notice.

Death Watch: Politicians Will Keep Lying Until Citizens Stop Believing Them, Frank Rich (excerpt)

So when you watch the president stand there with a straight face and say, "We do not torture" - a full year and a half after the first photos from Abu Ghraib - you have to wonder how we arrived at this ludicrous moment....Last week two major polls came up with the identical finding, that roughly 8 in 10 Americans regard the leak case as a serious matter. One of the polls (The Wall Street Journal/NBC News) also found that 57 percent of Americans believe that Mr. Bush deliberately misled* the country into war in Iraq and that only 33 percent now find him "honest and straightforward," down from 50 percent in January....

To get the country to redirect its finite resources to wage war against Saddam Hussein rather than keep its focus on the war against radical Islamic terrorists, the White House had to cook up not only the fiction that Iraq was about to attack us, but also the fiction that Iraq had already attacked us, on 9/11. Thanks to the Michigan Democrat Carl Levin, who last weekend released a previously classified intelligence document, we now have conclusive evidence that the administration's disinformation campaign implying a link connecting Saddam to Al Qaeda and 9/11 was even more duplicitous and manipulative than its relentless flogging of nuclear Armageddon.

Senator Levin's smoking gun is a widely circulated Defense Intelligence Agency document from February 2002 that was probably seen by the National Security Council. It warned that a captured Qaeda terrorist in American custody was in all likelihood "intentionally misleading" interrogators when he claimed that Iraq had trained Qaeda members to use illicit weapons. The report also made the point that an Iraq-Qaeda collaboration was absurd on its face: "Saddam's regime is intensely secular and is wary of Islamic revolutionary movements." But just like any other evidence that disputed the administration's fictional story lines, this intelligence was promptly disregarded.

So much so that eight months later - in October 2002, as the White House was officially rolling out its new war and Congress was on the eve of authorizing it - Mr. Bush gave a major address in Cincinnati intermingling the usual mushroom clouds with information from that discredited, "intentionally misleading" Qaeda informant. "We've learned that Iraq has trained Al Qaeda members in bomb-making and poisons and deadly gases," he said. It was the most important, if hardly the only, example of repeated semantic sleights of hand that the administration used to conflate 9/11 with Iraq. Dick Cheney was fond of brandishing a nonexistent April 2001 "meeting" between Mohamed Atta and an Iraqi intelligence officer in Prague long after Czech and American intelligence analysts had dismissed it. The power of these lies was considerable. In a CBS News/New York Times poll released on Sept. 25, 2001, 60 percent of Americans thought Osama bin Laden had been the culprit in the attacks of two weeks earlier, either alone or in league with unnamed "others" or with the Taliban; only 6 percent thought bin Laden had collaborated with Saddam; and only 2 percent thought Saddam had been the sole instigator. By the time we invaded Iraq in 2003, however, CBS News found that 53 percent believed Saddam had been "personally involved" in 9/11; other polls showed that a similar percentage of Americans had even convinced themselves that the hijackers were Iraqis....

There's so much to stonewall at the White House that last week Scott McClellan was reduced to beating up on the octogenarian Helen Thomas. "You don't want the American people to hear what the facts are, Helen," he said, "and I'm going to tell them the facts." Coming from the press secretary who vowed that neither Mr. Libby nor Karl Rove had any involvement in the C.I.A. leak, this scene was almost as funny as his boss's "We do not torture" charade. The facts the American people are listening to at this point come not from an administration that they no longer find credible, but from the far more reality-based theater of war. The Qaeda suicide bombings of three hotels in Amman on 11/9, like the terrorist attacks in Madrid and London before them, speak louder than anything else of the price we are paying for the lies that diverted us from the war against the suicide bombers of 9/11 to the war in Iraq.

*"deliberately misled" is a euphemism for "lied" --Politex

Tom Tomorrow: Stupid or Lying? Stupid AND Lying?

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Sunday, November 13, 2005

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Opinion: The Next Judy Miller?, William Fisher

There is an amusing irony in the CIA asking the Justice Department to investigate who leaked to the Washington Post the information that the Agency had set up a covert prison network in Eastern Europe and other countries to hold important terrorism suspects. The CIA has been one of the leakiest sieves in Washington for years. Much of what we know about its often-unsavory activities has resulted from information Agency officials have shared with journalists on an off-the-record basis. While often over-used, confidential sources are the mother’s milk of investigative journalism in Washington.

At the same time, Republican leaders in Congress asked the Intelligence Committees of the House and the Senate to investigate whether classified material had been disclosed. Ms. Priest’s front-page article said the CIA had set up secret detention centers in as many as eight countries in the last four years. The article, describing the prison system as a "hidden global internment network," told of previously undisclosed detention facilities at highly classified "black sites" in "several democracies in Eastern Europe."

Given the current climate of government secrecy and the Bush Administration’s seemingly insatiable appetite for retribution, there is a serious downside to this tale. It is that Dana Priest, who made the secret prison disclosures in the Post, may become the next Judith Miller....

Bin Laden Laughing: The Year Of Big Bush Lies, Evelyn Pringle

The war in Iraq is a miserable failure, any way you look at it. Retired General Anthony Zinni, former commander of the US Central Command, had it right when he said that by manufacturing a false rationale for war, abandoning traditional allies, propping up and trusting Iraqi exiles, and failing to plan for post-war Iraq, Bush has made the US less secure, instead of safer.

Osama himself could not have created the mess that Bush got us into, even if he had tried and he's probably sitting in his cave laughing his fool head off as we speak.

By launching a war against a country that posed no real threat to anyone, Bush not only sabotaged bin Laden's capture, he destroyed our credibility all over the world. As we recently witnessed with Katrina, by over-extending our forces, Bush has lessened our ability to respond to emergencies at home which means we can logically assume that he has lessened our ability to respond to an actual threat of terror should one arise....

We're Watching: Joseph Cedar's "Campfire" (Film Movement)

Sunday Funnies:

Evolution of a Talking Point (By Tom Tomorrow)
Bleeding Heart Conservatives (By Ward Sutton)
The Right Is Doing A-OK! (By Mark Fiore)
China Visit Cartoon: China's Detainees, Blair's Question, Martin Rowson

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Saturday, November, 12, 2005

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Opinion: Dem Watch: "This time for SURE!!", W. David Jenkins III

Think back over the last five years or so. How many times did you say to yourself or a conservative acquaintance, or see on a lefty bulletin board “This time we got the S.O.B.s!” And every single time, we were let down or betrayed by those pretending to be the leaders of the opposition. The Democrats backed down before the war and after “Mission Accomplished.” They backed down from Abu Ghraib. They backed away from the Patriot Act. And most Democrats continue to back away from the still unknown truth about 9/11 because they can’t admit to themselves that the official version is a crock. I said it years ago and I’d like to stop saying it now, but the Democrats have been easier on Bush than the Republicans. They’ve behaved like sheep in wolf’s clothing.

            Then came November One. Oh my.

            I would really like to think that I’ve underestimated Harry Reid all along. I’m sorry, but his conciliatory words about Justice Scalia, back when he was being considered for the position of minority leader in the Senate, had me thinking that Reid would be Daschle Lite. I figured Reid to be a perfect bend over to the Republican roll over. Just more of the same. All I can say is that after what I saw with my own eyes that Monday; Harry, you better be serious. You better have some bullets in those six-guns you’re pointing....

Big Bush Lies: US Majority Think Bush Lied To Take Them To War, Keith Olberman

An NBC-“Wall Street Journal” opinion survey out this [Wednesday] evening, and it boils down to this.  President Bush is popular and his beliefs and policies are endorsed by the citizenry, providing you are comparing him to his father‘s presidency in October of 1992.

This Mr. Bush‘s approval number down to 38 percent.  A year ago, he was at 49, two years ago, 51, three years ago, 63.  The historical comparison, this president, at 38 percent approval, his father‘s low was 32 percent 13 years and one month ago.  Mr. Clinton‘s low, 41 percent, just about four months after he took office.

Some of the interior numbers.  Do you approve of the job the president is doing on the war on terrorism?  Fifty-five percent say no, 39 percent yes.  A year ago, this was 51 percent yes.

How about the old right direction-wrong track question?  Sixty-three percent say the country is now headed in the wrong direction.  Last year at this time, that number was at 48 percent.

Which party would do a better job dealing with Iraq?  Democrats 33 percent, Republicans 30 percent, neither or a tie, 31 percent.  The Republicans have not previously been behind in this category.

The CIA leak investigation, is it a serious matter or not?  Seventy-nine percent saying it‘s serious.  Is it just Libby, or are there others in the administration who may have acted illegally?  Eight percent say it‘s just Libby, 78 percent say there may be others.

And lastly, the pollsters did not call it the $64,000 question, but they might as well have.  Do you think that President Bush gave the country the most accurate information he had before going to war with Iraq, or do you think that President Bush deliberately misled people to make the case for war with Iraq?  Fifty-seven percent now saying the president deliberately misled this country.  Thirty-five percent say he gave the accurate info.

Compare that to March of last year, when only 41 percent thought he had deliberately misled the country, and 53 percent were sure that he had not.

We're Listening: Charles Lloyd, "Lift Every Voice (ECM)

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Friday, November 11, 2005

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A Must-Read: Dumbing Down for Jesus, Walter C. Uhler

Whenever I contemplate the evil and incompetence spewing from the administration nominally headed by President George W. Bush—especially the evil and incompetence surrounding the decision to invade and occupy Iraq—Jacques Barzun's unforgettable warning about "the menace of the untaught" overloads my brain. Today, however, I must blame the Kansas Board of Education for sparking another "Barzun overload." (It even beat out Pat Robertson's asinine claim that the good citizens of Dover, Pennsylvania voted God out of their town when they voted to oust the school board clowns who had slipped "intelligent design" into Dover Area High School's biology curriculum.)

But, my thoughts about the menace of the untaught weren't the result of Kansas' 6 to 4 vote to adopt new science standards that require Darwin's theory of evolution to be challenged in the classroom.... In fact, "Barzun overload" didn't strike until I read that the Kansas Board redefined science itself, "so that it would not be explicitly limited to natural explanations."...

China Visit Cartoon: China's Detainees, Blair's Question, Martin Rowson

Opinion: Bush Drug Plan Works...For Bush, Paul Krugman (excerpt)

If [you're a Senior and] your cumulative drug expenses reach $2,250, a very strange thing will happen [under the Bush drug plan]: you'll suddenly be on your own. The Medicare benefit won't kick in again unless your costs reach $5,100. This gap in coverage has come to be known as the "doughnut hole." One way to see the bizarre effect of this hole is to notice that if you are a retiree and spend $2,000 on drugs next year, Medicare will cover 66 percent of your expenses. But if you spend $5,000 - which means that you're much more likely to need help paying those expenses - Medicare will cover only 30 percent of your bills.A study in the July/August issue of Health Affairs points out that this will place many retirees on a financial "roller coaster."

How will people respond when their out-of-pocket costs surge? The Health Affairs article argues, based on experience from H.M.O. plans with caps on drug benefits, that it's likely "some beneficiaries will cut back even essential medications while in the doughnut hole." In other words, this doughnut will make some people sick, and for some people it will be deadly. The smart thing to do, for those who could afford it, would be to buy supplemental insurance that would cover the doughnut hole. But guess what: the bill that established the drug benefit specifically prohibits you from buying insurance to cover the gap. That's why many retirees who already have prescription drug insurance are being advised not to sign up for the Medicare benefit....

Once you recognize that the drug benefit is a purely political exercise that wasn't supposed to serve its ostensible purpose, the absurdities in the program make sense. For example, the bill offers generous coverage to people with low drug costs, who have the least need for help, so lots of people will get small checks in the mail and think they're being treated well. Meanwhile, the people who are actually likely to need a lot of help paying their drug expenses were deliberately offered a very poor benefit. According to a report issued along with the final version of the bill, people are prohibited from buying supplemental insurance to cover the doughnut hole to keep beneficiaries from becoming "insensitive to costs" - that is, buying too much medicine because they don't pay the price. A more likely motive is that Congressional leaders didn't want a drug bill that really worked for middle-class retirees.

We're Reading: Thom Hartmann's "What Would Jefferson Do?" (Three Rivers Press)

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Thursday, November 10, 2005

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Opinion: How Bush And Rumsfeld Are Destroying The Military, Bob Herbert (excerpt)

President Bush and Donald Rumsfeld convinced themselves that they could win the war in Iraq on the cheap. They never sent enough troops to do the job. Now the burden of trying to fight a long and bitter war with too few troops is taking a terrible toll on the men and women in uniform.Last December, the top general in the Army Reserve warned that his organization was "rapidly degenerating into a 'broken' force" because of the Pentagon's "dysfunctional" policies and demands placed on the Reserve by the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

As one of my colleagues at The Times, David Unger of the editorial board, wrote, "The Army's commitments have dangerously and rapidly expanded, while recruitment has plunged." Soldiers are being sent into the crucible of Iraq for three and even four tours, a form of Russian roulette that is unconscionable. "They feel like they're the only ones sacrificing," said Paul Rieckhoff, a former Army lieutenant who served in Iraq and is now the executive director of Operation Truth, an advocacy group for service members and veterans. "They're starting to look around and say, 'You know, it's me and my buddies over and over again, and everybody else is living life uninterrupted.' " When I asked Mr. Rieckhoff what he thought was happening with the Army, he replied, "The wheels are coming off."

The Washington Post, in a lengthy article last week, noted: "As sustained combat in Iraq makes it harder than ever to fill the ranks of the all-volunteer force, newly released Pentagon demographic data show that the military is leaning heavily for recruits on economically depressed, rural areas where youths' need for jobs may outweigh the risks of going to war." For those already in the Army, the price being paid - apart from the physical toll of the killed and wounded - is high indeed. Divorce rates have gone way up, nearly doubling over the past four years. Long deployments - and, especially, repeated deployments - can take a vicious toll on personal relationships. Chaplains, psychologists and others have long been aware of the many dangerous factors that accompany wartime deployment: loneliness, financial problems, drug or alcohol abuse, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, the problems faced by the parent left at home to care for children, the enormous problem of adjusting to the devastation of wartime injuries, and so on.

A captain who is on active duty, and therefore asked not to be identified by name, told me yesterday:..."You go to war," he said, "and you could lose your heart, your mind, your arms, your legs - but you cannot win. The soldiers don't win."

Mini-Ed: All Our Children, Jerry Politex

In his most recent NYT op-ed, Bob Herbert notes that "President Bush and Donald Rumsfeld convinced themselves that they could win the war in Iraq on the cheap. They never sent enough troops to do the job." Rumsfeld has said that modern warfare does not demand the use of large numbers of soldiers, and Bush has mutely agreed. Clearly they're wrong, as Herbert details. Bush and Rumsfeld must know that they're wrong to limit the number of troops in Iraq. Why do they continue to do it?

Because they know that the fewer hardships that are faced by the American people, the longer they can continue to allow the deaths of Americans and Iraqis in this wrongheaded war. Time after time, Bush and the key members of his administration appeal to man's negative traits to carry out their foreign and domestic plans: greed, selfishness, self-centeredness, arrogance, thoughtlessness, hatred.

That's why, during the presidential campaign as I toured the country, I called for a universal draft. What I said still goes: if we put everyone, both men and women, from 18 through 65, into a draft lottery, we would never have had a war in Iraq. Only those qualified would fight, but everyone selected would be directed to do something in the national interest and live at military bases away from home while doing it. I'm afraid human nature is such that most folks are willing to have their country go to war if doesn't inconvenience them personally and the dying is done by someone else or someone else's children.

Q+A: Bush League: Who's On Second, Jerry Politex

November 10, 2005, Washington, D.C. At today's White House press briefing, much of the briefing featured efforts by Helen Thomas to get Scott McClellan to explain the apparent contradiction between, first, his claims that the U.S. does not torture anyone and, second, Vice President Cheney's request for an exemption in this matter. Here are the exchanges from the transcript:


Q I'd like you to clear up, once and for all, the ambiguity about torture. Can we get a straight answer? The President first says we don't do torture, but Cheney says second --

MR. McCLELLAN: That's about as straight as it can be.

Q Yes, but Cheney on second has gone to the Senate and asked for an exemption to get to third --

MR. McCLELLAN: No, he has not. Are you claiming he's on second and asked for an exemption on torture to get to third? No, that's --

Q He did not ask for that on second?

MR. McCLELLAN: -- that is inaccurate.

Q Are you denying everything that came from the game, in terms of torture?

MR. McCLELLAN: No, you're mischaracterizing the game. And I'm not going to get into discussions we have --

Q Can you give me a straight answer for once?

MR. McCLELLAN: Let me give it to you, just like the President on first has. We do not torture. He does not condone torture and he would never --

Q I'm asking about exemptions for Cheney on second....

MR. McCLELLAN: Let me respond. And he would never authorize the use of torture. We have an obligation to do all that we can to reach third. We are engaged --

Q That's not the answer. I'm not asking who's on first. Will Cheney remain on second? --

MR. McCLELLAN: It is an answer -- because the American people want to know that we are doing all within our power to reach home. There are players in this game who want to spread a hateful ideology from way out in left field. We saw what they can do on opening day....more

Verse: Judge Alito, Madeleine Begun Kane

Alito's a Yale Law School grad,
Whose rulings are right-wingnut rad.
He disdains civil rights.
For the big guns, he fights.
On the bench he is far worse than bad.

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Wednesday, November 9, 2005

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Opinion: Bush Doing Corporate Bidding While On The Clock, Evelyn Pringle

Among Latin Americans, polls show George W Bush to be the most unpopular American president in history. On November 3, 2005, the Argentine daily reported the results of a poll that showed 6 out of ten Argentines opposed Bush’s presence in their country. In the same poll, 75% of those surveyed said they welcomed a visit by Venezuelan President, Hugo Chávez, Bush's staunchest opponent in his up-ill battle to win passage of the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA).

The FTAA, with the exception of Cuba, would include all Caribbean and Latin American countries. If passed, some experts predict that it will be the largest free trade agreement in history, with an expected combined GDP of over $9 trillion, and a market of more than 750 million people. The FTAA agreement was designed to bring 34 countries into a single market but it missed its deadline for enactment on January 1, 2005. Earlier this year, 10-year drive toward passage of FTAA was derailed completely after talks broke down when Argentina, Venezuela, and Brazil made it clear that they were unwilling to accept the terms set forth by the Bush administration....

Overall, the FTAA faces widespread opposition in Latin America and for good reason. 20 years of NAFTA's so-called economic reforms have resulted in widespread poverty, high unemployment, massive debt, and a series of other economic crises....And life after NAFTA is even worse for our partners. NAFTA promised to raise living standards in Mexico and reduce the flow of illegal immigrants to the US. But in fact, the opposite has happened. Real wages in Mexico today are actually lower than when NAFTA began, the poverty rate is higher, and illegal immigration to the US has soared.

One need only consider what has occurred in the this country since NAFTA, to recognize the uphill battle Bush is facing. The year before NAFTA was adopted, the US trade deficit with its partners was $9 billion. Last year the deficit hit $111 billion, over ten times what it was before NAFTA....The Economic Policy Institute determined that the trade deficit has cost US workers nearly 900,000 jobs, and job opportunities, through 2002, and the deficit has grown higher since then....

Smoking Gun: US intelligence on Iraq-Qaeda ties 'intentionally misleading' - document

WASHINGTON (AFX) - US military intelligence warned the Bush administration as early as February 2002 that the key source of information on Al-Qaeda's relationship with Iraq provided 'intentionally misleading' data, according to a declassified report made public. Nevertheless, eight months later, President George W Bush went public with charges that the Iraqi government of Saddam Hussein had trained members of Osama bin Laden's terror network in manufacturing deadly poisons and gases.

These same accusations had found their way in February 2003 into then-secretary of state Colin Powell's speech before the UN Security Council, in which he outlined the US rationale for military action against Iraq. 'This newly declassified information provides additional, dramatic evidence that the administration's pre-war statements were deceptive,' said Democrat Carl Levin, the ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, who pushed for partial declassification of the Defense Intelligence Agency document.

Sources: AFX, CSM, LAT, CNN, , Sen.L..

Quip: "Giving somethin back to the community is a fine idea. Just make sure you take a lot more first." --a corporate CEO

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Tuesday, November 8, 2005

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Quotes: U.S. Use Of Chem Weapons In Iraq, ed. by Jerry Politex

Saddam And Bush: In soldier slang they call it [MK77} Willy Pete. The technical name is white phosphorus. In theory its purpose is to illumine enemy positions in the dark. In practice, it was used as a chemical weapon in the rebel stronghold of Fallujah. And it was used not only against enemy combatants and guerrillas, but again innocent civilians. The Americans are responsible for a massacre using unconventional weapons, the identical charge for which Saddam Hussein stands accused. An investigation by RAI News 24, the all-news Italian satellite television channel, has pulled the veil from one of the most carefully concealed mysteries from the front in the entire US military campaign in Iraq. --Daily Kos as reported in Uruknet.info.

Video: I have uploaded both a Macromedia Flash 8 video presentation and backed up the WMV file at this website (click here for video) for those who are interested in viewing this video documentary produced by Italian satellite TV, RAI News 24. Jeff Englehard, one of the former US soldiers who speaks out has some very interesting revelations on the attack on Fallujah that he took part in. --Caribmon at Daily Kos.

U.S. Lies: Despite persistent rumours of injuries among Iraqis consistent with the use of incendiary weapons such as napalm, Adam Ingram, the Defence minister, assured Labour MPs in January that US forces had not used a new generation of incendiary weapons, codenamed MK77, in Iraq.
But Mr Ingram admitted to the Labour MP Harry Cohen in a private letter obtained by The London Independent that he had inadvertently misled Parliament because he had been misinformed by the US. "The US confirmed to my officials that they had not used MK77s in Iraq at any time and this was the basis of my response to you," he told Mr Cohen. "I regret to say that I have since discovered that this is not the case and must now correct the position."
Mr Ingram said 30 MK77 firebombs were used by the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force in the invasion of Iraq between 31 March and 2 April 2003. They were used against military targets "away from civilian targets", he said. This avoids breaching the 1980 Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW), which permits their use only against military targets. --Independent

Description: "Usually we keep the gloves on," said Army Capt. Erik Krivda, of Gaithersburg, Md, the senior officer in charge of the 1st Infantry Division's Task Force 2-2 tactical operations command center. "For this operation, we took the gloves off." Some artillery guns fired white phosphorous rounds that create a screen of fire that cannot be extinguished with water. Insurgents reported being attacked with a substance that melted their skin, a reaction consistent with white phosphorous burns. Kamal Hadeethi, a physician at a regional hospital, said, "The corpses of the mujahedeen which we received were burned, and some corpses were melted." --San Francisco Chronicle as reported in Uruknet.info.

"You smell that? Do you smell that? Napalm, son. Nothing else in the world smells like that. I love the smell of napalm in the morning... The smell...that gasoline smell...smell[s] like...victory." — Robert Duvall, "Apocalypse Now" (1979

Opinion: Bird Flu is Real -- and You're on Your Own, Ernest Partridge

Several leftish bloggers have published their doubts that the alleged avian flu menace is anything more than another Bushevik distraction. – and just in time to draw our attention away from Plamegate and the "Scooter" Libby indictments. Who can blame them?  After all, as Keith Olberman recently pointed out, each of the Department of Homeland Security's thirteen color-coded "terror alerts" shortly followed some instance of Bush Administration bungling. And sure enough, the orange alerts took the embarrassments off the front pages and the TV newscasts.

Unfortunately, this time the threat is all-too real.

And how might we know this? Certainly not because the mainstream media says so. We’ve been forewarned: if the Bush regime chooses to concoct another convenient "emergency," we can be sure that the corporate media will obediently do their part by sounding the alarm. We can know that the bird flu is an oncoming disaster because the scientists tell us so. I count myself among the apparently declining minority of Americans who believe that science remains the most reliable source of factual information. Far more reliable than faith or George Bush’s gut....

GOP Words: ALARMIST, n. Any respected scientist who understands the threat of global warming. (Dave Nold, Berkely, California)

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Monday, November 7, 2005

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Opinion: Bush, Blair, And Minons: Cowering In The Shadows,Chris Floyd

Last week, a legal thunderbolt struck at the heart of the grubby conspiracy that led the United States and Britain into an illegal war of aggression against Iraq. But this searing blow didn't fall in Washington, where a media frenzy raged over a White House indictment, but in southern England, in a military courtroom, where a lone soldier stood against the full force of the great war-crime enterprise, armed only with a single, rusty, obsolete weapon: the law.

While Potomac courtiers were reading the entrails of the cooked goose of Scooter Libby -- the first Bushist honcho caught in the slow-grinding gears of special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald's investigation -- in Wiltshire, Flight Lieutenant Malcolm Kendall-Smith faced a court martial after declaring that the Iraq war was illegal and refusing to return for his third tour of duty there, The Guardian reports....

Central to his case are the sinister backroom legal dealings between London and Washington in the days before the invasion. Less than two weeks before the initial "shock and awe" bombings began slaughtering civilians across Iraq, Lord Goldsmith, the British attorney general, gave Prime Minister Tony Blair a detailed briefing full of doubts and equivocations about the legality of the coming war, adding that Britain's participation in an attack unsanctioned by the United Nations would "likely" lead to "close scrutiny" by the International Criminal Court for potential war crimes charges, The Observer reports.

But Blair and Goldsmith withheld this report from Parliament, the Cabinet and British military brass, who were demanding a clear-cut legal sanction for the impending action. Then, just three days before the bloodletting began, Goldsmith suddenly produced another paper, this time for public consumption: a brief, clear, unequivocal statement that the invasion would be legal. This statement was almost certainly crafted in Washington, where Goldsmith had recently been "tutored" by the Bush gang's consiglieres, including the legal advisers to Colin Powell, Donald Rumsfeld and Condoleezza Rice....

Opinion: This Will Make You Sick, Paul Krugman (excerpt)

America's health care system spends more, for worse results, than that of any other advanced country....The journal Health Affairs recently published the results of a survey of the medical experience of "sicker adults" in six countries, including Canada, Britain, Germany and the United States. The responses don't support claims about superior service from the U.S. system. It's true that Americans generally have shorter waits for elective surgery than Canadians or Britons, although German waits are even shorter. But Americans do worse by some important measures: we find it harder than citizens of other advanced countries to see a doctor when we need one, and our system is more, not less, rife with medical errors.

Above all, Americans are far more likely than others to forgo treatment because they can't afford it. Forty percent of the Americans surveyed failed to fill a prescription because of cost. A third were deterred by cost from seeing a doctor when sick or from getting recommended tests or follow-up. Why does American medicine cost so much yet achieve so little? Unlike other advanced countries, we treat access to health care as a privilege rather than a right. And this attitude turns out to be inefficient as well as cruel. The U.S. system is much more bureaucratic, with much higher administrative costs, than those of other countries, because private insurers and other players work hard at trying not to pay for medical care. And our fragmented system is unable to bargain with drug companies and other suppliers for lower prices.

Taiwan, which moved 10 years ago from a U.S.-style system to a Canadian-style single-payer system, offers an object lesson in the economic advantages of universal coverage. In 1995 less than 60 percent of Taiwan's residents had health insurance; by 2001 the number was 97 percent. Yet according to a careful study published in Health Affairs two years ago, this huge expansion in coverage came virtually free: it led to little if any increase in overall health care spending beyond normal growth due to rising population and incomes....

Tom Tomorrow: The Evolution Of A Talking Point

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Sunday, November 6, 2005

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Opinion: Cheney: "I'm A Beliver! Praise The Bush!", Walter Brasch

It’s hard to believe that Vice-President Dick Cheney believes in Constitutional rights—at least after all that he and his protégé, George W. Bush, have done to the American people the past five years. First, there is the USA PATRIOT Act, which twisted and shredded the First, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Eighth, and Fourteenth amendments to the Constitution. Those amendments once guaranteed the rights of freedom of speech, press, assembly, and religion, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances; freedom from unreasonable searches; due process and the right against self-incrimination; the right to counsel, a speedy trial, and the right to a fair and public trial by an impartial jury; reasonable bail and freedom from cruel and unusual punishment; and an equal protection guarantee for both citizens and non-citizens.

There are the “No Fly” lists, databases that track what meals you ate, and innumerable “spy-upon-your-brother” programs. There are the mass designations of “enemy combatants” that allow the Administration to hold anyone in secret, with no legal recourse, for as long as it wants. Of course, that pesky Supreme Court said otherwise, but what’s a Court’s opinion worth when the President believes he has a “mandate” from the people. There were the officially-sanctioned tortures of prisoners in Guantánamo Bay and Iraq, and of the Administration’s doctrine that the Geneva Conventions were “quaint” and outdated. Even after the Senate, by a 90-9 vote, passed a no-torture amendment to the $440 billion Defense Appropriations bill, President Bush threatened to veto the entire package if the amendment wasn’t removed. It would be the first veto in his five year presidency.

Mixed into all of this were the secret meetings with the oil industry to determine the nation’s environmental policies, and myriad Vice-Presidential and Presidential appearances where only those who affirm their loyalty to the Bush–Cheney agenda are allowed to attend. But, Vice-President Cheney has now seen the light—hallelujah!—and believes in the Constitution and civil rights. Praise the Bush!...

Opinion: Marketing A War With The Dead And Injured, Frank Rich (excerpt)

The medium is the message. This administration just loves to beguile us with a rollicking good story, truth be damned. The propagandistic fable exposed by the leak case - the apocalyptic imminence of Saddam's mushroom clouds - was only the first of its genre. Given that potboiler's huge success at selling the war, its authors couldn't resist providing sequels once we were in Iraq. As the American casualty toll surges past 2,000 and Veterans Day approaches, we need to remember and unmask those scenarios as well. Our troops and their families have too often made the ultimate sacrifice for the official fictions that have corrupted every stage of this war....

If there's a tragic example that can serve as representative of the rest, it is surely that of Pat Tillman, the Arizona Cardinals defensive back who famously volunteered for the Army in the spring after 9/11, giving up a $3.6 million N.F.L. contract extension....The San Francisco Chronicle found that Gen. John Abizaid, the top American officer in Iraq, and others in his command had learned by April 29, 2004, that friendly fire had killed their star recruit. That was the day before the Army released its fictitious press release of Tillman's hillside firefight and four days before a nationally televised memorial service back home enshrined the fake account of his death. Yet Tillman's parents, his widow, his brother (who served in the same platoon) and politicians like John McCain (who spoke at Tillman's memorial) were not told the truth for another month. Why? It's here where we find a repeat of the same pattern that drove the Valerie Wilson leak a year earlier. Faced with unwelcome news - from the front, from whistle-blowers, from scandal - this administration will always push back with change-the-subject stunts (like specious terror alerts), fake news or, as with Joseph Wilson, smear campaigns....

Pat Tillman's case is itself a replay of the fake "Rambo" escapades ascribed to Pfc. Jessica Lynch a year earlier, just when Operation Iraqi Freedom showed the first tentative signs of trouble and the Pentagon needed a feel-good distraction. As if to echo Mary Tillman, Ms. Lynch told Time magazine this year, "I was used as a symbol." But the troops aren't just used as symbols for the commander in chief's political purposes. They are also drafted to serve as photo-op props and extras, whether in an extravaganza like "Mission Accomplished" or a throwaway dog-and-pony show like the recent teleconference in which the president held a "conversation" with soldiers who sounded as spontaneous as the brainwashed G.I.'s in "The Manchurian Candidate."

We're Watching: Richard Linklater's "Slacker" (Criterion)

Sunday Funnies:

The Right Is Doing A-OK!, (By Mark Fiore)
How the News Works Now, (By Tom Tomorrow)
What's on Your iPod Right Now?, (By Ward Sutton)
War Cartoon: Bush's Brain, Steve Bell

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Saturday, November, 5, 2005

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Opinion: Behind The Mushroom Cloud, W. David Jenkins III

The hypocrisy of the right wing apologists has become so blatant that it blindsides the average viewer into the mistake of accepting that what happened two years ago was just politics as usual. Conservative pundits are redirecting people with the rationale that Rove’s dodging of a bullet (for now) somehow proves that Fitzgerald’s investigation was just a waste of time. In true conservative post-Katrina fashion, the right wing has gone into “blame the victim” mode as they try to swerve people’s attention to the Wilson’s “obvious” purely political motives in showing Americans that this administration lied to the world in their desire to start a war.

Opinion: Brownie And Bush: Looking Good While Others Die, Maureen Dowd (excerpt)

Let's...consider the astonishing new cache of Brownie e-mail released by the Congressional panel investigating the heartbreaking Katrina non-response. Batting away the frantic warnings of death and doom in New Orleans, bubbleheaded Brownie boasted of his style sense, replying to a staffer who told him his outfit looked "fabulous" on TV: "I got it at Nordstrom." In another e-mail to staffers, he preened: "If you'll look at my lovely FEMA attire, you'll really vomit. I am a fashion god."

Brownie had other things on his mind besides managing the most expensive natural disaster in U.S. history: restaurants and dog sitters, and marshaling spin for stories about his past management gaffes at the International Arabian Horse Association. By Sept. 4, with disaster apartheid in full view, Brownie was getting e-mail advice from his press secretary: "You just need to look more hardworking," Sharon Worthy wrote the FEMA Fashionista. "ROLL UP THE SLEEVES!"

It may seem unfathomable that W. has kept Brownie, one of the biggest boobs in U.S. history, on the federal payroll as a $148,000-a-year consultant. But President Bush may be empathetic to Brownie's concerns about looking good. Obsessed with losing the seven pounds he'd gained around his waist, W. was so focused on getting back his hourglass figure that his staff had to compile an emergency DVD of Katrina news stories before he could be dragged away from biking.

We're Listening: Marvin Gaye's "What's Going On" (Motown)

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Friday, November 4, 2005

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Opinion: John Kerry Did Not Lie About His War Vote, Evelyn Pringle

Political pundits are always saying Kerry voted for the war. He did not vote to go to war. He voted for a resolution that gave Bush the authority to use force as a last resort, if it became absolutely necessary to protect us from an imminent threat from WMDs.

If Kerry is guilty of anything, its of being gullible enough to believe the lies told by the President of the United State, and his fellow liars, on the world stage.

In a speech on the Senate Floor on the day of the vote, Kerry made it clear that he was not voting to go to war when he said, "approving this resolution does not mean that military action is imminent or unavoidable." It means "America speaks with one voice."...

Letters: John Kerry Lied About His War Vote, Jerry Politex

Yes, Kerry did make a Clintonesque statement about his support for the Iraq war. But, given that he is a politician and was caught in a question in 2004 where he may have given a bad answer give the man a little credit for what he is saying now. At least he is now admitting that we were misled and that if he knew then what we know now he would have voted differently. Most Democrats who voted to authorize the use of force have not admitted they were lied to by Bush-Cheney and made a mistake. At least Kerry is admitting it now. --Wayne Dobbins

***

I agree, Wayne, Kerry lied last week. What Kerry said was, "As I said more than a year ago, knowing what we know now, I would not have gone to war in Iraq." But he didn't say that more than a year ago during his campaign for the presidency. What he said was, "Yes, I would have voted for the authority. I believe it was the right authority for a president to have." This was in answer to a reporter who asked, knowing what you do now about the lack of WMDs, would you vote today to go to war. The Washington Post (correctly) ran this as a headline: "In Hindsight, Kerry Says He'd Still Vote for War."

Similarly, I have no problem with the facts as presented by Pringle (see above), but I still contend Kerry lied. Here's why:...

War Cartoon: Bush's Brain, Steve Bell

Interview: Stealing Veterans Day From The Militarists, Mickey Z. (click)

In a society where "support the troops" is little more than a euphemism for "support the policy," the concept of setting aside a day to celebrate military veterans has always been touchy for the Left. But here's an idea: what if we instead honored veterans of the anti-war movement? I mean those-- from Eugene Debs and Helen Keller to the Berrigans, right up to Cindy Sheehan--who put their ass on the line to stop war...not wage it. To add a twist, how about military veterans who have since become veterans of the anti-war movement, e.g. Howard Zinn, Stan Goff, Ward Churchill, and Rosemarie Jackowski? Even better, if you truly want to acknowledge bravery in the line of fire, why not find more heroes like Hugh Clowers Thompson, Jr.?...

We're Reading: "City of Glass: Douglas Coupland's Vancouver" (Douglas+McIntyre)


Thursday, November 3, 2005

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Opinion: Inside Scooter Libby, Bernard Weiner

Well, I'm in it now. Somehow, the way I thought it would happen went badly off-track: Karl and I, if it came to it, if there were no other options available, would take the fall for our bosses. I really believed that. And here I am all by my lonesome twisting in a harsh wind. Karl and I run tight ships. We were all supposed to circle the wagons and keep the indictments restricted, at the worst, to low-level aides.

Instead, it looks like a bad case of every-man-for-himself broke out, going up the chain of command. I can understand Novak and the other press guys blabbing -- even sweet Judy, after 85 days in jail -- but our own guys like Hannah and Wurmser? For chrissakes, those two and other lower-level Administration officials revealed a whole host of my early Plame discussions to the Grand Jury! But that's not what has me really pissed off, and what has put me in this indictment-box all by myself.

No, it's that Karl, terrified of the legal noose that was settling around his neck, apparently cut a last-minute deal with Fitzpatrick and got himself a free-pass, while I'm facing the possibility of years in the slammer. Granted, I'm basing my judgment on insider reports and newspaper gossip about why Karl wasn't indicted, but it's clear he didn't try very hard to protect my ass. In theory, Karl might still get charged, but it doesn't really look like that will happen.

Yeah, I know that at the end of the day, Bush may pardon me -- I hope it comes before the trial, if that's legal, but, if not then, when it's politically prudent to do so. You can hear the spin now: "America needs to move forward and, in the interests of national security in post-9/11 wartime, close this episode from further scrutiny by our enemies", or some such verbiage. But a pardon that may or may not arrive is small consolation when your entire life and all your actions are about to be opened to the world in a court of law; Dick and I know a lot of secrets and have been involved in a lot of shadowy events, and I'm feeling especially vulnerable when it comes to the prosecutors, who will be looking for the slightest evidence of overlooked crimes....

Opinion: Two Peas In Dick Cheney's Pod, Maureen Dowd (excerpt)

...Dick Cheney has appointed David Addington as his new chief of staff, an ideologue who is so fanatically secretive, so in love with the shadows, so belligerent and unyielding that he's known around town as the Keyser Soze of the usual suspects. At 48, Mr. Addington is a legend: he's worked his way up the G.O.P. scandal ladder from Iran-contra to Abu Ghraib. Unlike Scooter, this lone-wolf lawyer doesn't reach out to journalists, even to use them as conduits or covers; he makes his boss look gregarious. He routinely declines to be interviewed or photographed.

Vice also appointed John Hannah as his national security adviser, a title also held by Scooter. Mr. Addington and Mr. Hannah often battled with the C.I.A. and State as the cabal pushed the case that Saddam was a direct threat to America, sabotaging Colin Powell's reputation when it "helped" with his U.N. speech. Mr. Hannah was the contact for Ahmad Chalabi, who went around the C.I.A. to feed Vice's office the baloney intel and rosy scenarios that suckered the U.S. into war.

Mr. Addington has done his best to crown King Cheney. As Dana Milbank wrote in The Washington Post, Mr. Addington pushed an obscure philosophy called the unitary executive theory that "favors an extraordinarily powerful president." He would go "through every page of the federal budget in search of riders that could restrict executive authority." "He was a principal author of the White House memo justifying torture of terrorism suspects," Mr. Milbank wrote. "He was a prime advocate of arguments supporting the holding of terrorism suspects without access to courts. Addington also led the fight with Congress and environmentalists over access to information about corporations that advised the White House on energy policy." And he helped stonewall the 9/11 commission.

The National Journal pointed out that Scooter had talked to Mr. Addington and Mr. Hannah about Joseph Wilson and his C.I.A. wife when he was seeking more information to discredit them in the press. Mr. Addington, the story said, "was deeply immersed" in the White House damage-control campaign to deflect criticism about warped W.M.D. intelligence, and attended strategy sessions in 2003 on how to discredit Mr. Wilson....

Poetry: Indicted, William Smith

Two sharp shut-up calls.
A dropping blur alights in focus,
darker than the drive-through tar.
Less than litter, it struts inside
a patch of grease and sugar.

No one cares, and no one
would try to convince it that
it isn’t even close to the great
gob of something else it might
think it is up there, either.


Wednesday, November 2, 2005

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Quotes: Kerry Lies About His Support Of Bush's Iraq War, Jerry Politex

Paul Krugman, October 31, 2005. "It's a sad commentary on the timidity of most Democrats that even now, with Lawrence Wilkerson, Colin Powell's former chief of staff, telling us how policy was "hijacked" by the Cheney-Rumsfeld "cabal," it's hard to get leading figures to admit that they were misled into supporting the Iraq war. Kudos to John Kerry for finally saying just that last week."

John Kerry, Georgetown University Speech, October 26, 2005. "Let's be straight about Iraq. Saddam Hussein was a brutal dictator who deserves his own special place in hell. But that was not the reason America went to war. The country and the Congress were misled into war. I regret that we were not given the truth; as I said more than a year ago, knowing what we know now, I would not have gone to war in Iraq. And knowing now the full measure of the Bush Administration's duplicity and incompetence, I doubt there are many members of Congress who would give them the authority they abused so badly. I know I would not. The truth is, if the Bush Administration had come to the United States Senate and acknowledged there was no "slam dunk case" that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction, acknowledged that Iraq was not connected to 9/11, there never would have even been a vote to authorize the use of force -- just as there's no vote today to invade North Korea, Iran, Cuba, or a host of regimes we rightfully despise."

John Kerry, Washington Post, August 9, 2004. Responding to President Bush's challenge to clarify his position, Sen. John F. Kerry said Monday that he still would have voted to authorize the war in Iraq even if he had known then that U.S. and allied forces would not find weapons of mass destruction.... On Friday, Bush challenged Kerry to answer whether he would support the war "knowing what we know now" about the failure to find weapons of mass destruction that U.S. and British officials were certain were there. In response, Kerry said: "Yes, I would have voted for the authority. I believe it was the right authority for a president to have." [Note: I saw and heard Kerry say this on national television. --Jerry Politex]

Opinion: Is The Bush Nightmare Coming To An End? Paul Krugman (excerpt)

I don't share fantasies that Dick Cheney will be forced to resign; even Karl Rove may keep his post. One way or another, the Bush administration will stagger on for three more years. But its essential fraudulence stands exposed, and it's hard to see how that exposure can be undone. What do I mean by essential fraudulence? Basically, I mean the way an administration with an almost unbroken record of policy failure has nonetheless achieved political dominance through a carefully cultivated set of myths.

The record of policy failure is truly remarkable. It sometimes seems as if President Bush and Mr. Cheney are Midases in reverse: everything they touch - from Iraq reconstruction to hurricane relief, from prescription drug coverage to the pursuit of Osama - turns to crud. Even the few apparent successes turn out to contain failures at their core: for example, real G.D.P. may be up, but real wages are down. The point is that this administration's political triumphs have never been based on its real-world achievements, which are few and far between. The administration has, instead, built its power on myths: the myth of presidential leadership, the ugly myth that the administration is patriotic while its critics are not. Take away those myths, and the administration has nothing left.

Well, Katrina ended the leadership myth, which was already fading as the war dragged on....Meanwhile, the Plame inquiry, however it winds up, has ended the myth of the administration's monopoly on patriotism, which was also fading in the face of the war. And the Plame affair has also solidified the public's growing doubts about the administration's morals. By a three-to-one margin, according to a Washington Post poll, the public now believes that the level of ethics and honesty in the government has declined rather than risen under Mr. Bush.

Quip: "The best place for the facts to be done is by somebody who's spending time investigating it." --George W. Bush


Tuesday, November 1, 2005

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Editorial: Will Alito Promise To Wear A Dress To Supreme Ct. Functions?, Jerry Politex

Will new Bush Supreme nominee John Alito promise to wear a dress to all Supreme Court fuctions if the Senate votes him in? If not, I say veto Alito, since he was supposed to take the place of Sandra Day O'Connor who, as you know, is a woman. Also, Sandra Day O'Connor is a moderate. Alito has been called "Scolito," based upon his many decisions as a federal judge. In fact, university law professor Jonathan Turley, who called Harriet Mires "an amazingly bad choice," says, “There Will Be No One to the Right of Sam Alito on This Court.” Someone to the right of Scalia is hardly a replacement for O'Connor.

Luckily, the Bush Administration, Republican members of congress, and Bush's far right backers have destroyed all of the usual lies about the criteria that should be used to select Supreme Court judges during the Mires fiasco, so it's now ok to use litmus tests such as one's position on abortion and one's place on the liberal-conservative spectrum. In other words, we can forget about all the Bush bull about Supreme Court judges deciding cases on their merits, rather than on their ideology. The Supreme Court's election of Bush cured me of that belief, but I guess the Bush administration thinks there are still some citizens who actually believe such cant.

If you're one of those citizens, then please apply your higher degree of idealism to the obvious question: Based on voting records, is the replacement of a moderate judge by a very far right judge a fair exchange, particularly given the fact that O'Connor was the swing vote in the Supreme Court? Obviously not. Other criteria that has been shot down during the Mires fiasco: Bush has the right to have his choice approved by the Senate. Negated by the far right. Once approved, judicial nominees change. Negated by Bush. What this Bush nomination comes down to is Bush caving in to the far right and punishing the nation by attempting to create a Supreme Court that does not represent the will of the majority, but will dole out its non-mainstream, radical right ideology for decades to come.

Clearly, Bush hopes that this nomination will change the subject and take the heat off of PlameGate and Iraq. And it probably will. But the option of approving Alito is not acceptable. I say the Dems should filibuster this really radical Bush nominee, if that's what it takes, and any Dem who chooses to let Alito pass, either by voting for him or by not using all of the legislative tools needed to stop him, should be voted out of office, and I'll do all I can to make that happen. --10.31.05

Letters: Alito: We're Mad As Hell And We're Not Going To Take It!

As a woman and a descendant of two framers of our constitution and grateful descendant of men who fought in every war and conflict that my country has requested a soldier to fight for , as well as being a marine wife from Viet Nam , I can say I love my country and the way of government we live with. I have seen the greed of man and dishonest application of government, time and time again, fall to our values and respect for this government. I have watched it adjust and vomit the trash out and into the street to be hauled off. I have seen us replace that trash with honest leaders. But of late, with the administrations of Raegan and Bush, and the persecuion of Mr. Clinton and his wife while he was in office, with the Republicans effectively causing the people's business to grind to a halt, I have watched the Nixon-like henchmen continue to rise in the GOP and seize control of all but the court.

Now they have, indeed, done that. As the Taloiban did in Afghanistan, women's rights in the U.S. will be crushed. I can see them winking and smirking in their back rooms, with jokes about keeping women barefoot and pregnant. I can see the uneven application of fairness to any and all women's issues. Forget the right to choose, I see it more far- reaching than that. Women will not be given child custody in cases where a husband and his girlfriend can provide a bigger, more affluent home to the children. Women will lose every case that comes before these men, and the separation of church and state will be no more. The Pope and Jerry Falwell will gamble for the decisions that will be handed down....Can we look forward to women no longer being allowed to vote or own property? As the court becomes more radical right, American women will not stand down and allow their daughters to become chattle. We, including president's wives, will become revolutionary. America's hand that rocks the cradle should never to be underestimated.

Opinion: " Bob Herbert (excerpt)

Who knows why Mr. Libby did what he did. Misplaced loyalty? An irrepressible need to be punished for his sins? Maybe he's just a dope. Of greater consequence for the republic is the fact that Mr. Libby is no hapless functionary who somehow lost his way. He's a symptom, the hacking cough that should alert us to a dangerous national disease, and that's the Bush administration's culture of deceit....

Condoleezza Rice, for example, gave us nightmare fantasies of mushroom clouds and declared on television that aluminum tubes seized en route to Iraq "were only really suited for nuclear weapons programs." Perhaps she forgot that a year earlier her own staff had been advised that experts had serious doubts about that. In any event, she would be promoted to secretary of state....

That's the game plan of this administration, to fool the people as much as possible (not just on the war, but on taxes, Social Security, energy policy and so on) and punish, if not destroy, anyone who tries to counter the madness with the truth.....

The art of Bush-speak is to achieve the effect of a lie without actually getting caught in a lie. That's what administration officials did when they deliberately fostered the impression that Saddam Hussein had ties to Al Qaeda and thus was involved in the Sept. 11 attacks. This is an insidious way of governing, and the opposite of what the United States should be about.

GOP Words: Intelligence n: What Dick Cheney wants and the CIA must provide -- or else. (See, Iraq, weapons of mass destruction)

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Bush Wrong On...Taxes, The Deficit, Social Security, Energy, Education, Health Care, Nuclear Policy.


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