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- Oh, my God! Faithful Citizenship?Politicians Face ...
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- ► June 2004 (6)
How about a similar statement regarding the ethical considerations involved in blowing up little children with cluster bombs in an illegal war of choice? (Oooh. There's that "choice" word again.) Or maybe a statement about what Jesus would have to say about a "Christian nation" that failed to provide adequate healthcare for all of that nation's sick and injured? Or maybe something about Christian congressmen who chop the legs from under the social safety net as they simultaneously trumpet the need for more costly and effective killing machines? Or funding cuts for education that disproportionately punish those children whose only mistake was that of being born to impoverished parents? What about some statements on these?
Faithful citizenship, my ass. This is nothing more than blatant religio-political hypocricy! And they wonder why I left the Church?
Every now and then the mask slips, and we see the true face of the system that marshals the world. For an instant, the heavy paint of sober wisdom and moral purpose falls away, and there, suddenly, with jolting clarity, is the snarling rictus of an ape.
Note carefully the change in rhetoric -- the change in target -- from "terrorism" to "insurgency." An "insurgent" is someone who rises up to resist or overthrow a ruling power. George Washington was an insurgent; so was Pol Pot. But a perceived "global insurgency" can only be aimed at a global power. What Rumsfeld is clearly saying is that anyone anywhere who resists the world-spanning will of the American Empire will be subject to "the path of action." That's the blood-and-iron terminology that Bush himself used to describe his policies in the official "National Security Strategy" he issued -- just months before killing more than 10,000 civilians in Iraq.What should you do with such dangerous creatures in a civilized society? Why, put them in a cage, of course.
No doubt the definition of "global insurgent" will prove to be every bit as elastic as "terrorist," in a world where Iraqi prisoners -- 70 percent to 90 percent of them completely innocent, according to the Red Cross -- were "Gitmo-ized," treated just like the alleged terrorists in America's lawless Guantanamo concentration camp; a world where even U.S. citizens simply disappear into the maw of military custody, held without charges, indefinitely, on the president's express order. If America controls your country and you don't like it, you're an insurgent. If you're an American who doesn't like to control other countries, you too are an insurgent. And the war against you is "just beginning."
[ As always, lots of good links.]
Brooks notes here how most people tend to identify with one or the other main political party early in life, and tend to stay with that early selection regardless of how their own political views evolve over their lives. He suggests that this may occur because people tend to use their party affiliations as "filters", which they then use to minimize their opponents' positions while simultaneously maximizing their own.
I would tend to agree with Brooks on this, for it does provide an explanation of why so many people who agree with liberal postions refuse to call themselves liberal. It would also explain the stubbornness of Bush's poll numbers. Still, I find it a most curious position for him to take. After all, conservatives such as Brooks tend to minimize the impact of one's social surroundings, stressing instead "personal responsibility". Yet for Brooks' suggestion to actually be true, a high degree of social "conditioning" must be present in one's political affiliation.
Brooks is planning to do several articles on this topic, and, if like this one, they could be interesting. After all, no one says that we can't learn from conservatives; we just don't take our politics from them.
That agenda is to impose Dooh Nibor economics — Robin Hood in reverse. The end result of current policies will be a large-scale transfer of income from the middle class to the very affluent, in which about 80 percent of the population will lose and the bulk of the gains will go to people with incomes of more than $200,000 per year.Imagine that. One more set of numbers they don't want you to know about.
I can't back that assertion with official numbers, because under Mr. Bush the Treasury Department has stopped releasing information on the distribution of tax cuts by income level.
What It Didn't Do was Worse
Amid important corrections about Carole King's high school and the spelling of a Pixar executive's name, Times editors at last saw fit to mention the paper's coverage of Iraq in the months preceding the war. After a modest round of self-congratulation, the editors venture into darker waters, filled with imaginary chemical and biological weapons reported, in banner type, by the Times. Now it appears the threatening shapes were without substance, hoaxes and illusions foisted upon an otherwise capable, even exemplary staff of doughty professionals who did their utmost to present "an accurate reflection of the state of our knowledge at the time."[ Via counterpunch.]
Garbage. Here is what was obvious at the time, though not at the Times. The entire discussion of WMD was a canard, a red herring, a decoy, call it what you will. Allow me to refresh the paper's institutional memory: The inspectors, with full access, were finding no evidence of weapons stockpiles or programs; the U.S. intelligence community was dubious of claims put forward with alarming stridency by political appointees; and sources like Chalabi and the INC, the brainchild of lie factories like Rendon and Hill & Knowlton, were likely to churn out more tales of babies thrown from incubators to have their way. All of which was duly reported in the international press.
What did the Times do? In editorial after editorial, report after report, the vaunted newspaper of record framed the Iraq debate as a question of WMD, making its coverage inseparable from Bush administration propaganda. The war was never about WMD. That was obvious to all but the most cravenly stenographic of so-called journalists from the get-go. It was, to name a few, about midterm elections, military bases, crackpot imperialist ideology, Israel, payoffs to cronies, and even, though you'd never, ever guess it from the New York Times, plentiful, cheap oil. But WMD? The Times obliged not only by hanging the window dressing but by supplying fancy material.
About which the May 26 "correction" is dead silent. So let me give the Times something to put in its next mea culpa. The paper was complicit in a war of aggression that led to the death and mutilations of tens of thousands-that bears repeating, the death and mutilation of tens of thousands-mounted for stupefyingly cynical, shortsighted, vicious reasons. Its dogged refusal to stray from the Bush administration script about WMD and admit other explanations for the hell-bent rush to war into mainstream discourse is nothing less than a monumental journalistic disgrace.
What the Times did was bad enough; what it failed to do was perhaps worse. It's past time to see a correction about that.
To launch a Minuteman in those days, one had to "unlock" the missile by dialing in a code -- the equivalent of a safety catch on a handgun. However, Blair reports, the US Strategic Air Command was worried that a bunch of sissy safety features might slow things down. It ordered all locks set to 00000000 -- and in launch checklists, reminded all launch officers like Blair to keep the codes there. "So the 'secret unlock code' during the height of the nuclear crises of the Cold War," Blair says, "remained constant at 00000000."And there's more ...
A comparison of writing from the Left and writing from the Right.
They've brought America to its knees. They're a ruthless band of fundamentalist religious fanatics that respect no international laws and seem destined to cause only death, misery, and destruction. They strike without warning using stealth, torture, lies, and deception to rain down violence without regard to innocent lives lost. They cynically exploit the World's media. They constantly invoke the name of their God, to justify every cruel act for their holy cause. They'll use and sacrifice innocent believing kids as warriors. Most of the world already hates and fears them, and no country on Earth is safe from their rage or terror.Also contains perhaps the best short answer yet as to why the administration went to war in Iraq:
They are the new evil in the World.
So much for the Bush folks. Those al-Qaida guys are no picnic either.
The Republicans apparently made war on Iraq just because they could.
Abu Ghraib is the new Tet offensive. By lying about the Tet offensive during the Vietnam War, the media managed to persuade Americans we were losing the war, which demoralized the nation and caused us to lose the war.Coulter really needs an M-16, a Humvee (no plating, of course), and a one-way ticket to Iraq.
To be fair to Coulter however (while I hold my nose), this idea about Tet is hardly hers. It was this very idea, that we only lost Vietnam because we lost our will, that led to the creation of the Neocons shortly after that war's conclusion. The idea of course is false. We didn't lose Tet, and it wasn't reported that way.
The real problem with Tet was that we had been told for so long how we were winning the war that it should have been impossible for the Tet offenesive to even have been launched. That the Viet Cong alliance was strong enough to launch it immediately put the lie to the earlier reporting, and it was that recognition that caused the drop in public support. In that sense, Abu Ghraib was not Iraq's Tet offensive; Fallujah was.
Anyways, this is a fun article (unless you're dead set against self-flaggelation). There's hardly a sentence in it where Coulter isn't flipping history on it's head. They only thing I can't understand is why the editors don't put it where it belongs -- in the Comics Section.
All the standard stuff. Nadar offers the best:
"There are antiwar Democrats who will fume and still vote for Kerry," Mr. Nader said, adding: "I don't think Democrats should give their candidate a pass on the war. If Democrats are so freaked out by Bush that they are, like, 'Do anything you want, John, we'll support you,' well, as I told him in our meeting, he's not going to be left with a mandate."
"He's listening to Shrum," said Mr. Nader, referring to Mr. Kerry's senior political adviser, Bob Shrum. "He's listening to all the cautious advisers. They are saying don't cater to these antiwar people, they have nowhere to go. They are going to vote for you. You know the old game."Conventional wisdon, of course. DLC-style. The same crap that lost the Dems the last two elections.
While I've been away from writing for a while (personal problems), I haven't been away from the rumblings on the Left, and they are not quiet. For the time being, Bush is self-destructing, and that is the only reason Kerry is getting a pass. But come September, he'd better start singing, because id he doesn't, there will be nowhere for us to go ... on Election Day, that is. We'll just stay home.
'Taleban insurgency'Now, let me get this straight. "The remnents"? "One of the biggest losses for American forces"? Impressive "remnents", I'd say.
The deaths represent one of the biggest losses for American forces since they began operations in Afghanistan more than two years ago.
The attacks have been blamed on remnants of the former Taleban regime.
One interesting item from it that I hadn't run into before comes from La Voz de Aztlan (who has been following this closely). The article in question there has a short background soundtrack from the Berg video in which someone seems to be saying in English(!), "How will it be done?" [Note: If you want to save this audio clip, look for "berg2.wav" in your Internet Temporay Storage.]
"Thou marshall'st me the way that I was going." -- William Shakespeare, "Macbeth"
In January 2002, official White House legal counsel Alberto Gonzales warned George W. Bush that he faced the possibility of execution under the U.S. War Crimes Act for the "new interrogation procedures" and other "flexible measures" he had authorized for the "war on terror," Newsweek reports.What's more, Bush and his warlords knew they were constructing a blatantly criminal operation; why else dig up legal dodges to shield the top conspirators from prosecution? Lower down, of course, it's a different story.
However, because Gonzales regarded himself as the consigliere for the Bush crime family and not a public servant sworn to uphold the Constitution, instead of denouncing Bush's policy of state terrorism -- torture, kidnapping, indefinite detention, hostage-taking, assassination and aggressive war -- Gonzales urged Bush to abandon the international Geneva Conventions and use weasel words to cover up his deliberate violations of U.S. law.
This dereliction of duty comes as no surprise. ...
[ As always, lots of good links.]
There has been a semi-secret government initiative to add digital signatures to various digital consumer products. Photocopiers and digital cameras store an encrypted signature to identify the unit that made the video. This digitial signature is totally inique to each device and is more unique than a fingerprint.
Today new pictures were released of prison torture at Abu Ghraib prison. But not just still pictures. Today video was released showing prisoners being tortured by Americans. Aparently Kodak film experts are Kodak Park in Rochester New York have compared the digital watermarks of the turture video and the beheading video and have determined that one of the cameras used in the Nick Berg beheading is THE SAME CAMERA that took the prison torture video.
If this turns out to be true then there is NO DOUBT that Berg was killed by Americans at Abu Ghraib prison.
The wedding feast was finished and the women had just led the young bride and groom away to their marriage tent for the night when Haleema Shihab heard the first sounds of the fighter jets screeching through the sky above.
It was 10.30pm in the remote village of Mukaradeeb by the Syrian border and the guests hurried back to their homes as the party ended. As sister-in-law of the groom, Mrs Shihab, 30, was to sleep with her husband and children in the house of the wedding party, the Rakat family villa. She was one of the few in the house who survived the night.
But now we know.Wonderful. Just fucking wonderful.
"Everything that you're discussing is information you're not supposed to have," barked Pentecostal minister Robert G. Upton when asked about the off-the-record briefing his delegation received on March 25. Details of that meeting appear in a confidential memo signed by Upton and obtained by the Voice.
Suppose that early last year, when President Bush retreated to his prayer closet to commune with the Lord, the Almighty had given the Somewhat Less Mighty the straight dope on Iraq. Such a conversation might have sounded something like this.
"W, I'm not going to beat around the burning bush: You're headed for a Texas-sized disaster. First off, I know you won't believe this even coming from Me, but you'll never guess who's right about Iraq: Hans Blix! That's right -- all that stuff about how the U.N. inspections process is working, and just needs more time to get the job done? It's actually true.
re's another shocker: Saddam has already gotten rid of his weapons of mass destruction. He's being intransigent not because he's hiding weapons, but because he thinks he can't afford to lose face by caving in to foreign threats. This is a huge miscalculation on his part, but hey -- he doesn't have the benefit of My advice. You do, so listen up.
you invade Iraq, you're going to win the easiest of military victories. The Iraqi army is a fraud. At this point, Iraq barely poses a threat to its neighbors, let alone to America. That's the good news. But it's also the bad news.
"I know it's tempting to knock over an evil dictator who has a fake army and imaginary weapons of mass destruction. After all, Karl Rove is whispering that your approval rating will go through the roof, and that, as an extra added bonus, it's also the right thing to do. How often does that happen anyway -- that the politically expedient course also happens to be the morally right one? Not very often, let me tell you what.
"And it's not happening here, either. Invading Iraq is going to be a foreign policy fiasco. Remember, there are no WMDs, so you're going to have to invent another justification for the war after the fact. Your advisers will come up with a doozy: liberating Iraq from the contemporary equivalent of Hitler, so as to turn it into a model democracy, thereby creating an entirely new historical dynamic that will eventually transform the entire Middle East into a stable, peaceful region.
"Sounds downright Messianic, doesn't it? But wait, I haven't even gotten to the best part. They're going to try to convince you that all this can be done on the economy plan. There will be no need to bring back the draft, or even raise taxes: Since Iraq can be conquered with a relatively small military force, all you'll have to do is shock and awe the Iraqis with a few thousand smart bombs, pull down some statues of Saddam on live network television, and presto: You're on the road to world historical transformation at bargain basement prices!
"If all this sounds too good to be true, that's because it is. W, we've known each other for quite awhile now, and if there's one thing I've tried to get into your head it's that doing the right thing is never cheap or easy.
"Doing the right thing in Iraq might mean continuing the often frustrating work of containing and undermining Saddam's regime through the U.N. sanctions and inspections process. Or it might mean undertaking the sort of massive military and economic project that would have a real chance of transforming the region -- a project that would require real sacrifices on the part of the average American voter.
"I'm not going to tell you which path to take. But I will tell you this: What your advisers are planning won't work. And one last thing: Remind your friend Karl for me that the road to Hell is paved with focus group poll data."
Matters of great moment are suddenly in the air all around us: stark evidence of war crimes by the leaders of the West; the growing certainty of a humiliating geopolitical defeat inflicted on the world's greatest power; terrorism and torture as the mirrored emblems of the age, a deadly double helix giving rise to a hideous global reality.That's how they operate, these cheap hoods. Like Saddam, like Osama, they mouth great pieties, they strut and preen on the world's stage. But underneath they're still nothing but witless, murdering, money-grubbing goons.
It's tempting in such times to inflate the image of those in the forefront of events, painting them, for good or ill, in the colors of legend: bold, outsize figures, Great Ones playing dice with nations, characters whose roiling depths -- tragic, evil or heroic -- transcend the puny limits of the common herd. Although on rare occasions this viewpoint might hold true, the squalid history of our ill-cobbled species provides endless examples to the contrary.
And they don't come any more squalid than the crew now steering the American boat straight into the shoals of disaster. For despite all the grandiose political rhetoric and world-historical perturbations emanating from the Bush Regime's imperial project, we should never lose sight of one simple fact: Deep down, these guys are nothing but cheap hoods, two-bit chiselers hustling for loot, thug-brained goons with no more grandeur about them than the meanest pack of Mafia knee-breakers. ...
[ As always, lots of good links.]
"Imagine being in the infantry in Ramadi, like we were," he said, "where you get shot at every day and you get mortared where you live, [and attacked] with R.P.G.'s [rocket-propelled grenades], and people are dying and getting wounded and maimed every day. A lot of horrible things become acceptable."
He spoke about a friend of his, a sniper, who he said had shot a child about 10 years old who was carrying an automatic weapon. "He realized it was a kid," said Sergeant Mejia. "The kid tried to get up. He shot him again."
Senator John McCain:
You were held as a prisoner of war for five years. I am sure that nothing I can imagine would come close to what that experience was like for you. I am equally sure that that at least some if not most of what you experienced was not in accordance with the Geneva Conventions.
I am writing you today regarding the revelations of Abu Ghraib. Have we really sunk this low? Sexual torture? Is this what we have become in our zeal to avenge 9/11?
Senator, did anything like this happen to you? I certainly hope not. But if it did not, it means that the Geneva Conventions, as poorly as they can be implimented, are better than any alternatives.
We have an administration that has tossed the Geneva Conventions aside as an inconvenient restaint; an administration that does not understand that we adhere to the Geneva Conventions not because we so care about our captives, but rather because we wish for our own captured to be treated in an honorable fashion. I know you understand this.
I am not a proud American today. I am ashamed of my country, and I don't like that one bit. I am better than that, Senator, and WE are better than that.
Apparently they are quite well financed (a new version of Center for American Progress?), as they are releasing a TV ad for their website targeted at the Washington, DC area. The ad is short, but well worth a download (high-speed (2.5 MB), dial-up (600 KB)). What's it on? Rush Limbaugh, of course. His "frat pranks" crap. Check it out.
I am too scared to close my eyes"
[ 1400 KB, Flash ]
My beloved would not let me talk about politics to her, which obviously limited my own conversations therein. I am intensely political, and she is not. She has other things on her mind, and rightly so. I won't get into them here because she deserves her privacy on this.
I did however want to share with you a bit of text that I've written to her regarding my passion for politics, trying to explain to her why I have this passion:
I know that you hate it when I talk about politics, so forgive me this brief instance.
We live in a country that is half crazy. We coddle ourselves with lies while we are being taken to the cleaners. We support things that are directly against our own self-interests, ignoring the glaring facts as we go.
I am very afraid, but I am not afraid for myself. If I died tomorrow, I’d go out saying, "Wow! That was cool." You object when I answer you, "Oh, well" to something significant, but there really is a reason behind that. I grew up a poor boy, and JFK put me through an Ivy League university. That alone enabled me to live a fabulous life. Yes, I am close to the bottom today, but I would not have traded a second of my life for anyone else’s. I have been First Mate on a yacht, I’ve been a white-glove waiter, I’ve been "The Poet" of Mackinac Island, I’ve been a high powered and priced computer consultant, and I was known as "Mr. Calculation" at the largest group insurer in the world. I can also dig a ditch better than anyone else I have ever met, and when the plumbing explodes, they call me to fix it. So I really have had a quite marvelous life, and I wouldn’t even trade my jail time for a different one.
But I am very afraid. Not perhaps even for you. You too, like me, have lived a good deal of life, and in your more reflective moments, you too, like me, perhaps would also say, "Wow! That was cool."
No, I am not afraid for you and I. I have this theory, you see, that life begins at 13 years old. Before then, everything is about toys and home. It is only when a child reaches 13 that they begin to see the world as part of themselves. They in effect "leave home" at that age and begin for the first time to see themselves as a part of something much larger. A part of the world.
So I am afraid for your daughter. Not just her, of course, but for all of those who are her age. You and I have tasted life well, but they have not. They are just beginning to get their taste of this. They deserve for their flavor of this to be at least as good as ours was. And we have failed them.
We have screwed this whole thing up. We have sat and watched our TV’s, buying into the pabulum they present to us. We have bought into the obvious lies there because it was easier to do so then spend the time to find the truth. We largely did this all just to make a few more dollars, convinced that by doing so, we would make this whole thing better for our children. While that is indeed laudatory, it has not worked out that way.
We have screwed this whole thing up, and I am outraged. How dare we pass this mess that we have created by our own blindness onto your daughter? She and those like her deserve so much more from us, and we have failed them.
So if you want to know why I do what I do, I am doing it for your daughter and those like her. I sat by for years and let this all happen, and to tell you the truth, I am ashamed of myself for that. I am simply trying to correct that mistake.
From time to time, I receive e-mails containing quite excellent articles by writers somewhat to the left of me. I like to publish these because I have a very foreboding sense that they may be right.
Meet Jim Kirwan, in perhaps the best article I have read of his yet.
Elements of "the Alliance" are beginning to completely come apart, as nation after nation can no longer escape the crimes we are committing, by simply being there. The Bush Cabal has been de-cloaked, and nothing now can begin to restore that pristine passion we possessed, when first we launched this Bush-form of the crimes in those old Crusades--against Iraq.
However, the seven-headed Hydra, that we are seen to be within the Middle East, is not yet paralyzed; we have only dealt ourselves some deadly body blows, to what we say we came to do.
By the numbers:
We strong-armed the United Nations, the Atlantic Alliance and NATO, to win approval for this folly:
We failed, on every count! Our strong-armed arrogance, and our miserably managed invasion, has yet to triumph. Nor we are not likely to persuade the UN to go along with anything that we’re now forced to plead for; now that all our macho proclamations are now just dust upon the desert wind.
We unilaterally launched the brutality of Shekhinah against the unresisting people of Iraq, to devastating effect. With a vengeance seldom equaled, we burned and looted that country, with an eye to taking all that had been theirs for us, and leaving only the rubble for those who survived the violence of George W. Bush, the man who says he does God's word.
Having changed our stated reasons for this war crime, at least three times—it is now impossible to convince the surviving population of the either the sanity or the sincerity of our intentions. Add to this the torture of some of the over 10,000 prisoners that we hold, without charges, and the writing begins to appear on the broken walls of that country. Over 70% of the population wants us out - NOW.
We staked out what we really came for, which was the oil and water, and the land itself, in order to control pipelines throughout the Middle East. Iraq was to have given our military a permanent launching pad from which to begin to crush all the other Arab nations in the region.
But we can’t even control the highways, much less the pipelines in Iraq. We are the failures, that we're seen to be in the region and the world. Moreover, our troops cannot protect themselves, much less the population. Still the Bush administration tries to paint this crime against humanity as another victory, in his march toward world control. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Finally, Cheney-Bush-Sharon is still looking for miracles to save their failed Crusade. But they haven't the ability; the people to plan it; or the personnel to pull it off. The number of mercenary thugs has increased now to 20,000, but even if that figure goes to 50,000 they will never be able to complete this theft, because the people who are fighting us are not a bunch of indoctrinated thugs, they are the people of Iraq, in all their diversity – and they are fighting for their homes, their families, and their country after all.
Bush wanted this war to be about terrorism and it is--it's just not what he was thinking of. We brought the real terror, to both Iraq and us. Some say we've killed more people in Iraq that did Saddam, so how is it that they're better off?
We are face of the enemy in Iraq, and we are proving to be everything that we have said we're not!
Bush said he came to liberate the people from Saddam. We killed his sons, and we say we've captured him, yet we're still there! We said that we would bring Iraq into the modern world, but we can’t provide the water needed, for even our own troops, much less for the people of that place. Electricity, the restoration of a normal civil life, all of that is only wishful thinking, there's nothing normal now within that nation or in Palestine, that was also going to benefit from this crime against humanity. This all comes at a massive price that will be paid by all of us and by the next several generations, in continued blood and treasure.
Couple the above with or plans to force a puppet government upon the unwilling and undefeated people, and anyone can see the reasons clearly burning, even in the light of day, for the revolution that has started. The Iraqis see our plans to place a recycled cretin in charge of every aspect of their lives and they want no part of that.
We've declared that the Iraqi people are free and democratic, but they can't pass laws, they can’t pick the people they might choose to lead them, without the farce of our permission—nor can they, under any circumstances get rid of us. So of course they say "Get OUT!"
This would probably work in the growing police state that we're building here, but the people of Iraq have been trampled underfoot for over a year now, and they want nothing more to do with us or with what we say we’re going to “give” them – anymore!
We lost people in the hundreds in a public fit over the deaths of four mercenaries. That cost us hundreds of our own, and several thousand Iraqis, yet all Bush cared about was that no coffins should be seen here. We still have not revealed what happened in Fallejuh.
All of that was hubris an arrogant denial of what is true within the country.
All of this was all foretold; well before this "War" that has only been an excuse for many other things. This administration doesn't listen or care about the truth. When they have the facts they change them, to justify what they really want to do, so they never see disaster coming. These thugs of ours, at the top of this administration are not warriors in any sense, and because of all that blood of all those troops, along with all the other dead in this misbegotten war, answers have to be found to the questions that people everywhere are asking yet again: About the horror of these facts upon the bloody grounds that have marked the Bush Regime.
Our image in the world is broken. That facade like all the rest has failed. All that has to be decided now is when we're leaving, there is no longer any IF. The days of trials and accusations must begin, because the world has had enough of simple George and angry Ariel to last a dozen lifetimes.
Enough of this hypocrisy, let's find some sanity within the world, some justice, who knows with the Bandits gone, maybe even peace. The US under Cheney-Bush-Sharon has only spoken hate and fear and terror while they've tried to hide their shabby deeds from a wronged and angry world. It's way past time for all of this to end, because we've seen what happens when we hesitate to act, we're living it now!
Four stories here to focus on up front and then on to others.
The first of course is the Sinclair story. [Note that this is their own text of the broadcast ban, and that it is posted on their top webpage.] This is absolutely insane and unparalleled in American TV media.
By now you probably already know the story. Ted Koppel's Nightline program tonight is spending it's entire 30 minutes simply reading the names of our 500 (and then some) combat dead from Iraq as photos of them are displayed. Though both Koppel and ABC have both stated that this has no political intent and is merely to honor our fallen, Sinclair has barred their three ABC stations from airing the program.
I must point out here that this will be no ratings winner for ABC. Many viewers of Nightline will probably just move on after five or ten minutes, and if you'll recall, Koppel was almost cancelled a bit back, saved only by our outrage that ABC would even consider doing this.
A few moments on the Sinclair Broadcasting Group. They are highly partisan, their four top executives giving the maximum allowed to the Bush campaign while giving nothing at all to anyone that disagrees with Bush. While they only own eight ABC stations, they also own 20 FOX, 19 WB, 6 UPN, 3 CBS, 4 NBC affiliates and 2 independent stations and they claim to reach approximately 24% of all U.S. television households. While a mere 8 ABC stations are being shut off this time, there is no reason to expect Sinclair to do otherwise with their 54 other stations should those occasions arise. Pure and absolute censorship whenever it might seem to go against their own financial greed.
But we are not alone in our outrage of this dispicable censoring. From John McCain (R-AZ), unimpeachable in his concern for our troops:
Your decision to deny your viewers an opportunity to be reminded of war's terrible costs, in all their heartbreaking detail, is a gross disservice to the public, and to the men and women of the United States Armed Forces. It is, in short, sir, unpatriotic. I hope it meets with the public opprobrium it most certainly deserves.From Bernie Sanders (Ind-VT), a similar outrage:
Your company's shameful and cynical statements disrespect both the victims of terrorism and the brave Americans who have made the ultimate sacrifice in the Persian Gulf. It is an outrage to suggest that giving recognition to the fallen in Iraq is an attempt to sabotage their mission. These American heroes deserve to be heralded, not hidden in the closet. The Nightline show in question will allow all Americans to personalize the service and sacrifice of the pride of the nation.
Your company's censorship sets a dangerous precedent that is contrary to the First Amendment and America's long tradition of access to information. This is an issue that some of my colleagues and I will be addressing with the FCC. Frankly, to censor information you disagree with has very little to do with freedom and what makes this country great. It sounds more like totalitarianism.
But on to Dr. Death's other recent press tampering event.
It seems that the doctor has recently conversed with Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim from Qatar. The doctor's problem? al-Jazeera is based in Qatar, and the Sheikh's problem is that Qatar really likes our foreign aid supplements to his country. Dr. Death's message to the Sheikh: Go home and take care of the al-Jazeera "problem".
Now, three stations is a flea bite for Doug, but the point here is that Doug was directly told that he was being tossed for his political views on Bush. Worse still however is that Doug hardly rages against Bush, as his program is much more of a variety show than it is political. Doug simply has too wide an audience.
A very sorry state of affairs indeed.
These days, Stern's broadcasts are divided between his usual schtick — interviews with strippers, off-color song parodies, jokes about celebrities — and rants against the president. Stern will never be mistaken for a policy wonk, but tune in to his show and you'll hear him cogently attacking administration positions on an impressive range of issues: stem-cell research, abortion rights, gay marriage, media consolidation, the handling of Iraq.Most people simply think of Howard as a "shock jock", but make no mistake; Howard's a quite successful businessman. He's survived more FCC fines than you and I will ever earn in a lifetime.
Meanwhile, Stern's revamped website looks more like Mother Jones magazine than Maxim: It features articles about the administration's trade violations in Myanmar and includes a link to the contributions page of the John Kerry for President site. Indeed, Stern has become an ardent Kerry advocate. "I call on all fans of the show to vote against Bush," he said on a recent broadcast. "We're going to deliver the White House to John Kerry."
Michael Powell, on the other hand, is a token appointee, slid in on some perverted form of nepotism. No contest. Whatever you might think of Howard's listeners, he's delivering them to Kerry.
with Mark Levine
Mark Levine served as Legislative Counsel to a high-ranking Democratic Member of Congress on the House Judiciary Committee and the House Select Committee on Homeland Security. He has an economics degree magna cum laude from Harvard College and a law degree from Yale. He also was a Presidential Scholar and a Fulbright Scholar in Switzerland.If you listen in (the stream works quite well on dial-up), you'll find Mark has a quite good grasp of progressive legal issues, and though he does not focus exclusively on these, his programs are all well flavored by this. If you want to sample him when he is not on, his archives are available through his site and on the excellent White Rose Society. I especially recommend "Mark Levine Interviews George Dubya Bush". I'd also recommend "Beyond the Abortion Debate", which I forwarded to a rabid pro-lifer and got a thumbs up from her on it.
If you want something shorter, you might try the e-mail Mark sent a good while back (to only 20 people, by the way) that ended up starting his talk radio career: The "Gore Exception": A Layman's Guide to the United States Supreme Court Decision in Bush v. Gore. This e-mail has since been passed along to over 10,000 people since then, and is a definitive analysis of Bush v. Gore at four law schools.
And by the way, Mark's still fairly small, and so it's still fairly easy to get through to him during the show via both phone and e-mail. Check him out.
May Be Significant Liability in Close Race
It is all part of an increasingly pointed Democratic strategy of trying to define the president -- and erode his personal credibility -- by turning Mr. Cheney into a symbol of Republican excess. Though vice presidents rarely play decisive roles in presidential elections, Mr. Kerry and his allies believe this vice president could become a significant liability for Mr. Bush in a race that appears close.Finally! Attack the real President, Dick Cheney. What a thought!
Yes, I've heard of all the speculation about Cheney being replaced, but why not give him a shove. Think of the upside. If Bush does win by replacing Cheney, at least we'll be rid of Doctor Death.
Mehlman's minions believe exurbia offers rich pickings for the Bush cult -- and they're probably right. People who live in fake towns, with fake stores and fake horses, are likely to be happy with a fake president, who uses fake evidence and fake words about "freedom" and "peace" to launch all-too-real wars of conquest while turning the national treasury into a candy store for his cronies.Is it any wonder that the cozy exurbians prefer cults and fakery to such fearsome truths?
The exurbanites' virtual reality is a perfect reflection of the dreamworld where half the nation now dwells, ...* * *But fake horses are more tractable than powerful live beasts -- and self-serving lies are easier to handle than a volatile, complex reality. Anyway, is it really so surprising that so many Americans prefer a Potemkin world? Otherwise, they would have to accept the incontrovertible facts: that mass murder is being committed in their name; that their leader is a terrorist -- a fanatic who pursues political goals through wanton violence -- just like the enemy who attacked them; that they have been deceived, betrayed, exploited, suckered and bought off -- sometimes willingly -- for years, for decades, by elites whose crimes and follies are now blowing back in firestorms of rage and hatred.
[ As always, lots of good links.]
The New York Times writes the article, but by all means, do the video of his full presentation. It's fairly low quality and it streams (in four continuous segments), so it should present no problem even for dial-up.
Because of my own focus on Afghanistan (most recently in "The Perfect Alibi"), I would make note here of both of her last questions for Bush and Cheney:
For President Bush:Neither of these are what might be called "fishing expeditions". The paper trails on these may be obscure, but they are definitely there. If someone wants to find out why the administration was so unprepared for 9/11, they need only answer these two questions.
8. From May 1, 2001, until Sept. 11, 2001, did you or any agent of the U.S. government carry out any negotiations or talks with Bin Laden, an agent of Bin Laden or Al Qaeda?* * *For Vice President Cheney:
5. Please describe any discussions/negotiations between the Taliban and either public or private agents before Sept. 11 regarding Bin Laden and/or rights to pass a pipeline through Afghanistan, or any other subject pertaining to Afghanistan.
Let's start with this. What's the signature pattern of Bush's life?Not likely, Josh.
When he faces a challenge or a tough scrape, he lets his family and friends bail him out. He has always let others do his fighting for him.* * *If the president wants to attack or question Kerry's war record or what he did after the war, Kerry should tell him to do it himself. No special deals, no hidden help from family retainers, no hiding behind Hughes. Tell the president, for once, to fight his own fights.
You see, there is this little do-hickey in our tax laws called the "Alternative Minimum Tax", and if you've never made over $100K, it's never applied to you before. It's not a tax increase according to the Bushies because it was already there onthe books, but guess what? If you are an "average family" earning between $40-$100K, on the April 15th after you've re(s)elected Mr. Bush, that alternative minimum will add an average of $3,469 to your tax bill. If you're a bit better off and making 120K, sorry, Puppy, try $7,000. And both of those are each and every year.
And you thought that tax cut was for you. I told you it wasn't, and the Bushies knew this exactly when they did this. I told you that it was a massive transfer of the tax burden from the very rich to the merely well off and average middle class, but you were too busy grubbing for those few extra bucks and didn't care. Well now, you can pound sand. I was right, and you got fucked.
Listen to me next time.
[ NOTE: For more details, listen to Al Martin's April 23rd interview on the Tony Trupiano Show. This is a commercial-free version of this interview [6.3 MB, MP3, 36:41], and you'll be looking for the 11 minute mark in this interview. Do however listen to it all. Al has lots more to say on current issues. ]
I can't believe that Bush is so dumb that he thinks he actually talks to God.And what does God tell Jimmy?
When I am the only one I know of who talks to God.
I can prove that because God told me that no one else in America speaks to him directly.
The corrosive nihilism at the heart of the enterprise ate through the gaudily-painted surface most tellingly in a single anecdote. Woodward asks George W. Bush how he thinks history will regard his adventure in Iraq. Bush, gazing out the window, shrugs and waves the question away. "History, we don't know," he says. "We'll all be dead." No fine, faith-filled talk here about God and Jesus and the immortal soul responsible for its actions throughout all eternity -- the kind of zealous patter Bush favors in public statements. This was just the cold, rotten, meaningless core of his grand vision -- "we'll all be dead." So who cares? Apres moi, le deluge.What "world events" are they secretly dreaming of, these death-fetishists, these unconscious nihilists, mired in their group-mind fog? What voluptuous nightmares will require their "robust" attention? How many world-devouring warheads will be "sufficient" to at last quell their anxiety, their all-too-human craving for oblivion?
The entire five-part Woodward serailization (25 pages)
of "Plan of Attack" from the Washington Post. [ Note
that each article will open to the same new window. ]
that once was Iraq
If you were a company looking to get on the Iraq-reconstruction gravy train, Salem [Chalabi] was probably a good place to start. Not only did he have the ear of his uncle Ahmed Chalabi, with his close ties to the Pentagon and his seat on the Interim Governing Council, but his business partner Marc Zell was pretty well-connected, too.
Who's Marc Zell, you ask? Allow me to explain.
Zell is the longtime law partner of Undersecretary of Defense Doug Feith, one of the Bush administration's prime architects of the drive for war with Iraq. Feith's Pentagon office, meanwhile, is the one charged with doling out Iraqi reconstruction contracts.
(Their law firm is called Feith & Zell -- though they've changed the name while Feith is in government. You can visit them too at www.fandz.com)
At this point, I'm going to assume you’ve heard enough that you’re either laughing or crying at the mix of insiderism, cronyism and ridiculousness that Chalabi and his crew are making of the lofty ideals we're supposedly fighting for in Iraq.
We may have banished dictatorship and gross human rights abuses from Iraq — at least for the moment, that is — but cronyism and clan dynasticism seem to have weathered the invasion quite nicely.
Why was it predictable that Iraq would go wrong? The squandered victory in Afghanistan was an obvious precedent. But the character flaws in the Bush administration that led to the present crisis were fully visible in the months that followed 9/11.Vultures. I see vultures. Bad enough they had to go in and kick the crap out of these people, but to then let their corporate cronies go in like vultures and tear the remaining flesh off of the rotting corpse that once was Iraq? These people are so devoid of morals that it is hard to even believe that they are human.
It quickly became apparent that President Bush, while willing to spend vast sums on the military, wasn't willing to spend enough on security. And 9/11 didn't shake the administration's fanatical commitment to privatization and outsourcing, in which free-market ideology is inextricably mixed with eagerness to protect and reward corporate friends.
Sure enough, the administration was unprepared for predictable security problems in Iraq, but moved quickly — in violation of international law — to impose its economic vision. Last month Jay Garner, the first U.S. administrator of Iraq, told the BBC that he was sacked in part because he wanted to hold quick elections. His superiors wanted to privatize Iraqi industries first — as part of a plan that, according to Mr. Garner, was drawn up in late 2001.
one person at a time.
"It's clearly a budget.
It's got a lot of numbers in it."~ George Bush, 5/5/2000
"By a careful review of this site, one might assume that the author of this page is a dedicated ‘liberal’ or some such other convenient label. However, that assumption would be as inaccurate and as dangerous as assuming that a re-election of Bush will not harm our country further.
"The author of this page has been a life-long, registered Republican, self-labeled 'conservative' … supporting most Republican candidates for President and Congress since 1964. This site is my personal statement of outrage and protest against George W. Bush the greatest presidential mistake since Herbert Hoover."
Poetry is about free expression. It is perhaps the most free form of human expression ever devised. It can be beautiful or it can be ugly. It can be current or it can be ageless. It can be simple emotions or it can be wildly political. Poetry does not care. It reaches out to embrace all of this.
It is a quite similar inspiration that besets those with a camera in hand. So many photots are taken seeking just those few that are exactly right. Exactly poetry, and needing no further words. Tami Silicio did this and got fired.
Since 1991, photographing of the caskets of dead U.S. soldiers has been banned. It was a ban that was never enforced until now. Tami Silicio took a series of photos of this, and one got published in the Seattle Times. This is what she was fired for.
Tami Silicio did not have any political intent in her mind when she gave her photos over to the press. Instead, she was just awed by the great reverence with which we treat our fallen soldiers, and wanted the rest of us to know that we were indeed acting in that fashion. Nothing more. She saught to exault the dead; not exploit them. And she was fired for that.
Later that day, they also fired her husband for what she had done.
|Photo 1||Photo 2|
If a picture is worth a thousand words, Tami Silicio has made her point.
I'm very impressed with Carter here (as I often am) because while I am an Atheist and he is an evangelical, he's still hit the nail right on the head regarding the fundamentalists.
It is worth making clear from the outset that Patrick Henry College in rural Virginia is not your average American university. At Patrick Henry, the students - about 75 per cent of whom have been taught at home rather than in schools - are required to sign a statement of faith before they arrive, confirming (among other things) that they have a literal belief in the teachings of the Bible. At Patrick Henry, students must obey a curfew. They must wear their hair neatly and dress "modestly".Be afraid. Be very afraid.
Students must also obey a rule stating that if they wish to hold hands with a member of the opposite sex, they must do so while walking: standing while holding hands is not permitted. And at Patrick Henry, students must sign an honour pledge that bans them from drinking alcohol unless under parental supervision.
Yet these things alone do not make the college special. ...
So, it was a holy war, a new crusade. No wonder George W. Bush could lie to Congress and the American public with such impunity while keeping the key members of his Cabinet in the dark. He was serving a higher power, according to Bob Woodward, who interviewed the president for a new book on the months leading up to the Iraq invasion.
Of course, as a self-described "messenger" of God who was "praying for strength to do the Lord's will," Bush was not troubled about shredding a little secular document called the U.S. Constitution. ...
George W. Bush says he's been praying for fewer casualties in Iraq.
How incredibly immense of the "bring it on" president. There's no substitute for resolute, concrete leadership, even if the praying comes between decisive bouts of hooking bass on the Crawford ranch back-40 while Americans and Iraqis are slaughtered in ever greater numbers.
No doubt Bush, on bended knee last year, also implored his lord to divinely hoodwink Americans with the weapons of mass destruction and Saddam's al-Qaida links catechism.
And lo and behold, God really is on Bush's side. ...
Why are we so focused on infecting others with our fears?
Why are we so intent on spreading them to our children?
What are we doing to ourselves?
of "Plan of Attack" from the Washington Post:
For years, we have been told most Americans are conservative -- and that is probably true. Nobody calling himself a "liberal" has been elected president in 40 years. The situation now is so desperate that anyone who loves this country and cares about the world has to do everything in their power to see that the conservative candidate wins the presidential election in November.
That would be John F. Kerry, of course.
No, that's not a trick answer. ...
The American press needs to end its lovey-dovey relationship with the Pentagon. The Pentagon has provided ample evidence that it can propagandize the American people without the help of a lap-dog press.
It is not the job of the press to support the troops. That is the duty of the American people, their loved ones and their folks back home. ...
The military and the press have two separate functions. The job of the military is to kill people and destroy assets. The job of the press is to report on the process. If the brass want to call killing civilians "collateral damage," so be it, but journalists should report that civilians have been killed. ...
The sought after has finally arrived. It's been well over a year, closer to two, since the formal Council of Conspirators began to plot the arrival of this day. Finally WAR has arrived in all its blood and ruin-all it's chaos and oblivion. ...
Of course, I had to straighten him out:
Dear Mr. Murphy,
A few brief points to clear up before I address your vote (or lack thereof):
Regarding your deep dislike of John Kerry, I understand that. I don't much care for him myself. There is indeed little that Mr. Kerry offers to any serious liberal. Your suggestion that Mr. Kerry might perhaps be worse than Mr. Bush however clearly shows that you do not understand Mr. Bush.
- Skull & Bones is a college fraternity. They have skulls and bones and robes and death rituals and vows of silence and wild howling parties at 3 A.M. ... just like my fraternity did. Just like all fraternities do. Shall we then forever ban anyone who ever joined a fraternity from public office? This is a non-issue.
- Feeling a sense of patriotic duty common during the Vietnam days, John Kerry went to Vietnam where he quite likely did some very nasty things ... just like the more than one million other young men who served in Vietnam. Shall we then forever ban anyone who ever served in Vietnam from public office? This is a non-issue.
- Your desire to cut the Pentagon budget by 15% is admirable (though I would wish to cut far more). The trouble is that it just isn't going to happen, at least not anytime in the near future. If you wish to work towards this goal, you would do well to lay out perhaps a 20 year gameplan during which you plan to radically alter the American sentiment. If you are even successful, it will certainly take that long.
Presidents are not solo actors. They are merely the most prominent face in a large organization that they bring into office with them. In the case of John Kerry, one would feel fairly confident that he would also be the strong hand that steered his organization. In the case of Mr. Bush however, we already know that he does not exert this same type of strong hand leadership over his organization. This of course serves to elevate the powers of the individual actors within his organization, and this is where the problem with Mr. Bush comes in.
You have suggested that both Mr. Kerry and Mr. Bush share the same backers. To some extent this is true. Certainly they share the military-industrial complex and the globalizationists (together, the Corporatists). Mr. Bush however brings in two additional backers that Kerry does not: the Neocons and the Christian Fundamentalists. To suggest then that Kerry = Bush then is to ignore this second set of backers of Mr. Bush.
The Corporatists of course are about making money. While making money is certainly necessary, you likely are of a mind that they focus to completely on this, sacrificing as they do social concerns, and I would agree with you on this. But Corporatists do have one very necessary trait; they operate on facts. They might not emphasize the same facts that you or I would, but they do operate on facts. As such, they are rational (and reasonably predictable) actors. The same cannot however be said regarding the Neocons and the Christian Fundamentalists.
These last two groups come with pre-formed sets of ideologies that are not fact-based. In other words, they simply believe something regardless of whether or not real world experiences bear out those beliefs, and in fact will not change those beliefs when facts directly refute them.They are penultimate ideologues.
Now I do not intend to get into a detailed discussion of the beliefs of either of these groups (this could take books) but to say that their beliefs are very dangerous and their end goals share a common element: absolute power. Both of these groups, given the opportunity provided by a second Bush term, would institute extremely harsh penalties for any and all forms of dissent, and both would remove your right to vote. This is the difference between Mr. Kerry and Mr. Bush. With Mr. Kerry, you will actually get to vote again in 2008. With Mr. Bush, you will not. And that is a very big difference.
You are correct, Mr. Murphy. You are not going to get much of what you (and I) desire if you vote for Kerry and he is elected. But you are also not going to lose much, and you will have another chance at it in four years. It is indeed a pity that this is our choice in this election, but it is foolish to ignore the fact that it is.With regards,