Saturday, December 03, 2005
The News Wire is replete with stories yesterday and today about the least shocking secret of the Iraq war, that the Department of Defense is salting paid propaganda into the Iraqi Press. The Lincoln Group, the private contractor providing the propaganda support in behalf of the Coalition, has at least two contracts with the military to provide media and public relations services. One contract, for $6 million, is for public relations and advertising work in Iraq. The other Lincoln contract, which is with the Special Operations Command, is worth up to $100 million over five years for media operations with video, print and Web-based products.
Senator Warner and General Peter Pace, Chairman of the JCS, defended the program.
"Things like this happen. It's a war," Warner said. "The disinformation that's going on in that country is really affecting the effectiveness of what we're achieving, and we have no recourse but to try and do some rebuttal information."
Lt. Col. Barry Johnson spoke of the "information battlespace" which is
"... contested at all times and is filled with misinformation and propaganda by an enemy intent on discrediting the Iraqi government and the coalition, and who are taking every opportunity to instill fear and intimidate the Iraqi people,"
Just a few days ago the world learned about The Rendon Group who was paid $100 Million funded by the CIA and the Pentagon to sell the war and its perception to the World, including the United States. John Rendon who has been a paid propagandist for years bills himself as an "Information Warrior..."
All this makes me wonder about any newspaper. Where is it deployed in the "information battlespace"? The role of reporters Judith Miller (New York Times) and Bob Woodward (Washington Post) in the “information war” on behalf of the Bush Whitehouse proves that no news organization is above manipulation, no matter how prestigious. This makes me question anything I hear from my government.
If I believe my government and then support my child's deployment to Iraq and she comes back damaged for what turns out to be a lie, does that make our family "collateral damage" in the “information war"?
And what is my favorite newspaper’s role in this, since I read it every day? Is my favorite morning paper an information warrior? Or is it an information stooge?
Senator Warner and the Military Establishment are quick to point out that War-Is-Hell and that "the enemy" is publishing "lies" about us so we need to "balance" those "lies" with the "Truth".
I would be interested to know what those lies spread by "the enemy" are. Are you?
I know Al-Jazeera publishes photographs of babies and women seared to the bone by white phosphorous bombs that first the military denied and then admitted were used offensively in Fallujha. I have read that local papers publish the names of civilians killed by BOTH insurgents and coalition forces. Stories are also printed of the forcible entry into homes by Coalition forces and Iraqi "Police" (who look like combat soldiers) in search of combatants. I have also read that a common practice among feuding Iraqi families is to "report" the target home to the Coalition and stand around and watch the fun as the forces break down doors and ransack the house. This is reported as well by the small, local presses as well.
Perhaps the "lies" that "the enemy" tells include stories like the story of Ayad Allawi.
In an interview published late last month, Ayad Allawi, a secular Shiite Muslim, told the London newspaper The Observer that fellow Shiites are responsible for death squads and secret torture centers and said brutality by elements of Iraqi security forces rivals that of Saddam's secret police.
"People are remembering the days of Saddam. These were the precise reasons that we fought Saddam and now we are seeing the same thing," the newspaper quoted Allawi as saying.
Allawi's allegation of widespread human rights abuses follows the discovery this month of up to 173 detainees, some malnourished and showing signs of torture, in a Shiite-led Interior Ministry building in Baghdad.
"People are doing the same as Saddam's time and worse," he said. "It is an appropriate comparison."
It is on our own President's watch and under his command that the sewage of disinformation sloshes so prodigiously about the world: from crudely forged documents in Italy to support the pre-War case for invading Iraq, to crudely forged documents designed to discredit Bush and Blair critic, M.P. George Galloway, to secret prisons in foreign countries, to torture at Abu Ghraib, to the revelations about the Rendon Group and the Lincoln Group and on and on.
If truth is the first casualty of war, then “Truth, Inc.” is its living, Evil Twin.
Thursday, November 17, 2005
Supporting the troops doesn't require suppressing dissent
Published: November 17, 2005 Last Modified: November 17, 2005 at 02:42 AM
President Bush used his stopover in Alaska to fire more shots at those who criticize his handling of the Iraq war. It was a disappointing exercise in diversionary tactics from a leader trying to rally the nation behind an increasingly unpopular war.
He all but accused his critics of giving aid and comfort to the enemy. "They are playing politics with this issue and sending mixed signals to our troops and the enemy, and that's irresponsible," he said.
What's irresponsible is the suggestion that the world's greatest democracy cannot abide questioning about a war launched under false pretenses.
The president claims his critics are trying to rewrite the history of how the war started. His charge is ironic, as it perfectly describes what he himself is doing. He convinced the nation that war was essential to protect Americans against Iraq's weapons of mass destruction and was justified as retaliation against a regime that was connected to the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. Both rationales for war proved false.
President Bush defends the way things turned out, claiming his critics had the same intelligence he did about Saddam's alleged weapons of mass destruction. That's simply not true. As The Washington Post reported, "Bush and his aides had access to much more voluminous intelligence information than did lawmakers, who were dependent on the administration to provide the material."
President Bush claims that he didn't manipulate pre-war intelligence to steer the nation to war in Iraq, citing the findings of a commission he appointed. The Robb-Silberman Commission concluded that intelligence analysts didn't change their reports because of pressure from within the Bush administration.
However, "Our executive order did not direct us to deal with the use of intelligence by policymakers," said commission co-chair Laurence Silberman. As The New York Times noted, "What Mr. Bush left unaddressed was the question of how his administration used that intelligence, which was full of caveats, subtleties and contradiction."
The Bush administration faced a problem making the case for war. "Saddam was not threatening his neighbours, and his WMD capability was less than that of Libya, North Korea or Iran," according to the "Downing Street memo," a confidential British foreign service summary of discussions with the Bush administration in the summer before Congress voted to authorize the war. "Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action," the memo said. "The intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy."
Unfortunately, it should have been the other way around, with the policy based on the facts.
U.S. forces never found weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. And that wouldn't surprise anyone who listened to United Nations weapons inspectors.
As Scott Ritter, an inspector and former U.S. Marine officer who served under Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf in the first gulf war, recently stated: "We were monitoring Iraq ... with the most intrusive, technologically advanced, on-site inspection program in the history of arms control. ... We were unable to detect any evidence of either a retained capability or a reconstituted capability in weapons of mass destruction."
The New York Times wrote in an editorial: "It's obvious that the Bush administration misled Americans about Mr. Hussein's weapons and his terrorist connections. We need to know how that happened and why."
Now those pressing for a long overdue explanation are irresponsible?
The critics, and all Americans, including the brave service men and women on the front lines, deserve better.
BOTTOM LINE: President Bush insults the nation and the troops fighting and dying in Iraq when he questions the patriotism of those who question his leadership.
Monday, November 14, 2005
Monday, November 14, 2005
So you want details about who lied
JAMES BRUNER GUEST COLUMNIST
Marty McNett of Burlington (Letters, Wednesday) believes there is no proof that President Bush lied about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, so we should lay off claims that he did.
I refer McNett and anyone else who is laboring under that misconception to read "Iraq On The Record: The Bush Administration's Public Statements On Iraq," prepared by the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Government Reform -- Minority Staff Special Investigations Division, March 16, 2004.
This 36-page report goes into great detail about outright false and deceptive public statements by Bush (55 misleading statements), Vice President Dick Cheney (51), former Secretary of State Colin Powell (50), former National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice (29) and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld (52) on the subject. These 237 misleading statements were made in a variety of forums (53 interviews, 40 speeches, 26 news conferences and briefings, four written statements and articles and two appearances before Congress) beginning at least a year before the war began, and their frequency peaked at key decision-making points.
Here are a few excerpts:
In October 2002, the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research concluded in the National Intelligence Estimate that "the activities we have detected do not, however, add up to a compelling case that Iraq is currently pursuing what INR would consider to be an integrated and comprehensive approach to acquire nuclear weapons." INR added: "Lacking persuasive evidence that Baghdad has launched a coherent effort to reconstitute its nuclear weapons program, INR is unwilling to speculate that such an effort began soon after the departure of UN inspectors." The INR position was similar to the conclusions of the International Atomic Energy Agency, which concluded (in March 2003) that there was "no indication of resumed nuclear activities ... nor any indication of nuclear-related prohibited activities."
These doubts and qualifications, however, were not communicated to the public. Instead, the five administration officials repeatedly made unequivocal comments about Iraq's nuclear program. For example, Bush said in October 2002 that "the regime has the scientists and facilities to build nuclear weapons and is seeking the materials required to do so." Several days later, Bush asserted Saddam Hussein "is moving ever closer to developing a nuclear weapon." Cheney made perhaps the single-most egregious statement about Iraq's nuclear capabilities, claiming: "We know he has been absolutely devoted to trying to acquire nuclear weapons. And we believe he has, in fact, reconstituted nuclear weapons." He made this statement just three days before the war. He did not admit until Sept. 14, 2003, that his statement was wrong and that he "did misspeak."
Bush and others portrayed the threat of Saddam waging nuclear war against the United States or its allies as one of the most urgent reasons for pre-emptively attacking Iraq. Administration officials used evocative language and images. On the eve of congressional votes on the Iraq war resolution (Oct. 7, 2002), Bush stated: "Knowing these realities, America must not ignore the threat gathering against us. Facing clear evidence of peril, we cannot wait for the final proof -- the smoking gun -- that could come in the form of a mushroom cloud."
The words "mushroom cloud" echoed time and again in speech after speech by key members of the administration from that point on until the beginning of hostilities. If that isn't lying, I don't know what is.
James Bruner lives in Oak Harbor. He is a retired Air Force major and was a technical editor and writer at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory for 11 years.
Saturday, November 12, 2005
Irony, indeed, drips from each syllable of Bush's Veteran's Day Speech from Tobyhanna, Pennsylvania.
THE WHITE HOUSE MOTTO: "TAURUS EXCRETA CEREBRUM VINCIT" IS ALIVE AND WELL!
Bush argues that independent commissions have determined that the Administration did not misrepresent the Intelligence...NSA Stephen Hadley, briefing reporters on 11/10/05, commented specifically that the "Silberman-Robb Commission have concluded that [manipulation of Intelligence] did not happen" Washington Post 11/12/2005, Bush Defense Of Iraq War Decisions, Milbank & Pincus.
TAURUS EXCRETA: In fact, Judge Laurence Silberman said, in releasing his report March 31, 2005, that:
"Our executive order did not directus to deal with the use of intellegence by policymakers, and all of us were agreed that that was not part of the inquiry" Post, ibid.
Bush argues that Congress saw the same pre-war intelligence the White House did and "...voted to support removing Saddam from power."
TAURUS EXCRETA: Bush does not share his most sensitive intelligence such as the President's Daily Brief, with lawmakers. Also the National Intelligence Estimate (NIE), given to congress only a couple of days before the vote, did not contain the doubts within the intelligence community, that we now know were circulated among Bush's inner circle and the neo-Cons promoting the war.
Bush, in his speech Friday, said, "...it is deeply irresponsible to rewrite history of how the war began." and then proceeds to do exactly that. He states: "When I made the decision to remove Saddam Hussein from power, Congress approved it with strong bi-partisan support"
TAURUS EXCRETA: In fact, the October 2002 Joint Resolution authorized use of force but didn't directly mention removing Saddam from power. And the Resolution also called for exhausting diplomatic efforts to enforce the Resolutions and use armed forces as a last resort to "defend against the continuing threat posed by Iraq".
We now know, for example, that Saddam had offered to let the inspectors in and negotiate terms with Washington.
From: Failed Iraqi Peace Initiatives, http://www.reference.com/browse/wiki/Failed_Iraqi_peace_initiatives
“...Later that month, Hage met with Gen. Habbush in addition to Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz. He was offered top priority to US firms in oil and mining rights, UN-supervised elections, US inspections (with up to 5,000 inspectors), to have al-Qaeda agent Abdul Rahman Yassin (in Iraqi custody since 1994) handed over as a sign of good faith, and to give "full support for any US plan" in the Arab-Israeli peace process. They also wished to meet with high-ranking US officials. On February 19th, Hage faxed Maloof his report of the trip. Maloof reports having brought the proposal to Jamie Duran. The Pentagon denies that either Wolfowitz or Rumsfeld, Duran's bosses, were aware of the plan.
On February 21st, Maloof informed Duran in an email that Perle wished to meet with Hage and the Iraqis if the Pentagon would clear it. Duran responded "Mike, working this. Keep this close hold.". On March 7th, Perle met with Hage in Knightsbridge, and stated that he wanted to pursue the matter further with people in Washington (both have acknowleged the meeting). A few days later, he informed Hage that Washington refused to let him meet with [head of Iraqi Intelligence, Gen. Tahir Jalil Habbush al Takriti] to discuss the offer (Hage stated that Perle's response was "that the consensus in Washington was it was a no-go"). Perle told the Times, "The message was 'Tell them that we will see them in Baghdad."
A CARNEGIE ENDOWMENT FOR THE PEACE ALTERNATIVE TO INVASION OFFERED UP AT THE LAST MINUTE.
When it appeared that the Iraqi back-channels for negotiations were going nowhere and it was evident that the Weapons Inspectors were going to be forced out of the country by the United States in advance of its immanent invasion, an unusual and not well-publicized effort was made by the Carnegie Endowment for the Peace to advance an alternative to war. Needless to say, the Bushniks and the Neo-Cons who were itching to invade laughed at this. Nevertheless, it is interesting to review it and, in light of what has transpired since, looks especially inspired.
The following is a transcript from an All Things Considered story on the Carnegie Plan.
Carnegie Endowment Proposal to Back Weapons Inspectors in Iraq With a U.N. Military Troop of 50,000
All Things Considered: September 5, 2002
ROBERT SIEGEL, host:
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.
JACKI LYDEN, host:
And I'm Jacki Lyden.
President Bush is considering whether to seek a UN Security Council resolution that would set a deadline for Iraq to allow inspectors to search for weapons of mass destruction. But Bush administration officials have made clear these inspections must be far more effective than earlier efforts, which were thwarted by Iraq. A group of policy analysts has come up with a new proposal for a UN military force to back any weapons inspections. That idea has sparked some interest in Washington, as NPR's Michele Kelemen reports.
MICHELE KELEMEN reporting:
If you listen to some of the hawks in Washington, the choice seems stark. Either the Bush administration goes it alone, mounting an all-out war to topple Saddam Hussein's regime, or it sits by as Iraq continues to develop weapons of mass destruction. Retired General Charles Boyd argues there is a way to force Saddam Hussein to make the choice, by sending in troops to back up weapons inspections.
General CHARLES BOYD (Retired): He can submit to effective, comprehensive inspections backed by military force or he can accept an inevitable invasion for the purpose of a regime change.
KELEMEN: Boyd and other analysts, ex-officials and former inspectors outlined their proposal in a report just released by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. That organization's president, Jessica Mathews, says this third way or middle ground should appeal to those who want to focus on disarming Saddam Hussein but don't support unilateral US action to topple him.
Ms. JESSICA MATHEWS (Carnegie Endowment for International Peace): This says, `Sorry, we're not negotiating. There are no off-limit sites. The inspectors will go where they want, when they want. They will have operational security, which they did not have before. The Iraqis bugged them all the time and knew where they were going. And they will have force to back them up.'
KELEMEN: A force of about 50,000 troops and airpower, according to authors of the Carnegie proposal. That would be smaller than an invasion force, but large enough to establish no-fly and no-drive zones in areas that are under inspection. Mathews see is as a largely American force.
Ms. MATHEWS: We would have air cavalry forces, which is armored helicopter mobile troops that could accompany the inspectors that would be strong enough to do whatever they chose to do--that is, whether they chose to simply protect the inspectors, to protect themselves, to engage if there were direct opposition or to disengage.
KELEMEN: When White House spokesman Ari Fleischer was asked about the possibility of such coercive inspections, he would only say the president is considering various options.
Mr. ARI FLEISCHER (White House Spokesman): The bottom line, though, is that Iraq needs to live up to its commitments to disarm, not simply allow inspectors in, not to resume a cat-and-mouse game, not to put people in there in harm's way where Saddam Hussein would again use the powers of the state police to rough up inspectors and make their job impossible to do.
KELEMEN: And Fleischer has repeatedly insisted that regime change is still the US policy. Mathews of the Carnegie Endowment says her proposal would only work and Saddam Hussein would only be persuaded to accept inspectors if that goal were pushed aside.
Ms. MATHEWS: The crucial part of this proposal is to recognize that the US has to make a give, and that give is to say for as long as inspections are working we forgo action on a regime change. We may still believe regime change is the best preferable outcome. We have felt that way about Cuba, for example, for 40 years without doing anything about it. But we would have to make that explicit commitment for this to work.
KELEMEN: That may be difficult for some in the Bush administration to accept. The UN Security Council would also have to approve a military operation to back weapons inspectors. Mathews believes that council members will be interested in this new proposal, if only to stop the US from acting alone. Michele Kelemen, NPR News, Washington.
Copyright ©2002 National Public Radio®.
CONGRESS IS NOT OFF THE HOOK.
The selective use of Intelligence by the NeoCons in DoD and the White House is, in the opinion of many, criminal and impeachable. But that doesn't let Congress off the hook. While Congress was not spoon-fed the information by the Administration, it had resources to get at the Truth.
But, in the post 9-11 political environment and the near total domination of the media by the Administration, the Congressional opposition was demoralized and weakened. With very few exceptions Congress seemed to be willing to go along with the White House on the WMD.
Dana Milbank and Walter Pincus, in today's (11-12-05) edition of the Washington Post write:
“Lawmakers are partly to blame for their ignorance. Congress was entitled to view the 92-page NIE about Iraq before the October, 2002 vote. But, as the Washington Post reported last year, no more than six senators and a handful of House members read beyond the five-page executive summary." (Emphasis Added)
We get a sense of the divided opposition during that time in a story reported by the AP on October 4, 2002.
After a meeting with CIA Chief George Tenant, Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Ill., said some information that could weaken the Bush administration's case against Iraq remains classified. He and others felt that the whole story wasn't being told. "It is troubling to have classified information which contradicts statements made by the administration," he said. "It is maddening to have classified information which contradicts classified information leaked by the administration."
But Sen. Evan Bayh, D-Ind., said he believed intelligence officials were "giving us the vast majority of what they know." Senator “Sponge” Bayh (my name for him) goes on to say: "They're giving us their best judgment, the facts that they have," he said. "But one of the difficulties in addressing this whole issue is that there is just a lot that is unknown and unknowable."
Ugh. I bet the late Senator Birch Bayh is spinning like an dervish in his grave!
BOTTOM LINE: MORE LIES FROM THE LYING LIARS WHO TELL THEM.
We now know that the Bush administration dismissed peace overtures and buried them in the rush to go to war. Bush never entertained any alternatives to war, like the one proposed by the Carnegie Endowment for the Peace. And we know that Congress didn't do its job.
Bush’s ex-post facto spinning of the situation only adds to the layers of deception and lies that have become the hallmark of this Administration. And it makes some of the current criticism from the likes of John Kerry, who voted for extending war powers to Bush, turn to ashes in the mouth.
All of this makes Bush's use of Veteran's Day to dissemble before America and the world even more vile. He chose to go to war NOT because it was necessary, but because he wanted to and, thanks to a spineless Congress, he could!
The Bush administration continues to post now-discredited WMD analysis on the State Department Web Site. Are you nostalgic for a taste of the pre-war lies? Go back in time.
Wednesday, November 09, 2005
Right-Wing Bloggers are getting sick of Alaska's freeloading!
The following is a current post from the Club For Growth (click Header)
Great Alaskan Editorial
Sage words from the Anchorage Daily News:
How would Alaskans feel about sending a big share of their federal taxes to another state whose residents keep taking more than they give to the federal treasury, insist on paying no state income or sales tax and receive hundreds of millions every year in payments from their state government for individual shares of their state’s resource wealth?
In Illinois and Louisiana and West Virginia and elsewhere, it’s logical to ask: More than $31 billion in the Alaska Permanent Fund, generating interest and dividends, and you want the rest of America to bankroll your bridges? Death grip on your state dividends and a zealot’s passion against taxes, and yet you demand the taxes of others to pay for things you won’t pay for yourself? How long do you think you can play this game?
We’re getting closer to the day when the rest of the country says: “You want the goodies? Pay for them yourselves.” [emphasis added]
Pay heed, Stevens, Murkowski, and Young. Pay heed.
Posted by Andrew Roth at 10:22 AM TrackBack (0) Print
Saturday, November 05, 2005
If you are not paying attention to the hearings being conducted by the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, you should be!
Americans don't have to wait for the trials of Tom DeLay or Irwin Libby to get a deep look at Power Politics in the Bush-Era. Just look at the exhibits assembled by the Senate Committee.
Money was paid by various Indian Tribes to Jack Abramoff and his colleagues to lobby on their behalf. Instead, these documents reveal, they were overcharged for millions of dollars sent to intermediary companies, which Abramoff and partner Mike Scanlon skimmed, and thence to Republican affiliates and Evangelical Christian political brokers to do the work of Abramoff, not God.
In these documents, you will see how Ralph Reed used his connections to James Dobson, Pat Robertson, and many other evangelical Big-Shots to orchestrate outrage by the Faithful to deliver for Abramoff's Casino clients. Ralph Reed delivered protesting pastors in Louisiana and angry email from baptists in a targeted congressional district. Ironically, all of this Righteousness-For-Hire was done to aid what turns out to be a criminal enterprise. This was not done once, but it was done many times in Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas. There is a letter signed by Phyllis Schlafly of the Eagle Forum to Gale Norton opposing the interests of a Tribal competitor to Mr Abramoff's casino client. These documents show how easily these personalities access the highest eschalons of government. That should be of concern to every thinking American.
Please read and spread the word to your Christian friends. They need to know that they are being used like crack whores by the Republican D.C. Power Players!
Wednesday, November 02, 2005
7 years ago, The National Review published a piece by a little known lawyer by the name of Ann Coulter. Ann had just published a book titled "High Crimes and Misdemeanors" about president Clinton. Right-Wing pulp factory Regnery Press promoted Ms Coulter's vituperations.
In light of what we now know about Libby, Rove, Cheney and President Bush's subversion of congress, lying to the American people and abuse of power , Ms Coulter proves herself a Prophet. Yes, 7 years ago, Ann Coulter made a well-stated argument for the impeachment of the president of the United States today!
Below is just a fragment of her entire article that ran September 14, 1998. I have highlighted a few phrases in bold. Just read those and it is clear that Ann saw clearly the basis for impeaching George W. Bush back in 1998!
ps--I enjoyed the comment made by Pat Buchanen at the end. Ironic, eh? ;)
For more than six hundred years, "high crimes and misdemeanors" has referred exclusively to conduct requiring impeachment. Though any serious felony will do, impeachment will not result in a prison sentence or beheading. An impeachment conviction in the Senate merely removes a statesman from his office of "honor, trust, or profit" with the United States. The criminal law is for personal punishment; impeachment is for keeping statesmen virtuous.
So, a "high misdemeanor" refers not, as it is commonly construed, to a criminal offense just short of a felony, but to simple misbehavior -- bad demeanor, if you will. As the Rodino Report during the Watergate investigation explained, "From the comments of the Framers and their contemporaries, the remarks of delegates to the state ratifying conventions, and the removal-power debate in the First Congress, it is apparent that the scope of impeachment was not viewed narrowly." Instead, impeachment has always been viewed as --among other things -- a guarantee of the moral behavior of public officials.
In the course of prosecuting one of the greatest impeachment trials in Anglo - American history -- that of Warren Hastings -- Edmund Burke said: "Other constitutions are satisfied with making good subjects; [impeachment] is a security for good governors." Burke meant "good" in the moral sense: "it is by this tribunal that statesmen [are tried] not upon the niceties of a narrow jurisprudence but upon the enlarged and solid principles of morality."
It is exactly this understanding of impeachment that underlies the phrase used in Article I of the Constitution. James Madison said the "first aim" of the Constitution was to ensure that men with the "most virtue" would become the nation's rulers. The Constitution's impeachment power was for "keeping them virtuous whilst they continue to hold their public trust." Or as Alexander Hamilton put it, "Men, in public trust, will much oftener act in such a manner as to render them unworthy of being any longer trusted than in such a manner as to make them obnoxious to legal punishment."
To be sure, there were differences in the practical application in Britain and the United States. Impeachments in Great Britain were often used as a weapon in the ongoing and turbulent power struggle between Parliament and the King. Consequently, impeachments tended to fall into ponderous, grand-sounding categories such as "abuse of power" or "encroachment on Parliament's prerogatives." These categories were expanded and reshuffled for use in a constitutional republic. Personal misconduct took on a larger role in impeachments, for example, and policy disputes were not areas of impeachable conduct.
Having just fought a war to get rid of a king, the framers had "the perfidity of the chief magistrate" clearly in their sights when they included broad grounds for impeachment. They discussed the Constitution's impeachment power in terms of removing a President who "misbehaves" or "behave[s] amiss," as two of the delegates put it. Madison wrote that impeachment was meant to remove Presidents for "incapacity, negligence, or perfidity."
WHAT does such presidential misconduct look like? We, of course, have a recent template. On July 27, 1974, the House Judiciary Committee adopted three articles of impeachment against Richard Nixon. The charges against him were neatly summarized near the bottom of the indictment: "In all of this, Richard M. Nixon has acted in a manner contrary to his trust as President and subversive of constitutional government, to the great prejudice of the cause of law and justice, and to the manifest injury of the people of the United States."
To say that Nixon was forced to resign, as so many commentators do, for acting in a manner "subversive of constitutional government" is meaningless without knowing what acts comprised that "subversion." Nixon's subversion consisted of: One presidential lie, one invocation of presidential privilege, and zero criminal offenses. One month after Nixon resigned, a prosecutor said of some of Nixon's alleged crimes, "none of these matters at the moment rises to the level of our ability to prove even a probable criminal violation by Mr. Nixon."
As Nixon discovered, the President's obligations go far beyond the requirement that he not criminally obstruct justice. Nixon talked about political audits by the IRS, but no political audits were ever conducted (except of Nixon himself). Nixon invoked one privilege one time (and this was somewhat legitimate, since the Supreme Court did in fact recognize a brand new legal privilege). And Nixon permitted his subordinates to delay one investigation once -- for two weeks.
What really did Nixon in was his long-running campaign of public deceit. The Watergate special prosecutor, Leon Jaworski, said of Nixon's disgrace and resignation: "What sank him was his lying." Even President Nixon's most loyal defenders abandoned his cause when they found that he had lied. "The problem is not Watergate or the cover-up," Pat Buchanan told Julie Nixon. "It's that he hasn't been telling the truth to the American people. . . . The tape makes it evident that he hasn't leveled with the country for probably eighteen months. And the President can't lead a country he has deliberately misled for a year and a half."
Tuesday, November 01, 2005
His name is 'Smokey', which is short for "Smoke & Mirrors". You can feed him and wash him. He's just like a Republican. His appetite is insatiable and his need for cleaning is endless.
The Senate is digging into a budget plan that would bundle Medicare and Medicaid spending cuts with a plan to open ANWR to oil drilling. (MUNCH-MUNCH, SLURP-SLURP)
Republicans are facing unanimous opposition from Democrats who contend it is part of an overall plan that will actually increase the deficit once a companion $70 billion tax cut bill is passed. (MUNCH-BURP-MUCH-MUNCH)
"When I went to Roosevelt grade school in Bismarck, North Dakota, I learned that if you reduced spending by $39 and you reduced your income by $70, you were deeper in the hole," said top Senate Budget Committee Democrat Kent Conrad. "You've added to the deficit. You haven't reduced it."
When congressional Republicans cut the federal budget for essential programs AND give a tax-cut to the Rich, they only shift the tax burden onto local government.
In an earlier post, I discuss--in an open letter to the citizens of Oregon--that it is irony, indeed, that Republican Dick Armey and his prized band of porkers are now getting fed the big apples to organize anti-tax initiatives in Oregon when Armey was an architect of the budget-and-tax cuts passed by congress during Chimp I. The result of this Republican smoke-and-mirrors in the state of Oregon has been burdensome for state and local governments.
Now they are at it again.
We are mindful of recent subsidies for oil refiners in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, the only welfare program embraced by this congress.
We are mindful of the wasted billions in the hands of Halliburton et al in the reconstruction of both Iraq and the Southwest.
Cometh now the Corruptlicans, with a blueprint for a "balanced budget" that is just as fair and balanced as Fox News.
Do YOU trust them?
I didn't think so.
Give Smokey an apple--it's free.
Monday, October 31, 2005
The change in the Republican litany from Harriet Miers is as radical as Alito's judicial opinions.
In essence, the Republican leadership is now saying: "Give Sam Alito what we denied to Harriet Miers...."
Bush-era hypocrisy is alive and well....
Sunday, October 30, 2005
Perhaps this explains another mysterious poll finding. In the latest AP-Ipsos Poll in which only 1/3 of Americans gave congress “Good” ratings for its ethics and honesty, the vast majority of those 1/3 are Republicans. I extrapolate this to mean, the 1/3 of Americans who consider congress to be ethical and honest are mostly those “Family Values” voters who helped to re-elect George Bush in 2004.
Will Lester, Associated Press Writer, filed a story today on those Poll findings. Lester writes:
…Republican pollster Ed Goeas said recently that it's lucky for the GOP that voters won't be focused on elections for another 10 months. Republicans are more likely than Democrats to take a positive view of the honesty and ethics of Congress.
"I hear so many people talking about how dishonest they are, but I have a hard time believing they're as bad as people say," said Krista Gneiting, a Republican from Caldwell, Idaho. "I have not heard much specifically about Bill Frist and Tom DeLay."
So, it seems, that superstition coupled with ignorance is the glue binding the Bush Base together.
What this means, of course, is that as long as Bush and congress is perceived by these Americans as serving a larger, Divine purpose, the corruption and duplicity of his administration are not only tolerated—they are excused. "I'm Not Perfect, Just Saved" so goes a smug bumper-sticker, popular with Evangelicals. So Bush and Congress are not Perfect either. And we have it on Karl Rove's well-orchestrated assurances that Bush is "Saved". Adding to the smugness of salvation is the unifying theme of persecution. In case you haven’t noticed, Christians consider themselves the victims of persecution at the hands of a scheming, godless Left cabal. That cabal includes all of those carping Liberals and overzealous prosecutors picking on DeLay and Scooter Libby.
Average Americans who get their news from sources other than James Dobson might be surprised to hear that those who effectively control both houses of congress and the presidency—the evangelical Right-- see themselves as victims of political persecution.
But keep in mind; Krista Gneiting has a “…hard time believing [congress] is as bad as people say”
....Keep in mind; Mississippi legislators stated, for the record, with straight faces, that Hurricane Katrina was visited upon the Gulf because it was God’s Wrath for the Gambling Casinos that were prospering on the coast.
I wonder what these portentous observers of the American scene make of this story out of Waco, Texas today:
WACO, Texas - A pastor performing a baptism was electrocuted inside his church Sunday morning after grabbing a microphone while partially submerged, a church employee said.
The Rev. Kyle Lake, 33, was standing in water up to his shoulder in a baptismal at University Baptist Church when he was electrocuted, said Jamie Dudley, a church business administrator and wife of another pastor there.
Doctors in the congregation performed chest compressions, she said. Lake was taken by ambulance to Hillcrest Baptist Medical Center, where nursing supervisor Pat Mahl said he was pronounced dead.
The woman Lake was baptizing was not injured, Dudley said.
Since I am not a believer in intelligent design or a person who can interpret Divine Signs like the average Mississippi Republican state legislator, I would say that meaning of this story is “…Thou shalt not grab an electric microphone when the cord of the microphone is in the holy waters…”
But keep in mind; I’m a secular humanist who doesn't trust George Bush or congress as far as I can throw them, so what do I know...?
Saturday, October 29, 2005
Republicans Vote To Cut Food Stamps by $844 Million. Agriculture Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte defended the decision saying that the cuts represent only a "sliver" of the Food Stamp Program.
...Here's a guy who won't be dismayed by the cuts in food stamps! In a file photo Exxon Mobil Corp. Chairman and CEO Lee Raymond laughs during a news conference in Dallas, Wednesday, May 25, 2005. Exxon Mobil Corp., the largest publicly traded oil company in the world, on Thursday, Oct. 27, 2005, said third-quarter profit surged, buoyed by higher crude-oil and natural-gas prices, even as the period's hurricanes hampered production. Revenue grew to $100.72 billion from $76.38 billion in the prior-year period. (AP Photo/Donna McWilliam)
....and Speaking of food, "Villages are on the brink of widespread starvation," World Food Program Country Director David Stevenson said in a statement issued in neighboring South Africa. "There is no maize, wild foods are exhausted, and there's very little food aid on the way for the next six months unless the international community steps in now with cash to stave off a humanitarian catastrophe." An estimated 12 million people in six southern African countries are expected to need food aid before the next harvest in February and March due to crop failure and the rising cost of grain. In Malawi alone, up to 5 million people — 40 percent of the population — are facing shortages. Meanwhile The New York Times reports that a spat between Congressional Republicans and the White House over how to provide food aid is preventing U.S. food aid from reaching the starving Africans. Read "African Food For Africa's Starving Is Roadblocked By Congress". Celia Dugger points out that Congress, at the behest of Archer-Daniels Midland, is opposing a State Department initiative to purchase food product in the hemisphere where the food is produced to save money and speed deliver. Unfortunately this runs against the interests of some powerful contributors to the Republican Party:
Just four companies and their subsidiaries, led by Archer Daniels Midland and Cargill, sold more than half the $700 million in food commodities provided through the United States Agency for International Development's food aid program in 2004, government records show. Just five shipping companies received over half the more than $300 million spent to ship that food, records show.
Congressional Republicans remind me of St. Paul's meditation upon the irony of our relationship with the Super-ego and the Id (which he called God and the Devil): "The good that I would I do not; the Evil that I would not, that I do..."
The Republicans, largely composed of Bible-believing Christians, just cannot seem to do Good. Instead of clothing the naked, healing the sick, and feeding the hungry, they do the bidding of the Rich and the Powerful. The Republicans cut the taxes of the rich, subsidize their companies and use our military to confiscate the resources of other lands for the benefit of the multinational corporations owned and run by them.
When fiscal conservative Republicans and Democrats in Congress tried to address the deficit by cutting farm subsidies, the response was immediate and intense from agribusinesses and from the heartland of America and the core of Red State America: DON'T CUT OUR FARM SUBSIDIES! The Republican leadership in congress responded by proposing a cut in the foodstamp program as an alternative to cutting farm subsidies.
My Bible must be a different version than the Republican Bible. Perhaps it is a Democrat Bible. But in my Bible, Jesus Christ washes the feet of the poor, he doesn't kiss the butts of the rich!
Wednesday, October 12, 2005
In light of the growing chorus of whining as more and more of the Bush Circle of Jerks get trapped by their own hubris, I decided to revisit the treatment of the Clinton Administration friends and associates during the Whitewater "Investigation". So this weekend I checked out a copy of THE HUNTING OF THE PRESIDENT, The Ten Year Campaign To Destroy Bill Clinton. The documentary is based on the book by Gene Lyons and Joe Conason. It is available from any Movie Store or library. Check it out. Watch it. For me, it really put in relief the irony of the current Republican outrage at the relatively tame efforts of a state prosecutor and the federal special counsel in the Plame affair when compared with the outrageous behavior of the Clinton-haters ten years ago.
Tom DeLay's lawyer Dick DeGuerin tried to serve Texas Prosecutor Ronnie Earle with a subpoena today. The subpoena was not signed by a court...it was a "toy subpoena" ginned up by DeLay's mouthpieces for the publicity value. DeGuerin wants Earle to answer 12 questions about conversations he had with grand jurors, including whether the prosecutor became angry when a grand jury decided against an indictment of DeLay and why that decision was not publicly released.
Earle, leading a Texas campaign finance investigation that indicted DeLay and two political associates, went to three grand juries. He presented evidence on DeLay's alleged role in funneling corporate money to Texas legislative candidates in violation of state law.
The first grand jury indicted DeLay on conspiracy charges, the second failed to indict and the third indicted him on an allegation of money laundering. DeLay has said he is innocent of wrongdoing. DeLay has accused Earle -- a Democrat -- of pursuing the case against him for political reasons. Earle has denied any political motives.
In a motion filed last week, the defense team said that from Sept. 29 through Oct. 3, Earle and his staff "unlawfully participated in grand jury deliberations and attempted to browbeat and coerce" the grand jury that refused to indict DeLay.
The motion said Earle then attempted to cover up and delay public disclosure of the refusal, and also "incited" the foreman of the first grand jury to violate grand jury secrecy by talking publicly about the case -- in an effort to influence grand jurors still sitting.
That Grand Jury foremen referenced by DeLay's attorneys told the media today that the allegation of influencing and tampering with the Jury was a "...bunch of Bullshit..."
Nevertheless, DeLay's lawyers have generated enough fodder for the dittoheads on Yakkk Radio to wax indignant. O the weeping...O the wailing...O the gnashing of teeth as the well-oiled machinery of the Right-Wing media spin the situation to make DeLay actually appear to be the victim.
IRONY. The irony here can be summed up in two words: KEN STARR. Remember him? The Right-Wing attack machine funded by Richard Mellon Scaife and Uncle Sam funded a $50 Million attempted Coup d'Etat to overthrow the presidency of Bill Clinton. They left in their wake dozens of damaged lives, including one person who spent two years in prison because she refused to go along with a fabrication created by Starr and his crowd.
The outrageous behavior of Ken Starr has never been fully acknowledged by the crowd that now fulminates over poor Tom DeLay. Many of them were in political office at the time, including Sugarland's favorite pest control magnate, Tom DeLay.
...Meanwhile the Right-Wing whine-line on Scooter's release of confidentiality to Judith Miller is that it was "coerced". What did Patrick Fitzgerald, the US Attorney in Chicago appointed by then-Attorney-General Ashcroft as special counsel to investigate the leaking of a CIA agent's name by the White House do to "coerce" tough-guy Libby who, along with Rove, run the White House mafia?
Did he threaten to expose them to endless tax audits like Ken Starr did in his investigation? Did Fitzgerald threaten to ruin Scooter financially with multiple indictments on cut-and-paste evidence like Ken Starr did? Did Fitzgerald fabricate a story with the complicity of a dying man who was afraid to die in jail and then threaten to drag scooter in front of a Grand Jury if he didn't cooperate, like Ken Starr did?
Whatever did Fitzgerald do to poor Scooter Libby that has the bowels of Limbaugh stirring with category 5 fury? Fitzgerald said, in writing to Libby, that he would "appreciate" Libby restating his release of confidentiality to Miller and would consider it "cooperative".
That is VERY abusive...
Judy Martyr Miller
So Judy Miller spent three months is Jail for refusing to testify before Fitzgerald's Grand Jury because it would require her to 'reveal her sources'. Her three months in the slammer were fully managed by the New York Times who saw to it that she had what could only be considered luxury lock-up conditions. She had access to a cell phone, which she used to blab to anyone willing to listen to her. She had a constant stream of visitors and was accommodated in every way. Judy, for those of you who do not know, is the Bush Administration's resident propagandist embedded with the liberal flagship paper, the New York Times. Judy Miller was the conduit for getting the WMD lies of the Bush Administration in print. Judy's 'source' Ahmed Chalabi, funneled to her through Cheney's office, is now, like Judy Miller herself, discredited by the passage of events. Nevertheless, given Miller's preening before the cameras upon her release, one might think that Judy Martyr Miller still had credibility. One might think that Judy Martyr Miller had actually been punished, like Susan McDougal. When Susan McDougal was incarcerated she was put in maximum security and required to wear the same red prison uniform worn by women who were in prison for murder. Many the women in prison for murder are implicated in the death of their children. So Susan McDougal was lumped in with what other prisoner's called "Baby Killers" and she endured isolation and abuse while serving time for not testifying before a grand jury. At various times, she was spat on, urinated on, and she suffered other indignities. The New York Times didn't keep a watchful eye over Susan McDougal. In a very real sense, they and the rest of the media establishment helped to put her there.
There is some Irony in hearing the Republicans howl about the treatment of their priviledged characters, is there not?
Saturday, October 08, 2005
"I'm driven with a mission from God. God would tell me, 'George, go and fight those terrorists in Afghanistan.' And I did, and then God would tell me, 'George go and end the tyranny in Iraq,' and I did."
-June 2003 conversation among Bush and former Palestinian foreign minister Nabil Shaath and Mahmoud Abbas, former prime minister and now Palestinian President.
Thursday, October 06, 2005
The GOP-controlled Senate voted 90-9 on Wednesday to back an amendment to the Defense Spending Bill that would prohibit the use of "cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment" against anyone in U.S. government custody, regardless of where they are held. Sponsor John McCain said that the United States is losing its Moral Authority in the War on Terrorism in the eyes of the world, particularly in the Arab-speaking World.
Alaska's Senior Senator Ted Stevens was the only Senator to speak against the amendment. An embarrassment to Alaska? Yes. But the Senior Senator, whose snout is famously buried in the loamy soils of Washington D.C. (as documented so well by the Los Angeles Times ), is not the only embarrassment to Alaska. Senator Stevens' Son, Ben, has inherited the arrogant snout-gene from his Dad and he is well on his way to building a career in Alaska leveraging his father's power into a personal fortune. This is currently being well-documented in the Anchorage Daily News.
 Chuck Neubauer and Richard T. Cooper. "Senator's Way to Wealth Was Paved With Favors." The Los Angeles Times. December 17, 2003,
The Top 10 Reasons Ben Stevens Should Go To Iraq
10. Experience life someplace where he is properly appreciated;
9. Apply the vast knowledge gained from shoring up his own reputation to an equally improbable task: the reconstruction of Iraq;
8. Take a risk more challenging than day-trading
7. Provide a replacement for someone who deserves to come home;
6. With the vast numbers of maimed children of the War, Ben could help organize and then consult for an Iraqi Special Olympics Committee;
5. Ben's charisma and sparking sense of humor could be a real morale boost for our troops;
4. Ben could drive his SUV along the Iraq Airport Road clearing the roadside bombs for our troops;
3. Ben would learn to take orders from someone other than his dad;
2. Ben would be remembered for being something other than a corrupt politician;
...and the No. 1 Reason why Ben Stevens should go to Iraq....
...if Ben gets captured, he can say "thanks, Dad" over Al Jazeera!
Wednesday, October 05, 2005
[Metanoia2k Note] This letter was found by a friend and forwarded to me. It was written by her then 14-year old son in 1998. The boy had composed this as a letter-to-the-editor in response to some public display of patriotic puffery by a couple of community ideologues. I was struck by the letter in part because I was his age when I began writing letters-to-the-editor. So I see a kindred spirit here. Mark Twain said that "...Truth is like cool mountain water...it tastes clean and right." This sure tastes like Truth to me. It was Truth then; it is Truth now.
I would like to respond to the recent letters supporting [the teaching of] patriotism from _____and _____.
The armed forces have indeed fought for our “freedom,” and I’m sorry so many died for so little.
I cherish what freedom we have in this country, but what about the poor people here and the unbelievable numbers of people in the rest of the world much worse off. They’re struggling to get food (and even water) to make it through the day. Where’s the freedom in that?
Our wonderful nation doesn’t do much to help them.
Our government looks the other way and even supports corporations when they enslave third world countries. They stop progressive action and create puppet leaders in the countries where they can’t buy off the leader in place. If someone should rise against the government, we’re there to help stop them—not necessarily in the form of U.S. troops, but financially, or with weapons or training.
I don’t think we need to be teaching or supporting patriotism to an oppressive, hypocritical world superpower. We the people have very little say in the way our government is run. This comes from a media that is controlled by the corporations that have their investments in oppression. The media is selective with the truth that they feed us. What we get is propaganda that supports these crimes against freedom. What is even worse is that almost all of us believe it, and we let it help shape our beliefs.
We also have come to believe that our country is a viable community and society. It is not. Global communication is important, but we have to realize that a community has to be much smaller. Get involved in your neighborhood and community council. Listen. Think. Discuss. That’s where revolution will start.That’s where we the people are.
In case you’re still skeptical, here’s a quote, “I will never apologize for America. I don’t care if it’s right or wrong.” That was George Bush responding to a question about why our super-accurate, never fail missiles hit seven out of eleven hospitals in the city of Baghdad during the Gulf War.
Hooray for patriotism at work.
Tuesday, October 04, 2005
Harriet resigned, as predicted. She lasted three weeks instead of two. While Bush appears to have caved in to the Right, I still believe this defeat will cause him to retaliate, in some form, against Frum, Norquist et al, the Trolls who brought Harriet down. I can dream, can't I?
O the weeping and wailing and the gnashing of teeth from the Trolls over president Bush's nomination of White House Counsel Harriet Miers to replace Justice O'Connor.
It has the all the markings of a tropical depression. It is a storm feeding upon itself, drawing heat from the waters even as the coolness at the edge of the air mass churns around it's center, causing the highly compressed air to spin the self-defined mass around and around and around....
The Right-Wing is filled with tiny storms centers: the egomaniacal and agenda-layered air masses that hover just out of reach of shore, hoping to catch a wave, perhaps, or more. There is the scrawny storm-shrike Ann, there is bilious blowhard Pat, and the lispy wind-shear David--all raging in foamy fury about this terrible, terrible thing that George W. Bush hath done: he nominated a Supreme Court Justice without consulting them!
Ann Coulter sniffs about Harriet Miers "..mediocrity";
Pat Buchanen bleats that she is neither brilliant nor qualified;
David Frum whines that she is a "...taut, nervous, anxious personality".
All analyses, ironically, are dead-on self-descriptions.
I PREDICT that the Trolls will continue to whip themselves into a lather, then into a whirlwind, then into a hurricane that will threaten to lay waste to what remains of Bush's credibility.
I PREDICT that, within two weeks or so, that Harriet Miers will withdraw. She will be so brutally beaten up by the extremists at the edges of the Bush base that she will no longer be able to abide the abuse.
I PREDICT that Karl Rove will come to Bush on October 18th or 19th and tell his increasingly bitter and isolated president that the Storm on the Right has now become dangerous and life-threatening.
I PREDICT that Karl will have Miers' signed Letter of Withdrawal already prepared.
WHEN THE NEWS OF HARRIET MIERS' WITHDRAWAL is announced, the Trolls will cheer a victory against their president's better instincts and the sound of the Right-Wing Troll blood-dance will thunder from the hills...
WARNING TO THE RIGHT:
Take a moment to consider this consequence of your hubris. Harriet is a friend of the president. This is something HE wants. By denying him this, I PREDICT that you will force him, finally, after five years in office, to become a REAL president--not just one he plays on T.V.--independent of you and your influence.
Wouldn't THAT be interesting?
Let the Sturm und Drang begin...
Friday, September 30, 2005
I recieved the following in an email from a friend and decided that it should be posted here.
Thank you, Pat.
For reasons spelled out below, the poet Sharon Olds has declined to attend the National Book Festival in Washington, which, coincidentally or not, takes place September 24, the day of an antiwar mobilization in the capital. Olds, winner of a National Book Critics Circle Award and professor of creative writing at New York University, was invited along with a number of other writers by Laura Bush to read from their works.
Laura Bush, First Lady
The White House
Dear Mrs. Bush,
I am writing to let you know why I am not able to accept your kind invitation to give a presentation at the National Book Festival on September 24, or to attend your dinner at the Library of Congress or the breakfast at the White House.
In one way, it's a very appealing invitation. The idea of speaking at a festival attended by 85,000 people is inspiring! The possibility of finding new readers is exciting for a poet in personal terms, and in terms of the desire that poetry serve its constituents--all of us who need the pleasure, and the inner and outer news, it delivers.
And the concept of a community of readers and writers has long been dear to my heart. As a professor of creative writing in the graduate school of a major university, I have had the chance to be a part of some magnificent outreach writing workshops in which our students have become teachers. Over the years, they have taught in a variety of settings: a women's prison, several New York City public high schools, an oncology ward for children. Our initial program, at a 900-bed state hospital for the severely physically challenged, has been running now for twenty years, creating along the way lasting friendships between young MFA candidates and their students--long-term residents at the hospital who, in their humor, courage and wisdom, become our teachers.
When you have witnessed someone nonspeaking and almost nonmoving spell out, with a toe, on a big plastic alphabet chart, letter by letter, his new poem,you have experienced, close up, the passion and essentialness of writing. When you have held up a small cardboard alphabet card for a writer who is completely nonspeaking and nonmoving (except for the eyes), and pointed first to the A, then the B, then C, then D, until you get to the first letter of the first word of the first line of the poem she has been composing in her head all week, and she lifts her eyes when that letter is touched to say yes, you feel with a fresh immediacy the human drive for creation, self-expression, accuracy, honesty and wit--and the importance of writing, which celebrates the value of each person's unique story and song.
So the prospect of a festival of books seemed wonderful to me. I thought of the opportunity to talk about how to start up an outreach program. I thought of the chance to sell some books, sign some books and meet some of the citizens of Washington, DC. I thought that I could try to find a way, even as your guest, with respect, to speak about my deep feeling that we should not have invaded Iraq, and to declare my belief that the wish to invade another culture and another country--with the resultant loss of life and limb for our brave soldiers, and for the noncombatants in their home terrain--did not come out of our democracy but was instead a decision made "at the top" and forced on the people by distorted language, and by untruths. I hoped to express the fear that we have begun to live in the shadows of tyranny and religious chauvinism--the opposites of the liberty, tolerance and diversity our nation aspires to.
I tried to see my way clear to attend the festival in order to bear witness--as an American who loves her country and its principles and its writing--against this undeclared and devastating war.
But I could not face the idea of breaking bread with you. I knew that if I sat down to eat with you, it would feel to me as if I were condoning what I see to be the wild, highhanded actions of the Bush Administration.
What kept coming to the fore of my mind was that I would be taking food from the hand of the First Lady who represents the Administration that unleashed this war and that wills its continuation, even to the extent of permitting "extraordinary rendition": flying people to other countries where they will be tortured for us.
So many Americans who had felt pride in our country now feel anguish andshame, for the current regime of blood, wounds and fire. I thought of the clean linens at your table, the shining knives and the flames of the candles, and I could not stomach it.
Wednesday, September 28, 2005
Corruption and incompetence are quickly becoming the mise en scène of the Bush Era. Today's indictment of Tom DeLay speaks to the "corruption" part of this formula; a report circulated by CNN today underscores the "incompetence" attribute. As is too often the case, it is the interests of Native Americans that are impacted by the incompetence of the federal government.
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Federal officials are investigating how National Archives documents of interest to Indians suing the Interior Department were found discarded in a trash bin and a wastebasket.
The discovery came to light on September 1, when Archives staff noticed federal records in one of the trash bins behind the National Archives Building near the Capitol. They notified the Archives' inspector general, Paul Brachfeld, whose staff recovered the documents.
SEE full story at the following link
....I wish to re-publish the following from June 1, 2005 by Paul Siegel. Paul very nicely connects the dots among the points of Congressional and Party corruption to the office of Tom DeLay. In light of today's indictment of Mr. Delay, this is worth a fresh reading. Enjoy.
Paul Siegel is a take-no-prisoners member of the Liberal Blogosphere and can be found at http://www.learningfountain.com/blog/wedontagreebut-blog.htm
This post may be found in its orginal at
June 01, 2005
Republican Rings of Corruption
(One in an irregular series)
The purpose of the current Republican establishment is not conservatism. It is not interested in small government, nor fiscal discipline, nor business laissez faire, nor “moral values.” The Republican purpose is power. Absolute power. They want to achieve a one-party state: Republican, of course. To do this they have converted the old influence-peddling loops between self-interest groups and the government into solid Republican Rings of Corruption. The corruption ringmaster is none other than Republican leader of the House, Representative Tom DeLay.
The founders of our country were worried about "factions." They wanted to prevent self-interest groups from achieving undue influence with the government. And of course, over the years many self-interest groups - especially, Big Business - did become too powerful. Self-interest groups influenced legislators and executives, hired lobbyists to appropriately dispense political contributions to one party or another, and wrote bills for legislators to vote on.
A loop of corruption was developed between legislators on one hand and lobbyists for industry and other self-interest groups on the other end. Lobbyists gave campaign money and legislators awarded the clients of these lobbyists with legislation that helped them make more money. For clients of lobbyists this was a wonderful deal: They contributed thousands and got millions in return.
Both Republicans and Democrats participated in such lucrative loops. They were feedback loops between self-interest groups and government. No longer. Under the current Republican establishment, the loop consists of self-interest groups and the Republican Party. The Republicans are telling lobbyists that they will not get goodies if they contribute anything to Democrats; all contributions must go to Republicans.
Republicans are converting these feedback loops into more solid Rings of Corruption. Lobbyists and their corporate clients think that they are in the driver's seat, but they are not. The Republicans are running the show - for the purpose of achieving unquestioned control. Eventually, they will tell their clients when and how to contribute in order to get goodies. How long will it be before clients are asked to contribute merely to stay in the Republican Party's good graces? Are Republican clients ready for periodic shakedowns?
Republicans seek control. Never mind all the high-falutin' language. Republicans are building as many Rings of Corruption to gain as much control as possible. The major rings are as follows:
REPUBLICAN/ARMS INDUSTRY RING - Previously we had the military-industrial complex. Now Republicans are using the arms industry in a big way to achieve control. They get contributions from arms merchants and return make sure the arms industry has arms to sell. Do you know of a better way of accomplishing the latter than by declaring war? And you thought we were in Iraq to liberate Iraqis?
REPUBLICAN/MEDICAL INDUSTRY RING - Pharmaceutical and other medical companies contribute to Republicans and Republicans respond with subsidies, tax loopholes and gifts to these corporations. And you thought the Medicare Bill was to help seniors?
REPUBLICAN/ENERGY INDUSTRY RING - Oil, gas and coal companies contribute a lot to the Republicans and these companies visit secretly with Dick Cheney and are awarded with an energy bill that throws money at them. And you thought they were going to reduce the price of gas?
REPUBLICAN/FINANCE INDUSTRY RING - Why do you suppose Bush is traveling all over the country advocating Social Security privatization? Maybe he thinks the finance industry is not thoroughly under the Republicans' thumb. So he sells privatization as a means of boosting the Republican/Finance Industry Ring. And you thought he wants to keep Social Security afloat?
REPUBLICAN/MEDIA INDUSTRY RING - The media industry pays and the Republicans allow mergers and acquisitions. Republicans also complain about the "liberal media." Why? In order to prevent the media from contributing to Democrats. And you thought they were interested in free speech?
REPUBLICAN/RELIGION RING - Up to recently, clients were in industry, and for Democrats, in labor. Republicans are expanding into religion. Republicans get the money and also the activism. What do Republicans offer? It's called "moral values," and its available as a commodity that is just as good as tax cuts, subsidies, special regulations or other commodities business groups like. And you thought they were worried about your soul?The ringmaster for all these Republican Corruption Rings is Tom DeLay. What good is a ringmaster without a super-lobbyist? The super-lobbyist working with Tom DeLay is Jack Abramoff. The two make a perfect pair. They go on trips together, pull new clients into the system and make each Corruption Ring solidly Republican.
Tom DeLay has control over K-Street, where the lobbyists hang out. He reportedly has a list of K-Street lobbyists and each list entry is labeled "friendly" or "not friendly." If a lobbyist is "not friendly" - contributes to Democrats - he is treated as an enemy. Those "friendly" to Republicans get respect. This is the way the ringmaster keeps lobbyists and their clients under control.
By building and strengthening the Republican Rings of Corruption, Republicans plan to make America a one-party state. They are on their way towards unlimited power - unless they are stopped. The only group that can destroy these Rings of Corruption and bring America back to a full-fledged democracy is the Democratic Party. Help fight Republican sleaze and help build the Democratic Party.
Tuesday, September 27, 2005
Monday, September 26, 2005
Read about it from FEMA's own Press Release
A reasonable person could conclude that two very important factors differentiate the Hurricane Frances preparedness from the Hurricane Katrina disaster:
1. Hurricane Frances was expected to touch down in Florida, the state governed by the president's brother.
2. The timing was 1 month before a presidential election.
I cannot, for the life of me, figure out why the Right-Wing of America, who are so capable of manufacturing stunning conspiracy theories about everyone from the Illuminati to the "Murder of Vince Foster", become so child-like and innocent when it comes to the excretia of the machinery of the White House Turd Blossom.
How can one NOT look at the facts above and come to the reasonable conclusion that George W. Bush can care mightily about one place at one time but not give a damn about another place at another time?
We can now add to our list of "race, class, and political affiliation" of possible elements contributing to Katrina negligence, two new elements: the lack of a family relationship to the president and the absence of a political campaign cycle.
By the way, I heard on the radio today that the Generals who were briefing Bush at the Texas Air Base where the president was "visibly observing" Hurricane Rita, now charcterize the Katrina response as a "Train Wreck" because "... a call would go out for rescue and 5 Blackhawk helicopters would respond to rescue 1 person from a rooftop..."
I see...the problem with Katrina response was too many resources, but poorly coordinated...
By the time the White House Ministry of Propoganda completes it's makover of the events of the Storm, we will be calling this a 'friendly-fire' incident in the War on Terrorism and cease our endless carping on the poor Commander-in-Chief...
Sunday, September 25, 2005
I find great irony in the news of the past couple of days that "fiscal conservatives" in the Republican party are wringing their hands over the "impact on the growing deficit" from the multi-billion dollar recovery package proposed by president Bush for post-Katrina recovery. We heard none of this deficit outcry when the White House was on track to making permanent the multi-trillion dollar tax cut pushed through congress a couple of years ago.
The problem for the Anti-Government Republicans, of course, is that Katrina has reminded Washington that government exists for something other than funding wars and paying for lobbyists. The unmasking of poverty in America for all the world to see is diplomatically embarrassing; the underfunding of domestic infrastructure needs that led to disaster is politically damaging . Now Washington is trying to play catch-up. But the Republican Party may not have the capacity to govern. This may become the Republican Party's version of the 1970s McGovernites internal conflict with Blue-Collar Democrats.
In a column last year, Washington Post Columnist Sebastian Mallaby examined this problem for the Republican Party (Monday, June 14, 2004; Page A17)
As John Micklethwait and Adrian Wooldridge argue in their smart new book, "The Right Nation," for every Cato Institute libertarian, the GOP harbors a moralist who wants government to regulate your private life; for every anti-tax crusader, there is a neocon who believes that government should strive to instill such virtues as patriotism, educational discipline and marital fidelity. And that's before you start counting the foreign policy hawks, who want more military spending, or the endless crony capitalists, who want government to hand out favors to their business buddies.
The policy wonks who were once employed by the government and informed congress of the administrative perspective have now been replaced by private lobbyists, think tanks and law firms--mostly filled with Republican cronies. Again, Sebastian Mallaby:
"Because it has gained control of Congress, its cronyism has blossomed; far from disdaining the lobbyists who seek to expand pork-barrel spending, the congressional Republican leadership has created its odious "K Street Project" to ensure that lobbyists hire plenty of Republicans. The Republicans, in turn, hire plenty of lobbyists. The head of the Republican National Committee is Ed Gillespie, who's made a fortune peddling influence. His predecessor is Marc Racicot, who proposed initially to work as a lobbyist even while holding the top party job..."
The unfitness of the Bush-era Republican Party to govern is based in it's fundamental hatred and distrust of government. How can a political establishment with a High Priest like Grover Norquist, anti-tax crusader and professional government-hater, possibly govern?
In a May 25, 2001 interview, Grover Norquist told National Public Radio's Mara Liasson, "I don't want to abolish government. I simply want to reduce it to the size where I can drag it into the bathroom and drown it in the bathtub."
Over at Lawyers, Guns, and Money, Robert Farely points out the fundamental contradiction in Republican governance:
"The Republicans have managed a nifty trick over the last twenty-five years. They have worked ceaselessly to make government less effective, while at the same time deriving political benefit from inadequate government... That said, this is a point Democrats ought to make more forcefully: there's no reason for a party that doesn't trust government to be responsible for it. And it's their job to point out that "don't trust government" now means "don't trust the Republican Party".
Gary Kamiya, writing in Salon, brilliantly captured this dynamic of the Anti-Government Big Government of the Republicans back in 1999:
"Triangulating Democrats notwithstanding, the real home of anti-governmentalism remains the GOP -- and the more right-wing the Republican, the more extreme the rhetoric. GOP front-runner George W. Bush must play to the middle, but the True Believers who run Congress -- Dick Armey, Trent Lott, Tom DeLay -- are under no such constraints. These worthies have scarcely pulled their legs out of their pajamas before they've given the corrupt, bureaucratic, meddling elites in Washington their first whacking of the day. Since the deliverers of these speeches are themselves career politicians whose own snouts have snuffled deeply in the loamy D.C. soil, this spectacle is oddly surreal -- somewhat like the René Magritte painting of a pipe that declares, "This is not a pipe."
All of this reminds me of a comment I heard back in Alaska, a state that has been victimized by a particularly virulent form of Republican anti-governmental neanderthalism:
"Antigovernment politicians run for office claiming that government doesn't work, then they get elected and, sure enough, they prove themselves right!"
What has been true in Alaska for decades is proving true in America today.
Bush Told U.S. Needs Post-Disaster Plan Rick Perry Flies Over Texas Cities Hit By Rita Cheney Walks Slowly Prisoner Abuse Hurts U.S. Image Hughes Launches U.S. Image Makeover Among Muslims U.S. Diplomate on 'Mission Impossible' to Mideast Republicans Offer Spending Cuts Bush Has Active Day Monitoring Hurricane Rita Bush Takes Public Role Monitoring Rita Frist Stock Sale Draws Regulatory Scrutiny Refiners Big Winners As Gas Prices Soar...
Whew!...Looks Like Business As Usual in America!
Saturday, September 24, 2005
Saturday, September 17, 2005
An Open Letter To Citizens Of Oregon: Dump The Cap—And Dick Armey.
Oregon is becoming the next battleground in the spreading fight between anti-tax activists who want to cap government spending and their opponents who say that such a move would put schools and social services at risk.
It is irony, indeed, that the agent provocateur behind these many "movements" is FreedomWorks, a D.C. Conservative consulting group that, basically, lights the fire under the pot and then gets paid to stir it. The Chief "Stirrer" is none other than Dick Armey. Therein lies the irony. Armey has done as much as anyone to cause the current fiscal woes of state and local governments. By limiting federal programs and reducing the federal funding to states and local governments in favor of massive tax breaks for the rich, Dick Armey help to force local government to raise taxes to serve those federal citizens within their jurisdictions. Now Armey is getting fat by going around the country and fighting those local governments as a paid consultant to anti-tax groups upset over the burden he has saddled them with. He is like a modern day patent-medicine man. I call it Dick Armey's Fiscal Patent Medicine & Anti-Tax Campaign. Armey's Fiscal Elixir of Tax Caps really do no good, in fact may be harmful, but it sure feels good after you take it.
Dick Armey was House Majority Leader in 2001 when the 1.6 Trillion dollar tax cut went through Congress. Remember the $5.6 Trillion Clinton surplus? It was still intact then and Armey had his eye on it. In an interview with CNN back in 2001, the audience could almost hear Armey licking his chops: "We certainly are capable of achieving more, and there's room within the $5.6 trillion surplus to look beyond the $1.6 trillion number." But Armey didn't want to stop there; he wanted a package of tax cuts for businesses, including slashing capital gains taxes. So profligate was Armey's slashing of federal revenues, that he even got into conflict with Dennis Hastert and the White House.
The result of Armey's leadership, we all know too well: The surplus was wiped out and we are now in the throes of massive federal deficits. A major consequence of his handiwork? Cuts in federal aid to state and local governments. Cuts in federal programs are particularly hard when they constitute "unfunded mandates" such as education "reform". State supplements to medicare/medicaid are required when the feds cut their support. Thus, as the federal government withdrew during the Armey years, the states had to step in to maintain the social safety net for the working poor and the middle class. Another consequence of Armey's leadership is also that the numbers of Americans categorizes as poor and working poor have increased, making the burden upon states and local governments even greater.
For Oregon, the impact of Armey's shredding of the federal side of the federalist partnership with states is particularly dramatic: the state government has lopped $285 million from statewide school funding. Oregon schools get some money from local property taxes, but 71 percent of it comes from the state. And it's not just schools under Oregon's budget ax. The state is also slashing $200 million from its health care program for the low-income and $60 million from public safety. The governor's health advisory panel reports, of those the state has cut off, 92 percent now have no prescription drug coverage; 45 percent rely on drug companies for charity care, and most of those only get some of the medications they need. And the state cut off prescription drug coverage for 7,000 other Oregonians.
Comes now, Dick Armey, in his thousand-dollar suit and his bulbous nose sniffing the air in search of a sucker. In Oregon, he sure found 'em...thousands of them who will throw money at him to save them from the onerous and burdensome income tax increase of $81.00 a year. Oregon hasn't had an income tax increase for 75 years, but just the threat of such a thing was enough for those who object to such an increase to give that much and more to Dick Armey's fiscal Patent Medicine & Anti-Tax Campaign. By the time Dick Armey's patent medicine show rolls out of Oregon, local rubes like Russ Walker, a leader in the misnamed Citizens for a Sound Economy, will be intoxicated with the delusion that they have actually accomplished something and "Doc" Armey and his band of Anti-Tax gypsies will be hundreds of thousands of dollars richer and moving on to their next target.
So here's a question for all you Tax-Cappers in light of the Katrina disaster: Why don't you just give your money to your own state and local governments and give Dick Armey the boot? You don't need him. Caps are for the lazy citizen who doesn't want to be bothered with the daily task of citizen involvement. Tax caps are a cop-out. Individual rights and responsibilities? You bet...and that is not what Caps are.
Friday, September 16, 2005
In 2002, Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, facing a tough re-election resorted to a tried and true formula in the "Old Europe"--run against Bush. Throughout 2002, the Bush administration had been sticking its finger in Berlin's eye over global warming, trade, and the International Criminal Court. The result was that, according to a poll by the Chicago Council on Foreign Relations and the German Marshall Fund of the United States at the time, 62 percent of Germans rated American foreign policy as either fair or poor. And that led Schroeder, facing a tough reelection challenge, to curry public favor by slamming the Bush administration's Iraq policy. The rest, as they say, is history.
Today, Schroeder faces another election and it is no secret that the Bushniks are supporting his opponent, Angela Merkel of the Christian Democratic Party.
In Today's editions, Deutche Welle ran an article entitled Merkel's Fans In Washington which states (in part)
After riding a wave of anti-Bush sentiment to victory in 2002, Germany's miserable economic state has forced Schröder to focus on domestic issues in his uphill battle to re-election. Opinion polls show that Merkel, candidate for the Christian Democrats, has a good chance at becoming the country's first female chancellor. But up to 30 percent of the electorate remains undecided. Merkel, 51, has said that one of her priorities if elected would be mending the poisoned relationship with the United States, while still not sending troops to Iraq. Washington is also interested in her aggressive pro-free market agenda. Although Bush officials refuse to publicly comment on the outcome of the Sunday vote, privately they say a Merkel victory would be a welcome change.
"If the administration representatives are honest they'll tell you 'Well this is a fresh start and Merkel's victory would be a good thing'," said Jackson Janes, director of the American Institute for Contemporary German Studies.
"We got a lot of leftovers with the Schröder team and we'll probably never be able to change that, so if we get a new team in Berlin it's an opportunity." Janes and others warned, however, that if Merkel wins on Sunday, the Bush administration shouldn't rush to pop the champagne corks. "I don't think that we here in Washington should escalate our expectations that her parameters would be significantly bigger than Schröder's," Janes said.
The Bushniks were, undoubtedly, rubbing their hands with glee mumbling "Rückzahlung ist ein bitch!" as they laundered support to the Merkel faction hoping to "pay back" Schroeder for his independence from the White House. Then Came Katrina.
Just as he leveraged the electorate's dusgust with Bush's foreign policy culminating in the saber-rattling over Iraq in 2002, Katrina provides Schroeder with an important disconnect between the German psyche and the Bushniks supporting Ms Merkel.
Images of poverty, social safety net failures, and bungled leadership suddenly soured the milk of closeness between the Christian Democrats and the American Republican party and their advisors. Striking at a pivotal issue for the Greens and the Social Democratic base, Shroeder's supporters were quick to link Katrina with the Kyoto Accord and global warming.
The Bush administration's withdrawal from Kyoto is highly unpopular in Europe. Jürgen Trittin, a Green Party member, who takes space in the Frankfurter Rundschau, a paper friendly with the Social Democrats, to bash US President George W. Bush's environmental laxity. He begins by likening the photos and videos of the hurricane stricken areas to scenes from a Roland Emmerich sci-fi film and insists that global warming and climate change are making it ever more likely that storms and floods will plague America and Europe.
"There is only one possible route of action," he writes. "Greenhouse gases have to be radically reduced and it has to happen worldwide. Until now, the US has kept its eyes shut to this emergency. (Americans) make up a mere 4 percent of the population, but are responsible for close to a quarter of emissions." He adds that the average American is responsible for double as much carbon dioxide as the average European. "The Bush government rejects international climate protection goals by insisting that imposing them would negatively impact the American economy. The American president is closing his eyes to the economic and human costs his land and the world economy are suffering under natural catastrophes like Katrina and because of neglected environmental policies."
But the impact from Katrina on the German Elections doesn't end with the environmental parry. Merkel's economic assumptions are in jeaprody.
The shockwaves from Hurricane Katrina reached the German electoral campaign yesterday as economists warned the sharp rise in oil prices could throw the next government's economic reform plans into disarray. Angela Merkel's Christian Democratic Union, the frontrunner ahead of the September 18 election, could come under pressure to delay a planned rise in value-added tax once in power because of concerns about the damping effect of record petrol prices on consumer demand, they said. "The [petrol price] rise could make it easier for the FDP [the CDU's likely coalition partner, which opposes the VAT rise] to persuade the CDU not to raise VAT as much as it wants to or to delay the increase," said Holger Schmieding at Bank of America.
Katrina blows cold on German reform plan By Bertrand Benoit in Berlin Published: September 2 2005
The latest polls on election eve still predict a Christian Democratic victory, but Chancellor Schroeder has found new momentum as the precepts a strong public institutions gain new currency.
Will we see the same at work in the United States in 2006?
One can hope.