Wednesday, November 30, 2005



For a wonderfully written reaction to our Commander in Thief's (no, that's not a typo) speech today at Annapolis, here's Mike Whitney's reveiw for Information Clearing House:

WHITNEY: It’s pathetic to see the world’s most powerful man, shunted into prearranged venues so he can pitch his snake-oil to college aged boys. That said, Bush’s appearance today at the Naval Academy has got to be a new low for the White House public relations team. Apparently the only people buying the huckster-in-chief’s bedraggled vision of a democratic Iraq are rosy-cheeked young men who dream of battlefields instead of girlfriends.

Is this the last place Bush can count on a round of applause without body-scanning everyone who enters the door?

“Setting an artificial deadline to withdraw would vindicate the terrorist tactics of beheadings and suicide bombings and mass murder and invite new attacks on America,” Bush boomed.

Bush loves the applause. He luxuriates in the warm glow of human affection. In many ways he is the consummate politician feeding his fragile ego with the ephemeral praise of complete strangers. Too bad, his only springboard to fame has been as bullhorn for right-wing fanatics and war-mongers. Now, he finds himself toddling on a narrower and narrower ledge, peering down into the abyss of defeat and disgrace.

“To all who wear the uniform, I make you this pledge: America will not run in the face of car bombers and assassins so long as I am your commander-in-chief.”

Who could have dreamed that events would overtake Bush so quickly? A hawkish congressman takes the floor of the House and whispers “Withdrawal” and suddenly the whole neocon master-plan begins to unravel like a ball-o-yarn skittering across the kitchen floor.

The Bush team knows they’re losing ground; and fast. That’s why they dispatched poor Rummy to 4 TV talk shows on one morning alone. That must be some kind of record. Rumsfeld was reduced to rehashing the same lame gibberish the administration has been slinging for years, only this time, no one is buying. The air is hissssing out of the tire; the momentum has shifted. The country is tired of Bush, tired of war, and tired of Iraq.

Bush-fatigue has set in like an oily pall hanging over the nation.

“At this time last year there were only a handful of Iraqi battalion’s ready for combat,” Bush thundered. “Now, there are over 120 Iraqi Army and police combat battalions in the fight against the terrorists, typically comprised of between 350 and 800 Iraqi forces. Of these about 80 Iraqi battalions are fighting side-by-side with coalition forces, and about 40 others are taking the lead in the fight.”

Lies, lies, and more lies. Mountains of lies; oceans of lies; an entire constellation of lies where every twinkling point of light is just another fraud issued from the raspy larynx of the master of mendacity, George W. Bush.”

This is Bush’s “Victory Strategy”; stacking one deception on top of another like cord-wood and hoping the wary public will believe it; hoping they’ll approve another zillion dollars for earth-poisoning ordinance; hoping they’ll send another 2,000 sons and daughters into the Iraqi meat-grinder; hoping they’ll sign off on the genocidal attack on Iraqi civilians.

Bush “war-whoop” has lost its resonance; its allure. The bubble-president has become a shadow of his former self; a tattered coat on a stick. Perhaps, he doesn’t know that the battle is lost.

All around him a palpable sense of desperation is setting in. Cheney and Rove are already manning the bunkers for next tsunami of bad news. Still, Bush is sent on his fool’s errand; trying to appear popular in the last remaining bastion, where support is reflexive and perfunctory.

The war in Iraq is lost. John Murtha said it best:

“Oil production and energy production are below pre-war levels. Our reconstruction efforts have been crippled by the security situation. Only $9 billion of the $18 billion appropriated for reconstruction has been spent. Unemployment remains at about 60 percent. Clean water is scarce. Only $500 million of the $2.2 billion appropriated for water projects has been spent. And most importantly, insurgent incidents have increased from about 150 per week to over 700 in the last year. Instead of attacks going down over time and with the addition of more troops, attacks have grown dramatically. Since the revelations at Abu Ghraib, American casualties have doubled. An annual State Department report in 2004 indicated a sharp increase in global terrorism."

Iraq is over; we lost. Someone had better tell Bush. Link to Original Article



Martom Sieff of UPI describes the Bush plan as 'neo-Vienamization.' Read the article


Greg Bluestein, AP Wire, relates this:

"Retired Gen. Barry McCaffrey said President Bush's newly released strategy for Iraq is a signal that he is in a "race against time" to restore the public's confidence in the war effort by withdrawing some troops by September...." Read more

From The Raw Story:

"Iraq Veteran and Operation Truth Executive Director Paul Rieckhoff released the following statement today, following President Bush's speech at the Naval Academy.

'The plan the President outlined for Iraq is an improvement over the administration’s previous plan, which consisted only of “stay the course.” But as a Veteran of this war and someone who talks to other Veterans everyday, I can say that in the eyes of the Troops, this plan still falls short...'" Read more


Robert Dreyfuss for Asia Times:

" ...The Bush administration has put into operation an utterly paradoxical and self-defeating strategy. First, its policies inflame the region, feeding the growth of political Islam and its extremist as well as terrorist offshoots. Then, as in Iraq - and as seems to be the case in Syria and Egypt - it seeks "regime change" in countries where it knows that the chief opposition and likely inheritor of power will be the Muslim Brotherhood or its ilk. This is a formula for endless war in the region."
Read more

Bob Herbert of the New York Times gives this scathing Bush review:

"A president who's little more than a bundle of talking points cannot possibly maintain the long-term trust and confidence of the public. There's a disturbing remoteness to President Bush that seems especially odd in a politician who was selected by his party because of his supposed ability to project warmth and the kind of fundamental authenticity that his Democratic opponents lacked." Read more


CLICK TO READ: Drugmakers Win Exemption in House Budget-Cutting Bill by Jonathan Weisman - Washington Post

Rep. Steve Buyer (R-Ind.) for ensuring that pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly and Co. and other businesses' mental health drugs will continue to fetch top price at a cost of hundreds of millions of dollars to the states.

"The provision -- inserted by Rep. Steve Buyer (R-Ind.), whose district flanks Lilly's Indianapolis headquarters -- would largely exempt antipsychotic and antidepressant medications from a larger measure designed to steer Medicaid patients to the least expensive treatment options. The House Energy and Commerce Committee approved Buyer's amendment this month over the strenuous objections of Chairman Joe Barton (R-Tex.) and the National Governors Association. It survived unchallenged in the $50 billion budget-cutting bill that narrowly passed the House just before Congress left for Thanksgiving recess."

PHOTO: Rep. Steve Buyer (R-Ind.) inserted a provision that benefits Eli Lilly and Co. and other manufacturers of prescription drugs that are used in mental health treatment. (Stefan Zaklin - Getty Images)

When in Doubt, Deny and Lie

CLICK TO READ: Report on FBI Tool Is Disputed by Christopher Lee, Washington Post:

"The Justice Department has criticized as misleading and inaccurate a Washington Post report about the FBI's expanded power to collect the private records of ordinary Americans while conducting terrorism and espionage investigations....

Leonard Downie Jr., executive editor of The Post, said that the 'Justice Department letter does not document any inaccuracies in our story on national security letters, which revealed the widespread use and limited oversight of this investigative tool. The letter relies on words like 'implies' and 'insinuates' to assert claims the story does not make. The story speaks for itself.'"

SEE RELATED ARTICLE: The FBI's Secret Scrutiny, Washington Post

U.S. Will Address E.U. Questions on CIA Prisons

PHOTO: British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw
CLICK TO READ: U.S. Will Address E.U. Questions on CIA Prisons by Glenn Kessler, Washington Post:


"These are certainly legitimate questions."

He was referring to the topic of covert CIA prisons for al Qaeda captives in Eastern Europe.

"British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, writing on behalf of the European Union, sent Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice a letter yesterday seeking "clarification" about the matter, the British Embassy said. Franco Frattini, the union's top justice official, warned Monday that any E.U. country discovered to have hosted CIA prisons will face "serious consequences," including losing its E.U. voting rights....

...The Washington Post reported early this month that the CIA has been hiding and interrogating some of its most important al Qaeda captives at a Soviet-era compound in Eastern Europe as part of a covert prison system that at various times has included sites in eight countries, including Thailand, Afghanistan and several democracies in Eastern Europe. The Post did not identify the Eastern European countries at the request of senior U.S. officials, who said the disclosure could disrupt counterterrorism efforts in those countries and elsewhere and make them targets of retaliation."

Of course, the administration denies doing anything wrong, angels that they are.

PHOTO: In Afghanistan, the largest CIA covert prison was code-named the Salt Pit, at center left above. (Space Imaging Middle East)

CIA Holds Terror Suspects in Secret Prisons - Washington Post
Reykjavik Transit

Cindy Sheehan for Chief Negotiator in Iraq?

CLICK TO READ: U.S. Debate on Pullout Resonates As Troops Engage Sunnis in Talks by Ellen Knickmeyer, Jonathan Finer and Omar Fekeiki, Washington Post

This quote jumped out at me from the above article in the Washington Post:

"'The people of Fallujah love Cindy Sheehan,' declared Farouk Abd-Muhammed, a candidate for National Assembly in Dec. 15 elections, referring to the mother of a slain Marine who became a U.S. antiwar activist."

So I was thinking, why not let Cindy Sheehan negotiate with the "insurgents" in Iraq? She sure is a lot smarter that Bush. And a lot more believable. She already has the respect of the Iraqis and can certainly sympathize with their losses, given her own.

I motion that Cindy go to Iraq and start negotiating. Do I hear any seconds?

Maureen Dowd | The Autumn of the Patriarchy

CLICK TO READ: t r u t h o u t - Maureen Dowd | The Autumn of the Patriarchy - Inside the Vice President's Bunker Mentality

Maureen Dowd, in her inimitable style, calls Vice for what he is: Vice.

"The impertinent Tom DeFrank reported in New York's Daily News that embattled White House aides felt "President Bush must take the reins personally" to save his presidency.

Let him try, Cheney said with a sneer. Things are nowhere near dire enough for that. Even if Junior somehow managed to grab the reins to his presidency, Vice holds Junior's reins. So he just needs to get all these sniveling, poll-driven wimps and losers back on board with the master plan.

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

But not anymore. Cheney could not believe that Karl had made him go out and call that loudmouth Jack Murtha a patriot. He was sure the Pentagon generals had put the congressman up to calling for a withdrawal from Iraq. Is the military brass getting in touch with its pacifist side? In Wyoming, Vice shoots doves.

How dare Murtha suggest that Cheney dodged and dodged and dodged and dodged and dodged the draft? Murtha thinks he knows about war just because he served in one and was a marine for 37 years? Vice started his own war. Now that's a credential!"

Read the whole article.

The Next Abortion Decision

CLICK TO READ: The Next Abortion Decision - New York Times

"In the abortion rights case set for argument today, the Supreme Court is taking up the most contentious social issue in the country at a moment of transition in its own membership. The theatrics could be fascinating. But what makes the case truly compelling is the substance. The case, Ayotte v. Planned Parenthood of Northern New England, challenges two longstanding pillars of abortion rights jurisprudence, reproductive freedom and the authority of the courts. Both have real-world consequences for the lives of women and the rule of law...."

SEE PREVIOUS POST: Ayotte v. Planned Parenthood - Why the future of choice starts this Wednesday...

ACTION ALERT: Congress Must Insist on a Plan to Get Out of Iraq

The debate over the war in Iraq is at a tipping point. Members of Congress are examining their position on Iraq right now—trying to gauge whether the polling reported on by the media reflects how constituents in their own districts feel.

Like the majority of Americans, I want my representative to insist on an exit strategy to bring the troops home. For the next two weeks, MoveOn is circulating a petition calling on Congress to insist on an exit strategy to bring the troops home in 2006. I have already signed. Will you join me?


A strong showing of support for a plan to bring the troops home will send an important message that our representatives need to do their job. It is critical that they hear from ALL of us.

Thank you.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Lieberman: Democrat or Neo-Con?

CLICK TO READ: Hartford Courant | `We Do Have A Plan' by David Lightman

LIGHTMAN: "Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman, just back from Iraq, wants President Bush to give the American people details about the progress being made in that country - from military triumphs to the proliferation of cellphones and satellite dishes....

'This administration is in a state of denial, and is very much in a hunker-down mode,' [said] Ted Galen Carpenter, vice president for foreign policy and defense studies at Washington's Cato Institute.

He said of Bush and Lieberman, 'You can admire their consistency, but I don't think there's anything more tragic than someone who's loyal to a flawed cause.'

Bush, Lieberman and other war backers have become increasingly isolated politically.

A Nov. 11-13 Gallup poll found that 63 percent of those surveyed disapproved of Bush's handling of the war, and 60 percent thought it was not worth going to war."

THE UNKNOWN CANDIDATE: Lieberman thinks we are achieving success in Iraq due to a "proliferation of cellphones and satellite dishes"? Either Lieberman is an incredibly stupid senator or an incredibly loyal neo-con. Since he appears to be of normal intelligence, it must be the latter.

Lieberman has consistently supported the administration's misguided pre-emptive war policies and, therefore, has no more credibility than Mr. Bush. His speech, like the President's this morning, was no more than an attempt to help shore up Bush's sagging support for his illegal policies of war, torture, and human rights abuses with their continuing onslaught of lies and propaganda.


The Road Not Yet Taken: The Path To Peace

CLICK TO READ: - The Path To Peace by Robert Dreyfuss

Overlooked, as usual, by the mainstream news media, a historic meeting, sponsored by the League of Arab States, took place last week in Cairo, "in which virtually all of Iraq’s political factions sat down to talk at a reconciliation conference." This initiative was supported not only by the Arab League but by Iran, the United Nations, the European Union and Russia.

What took place is significant:

1) A nearly unanimous call for a timetable for U.S. to leave Iraq as soon as possible--initiated by the Sunni's.
2) Agreement that “'resistance is a legitimate right of all peoples,' thus conferring near-recognition to the armed Iraqi opposition inside Iraq."
3) Agreement to reconvene in February for a second, much larger, conference that could help settle the war in Iraq

Now, if this President was really interested in 'helping" Iraq, ending the violence, and stabilizing the country, his opportunity has arisen. All he has to do is step up to the plate. Negotiations are beginning to take place and specific terms for an end to the insurgency are being discussed--with or without Mr. Bush or his counterparts.

I don't recall hearing anything about any of this in his speech this morning.

Unfortunately, I don't think we will ever hear about it from this administration. Mr. Bush is not interested in what the Iraqis want. He never has been. He is interested in his own ability to maintain control and power over this oil rich region--and beyond. He has no intentions of ever leaving Iraq completely. Otherwise, why is he spending millions to build mammoth military bases in that country instead of rebuilding Iraqi schools and hospitals? Because, the Project for a New American Century, his manifesto, calls for more wars in the region, more power grabs, more destruction, and more death.

This, my fellow Americans, is what we have to look forward to -- as long as we allow them to rule our country without consequences for their lies and illegal actions.


Iraqi Conference Separates 'Resistance' from Terrorism by Challiss McDonough - Voice of America News

Iraqi Conference Resumes After Walk-Out - By Salah Nasrawi - Yahoo! News

Iraq conference sees signs of compromise - Sydney Morning Herald

America, the Fascist State

It seems that every day, I read something that convinces me beyond a doubt that America is being sabotaged by a fascist regime headed by George W. Bush & Dick Cheney. It scares me down to my bones.

It's particularly disturbing when my European friends (who escaped Germany or Poland during World War II) are more atuned to the dangers of this government than their American-born counterparts. They lived through it, after all. Germany was a democracy when Hitler came to power. They watched as their country was taken over, like a slow growing cancer, by Hitler's fascism. What they see happening here, since Bush was appointed President, is far too similar for comfort--and they don't hesitate to express their dismay.

But most Americans still don't see it. You want to shake them and yell, "wake up! Before it's too late!" Unfortunately, they would probably write you off as a nut case.

Perhaps the following articles will help people to see what is happening to our country. I sincerely hope so. Because if we all don't wake up soon, it will be too late.

ABSOLUTE MUST READ: Bush's Fascist Valhalla������������ by Mike Whitney

"An alarmed Senator Ron Wyden (D-Ore) said, 'We are deputizing the military to spy on law-abiding Americans in America. This is a huge leap without a congressional hearing'”.

Is this the first time that the naïve Wyden realized that the war on terror is actually directed at the American people?"

Whitney makes a prediction, based on goals and tactics of the Project for a New American Century, that you must read, if only because the terrifying scenario he paints could all too easily occur.
ABSOLUTELY MUST READ: Ridin' the Bus With Deborah� by Doris Colmes

Doris Colms relates an incident that happened to Deborah Davis, while Deborah was commuting on a bus in Denver, Colorado. Doris explains why this incident so terrorized and paniced her and why it caused her to mumble, "It’s happening again.”

"And just exactly what had Deborah done to get this emotionally detached old lady into such a replay of emotions left over from 1938 Nazi Germany? It was the gut-wrenching realization that the Nazi Police State in which [she] was raised has come back to roost – in the United States."
ABSOLUTELY MUST READ: Demonize to Colonize by Ramsey Clark

EXCERPTS: "...The debate about intelligence failures is itself a cover-up of the obvious. Saddam Hussein was demonized to justify regime change in Iraq. It rendered him an evil madman threatening the civilized world. He possessed weapons of mass destruction. He supported 9/11. He aided al-Qaeda. WMDs could be launched within minutes of his order. That Saddam Hussein would use them was clear. He used them “against his own people.” Ignored were the facts that under devastating attacks by the U.S. in 1991 and 2003, Iraq did not use any illegal weapons. In 1991, Iraq was the victim of 88,500 tons of explosives (almost seven Hiroshimas) delivered by the Pentagon in 42 days that destroyed its infrastructure: water systems, power, transportation, communications, manufacturing, commercial properties, housing, mosques, churches, synagogues. Food production, processing, storage, distribution, fertilizer and insecticide production, were targeted for destruction. Nearly 150,000 defenseless people were killed outright in Iraq. The U.S. claimed its casualties to be 156 — 1/3 from friendly fire, the remainder accidents.

Sanctions against Iraq from August 6, 1990, into 2003 took over 1,500,000 lives, the majority children under age five. By October 1986, 567,000 children under five were dead from sanctions according to a U.N. FAO report that month. One-fourth of the infants born alive in Iraq in 2002 weighed less than four pounds, a dangerously low and crippling birth weight — symbolic of the condition of the entire country.

During the high-tech terrorism of “Shock and Awe” in March and April 2003, Iraq never used any WMDs or other illegal weapon as some 25,000 of its defenseless people were killed....

"...Most important of all, any court that might consider charges against Saddam Hussein must also weigh charges against the United States, its officials and others acting in concert with them. If equal justice under law is to have any meaning, and equality is the mother of justice, power cannot confer impunity for commission of wars of aggression, the supreme international crime, or the plethora of other offenses the U.S. has committed against the people of Iraq."

MUST READ: The Formerly Great Writ - Goodbye, habeas corpus. Hello, executive detention. By Emily Bazelon

"Some lawmakers are determined to bend the courts to their will. If they really get their way, they'll eviscerate the centuries-old right of habeas corpus review as we know it--leaving all of us increasingly subject to the unilateral power of executive."

CLICK TO READ: CIA Flights in Europe: The Hunt for Hercules N8183J - International - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News



CLICK TO READ: Guardian Unlimited | Nowhere to run


For an analysis of the Iraq war that is based on fact and historical perspective, this is a MUST READ.

"After what has been described as the most foolish war in over 2,000 years, is there a way out of Iraq for President Bush, asks Brian Whitaker.

There is a remarkable article in the latest issue of the American Jewish weekly, Forward. It calls for President Bush to be impeached and put on trial 'for misleading the American people, and launching the most foolish war since Emperor Augustus in 9 BC sent his legions into Germany and lost them'.

To describe Iraq as the most foolish war of the last 2,014 years is a sweeping statement, but the writer is well qualified to know.

He is Martin van Creveld, a professor at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem and one of the world's foremost military historians. Several of his books have influenced modern military theory and he is the only non-American author on the US Army's list of required reading for officers.

Professor van Creveld has previously drawn parallels between Iraq and Vietnam, and pointed out that almost all countries that have tried to fight similar wars during the last 60 years or so have ended up losing. Why President Bush 'nevertheless decided to go to war escapes me and will no doubt preoccupy historians to come,' he told one interviewer...."

US Military Admits It Burned Bodies - New York Times

CLICK TO READ: US Military Admits It Burned Bodies - New York Times

"The US military admitted on Saturday that its soldiers in Afghanistan had burned the bodies of two dead Taliban guerrillas and taunted insurgents about it, claiming the desecration was for 'hygienic reasons'."

Now isn't this a great strategy to win "hearts and minds" of fair-minded people all over the world? Doesn't this just make you tingle all over knowing you, as a United States citizen, are a part of this wonderfully abhorent policy of pre-emptive war, brutal force, and destruction?

Funny, the President didn't mention his new and improved policies of limitless detention and torture in his speech this morning and how he strategically thinks these gulag war tactics will help bring "democracy" and "freedom" to Iraq.

If I were an Iraqi, I'd tell him to take his democracy and freedom and get the H___ out of my country. Of course, we know that the Iraqi's have already done so. He conveniently forgot to include THAT little piece of information in his propaganda-speech-of-the-day.

Rove: Guilty? Or Not?

CLICK TO READ: Time Reporter Called a Key to Rove's Defense In Leak Probe by Jim VandeHei, Washington Post

Time Reporter Called a Key to Rove's Defense In Leak Probe

Supposedly, the Time magazine reporter, Viveca Novak, who recently agreed to testify in the CIA leak case is integral to Karl Rove's effort to avoid indictment, according "to two people familiar with the situation."

All I can say is, I sure hope they are wrong.

CLICK TO READ: The Raw Story | Testimony from Rove's former assistant may solidify case that he misled leak inquiry, lawyers say by Jason Leopold and Larisa Alexandrovna

Rove's Former Assistant may aid Prosecuter's Case Against Rove

Here's the other side of the story. I prefer this one. But, as usual, this is all conjecture. Only Fitzgerald holds all the cards, and he's holding them tight to the chest.

Alito Writings: Pro-Governmnent Anti-Civil Liberties

CLICK TO READ: '86 Alito Memo Argues Against Foreigners' Rights by Jo Becker and Amy Goldstein, Washington Post
Work for Justice Dept. Points to Views That May Affect Anti-Terrorism Rulings on High Court

"As a senior lawyer in the Reagan Justice Department, Samuel A. Alito Jr. argued that immigrants who enter the United States illegally and foreigners living outside their countries are not entitled to the constitutional rights afforded to Americans....

'He seems to be saying that there is no constitutional constraints placed on U.S. officials in their treatment of nonresident aliens or illegal aliens. Could you shoot them? Could you torture them?' conservative constitutional analyst Bruce Fein, who served in the Reagan administration with Alito, asked. 'It's a very aggressive reading of cases that addressed much narrower issues.'"

If this guy becomes a Supreme Court Justice, Bush and his Gang will have exactly what they want: a police state. American sponsored torture, unlimited detentions without charges, and a lot more (as long as it is not on American soil--and who knows, that could change) will be perfectly legal. This man is as dangerous as his promoters in the White House and their neo-con conspirators.

"His writings show Alito in sync with the philosophy of the Republican administration of which he was a part, staking out strong stances on aggressive law enforcement and on states' rights. The views he expresses also could be construed as paralleling those of the Bush administration as it has pursued its campaign against terrorists, legal experts said.

"In his 1986 memo, Alito cites a 1950 Supreme Court case to support the contention that nonresident immigrants of other countries have "no due process rights" under the Constitution and a 1970 case that he said suggests illegal immigrants in the United States have limited constitutional rights.

Martin Redish, a constitutional law professor at Northwestern University Law School, said that view could also be used to justify a current administration policy under which the CIA is interrogating suspected terrorists in a covert prison system in Eastern Europe and elsewhere...."

Other writings indicate Alito siding consistently on the side of government against civil rights.

Election Reform in our Future?

CLICK TO READ: A Growing Wariness About Money in Politics by Jeffrey H. Birnbaum, Washington Post

"For several years now, corporations and other wealthy interests have made ever-larger campaign contributions, gifts and sponsored trips part of the culture of Capitol Hill. But now, with fresh guilty pleas by a lawmaker and a public relations executive, federal prosecutors -- and perhaps average voters -- may be concluding that the commingling of money and politics has gone too far.

After years in which big-dollar dealings have come to dominate the interaction between lobbyists and lawmakers, both sides are now facing what could be a wave of prosecutions in the courts and an uprising at the ballot box. Extreme examples of the new business-as-usual are no longer tolerated."
I sincerely wish that this latest round of corruption would have an impact on election reform and get ALL the money out of elections. But it'll never happen. Just think how easy it would be to make democracy work in America.

The Unknown Candidate's New Rules:
RULE #1: No private or corporate or non-profit political donations allowed.
RULE #2: No candidate can use his own money or any other donated, loaned or gifted money.
RULE #3: All candidates will be given the exact same amount of money to be determined by the Government and are forbidden by law from using a penny more.
RULE #4: All TV Networks will donate equal and free time (amount & times to be determined) to each candidate to discuss his/her views on the issues.
RULE #5: Truth in Advertising Laws will from this point forward apply to all Political Advertising in all mediums in the same way they apply to other advertisers.

5 New Rules are a start. They alone would open the political arena to EVERY American who wants to run for office instead of just the wealthy few who can afford to run. They alone would focus the contest on "issues" instead of who has the deepest pockets.

Face it. It doesn't take brain surgery to fix our election system. So why doesn't Congress fix it? You tell me.

Vice President: Above the law, as usual.

CLICK TO READ: Vice President's Office Keeps Travel Expenses Under Wraps - Washington Post

"In a report this month, the nonpartisan Center for Public Integrity said Cheney and his staff have sidestepped regulations that require annual reporting of travel expenses of more than $250 received from outside groups. The center, which focuses on ethics and public service issues, said previous vice presidents routinely disclosed such payments for lodging, travel and food when the veep and his staff made appearances at colleges, think tanks and trade associations."

But not THIS Vice President, no sirreee. "David S. Addington, then Cheney's general counsel, noted that the reporting requirement applies to the 'head of each agency of the executive branch.'

'The Office of the Vice President is not an 'agency of the executive branch,' and hence the reporting requirement does not apply,' wrote Addington, who this month replaced I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby as Cheney's chief of staff."

Addington claimed "that 'none of the Vice President's employees . . . accepted payments under Section 1353.'

Yet, according to the center's research, Cheney has given 23 speeches to think tanks and trade organizations and 16 at academic institutions since 2001 -- apparently all at taxpayers' expense...."

PHOTO: CHENEY (Win Mcnamee - Getty Images)

Sunnis Accuse Iraqi Military of Kidnappings and Slayings - New York Times

CLICK TO READ: Sunnis Accuse Iraqi Military of Kidnappings and Slayings - by Dexter Filkins - New York Times

"Baghdad - As the American military pushes the largely Shiite Iraqi security services into a larger role in combating the insurgency, evidence has begun to mount suggesting that the Iraqi forces are carrying out executions in predominantly Sunni neighborhoods.

Hundreds of accounts of killings and abductions have emerged in recent weeks, most of them brought forward by Sunni civilians, who claim that their relatives have been taken away by Iraqi men in uniform without warrant or explanation...."

THE UNKNOWN CANDIDATE: Gee, looks like things are just going swell in Iraq, huh? Just like the administration says, everything's hunky dorey!

Ex-Powell Aide Wilkerson Rips Bush & Company on Iraq

CLICK TO READ: Ex-Powell Aide Criticizes Bush on Iraq - New York Times

The intimidation tactics of the Bush administration seem not to have affected Colin Powell's former chief of staff Lawrence Wilkerson one iota. He spoke out once again in an AP interview Monday and he wasn't mincing words.

Bush was "too aloof, too distant from the details" of post-war planning, according to Wilkerson, "allowing underlings to exploit Bush's detachment and make bad decisions." He further said "that wrongheaded ideas for the handling of foreign detainees after Sept. 11 arose from a coterie of White House and Pentagon aides who argued that 'the president of the United States is all-powerful,' and that the Geneva Conventions were irrelevant."

Blaming Cheney, Rumsfeld and "like-minded aides, Wilkerson said that Cheney must have sincerely believed that Iraq could be a spawning ground for new terror assaults, because 'otherwise I have to declare him a moron, an idiot or a nefarious bastard.'"

Wilkerson further critized the CIA and other agencies for allowing bogus information to become the underpinning of the administration's case for war.

"He said he has almost, but not quite, concluded that Cheney and others in the administration deliberately ignored evidence of bad intelligence and looked only at what supported their case for war."

As for the question of detainees captured in Afghanistan and elsewhere, Wilkerson said Bush heard from his administration "two sides of an impassioned argument.

Cheney's office, Rumsfeld aides and others argued 'that the president of the United States is all-powerful, that as commander in chief the president of the United States can do anything he damn well pleases,' Wilkerson said." This is certainly consistent with what we know about Cheney and Rumsfeld's career-long pursuits of untethered power.

The opposing view came from "Powell, others at the State Department and top military brass, and occasionally then-national security adviser Condoleezza Rice, Wilkerson said.

Powell raised frequent and loud objections, his former aide said, once yelling into a telephone at Rumsfeld: 'Donald, don't you understand what you are doing to our image?'"

Wilkerson also denied that he never disclosed to Bob Woodward that Valerie Plame worked for the CIA, adding his name to a "growing list of past and current Bush administration officials who have denied being the Washington Post reporter's source."

Monday, November 28, 2005

Daschle: Timing Entwined War Vote, Election

CLICK TO READ: t r u t h o u t - Daschle: Timing Entwined War Vote, Election - L.A. Times

"Daschle, who as Senate majority leader controlled the chamber's schedule, recalled recently that he asked Bush to delay the war vote on Iraq until after the impending midterm election. Daschle's account highlights a crucial factor that has drawn little attention amid rising controversy over the congressional vote that authorized the war in Iraq: the debate may have been shaped as much by when Congress voted as by what it knew."

PHOTO: BEFORE THE VOTE: President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney, left, meet with Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-S.D.), obscured, and House Minority Leader Dick Gephardt (D-Mo.), right, on Sept. 18, 2002. Congress authorized war about three weeks later. (Doug Mills/AP)

UPDATE: Plame Investigation

CLICK TO READ: 2nd Time Reporter to Testify in Leak Case - Yahoo! News

A second Time magazine reporter has been asked to testify in the CIA leak case, this time about her discussions with Karl Rove's attorney, a sign that prosecutors are still exploring charges against the White House aide.
CLICK TO READ: t r u t h o u t - Jason Leopold: Fitzgerald Targets Rove Again

Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald will present evidence to a second grand jury this week that could lead to a criminal indictment being handed up against Karl Rove.
CLICK TO READ: t r u t h o u t - Norman Solomon | The Woodward Scandal Should Not Blow Over

"The Woodward saga is a story of a reporter who, as half of the Post duo that broke open Watergate, challenged powerful insiders - and then, as years went by, became one of them. He used confidential sources to expose wrongdoing at the top levels of the US government - and then, gradually, became cozy with high-placed sources who effectively used him."

PHOTO: US special counsel Patrick Fitzgerald (R) walks to the United States District Court in Washington, DC, followed by camera crews 18 November 2005. Intrigue deepened over the CIA leak scandal clouding the White House, after Time magazine revealed Fitzgerald had demanded testimony from another of its reporters. (AFP/File/Jim Watson)

Bush Game on Padilla May Backfire

CLICK TO READ: t r u t h o u t - Marjorie Cohn | Bush Game on Padilla May Backfire

Marjorie Cohn writes that once again, at the 11th hour, the Bush administration has pulled its punches in the case of Jose Padilla. Using an approach that more closely resembles a game of chess than a system of justice, Team Bush has altered its strategy, while seeking to keep all options open. Its fancy footwork, however, may ultimately backfire.


CLICK TO READ: Belated Justice for a Terrorist - Washington Post

Another American citizen accused of terrorism, but given due process:

"Mr. Abu Ali, an American citizen, was arrested at the Saudi university at which he was studying...charged...with plotting to kill President Bush and conduct major terrorist operations."

Despite the Bush administration's emphasis on the difficulty of trying terrorism cases in federal court, Mr. Abu Ali's case "illustrates the benefits of proceeding whenever possible under the existing criminal justice system. At the end of a trial under the auspices of a conscientious judge, it's hard to see him as a victim of any particular civil liberties abuse at the hands of his own government. Rather, there is now a lengthy public record justifying his imprisonment."

Calif. Congressman Admits Taking Bribes - Yahoo! News

CLICK TO READ: Calif. Congressman Admits Taking Bribes - Yahoo! News

CLICK TO READ: San Diego-area Rep. Cunningham pleads guilty to conspiracy

Corruption, hath ye no end? Hopefully, you missed the blubbering congressman's confession on the 6 o'clock news. Sympathy, it did not invoke.

Neocons Floated Idea of Bombing Al Jazeera Before

CLICK TO READ: The Blog | Eric Schmeltzer: Neocons Floated Idea of Bombing Al Jazeera Before | The Huffington Post

Schmeltzer: "Sure enough, a search for 'bomb al Jazeera' led me to this article, written in September 2003 by Frank Gaffney, in which he recommends “taking out” al Jazeera “one way or another.”

TUC: Although this doesn't prove anything, it certainly makes it more plausible. The idea was presented previously and could very well have surfaced again.

CLICK TO READ: Telegraph | Opinion | I'll go to jail to print the truth about Bush and al-Jazeera:

"If someone passes me the document within the next few days I will be very happy to publish it in The Spectator, and risk a jail sentence. The public need to judge for themselves. Sunlight is the best disinfectant. If we suppress the truth, we forget what we are fighting for, and in an important respect we become as sick and as bad as our enemies."

Who is Saddam Hussein?

CLICK TO WATCH VIDEO: Thanks for the Memories

While we are fed sensationalism on every news channel of the Saddam Hussein Trial, it would certainly be honorable to insert some truth and clarity in our coverage.

Watch. Then ask yourself, if Saddam is a monster, what are we?


CLICK TO READ: Hussein, Back in Court, Is Combative and Feisty - New York Times

CLICK TO READ: Text of Saddam Trial Deposition - New York Times

I have to admit, if I were Saddam Hussein, I would be "combative and feisty", too. Guilty or innocent, monster or maligned, either way, I find myself wondering how much of what we have been told about Hussein is true and how much is fiction. We will probably never know the truth; we certainly can't count on hearing it from this administration.

But even if every monstrous thing we have ever heard about Saddam is true, I have to ask, "Is America not guilty of the same crimes?" Does not the employment of white phosphorous against innocent civilians in Fallujah, as just one example, make the United States as guilty as Hussein? So where is the trial of George W. Bush and Company? Where is the outcry?

Is a crime against humanity any less or more of a crime depending on the perpetrator? Of course not. So where is our outrage? I mourn the absence of a moral denouncement of the administration's crimes from the press, from the citizens and from the leaders of this country. Unless we protest the atrocities of our own government and hold the perpetrators accountable, are we not as guilty as they? Are we not complicit in the crime?

What has happened to morality in this country? Where is the religious right? Where are the pro-lifers? If they value the life of an unborn child, do they not value the lives of innocent Iraqi men, women and children? Or of our own men and women in uniform who are dying every day in an illegal war not of their making? Can someone please, please explain to me this hypocracy?

PHOTO: (Ben Curtis/AFP-Getty Images) Saddam Hussein returned to court in Baghdad after a six-week recess.

'Trophy' video exposes private security contractors shooting up Iraqi drivers

CLICK TO VIEW: 'Trophy' video exposes private security contractors shooting up Iraqi drivers

The video, which first appeared on a website that has been linked unofficially to Aegis Defence Services, contained four separate clips, in which security guards open fire with automatic rifles at civilian cars. All of the shooting incidents apparently took place on "route Irish", a road that links the airport to Baghdad.

In one of the videoed attacks, a Mercedes is fired on at a distance of several hundred yards before it crashes in to a civilian taxi. In the last clip, a white civilian car is raked with machine gun fire as it approaches an unidentified security company vehicle. Bullets can be seen hitting the vehicle before it comes to a slow stop. Read the complete article here.

PHOTO: (by Brian Smith) Lt Col Tim Spicer is investigating the incident.

Fascism then. Fascism now?

CLICK TO READ: Fascism then. Fascism now? By Paul Bigioni - Toronto Star

Fascism? Here? No way!

Trouble is, it's human nature to think, "Can't happen here." "Not to us." "You're crazy, this is America."

But that's exactly how it does happen. Because you think it can't.

"When people think of fascism, they imagine Rows of goose-stepping storm troopers and puffy-chested dictators. What they don't see is the economic and political process that leads to the nightmare.

Before the rise of fascism, Germany and Italy were, on paper, liberal democracies. Fascism did not swoop down on these nations as if from another planet. To the contrary, fascist dictatorship was the result of political and economic changes these nations underwent while they were still democratic. In both these countries, economic power became so utterly concentrated that the bulk of all economic activity fell under the control of a handful of men."


The Grave Threat Is the Bush Administration by Paul Craig Roberts - Lew "Americans need to wake up. The only danger to Americans in Iraq is the one Bush created by invading the country. The grave threat that Americans face is the Bush administration’s police state mentality."

UP IN THE AIR - Where is the Iraq war headed next?

CLICK TO READ: UP IN THE AIR - Where is the Iraq war headed next? - By Seymour M. Hersh - The New Yorker

This is a most depressing -- and confusing -- article on U.S. plans (if you can call them that) for "winning" the war in Iraq. Hersh paints a picture of chaos and disagreements (most of which we will never hear) with no realistic "victory" strategy being provided by anyone. We do know that keeping troops in Iraq through the summer of 2008 is the government's intent. Transitioning to an air war, with U.S. manning the planes and dropping the bombs where their Iraqi counterparts direct them, is another part of the plan, one which is creating much anxiety in the military ranks. Intimidation and threats are the norm for keeping criticism of Bush's war at a minimum. Critics are silenced by fear of losing their jobs should they express anything less than the party line publicly. So we, the people, as usual hear only what the morons in the White House want us to hear: lies. And more lies.

It is quite clear by now that this administration has no recollection of our experience in Viet Nam or have learned nothing from it, as they are evidently switching to the same air strategy that failed in that war for the same reasons it will fail in this one.

And to make matters worse, we are propping up political figures such as Iyad Allawi, the secular Shiite who served until this spring as Iraq's interim Prime Minister, and Ahmad Chalabi, another secular Shiite most famous for promoting flawed intelligence on weapons of mass destruction before the war and now deputy Prime Minister in Iraq, both of whom may turn out to be our worst nightmares due to their close ties with Iran.

And of course, our God-annointed President, Mr. Bush, still refuses to listen to those who are in the best position to advise him--because it conflicts with his pre-conceived view of how the war is proceeding:

Hersh writes, "Current and former military and intelligence officials have told me that the President remains convinced that it is his personal mission to bring democracy to Iraq, and that he is impervious to political pressure, even from fellow Republicans....

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

The former senior official said that after the election he made a lengthy inspection visit to Iraq and reported his findings to Bush in the White House: “I said to the President, ‘We’re not winning the war.’ And he asked, ‘Are we losing?’ I said, ‘Not yet.’ ” The President, he said, “appeared displeased” with that answer."

And perhaps most dangerous of all, as the debate over troop reductions continues, the covert war in Iraq has expanded in recent months to Syria. A composite American Special Forces team, known as a SMU, for "special-mission unit," has been ordered, under stringent cover, to target suspected supporters of the Iraqi insurgency across the border.

All this is just a long way of saying don't expect our troops home anytime soon, don't expect that the war outcome will be any more successful for it, and DO expect the death tolls to continue to climb--for both our men and women in uniform AND for Iraqi citizens caught in the middle.


Transcript and Audio of Scott Ritter on war with Iraq and Iran - Amherst - November 17, 2005

Guardian Unlimited | Special reports | US may use planes as substitute for troops in Iraq by Jamie Wilson The plan is causing consternation among commanders in US air force, who say it could lead to increased civilian casualties and lead to airstrikes being used as means of settling old scores.

Asia Times Online :: The illusion of phased withdrawal by Mark Rothschild Whether euphemized as "redeployment" or described frankly as withdrawal, the new strategy has moved into the mainstream. In this new context, the positions still being defended by Vice President Dick Cheney and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld are beginning to look increasingly marginalized.

t r u t h o u t - Bob Herbert | Cut Our Losses Bob Herbert writes that Jack Murtha is as tough as they come, but he's seen enough of the misguided, mismanaged, mission impossible war in Iraq to know that it's not sustainable, not worth the continued killing and butchering and psychological maiming of thousands of American GIs.

URGENT: Make Congress Debate and Vote on the Original Murtha Resolution

URGENT ACTION REQUIRED: Make Congress Debate and Vote on the Original Murtha Resolution!

This week saw the first major step towards the beginning of the end of the Iraq War. A decorated Marine Corps veteran with 37 years of service, a Bronze Star, and two Purple Hearts, Representative John Murtha stood before the world and called for the immediate commencement of American military withdrawal from Iraq. It was a watershed moment.

'Because we in Congress are charged with sending our sons and daughters into battle, it is our responsibility, our obligation, to speak out for them. That's why I am speaking out.'

Steve Young, a man of principle, currently fighting incredible odds to bring this same message to the public and the Congress in the upcoming special election for Congress in Orange County, California's Congressional District 48.

Speak out now with Steve Young, and John Murtha to tell Congress to give the Murtha proposal the serious consideration it deserves!"

PHOTO: Steve Young, Democratic Candidate for Congress in Orange County, California's Congressional District 48

Ayotte v. Planned Parenthood - Why the future of choice starts this Wednesday...


Imagine a world where doctors are forbidden by law to put their patient's health first -- when that patient is a woman seeking an abortion.

The Bush administration wants this to become a reality for every woman in America and her doctor -- and sooner than you think.

This Wednesday, November 30 the Supreme Court will hear Ayotte v. Planned Parenthood -- a case that could eliminate the requirement that abortion restrictions must include protections for women's health.

If Ayotte is decided the way the Bush administration wants, politicians -- not doctors -- will judge when patients can and cannot receive the care they need. A decision in favor of the Bush administration's standards would give a green light to states to pass laws that deny women access to abortion in medical emergencies.

Ayotte makes it clearer than ever: the balance of the Supreme Court WILL determine the future of a woman's right to choose.

If Samuel Alito is confirmed, he would tip the Court against the right to choose for decades, and Ayotte is just a sample of the kind of case he will encounter in that time.

This is why we're asking you to make a special effort this week in our National Stop Alito Petition Drive. Just a few minutes of your time could affect the future of a woman's right to choose for generations. Please, do your part by signing the Stop Alito petition today!

Samuel Alito has written, "the Constitution does not protect a right to an abortion." We must not allow him the chance to pursue this legal philosophy as a justice on the Supreme Court when so many women's lives are at stake.

Help us tell our senators that Alito is wrong for a woman's right to choose, and wrong for our country. Sign the Stop Alito petition today. Click here!

Thanks again for all you're doing!

Kristin Koch

Assistant Director Communications - Online Advocacy


CLICK TO READ: World Leaders to Discuss Strategies for Climate Control - Washington Post

When it comes to dealing with the very real problem of climate change, the White House strategy is simple: don't deal with it. Close your eyes, and maybe it will just go away. The rest of the world, obviously, thinks otherwise and is stepping up to the task at hand.

About 10,000 delegates from 189 governments, environmental lobby groups and businesses are attending the talks on climate change in Montreal beginning today, November 28-December 9. 'We do have a little time, but not much. ... If we don't get a serious program in place for the long term in this second post-Kyoto phase, we will simply not make it and we will be crossing limits which will basically produce impacts that are unacceptable,' Princeton University's Michael Oppenheimer said. Despite overwhelming global agreement on urgency, the Bush administration has refused to participate. Despite the administration's view, politicians, corporate representatives and other U.S. participants are attending the conference. 'Most people are ready to take the dialogue forward,' said Eileen Claussen, president of the Pew Center on Global Climate Change. 'The only place where that is not the case is the administration.'

PHOTO: In Thokoza township, near Johannesburg, electricity is not widely available. South Africa, currently exempt from Kyoto Protocol emissions caps, says it does not want to commit to reductions as it tries to bring power to poorer citizens. (By Iqbal Tladi -- Reuters)

RELATED ARTICLE: Tiny bubbles, rising seas point to warming - Environment -

Stay-the-Course Man: In all his Animated Glory

CLICK TO WATCH: Stay-the-Course Man 11/23/05

He's...the anti-hero! Watch as he battles the facts and the historical record....he's Stay-The-Course Man!

Paul Krugman | Age of Anxiety

CLICK TO READ: t r u t h o u t - Paul Krugman | Age of Anxiety - New York Times

Krugman references the late Peter Drucker, a renowned management theorist, to help explain why the following is no longer something on which Americans can count:

"American workers at big companies used to think they had made a deal. They would be loyal to their employers, and the companies in turn would be loyal to them, guaranteeing job security, health care and a dignified retirement."

He explains that while America eschews the "oversized welfare states" of Europe, "if you add in corporate spending on health care and pensions - spending that is both regulated by the government and subsidized by tax breaks - we actually have a welfare state that's about as large relative to our economy as those of other advanced countries."

Krugman reiterates his frequent call to overhaul our system: "...instead of trying to provide economic security through the back door, via tax breaks designed to encourage corporations to provide health care and pensions, we should provide it through the front door, starting with national health insurance. You may disagree. But one thing is clear: Mr. Drucker's age of discontinuity is also an age of anxiety, in which workers can no longer count on loyalty from their employers."

As usual, I couldn't agree more.

Who is the real Bob Woodward?

The Man With the Inside Scoop by Howard Kurtz, Washington Post "For Bob Woodward, Proximity to Power Cuts Both Ways"

Has Woodward been a willing facillitator for the administration's propaganda? Or is he still that dynamo investigative reporter of "Deep Throat" fame? Kurtz looks at Woodward from both angles.

My own opinion is that, as his politics have changed over the years, according to David Gergen, "to be sympathetic to the establishment, especially the Republican establishment," he is too too willing to bed with his White House sources and has become somewhat of an opportunistic whore.

PHOTO: Bob Woodward visiting the White House in 2003. His unparalleled access to political figures has led to 14 newsmaking books. (By Robert A. Reeder -- The Washington Post)

Woodward Evokes Ire of Many
Plamegate: Bob Woodward's statement - Nov 16, 2005

Afghans Confront Surge in Violence

CLICK TO READ: Afghans Confront Surge in Violence by Griff Witte
Washington Post Staff Writer

Afghan and international officials are "concerned that Taliban guerrillas are obtaining support from abroad to carry out strikes that increasingly mimic insurgent tactics in Iraq...."

PHOTO: Afghan police officer Ghulam Raza, 26, frisks guests before they are allowed to enter a wedding at the Sham-e-Paris restaurant in Kabul, the capital. Such security practices were unknown in Afghanistan until recent months. (By Griff Witte -- The Washington Post)

Medicaid Cutbacks Divide Democrats

CLICK TO READ: Medicaid Cutbacks Divide Democrats by Jonathan Weisman, The Washington Post

"Controversial House legislation designed to gain control of Medicaid growth has split Democrats, with lawmakers in Washington united in their opposition while Democratic governors are quietly supporting the provisions and questioning the party's reflexive denunciations...."

Typical of the Democrats: Can't get together for a cohesive position in support of those in need. So while the State Dems argue for "pragmatism" and the Fed Dems pontificate to make political points against the Republicans, the people who desperately need medicaid are caught in the middle and will be (pardon my French) screwed no matter how it turns out. It's politics as usual in Washington: what's important to Americans is not their concern.

Pentagon Expanding Its Domestic Surveillance Activity

CIVIL LIBERTIES -- DEFENSE DEPARTMENT STEPS UP DOMESTIC SPYING: Fears of Post-9/11 Terrorism Spur Proposals for New Powers

"The Defense Department has expanded its programs aimed at gathering and analyzing intelligence within the United States, creating new agencies, adding personnel and seeking additional legal authority for domestic security activities in the post-9/11 world," the Washington Post reported. The Pentagon has increased domestic surveillance through the expansion of the Counterintelligence Field Activity (CIFA),an agency created three years ago. The Bush administration is also pushing to expand CIFA's authority into 'crimes within the United States such as treason, foreign or terrorist sabotage or even economic espionage.' A 2004 Pentagon document revealed CIFA is 'exploiting commercial data' with the help of private contractors. Senate Select Intelligence Committee member Ron Wyden (R-OR) said about the moves, 'We are deputizing the military to spy on law-abiding Americans in America. This is a huge leap without even a [congressional] hearing.'" --Walter Pincus, Washington Post

SEE PREVIOUS POST: What we have to Fear After 9/11

Alito update

Alito's Extremist Affiliations

The White House portrays Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito's views as in the "mainstream." That claim is not supported by his judicial opinions or his activities prior to being nominated. In his 1985 application for a high-level job the Reagan administration, Alito touted his membership with "the Concerned Alumni of Princeton University." The group was "a far-right organization funded by conservative alumni committed to turning back the clock on coeducation at the University." Alito is now desperate to "distance himself" from his 1985 application, and it's easy to understand why. When Alito appears before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Stephen R. Dujack writes that he "will have to explain how he permitted himself to belong to an organization that was overtly racist and sexist for its entire 14-year existence."

BILL FRIST CONDEMNED ALITO'S GROUP: Alito joined Concerned Alumni at its founding in 1972. The organization, co-chaired in the beginning by Asa Bushnell and Shelby Cullom Davis, put forth a magazine called the "Prospect," espousing right-wing views against the inclusion of women, minorities, and other groups into Princeton. The New York Times notes, "The magazine's content also grew increasingly provocative under the editorship of conservative rising stars, including Dinesh D'Souza and later Laura Ingraham." The magazine was so extreme that a 1975 alumni panel including Sen. Bill Frist (R-TN) refused to support it, concluding "that Concerned Alumni had 'presented a distorted, narrow and hostile view of the university that cannot help but have misinformed and even alarmed many alumni' and 'undoubtedly generated adverse national publicity.'"

GROUP SOUGHT TO KEEP WOMEN OUT: In 1973, the Concerned Alumni executive committee published a statement advocating exclusion of women in higher education: "Concerned Alumni of Princeton opposes adoption of a sex-blind admission policy." Also that year, Davis said he longed for the days when the university was "a body of men, relatively homogeneous in interests and backgrounds." The magazine concluded that the makeup of Princeton, which began admitting women in 1969, "has changed drastically for the worse." Diane Weeks '75, a former colleague of Alito's when he was U.S. Attorney General for New Jersey said, "I once joked to him [Alito] that he must be very disappointed that women were admitted to Princeton and he just didn't have a response."

GROUP SOUGHT TO KEEP MINORITIES OUT, ALUMNI CHILDREN IN: Women were not the only group of people not welcomed by the Concerned Alumni group. A 1983 Prospect essay, "In Defense of Elitism," wrote, "People nowadays just don't seem to know their place. ... Everywhere one turns blacks and hispanics are demanding jobs simply because they're black and hispanic, the physically handicapped are trying to gain equal representation in professional sports, and homosexuals are demanding that government vouchsafe them the right to bear children." Another 1984 news item in the magazine, reacting to a gay student group's protest to being denied permission to hold a dance at a campus club, concluded, "Here at Princeton homosexuals are on the rampage." But Concerned Alumni did advocate quota systems so that student athletes and children of wealthy alumni continued to attend the university and that right-wing faculty members would populate the humanities and social sciences departments.

--American Progress

SEE ALSO: Advocacy Groups Targeting Vulnerable Senators on Alito Vote by Michael A. Fletcher, The Washington Post
"PROVIDENCE, R.I. -- Fifteen foot soldiers newly recruited to the campaign to derail the Supreme Court nomination of Judge Samuel A. Alito Jr. introduced themselves at a recent meeting not only by name but also by offering their reasons for joining the cause...."

PHOTO: Senators up for reelection will be key in the vote on Samuel A. Alito Jr. (Dennis Cook-AP)

Dishonest, Reprehensible, Corrupt ...

CLICK TO READ: t r u t h o u t - Frank Rich: Dishonest, Reprehensible, Corrupt ...

"'...We're not going to sit by and let them rewrite history,' the vice president said of his critics. 'We're going to continue throwing their own words back at them.' But according to a Harris poll released by The Wall Street Journal last Wednesday, 64 percent of Americans now believe that the Bush administration "generally misleads the American public on current issues to achieve its own ends." That's why it's Mr. Cheney's and the president's own words that are being thrown back now - not to rewrite history but to reveal it for the first time to an angry country that has learned the hard way that it can no longer afford to be without the truth."

Sudan: A Tolerable Genocide

CLICK TO READ: t r u t h o u t - Nicholas D. Kristof | A Tolerable Genocide (NY Times)

KRISTOF: "Nyala, Sudan - Who would have thought that a genocide could become worse? But after two years of heartbreaking slaughter, rape and mayhem, the situation in Darfur is now spiraling downward....

What will happen if the situation continues to deteriorate sharply and aid groups pull out? The U.N. has estimated that the death toll could then rise to 100,000 a month....

This downward spiral has happened because for more than two years, the international community has treated this as a tolerable genocide. In my next column, my last from Darfur, I'll outline the steps we need to take. But the essential starting point is outrage: a recognition that countering genocide must be a global priority.....

Congress has...facilitated the genocide by lately cutting all funds for the African Union peacekeepers in Darfur; we urgently need to persuade Congress to restore that money.

So what will it take? Will President Bush and other leaders discover some backbone if the killing spreads to Chad and the death toll reaches 500,000? One million? God forbid, two million?"

How much genocide is too much?

THE UNKNOWN CANDIDATE: The hypocracy of the Bush administration could not be more blatant. Is this compassionate conservativism? If this is compassionate, what is dispassionate? And what about us? Do WE care enough to demand that congress do something about this situation? The power is in your hands, people. But you have to use it. Call your congressmen, write letters to the editor, and don't stop until they hear you.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

What we have to Fear After 9/11

CLICK TO READ: Pentagon Expanding Its Domestic Surveillance Activity by Walter Pincus, Washington Post

The "F" word is back, as in "Fear", that is. It's being used yet again to frighten us ignorant Americans into giving up all of our rights. Big Brother is getting bigger and nosier and sneakier and he just may be looking into your private affairs. How does that make you feel? More secure? Because that is the reason they are giving us for creating yet more secret organizations to spy on U.S. citizens. Remember 9/11? Well, in a post 9/11 world it seems we are all suspect.

But that's not the scariest part. The scariest part is that Congress and the News media are allowing all of this happen without so much as a whimper. The White House answers to no one. No more balance of power, no oversight, my friends. We're all on our own. Where, pray tell, are our illustrious Representatives--our fine, upstanding Senators and Congressmen? According to Pincus,

"The proposals, and other Pentagon steps aimed at improving its ability to analyze counterterrorism intelligence collected inside the United States, have drawn complaints from civil liberties advocates and a few members of Congress, who say the Defense Department's push into domestic collection is proceeding with little scrutiny by the Congress or the public."

Is it not Congress' job to protect our rights? Or at least to be aware of the fact that our rights are in jeopardy? Should they not be screaming for hearings? Ooops. Forgot. That was BEFORE 9/11. Before they had no excuse to trample all over our rights. Now they do. And evidently, with few exceptions--if any--they are all facilitators of the process. They surely don't seem very concerned.

"Kate Martin, director of the Center for National Security Studies, said the data-sharing amendment would still give the Pentagon much greater access to the FBI's massive collection of data, including information on citizens not connected to terrorism or espionage.

The measure, she said, 'removes one of the few existing privacy protections against the creation of secret dossiers on Americans by government intelligence agencies.' She said the Pentagon's 'intelligence agencies are quietly expanding their domestic presence without any public debate.'"

I saw "Good Night. And Good Luck" yesterday. Go see it. The comparison between the McCarthy era and today is blatant and brilliant. The film is superb in every respect--screenwriting, acting, direction, cinematography. But, if you are over a certain age, it will make you want to crawl back under the covers of some earlier and more idealistic time. We need an Edward R. Murrow right now. We need someone of his integrity and courage--with the power of the media behind him. And I sure don't see anyone close to that description anywhere in sight.

So, my fellow Americans, be afraid. Because, increasingly, we're on our own. And if the administration continues on its relentless hunger for limitless power, every one of us who sees what is happening will become the enemy--if we open our mouths to protest. When that happens, the McCarthy era will look like a Disney movie in comparison to how they deal with post 9/11 "citizen enemies of the state." They can, as they did with Jose Padilla, accuse us of any damn thing they like and incarcerate us indefinitely--even torture us-- with no charges and no recourse on our part. Habeas Corpus, bye bye.

I wonder at how Pincus can report this story ever so matter of factly without the slightest outrage. Maybe that IS the journalist's job. But what of the commentaries? The editorials? I haven't heard any, have you?

There are only two ways to explain this:
1. The people in all areas of government and media know exactly what is going on and are complicit in the goals of the elite.
2. The people in all areas of government and media are too lazy or too stupid or too fat and happy to understand what is happening.

My guess is, it's no. 1. And that alone is reason enough to fear.

SEE ALSO: In Terror Cases, Bush Law Is Law by Adam Liptak, New York Times:

"When Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales announced last week that Jose Padilla would be transferred to the federal justice system from military detention, he said almost nothing about the standards the administration used in deciding whether to charge terrorism suspects like Mr. Padilla with crimes or to hold them in military facilities as enemy combatants.

'We take each individual, each case, case by case,' Mr. Gonzales

The upshot of that approach, underscored by the decision in Mr. Padilla's case, is that no one outside the administration knows just how the determination is made whether to handle a terror suspect as an enemy combatant or as a common criminal, to hold him indefinitely without charges in a military facility or
to charge him in court."

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Defense hawk Dicks says he now sees war as a mistake

The Seattle Times: Local News: Defense hawk Dicks says he now sees war as a mistake

Another congressman sees the light. Dicks, a friend of Murtha, voted for the war but, like his friend, now says it was a mistake.

"'A lot of us relied on [former CIA director] George Tenet. We had many meetings with the White House and CIA, and they did not tell us there was a dispute between the CIA, Commerce or the Pentagon on the WMDs,' he said.

He and Murtha tended to give the military, the CIA and the White House the benefit of the doubt, Dicks says. But he now says he and his colleagues should have pressed much harder for answers.

'Norm ... Has Agonized'

'All of us have gone through a difficult period, but Norm really has agonized,' Murtha said this week.'"

"Sheehan's Stand" Monument Unveiled in Crawford

t r u t h o u t - CLICK TO READ: "Sheehan's Stand" Monument Unveiled in Crawford @ Bush Supporters, Opponents Gather in Texas

"Crawford, Texas - Anti-war demonstrators, back in Crawford to protest during President Bush's holiday vacation, unveiled a stone monument Friday with the words "Sheehan's Stand" in honor of the woman who inspired their efforts.

Cindy Sheehan, who staged a 26-day protest outside Bush's ranch in August, cried when she saw the 2-foot-high sandstone marker.

On the other side of the rectangular slab is the word "Why!" and names of more than two dozen soldiers whose families were part of the vigil. The name of Sheehan's 24-year-old son, Casey, is among them."
CLICK TO READ: t r u t h o u t - Paul Rockwell | How Do We Honor Our Fallen Troops in a Wrongful War?

Paul Rockwell sympathetically reviews Cindy Sheehan's book, "Not One More Mother's Son":

"To lie is to murder.

That is the theme of Cindy Sheehan's defiant, witty, compassionate, and deeply patriotic first book, Not One More Mother's Son. What begins in grief over the loss of her son Casey on April 4, 2004, ends in hope at Camp Casey in Crawford, Texas, in August 2005. Action overcomes grief. Direct action empowers....

More than any other contemporary writer and activist, Cindy Sheehan has found a way to honor American troops while repudiating the war in which they are trapped....

...Cindy addresses another kind of question, a spiritual enigma that is not easy to solve. Did our soldiers die in vain? Was it all for nothing? How do grieving families find peace if they face the truth about war?

It is the message of Cindy's book, I believe, so simple and so profound, that only the truth can heal. Only the truth can liberate the memory of the fallen. Our soldiers deserve a reckoning. And we must honor them in a way that affirms the sacredness of life."

Testing Education

CLICK TO READ: Extra Points for Effort - Washington Post

This is a pet peeve of mine. Another article about "No Child Left Behind" and new testing models.
"The trouble is, there isn't any evidence that American schools or American teachers are making great progress in the classroom. On the contrary, the results of recent standardized tests show that on average American children are making very little progress. There are exceptions -- but mostly in the states, districts and schools that have been using regular assessments and accountability standards the longest. Four years after its enactment, the No Child Left Behind law is no slam-dunk success, but the basic principles around which it was organized -- accountability, assessment, standards -- have not been disproved."
They may not have been disproved, but I would argue they are all but disproven. Everyone who remembers their own school years can usually agree on one thing: they hated tests. And they rarely "learned" much by studying for them. Why? Because they crammed to get a grade, memorized and reguritated information and then forgot everything they had crammed and memorized and regurgitated. The classes that actually taught you something had teachers who knew how to engage students and get their creative and intellectual juices flowing, how to motivate them want to learn, how to excite them about the incredibly interesting world and universe in which they live.

We will never fix the education problem by trying to "measure" success through tests. A bad lesson plan or a bad teacher will never be improved by another test. Tests are notoriously lacking in their ability to measure much of anything--other than a student's facility in taking tests.

Rather, we should be looking at how to excite children to want to learn. We should be finding ways to instill in our children a love of reading. We should be looking at ways to make what they are reading and learning relevant to their lives. We should find ways to make learning fun and creative and compelling. We should be looking at teachers who are successfully achieving these goals now. We should be reinventing "education", teaching "out of the box", rather than reinventing tests.

It's a lot harder to do what I am proposing than to come up with another testing model, but until we do, we will be forever designing new testing models that won't solve the problem.

SEE ALSO: Students Ace State Tests, but Earn D's From U.S. - New York Times

UPDATE: Abramoff Probe: Broader Than Thought

CLICK TO READ: Abramoff Probe Broader Than Thought: Paper - New York Times

CLICK TO READ: Lawmakers Under Scrutiny in Probe of Lobbyist - Washington Post
"Ney and DeLay Among the Members of Congress Said to Be a Focus of Abramoff Investigation"

CLICK TO READ: t r u t h o u t - Is the End Near for Ney?

CLICK TO READ: t r u t h o u t - Montana Senator Burns Part of Abramoff Probe

CLICK TO READ: 'Corruption Scheme' - Washington Post

ETHICS -- ABRAMOFF PROBE EXPANDS, INCLUDES MULTIPLE CONGRESSMEN: The Justice Department's probe into mega-lobbyist Jack Abramoff, which has already ensnared former chief White House procurement official David Safavian and Michael Scanlon, former aide to Tom DeLay, is "broader than previously thought, examining [Abramoff's] dealings with four lawmakers." Prosecutors are reportedly looking into former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-TX), Rep. Bob Ney (R-OH), Rep. John Doolittle (R-CA), and Sen. Conrad Burns (R-MT) to determine whether they or their aides received illegal payoffs from Abramoff in the form of campaign contributions, sports tickets, meals, travel and job offers, in exchange for helping Abramoff's clients. "Prosecutors also are investigating at least 17 current and former congressional aides, about half of whom later took lobbying jobs with Mr. Abramoff, say lawyers and others involved in the case. Five of the former aides worked for Mr. DeLay."

I'll let you get the gorey details straight from the horse's mouth. Hopefully, when the investigation is complete, heads will roll and it will result in a less corrupt government in the future. Hey, I can dream can't I?

PHOTO: Rep. Robert W. Ney's actions are being examined. (Dennis Cook - AP)

Friday, November 25, 2005

How Bush Can Redeem himself, his Party, and the Country

CLICK TO READ: Bush Faces Dual Challenges on Iraq by Dan Balz - Washington Post

CLICK TO READ: Even Supporters Doubt President as Issues Pile Up - New York Times

In my humble opinion, all the maneuvering, strategizing, and new speechs designed to turn around the sinking ship that is George W. Bush and Company are doomed to failure. As I see it, the tragic flaw that will be responsible for the Bush administrations' ultimate downfall is best represented here:

"One White House official, who was willing to talk candidly about internal strategy only without being identified by name, acknowledged that 'those numbers are troubling' in recent polls, but expressed confidence that they will recover because the public fundamentally regards Bush as 'a person of honesty and integrity.'"

The American people see Bush as a person on honesty and integrity? Riggghhhht. Did they not just acknowledge that the polls show otherwise?

George Bush is, in fact, doomed by his own philosophy. As long as he continues to believe that he creates his own reality, i.e., whatever he says becomes reality regardless of the truth, he will continue to sink in the polls. If you are no longer credible, if people no longer trust you, then whatever you say is NOT believed and is therefore NOT reality. Sorry, George, game's up.

Here's my advice to you, George: The only way, in my opinion, to prevent your legacy from being 'the number one worst president in American history' is this:

1. Fess up. Tell the truth. Admit your lies. Take responsibility for everything you have so badly messed up.
2. Announce that you've had an epiphany and want to reform your ways.
3. Denounce all the neo-cons and their fascist agenda and all the right wing fanatics and their agenda.
4. Fire all the neo-cons and right wing fanatics in your administration.
5. Admit that you completely blew it, were and still are incompetent and unable to govern the country.
6. Tell the county that since you stole the 2000 election from Al Gore and the 2004 election from John Kerry, there should be a new election for president held immediately between those two candidates and may the best man win.
7. Resign effective immediately following the election, go back to Texas and retire to your ranch--never to be seen or heard from again. (Unless, that is, you would like to make friends with Jimmy Carter and get involved in some of his worthwhile charitable endeavors like Habitat for Humanity or the like--if you do that, we would welcome you back into the American fold, as we are intrinsically a forgiving bunch.)

If you did those seven things, Mr. Bush, you would immediately restore your credibility and go down in history as a guy who recognized when he was over his head and had the wisdom to admit it -- and for the good of the country -- leave the job to someone more capable, more ethical, and more in keeping with democracy as we once knew it.

And all of you Republican politicians out there--you would now be in a position to follow your heart and act in the interests of your constituents without any political pressure from the White House to vote against your conscience. Think of it. A fresh start. A call for unity. No Bush baggage in the coming elections. A chance to make government really work for the people again and for the Republican party to redeem itself.

Am I just wishful thinking? Dreaming? Am I living in a fantasy world? Could be. It all depends on whether Bush decides to "get real" (as Dr. Phil would say)--or not .

PHOTO: President Bush wishes U.S. troops in Iraq a happy Thanksgiving from his ranch in Crawford, Tex. (By Eric Draper)