Tuesday, July 31, 2007

�George Karlin: Who owns you?

"Nobody Seems to Notice. Nobody Seems to Care."



Wednesday, July 25, 2007

And Speaking of Impeachment....


Gonzo Flames Out

Democrats.com provides another good perspective:
Even as Conyers wimped out, fate smiled upon us in the smirking face of of Alberto Gonzales, who is just so bad that even Republican Senators can barely stop themselves from screaming at him.

Gonzales testified again today before the Senate Judiciary Committee to explain why he lied to them in his previous appearances. So what did Gonzales do? He lied and lied some more.

Everyone who cares about Justice is outraged. The Senate is finally considering perjury charges. But if the Senate filed charges, guess who'd have to prosecute? Alberto Gonzales' own utterly corrupt Justice Department!

Impeachment is the only cure and it's time for Congress to exercise it. Once they do, they will discover the American people support their efforts to hold Bush & Co. accountable. And an impeachment investigation into Abu Gonzo will lead directly to Cheney and Bush. He must know about some nasty skeletons - why else are they protecting him in the face of Republican outrage?

Tell your Representatives to Impeach Alberto Gonzales Now:
http://www.democrats.com/peoplesemailnetwork/94

Also See:

  • Crooks and Liars: �Alberto Gonzales

  • WAPO | Gonzo on the Hill: A Comedic Tragedy:
    "Forget about the politicization of the Justice Department. Forget about the falling morale there. Forget about the rise in violent crime in some of our biggest cities. Forget about the events leading up to the US attorney scandal and the way he has handled the prosecutor purge since. Forget about the Department's role in allowing warrantless domestic surveillance. Forget about the contorted and contradictory accounts he's offered before in his own defense. Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales deserves to be fired for his testimony Tuesday alone," writes Andrew Cohen for The Washington Post.
  • ABC News: Bush Aides to Face Contempt Citations
    "Heading toward a separation-of-powers showdown, House Democrats approved contempt-of-Congress citations against two White House aides who have refused to comply with subpoenas for information on the abrupt firings of federal prosecutors," reports Laurie Kellman for the Associated Press.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Office Arrests: The Shame of John Conyers

"Heck of a job, Connie."
John Conyers has completely copped out on his supporters. What's worse, he had them arrested.

Dave Lindorff reports:
"If Rosa Parks had lived two years longer, what happened today in the halls of Congress might have killed her. It certainly would have broken her heart...."
As a result, Cindy Sheehan has kept her promise to her supporters:

I Announce My Candidacy Against Nancy Pelosi in California's 8th. By Cindy Sheehan
"I am committed to challenging a two-party system that has kept us in a state of constant warfare for the last 60 years and has become more and more beholden to special interests and has forgotten the faces of the people whom it represents. I am committed to using our strength as a country to wage peace and to elevate the status of every citizen in our country by converting the enduring war economy to a prosperous one with lasting peace...."
The hard truth is that we can't depend on our elected officials to do ANYTHING unless they are in fear of their jobs. So it is up to each of us to bombard our officials with emails, phone calls, petitions, and protests, stating in no uncertain terms that should they fail to hold the Bush administration accountable for impeachable crimes, we will do everything in our power to vote them out of office.

I've included some recent articles on impeachment to help you make your case. You can also search "impeachment" on my blog for earlier ammunition.

THERE IS NO EXCUSE NOT TO ACT. IF YOU DO NOTHING, YOU DESERVE THE GOVERNMENT YOU GET -- AND IT WON'T BE A DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC.

OUR CHILDREN DESERVE BETTER. IF NOT FOR YOURSELF, DO IT FOR THEM.

Democrats.com provides a solid point of view and one way you can help:
"On Monday, Rep. John Conyers brushed off the heroic impeachment efforts of Cindy Sheehan, Rev. Lennox Yearwood, Ray McGovern, Medea Benjamin, David Swanson, 300 dedicated impeachment marchers, 1 million petition signers, resolutions from dozens of cities and towns, and activists who called his office every 30 seconds.

His reasons? First, he doesn't have the support of a majority of the House (218 votes) to impeach Bush or Cheney. Second, FOX News would attack him.

These are simply not acceptable reasons to allow George Bush and Dick Cheney to commit war crimes and shred the Constitution - and we're not going to accept them. Instead, we're going to fight harder than ever for impeachment.

Conyers doesn't have 218 votes today, but we can change that. Tell your Representatives to join the 14 sponsors of H.Res. 333, Articles of Impeachment for Vice President Cheney:
http://www.democrats.com/peoplesemailnetwork/88
Also call them at 202-224-3121 and demand co-sponsorship of H.Res. 333 now.

Conyers would be attacked by FOX News, but we can change that too. Let's boycott FOX News advertisers:
http://www.democrats.com/boycott-fox-news-advertisers

We must also give Conyers a backbone transplant. Let's flood Conyers and other House Judiciary Democrats with more emails than ever:
http://www.democrats.com/topelosiandjudiciary "

RESOURCES: Why We Must Impeach:

Photo Credit: portland.indymedia.org

Sunday, July 22, 2007

MUST SEND TO EVERY MEDIA OUTLET IN USA

As usual, the mainstream media have failed to report on a rather important new Bush Executive Order that, according to Truthout Editor Marc Ash, "seeks to circumvent both judicial and Congressional oversight, render[ing] unto the executive branch, and ultimately Mr. Bush, absolute power of law."

Pretty damned scary stuff, people.

ABSOLUTELY MUST READ and POST far and wide!

Truthout Editor's Note: Posted below is the recently dispatched Executive Order: Blocking Property of Certain Persons Who Threaten Stabilization Efforts in Iraq, and notice to Congress of its issuance. It is a remarkably broad assumption of power taken unto the executive branch by George W. Bush.

While there are references to making persons that "... pose a significant risk of committing, an act or acts of violence ..." specific targets of this action, the order also names a far broader spectrum of individuals and actions that may be subject to punitive measures as well. Mr. Bush's order names persons that "have materially assisted, sponsored, or provided financial, material, logistical, or technical support for, or goods or services in support of, such an act or acts of violence or any person whose property and interests in property are blocked pursuant to this order."

Further, while this order empowers/instructs "... officers and agencies of the United States Government ..." to assist in its enforcement, ultimately judgment is rendered to members of the executive branch, each of whom serves at the pleasure of Mr. Bush. Since the order seeks to circumvent both judicial and Congressional oversight, it renders unto the executive branch, and ultimately Mr. Bush, absolute power of law.

Congress has moved in recent weeks to confront Mr. Bush, his cabinet and staff. At the center of each Congressional action against the White House is what Congressional leaders view as misuse of executive privilege. - ma/TO


Go to Original: "Executive Order: Blocking Property of Certain Persons Who Threaten Stabilization Efforts in Iraq"

Executive Order: Blocking Property of Certain Persons Who Threaten Stabilization Efforts in Iraq

Office of the Press Secretary

Tuesday 17 July 2007

Fact sheet: Message to the Congress of the United States Regarding International Emergency Economic Powers Act

By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, including the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, as amended (50 U.S.C. 1701 et seq.)(IEEPA), the National Emergencies Act (50 U.S.C. 1601 et seq.)(NEA), and section 301 of title 3, United States Code,

I, GEORGE W. BUSH, President of the United States of America, find that, due to the unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States posed by acts of violence threatening the peace and stability of Iraq and undermining efforts to promote economic reconstruction and political reform in Iraq and to provide humanitarian assistance to the Iraqi people, it is in the interests of the United States to take additional steps with respect to the national emergency declared in Executive Order 13303 of May 22, 2003, and expanded in Executive Order 13315 of August 28, 2003, and relied upon for additional steps taken in Executive Order 13350 of July 29, 2004, and Executive Order 13364 of November 29, 2004. I hereby order:

Section 1. (a) Except to the extent provided in section 203(b)(1), (3), and (4) of IEEPA (50 U.S.C. 1702(b)(1), (3), and (4)), or in regulations, orders, directives, or licenses that may be issued pursuant to this order, and notwithstanding any contract entered into or any license or permit granted prior to the date of this order, all property and interests in property of the following persons, that are in the United States, that hereafter come within the United States, or that are or hereafter come within the possession or control of United States persons, are blocked and may not be transferred, paid, exported, withdrawn, or otherwise dealt in: any person determined by the Secretary of the Treasury, in consultation with the Secretary of State and the Secretary of Defense,

(i) to have committed, or to pose a significant risk of committing, an act or acts of violence that have the purpose or effect of:

(A) threatening the peace or stability of Iraq or the Government of Iraq; or

(B) undermining efforts to promote economic reconstruction and political reform in Iraq or to provide humanitarian assistance to the Iraqi people;

(ii) to have materially assisted, sponsored, or provided financial, material, logistical, or technical support for, or goods or services in support of, such an act or acts of violence or any person whose property and interests in property are blocked pursuant to this order; or

(iii) to be owned or controlled by, or to have acted or purported to act for or on behalf of, directly or indirectly, any person whose property and interests in property are blocked pursuant to this order.

(b) The prohibitions in subsection (a) of this section include, but are not limited to, (i) the making of any contribution or provision of funds, goods, or services by, to, or for the benefit of any person whose property and interests in property are blocked pursuant to this order, and (ii) the receipt of any contribution or provision of funds, goods, or services from any such person.

Sec. 2. (a) Any transaction by a United States person or within the United States that evades or avoids, has the purpose of evading or avoiding, or attempts to violate any of the prohibitions set forth in this order is prohibited.

(b) Any conspiracy formed to violate any of the prohibitions set forth in this order is prohibited.

Sec. 3. For purposes of this order:

(a) the term "person" means an individual or entity;

(b) the term "entity" means a partnership, association, trust, joint venture, corporation, group, subgroup, or other organization; and

(c) the term "United States person" means any United States citizen, permanent resident alien, entity organized under the laws of the United States or any jurisdiction within the United States (including foreign branches), or any person in the United States.

Sec. 4. I hereby determine that the making of donations of the type specified in section 203(b)(2) of IEEPA (50 U.S.C. 1702(b)(2)) by, to, or for the benefit of, any person whose property and interests in property are blocked pursuant to this order would seriously impair my ability to deal with the national emergency declared in Executive Order 13303 and expanded in Executive Order 13315, and I hereby prohibit such donations as provided by section 1 of this order.

Sec. 5. For those persons whose property and interests in property are blocked pursuant to this order who might have a constitutional presence in the United States, I find that, because of the ability to transfer funds or other assets instantaneously, prior notice to such persons of measures to be taken pursuant to this order would render these measures ineffectual. I therefore determine that for these measures to be effective in addressing the national emergency declared in Executive Order 13303 and expanded in Executive Order 13315, there need be no prior notice of a listing or determination made pursuant to section 1(a) of this order.

Sec. 6. The Secretary of the Treasury, in consultation with the Secretary of State and the Secretary of Defense, is hereby authorized to take such actions, including the promulgation of rules and regulations, and to employ all powers granted to the President by IEEPA as may be necessary to carry out the purposes of this order. The Secretary of the Treasury may redelegate any of these functions to other officers and agencies of the United States Government, consistent with applicable law. All agencies of the United States Government are hereby directed to take all appropriate measures within their authority to carry out the provisions of this order and, where appropriate, to advise the Secretary of the Treasury in a timely manner of the measures taken.

Sec. 7. Nothing in this order is intended to affect the continued effectiveness of any rules, regulations, orders, licenses, or other forms of administrative action issued, taken, or continued in effect heretofore or hereafter under 31 C.F.R. chapter V, except as expressly terminated, modified, or suspended by or pursuant to this order.

Sec. 8. This order is not intended to, and does not, create any right, benefit, or privilege, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity by any party against the United States, its departments, agencies, instrumentalities, or entities, its officers or employees, or any other person.

GEORGE W. BUSH

THE WHITE HOUSE,

July 17, 2007.

Related:

Sunday Funnies



Thanks to Carolyn Kay at MakeThemAccountable.com and apologies for my earlier omission of credit.

Just What the Founders Feared: An Imperial President Goes to War

Adam Cohen, NYT Editorial Observer:
The nation is heading toward a constitutional showdown over the Iraq war. Congress is moving closer to passing a bill to limit or end the war, but President Bush insists Congress doesn’t have the power to do it. “I don’t think Congress ought to be running the war,” he said at a recent press conference. “I think they ought to be funding the troops.” He added magnanimously: “I’m certainly interested in their opinion.”

The war is hardly the only area where the Bush administration is trying to expand its powers beyond all legal justification. But the danger of an imperial presidency is particularly great when a president takes the nation to war, something the founders understood well. In the looming showdown, the founders and the Constitution are firmly on Congress’s side.... Continue Reading.

U.S. Web Lag

The French Connections
By Paul Krugman
The New York Times
There was a time when everyone thought that the Europeans and the Japanese were better at business than we were. In the early 1990s airport bookstores were full of volumes with samurai warriors on their covers, promising to teach you the secrets of Japanese business success. Lester Thurow’s 1992 book, “Head to Head: The Coming Economic Battle Among Japan, Europe and America,” which spent more than six months on the Times best-seller list, predicted that Europe would win.

Then it all changed, and American despondency turned into triumphalism. Partly this was because the Clinton boom contrasted so sharply with Europe’s slow growth and Japan’s decade-long slump. Above all, however, our new confidence reflected the rise of the Internet. Jacques Chirac complained that the Internet was an “Anglo-Saxon network,” and he had a point — France, like most of Europe except Scandinavia, lagged far behind the U.S. when it came to getting online.

What most Americans probably don’t know is that over the last few years the situation has totally reversed. As the Internet has evolved — in particular, as dial-up has given way to broadband connections using DSL, cable and other high-speed links — it’s the United States that has fallen behind.

The numbers are startling. As recently as 2001, the percentage of the population with high-speed access in Japan and Germany was only half that in the United States. In France it was less than a quarter. By the end of 2006, however, all three countries had more broadband subscribers per 100 people than we did.

Even more striking is the fact that our “high speed” connections are painfully slow by other countries’ standards. According to the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, French broadband connections are, on average, more than three times as fast as ours. Japanese connections are a dozen times faster. Oh, and access is much cheaper in both countries than it is here.

As a result, we’re lagging in new applications of the Internet that depend on high speed. France leads the world in the number of subscribers to Internet TV; the United States isn’t even in the top 10.

What happened to America’s Internet lead? Bad policy. Specifically, the United States made the same mistake in Internet policy that California made in energy policy: it forgot — or was persuaded by special interests to ignore — the reality that sometimes you can’t have effective market competition without effective regulation.

You see, the world may look flat once you’re in cyberspace — but to get there you need to go through a narrow passageway, down your phone line or down your TV cable. And if the companies controlling these passageways can behave like the robber barons of yore, levying whatever tolls they like on those who pass by, commerce suffers.

America’s Internet flourished in the dial-up era because federal regulators didn’t let that happen — they forced local phone companies to act as common carriers, allowing competing service providers to use their lines. Clinton administration officials, including Al Gore and Reed Hundt, the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, tried to ensure that this open competition would continue — but the telecommunications giants sabotaged their efforts, while The Wall Street Journal’s editorial page ridiculed them as people with the minds of French bureaucrats.

And when the Bush administration put Michael Powell in charge of the F.C.C., the digital robber barons were basically set free to do whatever they liked. As a result, there’s little competition in U.S. broadband — if you’re lucky, you have a choice between the services offered by the local cable monopoly and the local phone monopoly. The price is high and the service is poor, but there’s nowhere else to go.

Meanwhile, as a recent article in Business Week explains, the real French bureaucrats used judicious regulation to promote competition. As a result, French consumers get to choose from a variety of service providers who offer reasonably priced Internet access that’s much faster than anything I can get, and comes with free voice calls, TV and Wi-Fi.

It’s too early to say how much harm the broadband lag will do to the U.S. economy as a whole. But it’s interesting to learn that health care isn’t the only area in which the French, who can take a pragmatic approach because they aren’t prisoners of free-market ideology, simply do things better.

Photo Credit: Paul Krugman. (The New York Times)

Hillary: Strong Enough for a Man, Not Made for a Woman

In MoDo's most recent Times op ed, she states that since polls show women think Hillary would be "an effective commander in chief," her problem with women's acceptance of her candidacy isn't gender related. I disagree.

As a woman-- Surprise, people, I'm female! -- I don't want Hillary to be a strong commander in chief in the image of her male predecessors. I want her to be a strong woman leader, who brings the best of her gender's unique qualities to the office of the President. I want a woman president who isn't afraid to be a woman: a president with true compassion for people and their very real problems, a president who repudiates torture, war, and inhumane acts against humanity, a president who protects our rights under the Constitution, a president who takes responsibility for her actions, a president who inspires us to be the best we can be not unlike the way our mothers inspired each of us, a president who tells us what she thinks and believes in no uncertain terms, eschewing propagandistic political airs.

Is Hillary the woman I want as my president? Hell no! Hillary embodies none of the above attributes. On the contrary, she is doing everything in her power to be "one of the boys," as tough a war-monger warrior as the best of them, and she is succeeding -- to the detriment of all the women who still hold a small sliver of hope that someday, a woman who embraces her gender and all of its positive, nurturing, down-to-earth, peace loving qualities will lead America to a wiser, gentler, more enlightened era.

MoDo is right in one sense, "things are getting confusing out there in Genderville." And it's no wonder when things have gone positively haywire out there in American Valuesville.

Illustration: (Vanderbilt -'06/via Scared Monkeys)

A Woman Who's Man Enough
By Maureen Dowd
The New York Times
Things are getting confusing out there in Genderville.

We have the ordinarily poker-faced secretary of defense crying over young Americans killed in Iraq.

We have The Washington Post reporting that Hillary Clinton came to the floor of the Senate in a top that put “cleavage on display Wednesday afternoon on C-SPAN2.”

We have Mitt Romney spending $300 for makeup appointments at Hidden Beauty, a mobile men’s grooming spa, before the California debate, even though NBC would surely have powdered his nose for free.

We have Elizabeth Edwards on a tear of being more assertive than her husband. She argued that John Edwards is a better advocate for women than Hillary, explaining that her own experience as a lawyer taught her that “sometimes you feel you have to behave as a man and not talk about women’s issues.”

We have Bill Clinton, who says he’d want to be known as First Laddie, defending his woman by saying, “I don’t think she’s trying to be a man.”

We have The Times reporting that Hillary’s campaign is quizzical about why so many women who are like Hillary — married, high income, professional types — don’t like her. A Times/CBS News poll shows that women view her more favorably than men, but she has a problem with her own demographic and some older women resistant to “a lady president” from the land of women’s lib.

In a huge step forward for her, The Times said that “all of those polled — both women and men — said they thought Mrs. Clinton would be an effective commander in chief.”

So gender isn’t Hillary’s biggest problem. Those who don’t like her said it was because they don’t trust her, or don’t like her values, or think she’s too politically expedient or phony.

There is a dread out there about 28 years of Bush-Clinton rule. But most people are not worried about Hillary’s ability to be strong. Anyone who can cast herself as a feminist icon while leading the attack on her husband’s mistresses, anyone who thinks eight years of presidential pillow talk qualifies her for the presidential pillow, is plenty tough enough to smack around dictators, and other Democrats.

John Edwards and Barack Obama often seem more delicate and concerned with looking pretty than Hillary does. Though the tallest candidate usually has the advantage, Hillary has easily dominated the debates without even wearing towering heels.

When she wrote to Bob Gates asking about the Pentagon’s plans to get out of Iraq, it took eight weeks for an under secretary, Eric Edelman, to send a scalding reply, suggesting that she was abetting enemy propaganda. But Mrs. Clinton hit back with a tart letter to Secretary Gates on Friday and scored something of a victory, since he issued a statement that did not back up his own creep.

Maybe Hillary has had her tear ducts removed. If she acted like a sob sister on the war the way Mr. Gates did, her critics would have a field day.

Even in an era when male politicians can mist up with impunity, it was startling to see the defense chief melt down at a Marine Corps dinner Wednesday night as he talked about writing notes every evening to the families of dead soldiers like Douglas Zembiec, a heroic Marine commander known as “the Lion of Falluja,” who died in Baghdad in May after giving up a Pentagon job to go on a fourth tour of Iraq. “They are not names on a press release or numbers updated on a Web page,” he said. “They are our country’s sons and daughters.”

The dramatic moment was disconcerting, because Mr. Gates, known as a decent guy who was leery of the Bushies’ black-and-white, bullying worldview, has clearly been worn down by his effort to sort out the Iraq debacle. He and Condi, who worked together under Bush I, have been trying to circumvent the vice president to close Gitmo without much success, while the president finds ingenious new ways to allow torture.

Mostly, though, it was moving — a relief to see a top official acknowledge the awful cost of this war. The arrogant Rummy was dismissive. The obtuse W. seems incapable of understanding how inappropriate his sunny spirits are. And the callous Cheney’s robo-aggression continues unabated. (What could be more nerve-racking than the thought of President Cheney, slated to happen for a couple of hours yesterday while Mr. Bush had a colonoscopy? Could it be — a Medal of Freedom for Scooter?)

Mr. Gates captured the sadness we feel about American kids trapped in a desert waiting to be blown up, sent there by men who once refused to go to a warped war themselves.

Photo Credit: Maureen Dowd. (Fred R. Conrad/The New York Times)

Republican Implosions

I Did Have Sexual Relations With That Woman
By Frank Rich
The New York Times

IT’S not just the resurgence of Al Qaeda that is taking us back full circle to the fateful first summer of the Bush presidency. It’s the hot sweat emanating from Washington. Once again the capital is titillated by a scandal featuring a member of Congress, a woman who is not his wife and a rumor of crime. Gary Condit, the former Democratic congressman from California, has passed the torch of below-the-Beltway sleaziness to David Vitter, an incumbent (as of Friday) Republican senator from Louisiana.

Mr. Vitter briefly faced the press to explain his “very serious sin,” accompanied by a wife who might double for the former Mrs. Jim McGreevey. He had no choice once snoops hired by the avenging pornographer Larry Flynt unearthed his number in the voluminous phone records of the so-called D.C. Madam, now the subject of a still-young criminal investigation. Newspapers back home also linked the senator to a defunct New Orleans brothel, a charge Mr. Vitter denies. That brothel’s former madam, while insisting he had been a client, was one of his few defenders last week. “Just because people visit a whorehouse doesn’t make them a bad person,” she helpfully told the Baton Rouge paper, The Advocate.

Mr. Vitter is not known for being so forgiving a soul when it comes to others’ transgressions. Even more than Mr. Condit, who once co-sponsored a bill calling for the display of the Ten Commandments in public buildings, Mr. Vitter is a holier-than-thou family-values panderer. He recruited his preteen children for speaking roles in his campaign ads and, terrorism notwithstanding, declared that there is no “more important” issue facing America than altering the Constitution to defend marriage.

But hypocrisy is a hardy bipartisan perennial on Capitol Hill, and hardly news. This scandal may leave a more enduring imprint. It comes with a momentous pedigree. Mr. Vitter first went to Washington as a young congressman in 1999, to replace Robert Livingston, the Republican leader who had been anointed to succeed Newt Gingrich as speaker of the House. Mr. Livingston’s seat had abruptly become vacant after none other than Mr. Flynt outed him for committing adultery. Since we now know that Mr. Gingrich was also practicing infidelity back then — while leading the Clinton impeachment crusade, no less — the Vitter scandal can be seen as the culmination of an inexorable sea change in his party.

And it is President Bush who will be left holding the bag in history. As the new National Intelligence Estimate confirms the failure of the war against Al Qaeda and each day of quagmire signals the failure of the war in Iraq, so the case of the fallen senator from the Big Easy can stand as an epitaph for a third lost war in our 43rd president’s legacy: the war against sex.

During the 2000 campaign, Mr. Bush and his running mate made a point of promising to “set an example for our children” and to “uphold the honor and the dignity of the office.” They didn’t just mean that there would be no more extramarital sex in the White House. As a matter of public policy, abstinence was in; abortion rights, family planning and homosexuality were out. Mr. Bush’s Federal Communications Commission stood ready to punish the networks for four-letter words and wardrobe malfunctions. The surgeon general was forbidden to mention condoms or the morning-after pill.

To say that this ambitious program has fared no better than the creation of an Iraqi unity government is an understatement. The sole lasting benchmark to be met in the Bush White House’s antisex agenda was the elevation of anti-Roe judges to the federal bench. Otherwise, Sodom and Gomorrah are thrashing the Family Research Council and the Traditional Values Coalition day and night.

The one federal official caught on the D.C. Madam’s phone logs ahead of Mr. Vitter, Randall Tobias, was a Bush State Department official whose tasks had included enforcing a prostitution ban on countries receiving AIDS aid. Last month Rupert Murdoch’s Fox network succeeded in getting a federal court to throw out the F.C.C.’s “indecency” fines. Polls show unchanging majority support for abortion rights and growing support for legal recognition of same-sex unions exemplified by Mary Cheney’s.

Most amazing is the cultural makeover of Mr. Bush’s own party. The G.O.P. that began the century in the thrall of Rick Santorum, Bill Frist and George Allen has become the brand of Mark Foley and Mr. Vitter. Not a single Republican heavyweight showed up at Jerry Falwell’s funeral. Younger evangelical Christians, who may care more about protecting the environment than policing gay people, are up for political grabs.

Nowhere is this cultural revolution more visible — or more fun to watch — than in the G.O.P. campaign for the White House. Forty years late, the party establishment is finally having its own middle-aged version of the summer of love, and it’s a trip. The co-chairman of John McCain’s campaign in Florida has been charged with trying to solicit gay sex from a plainclothes police officer. Over at YouTube, viewers are flocking to a popular new mock-music video in which “Obama Girl” taunts her rival: “Giuliani Girl, you stop your fussin’/ At least Obama didn’t marry his cousin.”

As Margery Eagan, a columnist at The Boston Herald, has observed, even the front-runners’ wives are getting into the act, trying to one-up one another with displays of what she described as their “ample and aging” cleavage. The décolletage primary was kicked off early this year by the irrepressible Judith Giuliani, who posed for Harper’s Bazaar giving her husband a passionate kiss. “I’ve always liked strong, macho men,” she said. This was before we learned she had married two such men, not one, before catching the eye of America’s Mayor at Club Macanudo, an Upper East Side cigar bar, while he was still married to someone else.

Whatever the ultimate fate of Rudy Giuliani’s campaign, it is the straw that stirs the bubbling brew that is the post-Bush Republican Party. The idea that a thrice-married, pro-abortion rights, pro-gay rights candidate is holding on as front-runner is understandably driving the G.O.P.’s increasingly marginalized cultural warriors insane. Not without reason do they fear that he is in the vanguard of a new Republican age of Addams-family values and moral relativism. Once a truculent law-and-order absolutist, Mr. Giuliani has even shrugged off the cocaine charges leveled against his departed South Carolina campaign chairman, the state treasurer Thomas Ravenel, as a “highly personal” matter.

The religious right’s own favorite sons, Sam Brownback and Mike Huckabee, are no more likely to get the nomination than Ron Paul or, for that matter, RuPaul. The party’s faith-based oligarchs are getting frantic. Disregarding a warning from James Dobson of Focus on the Family, who said in March that he didn’t consider Fred Thompson a Christian, they desperately started fixating on the former Tennessee senator as their savior. When it was reported this month that Mr. Thompson had worked as a lobbyist for an abortion rights organization in the 1990s, they credulously bought his denials and his spokesman’s reassurance that “there’s no documents to prove it, no billing records.” Last week The New York Times found the billing records.

No one is stepping more boldly into this values vacuum than Mitt Romney. In contrast to Mr. Giuliani, the former Massachusetts governor has not only disowned his past as a social liberal but is also running as a paragon of moral rectitude. He is even embracing one of the more costly failed Bush sex initiatives, abstinence education, just as states are abandoning it for being ineffective. He never stops reminding voters that he is the only top-tier candidate still married to his first wife.

In a Web video strikingly reminiscent of the Vitter campaign ads, the entire multigenerational Romney brood gathers round to enact their wholesome Christmas festivities. Last week Mr. Romney unveiled a new commercial decrying American culture as “a cesspool of violence, and sex, and drugs, and indolence, and perversions.” Unlike Mr. Giuliani, you see, he gets along with his children, and unlike Mr. Thompson, he has never been in bed with the perverted Hollywood responsible for the likes of “Law & Order.”

There are those who argue Mr. Romney’s campaign is doomed because he is a Mormon, a religion some voters regard almost as suspiciously as Scientology, but two other problems may prove more threatening to his candidacy. The first is that in American public life piety always goeth before a fall. There had better not be any skeletons in his closet. Already Senator Brownback has accused Mr. Romney of pushing hard-core pornography because of his close association with (and large campaign contributions from) the Marriott family, whose hotel chain has prospered mightily from its X-rated video menu.

The other problem is more profound: Mr. Romney is swimming against a swift tide of history in both culture and politics. Just as the neocons had their moment in power in the Bush era and squandered it in Iraq, so the values crowd was handed its moment of ascendancy and imploded in debacles ranging from Terri Schiavo to Ted Haggard to David Vitter. By this point it’s safe to say that even some Republican primary voters are sick enough of their party’s preacher politicians that they’d consider hitting a cigar bar or two with Judith Giuliani.

Photo Credit: Frank Rich. (Fred R. Conrad/The New York Times)

Friday, July 20, 2007

Not Ready for Primetime Weekend News

  • What Comes After The U.S. Empire? By Johan Galtung:
    "Empires come and go, it's been like that all the time. No empire lasts forever. However, this one happens to be so brutal, so killing, so intervening, doing so much damage that you would expect it to be more short-lived than many of the others."
  • WorldNetDaily: How empires end | Patrick J. Buchanan:
    "...It is a near certainty the U.S.-backed government will fall and those we leave behind will suffer the fate of our Vietnamese and Cambodian friends in 1975. As U.S. combat brigades move out, contractors, aid workers and diplomats left behind will be more vulnerable to assassination and kidnapping. There could be a stampede for the exit and a Saigon ending in the Green Zone...."
  • Rising from the Phoenix's Flames By Emily Spence:
    "...All considered, we will have to become more aware that whatever everyone does (or doesn't do) can effect the social whole in monumental ways. Therefore, we can no longer afford to take advantage of others to fill our own coffers. We can no longer be caviler about the widespread demise of other species. We can no longer tolerate escalating consumption of resources as if there is no end of them in sight...."
  • Iran and Beyond: Total War is Still on the Horizon By Glen Ford:
    "...An invasion of Iran is imminent, because that is the only solution the Bush gang and the corporate mafia it serves can conjure to rally the American people behind their quest for global dominance...."
  • Pentagon extends Iraq tours for 2,200 Marines:
    "The Pentagon has extended the combat tours of 2,200 Marines in Iraq for 30 days...."
  • Sea levels may rise by 9 inches this century, scientists warn - The Independent:
    "The melting of mountain glaciers and ice caps as a result of global warming over the next century is likely to cause bigger than expected increases in sea levels...."
  • Ms. Magazine | Paid Family Leave -- It's About Time:
    "Senators Christopher Dodd (D-CT) and Ted Stevens (R-AK) have introduced a bill to provide paid family leave for birth or adoption of a newborn, care of an elderly parent, or serious illness of the employee.� It's about time.� The U.S. lags far behind most industrialized countries in granting this benefit to its workforce.� According to researchers at Harvard and McGill Universities, 163 other countries guarantee paid maternal leave and 45 countries provide paid paternal leave.� Additionally, 37 countries already ensure paid leave for the care of an ill child.� By contrast, our present system grants only unpaid leave, and only to employees of large companies. Most can't afford to take it. This legislation would help close that gap, and begin to bring the United States up to par with other industrialized nations...."
  • Liberals Vow to Block Continued Iraq Funding
    "Seventy House members, nearly all liberal Democrats, vowed today that they would not support any more funding for Iraq military operations unless tied to a complete withdrawal of combat troops. This is a big development. Earlier this year, liberals grudgingly voted for Iraq funding bills because they didn't want to give Nancy Pelosi a defeat. Now it seems that their patience has run out.

    The next Iraq funding bill won't come up until the fall, so this showdown won't happen for a few months, but it appears to be shaping up as an epic battle between liberals in Congress and President Bush. This may be the beginning of the end for the Iraq War...."
  • TheHill.com - Watchdog group: Government awards contracts despite firms' misconduct:
    "A watchdog organization is calling attention to what it deems the government's failure to properly vet the companies to which it awards hundreds of billions of dollars in contracts. The Project on Government Oversight (POGO) yesterday released a revamped database detailing misconduct by the top 50 government contractors, including some of the world's largest military hardware, information technology, construction and energy companies. The database is stirring up criticism from industry members concerned that minor or even irrelevant issues are given too much attention.

    POGO, which for years has criticized government waste in defense-related and other programs, said it set up the database due to the lack of centralized federal tracking of misconduct. The new database includes instances of misconduct from 1995 to the present. POGO found that in fiscal 2005, the top 50 federal contractors received $178 billion in contracts out of a total of $384 billion in federal awards. Since 1995, the top 50 contractors paid $12 billion in fines, penalties, restitution or civil settlements for what POGO identified as more than 370 instances of misconduct...."
  • WAPO | Bush Proclaims Unlimited Executive Privilege Powers:
    "Bush administration officials unveiled a bold new assertion of executive authority yesterday in the dispute over the firing of nine U.S. attorneys, saying that the Justice Department will never be allowed to pursue contempt charges initiated by Congress against White House officials once the president has invoked executive privilege.The position presents serious legal and political obstacles for congressional Democrats, who have begun laying the groundwork for contempt proceedings against current and former White House officials in order to pry loose information about the dismissals...."
  • Subpoena Watch: Will the White House Answer Congress' Demands?

The Invisible Government

In a speech in Chicago, John Pilger describes how propaganda has become such a potent force in our lives and, in the words of one of its founders, represents 'an invisible government'. MUST READ:
"...Many people who regard themselves on the left supported Bush's attack on Afghanistan. That the CIA had supported Osama Bin Laden was ignored, that the Clinton administration had secretly backed the Taliban, even giving them high-level briefings at the CIA, is virtually unknown in the United States...." Continue reading.

Plame Suit Dismissed by Controversial GOP Loyalist


Jason Leopold and Matt Renner report for Truthout:
"A federal judge has dismissed the civil lawsuit filed against top Bush administration officials by former CIA operative Valerie Plame Wilson and her husband, former Ambassador Joseph Wilson. The judge, John Bates of the US District Court in Washington, DC is a Bush appointee who previously dismissed a lawsuit filed by the federal government against Vice President Dick Cheney. That suit sought access to Cheney's energy task force documents.
����
Since his tenure on the federal bench began six years ago, Bates's legal opinions and rulings supporting the administration's executive powers stand in stark contrast to his legal work as an assistant US attorney. He worked for Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr prosecuting President Clinton's Whitewater investment deals...."
Photo Credit: Valerie Plame's identity as a CIA agent was leaked to the press. (Getty Images/Via BBC News)

Also See:

A Wake-Up Call

MUST READ.

Paul Craig Roberts reports:
" This is a wake-up call that we are about to have another 9/11-WMD experience.

The wake-up call is unlikely to be effective, because the American attitude toward government changed fundamentally seventy-odd years ago. Prior to the 1930s, Americans were suspicious of government, but with the arrival of the Great Depression, Tojo, and Hitler, President Franklin D. Roosevelt convinced Americans that government existed to protect them from rapacious private interests and foreign threats. Today, Americans are more likely to give the benefit of the doubt to government than they are to family members, friends, and those who would warn them about the government’s protection.

Intelligent observers are puzzled that President Bush is persisting in a futile and unpopular war at the obvious expense of his party’s electoral chances in 2008.

In the July 18 Los Angeles Times (“Bush the Albatross”), Ronald Brownstein reminds us that Bush’s behavior is disastrous for his political party. Unpopular presidents “have consistently undercut their party in the next election.” Brownstein reports that “88% of voters who disapproved of the retiring president’s job performance voted against his party’s nominee in past elections. . . . On average, 80% of voters who disapproved of a president’s performance have voted against his party’s candidates even in House races since 1986.”

Brownstein notes that with Bush’s dismal approval rating, this implies a total wipeout of the Republicans in 2008.

A number of pundits have concluded that the reason the Democrats have not brought a halt to Bush’s follies is that they expect Bush’s unpopular policies to provide them with a landslide victory next year.

There is a problem with this reasoning. It assumes that Cheney, Rove,and the Republicans are ignorant of these facts or are content for the Republican Party to be destroyed after Bush has his warmonger-police state fling. “After me, the deluge.”

Isn’t it more likely that Cheney and Rove have in mind events that will, once again, rally the people behind President Bush and the Republican Party that is fighting the “war on terror” that the Democrats “want to lose”?

Such events could take a number of forms. As even diehard Republican Patrick J. Buchanan observed on July 17, with three US aircraft carrier battle groups in congested waters off Iran, another Tonkin Gulf incident could easily be engineered to set us at war with Iran. If Bush’s intentions were merely to bomb a nuclear reactor, he would not need three carrier strike forces.

Lately, the administration has switched to blaming Iran for the war in Iraq. The US Senate has already lined up behind the latest lie with a 97-0 vote to condemn Iran.

Alternatively, false flag “terrorist” strikes could be orchestrated in the US. The Bush administration has already infiltrated some dissident groups and encouraged them to participate in terrorist talk, for which they were arrested. It is possible that the administration could provoke some groups to actual acts of violence.

Many Americans dismiss suspicion of their government as treasonous, and most believe conspiracy to be impossible “because someone would talk.”

There is no basis in any known fact for this opinion....�" Continue Reading.
Paul Craig Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury in the Reagan administration. He was Associate Editor of the Wall Street Journal editorial page and Contributing Editor of National Review. He is coauthor of The Tyranny of Good Intentions.

Also See:

Olbermann to Bush: This is YOUR War -- YOU fight it.

Tonight on Countdown, Keith Olbermann "delivered a powerful special comment about the leaked Bush Administration letter that blames Senator Hillary Clinton and all war dissenters for President Bush’s own failures in Iraq."

Crooks and Liars has the video and transcript. Must see.

"This, sir, is your war. Go to Baghdad now and fulfill, finally, your military service obligations.

Go there and fight, your war…yourself." -- Keith Olbermann

Transcript:

Good evening from Los Angeles.

And we begin with a Special Comment, on this day’s ominous, almost indescribable events.

It is one of the great, dark, evil lessons, of history.

A country — a government — a military machine — can screw up a war seven-ways-to-Sunday… it can get thousands of its people killed… it can risk the safety of its citizens… it can destroy the fabric of its nation.

But as long as it can identify a scapegoat, it can regain… or even gain power.

The Bush Administration has, tonight, opened this Pandora’s Box, about Iraq.

It has found its scapegoats — Hillary Clinton — and us.

The lies and terror-tactics with which it deluded this country into war — they had nothing to do with the abomination that Iraq has become — it isn’t Mr. Bush’s fault.

The selection of the wrong war, in the wrong time, in the wrong place — the most disastrous a geo-political tactic since Austria-Hungary attacked Serbia in 1914 and destroyed itself in the process — that had nothing to do with the overwhelming crisis Iraq has become — it isn’t Mr. Bush’s fault.

The criminal lack of planning for the war — the total “jump-off-a-bridge-and-hope-you-can-fly” tone to the failure to anticipate what would follow the deposing of Saddam Hussein — that had nothing to do with the chaos in which Iraq has been enveloped — it isn’t Mr. Bush’s fault.

The utter, blinkered idiocy of “staying the course” — of sending Americans to Iraq, and sending them a second time, and a third, and a fourth, until they get killed or maimed — the utter de-prioritization of human life, simply so a politician can avoid having to admit a mistake — that had nothing to do with the tens of thousand individual tragedies darkening the lives of American families, forever — it isn’t Mr. Bush’s fault.

The continuing, relentless, remorseless, corrupt and cynical insistence that this conflict somehow is defeating, or containing, or just engaging the people who attacked us on 9/11 — the total “Alice Through The Looking Glass” quality that ignores that in Iraq, we have made the world safer for Al-Qaeda — it isn’t Mr. Bush’s fault!

The fault, brought down — as if a sermon from this mount of hypocrisy and slaughter, by a nearly anonymous Under-Secretary of Defense — the fault has tonight been laid on the doorstep of Senator Hillary Clinton and, by extension, at the doorstep of every American — the now vast majority of us — who have dared to criticize this war, or protest it, or merely ask questions about it, or simply, plaintively, innocently, honestly, plead, “don’t take my son; don’t take my daughter.”

Senator Clinton has been sent — and someone has leaked to the Associated Press — a letter, sent in reply to hers, asking if there exists, an actual plan for evacuating U.S. troops from Iraq.

This extraordinary document was written by an Under-Secretary of Defense named Eric Edelman.

“Premature and public discussion of the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq,” Edelman writes, “reinforces enemy propaganda that the United States will abandon its allies in Iraq, much as we are perceived to have done in Vietnam, Lebanon and Somalia.” Edelman adds: “such talk understandably unnerves the very same Iraqi allies we are asking to assume enormous personal risks.”

A spokesman for the senator says Mr. Edelman’s remarks are “at once both outrageous and dangerous” and those terms are entirely appropriate and may in fact understate the risk the Edelman letter poses to our way of life, and all that our fighting men and women are risking, have risked, and have lost, in Iraq.

After the South was defeated in our Civil War, the scapegoat was Confederate President Jefferson Davis, and the ideas of the “Lost Cause” and “Jim Crow” were born.

After the French were beaten by the Prussians in 1870 and 1871 — it was the imaginary “Jewish influence” in the French Army General Staff, and there was born 30 years of self-destructive anti-Semitism, culminating in the horrific Dreyfus case.

After the Germans lost the First World War, it was the “back-stabbers and profiteers” at home, on whose lives the National Socialists rose to prominence in the succeeding decades, and whose accused membership eventually wound up in torture chambers and death camps.

And after the generation before ours, and leaders of both political parties, escalated and re-escalated, and carpet bombed and re-carpet bombed, Vietnam, it was the protest movement and Jane Fonda and as late as just three years ago Senator John Kerry, who were assigned the kind of blame with which no rational human being could concur, and yet which still, across vast sections of our political landscape, resonates, unchallenged, and accepted.

And now Mr. Bush, you have picked out your own Jefferson Davis, your own Dreyfus, your own “profiteer” — your own scapegoat.

Not for the sake of this country…

Not for the sake of Iraq…

Not even for the sake of your own political party…

But for the sake of your own personal place in history.

But in reaching for that place, you have guaranteed yourself tonight, not honor, but infamy.

In fact, you have condemned yourself to a place among that remarkably small group of Americans whom Americans cannot forgive. Those who have sold this country out, and who have willingly declared their enmity to the people at whose pleasure they supposedly serve.

A scapegoat, sir, might be forgivable, if you hadn’t just happened to choose a prospective presidential nominee of the opposition party. And the accusation of spreading “enemy propaganda that the United States will abandon its allies in Iraq, much as we are perceived to have done in Vietnam, Lebanon and Somalia,” might be some day atoned for, if we all didn’t know — you included, and your generals, and the Iraqis — that we are leaving Iraq, and sooner rather than later — and we are doing it, even if to do so requires first, that you must be impeached and removed as President of the United States, sooner, rather than later.

You have set this government at war against its own people, and then blamed those very people when they say, “enough.”

And thus it crystallizes, Mr. Bush.

When Civil War General Ambrose Burnside ordered a disastrous attack on Fredericksburg in which 12,000 of his men were killed, he had to be physically restrained from leading the next charge himself.

After the First Lord of the British Admiralty, Winston Churchill, authored and enabled the disastrous Gallipoli campaign that saw a quarter million Allied Soldiers cut down in the First World War, Churchill resigned his office and took a commisson as a front-line officer in the trenches of France.

Those are your new role models, Mr. Bush.

Let your minions try to spread the blame to the real patriots here, who have sought only to undo the horrors you have wrought since 2002.

Let them try it, until the end of time.

Though the words might be erased from a million books and a billion memories, though the world be covered knee-deep in your lies, the truth shall prevail.

This, sir, is your war.

Senator Clinton has reinforced enemy propaganda? Made it impossible for you to get your ego-driven, blood-steeped win in Iraq?

Then take it into your own hands, Mr. Bush.

Go to Baghdad now and fulfill, finally, your military service obligations.

Go there and fight, your war…yourself.

Screw The Voters: No Overhaul of Nation's Vote System until 2012 (at the Earliest)

Hey, Congress has only known for 6-plus years (at least) that our voting system is broken and that their constituents cannot be assured that their votes will be counted. How can we expect them to do anything to guarantee our most basic right under the Constitution in 7 or 8 years? What is the matter with us? Do we really expect our "elected" officials to give a damn whether or not we have a vote? Have we learned nothing in the last 6 years?

Can you imagine a bank operating like this? 'Sorry, sir. I can't guarantee that your deposit will go into your account. We're working on it. We should have the problem fixed in 10 to 12 years....'

Christopher Drew reports in a NYT Editorial:
"Democratic leaders in the House and Senate are slowing their drive to revamp the nation’s voting systems, aides said yesterday.

Under pressure from state and local officials, as well as from lobbyists for the disabled, House leaders now advocate putting off the most sweeping changes until 2012, four years later than planned...."

Thursday, July 19, 2007

All the President's Enablers

By Paul Krugman
The New York Times
In a coordinated public relations offensive, the White House is using reliably friendly pundits — amazingly, they still exist — to put out the word that President Bush is as upbeat and confident as ever. It might even be true.

What I don’t understand is why we’re supposed to consider Mr. Bush’s continuing confidence a good thing.

Remember, Mr. Bush was confident six years ago when he promised to bring in Osama, dead or alive. He was confident four years ago, when he told the insurgents to bring it on. He was confident two years ago, when he told Brownie that he was doing a heckuva job.

Now Iraq is a bloody quagmire, Afghanistan is deteriorating and the Bush administration’s own National Intelligence Estimate admits, in effect, that thanks to Mr. Bush’s poor leadership America is losing the struggle with Al Qaeda. Yet Mr. Bush remains confident.

Sorry, but that’s not reassuring; it’s terrifying. It doesn’t demonstrate Mr. Bush’s strength of character; it shows that he has lost touch with reality.

Actually, it’s not clear that he ever was in touch with reality. I wrote about the Bush administration’s “infallibility complex,” its inability to admit mistakes or face up to real problems it didn’t want to deal with, in June 2002. Around the same time Ron Suskind, the investigative journalist, had a conversation with a senior Bush adviser who mocked the “reality-based community,” asserting that “when we act, we create our own reality.”

People who worried that the administration was living in a fantasy world used to be dismissed as victims of “Bush derangement syndrome,” liberals driven mad by Mr. Bush’s success. Now, however, it’s a syndrome that has spread even to former loyal Bushies.

Yet while Mr. Bush no longer has many true believers, he still has plenty of enablers — people who understand the folly of his actions, but refuse to do anything to stop him.

This week’s prime example is Senator Richard Lugar of Indiana, who made headlines a few weeks ago with a speech declaring that “our course in Iraq has lost contact with our vital national security interests.” Mr. Lugar is a smart, sensible man. He once acted courageously to head off another foreign policy disaster, persuading a reluctant Ronald Reagan to stop supporting Ferdinand Marcos, the corrupt leader of the Philippines, after a stolen election.

Yet that political courage was nowhere in evidence when Senate Democrats tried to get a vote on a measure that would have forced a course change in Iraq, and Republicans responded by threatening a filibuster. Mr. Lugar, along with several other Republicans who have expressed doubts about the war, voted against cutting off debate, thereby helping ensure that the folly he described so accurately in his Iraq speech will go on.

Thanks to that vote, nothing will happen until Gen. David Petraeus, the top commander in Iraq, delivers his report in September. But don’t expect too much even then. I hope he proves me wrong, but the general’s history suggests that he’s another smart, sensible enabler.

I don’t know why the op-ed article that General Petraeus published in The Washington Post on Sept. 26, 2004, hasn’t gotten more attention. After all, it puts to rest any notion that the general stands above politics: I don’t think it’s standard practice for serving military officers to publish opinion pieces that are strikingly helpful to an incumbent, six weeks before a national election.

In the article, General Petraeus told us that “Iraqi leaders are stepping forward, leading their country and their security forces courageously.” And those security forces were doing just fine: their leaders “are displaying courage and resilience” and “momentum has gathered in recent months.”

In other words, General Petraeus, without saying anything falsifiable, conveyed the totally misleading impression, highly convenient for his political masters, that victory was just around the corner. And the best guess has to be that he’ll do the same thing three years later.

You know, at this point I think we need to stop blaming Mr. Bush for the mess we’re in. He is what he always was, and everyone except a hard core of equally delusional loyalists knows it.

Yet Mr. Bush keeps doing damage because many people who understand how his folly is endangering the nation’s security still refuse, out of political caution and careerism, to do anything about it.

Photo Credit: Paul Krugman. (The New York Times)

Cheney's Long-Lost Twin

By Nicholas D. Kristof
The New York Times
Could Dick Cheney and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad be twins separated at birth?

The U.S. vice president and Iranian president, each the No. 2 in his country, certainly seem to be working together to create conflict between the two nations. Theirs may be the oddest and perhaps most dangerous partnership in the world today.

Both men are hawks who defy the international community, scorn the U.N. and are unpopular at home because of incompetence and recklessness — and each finds justification in the extremism of the other.

“Iranians refer to their new political radicals as ‘neoconservatives,’ with multiple layers of deliberate irony,” notes Gary Sick, an Iran specialist at Columbia University, adding: “The hotheads around President Ahmadinejad’s office and the U.S. foreign policy radicals who cluster around Vice President Cheney’s office, listen to each other, cite each others’ statements and goad each other to new excesses on either side.”

So one of the perils in the final 18 months of the Bush administration is that Mr. Cheney and Mr. Ahmadinejad will escalate provocations, ending up with airstrikes by the U.S. against Iranian nuclear sites.

Already we’re seeing a series of leaks about Iran that echo leaks in the run-up to the invasion of Iraq. The reports say that Iran is turning a blind eye to Al Qaeda, is using Hezbollah to wage a proxy war against U.S. forces in Iraq, is transferring bomb-making skills to Iraq insurgents and is handing out armor-piercing bullets to fighters in Iran and Afghanistan so as to kill more Americans.

Yet the jingoists aren’t all in our government: These leaks may well all be accurate, for Mr. Ahmadinejad is a perfect match for Mr. Cheney in his hawkishness and contempt for the international community.

It’s worrying that Iran has just recalled its most able diplomat — Javad Zarif, ambassador to the U.N. — and sent him out to pasture as an academic. Hard-liners always hated Mr. Zarif; goons from a mysterious Iranian security agency detained me on my last trip to Tehran and accused me of being a C.I.A. or Mossad spy, apparently because they were trying to get dirt to use against Mr. Zarif (who had given me my visa).

Mr. Zarif’s departure last week suggests that Mr. Ahmadinejad doesn’t plan to solve his nuclear confrontation with the West through diplomacy.

So the danger is that the pragmatists on both sides will be sidelined, while the extremists will embolden and empower each other. The ultimate decision-makers may be President Bush and the Iranian supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, but Mr. Cheney may find a sympathetic ear when he makes an argument to Mr. Bush that goes like this:

How can we leave a nuclear Iran as our legacy? Tehran’s arms program will encourage Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Turkey to seek nuclear weapons as well — and then there’s the worst-case scenario that Iran actually wants to destroy Tel Aviv. We just can’t bet on Iranian restraint.

These are real arguments, but a strike is no solution. For starters, it would delay the Iranian nuclear program by only about three years — and when it came back, the regime might be more likely than ever to use the weapons. And for Mr. Bush to launch a third war against a Muslim country would undermine Islamic moderates and strengthen radicals around the world.

Iran is also more complex and sophisticated than it pretends to be — and the fact is that standard deterrence has constrained it. Iran has a huge stockpile of chemical weapons, and the U.S. intelligence community suspects that it has sleeper agents in the U.S. who could be activated for terrorism. But we have deterred Iran from unleashing terror attacks against our homeland, and the best bet for eliminating the threat altogether is the collapse of Iran’s own neocons under the weight of their incompetence.

A recent opinion poll in Iran found that 70 percent of Iranians want to normalize relations with the U.S., and 61 percent oppose the current Iranian system of government. Any visitor to Iran knows that it is — at a people-to-people level — the most pro-American Muslim country in the region, and the regime is as out of touch and moribund as the shah’s was in the late 1970s.

The ayatollahs’ only hope is that we will rescue them with a military strike, which would cement them in place for many years to come. But look out, because that’s what may happen if bilateral relations are driven by those jingoistic twins, Mr. Cheney and Mr. Ahmadinejad.

Photo Credit: Nicholas Kristof. (Fred R. Conrad/The New York Times)
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Proof Bin Laden Tape Is 5-Year-Old, Re-Released Footage

Paul Joseph Watson, Prison Planet, writes:
"Why did IntelCenter, the middleman between "Al-Qaeda" and the media, a group that has government and Pentagon ties, re-release old footage and why did the media report it as new when it had already aired twice before?" Continue reading.

Related Articles:

  • Talking Points Memo | Curious Timing
    "Hot on the heels of [Tuesday]'s release of the declassified NIE on Al Qaeda, the U.S. military in Baghdad announced today that it has captured a top leader of Al Qaeda in Iraq… [T]he capture took place two weeks ago but was not announced until [Wednesday]… And the detainee just happened to confess to a greater level of coordination between AQ in Iraq and Osama bin Laden's global AQ, right in line with the official White House line."
  • The Unknown Candidate: "New" Osama Video NOT New

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

The Origins of Terror

The Cost and Consequence of U.S. Foreign Policy

Watch this powerful 2-minute video:



Trouble viewing this video? Click Here.

Not Ready for Mainstream News

Turn off your TV. Watch the video. Get mad. Do something about it.



"Misunderstanding arising from ignorance breeds fear, and fear remains the greatest enemy of peace." -- Lester B. Pearson
  • Kissinger’s Secret Meeting With Putin | By Mike Whitney:
    "When a political heavyweight, like Henry Kissinger, jets-off on a secret mission to Moscow; it usually shows up in the news. Not this time...."
  • Lies, More Lies, And Damn Lies | By Eric Margolis:
    "As the White House now ponders an attack on Iran, we would do well to recall the famed words of King Pyrrhus of Epirus, `one more such victory and we are ruined.' ..."
  • Ship of fools: Johann Hari sets sail with America's swashbuckling neocons | The Independent:
    "The Iraq war has been an amazing success, global warming is just a myth – and as for Guantanamo Bay, it's practically a holiday camp... The annual cruise organised by the 'National Review', mouthpiece of right-wing America, is a parallel universe populated by straight-talking, gun-toting, God-fearing Republicans...."
  • U.S. intelligence advisors see failure in fight with Al Qaeda in Pakistan | International Herald Tribune:
    "President George W. Bush's top counterterrorism advisers acknowledged Tuesday that the strategy for fighting Osama bin Laden's leadership of Al Qaeda in Pakistan had failed, as the White House released a grim new intelligence assessment that has forced the administration to consider more aggressive measures inside Pakistan...."
  • The State | Pakistan criticizes U.S. terror warning:
    "A U.S. intelligence report that al-Qaida is regrouping in northwest Pakistan is unsubstantiated, Pakistan said Wednesday, and it asked Washington to provide it with 'actionable intelligence.'"
  • Peter Galbraith | The War Is Lost:
    Former ambassador Peter Galbraith, vividly lays out the dismal state of Iraq and the various catastrophes likely to flow from most of the major "benchmarks" established by the Bush administration and Congress, if they were ever to become reality.
  • Iran: 2nd Round of Talks With U.S. Soon | Guardian Unlimited:
    "Iran's foreign minister said Wednesday that his government had accepted a U.S. request for ambassador-level talks on Iraq, to be held 'in the near future.'..."
  • Guardian Unlimited: Bush's new faith-based strategy:
    "Has God sent a reminder to the amnesiac president of the United States? How else to account for George Bush's sudden and belated announcement of an international peace conference on the Middle East? It was back in 2003 that the US President reported an even earlier divine directive as told to the Palestinian leaders Abu Mazen and Nabil Shaath:

    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. And now, again, I feel God's words coming to me, 'Go get the Palestinians their state and get the Israelis their security, and get peace in the Middle East'. And by God I'm gonna do it.

    Presumably Jehovah, operating on an eternal time scale, thought that half a decade or so of indolence on the Israel/Palestine file would not make a difference...."
  • YouTube |Your Cell Phone: FBI can listen even when phone is turned off

  • 911Truth.org | US Social Forum Supports Call for Independent, International Investigation into 9/11
    "Thanks to donations from some of our generous supporters, 911truth.org was present at the first ever United States Social Forum, along with 15 other 9/11 truth activists from six states. We attended with the idea we'd have to convince people to look at the need for a real investigation, but what we learned was that most everyone was already aware of some important 9/11 questions and agreed with us! Even better, we introduced a Resolution demanding an "independent, international investigation of 9/11" which received resounding applause by thousands in attendance at the final Peoples Assembly!..."
  • Bush Middle East plan starts to unravel | The Guardian:
    "George Bush yesterday encountered the weakest of welcomes for his call for an international peace conference on the Middle East.A day after he unveiled his plan for a conference of Israelis, Palestinians and Arab governments in the autumn, there were few signs of optimism that such a gathering could produce a final resolution to the conflict...."
  • AlterNet: If This Is Such a Rich Country, Why Are We Getting Squeezed?:
    Heather Boushey and Joshua Holland report for AlterNet on the contradictory stories of the American economy, where the stock market continues to boom, but at the same time Americans are told their government is unable to pay for a "robust social net.
  • Robert Scheer | King George W.:� James Madison's Nightmare:
    "George W. Bush is the imperial president that James Madison and other founders of this great republic warned us about.� He lied the nation into precisely the %u201Cforeign entanglements%u201D that George Washington feared would destroy the experiment in representative government, and he has championed a spurious notion of security over individual liberty, thus eschewing the alarms of Thomas Jefferson as to the deprivation of the inalienable rights of free citizens.� But most important, he has used the sledgehammer of war to obliterate the separation of powers that James Madison enshrined in the U.S. Constitution."
  • Administration Drug Officials Appeared With GOP Candidates:
    "White House officials arranged for top officials at the Office of National Drug Control Policy to help as many as 18 vulnerable Republican congressmen by making appearances and sometimes announcing new federal grants in the lawmakers' districts in the months leading up to the November 2006 elections, a Democratic lawmaker said yesterday...."
  • AlterNet: Bush Government to Poor Voters: We Don't Want You to Vote
    "The Justice Department is pressuring 10 states to purge their voter rolls, while states are ignoring laws to help low-income Americans register to vote...."
  • Energy firms' role in policy? | Washington Post:
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