Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Red Cross: Guantanamo Detainee Abuse "Tantamount to Torture"

The New York Times > Washington > Red Cross Finds Detainee Abuse in Guantanamo

Just file this one under "worst kept secrets of the third millenium..."

UPDATE: U.S. Death Toll in Iraq Ties Record

U.S. Death Toll in Iraq Ties Record

It's official: The US has reached another milestone in Iraq.

November 2004 ought to be remembered--and not only by Americans--as the month that we elected George W. Bush to the Presidency (for the first time), an International Red Cross report labeled the abuse of "detainees" at Guantanamo as "tantamount to torture," and at least 135 American GIs were killed in Iraq.

The "hits" just keep on coming...

Friday, November 26, 2004

CIA funds chatroom surveillance - ZDNet UK News

CIA funds chatroom surveillance - ZDNet UK News

Add this story to earlier reports of the apparent partisan politicization of the CIA, and you might begin to feel a little bit uncomfortable. Can you say "Republican police force?"

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Dan Rather Retires

the futon critic - the web's best primetime television resource


Dan Rather has announced his retirement as Anchor and managing editor of the CBS Evening News effective March 9, 2005. This will effectively mark the end of an era for network television news, an era that saw a drastic shift in popular understanding and appreciation of the role of electronic journalism.

From the radio (and early TV) days of Edward R. Murrow; through the days of Walter Cronkite, whom polls had called "America's most trusted public figure," into the era of the "liberal" media, Dan Rather becoming a poster-boy for perceived or assumed "left-wing bias," American public opinion has turned very nearly 180 degrees, from trust and support, to cynicism and opposition. This is a very strange, and ironic, thing.

Murrow was an unabashed liberal, in the original sense of the term. He was a fervent believer in Jeffersonian democracy, in the power of an informed electorate to guide the policy decisions of elected political leaders; in individual rights and liberties, in free speech, and the responsibilities of participation in the democratic process. He was a liberal, too, in a religious sense. "Branded with the consciences" of his North Carolina parents, he had a passionate committment to public service and social justice (as did many American Christians in the early and middle parts of the last century).

Cronkite, too, was something of a liberal. But he was also something of a patriot, in every sense of the word. He parachuted into Germany during WWII to cover the war for the United Press. Barely a year into his tenure as Anchor and managing editor of the CBS Evening News, he broke into tears announcing the death of John Fitzgerald Kennedy on the air forty-one years ago yesterday. He would boyishly shout, "Go, baby, go!" on the takeoff of an Apollo mission.

At the beginning of the American involvement in Vietnam, Cronkite was perceptibly hawkish. This, of course, was not out of line with mainstream American feelings generally. But by the time of the Tet offensive, as it was becoming clear to the American public that the war was unwinnable, in at least a conventional sense, he went on the air and told the American people, "It seems now more certain than ever that the bloody experience of Vietnam is a stalemate." Lyndon Johnson is widely believed to have made his decision not to run for re-election and concentrate solely on the prosecution of the war for the remainder of his Presidency on the strength of Cronkite's words. "That's it," he said, "If I've lost Cronkite, I've lost middle America."

Dan Rather has been a lightning rod for conservative and Republican criticism for most of his career. As a graduate student in Communication Arts in 1976, I wrote a paper criticizing Rather for injecting his individual personality into his news gathering and reporting (a fairly common and inevitable by-product of journalism in general, but television journalism particularly), and helping to create a "journalism of celebrity." I cited, specifically, Rather's un-journalistic behavior towards Richard Nixon at a press conference in 1974. When called upon by the President to ask a question, Rather (who had been among television's more aggressive pursuers of Watergate charges) was greeted by a standing ovation of the assembled press corps. Trying, clumsily, to be charming, Nixon asked, "Why, Mr. Rather, are you running for something?" "No, Mr. President," Rather shot back, "Are you?"

I was no fan of Richard Nixon. Rather's behavior--from a journalistic point of view--was inappropriate, and foreshadowed the time (NOW) when personality, looks, and celebrity trump education, training, and experience as "journalistic" qualities. That was my problem, however, with Dan Rather. Not that he is a "liberal" or "biased" (except in the sense that journalism is never entirely objective, and that objectivity is a functional impossibility), but that he represented a growing trend in TV news that I was unhappy about--journalism of celebrity.

Rather's decision to leave the anchor chair next year was probably inevitable, and certainly a result of his and CBS's uncharacteristic lack of diligence in this year's election coverage (specifically, the story of Bush's "AWOL" status during Vietnam-era National Guard service). Frankly, I will not miss him. But I do not watch television news.

I read.

Saturday, November 20, 2004

Boston Globe - Opinion : The purge at CIA

Boston.com / News / Boston Globe / Opinion / Op-ed / The purge at CIA

Can CIA agents, operatives, analysts and administrators be asked to both "support the Bush administration and its policies" and provide credible, unbiased intelligence about the state of the world? Can a political leader within the CIA demand that staff not "identify with, support, or champion opposition to the administration" and still expect objective analyses of global political, economic, and military situations?

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Boston Globe: An attack on American tolerance

Boston.com / News / Boston Globe / Opinion / Op-ed / An attack on American tolerance

This is a piece of lucid criticism on the growing chasm between faith and reason in American society. While I constantly stress the importance of focussing on neo-conservative ideology and its threats to American democracy, it is important to remember that this ideology has managed to co-opt and manipulate the myths and symbols of conservative Christianity.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

AlterNet: Election 2004: The Christian Right's Humble Servant

AlterNet: Election 2004: The Christian Right's Humble Servant

This is an interesting and somewhat disturbing look at the forces that have shaped--and continue to shape--the Bush presidency. While I think it is somewhat alarmist in its tone and tends to overstate the power of fundamentalist Christianity, and consequently not serious enough in its focus on the neo-conservative ideologues (i.e., the PNAC) who are guiding Bush on a daily basis, it offers a fascinating analysis of this President, this GOP, and this election.

An Excerpt:

Only a few days after 9/11, a shaken George W. Bush invited a small group of evangelical leaders to the White House to offer him spiritual counsel. There, they quietly discussed Scripture and the implications of 9/11 for a few moments. Then former Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) president James Merritt turned to the president with a few words of encouragement.

"Mr. President, you and I are fellow believers in Jesus Christ," Merritt said.

Bush shook his head affirmatively.

"We both believe there is a sovereign God in control of this universe."

Bush nodded again.

"Since God knew that those planes would hit those towers before you and I were ever born, since God knew that you would be sitting in that chair before this world was ever created, I can only draw the conclusion that you are God's man for this hour," Merritt stated.

It was then that Bush lowered his head and cried.

After Colin Powell

Colin Powell is gone, which was not unexpected, and in itself is not a tragedy.

Perceived as moderate in the Bizarroland parallel universe we call the Bush administration, Powell was certainly a good soldier (his “investigation” into the My Lai massacres attests to this) and a pragmatist. His prosecution of the first Gulf War, and his articulation of the Powell Doctrine (the principle that forces should only be deployed when national interest, commitment, and support have been established) are also testimony more to his pragmatism than to his moderation. And pragmatism, on the whole, is not an entirely bad thing, especially within the context of this extremist, ideologically rigid administration. This pragmatism, at least, balanced the hawkish imperial mindsets of PNAC pals Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, and Perle. But this balance has been perceived within the administration more as opposition, and perhaps Powell's greatest contribution to Bush’s presidency has been his reputation as “war hero” and his popularity among the American people.

Many people looked at Powell’s appointment as Secretary of State as a symbol of, and commitment to, moderation in the first Bush administration. But many others claimed that Powell had “sold his soul” in accepting it. If Powell’s “Faustian bargain” wasn’t evident enough in his near daily friction with neo-con empire builders, it certainly became obvious in the buildup to the US invasion of Iraq.

Before September 11, 2001 “changed everything,” Powell maintained that the policy of containment forced on Saddam Hussein under UN sanctions had worked, and continued working. He was initially opposed (as was the case in the first Gulf War) to an invasion of Iraq and the forcible overthrow of Saddam, wishing instead to continue a policy of containment. At a news conference in Cairo on February 24, 2001, Powell stated flatly

“…frankly they [sanctions] have worked. He has not developed any significant capability with respect to weapons of mass destruction. He is unable to project conventional power against his neighbors. So in effect, our policies have strengthened the security of the neighbors of Iraq, and these are policies that we are going to keep in place, but we are always willing to review them to make sure that they are being carried out in a way that does not affect the Iraqi people but does affect the Iraqi regime's ambitions and the ability to acquire weapons of mass destruction…”

He counseled Bush against invasion, invoking the so-called “Pottery Barn rule” (you break it, you own it). In Plan of Attack, Bob Woodward quotes Powell telling the President, "You are going to be the proud owner of 25 million people. You will own all their hopes, aspirations and problems. You'll own it all."

But the PNAC ideologues advising Bush administration would not budge, and “good soldier” Powell agreed to sell the idea of invasion to the world. Powell sought—unilaterally?—the involvement of the international community in the invasion, even as neo-cons fought for a unilateral approach. It was within this context that Powell addressed the United Nations on February 5, 2003 to argue in favor of a multinational coalition to overthrow Saddam.

But the evidence provided by the administration was scant, spotty, questionable, and ultimately false. And Colin Powell knew it. A US News & World Report article described an angry Powell, in a rehearsal of his presentation to the United Nations, taking the intelligence documents that constituted the case against Saddam and throwing them in the air, yelling “I’m not reading this. This is Bullshit!” And the world community knew, too, that it was just that and rejected the arguments.

At this point, Powell was all but finished as Secretary of State, so his resignation now comes as no surprise. The good soldier did his job and continued in his post. Many have wondered why Powell didn’t quit when asked to do something that apparently compromised his principles and his integrity. But Powell is and always has been the consummate “good soldier” and it is in the sometimes antagonistic relationship between loyalty and integrity that Powell’s Faustian bargain becomes so tragically clear.

Colin Powell is gone, which was not unexpected, and in itself is not a tragedy. The tragedy, when it presents itself, lies in what follows his exit. The United States, under this administration, continues its perilous move to the right. And the hard-liner who appeared moderate, the military man forced into submission by civilian hawks, will soon be forgotten, written off as a liability by the Project for a New American Century. In 1995, speaking of the decision not to pursue Saddam in an all-out invasion of Baghdad, Powell said

“Even if Hussein had waited for us to enter Baghdad, and even if we had been able to capture him, what purpose would it have served? And would serving that purpose have been worth the many more casualties that would have occurred? Would it have been worth the inevitable follow-up: major occupation forces in Iraq for years to come and a very expensive and complex American proconsulship in Baghdad? Fortunately for America, reasonable people at the time thought not. They still do.”

Are there any reasonable people left in America?

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Aljazeera: Children Pay Price of US Offensive

Aljazeera.Net - Children pay price of US offensive

Right-wingers will chalk this story up to "propaganda." Such is their understanding of propaganda. Those who have a clear view of reality will see it as a refutation of the ridiculous claim of "no civilian casualties" in the assault on Fallujah. And, next....Mosul? Baqubba? Rammadi?

Another E-mail to a Right-Wing Friend in NY

From: Howie
Sent: Tue 11/16/2004 6:58 AM
To: Peter Fallon
Subject: (no subject)

Hey, where you been? On vacation? Relaxing I hope. Or did you move to Canada? Howie

No, Howie, nothing like that at all.

I was merely giving you time to breathe.

I was also giving myself some quiet time, some time for discernment (an important dimension of every spiritual journey). I've been doing a lot of thinking, and reading a lot of handwriting on the wall, writing that's been there a long time, but which was invisible to me until just recently. And I've come to see some important things, and come to some conclusions about them. I've realized that, at least about a couple of things, George W. Bush has been right.

Discernment. Wow. What a trip.

I have realized that, like George W. Bush, I have been called by my Creator to serve Him at a critical time in our history. Like George W. Bush, I am an instrument of God's Will in an Apocalyptic BATTLE between GOOD and EVIL. Like George W. Bush, all the circumstances of my life up until now have led me to this place and time, and the calling that I hear is the calling of none other than the ALMIGHTY CREATOR OF THE UNIVERSE. This realization has been a liberating and a humbling thing, humbling to note how the Almighty chooses his least exalted, most humble servants to do His work on earth, while exalted elites do only evil and blasphemy; and liberating to note that, no matter what anyone says, no matter who disagrees with me, no matter how few people understand the logic of my words or my actions, whether my words and actions sting or cause pain, whether they bring tears to the eyes, whether they appear to have the hollowness of lies, I speak the truth. I follow THE LORD, and I am righteous.

Simply put, I can't screw up.

Wow. Discernment. Cool.

So, what is it that I have discerned to be God's calling for me at this critical time? What is it that my Saviour and the Saviour of the Universe asks of me? What small part can I play in a Cosmic BATTLE between GOOD and EVIL?

Howie, God has chosen me to be your GUARDIAN ANGEL. He has also asked that I serve as your surrogate conscience (apparently, the one He equipped you with has been malfunctioning).

Now, this should be an occasion for both great MERRIMENT and great LAMENTATION! Essentially, God has joined us, for eternity, at the soul. Hey, it's almost like a GAY MARRIAGE!!! Having been friends for the better part of a half century, we were the logical combination, and God, in his infinite wisdom, CHOSE ME (!) to bring you to HIS light. What happier event could you imagine, Howie!!! Yet, at the same time, God has shown me how difficult and serious a burden He has laid upon my back. There will be, undoubtedly, great WAILING and GNASHING of teeth as we travel this road together to GLORY! "it is easier for a camel to walk through the eye of a needle," than to get you to see the truth. God knows (He told me so), it's been like pulling teeth up until now. But--don't you see, Howie--I never realized before this point that GOD had CHOSEN me to bring you the TRUTH. God assures me it will be easier now. No matter how hard you fight, Howie, God has assured your salvation. So why not just give in now, okay? (Sorry, LORD, I was just kidding!!!)

Alright, Howie, your quiet time is over. It's time for me and GOD to get to work!


Pew Center: FOX Viewers Favored Bush--WITH AN UPDATE!!!

Summary of Findings: Voters Impressed with Campaign

Bill O'Reilly makes another ridiculous claim on his program which, in fairness, he labels "the most ridiculous item of the day." He says: "The Pew Research Center is out with which media was most trusted during the presidential campaign? On the TV side, FOX News wins big. Twenty-one percent of Americans say they relied on us for their information during the election."

Now, I've spent the last couple of hours looking for the specific study he's referring to, and I can't find it. Frankly, knowing his level of intelligence, I'm pretty sure he misread the study that I did find, which says nothing about "which media was (sic) most trusted." But it does say something about the different information sources used by supporters of Bush versus supporters of Kerry. Guess which "news" channel Bush supporters relied on?

An Excerpt:

Seven-in-ten voters who get most of their election news from Fox News support Bush, while just 21% back Kerry. By contrast, voters who get most of their election news from CNN favor Kerry over Bush, by 67%-26%.

Note: I've heard how angry Mr. O'Reilly gets when anyone questions anything about him (e.g., his objectivity, his intelligence, his honesty). I certainly don't want anyone to be angry with me. If I've made a mistake, and anyone can find the specific study O'Reilly was referring to, or can find the specific data he was referring to in this post, please let me know and I will apologize wholeheartedly. But I don't think so...

UPDATE NOTE: In Keith Olbermann's smart and funny blog, he refers to O'Reilly's "creative" interpretation of the Pew study, and adds a couple of brilliant observations of his own. Apparently, my apprehension about inadvertently insulting Mr. O'Reilly was unnecessary. He is as stupid as he appears.

Washington Post: Insurgent Attacks Spread In Iraq

Insurgent Attacks Spread In Iraq (washingtonpost.com)

From the Almost Too Obvious to Mention Department...

MoJo Blog Index: "Insurgents" and "Civilians"

MoJo Blog Index

More commentary on the troubling possibility that the "no civilian casualties" assessment is every bit as unlikely as it appears at face value.

Monday, November 15, 2004

Report: Marine Killed Unarmed, Injured Prisoner

MSNBC - Marine kills injured prisoner in Iraqi mosque

Casualties of war, whether we like it or not. Loss of innocent lives, loss of innocence. A marine, shot in the face just a day before the assault, shoots a wounded, unarmed prisoner in the head. A military investigation is underway.

Fallujah: "Mission Accomplished"--Fighting Continues

RTE News - US forces control 70% of Fallujah

While the bulk of the fighting is behind them, American and Iraqi forces still face pockets of resistance within Fallujah, amid reports that insurgents have moved on to other Iraqi cities. Contradictory reports abound surrounding deaths of civilians.

Amnesty International: Rules of War Broken in Falluja Assault

Top News Article Reuters.com

More on the "successful" assault on "insurgent" strongholds in Fallujah. Amnesty International reports that both civilians and the wounded have been targeted by both insurgents and coalition forces, contrary to rules of war.

U.S. claims success in pacifying Fallujah

CTV.ca U.S. claims success in pacifying Fallujah

American military experts are lavishing praise on the speedy invasion and pacification of Fallujah, and international media are echoing that praise--despite troubling reverberations just beyond the official information horizons. Some observers claim that American forces automatically counted among "insurgents" anyone who was killed. Consequently, there are no "civilian casualties." Don't hold your breath for journalistic investigations of this story, beyond the brief quotes and soundbites already offered by the mainstreamers.

An excerpt:

Reports out of the city describe utter destruction, with mosques and homes smashed. Bodies can be seen lying in the street.

Despite that, Iyad Allawi, Iraq's interim prime minister, said there were no civilian casualties –- a claim disputed by those living in Fallujah.

Compare this account with the one below, offered by a member of the "coalistion of the willing."

Strategy Maximizes Iraqi Civilian Deaths

The Japan Times Online

This article references the previously mentioned Lancet study on Iraqi deaths, and places the blame for the vast bulk of civilian deaths in Iraq (84%) squarely on coalition forces' tactics. Also mentioned is the speedy, clean, and surgically-precise invasion of Fallujah, though not in those terms.

An excerpt:

By far the largest number of deaths have been in the Fallujah area, which had been subjected to intense aerial bombardment by coalition forces before U.S. Marines moved in to retake the area from insurgents last week. However, the survey team decided that Fallujah was an "outlier" -- a case too unrepresentative to be included in the survey results. If the death rate from Fallujah had been included in the calculation, the "excess death" total would be closer to 200,000.

Think Again: The Return of the Fox-like FCC - Center for American Progress

Think Again: The Return of the Fox-like FCC - Center for American Progress

Commentary by Eric Alterman on the FCC's (in)decision not to involve itself in the Sinclair "Stolen Honor" controversy.

An excerpt:

A millisecond of a bared breast during a Super Bowl halftime show brings the wrath of the FCC down with all the force its fines can muster, while an issue that cuts to the heart of the FCC's mandate – ensuring the fair play of ideas in a democratic society – is effortlessly ignored. Now that conservatives have solidified their power over the federal government until at least the 2006 midterms, Big Media conglomerates will likely continue to push for even more power through consolidation than they have over the past four years of Powell's reign.

Sunday, November 14, 2004

Olbermann: Recount Coverage "is going to go through the roof"


Thanks to MSNBC'S Keith Olbermann for following this story closely both in his blog and on Countdown. There may not be a "news lockdown" on this story in the mainstream media, as he's pointed out, but there's not a whole lot of coverage, either, if he wants to be entirely honest about it.


I suspect the coverage is going to go through the roof as the news spreads that Nader has gotten his recount in New Hampshire, and that the Greens and Libertarians are actually going to get their Ohio recount.

Black Box Voting - Update: Fraud Audits in Florida and Ohio

Black Box Voting - Bev Harris - one of the leading groups doing voting machine investigations. A nonpartisan, nonprofit, consumer protection group for elections.

From the site:

You may have seen recent stories in the media (ABC News, Salon.com), and at other voting integrity Web sites like VerifiedVoting.org, telling you there is no reason to believe suspicions of fraud in the 2004 election. In fact, no member of the media nor any organization has done any real forensic auditing to determine whether there was or was not fraud. Trust in our electoral process is critical to our democracy. We need the right kind of investigation into anomalies, using appropriate methods.

"Feel-good" statements, dismissive of real concerns into voting integrity, are not responsible. The truth is what it is. We might see something very uncomfortable unfold during these investigations. Or, maybe not. It's still too early to tell, but the evidence is mounting.

Bush orders CIA purged of all liberal officers

Daily Kos :: Political Analysis and other daily rants on the state of the nation.

Commentary on an article appearing in Long Island (NY)'s Newsday in the Daily Koz. This ought to settle much of the speculation regarding the shape of Bush's "legacy" in this, his "legacy term." Many moderate conservatives, basing their assumptions on--what???--assumed that a second Bush term would find the newly elected president beholden to none and free to move toward a moderate center. These moderate conservatives remain, for the most part, in the dark about PNAC and the corporatist agenda of this administration's political and financial patrons.

The political purges begin.



Talking Points Memo: by Joshua Micah Marshall: November 07, 2004 - November 13, 2004 Archives

Talking Points Memo: by Joshua Micah Marshall: November 07, 2004 - November 13, 2004 Archives

More of the same, I'm afraid...

Yahoo! News - Bush Paints Rosy Picture of Iraq Situation

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

What the OTHER 55 Million of Us Have to Say...

Sorry Everybody

This is a cute website, alternately funny and sad. It is, I'm sure, one or two persons' catharsis, one or two persons' personal exorcism, one or two persons' "post-mortem" on the 2004 election. Be patient with it--take a look at as many pictures as you can in a single sitting.

A Dark Day in America: Bush takes presidency

A young lady by the name of Jamie Foxer has written an article which is getting a lot of attention on the Internet, as well as in some mainstream media outlets. Ms. Foxer is an undergraduate student at the University of Massachusetts. I hope she's majoring in Journalism.

An excerpt:

Shame on you, American people. You were given a lot of facts and you ignored them, focusing more on whether you liked Bush's "confident" swagger than Kerry's more reserved style. Stylistic issues took precedence over hard facts. My message to Red States and Republicans: I don't want to see a single tear about dead soldiers anywhere on the globe from Red States or Republican families. You've forfeited your right to be legitimately angry about our embroilments abroad when you voted for the man who sent your sons/daughters to die unnecessarily. Now, you take this Republican president and swallow him whole...you asked for it.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

The Separate Realities of Bush and Kerry Supporters

Bob Herbert's NYT Opinion article references this study by the Program on International Policy Attitudes (PIPA) and Knowledge Networks. It is amazing reading.

Monday, November 08, 2004

Bob Herbert Lights a Candle, Curses the Darkness

The New York Times > Opinion > Op-Ed Contributor: Voting Without the Facts

Here's an article that fits so nicely with the overall theme of this blog that I had to include it this morning. When thinking about exactly how Bush won the presidency (for the first time), we are reminded of the power of the religious right and told, "it's the values, stupid." But perhaps it's the stupidity.

There's a lot more the electorate didn't hear about and didn't know than did. And what we did hear bore very little resemblance to reality.

An excerpt:

I think a case could be made that ignorance played at least as big a role in the election's outcome as values. A recent survey by the Program on International Policy Attitudes at the University of Maryland found that nearly 70 percent of President Bush's supporters believe the U.S. has come up with "clear evidence" that Saddam Hussein was working closely with Al Qaeda. A third of the president's supporters believe weapons of mass destruction were found in Iraq. And more than a third believe that a substantial majority of world opinion supported the U.S.-led invasion.

This is scary. How do you make a rational political pitch to people who have put that part of their brain on hold? No wonder Bush won.

Redefining Journalism in the Bush Era

PressThink: Bush to Press: "You're Assuming That You Represent the Public. I Don't Accept That."

From Jay Rosen's Press Think blog, an interesting examination of the power of one administration to redefine the press and its role in society. No longer is journalism the "fourth estate;" no longer does it deserve to be thought of as an advocate for the people's interests; rather it is looked upon as merely another "special interest" with a product to sell looking for a set of conditions conducive to selling that product.

In this kind of environment, a president can usurp the paternalistic role of gatekeeper of his nation's information. He can decide what you need to know. And he can decide what you don't need to know.

An excerpt:

And the reporter then said: Well, how do you then know, Mr. President, what the public is thinking? And Bush, without missing a beat said: You're making a powerful assumption, young man. You're assuming that you represent the public. I don't accept that.
Which is a powerful statement. And if Bush believes it (a possibility not to be dismissed) then we must credit the president with an original idea, or the germ of one. Bush's people have developed it into a thesis, which they explained to Auletta, who told it to co-host Brooke Gladstone:
That's his attitude. And when you ask the Bush people to explain that attitude, what they say is: We don't accept that you have a check and balance function. We think that you are in the game of "Gotcha." Oh, you're interested in headlines, and you're interested in conflict. You're not interested in having a serious discussion... and exploring things.

Sunday, November 07, 2004

MSNBC - George, John, and Warren

Warren, Ohio--Keith Olberman, one of the few reporters I had any kind of respect for over at NBC (Steven Frasier was another--perhaps some day I'll post a list), ventures uncertainly into the uncharted land of non-mainstream information. He's looking at information passing through the "rumor mills" of the internet, an unusual enough occurrence for a mainstreamer. But he's promising to follow up on some of the stories....Bush: "There's rumors on the internets..."

An excerpt:

The only reason I differentiate between the blogs and the newspapers is that in the latter, a certain bar of ascertainable, reasonably neutral, fact has to be passed, and has to be approved by a consensus of reporters and editors. The process isn’t flawless (ask Dan Rather) but the next time you read a blog where bald-faced lies are accepted as fact, ask yourself whether we here in cyberspace have yet achieved the reliability of even the mainstream media. In short, a lot gets left out of newspapers, radio, and tv - but what’s left in tends to be, in the words of my old CNN Sports colleague NickCharles, a lead-pipe cinch.

Thus the majority of the media has yet to touch the other stories of Ohio (the amazing Bush Times Ten voting machine in Gahanna) or the sagas of Ohio South: huge margins for Bush in Florida counties in which registered Democrats outnumber registered Republicans 2-1, places where the optical scanning of precinct totals seems to have turned results from perfect matches for the pro-Kerry exit poll data, to Bush sweeps.

Georgia Evolution Case Heads to Court

Yahoo! News - Georgia Evolution Case Heads to Court

Howie says that the "religious right" scares him. He has no use or Jerry Falwell or Pat Robertson. He likes George W. Bush because he is a man of "moral fiber." He thinks the separation of church and state is sufficiently served under Bush's administration. He sees less of a problem than I do from the start, though, as he sees America having been founded as a "Christian nation."

So, Howie, this article is for you.

Saturday, November 06, 2004

TheStar.com - Canada, deliver us from King George

TheStar.com - Canada, deliver us from King George

Canada, eh? It's looking pretty good again. A little humor, I think....

Yahoo! News - Machine Error Gives Bush Extra Ohio Votes

Yahoo! News - Machine Error Gives Bush Extra Ohio Votes

Black Box Voting (dot org) is investigating reports of electronic voting irregularities and is filing a freedom of information request for the blackboxes on over 3000 voting machines.

Davis Foulger defends this action against those who would say it's just "sour grapes": Before you dismiss this as meaningless, note that the difference in Ohiois currently 130,000 votes. If the one machine that we have a report onis extrapolated to other machines (and that may or may not be areasonable thing to do), Bush would get that many votes from only 34machines. The issue may or may not be fraud, but if it is, there aremany more than 34 electronic voting machines in Ohio and Florida.

Black Box Voting - Bev Harris - one of the leading groups doing voting machine investigations. A nonpartisan, nonprofit, consumer protection group for elections.

Another 2004 Election Map

Purple America Posted by Hello

Jeff Culver's map of a "purple America" is in stark contrast to the map previously posted. I'm not sure it's an indication that America is any less ideologically divided, but it is an indication that the divisions are less of a "great divide" type and more an illustration that all of America--every state, every city, every neighborhood--sees things (at least) two different ways.

Friday, November 05, 2004

The 2004 Presidential Election Map

2004 Presidential Election Map Posted by Hello

How Do We Get Some Lights On In This Place?

Daily Kos :: Political Analysis and other daily rants on the state of the nation.

Meteor Blades over at the Daily Kos has some observations--and good advice--about how/where to start in thinking about undoing/co-opting/by-passing America's corporate controlled mass media. I've got some thoughts, too, and I'll be posting them in the days to come.

Thursday, November 04, 2004

Life is Better, Now, With Saddam Gone...

Progressive News - Lancet - Iraqi Civilian Casualties Tops 100,000 by Juan Cole

You see, there's this guy, Howie....I've known him since childhood...forty-one years. He says, of course, that things in Iraq are better now. Maybe that's not so....Estimates of deaths under Saddam range from 30-40,000 per year. At 100,000 in twenty months, one has to be pretty callous to say that things are "better" for the Iraqi people, at least in terms of life expectancy....at least so far.

Wrong Again, Howie--The Kids Came Out and VOTED!

Boston.com / News / Boston Globe / Opinion / Op-ed / Youth came through with big turnout

Another myth has appeared--since yesterday--that the youth vote didn't appear, and this was a sign of a general civic apathy amongst the young. I don't believe it. As a college professor, I see and have seen something very different. Keep an eye out for reports and commentary documenting the youth movement of the 21st century. Send 'em on to me.

The Daily Mail (UK) Posted by Hello

Europe Reacts to Bush

Today's Front Pages

Not everyone in the world sees things the way we do...

You say "potato," I say "Armageddon..."

Yahoo! News - Bush Makes Not-So-Good Headlines in Europe

Continuing evidence of the disjoint between reality and perception--either in the US or in the REST of the world....


"How can 59,054,087 people be so DUMB?" the liberal Daily Mirror asked in a Page One headline. Inside, several pages of coverage were headed "U.S. election disaster."

In the Dark--and Getting Darker

The New York Times > Opinion > Op-Ed Contributor: The Day the Enlightenment Went Out

Historian Garry Wills on the ascendancy of faith over fact, and the implications for America of the rise of right-wing "Christian" politics. An excerpt:

"America, the first real democracy in history, was a product of Enlightenment values - critical intelligence, tolerance, respect for evidence, a regard for the secular sciences. Though the founders differed on many things, they shared these values of what was then modernity. They addressed "a candid world," as they wrote in the Declaration of Independence, out of "a decent respect for the opinions of mankind." Respect for evidence seems not to pertain any more, when a poll taken just before the elections showed that 75 percent of Mr. Bush's supporters believe Iraq either worked closely with Al Qaeda or was directly involved in the attacks of 9/11."

Revolt of the Techno-Masses


A San Francisco entrepreneur invents a gadget that will turn off every television within 200 feet and becomes wealthy. Order yours today.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

UPDATE!!! Casualties in the war on truth...

UPDATE!!! As of yesterday, November 3, 2004, this website had a notice on it that said (I paraphrase), "I am discontinuing this site because after this election it's become clear that nobody gives a damn."

Apparently it's author and tender, Ed Stephan, had a change of heart. I'm very glad.

--This is really kind of sad. This website documented the American casualties in Iraq and presented an interactive timeline of events involved, reported, unreported, or under-reported. Notice the message from the author of the site, in green.--

Iraq-alypse Now?

Brazil, U.N. Near Uranium Inspection Deal

Right-wing hatred of the United Nations, along with pressure from the Project for a New American Century, promise to make South America the middle-east of the next decade.

Wed Nov 3, 5:35 PM ET

By GEORGE JAHN, Associated Press Writer

VIENNA, Austria - The U.N. atomic watchdog agency has tentatively agreed to a deal with Brazil that allows inspectors only a partial view of sensitive fuel enrichment technology but satisfies concerns that the country's nuclear programs are peaceful, diplomats said Wednesday.

Brazil has refused for months to allow U.N. inspectors to see the enriching centrifuges at its plant in Resende, 60 miles northwest of Rio de Janeiro, claiming plant's advanced technology could be stolen by other countries if outsiders were allowed to view it.

The International Atomic Energy Agency wants to make sure that uranium being processed through centrifuges at Resende is neither enriched to weapons-grade levels nor diverted to other sites.

Diplomats, familiar with the dispute between Brazil and the IAEA, told The Associated Press the compromise appeared to satisfy concerns on both sides. Brazil's Science and Technolgy Ministry said Wednesday it won't have any official comment until it hears directly from the agency.

Diplomats told the AP last month that agreement was near, but the agency had been waiting to speak with experts who recently returned from a tour of the plant. A Western diplomat said Wednesday that a deal was likely now that those experts had found that the plant was viable.

"The squabble was that the Brazilians didn't want the agency to have any visual access," said the diplomat, who demanded anonymity. "But the agency needed to have as much visual access as it deemed necessary to do the job" of verifying that uranium is neither enriched to weapons-grade levels nor diverted to other sites.

Uranium enriched to low levels is used for fuel to generate electricity. More highly enriched, weapons-grade uranium can be used in nuclear warheads. Brazil denies it is building such arms.
IAEA spokesman Mark Gwozdecky said the Brazilian government was "being constructive" and the inspectors' report will be analyzed before a final decision.

The tentative compromise would allow inspectors to see some parts of the centrifuges while other parts are hidden from view, another diplomat said. Computer-generated diagrams would be provided to the agency experts to flesh out what they are not allowed to see, he said.

Diplomats say the IAEA does not believe Brazil is trying to make nuclear weapons.

Still, any deal with the IAEA short of full visual inspection would do little to settle questions about whether Brazil's enrichment program is based on illicitly acquired technology.

Brazil's reluctance to let the inspectors see all of its nuclear program also has heightened concerns that it could serve as a precedent for other nations being asked to provide full access to their nuclear programs, such as Iran and possibly North Korea if it again accepted international inspections.

One of the diplomats familiar with Brazil's nuclear dossier said the nation's reluctance to fully open its centrifuge program to outside scrutiny could partially be due to fears that it would expose past illicit purchases.

Brazil ran a secret nuclear military program before giving it up in the 1980s — much of it based on secret procurement.
New additions to the "axis of evil?"
With a second term ahead, the Bush administration needs no longer to follow the vagaries of public opinion in carrying out the policies of the Project for a New American Century.

Latin American Voters Tilting to Left
Mon Nov 1, 4:59 PM ET

By KEVIN GRAY, Associated Press Writer

MONTEVIDEO, Uruguay - Uruguay strengthened South America's political tilt to the left, electing the country's first leftist president as part of a regional shift by voters disenchanted by U.S.-backed free-market policies many blame for recent economic upheaval.

Municipal elections also reaped gains for left-leaning governments in Venezuela and Chile.
In Uruguay, the victory of socialist Tabare Vazquez in Sunday's vote highlighted a dramatic change for a staunch U.S. ally. During the five-year rule of outgoing centrist President Jorge Batlle, relations with the United States had blossomed at a time when left-leaning and populist leaders took power in Argentina, Brazil, and Venezuela.

Pro-government candidates swept all but two of 23 governorships in Venezuela's elections Sunday, giving a boost to President Hugo Chavez. Chilean voters strongly endorsed the center-left government of President Ricardo Lagos in nationwide municipal elections, although the right-wing opposition won the symbolic mayoral race in Santiago.

Brazil's leftist president, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, however, was handed a bruising defeat in a major test of his ruling Workers Party's influence, which lost mayoral runoffs in Sao Paulo and several other key cities.

Still, the win by Vazquez — a 64-year-old cancer specialist and former mayor of the capital of Montevideo — aligned Uruguay with its neighbors, who are increasingly challenging U.S. policies toward the region.

Thousands of Uruguayans rallied in the streets until early Monday morning, celebrating Vazquez's victory.

Uruguay's Electoral Court said Monday that with 99 percent of the ballots counted, Vazquez won 50.2 percent, or 1,113,615 votes in the country of 3.4 million.

"This is the birth of a new Uruguay," said Magdalena Noguiera, a 29-year-old saleswoman. "Hopefully our message has been heard: we want change. Enough of the poverty, enough of the despair that we have seen in the last few years."

Uruguay, long one of Latin America's most stable economies, is climbing out of an economic depression in which the economy shrank by 11 percent two years ago.

The upheaval left one of every three Uruguayans below the poverty line — a blow to a country where generous social benefits had for years assured one of the region's highest living standards.

Thousands of young Uruguayans emigrated to Europe and the United States.

Over the last decade, many South American countries — pushed by Washington — have adopted free market reforms, opening their economies and privatizing state industries, only to see their economies slow to a grind.

Across the region during the 1990s, unemployment rates shot into the double digits. Statistics show the region also weathered a widening gap between rich and poor, exacerbated by economic crises like those in Argentina and Uruguay.

"There is a growing clamor that something is wrong here," said Montevideo-based political analyst and pollster Luis Eduardo Gonzalez. "And that sentiment is playing out at the ballot box."

Analysts, however, describe many of the new leftist leaders — including some who were active in leftist movements during the military rule of the turbulent 1970s and 1980s — as pragmatists.
While Venezuela's Chavez has alarmed some, Brazil's Silva and Lagos of Chile won praise from investors for adhering to free market policies, while emphasizing a greater role for government in helping the poor.

"I think most people think that if someone is of the left wing like Lula and Lagos, that's not really a cause for worry because those two presidents seem to be pursuing orthodox economic policies for the large part," said Michael Shifter of the Inter-American Dialogue, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank.

"So I think the whole meaning of what socialist is and what a leftist is has been somewhat redefined," he said.

Vazquez has expressed admiration for both leaders, saying he intends to focus on strengthening Uruguay's ties with regional neighbors Argentina and Brazil.

The Vazquez win drew praise from other leaders in the region, with some serving notice that leftist parties would likely continue to accrue political power.

Mexico City's Mayor Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said the win was a result of Latin Americans looking for political alternatives against a backdrop of economic gloom.

"Those who want to continue sustaining the same politics are losing elections because people want economic growth, they want jobs," he said.

Movies Invoke 9/11 at Kontraband

movies, Invoke 9/11 at Kontraband

I've shown this one in both my Media Criticism and Propaganda classes. It is pretty remarkable, even if you sat through all four nights of both conventions (as I did). Interesting for students of both propaganda and rhetoric.

Globalvote 2004 - where non-americans get to vote - have your say in the US election

Globalvote 2004 - where non-americans get to vote - have your say in the US election

There is a serious disjoint between reality as viewed by Americans and as viewed by the rest of the world. One side is not certainly right. But one side is certainly wrong.

An e-mail to a right-wing Republican friend in NY

"...Now, Bush better read the pole numbers, realize it was again close, and he better reach across the isle, and get working on the economy, healthcare and the deficit." --Howie


It is America who had better start reading.

It is a colossal act of arrogance to ignore reality and act on wishes, illusions, and myths. George W. Bush has made the world a far more dangerous place to live, and Americans don't see it. George W. Bush has recruited thousands and thousands of new martyrs for Jihad, and Americans don't see it. George W. Bush has weakened American civil liberties in the name of security and has given us neither, and Americans don't see it. But the rest of the world sees it. Someone is right here, and someone is wrong. Both points of view cannot be true.

The Department of Peace and Conflict Research at Uppsala University in Sweden reports that on average 9 minor armed conflicts (where the number of deaths does not exceed 1000 during the course of the conflict), 12 intermediate armed conflicts (where the number of deaths exceeds 1000, but is fewer than 1000 in any given year), and 13 wars (with more than 1000 deaths a year) go on at all times somewhere in the world. In the year 2000, war took the lives of 168,000 Africans, 65,000 Asians, 39,000 "middle-easterners," 37,000 Europeans, and 2,000 Central and South Americans. At the same time, American arms manufacturers profit from this death and destruction. Forty of the top one hundred arms-producing companies in the world are American companies with profits totaling $664 billion dollars in 1999. Over $93 billion of that profit comes from the manufacture and sale of weapons, more than the profit of the other 60 companies combined (US$64 billion).

Meanwhile, those in the less technologically developed world who are not dying in warfare are likely to be dying of disease or starvation. While the life expectancy of the average American was about 75 years in 2001, it was 65 for the Indonesian, 64 for the Russian, 45 for the Afghan, 39 for the Zambian, and 38 for the Rwandan and the Mozambiquan. While an American baby has 99.4% of survival after birth, the infant mortality rate is 2% for the Russian, 10% for the Ethiopian, almost 15% for the Afghan, and nearly 20% for the Angolan.

And while much of the "third world" believes that we care little for their welfare, many more question our motivations even less kindly. They believe we are more interested in exploiting their natural resources for our benefit, and exploiting them for their cheap labor.

Among the violations of the fair labor conventions of the International Labor Organization between 1996 and 2000, were many committed on behalf of American companies. Some examples:

· Factories in the Northern Mariana Islands (a US Commonwealth) that produce clothing for Abercrombie & Fitch, Cutter & Buck, Donna Karan, The GAP, J. Crew, Levi Strauss, Liz Claiborne, Nordstrom, Ralph Lauren Polo, Target, Dress Barn, and Tommy Hilfiger demand contracts of their workers which: waive basic human rights including the right to join a union; demand 12-hour workdays seven days-a-week; subject workers to "lockdowns" in the factory;
· Factories in China producing clothing and shoes for Adidas, Disney, Fila, Nike, Ralph Lauren, and Reebok employ forced labor in prison camps; demand of their employees 12-16 hour workdays, seven days-a-week; employ child labor; demand forced overtime; and Chinese workers for Nestle have been subjected to electric shock to maintain productivity.
· Factories in Indonesia manufacturing clothing and shoes for Adidas, the GAP, and Nike subject workers to forced overtime at a poverty wage.
· Factories in El Salvador producing clothing and shoes for Adidas, Ann Taylor, the GAP, Liz Claiborne and Nike pay their female employees about US$30/week for a 60-80 hour week; subject their female workers to forced pregnancy tests; fire their female workers if they become pregnant; and force some employees to work overtime without pay, up to 11 hours a day.
· Factories in Haiti producing clothing and toys for the Walt Disney Company pay their workers an average of US$2.40 per day, and charge them for transportation ($.66/day), breakfast (cornmeal and fruit juice--$.53/day), and lunch (rice and beans--$.66/day).
· Factories in Russia producing clothing for the GAP pay their employees US$.11/hour.
If terrorism is evil-and it is-this is terror's recruiting station.
But, we're told, what they really hate about America is "our freedom."

Americans know nothing of these things, all in the public record, because our "liberal" media are giving us not what we need to know, but what we want to know. This is the "free-market" approach to journalism.

Americans know nothing about the Project for a New American Century, even though they have their own website, and all their position papers are public record. Have YOU read any of their stuff?

Howie, I realize and appreciate why you're saying this. You're trying (very sincerely, I'm sure) to be conciliatory and reassuring. You're very comfortable with the results of this election, and you'd like me to be too. But that's not going to happen.

You think I'm a pain in the ass (I am), you think I'm a crank (I am), you think I'm "holier-than-thou" (you're wrong about that--again, what I'm looking for in a politician is the exact opposite of certainty, the exact opposite of this GOP, the exact opposite of PNAC), but you seem to think, I think, that I lack conviction, or that--like other Americans--I look at all of this as a game or a sporting event where, well, this time my team wins, and that time your team wins. Or you think that I think "winning" is important at all. I don't.

You talked about the "global society." Yet this administration flouts international opinion. It flouts human standards of decency in its economic policies, in its energy policies, in its environmental policies, and--worst of all--in its foreign policies. And in flouting these things, we turn our backs on the very values that defines America, at least in the past. F**k the rest of the world? Yeah, we can do that. But not for long. Because it IS a global society that is evolving. But it's not a "global society" the PNAC is interested in, it's a global economy.

The global society is becoming a reality. How we approach that reality will determine whether democracy survives, not just in the United States, but in the world.