Saturday, January 29, 2005

IN THE DARK About Iraqi Civilian Deaths

The Chronicle: Daily news: 01/27/2005 -- 01

Although more muted these days than earlier in our occupation, one can still hear the sound of neo-conservative defenses of invasion: "They're better off now than under Saddam...."

The only reason anyone not directly linked to the PNAC can say that, I believe, is pure ignorance.

"...Since the invasion, the No. 1 cause of death among households surveyed was violence. The risk of death due to violence had increased 58-fold since before the war. And more than half of the people who had died from violence and its aftermath since the invasion began were women and children."

"Neither the Defense Department nor the State Department responded to the paper, nor would they comment when contacted by The Chronicle. American news-media outlets largely published only short articles, noting how much higher the Lancet estimate was than previous estimates. Some pundits called the results politicized and worthless.

"Les F. Roberts, a research associate at Hopkins and the lead author of the paper, was shocked by the muted or dismissive reception. He had expected the public response to his paper to be "moral outrage." "

Friday, January 28, 2005

Quote of the Week (#4)

We trust, sir, that God is on our side. It is more important to know that we are on His. --Abraham Lincoln

Feith Resigns Under Pressure of Investigations

Informed Comment

The inimitable Juan Cole at Informed Comment reports on the resignation of one of the Bush administration's direct links with the PNAC who helped to create the "web of lies" that convinced many Americans (with the help of FOX news) that Iraq had WMDs, direct ties to Al Qa'ida, etc., etc., etc.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Quote of the Week (#3)

First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win. --Gandhi

Yet Another E-mail to a Right-Wing Friend in NY (AKA Howie)

From Howie:

A little history lesson you may enjoy

I thought that you and others may like to see this. One detail that is not mentioned, in DC, there can never be a building of greater height than the Washington Monument.

With all the uproar about removing the Ten Commandments, etc. This is worth a moment or two of your time. I was not aware of this historical information.

On the aluminum cap, atop the Washington Monument in Washington DC, are displayed two words: Laus Deo. No one can see these words. In fact, most visitors to the monument are totally unaware they are even there and for that matter, probably couldn't care less.

Once you know Laus Deo's history, you will want to share this with everyone you know. But these words have been there for many years; they are 555 feet, 5.125 inches high, perched atop the monument, facing skyward to the Father of our nation, overlooking the 69 square miles which comprise the District of Columbia, capital of the United States of America.

Laus Deo! Two seemingly insignificant, un-noticed words. Out of sight and, one might think, out of mind, but very meaningfully placed at the highest point over what is the most powerful city in the most successful nation in the world.

So, what do those two words, in Latin, composed of just four syllables and only seven letters, possibly mean? Very simply, they say "Praise be to God!"

Oh, man, I just love it when right-wingers start to lecture about (what they call) "history." Here's a little note: there's a difference between "history" and "myth." George Washington was a historical figure. Zeus (for instance) was a mythological figure.

Now, there's nothing wrong with myth. Myths are essential to human understanding of life. But they're not history. It's important to think clearly about that. Now, I believe in God (here's another piece of irony for you, Howie, because I think I believe in God probably more strongly than the gobshite who sent you this piece of crap). "God," however, is a myth. Don't be a right-winger now and jump on the surface of my words and proclaim, "Aha!!! You don't believe God exists! You are an atheist!" I just got finished saying that I believe very strongly in God. God has given me everything in my life. Sometimes the things She has given me were out-and-out gifts, and sometimes they were challenges--tests of strength? Tests of faith? Or mere challenges? Wake up calls? I can't be sure, because (unlike the President) I don't suffer under the delusion that God talks directly to me (there is a term for such a phenomenon, by the way, and it is "psychosis").

God exists. But She has left no record of her existence (unless you're going to tell me that the Bible is the literal "word of God"). God implies Her existence, and it is up to us to discern it and recognize it and appreciate it--or not.

The people who created the old testament stories, passed them down orally for centuries, and then finally wrote them down (by the way, they wrote them in a highly ambiguous orthographic system that had no vowels, but represented only syllables whose meanings changed dependent on the spoken vowel sound used, so at some point, once these stories were written, someone had to decide what each word meant as they read them, as it wasn't clear from the text--this is centuries before the alphabet was invented, and this is also where the Jewish tradition of Talmudic scholarship comes from), could have been, may have been, and I believe were inspired by God. But it is also important to note that they could have been wrong. These stories began to be told about 6,000 years ago, and weren't written down until between 3,000 and 2,500 years ago. Things get mixed up. There are two divergent creation stories, for instance, in the book of Genesis itself. It came from two seperate sources. But the ancient Hebrews who told these stories, and eventually read and interpreted these stories, knew it was part of the process to try to figure out their meaning. They didn't believe that it was the "literal word of God."

The New Testament, of course, is another story, and Christians especially should approach it in a different way. If you believe the Christian "myth" (and I do) Christ was both God and man. Christ was both outside of history and historical. The stories about Christ contained in the New Testament have at least the patina of history attached to them. Some were possibly written by people who actually knew Christ. There are certainly texts (although rejected by the early church fathers for inclusion in the official canon of writings we call the New Testament) that were written by contemporaries of Christ.

And so Christ did exist, and was a historical figure. We know that because we have evidence of his life. But the idea that Christ was also God is a myth (i.e., we have and can have no empirical evidence that God even exists, so how can we have evidence that Christ "is" God?). Here is where faith comes in.

Faith is belief where there is no evidence. I'll go further: faith is belief where there is evidence to the contrary. And I'll add a corollary: If you have evidence, and you believe because you have evidence, there is no faith. And if the evidence you have is bogus, then you are a gobshite. Let me make this clear: You can have two people who say they believe in Christ. One believes he has evidence (the "literal word of God") that explains everything to him. God said this, so it must be so--factually so, historically so, empirically so. When the evidence proves to be "nicht sehr gutt," this person turns his back on the facts that undermine the evidence, and demands that his evidence is "true" and unassailable. The battle over creationism is an example of this. This is the mindset of fundamentalism, and by the way, this is the mindset of all fundamentalism, whether it is Christian, Jewish, or Islamic. The other person has no evidence. The other person sees corruption all around him. He sees death and war and hatred and greed and everything that God (if She's out there, somewhere) despises. Everything that Jesus taught about seems to be undermined in the world. The meek inheriting the earth? Yeah, show me. The peacemakers entering the Kingdom of God? Where do you see that happening? But this person believes anyway, and tries to live his life according to Christ's example. That is real faith.

Why do you need to believe so badly in the myth of the Christian nation? Would that somehow make you feel justified for all the evil the US is doing in the world right now? Would that allow you to say, "Well, we're really doing God's work here, so even though it looks bad now, good will come of it because God obviously wills it." Howie: Christian is as Christian does. That's the bottom line. And you know, even if those tablets in the Supreme Court building were the ten commandments (historical documents indicate they represent the first ten amendments to the Constitution--the Bill of Rights), and even if the top of the Washington monument does say "praise God" (and, by the way, laus deo does not mean "praise be to God" which is a triumphalist slogan, like "look at how great God made us," it means "praise God" which is an admonition, an imperative, a warning), and even if the founding fathers did intend America to be a Christian nation (and historical evidence indicated that they didn't, but you don't care about history except to make it up and spread lies that pose as "history"), doesn't mean that today we're being a Christian nation. Because we're not. I'd love it if this nation, and this President, who call themselves "Christian" would actually be Christian. No one would be happier than I. But they're not, and consequently, we're not. On the contrary, we are a nation of idolators, worshipping a false God, a God who apparently believes that we are responsible to one another only to the extent that free-market forces demand we be. Christ, Howard Raymond, was not a Republican, no matter how hard you want to make him one. That is idolatry, and it is blasphemy.

Howie, do you go to church? Do you read the bible? There's no judgment here on my part. I don't believe for a second that going to church or reading the bible makes you a "good" person, and not doing so makes you "bad." That's more bullshit. But I'm trying to understand how and why this (incorrect and really quite harmful) myth of the Christian nation has become so important to you. I do read the bible, nearly on a daily basis (for some years now), and I know I've sent you these very passage before. But I'm sending them again, and I wish you would read them and really think about them. They may tell you something about certain people in oour public life right now who claim to have "the truth" and lead others down a road to destruction. They may also tell you something about love and forgiveness, and what Christ really wants us to do during our brief time on earth.

Matthew 5:1-12

Now when he saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, and he began to teach them saying:“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God. Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

Matthew 19:16-26

Now a man came up to Jesus and asked, “Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?” “Why do you ask me about what is good?” Jesus replied. “There is only One who is good. If you want to enter life, obey the commandments.” “Which ones?” the man inquired. Jesus replied, “ ‘Do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not give false testimony, honor your father and mother,’ and ‘love your neighbor as yourself.’” “All these I have kept,” the young man said. “What do I still lack?” Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth. Then Jesus said to his disciples, “I tell you the truth, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished and asked, “Who then can be saved?” Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

Matthew 23:1-33
Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples: “The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses' seat. So you must obey them and do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach. They tie up heavy loads and put them on men's shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them. “Everything they do is done for men to see: They make their phylacteries wide and the tassels on their garments long; they love the place of honor at banquets and the most important seats in the synagogues; they love to be greeted in the marketplaces and to have men call them ‘Rabbi.’ “But you are not to be called ‘Rabbi,’ for you have only one Master and you are all brothers. And do not call anyone on earth ‘father,’ for you have one Father, and he is in heaven. Nor are you to be called ‘teacher,’ for you have one Teacher, the Christ. The greatest among you will be your servant. For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted. “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the kingdom of heaven in men's faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to. “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a son of hell as you are. “Woe to you, blind guides! You say, ‘If anyone swears by the temple, it means nothing; but if anyone swears by the gold of the temple, he is bound by his oath.’ You blind ones! Which is greater: the gold, or the temple that makes the gold sacred? You also say, ‘If anyone swears by the altar, it means nothing; but if anyone swears by the gift on it, he is bound by his oath.’ You blind men! Which is greater: the gift, or the altar that makes the gift sacred? Therefore, he who swears by the altar swears by it and by everything on it. And he who swears by the temple swears by it and by the one who dwells in it. And he who swears by heaven swears by God's throne and by the one who sits on it. “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices–mint, dill and cummin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law–justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former. You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel. “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and selfindulgence. Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean. “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of dead men's bones and everything unclean. In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness. “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You build tombs for the prophets and decorate the graves of the righteous. And you say, ‘If we had lived in the days of our forefathers, we would not have taken part with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.’ So you testify against yourselves that you are the descendants of those who murdered the prophets. Fill up, then, the measure of the sin of your forefathers! “You snakes! You brood of vipers! How will you escape being condemned to hell?

Luke 18:9-14

To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everybody else, Jesus told this parable: “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men–robbers, evildoers, adulterers–or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’ “But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’ “I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

John 8:1-11

But Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. At dawn he appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them. The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him. But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground. At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” “No one, sir,” she said. “Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”

There's plenty more where that came from, Howie, and if I sometimes (always?) seem obnoxious and preachy, I apologize. But the "blind guides" who are leading this country right now are leading us not to Christ, but to lies, and to damnation. The "christ" that they refer to, and the "christian nation" they believe they are a part of, has nothing to do with Christ, and nothing to do with the Kingdom of God (unless, like them, money is your god).

I ask you, very humbly, and without judgment, to read these, read further in the New Testament, and look deeply into your heart. Christ is a Christ of love and forgiveness. He is not the "kick-ass" Christ of the last 30 seconds of Mel Gibson's "Passion." He is the Good Shepherd, and he wants us to be Good Shepherds, too.

If you can't see this loving Christ after deep contemplation, it doesn't matter. I love you and I will always love you as my oldest friend. But please don't try to convince me any more that we are a "Christian nation," or that Bush is doing "good" (i.e., God's work), unless he actually does have a conversion of spirit and actually does begin to do good. On that day, we'll both rejoice, I promise you.

The Lancet study on Iraq - it hasn't gone away you know.

Crooked Timber:

"The Chronicle's angle is on the strange fact that the Lancet appears to have shown that the Iraq War made an already horrible state of affairs much worse, and that nobody seems to think that this is something worth thinking about. There was a brief kerfuffle of interest around the time of publication, but other than that, the reaction of the world's media to the fact that we spent $150bn on trying to help the Iraqis but did it so badly that we increased their death rate by over 50%, appears to be 'ho hum'."

Kennedy, Lautenberg to Introduce 'Stop Government Propaganda Act'

Durbin, Corzine to Co-Cponsor

BLUE STATE ALERT!!! Tell your Senator and Congressional Representative to get behind this one. It's time we ended the war against truth in the United States of America.

AP: Gitmo Soldier Details Sexual Tactics News for NW Cable News AP Headlines

This, coming from the "values president," commander in chief of the armed forces. Is it necessary even to repeat at this point that the abuses at Abu Ghraib were not "isolated incidents" committed by a "few bad apples?"

"Saar, who is neither Muslim nor of Arab descent, worked as an Arabic translator at the U.S. camp in eastern Cuba from December 2002 to June 2003. At the time, it was under the command of Maj. Gen. Geoffrey Miller, who had a mandate to get better intelligence from prisoners, including alleged al-Qaida members caught in Afghanistan."

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Guardian (UK) : U.S. Presses Venezuela on Terrorism

Guardian Unlimited World Latest U.S. Presses Venezuela on Terrorism

Remeber my remarks on the "new additions to the 'axis of evil'?" About how I saw the beginnings of an Iraq-like PR campaign to portray certain democratically elected South American governments, even if they are quite moderate in their policies (compared to the rest of the world, at any rate) as "pro-terrorist?"

Well here's the next chapter in this story, one which I expect to continue to unfold over the next four years, and one which may eclipse the stories currently unfolding in Afghanistan and Iraq--and perhaps soon Iran.

Iraq Update

Institute for War and Peace Reporting

Election News

  • Human Rights Watch released a report detailing alleged torture and other abuses by Iraqi security forces.
  • Arab League spokesman Hossam Zaki told Reuters on January 25 that a Sunni Arab boycott of the election "will affect the credibility of the outcome".
  • The authorities on January 22 announced more details of the tight security measures for election day, including a night-time curfew across much of Iraq and a three-day holiday, plus restrictions on travel - Baghdad airport will be closed, and the use of cars will be limited.

Current security developments

  • At least one policeman died in Baaqubah, northeast of Baghdad, when militants attacked the offices of three political parties on January 26. Two policemen were killed the previous day in an attack on a polling station in the town.
  • Video footage was released showing three Iraqis saying they had been working for the national electoral commission in the northern city of Mosul.
  • The Iraq government announced the arrest of two associates of militant leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi: Sami Mohammed Ali Said al-Jaaf (aka Abu Omar al-Kurdi) and Hassan Hamad Abdullah Muhsen al-Duleimi.
  • At least 10 people were injured in a suicide car bomb attack at a checkpoint near the offices of Prime Minister Ayad Allawi's party early on January 24.
    Islamic militant leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi issued a new message on the internet on January 23 saying the election was a plot to put the Shia in power in Iraq.

Quote of the Week (#2)

What difference does it make to the dead, the orphans and the homeless, whether the mad destruction is wrought under the name of totalitarianism or the holy name of liberty or democracy? --Gandhi

Reuters : Senate Panel Approves Attorney General Nominee

Top News Article

On a straight party-line vote (10 Republicans for, 8 Democrats against), the Senate Judiciary committee approved Alberto Gonzales's nomination for Attorney General of the United States. He must still be approved by the entire Senate. A vote may come as early as next week.

What does this mean?

It means, at this point in time, that Republicans apparently approve of Gonzales's, the Justice Department's, and John Ashcroft's interpretation of the Geneva Conventions and definitions of torture, as outlined in a
2002 memo by Gonzales. Shorthand: The GOP believes torture is okay, even on unindicted suspects. The Geneva Conventions on the Protection of Prisoners of War does not apply in a war against terrorists or "irregular forces," even when torture is used against people who we have insufficient evidence to indict or convict. Because the "war on terrorism" is "a new kind of war" many of the provisions called for by the Conventions are "obsolete."

It means that the GOP is unphased by the possibility that Gonzales
aided in keeping then Governor Bush's DUI conviction secret in 1996.

And it means that Democrats disagree. They will be accused of "stone-walling" and "obstruction." I hope they have the backbone to fight this one out. America deserves better.

Reuters : 36 U.S. Troops Die in Iraq in Their Bloodiest Day

Top News Article

This brings the US death toll to 1,417. Civilian deaths are estimated at between 17,000 and 100,000.

Bomber : Zarqawi Arrested and Released by Iraqi Police

Can this be true?

"While he was awaiting his mission, he says, he was told that Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the leader of a terrorist network responsible for numerous bombings and beheadings, had been captured by Iraqi police only to be let go after seven hours because they didn't recognize him. Iraqi officials have declined to comment on previous reports that Zarqawi had been captured and let go."

Human Rights First : Vote "NO" on Gonzales

Human Rights First Vote "NO" on Gonzales

A Flash video for your edification.

The Speech Bush Should Have Given in 2002

Informed Comment

Juan Coles at Informed Comment gives us his view of the speech George W. Bush should have delivered to Congress when seeking authorization for an American invasion and occupation of Iraq--without the lies.

CREW Files Bar Complaint Against Attorney General Nominee Alberto Gonzales

Gonzales misrepresented role in assisting President Bush escape jury duty

The controversy continues to build over Bush's nominee to be the chief law enforcement official of the United States of America. We know about Gonzales's role in creating an intellectual climate in the White House where torture could be freely discussed as an option, and we know that an unprecedented number of military leaders oppose his nomination.

Now, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington has filed a complaint against Gonzales with the Texas State Bar charging that the nominee lied about his role in a Texas courtroom when representing Bush, then Governor of Texas, who wanted to get out of jury duty. It was feared that Bush's DUI convictions would be made public; the case he was being called to serve on was a drunk-driving case.

AP : White House: Deficit Will Hit Record $427B

Deficit Will Hit Record $427B

The Bush administration is on track to add over three trillion dollars to the national debt in its two two terms (source: US Treasury Department). It took 220 years for the United States to rack up its first three trillion dollars of debt (two thirds of it under Ronald Reagan). It will take just the eight years of the two Bush administrations to add another three trillion dollars.

The White House is blaming entitlements, like
health care spending for the elderly. But the $80 billion that Bush requested for fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan certainly must be at least partly responsible for the biggest single year deficit in our nation's history, no?

"That $80 billion would come on top of $25 billion already appropriated for the war this year, pushing the total cost of fighting to $105 billion, up from $88 billion in 2004 and $78.6 billion in 2003."

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Torture in Iraq Still Routine, Report Says

Torture in Iraq Still Routine, Report Says (

Things are much better now than they were under Saddam, right Howie? And if you find this acceptable (though certainly regrettable), how about this?

Quote of the Week (#1)

In a democracy, dissent is an act of faith. --James William Fulbright

ZNet : End-Timers & Neo-Cons

ZNet Politics End-Timers & Neo-Cons:

Dr. Paul Craig Roberts is a bona fide conservative of the "old school" (pre-PNAC). This is his take on the Bush administration and our current occupation of Iraq. It is fair to say that he finds Americans who support this administration and its foreign policy to be sitting IN THE DARK.

Some excerpts:

"America has blundered into a needless and dangerous war, and fully half of the country's population is enthusiastic. Many Christians think that war in the Middle East signals "end times" and that they are about to be wafted up to heaven. Many patriots think that, finally, America is standing up for itself and demonstrating its righteous might. Conservatives are taking out their Vietnam frustrations on Iraqis. Karl Rove is wrapping Bush in the protective cloak of war leader. The military-industrial complex is drooling over the profits of war. And neoconservatives are laying the groundwork for Israeli territorial expansion."

"...There was a time when I could rant about the "liberal media" with the best of them. But in recent years I have puzzled over the precise location of the "liberal media."

"Not so long ago I would have identified the liberal media as the New York Times and Washington Post, CNN and the three TV networks, and National Public Radio. But both the Times and the Post fell for the Bush administration's lies about WMD and supported the US invasion of Iraq. On balance CNN, the networks, and NPR have not made an issue of the Bush administration's changing explanations for the invasion."

"Like Brownshirts, the new conservatives take personally any criticism of their leader and his policies. To be a critic is to be an enemy. I went overnight from being an object of conservative adulation to one of derision when I wrote that the US invasion of Iraq was a "strategic blunder."

"It is amazing that only a short time ago the Bush administration and its supporters believed that all the US had to do was to appear in Iraq and we would be greeted with flowers. Has there ever been a greater example of delusion? Isn't this on a par with the Children's Crusade against the Saracens in the Middle Ages?"

Monday, January 24, 2005

White House : President Bush Calls "March for Life" Participants

President Bush Calls "March for Life" Participants

I'd like to go out on a limb here and dialog a bit with the President regarding his telephone address to the "March for Life" rally in Washington, DC.

"You know, we come from many backgrounds -- different backgrounds, but what unites us is our understanding that the essence of civilization is this: The strong have a duty to protect the weak. (Applause.) "

I couldn't agree more, Mr. President, and I'd even go further: The strong have a moral obligation to help the weak, especially those strong men and women who call themselves "Christians." How will a (nearly) $8 trillion national debt help the weakest Americans? How will the inevitable cutbacks in social services necessitated by the enormous increases in defense spending help the weakest amongst us? How does championing the richest among us by eliminating capital gains taxes, inheritance taxes, and by rewarding them with the lion's share of income tax rebates help the poorest amongst us? I don't see a whole lot less poverty now than when you came into office; in fact, I see a lot more.

"I appreciate so very much your work toward building a culture of life-- (applause) -- a culture that will protect the most innocent among us and the voiceless. We are working to promote a culture of life, to promote compassion for women and their unborn babies. (Applause.) We know -- we know that in a culture that does not protect the most dependent, the handicapped, the elderly, the unloved, or simply inconvenient become increasingly vulnerable. "

Your administration does not support the "culture of life." Your administration supports the overall system of American--and global--capitalism, which is responsible for much (if not all) of the material consumption and the marketing forces that make that consumption possible and necessary. Your administration, while carefully distancing itself from "Hollywood/Babylon," is economically dependent on the continued sale of products and "lifestyles," through advertising and show business, which are frequently very harmful and even deadly. Your administration, like other administrations going back to Reagan's, supports the roll-back or complete removal of regulations meant to protect the weakest among us from the greed and harmful policies of big corporations. Your administration opposes global regulation of business and global guarantees of wage and labor standards, opting instead for the wisdom of "free-market forces" to regulate economies. Your administration, through the FCC and its (now former) Chairman Michael Powell, has supported the further conglomeration of media ownership and weakened the concept of media acting in the public interest. Your administration opposes the regulation of gun ownership, even though the US has the greatest number of gun deaths (by murder, suicide, or accident) of any country in the world. Your administration, while giving lip service to the "culture of life," has embraced the culture of death through acceptance and encouragement of the death penalty and through the "preferential option" for war. So I don't really understand how you can say you support a culture of life.

"We're also moving ahead in terms of medicine and research to make sure that the gifts of science are consistent with our highest values of freedom, equality, family, and human dignity. We will not sanction the creation of life only to destroy it. "

Many (though not all) of us are aware of your opinions about science, Mr. President, and it is fair to say that you look upon science with contempt, as you look upon facts with contempt, as you look upon truth with contempt. Your healthcare policies are despicable. Like almost all your other policies, they seek to take the burden of "caring for the weakest among us" off the backs of government (and thereby taxpayers) and place that burden squarely on the backs of those who cannot afford to carry it. Your championing of free-market forces in creating and marketing pharmaceuticals has resulted in a wealth of treatments for erectile dysfunction, but a shortage of vaccines to fight influenza. I don't believe that even you believe what you are telling the "March for Life."

"I encourage you to take heart from our achievements, because a true culture of life cannot be sustained solely by changing laws. We need, most of all, to change hearts. (Applause.)"

And above all, to change hearts, if we are to change them in any good way, we need truth. What will you do, Mr. President, to serve in the cause of truth?

McCain Expects Hearings On Defense Intelligence Unit

McCain Expects Hearings On Defense Intelligence Unit (

More on the assault on the CIA and the creation of a new "secret" spy agency (isn't that redundant?) reporting to the Secretary of Defense, from the Washington Post.

Bush, Cheney Team Up to Soften Americans for War on Iran

In this administration, enemy combatants become "detainees" if making them "prisoners of war" would tie us down to the Geneva Conventions; the exact definition of torture is unclear and many awful things are allowed, but at any rate "detained enemy combatants" do not fall under the protection of the Geneva Conventions; "tyrants" are bad, but some of our closest allies (especially economic allies) are tyrants; freedom is good, but for some more than others, and "terrorism" seems only to be that violence directed by small groups at the state, and not that by the state towards individuals.

Keep that in mind in the coming months when we're being told why it is so necessary to devote time, energy, lots of money, and way too many human lives to topple the "tyrranical" government in Iran. Then watch with interest as Iraq becomes another Islamic theocracy.

The Imminent Demise of the Republican Party

The Imminent Demise of the Republican Party

To be honest, I think the Republican party has already died, and its decades-long death pangs began in the 1980s under Reagan. It is not the party I once belonged to as a young new voter. It has been hijacked by extremist neo-conservative ideologues of the Project for a New American Century.

But this is still a thoughtful--and brief--description of the ways in which the colossal arrogance of neo-conservatives--Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rice, Wolfowitz, Perle, and as their figurehead, Bush--sets the stage for the destruction of what has been a noble (if often wrongheaded) political institution. It reminds me of this article by Robert Jensen in the Austin (Texas) American-Statesman about why it is a good thing we are losing the war in Iraq.

This is not your father's GOP.

Sunday, January 23, 2005

Sunday Times (UK) : Go Home Yanks, Says PM in Waiting

Times Online - Sunday Times

Everything's working exactly as planned, eh, Howie?

Vote is at risk of inflaming, not taming, the region

Guardian Unlimited Guardian daily comment Vote is at risk of inflaming, not taming, the region

With al Qa'ida ally Abu Musab al-Zarqawi declaring "bitter war" on Iraq, its elections, and anyone having the nerve to cooperate with infidels, Sunnis appear prepared to sit this one out, paving the way for a series of Shiite victories and endless civil war. Meanwhile, American military (and civilian) leaders are looking for a way to justify as quick a cop out on the mess as they can. I think it is fair to say that what we have spread in the middle east through our invasion and occupation is not liberty, or freedom, or democracy, but chaos.

Mission accomplished.

Secret Unit Expands Rumsfeld's Domain

Secret Unit Expands Rumsfeld's Domain (

This is pretty scary, but not unexpected. After all, the Bush administration has made the CIA a whipping boy and scapegoat for its own lies and incompetencies, and downgraded it to the status of public relations arm, "facilitators" of White House policy. So someone has to do the actual espionage.

Under Rumsfeld, don't look for objective, apolitical "intelligence coming from this new espionage agency--look for partisan, politically acceptable excuses for undertaking whatever is the latest dangerous gambit the PNAC has cooked up.

Where is the outrage in America?

Saturday, January 22, 2005

Quote of the Week (#5)

Read, every day, something no one else is reading. Think, every day, something no one else is thinking. Do, every day, something no one else would be silly enough to do. It is bad for the mind to continually be part of unanimity. --Christopher Morley

The Speech Misheard Round the World

The New York Times > Opinion > Op-Ed Contributor: The Speech Misheard Round the World

I'm not the only one who heard words "lightly spoken." This "pledge" to push and fight for "freedom," "liberty," "democracy" was so shallow and cynical that it is not to be believed. The United States--at least since the time of Ronald Reagan--has been more concerned with the spread of free-market capitalism and the fight against regulation and organized labor than it has been with the spread of freedom and the fight against tyranny and terrorism.

Bush's whole explanation of terror--that it comes from cultures that are intolerant rather than those that are oppressed and exploited--is just so silly. I can't understand why our media don't question craziness like this.

Bush Speech Not a Sign of Policy Shift, Officials Say

Bush Speech Not a Sign of Policy Shift, Officials Say (

Not unexpectedly, the White House yesterday said, essentially, "Never mind. We didn't mean it."

"White House officials said yesterday that President Bush's soaring inaugural address, in which he declared the goal of ending tyranny around the world, represents no significant shift in U.S. foreign policy but instead was meant as a crystallization and clarification of policies he is pursuing in Iraq, Afghanistan, the Middle East and elsewhere.

"Nor, they say, will it lead to any quick shift in strategy for dealing with countries such as Russia, China, Egypt and Pakistan, allies in the fight against terrorism whose records on human rights and democracy fall well short of the values Bush said would become the basis of relations with all countries. "

Musharraf, Putin, the Saudi Royals--tyrants all. We've always been selective in this country about who in the world stood for "democracy" and who were "terrorists," so I can't blame this all on George W. Bush. But I resent his self-trumpeting of American righteousness and "christian values." He talks the talk but refuses to walk the walk.

Compare the White House statement with the interpretations (reasonable ones, if you heard or read the speech) of two Washington Post reporters, here. Excerpts:

"George Walker Bush took the oath of office for a second term yesterday and laid out one of the most expansive manifestos ever offered from an inaugural podium as he dedicated his presidency to spreading democracy and freedom "with the ultimate goal of ending tyranny in our world."

"From now on, Bush said, relations with "every ruler and every nation" will be predicated on how they treat their own people, a profound break from traditional U.S. policy and from the Bush administration's practices in his first term, when it worked with repressive governments in the war against terrorism. In his doctrine for the next four years, Bush presented the United States as a beacon for the subjugated around the world and promised to confront the despots who enchain them."

That's how I interpreted his words, and that's why I didn't believe them. So, what's the story? I'll go out on a limb and say it is just more of what we've come to expect of George W. Bush and this administration, and the ideologues of the Project for a New American Century: lies.

For what I think (immodestly) is a better interpretation of Bush's inaugural address, look at this.

Friday, January 21, 2005

Bush's Words On Liberty Don't Mesh With Policies

Bush's Words On Liberty Don't Mesh With Policies (

Another example of the disjoint between George W. Bush's words and reality. In his inaugural address, the President told the nation and the world that the United States was committed to spreading freedom around the globe. "All who live in tyranny and hopelessness can know the United States will not ignore your oppression or excuse your oppressors," he insisted, framing the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq within a noble context of liberation. But US realpolitik has demanded (not just under this administration) that some of our closest "allies" be some of the world's worst offenders of human rights.

Frankly, I thought the inaugural speech was more honest when I re-read the transcript and replaced every mention of "democracy," "freedom" and "liberty" with "free-market capitalism." For example:

"The survival of free-market capitalism in our land increasingly depends on the success of free-market capitalism in other lands. The best hope for peace in our world is the expansion of free-market capitalism in all the world." "When you stand for free-market capitalism, we will stand with you." "So it is the policy of the United States to seek and support the growth of free-market capitalism and its institutions in every nation and culture, with the ultimate goal of ending tyranny in our world." "We will persistently clarify the choice before every ruler and every nation: The moral choice between oppression, which is always wrong, and free-market capitalism, which is eternally right. " "A few Americans have accepted the hardest duties in this cause -- in the quiet work of intelligence and diplomacy, the idealistic work of helping raise up free-market capitalist governments, the dangerous and necessary work of fighting our enemies." "Americans, of all people, should never be surprised by the power of our free-market capitalism."

Indeed. I remember working as a videotape editor for NBC News' TODAY program in 1989 watching East German "refugees" driving across the newly opened border with West Germany in Mercedes Benzes, and popping open bottles of champagne to celebrate. I would like to be this type of refugee!

Something that the President said in his iaugural speech rang very, very true to me, though, although I am sure it is for very different reasons than his handlers intended. He said:

"For as long as whole regions of the world simmer in resentment and tyranny -- prone to ideologies that feed hatred and excuse murder, violence will gather and multiply in destructive power, and cross the most defended borders, and raise a mortal threat. There is only one force of history that can break the reign of hatred and resentment, and expose the pretensions of tyrants, and reward the hopes of the decent and tolerant, and that is the force of human freedom."

As long as whole regions of the world, backs buckling under the weight of poverty, in need of decent housing, healthcare, and education, their governments saddled with enormous debt so that they are unable to supply crucial basic services, are exploited for their cheap labor and resources, violence will gather and multiply in destructive power, and cross the most defended borders, and raise a mortal threat. That's what happened to the United States of America on September 11, 2001. And there is only one force of history that can break the reign of hatred and resentment, and expose the pretensions of tyrants, and reward the hopes of the decent and tolerant, and that is the force of justice, mercy, and love.

It's time to reign in the exploiters of human weakness. We need to re-regulate business, and do it on a blobal basis.

Quote of the Week (#4)

Violence is the voice of the voiceless. --Peter K. Fallon

Cheney Warns of Iran As a Nuclear Threat

Cheney Warns of Iran As a Nuclear Threat (

As noted here earlier, and as uncovered and reported recently by Seymour Hersh, and consistent with the policy aims of the Project for a New American Century, our eyes turn now to a second member of the "axis of evil," Iran.

In his New Yorker article, Seymour Hersh tells us that this administration will not make the same mistakes as they did in Iraq, mistakes having nothing to do with the conception, planning, and execution of the invasion and occupation, but in the "selling" of war to the public:

"The President and his national-security advisers have consolidated control over the military and intelligence communities’ strategic analyses and covert operations to a degree unmatched since the rise of the post-Second World War national-security state. Bush has an aggressive and ambitious agenda for using that control—against the mullahs in Iran and against targets in the ongoing war on terrorism—during his second term. The C.I.A. will continue to be downgraded, and the agency will increasingly serve, as one government consultant with close ties to the Pentagon put it, as “facilitators” of policy emanating from President Bush and Vice-President Dick Cheney. This process is well under way."

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Armitage Tells It Like It Is--Or Should Have Been

The Australian: Reflections of a straight shooter [January 20, 2005]:

Outgoing Bush administration official, Assistant Secretary of State Richard Armitage (the big guy who looks like a truck driver) has regrets about policy failures of the last four years, even if the president doesn't. Of course, Armitage was one of the few voices of (something approximating) reason in this administration, along with his immediate superior, soon-to-be ex-Secretary of State Colin Powell:

"I'm disappointed that Iraq hasn't turned out better. And that we weren't able to move forward more meaningfully in the Middle East peace process."

"Then, after a minute's pause, he adds a third regret: 'The biggest regret is that we didn't stop 9/11. And then in the wake of 9/11, instead of redoubling what is our traditional export of hope and optimism we exported our fear and our anger. And presented a very intense and angry face to the world. I regret that a lot.' "

Yeah. Me too.

Reuters : Four More Years of Bush Makes the World Anxious

International News Article

Many world leaders, alienated by Bush's go-it-alone foreign policy and the U.S.-led war in Iraq, would have preferred him to lose the U.S. election last November. Since his victory, they have been urging him to listen and consult more.

Mistrust also runs deep among ordinary people. Some 58 percent of people surveyed in a British Broadcasting Corporation poll in 21 countries said they believed Bush's re-election made the world a more dangerous place.

Quote of the Week (#3)

Non-cooperation with evil is a sacred duty. --Gandhi

Missiles Deployed for Inauguration

Missiles deployed for inauguration - The Washington Times

Now, I ask you: is it just me? Am I really reading this headline? And am I the only person who is astounded by this? NORAD placing anti-aircraft missiles around Washington DC in anticipation of the Bush inauguration?

Of course, I know, we were attacked three years ago by terrorists. But we were attacked over eleven years ago by terrorists, and if I'm not mistaken we did not deploy ballistic missiles in our nation's capitol. I may be wrong about this, and if I am, please correct me.

And, yes, I know, al Qa'ida would like to attack us again (and again, and again). But I can't help wonder whether we would be so vulnerable to attack (or feel so vulnerable at any rate) if we hadn't created another free-zone for terrorists in Iraq, and created further conditions for their recruitment and on-the-job training.

But maybe it's just me....

Support for War in Iraq Hits New Low - LA Times

Support for War in Iraq Hits New Low

Some significant details from the poll:

54% disapprove of Bush's handling of the war, including 44% who strongly disapprove;

45% think the war has destabilized the region while only 24% believe it has helped to stabilize it;

65% believe that the international image of the US has been hurt by the war, as opposed to 10% who believe it has helped our reputation;

Overall job approval ratings in military households and among veterans dropped from 56% to an even 48%-48% approval/disapproval split.

Meanwhile, insurgents exploded a truck bomb near the Australian embassy in Baghdad and attacked other areas with at least three car bombs, killing at least 26. This comes less than two weeks before planned elections.

All this is just days after Bush claimed a mandate for his Iraq policy in his reelection. "We had an accountability moment, and that's called the 2004 elections," Bush said on January 14. "The American people listened to different assessments made about what was taking place in Iraq, and they looked at the two candidates, and chose me."

Quote of the Week (#2)

What luck for rulers, that men do not think. --Adolf Hitler

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Quote of the Week (#1)

I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with sense, reason, and intellect has intended us to forgo their use. --Galileo Galilei

Monday, January 17, 2005

Iraq War May Incite Terror, CIA Study Says

While I was away, the search for WMDs in Iraq ended. As expected, none were found. We have heard, in the last year, hundreds of rationales (acknowledging the non-existence of WMDs) for our invasion and occupation of Iraq, many if not most of which the American people have aparently accepted.

Meanwhile, 1368 American GIs have died and 10,371 have been wounded in a war which we sent them fight to depose a tyrant who aided and abetted terrorists and harbored weapons of mass destruction. Both of these rationales have proven to be untrue. Yet when other rationales are suggested (oil, global domination, the visions of the Project for a New American Century), they are roundly ignored in the mainstream media.

What has this all gotten us, at such a terrible cost? A destabilized middle-east, a growing threat of terror, an emboldened and revitalized terror network, and a global recruitment campaign for al Qa'ida.

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Iraq Roundup

The day after the Governor of Baghdad was killed by insurgent gunmen, Tony Blair remains committed to the January 30 election, even though Sunni Muslims are unlikely to vote, a major party has withdrawn from the process, and Sunni extremists are threatening to kill anyone who does vote. Iraq's President, Sheik Ghazi al Yawir, appears ambivalent about the prospects for the election. Scores of people have been killed in the last several days, and the insurgency seems to be on the offensive to force the interim government to scuttle the elections.

Falluja? Christopher Allbritton reports on noises that a major offensive on Mosul is in the works. Chinese news sources agree (although they appear to have been wrong in the past). US authorities say insurgents have been operating with impunity there since before the mess hall tent bombing.

Prepare yourself. It's going to be an interesting few weeks.

It Ain't Over Yet : Conyers to Object to Ohio Electors, Requests Senate Allies

t r u t h o u t - Conyers to Object to Ohio Electors, Requests Senate Allies

This whole past year was excruciating and I understand that many people would love to just (sorry about this) "move on," but tomorrow is a very important day in the aftermath of a hotly contested Presidential election. Tomorrow, Congress will convene to ratify the votes of the Electoral College and certify a winner. Representative John Conyers (Democrat from Michigan) will object to the counting of the Electors from Ohio, "due to numerous unexplained irregularities in the Ohio presidential vote, many of which appear to violate both federal and state law."

Four years ago, not a single Senator stepped up to add their voices to the objections of House Members to Florida's Electors. It is fair to say that there will be far greater pressure this year on a number of Senators, and it will be interesting to see if any of them take up the challenge and let our constitutional electoral process follow its course, or if they will (in the name of political expediency) "go along to get along."

"The Senators who shall receive the greatest focus from Conyers in this matter are Biden, Bingaman, Boxer, Byrd, Clinton, Conrad, Corzine, Dodd, Dorgan, Durbin, Feingold, Harkin, Inyoue, Jeffords, Kennedy, Kerry, Lautenberg, Leahy, Levin, Lieberman, Mikulski, Nelson (FL), Jack Reed, Harry Reid, Rockefeller, Sarbanes, Stabenow, Wyden and Obama."

Quote of the Week (#2)

To announce that there should be no criticism of the president, or that we are to stand by the president, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American people. -- Theodore Roosevelt

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Gonzales Nomination Draws Military Criticism

Retired Officers Cite His Role in Shaping Policies on Torture

Several weeks ago in an e-mail exchange with a right-wing friend of mine (!) in NY, I voiced the hope that in a second Bush term, John Ashcroft would disappear. He challenged me, charging that I would find something to dislike about anyone that Bush nominated for the Attorney General's office. I challenged him right back, charging that he would support Bush's nominee, simply because he or she (but probably he) was Bush's nominee.

There's a certain logic to Howie's argument. I do not like anything about almost anyone who has ever had anything to do with this (mal)administration; and as they've left, one by one, I've liked their replacements even less. But Howie's logic implies that I am in a knee-jerk situation, "not liking" someone because they're on the "other side" or the "other team." And (as I've tried to explain to Howie, with patience and sensitivity) this is just a stupid argument.

There are plenty of really good reasons not to support Alberto Gonzales for AG, and not the least of those reasons is his role in defining the prerogatives of the executive branch (vis a vis human rights) within the context of the so-called "war on terror." And Gen. John Shalikashvili and several other retired generals provide us with further reasons.

Andrew Rosenthal recently described the role of the US military in acting as protectors of the constitution against a civilian government that was--and IS--attempting to make a mockery of it. It is time, I think, to start listening to some of these folks.

Gonzales Torture Memo Controversy Builds

Seattle Post-Intelligencer: AP - Washington, D.C.: Gonzales torture memo controversy builds:

"The Justice Department in 2002 asserted that President Bush's wartime powers superseded anti-torture laws and treaties like the Geneva Conventions. Gonzales, while at the White House, also wrote a memo to President Bush on January 25, 2002, arguing that the war on terrorism 'renders obsolete Geneva's strict limitations on questioning of enemy prisoners and renders quaint some of its provisions.'"

China Daily : Abu Musab al-Zarqawi reportedly arrested in Iraq UPDATE

Abu Musab al-Zarqawi reportedly arrested in Iraq

This continues to be a breaking story, and there is no official confirmation yet from either "coalition" or Iraqi authorities, but China Daily, Kazinform (the Kazakh Information Agency), and ITAR-TASS are reporting that Abu Musab al-Zarqawi has been arrested in Baakuba, Iraq.

(Right now, 11:33 am CST, Christopher Allbritton is reporting that American officials are denying that Zarqawi has been captured, though earlier his sources indicated that someone big in Zarqawi's organization might have been captured. We'll keep our eyes and ears open.)

If true, this would be an enormous stroke of good fortune for "coalition" forces, and a slap in the face for Osama bin Laden, who just last December endorsed Zarqawi as al Qa'ida'a representative in Iraq (for Juan Cole's take on bin Laden's endorsement, look here).

Do not think for a second (and don't believe the hype) that this is anything like a "major setback" for the insurgency. Anyone who has studied guerilla movements and rebel insurgencies in the last thirty years realizes that the most effective ones are the least centralized, and have no clear-cut "leader;" all are interchangaeable because all are expendable.

Don't expect Zarqawi's arrest to mean an abatement of insurgent attacks; on the contrary, it could mean an increase.

Website : Zarqawi Qaeda-Linked Group Kills Iraq Governor

Top News Article

We've noted earlier that violence was expected to escalate in the run-up to the January 30th Iraqi elections. We've also noted that the insurgency was becoming better organized, more effective, and had much better intelligence than "coalition" forces ever expected.

I think, however, that it is also important to note (because some people not a part of the reality-based community still do not understand this) that
al Qa'ida is now firmly implanted in Iraq, under the direct guidance of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi (and the indirect guidance of Osama bin Laden). Before the US invasion of Iraq, there was no safe haven there for al Qa'ida.

Monday, January 03, 2005

The New York Times : Myths Run Wild in Blog Tsunami Debate

The New York Times > International > International Special > Communications: Myths Run Wild in Blog Tsunami Debate

Well, there is some objective reporting and analysis in this piece, but there is an awful lot of nonsense you need to wade through first to find it. It is largely a collection of cheap shots about a new medium that few fully comprehend, and many (in the mainstream media) fear. But you take a look, and decide for yourselves.


As the horror of the South Asian tsunami spread and people gathered online to discuss the disaster on sites known as Web logs, or blogs, those of a political bent naturally turned the discussion to their favorite topics.

To some in the blogosphere, it simply had to be the government's fault.

"Get out the tin foil hats," a contributor to the (conservative) blog (Wizbang) wrote.
In many ways, Web logs shone after the tsunami struck: bloggers in the regions posted compelling descriptions of the devastation, sometimes by text messages sent from their cellphones as they roamed the countryside looking for friends and family members...But the blogosphere's tendency toward crackpot theorizing and political smack down could not be suppressed for long.

In this context, weblogs appear to be extensions of the extreme red/blue ideological divide so illustrative of 21st century America. And the "mainstream" media--like the NY Times--gets to take the high ground of objectivity. Or so they wish to have us believe.

Sunday, January 02, 2005

The Return of "Air America" Jet Is an Open Secret in Terror War

I know someone very well who used to collect frequent flyer miles on "Air America" (names will be changed here to protect the not-so-innocent). Joe Schultz was a Chinese linguist in the US Air Force during the Vietnam war stationed (if I remember correctly) in Thailand. He used to get into planes marked "Air America" owned and operated by a company of the same name, ostensibly a private carrier but actually a front for the CIA. He would fly--quite illegally--over North Vietnam and China intercepting and translating radio communications.

Say what you will about the war in Vietnam, but Joe Schultz served his country better than he even cares to admit (like many Vietnam vets--or most of them not nursing grudges--he doesn't talk much about the war or his experiences during his service).

Now, word is out about another mysterious airline, one which no one seems to remember before just a few years ago, and whose owners appear to exist only on paper: Premier Executive Transport Services, Inc. Their mission? Renditions, i.e., transporting or "rending" hooded terror suspects from American detention camps to "friendly" Arab countries, like Saudi Arabia, where they can be "interrogated" in a manner more conducive to the production of useful information (see the related story on life sentences for unindicted suspects).

(Some future right-wing apologist on the Bush administration: "Yes, but the trains ran on time...")

Insurgent Attacks Kill 33 Across Iraq; More American Troops Sent to Bolster Mosul Forces

The Associated Press:

"'The car bomb detonated as the bus passed a U.S. base in Balad, U.S. military spokesman Maj. Neal E. O'Brien said....'Those responsible for suicide attacks are seeking to halt Iraq's progress on the path to democracy,' O'Brien said."

Uh, you really think so? Colin Powell, too, reiterated the obvious, that we're in for some extremely violent days between now and the scheduled Iraqi elections. What noone is talking about is how things got this way, and what the US and the "coalition" is doing about it.

Iraq Torture Investigators Reveal Scores of New Cases

Iraq Torture Investigators Reveal Scores of New Cases

This is getting to be like a nightmare. Will someone please wake me?

Quote of the Week (#1)

A coward is incapable of exhibiting love; it is the prerogative of the brave. Hatred ever kills, love never dies; such is the vast difference between the two. What is obtained by love is retained for all time. What is obtained by hatred proves a burden in reality for it increases hatred. --Gandhi

US Said to Mull Lifetime Terror-Suspect Detentions

Top News Article

Beyond the headline, there is a grim reality that might not register if you don't read this story too closely: The United States of America, for centuries humankind's guarantor of liberties, is considering imprisoning people who are suspected of terrorism, conspiring to commit terrorist acts, or aiding and abetting terror, for life--FOREVER--even though there may be no evidence even to charge them with crimes, let alone convict them.

There is a piece of irony in this Reuter's report--I'm not sure if it is intentional or unintentional. The story reads, in part:

One proposal would transfer large numbers of Afghan, Saudi and Yemeni detainees from the U.S. military's Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, detention center into new U.S.-built prisons in their home countries, it said.

The prisons would be operated by those countries, but the State Department, where this idea originated, would ask them to abide by recognized human rights standards and would monitor compliance, a senior administration official was quoted as saying.

In other words, we would deny these suspects the most basic of civil liberties--freedom under the protection of due process of the law--but we would ask their outsourced captors to ensure their civil rights? Is it just me? Or is this the most ridiculous contradiction that's ever come out of any US administration?

Saturday, January 01, 2005

Project Censored 2005 - Top 25 Censored Stories

Project Censored 2005 - Top 25 Censored Stories:

From Project Censored, a list of the top stories about which we remain IN THE DARK, thanks to our corporate-controlled mass media.

Censored 2005: The Top 25 Censored Media Stories of 2003-2004

#1: Wealth Inequality in 21st Century Threatens Economy and Democracy
#2: Ashcroft vs. the Human Rights Law that Holds Corporations Accountable
#3: Bush Administration Censors Science
#4: High Levels of Uranium Found in Troops and Civilians
#5: The Wholesale Giveaway of Our Natural Resources
#6: The Sale of Electoral Politics
#7: Conservative Organization Drives Judicial Appointments
#8: Cheney's Energy Task Force and The Energy Policy
#9: Widow Brings RICO Case Against U.S. government for 9/11
#10: New Nuke Plants: Taxpayers Support, Industry Profits
#11: The Media Can Legally Lie
#12: The Destabilization of Haiti
#13: Schwarzenegger Met with Enron's Ken Lay Years Before the California Recall
#14: New Bill Threatens Intellectual Freedom in Area Studies
#15: U.S. Develops Lethal New Viruses
#16: Law Enforcement Agencies Spy on Innocent Citizens
#17: U.S. Government Represses Labor Unions in Iraq in Quest for Business Privatization
#18: Media and Government Ignore Dwindling Oil Supplies
#19: Global Food Cartel Fast Becoming the World's Supermarket
#20: Extreme Weather Prompts New Warning from UN
#21: Forcing a World Market for GMOs
#22: Censoring Iraq
#23: Brazil Holds Back in FTAA Talks, But Provides Little Comfort for the Poor of South America
#24: Reinstating the Draft
#25: Wal-Mart Brings Inequality and Low Prices to the World

Fresh Details Emerge on Harsh Methods at Guantanamo

The New York Times > National > Fresh Details Emerge on Harsh Methods at Guantanamo:

There have been many reports about prisoner abuse/torture in American detention camps (see, for example, here, here, and here) in the last several months. There's no significant new information in this article, but that's not to say either that it does not add detailed understanding to the story of prisoner abuse/torture in American detention camps (a phrase I have difficulty even writing), and that it doesn't provide further evidence of the extent of official involvement with such abuse.

"Interviews with former intelligence officers and interrogators provided new details and confirmed earlier accounts of inmates being shackled for hours and left to soil themselves while exposed to blaring music or the insistent meowing of a cat-food commercial. In addition, some may have been forcibly given enemas as punishment."

"The clearest indication that senior commanders at Guantánamo were aware of and supported what was occurring may be in some F.B.I. memorandums. One, dated May 10, 2003, and written by an unidentified agent, describes a sharp exchange between bureau officials and General Miller and Maj. Gen. Michael Dunlavey, who was in charge of the intelligence operations at Guantánamo then.

"Both sides agreed that the bureau has its way of doing things and the D.O.D. has their marching orders from SecDef," the memorandum said, using abbreviations for the Department of Defense and the secretary of defense. "Although the two techniques differed drastically, both generals believed they had a job to do."

HOW YOU CAN HELP THE VICTIMS OF INDIAN OCEAN TSUNAMI - Aid groups accepting donations for victims - Dec 30, 2004

This link to provides further links and information about international aid groups accepting donations to help the victims of Asian nations devastated by last week's calamitous earthquake and tsunami.

US to increase tsunami aid to 350 million dollars

Yahoo! News - US to increase tsunami aid to 350 million dollars

I applaud President Bush--hesitantly--for increasing the aid to Asian victims of this catastrophe. I wonder why, however, three days after tsunamis devastated several Indian Ocean nations, his initial pledge was a mere $15 million; why, after the US was called "stingy," he upped it to $35 million, and why, now, he has increased the US committment tenfold. I also wonder why Japan, for instance, in the midst of recovery from its most serious post-war recession, has already pledged $500 million. Japan, with a population of 127 million as compared with the US's 295 million; Japan, with a per capita gross domestic product of $28,000 as compared with the US's $37,800; why is Japan committing more aid to these victims than the United States of America?

If you are reading this, and agree that the United States of America is the strongest, wealthiest, most generous nation on Earth, tell someone. Write to someone; your Congressman/woman, your Senator, the President. In a country that spends $50 million to inaugurate a President following an election that cost $4 billion to run, why are we unable to come up with $1 billion in aid for a region that, even before the devastation of nature, was one of the poorest in the world?


It's the Christian thing to do...

Final six months of 2004 deadliest ever for US forces in Iraq

Yahoo! News - Final six months of 2004 deadliest ever for US forces in Iraq:

As millions have been affected, hundreds of thousands wounded, and more than 125,000 killed, it is not easy to comprehend the tragedy of the Indian Ocean tsunamis that plunged several Asian countries into social and economic devastation. At times like this, other news stories, other events, other tragedies in the lives of human beings around the world threaten to sink "below the radar" of mass consciousness.

I don't mean to be cynical, or disrespectful of human grief, or gratuitously negative, but important stories which affect both Americans and citizens of other countries continue to unfold as we focus (understandably) on the plight of millions of Asians. We can't allow our grief and concern to allow us to forget about them. As the spotlight of world attention turns necessarily to the natural disasters in Asia, we can't allow ourselves to remain
IN THE DARK about the political and military disaster in Iraq.

The last half of 2004 saw more American GIs killed and wounded than during any other six month period since the "coalition" invasion nearly two years ago. As deadly attacks increased on US and "coalition" forces, they also increased on Iraqi security, police and army forces. This is important to note:
the "insurgents" have become more effective--much more effective--than the Bush administration ever imagined, fighting successfully against both "coalition" and Iraqi forces.

"The deadliest month was November when 141 troops were killed, reflecting the heavy combat in the Sunni Muslim bastion of Fallujah where US troops battled rebels in the street in some of the heaviest fighting ever in Iraq. "