Monday, February 28, 2005 | Right Hook Right Hook:

Jonah Goldberg on "extraordinary rendition" and torture vs the first amendment:
"'If, because of a legal regime in the U.S. which guarantees the civil liberties
of Americans -- and I'm all in favor of that -- we have to go to other countries
in order to successfully interrogate terrorists, then I'm not horrified by that
proposition,' Goldberg says. And while he concedes that it fundamentally
contradicts what the United States stands for, 'what undermines what we stand
for,' he says, 'is the publication of all this information.'"

That settles it. If you don't support this administration and everything it does, no matter how heinous, just SHUT UP!

UPDATE : Suicide Bomb Kills 125 Near Iraq Marketplace

Top News Article

Things are getting better, right Howie?

Reuters PhotoPosted by Hello

Reuters PhotoPosted by Hello

Quote of the Week (#1)

It's no longer possible to tell where the corporate world ends and government begins. -- Bill Moyers

A High-Risk Nuclear Stakeout

The U.S. took too long to act, some experts say, letting a Pakistani scientist sell illicit technology well after it knew of his operation

Right-wing friends (are you listening, Howie?) love to tell me that, despite the fact that a Presidential Daily Briefing on intelligence from August 6, 2001 warned that al Qa'ida was planning to hijack airplanes and specifically mentioned Washington, DC and New York City as targets ("too vague" says Howie); that despite the fact that Richard Clarke, terrorism expert under three Presidents, criticized the Bush administration for treating the threat of terrorism on US soil too lightly and warned the administration a week before 9/11 that al Qa'ida's threats were serious; that despite the fact that the independent 9/11 Commission (that George W. Bush tried to stonewall) found that on September 11, 2001, the US government was unprepared "in every respect;" that somehow the disastrous events that took place on that day were all Bill Clinton's fault.

Fine. Right-wingers also put the blame for a four-year lame economy anywhere but on the Bush administration. It was Clinton's recession. The bubble burst. It was the jobs lost after 9/11. Anyone and everyone is to blame besides the man sitting in the White House. All the evils of the world began under the previous administration's watch. Fine.

Well, nuclear secrets left Pakistan, heading for Libya, and probably for Iran and North Korea, under the watch of George W. Bush. Pakistani dictator Gen. Pervid Musharraf (apparently in no danger of "regime change" despite the hollow allusions to liberty and democracy in Bush's inaugural address) allowed the illegal sales of nuclear weapon-making technology by A.Q. Khan, Pakistani scientist and the ceator of Pakistan's nuclear weapons threat. Musharraf chided Khan on Pakistani television. He can't be questioned or extradited by western authorities.

If nuclear weapons manufactured from Khan's plans, resources, and technology sales are used on Western targets, who will be to blame?

When the new Bush administration came into office in January 2001, the CIA briefed officials at the National Security Council on the dangers posed by Khan. The NSC officials recognized the threat as well as the need to get as much information as possible before acting, said two people involved in the talks.
"The suspicion was that the intelligence guys were all about reporting and watching and they had to overcome that," said Richard Falkenrath, an NSC staff member at the time. "The other question was, 'What would we do about Khan, what would Pakistan tolerate?'
"Throughout 2001, the CIA and MI6 tracked Khan's activities. A comprehensive assessment in March 2002 concluded that Khan's network had moved its base to Dubai and established production facilities in Malaysia. A few months later, new information led the agencies to conclude that Khan's network was central to a Libyan nuclear weapons program.
By January 2003, the British were concerned that "Khan's activities had now reached the point where it would be dangerous to allow them to go on," the report says.

Suicide Bomber Kills at Least 106 in Iraq

133 Injured

Howie, it's been four weeks since the elections brought "democracy" to Iraq. When will it be time to admit that--perhaps--the elections haven't changed anything at all? If anything, this looks like the violence continues to get much, much worse....

Sunday, February 27, 2005

Justice Dept. Opposes Bid to Revive Case Against F.B.I.

Justice Dept. Opposes Bid to Revive Case Against F.B.I.

The Sibel Edmonds saga continues. She was the contract linguist/translator for the FBI who complained about the shoddy work bureau translators were doing on critical intelligence coming from the middle east. She also claimed that specific information about Al Qa'ida intentions to hijack planes and target American cities was in US government hands as early as the spring of 2001.

She is suing the government over her firing. The government is filing a brief asking a federal appeals court to bar the lawsuit from proceeding. I wonder why?

Telegraph (UK) : Powell 'Pushed Out' by Bush for Seeking to Rein in Israel

Telegraph News Powell 'pushed out' by Bush for seeking to rein in Israel

NOTE: It really piqued my curiosity that this story was published today, 2/27/05, and "filed" 11/21/04. I have written the editors of the Telegraph for an explanation. If I actually get an explanation, I'll update this post.

When Colin Powell resigned last November, we ruminated on the meaning of his departure. For all his military experience, for all his "good soldiering," for all his team playing, he was never a part of this team. A career soldier who helped whitewash the atrocities of My Lai, he was never extreme enough to please extremist ideologs of the PNAC.

Now comes this article (strangely enough, filed on November 21, 2004 but published today--what did the editors hold it for?) that says the straw that broke the PNACamel's back was Powell's wish to put pressure on Ariel Sharon to moderate his stand in the Palestinian conflict. It stilll sounds to me, though, like Powell's greatest sin was a penchant to try to use his head before pulling out his guns.

"Vice-president Dick Cheney and his fellow hardliner, John Bolton, an under-secretary of state to Mr Powell, are both understood to have lobbied Mr Bush to replace him.

"They wanted to make Iran's alleged nuclear bomb aspirations and support for Islamic terror groups the foreign policy priority for the new administration and believed that Mr Powell would back away from a confrontational approach."

Friday, February 25, 2005

US Military Death Toll Approaches 1500

US News Article |

When will it end?

Former Daschle Campaign Spokesman Says Media Was Aware Jeff Gannon Had Told Lies About His Identity As Far Back as the Summer of 2003

The Nashua Advocate: Former Daschle Campaign Spokesman Says Media Was Aware Jeff Gannon Had Told Lies About His Identity As Far Back as the Summer of 2003

An excellent report from the staff of the Nashua (NH) Advocate, the online journal of the election reform movement. Mainstream media had the facts on Gannon months and months ago, and nobody--not news directors, not editors, not even reporters, did anything about him.

Furthermore, as Salon reports, even now as this has all become public, the mainstream media are avoiding the story like the twelve plagues. Most major newspapers and two networks haven't mentioned the name "Gannon" at all!

"Oh, what a brave new world we live in!"

Jeff Gannon A Voice of the New Media

Jeff Gannon A Voice of the New Media

OMG--He's soooo pathetic! He really thinks he is someone, doesn't he?

AP : Fear of Death Omnipresent in Baghdad

Yahoo! News - Fear of Death Omnipresent in Baghdad:

"People worry that by emerging from their homes even to pay their last respects to the dead, they risk becoming the next victim. "

Sounds like we've got everything under control there, eh, Howie?

A Look at U.S. Military Deaths in Iraq

Yahoo! News - A Look at U.S. Military Deaths in Iraq:

"Since May 1, 2003, when President Bush declared that major combat operations in Iraq had ended, 1,348 U.S. military members have died, according to AP's count. That includes at least 1,021 deaths resulting from hostile action, according to the military's numbers. "

The Price of Fear and Hatred

Yahoo! News - Report: Military Gay Policy Costs Talent:

"Hundreds of highly skilled troops, including many translators, have left the armed forces because of the Pentagon's rules on gays, at a cost of nearly $200 million, the first congressional study on the impact of the 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' policy says. "

Wednesday, February 23, 2005 : Neocons and Liberals Together, Again

Liberal Hawks Ally With Project for the New American Century

The nice folks at PNAC are apparently feeling their oats. On the heels of the Bush administration's stunning successes in Iraq, the Project for a New American Century has issued another policy paper (in the form of a letter to congress) calling for an enlargement of the US military and increase in defense spending. All the better to build the American empire and secure the Pax Americana.

It's an interesting letter in many ways. It illustrates the original illogic of their overall plan of global dominance (and perhaps domination) without become a much more militarized society than we have been used to in the past. It hints at the possibility (probability?) of a draft, as recruiting numbers continue to fall. It emphasizes the stretching of resources that empire building naturally and necessarily implies.

Some excerpts from the letter/position paper:
The United States military is too small for the responsibilities we are asking it to assume....So we write to ask you and your colleagues in the legislative branch to take the steps necessary to increase substantially the size of the active duty Army and Marine Corps. While estimates vary about just how large an increase is required, and Congress will make its own determination as to size and structure, it is our judgment that we should aim for an increase in the active duty Army and Marine Corps, together, of at least 25,000 troops each year over the next several years....There is abundant evidence that the demands of the ongoing missions in the greater Middle East, along with our continuing defense and alliance commitments elsewhere in the world, are close to exhausting current U.S. ground forces....that "overuse" in Iraq and Afghanistan could be leading to a "broken force."....The administration has been reluctant to adapt to this new reality....The men and women of our military have performed magnificently over the last few years....Reserves were meant to be reserves, not regulars.
Among the "liberal hawks" who signed the letter: Martin Indyk, Ivo Daaldar, Will Marshall, Dennis Ross and James Steinberg.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Write Your Senator: NO! on Negroponte

John Negroponte was the US Ambassador to Honduras (1981-1985) during the Reagan administration, during which time he was instrumental in overseeing the illegal "contra" revolutionary insurgency against the Sandinista government of Nicaragua, and "denied or downplayed" serious abuses of human rights by Honduran government and contra military forces. According to Conn Hallinan, "At the time Negroponte was denying human rights violations in Honduras, the military's notorious Battalion 3-16, a secret unit trained by the CIA, and headed by Gen. Gustavo Alverez Martinez, a graduate of the U.S.'s School of the Americas, was kidnapping and murdering opponents of the government."

According to Wikipedia's bio on Negroponte:
Negroponte supervised the construction of the El Aguacate air base where Nicaraguan Contras were trained by the U.S., and which some critics say was used as a secret detention and torture center during the 1980s. In August 2001, excavations at the base discovered 185 corpses, including two Americans, who are thought to have been killed and buried at the site.

Andre Couteris of Non-violence International has called Negroponte a "state terrorist." Sister Laetitia Bordes, a Catholic Sister of the Society of Helpers, points to the fact that Battalian 316, the clandestine Honduran death squad, operated with impunity during Negroponte's tenure as Ambassador, and this "was well known to ambassador Negroponte."

Alberto Gonzales's nomination was approved by the Senate on a largely partisan vote, all 36 "no" votes coming from Democrats or Independents. The Senate did not see fit to approve unanimously a man who could justify meaures that could conceivably be construed as "torture." Will they see fit to approve a man who--at the very least--turned a blind eye to murder?

Please, write, call, or e-mail your Senator now and tell them you don't want a man with Negroponte's credentials overseeing not just intelligence gathering, but clandestine operations, abroad and at home, of all American intelligence agencies.

TIME : Why Europe Ignores Bush

TIME - Tony Karon - : Why Europe Ignores Bush

Back in December, Robert Jensen opined that we were losing the war in Iraq, and that this was a good thing:

So, as a U.S. citizen, I welcome the U.S. defeat, for a simple reason: It isn't the defeat of the United States — its people or their ideals — but of that empire. And it's essential the American empire be defeated and dismantled.

Evidence indicates that Jensen's appraisal may be correct. First, there is the disclosure that we are doing the unthinkable, something this administration said it would and could never do: negotiating with terrorists. The costs of war are crippling, and the military is understaffed and unable to meet its recruitment goals. The likely new Prime Minister of Iraq, Ibrahim al-Jaafari, is the head of a Shiite group based in Iran. This is not what anyone had in mind, I believe, when we undertook this ill-advised war.

The upshot of all this is that the US has lost credibility in the world, has extinguished the global good will and sympathy of the immediate post-9/11 period, and has demonstrated not our strength, but our limitations. And Europe, like the rest of the world, can see this as George W. Bush makes his fence-mending visits this week:

The net effect of Operation Iraqi Freedom has not been to make U.S. enemies tremble in the face of American power. Instead, it has made them more aware of the limits of that power. A two-year occupation by 150,000 U.S. troops has failed to subdue an insurgency by a Sunni Muslim force that U.S. officials insist numbers no more than 12,000. Today, U.S.officials concede that the insurgency can't be defeated militarily, and it has long been evident to the Europeans and others that Washington's military resources are badly overstretched by the mission in Iraq — and that Washington's bean-counters are not amused by the $5 billion monthly bill for its operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.
French foreign policy think tanks have long promoted the goal of “multipolarity” in a post-Cold War world, i.e. the preference for many different, competing power centers rather than the “unipolarity” of the U.S. as a single hyper-power. Multipolarity is no longer simply a strategic goal. It is an emerging reality.

Quote of the Week (#1)

It does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods or no god. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg. --Thomas Jefferson

Monday, February 21, 2005

Washington Post Editorial : Injustice, in Secret

Injustice, in Secret (

"ATTORNEYS FOR the Justice Department appeared before a federal judge in Washington this month and asked him to dismiss a lawsuit over the detention of a U.S. citizen, basing their request not merely on secret evidence but also on secret legal arguments. The government contends that the legal theory by which it would defend its behavior should be immune from debate in court. This position is alien to the history and premise of Anglo-American jurisprudence, which assumes that opposing lawyers will challenge one another's arguments. "

From the US Constitution, Amendments IV, V, and VI of the "Bill of Rights":

Amendment IV

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

Amendment V

No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

Amendment VI

In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence.

What has happened to the America I grew up in?

TIME Magazine : Talking with the Enemy Print Page: TIME Magazine -- Talking with the Enemy

My right-wing friends (are you listening, Howie?) continually remind me that the "war on terrorism" is a necessity--even though there was no connection between terrorism and Iraq--because "you can never negotiate with terrorists." My right-wing friends, I have to say, have very little knowledge of history and even less understanding. So it should come as a bit of a surprise to them that we are, in fact, negotiating with those who we so recently labeled "terrorists" in Iraq, Sunni/Baathist elements of the insurgency there.

"Over the course of the war in Iraq, as the anti-U.S. resistance has grown in size and intensity, Administration officials have been steadfast in their refusal to negotiate with enemy fighters. But in recent months, the persistence of the fighting and signs of division in the ranks of the insurgency have prompted some U.S. officials to seek a political solution....

"Although they have no immediate plans to halt attacks on U.S. troops, they say their aim is to establish a political identity that can represent disenfranchised Sunnis and eventually negotiate an end to the U.S. military's offensive in the Sunni triangle. Their model is Sinn Fein, the political wing of the Irish Republican Army, which ultimately earned the I.R.A. a role in the Northern Ireland peace process."

The American Conservative : Hunger for Dictatorship

War to export democracy may wreck our own

Scott McConnell of The American Conservative (no "liberal rag," to be sure) magazine questions the motivations of the Bush administration and the neo-conservative movement (i.e., PNAC).

In recent days I've been trying to convince right-wing friends of mine (you listening, Howie?) that this administration is no more "conservative" than Barry Goldwater was "liberal." The neo-conservative agenda is stunningly radical in its drive to overturn traditional values, liberties, and balances of power in the name of--what? Freedom? Democracy? I don't think so. How about global capitalism?

The US Constitution, the enlightenment values upon which it was based, the standards of civic decency that once characterized public discourse--all take a backseat to the spread of US military power and global commerce. And traditional libertarian conservatism gets thrown out like the baby with the bathwater--and true conservatives get a black eye, to boot.

Some excerpts:

"Paul Craig Roberts in these pages wrote of the “brownshirting” of American conservatism—a word that might not have surprised had it come from Michael Moore or Michael Lerner. But from a Hoover Institution senior fellow, former assistant secretary of the Treasury in the Reagan administration, and one-time Wall Street Journal editor, it was striking.

"Several weeks later, Justin Raimondo, editor of the popular website, wrote a column headlined, “Today’s Conservatives are Fascists.” Pointing to the justification of torture by conservative legal theorists, widespread support for a militaristic foreign policy, and a retrospective backing of Japanese internment during World War II, Raimondo raised the prospect of “fascism with a democratic face.” His fellow libertarian, Mises Institute president Lew Rockwell, wrote a year-end piece called “The Reality of Red State Fascism,” which claimed that “the most significant socio-political shift in our time has gone almost completely unremarked, and even unnoticed. It is the dramatic shift of the red-state bourgeoisie from leave-us-alone libertarianism, manifested in the Congressional elections of 1994, to almost totalitarian statist nationalism.

"...And yet the very fact that the f-word can be seriously raised in an American context is evidence enough that we have moved into a new period. The invasion of Iraq has put the possibility of the end to American democracy on the table and has empowered groups on the Right that would acquiesce to and in some cases welcome the suppression of core American freedoms. That would be the titanic irony of course, the mother of them all—that a war initiated under the pretense of spreading democracy would lead to its destruction in one of its very birthplaces. But as historians know, history is full of ironies."

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Al Gore, Global Warming and Moral Leadership

"America needs to join the 'coalition of the willing'"

"Gore called Bush's climate change denial a 'stunning display of moral cowardice,' and said that Bush 'has his head in the sand.' Weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and social security are two false crises that Bush has promoted while he abdicates any leadership on the real crisis of global warming."

Tell 'em, Al.

A Letter From My Senator

February 16, 2005

Dr. Peter K. Fallon

Dear Dr. Fallon:

Thank you for your message regarding the nomination of Alberto Gonzales for Attorney General. I appreciate knowing your thoughts.

On February 3, 2005, the Senate voted to confirm Judge Gonzales by a vote of 60-36. After meeting with Mr. Gonzales, listening to his hearing testimony, reviewing his record, and carefully considering his nomination, I concluded that I could not support him for Attorney General.

Alberto Gonzales is a skilled lawyer. His life story is nothing short of inspiring. I have the greatest respect for his success, for what he has achieved, and for the obstacles he has overcome.

However, the debate surrounding the nomination of Alberto Gonzales to be the Attorney General of the United States is not about his life story. Instead, it is about whether America will continue to be a nation based on the rule of law, or whether we, out of fear, will abandon our time-tested values.

History is written after every war, including stories of courage, compassion, and glory. Sadly, when the history of the war on terrorism is written, it will also tell the story of how some felt we could no longer afford to live by some of the principles that are at the foundation of what America stands for.

The horrible acts that occurred at Abu Ghraib cannot be dismissed as the conduct of only a few. They must be viewed as a foreseeable result of a process initiated in Washington. As Counsel to President Bush, Alberto Gonzales was at the center of that process, at the center of the Administration's effort to redefine what is legal and acceptable in the treatment of prisoners and detainees. He and Assistant Attorney General Jay Bybee found loopholes in the law to rationalize torture and inhumane treatment. At the very least, this helped create a permissive environment that made it more likely that abuses would occur.

Mr. Gonzales recommended to the President that the Geneva Conventions should not apply to the war on terrorism. The President accepted this view and issued a memo concluding that "new thinking in the law of war" was needed and that the Geneva Conventions do not apply to the war on terrorism. Mr. Gonzales then requested, approved, and disseminated the Justice Department torture memo, which adopted a new, very restrictive definition of torture and concluded that the torture statute, which makes torture a crime, does not apply to interrogations conducted under the President's authority as Commander-in-Chief.

Relying on this "new thinking" and the Justice Department's definition of torture, Defense Secretary Rumsfeld approved numerous abusive interrogation tactics for use against prisoners in Guantanamo Bay. Senior officials in Iraq heard of the tactics, and commanders and troops at Abu Ghraib were sent the signal that the "law of war" is an obstacle to overcome, not a bright line that cannot be crossed.

For decades, the United States led the world in ensuring the care of enemy prisoners. We knew that torture, in addition to being inhumane, produces unreliable information, makes it more difficult to win wars, and places our troops at risk. Now we are seeing the effects of redefining
torture, as pictures from Abu Ghraib become recruiting posters for Al-Qaeda. The 9/11 Commission correctly concluded that the prisoner abuse scandal has damaged our ability to combat the terrorist threat. The message we send regarding our commitment to basic human rights affects the safety of our troops in the field and our citizens at home.

We can win the war on terrorism while respecting the values our nation represents. If we are to lead the world by example, we must not compromise the principles upon which our country was founded - the rule of law and a respect for human rights.

I could not in good conscience vote to elevate to the highest law enforcement position in the nation a man who ignored the rule of law and the demands of human decency and created the permissive environment that made Abu Ghraib possible.


Richard J. Durbin
United States Senator


Thank you, Senator Durbin. Good job.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

What Eason Jordan Said

and what Eason Jordan was trying to say:

Yes, it is a war. And, yes, in war there is "collateral damage." But there has been a lot of (at the very least circumstantial) evidence that journalists are more at risk in this war than others. An inordinate number have been killed--many from Arab media outlets.

The right-wing media claim Jordan's scalp, and perhaps they're right about "taking him out." But this begs the question about Jordan's statements, whether they were taken out of context, or misinterpreted, or whatever. Was he, in fact, accusing American troops of assassinating journalists? Or passing on stories from other journalists who believe that they as a group are threatened by American forces?

On the face of it, nothing Jordan said sounded particularly shocking to me--what was shocking was that he momentarily lost control and said it. A lot of what is going on in our country is about control, and control of information is no small part of it. If it were American policy to control information coming out of Iraq by threat of violence, would anyone in this administration admit it? Of course not. The only answer is for someone--and, traditionally, this would have been the role of journalists--to investigate these charges. The US has not been investigating them.

Here are some facts:

In addition, allegations have been made that journalists have been subject to arrests without cause and other harrassment:

Eliminating journalists

"The images from last month's siege on Falluja came almost exclusively from reporters embedded with US troops. This is because Arab journalists who had covered April's siege from the civilian perspective had effectively been eliminated. Al-Jazeera had no cameras on the ground because it has been banned from reporting in Iraq indefinitely. Al-Arabiya did have an unembedded reporter, Abdel Kader Al-Saadi, in Falluja, but on November 11 US forces arrested him and held him for the length of the siege. Al-Saadi's detention has been condemned by Reporters Without Borders and the International Federation of Journalists. 'We cannot ignore the possibility that he is being intimidated for just trying to do his job,' the IFJ stated.

"It's not the first time journalists in Iraq have faced this kind of intimidation. When US forces invaded Baghdad in April 2003, US Central Command urged all unembedded journalists to leave the city. Some insisted on staying and at least three paid with their lives. On April 8, a US aircraft bombed al-Jazeera's Baghdad offices, killing reporter Tareq Ayyoub. Al-Jazeera has documentation proving it gave the coordinates of its location to US forces.

"On the same day, a US tank fired on the Palestine hotel, killing Jose Couso, of the Spanish network Telecinco, and Taras Protsiuk, of Reuters. Three US soldiers are facing a criminal lawsuit from Couso's family, which alleges that US forces were well aware that journalists were in the Palestine hotel and that they committed a war crime. "

Gallup : Bush Job Ratings

Bush: Job Ratings

The difference between approval and disapproval dropped 17 points in one week? Something is very fishy here. See Kos for more.

Financial Times : Brazil Deal Spurs Fears of Chavez Arms Race / World / Americas - Brazil deal spurs fears of Chavez arms race

More evidence that several South American countries may soon find themselves on the Bush administration's "hit list": the axis of evil. For background on this story, look here, and be sure to click on the links within the link to see other stories going back to November.

Venezuela is planning to buy fighter jets from Brazil, and has signed an economic pact with Brazil to bolster trading ties. Most notable in this agreement is the growing cooperation between the two nations' state-owned oil companies.

Venezuela's Hugo Chavez is an advocate of Latin American unity in the face of what some see as US attempts to dominate the southern hemisphere. He has already survived an attempted 2004 coup by alleged CIA-supported forces, and was warned recently by Cuba's Fidel Castro of a purported American plot to assassinate him. Juan Ferero, writing in the New York Times notes that "The Bush administration, which has been in an increasingly tense war of words since tacitly supporting a brief coup against Mr. Chávez in 2002, has warned that the arms purchases could benefit "irregular groups," meaning Marxist rebels in neighboring Colombia.

"Venezuela, the world's fifth-largest oil exporter, is attempting to divert its oil shipments away from the US, its traditional market, to China, a policy decision that has sounded alarm bells in Washington. Caracas is also in negotiations with Russia to buy as many as 50 Mig-29 SMT warplanes, the most advanced model, and it has already agreed to acquire 100,000 Kalashnikov rifles and 40 helicopters...

"The US Department of State said last week that it had warned Moscow of the “potential destabilising effect on the hemisphere” of arms sales to the government of Mr Chávez, a left-leaning radical nationalist. But Mr Chávez rebuffed US concerns as “meddling” in Venezuela's domestic affairs and branded the US a “terrorist state” for its activities in Iraq."

Freedom on the march? Spreading democracy around the world? Or enacting the agenda of the PNAC?

We report.

You decide.

Ex-Aide Questions Bush Vow to Back Faith-Based Efforts

Ex-Aide Questions Bush Vow to Back Faith-Based Efforts (

We've already noted the religious right-wing's unhappiness with George W. Bush's policy of "global hegemony." Now, David Kuo, Bush's former deputy director of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives says that this administration is not really all that interested in "compassionate conservatism." Kuo is the second appointee to the OFBCI to make this charge. John DiIulio left in 2001, saying that Karl Rove was running "everything," and calling the Bush White House "the reign of the Mayberry Macchiavellis."

"No administration since [Lyndon B. Johnson's] has had a more successful legislative record than this one. From tax cuts to Medicare, the White House gets what the White House really wants. It never really wanted the 'poor people stuff.' "

When will people of good will see that this is an administration that plays fast and loose with the truth in order to garner support for what is a truly radical agenda?

Monday, February 14, 2005

Harry Frankfurt's "On Bullshit"

Harry Frankfurt's "On Bullshit":

An extended excerpt available at the link:

"It is impossible for someone to lie unless he thinks he knows the truth. Producing bullshit requires no such conviction. A person who lies is thereby responding to the truth, and he is to that extent respectful of it. When an honest man speaks, he says only what he believes to be true; and for the liar, it is correspondingly indispensable that he considers his statements to be false. For the bullshitter, however, all these bets are off: he is neither on the side of the true nor on the side of the false. His eye is not on the facts at all, as the eyes of the honest man and of the liar are, except insofar as they may be pertinent to his interest in getting away with what he says. He does not care whether the things he says describe reality correctly. He just picks them out, or makes them up, to suit his purpose."

Harry G. Frankfurt : "On Bullshit"

The New York Times > Books > Between Truth and Lies, An Unprintable Ubiquity

This has just moved to the top of my reading list. It explains an awful lot about the neo-conservative movement, FOX "news," and this administration. What it doesn't explain (or, at least what this review doesn't explain--I'm hopeful the book will) is why people believe bullshit.

Available from Princeton University Press Posted by Hello

"Telling a lie is an act with a sharp focus. It is designed to insert a particular falsehood at a specific point in a set or system of beliefs, in order to avoid the consequences of having that point occupied by the truth. This requires a degree of craftsmanship, in which the teller of the lie submits to objective constraints imposed by what he takes to be the truth. The liar is inescapably concerned with truth-values. In order to invent a lie at all, he must think he knows what is true. And in order to invent an effective lie, he must design his falsehood under the guidance of that truth. On the other hand, a person who undertakes to bullshit his way through has much more freedom. His focus is panoramic rather than particular. He does not limit himself to inserting a certain falsehood at a specific point, and thus he is not constrained by the truths surrounding that point or intersecting it. He is prepared to fake the context as well, so far as need requires."

'01 Memo to Rice Warned of Qaeda and Offered Plan

The New York Times > Washington > '01 Memo to Rice Warned of Qaeda and Offered Plan

Eight months before the September 11 attacks, seven months before the August 6 Presidential Daily Briefing (titled "bin Laden Determined to Strike in US"), Richard Clarke warned National Security Advisor (now Secretary of State) Condoleeza Rice that al Qa'ida had terror cells in the US and other countries and were seeking unconventional means of attcking the US. He also provided a plan to fight al Qa'ida, focussing on Afghanistan.

Friday, February 11, 2005

Virus Attack

My computer is down for the moment. But, as Arnie said, "I'll be back."

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Quote of the Week (#s 1 & 2)

This conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience. The total influence -- economic, political, even spiritual -- is felt in every city, every State house, every office of the Federal government. We recognize the imperative need for this development. Yet we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications.

Our toil, resources and livelihood are all involved; so is the very structure of our society. In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist. --Dwight D. Eisenhower

Fascism should more properly be called corporatism , since it is the merger of state and corporate power. --Benito Mussolini

Monday, February 07, 2005

The Emperor's New Hump : Bush Cheated During Debates

The Emperor's New Hump:

Senior editors at the NY Times quashed an investigation by reporters that documented the fact that the President was prompted offstage during his debates with John Kerry.

"In fact, several sources, including a journalist at the Times, have told Extra! that the paper put a good deal of effort into this important story about presidential competence and integrity; they claim that a story was written, edited and scheduled to run on several different days, before senior editors finally axed it at the last minute on Wednesday evening, October 27. A Times journalist, who said that Times staffers were 'pretty upset' about the killing of the story, claims the senior editors felt Thursday was 'too close' to the election to run such a piece. Emails from the Times to the NASA scientist corroborate these sources' accounts"

This is confirmed on Times' ombudsman Daniel Okrent's website. The story was never run, despite expert photographic analysis by a NASA scientist. Instead, the Times chose to run a story based on the"testimony" of the White House tailor who supposedly made the "ill-fitting suit."

The "bulge" Posted by Hello

The Religious Right Turns on Bush

News from Agape Press:

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, the hired help are showing signs of resentment at being exploited:

"In his zeal to fight the monsters that reside abroad, George W. Bush appears to have forgotten the very monsters that have set up camp in his own presidential backyard. Abortion, euthanasia, explicit obscenity, and homosexual marriage all encompass a cultural war in which this President was drafted to fight. Columnist John Leo, in analyzing the Bush mandate, correctly points out that 'exit polls showed that at 22 percent, 'moral values' was the biggest issue on the minds of voters, and four-fifths of the 22 percent had voted for Bush.' Thus, in an election that parodied that of 1960 and 2000, it was the conservative cadets that pushed Bush over the top.

"But with 4,000 unborn children perishing daily, Jack Kevorkian knocking on the doors of countless elderly persons, and the celebration of the sexuality explicit on the airwaves of our nation, this question must be posed: where is the Commander in Chief whom this country elected to fight the cultural war? He, my friends, is in Iraq, Afghanistan, and now potentially Iran and North Korea. In a quest for a global hegemony unwanted by the rest of the world, this President has abdicated his post to fight the cultural ills that afflict a weary populace at home, and, even further, may be violating the very doctrine he now espouses."

The Seattle Times : Bush's Budget May Be Tough Sell at Capitol

The Seattle Times: Nation & World: Bush's budget may be tough sell at Capitol:

With both Rice and Gonzales approved by an obedient GOP Senate, the big story of the next several months is arguably the President's proposed $2.5 trillion ($2,500,000,000,000.00) budget for fiscal year 2005-06. Specific details of the plan are hazy, and are trickling out in small increments. It behooves us to make note of them as we can.

"Bush's $2.5 trillion budget proposal would eliminate some funding for education, environmental protection and business development, while significantly increasing military and international spending, according to administration documents.

"Overall, discretionary spending other than defense and homeland security would fall by nearly 1 percent, the first time in many years that funding for the major part of the budget controlled by Congress would actually go down, according to officials with access to the budget. Discretionary spending is spending other than on entitlement programs such as Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare.

"The cuts are aimed at helping to meet Bush's goal of cutting the budget deficit in half by 2009. One out of every three of the targeted programs concerns education. Medicaid funding would be reduced significantly, and even major military-weapons programs would be scrapped to make more resources available for the war in Iraq."

$2.5 Trillion Budget Plan Cuts Many Programs

$2.5 Trillion Budget Plan Cuts Many Programs (

"President Bush plans to unveil a $2.5 trillion budget today eliminating dozens of politically sensitive domestic programs, including funding for education, environmental protection and business development, while proposing significant increases for the military and international spending, according to White House documents."


"But Cheney defended the cuts as measured....'It's not something we've done with a meat ax, nor are we suddenly turning our back on the most needy people in our society.'"

Right you are, Dick. There's nothing sudden about this. The GOP has been turning its back on society's neediest for twenty-five years now. These cuts may be dramatic--and unfair--but they're certainly not surprising or sudden.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Groundhog's Day, 2005

Pity poor Punxatawney Phil. Because of America's need to make a "holiday" out of absolutely everything, we drag this poor creature out of his nice warm cage once a year before dawn, hold him up before hundreds of television cameras, and declare that there will be six more weeks of winter, because Phil has seen his shadow (with all those TV lights, how could he not see his shadow?). It could be as dark and overcast as you can imagine, but every year Phil manages to see his shadow, and six more weeks of winter lie ahead of us.

Reality check: It's February 2nd, folks. There are six weeks of winter left, no matter what Phil says. And exactly where is PETA in all of this?

All of this points to the fantasy involved in the (oh, so charming) tradition of Groudhog's Day, a fantasy that suggests that if we believe in something strongly enough, we can make it so. And there's an object lesson in this tradition, one that occurs to me in the hours before the President's State of the Union address to Congress.

The President will poke his head out of his hole in the ground tonight and even with all of those television lights hitting him from every possible angle in the packed House chamber, he will not see his shadow. The long darkness, I predict he will tell us, is over.

The State of the Union is spring-like in its freshness and promise. Everything is new and beautiful. Values blossom. Freedom bursts from the very earth like poppies on the free and democratic Afghan hillsides. Democracy is reborn--a resurrection, if you will--in Iraq.

Newness is the theme, and growth. Oh, Growth, growth, growth! How, for instance, our economy is growing! How our schools are becoming hothouses of budding scholars!

To be sure, there is some spring clean-up to be done around the yard, some fertilizing and some weeding. That flower which we know as Social Security? A noxious weed. The fertilizer? Privatization! Oh, excuse me--personalization! Weeds are limits to growth, and must be eradicated. Ignore the fact that weeds have a natural function in every ecosystem--that kind of thinking is for the elitist liberal intelligentsia.

I predict a painting so pretty of our national garden that many Americans will find it hard to resist. There is only one problem: the President casts a very distinct, and a very dark shadow. There are six more weeks (or four more years) of winter.

Is our garden really healthier than it was four years ago? More Americans think not than so. Are we really sowing the seeds of Christian values (begging the question of whether that's even our role in the world)? Or are the seeds we sow seeds of materialism, consumption and global capitalism? Liberty, Freedom, Democracy? Freedom on the March? Well, that will be the President's story in a nutshell.

From where I sit, here in the reality-based community, it looks rather different. But Punxatawney George will tell us that Spring, like Freedom, is on the March.

If you watch the State of the Union tonight, listen--and watch--carefully. Think about the claims the President makes about "progress." Think about claims he has made in past State of the Union addresses. And think about the realities. The President will be casting a very distinct and imposing shadow. And most of America will be sitting IN THE DARK.

Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund : NO ON GONZALES

MALDEF - Press Releases

Tuesday, February 01, 2005



"A 'no' vote is the right vote if we care about maintaining America's standing in the world and fighting the war on terrorism. The torture and other abuses of prisoners in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Guantanamo have done immense damage to America's standing in the world. The extreme and irresponsible claims in the Bybee and Goldsmith Memorandums have raised basic questions about the genuineness of our commitment to the rule of law.

"It is the right vote for our troops. The Administration's shameful disregard for our laws and treaties on torture has lowered the bar for the protection of our own soldiers. It has violated the military's longstanding 'golden rule': treat captured combatants in the manner we expect our own soldiers to be treated. What can Mr. Gonzales possibly say to a country that justifies its torture of a U.S. soldier by citing Mr. Gonzales's own record of support for it?

"A 'no' vote is the only vote that is consistent with the fundamental values on which this nation is founded: justice, accountability, and respect for individual dignity.

"The continuing effort to blame the torture scandal on a 'few bad apples' among our soldiers while rewarding Mr. Gonzales with promotion to Attorney General is a despicable signal for America to send the world. We should not support a nominee who has done so much to harm America's basic interests and fundamental values. I urge my colleagues to reject this nomination. "

Quote of the Week (#2)

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances." --US Constitution, 1st Amendment

American HS Students IN THE DARK About 1st Amendment : Knight Foundation Study

MSNBC - First Amendment no big deal, students say:

Science is looked on with contempt in the Bush White House, teachers are afraid to utter the word "evolution" in classrooms, and no one is teaching our children about the values that America was founded on over two centuries ago. We are living IN THE DARK.

"'These results are not only disturbing; they are dangerous,' said Hodding Carter III, president of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, which sponsored the $1 million study. 'Ignorance about the basics of this free society is a danger to our nation's future.'"


MISINFORMER OF THE YEAR ... [Media Matters for America]

Congratulations, Bill. You deserve it.

"Freedom, Liberty, Democracy" : A Neo-con's Perspective

The Ruthless Party:

From the Weekly Standard, unofficial House Organ of the Project for a New American Century (both headed up by William Kristol), a glimpse at what "democracy, "freedom of conscience," and "freedom of speech" mean to the right-wing in America(all emphases mine):

"The media tolerate or even encourage Democratic rage. But the White House can't afford to. Senate Democrats have enough votes to block major Bush initiatives like Social Security reform and to reject Bush appointees, including Supreme Court nominees. They may be suicidal, but they could undermine the president's entire second term agenda. At his news conference last week, Bush reacted calmly to their vitriolic attacks, suggesting only a few Democrats are involved. Stronger countermeasures will be needed, including an unequivocal White House response to obstructionism, curbs on filibusters, and a clear delineation of what's permissible and what's out of bounds in dissent on Iraq. Too much is at stake to wait for another Democratic defeat in 2006."

Guardian (UK) : Hugo Chavez Gets Hero's Welcome at Forum

Guardian Unlimited World Latest Hugo Chavez Gets Hero's Welcome at Forum:

One of the frequent non-stories in the mainstream US media (trust me, this is an important story, even though we hear little of it--yet), is the sharp move to the political left in South America. I've posted several articles (here, here, here, here and most recently here) that suggest that the strong groundswell of support for democratically elected governments that favor government regulation of business (including, in the case of Venezuela under Chavez, nationalization of the oil industry), and the protection of citizens will not be received favorably by the Bush administration. It flies in the face of the various manifestos of the Project for a New American Century. And there are too many PNACers in too many positions of power in our government and in our mainstream media (referred to by right-wingers, incredibly, as "the liberal media") to let that go unchallenged.

So, Iran might, indeed, be next. But I'm hedging my bets. It could also be Brazil, or Venezuela, or Chile, or Uruguay, or Argentina. Or, perhaps, all of them?

"Tens of thousands of people attending the six-day gathering held to protest the simultaneous World Economic Forum in Switzerland consider Chavez their strongest voice against the U.S.-sponsored spread of liberalized trade in Latin America, a move they say benefits multinational companies while enslaving workers. "

ACTION ALERT : Please Write or E-mail Your Senators and Tell Them to VOTE NO ON GONZALES

Congress.Org -- Guide to Elected and Appointed Officials

The links above will bring you to the website, where you can find addresses and e-mail addresses of your Senators.

The issue at hand is whether we will replace a man, John Ashcroft, who was more concerned with prosecuting immorality before 9/11 than he was in investigating and prosecuting terrorism, and who was more than happy to increase government's powers to curtail individual American civil rights via the USA PATRIOT Act, with a man who scoffs at the rights of prisoners as defined by the Geneva Conventions as "quaint" and "obsolete" notions; denies due process of law to suspects by imprisoning them outside of US territory; encourages "rendition" of prisoners to "outsourced interrogators in places like Saudi Arabia; and condones treatment of unconvicted, unindicted suspects in a manner that most authorities (including the United States) consider to be torture.

Last week 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 this week. The time for action is now.

If you think the United States of America must never be known as "the home of torture," PLEASE write your Senators TODAY and tell them to VOTE NO on the nomination of Alberto Gonzales as the chief law enforcement officer of the United States.

The USA deserves better.

Quote of the Week (#1)

I don't know why we are here, but I'm pretty sure that it is not in order to enjoy ourselves. --Ludwig Wittgenstein