Friday, December 29, 2006

Saddam is Dead

I won't pretend for a second to say that Saddam Hussein didn't deserve his punishment. He is dead at the hands of a nation who he held captive by fear, hanged about 9:00 pm CST (Chicago time). My wife Mary Pat and I had just finished shopping for some "frou frou" (good Americans that we are) to put in our new office space in our home, and we were enjoying a sandwich and a salad at a Houlihan's in Oak Brook, Illinois. At just about the time he was executed, we were discussing, over a glass of wine, the fact that Saddam was not likely to survive into the new year.

I mentioned to Mary Pat that I saw a number of profound ironies in Saddam's fate: how, until the last fifteen years, the United States had supported him in many ways; evidence suggests that the US supported the Ba'athist coup attempt that eventually led to the deposing and execution of Marxist dictator Abdel Karim Kassem; that Saddam may have been on the CIA payroll as early as 1963; that, still stung by the deposing of the Shah of Iran, the hostage crisis, and the "Islamic revolution," the Reagan administration secretly rooted for the Soviet-armed Ba'athist Republic of Iraq in the Iran-Iraq war; that despite official US neutrality, we removed Iraq from the list of nations supporting terrorism; by 1983, the Reagan administration began officially supporting Iraq in the war, despite repeated Iranian allegations of Iraqi use of chemical and biological weapons; at the same time, Donald Rumsfeld, acting as a personal envoy of President Reagan's, traveled to Iraq to throw US support behind Saddam's government; that George H.W. Bush's special envoy to Iraq, April Glaspie, all but gave the go-ahead to Iraq to take Kuwaiti oil fields in late 1990; that, throughout the 1980s, the United States, under both the Reagan and Bush (I) adminstrations provided Iraq with "computer controlled machine tools, computers, scientific instruments, special alloy steel and aluminum, chemicals, and other industrial goods for Iraq's missile, chemical, biological and nuclear weapons programs," Howitzers, Huey helicopters, and bombs.

I mentioned to Mary Pat that he was convicted of and executed for the murder of 148 Shiites in 1982 following an assassination attempt. I opined that while the total number of his victims certainly dwarfs that body count, it is impossible to say just how many people died at his hands, and I thought it was a travesty that he was being executed before his trial for the gassing of Kurds in 1991. Why? How was justice served by executing Saddam now, before all the trials were completed?

I also mentioned that the number of American GIs killed in Iraq as a result of our invasion will probably reach 3,000 before the New Year, and the number of Iraqi civilians killed is at least 52,000 and perhaps more than 500,000. I have never seen estimates of Iraqi casualties under Saddam as high as that, and have seen no evidence of combined deaths of more than 30,000 under Saddam.

None of this is to dismiss Saddam's brutality. None of this is to say, "Oh, poor Saddam and the poor Iraqi people who mourn him." No one mourns him. No one. He is gone and good riddance.

But, c'mon folks -- here is another monster we created, or, at the very least, helped to create and supported for far too many years. Let's not pat ourselves on the back. Let's hear no self-congtratulatory bullshit from the current administration. We were wrong ever to have supported Saddam, and deposing him -- while throwing Iraq into chaos -- does not exculpate us from our shared responsibility for all the evil that resulted.

America, welcome to the "culture of life."

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Christmas 2006

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This boy is Ignorance. This girl is Want. Beware them both, and all of their degree, but most of all beware this boy, for on his brow I see that written which is Doom, unless the writing be erased. Deny it.' cried the Spirit, stretching out its hand towards the city. 'Slander those who tell it ye. Admit it for your factious purposes, and make it worse. And abide the end.'

'Have they no refuge or resource?' cried Scrooge.

'Are there no prisons?' said the Spirit, turning on him for the last time with his own words. 'Are there no workhouses?'"

- A Christmas Carol, Stave 3: The Second of the Three Spirits
This Christmas, my fervent wish is that we use our wealth and our might to lift people out of poverty, to share the blessings that God has given us with the billions in the world who, through no fault of their own, have been left behind. But my most fervent wish is that we take control of our media from the hands of multinational corporations, and bring real journalism back to America. Otherwise, we will remain ignorant of the crushing poverty and pain that others suffer, and we'll continue to live IN THE DARK.

Merry Christmas.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Incredible Racist Stupidity From the Right

Debbie Schlussel, according to her website bio, is a "Conservative political commentator, radio talk show host, columnist, and attorney." What her bio doesn't tell you is that she is an idiot.
...I decided to look further into Obama's background. His full name--as by now you have probably heard--is Barack Hussein Obama, Jr. Hussein is a Muslim name, which comes from the name of Ali's son--Hussein Ibn Ali. And Obama is named after his late Kenyan father, the late Barack Hussein Obama, Sr., apparently a Muslim.
You with me so far?
And while Obama may not identify as a Muslim, that's not how the Arab and Muslim Streets see it. In Arab culture and under Islamic law, if your father is a Muslim, so are you. And once a Muslim, always a Muslim. You cannot go back. In Islamic eyes, Obama is certainly a Muslim. He may think he's a Christian, but they do not.
Follow the logic....right over the cliff.
So, even if he identifies strongly as a Christian, and even if he despised the behavior of his father (as Obama said on Oprah); is a man who Muslims think is a Muslim, who feels some sort of psychological need to prove himself to his absent Muslim father, and who is now moving in the direction of his father's heritage, a man we want as President when we are fighting the war of our lives against Islam? Where will his loyalties be?
And where are your loyalties, Barbie....uh, Debbie? Certainly not with any American values I can identify.

Who "Lost" Iraq, Part II

I told you already -- it is the media's fault'
See, it's really the AP's fault we're losing the war. (Plus, it's ignoring all the "good news" from Iraq.) For warbloggers who have been chronically wrong about Iraq for nearly 50 straight months, the AP conspiracy theory represents a cure-all so important that Malkin herself has vowed to travel to Iraq to wander around the bombed-out streets of Baghdad in order to prove her AP allegations.

Uh-huh. Well, at least we're all on the same page with one point: We're not winning.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

A Guide to Grading Exams

One of academia's little secrets is leaked to the blogosphere. As my students know, I don't give exams....

Heightened Levels of Inactivity

It is a few days until Christmas, and the end of the Fall semester. I am in the process of reading and grading 70 or so final papers averaging about 11 pages each (several exceeding 18 pages!). My grades are due by the end of the week, and only then will I be able to re-enter the "real" world, at which point my first task will be doing some REALLY LATE Christmas shopping. Until then, forgive me for my inactivity here.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Pray for Tim Johnson

I got a cryptic e-mail from my right-wing friend in New York, Howie, early this morning that started a bit of back and forth (all spelling, grammar, and punctuation mistakes are Howie's):

Howie: With todays news, perhaps it is Gods will that the Senate remain Republican........

Me: Howie, that is blasphemy.

Howie: OK, Fallon, you made me laugh today.....

Me: Why did that make you laugh? It was a serious comment.

Howie: I assumed you meant the sacred thing that I have gone against would be the Demoncratic Senate......Besides, I was being an optimist....I was looking at the brighter side of an unfortunate event.....

Howie had just lectured me the previous day on the political partisanship of the Democratic Party. It was a sort of "You started it when you hit me back" thing. There's no question that there's too much partisanship in Washington today. But I'll never be deluded into thinking either that: 1] the Democratic Party is solely responsible for it; 2] the Democratic Party created it; or 3] the Democratic Party fights as dirty as the GOP.

Which brings me to FOX "News." Like Howie, and Republicans everywhere, FOX was ready to "pull the plug" on Sen. Tim Johnson. Bill Frist had already declared him brain dead. And all they could think about was SOMEHOW regaining control of the Senate. Think Progress gives us the play-by-play:

"KILMEADE: Steve, remember we were down this road before? If something happens that Johnson can’t continue, 50-50 with Dick Cheney breaking the tie.

DOOCY: That’s right, and you know, in the state of South Dakota, I understand there is the issue of incapacitation. It’s not spelled out in the state law, at the state level. However, the secretary of state of South Dakota says there would be a precedent at the federal level. Is that how you understand it as well Megan?

FOX ANCHOR: Yeah, indeed, there’s a big laundry list that they would have to go through in order to determine that he is incapacitated. It’s something that, ironically enough, might be weighed in on by his advisers. In other words, Sen. Harry Reid, the incoming majority leader, and Chuck Schumer, may advise him on whether he should declare his incapacity, if in fact he’s in a position where he can declare it or not. And so, we’ll have to see what happens in terms of, you know, what exactly his condition is and who’s going to weigh in on whether it should be declared an incapacitation or whether that’s just clear from the facts."

Don't lecture me on partisanship, Howie. This is disgraceful.

Iraqis : We're in Worse Shape Now Than Under Saddam

A new poll of Iraqis shows that more than 90% believe Iraq is in worse shape today than it was before the US invasion. The poll also shows that 95% of Iraqis believe that security in their country has deteriorated because of the US presence. The poll was taken by the independent Iraq Centre for Research and Strategic Studies in Baghdad, a think tank created by Saadoun al Duleimi, and Iraqi exile who returned to his native home after the invasion.

According to Source Watch, Saadoun al Duleimi, Iraq's current Defense Minister, is a "member of a powerful Sunni Arab tribe from the Western Anbar province" and a "former lieutenant-colonel in Iraq's army who left the country in 1984 and lived in exile in Saudi Arabia until dictator Saddam Hussein lost power in 2003." Duleimi "spent the year before the war in Washington [DC] training with other exiles to take up the reins of power in Iraq once the fighting was over."

The poll is reported on in Al Jazeera, not in any US medium that I have been able to find.

Latin American Left Favors "Capitalism With a Heart"

Interesting analysis by the Miami Herald. Excerpts:

Yes, Latin America has taken a leftward step. That, however, does not mean that Latin America is becoming Chávez Country. The true story of Latin American politics is that the left has moved to the center, advocating a new brand of capitalism with a heart. The new Latin American left is no threat to the United States. In fact, it has much to teach Washington.

If the United States truly wants to regain its standing, it could study the views of socialists like Bachelet and Lula, who don't turn their backs on democracy or capitalism but recognize that the state does have a role to play in alleviating the suffering of the poorest of the poor and in providing the tools to help them become
productive citizens with a measure of human dignity. As one Buenos Aires resident told me, "The real danger in Latin America is not Chávez; it's poverty.''


Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Food for Thought

A new CBS News poll shows that 51% of Americans believe that George Bush and the Democrats in Congress will NOT be able to work together. And yet, at the same time, in the same poll, 65% say they are "optimistic about the next two years with the Democratic Party in control of Congress."

If there is any other way of interpreting this than that the American people want the Democrats in Congress to act as a brake on the Bush administration, I'd like to hear it.

What say you?

Who "Lost" Iraq?

I can hear it right now: The question on right-wing "talk" radio, the gossip on right-wing blogs, the burning question: Who lost Iraq?

Why, the media, of course. Damned liberals.
Nearly eight in 10 Americans favor changing the U.S. mission in Iraq from direct combat to training Iraqi troops, the Washington Post-ABC News survey found. Sizeable majorities agree with the goal of pulling out nearly all U.S. combat forces by early 2008, engaging in direct talks with Iran and Syria and reducing U.S. financial support if Iraq fails to make enough progress.

Furthermore, a Los Angeles Times/Bloomberg poll shows that only 15% of Americans think the US is winning the war, 14% think the insurgents are winning, and 66% see no winner.

It wasn't the bad plan for deposing Saddam and winning the peace.
It wasn't Abu Ghraib, extraordinary rendition, or secret prisons.
It wasn't the suspension of basic human rights, such as habeas corpus.
It wasn't the Bush administration's inability -- or refusal -- to modify its approach to the problems we are facing in Iraq in the face of compounding difficulties.
It wasn't the utter contempt in which George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Alberto Gonzalez and Donald Rumsfeld seemed to hold the intelligence of the American people.

Nothing is Bush's fault, nor his administration's.

It's the media.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Nobel Peace Prize Winner : To Win War on Terror, Fight War on Poverty

Muhammad Yunus, the winner of the 2006 Nobel Prize for Peace, has a message for the world, and for the United States of America: If you want to win the "war on terror," fight a war on poverty.

Yunus, the creator and founder of the Grameen Bank which extends "microcredit" -- collateral-free loans to small-business entrepreneurs in less devloped parts of the world, believes that capitalism is the way to lift impoverished peoples out of misery and guard them from the allure of terrorism. But existing economic structures need to be overhauled, and more money must be invested in small businesses in less-developed countries.
Poverty is a threat to peace...Over one billion people live on less than a dollar a day. This is no formula for peace.
He said that the UN Millenium Goals is a structure for this type of economic development. But in the wake of the attacks of September 11, 2001 and the US invasion and occupation of Iraq, the developed world had lost sight of those goals.

“Till now over $530 billion has been spent on the war in Iraq by the USA alone,” he said.

“I believe terrorism cannot be won over by military action,” he said, but added that terrorism had to be condemned “in the strongest language” and the world must stand solidly against it.

“We must address the root causes of terrorism to end it for all time to come,” he said. “I believe that putting resources into improving the lives of the poor people is a better strategy than spending it on guns.”

Yunus and his bank has been putting those resources into the hands of the poor for 30 years. Will the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, and the World Trade Organization follow suit? And will the "liberal media" pay any attention to him?

Monday, December 11, 2006


Bush approval slips to 30%.
More than 2/3 (68%) believe the US is "losing ground" in Iraq.
The Brits, at least, seem to think the so-called "war on terror" is over.
The GOP survivors seem to be happy to see the GOP losers leave.
Even in death, some monsters inspire only violence.
What's happening in Latin America is not pro-Socialism, it's anti-global Capitalism.
And Nobel Peace Laureate Muhammed Yunus backs me up: fight a war on poverty, not terror.

Friday, December 08, 2006

A Tale of Two Schools

This is the tale of two schools, the Latin American School of Medical Sciences and the School of the Americas. The Latin American School of Medical Sciences (LASMS) is the product of a Socialist society -- Cuba -- and the School of the Americas of a Capitalist society -- the United States of America.
It was Fidel himself who in the late 1990s came up with the idea for this school, which trains doctors from throughout the Americas, not just in the ABCs of medicine but in the need for health care for the struggling masses.
The LASMS is, to be sure, a pure piece of propaganda. It is meant in no small part to show the outside world the moral superiority of Socialism. But while it is doing the propaganda work of a flawed social and economic system, it is also -- undeniably -- doing objective good in the world.
The Cuban government offered full scholarships to poor students from throughout the region, and many, including 90 or so from the United States, have jumped at the chance of a free medical education, even with a bit of socialist theory thrown in. "They are completing the dreams of our commandante," said the dean, Dr. Juan Carrizo Estévez. "As he said, they are true missionaries, true apostles of health."
The Gospel of Matthew says, "Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them." (Matthew 7:17-20)

Still, Cuban authorities are eager to show off this exporter of Cuban doctor-philosophers as a sign of the country's compassion and clout in the world. The sympathetic portrayal of Castro, whom the United States government tars as a dictator who suppresses his people, is sinking in among some students.

"In my country, many see Fidel Castro as a bad leader," said Rolando Bonilla, 23, a Panamanian who is in his second year of the six-year program. "My view has changed. I now know what he represents for this country. I identify with him."

It is not just the Panamanian and other Latin American student who get the message.

Tahirah Benyard, 27, a first-year student from Newark, New Jersey, said it was Cuba's offer to send doctors to New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, which was firmly rejected by the Bush administration, that prompted her to take a look at medical education in Cuba.

"I saw my people dying," she said. "There was no one willing to help. The government was saying everything is going to be fine."

In the United States of America, we have the School of the Americas, recently reformed and renamed the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation. Like the Latin American school of Medical Sciences, it takes in students from the Americas and sends them home to do the work they have been trained to do. "Ye shall know them by their fruit." (Matthew 7:17) Here is some of the fruit that has been borne by graduates of the School of the Americas:

In Guatemala, last week a court ordered the capture of the SOA graduate Angel Anibal Guevara, the former Defense Minister, and for SOA graduate German Chupina, the former head of the feared National Police, for their involvement in homicide, terrorism and kidnapping during Guatemala’s civil war. The brutal School of the Americas counterinsurgency strategies that were implemented in Guatemala left over 200,000 people dead and no SOA official has ever been held accountable.

In Mexico, a repression campaign is being unleashed against the people of Oaxaca who are struggling for direct democracy and justice. At least 18 high-ranking SOA graduates have played key roles in civilian-targeted warfare against indigenous communities in the states of Chiapas, Guerrero and Oaxaca.

In Colombia, the largest customer of the SOA, 2,000,000 people have been killed or displaced by massacres and assassinations carried out under the direction of SOA graduates. Earlier this year, General Montoya Uribe was named the head of the Colombian military. Gen. Montoya has a history—dating back 30-years—of collaborating with the paramilitaries in killing innocent peasants, massacring villages. He was also a student, and later, in 1993, a teacher, at the SOA. The killing in Colombia continues.

In Argentina, when SOA graduate Leopoldo Galtieri headed the military, 30,000 people were killed or disappeared. And in Chile, 10 of the officers indicted with Pinochet for crimes against humanity were trained at the SOA.

In Honduras, 19 of the ranking officers of the notorious Battalion 316 death squad were SOA-trained. And in Nicaragua, over 4,000 soldiers were trained at the SOA for Somoza’s National Guard death squads.

In El Salvador, SOA-trained soldiers massacred over 900 men, women and children in the village of El Mozote, assassinated Archbishop Oscar Romero, raped and murdered four U.S. church women and massacred 14 year old Celina Ramos, her mother Elba and six Catholic priests, professors of the University of Central America in San Salvador.

In Venezuela, in April 2002, graduates of the School of the Americas were key players in an attempted coup against the democratically elected government. Democracy prevailed as the people took to the streets. One hundred people died in the violence during the coup attempt.

In Bolivia, people across the country protested in October 2003 against unjust economic policies. The government responded by sending the troops - many under the command of SOA graduates to suppress the dissent. The people stood strong and prevailed. The president fled to the United States. Eight-five people were killed in the preceding repression campaign.

The Latin American School of Medical Sciences is the work of Fidel Castro. He is a Socialist. Therefore, we in the United States of America know little about it. The School of the Americas is the work of every American President since Harry S. Truman. The work that is done there, quite frankly, is evil. Therefore, we in the United States of America know little about it.

"Ye shall know them by their fruit."

Felipe Calderon?

It looks like the American "mainstream" is more to the right than the Mexican right.
Right off the bat, he slashed his salary and those of other top officials by 10 percent and said the money would go toward social programs, adopting in one fell swoop one of his leftist rival’s favorite campaign promises.
Fine. But he's pretty wealthy anyway. And so is his government.
Then Mr. Calderón introduced a budget that slashed spending in his office and the Interior Ministry while raising spending steeply for public security and health care.
Hmmm. Redirecting government spending toward the public welfare....Didn't we end that in the Reagan years?

Finally, on Thursday, the president used his first out of town trip to highlight the poverty in Guerrero State and announced a program to pump money into 100 of the poorest towns in Mexico.

He said closing the gap between rich and poor would be one of his top priorities. “I know the enormous debt that Mexico owes to marginalized people and that this debt should be paid with acts of the government,” he said.

Huh? A debt to "marginalized people" that should "be paid with acts of the government?" This guy was the right-wing candidate in Mexico?

As my wife, Mary Pat, said, "Can we get him to be President up here?"

Thursday, December 07, 2006

World Social Forum : US "War on Terror" a Sham While it Harbors Its Own Terrorists

The World Social Forum for the Integration of Peoples convening in Cochabamba, Bolivia points to a US double-standard in its so-called "war on terror." How can a nation both claim to be fighting terror and harboring a man who was responsible for the 1976 bombing of an airliner?

Recently declassified CIA documents -- now in the National Security Archives of George Washington University -- indicate that Luis Posada Carriles, a Cuban exile and former CIA operative, masterminded the attack of Cubana Flight 455 30 years ago that killed 76 people. Another former CIA operative involved in the attack, Orlando Bosch, was pardoned by President George H.W. Bush in 1990.

Our new Defense Secretary-designate Robert Gates had dealings with Posada during the illegal Iran-Contra arms-for-hostages crimes of the 1980s.

When will the "liberal" media stop ignoring history?

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Iraq Study Group Says Iraq Policy A "Failure"

They also said the war was a "grave and deteriorating" crisis sliding toward chaos. They said US policy in Iraq was "not working." They also suggested regional talks on the future of Iraq with, among other states, Iran and Syria.

And Defense Secretary designate Robert Gates said yesterday that the US is not winning the war in Iraq.


Quote of the Week #1

The Kingdom of Christ is the kingdom of love, of peace; the kingdom of justice, of solidarity, brotherhood, the kingdom of socialism...This is the kingdom of the future of Venezuela. -- Hugo Chavez Frias

Things I'd Like the US Media to Tell Me More About...

Just wondering when we'll be hearing these on ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, FOX, etc....

Monday, December 04, 2006

Democracy is on the March; Bush Administration is in Retreat

An update on the "New Axis of Evil"TM

Hugo Chavez has won another term as Venezuelan President.
The National Electoral Council said Chavez won 61 percent of the vote while rival Manuel Rosales, a governor of an oil-producing province who managed to unite the fractured opposition, won 38 percent after nearly 80 percent of the vote had been counted.
US-backed opponent Manuel Rosales conceded, without charging fraud. His quick concession is regarded as a reason why there were few protests or disturbances.
We recognize they beat us today but we will continue the fight.
With 61 percent of the vote, and an overall turnout of 70 percent, Chavez can legitimately claim a "mandate" for his Bolivarian Revolution, even if a recently chastened and defeated US right-wing care to deny it (right, Howie?). There is another way to do business in the world aside from the global, un-regulated, laissez faire, "free-market" capitalist way.
Having already taken on multinational oil giants to demand they hand more control to the state, Chavez will likely press for more share of Venezuela's vast oil and mineral resources and increase land distribution for the rural poor.
Chavez's landslide reelection is the newest and clearest sign of landmark changes in Latin American -- and global -- political and economic thinking and a continuing challenge to the post-Cold War "new world order." Bolivia's Evo Morales, Brazil's Luis Inacio Lula Da Silva, Nicaragua's Daniel Ortega, Chile's Marie Bachelet, Peru's Alan Garcia, Ecuador's Rafael Correa, all have attempted to maintain capitalist economies while injecting a government mandated -- and sometimes government sponsored -- social responsibility.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, Donald Rumsfeld is gone. John Bolton is gone. The GOP House and the GOP Senate are gone. The era of the Project for a New American Century may be close to an end. Neo-cons are cutting and running.

Mr. Bush: Democracy is, indeed, on the march. Can you handle it?

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Chavez's Opponents Prepare to Cry "Foul"

An update on the "New Axis of Evil"TM

With independent, reputable polling organizations showing Hugo Chavez with a commanding (20-30 point) lead in the Venezuelan Presidential campaign, supporters of his opponent, Manuel Rosales, are already saying "We wuz robbed!!!"

This, despite the fact that no reputable polling company has produced a survey giving the lead to Rosales, governor of the state of Zulia.

A number of serious polls -- including a recent one commissioned by the Associated Press -- suggest that Sunday's result will likely be not much different from those of 1998, 2000 and the midterm recall referendum of 2004. All were won by Chávez by a roughly 60-40 margin.

Calvin Tucker in the Guardian (UK) breaks these polls down as follows:
The six most recent polls conducted by recognised firms put the gap between the two candidates as follows: Zogby - University of Miami: 29%, Associated Press - IPSOS: 32%, Datanalysis: 27%, Datos: 27%, Consultores 21: 17%, Evans McDonough: 22%.
How in the world does Manuel Rosales's campaign claim to be winning in the face of these polls? In Chicago lore, one of the ways to win friends and influence people -- especially people who need some product or service -- is the phrase, "I got a guy..." Well, Rosales has got a guy. The US Government. And they have some pollsters. And they have done this kind of thing before (wink, wink...nudge, nudge).

One of the pollsters whose results indicate that Rosales is mysteriously pulling ahead is Penn, Schoen, and Berland. Now, PSB is an actual public opinion research company. They've been around for thirty years. But some of their recent projects call their work on behalf of the Rosales campaign into question.
  • To their credit, they were involved in US efforts to undermine the authority of Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic, helping to train opposition organizers, equipping them with technology and providing them with techniques to shape public opinion. That's fine; it's just not objective.
  • They were involved in the 2004 Recall election in Venezuela. Voters kept Chavez in power by an 18 point margin, with 70% of eligible voters voting, in an election monitored by the Organization of American States and other international observers (including President Jimmy Carter). PSB exit polls showed Chavez losing the recall by a 60-40 margin. Chavez opponents cried "fraud!"
  • They worked for the 2006 re-election campaign of former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi -- through his right-wing party Forza Italia. They were the only polling organization to predict a Forza Italia victory.
Jonathan Mowat writing in the Online Journal notes the growing role of public opinion research and strategies in the post-modern "coup":
Polling operations in the recent coups have been overseen by such outfits as Penn, Schoen and Berland, top advisors to Microsoft and Bill Clinton. Praising their role in subverting Serbia, then Secretary of State Madeleine Albright (and later Chairman of NDI) , in an October 2000 letter to the firm quoted on its website, stated: "Your work with the National Democratic Institute and the Yugoslav opposition contributed directly and decisively to the recent breakthrough for democracy in that country . . . This may be one of the first instances where polling has played such an important role in setting and securing foreign policy objectives."

I've said it before, and I'll say it again: if you want a common sense explanation of why Chavez has won in the past, survived a coup because millions rose up against the plotters, was re-elected, survived a re-call, and will be re-elected this weekend, it is simply because he is the first Venezuelan leader in my lifetime to put the needs of all Venezuelans, but especially poor Venezuelans, before the demands of global, un-regulated, laissez faire, "free-market" capitalism. And in Venezuela, the poor vote.

It's as simple as that. Now watch the opposition howl on Monday.

Quote of the Week (#1)

Affluence creates poverty. -- Marshall McLuhan

Pew : Catholics, Black and White Protestants, and Secularists Support the Democratic Congress

It should be clear by now that most Americans (with the exception of Howie) are glad that the Democrats won the 2006 midterm elections and took control of the House of Representatives and the Senate. But according to a new survey by the Pew Research Center support for the Democrats extends to at least a few groups who, for the last two decades, have been solidly in the GOP camp.

It should be no surprise that 72% of American secularists are happy the Democrats won, or even that 84% of Black Protestants were. But 60% of Catholics say they are happy with the political change in Congress, and even 56% of mainline Protestants agree. It is only among white Evangelical Protestants that we see a majority who are unhappy. But even here, 4 in 10 Evangelicals support the Democrats.

Full story at the link.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Iran and Venezuela Plot Villainy

An update on the "New Axis of Evil"TM

Venezuela and Iran are up to no good. They recently signed a deal to cooperate on an industrial modernization deal. The first factory resulting from that deal was officially inaugurated yesterday in Central Venezuela. What will these evildoers be producing there?

Cars and tractors.

Venezuela, long dependent on US imports, wants to broaden its industrial base and expand its market with non-aligned nations.

In a related story, President Hugo Chavez, after a long and open campaign season, is expected to be re-elected as President of Venezuela this Sunday. His opponent, Manuel Rosales, has been gaining ground in political opinion polls. According to reports, several hundred thousand supporters rallied for his election last saturday. But "hundreds of thousands" turned out the very next day to support Chavez, who holds a 30 point lead in opinion polls. That could be because Chavez is a "hero" to the Venezuelan poor, who still constitute a majority of the population, and who vote. Chavez has done more in the last six years to protect the Venezuelan poor from the ravages of global, un-regulated, laissez faire "free-market" capitalism than any Venezuelan leader in the last two and a half centuries. That's why the Venezuelan right -- and the Bush administration -- hates him. Chavez puts it this way:
I am a socialist...and I follow the teachings of Jesus Christ, who was the first socialist, just as Judas was the first capitalist.

Yes. That's going to make you some friends in Texas.

Meanwhile the Cato Institute has just released a "policy analysis" that accuses the Chavez government of "Corruption, Mismanagement, and Abuse of Power." So far, only similar far right outlets have picked it up (Standard Newswire, NewsMax, and the Hawaii Reporter). But it is still early. The analysis was written by Gustavo Coronel, a 28 year oil industry veteran, and former member of PDVSA, Petroleos de Venezuela.

I leave it to you to read the entire policy analysis for yourself, but I can make some general observations.

Chavez and Coronel define "corruption" differently. In 1999, Venezuelan Vice President (then Interior Minister) Jose Vicente Rangel described the corruption that the new Chavez government sought to undo: the type of corruption that saw much of Venezuela's oil going to the United States while virtually none of it went to other Latin American countries; the type that saw oil revenues going to multinational corporations while schools and hospitals lached essential resources; the type that saw $100 billion go to multinational contractors overseas for two decades for domestic public works; in other words, the essential corruption of global, un-regulated, l;aissez faire, "free-market" capitalism. Coronel describes corruption as keeping what are fundamentally Venezuelan jobs within Venezuela, even at the risk of closing those jobs to external, independent contractors.

Coronel defines "mismanagement" from within a fairly biased perspective. From my reading of this "policy analysis," he takes the point of view that oil revenues that go back to the people through social programs are essentially "wasted" and therefore constitute evidence of "mismanagement."

But read it for yourself.

We report. You decide.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Venezuelan Dictatorship

A Hopeful People by Joseph J. Fahey, America: The Catholic Weekly Magazine

An update on the "New Axis of Evil"TM

In this week's issue of America, the National Catholic Weekly, Joseph J. Fahey writes of his recent experiences in Venezuela as part of a delegation of Catholic, Protestant, and Evangelical Christians who were invited by Fundlatin, a Venezuelan ecumenical human rights organization, to see the direct effects Hugo Chavez's Bolivarian Revolution were having on Venezuela's poor. The delegation was independent, sponsored neith by the Venezuelan government nor by its (US sponsored) opposition.
Daily we met scores of residents who explained the “revolution” (a word we heard everywhere) that has taken place in their lives during the past five years. The revolution has included literacy classes, the formation of small agrarian and industrial cooperatives, clean water and improved sanitary conditions, and free medical services. Their spirit of enthusiasm and hope filled the air.
Fahey uses a symbol -- "three little girls" who he met on his journey -- to represent broader social improvements taking place in barrios surrounding Caracas, Barquisimeto and Sanare.

I met them at a recently built day care center set up to look after them while their parents worked at nearby cooperatives. Some of the parents were building new homes or working in social services. Each day the children are bathed, since many homes (single-room shacks) in the barrio are still without running water. They are fed nutritious meals with food often made at one of the worker cooperatives (the Pavia co-op, for example, makes bread).

The little girls receive free health services at a new building offering dental and ophthalmologic services; family doctors are nearby. These medical services are called “Misio Barrio Adentro” (“Mission Inside the Neighborhood”). They represent a major improvement in the local residents’ quality of life. The medical missions are staffed largely by Cuban doctors and their Venezuelan assistants. We were told that some 15,000 Cuban doctors and other medical professionals work in Venezuela, because the government exchanges its oil for these services. The Cubans tend to serve the poorest areas, where most people had never seen a doctor or a clinic. The medical teams train local young people so that they can become doctors and other medical professionals in their own right. They also practice preventive medicine, visiting schools and homes to care for the lame, the elderly and newborns.

These dramatic changes flow from the 1999 Constitution of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, passed by popular referendum (following emphases are mine):

The Preamble calls on the “protection of God” and “the historic example of our liberator Simon Bolívar” to “establish a democratic, participatory and self-reliant, multiethnic and multicultural society in a just, federal, and decentralized state” that “guarantees the right to life, work, learning, education, social justice and equality.”

The Venezuelan Constitution guarantees the right to health through a national public health system “governed by the principles of gratuity, universality, completeness, fairness, social integration and solidarity.”

Far from being the Godless Socialist state suggested in the rhetoric of the Bush administration, Fahey, a Professor of Religious Studies at Manhattan College (Jesuits) in Riverdale, NY, sees parallels to Catholic teaching on social justice.
The extensive human rights agenda in Venezuela’s Constitution bears a strong resemblance to Catholic social teaching. Indeed, the sections on “Fundamental Principles,” “Duties, Human Rights and Guarantees” and “Socioeconomic System” are similar to the newly released Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church. Many of the lay leaders, religious, deacons and priests we met praised the constitution and described it as the blueprint for the social changes taking place in Venezuela today.
The Venezuelans -- especially the Venezuelan poor -- are hopeful, Fahey observes. But they still have fears of a US invasion or other attempt to subvert the Bolivarian recvolution. They remember the coup attempt of 2002, supported by the CIA and National Endowment for Democracy, and are aware that the main opposition party to Chavez's government, Primera Justicia, is also funded by the NED. He is up for reelection in December.

If, as feared, the United States interferes, the people in the barrios told us they will protest by the millions, as they did during the attempted coup against Chávez in 2002. Citizen-based National Guard units are being armed and trained in case the country is invaded. Young people told us they would fight to the death for their country and their Constitution.

What position the American people take in response to overt or covert attempts by the U.S. government to overthrow the legitimate government of Venezuela is, for the people in the barrios, the key question. They begged us to tell the American people to leave them alone so that they can develop as they see fit. They know from personal experience that governments respond to the will of the people. They fervently pray that their sisters and brothers in the North will demand that the U.S.
government act justly toward Venezuela.

The balls in our court, Mr. Bush. Do we believe in Democracy or not? Or was all that rhetoric just a smoke screen, and our real interest is the spread of global, un-regulated, laissez faire, "free market" capitalism?

I think Americans -- and American Catholics -- would like to know.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006


An electronic acquaintance on an e-mail listserve I belong to posed a challenge in all seriousness a year or so ago that I just had to chuckle over. He was wondering why post-modernists generally, and the political left particularly, had no "manifesto," no (in the words of the Cambridge Dictionary) "written statement of the beliefs, aims and policies of an organization, especially a political party."

I noted that commonality of beliefs is certainly foundational to the manifesto of any group, and therefore post-modernists are unlikely to agree on enough to construct, let alone to rally around, a bona fide manifesto. When you focus on the individual -- or on small groups -- the common good seems to recede into the background. When you look at all of reality as essentially just a sham designed to justify an unequal social distribution of power and wealth, then you will always be looking out for your own best interests and "let the devil take the hindmost."

This is the foundation of the cheap right-wing accusation, I believe, that the Democratic Party "has no plan," not just for Iraq, but for anything. This is the foundation of the perception that "the Democratic party doesn't stand for anything." The Democratic Party, being since the middle of the twentieth century a coalition of marginalized people and groups in the US -- workers, the poor, African-Americans, and increasingly in the last quarter of the century women, gays, lesbians, and those who wish to protect the environment -- has necessarily been a party with the biggest tent and the most diffuse message. This is the Democratic Party's greatest strength; it is also, history suggests, its biggest weakness.

GOP propaganda snipers over the last third of a century have been fairly successful at "picking off" the various Democratic constitutencies with a powerful rifle of recreant rhetoric. "Radical feminism." "The homosexual agenda." "Big labor." "Tree huggers." "Welfare queens." Poor folks lacking "personal responsibility." "Murphy Brown" working women lacking "family values." The hardest working, the least well-paid, the un- or under-represented, the disenfranchised, the disadvantaged, the victims of discrimination, folks who would just like to get by, to live their lives, to raise (or even to HAVE) their families, and to have the same opportunities as the rest of America -- THESE folks, Americans all, have come to be known, thanks to GOP propaganda, as "special interests." Not the oil or energy companies, not the media, not Halliburton, not the defense industry (what President Dwight D. Eisenhower called the "military industrial complex"), not the coal-mining industry, not the arms industry -- not any of the huge corporations (many of them multi-national or foreign-owned) who can afford to spend billions of dollars every year to influence our representatives in Congress -- THESE are NOT the "special interests." It's the "little guy."

It's US.

And yet...understanding, as Jacques Ellul points out, that effective propaganda must be built on at least the germ of truth, can we say that the left (In America, anyway -- anywhere else in the world we'd be the solid center) bears no responsibility for its disorganization and lack of focus? Have we focused far too much on our own parochial concerns and ignored the larger, far more important issues that we now see threatened? Have we, as women, been far too concerned with "a woman's right to choose" and not nearly enough with the human right to a job and a living wage? Have we, as gays and lesbians, been too focused on the Catholic Church's antipathy toward homosexuality, and ignored its progressive stance on labor, healthcare, and issues of social justice? Have we, as workers, focused too much on our own working conditions, our own work week, our own paychecks, without paying sufficient attention to the plight of poorer Americans?

We now have control of the US House of Representatives. As I write this, it looks very much as though we have won control of the US Senate. Why am I not dancing for joy?

We didn't win. The Republicans lost. Because of their venality, their corruption, their inflexibility, their incompetence, their pig-headedness, their obnoxious self-righteousness and their sheer hypocrisy (go ahead, throw a dart at the GOP; you'll hit someone who fits at least one, maybe more, of the above) the GOP surrendered control of the Congress. Now the Democrats have it.

So, what are we going to do about it?

Will we become beholden to corporate interests?

Will we forget who we work for?

Will we continue, as the Republicans began, to hold the Constitution of the United States in contempt?

Will we become rigid ideologues, believing that a global, un-regulated, laissez faire, "free market" economy is more central to American values and more deserving of our defense, even to the point of pre-emptive war, than the Bill of Rights?

I hope not. I pray not. And I don't believe we will.

But will we put the interests of some Americans (whether they be Catholics, women, Jews, African-Americans, Gays, workers, or corporate CEOs) ahead of all Americans?

Let's never forget that the thing that most closely binds us is our common humanity. The very fact of our humanity endows us with certain unalienable rights, among those being life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Let's never forget that those unalienable rights are enshrined for us all in the first ten amendments of our Constitution. And let's never forget that when one person is denied his rights, all people are diminished. And America is diminished.

Let the Democratic Party be known as the party of human rights. Let it be known once again as the party of social responsibility.

We'll be okay.

Welcome to Year Three

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Thanks to our faithful readers.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006


If you're not voting for this:

From the Declaration of Independence:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.

From the Constitution of the United States:

Article I
Section 8.

(Congress shall have the power)
To constitute Tribunals inferior to the supreme Court;
To define and punish Piracies and Felonies committed on the high Seas, and Offences against the Law of Nations;
To declare War, grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal, and make Rules concerning Captures on Land and Water;
To raise and support Armies, but no Appropriation of Money to that Use shall be for a longer Term than two Years;
To make Rules for the Government and Regulation of the land and naval Forces;
To provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions;

Section 9.

The Privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in Cases of Rebellion or Invasion the public Safety may require it.

Article II.

Section 2.

The President shall be Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the Militia of the several States, when called into the actual Service of the United States;

Section 4.

The President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.

The Bill of Rights

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.

Amendment II
A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.

Amendment III
No soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.

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 offense 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 defense.
Amendment VII
In suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise reexamined in any court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.

Amendment VIII
Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.

Amendment IX
The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

Amendment X
The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Army, Air Force, Navy, Marines: Stand down Mr. Rumsfeld, you have lost control in Iraq

Four military newspapers (Air Force Times, Navy Times, Marine Corp and Army Times) are calling for Donald Rumsfelds resignation, saying that he is losing control in Iraq. The editorials go on to say that Rumsfeld has neither the support of our fighting men nor the support of top militarial officials.

The Air Force Times puts it like this :

"It is one thing for the majority of Americans to think Rumsfeld has failed. But when the nation’s current military leaders start to break publicly with their defense secretary, then it is clear that he is losing control of the institution he ostensibly leads."

However, our Commander in Thief still believes Rumsfeld is doin' a "heck of a job". The White House believes that this, as they do with anything else, is politically motivated.

How long can this president ignore the will of not only the American people but also our men and women in harms way fighting for democracy for the Iraqi people?

I, for one, "support our troops" in calling for your resignation Mr. Rumsfeld.

An Edge of Your Seat, White-Knuckled, Hold Your Breath Election

Rasmussen Reports, one of the more conservative (in the methodological, not political, sense) public opinion polling organizations, now says it looks like a dead heat in the Senate. 48 seats will go to the Democrats, and 48 to the Republicans. Four seats, Missouri and Virginia, remain "toss ups."

In Missouri, Claire McCaskill holds a tenuous one point lead over Republican incumbent Jim Talent. In Virginia, Jim Webb and George Allen both command 49% of the vote. In Montana, Jon Tester holds a two point lead over Republican incumbent Conrad Burns. And in Tennessee, Republican Bob Corker holds a four point lead over Harold Ford.

Pennsylvania's Rick Santorum will be replaced by Democrat Bob Casey. Sherrod Brown looks to crush Mike Dewine in Ohio.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Brits : Bush is a Menace

A new poll taken by British public opinion research company ICM for the Guardian Unlimited (UK) indicates that Brits see George W. Bush as a greater threat to world peace than North Korean madman Kim Jong Il. This should make the crazies over at Songun Blog happy.

The poll was one of four polls caried out simultaneously in Britain, in Israel (by Haaretz), Canada (by La Presse and Toronto Star) and Mexico (Reforma). Across the board, pollsters found that world citizens believe that Bush has made the world more, rather than less, dangerous.
The finding is mirrored in America's immediate northern and southern neighbours, Canada and Mexico, with 62% of Canadians and 57% of Mexicans saying the world has become more dangerous because of US policy.
Howie has blamed me -- and what he calls "the left" -- for mindlessly hating Bush. This is an indication that much of the world sees this administration the same way most Americans do: we don't hate Bush. We hate what he has done to America, and to the world.

See the actual British (ICM) poll here and the data set here.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

The Mainstream Shifts...

...back to the sensible center.

A new ABC News/Washington Post poll indicates that Independent voters back Democratic candidates by a margin of nearly 2 to 1 (59%-31%). The poll indicates that this swing is motivated more by dissatisfaction with the GOP than by enthusiasm about the Democrats:
Forty-five percent said it would be good if Democrats recaptured the House majority, while 10 percent said it would not be. The rest said it would not matter.
However, the enthusiasm of Democratic voters compared with that of GOP voters remains high, as reported earlier.
Ninety-five percent of Democrats said they will support Democratic candidates for the House, while slightly fewer Republicans, 88 percent, said they plan to vote for their party's candidates.
In a related story, I haven't heard much from Howie lately...

Monday, October 23, 2006

Quote of the Week (#1)

"There has been no other government in Venezuela, and I say this with all humility, that has been closer ... to the mandate of Christ ... Socialism is the theory of Christ ... Love one another." -- Hugo Chavez, July 13, 2005

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Party Affiliations Trend Toward Democrats

Rasmussen Reports -- er -- reports further indications that the GOP is in serious trouble as the 2006 midterm elections approach. There are now 5% more Americans calling themselves Democrats than Republicans.
In September 2004, as the nation prepared to re-elect George W. Bush and a Republican majority in Congress, the GOP had pulled just about even with Democrats in terms of party affiliation. At that time, 37.9% of Americans considered themselves Democrats while 37.3% considered themselves Republicans. That was the GOP’s best performance of 2004 and reflected a net gain of three percentage points in six months.
There are signs that the Democratic Party had best not get too complacent about this: it is not necessarily as much a pro-Democratic trend as it is an anti-Bush, anti-neocon, anti-GOP trend.
Overall, the number of Democrats is similar to 2004, but the number of Republicans has declined significantly. Today, 30.7% are not affiliated with either major party. That’s up from 24.8% two years ago.
Still, things are looking better for the Democratic Party than they were a year ago.
During September 2006, 37.0% consider themselves Democrats and just 32.2% identify with the GOP. That’s a net advantage of 4.8 percentage points for the Democrats and presents a much different political environment from the last election cycle. Not only that, this time around, it’s the Democrats who are gaining ground. They’ve gained a net three percentage points since the beginning of 2006.
Folks: don't get cocky. Do the right thing.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

More Reason for GOP Pessimism

From the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press comes a new survey that ought to give Republicans -- yet again -- more reason to fear the coming midterm elections. A poll released today (margin of error +/- 3 points) indicates that there may be a larger voter turnout than usual, and a turnout that favors Democrats.

Today, 51% of voters say they have given a lot of thought to this November's election, up from 45% at this point in 2002 and 42% in early October of 1998. Even in 1994 ­ a recent high in midterm election turnout ­ just 44% of voters had thought a lot about the election in early October.
The difference appears to be due to increased enthusiasm among Democratic voters.

Currently, 59% of Democratic voters say they have given a lot of thought to this election, up from 46% at this point in the 2002 election. Republicans, by comparison, are no more or less engaged this year than four years ago (48% now, 47% in 2002). Democrats are also far more excited about voting this year, with 51% saying they are more enthusiastic about voting than usual, up from 40% in 2002. Just a third of Republicans say they are more enthusiastic about voting than usual, down from 44% four years ago.
Specifically, 51% of Democrats are enthusiastic about this year's midterm elections; only 33% of Republicans described themselves as enthusiastic. In addition, this enthusiasm is evident in likely voters as well as registered voters. And it predates the Foley fiasco.

This entusiasm is fueled by widespread displeasure with both the Bush administration and the GOP-controlled Congress.

To wit, a CNN poll released today shows that Americans think Democrats would do a better job than Republicans handling the war in Iraq, 51%-34%, and a better job hadling the war on terror, 44%-40%, 52% think the President should fire Defense Secretary Rumsfeld; and a USAToday/Gallup poll indicates that fully two-thirds of Americans -- 66% -- disapprove of George W. Bush's handling of the Iraq war,

Karma, baby.

Dig it.

Monday, October 09, 2006

What Americans Are Thinking -- RIGHT NOW

The President's approval numbers languish at about 39%.

An Associated Press/Ipsos poll asked the question: "Which comes closest to your feelings about the Bush Administration: enthusiastic, satisfied but not enthusiastic, dissatisfied but not angry, or angry?" The responses were: enthusiastic, 10% (there's Howie); satisfied, 29% (and those two groups account perfectly for the President's 39% approval rating); dissatisfied, 29%; and angry, 31%. Somehow, 1% of those polled described themselves as "unsure."

A Pew Research Center for the People & the Press shows that more Americans are dissatisfied with the job Republicans are doing in Congess than are satisfied, 56%-33%. However, the same poll shows almost the same level of dissatisfaction with Democrats, 53%-35%.

A Newsweek poll indicates that 64% of Americans think we're "losing ground" in Iraq, believe that Democrats would do a better job in Iraq by a 13 point margin, 47%-34%, and believe the Democrats would do a better job handling the war on terr by a 6 point margin, 44%-37%. The same poll indicates that now --finally -- 58% of Americans believe that the Bush administration "Purposely misled the public about evidence that Iraq had banned weapons in order to build support for war," i.e., LIED.

A CNN poll shows that only 47% of Americans think Republicans in Congress are ethical, while 54% think Democrats are ethical. A Newsweek poll finds more Americans believing that Democrats have a better handle on moral values than Rerpublicans, 42%-36%. And 52% of Americans think that House Speaker Dennis Hastert should resign.

And right now, the Democrats enjoy a 21 point polling advantage, leading Republicans 58%-37%.

Howie, welcome to reality. I've got your Zantac right here.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Olbermann Blasts Bush Again: Mr. President, Stop Making Things Up

Olbermann strikes again. His "Special Comment" is remarkably like what I've been saying to Howie for several years. The President, intimidated by the fact that "facts" don't support any of the policies his administration has put into place, or would like to put into place, just makes things up. The President, knowing that Americans -- and their values -- are actually opposed to almost everything this administration has tried to do, reinvents reality, a frightening nightmare version of reality, and warns us that our very way of life will come to an end if we don't do things his way.

I would love to have Keith Olbermann come out to Chicago and speak at Roosevelt University. Let me see what I can do....

Thursday, October 05, 2006


Republicans face election disaster as e-mail sex scandal gathers pace
Beleaguered Republicans have been dealt a fresh blow by the publication of a new poll which suggests the Democrats are leading in 11 of 15 crucial races for the House of Representatives ­ the clearest indication yet that the party's stranglehold in Washington may be about to be broken.
Rep. Lewis cancels event with Hastert
U.S. Rep. Ron Lewis has canceled a fundraiser next week with U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert, citing the growing scandal over former Florida Rep. Mark Foley.
Shimkus defends his leadership of the House Page Board
WASHINGTON - Rep. John Shimkus mounted an intense media offensive Wednesday, saying he has no intention to resign from the House Page Board and angrily lashing out at the press and Democrats who have questioned him about his role investigating ex-Rep. Mark Foley's contact with former House pages.
Aide reveals more details about timeline of complaints about Foley
WASHINGTON - A top congressional aide accused of trying to protect ex-Rep. Mark Foley abruptly quit Wednesday, but not before he accused House Speaker Dennis Hastert of ignoring the scandal for three years.
Questions About Page Scandal Leave a Republican Leader Buffeted on His Home Turf
AMHERST, N.Y., Oct. 4 — This was supposed to be a big moment in Representative Thomas M. Reynolds’s re-election campaign: a hotel banquet hall packed with Republican faithful eager to see one of the national party’s biggest attractions, the first lady, Laura Bush.
But outside the hotel, there was a reminder of the trouble hanging over the congressman these days: a group of people carrying signs with slogans like “Shame on You Tom Reynolds” and “Reynolds Resign Now.” And inside, the pastor delivering the invocation asked God to give Mr. Reynolds strength in this “hour of testing.”
Bush ‘disgusted’ as Republican sex scandal worsens
Washington: President George W Bush said on Tuesday that he is “disgusted” by a Republican party sex scandal worsened by new revelations over messages sent between a top lawmaker and teenaged Congress aides.
It Just Gets Worse
Joe Galloway October 05, 2006
After all that came down on their heads in September, the Bush administration and congressional Republicans must be wondering if the situation can possibly get worse.
Sure it can. Chickens tend to come home to roost all at once.
As Republican congressional leaders scrambled to do damage control and distance themselves from any responsibility from the fallout that Rep. Mark Foley left in his wake, President Bush stumped out West praising the GOP stalwarts and attacking the Democrats as weak on national security.


He went on to suggest that operatives aligned with former President Bill Clinton knew about the allegations and were perhaps behind the disclosures in the closing weeks before the Nov. 7 midterm elections, but he offered no hard proof.
If it wasn't so despicable, it would be sad.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Foley on Clinton Impeachment

"It's vile," said Rep. Mark Foley, R-West Palm Beach. "It's more sad than anything else, to see someone with such potential throw it all down the drain because of a sexual addiction."

"Judge not lest ye be judged." (Matt 7:1)

Hastert : Hell, No! I Won't Go!

The GOP is either entirely corrupt, and cares more about maintaining power than they do about the welfare of the nation -- including the nation's youth; or they are monumentally incompetent.

Either way, at this point, Hastert should GO!

Venezuela : UN Must Not Allow Terrorist Posada to Go Free

An Update on the "So-Called War on Terror"TM

From the Associated Press, via the International Herald Tribune:

UNITED NATIONS Venezuela said Thursday that it has asked the U.N. Security Council for help in its demands that the United States hand over a Cuban militant accused of planning the 1976 bombing of a Cuban airliner.

Foreign Minister Nicolas Maduro said that his government is asking the Security Council to take action against Luis Posada Carriles, a militant foe of Cuban leader Fidel Castro who is wanted in Venezuela for allegedly plotting in Caracas the attack on the passenger flight that killed 73 people.

"Accused" of planning the 1976 bombing of a Cuban airliner. "Allegedly" plotting the attack that killed 73 people. All technically correct. The article might have mentioned that recently classified CIA documents provide evidence that Posada was, indeed, central to the planning of an attack that would certainly, if perpetrated upon Americans, be classified as "terrorism." He cooperated with other Cugan and Venzuelan right-wing terrorists, including Orlando Bosch, who was pardoned by the first President Bush.

Maduro reiterated Venezuela's demands that Posada Carriles, who is a Cuban-born naturalized Venezuelan citizen, be extradited to face charges of homicide and treason in the South American country.

"We hope that ... 30 years after the blowing up of the Cubana de Aviacion flight that there is justice (and that) Posada Carriles is extradited," Maduro said.

This is the first story I've seen in months on Posada in the western "liberal media." It has gotten enormous coverage in Latin American media, particulary the Cuban and Venezuelan press.


If we are a nation who has taken a bold moral stand against terrorism, why aren't we doing everything in our power to bring terrorists to justice? Or is terrorism "okay" when agents of the United States do it?

Do you wonder why we have no credibility in much of the world?

Saturday, September 30, 2006

Pakistan's road to Gitmo

I'm at a loss with the news yesterday that a bill passed through the Senate regarding how the U.S. will try and treat the thousands of enemy combatants being held at Guantanamo Bay. At the same time Amnesty International released a report that said most of the prisoners that end up in Cuba are there because of frivolous bounty hunters in Pakistan with an eye on the $5000 U.S. bounty.

According to the Associated Press:

The report by the London-based rights group contended that hundreds of suspected terrorists have been quietly handed over to the United States, and detained at Bagram airbase in Afghanistan, Guantanamo Bay, Cuba and other locations.

Or as Claudio Cordone, Senior Director of Research at Amnesty International
puts it :

"The road to Guantanamo very literally starts in Pakistan."

So how will the Military Commissions Act keep you and I safer from terrorists?

  • Expands the rules for what it means to be an enemy combatant to include people living in the U.S. who are not citizens.
  • Denies habeas corpus (the right to challenge ones detention) to detainees being held by the U.S.
  • Gives the president final say on how to interpret Article 3 of the Geneva Convention that deals with “cruel and unusual punishment” and prohibits prisoners from filing suits if a violation of human rights has taken place.
  • Grandfather’s in past cases of torture into this new definition that could have been challenged.
  • Relaxes the rules so certain statements made under torture are admissible as testimony.
  • Up holds secret and hearsay evidence in court.

The U.S. government is asking citizens to sacrifice a lot for the war on terror. But as long a the sacrifice only includes human rights and justice for beared foreigners being held at a prison on some far off island or secret CIA prison, then I guess that’s ok and its business as usual. I wonder what the out cry would be like if instead of straining the principals and rights this country was founded there was a bill passed by congress asking people to, say, ration gas or stop eating spinach to fight the war on terror. Would there be lots of media coverage and a public outcry then?

Thursday, September 28, 2006

The Iraqi Street : Attacking US Troops Okay

On the heels of the leaked National Intelligence Estimate that said, in part, "the Iraq conflict has become the 'cause célèbre' for jihadists, breeding a deep resentment of U.S. involvement in the Muslim world and cultivating supporters for the global jihadist movement," a new poll of Iraqis done for the University of Maryland's Program on International Policy Attitudes gives another indication of just how much the Bush administration's policies there have achieved.

Among the findings:

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Olbermann blasts Bush and Fox News

I had a brief e-mail correspondence with Keith Olbermann in my last years at NBC. I was in NY working on the TODAY show, he was in Fort Lee, NJ, anchoring MSNBC's nighttime coverage of the Monica Lewinsky show-trial. He, like myself, was livid at both the "liberal" media and our corporate bosses for doing the bidding of the GOP and selling this admittedly vulgar affair as a bona fide constitutional crisis. I liked him immediately.
Love him or hate him, it's impossible not to give him credit for having the guts to tell the emperor he's walking around naked. In the last months he has been calling the Bush administration out on a regular basis. He is no longer content to sit by and witness wrongdoing, listen to lies, accept coverups, and allow corporate shills to make ad hominem attacks on conscientious Americans who think their country is moving ion the wrong direction.
I respect the hell out of him.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Fox Clinton Interview - Part 1 - Osama bin Laden

Here is is the first 20 minutes of Bill Clinton’s interview with Chris Wallace on Fox News Sunday. I had the opportunity (an unpleasant one) to work with Wallace when I was with NBC's TODAY program in the 1980s. He was an unctious, obsequious twit. This fact, it appears, was NOT lost on President Clinton.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006