Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Bush Approval Ratings Tank (continued...)

(A tip of the hat to Ryan's Review)

In a new CBS News Poll (Feb. 22-26, 2006), the President's job approval ratings fall to the lowest level of his Presidency, with only 34% of Americans polled thinking he's doing a good job, with 59% disapproving, and 7% not sure (on what planet DO those 7% live?).

Only 30% approve of the President's handling of the Iraq war, with 65% disapproving and 5% unsure. The percentage of Americans believing that our invasion was "not worth it" fell slightly(since November) to 63%, but the proportion who believe it was worth it drops to 29%. 8% are unsure whether the war is worth it or not, up from 5% last November.

As it stands right now, as much as 34% of registered Republicans disapprove of Bush's presidency, a bad sign. But the rest off the numbers are astounding. Not only do 86% of Democrats disapprove of the President's performance, but so do 69% of independents.

I smell a mandate: IMPEACH BUSH!!!

41 Killed in Five Explosions in Baghdad

Newsvine - 41 Killed in Five Explosions in Baghdad

To the 1,300 killed in Iraq in the last week -- a result of the Sunni bombing of the Shiite Golden Mosque -- add another 41 killed TODAY.

What have we done?

If This Is Not Civil War, I'm Not Sure What Is

Toll in Iraq's Deadly Surge: 1,300
Hundreds of unclaimed dead lay at the morgue at midday Monday -- blood-caked men who had been shot, knifed, garroted or apparently suffocated by the plastic bags still over their heads. Many of the bodies were sprawled with their hands still bound -- and many of them had wound up at the morgue after what their families said was their abduction by the Mahdi Army, the Shiite militia of cleric Moqtada al-Sadr.
Wait, you mean the great peacemaker? Haven't we pacified him? Oh, no, we haven't?
Morgue officials said they had logged more than 1,300 dead since Wednesday -- the day the Shiites' gold-domed Askariya shrine was bombed -- photographing, numbering and tagging the bodies as they came in over the nights and days of retaliatory raids.
As Colin Powell said, you break it, you own it. Yer doin' a heckuva job, Bushie.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Former Gitmo POW Missing in the Wake of Torture Allegations

Rasul Kudaev, a former detainee of Guantanamo Bay whose family says was totured and is near death from this expereince at the military holding facility, has disapperared, reports the Institute for War and Peace and Reporting.

Kudaev was brought to Guantanamo in 2001 shortly after the war in Afganhistan started on suspicion of being a terroist. As with most detainees Kudaev was never given a trial He was taken to Guantanmo were his family says he was beaten and tortured. In 2004, Kudaev was returned to his native Russia where charges against him and seven other prisoners were dropped. However, Kudaev's mother, Fatima Tekaeva, told the IWPR that the experience in military custody had a perminent effect on her son.

Before his American ordeal, he was strong and healthy, but he returned from Guantanamo an invalid.

Last October , Russian military forces arrested Kudaev at his home after suspected Islamic militants attacked security agencies in the city of Nalchik located in southern Russia. Tekaeva reacalls the violent treatment of her son.

"They surrounded the house, shouting 'Stay where you are!' and 'Don't move!' I started calling the neighbors for help. My son Rasul heard me shouting and came out of the house with difficulty.

One of the interior [ministry] forces men, who had detained Rasul several time before, immediately ran up to him and started giving orders to handcuff him. I asked to see a permit for his arrest, but they didn't have one. The search warrant had not been signed by a judge. When they took Rasul away, they pushed him about violently with the butt of a rifle and kicked him.

Lawyers on the case say that Kudaev has been totured while awaiting trial and that his legs were broken. Kudaev recounted his mistreatment to Russian officals who visited Kudaev and supported his claims. However, just as support for his case was building he went missing.

Kudeav has been arrested twice and has never had an offical trial or a ruling on either instance in which he was suspected of terrorism. At the very least he deserved a trial and human decency.

Amnesty International is asking to
take urgent action for Rasul Kudaev.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Who Are the Real Terrorists in Colombia?

An update on "The Good Guys,"TM America's Latin American Allies in the War on Terror

We're running out of friends in Latin America (why should it be any different than the rest of the world?). Colombia appears to be pretty rock solid. And why not? The US is pumping billions of dollars into Colombia, ostensibly to eradicate the growth of coca plants, the spread of the drug trade, and to combat terrorism.

But it turns out that the terrorists are on our side. Three pro-government, paramilitary guerilla armies are on the U.S. State Department’s list of international terrorist organizations, and are responsible for the bulk of civilian deaths of Colombia, even though the US has targeted the leftist FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia). Leftists, let's not forget, are "commies," and therefore "evil."

Even if the good guys kill more people.

Pentagon : Only One Iraqi Battalion (800 Soldiers) Battle-Ready On Its Own

The President has been saying for nearly a year that there are more and more Iraqi troops ready to take on the responsibility for fighting the insurgency and defending Iraq without the support of US troops.

Now this.
The only Iraqi battalion capable of fighting without U.S. support has been downgraded to a level requiring them to fight with American troops backing them up, the Pentagon said Friday.
George W. Bush calls this "progress."

I have another word for it.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Venezuela Limits US Commercial Flights

An update on the "New Axis of Evil"TM

Al Jazeera reports that the Venezuelan government has moved to reduce the number of flights entering the country from the US, citing unequal access for the Venzuelan carriers to the US.

The move comes at a time of increasing tension between the two countries. It comes on the heels of an incident three weeks ago when a US Naval attache was kicked out of Venzuela on spying charges, and the US retaliated by expelling an official of the Venezuelan embassy in Washington.

"Liberal" L A Times's Editorial Coverage of Venezuela Not So Liberal

Los Angeles Times Editorial Coverage of Venezuela 1998-2006

This is kind of interesting in its turn at rhetorical analysis, something very unusual in the mass media. There should be more of it. Check it out.

(Invoke 9/11 is a brilliant analysis of the 2004 GOP Presidential convention. Check that out too.)

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Connecting the Dots

It's easy to blame the military or congress or 'Dubya' but how are each of us as citizens of the United States responsible for toture and human rights abuses?

The link opens up an Amnesty International piece that tries to raise awareness and turn the idea of patriotism as a defense for mistreating prisoners on its head.

Avoiding War

Something to think about from the Catechism of the Catholic Church - The fifth commandment.

2307 The fifth commandment forbids the intentional destruction of human life. Because of the evils and injustices that accompany all war, the Church insistently urges everyone to prayer and to action so that the divine Goodness may free us from the ancient bondage of war.

2308 All citizens and all governments are obliged to work for the avoidance of war. However, "as long as the danger of war persists and there is no international authority with the necessary competence and power, governments cannot be denied the right of lawful self-defense, once all peace efforts have failed."

2309 The strict conditions for legitimate defense by military force require rigorous consideration. The gravity of such a decision makes it subject to rigorous conditions of moral legitimacy. At one and the same time:

  • the damage inflicted by the aggressor on the
    nation or community of nations must be lasting, grave, and certain;
  • all other means of putting an end to it must have been shown to be impractical or ineffective;
  • there must be serious prospects of success;
  • the use of arms must not produce evils and disorders graver than the evil to be eliminated. The power of modern means of destruction weighs very heavily in evaluating this condition.

These are the traditional elements enumerated in what is called the "just war" doctrine.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

The Minuteman Project wasn't (and isn't) invited

So the Minuteman Project isn't going to protest at the March 4 Patriots Day parade in Laguna Beach, Calif.

According to an AP report, the group sued to be allowed to march in the parade. A judge then refused to order parade organizers to include the Minuteman Project.

So what's Jim Gilchrist, co-founder, going to do now? He said the group will attend as spectators---all 1,500 of them. Gilchrist also said that the Project has been invited to participate in a March 25 San Juan Capistrano Swallows Day Parade.

But Doug Magill, Swallow's Day publicity chairman, said he only told the Project how to apply.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Bush Administration Was Warned Against Torture Two Years Before Abu Ghraib

The New Yorker: THE MEMO

The Bush administration knew about the abuse of prisoners in Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib as early as 2002 and did nothing about it, according to Alberto J. Mora, former general counsel of the United States Navy. Furthermore, they not only knew about the abuse, they refused to stop it when counseled by Mora's office against what he called "a disastrous and unlawful policy of authorizing cruelty toward terror suspects."

The familiar cast of characters is there: Donald Rumsfeld, Maj. Gen. Geoffrey Miller--the man sent by Rumsfeld to "Gitmo-ize" operations at Abu Ghraib, and Dick Cheney.
Top Administration officials have stressed that the interrogation policy was reviewed and sanctioned by government lawyers; last November, President Bush said, “Any activity we conduct is within the law. We do not torture.” Mora’s memo, however, shows that almost from the start of the Administration’s war on terror the White House, the Justice Department, and the Department of Defense, intent upon having greater flexibility, charted a legally questionable course despite sustained objections from some of its own lawyers...
Mora was shocked when (former head of the Naval Criminal Investigative Service David) Brant told him that the abuse wasn’t “rogue activity” but was “rumored to have been authorized at a high level in Washington.” The mood in the room, Mora wrote, was one of “dismay.” He added, “I was under the opinion that the interrogation activities described would be unlawful and unworthy of the military services.” Mora told me, “I was appalled by the whole thing. It was clearly abusive, and it was clearly contrary to everything we were ever taught about American values.”
Lawrence Wilkerson, whom Powell assigned to monitor this unorthodox policymaking process, told NPR last fall of “an audit trail that ran from the Vice-President’s office and the Secretary of Defense down through the commanders in the field.” When I spoke to him recently, he said, “I saw what was discussed. I saw it in spades. From Addington to the other lawyers at the White House. They said the President of the United States can do what he damn well pleases. People were arguing for a new interpretation of the Constitution. It negates Article One, Section Eight, that lays out all of the powers of Congress, including the right to declare war, raise militias, make laws, and oversee the common defense of the nation.”

Howie, tell me finally that you'll stop blaming abuse and torture on our soldiers (the supposed "few bad apples"), and put the responsibility squarely on those who deserve it most--the politicians in Washington.

Monday, February 20, 2006

37 Million American Poor

From the Observer (UK) comes a story about which America remains shamefully IN THE DARK.

These are people I have written about elsewhere, people I have worked with, people who are proud of their lives and of their heritage, people who are indescribably poor.

Under President George W Bush an extra 5.4 million have slipped below the poverty line. Yet they are not a story of the unemployed or the destitute. Most have jobs. Many have two. Amos Lumpkins has work and his children go to school. But the economy, stripped of worker benefits like healthcare, is having trouble providing good wages.

Even families with two working parents are often one slice of bad luck - a medical bill or factory closure - away from disaster. The minimum wage of $5.15 (£2.95) an hour has not risen since 1997 and, adjusted for inflation, is at its lowest since 1956. The gap between the haves and the have-nots looms wider than ever. Faced with rising poverty rates, Bush's trillion-dollar federal budget recently raised massive amounts of defence spending for the war in Iraq and slashed billions from welfare programmes.

We heard about the growth of American poverty a year and a half ago during the Presidential campaign, but we largely ignored it. Nearly six months ago, Katrina shed some light on America's poor. The recent mining disasters in West Virginia and elsewhere brought them temporarily into the spotlight.

It's ironic that this story comes from a British news source. It is also not a very encouraging sign. Will we pay attention? Or don't we want to know?

Friday, February 17, 2006

New Abu Ghraib Pix : 546 Photos of Dead POWs

How many pictures would YOU take of the same dead body? Yeah, I know, it's possible if someone was sick enough. But it also possible, considering we've got 546 photos, that they are of a hundred or more dead POWs.

Howie maintains (to this day) that the abuses at Abu Ghraib (and Gitmo, and Bagram, and other places) does not reflect official US policy, but is the work of "a few bad apples." Bunk. A few bad apples can account for this?

...1,325 photographs and 93 video clips of suspected abuse of detainees, 546 photographs of suspected dead Iraqi detainees, as well as 660 images of adult pornography, and 29 pictures of US troops engaged in simulated sex acts.

Only if we're recruiting psychopaths, which, I believe, we're not.

So, how is Washington responding to this? Simple: KILL THE MESSENGER.
The first official response from Washington as well as Baghdad was concerned as much with the impact these new pictures of abuse could have in the Middle East at a time when anger against the west is high. A Pentagon spokesman said the release of additional images of abuse "could only further inflame and possibly incite unnecessary violence in the world".
Yeah, whatever. Don't bother looking to change your own strategic goals or the leaders you choose to achieve them. Lt. Gen. Geoffrey Miller will soon be getting the Presidential Medal of Freedom while some grunts go to jail.
Iraq's prime minister, Ibrahim al-Jaafari, while condemning the abuse at Abu Ghraib, noted that US soldiers had already been punished for it.
Yeah. Just not the right ones.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Freedom on the March!

325,000 Names on Terrorism List

Police state? What police state?

And in perhaps the understatement of the new millenium, the ACLU fears that the list may include the names of innocent people.

Human Rights on the March!

What I've been saying for a long time--try them or free them. The US Constitutiion demands due process of law for ALL.

Death Squads on the March!!!

This is what we're fighting for?

You're doing a heck of a job, Georgie...

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Good News/Bad News

The good news is that "Dead-Eye" Dick Cheney will take his story to the public this evening. The bad news is that he will be "questioned" on FOX. We will all learn, I feel confident, that Harry Whittington was hiding weapons of mass destruction. Pre-emptive first strike in self-defense.

Case closed.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Former CIA Official : Bush Misled US Into War

In case there were any doubt left in your mind...
The specific critiques in Pillar's 4,500-word essay, titled, "Intelligence, Policy and the War in Iraq," are not new. But it apparently is the first time such attacks are being publicly leveled by such a high-ranking intelligence official directly involved behind the scenes—before, during and after the invasion of Iraq nearly three years ago.

"Dead-Eye Dick" Cheney Shoots GOP Campaign Donor


Sunday, February 12, 2006

Molly Ivins : "Mr. Gonzales, You're No Barbara Jordan"

Republicans constantly accuse Democrats of being "partisan." It is a catch-all defense (in the sense that the best defense is a good offense). They are inclined to see anything that challenges their narrow and perverted view of reality as partisan politics. Against an invasion of Iraq as a blow against global terror? Partisan politics. Disagree that Saddam was allied with al Qa'ida? Partisan politics. Against the dangerous and illegal principle of the pre-emptive first strike? Partisan politics. Support the Constitution? Partisan politics. Against illegal wiretaps? Patrisan politics. Against unregulated globalization? Partisan politics. And on, and on, and on....

When will Americans remember (not learn) that one can oppose presidential policies AND support the constitution without being "political?" Molly Ivins reminds us of one such American not too long ago who was never accused of playing "partisan politics."
It is one of the most famous sentences in American rhetoric: "My faith in the Constitution is whole, it is complete, it is total." But what catches the eye today is the sentence that followed that famous declaration, the sentence that makes one so ashamed for Al Gonzales. Barbara Jordan's great, deep voice brought the impeachment hearings against Richard Nixon to an awed silence when she vowed, "And I am not going to sit here and be an idle spectator to the diminution, the subversion, the destruction of the Constitution."

Oh, how times have changed.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Report : Only 8% of Gitmo POWs "al Qa'ida Fighters"

The report comes directly from information provided by the Defense Department, and confirms--for the first time--what individual news reports suggested four years ago : that the majority of prisoners held at Guantanamo were determined early on never to have engaged in hostile action of any sort against the United States.

Some other findings:
  • Only 8% of prisoners were classified as "al Qa'ida fighters."
  • 18% have NO affiliation with either alQa'ida or the Taliban.
  • 60% are imprisoned not because they are "fighters for" or "members of" either al Qa'ida or the Taliban, but because they are "associated with" them.
  • 86% of the prisoners held were not captured by US forces (only 5% were), but were captured by Pakistani forces or Northern Alliance (allied to no government) warlords, at a time when the US was offering huge bounties for captured "enemy combatants."

We have consistently been told that these "detainees" were members of al Qa'ida. In February of 2002, then-White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer told reporters

Al Qaeda is an international terrorist group and cannot be considered a state party to the Geneva Convention. Its members, therefore, are not covered by the Geneva Convention, and are not entitled to POW status under the treaty....The American people can take great pride in the way our military is treating these dangerous detainees.

Also in February 2002, a US Defense Department American Forces Information Service press release stated

Detaining dangerous enemy combatants prevents their return to the fight and provides intelligence to help prevent future terrorist acts, the secretary told members of the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce....These men are dangerous, and their detention is a "security necessity," Rumsfeld said.

By 2004, the right-wing media had picked up this theme and were running with it. Newsmax tried to explain away the abuses at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo by noting

...we have only speculation as to where lies the specific blame for the humiliating treatment of what were apparently a crew of insurgent thugs being caged in a cell block for the worst and most dangerous detainees.

In June of 2002, President George W. Bush stated unequivocally that

These are people picked up off the battlefield in Afghanistan. They weren't wearing uniforms. They weren't state-sponsored. But they were there to kill.

We now know that, like so many other stories floated by this administration, it was not true.

Monday, February 06, 2006

The “Problem” with Democrats and the Myth of the “Liberal Elite”

Will Rogers once said, “I am not a member of any organized political party. I am a Democrat.” It is actually one of the strengths of the Democratic party—usually portrayed, however, as a weakness or “problem”—that there is no single point of view. Anyone who gives lip service to the idea of diversity knows that there is real diversity in the Democratic party (as opposed to the Potemkin diversity of the GOP). But many Americans—including, I think, most Democrats—have been persuaded that a loosely organized coalition of smaller, poorer, less fully enfranchised groups of Americans, including many homeless poor, unemployed and underemployed Americans, and Americans lacking health care and good education, constitutes “special interests” while wealthy Americans and even multinational corporations do not.

In a speech last October at Northwestern University, former Clinton campaign director James Carville told students that Democrats have to stop “shouting out” to every group in a crowd and tell a simpler, more compelling story. The “laundry list” of demands made by “special interests” is part of an “agenda” controlled by the “liberal elite.” I would love someone to explain to me exactly what this “agenda” is, created as it has purportedly been by a totally disorganized constituency, none of whom sees things the same way.

Not long ago on an e-mail listserve I belong to, someone called for a "postmodernist manifesto!" I still haven't figured out whether s/he was joking or not. Postmodernists are, I think, by their very nature unable to create manifestos. In order to have a manifesto, you have to have something like orthodoxy—a clear and unambiguous view of the world. Ideologues issue manifestos. Fundamentalists issue manifestos. Rationalists issue manifestos. Communists issue manifestos. Republicans issue manifestos. People who can not agree on what the single most pressing issue facing them is do not issue manifestos.

To be sure, postmodernists are part of the Democratic constituency. It is part of the "culture war" where one group with an entirely rigid, orthodox (and, honestly, quite shallow) view of the world and of "right" and "wrong" and "good" and "evil" confronts another group, a "feel good" kind of group, a group that says, "Hey, it's cool with me as long as no one gets hurt." But behind this stereotype, the culture war also represents a worldview of government control butting heads with a worldview of personal liberty. It just happens to be a fact of life that that worldview of personal liberty is extremely subjective.

And so the Democratic Party looks disorganized. They look as though they have no “message.” They look as though they “stand for nothing.” They look as though they “blow with the prevailing political wind.”

But anyone who pays attention to history, particularly the history of the United States in the last half-century (and this, of course would exclude Howie and most of neo-lith, neo-con right), knows what the Democratic Party stands for. They stand for human rights and against those who would violate them. They stand for the Constitution of the United States and against those who would hold it on contempt. They stand for freedom of conscience and against those who make moral decisions for others. They stand for both personal and social responsibility and against those who would make a fetish out of personal responsibility, thereby removing the emphasis from social responsibility. They stand for fiscal responsibility and against those who would endanger America’s future by dangerous deficit spending. They stand for the poor, the unemployed, the under-employed, the poorly educated, the victims of discrimination, those living without adequate healthcare or insurance, and against those whose main concern is the welfare of global capitalism. They stand for the rule of law, and respect for law, in the United States and around the world, and against those would thumb their noses at the idea of international law.

They stand, in the final analysis, for you and me, for “the little guy.” And the GOP stands for money, power, and business.

And that’s what the Democrats should start talking about.

GOP's Specter : NSA Wiretaps "In Flat Violation" of Law

Speaking on NBC's Meet the Press, Specter said the Bush administration's contention that the Congressional authorization to go to war in Iraq also authorized NSA surveillance of deomstic telephone calls is "very strained and unrealistic."
The authorization for the use of force doesn’t say anything about electronic surveillance, issue was never raised with the Congress. And there is a specific statute on the books, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which says flatly that you can’t undertake that kind of surveillance without a court order.
Specter noted that if there was a Constitutional problem with the FISA Act of 1978, then the courts would be the correct place to solve those problems, but that the way it stands now, the Bush administration's domestic surveillance program is illegal.
...I’ve been so skeptical of the program because it is in flat violation of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.
Attorney General Alberto Gonzales testifies before Specter's Senate Judiciary Committee today.

Evo, Bolivian Congress Cut Their Pay in HALF

And then they dedicate that remainder to health and education for the poor. Crazy Socialists...The Bolivian Senate, by the way, made up of a majority of parties opposed to Morales and his Socialists, has not cut their own pay.

Can you imagine the Congress of the United States cutting their salary in half and shifting that part of the federal budget to "welfare?" Can you imagine Tom DeLay doing that?


Bernie Sanders Okay After Collapsing at VT Guardsman's Funeral

Hang in there, Bernie. We need you in the Senate.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Meet the New Boss, Same as the Old Boss : Boehner's Game Resembles DeLay's

So much for "reform."
The Ohio congressman, who won an upset victory for the House GOP's No. 2 post, has distributed roughly $2.9 million to Republicans from his political action committee since 1979, according to the campaign finance Web site Political Money Line. Some of the recipients this week returned the favor in voting for him.
Boehner (pronounced BAY-nur) is an avid golfer with a perpetual tan, and, like DeLay, he has played host at many fundraising golf outings. Some of his staff members, following the career path of those who worked for DeLay, have become Washington lobbyists. Boehner, 56, was characterized as an agent for change by Republican supporters who elected him over Rep. Roy Blunt of Missouri. But like DeLay and Blunt, Boehner has connections to indicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff.

You can't "reform" a cancer. It has to be surgically removed.

Guardian (UK) : New Memo Shows Bush/Blair Set on Iraq Invasion at Least Two Months Earlier

Details in the Guardian post.

Some highlights:
  • Mr Bush told Mr Blair that the US was so worried about the failure to find hard evidence against Saddam that it thought of "flying U2 reconnaissance aircraft planes with fighter cover over Iraq, painted in UN colours". Mr Bush added: "If Saddam fired on them, he would be in breach [of UN resolutions]".
  • Mr Bush even expressed the hope that a defector would be extracted from Iraq and give a "public presentation about Saddam's WMD". He is also said to have referred Mr Blair to a "small possibility" that Saddam would be "assassinated".
  • Mr Bush told the prime minister that he "thought it unlikely that there would be internecine warfare between the different religious and ethnic groups". Mr Blair did not demur, according to the book.
Unbelievable. Unbelievable ignorance.

Libby Told Prosecutors Cheney Outed Plame

....a month before Novak's column.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Pat Robertson : US Needs to Assassinate Chavez "One Day"

An update on the "New Axis of Evil"TM

Question: Why does FOX keep putting this guy on the air?

Answer: Because they agree with him, that's why.

In an exchange between Robertson and Alan (am I a lightweight, or not?) Colmes on last night's Hannity and Colmes, Robertson said:

COLMES: Do you want him taken out?

ROBERTSON: Not now, but one day, one day, one day.

What would Jesus do? Watch the clip at Media Matters.

Chavez Kicks Out U.S. Naval Attache for Spying

An update on the "New Axis of Evil"TM

There's both a story here, and a "backstory." There's both text and subtext. First the text.

Hugo Chavez has kicked out the American Embassy's US Naval attache on charges of spying, charges firmly denied by Embassy staff. This is likely to further upset the Bush administration, and administration officials stepped up their anti-Chavez rhetoric yesterday, although it is not certain whether that is a directly result of this case.

That's the story, for the most part. The backstory I find more interesting.

In his New York Times story, reporter Juan Forero writes
Speaking on the seventh anniversary of his ascension to power, Mr. Chávez also warned that he would order the detention and removal of any other American military officials caught spying.
"Ascension to power?" What is that all about? Hugo Chavez was elected to the office of President of Venezuela. He didn't "ascend" mysteriously to "power" (makes it sound that much more threatening, doesn't it?). It was the seventh anniversary of Chavez's election to the presidency. Why not just say that? "Ascension to power?" These damned liberals and their media bias...
Warning that Mr. Chávez is consolidating power at the expense of democracy, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld went so far as to compare Mr. Chávez to Hitler.
Uh-oh...There he goes again.
"He's a person who was elected legally just as Adolf Hitler was elected legally and then consolidated power and now is, of course, working with Fidel Castro and Mr. Morales and others," Mr. Rumsfeld said, referring to the Cuban leader and the new president of Bolivia, Evo Morales. "It concerns me."
This is, of course, nothing new. Rumsfeld has compared people to Hitler before, like Saddam Hussein. Before our invasion of Iraq, George W. Bush compared Saddam Hussein to Hitler. It's getting to be a little bit much, wouldn't you say? I mean, how many Hitlers can there be?

If the Hitler comparison is meant to suggest, perhaps, that someone "won" an election without a majority, with the help of political maneuvering, "rose to power" as a result of an attack on the "homeland," curtailed civil liberties but maintained support of conservatives by focusing national anger against outside threats, and made corporate leaders essentially another policy-making wing of the executive branch, it is not a comparison that suits Hugo Chavez. I will leave it up to you to decide if it suits anyone at all.
In testimony on Thursday before the Senate Intelligence Committee, John D. Negroponte, director of national intelligence, said Mr. Chávez "appears ready to use his control of the legislature and other institutions to continue to stifle the opposition, to reduce press freedom, and entrench himself through measures that are technically legal, but which nonetheless constrict democracy."
Oh, man. The guys should really just listen to themselves before they speak. If there was ever an argument for making an administration wear the shoe--if it fits--this is one.

"Control of the legislature?" You mean, like the GOP? The fact is that Venezuela's legislature is controlled by democratically elected representatives of several political parties who appear to agree with the overall thrust of Chavez's idea of the "Bolivarian revolution." "Stifle the opposition?" You mean, by questioning their patriotism? "Reducing press freedom?" By hiring shills to pretend they are journalists, and to pay newspapers overseas to plant stories which will eventually leak their way into the US, is that what you mean? "Entrench yourself through measures that are technically legal?" Okay. I'll stop. You get the idea.

The backstory? PROPAGANDA.

What Bush Did Not Say (Part III)

I wrote earlier about the President's State of the Union address here and here (and, sort of, here). Now via Watching America, an Op-Ed piece from the Mexican newspaper, La Jornada, suggests that the "America" Bush speaks about in his speeches is not the America that exists under his rule.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Quote of the Week (#1)

Republicans are the best evidence we have to support the contention that evolution is merely a theory. -- Peter K. Fallon

Investors : Oil Soon at $100/Barrel?

Yikes!!! Our jones is getting wack.

Chavez to Puerto Rico : Seek Independence From US

An update on the "New Axis of Evil"TM

Hugo Chavez is nothing if not interesting. Howie is waiting to hear from the Bush White House to decide what he thinks of him (hint, Howie: You don't like him, you're just not yet sure why). Now he is demanding Puerto Rico independence from US protection. Sometimes I think he stays up late at night just trying to find ways to aggravate the Bush administration.
I invite everyone, everyone in Venezuela, to rise up and demand the independence of Puerto Rico and to help the Puerto Rican people in their fight for independence....As for being a colony in this world, Puerto Rico is a Caribbean country in Latin America. We are with you. This fight is as much ours as it is theirs because it has to do with all of our destinies. There will be a world for all, or there won't be a world for anyone.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

President Bush's State of Psychosis Address

President Bush's State of the Union Address:

Someone, please, tell me he didn't really say this!!!! How in the world did I miss this this morning?!?!?!?

Tonight I ask you to pass legislation to prohibit the most egregious abuses of medical research: human cloning in all its forms; creating or implanting embryos for experiments; creating human-animal hybrids; and buying, selling or patenting human embryos.

What Bush Didn't Say : If You Want Peace, Work for Justice (Part II)

As we make progress on the ground and Iraqi forces increasingly take the lead, we should be able to further decrease our troop levels. But those decisions will be made by our military commanders, not by politicians in Washington, D.C.

This is demonstrably untrue. It is the politicans in Washington, and NOT the military commanders, who have made of Iraq the political and social mess it is today. What we need now is a new set of politicans in Washington who have the wisdom to actually listen to their military commanders.

Retired General Anthony Zinni, the former commander in chief of the US Central Command in the middle east, has blamed Donald Rumsfeld's Pentagon, and NOT the US military for the quagmire we find ourselves in.
I think there was dereliction in insufficient forces being put on the ground and fully understanding the military dimensions of the plan. I think there was dereliction in lack of planning....The president is owed the finest strategic thinking. He is owed the finest operational planning. He is owed the finest tactical execution on the ground. … He got the latter. He didn’t get the first two.
General Erik Shinseki estimated that 300,000 troops would be needed to invade, occupy, and pacify Iraq. It was Paul Wolfowitz--Rumsfeld's right hand man and a fellow of the Project for a New American Century--who called Shinseki's estimate "wildly off the mark," and said a number closer to 100,000 was appropriate. Former General and National Security Advisor Brent Scowcroft, former Centcom Commander Norman Schwarzkopf, former NATO Commander Wesley Clark, and even former Joint Chiefs of Staff Chair and Secretary of State Colin Powell agreed with Shinseki's estimate.

Our offensive against terror involves more than military action. Ultimately, the only way to defeat the terrorists is to defeat their dark vision of hatred and fear by offering the hopeful alternative of political freedom and peaceful change. So the United States of America supports democratic reform across the broader Middle East.

But apparently it does not support economic reform or social justice. There was certainly no mention of it. As Pope Paul VI said, If you want Peace, work for justice.

In the last five years, the tax relief you passed has left $880 billion in the hands of American workers, investors, small businesses and families.

The lowest 40% of taxpayers received only 4% of the tax cuts, averaging $115. About 20% of taxpayers exactly in the middle range of income levels received 20% of the benefits, averaging about $453 per houshold. The richest 1% of Americans received 43% of the total tax cuts, avaeraging about $46,000 each.

And they have used it to help produce more than four years of uninterrupted economic growth.

Job growth is sluggish, wages are falling, and poverty is increasing.

Yet the tax relief is set to expire in the next few years. If we do nothing, American families will face a massive tax increase they do not expect and will not welcome. Because America needs more than a temporary expansion, we need more than temporary tax relief.

But don't increase taxes on the wealthiest Americans. If you want peace, work for justice.

Keeping America competitive requires affordable energy. And here we have a serious problem: America is addicted to oil, which is often imported from unstable parts of the world.

This is sheer hypocrisy. To my ears, this is a little like the pimp telling his harem that they are addicted to sex. A good question to ask is why America is addicted to oil. For a century we have shaped the American economy, the American society, and the American landscape to fit the automobile. Carmakers and oil companies have been king.

We have had it in our power for at least a generation to reshape this landscape, to subsidize mass transit (socialism!!!), to subsidize the construction of hyproelectric generating facilities, to give tax cuts to homeowners who install solar heating technology, to invest into research into electric cars. So why haven't we? And is any of this exactly what Mr. Bush has in mind?

To change how we power our homes and offices, we will invest more in zero-emission coal-fired plants; revolutionary solar and wind technologies; and clean, safe nuclear energy.

Uh-oh. Nuclear energy. Oh, lord help us but here we go again. Why do I get the feeling that the "revolutionary solar and wind technologies" was just thrown in there for the hell of it?

Tonight I announce the American Competitiveness Initiative to encourage innovation throughout our economy and to give our nation's children a firm grounding in math and science.

This from a man who has shown a profound contempt for science, from his advocacy of the teaching of intelligent design in public schools, his willful ignorance of environmental science, to his scorn of the evidence for global warming. God help us--and science--under this presidency.

Martin Luther King could have stopped at Birmingham or at Selma and achieved only half a victory over segregation...Today, having come far in our own historical journey, we must decide: Will we turn back or finish well?

As far as I am concerned, for the President to compare this administration, its goals, and its policies to the life work and legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr. is close to blasphemy. Were he alive today, the Rev. King would be in the forefront of those opposed to an illegal invasion and occupation of a sovereign state, opposed to the privatization of social security, opposed to tax cuts for the rich and economic policies that increase poverty. Were he alive today--make no mistake about it--the Rev. King would probably have gotten himself arrested in the House gallery last night, opposing this President.

I am ashamed of this President. And he should be ashamed of himself.

What Bush Didn't Say : If You Want Peace, Work for Justice

Some thoughts on last night's state of the union address:

Tonight the state of our Union is strong, and together we will make it stronger.

Perhaps it is. After all, we've been one of only two economic and military superpowers in the world for over a half century, and the only superpower for the last twenty years. The state of the union ought to be strong. The question is, is the state of our union as strong right now as it ought to be. Or, to paraphrase Ronald Reagan, are we better off now than we were five years ago?

The only way to protect our people, the only way to secure the peace, the only way to control our destiny is by our leadership. So the United States of America will continue to lead.

The question is, where are we being led? Where are we leading others to? Yes, leadership in the world is good. Dictatorship is not. Leadership that seeks out economic justice and human rights is good. Leadership that favors elite groups over the powerless, that favors the interests of money over the interests of people is not. Leading by the example of 217 years of democratic values is a good thing. Abandoning democratic values -- American values -- at home and attempting to impose something we call "democracy" on others is not.

Dictatorships shelter terrorists, and feed resentment and radicalism, and seek weapons of mass destruction. Democracies replace resentment with hope, respect the rights of their citizens and their neighbors, and join the fight against terror.

Well. Where in the world is Luis Posada Carriles? And telling Americans, "If you are not a terrorist, you have nothing to fear from domestic wiretaps" is hardly respecting the rights of citizens.

Terrorists like bin Laden are serious about mass murder and all of us must take their declared intentions seriously. They seek to impose a heartless system of totalitarian control throughout the Middle East and arm themselves with weapons of mass murder. Their aim is to seize power in Iraq and use it as a safe haven to launch attacks against America and the world.

The question is, why is Osama bin Laden still a free man? Why did we never commit more than thirteen thousand troops to Afghanistan? Why did we invade a country that had no links, to al Qa'ida, no weapons of mass destruction, and nothing to do with terror attacks on US soil? What do we do now about terror and what do we do about terrorists? We have created the Iraq that is a haven, breeding ground, and training camp for terrorists. As hateful as Saddam Hussein was, he kept Iraq free of radical Islamic terror.

It is here that Bush might have -- and should have -- echoed the words of the late Roman Catholic Pontiff, Pope Paul VI : If you want peace, work for justice.

It is a rarely recognized demographic reality -- our mass mediated fixation on celebrity, sports, and pseudo-patriotism keeps us IN THE DARK about such things -- that much of what we consider the "third world," the under-developed areas of the earth, are overwhelmingly Islamic. North and Northeastern Africa. Western and southeastern Asia. Southeastern Europe. Indonesia, the Phillipines, Morocco, the Northern Marianas Islands (thank you, Messrs. Abramoff and DeLay) are places where sweatshops, poverty, and prostitution (forced or free) abound.

Bush and the PNAC ignore this inconvenient fact. They are NOT representative of the kind of leadership America is capable, and NEEDS.

Once again, we accept the call of history to deliver the oppressed and move this world toward peace.

I absolutely reject the notion that this administration is attempting, in any way, shape or form, to "deliver the oppressed." Deliverance from oppression will entail rejecting and overruling the arbitrary and irrational "invisible hand" of un-regulated, laissez faire, "free-market" capitalism, and ensuring that people -- here in the US and around the world -- are not exploited and hurt by a global consumerism. Just ask the late Roman Catholic Pontiff Pope John Paul II.

More on the address later.

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