Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Catholic Bishop Could Win Paraguayan Presidency

An update on the "New Axis of Evil"TM

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A former Roman Catholic Bishop, strongly influenced by the "liberation theology" of the Latin American Catholic Church of the 1980s, is the front-runner in the race for Paraguay's 2008 Presidential election.

Fernando Lugo, "the Bishop of the poor," is leading all other candidates -- including that of the ruling Colorado party, likely to be current President Nicanor Duarte Frutos. The Colorado Party is the party of Gen. Alfredo Stroessner, the right-wing autocrat who ruled Paraguay as a dictatorship for 35 years, from 1954 through 1989.

Lugo, the Bishop of San Pedro for ten years until his resignation in 2005, is seen as a fighter for social justice and an advocate for the poor. He resigned from the priesthood in December of 2006 in order to run for the Presidency. Opponents on the right attempt to link him with Hugo Chavez and Evo Morales. Lugo disagrees:
For me, the value of the Venezuelan experiment is the social dimension, the better distribution of wealth for the benefit of the poor majority.
But, in his view, Chavez's method is inappropriate since it is
linked to a strong dose of statism, totally at the service of one person
is dangerous for a real democracy.
He sees himself not as of the left or the right, but of the people:
As I am accustomed to saying, hunger and unemployment, like the lack of access to health and education, have no ideology.
He notes that
there are too many differences between the small group of 500 families who live with a first world standard of living while the great majority lives in a poverty that borders on misery.
Both the Roman Catholic Church and the Paraguayan Church appear to be conspiring to keep Lugo from being elected. Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, Prefect of the Congregation for Bishops, denied Lugo's request, founded in Canon Law, that he be released from the priesthood for "the common good." His only altertnative, according to Catholic Canon lawyers who reviewed the case, is apostasy and excommunication. Similarly, the Paraguayan Constitution forbids clergy to run for office, and the Church's refusal to release Lugo from his priestly duties might be used as a Constitutional argument to disqualify him.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Iraq War Helping al Qa'ida Regroup

Terrorists "on the march" rather than "on the run"

An Update on the so-called "War on Terror"TM

In case there was any doubt left, here's more evidence that the war in Iraq is nothing more than a distraction from the actual war on terror.

Terrorism expert Bruce Hoffman of Georgetown University told the House Armed Services Subcommittee that al Qaida has had a chance to regroup and strengthen its forces thanks to the American invasion and subsequent occupation of Iraq. He testified to his belief that President George W. Bush's planned "surge" of nearly 22,000 additional troops is "exactly what al-Qaida wants."

"Iraq, for them, has been an effective means to preoccupy American military forces and distract U.S. attention while al-Qaida has regrouped and reorganized since the invasion of Afghanistan in 2001," he said.
Others agree.

Daniel Benjamin of the Brookings Institution agreed that al-Qaida "appears to have recovered" from any damage inflicted during the expulsion from Afghanistan. Al-Qaida now is based in tribal areas of Pakistan along the Afghanistan border, where the Pakistani government "shows little inclination to dislodge it," he said.

The U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq "gave the jihadists an unmistakable boost," he said. Among "self-starter jihadists," the U.S. invasion and occupation is universally cited as justification for terrorism. The U.S. presence in Iraq has turned the country into "a sanctuary for jihadists better than Afghanistan ever was," he said.

As of this moment, 63% of Americans oppose the surge.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Al Franken for US Senator From Minnesota

It's time for Norm Coleman to go.

It's time for Minnesota to return to its tradition of populist politics. It's time time to return to the tradition of Paul Wellstone, Walter Mondale, And Hubert Humphrey.

It's time to return to the values of the middle class, the workers, and families.

It's time for Al Franken to be the next US Senator from Minnesota.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Lying Your Way Into War

Last week, on that hole-in-the-news-cycle they call Friday, the Pentagon released a report that admits -- finally -- that the intelligence they released was not the same as the intelligence that they had regarding the Pentagon's "justifications" (if lies can ever be called justifications) for invading Iraq.
The report said the team headed by Douglas Feith, under secretary of defense for policy, developed "alternative" assessments of intelligence on Iraq that contradicted the intelligence community and drew conclusions "that were not supported by the available intelligence."
The report says, in part (my emphases):
While such actions were not illegal or unauthorized, the actions were, in our opinion, inappropriate given that the products did not clearly show the variance with the consensus of the Intelligence Community and were, in some cases, shown as intelligence products.
In other words, the "products" were the opinion of Douglas Feith, the Undersecretary of Defense for Policy, approved by Donald Rumsfeld and Paul Wolfowitz, and passed off as "intelligence." In words even more direct, clear, and understandable, they lied to us.

Howie (and his ilk -- all 25% of them) still won't believe that there were no links between Iraq and al Qa'ida. Whatever the Bush administration says must be true.

But that's a problem. It is a problem because this entire affair -- the six year history of the Bush administration -- has weakened rather than strengthened the US Intelligence Community and our national security. As reported earlier here, here, here, here, and here, the CIA under the Bush administration is in danger of being emasculated, turned into an instrument of politics rather than objective intelligence gathering. The DoD Report does nothing to quell this fear. Feith's activities, with Rumsfeld's and Wolfowitz's knowledge and approval,
undercuts the Intelligence Community by indicating to the recipient of the briefing that there are "fundamental problems" with the way that the Intelligence Community was assessing information.
In other words, the objective truth didn't suit their desires: the invasion of Iraq. So alternative stories had do be manufactured. The US Intelligence community, in doing its job, wasn't doing the job the Bush administration wanted: justifying an invasion of Iraq. So it was time to make the CIA irrelevant.

It is time for us, the American people, to write an alternative ending to the Iraq war, and to the dismal accomplishments of the Bush administration: IMPEACHMENT.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Sleight of Mind

I started noticing something was wrong with television almost immediately after I got into it. I started at NBC in June of 1982. Two years later, the Communications Act of 1984 had changed everything. Pushed through by the Reagan administration under FCC Chairman Mark Fowler (who said TV was in no more need of regulation than any other household appliance, because TV was just "a toaster with pictures"), this began the era of media deregulation. And the rest, as they say, is history.

Images become more important than words and ideas. Images sell air time. Ratings begin to matter. Extremely visual stories trump "boring" stories that might, however, actually affect us. And even when TV is covering newsworthy stories, the coverage is brief and lacks context, and the entire experience seems incoherent.

Today, news has become entertainment, entertainment has become news, and the viewer has become ignorant of the world around him.