Thursday, September 28, 2006

Bush and FDR?

Having already tried unsuccess- fully to label the enemy as "Islamo- fascist" the Rove puppet seems to also have developed a somewhat desperate tendency to drop FDR's name in order to create an unflattering comparison with current Democrats. Here's what he said today:
"The party of FDR, the party of Harry Truman, has become the party of cut-and-run."
One can only thank God that these clowns who currently occupy the White House weren't commanding the real war against Fascism or we'd all now most likely be goosestepping to the strains of Deutschland Uber Alles.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Who is Newsweek trying to fool? Annie Liebowitz trumps Afghanistan in U.S.

If you still have any doubts about the degree the U.S. corporate media will go to protect the Bush administration, especially in this pre election period, check out these four Newsweek covers (from Rising Hegemon) each from this weeks edition, depending on where they will be seen.
The top three - which focus on our losing battle in Afghanistan - were distributed in Europe, Asia and Latin America. The bottom cover - which focuses on photographer Annie Liebowitz and her children - is for the U.S.
I'm not certain whether the Newsweek editors are consciously trying to protect the Dick and the Bush or whether they just don't trust Americans to handle a seriously critical article about the "war against terrorism." But I'm not sure it matters the effect - protecting Bush and the neo-CON fantasy from reality - is the same.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Toll of Bush's wars exceeds Sept. 11th

In every speech adminis-
tration spokes-
persons keep claiming there hasn't been an attack in this country since Sept. 11, 2001. But since we are bogged down in Afghanistan and Iraq without a clear exit strategy, as many U.S. kids are dying (and countless more being maimed) in Bush's wars as were killed on Sept. 11th.

"The number of U.S. military deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan has now exceeded the number of people killed in the Sept. 11 attacks. The U.S. has lost about two thousand seven hundred troops in Iraq and another two hundred eighty in Afghanistan. This surpasses the official death toll of 9/11 of two thousand nine hundred seventy three. Meanwhile the Iraqi death toll in just July and August was over sixty six hundred." (from Democracy Now).

My question is: as long as we keep sending our young people (our future) to be killed in the Big Muddy of Iraq and Afghanistan, why would terrorists need to invade the U.S.?

The neo-CON fantasy of a "new Middle East" resulting from U.S. armed intervention seems like an even greater fantasy given these new statistics.
This seems especially true now that we have confirmation that Bush's wars are increasing the threat of terrorism and not, as claimed by Republicans, decreasing it,
"The country’s intelligence agencies have concluded that the U.S. invasion of Iraq has increased the overall terrorist threat by spawning a new generation of Islamic radicalism." (also from DN)

After a week of successfully diverting attention from Iraq to the fight over torture, the Intelligence agencies report
focuses attention squarely back on Bush's war in Iraq.

Here's Greg Mitchell's comment on Bush's Sunday interview in which he said "Iraq will just be a comma."
"In an interview aired on CNN on Sunday, President Bush suggested that one day the conflict in Iraq will be looked back on as 'just a comma.' The dead, and their families, might propose different punctuation."

Thursday, September 21, 2006

The three GOP musketeers cave on torture

Sens. McCain, Warner and Graham
If there is any one out there who believed that the three GOP musketeers wouldn't cave in on torture, I have a bridge for sale.
The Republican Congress - having already jettisoned habeas corpus, the fundamental right that separates free people from those who are enslaved, is about to further shame the U.S., with the collaboration of the three musketeers, by passing a bill that will give the Bush permission to torture.
From the New York Times:
"President Bush and three Republican senators said this afternoon that they had reached an agreement on legislation to clarify which interrogation techniques can be used against terror suspects and to establish trial procedures for those in military custody."
Don't think for one moment that "interrogation techniques" means anything but torture techniques.

Remember when John McCain said "It's not about who they are, it's about who we are." Well compare that with:
"The senator [McCain] said the agreement 'gives the president the tools that he needs to continue to fight the war on terror and bring these evil people to justice.'"
It's amazing the compromises you can make once you get a taste of presidential politics.
Now this all raises the question: where does this leave the ever-silent Democrats?
As long as they continue to count on the Republicans defeating themselves, they will continue to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory - as they have done all too often in the recent past.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

The Bush family "fixer" is back

Remember the post-election period in 2000? Remember the name that kept cropping up during the Supreme Court-coup period? James Baker ("whose law firm has long represented some of the U.S.'s biggest oil companies"). While the mainstream media likes to give Karl Rove the credit for putting the Bush in the White House despite the fact that he lost the 2000 election (and perhaps in 2004 as well) the credit really belongs to James Baker.
Well he's back. And this time he's running the Middle East strategy for the administration. Perhaps we can look forward to a steel-cage match between the Dick and the Fixer.
Checkout this report from IPS:

"While his handlers worked assiduously Tuesday to ensure that U.S. President George W. Bush did not run into his Iranian nemesis, Mahmood Ahmedinejad, in the corridors of the U.N., a legendary fixer for the Bush family announced that the White House had cleared him to meet with a 'high representative' of Tehran's government.

"Former Secretary of State James Baker, who co-chairs a bipartisan, Congressionally appointed task force called the Iraq Study Group (ISG), said that the timing of the meeting with that representative, whom he declined to name, had yet to be arranged but that permission for such a meeting to take place has been granted.

"'I'm fairly confident that we will meet with a high representative of the (Iranian) government,' he said at a press conference at the U.S. Institute of Peace (USIP), one of several think tanks, including the Centre for Strategic and International Studies, the Centre for the Study of the Presidency, and Baker's own Houston-based Institute for Public Policy, that are supporting the Study Group's work.

"Such a meeting would no doubt feed speculation here that Baker, a consummate realist who reportedly has been privately critical of the administration's Middle East policies, could help tilt the balance of power within the administration in favour of fellow-realists, centred in the State Department. They generally support greater flexibility in dealing with perceived U.S. foes in the region, and against right-wing hawks led by Vice President Dick Cheney who have steadfastly opposed engagement with both Iran and Syria."

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Throwing habeas corpus out with the bathwater

Michael Ratner
(photo by Chester HiggensJr./NYT}
This morning (Tuesday) on Democracy Now Center for Constitutional Rights' Michael Ratner explained how the debate over the Bush's proposal to emasculate the Geneva Convention has missed a crucial point:
"In both the administration bill and in the McCain-Graham-Warner bill, in both cases you abolish the writ of habeas corpus. The government, the Congress, is abolishing the writ of habeas corpus. The habeas corpus writ is the right to challenge your detention once you’re picked up by the United States. It would apply to Guantanamo. It would apply to everybody in Bagram. And it basically says that anybody picked up, now or in the future or who is there now, no longer has the writ of habeas corpus."

"For some reason, for some peculiar reason, nobody is really covering this in the media."

Bush tries to drum up GOP votes at UN

Watching the Bush speak at the UN today (Tuesday)-while hoping his speech wouldn't pre-empt "All My Children." I know what's important-I was struck by its utter emptiness. It's always striking how many words he uses to say almost nothing. Here's what Robert Parry had to say on Consortiumnews:
"Bush framed his Sept. 19 speech in the context of the U.N.Â’s 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights. 'The words of the Universal Declaration are as true today as they were when they were written,' Bush declared."

"But it’s hard to believe that Bush had the faintest idea what principles he was embracing – or perhaps he has grown so self-confident in never being challenged on his hypocrisies that he believes he can say anything he wants, no matter how false or deceptive."
It was also amazing to watch how adoringly the Condesleeza sat there looking up at him.

Why torture? Why now?

In case you were wondering why Bush and the boys are so avidly trying to legalize torture - besides putting the Democrats on the defensive and labeling them "soft on terrorism" - here are two suggestions.
In yesterday's (Monday's) New York Times, Bob Herbert suggests "The Kafka Strategy." He wrote: "The people at the top are getting scared.... The fog of secrecy is lifting, and the Bush administration is frightened to death that it will eventually have to pay a heavy price for the human rights abuses it has ordered or condoned in its so-called war on terror."
He continues: "Bush, Cheney & Co.are desperately trying to hold together a house of cards that is ready to collapse because their strategy and tactics for fighting terrorism were slapped together with no real regard for the rule of law."

Herbert's Op-Ed page buddy Paul Krugman has another suggestion. He writes:
"...why is the Bush administration so determined to torture people?
To Show that it can. [Despite its relative uselessness as an information gathering device.]
The central drive of the Bush administration - more fundamental than any particular policy - has been the effort to eliminate all limits on the president's power. Torture, I believe, appeals to the president and vice president precisely because it's a violation of both law and tradition [and,I would add, all civilized behavior]. By making an illegal and immoral practice a key element of U.S. policy, they're asserting their right to do whatever they claim is necessary."

It's clear that these explanations - as well as the purely political one - are hardly mutually exclusive. They are almost surely all working to some degree in what passes for the Dick and the Bush minds.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Losing the "high ground" in Bush's war

It's hardly surprising that the Rove-led Republican party would endanger the lives and safety of the U.S. people to get a few votes. It's been their modus operandi and has kept them in power.

It's obvious that the push in Congress to give the Bush's torturers greater power was designed to distract attention from Iraq and allow Rove's boys to characterize the Democrats as soft on terrorism. According to Saturday's N. Y. Times,
"Republicans boasted that their top issue, terrorism, was dominating the political news for yet another day and overtaking Democratic criticisms of the war in Iraq."
But, as usual the administration failed to be sure everyone was on the same page. So they were surprised when three key Senators (McCain, Warner and Graham) turned on them (with the support of the forgotten Colin Powell) and actually acted out of principle - something the Rove-led party doesn't understand. The three senators opposed the Bush sponsored "legisation reinterpreting a provision of the Geneva Convention...that bars 'outrages upon personal dignity.'"
Powell is arguing that the U.S. is losing "the high ground in the war on terror." This opposition has again forced the Bush to shoot-off his mouth and show how he constantly lives up to Emerson's dictum that foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of small minds.

But then we are faced with a serious question: Why are the only people speaking out against Bush's torture and speaking up for the "moral high ground" all Republicans. The Times says: "Democrats are for the most part...content to allow Republicans to fight among themselves on the terrorism [torture?] question."
This, of course, isn't exactly true, some Democrats are speaking out but not as clearly as the three Republicans.
This is at least in part the result of the mass media obsession with stars and celebrities. Which, in effect, makes Sen. Clinton the only Democrat who can command the national stage; but she hasn't yet figured out which way the wind is blowing.
It seems as if Clinton and the Democrats are unfortunately willing to let politics trump morality.

Is Iran becoming the new Iraq?

From Warren P. Strobel and John Walcott's McClatchy Washington Bureau report:

"In an echo of the intelligence wars that preceded the U.S. invasion of Iraq, a high-stakes struggle is brewing within the Bush administration and in Congress over Iran's suspected nuclear weapons program and involvement in terrorism.

"U.S. intelligence and counterterrorism officials say Bush political appointees and hard-liners on Capitol Hill have tried recently to portray Iran's nuclear program as more advanced than it is and to exaggerate Tehran's role in Hezbollah's attack on Israel in mid-July.

"The struggle's outcome could have profound implications for U.S. policy.

"President Bush, who addresses the U.N. General Assembly on Tuesday, has said he prefers diplomacy to stop Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon, but he hasn't ruled out using military force.

"Several former U.S. defense officials who maintain close ties to the Pentagon say they've been told that plans for airstrikes - if Bush deems them necessary - are being updated."


"'It seems like Iran is becoming the new Iraq' said one U.S. counterterrorism official."

In a further echo of the run-up to the invasion of Iraq, the report also states:

"The officials said they fear a replay of the administration's mishandling of what turned out to be bogus information from Iraqi exiles in the run-up to the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, documented earlier this month in a Senate intelligence committee report."

(Thanks to Joshua Micah Marshall for his posting on this)

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Neck-deep in the Big Muddy: The Bush 9/11 speech

On the latest anniversary of Sept. 11, 2001, The Bush chose the moment to put forward a defense of his actions and a dire prediction for the foreseeable future:
"Our nation has endured trials, and we face a difficult road ahead. Winning this war will require the determined efforts of a unified country.

"And we must put aside our differences and work together to meet the test that history has given us.

"We will defeat our enemies, we will protect our people, and we will lead the 21st century into a shining age of human liberty."

In 1967 Pete Seeger characterized this in song:

"Waist deep! Neck deep! Soon even a
Tall man'll be over his head, we're
Waist deep in the Big Muddy!
And the big fool says to push on!"

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Disney/ABC speedboats Clinton on 9/11.

It seems clear at this point that Disney/ABC intends to broadcast its right-wing propaganda film "The Road to 9/11" Sunday and Monday. The film is pretty much, as far as I can tell, the speed-boating of the Clinton administration in order to get the Bush boys of the hook for 9/11, which (just like Katrina) happened on their watch.
Just to make the point Monday night's portion will bookend Bush's 9/11 speech.
I say "go for it boys." If American voters are dumb enough to believe this propaganda, more power to you - personally I think they're a lot smarter than you give them credit for being.
So what can we do to counteract this Disney/ABC blatant grab for GOP votes in November? Well, we can continue to point out in every available forum what a joke "The Road to 9/11" is.
Then we can begin a boycott of Disney movies and the new ABC TV season. They are about to roll out their new and old shows, no progressive person has to watch them. Remind every company that advertises on their shows what phonies they are.
If Disney/Abc wants to work for Karl Rove, let them pay for it.

Friday, September 08, 2006

ABC promotes right-wing propaganda version of 9/11

This is from Act For Change:

"Since publishing our original action alert regarding ABC's inaccurate and biased 'docu-drama' to be broadcast on Sept. 10th and 11th, we've learned even more disturbing details about the show - which is scheduled to occupy six hours of prime time television, less that two months before an important national election.

The film - written by an avowed conservative activist - was provided in advance to approximately 900 right-wing bloggers and media personalities such as Rush Limbaugh. However, former President Bill Clinton and two of his cabinet officials were denied when they requested preview copies of the film. Former Secretary of State Madeline Albright has called the film - which includes several scenes with no basis in reality -- "false and defamatory."

In response to mounting pressure, the film's producers are making some small changes...but according to conservative blogger Hugh Hewitt, "blame on the Clinton team is in the DNA of the project and could not be eradicated."

ABC has teamed up with Scholastic Inc., a company that sells textbooks, to send letters to 100,000 teachers across the country offering free copies of the film and "study guides," despite the fact that the film is a "docu-drama" in which important facts and events have simply been invented out of thin air.

From these latest developments, it's become clear that this film was intended from the start to convince unknowing viewers that a false and conservative view of history is in fact the truth; lay blame at Bill Clinton's feet (while completely omitting mention of the dozens of antiterrorism measures he tried to enact); and propagandize America's schoolchildren with fiction masquerading as fact. It's simply unacceptable.

Call to action:
Tell ABC, Disney and Scholastic executives that fictionalized, "blame-Clinton-first" accounts of Sept. 11th have no place on our public airwaves OR in our public schools.

Bush and Republicans exploit 9/11 for votes

Senator Russ Feingold
From Friday's edition of Democracy Now:

"President Bush continued his series of speeches around the anniversary of the September 11 attacks Thursday with a new call for Congress to approve his warrantless spy program. In a theme Republicans say they’ll pursue in the lead-up to the November elections, the President said his policies have made the country safer from future attacks.

"President Bush: 'We are safer because we've taken action to protect the homeland. We are safer because we are on offense against our enemies overseas. We're safer because of the skill and sacrifice of the brave Americans who defend our people.'
As the President spoke, a bill to authorize the spy program hit a major roadblock in the Senate after Democratic Senator Russ Feingold introduced several amendments. Feingold said: 'The president has basically said I'll agree to let a court decide if I'm breaking the law if you pass a law first that says I'm not breaking [it]. That won't help re-establish a healthy respect for separation of powers. It will only make matters worse.'"

What's with Hillary?

In an editorial last Monday (9/4) backing Sen. Clinton for re-election, The New York Times led off with this assesment:

"Mrs. ClintonÂ’s biggest flaw is her unwillingness to risk political capital for principle. That is not to say that she lacks principles, but whenever her moral convictions become politically inexpedient, she will struggle to find a way to cloak
them in vague rhetoric or deflect attention with a compromise that makes the danger go away. All that is an issue of leadership, and it will be grist for discussion if she decides to run for president in 2008."

Sometimes she just avoids delicate political issues altogether:

"Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York, one of 10 senators at a news conference yesterday [Thurs.] where the [Karl Rove-designed ABC] mini-series ["The Road to 9/11"] came up, left before she could be asked about it. A small throng of reporters who followed her out of the building toward her office were kept at bay by her aides." (NYT)

I'm not a registered Democrat, but if I were, I would proudly vote for Jonathan Tasini (and against Sen. Clinton) in the upcoming primary. Unlike the New York Times, I think the sacrifice of principle for political expedience is as much a detriment to being a good senator as it is for higher office and this trade-off seems to characterize the Senator more than anything else.

On the road again

Well, we're on the road again. (This may be the last gasp of Summer vacation)
This weekend we're at the Yarmouth Country Cabins on Cape Cod.
More when we get back on Monday.