Monday, January 31, 2005

Time for talk: Bush's triumph of marketing over dialogue

Deborah Tannen: 'Time for talk: Bush's triumph of marketing over dialogue'
Posted on Monday, January 31 @ 10:11:26 EST
The triumph of marketing over dialogue results in a president leading much of the nation where it doesn't want to go
By Deborah Tannen, Newsday
We keep hearing about how polarized Americans have become, but polls reveal impressive agreement among a majority of us with regard to the major issues facing the country. What is surprising is that the majority opinion differs starkly from the policies propounded and pursued by the party and the candidate that the recent election put into office.
A Los Angeles Times poll found recently that many Americans (between 52 and 69 percent, depending on the issue) are skeptical about President George W. Bush's proposed changes to Social Security, believe that the Iraq war has been badly mismanaged and do not want the president's tax cuts made permanent if it would worsen the deficit (which it would). Sixty percent say they believe that improving the country's infrastructure would do more to stimulate the economy than tax cuts. The Times reports that "an overwhelming majority of Americans believes Washington is unlikely to make much progress on the country's key problems."
And what of the "values" vote that we are told separates Americans on the issues of gay marriage and abortion rights? A Gallup poll dispels this notion, too. When asked to rate the importance of 18 issues facing the country, a majority placed these two "values" issues at the bottom (16 percent and 19 percent respectively). Even more striking, a CBS/New York Times poll finds that only 22 percent of respondents nationwide believe that abortion should be illegal.
How can there be such a disjunction between the positions a majority hold on the issues and the way a majority voted, three months after a presidential election that aroused more passion than any in memory, in which basic questions about the direction of the country were at stake?
I think the answer has something to do with a failure of public discourse. The campaign aroused a lot of passion, but not a lot of discussion of the policies that would result if one or the other candidate was elected, nor of the effect these policies would have on citizens' lives....

Sunday, January 30, 2005

What the rest of the world watched on Inauguration Day

Joan Chittister: 'What the rest of the world watched on Inauguration Day'
Saturday, January 29 @ 09:08:45 EST
By Joan Chittister, OSB, National Catholic Reporter
Dublin, on U.S. Inauguration Day, didn't seem to notice. Oh, they played a few clips that night of the American president saying, "The survival of liberty in our land increasingly depends on the success of liberty in other lands."
But that was not their lead story.
The picture on the front page of The Irish Times was a large four-color picture of a small Iraqi girl. Her little body was a coil of steel. She sat knees up, cowering, screaming madly into the dark night. Her white clothes and spread hands and small tight face were blood-spattered. The blood was the blood of her father and mother, shot through the car window in Tal Afar by American soldiers while she sat beside her parents in the car, her four brothers and sisters in the back seat.
A series of pictures of the incident played on the inside page, as well. A 12-year-old brother, wounded in the fray, falls face down out of the car when the car door opens, the pictures show. In another, a soldier decked out in battle gear, holds a large automatic weapon on the four children, all potential enemies, all possible suicide bombers, apparently, as they cling traumatized to one another in the back seat and the child on the ground goes on screaming in her parent's blood.
No promise of "freedom" rings in the cutline on this picture. No joy of liberty underlies the terror on these faces here....

Friday, January 28, 2005

Ashes to ashes

Chris Floyd: 'Ashes to ashes'
Posted on Friday, January 28 @ 10:01:32 EST
By Chris Floyd, The Moscow Times
This week, grim ceremonies marked the 60th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, where the Nazis murdered 1.5 million people. These remembrances of horror provoked extensive commentary, summed up in a single agonizing question: How could this have happened?
Answers -- some simplistic, others more nuanced -- were offered by various pundits and scholars: It was one man's madness; it was the result of unique historical circumstances; it was the inevitable byproduct of a totalitarian system, and so on. Implicit in these comments was the comforting notion that such deliberate mass atrocity is possible only under a tyrannical regime, led by brutal dictators, "madmen" like Hitler, Stalin and Saddam; it could never happen in a democracy, where a free people exercise its electoral will, and strong civic structures curb the excesses of state power. Indeed, in his "fire sermon" at the inauguration, U.S. president George W. Bush claimed that democracy is a divine system, created by God Himself. It could therefore never be an instrument of evil.
Does this stance correspond to reality, to history? To get at the deeper truth, perhaps the question we should ask is not, "How did Auschwitz happen?" but rather, "What exactly happened at Auschwitz?"
Well, here's what happened: Government leaders ordered the murder and torture of innocent people in the defense of "the Homeland" and the superior "moral values" of their culture. They produced copious justifications for their actions, including legal rulings from top government attorneys, while concealing the actual operational details from public knowledge in the name of "national security." When faced with undeniable evidence of atrocity, they blamed "bad apples" in the lower ranks....

Seymour Hersh: 'We've been taken over by a cult'

Seymour Hersh: 'We've been taken over by a cult'
Posted on Friday, January 28 @ 10:06:46 EST
The Military is Nowhere; the Press is Nowhere; the Congress is Nowhere...
By Seymour Hersh
This is a transcript of remarks by Seymour Hersh at the Stephen Wise Free Synagogue in New York.
About what's going on in terms of the President is that as virtuous as I feel, you know, at The New Yorker, writing an alternative history more or less of what's been going on in the last three years, George Bush feels just as virtuous in what he is doing. He is absolutely committed -- I don't know whether he thinks he's doing God's will or what his father didn't do, or whether it's some mandate from -- you know, I just don't know, but George Bush thinks this is the right thing.
He is going to continue doing what he has been doing in Iraq. He's going to expand it, I think, if he can. I think that the number of body bags that come back will make no difference to him. The body bags are rolling in. It makes no difference to him, because he will see it as a price he has to pay to put America where he thinks it should be. So, he's inured in a very strange way to people like me, to the politicians, most of them who are too cowardly anyway to do much. So, the day-to-day anxiety that all of us have, and believe me, though he got 58 million votes, many of people who voted for him weren't voting for continued warfare, but I think that's what we're going to have.
It's hard to predict the future. And it's sort of silly to, but the question is: How do you go to him? How do you get at him? What can you do to maybe move him off the course that he sees as virtuous and he sees as absolutely appropriate? All of us -- you have to -- I can't begin to exaggerate how frightening the position is -- we're in right now, because most of you don't understand, because the press has not done a very good job.....

Renewing the DNC: Simon's Plan

Renewing the DNC: Simon's Plan
To: The ASDC
Fr: Simon Rosenberg
Dt: Wednesday, January 26, 2005
Re: Response to the DNC Plan 2005-2008
This is no ordinary time for Democrats. Our country faces new and daunting economic and foreign policy challenges. Our party faces a Republican Party better organized and more powerful than it’s been in 70 years. And our people face a government controlled by a cadre of right-wing Republicans whose policies have made America less prosperous, less safe, and less free.
As the challenge before us is unprecedented, so must be our response. If we continue doing what we’ve been doing over the past decades, we will not win. If we do not win elections, those people who do the hard, noble work of making our country run will have no champion. America will continue on its current path of drift and decline. I applaud the ASDC for putting together a comprehensive agenda for the next DNC Chairman. Your members are on the frontlines of this fight and in the trenches of our party, building coalitions and winning elections. Like you, I believe deeply that we need to reform how the Democratic Party works in Washington and with the parties in the states and territories so that we can build a modern, 21st century political organization.
My number one priority as DNC Chair will be to create a Democratic Party that fights – and wins – in 50 states and six territories every day not just three months before an election. This new partnership will take changes within the Democratic National Committee itself and in its relationship with state and local parties as well in its relationship with the millions of Democrats all across the nation. My almost twenty years in politics and the media business has prepared me well for the hard things we need to do in the coming years, and I am excited to offer you my thoughts on your well-crafted plan.
I also want to make sure you know that I have a proud history with the ASDC itself. As Ann Fishman will attest, in 1992 while running the national grassroots program for the Clinton/Gore campaign, I launched a well-funded joint Clinton/ASDC national neighbor-to-neighbor, house party and volunteer sign-up campaign. It was designed by the longtime AFSCME consultant Johnny Allem, and helped bring hundreds of thousands of names and thousands of new donors into our joint database. It showed me – and others -- what could get done when the national campaigns and the state parties work together.
As Chairman, I want to lead Democrats in meeting the challenges of the 21st century head on, and build a winning party again in all regions of the country. Winning again will require that we have the courage to do the hard things needed to win, including creating:
A New 21st Century Agenda. We need a bold, modern, optimistic agenda that will put our traditional Democratic values into action to respond to the challenges America faces today. I look forward to the day when a majority of our nation sees us as the Party that will make our country more prosperous, more secure, and more free, and sees the word Democrat as something we can run to in all fifty states and not run from.
A New Political Infrastructure. Through investing billions of dollars over many years, the Republicans have built a far better political machine than what Democrats have today. In the years ahead, the task of matching their investments with strategic investments of our own is an urgent one, and it must start with a substantial commitment to rebuilding the state parties right away.
A New Passion for the Grassroots. The last two years saw the explosion of grassroots activism in our politics, with millions of Americans passionately participating in making their country better. It is essential that we channel this passion into our politics, and see these new activists as partners in our fight and not just donors to our cause. New technology has allowed us to organize vast numbers of people in new and better ways, and if harnessed correctly, these people can revitalize our parties. My hope is that at the end of my four years as DNC Chair, when one thinks of the Democratic Party, they don’t think of a building in Washington, D.C. but they think of millions of committed Americans going to work each day in their own way to make America better.
All my life I’ve been a builder, an entrepreneur, someone who could create new things and make them work. In my twenties, I helped start a successful television production company; in 1992 I helped create the modern way the Clinton campaign ran which culminated in my helping build and run the famous War Room; in 1996, I created NDN and have turned it into a powerful promoter of our Democratic values; in 2003, I created NDN’s unprecedented 9-state, multimillion dollar Hispanic Project; and last year, working with former Ron Brown aide Rob Stein, I helped launch the Democracy Alliance, a group of Democratic investors committed to building our progressive/Democratic infrastructure in the years ahead.
Having run a successful Democratic institution for eight years, I know that what’s important in managing a large organization is having bedrock principles to guide your efforts. These are my guiding principles:
A New Partnership
The single biggest priority for Democrats in the next four years is to create vibrant, dynamic and modern state and territorial parties that can fight and win every single day, not just in the three months before the election. To do this, we will need a new partnership between the national and state parties that will create one national party working in all 50 states and 6 territories. As part of that, I will consult with the state party chairs in making DNC committee appointments -- including the Presidential Convention Site Selection Committee -- and will welcome ASDC staffers into the DNC building and fund the ASDC as proposed.
A 21st Century Coordinated Campaign
At the core of my vision for a winning Party is a new way of viewing the coordinated campaigns. I want to begin implementing two-year plans in all 56 state and territories in the spring of the odd year, not in the summer of the election year. The new expanded coordinated campaign should be guided by the idea that “locals know best” and should include:
Common Goals. The parties should agree on joint goals in all major areas of common concern - federal and non-federal elections, vote goals throughout the state and with groups, data acquisition, ballot initiatives and redistricting, voter registration, e-mail activists, fundraising, and institutional management and compliance.
Joint Market Research. The DNC and state parties will jointly conduct in-depth market research to develop demographic/socio-economic/attitudinal/media use benchmarks for each state and across the country. We will help develop jointly agreed upon message and demographic targets, and help inform the coordinated campaign process. These surveys will have common questionnaires, tailored to each state to help us begin to fashion common benchmarks that can be measured year to year in and among the states.
Issue Advocacy. A new emphasis will be placed on turning the state parties into more aggressive communicators of our ideas and values by investing in modern communications infrastructure, personnel and techniques. Among the areas of joint cooperation will be plans for aggressive use of Internet, blog and Meetup/house parties, free media strategies including a vastly stepped up surrogate operation and paid media strategies – and where applicable, Spanish-language communications.
A New Table. The stakeholders in each state coordinated campaign will begin meeting regularly in February of this year, and plan to meet at least monthly throughout the election. We will expand the traditional definition of stakeholder from those progressive groups who pay into the campaign to also include emerging grassroots groups, bloggers, partisan academics and thought-leaders and private sector leadership.
A Strategic Review. I plan on conducting an immediate and comprehensive strategic review of the DNC to aid in our spring planning efforts. If a state party is interested in having one conducted in their states, the DNC would assist in finding and funding the right team to conduct the review.
Investing in people. Implicit in each of these coordinated campaigns is a major commitment to helping each party raise the skill levels of its leaders and staff. Investment in training will tailored to the specific needs in each state, and will be further augmented throughout the cycle as required.
Constituency Strategy Centers. A major reform of mine will be to turn the political desks into strategy centers. Modeled on NDN’s successful Hispanic Project, we will move beyond outreach into strategy: setting vote, political, registration, communications, paid and free media goals for each constituency. We will also add to the existing groups, so by the spring of this year will have working strategy centers with sufficient budgets which target Hispanics, African- Americans, Asian-Americans, women, the GLBT community, rural and exurban voters, veterans and military families, people of faith and young voters. Given our particularly hard time in the South in recent years, I will also propose a special Southern Project. In all these cases, the project will have a board of the DNC members concerned about these issues, and successful strategists, politicians, and activists working with them to help set and guide the long-term strategy in each of these communities.
The creation of and maintenance of these plans will become the primary mission of the DNC’s political department and will be overseen by a senior staff member directly reporting to the Chairman. Veterans of state parties will be given preferential treatment in hiring for all political positions.
A New Culture of Investment
We must create a new culture of investment in our Party that sees the DNC and the state parties as institutions and not campaigns. Campaigns come and go. Institutions live on beyond any one election, and must have both long-term and short-term planning to be successful. While I have been involved in hundreds of campaigns in almost all 50 states, I also have built and run a successful Democratic institution and understand the differences between the two.
So, as we look forward to building our parties, I support and endorse the ASDC’s proposal for the DNC to fund each State Party to the minimum level of at least two hundred thousand dollars per calendar year, payable 50% in January and 50% in July of each calendar year. Selected states may receive more than this amount, but no state shall receive less than this amount. In addition to the budgeting of the above amounts, I would also endorse a by-law amendment providing for the same, subject only to cash availability.
In principle, the projects our party funds must have sound plans. I don’t think it is fair to the millions of people who fund our party if we fund things that do not have detailed strategies behind them. We can and must develop plans for each state respectful of their needs and relevant to their circumstances.
During my tenure, I want to use the at-large appointments – however many there are – to gain access to the remarkable expertise of many prominent national Democrats and successful elected officials in the work of the DNC. I cannot, however, support the Fowler amendment that specifies election by the regional caucuses of 50 of the 75 at-large appointed DNC member slots, because I believe that it will adversely and unacceptably affect the diversity of the DNC membership. I do commit to working with the ASDC to help make the future membership of the DNC more reflective of the true makeup of our national political party, bringing in more elected officials, policy experts, thought-leaders, technologists, media executive and business leaders to help us as we work to make our Party as strong as it can be.
Electing four of the at-large DNC Executive Committee from the regional caucuses is a good idea.
More Accountability and Transparency
Fueled by the passion of average Americans, the DNC has evolved into what could be a billion dollar business over the next four years. Because of its unique role, it is even more important than at a private sector firm that the people who work in the organization and for it must be held accountable for results, and that the DNC’s operations must be transparent to its stakeholders.
That is why instead of creating new management entities, I want to empower the DNC Executive Committee, giving it a more active management, compliance, planning, and oversight role. I will bring in experienced management experts to conduct a quick, but in-depth strategic review that will help us guide our planning for the next four years. As DNC Chair, I will immediately review every outside contract within the first 90 days of taking office to make sure that we have the right people at the right price aiding our cause effectively. In addition, I will demand the immediate disclosure of potential conflicts of interest between DNC officers, members, and employees and DNC vendors, and within 180 days, devise a Code of Conduct detailing what constitutes a conflict of interest and how they should be disclosed or prohibited.
Secondly, I want to create more competition for DNC and state party work to ensure that a diverse set of advisers from all over the country are part of guiding the party. Thirdly, we need to hold the consulting profession accountable not just for results, but also for our values. Consultants that are not labor-friendly or work to elect Republicans will not get our business.
A New Commitment to Persuasion, Advocacy, and Mobilization
One of the greatest tasks in the next four years will be to move all the parties into the 21st century communications era. My background as a successful television writer and producer, veteran of the Clinton War Room, manager of the 31 state Clinton communications operations in 1992, technologist, often-quoted spokesperson, and seasoned message-crafter makes me uniquely qualified among the candidates for Chair to take on this challenge. I come from the successful Clinton school that built our politics around a powerful, optimistic vision for our nation, and believe that we must make modern advocacy a more important core competency of our parties in the years ahead.
At the core of the new politics of advocacy are changes in media and technology. We are leaving a 50 year-long run of the broadcast era of political communications, where the model was a single message centrally managed and broadcast out to many. The new era we are entering requires a much more distributed, real time, personal, and intimate type of communications. The vital investment by Terry McAuliffe in the DNC Datamart has given all of us the opportunity to build a new politics for a new era of communication that will require us putting people once again at the very center of our Party.
To facilitate our adoption of new techniques and learning, I will create a New Politics Institute at the DNC. The NPI will be charged with bringing in some of the top technologists, social networkers, netroots and community activists and media executives to help us together imagine and implement a new 21st century politics built up from people and databases using the very latest technology.
In the years ahead, succeeding at the new politics and countering the conservative machine also will require the party’s willingness to partner with think tanks, policy shops, commentator/bloggers, interested academics, and governments that Democrats control. Having worked at a think tank, and as a veteran of the successful Clinton policy years, I can bring concrete expertise in forging these vital national and state links. For more details on how I plan to utilize the “blogosphere,” please visit my web site at
I will also employ the spirit of the War Room to develop a communications strategy that both provides on-message talking points and guidance tailored to the media market and/or media outlet, but also utilizes our Senators, Governors, Members of Congress, state and legislative leaders, mayors, and party officials to carry our message out into the country. Matching the right person to the right media outlet and media market is a critical first step in countering the Republican message machine.
Next, we cannot ignore specialty media; rather, we must integrate it into our overall communications strategy, while tailoring our message to individual constituencies. Specialty press outlets – from Jewish or Asian community newspapers and outdoor magazines to urban radio and Spanish-language TV – will receive constant attention, not
just notice three weeks before Election Day.
At the end of my four years, I want to see a Party that can mobilize millions in all states against issues such as Bush’s Social Security plan. I want to see a Party that can speak in Spanish competently to immigrant voters in Los Angeles with paid television, compelling spokespeople and mail. I want to see a Party with 10 million people connected via email to the national and state parties working side by side with us each day. I want to see a Party well-schooled in the vastly changing media and technology environment, committed each and every day not just to defeating the Republicans but also to defeating
their ideas with better arguments and better tools to communicate them.
Renewing Our Democracy
As we have learned these past two presidential elections, there is a fundamental difference between the two parties: Republicans do not want every American to vote; Democrats do. To fulfill our commitment to democracy, I will support the Voting Rights Institute in its review of the Ohio 2004 election, ask it to monitor HAVA compliance around the country, and use it to lobby for HAVA reauthorization in 2007. I will work with state parties to fight voter suppression and intimidation and seek improvements in the administration of elections in every state and territory.
In addition, I will advocate for reform of election laws to make it easier to vote, especially vote-by-mail, making the extension of that nationally a major priority. In addition, I look forward to working with the Price-Herman Commission in modernizing our presidential selection process, opening it up so more states in regions across the
country have a relevant role to play.
A New Common Purpose for our Party
I want to improve the culture of our Party and the DNC. I want to work hard with all of you to make sure that in the years ahead, we all recognize that no matter our differences, we are all in this together and we are all on the same team. I want to work to create more common ground, more common space, more time for us to be together as a family, focusing on the things that unite us, not just the things that push us apart. We must literally create one national party again that fights and wins in all 50 states and 6 territories. Our Party must be our common home, the place that brings us together, the place that fights each day for the aspirations of all Americans, the place that strives each day to restore the promise of this great nation.
To this end, I propose two new national programs for this year. First, I will launch a campaign called “Why I am Democrat” which will challenge all Democrats to submit a brief statement to the DNC explaining why they feel so passionately about being a Democrat. The best submissions will be picked by a blue ribbon set of judges and then published on the DNC’s website and excerpted in major newspapers across the country.
Second, I will undertake a national drive, jointly run by the DNC and the state parties, to ask all Democrats to sign up with the DNC and join our fight. Our goal will be to get 10 million people to sign up for our cause, tripling the number in our database today.
Additional Items
I agree with items 1A and 1B on the role of the Chair and Vice-Chairs. Would like a little more info on 1C3, but if it ends up making it easier for us to open primaries to more voters I’m for it. Agree to 4H about the Convention. ASDC will be free to consult and recommend people for all DNC positions but will not have veto power.
I believe that we Democrats are at a critical moment in our history. If we make the right decisions today and decide to pull together and move our party forward, we can stop the rising Republican tide, win elections, and put America back on the path to progress. If we do not stand up to the Republican machine, I fear for what would happen to our party – and our country.
But I am optimistic. I know that we have the vision, ideas, and people to rejuvenate the Democratic Party and our democracy. With the right leadership, I know that we can reinvigorate our state and local parties, win back seats in 2006, and take the White House in 2008.
I am eager to work with you to make this happen.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Chile's Retirees Find Shortfall in Private Plan

Chile's Retirees Find Shortfall in Private Plan
NY Times
Published: January 27, 2005
Even many middle-class workers who contributed regularly are finding that their private accounts - burdened with hidden fees that may have soaked up as much as a third of their original investment - are failing to deliver as much in benefits as they would have received if they had stayed in the old system.

Dagoberto Sáez, for example, is a 66-year-old laboratory technician here who plans, because of a recent heart attack, to retire in March. He earns just under $950 a month; his pension fund has told him that his nearly 24 years of contributions will finance a 20-year annuity paying only $315 a month.

"Colleagues and friends with the same pay grade who stayed in the old system, people who work right alongside me," he said, "are retiring with pensions of almost $700 a month - good until they die. I have a salary that allows me to live with dignity, and all of a sudden I am going to be plunged into poverty, all because I made the mistake of believing the promises they made to us back in 1981."

Deficits as Far as the Eye Can See

Deficits as Far as the Eye Can See
American Family Voices
It's been over a year since the Bush administration first unveiled its plan to cut the deficit in half, and President Bush spent a good portion of that time campaigning on that promise. It already looks to be in shambles.
First, let's dispense with the notion that aiming to cut the deficit in half is somehow a laudable goal for this administration. This is the same Bush team that squandered the Clinton surplus on reckless tax cuts – they didn't inherit this fiscal insolvency, it is of their own creation. So merely offering to cut it back is like a store offering you a 50 percent rebate – after it charged you ten times the advertised price. We'll hold the celebration for now, thanks.
Even worse, this Bush team can't even be trusted to follow through on its promise of minimal success. The White House announced yesterday that this year's projected deficit will be $427 billion (this figure includes a part of the $80 billion in supplemental spending for Iraq and Afghanistan). That's almost $100 billion higher than the projection they were offering last Summer during the campaign season. Imagine that.
It's pretty clear that fiscal responsibility isn't high on President Bush's agenda – after all, these deficit estimates do not include the potential $1-$2 trillion costs of Bush's suggested changes for Social Security. And that's not all: These deficit projections don't include the cost of making Bush's tax cuts permanent, a goal to which he has committed himself. The extra cost of that move would tack on a mind-boggling $2 trillion to the federal deficit over the next 10 years, according to the Congressional Budget Office.
What's especially troubling now is that this irresponsibility is triggering discomfort from other countries around the world who are expecting America to pull its own economic weight. The United Nations has stated that America's bulging budget and trade deficits both threatened the global economic balance. The International Monetary Fund previously issued a similar warning.
"The message of our report is that the industrialized countries all have their own problems that will hurt growth…But the most challenging is the US twin deficits," said Jose Antonio Ocampo, the UN under secretary general for economic and social affairs.
And the Bush administration's solution of devaluing the dollar isn't helping, either. Countries across the globe are now also starting to grumble about the weak dollar, and it hasn't even brought about the desired effect of slashing our massive trade deficit.
So let's recap: President Bush's foreign policy decisions have alienated many of our traditional allies. His economic policies have created massive deficits here at home, while job growth isn't nearly as impressive as the White House predicted. Now, even his economic policies are causing international disfavor. It's like a perfect circle of bad policy decisions. And it once again shows that, for a man who claims to be committed to creating growth here at home and fostering strong relationships abroad, President Bush is simultaneously doing neither.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

The new Bush gap By GEORGE SOROS

The new Bush gap
Toronto Globe and Mail
President George W. Bush's second inaugural address set forth an ambitious vision of the role of the United States in advancing the cause of freedom worldwide, fuelling speculation over the course of American foreign policy during the next four years. The ideas expressed in Mr. Bush's speech thus deserve serious consideration.
"It is the policy of the United States to seek and support the growth of democratic movements and institutions in every nation and culture," Mr. Bush declared, "with the ultimate goal of ending tyranny in our world."
There is a bow to diplomacy in the assurance that fulfilling this mission "is not primarily the task of arms, though we will defend our friends and ourselves by force of arms when necessary." Similarly, he recognizes that outsiders cannot force liberty on people. Instead, "freedom by its nature must be chosen and defended by citizens and sustained by the rule of law and the protection of minorities."
Finally, there is acceptance of diversity, for "when the soul of a nation finally speaks, the institutions that arise may reflect customs and traditions very different from our own. America will not impose our own style of government on the unwilling. Our goal instead is to help others find their own voice, attain their own freedom and make their own way."
I agree with this goal, and have devoted the past 15 years and several billion dollars of my fortune to attaining it. Yet, I find myself in sharp disagreement with the Bush administration. It is not only that there is a large gap between official words and deeds; I find that the words sometimes directly contradict the deeds in a kind of Orwellian doublespeak....

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

End-Timers & Neo-Cons: The End of Conservatives

End-Timers & Neo-Cons: The End of Conservatives
by Dr. Paul Craig Roberts January 19, 2005  

Dr. Paul Craig Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Economic Policy during 1981-82. He was also Associate Editor of the Wall Street Journal editorial page and Contributing Editor of National Review.
I remember when friends would excitedly telephone to report that Rush Limbaugh or G. Gordon Liddy had just read one of my syndicated columns over the air. That was before I became a critic of the US invasion of Iraq, the Bush administration, and the neoconservative ideologues who have seized control of the US government.
America has blundered into a needless and dangerous war, and fully half of the country's population is enthusiastic. Many Christians think that war in the Middle East signals "end times" and that they are about to be wafted up to heaven. Many patriots think that, finally, America is standing up for itself and demonstrating its righteous might. Conservatives are taking out their Vietnam frustrations on Iraqis. Karl Rove is wrapping Bush in the protective cloak of war leader. The military-industrial complex is drooling over the profits of war. And neoconservatives are laying the groundwork for Israeli territorial expansion.
The evening before Thanksgiving Rush Limbaugh was on C-Span TV explaining that these glorious developments would have been impossible if talk radio and the conservative movement had not combined to break the power of the liberal media.
In the Thanksgiving issue of National Review, editor Richard Lowry and former editor John O'Sullivan celebrate Bush's reelection triumph over "a hostile press corps." "Try as they might," crowed O'Sullivan, "they couldn't put Kerry over the top." There was a time when I could rant about the "liberal media" with the best of them. But in recent years I have puzzled over the precise location of the "liberal media."...

Not In Our Name - sign tne petition

Not In Our Name
As George W. Bush is inaugurated for a second term, let it not be said that people in the United States silently acquiesced in the face of this shameful coronation of war, greed, and intolerance. He does not speak for us. He does not represent us. He does not act in our name.
No election, whether fair or fraudulent, can legitimize criminal wars on foreign countries, torture, the wholesale violation of human rights, and the end of science and reason.
In our name, the Bush government justifies the invasion and occupation of Iraq on false pretenses, raining down destruction, horror, and misery, bringing death to more than 100,000 Iraqis. It sends our youth to destroy entire cities for the sake of so-called democratic elections, while intimidating and disenfranchising thousands of African American and other voters at home.
In our name, the Bush government holds in contempt international law and world opinion. It carries out torture and detentions without trial around the world and proposes new assaults on our rights of privacy, speech and assembly at home. It strips the rights of Arabs, Muslims and South Asians in the U.S., denies them legal counsel, stigmatizes and holds them without cause. Thousands have been deported.
As new trial balloons are floated about invasions of Syria, or Iran, or North Korea, about leaving the United Nations, about new “lifetime detention” policies, we say not in our name will we allow further crimes to be committed against nations or individuals deemed to stand in the way of the goal of unquestioned world supremacy.
Could we have imagined a few years ago that core principles such as the separation of church and state, due process, presumption of innocence, freedom of speech, and habeas corpus would be discarded so easily? Now, anyone can be declared an “enemy combatant” without meaningful redress or independent review by a President who is concentrating power in the executive branch. His choice for Attorney General is the legal architect of the torture that has been carried out in Guantánamo, Afghanistan, and Abu Ghraib.
The Bush government seeks to impose a narrow, intolerant, and political form of Christian fundamentalism as government policy. No longer on the margins of power, this extremist movement aims to strip women of their reproductive rights, to stoke hatred of gays and lesbians, and to drive a wedge between spiritual experience and scientific truth. We will not surrender to extremists our right to think. AIDS is not a punishment from God. Global warming is a real danger. Evolution happened. All people must be free to find meaning and sustenance in whatever form of religious or spiritual belief they choose. But religion can never be compulsory. These extremists may claim to make their own reality, but we will not allow them to make ours.
Millions of us worked, talked, marched, poll watched, contributed, voted, and did everything we could to defeat the Bush regime in the last election. This unprecedented effort brought forth new energy, organization, and commitment to struggle for justice. It would be a terrible mistake to let our failure to stop Bush in these ways lead to despair and inaction. On the contrary, this broad mobilization of people committed to a fairer, freer, more peaceful world must move forward. We cannot, we will not, wait until 2008. The fight against the second Bush regime has to start now.
The movement against the war in Vietnam never won a presidential election. But it blocked troop trains, closed induction centers, marched, spoke to people door to door -- and it helped to stop a war. The Civil Rights Movement never tied its star to a presidential candidate; it sat in, freedom rode, fought legal battles, filled jailhouses -- and changed the face of a nation.
We must change the political reality of this country by mobilizing the tens of millions who know in their heads and hearts that the Bush regime’s “reality” is nothing but a nightmare for humanity. This will require creativity, mass actions and individual moments of courage. We must come together whenever we can, and we must act alone whenever we have to.
We draw inspiration from the soldiers who have refused to fight in this immoral war. We applaud the librarians who have refused to turn over lists of our reading, the high school students who have demanded to be taught evolution, those who brought to light torture by the U.S. military, and the massive protests that voiced international opposition to the war on Iraq. We affirm ordinary people undertaking extraordinary acts. We pledge to create community to back courageous acts of resistance. We stand with the people throughout the world who fight every day for the right to create their own future.
It is our responsibility to stop the Bush regime from carrying out this disastrous course. We believe history will judge us sharply should we fail to act decisively.
Over 9,000 people have now signed this statement. Among the initial signers are:
James Abourezk, former U.S. senator
Janet Abu-Lughod, professor emerita, New School
As`ad AbuKhalil, California State University, Stanislaus
Michael Albert
Edward Asner
Michael Avery, president, National Lawyers Guild
Russell Banks
Amiri Baraka
Rosalyn Baxandall, chair, American Studies/Media and Communications, State University of New York at Old Westbury
Medea Benjamin, cofounder of Global Exchange and Code Pink
Phyllis Bennis
Larry Bensky, Pacifica radio
Michael Berg
Jessica Blank and Erik Jensen
William Blum, author, US foreign policy
St. Clair Bourne
Judith Butler, author and professor, University of California at Berkeley
Julia Butterfly, director, Circle of Life Foundation
Leslie Cagan, national coordinator, United for Peace and Justice
Kathleen & Henry Chalfant
Noam Chomsky, MIT
Ramsey Clark, former U.S. Attorney-General
Marilyn Clement, nat’l coordinator, Campaign for a National Health Program NOW
Robbie Conal, artist
Peter Coyote
Angela Davis
Diane di Prima, poet
Ronnie Dugger, co-founder, Alliance for Democracy
Michael Eric Dyson
Nora Eisenberg, author of War at Home and Just the Way You Want Me
Daniel Ellsberg, former Defense and State Department official
Eve Ensler
Lawrence Ferlinghetti
Carolyn Forché
Michael Franti
Boo Froebel
Peter Gerety
Jorie Graham, Harvard University
André Gregory
Jessica Hagedorn, writer
Suheir Hammad
Sam Hamill, Poets Against the War
Danny Hoch, playwright/actor
Marie Howe
Abdeen M. Jabara, past president, American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee
Jim Jarmusch, filmmaker
Bill T. Jones
Rickie Lee Jones
Barbara Kingsolver
C. Clark Kissinger, Refuse & Resist!
Evelyn Fox Keller, Professor of History of Science, MIT
Hans Koning, writer
David Korn
David C. Korten
Rabbi Michael Lerner, editor, TIKKUN magazine & Rabbi, Beyt Tikkun Synagogue , SF
Phil Lesh, Grateful Dead
Staughton Lynd
Reynaldo F. Macías, chair, National Association for Chicana & Chicano Studies
Dave Marsh
Maryknoll Sisters, Western Region
Jim McDermott, Member of Congress, State of Washington
Robert Meeropol, executive director, Rosenberg Fund for Children
Robin Morgan, author and activist
Walter Mosley
Jill Nelson, writer
Rosalind Petchesky, Distinguished Professor of Political Science, Hunter College & the Graduate Center - CUNY
Jeremy Pikser, screenwriter (Bulworth)
Frances Fox Piven
James Stewart Polshek, architect
William Pope L
Francine Prose
Jerry Quickley, poet
Michael Ratner, president, Center for Constitutional Rights
David Riker, filmmaker
Stephen Rohde, civil liberties lawyer
Matthew Rothschild, editor, The Progressive magazine
Luc Sante
Roberta Segal-Sklar, communications director, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force
Wallace Shawn
Zach Sklar
Tony Taccone
Alice Walker
Naomi Wallace
Immanuel Wallerstein
Leonard Weinglass
Peter Weiss, president, Lawyers Committee on Nuclear Policy
Cornel West
C.K. Williams, poet, Princeton University
Saul Williams
Krzysztof Wodiczko, director, Center for Advanced Visual Studies, MIT
David Zeiger, Displaced Films
Howard Zinn, historian
(for a more complete list of signers, click here)
* * *
You may sign this statement on this web site at You may also e-mail your name, how you would like to be identified and your state of residence to (Personal contact information will not be shared or utilized for any other purpose.)
The suggested financial contribution is $200, but larger contributions are encouraged. Please contribute through Pay Pal at the web site. Checks should be made out to Not In Our Name and mailed to Not In Our Name, 305 W. Broadway, #199, New York, NY 10013. If you are mailing a check, please let us know by e-mail so we know how much newspaper space we can reserve.

The emperor of vulgarity

Mike Carlton: 'The emperor of vulgarity'
Posted on Tuesday, January 25 @ 10:00:05 EST
By Mike Carlton, Sydney Morning Herald
George Bush's second inaugural extravaganza was every bit as repugnant as I had expected, a vulgar orgy of triumphalism probably unmatched since Napoleon crowned himself emperor of the French in Notre Dame in 1804.
The little Corsican corporal had a few decent victories to his escutcheon. Lodi, Marengo, that sort of thing. Not so this strutting Texan mountebank, with his chimpanzee smirk and his born-again banalities delivered in that constipated syntax that sounds the way cold cheeseburgers look, and his grinning plastic wife, and his scheming junta of neo-con spivs, shamans, flatterers and armchair warmongers, and his sinuous evasions and his brazen lies, and his sleight of hand theft from the American poor, and his rape of the environment, and his lethal conviction that the world must submit to his Pax Americana or be bombed into charcoal.
Difficult to know what was more repellent: the estimated $US40 million cost of this jamboree (most of it stumped up by Republican fat-cats buying future presidential favours), or the sheer crassness of its excess when American boys are dying in the quagmire of Bush's very own Iraq war.
Other wartime presidents sought restraint. Abraham Lincoln's second inaugural address in 1865 - "with malice toward none, with charity for all" - is the shortest ever. And he had pretty much won the Civil War by that time....

Monday, January 24, 2005

Henhouses overstaffed with foxes

Molly Ivins
Creators Syndicate
Henhouses overstaffed with foxes
Condi Rice says we should leave the questions to the experts
AUSTIN -- Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice helpfully explained it all for us. The problem is that we are living in an alternative reality. What we think we know is not true. We have always had enough troops in Iraq. There are 120,000 trained Iraqi soldiers ready to take over. The president has condemned torture, so what else is there to say? Why torture happened, whose fault it is and why it is still happening at Guantanamo is not a problem because the president has condemned it. Secretary Rice also condemns it, so why raise questions about the fact that she wrote a letter to get an anti-torture clause in the intelligence appropriation bill taken out?
What, do you want to insult her integrity?
Secretary Rice did say that mistakes were made, but she does not know who made them or who should be held accountable. And, of course, as we all learned during the last election, no matter what happens, it is never, ever President Bush's fault. ..

Ballgowns and Hospital Gowns

Without Reservation
A biweekly column by Karen Kwiatkowski, Lt. Col. USAF (ret.)
Ballgowns and Hospital Gowns
Looking forward to a gala second inaugural ball, Mr. Bush is one happy man.
The administration has many things to celebrate.  No – none, nada, zilch – weapons of mass destruction or programs producing them were ever found in Iraq, despite literally hundreds of White House promoted statements about dangerous weapons, weapons systems, weapons stockpiles, weapons technologies, gases, diseases – the list goes on.
Isn't that a good thing? Most of the world's intelligence gathering agencies, including many parts of our own, as well as thinking people everywhere, looked upon the administration's statements in 2002 and 2003 with healthy skepticism. These observers were proven correct, of course.
It is indeed a happy time. A few weeks after the President called off the search for WMD in Iraq he announced that there was "no reason to hold any administration officials accountable for mistakes or misjudgments in prewar planning or managing the violent aftermath."
Instead, the President believes that his administration already had an "accountability moment." Please, no blinking! That moment was the re-election of George W. Bush.
He's right, of course. While only slightly over half of the votes last November went to George W. Bush, and less than half of Americans today believe the war in Iraq was either necessary, prudent or in America's interest, I recall a time in late 2002 and early 2003 when I was still in the Pentagon reading the news, the policy papers and watching the President, Vice-President, Secretaries Rumsfeld and Powell wax eloquent on, well, all those things of which we no longer speak.
Americans were all too willing to trust those men in suits, armed as they were with a willingness to say anything, to justify anything, and an agenda on Iraq that to this day they are unwilling to share publicly.
• A need to permanently shift the American military presence from Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and even Turkey into a perfectly located Iraq, using long-term leases signed with the Iraqi puppet government to permit their construction.
• A desire to "Do It Their Way" in the inevitable post-sanctions Iraq investment free-for-all, something stubborn former ally Saddam Hussein would have never permitted.
• A need for oil to remain dominantly a dollar commodity, something Saddam Hussein quietly undermined with his switch to the euro in November 2000. After Bush toppled Saddam Hussein, his first executive order on Iraq switched it back.
But that's all so 2002 and 2003. It's time to celebrate! As ballrooms and parade grounds are prepared and decorated, funded by hundreds of donors interested in a lot more of what George W. Bush can deliver (Iraq as the perfect bling bling), the "moment of accountability" has come and gone. The administration passed with flying colors, and none of the miscreants lost their job.....

Sunday, January 23, 2005

What YOU Can Do TODAY to Protect Social Security

What YOU Can Do TODAY to Protect Social Security

TALK ABOUT IT. WE have to support the Dems.  Call CSpan.  If you're good at arguing and think quickly on your feet, call in to radio stations, especially if it's a non-political show that is talking about politics.  Write LTEs.  We need to make ourselves heard.  Get used to writing a letter to the editor.  Sometimes it's quite easy to turn a really good post on a subject into an LTE.  Your area probably has more newspapers than you think.  A lot of newspapers have a one letter per month limit.  If so, spread your LTEs around.  An LTE gets published in one publication...then, write another LTE the next week in another publication.  Talk to co-workers, friends, and family about it.  Bring it up in the elevator, so that everyone else on the ride up/down can hear the truth :-)  BE FIRM, NOT SHRILL. You can write your letter here, submit your info, and the DNC will send it to area newspapers.

KEEP PEOPLE UP TO DATE. If you find a factual article about SS, email it to everyone you know. Friends, family, co-workers.  Are you a jogger, and interested in killing two birds with one stone? Make photocopies, and leave one stuck in the doorway of a neighbor.  Do this every once in awhile. Hammer home the message.  (Come to think of it...the Democrats ought to consider a national exercise program. Exercise and be a good citizen at the same time!)

CONTACT YOUR REPRESENTATIVES. Both Republican and Democratic. If you've got a Republican rep, contact the rep for their position on Social Security and privatization.  Keep a very close eye on any differences between their letter and what they say in public or elsewhere (on Cato Institute's website, for example). If you've got a Democratic rep, make sure he/she is on the correct side of the issue.  Politely urge them to stand firm.  If the person is equivocating (Joe Lieberman, this means you), post in the replies or email me, and we'll be sure to do an email blast when I put up the next SS Action Alert diary.

EMAIL THIS DIARY to friends, family and co-workers who are already on our side and want to help. This will hopefully not only get them politically active on this issue, but in general as well. Campaign volunteers are easier to recruit if you've got people who have been active before. EMAIL THIS LINK There is no crisis ( (Have the There Is No Crisis people bought up other urls to redirect to this site? Just a thought.)

LINK IT! Put the link to the No Crisis website in the signature for every message board you visit and in your profile (on a dating service, in your IM profile, etc.) Quick, easy, efficient

Bush and the limits of freedom

Bush and the limits of freedom
By Thomas Oliphant  
Boston Globe
  January 23, 2005
THE REAL political clash here last week did not involve Republicans and Democrats. It pitted Bush Bromides against Rice Realities.
During the mildly contentious hearings for her confirmation as secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice could not avoid grubby details of foreign policy that belied President Bush's focus on freedom as convincingly as they demonstrated what a diversion from the war on terror the mess in Iraq has become. The press's fixation on alleged fireworks during her Senate Foreign Relations Committee testimony missed a more troubling review of specifics. Take, for example, Africa.
According to US officials, there are significant terrorist organizations operating today with virtual impunity in northern, western, and southern Africa.
Members of Congress have been pressing a recalcitrant Bush administration to develop a comprehensive strategy to deal with one of the most dangerous (and heart-breaking) situations of all -- in Somalia.
Some Americans may remember military and intelligence activity in that area shortly after the 9/11 attacks, when there was great concern and confusion about where Osama bin Laden might be seeking sanctuary. Since that time, the attention paid Somalia has dwindled toward insignificance.
And yet as Democratic Senator Russ Feingold of Wisconsin has noted with appropriate alarm, Somalia is a "country" where only 11 percent of the kids are getting a primary education.
Feingold can cite many other facts about the region that ought to be alarming -- whether one's concern is human rights or terrorism or both.....

Saturday, January 22, 2005

Just Three Things

Just Three Things
By Mike Lux
As part of our ongoing effort to keep you fully informed of current political events and their consequences, The Daily Reality Check is featuring a column by political strategist Mike Lux that will appear on Fridays.
There are three things Democrats need to do in 2005. First, they have to fight Bush's Social Security benefit cuts and privatization bill, winning both in the Congressional fight and the message battle. Second, they are (almost 100 percent certainly) going to have to fight and win the message war on a right-wing Bush appointment to the Supreme Court. Third, they are going to have to figure out what the hell it means to be a Democrat, and how to say it briefly and compellingly – in short, they have to figure out their brand and start selling it.
Don't get me wrong: there will be a ton of other important things going on that folks will be working on - the battle over the federal budget, the energy bill, immigration reform, gubernatorial and state legislative races in New Jersey and Virginia, mayoral and other local races all over the country, as well as raising money and laying the groundwork for 2006 races up and down the ticket.
It all matters. But the things I stated at the beginning of this column are the big enchiladas, the 800 pound gorillas, and any other clichés you can think up. Those are the things that will matter the most to the future of the country and the Democratic Party. They are the things that will decide George Bush's legacy and the success or failure of his second term. They are the things which will be at the heart of whether Democrats start making up ground in 2006, and win the presidency in 2008....

Protesters make waves at Bush coronation tea party

Jackson Thoreau: 'Protesters make waves at Bush coronation tea party'
Posted on Saturday, January 22 @ 09:56:05 EST
Stay strong, our day will come
By Jackson Thoreau
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- If you read most mainstream media accounts, you'd think there wasn't much of a protest during Bush's January 2005 coronation week.
You probably wouldn't read about the members of the national women's peace group Code Pink, who obtained tickets to the inauguration from their Congress reps and got up close to Bush on Thursday as he strained to recall some memorized lines. After Bush issued his standard propaganda about "spreading" freedom in faraway lands like it was chicken feed as he took away the same in his own country, Code Pinkers, including co-founders Medea Benjamin, 51, and Jodie Evans, 50, unrolled anti-war banners and shouted some better lines: "Champagne is flying while soldiers are dying."
Dittobushies began chanting themselves, causing Bush to appear shaken and stop his acting lines. Some of the overkill army of police dragged the women away and let most go, while holding Benjamin and Diane Wilson, 56, of Texas for at least another day.
Score one for Bush opponents....

Friday, January 21, 2005

THE URBAN ARCHIPELAGO: It's the Cities, Stupid.

by The Editors of The Stranger

It's the Cities, Stupid.
There are two maps on this page.
The one at the top should be familiar. It's one of those red-state/blue-state maps that have been tormenting Democrats, liberals, and progressives since November of 2000. Over the 36 days that George W. Bush and Al Gore fought for the White House in Florida, "red" and "blue" became metaphors for America's divided electorate. Red vs. Blue--Democrat vs. Republican; liberal vs. conservative; pro-life vs. pro-choice; gun-huggers vs. gun-haters; gay-huggers vs. gay-haters.
The red-state/blue-state map opposite shows the results of 2004's presidential election--red states won by George W. Bush, blue states won by John F. Kerry. But the red-state/blue-state map is misleading. If a Republican presidential candidate takes 50 percent of the vote plus 1 vote in any given state, the whole state is colored red (even worse, a mere plurality of voters can turn a state red when third parties are involved). The same goes for the Democratic candidate--corral the most votes, and the whole state is colored blue. But painting an entire state one color or the other creates a false impression, an impression that we believe is hampering the Democratic Party's efforts to pull itself out of its tailspin.
Take a look at the second map. This map shows a county-by-county red/blue breakdown, and it provides a clearer picture of the bind the Democrats finds themselves in. The majority of the blue states--Washington, Oregon, California, Illinois, Minnesota, Michigan, Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, Delaware--are, geographically speaking, not blue states. They are blue cities. ..

Do You Suffer News Fatigue?

Do You Suffer News Fatigue?
Sick of dour headlines? Too much Bush and war and death and homophobia and Bush? You are not alone
By Mark Morford, SF Gate Columnist
Friday, January 21, 2005
Maybe it was the deluge of deeply nauseating election stories. Maybe it was the horrifying election results.
Maybe it was the staggering news of the tsunami devastation or the continued uptick of the number of U.S. dead in Iraq. Maybe it was Abu Ghraib or the brutal Fallujah carnage or the obvious and bitter stories of the foregone failure of the search for WMD.
Was it continued tales of America's staggering deficit? Our humiliatingly weakened dollar? Our nation's current miserable standing in the international community? Shots of Bush's motorcade cruising down Pennsylvania Avenue, heading for Nightmare Term II, as people booed and threw eggs and turned their backs in disgust?
Or maybe it was merely the standard postcoital tryst following the holiday consumerist orgy wherein you just want to bury your head in a pile of recycled Pottery Barn catalogs and wait for spring. You think?
Whatever the reason, news fatigue is rampant right now....

Fireworks in Washington, despair around the world

Fireworks in Washington, despair around the world
The Bush administration is in denial about its disastrous failure in Iraq
Robin Cook
Friday January 21, 2005
The Guardian
Inauguration does not do justice to the exuberant celebrations of this week. Coronation would come closer. Washington ended yesterday with nine official balls. The night before George Bush gave a new spin to the phrase moveable feast by fitting in three separate banquets. He then expended as much ordnance in peppering the sky over the Capitol with fireworks as would get his occupation forces in Iraq through a whole 24 hours.
The contrasts between this uninhibited triumphalism and the real world are as wide as the American continent. One visible contrast was provided by the demonstrators camping out on the streets to protest at such extravagant waste by an administration waging its own jihad on programmes against poverty on the grounds that the federal budget cannot afford welfare. Yesterday, Bush gave a new spin on welfare cuts by presenting them as progress to an ownership society. The thousands of wealthy donors to the campaign to re-elect the president who turned up at those dinners adore this concept of an ownership society in which they get hefty tax cuts paid for by the poor who get their budgets cuts.
Then there is the sharp contrast between the self-indulgent hubris of the festivity and the fragile political victory which it celebrated. Bush was re-elected by the smallest margin in 100 years of those presidents who won a second term. His approval ratings this week are the lowest ever plumbed by any president at the date of his inauguration. But among the balls, banquets and bangs there was not a hint of the humility that would be the essential starting point for a process of healing the deep political division of his nation. The message of the jubilations could not be clearer. He won another four years and was going to enjoy them, while the other side lost and was going to have to put up with it....

A real patriot sends a silent message

Ellis Henican
A real patriot sends a silent message
January 21, 2005
It's always the men who've never fought one who call the loudest for war. It's the quiet dissent that tends to come from men who have.
Men like Alex Ryabov.
Alex is 22 years old. He was born in Ukraine and moved as a child to Ocean Parkway in Brooklyn. When he was old enough, he was proud to join the Marines. Without complaint, he went off to fight in Operation Iraqi Freedom, the hopeful name the Bush administration gave to the early part of the war. This gung-ho corporal was ammo chief for R-battery, 5th Battalion, 10th Regiment, a legendarily tough artillery unit that brought giant howitzers into war. R-battery seemed to be everywhere when U.S. troops rolled across Iraq.
"We moved in from the Kuwait-Iraq border," Alex was recalling yesterday. "Fired into Nasiriyah. Fired into Baghdad. We kept on firing all the way to Tikrit."
The war comes alive when he talks. But as Alex spoke yesterday, he was about as far as you could get from those battered Iraqi cities and the people on both sides who died there. He was standing at Constitution Avenue and Third Street in the heart of downtown Washington, waiting for his former commander-in-chief to roll by.
Four blocks away at the Capitol, George W. Bush had delivered an especially pugnacious inaugural address. It was wrapped in the sentimental language of modern politics. But the meaning was infinitely clear, as far-reaching and as bellicose as any inaugural ever. Bush sketched out his second-term vision for America, a nation with an almost moral duty to topple whatever governments don't meet our definition of free.

Quote of the day

When I looked today at the oaf of office, I could not shake the feeling that this election was an intelligence test that America flunked. Greg Palast

The good gringo' — the story of Paul Bardwell

Randolph T. Holhut: ''The good gringo' — the story of Paul Bardwell'
Posted on Friday, January 21 @ 09:57:12 EST
By Randolph T. Holhut
HATFIELD, Mass. - At a time when most of the world views the United States with a mixture of fear and disgust, it is necessary to remember that not every American is ugly, and many people out there are working to promote the best values of our country.
We lost one of those people on Nov. 29. His name was Paul Bardwell and he died of cancer at the age of 49 in a country he loved dearly - Colombia.
It is a unlikely story - the eldest son of a Yankee family that traces its lineage in this little New England town to the Colonial era, becoming a revered figure in a South American country that Americans only think of as a place of cocaine and violence. But it is a story worth telling, because it shows that the best diplomacy comes from the people, and that art and culture can build more bridges than guns and tanks ever will.
Hatfield is my home town, and I came back on Jan. 15 for a memorial service for Paul. I know his family well, and his accomplishments were a constant source of pride to them all.
In the back parlor of the Congregational Church, the family posted a map of the world. They surrounded it with blowups of pages from nearly 30 years of Paul's passports, and they put a push pin in every country he visited - 88 in all, on every continent except the poles.
Paul loved travel, but of all the places he went, he loved Colombia the best. He first arrived there in December 1977. He had just graduated from Gettysburg College, and he and his brother Jonathan decided to take a bus-and-train trip through Mexico and Central America. Their journey ended in Medellin, the Andean city that would become synonymous with drug trafficking a decade later.
Paul fell in love with Medellin and its people. He immersed himself into Colombian life. He moved there and never returned to Hatfield.
In 1979, he started working for the Colombian American Bi National Center - or the Colombo Americano, as the locals call it - a private, non-profit, locally-run organization devoted to cultural and academic exchange between the United States, Colombia and the rest of the world. The Colombo accepts no government money and is very protective of its independence.
By 1983, Paul was the Colombo's director, and the center had been transformed from being primarily an English language institute to a cultural center and meeting place for the people of Medellin.
"Paul Bardwell was always convinced of one thing: that people always wanted to know more and that he was going to respond to that need," wrote the Medellin newspaper El Colombiano after his death. "He was never wrong about that. ...(He) always said, 'Culture is about what we speak, live, eat and express.'"
Not even terrorism could shake that vision. On April 14, 1988, guerrillas from the M-19, a leftist terrorist group, set off a 90-pound bomb that destroyed the Colombo's library. Instead of seeing disaster, Paul saw opportunity. He rebuilt the library - now the largest bilingual library in the city - within a matter of weeks. He then continued to make the Colombo a focal point of culture by opening up a pair of movie theaters, a restaurant and an art gallery.
He kept the Colombo in downtown Medellin at a time when many of its institutions were fleeing. He gave the art film scene a boost by helping start up a magazine,"Kinetoscopio." He pushed the artistic boundaries of the Colombo as far as he could, bringing the art of his adopted city to the rest of the world. He routinely worked from sunrise to sunset. His Yankee stubbornness and work ethic, combined with his love of life and culture, made him an unstoppable force.
That Paul Bardwell managed to accomplish so much in a country wracked by a four-decade long civil war that has killed more than 40,000 people, a country that's the third largest recipient of U.S. military aid (after Israel and Egypt), a place that has become the most dangerous nation in the Western Hemisphere, is nothing short of a miracle.
Paul got a funeral worthy of a head of state in Medellin. His body was laid in state in the first floor atrium of the Colombo. After the funeral service there, his coffin was carried out amid a long and loud roar of applause mixed with tears for the man they called "The Good Gringo."
Just before his death, Medellin presented Paul with the Porfiro Barba Jacob Medal, the city's most prestigious cultural award. Juan Diego Mejia, the city's secretary of culture, called him, "The Best Plan Colombia," a subtle swipe at the U.S. military aid program that has poured billions of dollars into Colombia over the past decade as part of the "war on drugs."
In diplomatic circles, the phrase "soft power" often comes up. It refers to the use of methods other than military force to achieve geopolitical influence. One can say that Paul Bardwell's use of art, cinema, dance and literature was soft power at its best. But he wasn't doing it at the behest of the United States or to advance its interests. His country truly was the world, and he believed to his dying day that building bridges between all cultures was the most important thing anyone can do.
There are many people in the Americas who will make sure Paul Bardwell's work will be carried on. The Gallery of the Centro Colombo Americano will be renamed the Paul Cory Bardwell Gallery at a Feb. 10 ceremony in Medellin. There are also plans in the works to start up a foundation to continue, in the words of gallery director Juan Alberto Gaviria, "the ideals which (Paul) devoted all his life, to use art as an instrument of peace among nations."
That ideal - using the arts as an instrument of peace - is about as good a monument as one can hope for when one's life is through. If a new tradition of peace and understanding can take root in the world, it will be people like Paul Bardwell that make it happen.
Randolph T. Holhut has been a journalist in New England for more than 20 years. He edited "The George Seldes Reader" (Barricade Books). He can be reached at For more information on the Centro Colombo Americano, visit or call (574) 513-4444.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Conservatives Pick Soft Target: A Cartoon Sponge

Conservatives Pick Soft Target: A Cartoon Sponge
Published: January 20, 2005
ASHINGTON, Jan. 19 - On the heels of electoral victories barring same-sex marriage, some influential conservative Christian groups are turning their attention to a new target: the cartoon character SpongeBob SquarePants.
"Does anybody here know SpongeBob?" Dr. James C. Dobson, the founder of Focus on the Family, asked the guests Tuesday night at a black-tie dinner for members of Congress and political allies to celebrate the election results.
SpongeBob needed no introduction. In addition to his popularity among children, who watch his cartoon show, he has become a well-known camp figure among adult gay men, perhaps because he holds hands with his animated sidekick Patrick and likes to watch the imaginary television show "The Adventures of Mermaid Man and Barnacle Boy."...

Marines stretching movement: Protesting urban warfare in Toledo

Mike Ferner: 'Marines stretching movement: Protesting urban warfare in Toledo'
Posted on Thursday, January 20 @ 10:10:32 EST
By Mike Ferner
No, this is not a military-oriented guide to keeping fit.  Yet it has made some people uncomfortable if not downright sore.
It's about the peace movement and how a U.S. Marine company using downtown Toledo for "urban warfare" training January 7-8, provided an opportunity for activists to think and act beyond normal limits.
With barely a week's notice, an article in the local paper announced that a weapons company of the 1st Battalion, 24th Marine Reserves would spend a weekend running around our downtown, honing combat skills by firing blanks at imaginary enemies. The North West Ohio Peace Coalition (NWOPC) and local Veterans for Peace (VFP) designed a response, different from what many in the peace movement had seen or that some were even comfortable with.
That response was:....

Coronation in the Garrison State'

Mike Whitney: 'Coronation in the Garrison State'
Posted on Thursday, January 20 @ 10:11:48 EST
By Mike Whitney

"Fascism should more properly be called corporatism because it is the merger of state and corporate power."
-- Benito Mussolini
The Bush inauguration is designed to shock the American public into noticing the fundamental changes within the government. Like Guantanamo, it is intended to be more symbolic than substantive. The event is a means of acclimating people to the seismic shift in the basic structure of the state. The administration has swiftly taken the country from Republic to National Security State, and is saturating the public consciousness with that new reality.
The presence of 4,000 fully-armed policemen, many in riot-gear, will be the first thing that most people notice. Security has never been tighter even though there's no indication of a terrorist threat. This unnecessary show of force isn't a sign of paranoia on the part of the administration. It's a political calculation to discourage dissent. The excessive demonstration of power is exactly what the inauguration architects had in mind. It's their way of saying, "Get used to it."
The same rule applies to the 2,500 military personnel who will be deployed to the streets of Washington DC. They serve the dual purpose of intimidating the public and celebrating the further militarization of the nation.
That militarization has never been as conspicuous or as extreme as for this second inaugural event. According to the Associated Press, the capital has readied itself, "with rooftop snipers, missile batteries, bomb-sniffing dogs, high-tech monitors and miles of metal barricades... Coast Guard cutters are on duty in the Potomac River, while customs aircraft and other surveillance flights are in the skies above the city. Sophisticated sensors to detect chemical, radiological or biological material are in place," and, "Canine bomb-sniffing squads, bicycle patrols and crowd control units also are at the ready... Hour by hour the city of grand buildings and marble statues disappears behind curtains of steel security fences and concrete barriers."...

Blair urges more consensual US approach as poll shows unease in 18 out of 21 nations

Blair urges more consensual US approach as poll shows unease in 18 out of 21 nations
Ewen MacAskill, diplomatic editor
Thursday January 20, 2005
The Guardian
George Bush will be sworn in as president of the United States for a second term today in a lavish Washington ceremony, amid mounting international concern that his new administration will make the world a more dangerous place.
A poll of 21 countries published yesterday - reflecting opinion in Africa, Latin America, North America, Asia and Europe - showed that a clear majority have grave fears about the next four years.
Fifty-eight per cent of the 22,000 who took part in the poll, commissioned by the BBC World Service, said they expected Mr Bush to have a negative impact on peace and security, compared with only 26% who considered him a positive force.
The survey also indicated for the first time that dislike of Mr Bush is translating into a dislike of Americans in general....

A New Deal to scupper a presidency

A New Deal to scupper a presidency
Bush is taking a huge gamble with his assault on the social contract
Sidney Blumenthal
Thursday January 20, 2005
The Guardian
In his second term, President Bush is determined on regime change. The country whose order he seeks to overthrow is not ruled by mullahs or Ba'athists. But members of his administration have compared its system to communism. The battle will be "one of the most important conservative undertakings of modern times", the deputy to White House political director Karl Rove wrote in a confidential memo. Since the election, the president has spoken often of the "coming crisis" and he has mobilised the government to begin a propaganda campaign to prepare public opinion for the conflict ahead. The nation whose regime he is set on toppling is the United States.
Since the New Deal, the American social contract has been built upon acceptance of its reforms. When Dwight Eisenhower became the first Republican president after Franklin Roosevelt and Harry Truman, he never challenged the New Deal, solidifying the political consensus that had prevailed for decades. But now Bush has launched an assault on the social contract in earnest, seeking to blast away at its cornerstone, social security, which disburses pensions to the elderly and payments to the disabled.....

Tuesday, January 18, 2005


January 18, 2005
Kevin Drum

COVERT OPS....Seymour Hersh's latest New Yorker article is getting a lot of attention because of his allegation that the Bush administration has plans to invade Iran. But that's not what really caught my eye after reading through his piece. Here's what Hersh said.

First, that the Defense Department is conducting special ops reconnaissance inside Iran and developing plans to destroy Iran's nuclear bomb program. This is undoubtedly true. But that's what militaries do: they create plans. Frankly, they'd be derelict if they weren't trying to figure out where Iran's nuclear sites were and developing contingencies for taking them out.

Second, that in return for Pakistani cooperation we agreed not to make a fuss about A.Q. Khan's nuclear network. By itself, that doesn't strike me as much of a bombshell either. The Pakistanis have supposedly agreed to shut down Khan's network, after all, and it's merely a public humiliation of Khan himself that we've agreed to forego. I can live with that if we genuinely got some valuable cooperation in return.

Third, that they're dead serious about all these plans and a strike against Iran is already a certainty. But that's not all: Hersh says administration hawks are convinced — again — that not only will this destroy Iran's nuclear program, but will also provoke a pro-western uprising against the mullahs. It's regime change on the cheap, Part 2! This fantasyland thinking is obviously more disturbing, but at the same time Hersh's sources for all this seem fairly thin. Definitely worth keeping an eye on, though.

Fourth, though, is the part that ought to be getting more attention. Hersh says — with seemingly considerable backup — that the administration has a broad plan to remove covert operations from the CIA and centralize them all in the Pentagon. Why? Because they believe that Pentagon ops are exempt from 70s-era laws that limit covert activities. In other words, no oversight. Just lock and load.

That's something that deserves some more scrutiny. You can obviously make an argument that 9/11 profoundly changed the way we wage war, and you can also make an argument that laws passed three decades ago ought to be revisited and updated. But this is a debate we should be having loudly and publicly, not in back rooms and closed door briefings. If we don't, we'll regret it a decade from now. We always do.

Monday, January 17, 2005

The Torture Memo By Judge Jay S. Bybee That Haunted Alberto Gonzales's Confirmation Hearings

The Torture Memo By Judge Jay S. Bybee That Haunted Alberto Gonzales's Confirmation Hearings
Friday, Jan. 14, 2005
White House Counsel Alberto Gonzales now has had his confirmation hearing, and is on his way to becoming the new Attorney General of the United States. In that position, he can serve as a firewall for the president.
As confirmation hearings go, this was about as uneventful as they come, which is exactly what the White House wanted: no new headlines.
Recognizably, after four years in Washington, Gonzales has learned the craft of the non-responsive answer. His practice hearing sessions before traveling to Capitol Hill prepared him well to speak naught.
Actually, Gonzales, it turns out, was not the only focus of attention at his confirmation hearings. Time and again, one heard the name Jay S. Bybee - now a federal appellate judge. Bybee was confirmed for his seat on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit by the Senate on March 13, 2003.
The reason Bybee's name came up so frequently was that he signed and sent the now-infamous August 1, 2002 torture memorandum to Gonzales. At the time, Bybee was Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) - an office once called the conscience of the Justice Department....

we didn't have a nickel: social security

we didn't have a nickel: social security
by kid oakland
Daily Kos
Sun Jan 16th, 2005 at 18:19:00 PST
My Grandmother, at 92, is one of a dwindling number of living Americans who can remember, as an adult, what it was like to live through the Great Depression.  I can recall one bucolic summer Sunday afternoon in the mid-1980's sitting with her and my Grandfather talking about what life was like on a family farm in those troubled times.
For folks in the Upper Midwest, they said, things got really bad....but not as bad as used a barter system based on raising hogs and chickens and milking dairy cows to stem the tide when they lacked money to pay for essentials.  The bad weather and soil erosion of the Dust Bowl nearly pushed many folks over the response, my grandparents said, women and men worked side by side in the fields trying to save whatever harvest they could.  Whole families mobilized to stave off poverty, hunger and the loss of their land.
Hearing all this, and seeing in their eyes that I could not really understand what they went through....ages 17-28 mind you...I tried to break the ice by quipping..."Gosh, it sounds like you didn't have a dime."
My Grandmother smiled...and looked me directly in the eyes...
"We didn't have a nickel."
The folks who want to privatize Social Security are banking on a fact that most of us don't even begin to realize.  We are so removed in this nation from widespread poverty and the consequences of a prolonged economic downturn that we've forgotten the roots of why our government instituted the New Deal and the Great Society in the first place.
In 1960, when Michael Harrington wrote the Other America (click on the link for an excellent article by Harold Meyerson from which this data is culled): "the Census Bureau had concluded that almost 60 percent of seniors had annual incomes under $1,000 a year, at a time when the government estimated an adequate yearly budget for a retired couple to be roughly $3,000."  In other words...most of our nation's senior citizens lived in, or close to, poverty....

Out of the Darkness

Out of the Darkness
NY Times
Published: January 17, 2005
Atlanta — You could get dizzy thinking about the history that has passed in and out of Ebenezer Baptist Church, which was the spiritual home (and primary safe house) of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the civil rights movement of the 1950's and 60's. There's now a spiffy new church right across the street, but the memories of the battles fought and the freedom gained in that tumultuous period live on in the old building, with its narrow stairways and creaking floors, and the basement where so many strategy sessions were held.
On Friday night I had the privilege of joining the actors Martin Sheen, Lynn Redgrave, Alfre Woodard, Sean Penn, Woody Harrelson and others in a reading at the old church of Ariel Dorfman's play "Speak Truth to Power: Voices From Beyond the Dark," which is based on the book "Speak Truth to Power," by Kerry Kennedy and the photographer Eddie Adams. The occasion marked the 76th anniversary of Dr. King's birth (he was only 39 when he was killed) and the 40th anniversary of his acceptance of the Nobel Peace Prize. Among those in the audience was Dr. King's widow, Coretta.
"Speak Truth to Power" is about the emergence of courage and moral leadership in those bleak periods when free expression, religious liberty, human rights and even our very humanity are threatened by destructive forces that range from indifference to murderous brutality. The leadership often comes from unexpected sources, like Bobby Muller, an American Marine lieutenant whose spinal cord was severed when he was shot in the back in Vietnam. He became a champion of veterans' rights and years later, as a co-founder of the Campaign to Ban Land Mines, shared the Nobel Peace Prize.
Mr. Muller, in a wheelchair, was also in the audience at Ebenezer on Friday night .
"Courage begins with one voice," said Oscar Arias Sanchez, the former president of Costa Rica, who won the Nobel Prize in 1987 for developing a Central American peace plan.
Both the play and the book are made up of passages from interviews of men and women who, in a wide variety of ways, defended human rights in countries that span the globe. Dianna Ortiz is an Ursuline nun from New Mexico who went to Guatemala in the 1980's as a missionary. She was abducted, gang raped and tortured by government agents. She said one of the men overseeing the torture appeared to be American. At one point she was lowered into a pit filled with the bodies of men, women and children who had been murdered.
"To this day," said Sister Ortiz, "I can smell the decomposing of bodies disposed of in an open pit. I can hear the piercing screams of other people being tortured."
In a short introduction to Sister Ortiz's interview in the book, Ms. Kennedy wrote:
"Ortiz's ordeal did not end with her escape. Her torment continued as she sought answers from the U.S. government about the identity of her torturers in her unrelenting quest for justice. Ortiz's raw honesty and capacity to articulate the agony she suffered compelled the United States to declassify long-secret files on Guatemala, and shed light on some of the darkest moments of Guatemalan history and American foreign policy."
Sister Ortiz now runs a center for survivors of torture.
The most hopeful thing to be drawn from Mr. Dorfman's play and Ms. Kennedy's book is that effective leadership can come from anywhere, at any time. From my perspective, this is a dark moment in American history. The Treasury has been raided and the loot is being turned over by the trainload to those who are already the richest citizens in the land. We've launched a hideous war for no good reason in Iraq. And we're about to elevate to the highest law enforcement position in the land a man who helped choreograph the American effort to evade the international prohibitions against torture.
Never since his assassination in 1968 have I felt the absence of Martin Luther King more acutely. Where are today's voices of moral outrage? Where is the leadership willing to stand up and say: Enough! We've sullied ourselves enough.
I'm convinced, without being able to prove it, that those voices will emerge. There was a time when no one had heard of Dr. King. Or Oscar Arias Sanchez. Or Martin O'Brien, who founded the foremost human rights organization in Northern Ireland, and who tells us: "The worst thing is apathy - to sit idly by in the face of injustice and to do nothing about it."

Social Security

Editorial: Social Security/Blacks get more, not less, from it
January 17, 2005 ED0117
Of all the lies -- let's call them by their right name -- that the Bush administration is spreading about Social Security, none is as vile as the canard Bush repeated last Tuesday, when he said, "African-American males die sooner than other males do, which means the [Social Security] system is inherently unfair to a certain group of people. And that needs to be fixed." That is an entirely phony assertion; it has been debunked by the Social Security Administration, by the Government Accountability Office and by other experts. Bush and those around him know that. For them to repeat what they know to be a blatant lie is despicable fear-mongering.
Bush didn't make up this phony line on his own; it comes from the Heritage Foundation, which a number of years ago did a study purporting to show that because African-Americans have a shorter life expectancy than whites, they get less in return for the taxes they pay into the Social Security system....


A Question of Numbers
Published: January 16, 2005
In 1938, the Social Security Act was only three years old, but its future was already very much in doubt. Conservatives claimed it would bankrupt the nation, and independent critics argued that the way it was financed amounted to ''financial hocus-pocus,'' as one editorial in The New York Times put it. President Franklin D. Roosevelt defended the program, said by a cabinet member to be his favorite, with some of his trademark oratory. ''Because it has become increasingly difficult for individuals to build their own security,'' the president told a national radio audience, ''government must now step in and help them lay the foundation stones.''
Social Security did become the cornerstone -- not only the biggest government entitlement plan but also the most universal, the most popular and the most enduring. But the debate over Social Security never ended. Barry Goldwater wanted to repeal it; Milton Friedman wrote in 1962 that it was an unjustifiable incursion on personal liberty; and David Stockman, the budget director who personified Ronald Reagan's efforts to shrink the federal government, tried to take a hatchet to Social Security, which he called a ''monster.''
But in this 70-year struggle, no other conservative has ever come as close to transforming the program as George W. Bush. He is making Social Security reform, including a partial privatization, a centerpiece of his second term. If the most ardent ideologues have their way, such a reform would be a first step toward a wholly new approach to retirement security -- one that would set aside the notion of collective insurance and guaranteed minimums for that of personal investing and responsibility.
This could do more to reverse the New Deal, and even the Great Society, than Goldwater, Stockman and Reagan ever dreamed of....

Sunday, January 16, 2005

Kennedy's journey back to the future

Kennedy's journey back to the future
By Thomas Oliphant, Boston Globe Columnist
January 16, 2005
FOR HIS annual message to the Democratic Party, Senator Edward M. Kennedy last week drew on three minds influenced by his party's modern architect, Franklin D. Roosevelt.
Kennedy built this year's oration -- always studied with care in the political world because for an old, washed-up guy Kennedy has this enduring ability to see ahead -- on a journey back to the future. The New Deal, which grew out of earlier notions of a social contract between society and those who are willing to a work in a market economy, was above all a combination of efforts to promote opportunity and provide security. You want values? Try these: fairness, tolerance, mutual respect -- for everybody. Kennedy chose not to include moving to the center or triangulation among polarized opinions. That doesn't make him more or less liberal than other Democrats; it should just remind those interested in public life that values are deep in a progressive person's soul.
For major examples this year, Kennedy delved into a security theme (healthcare) and an opportunity theme (higher education) -- each rooted in those values and that dream.
Healthcare was the one that got away from Roosevelt. Harry Truman revived it, John Kennedy put it on the national agenda in 1960, and Lyndon Johnson presided over the creation of Medicare and Medicaid 40 years ago....

Saturday, January 15, 2005

How to File Complaints with the Social Security Administration

According to the New York Times, "Social Security Enlisted to Push Its Own Revision," The Social Security Administration, over the objections of many of its own employees, is gearing up for a major effort to publicize the financial problems of Social Security and to convince the public that private accounts are needed as part of any solution. The agency's plans are set forth in internal documents, including a "tactical plan" for communications and marketing of the idea that Social Security faces dire financial problems requiring immediate action. Your tax dollars at work...

To complain to the Social Security Administration, go to Social Security Administration.

Fighting for the work of the Lord: Christian fascism in America

Gary Leupp: 'Fighting for the work of the Lord: Christian fascism in America'
Posted on Friday, January 14 @ 10:22:15 EST
By Gary Leupp
Commentators right and left are talking about fascism in the U.S. of A. Libertarian conservative Lew Rockwell, in a recent article entitled "The Reality of Red-State Fascism," declares, "what we have alive in the US is an updated and Americanized fascism."
Fellow libertarian Justin Raimondo, in a piece called "Today's Conservatives are Fascists," calls the neocons shaping U.S. foreign policy "fascists, pure and simple." United Methodist minister Rev. William E. Alberts accuses some of Bush's followers of upholding a "super religion displaying tendencies similar to Hitler's super race with its fascist ideology of superiority."
Meanwhile the Revolutionary Communist Party circulates in the tens of thousands a statement declaring that "Bush and his people" are "Christian Fascists---dangerous fanatics who aim to make the U.S. a religious dictatorship and to force this upon the world." This is quite a wide spectrum of anti-fascist opinion.
I think it's good the f-word is out there, and the issue on the table. Fascism needs to be discussed....

Banana Republican America'

Margaret Kimberly: 'Banana Republican America'
Posted on Saturday, January 15 @ 08:54:56 EST
By Margaret Kimberly
The Black Commentator
"It's not even Election Day yet, and the Kerry-Edwards campaign is already down by almost a million votes."
- Greg Palast, November 1, 2004
On January 6, 2005 the United States Congress certified the results of the election that took place last November 2nd and declared that George W. Bush had been duly elected president. They certified a lot more than an election outcome. It is now official. This nation has become the world's most powerful banana republic. Perhaps the Bush family will have presidents for life, just like the Duvaliers in Haiti.
America is governed by one party rule, the press does not dare provoke that one party, the opposition party is afraid to oppose, the wealthy are getting wealthier by using the national treasury as their private piggy bank, civil liberties are under assault, workers think themselves lucky to earn starvation wages at Wal-Mart, and the man nominated to become the chief law enforcement official in the land has put in writing that torture is not such a bad thing after all....

The Bush Zone

The Bush Zone (with Apologies to Rod Serling)
    By John Cory
    t r u t h o u t | Perspective/Satire
    Friday 14 January 2005
There is a fifth realm beyond known reality. It is a realm as vast as space and timeless as infinity. It is the middle ground of haze and shadow, between science and superstition, and it lies at the pit of man's fears. This is the realm of the unimaginable. It is an area we call "The Bush Zone."
    Meet Mr. and Mrs. America, faithful believers in the one true nation. They arise each morning and stand before the mirror reciting their daily mantra: "It's a grand old flag! Leader of the free world! We're no. 1!" Their iconic reflection smiles back, a warm and homemade apple pie image of the best of everything, the best medical care, the most powerful military, and the best political system of any country in the world. The mirror never lies.
    But this morning, Mr. And Mrs. America, discover a warped mirror that casts a disturbing and twisted funhouse reflection of their former selves. Daily slogans are powerless against this distorted likeness, and all that they once held sacred now ripples across the glass in a deformed and misshapen wave of elongated ugliness. Mr. And Mrs. America just stepped through the looking glass and into the Bush Zone.
    Submitted for your consideration: citizens of the wealthiest country in the world seek salvation via the free-market system. They organize bake sales and eBay auctions to raise money for medical therapy not covered by their profit-driven corporate HMOs, only to discover that some of that money is also needed to purchase body armor the Pentagon failed to provide to their sons and daughters in Iraq. War is never cheap, but always profitable in the Bush Zone....