Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Check back in

Molly Ivins
Creators Syndicate

Check back in
Summer's over, and the world's still here

AUSTIN -- Seems like every year at the end of summer there's this sense of coming back from somewhere, whether we've gone anywhere or not. Whatever the summer pattern is -- a swim, the kids, a stroll --- it's as though we sort of blink and there's the world again, still there. Very much still there.

I suppose if you're George W. Bush, the world never does go away no matter how long you spend on vacation; it just sort of camps at the end of your driveway like Cindy Sheehan. Those of us who study politics and the media got to watch Cindy Sheehan being slimed by the right-wing attack machine -- hey, no free passes just because you're a mom whose kid was killed in Iraq. We also get to watch left-wing PR people exploit her grief, because you can't even be for peace without public relations anymore. This is The World, after all.

Check back in on the world and find the same people making the same arguments about Iraq -- glass is half-empty, glass is half-full; things are better, things are worse; is not, is so. Meantime, the odometer of war keeps clicking higher no matter who makes the arguments or who hears them -- 1,800 dead Americans, uncounted tens of thousands of Iraqis....

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

“For They That Sow the Wind Shall Reap the Whirlwind

Robert F. Kennedy Jr.
“For They That Sow the Wind Shall Reap the Whirlwind”

As Hurricane Katrina dismantles Mississippi’s Gulf Coast, it’s worth recalling the central role that Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour played in derailing the Kyoto Protocol and kiboshing President Bush’s iron-clad campaign promise to regulate CO2.

In March of 2001, just two days after EPA Administrator Christie Todd Whitman’s strong statement affirming Bush’s CO2 promise former RNC Chief Barbour responded with an urgent memo to the White House.

Barbour, who had served as RNC Chair and Bush campaign strategist, was now representing the president’s major donors from the fossil fuel industry who had enlisted him to map a Bush energy policy that would
be friendly to their interests. His credentials ensured the new administration’s attention.

The document, titled “Bush-Cheney Energy Policy & CO2,” was addressed to Vice President Cheney, whose energy task force was then gearing up, and to several high-ranking officials with strong connections to energy and automotive concerns keenly interested in the carbon dioxide issue, including Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham, Interior Secretary Gale Norton, Commerce Secretary Don Evans, White House chief of staff Andy Card and legislative liaison Nick Calio. Barbour pointedly omitted the names of Whitman and Treasury Secretary Paul O’Neill, both of whom were on record supporting CO2 caps. Barbour’s memo chided these administration insiders for trying to address global warming which Barbour dismissed as a radical fringe issue.

“A moment of truth is arriving,” Barbour wrote, “in the form of a decision whether this Administration’s policy will be to regulate and/or tax CO2 as a pollutant. The question is whether environmental policy still prevails over energy policy with Bush-Cheney, as it did with Clinton-Gore.” He derided the idea of regulating CO2 as “eco-extremism,” and chided them for allowing environmental concerns to “trump good energy policy, which the country has lacked for eight years.”

The memo had impact. “It was terse and highly effective, written for people without much time by a person who controls the purse strings for the Republican Party,” said John Walke, a high-ranking air quality official in the Clinton administration.

On March 13, Bush reversed his previous position, announcing he would not back a CO2 restriction using the language and rationale provided by Barbour. Echoing Barbour’s memo, Bush said he opposed mandatory CO2 caps, due to “the incomplete state of scientific knowledge” about global climate change.

Well, the science is clear. This month, a study published in the journal Nature by a renowned MIT climatologist linked the increasing prevalence of destructive hurricanes to human-induced global warming.

Now we are all learning what it’s like to reap the whirlwind of fossil fuel dependence which Barbour and his cronies have encouraged. Our destructive addiction has given us a catastrophic war in the Middle East and--now--Katrina is giving our nation a glimpse of the climate chaos we are bequeathing our children.

In 1998, Republican icon Pat Robertson warned that hurricanes were likely to hit communities that offended God. Perhaps it was Barbour’s memo that caused Katrina, at the last moment, to spare New Orleans and save its worst flailings for the Mississippi coast.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Australian Labor Party leader suggests an exit strategy for Iraq

'You have to win'
Australian Labor Party leader suggests an exit strategy for Iraq
E.J. Dionne, Jr. - Washington Post Writers Group
08.29.05 - SYDNEY, Australia

... The United States, [Beazley] said, needed to engage in "a phased extraction" from Iraq while bolstering the war on terror elsewhere. He used the unlikely role model of Richard Nixon, who gradually withdrew American forces from Vietnam while engaging China and forcing the Soviet Union into arms negotiations.

Beazley's metaphor was an arresting way of showing how mistakes in Iraq need not permanently dent the United States' influence -- provided America recognizes its mistakes.

Beazley proposed the redeployment of American forces to Iraq's borders with Syria and Iran on the road to departure. At the same time, Washington needs to "refocus attention on Afghanistan," particularly the border areas with Pakistan, where he sees the real war on terror being waged. And the United States must turn its attention to the Iraq War's perverse effect, which has been to "advance Iranian power."

"It's repositioning," says Beazley. "It's keeping a sense of proportion in America's engagements. You're not going to let the United States get bogged down in a disproportionate engagement of its forces in Iraq. In both the context of the global war on terror and its other global commitments, the U.S. has more fish to fry than Iraq. And no matter what it says, it can only have a limited effect on Iraqi political outcomes. Ultimately, Iraqis will have to do the deals."

While I will admit to a personal bias in Beazley's favor -- he has been a friend for more than three decades -- the fact is that his comments seized the attention of all the Americans in the room. Here was someone willing to lay out an alternative strategy aimed at freeing the United States from an all-consuming mess in a way that could leave its influence intact. "You have to win, you know," said Beazley. "You cannot lose the war on terror."

To pursue anything like the Beazley strategy, Bush would have to admit that his policy hasn't worked -- to himself, if not to the public. Could Bush's willingness to embrace the flawed Iraqi draft constitution be a signal that the president is radically scaling down his expectations (and ours) in preparation for the "repositioning" that Beazley describes?

It's hard for any president, especially this one, to acknowledge mistakes. But recall that reference to those long ago midterm elections. Republicans know in their guts what Hagel is willing to say publicly: Iraq is a mess and staying the current course means a disaster abroad that could turn into political disaster at home. Don't be surprised if more Republicans start echoing a politician from Down Under...

(c) 2005, Washington Post Writers Group



Capitol Hill Blue
Aug 29, 2005, 07:42

Don’t much care for warmongers. Never have. Never will.

Warmongers march under the flag of false patriotism to justify unleashing the greatest military firepower in the history of the world on some primitive backwater for the misused claim of freedom.

They craft careful, public relations-designed names to their efforts: Operation Just Cause, Operation Iraqi Freedom, as if words can justify the meaningless slaughter of human beings....

...Unfortunately, there are times when war is necessary. Pearl Harbor made it necessary for us to enter World War II. The terrorist attacks on 9/11 made it necessary for us to go into Afghanistan to track down the people responsible.

But Iraq, like Vietnam, is a war based on lies, on a President’s obsession that has nothing to do with truth, justice or the American way.

Launched under false pretenses, Iraq had nothing to do with the terrorist attacks against this country. Bush began planning for the war immediately after he won the disputed election in 2000. One of his first orders after taking the Oath of Office on January 20, 2001, went to the Pentagon, telling them to draft plans for an invasion of Iraq. He hinted at it in his first inaugural address and those who have left the administration admit war with the country was discussed in cabinet meetings months before the terrorist attacks.

Had the attacks not occurred, Bush would have found another reason to invade. Before the war, our sources within the CIA warned us that the White House demanded manufactured intel to justify an invasion. We printed that story. Few believed it then but now know it was all too true.
Bush warned us that “an evil empire” was out to destroy America.

He was right.

Only, he has turned America into that evil empire and, in the end, it will be he and his followers who destroyed this once-great nation.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Unmasking George W. Bush

Unmasking George W. Bush
Justin Frank
Huffington Post

Although I would never make a medical diagnosis without examining a patient, I feel confident in my observation that George W. Bush is a new kind of bi-polar: the poles being indifference and destructive violence. His indifference to families who lost their sons and daughters in Iraq is now writ large – thanks to Cindy Sheehan and an ever-increasing group of parents who demand that Bush explain the "noble cause" for which their sons and daughters continue to be maimed and killed in Iraq.
As Sheehan told the press on August 12, Bush has more time for Republican donors than for talking with bereaved families camped outside his Crawford fortress.

Because Bush’s public appearances are so controlled and staged, it has been hard for all but the most trained observers to see clearly what a danger he poses to Americans and our way of life. The unstructured private meetings – supposedly some 900 of them – with bereaved families over the past 18 months offer a unique perspective on this intensely private man.

I believe it is in everyone’s best interest for the families to make their recollections of these meetings public. These stories offer our best hope of assembling a portrait of what many believe to be a disconnected, paranoid man, making a great effort to rein in both his anger and his contempt for ordinary Americans. While I recognize that these meetings were intensely personal and often painful, I think that sharing them with the public is the best way to support our troops – ultimately to make the world safer for everyone’s children.

I encourage you to do so here.

Ten Things Congress Could Demand from Bush on Iraq

Monday, August 22, 2005
Ten Things Congress Could Demand from Bush on Iraq
Juan Cole

The Washington Post notes that the Democratic Party is deeply divided between those who want US troops out now and those who fear the consequences and think it best to stay the course. The article might as well have noted that the Republicans are also divided on Iraq policy.
So the issue isn't a partisan one. It is an American one.
Personally, I think "US out now" as a simple mantra neglects to consider the full range of possible disasters that could ensue. For one thing, there would be an Iraq civil war. Iraq wasn't having a civil war in 2002. And although you could argue that what is going on now is a subterranean, unconventional civil war, it is not characterized by set piece battles and hundreds of people killed in a single battle, as was true in Lebanon in 1975-76, e.g. People often allege that the US military isn't doing any good in Iraq and there is already a civil war. These people have never actually seen a civil war and do not appreciate the lid the US military is keeping on what could be a volcano.
All it would take would be for Sunni Arab guerrillas to assassinate Grand Ayatollah Sistani. And, boom. If there is a civil war now that kills a million people, with ethnic cleansing and millions of displaced persons, it will be our fault, or at least the fault of the 75% of Americans who supported the war. (Such a scenario is entirely plausible. Look at Afghanistan. It was a similar-sized country with similar ethnic and ideological divisions. One million died 1979-1992, and five million were displaced. Moreover, all this helped get New York and the Pentagon blown up.)
I mean, we are always complaining, and rightly so, about the genocide in Darfur and the inattention to genocides in Rwanda and the Congo earlier. Can we really live with ourselves if we cast Iraqis into such a maelstrom deliberately?
And as I have argued before, an Iraq civil war will likely become a regional war, drawing in Iran, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Syria and Turkey. If a regional guerrilla war breaks out among Kurds, Turks, Shiites and Sunni Arabs, the guerrillas could well apply the technique of oil pipeline sabotage to Iran and Saudi Arabia, just as they do now to the Kirkuk pipeline in Iraq. If 20% of the world's petroleum production were taken off-line by such sabotage, the poor of the world would be badly hurt, and the whole world would risk another Great Depression....

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Was Pat Robertson's Call for Assassination of a Foreign Leader a Crime?

Was Pat Robertson's Call for Assassination of a Foreign Leader a Crime?
By John W. Dean

Friday 26 August 2005

Had he been a Democrat, he'd probably be hiring a criminal attorney.

On Monday, August 22, the Chairman of the Christian Broadcast Network, Marion "Pat" Robertson, proclaimed, on his 700 Club television show, that Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez should be murdered.

More specifically, Robertson said, "You know, I don't know about this doctrine of assassination," referring to the American policy since the Presidency of Gerald Ford against assassination of foreign leaders, "but if he [Chavez] thinks we're trying to assassinate him, I think that we really ought to go ahead and do it. It's a whole lot cheaper than starting a war, and I don't think any oil shipments will stop."

"We have the ability to take him out," Robertson continued, "and I think the time has come that we exercise that ability. We don't need another $200 billion war to get rid of one, you know, strong-arm dictator. It's a whole lot easier to have some of the covert operatives do the job and then get it over with."

Robertson found himself in the middle of a media firestorm. He initially denied he'd called for Chavez to be killed, and claimed he'd been misinterpreted, but in an age of digital recording, Robertson could not flip-flop his way out of his own statement. He said what he said.

By Wednesday, Robertson was backing down: "I didn't say 'assassination.' I said our special forces should 'take him out,'" Robertson claimed on his Wednesday show. "'Take him out' could be a number of things including kidnapping."

No one bought that explanation, either. So Robertson quietly posted a half apology on his website. It is only a half apology because it is clear he really does not mean to apologize, but rather, still seeks to rationalize and justify his dastardly comment....

Friday, August 26, 2005

Pedaling as Fast as He Can

Justin FrankBio

Pedaling as Fast as He Can
The Huffington Post
George W. Bush remains an untreated alcoholic. The untreated alcoholic who has simply stopped drinking treats anxiety as an enemy. Bush’s current enemy, the primary cause of his anxiety, is Cindy Sheehan.
Nobody talks about it – the press is afraid of it — but we are all enabling a man whose grasp of reality is tenuous at best.

Anxiety is always challenging; but when an untreated alcoholic’s behavior is challenged, his anxiety increases dramatically - and with it, the need to numb its sting. Anxiety is then a threat to his abstinence. Instead of learning new means to manage feelings, he has to spend energy fighting his fears. In Bush’s case, he fiercely rides his mountain bike.

Managing his anxiety is one reason presidential briefings have been so simple. USA Today reports on August 25 that Bush’s foreign policy briefings were, until very recently, presented to him with “snappy headlines” and simplistic perspectives leaving “little room for doubt or nuance.” No wonder it was so simple to invade Iraq.

Bush himself said that he doesn't do nuance. The truth is, he can't. Evading anxiety over all these years – whether with alcohol, religion, or exercise – has compromised his ability to think. Instead, Bush relies on daily routines. His bicycling routine is rigidly adhered to; but thinking—and a mechanism to facilitate it—are nonexistent.

The Financial Times of London had a headline on August 25 saying that the “US Army looks to leave Iraq” despite Bush himself saying things to the contrary. His rigidity of thought is not motivated by stubbornness, or by a fear of being wrong. It is safer for Bush to hold onto an idea that has served him in the past than to try a new one that might not work. His need for consistency leads to swift and vigorous responses to any threats that may challenge it.

Unfortunately for Bush, already in retreat in Crawford, the challenge posed by Cindy Sheehan has been too much - it pushed him to run to Idaho. He cannot bomb her, but he can unleash his minions – from Drudge to the American Legion – to attack. The Livestrong motto which made Lance Armstrong an American hero means something different to Bush – Livestrong to protect against being overwhelmed by fear and anxiety.

The End of Diplomacy?

...America in the past has generally demonstrated capacity to be a great leader of others -- a planning nation, a strategic nation, a complex systems integrator in war and peace -- but now the obsession with doing things alone is a rejection of leadership and guarantees future weakness.
-- Steve Clemons

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Who Will Say 'No More'?

Who Will Say 'No More'?

By Gary Hart
Washington Post
Wednesday, August 24, 2005; Page A15

"Waist deep in the Big Muddy and the big fool said to push on," warned an anti-Vietnam war song those many years ago. The McGovern presidential campaign, in those days, which I know something about, is widely viewed as a cause for the decline of the Democratic Party, a gateway through which a new conservative era entered.

Like the cat that jumped on a hot stove and thereafter wouldn't jump on any stove, hot or cold, today's Democratic leaders didn't want to make that mistake again. Many supported the Iraq war resolution and -- as the Big Muddy is rising yet again -- now find themselves tongue-tied or trying to trump a war president by calling for deployment of more troops. Thus does good money follow bad and bad politics get even worse.
Gravestones of fallen Americans at Arlington National Cemetery. (J. Scott Applewhite -- AP)

History will deal with George W. Bush and the neoconservatives who misled a mighty nation into a flawed war that is draining the finest military in the world, diverting Guard and reserve forces that should be on the front line of homeland defense, shredding international alliances that prevailed in two world wars and the Cold War, accumulating staggering deficits, misdirecting revenue from education to rebuilding Iraqi buildings we've blown up, and weakening America's national security.

But what will history say about an opposition party that stands silent while all this goes on? My generation of Democrats jumped on the hot stove of Vietnam and now, with its members in positions of responsibility, it is afraid of jumping on any political stove. In their leaders, the American people look for strength, determination and self-confidence, but they also look for courage, wisdom, judgment and, in times of moral crisis, the willingness to say: "I was wrong."

To stay silent during such a crisis, and particularly to harbor the thought that the administration's misfortune is the Democrats' fortune, is cowardly. In 2008 I want a leader who is willing now to say: "I made a mistake, and for my mistake I am going to Iraq and accompanying the next planeload of flag-draped coffins back to Dover Air Force Base. And I am going to ask forgiveness for my mistake from every parent who will talk to me."

Further, this leader should say: "I am now going to give a series of speeches across the country documenting how the administration did not tell the American people the truth, why this war is making our country more vulnerable and less secure, how we can drive a wedge between Iraqi insurgents and outside jihadists and leave Iraq for the Iraqis to govern, how we can repair the damage done to our military, what we and our allies can do to dry up the jihadists' swamp, and what dramatic steps we must take to become energy-secure and prevent Gulf Wars III, IV and so on."

At stake is not just the leadership of the Democratic Party and the nation but our nation's honor, our nobility and our principles. Franklin D. Roosevelt established a national community based on social justice. Harry Truman created international networks that repaired the damage of World War II and defeated communism. John F. Kennedy recaptured the ideal of the republic and the sense of civic duty. To expect to enter this pantheon, the next Democratic leader must now undertake all three tasks.

But this cannot be done while the water is rising in the Big Muddy of the Middle East. No Democrat, especially one now silent, should expect election by default. The public trust must be earned, and speaking clearly, candidly and forcefully now about the mess in Iraq is the place to begin.

The real defeatists today are not those protesting the war. The real defeatists are those in power and their silent supporters in the opposition party who are reduced to repeating "Stay the course" even when the course, whatever it now is, is light years away from the one originally undertaken. The truth is we're way off course. We've stumbled into a hornet's nest. We've weakened ourselves at home and in the world. We are less secure today than before this war began.

Who now has the courage to say this?

The writer is a former Democratic senator from Colorado.

Bush's Obscene Tirades Rattle White House Aides

Bush's Obscene Tirades Rattle White House Aides
Capitol Hill Blue
Aug 25, 2005, 06:19

While President George W. Bush travels around the country in a last-ditch effort to sell his Iraq war, White House aides scramble frantically behind the scenes to hide the dark mood of an increasingly angry leader who unleashes obscenity-filled outbursts at anyone who dares disagree with him.

“I’m not meeting with that goddamned bitch,” Bush screamed at aides who suggested he meet with Cindy Sheehan, the war-protesting mother whose son died in Iraq. “She can go to hell as far as I’m concerned!”

President Bush flashes the bird before going live at the White House.

Bush, administration aides confide, frequently explodes into tirades over those who protest the war, calling them “motherfucking traitors.” He reportedly was so upset over Veterans of Foreign Wars members who wore “bullshit protectors” over their ears during his speech to their annual convention that he told aides to “tell those VFW assholes that I’ll never speak to them again is they can’t keep their members under control.”

White House insiders say Bush is growing increasingly bitter over mounting opposition to his war in Iraq. Polls show a vast majority of Americans now believe the war was a mistake and most doubt the President’s honesty.

“Who gives a flying fuck what the polls say,” he screamed at a recent strategy meeting. “I’m the President and I’ll do whatever I goddamned please. They don’t know shit.”

Bush, whiles setting up for a photo op for signing the recent CAFTA bill, flipped an extended middle finger at the camera before going live. Aides say the President often “flips the bird” to show his displeasure and tells aides who disagree with him to “go to hell” or to “go fuck yourself.”....

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Florida Ballots Project

Florida Ballots Project

A group of the largest news organizations in the United States selected NORC to provide the definitive picture of the Florida ballots in the uncertified presidential election of November 2000. The media group chose NORC for this work because of NORC's long-standing reputation for nonpartisan, objective, and analytically rigorous data collection and analysis. Kirk Wolter, NORC’s Senior Vice President of Statistics and Methodology and Professor of Statistics at the University of Chicago, has directed NORC's effort on the project.

One State at a Time

One State at a Time
By Rose Aguilar, AlterNet
Posted on August 23, 2005,

It's been six months since Howard Dean visited Jackson, Mississippi, but locals are still talking about his fiery speech in which he criticized President Bush's plan for social security and said Republicans are doing nothing to help the people of Mississippi.

"Every seat was filled. There were people standing around the room and people outside who couldn't get in," says Joanne Morris, an editor and writer living in Jackson. "He got an absolutely fantastic reception. I'm sure he must have been surprised. I was surprised myself. People were just jubilant."

Dean's speech revitalized scores of Mississippi Democrats who are sick of being ignored by the national party. "We're also written off in the media; they either skip over us or stereotype us," says Dorothy Triplett, secretary of the Mississippi Democratic Club, a group of progressive Mississippians. "We're finally saying, 'Hey, wait a minute, we're here and we're not going anywhere.' I think we can be a real asset to the national party and I'm delighted that they're finally giving us some attention."

As part of Dean's 50-state strategy, the Democratic National Committee is hiring staffers to join state party offices that typically run on shoestring budgets with few employees, including in Mississippi, North Carolina and Oklahoma.

"Because of his commitment, we'll be able to increase our staff by 300 percent, so to speak," says Keelan Sanders, executive director of the Mississippi Democratic Party. Before the new hires showed up, Sanders was the party's only staffer. "It is definitely helping the state party with needed resources so we can begin organizing and getting the message out."

Constructing that message won't be easy. It's been 28 years since Mississippi gave its six electoral votes to a Democrat; Bush got 60 percent of the vote in Mississippi. Democrats hold more county elected positions and legislative seats than Republicans, but the governor, lieutenant governor and the state's two senators are members of the GOP.

"Mississippi is ripe for the picking. They're either 49th or 50th in every statistical category. Per capita income is low. Poverty levels are high. Medicaid is a huge issue here," says Jay Parmley, former chair of Oklahoma's Democratic Party....

The struggle over science

The struggle over science
By Harold Evans

In his weekly opinion column, Harold Evans considers rising concern in the US over the Bush administration's hostility to science.

I used to get mad at the way it was left to America to bring to full fruition fine achievements by Britain's scientists, inventors and engineers. Take Alexander Fleming's penicillin, Frank Whittle's jet engine, Alan Turing's computer and Robert Watson Watt's radar.

All these breakthroughs found their fullest exploitation in the United States. Indeed, they all contributed to America's pre-eminence in science-based manufacturing and services.

Think of the personal computer and wonder drugs, of the jumbo jetliner, video games and the pacemaker, the laser that counts your groceries and the laser, or the global positioning satellite, that tells you to turn left at the roundabout.

Scientists are working on planet to planet communication

That is why there is furious bewilderment here in the universities and the higher levels of business at the chilly indifference - not to say hostility - of the Bush White House to science. Actually, I've seen a movie like this once before and I know how it ends.

When I was a science reporter in Britain in the 50s, it was a thrill to visit the centre of government research, the National Physical Laboratory at Teddington, Middlesex. It was hallowed ground.

I was in the lab where Watson Watt did his breakthrough work on radar in time for the Royal Air Force to find the Luftwaffe in the invisible skies and win the Battle of Britain.

I stood in awe before that much-photographed early computer - the wall-length monster called ACE - designed in 1945 by the wartime code-breaker, Alan Turing. It was then the fastest in the world, spewing out instant answers to reams of calculations I was allowed to feed into its innards.


You would have thought that the National Physical Laboratory would be the darling of every British Government. Not so. I was invited to visit at that time because they were concerned the government did not fully appreciate that science in peace was as vital as science in war.

The researchers were doing what they could on a tiny budget and even that was about to be cut. Not just in the government, but in business and society, there was a general indifference to science and scientific education that seems odd today.

The consequence of that inertia in government and lethargy in business was that the US came to dominate the computer industry, despite all the brilliant work of Turing at Manchester University and others at Ferranti.

Young Americans are opting for better paid law and medicine over science and engineering and visa restrictions on bright foreign students further dilute the talent pool

The question now tormenting Americans - who don't have a natural aptitude for worry - is whether the same writing is on the wall for them. Vinton Cerf is one who thinks it is, and he is no ordinary hand-wringer....

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Moral Authority

Gary Hart
Huffington Post

Moral Authority (27 comments )

In the late 1980s the most respected leaders in the world -- Nelson Mandela, Vaclav Havel, Lech Walesa (and earlier Martin Luther King) -- all had one thing in common. They had spent time in jail. More important, they had spent time in jail for their beliefs, beliefs that threatened the power structures of their countries. It seems strange that many Americans idolize protesters in other countries and ridicule them at home.

Equally strange is the tendency of conservatives to revere the protesters of early times -- Tom Paine, the Bostonians who painted themselves like Indians and threw tea in Boston harbor, even the abolitionist John Brown -- and vilify those who protest today. Someone once said that conservatives are the worshipers of dead radicals.

Nevertheless, there is a rich history of protest in America, by laborers, by women, by war opponents, by environmentalists, by African Americans, and in almost every case the protests changed American ideas and policies for the better. Protesters make us think, that is those inclined to think. They stir things up, they rock the boat, they challenge the status quo and the conventional wisdom. They force us to look at reality often in painful ways. Protesters sometimes get themselves thrown in jail.

It is a great wonder that war opponents, including increasing numbers of Democratic "leaders," are so silent. Some of the most visible simply believe the invasion of Iraq, which they endorsed, has been mismanaged, that more troops (not fewer) are needed! Even today, they seem untroubled by the false statements and manipulated intelligence of the administration. The most difficult political statement in the English language is: I made a mistake.

Speaking only for myself, I will find it very difficult to support any Democratic "leader" who remains silent at this critical moment but who wants to be president in 2008. There are defining moments in political careers and in national life where true character is revealed, where moral authority is achieved, or forfeited. Recall Dante's well-known warning that a special place is reserved in hell for those who, in times of moral crisis, preserve their neutrality.

There are those who earn their moral authority the hard way, by going to jail or, like Cindy Sheehan, by sacrificing a loved one. Such people do not merely earn an audience with the president.

Such people deserve an accounting.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Former aide: Powell WMD speech 'lowest point in my life'

Former aide: Powell WMD speech 'lowest point in my life'

Friday, August 19, 2005; Posted: 3:33 p.m. EDT (19:33 GMT)

Programming Note: " 'Dead Wrong' -- Inside an Intelligence Meltdown" airs Sunday at 8 p.m. and 11 p.m. ET on CNN.
(CNN) -- A former top aide to Colin Powell says his involvement in the former secretary of state's presentation to the United Nations on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction was "the lowest point" in his life.

"I wish I had not been involved in it," says Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, a longtime Powell adviser who served as his chief of staff from 2002 through 2005. "I look back on it, and I still say it was the lowest point in my life."

Wilkerson is one of several insiders interviewed for the CNN Presents documentary "Dead Wrong -- Inside an Intelligence Meltdown." The program, which airs Sunday at 8 p.m. and 11 p.m. ET, pieces together the events leading up to the mistaken WMD intelligence that was presented to the public. A presidential commission that investigated the pre-war WMD intelligence found much of it to be "dead wrong."

Powell's speech, delivered on February 14, 2003, made the case for the war by presenting U.S. intelligence that purported to prove that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. Wilkerson says the information in Powell's presentation initially came from a document he described as "sort of a Chinese menu" that was provided by the White House.....

Why Bush Can't Answer Cindy

Why Bush Can't Answer Cindy
By Marjorie Cohn
t r u t h o u t | Perspective

Thursday 18 August 2005

Cindy Sheehan is still waiting for Bush to answer her question: What noble cause did my son die for? Her protest started as a small gathering 13 days ago. It has mushroomed into a demonstration of hundreds in Crawford and tens of thousands more at 1,627 solidarity vigils throughout the country.

Why didn't Bush simply invite Cindy in for tea when she arrived in Crawford? In a brief, personal meeting with Cindy, Bush could have defused a situation that has become a profound embarrassment for him, and could derail his political agenda.

Bush didn't talk with Cindy because he can't answer her question. There is no answer to Cindy's question. There is no noble cause that Cindy's son died fighting for. And Bush knows it.

The goals of this war are not hard to find. They were laid out in Paul Wolfowitz's Defense Policy Guidance in 1992, and again in the neoconservative manifesto - The Project for a New American Century's Rebuilding America's Defenses - in September 2000.

Long before 9/11, the neocons proclaimed that the United States should exercise its role as the world's only superpower by ensuring access to the massive Middle East petroleum reserves. To accomplish this goal, the US would need to invade Iraq and establish permanent military bases there.

If Bush were to give an honest answer to Cindy Sheehan's question, it would be that her son died to help his country spread US hegemony throughout the Middle East.

But that answer, while true, does not sound very noble. It would not satisfy Cindy Sheehan, nor would it satisfy the vast majority of the American people. So, for the past several years, Bush and his minions have concocted an ever-changing story line.

First, it was weapons-of-mass-destruction and the mushroom cloud. In spite of the weapons inspectors' admonitions that Iraq had no such weapons, Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Powell, Rice, and Bolton lied about chemical, biological and nuclear weapons. Bush even included the smoking gun claim in his state of the union address: that Iraq sought to purchase uranium from Niger. It was a lie, because people like Ambassador Joe Wilson, who traveled to Niger to investigate the allegation, had reported back to Cheney that it never happened.

The Security Council didn't think Iraq was a threat to international peace and security. In spite of Bush's badgering and threats, the Council held firm and refused to sanction a war on Iraq. The UN weapons inspectors asked for more time to conduct their inspections. But Bush was impatient.

He thumbed his nose at the United Nations and invaded anyway. After the "coalition forces" took over Iraq, they combed the country for the prohibited weapons. But they were nowhere to be found.

Faced with the need to explain to the American people why our sons and daughters were dying in Iraq, Bush changed the subject to saving the Iraqis from Saddam's torture chambers.

Then the grotesque photographs emerged from Abu Ghraib prison outside of Baghdad. They contained images of US military personnel torturing Iraqis. Bush stopped talking about Saddam's torture.

Most recently, Bush's excuse has been "bringing democracy to the Iraqi people." On June 28, 2004, he ceremoniously hailed the "transfer of sovereignty" back to the Iraqi people. (See Giving Iraqis What is Rightly Theirs). Yet 138,000 US troops remained in Iraq to protect US "interests."

And Iraq's economy is still controlled by laws put in place before the "transfer of sovereignty." The US maintains a stranglehold on foreign access to Iraqi oil, private ownership of Iraq's resources, and control over the reconstruction of this decimated country.

For months, Bush hyped the August 15, 2005 deadline for Iraqis to agree on a new constitution. But as the deadline came and went, the contradictions between the Shias, Sunnis and Kurds over federalism came into sharp focus. The Bush administration admitted that "we will have some form of Islamic republic," according to Sunday's Washington Post.

So much for Bush's promise of a democratic Iraq.

The constitutional negotiations are far removed from the lives of most Iraqis. When journalist Robert Fisk asked an Iraqi friend about the constitution, he replied, "Sure, it's important. But my family lives in fear of kidnapping, I'm too afraid to tell my father I work for journalists, and we only have one hour in six of electricity and we can't even keep our food from going bad in the fridge. Federalism? You can't eat federalism and you can't use it to fuel your car and it doesn't make my fridge work."

Fisk reports that 1,100 civilian bodies were brought into the Baghdad morgue in July. The medical journal The Lancet concluded in October 2004 that at least 100,000 Iraqi civilians had died in the first 18 months after Bush invaded Iraq.

Unfortunately, the picture in Iraq is not a pretty one.

Bush knows that if he talked to Cindy Sheehan, she would demand that he withdraw from Iraq now.

But Bush has no intention of ever pulling out of Iraq. The US is building the largest CIA station in the world in Baghdad. And Halliburton is busily constructing 14 permanent US military bases in Iraq.

George Bush knows that he cannot answer Cindy Sheehan's question. There is no noble cause for his war on Iraq.

Marjorie Cohn, a contributing editor to t r u t h o u t, is a professor at Thomas Jefferson School of Law, executive vice president of the National Lawyers Guild, and the US representative to the executive committee of the American Association of Jurists.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Peace Vigil in Saratoga Springs

Report on the Peace Vigil, including some photos!

Our nation´s ¨brand¨ is damaged goods

Bye Bye Miss American Pie
Our nation´s ¨brand¨ is damaged goods

by Alan Bisbort - August 18, 2005
Hartford Advocate
Buy American? Yeah right!
The World This Week
We have, as American consumers, been led to believe that people in the front offices of corporations were smart enough not to lead their enterprises, Enron and Tyco notwithstanding, onto the rocks of fiscal disaster. Corporations have a million little schemes and mind-games, perfected on Madison Avenue and at ethics-free business schools around the country, for brainwashing the herd into continuing to consume their products. There are a zillion little awards and a zillion do-gooder charities on which they can get their name prominently placed near the top of the benefactors' list that would connote "good corporate citizenship."

Nonetheless, the brainiacs in the front offices, and their political consultants, have proven themselves to be dumber than the posts Bush is pounding into the dirt at his fake Texas ranch during his "working vacation." For the past four years (yes, it has been four years since the world united behind us on 9/11/01), the CEOs and stockholders have sat with their thumbs up their asses while George W. Bush has broken the cardinal rule of business success: you don't shit on your brand.

That's because behind every good American product is, tacitly or overtly, the American flag. And, as Bush and his tin-eared, bully boy cronies (Rumsfeld, Cheney, Wolfowitz, Negroponte and Bolton, in particular) have trashed the nation's good name around the world, they have also trashed, by extension, America's products. Madison Avenue may be able to brainwash a captive American audience -- numbed by the seamless propaganda of a corporate-owned telecommunications industry -- but the rest of the world is giving our products their middle finger. And we are sinking, sinking, sinking economically, diplomatically and politically as a result.

No, this isn't another liberal, America-bashing screed. (In fact, I'm beginning to think conservatives are the ones who really "hate America," but that's another column). I've always tried to make it a point to "buy American" when there's a viable choice or option; I've even gone further, by trying to buy my goods and services in the town where I live. But there's precious little out there made in America anymore, and often the only choice is some rinky-dink crap churned out in Chinese ant-farm-like factories. Thus, I've found myself buying less stuff, which, of course, isn't necessarily a bad thing.

Here's the hard news that got me off on this tangent, found in Financial Times , not exactly a radical lefty rag. The FT recently reported that the U.S.A. is "increasingly viewed as a 'culture-free zone' inhabited by arrogant and unfriendly people." No, this was not based on a study conducted in France. It was a 25-country study that included many of our erstwhile allies. The report concluded that anti-Americanism is walloping the bottom lines of corporations with products considered "distinctly American."

The author of the survey, Simon Anholt of the Anholt-GMI Brands Index said, "The U.S. is still recognized as a leading place to do business, home of desirable brands and popular culture. But its governance, cultural heritage and people are no longer widely respected or admired by the world."

Yes, I know this doesn't concern the yahoos in Texas or in places where Clint Black and Ted Nugent are popular, but it ought to concern the so-called "business community." To wit: the U.S. ranked 11th in the Brands Index. The country ranked 1st was Australia, of which respondents expressed "an almost universal admiration of its people, landscapes and living and working environment."

That used to be the United States. Before Bush.

Bush's unhappy holidays

Bush's unhappy holidays

The presidential vacationer is being besieged

Sidney Blumenthal
Thursday August 18, 2005
The Guardian

Home on the range more than the deer and the antelope play. Near a drainage ditch by the road leading to Prairie Chapel, President Bush's Texas ranch, the mother of a dead soldier has pitched a tent. Cindy Sheehan has refused to leave until she is granted an audience with the president. Her son, 24-year-old Army Spc Casey Sheehan, a Humvee mechanic, was killed in Baghdad's Sadr City on April 4 2004, and she calls her makeshift vigil in memorial "Camp Casey".

Her previous meeting with Bush has only impelled her to seek the satisfaction of another one. "He didn't even know Casey's name. Every time we tried to talk about Casey and how much we missed him, he would change the subject."

Bush has sent out emissaries, including his national security adviser Stephen Hadley, to reason with her, but she remains adamant. Her emotional drama and outspoken opposition to the Iraq war have become daily news. Every twist in her standoff provides grist for expanded coverage.

Other bereaved parents of dead soldiers have suddenly begun speaking out and receiving respectful media attention. In Ohio, Paul Schroeder, father of Lance Corporal Edward Schroeder II, killed two weeks ago with 16 other troops from Ohio, called a press conference in front of his Cleveland home. "Our comments are not just those of grieving parents," he said. "They are based on anger, Mr President, not grief. Anger is an honest emotion when someone's family has been violated. Before Sheehan's vigil, public support of Bush's Iraq policy plummeted to 34%.

From the administration comes conflicting statements about strategy in Iraq. The recent fiasco over the attempted rebranding of the "war on terrorism" as the "global struggle against violent extremism" reflects internal tension. While Bush proclaims that he will "stay the course," military sources leak stories that the vaunted objectives of the Iraq war - democracy and civil order - are chimerical. Pentagon briefings suggest that US forces may be drawn down soon, but the projections do not flow from any new strategy.

Iraq's confounded constitution-writing has further illuminated its centrifugal forces and the visible hand of Iran. It is becoming undeniable that the outcome of the war will be an Islamic republic closely allied with Iran.

For the American public this news melds in their daily lives with the rise of oil prices. The Iraq invasion was supposed to guarantee perpetual cheap oil. While the price boost has erased wage gains and flattened consumer demand, this oil crisis is more than a tale of statistics. Like oil crises in the past, it strikes at American feelings of independence, mobility and exceptionalism. Not since the oil crisis of 1979 that provoked President Carter's "malaise" speech have such frustrations surfaced.

Sandstorms by the banks of the Euphrates swirl to the Waco River, and the presidential vacationer, besieged by marches, has turned querulous. As his crusade is being overtaken by a sense of futility, Bush explained why he would not meet Sheehan: "I think it's also important for me to go on with my life, to keep a balanced life." This week he's planned a bicycle ride with Lance Armstrong.

· Sidney Blumenthal, a former senior adviser to President Clinton, is author of The Clinton Wars

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Dean Was Right

Dean Was Right
By Cenk Uygur
Huffington Post

General Eric K. Shinseki was right when he said we needed more troops for the war in Iraq. General Anthony Zinni was right when he said our preparations for the war were so negligent that it was a dereliction of duty. George H. W. Bush was right when he said we would be perceived as “an occupying power in a bitterly hostile land” if we went into Iraq. But most of all, Howard Dean was right because he had the most complete warning – don’t do it!

For this Dean was labeled an extremist. I assume the mainstream media would like to apologize now for being so wrong about Howard Dean. They apologize at the drop of a hat if conservatives complain they got any detail of a story wrong. Where’s the apology to Dean -- you were right about Iraq, we were wrong!

If you don’t believe that Howard Dean was right about the war, then read his February 17, 2003 address at Drake University a month before the invasion:

“The stakes are so high, this is not a time for holding back or sheepishly going along with the herd.

And I firmly believe that the President is focusing our diplomats, our military, our intelligence agencies, and even our people on the wrong war, at the wrong time, when our energy and our resources should be marshaled for the greatest threats we face. Yes, Saddam Hussein is evil. But Osama bin Laden is also evil, and he has attacked the United States, and he is preparing now to attack us again.

What happened to the war against al Qaeda?

Why has this Administration taken us so far off track?

I believe it is my patriotic duty to urge a different path to protecting America's security: To focus on al Qaeda, which is an imminent threat, and to use our resources to improve and strengthen the security and safety of our home front and our people while working with the other nations of the world to contain Saddam Hussein.

To this day, the President has not made a case that war against Iraq, now, is necessary to defend American territory, our citizens, our allies, or our essential interests.

The Administration has not explained how a lasting peace, and lasting security, will be achieved in Iraq once Saddam Hussein is toppled.

We have been told over and over again what the risks will be if we do not go to war.

We have been told little about what the risks will be if we do go to war.

If we go to war, I certainly hope the Administration's assumptions are realized, and the conflict is swift, successful and clean.

I certainly hope our armed forces will be welcomed like heroes and liberators in the streets of Baghdad.

I certainly hope Iraq emerges from the war stable, united and democratic.

I certainly hope terrorists around the world conclude it is a mistake to defy America and cease, thereafter, to be terrorists.

It is possible, however, that events could go differently, and that the Iraqi Republican Guard will not sit out in the desert where they can be destroyed easily from the air.

It is possible that Iraq will try to force our troops to fight house to house in the middle of cities - on its turf, not ours - where precision-guided missiles are of little use.

It is possible that … our efforts to minimize civilian casualties will be far less successful than we hope.

There are other risks.

Iraq is a divided country, with Sunni, Shia and Kurdish factions that share both bitter rivalries and access to large quantities of arms.

Iran and Turkey each have interests in Iraq they will be tempted to protect with or without our approval.

And, perhaps most importantly, there is a very real danger that war in Iraq will fuel the fires of international terror.”

This was a speech before the war! My God, how right does a guy need to be before the press concedes they were wrong for labeling him an extremist? CBS and Newsweek offered apologies and retractions for far less.

I encourage you to read the whole speech. My guess is that you will be surprised at how right he was on every one of the topics he discussed. And the mainstream media labeled this guy “out of the mainstream.” It shocks the conscience.

Even the Bush administration has now admitted that Dean was right on every point. They have conceded that Iraq had no link to the attacks against us on 9/11. They have conceded that Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction (and obviously we didn’t have any secret evidence of such weapons as they originally claimed). And now, finally, in last Sunday’s Washington Post they conceded that we will not have democracy in Iraq:

“The Bush administration is significantly lowering expectations of what can be achieved in Iraq, recognizing that the United States will have to settle for far less progress than originally envisioned during the transition due to end in four months, according to U.S. officials in Washington and Baghdad.

The United States no longer expects to see a model new democracy, a self-supporting oil industry or a society in which the majority of people are free from serious security or economic challenges, U.S. officials say.

"What we expected to achieve was never realistic given the timetable or what unfolded on the ground," said a senior official involved in policy since the 2003 invasion. "We are in a process of absorbing the factors of the situation we're in and shedding the unreality that dominated at the beginning."”

It was “never realistic.” I remember someone saying that before the war – when it mattered. The mainstream press and the Democratic establishment have never understood why Howard Dean is so popular among the people when they find him distasteful. It’s so simple – he has the courage to tell the truth in the face of political pressure.

He was vilified and labeled “unelectable” because he stood up for what was right. And they still wonder why people look up to him.

Remember when Howard Dean said capturing Saddam Hussein wasn’t going to make us any safer. Again, the media pounced. How dare he?! Again, they were wrong, and he was right.

After the Iraqi elections, Newsweek ran a cover story called, “What Bush Got Right.” This comical premise was based on the idea that since the Iraqis had elections, which was the bare minimum we were promised, that everything else Bush said about the war might also be right. Isn’t it time for Newsweek and similar magazines to run the far more accurate story about how Dean was right on almost all of his pre-war predictions? I’m still waiting for the real story: “What Dean Got Right.”

the largest one-time cash transfer in the history of the New York Fed

the largest one-time cash transfer in the history of the New York Fed

by Nordic
Daily Kos
Tue Aug 16th, 2005 at 22:00:27 PDT

This absolutely makes me ill, and it should make everyone else livid.

WASHINGTON -- It weighed 28 tons and took up as much room as 74 washing machines. It was $2.4 billion in $100 bills, and Baghdad needed it ASAP.

The initial request from U.S. officials in charge of Iraq required the Federal Reserve Bank of New York to decide whether it could open its vault on a Sunday, a day banks aren't usually open.

"Just when you think you've seen it all," read one e-mail from an exasperated Fed official.

"Pocket change," said another e-mail.

Then, when the shipment date changed, officials had to scramble to line up U.S. Air Force C-130 cargo planes to hold the money. They did, and the $2,401,600,000 was delivered to Baghdad on June 22, 2004.

It was the largest one-time cash transfer in the history of the New York Fed."

And where did it all go? It was given away, handed out from the back of pickup trucks and stuffed into the duffelbags of "contractors"
Nordic's diary :: ::

And this is what the Iraq invasion was all about. Piracy on a huge scale, a looting of not only Iraq, but our own country.

They simply ordered up 2.4 billion dollars in $100 bills and shipped it to THEMSELVES.

Who's got the money now? Could be anybody....

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Cindy's Divorce in Prime Time

Aug 16 , 8:48 PM
Cindy's Divorce in Prime Time
by Stirling Newberry
BOP News

Inside edition ran with a segment on Cindy Sheehan's pending divorce, and the turmoil it is causing her family - which is begging her back home. Ms. Sheehan has become symbolic, in that she is Dorothy trying to see the Wizard of Oz, and finding he is a humbug. Her story is metastizing into the way that Americans are facing a war without a king - no President at war in American history has taken less note of the war, except in so far as he awards himself medals for being a war President. He is not the leader of the faith of the nation, he does not allow the coffins to be show, nor does he show himself at the funerals of the fallen.

The two strands of Bushism - economic and social - are crumbling. America put up with terrible economic policies, because we got tax breaks, cheap gas and rising home values - we put up with terrible foreign policy, because too many of us were afraid. And upon these temporary trends, Bush funnelled massive corruption to the Republican Party.

America must come to terms with this, and to do that it must first go into denial - it must first pretend that someone else is responsible, not us.

It must transform itself from the butt kicking, bomb cheering America of the last few years - to the victim America that can say that the big people at the top lied and they just died. It is the pattern of every society that is in the process of rejecting political blunders - pretending not to have been there. The steroid war on drugs is now being transformed into that terrible disaster far away.


And so, even though Camp Casey is small - everyone wants to touch it. I've gotten dozens of fund raising emails talking about Cindy and her crusade. And all say the same thing "meet with her". She has become the ambassador of ordinary America, and a faerie tale where we sort out our own lives. For me this is an experience of waiting: I knew this day would come when the economy turned against Bush, and it has, and that national catharsis would be necessary.

My own day of catharsis is some years ago, the first step in the days after 9-11, where a mission suddenly turned pointless, and my small efforts were suddenly proven to be fruitless. The next step was in the summer of 2002 - two symphonies and the decision to act on a rumor that a former NATO commander was going to run for President. The rest of America is now going through that same process of both denying responsibility, and accepting.

The accepting part is harder to see amidst the soap opera - but it is the whole purpose. By backing the need for Bush to see the results of his policy, that he might face the human face of war - America is demanding that he do his job as the only official in America chosen by the whole of the people. That he refuses to do it, that he refuses to encompass it, is the seed of a deeper rejection of Bush and Bushism than has taken place here to fore. Bush is no longer the President of all the people - as he had been annointed after 9/11 - but the President of the gas guzzling, darwin denying war hawks - others are not his people.

This change is the wedge to shatter the stake he has driven into the heart of America, and sweep aside the long thirty year march to a meaner, madder America that began on a close election day in 1968, when a 40% President-elect took America down the rabbit hole. Because if there is one sin in American politics - it is to be out of touch. And Bush has shown that not only is he out of touch - but that he wants it that way.

Thus, the divorce that counts, is America's divorce from the self that was. The cost of the past isn't due yet, and Americans aren't ready to face that. But they will, and that day will come.
by Stirling Newberry

Monday, August 15, 2005

Tomgram: Cindy Sheehan's war

Tomgram: Cindy Sheehan's war
On being in a ditch at the side of the road

Retired four-star Army General Barry McCaffrey to Time Magazine: "The Army's wheels are going to come off in the next 24 months. We are now in a period of considerable strategic peril. It's because Rumsfeld has dug in his heels and said, I cannot retreat from my position."

Cindy Sheehan testifying at Rep. John Conyers public hearings on the Downing Street Memo: "My son, Spc Casey Austin Sheehan, was KIA in Sadr City Baghdad on 04/04/04. He was in Iraq for only 2 weeks before [Coalition Provisional Authority head] L. Paul Bremer inflamed the Shi'ite Militia into a rebellion which resulted in the deaths of Casey and 6 other brave soldiers who were tragically killed in an ambush. Bill Mitchell, the father of Sgt. Mike Mitchell who was one of the other soldiers killed that awful day is with us here. This is a picture of Casey when he was 7 months old. It's an enlargement of a picture he carried in his wallet until the day he was killed. He loved this picture of himself. It was returned to us with his personal effects from Iraq. He always sucked on those two fingers. When he was born, he had a flat face from passing through the birth canal and we called him 'Edward G' short for Edward G. Robinson. How many of you have seen your child in his/her premature coffin? It is a shocking and very painful sight. The most heartbreaking aspect of seeing Casey lying in his casket for me, was that his face was flat again because he had no muscle tone. He looked like he did when he was a baby laying in his bassinette. The most tragic irony is that if the Downing Street Memo proves to be true, Casey and thousands of people should still be alive....."

Is Bush Out of Control?

Is Bush Out of Control?
Capitol Hill Blue

Aug 15, 2005, 05:46

Buy beleaguered, overworked White House aides enough drinks and they tell a sordid tale of an administration under siege, beset by bitter staff infighting and led by a man whose mood swings suggest paranoia bordering on schizophrenia.

They describe a President whose public persona masks an angry, obscenity-spouting man who berates staff, unleashes tirades against those who disagree with him and ends meetings in the Oval Office with “get out of here!”

In fact, George W. Bush’s mood swings have become so drastic that White House emails often contain “weather reports” to warn of the President’s demeanor. “Calm seas” means Bush is calm while “tornado alert” is a warning that he is pissed at the world.

Decreasing job approval ratings and increased criticism within his own party drives the President’s paranoia even higher. Bush, in a meeting with senior advisors, called Senator Majority Leader Bill Frist a “god-damned traitor” for opposing him on stem-cell research.

“There’s real concern in the West Wing that the President is losing it,” a high-level aide told me recently....

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Tiananmen Ranch

08.12.2005James Moore
Tiananmen Ranch
Huffington Post
A close friend of mine went cycling with President Bush on Crawford Ranch last year and described a focused, relentlessly aggressive man on a mountain bike. Bush hammered out a hilly 18 mile course and left behind the guests and secret service agents trying to keep pace with his frenetic pedaling. There was nothing but him and the bike and the road and the pound of his heart. Good athletes are like this. Decent presidents are not.

Most endurance athletes discover that their minds, stimulated by endorphins released through exercise, tend to wander across a landscape of subjects. And when you find one that is engaging or significant, solutions and sensitivities unknown are suddenly discovered. That's why I wonder how the president can hit the trails of Prairie Chapel or even linger over his morning coffee and not be fixed on the unrelenting grief and resolve of Cindy Sheehan. She is becoming the symbol of our American Tiananmen.

I met Cindy Sheehan this time last year when she was trying to decide what to do about the loss of her son. We were strangers when we spoke on the phone but she was as honest as she was angry. Before a news conference at the National Press Club, she stood in an anteroom holding a large color poster of her smiling boy and she ran her fingertips over his mouth as though he were alive and could feel this affection. In that moment, I hated my president. And I hate having to hate anyone or anything.

A group of us went to dinner that night across the river in Arlington and Cindy asked me about all the years I had spent being a reporter and all of the sadness and loss I had encountered. She wanted to know what it was like years later for the mothers and fathers and siblings of soldiers I had written about and how they had adjusted or if they ever did. I had to tell her and her daughter sitting across from me that I never met anyone who had reached a point of total acceptance. The most vivid memory I had was of an 82-year-old Texas man whose oldest brother was one of nine boys from the tiny farming village of Praha who left for World War II. All nine of them died in different theaters of battle in the final year. But this 82 year old man said he was still expecting his big brother, who had died over sixty years ago, to come walking in the door looking like he had the day he left.....

Friday, August 12, 2005

It is not only Iraq that is occupied. America is too

It is not only Iraq that is occupied. America is too

My country is in the grip of a president surrounded by thugs in suits

Howard Zinn
Friday August 12, 2005
The Guardian

It has quickly become clear that Iraq is not a liberated country, but an occupied country. We became familiar with that term during the second world war. We talked of German-occupied France, German-occupied Europe. And after the war we spoke of Soviet-occupied Hungary, Czechoslovakia, eastern Europe. It was the Nazis, the Soviets, who occupied countries. The United States liberated them from occupation.

Now we are the occupiers. True, we liberated Iraq from Saddam Hussein, but not from us. Just as in 1898 we liberated Cuba from Spain, but not from us. Spanish tyranny was overthrown, but the US established a military base in Cuba, as we are doing in Iraq. US corporations moved into Cuba, just as Bechtel and Halliburton and the oil corporations are moving into Iraq. The US framed and imposed, with support from local accomplices, the constitution that would govern Cuba, just as it has drawn up, with help from local political groups, a constitution for Iraq. Not a liberation. An occupation.

And it is an ugly occupation. On August 7 2003 the New York Times reported that General Sanchez in Baghdad was worried about the Iraqi reaction to occupation. Pro-US Iraqi leaders were giving him a message, as he put it: "When you take a father in front of his family and put a bag over his head and put him on the ground, you have had a significant adverse effect on his dignity and respect in the eyes of his family." (That's very perceptive.)

We know that fighting during the US offensive in November 2004 destroyed three-quarters of the town of Falluja (population 360,000), killing hundreds of its inhabitants. The objective of the operation was to cleanse the town of the terrorist bands acting as part of a "Ba'athist conspiracy".

But we should recall that on June 16 2003, barely six weeks after President Bush had claimed victory in Iraq, two reporters for the Knight Ridder newspaper group wrote this about the Falluja area: "In dozens of interviews during the past five days, most residents across the area said there was no Ba'athist or Sunni conspiracy against US soldiers, there were only people ready to fight because their relatives had been hurt or killed, or they themselves had been humiliated by home searches and road stops ... One woman said, after her husband was taken from their home because of empty wooden crates which they had bought for firewood, that the US is guilty of terrorism."

Soldiers who are set down in a country where they were told they would be welcomed as liberators and find they are surrounded by a hostile population become fearful and trigger-happy. On March 4 nervous, frightened GIs manning a roadblock fired on the Italian journalist Giuliana Sgrena, just released by kidnappers, and an intelligence service officer, Nicola Calipari, whom they killed.

We have all read reports of US soldiers angry at being kept in Iraq. Such sentiments are becoming known to the US public, as are the feelings of many deserters who are refusing to return to Iraq after home leave. In May 2003 a Gallup poll reported that only 13% of the US public thought the war was going badly. According to a poll published by the New York Times and CBS News on June 17, 51% now think the US should not have invaded Iraq or become involved in the war. Some 59% disapprove of Bush's handling of the situation.

But more ominous, perhaps, than the occupation of Iraq is the occupation of the US. I wake up in the morning, read the newspaper, and feel that we are an occupied country, that some alien group has taken over. I wake up thinking: the US is in the grip of a president surrounded by thugs in suits who care nothing about human life abroad or here, who care nothing about freedom abroad or here, who care nothing about what happens to the earth, the water or the air, or what kind of world will be inherited by our children and grandchildren.

More Americans are beginning to feel, like the soldiers in Iraq, that something is terribly wrong. More and more every day the lies are being exposed. And then there is the largest lie, that everything the US does is to be pardoned because we are engaged in a "war on terrorism", ignoring the fact that war is itself terrorism, that barging into homes and taking away people and subjecting them to torture is terrorism, that invading and bombing other countries does not give us more security but less.

The Bush administration, unable to capture the perpetrators of the September 11 attacks, invaded Afghanistan, killing thousands of people and driving hundreds of thousands from their homes. Yet it still does not know where the criminals are. Not knowing what weapons Saddam Hussein was hiding, it invaded and bombed Iraq in March 2003, disregarding the UN, killing thousands of civilians and soldiers and terrorising the population; and not knowing who was and was not a terrorist, the US government confined hundreds of people in Guantánamo under such conditions that 18 have tried to commit suicide.

The Amnesty International Report 2005 notes: "Guantánamo Bay has become the gulag of our times ... When the most powerful country in the world thumbs its nose at the rule of law and human rights, it grants a licence to others to commit abuse with impunity".

The "war on terrorism" is not only a war on innocent people in other countries; it is a war on the people of the US: on our liberties, on our standard of living. The country's wealth is being stolen from the people and handed over to the super-rich. The lives of the young are being stolen.

The Iraq war will undoubtedly claim many more victims, not only abroad but also on US territory. The Bush administration maintains that, unlike the Vietnam war, this conflict is not causing many casualties. True enough, fewer than 2,000 service men and women have lost their lives in the fighting. But when the war finally ends, the number of its indirect victims, through disease or mental disorders, will increase steadily. After the Vietnam war, veterans reported congenital malformations in their children, caused by Agent Orange.

Officially there were only a few hundred losses in the Gulf war of 1991, but the US Gulf War Veterans Association has reported 8,000 deaths in the past 10 years. Some 200,000 veterans, out of 600,000 who took part, have registered a range of complaints due to the weapons and munitions used in combat. We have yet to see the long-term effects of depleted uranium on those currently stationed in Iraq.

Our faith is that human beings only support violence and terror when they have been lied to. And when they learn the truth, as happened in the course of the Vietnam war, they will turn against the government. We have the support of the rest of the world. The US cannot indefinitely ignore the 10 million people who protested around the world on February 15 2003.

There is no act too small, no act too bold. The history of social change is the history of millions of actions, small and large, coming together at points in history and creating a power that governments cannot suppress.

· Howard Zinn is professor emeritus of political science at Boston University; his books include A People's History of the United States

© Le Monde diplomatique

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Iraq: Bush's Islamic Republic

Volume 52, Number 13 · August 11, 2005
Iraq: Bush's Islamic Republic
By Peter W. Galbraith
The New York Review of Books

On June 4, Jalal Talabani, president of Iraq, attended the inauguration of the Kurdistan National Assembly in Erbil, northern Iraq. Talabani, a Kurd, is not only the first-ever democratically elected head of state in Iraq, but in a country that traces its history back to the Garden of Eden, he is, as one friend observed, "the first freely chosen leader of this land since Adam was here alone." While Kurds are enormously proud of his accomplishment, the flag of Iraq—the country Talabani heads—was noticeably absent from the inauguration ceremony, nor can it be found anyplace in Erbil, a city of one million that is the capital of Iraq's Kurdistan Region.

Ann Bodine, the head of the American embassy office in Kirkuk, spoke at the ceremony, congratulating the newly minted parliamentarians, and affirming the US commitment to an Iraq that is, she said, "democratic, federal, pluralistic, and united." The phrase evidently did not apply in Erbil. In their oath, the parliamentarians were asked to swear loyalty to the unity of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq. Many pointedly dropped the "of Iraq."

The shortest speech was given by the head of the Iranian intelligence service in Erbil, a man known to the Kurds as Agha Panayi. Staring directly at Ms. Bodine, he said simply, "This is a great day. Throughout Iraq, the people we supported are in power." He did not add "Thank you, George Bush." The unstated was understood.


When President Bush spoke to the nation on June 28, he did not mention Iran's rising influence with the Shiite-led government in Baghdad. He did not point out that the two leading parties in the Shiite coalition are pursuing an Islamic state in which the rights of women and religious minorities will be sharply curtailed, and that this kind of regime is already being put into place in parts of Iraq controlled by these parties. Nor did he say anything about the almost unanimous desire of Kurdistan's people for their own independent state.

Instead, President Bush depicted the struggle in Iraq as a battle between the freedom-loving Iraqi people and terrorists. Without the sacrifices of the American servicemen and -women, and the largesse of the US taxpayer, the terrorists could win. As Bush put it, "The only way our enemies can succeed is if we forget the lessons of September 11—if we abandon the Iraqi people to men like Zarqawi."

Bush's effort to revive the link between Iraq and September 11 produced a flood of criticism, leading some of his critics to dismiss him as a habitual liar on Iraq matters. Alas, the comment may be more indicative of how disconnected administration strategy is from the realities of Iraq. Unfortunately, many of the administration's sharpest critics seem to share its assumption that there is a people sharing a common Iraqi identity, an inaccurate assumption that provides fodder for misleading Vietnam analogies.

There is, in fact, no Iraqi insurgency. There is a Sunni Arab insurgency. And it cannot win. Neither the al-Qaeda terrorists nor the former Baathists can win. Even if the US withdrew tomorrow, neither insurgents nor terrorists would be knocking down the gates to Iraq's Presidential Palace in Baghdad.

Basically, the military equation in Iraq comes down to demographics. Sunni Arabs are no more than 20 percent of Iraq's population.....

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Why No Tea and Sympathy?

Why No Tea and Sympathy?
New York Times
Published: August 10, 2005


W. can't get no satisfaction on Iraq.

There's an angry mother of a dead soldier camping outside his Crawford ranch, demanding to see a president who prefers his sympathy to be carefully choreographed.....

... It's hard to think of another president who lived in such meta-insulation. His rigidly controlled environment allows no chance encounters with anyone who disagrees. He never has to defend himself to anyone, and that is cognitively injurious. He's a populist who never meets people - an ordinary guy who clears brush, and brush is the only thing he talks to. Mr. Bush hails Texas as a place where he can return to his roots. But is he mixing it up there with anyone besides Vulcans, Pioneers and Rangers?

W.'s idea of consolation was to dispatch Stephen Hadley, the national security adviser, to talk to Ms. Sheehan, underscoring the inhumane humanitarianism of his foreign policy. Mr. Hadley is just a suit, one of the hard-line Unsweet Neo Cons who helped hype America into this war.

It's getting harder for the president to hide from the human consequences of his actions and to control human sentiment about the war by pulling a curtain over the 1,835 troops killed in Iraq; the more than 13,000 wounded, many shorn of limbs; and the number of slain Iraqi civilians - perhaps 25,000, or perhaps double or triple that. More people with impeccable credentials are coming forward to serve as a countervailing moral authority to challenge Mr. Bush.

Paul Hackett, a Marine major who served in Iraq and criticized the president on his conduct of the war, narrowly lost last week when he ran for Congress as a Democrat in a Republican stronghold in Cincinnati. Newt Gingrich warned that the race should "serve as a wake-up call to Republicans" about 2006.

Selectively humane, Mr. Bush justified his Iraq war by stressing the 9/11 losses. He emphasized the humanity of the Iraqis who desire freedom when his W.M.D. rationale vaporized.

But his humanitarianism will remain inhumane as long as he fails to understand that the moral authority of parents who bury children killed in Iraq is absolute.

Hackett calls Limbaugh a "fatass drug addict

Hackett calls Limbaugh a "fatass drug addict"
Daily Kos
by BobcatJH

Tue Aug 9th, 2005 at 08:26:36 PDT
View the video!

Appearing on yesterday's edition of "The Ed Schultz Show," Paul Hackett made several stand-out statements (mp3 file). My favorite came in reference to his being attacked by Rush Limbaugh:
That's typical for that fatass drug addict to come up with something like that. There's a guy ... I didn't hear this, but actually when I was on drill this weekend, I've got to tell you, he lost a lot of Republican supporters with his comments. Because they were coming up to me, telling me, "I can't believe he said that! Besides that, he called you a soldier. He doesn't know the difference between a soldier and a marine!"

BobcatJH's diary :: ::

So generally, the consensus is Rush doesn't know squat about patriotism. He's typical of the new Republican. He's got a lot of lip and he doesn't walk the walk. The fact of the matter is, I went to Iraq to serve my country. I left my nice house, my nice wife by my choice because I thought it was the right thing to do. And man, if I was good enough to be able to see into the future that Rob Portman was going to step down from Congress, I mean I should actually be running for something a lot more than Congress. I went to Iraq because I wanted to serve my country and be with my Marines.

I think it probably says more about Rush Limbaugh than it does anybody else that he comes up with those thought processes. And I think it's indicative of today's Republican party, which is patriotic lite translated to anybody who serves their country who truly who truly serves their country and demonstrates it by their actions as opposed to their flapping gums.

They want to attack us. But the fact of the matter is they can attack me, but I punch back just as hard as I get. Ask Rush how come he wasn't taking phone calls for the two days when he was on the attack with me. Ask him why his phone lines were clogged up. That's because he was getting thousands of calls from veterans from this war and other wars who were clogging up his phone lines, giving him an earful.
I love this guy!

American know-how hobbled by know-nothings

Cynthia Tucker
Universal Press Syndicate

American know-how hobbled by know-nothings
Scientific and educational needs of the nation take back seat to religious minority

Whatever happened to good old American know-how? What became of those twin emblems of our national character -- ingenuity and resourcefulness?

The nation could use a bit of those right now. Even as global petroleum reserves peak, we have no national program for developing alternative energy sources; NASA's shuttle program has been suspended indefinitely for fear of another disaster; and the South Koreans and others are outstripping us in vital genetic research.

The Pentagon is so desperate to attract a new generation of scientists and engineers that it is sending mid-career researchers to screenwriting school, hoping they'll write movies depicting scientists as flashy heroes. But that won't help much if President Bush is going to declare war on science.

Just last week, the president poked a sharp stick in the eye of modern biology, telling reporters that high schools should teach "intelligent design." This view challenges evolution by inserting a divine force into scientific theories about the origins of life.

According to The Washington Post, Bush, in an Oval Office meeting with a group of Texas reporters on Monday, said, "Both sides ought to be properly taught ... so people can understand what the debate is about. ... Part of education is to expose people to different schools of thought."

Like so many Americans who misunderstand scientific consensus, the president seems to think there are two valid scientific views about evolution. There are not. There is a side that teaches science -- that which can be tested and retested against the evidence at hand. And there is the side that favors teaching religion in high school biology classes. (No matter how much proponents of "intelligent design" try to clothe their views in the apparel of science, it is what it is: religion. Whose intelligence? Whose design?)

Bush also reiterated his opposition to broadening federal funding for stem cell research, despite growing Republican support for funding for less restrictive research. This nation used to be exuberant about scientific achievement, confident (even arrogant) about our ability to solve any technological challenge, comfortable with the possibilities of scientific research. When the Soviets stunned the world with the launch of Sputnik in 1957, the United States rushed to the barricades with money for science labs and math classrooms. There was no conflict among mainstream Christians about promoting scientific advancement.

But that was then. Now, this country is led by a cult of religious fundamentalists who wish to impose their narrow thinking on the rest of us. The dogma advanced by Bush and his ilk disputes more than a century of scientific thought that relies on the foundations of Darwin's theories. It discounts the pain of countless sick and handicapped citizens, who might benefit from advances in stem cell research. It ignores the growing scientific prowess of other nations, including China and South Korea, where, just last week, scientists announced the successful cloning of a puppy -- a stunning development.

Never mind that millions of Christians, including me, are quite comfortable with the teaching of evolution, since it neither attempts to confirm nor deny the existence of a Creator. Never mind that countless believers support broadening research on donated embryos that would otherwise be destroyed. The absolutes of a narrow minority rule the day.

If the great story of the last century was the conflict among various political ideologies -- communism, fascism and democracy -- then the great narrative of this century will be the changes wrought by astonishing scientific breakthroughs. What seemed science fiction just yesterday will become an overnight reality: cures for Alzheimer's and spinal cord ruptures, the development of advanced robots and nanotechnology, an incredible lengthening of the human life span.

The United States stood in the vanguard of the fight against communism and fascism, ensuring that democracy survived the last century and would flourish in the next. But in the race for scientific hegemony, we've tied a white lab coat to a stick and are waving it at Asia: We surrender

Bush: Stuck in Second

Stuck in Second
New York Times
Published: August 9, 2005

As Washington shuts down for August, President Bush’s report card from the public for the first half-year of his second term is not a good one compared with how the public graded Presidents Reagan and Clinton at a similar point in time. Only President Nixon, who had by then begun to tumble into the abyss of Watergate, had a lower presidential approval rating. Unlike Nixon’s precipitous decline over one mega-problem, Mr. Bush’s fall in public esteem reflects discontent in a number of areas: Americans are unhappy about economic conditions, the war in Iraq, Washington’s intervention in the case of Terri Schiavo and general partisan bickering. In that regard, it is noteworthy that favorable ratings for Congress are lower than in the past, too.

Ultimately, scandals undermined the second terms of all three of Mr. Bush’s two-term predecessors. For now, the president has only a relatively small one in the investigation of possible White House collusion in the unauthorized outing of C.I.A. officer Valerie Plame. But according to July’s polls, Mr. Bush’s personal credibility rating, once a strong point, is slipping. Despite some recent legislative victories, this second term president could use some sustained good news to restore his public standing.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

How GOP Voter 'Reforms' Cut Dem Votes in GA

August 7, 2005
How GOP Voter 'Reforms' Cut Dem Votes in GA

On first consideration, the new Georgia law requiring picture identification to vote seems reasonable enough as a tool for preventing voter fraud. But, as Cynthia Tucker notes in her recent Atlanta Constitution article "Easy to identify hypocrisy of Georgia Republicans' voter ID law," such seemingly fair requirements provide a transparent mask for a highly partisan agenda:

...white Georgians are five times more likely to have a car or truck than black Georgians. According to Kilpatrick Stockton attorney Seth Cohen, about 4 percent of white adults in Georgia lack a driver's license, but more than four times as many black adults — about 18 percent — lack one.

...Furthermore, the Legislature passed its new law while doing precious little to fix the backlog for driver's licenses. The newly created Department of Driver Services, where voters will have to go for their new state-sponsored IDs, is still short-staffed. As it stands, only 56 motor vehicle safety licensing branches serve Georgia's 159 counties

Georgia does provide a state photo I.D., knowing full well that many voters, particularly seniors with mobility problems, will not go the extra trouble to apply for one and many others are unaware of the process. Echoing Rep. John Lewis (see post below), Tucker, points out that voter suppression is a national problem:

...Across the country, GOP strategists have used dirty tricks against Native Americans, blacks and Latinos, ranging from false reports of invalid registration to threatening legitimate voters with arrest. They've been doing it for years. In 1993, Republican operative Ed Rollins, who managed Christine Whitman's run for governor of New Jersey, made headlines when he attributed her success, in part, to his tactic of paying black preachers to keep their congregants away from the polls. Though he later retracted the claim, it had the unfortunate ring of truth.

Since then, the tactics have only become more open and more aggressive. In 2003, South Dakota's GOP-dominated state Legislature passed a law requiring photo IDs, and it kept many of that state's Native Americans, reliable Democratic voters, from the polls last year. Perhaps it's no coincidence, then, that Tom Daschle, who had been Senate minority leader, lost his race for re-election.

Tucker points out that Georgia's Republican-dominated state legislature and Governor have done nothing to require identification for absentee ballots, most of which are cast for GOP candidates. She quotes Georgia Secretary of State Cathy Cox: "In contrast to the lack of voter fraud relating to impersonating voters at the polls, the State Election Board has reviewed scores of cases of alleged voter fraud relating to the use of absentee ballots."

The example of Georgia's voter i.d. law provides a compelling illustration of the urgent need to make renewal of provisions of the Voting Rights Act a priority. If the Georgia law is allowed to stand, it will be replicated in other states, and Democrats will pay the price.
Posted by EDM staff

The energy debacle

The energy debacle
By Thomas Oliphant
Boston Globe Columnist
August 2, 2005

.....ACCORDING TO THE US Energy Information Administration, here is what the world has to look forward to on the oil- supply-and-demand front for as far as official eyes can see: More of the same -- very tight supplies and unending pressure on already exorbitant prices.
This is the only sensible context for judging the pathetic response to an unfolding crisis -- the energy legislation that cleared Congress last week after a four-year political struggle. Its impact on the unfolding crisis will be zero, by even its supporters' admission.
According to the Energy Department, for the next 18 months, the demand by ravenous consumers, not just here but most especially in the developing world, with China in the lead, is going to keep escalating. In the United States, demand should ratchet up to 21.3 million barrels a day as the economy keep growing slowly.
But elsewhere, demand is beginning to explode. In China, it will jump to 7.8 million barrels, from just 6.5 million last year. That will power a jump in worldwide demand to 87 million barrels, from 85 million this year and only 82.8 million in 2004.
Against that demand pressure, the short-term supply news is puny. There will be a tiny and temporary rise in US oil production to about 9 million barrels a day, meaning that the dependence on imports will actually grow slightly next year. Worldwide, the Energy Department unit expects supply to expand modestly to just match the 87 million barrel demand. That is a recipe for still higher prices as well as spot shortages.
Over time, however, it gets worse, a situation completely ignored by last week's energy legislation, which is likely to be the last major word on the subject until President Bush is safely retired to Texas. The one exception is the years-long shouting match over drilling in Alaska's famous wildlife refuge. Unable to include it in the legislation without torpedoing it, the latest Republican congressional strategy is to slip it in as part of a budget bill later this year; the ploy is likely to work, but the impact on the domestic oil supply will be inconsequential, especially as production from existing reserves begins its inevitable decline.
According to the Energy Department, between now and 2025, growing at roughly a 2 percent rate annually, world demand will be up nearly 60 percent. To match that will require more than a 40 percent increase in the world's production capacity.
Not surprisingly, the projection is that the world's least responsible producing group -- OPEC -- will account for well over half of whatever production increases occur, based on reserves that are identified. In other words, just about everything that nobody likes (apart from oil company big shots and members of the Saudi royal family) is likely to get worse over the next generation.

And the legislation is worse than irrelevant to the underlying trends in the world. Traditional conservatism used to teach traditional liberalism that just because there is a problem and legislation has been enacted that uses that problem in its title, it doesn't follow that the problem has been solved, or even addressed. Today, those ideological roles are effectively reversed.

There was another way for which a congressional majority could have been assembled had there been a president willing to lead and bargain: exchanging approval for the disgusting tax breaks lobbyists persuaded Congress to approve for a willingness to support tough measures affecting both supply and demand.
That other way involved serious national goals combined with policies capable of reaching them. They would have included, over the next decade, cutting oil imports by half and increasing (to 20 percent from the current 2 percent) the portion of electricity generated from renewable sources.
The United States could have either toughened motor vehicle mileage requirements or used tax incentives to promote hybrids, or both. It could have invested serious money in renewable technologies, including hydrogen power. You could have invested seriously in two fossil fuels that can help at the supply margins -- natural gas and cleaner coal. And it could have led by example by cutting the federal government's own enormous energy bill by 20 percent over a decade.
To do stuff like this responsibly, there would have to be a reliable stream of revenue -- and it could have been tapped simply by diverting existing revenues from the royalties energy companies are already paying the government. The flow of funds would have been at least $2 billion annually, enough to carry out the alternative policy....

Supreme Court Nominee John G. Roberts

Supreme Court Nominee John G. Roberts:
How Many Of His Government Records Can Be Hidden From the Senate?
Friday, Jul. 29, 2005

Remarkably little is known about Supreme Court nominee John G. Roberts, other than the bare bones of his resume. Although he was recently confirmed for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, that confirmation hearing did little delving. So far, he has written only about forty opinions in his two years on the appellate court, on largely mundane legal matters. Thus, his judicial philosophy remains essentially unknown.

For this reason, several members of the Senate Judiciary Committee have said they will seek copies of documents that Roberts prepared as a government attorney in the Reagan and Bush I administrations, to see if these documents provide evidence of Roberts's thinking. Of particular interest are Roberts's years in the Office of the Solicitor General, for nowhere in the Executive Branch is there more thinking done about the High Court.

The Bush White House, and those speaking on behalf of the Administration, initially said that they would refuse to turn over documents, claiming attorney-client privilege. Apparently reminded that as Independent Counsel, Ken Starr pretty much made a nullity of that privilege for government attorneys, the White House later said that some documents would be made available, but not all.

In support of its position, it cited as precedent the rules that had governed the hearings of past government attorneys who have been selected for the high bench (Rehnquist, Bork, and Scalia). The problem is, it turns out that existing precedent -- in particular, precedent from the Bork hearings, the more recent of the three, cuts the wrong way for the White House....

Friday, August 05, 2005

Above the rule of law

Above the rule of law

Britain should avoid any compromise with the dirty war that the Bush administration is waging against terrorism

Sidney Blumenthal
Friday August 5, 2005
The Guardian

Almost every significant aspect of the investigation to bring the London terrorists to justice is the opposite of Bush's "war on terrorism". From the leading role of Scotland Yard to the close cooperation with police, the British effort is at odds with the US operation directed by the Pentagon.

Just months before the London bombings, upon visiting the Guantánamo prison, British counter-terrorism officials were startled that they did not meet with legal authorities, but only military personnel; they were also disturbed to learn that the information they gathered from the CIA was unknown to the FBI counter-terrorism team and that the British were the only channel between them. The British discovered that the New York City Police Department's counter-terrorism unit was more synchronised with its methods and aims than the US government was.

Article continues


The Italian counter-terrorism operation that was essential in the capture of one of the alleged terrorists fleeing London is itself in open conflict with Bush's "war". Last month, an Italian prosecutor filed indictments against 13 CIA operatives who allegedly betrayed their Italian intelligence colleagues in surveillance of an Egyptian Muslim cleric, using their information but not telling them about the "rendering" (that is, kidnapping) of the suspect to Egypt rather than permitting his arrest in Italy. Now the CIA agents are fugitives from Italian justice.

International counter-terrorism is running foul of Bush's imperatives for what has become a "dirty war". Though Bush's "war on terrorism" is a phrase his administration declared obsolete last month (only to have Bush reimpose the slogan), the dirty war remains very much in place. Since September 11, Bush proposed a sharp dichotomy between "war" and "law enforcement". In his 2004 State of the Union address, he ridiculed those who view counter-terrorism as other than his conception of war: "I know that some people question if America is really in a war at all. They view terrorism more as a crime, a problem to be solved mainly with law enforcement and indictments ... The terrorists and their supporters declared war on the United States, and war is what they got."

During the presidential campaign, vice-president Dick Cheney contemptuously criticised the application of law enforcement as effeminate "sensitivity". In June of this year, Bush's deputy chief of staff, Karl Rove, attacked the very idea of "indictments" as a symptom of liberal weakness.

Against the strongest possible internal opposition - from senior US military figures, the military's corps of lawyers, the then secretary of state Colin Powell, and the FBI - Bush disdained the Geneva conventions and avoided legalities, especially trials, to pursue a torture policy. He created a far-flung system of prisons run by an unaccountable military chain of command apart from traditional counter-intelligence. It has been operated clandestinely, removed from the oversight of Congress. And Bush has fought in the courts against the intrusions of due process to retain supreme presidential prerogative.

Yet Bush is increasingly embattled in defence of his dirty war. The Pentagon has appealed against a federal judge's ruling to make public 87 photographs and four videos from Abu Ghraib depicting "rape and murder", according to a senator who has seen them. Meanwhile, the Pentagon has quashed the recommendation of military investigators looking into FBI reports of torture at Guantánamo that its commander, Maj Gen Geoffrey Miller, be reprimanded for dereliction of duty.

Last month, three top military attorneys from the judge advocate generals for the army, air force and marines testified before the Senate that they had objected from the start to the new abusive techniques of interrogation of prisoners. One memo revealed by Maj Gen Jack Rives, deputy judge advocate general of the air force, said: "Several of the more extreme interrogation techniques, on their face, amount to violations of domestic criminal law."

In response, three Republican senators have proposed legislation that would in effect abolish Bush's dirty war. Their bill would prohibit "cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment" of detainees, hiding prisoners from the Red Cross, and from using methods not authorised by the army field manual. One of these senators, John McCain, himself a prisoner of war in Vietnam, released a letter signed by more than a dozen retired senior military generals and admirals as well as prisoners of war. It said: "The abuse of prisoners hurts America's cause in the war on terror, endangers US service members who might be captured by the enemy, and is anathema to the values Americans have held dear for generations."

Cheney interceded to attempt to force the senators to withdraw, claiming they are hurting the "war on terrorism", but they have refused. McCain declared that the debate was not about the terrorists, saying: "It's not about who they are. It's about who we are."

But the dirty war that damages the difficult work of counter-terrorism continues unabated. It goes on for reasons beyond domestic political consumption. At its heart lies the drive for concentrated executive power above the rule of law.

Predictably, Bush's dirty war is having a counter-productive effect, just as dirty wars did in Vietnam, Algeria and Argentina. For every militant abused or killed, a community of like-minded militants is inspired. Hatred, resentment and vengeance are the natural outcomes. There has never been a victory through a dirty war over these forces. To the extent that Britain responds with the assertion of the rule of law it serves as a notable counter-example to Bush's dirty war.

· Sidney Blumenthal, a former senior adviser to President Clinton, is author of The Clinton Wars