Democracy on the Rocks
A sandbox for exploring Democracy and picking stones
Friday, December 15, 2006
The Naked Truth and More Free Speech for Everyone!
THIS is legal:
Judge: Florida woman didn't break law by exposing breasts...
DAYTONA BEACH - (AP) -- A woman did not break the law when she exposed her breasts to protest laws that bar women from publicly going bare breasted, a judge has ruled...Her attorney, Lawrence G. Walters, said the city is trying to censor his client:
''I've never seen another city or case where the city has shown so much time and effort to shut down one person's First Amendment right of protected speech,'' Walters said.
Banned for a George Bush T-shirt...
An Australian was barred from a London-Melbourne flight unless he removed a T-shirt depicting George Bush as the world's number one terrorist." Allen Jasson was also prevented from catching a connecting flight within Australia later the same day unless he removed the offending T-shirt.Just sayin...
Wednesday, November 15, 2006
It's time to cut the spin and speak out about what our vote for Democrats meant.
The Left and Right, including Bush, have been busy spinning what the Democratic wins in congress mean, and what the People want. Some say the vote was about Iraq. Some note the importance of domestic issues. Some say the vote was against Bush. Some say the vote was for checks and balances. Some say it was a vote against corruption. Some say the vote was about the Foley scandal. Some say it was about change. Some say the vote was a sign that the People do not have the "stomach" for war. Some say only conservative Democratic candidates won; some note that more liberal Republicans lost. Some say the new Democratic congress should have started impeachment hearings last week, because Americans want it. Some say the Democrats should have fixed Iraq last week. Some say the Democrats, who will be sworn in on January 3, 2007, should focus on the job of congress--providing responsible oversight.
I have decided I can speak for myself better than anyone else, because afterall, my own interests are not clouded by political aspirations. I intend to engage in a letter writing campaign to explain to the new Democratic Leadership exactly what my vote meant, and exactly what I expect them to do. I invite anyone who is so included to Jump in with me. Here are some tools:
Congress.org provides sample letters to congress, what's currenlty on the congressional agenda, and lots of other useful information. It also includes a handy "Take Action" tool that returns the names and contact information for your local officials. You can even have your representatives votes sent to you weekly by email.And to whom will I announce the meaning of my vote? Behold the new Democratic Senate Leadership, for starters:
Helpful information on writing letters to congress is available here. The Physicians for Human Rights site provides guidance for contacting elected officials, also.
Contact information for the current congress is listed here. (Information for 110th congress will be available after it is sworn in on January 03, 2007.)
A useful tool for looking up bills is provided here.
- Robert C. Byrd, President Pro Tem
- Dick Durbin, Assistant Majority Leader
- Charles E. Schumer, Vice Chair of the Conference
- Patty Murray, Secretary of the Conference
- Charles E. Schumer, Chairman of Campaign Committee
- Byron L. Dorgan, Chairman of Policy Committee
- Debbie Stabenow, Chair of Steering and Outreach Committee
- Jeff Bingaman, Chairman of Committee Outreach
- Hillary Rodham Clinton, Vice Chair of Committee Outreach
- Blanche L. Lincoln, Chair of Rural Outreach
- Barbara Boxer, Chief Deputy Whip
- Thomas R. Carper, Deputy Whip
- Bill Nelson, Deputy Whip
- Russell D. Feingold, Deputy Whip
- Nancy Erickson, Secretary of the Senate
- Terrance Gainer, Sergeant at Arms
- Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Speaker
- Steny Hoyer (D-MD), Majority Leader
- Jim Clyburn (D-SC), Majority Whip
- Rahm Emanuel (D-IL), Caucus Chair
- John Larson (D-CT), Vice-Caucus Chair
- I expect Congress to defend the Constitution and Bill of Rights. I want torture stopped, habeas corpus restored, and the Patriot Act revised.
- I expect Election Reform, with verifiable ballots; the cornerstone of Democracy deserves it.
- I expect the illegal occupation of Iraq to end, forthwith.
- I expect a complete audit and accountability for all spending in Iraq.
- I expect illegal wiretapping to end. Any invasion of privacy should comply with existing law and, at bare minimum, involve oversight.
- I expect the tax "breaks" favoring America's most wealthy to end.
- I expect Congress to uphold the separation of Church and State.
- I expect oversight, accountability, and full disclosure of all elected officials who stand to personally benefit from their own policy decisions.
- I expect investigations of the administrations Energy Task Force and its use of intelligence leading to the Iraq war, for starters.
Wednesday, November 08, 2006
Well, the election dust is settling and the triumvirate fog is lifting. Trepidation has given way to elation. There is jubilation across the nation. Nonetheless, may we remember that in many ways our work has just begun, because...
I would like this picture even more if it read "Democratic" or "Patriotic" instead of "American"—more inclusive of our friends and neighbours across the globe who are celebrating with us.
I hope you're taking your vitamins progressive friends, because we have work to do.
Sunday, November 05, 2006
Get Your Bragg On!
I discovered Billy Bragg this year. I still don't quite understand how I had missed him. So much outrage; so little time...
Anyway, back in 1988 Bragg released Waiting for the Great Leap Forwards.
It may have been Camelot for Jack and Jacqueline
But on the Che Guevara highway filling up with gasoline
Fidel Castro's brother spies a rich lady who's crying
Over luxury's disappointment
So he walks over and he's trying
To sympathise with her
But he thinks that he should warn her
That the third world is just around the corner
In the Soviet Union a scientist is blinded
By the resumption of nuclear testing and he is reminded
That Dr. Robert Oppenheimer's optimism fell
At the first hurdle
In the cheese pavilion, and the only noise I hear
Is the sound of someone stacking chairs
And mopping up spilt beer
And someone asking questions and basking in the light
Of the fifteen fame filled minutes of the fanzine writer
Mixing pop and politics, he asks me what the use is
I offer him embarrassment and my usual excuses
While looking down the corridor
Out to where the van is waiting
I'm looking for the great leap forwards
Jumble sales are organised
And pamphlets have been posted
Even after closing time there's still parties to be hosted
You can be active with the activists
Or sleep in with the sleepers
While youre waiting for the great leap forwards
One leap forward, two leaps back
Will politics get me the sack?
Here comes the future and you can't run from it
If you've got a blacklist, I want to be on it
It's a mighty long way down rock n roll
From top of the pops to drawing the dole
If no one seems to understand
Start your own revolution and cut out the middleman
In a perfect world we'd all sing in tune
But this is reality, so give me some room
So join the struggle while you may
The revolution is just a t-shirt away
Waiting for the great leap forwards
(Bragg's TV debut on Letterman, 1988)
But times have changed, and so have the lyrics. Rumsfeld makes it in by name, as does YouTube. Great statement about patriots after the performance, also.
This is a song that makes me happy and sad at the same time. It laments being stuck in failed policies, stuck in a political quagmire, stuck somewhere in the course of human evolution, waiting. It also revels in hope for the future and the possibility of tomorrow. It delights in the struggle; it frolics in progressive optimism while wading through the muck of the morass of the moment. I choose to have hope, otherwise there is no reason to work for or expect a better world.
It's somehow fitting that Bush, who doesn't believe in evolution, is content "staying the course", and wouldn't recognize the Great Leap if it crept up on him from behind.
Friday, November 03, 2006
Or, the Nefarious Relationship Between Audits and Taxes
In their desperation, the GOP is telling everyone that if they vote for Democrats, the wicked Democrats will raise taxes. (According to Bush, Democrats are genetically disposed to raising taxes. I didn't know that Bush believed in or understood Genetics.)
This argument is laughable, in a tragic sort of way. Putting aside for a moment the fact that Bush's tax cuts have makedly favored the wealithiest of America's wealthy (some even say that Bush has presided of the largest transfer of wealth from to working to the upper class in the history of the nation, but who am I to blog without supporting links...), consider what has happened to Bush's employees who identified government waste and corruption in Iraq:
Investigations led by a Republican lawyer named Stuart W. Bowen Jr. in Iraq have sent American occupation officials to jail on bribery and conspiracy charges, exposed disastrously poor construction work by well-connected companies like Halliburton and Parsons, and discovered that the military did not properly track hundreds of thousands of weapons it shipped to Iraqi security forces.Our GOP congress has fired the unit that identified bribery, conspiracy, shoddy construction, and failure to track weapons in the war-for-profit battle zone of Iraq...because the GOP is dedicated to keeping taxes low...except when doing so interferes with their friends' profits.
Mr. Bowen’s office has inspected and audited taxpayer-financed projects like [a] prison in Nasiriya, Iraq.
And tucked away in a huge military authorization bill that President Bush signed two weeks ago is what some of Mr. Bowen’s supporters believe is his reward for repeatedly embarrassing the administration: a pink slip.
This is called fiscal irresponsibility, and American taxpayers are paying for it. And we are paying for this fiscal irresponsibility under the leadership of the President Who Made Things up and the Congress that Couldn't Say No.
Oversight. It's their worst nightmare, and they refuse to provide it.
And to think, it's been said that there is nothing the GOP won't do.
Grab your beach chairs and binoculars, friends, because it looks like the GOP is headed for a major WIPEOUT:
Stricken with anxiety as the polls continue to indicate a Democratic resurgence, certain Republicans have already started spouting justifications and explanations. No matter what happens on Election Day, they say, the results must not be taken at face value—because liberal Democrats can prevail only by pretending to be right-wing Republicans.Very creative. Yet, despite the desperately spinning GOP, it looks like there is going to be a BLUE DAWN in America:
Among the first to test this excuse in recent days was Laura Ingraham, the hard-line radio and TV talker who insisted that the defeat of Republican candidates would somehow represent a triumph of her ideology. What she told CNN’s Larry King on Oct. 30 is worth examining, if only because we will surely hear more of the same in the days to come—and because those same claims are already surfacing in The New York Times...Its only defect is that it evaporates instantly upon closer inspection. (More...)
That is, of course, unless the election is hacked, which would lead to unrest, civil disobedience, and an investigation, the likes of which we've seldom seen:
No, I'm not dead certain of a Democratic takeover, but I feel the wave and it looks like a big one. I've always enjoyed a big Blue wave. Must be the SoCal progressive in me hanging (ten) out.
...Bush Botched a War. And we have been paying for his mistakes with the blood of America's children, which has been running in the streets alongside the blood of Iraqi civilians--about 650,000 of them.
But let's do step back and put this in perspective, shall we? Compare Kerry's bungle (presented and disected by Keith Olbermann) to the words of the Commander in Chief and his chosen staff, which in contrast to the words of Senator Kerry, actually have caused irreparable and tangible harm to our troops:
- "Bring 'em on." -President George Bush [CNN]
- "...weeks rather than months." -Vice President Dick Cheney [Washington Post]
- "My belief is we will, in fact, be greeted as liberators." -Vice President Dick Cheney [Washington Post]
- "They want to the get rid of Saddam Hussein, and they will welcome as liberators the United States when we come to do that." -Vice President Dick Cheney Washington Post]
- "The campaign will be unlike any we have ever seen in the history of warfare, with breathtaking precision, almost eye-watering speed, persistence, agility and lethality." -Vice Admiral Timothy Keating, commander of U.S. naval forces in the Gulf [Washington Post]
- "It could last, you know, six days, six weeks. I doubt six months." -Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld [Washington Post]
- "Support for Saddam, including within his military organization, will collapse at the first whiff of gunpowder." -Former Pentagon Chairman Richard Perle [Washington Post]
- "I don't know anyone who thought this would be a war without resistance." - Former Pentagon Chairman Richard Perle (after the war began) [Washington Post]
- "Major combat operations in Iraq have ended. In the battle of Iraq, the United States and our allies have prevailed." -President George Bush [Whitehouse.gov]
- "I have a special word for Secretary Rumsfeld, for General Franks, and for all the men and women who wear the uniform of the United States: America is grateful for a job well done." -President George Bush (being careful to use the troops as shields in this praise of Rumsfeld and Franks) [Whitehouse.gov]
- "It's very important for us to stay the course, and we will stay the course." -President George Bush [US Department of Defense]
- "As you know, you go to war with the Army you have. They're not the Army you might want or wish to have at a later time." - Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld [Washington Post]
- And let's not overlook this Bush laugh riot [WH Correspondents' Dinner, 2004].
- "You can support the troops but not the president." --Rep Tom Delay (R-TX)
- "Well, I just think it's a bad idea. What's going to happen is they're going to be over there for 10, 15, maybe 20 years." --Joe Scarborough (R-FL)
- "Explain to the mothers and fathers of American servicemen that may come home in body bags why their son or daughter have to give up their life?" --Sean Hannity, Fox News,
- "[The] President . . . is once again releasing American military might on a foreign country with an ill-defined objective and no exit strategy. He has yet to tell the Congress how much this operation will cost. And he has not informed our nation's armed forces about how long they will be away from home. These strikes do not make for a sound foreign policy." --Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA)
- "If we are going to commit American troops, we must be certain they have a clear mission, an achievable goal and an exit strategy." --Karen Hughes, speaking on behalf of George W Bush
- "I had doubts about the bombing campaign from the beginning . . I didn't think we had done enough in the diplomatic area." --Senator Trent Lott (R-MS)
- "Victory means exit strategy, and it's important for the President to explain to us what the exit strategy is." --Governor George W. Bush (R-TX)
Bush recently revealed that controlling the oil fields was his reason for attacking and occupying Iraq. Recall that Cheney's Energy Taskforce, convened before we attacked Iraq, involved Iraq oil field maps. Any day now, the deal will be cut on control of Iraq's oil fields, involving the usual suspects (Bush's oil cabal). It's wrong to make money on other people's blood.
I ask but one question: Who needs to apologize to the troops?
I know how history will answer.
Friday, October 27, 2006
Or, Something's Rotten in the Pumpkin Patch
Once upon a time, there was a pumpkin patch. The pumpkins were foolish, and allowed a very bad ruler to come to power:
He kept company with some other nasty pumpkins:
Together, they did some very bad things:
The other pumkins weren't too worried, though, because they were satisifed being consumers:
One day, however, the pumpkins learned that one of the Pumpkin Ruler's friends was not very nice to the little pumpkins:
This made the other pumpkins feel bad:
Then, they learned that it was not an isolated event:
The Pumpkin Ruler started to give the other pumpkins a very bad feeling inside. They finally realized that they needed to purge themselves of the Pumpkin Ruler:
So they rid themselves of the Rotten Pumpkin, and there was Peace in the pumpkin patch.
Tuesday, October 24, 2006
Daniel Ellsberg, the former American military analyst who helped wake up the nation in 1971 when he released the U.S. military's account of Vietnam war activities, otherwise know as Pentagon Papers, to The New York Times, has something to say about the Next War. "Many government insiders" he writes, "are aware of serious plans for war with Iran, but Congress and the public remain largely in the dark."
Having been personally responsible for public release of classified information that was never intended for release, but that revealed to the American people how much they had been deceived by the U.S. government about the war in Vietnam, Ellsberg muses now about how things might have been different if he had brought the information forward sooner:
Had I done so, the public and Congress would have learned that Johnson’s campaign theme, “we seek no wider war,” was a hoax. They would have learned, in fact, that the Johnson Administration had been heading in secret toward essentially the same policy of expanded war that his presidential rival, Senator Barry Goldwater, openly advocated—a policy that the voters overwhelmingly repudiated at the polls.Ellsberg also notes the stunning parallel betweeen runup to the 1964 Tonkin Gulf Resolution and the runup to the 2002 Iraq Resolution in the way the President and his top Cabinet members deceived Congress and the public to coerce them into supporting preexisting war plans against nations that posed no "near-term" threat to the U.S., and the obedient silence of hundreds of insiders who were aware of and complicit in that deception. Likening his missed opportunity to prevent the catastrophy of the Vietnam war to that of Richard Clarke, Bush's Chief of Counterterrorism and author of Against All Enemies, Ellsberg discusses the risks of revealing the Big Lie:
I would have been indicted then, as I was seven years later, and probably imprisoned. But America would have been at peace during those years. It was only with that reflection, perhaps a decade after the carnage finally ended, that I recognized Morse [one of two senators to have voted agains the Tonkin Gulf Resolution in 1964] had been right about my personal share of responsibility for the whole war.
Not just mine alone. Any one of a hundred officials—some of whom foresaw the whole catastrophe—could have told the hidden truth to Congress, with documents. Instead, our silence made us all accomplices in the ensuing slaughter.
The personal risks of doing this are very great. Yet they are not as great as the risks of bodies and lives we are asking daily of over 130,000 young Americans—with many yet to join them—in an unjust war. Our country has urgent need for comparable courage, moral and civil courage, from its public servants. They owe us the truth before the next war begins.And the War Crimes Protection Act (aka, Military Commissions Act) that we allowed Congress to pass and Bush to sign won't make that job any easier.
Monday, October 23, 2006
Cultivate the Killing Fields, Expect a Bumper Crop
Many believe it is time for the U.S. to let Iraq create its own history--the figure is a full 90% in Iraq. Why do Iraqis want the U.S. out? Is it because they want to work with "the terrorists?" The data suggest otherwise:
...All of the polling data shows that Osama bin Laden remains enormously unpopular in Iraq. It is rather that they feel strongly that they could do a better job of providing security on their own, and they are afraid that the destabilizing U.S. presence, the main recruiting poster for terrorists, threatens to be permanent...An occupation initially advertised as a “cakewalk” war to disarm a tyrant is now, according to our politically desperate president, a fight for the soul of the world—good versus evil, democracy versus tyranny...The evidence arrives daily in the form of dozens, sometimes hundreds, of mutilated bodies. But even the few ghastly images that actually make it onto the television actually underestimate the horror. And it is getting worse, not better: The killing of innocents is now 10 times higher than a year ago. (More...)In the safe harbor of a press conference, Bush dismissed a request to quantify the human toll of the Iraq war. And yet, 655,000 Iraqi civilian deaths is not a mere guess. Rather, it is the best estimate, based on the most sound methods, and the strongest evidence that we have to date, which is why the Iraqi medical authorities are now forbidden to release mortality information.
The wounded are often an ignored cost of war. Ron Kovic, Vietnam Veteran, recipient of the Bronze Star and Purple Heart, peace activist and outspoken critic of the Iraq war, muses over the forgotten wounded of Iraq.
They have been coming home now for almost three years, flooding Walter Reed, Bethesda, Brooke Army Medical Center and veterans hospitals all across the country. Paraplegics, amputees, burn victims, the blinded and maimed, shocked and stunned, brain-damaged and psychologically stressed, over 16,000 of them, a whole new generation of severely maimed is returning from Iraq, young men and women who were not even born when I came home wounded to the Bronx veterans hospital in 1968.Kovic included the following poem at the beginning of his autobiography, Born on the 4th of July (hear it read by the author):
I am the living deathThis is what happens when we allow corporations to make war on the public dime.
The memorial day on wheels
I am your yankee doodle dandy
Your John Wayne come home
Your Fourth of July firecracker
Exploding in the grave
We are not building Democracy.
We are not spreading Freedom.
We are fomenting Mayhem.
We are unleashing Violence.
We are cultivating the killing fields
and harvesting one hell of a bumper crop
while someone makes a mint.
Sunday, October 22, 2006
Apparently, not the Iraqi medical authorities.
A new epidemiology report released this month has shown that more than 650,000 Iraqi civilians have died at the hands of violence since the American invasion in 2003. Supporters of the war have cricized the report; the scientists involved have stood by their work and have challenged critics to present better methods and numbers:
"I loved when President Bush said 'their methodology has been pretty well discredited,' " says Richard Garfield, a public health professor at Columbia University who works closely with a number of the authors of the report. "That's exactly wrong. There is no discrediting of this methodology. I don't think there's anyone who's been involved in mortality research who thinks there's a better way to do it in unsecured areas. I have never heard of any argument in this field that says there's a better way to do it." (More...)This does raise some interesting questions about the actual number of deaths, how they are best counted, and who benefits from suppressing this information. Last month, the Christian Science Monitor reported that the Baghdad morgue body counts tripled the official August death toll. Now we have learned that the Iraqi Prime Minister has ordered the medical authorites to stop providing mortality data:
Mr. Qazi, a former Pakistani diplomat, says that the order to let the prime minister’s office take over the release of the numbers came down a day after a United Nations report for July and August showed a serious upward spike in the number of dead and wounded. The leader of the Health Ministry in Iraq appealed to be allowed to continue supplying the figures to the United Nations but was turned down according to a subsequent letter from the prime minister’s office, Mr. Qazi’s cable said.Perhaps I'm stepping out on a limb here, but it almost seems as if they don't want to know.
Friday, October 20, 2006
It's rumored that Bush, with the help of former Secretary of State, James Baker, may be preparing plans to exit Iraq, despite the fact that:
Such a strategy would once have been unthinkable for Mr Bush, who famously vowed to keep US forces in Iraq even if he was supported only by his wife, Laura, and dog, Barney. But the president now appears willing to acknowledge that the public is losing confidence in his administration's involvement in Iraq. On Wednesday Mr Bush admitted for the first time the existence of a parallel between Iraq and Vietnam.
The Decider contradicted himself.
Iraq was compared to Vietnam.
The ground trembled.
Furthermore, the timing is odd.
Right before the election, mistakes are made, and admitted, and rumors swirl. It almost seems that as soon as the deal is cut on the rules for controlling Iraq's oil, which is due to happen any day and with the involvement of all the usual suspects (i.e., Bush's oil Cartel), the Republicans plan to "cut and run" out of Iraq, out of congress, and out of responsibility for the mess they made. As delighted as I am with the punishment the Republicans face at the polls, it makes me wonder.
Why did tricky Dick Cheney insist on keeping his energy policy meetings with oil executives secret? Why did meetings to set U.S. energy policy involve maps of the Iraqi oil fields? Was it the Bush strategy all along to cut the oil deal and run?
(Cross-posted at Ice Station Tango)
Well, how did we get here? In the state with 43% of registered voters identifying as Democrat and 34% identifying as Republican, a wildly unpopular Republican president, and in the midst of a punishing backlash against Republican politicians nationwide, how did we land a Republican shoo-in governator? Dan Glaister of The Guardian has some answers.
Californians think it's cool to be bi:
"Part of the answer lies in the governor's much-vaunted bipartisanship, his professed keenness to work across party lines and do what is best for the state."He's free of Bush's influence, he's got star power, AND he's humble:
"Trying to link me with George Bush is like trying to link me with an Oscar."He's nearly royalty himself, but better:
Responding to his debate opponent's long-winded discussion of minutae, Arnold replied, "I feel a bit like I'm having dinner with Uncle Teddy at Thanksgiving."Maybe it just comes down to the "wow" factor:
"...[Angelides] has the charisma of a biology teacher. In American politics, for good or bad, you have to have something going on."Personally, I've had some pretty hot biology teachers.
Dems Catching Wind in Midterm Election Sails
The Democratic party has caught wind in the fast and furious storm surrounding the Foley child predator sex scandal. TPM desribes 6 more races that have come into play, noting: "These shifts come after a more extensive Election Central analysis a week ago found that since Foleygate broke in late September, at least 29 races moved towards Dems."
The latest polling data suggest a rather strong sea change, indeed:
The Republican party faces historic losses in next month’s mid-term elections, according to the latest polling. The numbers suggest that voter discontent with the Republicans is so strong that they will lose control of both the House and the Senate.Oddly, it seems like there has been more news about election projection than election protection, even in the face of illegal vote suppression.
The poll, for the Wall Street Journal and NBC, shows the Republicans breaking a series of records: approval of the Republican-led Congress fell to a record low of 16%, for the first time more than 50% of voters favoured one party - the Democrats - to control Congress, the Republican party received the highest ever negative rating for a party, and President Bush was viewed negatively by 52%, matching the worst score of his presidency.
How will Americans react to reports of election tampering, and how does this "isolated incident" look from the outside? Philip James, writer for The Guardian, reports that in America, "Republicans are damaging the republic" as "questionable tactics in the midterms weaken the foundations of US democracy."
Racked with scandal, cowed by voter dissatisfaction and bereft of fresh ideas, Republicans are resorting to the only measure left to a party in power and desperate to cling to it: cheating, or what's more politely referred to as voter suppression. (More...)So, how big a landslide will the midterm elections be? How broad and brazenly will votes be suppressed? And this time around, will there be an election fraud smoking gun? Subjects in the new Imperial Democratic Fascism want to know.
Wednesday, October 18, 2006
So now we make Israel look soft on the willingness to torture scale?
On October 13, the New York Times reported that internal military documents, obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union under a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit, showed that military officials had labeled antiwar activities within the United States as “potential terrorist activity.”
The activities cited included a “Stop the War Now” rally in Akron, Ohio in March 2005. An internal military report in May 2005 on antiwar actions at the University of California, Santa Cruz, flatly asserted that “the Students for Peace and Justice represent a potential threat to D.O.D. (Department of Defense) personnel.” Material suggesting that antiwar activities posed the threat of criminal terrorism “were widely shared among analysts from the military, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Department of Homeland Security,” the Times reported.
The implication of such reports is clear: plans are well under way, in the Bush administration and the military and intelligence agencies, to criminalize political dissent and treat those who oppose the US wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and those who defend democratic rights, as potential terrorists, who can be branded as “unlawful enemy combatants,” arrested, and locked away in a new American gulag. (More...)
Those who think that the "War Crimes Protection Act"—also known as the "Torture Act" and the "Military Commissions Act"—is not a clear cut case of "CYA" (i.e., "Cover Your Ass"), are really trippin.
The way I see it, nullifying the Bill of Rights is pretty black and white.
Someday we will be asked:
How will we answer?
"Why did America let the Bill of Rights
give way to the Bill of Wrongs?"
Robert Newman gives a history lesson in his "History of Oil" that will make you laugh and cry.
If you haven't watched it, watch it.
If you've already watched it, watch it again.
Then think about this:
"Even as Iraq verges on splintering into a sectarian civil war, four big oil companies are on the verge of locking up its massive, profitable reserves, known to everyone in the petroleum industry as "the prize." Iraq is sitting on a mother lode of some of the lightest, sweetest, most profitable crude oil on earth, and the rules that will determine who will control it and on what terms are about to be set." (More...)The pantless inspiration, blogger sans-culotte, researched this subject thoroughly, and posted on it; for a more in-depth history lesson, references and all, click here.
Who says history never repeats?
Saturday, October 14, 2006
Friday, October 13, 2006
Thursday, October 12, 2006
In the wake of North Korea's recent nuclear test, Bush and Company have set about rewriting history by blaming the Clinton administration for the pending Asian nuclear arms race. In addition to being patently false, it turns out that Bush's Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld, helped North Korea go nuclear. We know that Rumsfeld sat on the board of ABB, as that company won a contract to sell nuclear reactors to North Korea:
Mr Rumsfeld was a non-executive director of ABB, a European engineering giant based in Zurich, when it won a $200m (£125m) contract to provide the design and key components for the reactors. The current defence secretary sat on the board from 1990 to 2001, earning $190,000 a year. He left to join the Bush administration.Furthermore, Fortune magazine revealed Rumsfeld's role in lobbying on behalf of ABB:
ABB spokesman Bjoern Edlund told Fortune magazine at the time that "board members were informed about this project." ... "This was a major thing for ABB," the former director [who sat on the board with Rumsfeld] said, "and extensive political lobbying was done." The director recalls being told that Rumsfeld was asked "to lobby in Washington" on ABB's behalf.And like a good war profiteer, Rumsfeld refuses to discuss the matter. He does not seem to recall the arms deal which preceded Bush's abrupt change in policy:
Just months after Mr Rumsfeld took office, President George Bush ended the policy of engagement and negotiation pursued by Mr Clinton, saying he did not trust North Korea, and pulled the plug on diplomacy. Pyongyang warned that it would respond by building nuclear missiles. A review of American policy was announced and the bilateral confidence building steps, key to Mr Clinton's policy of detente, halted.And like a good journalist, Keith Olbermann recently dug into the truth:
And when it comes to turning profits on a war, follow the money. Especially in a corporate state government. War. It does a corporation good.
Tuesday, October 10, 2006
Or, How I Feel About Losing the Bill of Rights
What makes me ashamed these days?
Did you hear that click, like the turning of a dial, auguring a new America?That was ROBYN E. BLUMNER, Times Perspective Columnist, writing about the War Criminals Protection Act: We Americans Really Ought to Be Ashamed. A tad more:
It happened on Sept. 29 at 2:47 p.m. That was the seismic minute that Congress passed the Military Commissions Act and formally granted President Bush royal powers he had been unilaterally arrogating. The historic action may one day be remembered as the moment the great American experiment in liberty ended. It was a good run.
You see, it is one thing for a renegade executive to crown himself like Charlemagne and declare that his (cough) wisdom is exceptional enough to designate Americans and foreigners as enemies to be detained indefinitely. It is quite another for 315 members of Congress to go along. When the people's representatives collude to collapse the separation of powers into one omnipotent executive, our nation becomes defined by that act. We are a nation of laws, even when it's a really bad one.
The law is a true abomination. It is our fault. We let this happen. We allowed them to draw the false dichotomy between security and freedom. We accepted Bush's Torture Nation and his untouchable island prison.Bush has made me mad, I can't begin to count the number of times, and he's caused me "grave concern", and he's made me "sick to my stomach", but on September 2th, I covered my eyes with my open palms and like a little girl, I cried.
Judge Learned Hand said "Liberty lies in the hearts of men and women; if it dies there, no constitution, no law, no court can save it." Americans no longer understand what liberty means. They think it has something to do with tax-free shopping and their right never to be offended by others' opinions.
Last night, Keith Olbermann, Journalist for America, articulated in clear, direct terms what had brought me to such a place:
Where is my sailboat back to Democracy, and why are so few of my leaders building boats? And if I decide to try to swim back, will I find myself washed up on the shores of an island detention camp designed for people who oppose the New American Fascism? Can we take this broken State and together build a raft?
...Then why are we here?
Musician: Leondard Cohen
Video H/T: Bluegal, who happens to rock...
So after it becomes possible for foreign-born pushers of fitness supplements to become president, then they can stay in office forever... I see a Terminator without term limits (i.e., Dictator) in the making:
WASHINGTON - One thing is certain about the 2008 presidential election campaign that begins in one year: It won't involve George W. Bush as a candidate. But bipartisan legislation to repeal the 22nd Amendment restriction of two terms for U.S. presidents could change that certainty for future presidents.Color me impatient...
Two of the most passionate congressional advocates of such a move - Rep. Steny Hoyer, D-MD, and Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, R-WI - have teamed up to sponsor a resolution that would represent the first step toward that change in the U.S. political system.
Monday, October 09, 2006
At a time when many are having a hard time swallowing the blood running fast and foul in the waters of Iraq, news of the Amish school shooting struck a heavy blow. Of all victims, who could be less deserving but children of the peaceful, gentle Amish? And we have been obsessively trying to imagine how it all could have happened...
The shooter's funeral was held on Saturday; about 75 people attended, and about half were Amish. They came to mourn the man who had killed five of their young school girls and had wounded five more in a " brief, unfathomable rampage."
And what were they doing at the memorial service? Why ever did the reclusive and withdrawn Amish attend? Bruce Porter, a fire department chaplain who attended the service, said, "It's the love, the forgiveness, the heartfelt forgiveness they have toward the family. I broke down and cried seeing it displayed." Marie Roberts, the shooter's widow, he said, "was absolutely deeply moved, by just the love shown." Why, indeed.
Knowing how much the corporate media and its viewers have fixated on the story of Republican Congressman Mark Foley's sexual predation of children, and also knowing how transfixed, we as a nation, have been with the Amish school girl killings, including the lurid details of how the shooter had intended to sexually assault the girls before killing them, I wonder if anyone is still paying attention. Because in America, wearing a cowboy costume and being a bully can make one a most underserving hero. And, it seems there is a lesson in this story for which America is long overdue. Anyone taking notes?
Friday, October 06, 2006
This is a test of the Democratic system.
So, you really want to know why California, leader of U.S. progressive causes, seems to be ready to cast its vote for the muscle-builder turned actor turned politician, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Democratic-Governor Terminator Extraordinaire...
Well, it is true that after the trouncing he received in the November, 2005, special election, where Californians collectively voted "NO!" to a band of ballot initiatives high on his wish list, the Terminator seemed to be nearing termination of his reign as California Governor; his approval ratings had dipped to a low of 37%. But what's an expensive abysmal failure of a special election between friends?
Recent polls put Arnold ahead of his opponent, Phil Angelides (17% lead), and Arnold has raised more than his opponent, though Angelides has more cash on hand. Some say it is the centrist "olive branches" Arnold has offered since his "Special Defeat;" the Angelides camp counters that Arnold's popularity has remained stable despite a long campaign spending spree and the voters have not yet gotten to know Angelides and his appeal. Imagine.
But I have to wonder, given Arnold's failure to disclose his fitness magazine business dealings, which occurred immediately before he took office, and were kept secret as he later vetoed bills designed to protect people from the dangerous health effects, including death, of products like Metabolife, why California voters seem willing to sign up for another term. In the throes of Special Election campaigning, he alienated teachers and union workers by calling them "Special Interests", never mind his recent verbal debacle regarding the mingling of Black and Latino "hot blood." He has continued to support Bush's failed and unjust war. And then, of course, there's the pass he gave to Big Energy on California's Energy Scam.
Confounding the issue may be that Californians are leading a national trend toward independent voters--the "Decline to State" camp, who can be hard to predict, short on memory, fleeting in loyalty, and slow to the voting booth.
So is it that California voters are just too star struck to help themselves, or that Schwarzenegger's opposition is just a little shy on content; so far, anyway, Angelides seems to be running on the "He's friends with Bush" platform. Though President Bush is immensely unpopular in California, voters don't seem to connect Schwarzenegger with Bush, despite the Governor's continued support for Bush's policies.
Perhaps the Democrats should consider taking a page out of the Keith Olbermann book of "Special Comments"... just to see what it feels like.
Tags: Schwarzenegger Reelection, California Governor's Race, Phil Angelides.
Sunday, October 01, 2006
Could it be... ?
Rumors about the anticipated "October Surprise" continue to swirl. Will we attack Iran? Will "the terrists" attack us? Will Martial Law be put into effect? Will the election be cancelled? Will the internet be shut down? Will the detention camps be filled? Will we hear that God told George to keep on saving the world one colossal failure at a time? Be assured, Trouble is afoot in the bush garden of Eden. Capital "T."
Opinions diverge on all but the certainty that something will happen, and that it will be every bit as staged as the downing of the Saddam statue, the rescue of Pfc. Jessica Lynch, and the debut of Bush's flight costume at the Lincoln Playhouse.
Perhaps it will be that Rummy will get the boot, with Laura cheering on the sidelines, evil eyes wide open. Woodward, for all his late-date flip flopping, gives some reason to consider this a viable hypothesis.
Of course, it may be that Laura is simply starring in another commercial to sell the idea that there is a modicum of reason in the Bush Circle of Obedience, while Bush demonstrates to manly men everywhere how to ignore a reasonable opinion from a woman who is to be seen and not heard. Go Tuffy.
And who really is responsible for leaking all that dirt on Foley?
Opinions, facts, links, distractions...
Bring 'em on.
Thursday, September 28, 2006
Tonight, Keith Olbermann again entered the fray of the "I did; he didn't" joust between Bush and Clinton about their respective efforts to prevent terrorism. His purpose was to compare the Bush team's assertions that Clinton didn't act to prevent, and had no plan in place to combat, the growing terrorist threat to the historical record. And to this viewers delight, he delivered another KO, point by painful point, informing us of Clinton's corroborated, documented, repeated efforts to somehow get the incoming Bush administration to take the threat of Osama bin Laden seriously.
I sometimes ask myself why Keith Olbermann is so effective. I think it may be the fact that he is willing and able to sift through the actual record, and not just the spun record. For some reason, he, unlike so many of his colleagues, is able to wade through the flood of information to get to the truth. For some reason, he is willing to honor his viewers by presenting them with the details of that truth. For some reason he doesn't treat them as if they are too stupid and too disinterested to care. For some fool reason, he acts as though we might give a damn.
Had a taste for some cream.
The Station Agent at Ice Station Tango has posted a speech by British MP, George Galloway that made my morning.
And then there's Clinton's recent "Smack Down" of the attempted hit piece by Fox New.
Every time Keith Olbermann delivers a "Special Comment", Free seems how I feel.
My point is that people who speak out against the Big Lies, eloquently and in public forums, embolden us to believe the notion that distortions of history and truth are really just a house of cards that can be blown down, and that we can cause the toppling. That we, the people, matter. The possibility of change...
Shouldn't the Left be taking notes?
Monday, September 25, 2006
LA Times writer, Peter Spiegel reports on the Army's warning to Rumsfeld that it's running billions short:
The Army's top officer withheld a required 2008 budget plan from Pentagon leaders last month after protesting to Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld that the service could not maintain its current level of activity in Iraq plus its other global commitments without billions in additional funding.So pay up or pull out.
Schoomaker failed to submit the budget plan by an Aug. 15 deadline. The protest followed a series of cuts in the service's funding requests by both the White House and Congress over the last four months. According to a senior Army official involved in budget talks, Schoomaker is now seeking $138.8 billion in 2008, nearly $25 billion above budget limits originally set by Rumsfeld. The Army's budget this year is $98.2 billion, making Schoomaker's request a 41% increase over current levels.A rather hefty increase.
...Some Army officials said Schoomaker expressed concern about recent White House budget moves, such as the decision in May to use $1.9 billion out of the most recent emergency spending bill for border security, including deployment of 6,000 National Guard troops at the Mexican border. Army officials said $1.2 billion of that money came out of funds originally intended for Army war expenses.Sounds like more Bush mismanagement. And the timing is fascinating:
Rumsfeld has not set a new deadline for the Army to submit its budget plan. The Army official said staffers thought they could submit a revised plan by November, in time for President Bush to unveil his 2008 budget early next year.So, is this an election year trap for the Dems? If the Dems deny the spending, then they are weak on terror, and if they support the spending, then they are hypocrites and wrong to criticize Bush about the war? Classic double bind. How to cut loose? I would call it like it is: More Bush failed war policy. More Bush budget mismanagement. More Bush political theatre. More Bush misuse of our military people, who are risking all for an illegal war that is based on lies and happens to be making a hefty profit for Bush and friends. And I'd do it now, not later.
Wednesday, September 20, 2006
Light a Candle for Liberty
I looked for Liberty late one night
Wading word and treading thread
My journey long had made me ill
No comfort for my head
But Liberty was hid from me
The hounds were on the loose
Dear Liberty and company were running from the noose.
I searched every site I found
Though broken Justice had been crowned
The bitter fruit my lips did parch
And truth it seemed was on the march
In shackles tightly bound.
Dear Liberty fled, the sign-post said
Democracy, long underfed
Tales of trial did abound
Truth, lost Liberty did confound
Inspiration, all but dead.
And I with lighted candle vowed
To trod through fertile fields once ploughed
For seeds of Truth that had been cowed
To help them breathe and speak out loud.
Though Liberty stayed safely hid
Despite the countless pleadings bid
I felt Liberty's shadow nigh
And thus refused to say goodbye
When Liberty softly did.
Sunday, September 17, 2006
Talk Radio Network's The Savage Nation, Sept. 12th edition (Via Media Matters):
Tsk, tsk. Bad Media! We simply MUST blame the women! Otherwise, we might wonder if Bush "is a divider and not a uniter", wedging both congress and citizens. Afterall, a divided country could make the U.S. a lot more vulnerable to a fascist, military take-over...
Weren't we told before Barbara Boxer became a U.S. senator, before Dianne Feinstein became a U.S. senator, before Hillary Clinton became a U.S. senator, that when women became senators, we'd have a kinder, gentler Senate, a more compassionate Senate? Well, I think the results are quite clear. The Senate is not kinder and gentler or more compassionate. In fact, it's more vicious and more histrionic than ever, specifically because women have been injected into the Senate.
A is for Appeaser.
And you SHALL let me torture, by God, or by the power vested in me, by me, you will wear the Scarlet Letter!!
Last week Rumsfeld made a mockery of history by comparing those who dare to exercize the voice of Democracy by criticizing the president's failed war policy to Hitler's appeasers:
In unusually explicit terms, Rumsfeld portrayed the administration's critics as suffering from 'moral or intellectual confusion' about what threatens the nation's security...Speaking to several thousand veterans at the American Legion's national convention, Rumsfeld recited what he called the lessons of history, including the failure to confront Hitler..."I recount this history because once again we face similar challenges in efforts to confront the rising threat of a new type of fascism," he said.The Seattle Times reported, "His use of the word 'appease' was particularly notable, clearly tying administration critics to the failed efforts of the pre-Churchill British government to mollify Hitler." True to form, Newt Gingrich defended Rumsfeld's remarks.
Bush, through Powell, has let it be known that he, his supporters, and his war policies plainly and embarrassingly align with the fascist friends of Franco.
Rumsfeld asked, "Can we truly afford to believe that somehow, some way, vicious extremists can be appeased?'' In a word, no. The lessons of history have shown that we cannot afford to appease Bush and his company of war mongering profiteers. It is time to rein in the imperial reign of Bush once and for all.
Wednesday, September 13, 2006
Air Force Hopes to Test Non-Lethal Weapons on US Citizens for War-Time Use
Nonlethal weapons such as high-power microwave devices should be used on American citizens in crowd-control situations before they are used on the battlefield, the Air Force secretary said Tuesday. Domestic use would make it easier to avoid questions in the international community over any possible safety concerns, said Secretary Michael Wynne.
Angry Crowd Control??
And Political Subversives???
Because if the international community doesn't question us, it "proves" we're not doing anything wrong, so we can get away with doing it??
"If we're not willing to use it here against our fellow citizens, then we should not be willing to use it in a wartime situation," said Wynne." (Because) if I hit somebody with a nonlethal weapon and they claim that it injured them in a way that was not intended, I think that I would be vilified in the world press."And that would NEVER happen at home because...you OWN the press??
So, is this related in any way to Ashcroft's Hellish Vision of Detention Camps for US Citizens? I mean, if we aren't willing to do it to our own, then the international community might question us...