March 6, 2005

  • Signs of Life -- Coming back from a week's isolation in strange places, I was happy to see some signs of spirit in various pockets. The New York Times reporting seemed to be a bit spunkier than in recent years. Many of Vermont's cities were passing resolutions to send to Congress to ask them to send their National Guard home so they can protect the homefront as they are designated to do. And there was the lawsuit supported in part by the American Civil Liberties Union against Rumsfeld for his apparent role in directing the military into torture. The ACLU has grown quite large since the Bush attack on civil liberties started a few minutes after the 9/11 attacks started. It's good to see ways that masses of people are directing some of their energies and resources toward making a better world by opposing the agents of destruction in Washington.
  • Cruel and Unusual -- While I was away, I had occasion to find myself on a cruise ship (a strange experience) and some smart librarian had slipped a few excellent Bush critiques into the piles of indistinguishable fiction bestseller hardcover material, trendy business blockbusters, and toxic garbage like Newt Gingrich's new testament. Vanity Fair chief editor Graydon Carter's What We've Lost, Maureen Dowd's Bushworld, and the one I spent the most time on: Mark Crispin Miller's Cruel and Unusual. I was late in picking this up, perhaps a testament to how depressing the whole thing is. But picking it up I was struck once again with Miller's eloquence, really virtuosity in language, coupled with the cogence of his analysis and the breadth of his scholarship on the subjects of politics and media. Miller does such a good job of condensing tons of material into a manageable size, it gives me some confidence that at least there are some recording the real history of the time. The official organs of current history, the news media and the Paper of Record, have abdicated the role of recording actual history, so it must be left to those working in other media. Actually the times does let much of the story be told on its opinion pages, but its news reporting shies from challenges that really should be made to America's elected officials. Anyway, just wanted to quickly mention Miller's book and to recommend it.
  • The War Gravy Train -- Robert Higgs looks at the Bush Defense Budget on the conservative website This site is conservative, but like real conservative in the sense of not liking big government or government interference with the private concerns of its citizens, or not going into deep deficits. The site says "anti state, anti war" on the top, and I'm thinking -- yeah! The idea that societies largely run themselves, they are not run by a bunch of politicians and the less from them the better, an idea diametrically opposed to the Neocons who now control Washington. Why couldn't true conservatives and anarchists get together? These labels are all so ridiculous anyway. Conservative and liberal libertarians. The presumed polarization of America is manipulated. The corporate fat cats who own both parties and control the government are laughing their asses off that you and I are arguing with each other and considering ourselves polarized, when we agree on a broad range of the issues in American life, and we are both left out of the agenda of both political parties Republican and Republican Lite, which are both corporate owned and controlled. Family values -- who is against families? Who's anti-life? Who's for fiscal irresponsibility? Who admits to being for war? These are all just slogans and catch phrases the political manipulators use to rally support for policies that have nothing to do with the slogans and in most cases are diametrically opposite in effect. So take a look at a conservative look at Bush's Gravy Train of War.
  • A 67-year-old statistician "can't get over it" -- "Steven Freeman, a respected University of Pennsylvania professor, says the odds of the exit polls in the critical states of Ohio, Florida and Pennsylvania all being so far off were about 662,000 to 1.

    March 20, 2005

  • The world protests the Iraq occupation -- On the second anniversary of the invasion. BBC
  • Iraq toll starting to hit home -- International Herald Tribune
  • Save a life! (Destroy thousands of others) -- The same Congress that passes bills every day to kill, rob and poison thousands of people, is so concerned with prolonging the life of a woman (Terri Schiavo) who remains in what doctors have called a "persistently vegetative state" for 15 years that they have convened to pass a bill that will prevent her husband from removing her from artificial life support. Prince Bush has even taken time off his current vacation to come back to prevent this "taking" of a life. That paramour of virtue and humanity Tom Delay said, "We should investigate every avenue before we take the life of a living human being. That is the very least we can do." (See New York Times) Apparently the 100,000 murdered Iraqis and 1,500 American soldiers were not worthy of the same consideration when the phony war was launched and every day that it is maintained. How can such logic pass unquestioned? How can the newspapers print these quotes without noting the obvious contradictions? Have Americans lost their minds, or only their tongues?
  • Unplugging life support is okay in Texas, thanks to Bush -- Bush signed a bill into law in Texas that "allows doctors to remove patients from life support if the hospital's ethics committee agrees, but it requires that the hospital give families 10 days to find another facility." The law Bush signed makes it legal in Texas for a hospital to unplug a patient whose relatives have run out of money and can't pay anymore for life support. (See Make Them Accountable for the whole story.)
  • Okay in this case -- In Texas, Bush and DeLay's state, a black child was recently taken off life support against the will of his mother. "Sun's death marks the first time a U.S. judge has allowed a hospital to discontinue an infant's life-sustaining care against a parent's wishes, according to bioethical experts." Houston Chronicle
  • Not me! Eighty seven percent of Americans say they would want to be unplugged if they were ever in the situation of Terri Schiavo. Daily Kos
  • Through the Looking Glass -- The greatest fear in the United States is of losing your sanity entirely in the face of constant monstrous contradictions. To hear Bush talk, you would think he was not actually the greatest threat to democracy who has ever occupied the White House. He talks about everything his policies represent as though he actually opposed them. The man who seized office in a sleazy power play in 2000, ruled by keeping Americans in constant fear and confusion after an attack in which the massive US defense system was absolutely invisible for hours, returned to office in a broad campaign of voter suppression and manipulation, pretends he is a great advocate of democracy. In a recent speech he said, "Pervasive fear is the foundation of every dictatorial regime, the prop that holds up all power not based on consent. And when the regime of fear is broken, and the people find their courage and find their voice, democracy is their goal, and tyrants themselves have reason to fear. History is moving quickly, and leaders in the Middle East have important choices to make." (See Democracy Now.)
  • Not to be trusted -- In another issue that is a good distraction from the real crimes of our politicians, John McCain is quoted as saying "Baseball can't be trusted." (See MSNBC) As if he and his ilk can.
  • Double Standard -- Rapper Li'l Kim is facing a prison sentence for lying. (MTV) Condoleezza Rice, Bush, Powell, Cheney, Rumsfeld, etc. lied to push the country into a war in which thousands have died. No consequences for them. In fact, after utterly failing to protect the country as national security advisor, and lying over and over to create the impression she was even more clueless than the record suggests, Rice was promoted to a position of greater responsibility (hence peril for the American people). in fact, the sheep in the mass media have been gurgling over her as a prospect for the presidency.
  • Born to raise the flag -- According to one Bush adorer in the LA Times, Bush listens to Credence Clearwater Revival on his iPod. Wonder what song he likes best, "Fortunate Son"? Star Tribune
  • Presidential Press Conference Seating -- Paul Krassner: "Stand-up comic Barry Crimmins envisions Gannon at a presidential press conference, wearing pink panties with a dog collar on his neck, asking, 'Who do you have to blow to get a seat in the front row?'" New York Press.
  • Student antiwar activism exploding? Alternet

    March 23, 2005

  • Nothing wrong with her -- Poor viewers of Scarborough Country heard a version of the Schiavo story that contradicted most of the established facts of the case: Shiavo did not have a heart attack, never had an eating disorder, isn’t in a persistent vegetative state. She's fine, she just ignores people. In fact, according to Scarborough, they're just like his kids, "They ignore me." Daily Howler
  • Can't fool all the people all the time -- In an ABC poll, 67% of Americans disagree with Congress in the Schiavo case, and believe it’s political grandstanding, not a matter of principle. Reuters
  • Steroids in baseball, another smokescreen -- “Now Karl Rove, the brain behind Bush's speech, must be chuckling as newspapers as influential as the Globe divert their readers from the Iraq war, the dollar's unprecedented plummet, the scandalous state of healthcare with banner-headline front-page stories on steroid abuse (''Hard words over steroids," March 18).” Boston Globe
  • Help set’s course -- Action Forum

    March 24, 2005

  • Ruling the Asylum with an Iron Hand -- One of those moments when I most feel I've been thrust through the looking glass was hearing the report about Bobby Fisher, former chess champ boy genius, whose just been released by the Japanese to Iceland, which is granting him asylum. The Japanese have held him for eight months, the report said, because the US is after him. Why? Because he played a chess game against Russian chess master Boris Spassky that violated US sanctions against Yugoslavia. (See World Forum, Himalayan Times) For playing a chess game -- ! They are hounding him, harassing him, chasing him around the world, trying to get him extradited so they can put him in prison! Don't let me get started on the megacrimes of Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, Bush, Rove, etc. etc. etc. And what are the consequences of their lies and mass murders? Is there any doubt we are living in an insane asylum? Talk about a brain drain! We kill our geniuses because they play chess with politically incoreect opponents.

    March 28, 2005

    Breakdown of Trust -- A fascinating piece in the New York Times on Sunday reported on how many military recruiters are quitting, even going AWOL. They are getting hell for not meeting their quotas from their bosses and when they are out in the field they are being laughed at, scorned, despised. What we are witnessing is the breakdown of the social contract. When trust is broken at the top levels, they human parts of the machine start to break down.

    When it is your life on the line and you are being told to kill, or die or live for a lie, it is no longer an abstract principle barked by some Fox News stooge. It's a life-or-death decision. For some the moral questions are as grave as actual life and death decisions, for what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and lose his soul? You want to kill innocent families in Iraq, or do you want to face the consequences of desertion, disgrace? As the war grinds on, more and more will choose anything but to commit the ultimate act -- murder -- without a clear justification. The same kind of existential decision will confront more and more people, and increasingly they will find that they cannot choose to kill unjustly, or to participate in the frauds of the government in whatever way is being demanded of them.

    These reservists who have been dragged to Iraq joined the reserves for the educational and employment opportunities, and in return they committed themselves to defend the Constitution, their country and their families. They didn't sign on to participate in an invasion and occupation with no clearly defined motive, or with a discredited one.

  • Gore Vidal: "Well, let us say that the old American republic is well and truly dead. The institutions that we thought were eternal proved not to be. And that goes for the three departments of government, and it also goes for the Bill of Rights. So we're in uncharted territory. We're governed by public relations. Very little information gets to the people, thanks to the corruption and/or ineptitude of the media. Just look at this bankruptcy thing that went through--everybody in debt to credit cards, which is apparently 90 percent of the country, is in deep trouble. So the people are uninformed about what's being done in their name. And that's really why we are in Iraq. Iraq is a symptom, not a cause. It's a symptom of the passion we have for oil, which is a declining resource in the world. Alternatives can be found, but they will not be found as long as there's one drop of oil or natural gas to be extracted from other nations, preferably by force by the current junta in charge of our affairs. Iraq will end with our defeat." City Pages

    April Fool Weekend, 2005

    Friday Night Movies -- At the Information Clearing House you can watch a whole movie for free in the comfort of your home if your system is up to the streaming. Hijacking Catastrophe is an excellent film documentary of how the Bush administration used the fear engendered by 9/11 to enact the neocon agenda they had been formulating for decades. It's absolutely fascinating, a good quick summary of that argument, with the impact of cinematic visuals. A good cinematic introduction to that system of thinking for people who have been lost in the wonderland of corporate media.

    April 2, 2005

    Slandering Great Americans -- Ronald Reagan, called The Great Communicator was really one of the great liars and also a defiler and distorter of American history. He called the Nicaraguan Contras, who were U.S.-funded terrorists who brutally murdered families, "the moral equivalent of our founding fathers." One of the worst slanders ever uttered about the creators of the American republic. He called Jonas Savimbi, the U.S.-backed Angolan rebel and mass murderer whose rebellion in 1975 resulted in 500,000 dead, "the Abraham Lincoln of Angola." War is a Force That Gives Us Meaning by Chris Hedges, The Progressive Media Project, "The Myth of War".
  • Anti-Chickenhawk Military Movement -- Retired officers of the American military Rear Adm. John Hutson, who is now president of the Franklin Pierce Law Center in Concord, N.H., and Brig. Gen. James Cullen, now a lawyer in private practice in New York, have lent their support to a lawsuit that seeks to hold Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld ultimately accountable for policies that have given rise to torture and other forms of prisoner abuse. "At some point," said General Cullen, "I had to say: 'Wait a minute. We cannot go along with this.' " See Bob Herbert in the New York Times. "Both men said they were unable to remain silent as institutions that they served loyally for decades, and which they continue to love without reservation, are being damaged by patterns of conduct that fly in the face of core values that most members of the military try mightily to uphold."
  • Squeezing the Military -- How much more can the Chickenhawks squeeze the military before they rebel? Soldiers on extended tours of duty in Iraq are losing their homes to foreclosures. Bush's new budget cuts their benefits even more. The Progressive
  • What did he know? Why did Jeb Bush declare a state of emergency four days before the September 11 attacks? PsyOpNews
  • Destroying the Future -- "Planet Earth stands on the cusp of disaster and people should no longer take it for granted that their children and grandchildren will survive in the environmentally degraded world of the 21st century. This is not the doom-laden talk of green activists but the considered opinion of 1,300 leading scientists from 95 countries who will today publish a detailed assessment of the state of the world at the start of the new millennium." The Independent
  • The Buck stops ... anywhere but here -- Now that Bush's handpicked panel has concluded that the administration is not accountable for going to war on bogus reasons and put all the blame on the intelligence community, William Rivers Pitt is reaching down the memory hole to show that the intelligence community was manipulated at the time, forced to produce what the administration wanted to justify its war plans, and ignored when it protested against the false claims.

    April 3, 2005

    The Pope is Dead, Long Live the Media

    Stopping into a liquor store yesterday evening and the dreaded tube was blasting. It was MSNBC, some well-known clown was excitedly proclaiming, "We are covering the death of the Pope." The subtext of enthusiasm over his triumph in "getting the story," being on the scene, the first to bring it to you live, so to speak, was distasteful in the extreme. The incongruity between the subject matter and its presentation was never more vivid. It's all show biz. All breathless pounding of absolutely nothing -- just noise.

    The mechanical man pulled some poor woman from the crowd, turned her into a spectacle. "What was your first thought when you heard that the Pope had passed," he said breathlessly, eyes darting from her to the camera. "Well..." she said, suddenly transformed confusedly into a performer. "I just felt very sad..." The life-destroying mass media never delay a moment in utterly trivializing any event, bringing it down to the profundity of a cereal commercial.

    It's so tiresome by now, so utterly irrelevant. Even when it is an event that has some meaning to some people, they reduce it to garbage in a minute. How many years has it been since I took a mass media message at all seriously? Is it possible that people are not defecting now from the mass media reality by the millions? There's a new world somewhere growing up at the feet of these dinosaurs, heaving in their death throes.

  • Delay and Distortion -- Tonight I saw a clip on TV of Tom Delay talking about getting even with a judiciary who has "thumbed their nose and Congress and the President..." but more striking than what he was saying -- that face! That man is not right. There is something deeply wrong with that picture. Those cavernous eyes -- like black holes! That haunted, desperate expression! Like a face on the cover of a pulp novel. The face is distorted, as if being projected through a warped glass. He turns his head from a three quarter view to stare straight into the camera -- that face! It's not merely asymmetrical, it's as if the two sides move independently. One side turns to face the camera, the other remains where it was, goes floating off. The mask is coming off. The two faces are separating. Are we witnessing the public dissolution of Tom Delay?

  • One or the Other Was Wrong -- A scientific study by a Utah-based nonprofit organization shows it was probably the electronic vote tally that was flawed, not the exit polls in election 2004. In fact, it came up 959,000 to 1 in favor of the exit poll conclusion over that of the black boxes. See Bradblog for the report.

    April 7, 2005

  • Veterans for Impeachment -- Veterans For Peace are calling for the impeachment of Bush and Cheney. According to the association's president David Cline, a decorated Vietnam War combat veteran and VFP President, "We do not make this call lightly and as former members of the U.S. armed forces, we take our responsibilities as citizens very seriously. For that reason we believe that when our government conducts a war of aggression on Iraq and commits a growing and appalling series of what must legally be considered war crimes and crimes against humanity in the execution of that war, it violates Article VI of the U.S. Constitution, the War Crimes Act of 1996 (18 U.S.C. § 2441), and numerous international treaties which are legally binding on our nation."

    April 8, 2005

  • Overreaching -- Arnie gave up his pension overhaul efforts. Victory for the people. Daily News
  • Far Out Conspiracy Theory -- This is so weird that if it wasn't public knowledge, you would be denounced as a conspiracy theorist to even dare to consider the possibility that anyone would do such a thing. "According to a statement from [Florida Senator Bill] Nelson's office, the Children's Environmental Exposure Research Study is asking 60 families with infants in the Jacksonville area to volunteer for the study under which the children would be exposed to pesticides through routine spraying in their homes. Participating families will receive up to $970. The government should not be asking families to turn their babies into guinea pigs,' Nelson said. 'They should be protecting children, not exposing them to pesticides.' New York Times
  • DeMartyr -- DeLay denounces report about payments to his family. “Another seedy attempt by the liberal media to embarrass me...” Check out his face, he looks like the walking dead. New York Times
  • Passion of the Tom -- Maureen Dowd New York Times
  • The Buck Always Stops Way Down Low -- Schiavo memo attributed to congressional aid. Typically, the boss renounces all responsibility. “It is with profound disappointment and regret that I learned today that a senior member of my staff was unilaterally responsible for this document," Mr. Martinez said. "It was not approved by me or any other member of my staff, nor were we aware of its existence until very recently." New York Times
  • Bush's Legacy -- Dead Bodies, Dead Wrong, Dead Logic By Matt Vidal Counterpunch
  • Hogs at the Trough -- Corporate CEO pay jumped up by 25% last year. St. Petersburg
  • The Most Unpopular 2nd Term President -- Bush's approval rating is the lowest ever for 2nd term president at this point, lending extra support to theory that exit polls were right, electronic tallies were wrong in 2004. “All other presidents who served a second term had approval ratings well above 50% in the March following their election, Gallup reported. Presidents Truman and Johnson had finished out the terms of their predecessors, and then won election on their own for a second term. Bush's current rating is 45%. The next lowest was Reagan with 56% in March 1985. More bad signs for the president: Gallup's survey now finds only 38% expressing satisfaction with the 'state of the country' while 59% are 'dissatisfied.' One in three Americans feel the economy is excellent or good, while the rest find it 'only fair' or poor. Gallup noted that more challenges lie ahead for Bush, including public doubts about his Social Security plan and Iraq policies. Here are the approval ratings for presidents as recorded by Gallup (all for March): Truman, 1949 -- 57%; Eisenhower, 1957 -- 65%; Johnson, 1965 -- 69%; Nixon, 1973 -- 57%; Reagan, 1985 -- 56%; Clinton, 1997 -- 59%; Bush, 2005 -- 45%.” Editor & Publisher
  • Role Reversal: According to a USA Today poll, "Some old stereotypes about the two parties have been reversed: •By 55%-40%, respondents say Republicans, traditionally the party of limited government, are 'trying to use the federal government to interfere with the private lives of most Americans' on moral values. •By 53%-40%, they say Democrats, who sharply expanded government since the Depression, aren't trying to interfere on moral issues. By more than 2-to-1, 39%-18%, Americans say the 'religious right' has too much influence in the Bush administration. That's a change from when the question was asked in CBS News/New York Times polls taken from 2001 to 2003. Then, approximately equal numbers said conservative Christians had too much and too little influence."
  • The Brain Drain Goes On -- US university enrollment is 'in decline' Guardian

    April 9, 2005

  • Now There was a President -- While Bush hid from the boos and the angry mobs, Clinton walked out on the streets of Rome to cheers from the people. Daily Kos
  • The Bushes and JFK -- Strange how the 41st anniversary of the JFK murder in Dallas November 22, 2004, was virtually ignored in Washington, as if it were something to be erased from history, flushed down the memory hole. Wayne Madsen notes the many strange coincidences that connect George Bush Senior and that day in Dallas, which Bush used to claim not to be able to remember well enough to know where he was, but later admitted he was checked into the Sheraton hotel in Dallas. From the Wilderness
  • Meet the Terrorist -- Olympic bomber to plead guilty. He’s a right wing, anti abortion, homophobic fanatic. Reuters
  • The Return of Political Filmmaking -- “Sean Penn stars in The Assassination of Richard Nixon as Samuel Bicke, who decides to hijack a commercial airliner and crash it into the White House. As Penn had to remind his audience at a press conference in Toronto, the film was written before 9/11 and is based on real events of 1974. 'Knowing about this story,' he said, 'made watching people like Condoleezza Rice kind of amusing, when she said of 9/11 "Who ever would have thought?" - other than the FBI and the CIA and the secret service who had this case on file and studied it.'" Independent
  • Conyers on Buzzflash -- "When the history is written concerning fall from political grace of the Bush presidency, I believe we will point to the emergency passage of the Schiavo legislation as constituting the turning point. Clearly there is short term political fall-out from the unprecedented legislative intervention into a private family matter. The most recent CBS poll shows the president's popularity is at an all time low - 43%, while the Congressional approval rating is down to 34%. The political significance of improper intervention in the tragic Schiavo case is likely to be long term in nature, and goes beyond the narrow facts of the case and concerns about federalism and separation of powers (as important as they are). With Schiavo, the entire nation was exposed to the win-at-all-costs mentality of the Republican Party, and the fact that their deeds do not match their rhetoric."

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