December 1, 2007Deadlocked -- The writers strike continues, and as the New York Times reported, "has entered a new and perhaps uglier phase," after the writers rejected an offer from the owners. "By Friday morning, executives at the countryís largest entertainment conglomerates were privately expressing shock that negotiators for the Writers Guild of America West and the Writers Guild of America East had dismissed without discussion the first phase of what the companies called a New Economic Partnership." The Writers Guild called it "lipstick on a pig." Is it possible that the pendulum toward ever greater pay for executives while workers continue to fall farther behind has finally swung to its outer extreme and will begin to swing back?
Tossup -- In the Republican bizarro universe through the looking glass, the motley crew continues to have at each other on conservative issues. Mitt Romney says "I was wrong" in supporting abortion rights more than a decade ago. Giuliani is seen as "tough on terrorism" based on his affecting a pose of that appearance, not because of anything he's actually done, which was virtually nothing as mayor. But he put on a great performance on TV on September 11, 2001, and is determined to use that to become president. He was walking around the street that day primarily because his "command and control" center had been placed in the target complex itself at his insistence against the advice of all who really knew anything about terrorism. Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee is "the surge candidate" right now, but his support of a plan to give in-state tuition benefits to children of illegal immigrants will not play well among Republicans. McCain is "the disappearing man", Fred Thompson is a guy who got a lot of attention until he declared his candidacy. And Ron Paul, the maverick Republican, is raising so much money on the Internet no one can believe it, but his problem: he opposes the war in Iraq, which Republicans apparently love, so he's out. Gannet News Service All War All the Time -- Meanwhile Bush, the self-designated War President, declares that funding his wars should be Congress' top priority as it is his only priority. Republicans are blocking the Democratic proposal for funding because it contains requirements for troop withdrawal and War Secretary Gates is threatening to lay off civilian employees if the Democrats don't come up with a couple of billion more dollars quick, hoping to create pressure from the starving masses to pass the bill. Bloomberg.com
December 2, 2007The Media Loves Rudy -- Why does the press ignore Rudy Giuliani's many scandals? FAIR
Rambo Republicans -- Bob Herbert wonders whether children should be allowed to watch Republican debates: "Thereís so much talk of violence and mayhem as the solution to our ills. The candidates seem so eager to flex their muscles and engage the nation in conflict: Letís continue the war in Iraq. Letís show them what weíre made of in Iran. Letís round up those immigrants and ship íem back where they came from. Itís like watching adolescent boys playing the ultimate video game, with no regard for the consequences. Rudy, the crime-fighter and terror maven, says heís tougher than Mitt, who actually had illegals working on his property. Mitt begs to differ and says heíd like to double the size of the GuantŠnamo prison." Does this really reflect the American people? I don't think so. "The incessant drumbeat of brute force as the favored solution to difficult problems serves to normalize state violence to the point where we hardly notice it," says Herbert. Leahy Gets Tough -- "The chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee rejected White House claims of executive privilege and demanded Thursday that key White House aides testify in the case of the controversial firings of U.S. attorneys." CNN
December 3, 2007Knowledgeable Need Not Apply -- CBS advertised for an "irreverent," "hip" journalist for its eco-beat. The ad says: "CBS is expanding its coverage of the environment. We seek a talented reporter/host for Internet video broadcast. We are looking for smart, creative, hard working up and comers, who can bring great energy, creativity and a dash of humor to our coverage. A deep interest in the environment and sustainability issues will serve you well." Some interest would serve well, but not required, and among the things that are specified in the ad, there is little emphasis on anything below the glitzy showbiz surface. See businessandmedia.org
Venezuelan Changes and Concerns -- The Washington Post leads its article on Venezuela today saying that "President Hugo Chavez would take on expanded powers and have a shot at being president for life under constitutional changes being considered by Venezuelans Sunday in a vote that raised tensions in South America's top oil exporter." It's certainly concerning and makes it sound like he is setting himself up as dictator for life. However, several paragraphs down it is more explicit. What gives Chavez a shot at being president for life is only that the term limits would be removed if the proposal goes through. Presidential terms would be extended from six to seven years and Chavez could run for re-election again, which he cannot do under present law. Theoretically, if the electoral system has integrity (unlike our own broken system), he is still subject to the will of the people, is still accountable to them every seven years. All it gives him is the right to run for president again. Not quite like turning the country into a totalitarian dictatorship. What is more concerning is that Chavez wants the right imprison people without charge during a state of emergency. As disturbing as this is, he is only following in Bush's footsteps with this measure. For some reason the U.S. media isn't as concerned when Bush gives himself that power in the U.S. as it is in that oil-producing country to the South that is headed by the democratically elected bigmouth the U.S. tried to overthrow in a coup that failed because of massive popular resistance. Chavez is certainly someone to keep an eye on for those who are concerned with democratic principles and the abuse of power. But he is not nearly as out of line as Bush when it comes to abusing power and overriding Constitutional rights and checks.
December 4, 2007Undermined -- The CIA seems to have undercut Bush's intended replay of his campaign of deceit to lead into another war, this time with Iran. A CIA report says Iran stopped its nuclear weapons program in 2005. According to The Guardian, "The disclosure makes it harder for President George Bush, to justify a military strike against Iran before he leaves office next year." Damn. George and Dick must be fuming. Maybe they'll out the whole agency now.
Political Theater -- Meanwhile, the New York Times tells us, "With Congress returning to the capital, President Bush and Democratic lawmakers renewed their war of words today and seemed as far apart as ever on Iraq war funding, tax increases, wiretap authorization and other issues." The Times seems to oblige the politicians and carry their drama to the people, but in spite of the dramatic conflicts, the Democrats always give in ultimately to the Bush agenda. After the great drama of Gonzales, which occupied months of precious time as the country continued to ride a downhill path, then turned around and confirmed Bush's choice for Gonzales' replacement, a man who told them that the president was above the law and pretended he didn't know whether waterboarding was really torture. So what was all the fuss about Gonzales really about, other than mild diversion? In this article it practically says it: "Democrats were ready for the presidentís latest broadside, asserting again that they would continue to give American troops everything they need to accomplish their mission, but declaring that the presidentís Iraq policy is a failure." They will give Bush all he wants for his "mission", though no one has ever really given a solid answer to the question, "What is the mission?" To occupy Iraq and control its oil from now to eternity? Defying Determinism -- A month ago the smug media puppet faces were saying, "It's all over but the voting," in reference to the fact that Hillary Clinton had such a lead in the polls it was a foregone conclusion that she would win. Why even bother to have an election? The media has it all figured out. With the voting machines we have, why bother to go through the motions anyway? It's all set. Maybe I wasn't the only one who chafed a bit under that proclamation. All over but the voting? Nothing is over until the voting. Nothing means anything until the voting, if you have an electoral system with integrity where the votes really count. What an insult! It's all over but the voting! What crap! So now a month later, after it was allegedly all figured out, we see an eroding of support for the supposed frontrunners. According to USA Today, "Clinton's standing among Democrats dropped by 11 percentage points from early November, and Giuliani's standing among Republicans fell by 9 points, though both continue to lead their fields." This last-minute rebellion of the mob against what the Grand Deciders have determined must be the outcome of next year's election reminds me of Dostoevsky's Notes From Underground. "One's own free unfettered choice, one's own caprice, however wild it may be, one's own fancy worked up at times to frenzy -- is that very 'most advantageous advantage' which we have overlooked, which comes under no classification and against which all systems and theories are continually being shattered to atoms. And how do these wiseacres know that man wants a normal, a virtuous choice? What has made them conceive that man must want a rationally advantageous choice? What man wants is simply independent choice, whatever that independence may cost and wherever it may lead. And choice, of course, the devil only knows what choice."
December 6, 2007Six Days on the Road -- Four nights in Honolulu, two nights in Cancun, all business and rarely a moment to stop to enjoy the beach, but interesting all the same. In Honolulu they call the local paper the Honolulu Advertiser. It seems like thatís a much more honest way to name the modern model of ad-driven journalism than the usual. If the New York Times was called The New York Advertiser, or if Time and Newsweek and CNN were named according to what they actually do, things would be so much clearer.
Many flights and, inevitably, many airport restrooms, which now take on a different atmosphere since the widespread circulation of the videos of Larry Craig tapping his foot in the Minnesota airport bathroom in a language apparently well known to those senators and other lowlifes who solicit sex in airport restrooms. Suddenly restrooms seem to be much more perilous places. Was I tapping my foot? Oh God! I didnít mean that! Was I doing anything that might be interpreted as a sign? Men seem more than ever unwilling to be social or congenial in a restroom setting. They barely want to acknowledge the existence of another human being in their immediate vicinity. All locked into tunnel vision, they grimly look only down and slightly ahead, the bare minimum required to navigate or to wash their hands.
I am reminded of Lenny Bruce talking saying, ďI was always amazed at anyone who could do anything in a restroom but piss and leave.Ē But now dear Senator Larry Craig has left his indelible mark on our silly little civilization and who can go into an airport restroom without thinking of him, the videos of his foot tapping over the line in the next stall, the expensive suit and shoes, the tapes of him evading the questions of the police officer who interrogated him, his absolute refusal to acknowledge what they both knew happened, his adamant public proclamations that he was not gay nor had he ever been. And even this week, as I wandered around airports, I saw his picture flashing on the CNN monitors placed around the airports, denying some new/old allegations about his sexual proclivities. Dear Larry. Crazy crazy Larry. How much taxpayer money did you spend on restroom sex Larry?
The George Bush International Airport, always such a pleasure to be in the building named for the great family that took America down the toilet. The mechanical sounding voice coming repetitively over the loudspeaker in a superficially friendly tone with underlying menace sums up the Bush world, warning that ďany in appropriate remarks about security may result in your arrest.Ē
The Cancun airport Ė looking pretty good for an airport, looking pretty much like the standard airport, complete and intact, not betraying the fact that two years ago it was wiped away by hurricane Wilma. Itís been built up like nothing ever happened. Amazing what people can do when they take it upon themselves to be constructive, rather than destructive, as is typical of the current administration. What if those billions of dollars and countless man-hours and soul energy that is fed into destroying and supposedly controlling the oil of Iraq were put into something constructive. What if there were a leader who presented something like a new New Deal to the people and they bought into it? Imagine what could be done! Imagine that lost world, that possible world that does not exist, cannot exist because the possibilities are being suppressed by reptilian creatures like Bush and Cheney.
After the CIA came out saying Iran had curtailed its nuclear weapons program four years ago, Bush, always looking hot under the collar and perturbed, said that didnít mean he was going to change his mind about his intention to smash Iran. Never one to change his mind about anything just because the facts donít conform to his imagination, the intransigent Bush is still determined to stay the course. It doesnít mean anything, he says, that Iran quit trying to produce nuclear weapons four years ago, they still could. (New York Times) No need to give American service people a break from endless war just because Iran gave up its nuclear weapons program four years ago. What is a war president to do without a new war? The very idea!
Bushís attitude is essentially one of irritation that anyone is trying to thwart his ambition to attack Iran. Iím going to bomb Iran and donít try to stop me. Iran is dangerous because I say itís dangerous and Iím the President and what I say goes so donít think these games you're playing with all this ďintelligenceĒ is going to change my mind one bit.
CIA Rebellion? See also Maureen Dowd's "Seven Days in December?" Republican Dissent -- Seven former high-level Republican appointees now question the official story of 9/11. See opednews.com Former Italian President: Inside Job -- Alex Jones' Prison Planet reports that Francesco Cossiga, who was elected president of Italy in a landslide in 1985 and served till 1992, "has gone public on 9/11, telling Italy's most respected newspaper [Corriere della Sera] that the attacks were run by the CIA and Mossad and that this was common knowledge amongst global intelligence agencies." CNN=BS -- LA Times calls CNN the "Corrupt News Network": "The United States is at war in the Middle East and Central Asia, the economy is writhing like a snake with a broken back, oil prices are relentlessly climbing toward $100 a barrel and an increasing number of Americans just can't afford to be sick with anything that won't be treated with aspirin and bed rest. So, when CNN brought the Republican presidential candidates together this week for what is loosely termed a 'debate,' what did the country get but a discussion of immigration, Biblical inerrancy and the propriety of flying the Confederate flag? ... Corruption is a strong word. But consider these facts: The gimmick behind Wednesday's debate was that the questions would be selected from those that ordinary Americans submitted to the video sharing Internet website YouTube, which is owned by Google. According to CNN, its staff culled through 5,000 submissions to select the handful that were put to the candidates." Helen Thomas: American Hero -- According to the PensitoReview.com, "Something about the way Helen Thomas asked Bush flack Dana Perino about civilian war deaths seemed to rattled Perinoís usual robotic calm: 'Helen, I find it really unfortunate that you use your front row position, bestowed upon you by your colleagues, to make such statementsÖ [To] suggest that we, at the United States, are killing innocent people is just absurd and very offensive.' In reality, over 600,000 Iraqi babies, children and adults have been killed unnecessarily by U.S. bombs in pursuit of Bushís misguided invasion and occupation of Iraq."
December 7, 2007
Rejoice! Rejoice! -- Here is one of the most positive things I have read in the realm of politics for a long time. See Brent Budowsky, "The Greening of America": "The greening of America is about the liberation of and inspiration for an America that will soon be de-Bushed, in which major changes are already advancing and the negativity surrounding Bush will be receding until it finally disappears into the dustbin of history and the real America re-emerges when he is gone from government for good. The greening of America involves a mindset of politics, business, culture, entertainment, technology and patriotism that will liberate and energize an American spirit that will be Prometheus unbound from a status quo that American voters, consumers, investors and business have already left behind." Amen.
December 8, 2007
Remember Lennon -- Imagine Peace. John Lennon explains how it works. "I think our whole society is run by insane people for insane objectives..." Watching this whole video should bring tears to your eyes, if you have any humanity left. Lennon: "War is a nightmare that has gone on too long."
December 13, 2007The Siegelman Story Emerges -- The story of the Rove clique's little experiment in imprisoning political rivals is finally starting to get around in the general media environment. Tonight, December 13, 2007, MSNBC's investigative Series hosted by Dan Abrams will present a piece on the political entrapment and imprisonment of a former governor of Alabama achieved by a clique of Karl Rove cohorts through the perversion of the justice system. The show on Bush League Justice will appear on MSNBC at 9 p.m. Eastern Time and 8 p.m. Central Time. It features interviews with Congressman Artur Davis, Scott Horton from Harper's Magazine, and Siegelman's daughter Dana Siegelman. Some of the program can be seen online at bradblog.com. Some interesting things appear in a piece called "Siegelman, South's Political Prisoner" on Pam Miles' blog. An excerpt can be found at Mark Crispin Miller's News From Underground. See also Crazy as a Loon. It would be a very good thing if justice could be done in this case and this victim of Rovian tyranny be restored to his family. See more about the case at Harper's; On prospects for a pardon at >Locustfork; on General Wesley Clark at Locustfork; "Cracks in the Siegelman Case" at Harpers.
Pretty Empty Head Dana Perino, otherwise known as Bush's mouthpiece admitted recently that she when a reporter's question referred to the Cuban Missile Crisis, she didn't know what it was. (See the bottom of this page in the Washington Post.) It figures that Bush would need someone that clueless to be the mouthpiece for his endless lies. What you don't know can't hurt you ... or can it? Her clumsy attempt to shame and embarrass Helen Thomas recently (See here) could only be accomplished by someone extremely ignorant of the milieu she works in.
December 15, 2007All Mad -- According to the New York Times, "Huckabee Is Not Alone in Ignorance on Mormonism." The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, better known as the Mormon church, was founded by one Joseph Smith, a farmerís son, lived in upstate New York. According to the Times, "As a young man, Smith said he was visited by an angel, Moroni, and shown a set of golden plates written in Reformed Egyptian, which he translated into the Book of Mormon." Though this angel allegedly gave the golden plates to Smith written in Reformed Egyptian, when the young New Yorker translated them, they came out sounding inexplicably like King James English.
This is what the political dialogue of these mad United States has degenerated to. Huckabee was apologizing to the Mitt for asking the question, "Donít Mormons believe that Jesus and the devil are brothers?" And as the Times explains, there is something to the question: "In Mormon theology, God is literally the father of all beings, and all beings once existed in a 'premortal' state as 'spirit beings,' said Robert L. Millet a professor of religion at Brigham Young University, a Mormon institution in Provo, Utah. Jesus was Godís first-born son, and everyone who came after that, including Satan could be considered the siblings of Jesus, he said. 'Latter-day Saints believe that all of us, Christ included, existed in a premortal existence, as spirits,' Mr. Millet said. 'Yes, Jesus and Lucifer were in that premortal existence, together. But what we need to make very clear is that Jesus was God and there was never a time when Jesus and Lucifer were on the same plane.' To say Jesus and Satan were brothers, Mr. Gordon said, is like saying, 'Do you know youíre related to Adolph Hitler because weíre all part of the same family of man?'"
Okay. And I suppose this is the kind of thing that Mitt was referring to when he proclaimed, "Freedom requires religion just as religion requires freedom," Romney said. "Freedom opens the windows of the soul so that man can discover his most profound beliefs and commune with God. Freedom and religious endure together, or perish alone." (See CBS). These beliefs will really help you govern America, Mitt, I can see that. And from your statement that "freedom requires religion," I guess you are saying that those of us who do not hold some similar beliefs do not qualify for freedom. I think I get it...
Here's what Mark Twain said about Mormonism: "All men have heard of the Mormon Bible, but few except the 'elect' have seen it, or, at least, taken the trouble to read it. I brought away a copy from Salt Lake. The book is a curiosity to me, it is such a pretentious affair, and yet so 'slow,' so sleepy, such an insipid mess of inspiration. It is chloroform in print. If Joseph Smith composed this book, the act was a miracle -- keeping awake while he did it was, at any rate. If he, according to tradition, merely translated it from certain ancient and mysteriously engraved plates of copper, which he declares he found under a stone in an out-of-the-way locality, the work of translating was equally a miracle, for the same reason. The book seems to be merely a prosy detail of imaginary history, with the Old Testament for a model; followed by a tedious plagiarism of the New Testament. The author labored to give his words and phrases the quaint, old-fashioned sound and structure of our King James' translation of the Scriptures; and the result is a mongrel-half modern glibness, and half ancient simplicity and gravity. The latter is awkward and constrained; the former natural, but grotesque by the contrast. Whenever he found his speech growing too modern-which was about every sentence or two-he ladled in a few such scriptural phrases as exceeding sore, and it came to pass, etc., and made things satisfactory again. And it came to pass was his pet. If he had left that out, his Bible would have been only a pamphlet. ... The Mormon Bible is rather stupid and tiresome to read, but there is nothing vicious in its teachings. Its code of morals is unobjectionable-it is 'smouched' from the New Testament and no credit given." (For more on Mormonism, see The Mormonism Research Group.)
Huckabee, on the other hand, is one who gets hot under the collar if you question his belief that God created the world in six days and dinosaurs hung out in the Garden of Eden with the human race, which at that time amounted to two people. It's a good thing we have such devout people on hand to run the affairs of government. How awful it would be if we had a damned atheist who wanted to be president. Meanwhile, while the media is absorbed in these theological questions of angels and pinheads, only three senators voted against Bush's $700 billion budget for the Pentagon. All these God-fearing Christian souls are signed on 100 percent to feeding the war machine, which is driving us all down to hell.
-- David Cogswell