Unhappy Anniversary

September 1, 2007

Craven Senator to Resign -- Republicans are not circling their wagons around the center of their latest sex scandal. Idaho Senator Craig is being pushed out. (see AOL) Whore scandals they can still tolerate, and their Mississippi whorechaser senator has slipped off the radar and still holds a Republican seat in the Senate, but one more homosexual scandal is too much for the family values party to tolerate at this moment when their corruption meter is topping out. Senator Craig cried out "I'm not gay! I've never been gay!" as if he really thought that was the issue. In the Republican party it is an issue, one of the few causes the party still stands for, and the severity of its intolerance tends to produce strange, distorted characters like Craig, whose personality has been squeezed into the vice of puritan values for so long, he's completely out of touch with who he is and ends up acting out his repressed desires in public bathrooms with strangers. It's pathetic, and Craig is worthy of sympathy, but it's hard to feel much sympathy for someone whose self-punishment has extended into the world from a position of some power so that he has aided and abetted the persecution of others who have homosexual tendencies but perhaps express them in less destructive ways. The official tape of Craig's interrogation with a very gentle undercover cop has been released an blasted from sites like AOL and the man is now totally disgraced. It's truly a pathetic spectacle.
  • America Collides with the NeoCon Vision -- According to The New Yorker, "If there were a threat level on the possibility of war with Iran, it might have just gone up to orange." The author of the story, George Packer, quotes "an account of a conversation with a friend who has connections to someone at a neoconservative institution in Washington," which says, "They [the source’s institution] have “instructions” (yes, that was the word used) from the Office of the Vice-President to roll out a campaign for war with Iran in the week after Labor Day; it will be coordinated with the American Enterprise Institute, the Wall Street Journal, the Weekly Standard, Commentary, Fox, and the usual suspects. It will be heavy sustained assault on the airwaves, designed to knock public sentiment into a position from which a war can be maintained. Evidently they don’t think they’ll ever get majority support for this—they want something like 35-40 percent support, which in their book is "plenty.'" One of the greatest horrors of this scenario is that like many tyrants throughout history they are likely to cook up an incident upon which to launch the war. How severe the incident is is in itself a grave concern. Will it be the "mushroom cloud" they have warned us about for years? Are they ready to tighten the vice on a population that is getting unruly and straying from the neocon agenda? These are not joking matters, unfortunately. The neocons are extremely serious and determined, utterly heartless and without remorse, and they will not accept any opposition to their stated agenda of creating a world in which the U.S. is the sole superpower that lays down the law for the rest of the world under the threat of force. Crazy as it is, as much of a colossal failure as it has been so far, as completely out of line with the social evolution of America, they are not done. They are as determined as ever to roll over any opposition and achieve the neocon dream. Cheney, Bush, Rove, Richard Perl, Paul Wolfowitz -- even their sanity is questionable. But nevertheless, there they are, with their hands on levers of enormous power. Strap on your seatbelts.
  • Bush's World of War -- As The New Yorker's George Packer puts it, Bush has become increasingly "bellicose" in his push for war against Iran. His recent address to the Houston American Legion (see video and text) really puts his new war push in vivid terms. Bush is very serious, determined, grim -- bellicose. He starts with some niceties, but doesn't take long to launch into a furious display, urging of the necessity of more war. Americans have long scorned comparisons of Bush with Hitler, but the what-me-worry fratboy compassionate conservative persona has been put on the shelf and Bush doesn't hide his fury any more as he describes his "great ideological struggle -- fighting Islamic extremists across the globe" and "a key aspect of the struggle: the fight for the future of the Middle East." This speech is an interesting glimpse of the worldview of George Bush and those who pull his strings. It is very very serious. His fervent wish is for World War III, to be the War President who leads the nation in a new version of those "two bitter and bloody conflicts," as he describes them with lust, and tries to force the world to re-live them. Now he has his sights set on Iran, and he intends to let nothing stop him. Since the U.S. military is sapped by war in Afghanistan and Iraq, and its treasury has been drained by Halliburton and his tax cuts, some assume that Bush cannot carry out his goals of further war. But Bush and Cheney have more tricks up their sleeve. The obvious means of creating the scenario that would rollover domestic resistance to his war plans are the classic means of tyrants, cooking up an international incident. In August of 2001, there seemed to be little hope for Bush to fulfill his dreams of war against Iraq, but after September 11, the path was cleared. These are very perilous times.

    September 2, 2007

    Pentagon Plans Iran Blitz -- According to the London Sunday Times, "The Pentagon has drawn up plans for massive airstrikes against 1,200 targets in Iran, designed to annihilate the Iranians’ military capability in three days, according to a national security expert. Alexis Debat, director of terrorism and national security at the Nixon Center, said last week that US military planners were not preparing for 'pinprick strikes' against Iran’s nuclear facilities. 'They’re about taking out the entire Iranian military,' he said."
  • Hail the Great Jimmy Breslin -- Still as gutsy as ever, this guy is a treasure. He still lays it down bold and true, solid common sense with soul. While most wring their hands in impotence, Breslin says, "Our politicians despair that there can be no way to override Bush and save our young and everybody of any age in Iraq. Of course there is. By all the energy and dignified disgust of a nation that needs it to keep any semblance of greatness, there is an extraordinary need for an impeachment of this president and his vice president. You start an impeachment with an investigator who starts to develop a case. That's what got Nixon out. He had the most expensive, elaborate defense in the world, and when they were pressed his assistants folded and Nixon quit. I wonder whether Bush and his people can do any better when pressed." New York Newsday
  • On the Other Foot -- The craven senator from Idaho in 1999, looking 20 years younger and oh, so self-righteous as he gleefully calls Bill Clinton a "nasty, bad, naughty boy" and says he will speak out for the people of Idaho and advocate a censure of Clinton on account of his "nasty, naughty" behavior. See Craig's schadenfreude on youtube.com. Here's Randi Rhodes on the Craig disgrace: youtube.com.
  • Video -- Idiot Son. Corporate News Closeup

    September 3, 2007

    Will They Bomb Iran? Todd Gitlin, "Iraq with an N? Anatomy of a Rumor That Has to be Taken Seriously". TPM Cafe
  • Be Thankful -- Says Mark Morford, that you are not Karl Rove. From August 17's SFGate.
  • Bush Talks -- Robert Draper, a former writer for Texas Monthly, interviewed Bush for an upcoming book, and shared some with the New York Times. (see talkingpointsmemo.com) In answer to the old question, is Bush dumb? Not exactly. Not dumb enough to not be very competent at what he does, the performing monkey act orchestrated by Rove and the neocons. But for a president, the leader of the free world, horrifyingly lacking in insight, depth or hands-on knowledge about what is going on as a result of his colossal failures. According to Draper, "Mr. Bush acknowledged one major failing of the early occupation of Iraq when he said of disbanding the Saddam Hussein-era military, 'The policy was to keep the army intact; didn't happen.'" But when Draper pointed out that Bush's former Iraq administrator, L. Paul Bremer III, had forced the army's dissolution, Bush said, "Yeah, I can't remember, I'm sure I said, 'This is the policy, what happened?'" But, he explained, "Hadley's got notes on all of this stuff," referring to Stephen J. Hadley, his national security adviser.

    September 4, 2007

    American Tragedy -- Chris Floyd in " Post-Mortem America: Bush's Year of Triumph and the Hard Way Ahead" writes "The game is over. The crisis has passed - and the patient is dead. Whatever dream you had about what America is, it isn't that anymore. It's gone... The Republic you wanted - and at one time might have had the power to take back - is finished. You no longer have the power to keep it; it's not there. It was kidnapped in December 2000, raped by the primed and ready exploiters of 9/11, whored by the war pimps of the 2003 aggression, gut-knifed by the corrupters of the 2004 vote, and raped again by its "rescuers" after the 2006 election. Beaten, abused, diseased and abandoned, it finally died. We are living in its grave. The annus horribilis of 2007 has turned out to be a year of triumph for the Bush Faction - the hit men who delivered the coup de grâce to the long-moribund Republic. Bush was written off as a lame duck after the Democrat's November 2006 election 'triumph' (in fact, the narrowest of victories eked out despite an orgy of cheating and fixing by the losers), and the subsequent salvo of Establishment consensus from the Iraq Study Group, advocating a de-escalation of the war in Iraq. Then came a series of scandals, investigations, high-profile resignations, even the criminal conviction of a top White House official. But despite all this - and abysmal poll ratings as well - over the past eight months Bush and his coupsters have seen every single element of their violent tyranny confirmed, countenanced and extended. The war which we were told the Democrats and ISG consensus would end or wind down has of course been escalated to its greatest level yet - more troops, more airstrikes, more mercenaries, more Iraqi captives swelling the mammoth prison camps of the occupying power, more instability destroying the very fabric of Iraqi society. The patently illegal surveillance programs of the authoritarian regime have now been codified into law by the Democratic Congress, which has also let stand the evisceration of habeas corpus in the Military Commissions Act, and araft of other liberty-stripping laws , rules, regulations and executive orders. Bush's self-proclaimed arbitrary power to seize American citizens (and others) without charge and hold them indefinitely - even kill them - has likewise been unchallenged by the legislators. Bush has brazenly defied Congressional subpoenas - and even arbitrarily stripped the Justice Department of the power to enforce them - to no other reaction than a stern promise from Democratic leaders to 'look further into this matter.'"
  • No Change -- And with all this, the hated catastrophe of the Bush regime and, the LA Times reports, "GOP hopefuls are staying Bush's course"
  • All Conspiracy Theorists -- An online poll conducted by MSNBC asks the question, "Do you believe any of the conspiracy theories suggesting the U.S. government was somehow involved in 9/11?" As of midnight the night of Labor Day 2007, 87,914 votes have been tallied. The result: 66% say yes. Only 29% say no, less than half the number who say yes. Two thirds of the 90,000 people who voted in this poll say the government "was somehow involved in 9/11". Meanwhile Bush and Cheney are revving up their next war, and maybe another 9/11 to get things rolling. According to an accompanying article on MSNBC called "9/11 Conspiracy Theorists Multiply", "If that feels like a skip off the cliff of established reality, more Americans are in free fall than you might guess. There are few more startling measures of American distrust of leaders than the widespread belief that the Bush administration had a hand in the attacks of Sept. 11 in order to spark an invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq. A recent Scripps Howard/Ohio University poll of 1,010 Americans found that 36 percent suspect the U.S. government promoted the attacks or intentionally sat on its hands." Furthermore, "Distrust percolates more strongly near Ground Zero. A Zogby International poll of New York City residents two years ago found 49.3 percent believed the government 'consciously failed to act.'" Those closer to the scene of the crime show a much higher level of distrust than those who merely saw the TV news version. One of the whacky 66 percent conspiracy fringe is Former Reagan aide Barbara Honegger, a senior military affairs journalist at the Naval Postgraduate School in California. She says, "It's like the Nazi-facilitated Reichstag fire. They guided and secretly protected it to justify their global agenda."
  • Hitched to the Wrong Star -- John McCain, who sold his soul to George Bush, now can't even rally a majority of support for his presidential campaign in his home state. Arizona Daily Star

    September 5, 2007

    What We Know -- Bernard Weiner did an inventory and assessment on "Twenty-Two Things We Now Know Six Years After 9/11" (Crisis Papers) It's a very well-done, thorough, rational and fair assessment. As Weiner points out, the case against Bush and Cheney is complete without answering the ultimate questions of 9/11. Weiner: "Regardless of whether CheneyBush were complicit in any degree in the deaths and destruction that day -- and there is no proof that they were -- what we do know is that in the months, weeks and days prior to 9/11, red-hot warnings about a planned terrorist attack, using planes as weapons aimed at buildings in New York and Washington, were coming into the White House from a wide variety of other countries. At the very least then, CheneyBush and a few other key insiders knew that a 'spectacular' attack was coming and did absolutely nothing. Even after Bush was briefed on August 6 with a report entitled 'Bin Laden Determined to Attack Inside the U.S.' -- which talked about preparations for hijackings, suspected terrorists surveilling federal buildings in New York, teams of terrorists being inside the U.S. with explosives -- there was no heightening of awareness, no alerting airlines, no sending out photos of al-Qaida suspects to be on the lookout for, no calling an urgent meeting of counter-terrorism experts inside the White House to coordinate either a way of minimizing the damage or dealing with a post-attack response. Nothing." This is an excellent re-cap for perspective, a good piece to look through to the end.

    Weekend, September 9, 2007

    Unhappy Anniversary -- The day approaches, the Great Black Day of America. This time September 11 will be on a Tuesday, as it was in 2001. We are into those heartbrakingly beautiful days of early September, late summer transitioning into early fall, perfectly mild weather, benign to human life, all the environmental cues for those horrifying memories are in place, sending tiny cries of terror into the space between the molecules of the present.

    Can America ever free itself from the bind that all draws back to that day? Can the American people ever learn to understand that day, to fit it into some intellectual framework of history? Can they assimilate what happened to them and somehow heal?

    Why are we not hearing cries for justice for those who died that day? If the whole megacatastrophe that was crammed with such artistic perfection into those few hours was really, as we are told, just a big fuckup from the standpoint of the government, will anyone ever be held accountable for any of those failures piled upon failures? Even if we take the official story on faith (which seems an odd thing to do knowing what we know about the administration's credibility) that it was Bin Laden and his merry tribe of lunatics who committed those crimes, why isn't even he being held accountable? I'm not crazy about this mantra that has become acceptable for politicians who are saying their goal is to kill bin Laden. What ever happened to the idea of bringing a criminal to justice?

    Yes, the justice system is in part based on the idea of getting the criminal off the street so he can't continue to offend; and there has always been an element of vengeance in the system of justice. But the more evolved, more overriding consideration of a system of justice in a civilized society is to discover the truth. The idea of just killing the suspected offender rather than having a process through which we may learn something about what happened and how to prevent repeats, strikes me as a return to primitive practices and I question the motives of those who advocate it. It smells to me of sweeping something under a rug.

    It's especially unseemly that Bin Laden has not been brought to justice (I don't mean killed) given the historical relationship between the Bush and bin Laden families. It does not appear that we are ever going to learn much more about any of these things, not if we leave it to the government anyway. The case is closed. It is only being used as a justification for everything the neocons want to do, not just wars and sweet war contracts for close friends of the administration, but big bailouts for major corporations and Wall Street at the expense of the American taxpayer, open season on fouling the environment. The end of the heist is nowhere in sight.

    Meanwhile Americans continue to live in fear and uncertainty about that day. They continue to be manipulated, wrestled into one disaster after another at headspinning speed, still dazed and punch drunk from the original incident, which was followed immediately by a lightning series of events by which the laws of the country were fundamentally changed at the expense of the rights and welfare of the average, middle American.

    The Bush administration was very effective in getting its war on, but actively obstructed investigation into 9/11, starting with a stated effort to discourage any congressional investigation at all on the grounds it would compromise national security -- a statement that seems clearly in diametric opposition to the truth. National security -- if that means the welfare of the people -- would be best served by getting to the bottom of the mysteries as completely and as soon as possible.

    But if by national security you mean the consolidation of power by the Bush regime and the mobilization of the neocon agenda, then the best thing would be to have no investigation, or when you finally allow one, to hamstring it so badly it can't come up with anything new, cannot even attempt the resolution of major questions about the crimes. And forget about holding any officials accountable. Then you keep the public in a prolonged state of fear, easy to manipulate, never knowing what really happened, but just being afraid and compliant.

    How could the administration that presided over the worst security breach in American history have been given the reputation of being the people who are best qualified to keep Americans safe? It's an utter contradiction. But somehow this massive non sequitur was pushed over on the American people. This once again shows us the extraordinary power of the propaganda system. Now it's six years later, was anyone ever held accountable for 9/11? Was anyone at the FAA fired? What about the Joint Chiefs of Staff, or any other military officers in charge of our $400 billion-a-year military "defense" system -- were any of them held accountable? Any politicians? We've already been over Bin Laden. The authorities have grabbed a couple of people who "applied for membership in Al Qaeda" or some such thing. Where is the public outrage at all this?

    Americans are still punchdrunk. Like a boxer rocked by a massive right hand to the skull, the country never got a chance to put its collective brains back together after the catastrophe of 9/11. The Bush administration threw more flak at the people than the people could keep straight. By keeping the crime unresolved and an open-ended terror, the administration performed a Pavlovian conditioning procedure on the public, so now all they have to do is pull out that symbol: 9/11 and every one falls in line. All the politicians hang their heads in shame over any attempts to consider human rights or democratic and legal processes, which suddenly became unpatriotic acts. And Bush and Cheney have carte blanche. They can do whatever they want.

    It is really time for Americans to move on from that conditioning, from that fixation on terror that the administration has found so useful as its bludgeon for governing. Someone recently said to me, "The idea that the administration could pull that off and keep it a secret for six years is unbelievable..." But no one has been held accountable! If no one is ever pressured to tell what they know, how do you expect to get at the truth? Obviously someone somewhere screwed up. If everyone in the many chains of command who failed that day had to face questioning and to be held accountable for their part in the failures, at least there might be hope of finding out something, unraveling something. But when the 9/11 commission was finally put together (under the tight control of a White House operative), the commissioners said from the beginning that they weren't looking to place blame. And whenever there have been whistleblowers, they've essentially been told to shut up or else.

    Normally in the system of justice, the authorities would put the everyone involved under inquiry with the stated intention of holding someone accountable and start the wheels rolling. Under pressure, people would start to talk. The story would start to come out. But when the system of justice is operated by people who don't really want answers or resolution, or if the system of justice was operated by the criminals themselves, then applying that pressure would not be in their interests.

    The shortcomings of the 9/11 commission report are not exactly a secret. Concerned citizens with no subpoena power and now government budgets have put together a tremendous amount of information that goes much farther toward solving the crime than the White House's commission ever did. They lacked resources, but they had the intent that the government lackeys lacked.

    September 10, 2007

    Stop Mountaintop Removal Mining -- See Bill Moyers Journal on mountaintop removal coal mining, which is destroying the Appalachian Mountains of West Virginia, driving people from their homes with poisons and Bush has just given the go-ahead for the coal companies to destroy more of West Virginia. Check out this footage, see the devastation of this beautiful country, and the people whose environments have been made unlivable. See here for more about Mountaintop Removal Mining .
  • Rove-Engineered Political Imprisonment -- The former Democratic governor of Alabama was imprisoned in a deal that looks like a political maneuver engineered by Karl Rove as part of his politicization of the Justice Department, which was exposed in the events that led to Alberto Gonzales resignation as head of the department. According to the Adam Cohen, writing in the New York Times, some attention is now being paid to this case. See NYTimes-Truthout. Cohen: "Alberto Gonzales is out as attorney general, but there is still a lot of questionable Justice Department activity for Congress to sort through. The imprisonment of Don Siegelman, a former Democratic governor of Alabama, should be at the top of the list. Jill Simpson, an Alabama lawyer and Republican operative, is heading to Washington this week to tell Congressional investigators that she heard prominent Republicans plotting to use the United States attorneys' offices to remove Mr. Siegelman as a political threat. The case should be the focus of a probing Congressional hearing this fall."

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