The Surge and the Iraq's Deadliest Year
December 17, 2007A Tear in the Fabric -- Bill Moyers interviews Keith Olbermann. Fascinating glimpse at a fortunate anomaly of big media broadcasting. See Bill Moyers Journal.
How it Works -- Now three years after America has endured the damage of another term of a fraudulent president, not democratically elected, not supported by the people, not at all concerned with their will or their needs, during which time when any expressed concern with the electoral irregularities of Ohio was blasted with claims that such concerns were only conspiracy fringe lunacy, the secretary of state of Ohio has released a report saying that indeed, the election might easily have been tampered with. According to a report by Bob Fitrakis & Harvey Wasserman in The Free Press, "Ohio's Secretary of State announced this morning that a $1.9 million official study shows that "critical security failures" are embedded throughout the voting systems in the state that decided the 2004 election. Those failures, she says, 'could impact the integrity of elections in the Buckeye State.' They have rendered Ohio's vote counts 'vulnerable' to manipulation and theft by 'fairly simple techniques.' Indeed, she says, 'the tools needed to compromise an accurate vote count could be as simple as tampering with the paper audit trail connector or using a magnet and a personal digital assistant.' In other words, Ohio's top election official has finally confirmed that the 2004 election could have been easily stolen." Important Update on the Don Seigelman case by Larisa Alexandrovna.
December 18, 2007Playing for Blood -- More on Don Siegelman: "Karl Rove, William Canary, and the Siegelman Case" by Scott Horton. Harpers. Defiance -- A federal judge ruled that White House visitor logs are public documents, rejecting a legal strategy that the Bush administration hoped would get around public records laws and let the administration to keep its guests secret. The ruling is a blow to the Bush administration, which has fought the release of records showing visits by prominent religious conservatives. Yahoo
December 19, 2007Setback for Bush and the Corporate State -- Senator Chris Dodd of Connecticut scored a vital victory against the Bush administration in its attempt to circumvent accountability of the telecom corporations who colluded with it to illegally spy upon the American people. This is a very important victory. Dodd said, "Today we have scored a victory for American civil liberties and sent a message to President Bush that we will not tolerate his abuse of power and veil of secrecy. The President should not be above the rule of law, nor should the telecom companies who supported his quest to spy on American citizens." Bush may well get his way on this yet, but at least Dodd kept him from succeeding in rushing the immunity bill to a vote. Likewise, Dodd may not get far in his bid for president against the momentum of the media circus that controls the process and the debate, but he has shown his worthiness for the job if it is to be something other than a corporate shill. The Nation
Two Steps Back -- Meanwhile the FCC, still controlled by the massive media corporations it is supposed to be protecting the people from, voted to further relax the rules against monopolization of the media by a few corporate powers. Reuters One Step Up -- Then in another small but significant victory for pro-democratic forces, Colorado has tossed out some of its electronic voting machines, declaring them to be unreliable. Three of the state's four voting equipment manufacturers were decertified, affecting six of Colorado's 10 most populous counties. Newsday The Sound of Justice -- A key witness in the Don Seigelman case was released by the judge who presided over the case that put Seigelman in prison. (See Birminghan News.) Larisa Alexandrovna, who is watching the case closely, says, "Obviously, someone is worried about what 60 Minutes has uncovered, um, possibly Judge Mark Fuller, who was the one to order the release on 12/11/2007 (yes, the same judge who did such a fine job on the case) or possibly US Assistant Attorney Steve Feaga (who is the most visible prison candidate once this whole mess fully goes forward and who the Canary's will likely throw under the bus first) and of course there are also the now infamous Canary 'girls,' Leura Canary and Alice Martin, the two US Attorneys in Alabama. Someone might want to ask Mr. Feaga how often he travels to Rosemary Beach. I hope he knows for certain no one has photos of his visits (I don't have photos, just speculating of course). I wonder if such photos - assuming they exist of course - have made their way into the hands of the media, who are now increasingly focusing more and more on the Siegelman case in order to better understand the US Attorney Scandal. Again, I am just speculating of course. The pressure must be getting to be a bit much with Time investigating, 60 Minutes investigating, Harper's investigating, Raw Story investigating, MSNBC investigating, and massive national editorials from The New York Times to The LA Times. Not to mention the Congressional investigation going on as well." Mukasey's First Test -- Mukasey wants Congress to stay out of the inquiry into the CIA's destruction of videos of its torture. LA Times "The Justice Department yesterday moved to consolidate control over the investigation into the destruction of CIA interrogation tapes, saying that neither it nor the intelligence agency would cooperate with congressional inquiries into the matter." The old "just trust us" again, which senators Schumer and Feinstein already bought by confirming him. Head of the House Judiciary Committee John Conyers says, Congressional and Executive branch investigations often proceed at the same time, so the administration's inquiry "should not be used as a shield against proper and necessary oversight." Christian Science Monitor. And yet, as usual, Congress may make noise, but still gives Bush his way, agreeing not to conduct hearings for now. Why? Meanwhile, according to CNN, "A federal judge has ordered the Bush administration to appear in court Friday to answer allegations that it defied his demand to preserve evidence that may have included CIA interrogation videos of terrorist suspects in U.S. custody." A tough judge, he's not taking crap. And the New York Times is reporting that Bush administration lawyers, including Gonzales, Harriet Miers and Cheney's current chief of staff David Addington, discussed whether or not to destroy the tapes between 2003 and 2005. Edwards' Anti-corporate Message Selling in Iowa -- According to John Nichols, "No serious observer of the Des Moines debate between the Democratic candidates for president doubted that the standout performance, and the standout message, was that of former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards. Indeed, undecided voters assembled in focus groups that watched the debate for the major television networks rated Edwards off the charts." Edwards message: "What makes America America is at stake: jobs, the middle class, health care, preserving the environment in the world for future generations. But all those things are at risk. And why are they at risk? Because of corporate power and corporate greed in Washington, D.C. And we have to take them on. You can't make a deal with them. You can't hope that they're going to go away. You have to actually be willing to fight. And I want every caucus-goer to know I've been fighting these people and winning my entire life. And if we do this together, rise up together, we can actually make absolutely certain, starting here in Iowa, that we make this country better than we left it."
December 20, 2007Proof the 2004 Election Was Stolen -- Amy Goodman interviews Harvey Wasserman of the Ohio Free Press, who says that the official report by Ohio's top election official, Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner, provides "irrefutable confirmation" that the 2004 election was stolen. The report said the system was rife with "critical security failures" and could have easily been turned. "I mean, they finally, after all these years of us banging our-you know, we're local boys," said Wasserman. "We live in Ohio, in Columbus. And we saw the election of 2004 stolen right in front of our faces. And we reported it extensively, and everybody laughed at us. And they said, 'Oh, this couldn't happen in America.' And we documented it in How the GOP Stole America's 2004 Election and Is Rigging 2008. We documented scores of ways that this election was stolen. And we pointed out a myriad flaws that we saw right in our own neighborhoods, of what was done to keep people of color and young people from voting and to rig the vote count. I mean, the servers for the computation of the Ohio vote count were in the same basement in Chattanooga, Tennessee that houses servers for the Republican National Committee. The programmers who did the stuff for Ken Blackwell, the Republican Secretary of State, were Republicans who did websites for the Bush administration. I mean, it's amazing." Read the rest at DemocracyNow.org
Fox Attacks Edwards and Obama -- See Robert Greenwald's film at Brave New Films. Sign a letter to them.
December 22, 2007Incidentally, One More Crime -- Evidence mounts that the White House was behind a vote-jamming election tampering scheme in New Hampshire that some people are already doing time for and over which more court processes are underway. According to thinkprogress.org, "On the morning of election day 2002, repeated hang-up calls assaulted six phone lines tied to the New Hampshire Democratic Party. Three Republican operatives, including consultant Allen Raymond, eventually ended up in jail for their involvement in the phone jamming scheme. A fourth, former RNC offical James Tobin, will begin a second trial in February. In his new book, Raymond alleges that the scandal goes 'to the top of the Republican Party' because 'the Bush White House had complete control of the RNC' and there was no way such a risky tactic wouldn't have been 'vetted by' Tobin's 'high-ups': 'The Bush White House had complete control of the RNC, and there was no way someone like Tobin was going to try what he was proposing without first getting it vetted by his high-ups,' Raymond wrote in How To Rig an Election, a book set for publication next month. 'That's if Tobin, rather than one of his bosses, had even thought of the ploy himself - which seemed unlikely.' Phone records obtained in a civil suit brought against the NH GOP by the NH Democratic Party show that 'Tobin made 22 calls to the White House political office in the 24 hours before and after the jamming'"
Let Them Die, I'm Busy -- Gaither Stewart in onlinejournal.com brings up the unpleasant subject of indifference to mass murder that continues to plague our world, and the U.S. in particular these days. But then, there is Britney Spears' 16-year-old sister's pregnancy and other reports of such pressing news on the major media channels, so we can't be expected to be aware of everything that is happening in the world. At a lunch between an American film crew and a German film crew in Italy recently, some of the Americans were fully into the American propaganda spin and expressed support for the righteousness of the cause against Iraq, others, like me, were ashamed of the naked aggression against another country for obviously trumped-up pretexts. A German comedienne, the subject of the German filming project, said, "I think it's great that we're not the assholes anymore..." She's right. We Americans have done one good thing through all this, if nothing else. We have lifted the stigma of Nazism from the shoulders of the German people. It's not completely vanquished, but the load has been considerably lightened and progress is being made daily... And by the time they came for me, I was so wrapped up in the Britney Spears affair, I didn't even realize they were hauling me off to prison... Wilting War Fervor -- Rodrigue Tremblay writes that Bush and Cheney are "All dressed up and no place to go ... For many months, the Bush-Cheney administration and its neocon allies in Congress and in the media have been inching toward a fresh new war against Iran, possibly using nuclear weapons, under the same flimsy pretext that it had used in 2003 to launch an illegal war of aggression against Iraq. The military gear was positioned, with three full armadas in or around the Gulf of Hormuz, and the propaganda machine was running full time to persuade the American people that a state of perpetual war was in their interests. But something happened on the road to war." How sad to rob Dick Cheney of his nuclear holocaust. Read the rest of this at onlinejournal.com.
December 21, 2007The Torturers -- Truthout inverviews Michael Ratner, human rights lawyer, on the missing CIA tapes, torture and the Supreme Court.
Contempt -- The one feature that most sums up the modus operandi and character of the Bush administration is that they have no respect for anything. Only power, and only their own brute force. In Truthout's interview with Michael Ratner, he says that twice the Supreme Court has ruled that the Guantanamo prisoners have a right to due process. But even though the Supreme Court is now packed with a majority of right wing puppets of the Bush administration, it only respects the decisions when it gets exactly what it wants. Anything else from any branch of government or any international body is looked upon with contempt. To Know Him Is to Dislike Him -- Ask a New Yorker. Why does Giuliani find that the more he campaigns and puts himself in front of the people, the more his numbers fall? According to a Wall Street Journal poll, the lisping, stooping, pandering, lying candidate has fallen 20 points in two months nationally with Republican voters. His luster as the big media hero of 9/11 is very thin. Giuliani went into the hospital in St. Louis for the flu and then returned to New York. If his advisors are pragmatic and draw the obvious conclusions from his numbers, they'll tell him to just stay indoors and hold on to what he's got. Reuters Relative Truth -- It's fascinating how the acceptability of the truth slides around. Now that the Ohio secretary of state report has confirmed that the reports of election tampering in 2004 are very well founded and that the 6.7 percent discrepancy between exit poll results and official results probably did swing the election and give us another fraudulent Bush presidency (See Democracy Now), it is no longer easy to avoid the truth of the matter. Of course now there's not much that can be done about it, except to "get over it", "move on" etc. Restoration of justice in theis country seems a long shot indeed. But from the earliest reports until now, the mainstream attitude has been not just that the allegations are not proven, but that only a lunatic fringe conspiracy theorist would even bring up the question. What a strange tone for public debate about extremely important issues! And in this case, not only does it prove to be not a lunatic conspiracy theory, but the fact of the matter. And yet few people in the public forum would dare to allege such a thing for years for fear of being castigated ruthlessly. So are we destined to always be years behind the truth of the crimes commited by the powerful because they have effectively ruled the possibility out of the debate? The general attitude of the corporate-controlled dialogue seems to be that nothing that would indicate a diversion from the polite, respectable conduct of public affairs could ever happen in the U.S. What a very strange point of view!
December 23, 2007Giuliani's Fantasy Fades -- Giuliani's claims that his administration was transparent are, like the rest of his campaign, a fantasy that has nothing to do with the facts of history. Giuliani spirited off the public records of his administration when he left, records that have always been considered public property, until Giuliani. As long as no one can look at the record, he can allege virtually anything he wants, or so he seems to think. The public record is catching up to him, however, now that the reality of the election is starting to dawn on the majority of the voting population that has been only mildly paying attention so far. See Huffington Post
December 26, 2007Hoover's Enemies List -- According to the New York Times, newly declassified documents show that "Former FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover had a plan in 1950 to suspend the right to habeas corpus and imprison some 12,000 Americans he suspected of disloyalty." Hoover wanted Truman to sign off on the plan right after the start of the Korean War.
Lawyers for Restoration of Justice -- More than 1,000 lawyers – including former Governor Mario Cuomo and former Reagan administration official Bruce Fein – signed onto a statement demanding wide-ranging investigative hearings into unconstitutional and potentially criminal activity by the Bush administration, according to Kathrina Vanden Heuvel of The Nation.
December 25, 2007So This is Christmas -- John Cory on Bush's gifts to America. "Sparkle-laden paper wrapped around a box of Fear. The plastic paranoia sealed package contains all the colors of Fear from brown to yellow to pink and purple. A small booklet of instructions is included on how to apply Fear to every situation and person not 'one of us,' and how to brush on racism, homophobia and bigotry with the mascara of mendacity. A flag-covered box of brightly painted brittle toy soldiers and game board, plus interchangeable body parts for when they get broken from too much rough play. Each toy soldier is hand-painted, unnumbered and anatomically neutered to withstand everything but real war. Families not included. There is the whirring and buzzing latest techno must-have, self-injectable Micro-Thought Chip. A gift from your government to monitor your thoughts and ideas and provide auto electro-pulse correction should you waver from acceptable mind processes. A gift certificate is included for all your left-thinking friends. Let them embrace the light. A small gossamer-covered box with one of those glass globes you shake to create a snow flurry - only this one encases "Democracy" and when you shake it, a crystal storm of red, white and blue flakes spins madly about until 'Democracy' disappears. And the last gift is a huge box with a thousand ribbons and bows and soft crinkle tissue paper taped and mangled together as though made by a child, but when you get it all unwrapped - it's empty." Truthout.org
Oscar Peterson, the great jazz piano virtuoso, R.I.P. mercurynews.com
December 27, 2007The hideous murder of Pakistan's popular former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto made one want to turn to some authoritative voice for some kind of guidance as to how perilous things may have become as the nuclear nation sinks deeper into chaos and disorder. But with the prevailing format of corporate news in America, all one can really do is turn to the blowdried floozies the corporate media prop up on their broadcasts, and one just has no sense at all that they know anything about what is happening. There is no Walter Cronkite or Edward R. Murrow, whose presence would give some sense of solidity, of reassurance that someone may know something about what is happening. The news in the U.S. is so debased at this point one might as well switch to the cartoons if one wishes to be informed on pressing affairs of world politics.
And because of the ongoing writers strike, Jon Stewart's The Daily Show was playing a show today from September 20. It was a good show, an excellent show, though without any timeliness. Bill Clinton was on, and was typically quite remarkable. He went into a little description about how the system in Washington, with the strain on congress people to constantly raise cash, has put a strain on the office holders themselves and on the legislative system. He remarked on how different things are in Washington now than when he first worked on the Hill in the early '70s. Then congresspeople and senators stayed in Washington about 7 months of the year, took off three months in summer and about two more months througout the rest of the year, during which time they stayed home, spoke to their constituents, got to know them and their concerns. They weren't flying back and forth all the time as they are now, and they weren't totall stressed out and constantly preoccupied with raising thousands of dollars then as now. If there was a way to free them from that money-raising grind, and give candidates a way to run for office without having to raise millions to get media coverage, it would greatly free up the system, enable them to get back to their real jobs, make them less vulnerable to unwarranted influence based on their need for big money.
It was an excellent point, and once again this comes back to our crummy media situation. The mass media operate on the public airwaves, or the publicly sanctioned cable networks. These are public property, valuable public resources that are now assigned to a few rich corporations, many of them not even American companies, like Ruppert Murdoch's News Corporation. They are no longer mandated to provide news as a public service, so political advertising becomes one of their chief ways of getting revenue. And they are able to hold the political system hostage. No candidate will be heard except through them, and they charge millions for allowing that privilege. It's a service they should be required to provide in exchange for their licenses to use the public airwaves. The system also effectively bars anyone from running for office who does not have millions of dollars to give to the media companies.
This points to the kind of media reform that is step one toward reforming the American political system and returning some element of democracy to its functioning. Americans need to reclaim their media from the major media corporations, de-consolidate it and give it back to a broad spectrum of the public. Media reform is step one toward the re-establishment of a democratic system in the U.S.
Instead of working to fix the problem, to protect the public from corporate domination of the public airwaves, however, the FCC is still going farther in the direction of giving the public's media resources to a few media baron's. See Amy Goodman on "The FCC’s Christmas Gift to Big Media" at truthdig.com. For the Bill Moyers report on the recent FCC decision, see pbs.org. To donate to the cause for media reform, see freepress.net/donate
December 28, 2007Bush Torture Videos -- According to Sarah Baxter, reporting for the London Times, it appears that Bush himself viewed some of the CIA torture videos that were later destroyed. Larry Johnson, a former CIA officer, says "he believes it is 'highly likely' that Bush saw one of the videos, as he was interested in Zubaydah’s case and received frequent updates on his interrogation from George Tenet, the CIA director at the time." (See Harpers). Here we have a scenario in which Bush, who is known to have entertained himself as a child by blowing up frogs with firecrackers, has taken such a personal interest in torture that he has actually watched videos of it in some instances. Of course Hitler took pleasure in watching films of torture and execution, especially in certain instances when he took a particular interest, particularly one of revenge. (See The Secret Hitler File, Encyclopedia of Leadership, Smirking Chimp.)
Bush Pronounces Mandela Dead -- YouTube.
December 29, 2007Just Trust Us -- Pakistan's government changed its account of how former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto died. According to a report from McClatchy, "Initially, the government had said that flying shrapnel killed Bhutto, 54, after a shooting and suicide bombing as she left a political rally in the city of Rawalpindi. The new version of events fueled ever-present conspiracy theories in Pakistan, a nuclear-armed nation that's on the front lines of President Bush's war on terrorism and risks sliding further into political chaos." If it had happened in the U.S., it would have been attributed to a lone nut, a deranged killer who did it to get famous or something equally absurd. It would be derived of any historical or political significance and anyone who suggested otherwise would also be considered a nut by the establishment. It's a little easier to see through the deceptions of governments in other countries. Bhutto was buried without an autopsy and "the shifting government explanations and Bhutto's burial without autopsy aroused suspicion."
December 30, 2007Megacrimes, Megacriminals -- David Swanson: "The past year has seen the public exposure of enough evidence of old, ongoing, and new crimes, abuses of power, and impeachable offenses by George Bush and Dick Cheney that in any remotely representative democracy, these two thugs would be out of office and behind bars. The chief reason this does not shock us is that the same could be said, and was said, of each of the previous six years." afterdowningstreet.org
Bhutto Could Have Been Protected -- John Nichols: "Bush and his aides may have recognized that Bhutto was an essential ally for the United States, particularly as an enthusiastic supporter of global efforts to confront Islamic militancy. But they never sent a clear signal to Musharraf or those around him regarding the need to investigate the October assassination attempt, to confront threats to Bhutto and other opposition leaders or to provide basic security. Just as the dictator was allowed to neglect the task of tracking down Osama bin Laden and al-Qaida operatives within his country, just as he was given a pass when Pakistani officials shared nuclear secrets and technologies with rogue states, just as he was allowed to thwart democratic initiatives in his country and the region, Musharraf never faced a serious demand from the Bush administration to protect Bhutto. And in the absence of that demand from the government that props him up as what George Bush once referred to as "our guy," Musharraf – who has survived so many assassination attempts himself – failed to take the steps necessary to save Bhutto or to foster democratic processes. The Bush administration failed Benazir Bhutto and now she is dead." The Nation Just Treading Water -- Bob Herbert in the NY Times, "Record bonuses on Wall Street at a time when ordinary working Americans are filled with anxiety about their economic future are signs that the trickle-down phenomenon that was supposed to have benefited everyone never happened. The rich, boosted by the not-so-invisible hand of the corporate ideologues in government, have done astonishingly well in recent decades, while the rest of the population has tended to tread water economically, or drown." Lessons from Bhutto -- Brent Budowsky on "What Gore, Clinton and Democrats Can Learn from Benazir Bhutto". Budowsky says, "Benazir Bhutto was no angel, but she was a believer in democracy who gave her life for her country, retuning to Pakistan knowing she would probably give her life for her country. By contrast, Democrats in Washington have a life crisis, consult an army of pollsters, and have trouble taking clear leadership stands on war and peace because members of a Congress with record unpopularity might lose another point or two in the polls..." And Al Gore: why isn't he running for president? "Never have the man and the moment come together so perfectly as Al Gore for President in 2008. Never has any potential candidate been so clearly the heir to Roosevelt and Kennedy, never has any potential candidate so clearly embodied change when change is needed, and experience when experience is needed, as Al Gore for President in 2008. Having supported Gore through campaigns and governance over a generation, words cannot express my disappointment, my sadness and to some degree my outrage that Al Gore had better things to do than be leader of the free world…" See Huffington Post. Bragging About Vote Suppression -- Kris Kobach, chairman of the Kansas GOP, sent out a letter describing the party's accomplishments, including its success at voter caging, an illegal technique of election fraud: "To date, the Kansas GOP has identified and caged more voters in the last 11 months than the previous two years!" Blue Tide Rising. Resistance from Below -- Rebecca Solnit writes in The Guardian, that "The growth of local power is a bright spot in seven bleak years of Bush." According to Solnit, "The centre cannot hold, and that's the good news in the United States these days. Quietly, doggedly, cities, regions, counties and states have refused to march to the Bush administration's drum when it comes to climate change, the environment and the war. Some of the recent changes are so sweeping that they will probably drag the nation along with them - notably efforts by Vermont, Massachusetts and California to set higher vehicle emissions standards and generally treat climate change as an environmental problem that can be addressed by regulation. The Bush administration has notoriously dragged its feet on doing anything about climate change, and it will now be dragged along by the states, themselves prodded forward by citizens."
New Year's EveGetting Closer -- Jason Leopold at Truthout writes that, "The Justice Department's Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) is attempting to build a case of misconduct against Alberto Gonzales by showing that the former attorney general may have played a hands-on role in ousting former New Mexico US Attorney David Iglesias based on pressure he received from former White House political adviser Karl Rove, according to several individuals familiar with the agency's probe."
December 31, 2007
Edwards' Anticorporatist Platform -- Dean Baker at Truthout writes that of the three top Democratic candidates, John Edwards has distinguished himself "by indicating a clear willingness to challenge an agenda set on Wall Street." Enough is Enough -- The New York Times, which helped to kickstart the war in Iraq by trumpeting the Neocons' fraudulent claims as if they were fact, and which held onto the story about the White House's politically motivated firings at the Justice Department for a year during which time an election went by, may finally feel that things have gone far enough. The paper's December 31 editorial says, "There are too many moments these days when we cannot recognize our country. Sunday was one of them, as we read the account in The Times of how men in some of the most trusted posts in the nation plotted to cover up the torture of prisoners by Central Intelligence Agency interrogators by destroying videotapes of their sickening behavior. It was impossible to see the founding principles of the greatest democracy in the contempt these men and their bosses showed for the Constitution, the rule of law and human decency. It was not the first time in recent years we’ve felt this horror, this sorrowful sense of estrangement, not nearly. This sort of lawless behavior has become standard practice since Sept. 11, 2001." Strong words. Read on. The Worst Yet -- Despite the corporate media's conventional wisdom that "the surge is working", 2007 was the deadliest yet for American troops. Associated Press Overthrow of the Old Order? Truthout's Scott Galindez asks, "Is This Obama's Moment?". Galindez says, "Mark Bradley, a Des Moines resident, said that he has never caucused before, but will this time: 'I travel oversees and have watched our image in the world decline. Barack Obama can turn that around; his message rekindles my belief in America.'"
-- David Cogswell