January 11, 2007Life on the Other Side -- The fact that a lot of crazy people believe conspiracy theories does not mean the theories themselves are crazy, or even that they are not true. People with disabilities can have unusually developed capacities in areas apart from their disabilities. "Retarded" people, for example, may be phenomenally talented musicians. I recently saw a TV documentary of a blind man, perhaps 30, who is "mentally disabled" in that he cannot do things like dress himself, but who can play every song he ever heard. And he wasn't just a recording device. The woman who was working with him asked him if he knew Beethoven's "Fur Elise." He said yes, and played it. Then she asked him to play it like Mozart would have written it, and the guy launched into an exquisite spontaneous composition in the form of variations on "Fur Elise".
The variations of human intelligence are virtually infinite and the fact that someone is outside of the mainstream of human social life may also confer some advantages ... in perspective, in point of view. The point is, those of us who are in the mainstream often do not see clearly because of our indoctrination.
I hope that some day Americans wake up, become fully cognizant of the extent to which we are indoctrinated. As I reach further back in history via the work of Alex Carey, who studied the evolution of corporate propaganda, I find it goes back much further than most would suspect, and is almost more pervasive than we can imagine, since it defines the world we live in. As a fish is said to have no concept of water because it is the all-pervasive medium of its entire existence, so we have to struggle to understand how our thinking has been shaped.
The devices of persuasion and manipulation are extremely sophisticated, and corporate monopolization of the media is so complete at this point that corporations effectively control culture. At least they largely control what messages are circulated and which are not. And in controlling the messages of the society, or being able to filter the social dialogue to a large degree, can have a tremendous influence on public opinion and can essentially define consciousness itself.
Today I was going through some Google news alerts and by a cross-referencing coincidence, I received a link to an article about a French movie that puts forth the thesis that the moonshot footage that people watched when man first officially walked on the moon was a fraud. And that no man has ever walked on the moon. Hmmm. I took a look.
It was in French and I couldn't pick up much, but I could hear some of the Americans being interviewed under the narrated French translation and I could see some interesting footage.
I e-mailed the link to a friend. She wrote back, "There's a whole lot of stuff on the Web about this." I took a look and quickly found a great deal of material. In a very short time I saw some compelling pieces. The more I saw, the more I questioned what the government presented back in 1969. Was it just showbiz?
(Above all, if we are going to have this discussion, first watch this movie: "The Dark Side of the Moon" at thelastoutpost.com. See also Moonbloopers and The Moon Shots Were Faked.)
I saw a clip of the original footage of the two astronauts on the surface of the moon. In the first place, it is a bit shocking how primitive and strange it looks. There is an unsettling strangeness about the footage that is hard to pinpoint the reason for. It's old, black and white -- really not even black and white as in film, but the dark blue-gray and light blue-gray of video. After 35 years of evolution in special effects film technology, the footage looks strikingly clunky.
There are many things one could comment on in the film, but the thing that struck me flat in the face was that these guys are holding up this flag on a brace that is there because of course there is no wind on the moon because there is no atmosphere. But in the film, the flag is blowing around.
The blowing flag is a flag of something wrong. But the part of the film that was most persuasive is a filmed conversation that took place in a very strange circumstance between Don Rumsfeld, Henry Kissinger, Alexander Haig and Laurence Eagleburger. These four former Nixon administration officials were having a reunion on the occasion of Rumsfeld's restoration to the White House, though he's barely ever left since the Nixon days.
During the discussion the guys are drinking rather exuberantly and Rumsfeld says, "I'm going to tell you a ... story." And he launches into the story of 1969 when the historic moon shot took place. Rumsfeld started the story, but Kissinger, Haig and Eagleburger all contributed parts of it, as well as affirmations and head nods. According to the story, Nixon needed the moon shot and soon for PR. NASA said getting a good TV transmission from the moon was not a sure thing. Nixon found the answer unacceptable. Someone came up with the idea that they shoot the footage "down here" and have it as a sure thing to mark the occasion. But how to accomplish such a thing in a short time? Rumsfeld said he told Nixon, "I have one person I want you to meet." He made the connection with Stanley Kubrick, and the story flows on from there. You must see this footage (or here) for yourself.
It quite strongly indicates that the footage was not made on the moon. That does not mean the astronauts didn't go to the moon. That's a separate issue. But take a look at the film. Call it science fiction, if you want, but I call it all science fiction.
I just don't know how you get around that problem when trying to prove the authenticity of these videos. The problem is with discussing any of this stuff in America is that the dominant culture, the corporate culture has created and enforced a social more that says the official government story of any event is the standard by which all information should be judged. It is truth, and other stories, insofar as they deviate from the official story, are false.
In light of the voluminous history of state lying, it's hard to understand how such a belief system stands up to the most rudimentary logic. But the explanation is the indoctrination. We just have no idea how deep it goes into our psyches, into our culture.
With what I know now, I'm afraid I have to remain unconvinced that the demonstration by Nixon's government that it had succeeded in putting men on the moon was authentic. But to the extent that one advances such a notion in America, one would immediately be classified as insane. Why? Because it is an outrageous story, from the standpoint of the official belief system.
Having seen the government lie sufficiently in our time, I think it would be good to re-position our starting points in analyzing events and judging issues. It should not always start from an official government story that is assumed to be fact and all facts that conflict with it are deemed untrue. We have seen enough corruption of power to know that being able to gain access to power does not necessarily make one incorruptible. On the contrary. Why should the burden of proof always be upon whomever questions the official story? Why does the official story stand without question?
Our society has become so pervaded with official myth, it's lost its grounding, its sense of direction. Having taken over the country, the corporate giants are in the process of trying to remake the country in the corporate image: dictatorial, hierarchical and exclusively preoccupied with the bottom line for the owners. With official reality having gone into the stratosphere of Fantasyland under Bush, many people are waking up to the fraud. A vast majority now oppose Bush and his big corporate agenda. Coming to an understanding of how deeply we have been indoctrinated is a big step toward learning to think in a human cultural context, as opposed to a corporate cultural context.
America is one of the most indoctrinated countries in the world. One could argue it's one of the most indoctrinated countries in history. It's not easy to shed so many years of sophisticated PR, advertising and brainwashing. Meanwhile the world outside goes on.
It can be very scary to watch your world view come apart. But there is life beyond The Official Story. There is another, more fundamental, healthy and natural point of view underlying the piles of lies that have been heaped upon all of us by the corporatocracy.
January 13, 2007
Sign for America -- Go to JohnEdwards.com to sign a petition to Congress to stop providing funding for Bush to escalate the war. New Low -- Bush's approval rating hit a new low in an Associated PressIpsos poll: 32%. Book Talk -- See Charles Mingus III for a discussion of a book I am working on called Confronting Corporatism: Existential Politics in the 21st Century Serious Science -- An archaeological team, digging in Washington DC, has apparently uncovered 10,000 year-old bones and fossil remains of what is believed to be the first politician. JibJab Roll Up Your Sleeves -- John Dean discusses the tools Congress now has for opposing Bush's war escalation.
January 19, 2007
Time Travel with Scooter -- Robert Parry at Consortiumnews.com writes that the corporate media are of course missing the point as always with the upcoming Libby trial, pulling out the old slogan, "It's not the crime it's the coverup," as if the crime of lying to the prosecutor was really no big thing. According to Parry, who broke some of the big stories when the Iran Contra affair became public, "The real significance of the Libby trial is that it could demonstrate how far George W. Bush went in 2003 to shut down legitimate criticism of his Iraq War policies as well as questions about his personal honesty. In that sense, the trial could be a kind of time machine for transporting America back to that earlier era of not so long ago when Bush and his team felt they controlled reality itself and were justified in tricking the American people into bloody adventures overseas. It was a time when President Bush swaggered across the political landscape, a modern-day king fawned over by courtiers in the government and the press – and protected by legions of followers who bullied citizens who dared to dissent." Read the Parry piece for a brusher up on what really happened.
January 20, 2007Tony's World -- The sense of being above the law, being entitled, does rub off, trickle down, and every once in a while you see some low-level person getting busted for something that's not much different from normal around the office. Now and then one of these rather common practices pokes out from the respectable veneer. So now we see that Tony Blair's aide was "arrested yesterday on suspicion of perverting the course of justice by police who are investigating the loans-for-peerages allegations," according to the London Times. The term "culture of corruption" refers to an actual phenomenon, and this is a reflection of it. After all, if you can lead an intelligent democratic nation to war on the most ridiculous series of justifications ever, sprung full blown from the idiot savant mind of Bible thumping George W. Bush, and still be in power nearly four years later, what could be considered an offense?
Actually, though low profile, the person in question is not so low level in this case. According to the Financial Times, Ruth Turner, the accused, is one of Blair's top three, his inner circle, known as "Mr Blairís gatekeeper ... as director of government relations," and "acts as a conduit between the party and ministers. Ms Turner, 36, has kept a deliberately low profile since she succeeded Anji Hunter and Baroness Morgan in May 2005. But she is one of a trio Ė with Jonathan Powell, Mr Blairís chief of staff, and David Hill, his head of media relations Ė who act as his closest advisers. The nature of her role, which involved liaising with Labour supporters and handling peerage nominations, puts her squarely in the focus of the police inquiries into allegations the government used honours to reward businessmen who gave Labour multi-million pound loans. She is believed to have handled forms nominating four people whose loans were not disclosed to a House of Lords vetting committee."
Blair earned one more "first" of many by being the first sitting prime minister to be questioned by police as part of a criminal investigation. "Downing Street appeared angry at the course of the police inquiry and puzzled at the reasons for the arrest," said the Financial Times report. And, "more than 90 people have been questioned since the investigation started in March last year, with four, including Lord Levy, Mr Blairís fundraiser, arrested. Nobody has been charged."
The Great Democratic Landslide of 2006 -- Brent Brudowsky says, "George Bush will go down in history as the new Herbert Hoover for the Republican Party, creating momentous changes in American politics that will lead to a realignment as powerful as the FDR coalition. Democrats have an extraordinary opportunity in 2007 and 2008 to lead the Nation to a post- Bush America and inaugurate a new era of historic patriotic reform in the tradition of FDR and JFK." Further down he says, "The poor, the underprivileged, the victims of Bushism are regaining a spirit of empowerment as they saw that their vote really mattered last November, and a Democratic Congress fights for them. The age of tax cuts for the wealthiest is over; the fight for minimum wage has begun, and will be won." Rise of the Christian Fascists -- The subject of a book by Christopher Hedges, see Buzzflash. The conquest of America by fascist forces is based on the vacuous soullessness of American suburban life, which was engineered by the oil and auto companies in the 1940s and '50s. According to Hedges, "Millions of Americans live trapped in soulless exurbs which lack any kind of community, leaving them feeling isolated and vulnerable. Without alternatives for their social despair, they flock to demagogues promising revenge and a mythical utopia. The engine that drives the radical Christian Right in the United States, the most dangerous mass movement in American history, is not religiosity, but despair. It is a movement built on the growing personal and economic despair of tens of millions of Americans, who watched helplessly as their communities were plunged into poverty by the flight of manufacturing jobs, their families and neighborhoods torn apart by neglect and indifference, and who eventually lost hope that America was a place where they had a future." For more on how General Motors, Firestone, Standard Oil and Chase Bank collaborated to destroy public transportation in many U.S. cities, see LoveEarth.net, wikipedia.org and Culture Change. Cheney's Phony Scares -- Former Vice President Walter Mondale said, "I think Cheney's been at the center of cooking up farcical estimates of national risks, weapons of mass destruction and the 9/11 connection to Iraq." AOL News All Political Pawns -- The much-despised former head of FEMA Michael Brown spilled more beans on the people who tried to make him their fall guy. During a lecture on politics and emergency management at Metropolitan College of New York, Brown said that while the horror of Katrina was playing out, the White House was playing around with ideas for how to use the tragedy for petty political purposes. According to a report on AP, "Party politics played a role in decisions over whether to take federal control of Louisiana and other areas affected by Hurricane Katrina, former FEMA director Michael Brown said Friday. Some in the White House suggested only Louisiana should be federalized because it was run by a Democrat, Gov. Kathleen Blanco, Brown told a group of graduate students at a lecture on politics and emergency management at Metropolitan College of New York." Blanco responded to the statement: "This is exactly what we were living but could not bring ourselves to believe. Karl Rove was playing politics while our people were dying. The federal effort was delayed, and now the public knows why. It's disgusting." Chomsky's Analysis -- Chomsky in 2002 in why Bush was going to attack Iraq:
January 23, 2007While the Killing Goes On -- So the day that Hapless George is set to do his big performance on Capitol Hill, it's the worst death toll in Iraq in two years, 25 more Americans dead, 70-some Iraqis in one bombing -- two years of Bush's interminable war, his long drawn-out nightmare, an endlessly clanging madness, Bush's obsession. The sole meaning of the Bush II presidency: Iraq. They set it up that way. It was always designed to be whole show, making everything else insignificant, just going whole hog on the war expenditures and everyone shut up or we'll call "national security!" But it wasn't supposed to be such an utter failure.
They hoped they would mop up the Iraqis -- the defenseless Iraqis! -- and Bush would be the cock of the walk, the master of the world. Their laws have even proclaimed in writing Bush's right to kill or capture anyone in the world, hold anyone as long as he wants without having to make no explanations to nobody, as long as the Presudent says that the accused is a terrrist they can hold on to 'em. These are bad people. Bad folks. They're not lahk us Uhmurrcans. Us good God-fearin' Christyuns.
Bush is the Iraq fiasco. That was virtually the only policy he ever put forth. Oh, yes, Afghanistan -- still not done either, also turning for the worse. In terms of domestic policy it was only about enabling corporate America to raid the coffers of the American people freely and impunitively. The rest of the time when they weren't raping and strafing the Middle East with bombs, they were undoing every regulation that ever prevented any major corporation from stealing, fouling the environment, poisoning people and everything else any corporation wanted to get away with. Every move was labeled with some brilliantly cynical Orwellian title, something that sounded like exactly the opposite of what it was. Gut the Clean Air Act and call your new nothing policy The Clear Skies act. Tax cuts for the richest corporations and financial institutions cutting so deep that they are stealing the taxes that will be paid by your grandchildren. It was all Iraq and corporate rape of America behind the curtain.
Oh yeah, besides the tax cuts there was the No Child Left Behind, which turned out to be more like leave the whole country behind. Domestic policy? Ain't none. This here's a War Presudent!
So now Georgie's going to go on TV and talk about what? Domestic policy. Let's see what he's got up his sleeve this time. People are dying by the thousands. Bush is buying a little time. He has no intention of ever stopping in Iraq. Call it anything, liberation, self-defense, counter-insurgency, it's going on. They are building a base like the Taj Mahal there. This is U.S. East. The new big bad kid on the block. Israel's big brother.
January 24, 2007
Dispatches from Earth
Bush State -- Fascinating watching Bush's speech Tuesday night. It is such a different world now. The chamber has a very different feeling. It's not the total rule of the baboons anymore. The history of the last few months is manifest in that room, the reconstituted power structure of the now-Democratic Congress. Bush was not the total out-and-out ruler of all as he has been when the whole government was controlled by the hard core right wing.
Strange to see the parade of people, the spectacle, the ritual. When people filed in it was a relatively informal moment of transition into a highly formal, ritualized event. In that short interim, it was fascinating to see the interaction in the flesh between the characters of the drama portrayed constantly on TV.
All these people together in that fairly small room, many of whom deeply loathe one another, and yet there is something tangible about that history, that room, that attempt at self-government. It's powerful, and even the concentration of so many extremely creepy people crowded together cannot totally corrupt and stain that idea.
There was Lynne Cheney, the evil, cold spouse of the Darth Vader of the American ruling class. If only she'd been a little less cold, perhaps ... but then -- naaah!
Robert Gates, clean cut, boyish smile, cutting a striking figure in his black suit. Killers though they are, they clean up well. Like tribal chieftains.
Condi Rice, in a black dress, walking in, eyes darting for a friendly face, lighting on one soon enough. A rare moment of seeing her in a situation that is not totally staged and formal, actually walking among people, talking, touching. Strange enigmatic figure, a striking, slender Black woman among the Good Ole Boys, a single woman. What is her game? There were shots of her during the speech when she seemed unaware that she was on camera, looking up at Bush with an acute concentration, eyes knotted together in the middle, irises pushed up under the eyelids, a look of great intensity. She looked like The Bride of Chucky.
During Bush's speech, as always, the Vice President and the Speaker of the House flanked him, so the whole time he's talking you have a nonstop shot of Cheney and Nancy Pelosi being audience members. The camera occasionally focuses on this or that political figure in the audience, but with these two their faces are on the camera whenever the camera shows Bush.
They are all made up, of course. What politician in any public arena where there may be cameras can afford to be not made up? And they obviously don't share make-up artists, so they aren't coordinated. Cheney is Man Tan brown, Pelosi is rosey looking. Wearing contacts she is blinking about every other second. Cheney over the President's other ear doesn't blink at all for minutes at a time. He stares dully forward into nothingness. At some moment something stirs him and he suddenly jerks, claps his hands, starts blinking, like a horned lizard waking out of a state of metabolic arrest.
Cheney starts passing through phases of expressions, like thin clouds passing over the moon. When Bush says something about the "terrrists", he puts on his consciously grim face, looking downward like someone at the scene of an accident, a hint of a smirk at the corners of his mouth. Occasionally something would strike him as funny and one side of his mouth would creep slyly upward, as his eyelids drooped languorously. It soon became apparent that he was sucking on a piece of candy. The Vice President, knowing he is going to be on camera constantly behind the President's head for an hour, is sucking on a piece of candy! As the speech drones on, his inhibitions relax, his efforts to hide the candy wane and his sucking becomes more creative, his mouth starts twitching around, assuming a variety of different shapes.
The standing ovation routine is totally out of control. At one time a standing ovation was a rare gesture of the most honor and respect one could confer on anyone. Now it's like the word "awesome". It doesn't mean anything anymore. If the legislators agree with anything the President advocates, they feel like they have to stand up to indicate their endorsement, to "take a stand" literally. It turns into a lot of popping up and down. Some very strange group behaviors become operative. There's a lot of uncertainty whether to join in with a particular ovation or not, a lot of looking around to see who's rising. Certain figures, of course, carry many others with them if they choose to stand. When critical mass is hit, no one is left sitting.
In Congress the standing ovation has become clapping plus one, a way of expressing approval one degree higher than clapping in a setting too formal for yelling. It leads to some fascinating moments. They have to make their decisions very rapidly, whether to join in or not. Some questions are easy to call, other issues are more divisive. They have to make their decisions very quickly, and whenever snap decisions must be made, rationality is too slow, so instinct takes over. That's why it's true that character is revealed under pressure. It creates a great laboratory for personality studies.
When he got to the part about sending more troops to Iraq the room got very quiet, as though a deathly pallor came over the hall. The camera panned onto the faces of some Republicans who looked positively terrified. Get that camera out of my face! Point that thing somewhere else! There are few souls left with fortitude to stand behind Bush on that disaster.
Bush went into his old rhetoric about the terrorists, the radical Muslims, our enemies etc. and blah blah blah and he put the whole nation coast to coast into a somnolescent state. A dull film passed over the eyes of the nation. He stated his great idea that this great struggle he has begun would go on for generations, will continue "after we're gone", setting the stage for his departure in the middle of a still ongoing disaster two years hence. Ugh. He's succeeded, it looks like, in creating his perpetual war. And now he's admitting that future generations will have to clean up the catastrophe he's created and continues to make. Baby George broke the country. Now someone has to clean up his mess.
He made history by uttering the term "global climate change" for the first time, at least in a sense of acknowledging the problem in a State of the Union address. So easy to make news when you've set such low expectations.
He filled up the last 15 minutes of his time introducing some extraordinary people with extraordinary stories in the audience. It was not clear what that had to do with his case about the state of the union. It appeared that he was calling them the good spirit of the country and identifying himself with them, as if to say that to oppose him would be to oppose these great people.
When he filed out after the speech was over you could get a glimpse of Bush working a room and you could see why they call him a great retail politician. He's got the gift of gladhanding. He's very good in that arena. He comes across as warm and sharp, witty, he recognizes people. This is at the core of what got him where he is. And it never comes across in his wooden, ponderous speeches.
Freshman Senator Jim Webb from Virginia gave a rebuttal speech and even though the setting of the new Congress no longer controlled by Atila the Hun and Friends was more civil than it has been in years, Webb's speech had the sense of a knockout punch. A guy with moral authority in spades as a Vietnam War vet, whose father was a World War II vet and -- almost unbelievably for a U.S. senator -- has a son serving in Iraq. He was not inclined to pussyfoot around. He took the President's pretty talk and said, sure, if he means what he's sayingn we're with him. If he wants to work on education and healthcare, we're ready. If not, we'll show him the way. But when it comes to Iraq, he's caused enough damage. It's time for grownups to step in.
On the Jim Lehrer News Hour, the pundits looked visibly stunned by Webb's speech. Columnist Mark Shields said it was, "A Star is Born," and New York Times conservative apologist wincing wimp David Brooks had to agree.
January 25, 2007You know I forgot to mention last night when I was talking about Bush's speech what he actually said. The reason is, of course, it doesn't matter what he said. It has virtually nothing to do with anything. His big proposal to provide health insurance to the millions of Americans who have no access to affordable medical care turns out to be just a way to give money to his buddies the health insurance companies. It's just another move to stand off any progress in providing affordable medical care that might cause the insurance companies to lose some opportunities to bilk the public.
If he had a Republican Congress like he used to have, he might have a chance of passing something like that. As it is, the public is way beyond accepting a sleight of hand that does nothing to solve an ever worsening health insurance problem. And the Democrats who are now in charge don't want to be kicked out for ignoring their constituents like the Republicans they replaced. So Bush's new health care proposal is stillborn. It's about as relevant as his Iraq policy. And everything else in his speech, including all his grand visions about saving Africa from AIDS and malaria, will end up meaning about as much as his grand announcement some time back that we were going to Mars.
Bush pulls out this stuff about all these great things he's going to do at these occasions. No one really cares. No one expects any of it to really mean anything. The corporate news will trumpet it for a while but the corporate news is just jabbering by monkeys in an unintelligible language.
Meanwhile, let's not forget that the Scooter Libby trial has begun. Today was the second day of deliberations. This is a very worthy drama to follow. To qualify, jury members had to answer negatively the question "Would any of you have any difficulty fairly judging the believability of former or present members of the Bush Administration?" (See The Nation) That's a tricky question. Anyone who's paying attention would know the members of the administration have no credibility at all. Knowing that would not necessarily make one unable to judge fairly. But at the same time, fair-minded people who are informed might choose to disqualify themselves while pro-Bush people, or uninformed people would have no problem with the question.
According to David Corn in The Nation, "Libby's defense is that he forgot the truth when he appeared before FBI agents and the grand jury." Excellent explanation. Why did you lie to FBI agents and a grand jury? Oh I just forgot the truth. Is that a defense? It sounds like Robert Chambers' "Rough Sex" defense for murdering his date.
The trouble with this defense is that it puts Libby in the position of having to claim to have forgotten that he did a lot of inquiring and investigating of Joseph wilson during the period before the leaks sprung. It's not like getting a date wrong. He's practically claiming to be narcoleptic.
According to an ABC report, Libby's lawyers are claiming he was set up to take the fall for Karl Rove. While Libby has been charged with lying about the whole sleazy deal, no one has been charged with the leak of the CIA agent's identity, which is the original crime that was being investigated and for which no one has yet been held accountable. That the leak happened is not disputed. Whoever is responsible is guilty of a felony. According to the ABC story, "Rove was one of two sources for Novak's story. The other was then-Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage." So what does it take to get busted for this crime?
It appears quite possible that the evidence to convict Rove may come out of this trial.
January 26, 2007
Tables Turning -- Salon is talking about a "bipartisan war on Bush". War against war. The Great Cause of Corporate Greed -- The Republicans, who just gave up their iron rule of Congress, who threatened to outlaw filibustering when they ran the show, have now taken to pulling out the extreme weapon themselves. And for what great cause do they resort to this drastic, rarely used extraparliamentary tactic? To prevent the raising of the minimum wage. How could it be more clear that the Republicans work directly for the largest corporations and no one else? See Northwest Progressive Institute Official Blog. See also Bill Scher at The Huffington Post:"Yesterday, 43 Senate conservatives did the bidding of the business lobby and filibustered the House minimum wage bill. Why? Because they want to attach irresponsible business tax breaks to the bill. They want to further the phony notion that even the tiniest raise in the minimum wage is a job killer that must be offset by special interest handouts -- never mind the hundreds of billions of tax breaks business owners have already received while inflation has degraded the value of the minimum wage." The System Failed -- Carl Bernstein, who along with Bob Woodward is credited with breaking the Watergate case, spoke recently and said that the Bush Administraton has done "Far Greater Damage" Than Nixon. Discussing the idea that the system "worked" to bring Nixon down for his crimes, Bernstein said: "In the case George W. Bush, the American system has obviously failed -- tragically -- about which we can talk more in a minute. But imagine the difference in our worldview today, had the institutions -- particularly of government -- done their job to ensure that a mendacious and dangerous president (as has since been proven many times over, beyond mere assertion) be restrained in a war that has killed thousands of American soldiers, brought turmoil to the lives of millions, and constrained the goodwill towards the United States in much of the world." Editor & Publisher
January 27, 2007
The Nerve! According to the official U.S. government information medium, Voice of America, "Rice Asks NATO Allies to Reach Deeper for Aid to Afghanistan". Imagine the cheek, the arrogance, to approach the rest of the world for money to fight Bush's war in Afghanistan, which he proclaimed as a great victory years and years ago. We know what Bush means by "aid". Just look at how wonderfully the countries who get the most of it do, like Colombia, Iraq. "Aid" to these guys means aid in destroying the country, money for military, para-military, weapons, exfoliants, petrochemical warfare. Are there any countries in the world that believe or take seriously any official statements from the U.S. anymore? These absurd reports are meant to keep the Americans stupid, because that's all they really need to hold on to power. I broke it, now you fix it! That's Baby Bush in his playpen, sitting crying, throwing a tantrum among his broken toys. Do Something, Anything! Log onto Democrats.com to join the Virtual March on Washington. Hot Seat for Rove -- According to Michael Isikoff at Newsweek, Fitzgerald, the prosecutor in the Libby perjury trial, has subpoenaed Bush's brain Rove and presidential counsel Dan Bartlett. This plot is thickening quite nicely. The administration was able to skate through the '06 election before the Libby trial got going. And Rove was able to avoid indictment. How long will he be able to stay out of this? He's not likely to escape that subpoena. The real question is whether he'll be able to escape being indicted for the felony of revealing the identity of an undercover CIA agent. Fitzgerald and Rove are on opposite poles in the sense that Rove works on a political timetable. He will sacrifice anyone's life, or hundreds or thousands of lives, based on his objectives for gaining and manipulating political power. Everything to him, including war, is based on how it will affect the next election. Fitzgerald, on the other hand, seems to have virtually consciousness. He's purely a legal animal. He may yet be the destruction of Karl Rove, though years too late to save thousands of lives that could have been saved if the lying warmonger had been stymied years ago. It will be better if it drags on a bit, because Bush will pardon Rove if he can while he's still president. The Propaganda Push for war against Iran -- Ohio Congressman Dennis Kucinich accused Bush of mounting a PR campaign to prepare Americans for a war with Iran. (Truthout) "The White House is up to its old tricks again," said Kucinich. "Providing information by anonymous sources and portraying Iran as an aggressor in Iraq," Kucinich said. A Perfect Storm for Peace -- Truthout.org
January 28, 2007Sunday Morning News Shows -- On the George Stephanopoulos show this morning George Will was asked about Bush's so-called healthcare proposal in his State of Delusion speech, and Will started rolling out his grand vision of how it would work. It was all so simple, he rattled off several standard formulas that supported the vision. The conservative theory, he said, is that you get people off the public welfare systems by empowering them to fend for themselves, which is what this proposal does, he alleged. If you reduce taxes by an amount that will enable people without healthcare to buy it, and you are also taking it off the businesses to have to provide it and giving it back to the individuals to do it themselves and, in a sense, you are creating the conservative vision of a utopia. Everything works, it all fits together, perfect.
To find the flaw in the beautifully composed and symmetrical argument you have to go all the way to the beginning premise, which he glossed over very quickly, putting it out of sight of inquiry, possibly because he himself pays no attention to such details. The premise is: If you give tax breaks that will pay for the health insurance, then ... It's the proverbial Big If.
It takes someone like Stephen Colbert to take it out of the absurd ivory tower of official political debate and show the reality beneath it. "Most of the people who are too poor to afford health insurance are also too poor to pay taxes," said Colbert. "So if you give them a deduction for the taxes they don't owe, they can use the money they're not getting back from what they haven't given to buy the healthcare they can't afford."
This is a perfect instance of the clash between the Platonic ideal world of abstract theory, and the basic reality on the ground. It could be one way of characterizing the difference between the conservatives and the majority of Americans outside of the thinktanks. These conservative intellectuals who appear on TV and spout all these grand notions do all their work in artificial, insulated environments and their theories all tie together so beautifully and sound so good, but have virtually nothing to do with reality. They see themselves as the grand architects of the world, those who make the rules by which everyone must play.
These soft boys talk all this tough policy and they look like they've never experienced anything as physically challenging as a pull-up. It's the clash of the Neocon vision with what actually happened in Iraq. The grand vision completely fell apart when it collided with reality in Iraq.
Magical Thinking -- Then with some of these guys you move beyond a problem of too much idealist abstraction into just pure making up reality. Stephanopoulos also interviewed Duncan Hunter, a Republican U.S. Congressman who's thrown his hat in the vast ring for the presidential race. He's running on anti-"free trade", which is out of the mainstream Republican Free Market religion; and anti-immigration, which is mainstream Republican xenophobic hysteria, and also appeals to more pragmatic interests; and he's a big supporter of Bush's war in Iraq, even though he has a son who has served there.
Stephanopoulos didn't blink when Hunter claimed that Vietnam was a success because the government "we" propped up over there "is now an ally of the United States." Diametrically opposite from the truth. The government we propped up, a dictator hired by the U.S. to brutally suppress his own people, fell apart in spite of our efforts. It just fell to ashes as U.S. forces fled the country because there was no popular support for his oppressive, corrupt regime. The government that now "is an ally", a moderate participant in the global marketplace, is the government the U.S. opposed for many years, going back into the 1950s. It was the indigenous government of the Vietnamese people, led by Ho Chi Min, who modeled his constitution on that of the U.S. and opposed foreign occupation. That is the government that prevailed, that is now a successful part of the world community, not the tin-pot regime of "South Vietnam".
Bush tried to sketch out a similar legend when he visited Vietnam for the first time recently. It looks like a coordinated effort to remake that history in the public mind.
This is the kind of Orwellian creeping revisionist history we have to really be on our toes about because people like Smilin' George Stephanopoulos are not going to think or talk about it. He's loving that nice big fat ABC paycheck and he wouldn't want his bosses to think he has a "leftward slant" from his former association with the Clintons. He's effectively neutralized in the face of the right wing doublespeak onslaught.
And in other news...
Misled ... The Chicago Tribune quotes Hillary Clinton as now justifying her vote to support the Iraq invasion in the first place by saying, "I was misled."
This leaves a very sour taste. While not totally without any validity, it falls far short of anything that would inspire confidence in her judgment or leadership potential. Yes, it's true, Bush put all the forces under his command to work to create this bogus rationale for attacking Iraq. It was a very deliberate attempt to mislead, no doubt about that. But that does not justifying her allowing herself to be misled, abdicating from her responsibility as a senator to be a moderating force on the power of the executive. The neocon case was alleged, certainly not established or proven. What justifies the blind faith in the current occupiers of seats of power? Certainly nothing in their histories. I think the case was strong enough to give congresspeople an excuse to go along, but not enough to stand up to real scrutiny. Hillary Clinton is a highly intelligent person. She was certainly not badly informed enough to be able to believe that the Bush administration was credible and should be taken on the strength of its word without independent verification. But characteristically, she assessed the political advantages and disadvantages of her situation and took the choice that seemed to confer the greatest advantage, at that point.
It doesn't look so good in retrospect. But at that time the Democrats were all terrified at being called unpatriotic, or weak, and she was particularly vulnerable to the latter charge as a woman seeking to prove her viability as a president. She could not see ahead to today. She certainly knew enough to know the Bush administration could not be trusted, but judged it safer to go along, knowing she could later say, "I took him at his word." That's true, and it's valid, legalistically. Kerry did the same thing in the 2004 race. But it's not really good enough to establish real leadership in a time when it is so sorely needed. It's going to take more than those kinds of passive political maneuverings to pull America out of the hellhole created by the Neocons. This is a time when we need people who act out of conviction to do what is right for America take on the responsibilities of leadership. It's not a time for masters of cagey political maneuvering who have adequate excuses for their failure to take positions of courageous leadership when it was so badly needed. We're past the time for excuses.
January 29, 2007The Call of History -- Nebraska Republican Senator Vietnam Vet Chuck Hagel is in a position from which he could make history in a fairy big way. As a fiercely anti-war voice with veteran's status to give him authority to speak on the subject, and a Republican, he is in a position to turn the Republican apple cart upside down with McCain and Giuliani the little apples you see rolling off into the nearest gutter. As volatile as this Iraq disaster is, it could make the pro-war candidacies like McCain's irrelevant. I would guess that he has strong convictions on the matter, but he also smells political opportunity and is positioning himself to seize it if it should come within his grasp. It would be a welcome relief from McCain, whose pro-war agenda would just sap an already disheartened and exhausted America.
The debate needs to be moved far away from the narrow limits of the corporate media, which is happy to paint people like McCain as opposition voices to the administration just for a little drama. The positions of all these status quo politicians do not represent the population but only the corporate rulers. The public is raising its voice and its will, and will no longer be satisfied with being shunted aside and ignored between elections. The safe players who abdicated their responsibility to protect the people against the rogue administration are not the leaders of the people and don't deserve to be anointed as the leaders by the corporate masters. The people have to come between them.
See this Chuck Hagel interview in Gentleman's Quarterly
Still in Freefall -- A poll taken by the BBC, showed the America's standing in world opinion continues to plummet. "47% of the 21,953 people questioned now see US influence in the world as largely negative, and view Americans negatively as well."
Why We're Here -- William Rivers Pitt does a good job of rehashing the history that makes Bush's State of the Union speech not matter to anyone, going back to an earlier State of the Union in which Bush lied about allegedly existing weapons as an excuse for invading Iraq. When Joseph Wilson made public his findings from a trip that exposed Bush's lie, the White House went into its search-and-destroy mode. The resulting campaign to destroy Wilson led to the now ongoing Libby perjury trial. Pitt ties it together at Truthout
January Last, 2007Surreal World -- My God! Where do you begin today to talk about "what is going on." You're licked before you're start. It's utter madness. So far over the top it's out of anyone's control. So many theaters of activity: the Libby trial; Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearings; Iraq itself; Afghanistan. And then there's the rest of the world, which from a Neocon perspective is raging out of control. But there is a very reassuring feeling in the fact that no one is in control. If no one can control nature or even politics, it means that the Bush-Cheney squad too is not in control. Six years of this mad rule! Six long years!
Flashback quickly to Bush-Cheney at the height of their power. They seemed invincible! And they lorded it over the world with overflowing pride and arrogance. People were afraid to say even a word against them for fear of being called a traitor. But even the Third Reich could not hold power more than 12 years. The brutal icy steel-fisted Nazis also seemed all-powerful. But nature will not allow too much concentration of power for too long. When you compare the Bushies now to a few years ago, it certainly appears that their star is setting. Their long, dark reign is winding to a close. Thank God for it!
William Rivers Pitt described Bush's manner towards Nancy Pelosi on the night of his State address as "obsequious". Bush has been Der Fuhrer for the last few years, not one to show humility. But it's interesting to see that when it serves him, he can kiss ass like the next guy. Someone said to me that the Libby trial, which is now laying bare only one little corner of the vast Bush-Cheney crime empire, is only one of many possible trials and investigations that are going to lead to the White House. She said that she believes some justice is inevitiably coming their way. Hearing her say it, I could just about believe it. There is only so much crime you can commit before something catches up to you.
There is something reassuring about nature itself, the way it seems to have a sort of democratic element. It will not allow these guys to have almighty power, much as they envision it for themselves and have plenty of stooges supporting them. Nature may blow half of civilization out of existence before these oil barons realize that their profits won't save them from the climate change cataclysm and finally loosen the chains with which they hold back progress and innovation toward meeting the challenges. But human beings may yet have a place in the natural scheme. A few of us may survive if we kick out these troglodytes.
Taking this premise -- that the Bush-Cheney iron grip on power is slipping -- then nature will take its course, they will no longer be able to exercise their control, maintain their barriers, and their many crimes will begin to catch up with them. They've been remarkably good at avoiding accountability so far. Since they stole power in 2000, they've been busily destroying criminal records from the Reagan-Bush period, reclassifying information, destroying information, nullifying the Freedom of Information Act, creating barriers of secrecy over their activities while they knock down the rights of privacy and individual freedom.
But as their nearly absolute power on the government fades, their ability to restrain and control the normal processes of government and justice weakens. Justice and accountability assert themselves from the raw energy of the population expressed through the legal and cultural foundation of the society. Without the artificial boundaries they maintained, accountability is likely to find its way to them in oh so many ways. Having committed so many crimes and, so many mass crimes that created huge chain reactions, they are finally beginning to see some bounceback, some consequences of some of the damage they have created.
Now, however, they are in some ways more dangerous than ever. Like wounded hyenas they are now acting out of pure desperate rage. They want blood so badly they want to attack Iran even if all they have left is a flatbed pickup and 10 Halliburton contractors left on their side. So we are not out of the woods yet, not by a long shot. Sanity waits on the outskirts, but has not yet entered the realm.
Judith Miller Redux -- Judith Miller, the author of the New York Times' false story on Iraq's weapons of mass destructive, to whom we can give credit for making the New York Times one of the White House's most important allies in pushing its false justification for military action against Iraq, testified in the Libby perjury trial and added her testimony to Ari Fleischers and a mountain of testimony that Libby told them the identity of the CIA agent before Libby claimed in his testimony to have known. (See Washington Post)
Speaking of the New York Times, an employee told me that the paper's reporters are forbidden to participate in demonstrations. They have to sign a promise that they will not. I wonder if that would even hold up in court if someone challenged it in court. The idea that you would have to give up your first amendment right to take a public stand on a political issue is, if not unconstitutional, highly distasteful.
And you can't have a blog if you're a writer for the Times. What is that? Why should not a writer be able to have his own blog? Why can't she express opinions that differ from the official opinions of the paper? The rationale is allegedly that a reporter would not be able to maintain the appearance of "objectivity" if they expressed themselves on an issue, such as the Iraq war. What a laugh. What century are we in?
Pick up any New York Times and start counting the ads, then add up the thousands of dollars that each one represents, and that is the business of the Times. That is the cash flow that cannot under any circumstances be interrupted because the Times is not primarily about reporting the truth, exercising vigilance over abuses of government power, "all the news that's fit to print." If it ever was that, it's not now. In the 21st century the Times is just another business with a bottom line and stiff requirements for how much it has to grow its profits every year or there will be blood on the moon. Too much controversy, too much raising of issues that irritate the White House might cause some advertisers to drop out in protest. The Times has to keep those ad schedules running at full speed. There is no room for faltering. If the paper sits on a scoop about the Bush administration illegally spying on American citizens for a year before publishing it, it doesn't pose an immediate cash flow problem. If Judith Miller reports a bunch of lies about weapons of mass destruction and it helps to give credibility to a foul lie used to justify a war, it's not going to cause any important corporate sponsors to drop their ad schedules. It may help tip the balance to a war that leaves thousands dead. But that's not the Times' business.