July 26, 2004

Bush's Imperial Vision

[Note: Since this was first posted, a friend sent a link to the article at
Common Dreams.]

One of the best articles I've read lately is called "Healing the Law" by Jonathan Schell in the August 2/9 issue of the Nation. It's not posted online, so I can't link to it, but here are a few notes about it.

Schell says Bush has had two major encounters with the Supreme Court. The first was Bush vs. Gore, which installed Bush as president against all legal logic. It sent a shockwave through the legal community. Nearly 700 law professors from 170 law schools signed a statement saying that the justices used the court for partisan purposes instead of acting as judges in a court of law. Professor Robert Post of UC Berkeley said he felt "shame" before his students and saw "a searing and disorienting vision of a world without law."

Schell says the Bush administration quickly put into place an imperial vision that reflects "contempt, visceral as well as philosophical ... for law." It manifested on many levels foreign an domestic, with the US pulling out of treaty after treaty and putting forth a manifesto for the military control of the world by the US. "The conflict between this vision -- correctly called imperial by many of its supporters as well as its detractors -- and international law is not incidental by systemic," says Schell. "The ideas of empire and of international law are both ordering principles: Both are means for organizing the world. They are in competition for the same turf. The world can no more be both an imperial world and a world of law than one car can be driven by two people to two places at the same time. Or, to be exact, to the extent that the imperial vision advances, the legal project must be thrown back and vice versa. The essence of empire is the establishment of a consistent standard which is to be obeyed by ruled and ruler alike. The essence of empire is the imposition of a double standard -- with one standard for the imperial ruler, another for the ruled."

The Bush administration has claimed the right to declare any American citizen an enemy combatant and deny the essential rights guaranteed by the Constitution, to throw them in jail and leave them there without charging them. Civil disobedience has been equated with terrorism, which means Bush asserts the right to throw anyone in jail who opposes him. The administration prepared a "legal" basis for torture and for ignoring the Geneva Conventions.

Fortunately, Schell says, the second major confrontation between Bush and the Supreme Court went differently. The court did not grant Bush supreme power to do whatever he wishes regarding prisoners in Guantanamo. The legal community can breathe a small sigh of relief. But it's too soon to say which side will win the runoff.

  • October Mass Casualties? Tom Flocco reports on "evidence that multiple old (sold or stolen) Boeing 727s in North West Africa could be used to attack Eastern cities. (BBC--June 19, 2003)"
  • Bush and Big Brother -- The National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) is sponsoring a nationwide reading and discussion of George Orwell's 1984 this October. Educators, students and citizens are invited to read and discuss the book what it might teach us about life in the contemporary US. NCTE.org
  • Records Prove Bush was AWOL -- According to democrats.com, Bush's missing military records prove he was AWOL in 1972. "Bush dodged Vietnam by using powerful family friends to get into the Texas Air National Guard 'Champagne Unit.' Bush was required to train with his unit one weekend each month. But for at least five months in 1972 (May-Sept), Bush did NOT report for duty. The Pentagon just found the pay records that prove Bush received NO pay for those 5 months. Bush was AWOL."

    July 22, 2004

  • American Military Death Toll in Iraq Reaches 900. 900 Americans dead for a war based on false pretenses. How many more? SF Gate
  • UN Tells Israel to Tear Down Its Wall. 150 to 6 with 10 abstentions. BBC
  • They Will Do Anything to Maintain Power -- Mark Morford: "Do you feel it? Can you smell it in the air? The sensation that the Republican party, though various tentacles, will stop at absolutely nothing to maintain power in the White House? It's true. It's the feeling that, during the next few months, it's all about to get very shrill, and very surreal, indeed ... And if BushCo has proven anything in the past four violent, budget-gutting, honor-molesting, nearly unbearable years, it's that there ain't no international law that can't be broken, no fear synapse that can't be hammered to death, no fraudulent power tactic that can't." SF Gate

    Bush's Shrinking Base -- Washington Post

    July 23, 2004

  • Thoroughly Brainwashed -- The Bush administration and the corporate media have somehow pulled off another amazing coup of mind control. In an AOL online poll answered by over 159,000 people, more blamed the Clinton administration for 9/11 than the Bush administration. How could people who have any idea what happened that day blame the administration that was not in power? Sometimes I think Americans are waking up to the danger of the Bush administration, and then something like this comes along. It would almost be better if Americans were knowingly vicious. But this gives the impression that they are just clueless.
  • Moore trouble for GOP -- the film is seeping into Bush's base. New York Times
  • Ronstadt will be welcome back at the Aladdin when new buyers take over the bankrupt property in September The Home Town Channel
  • Video shows alleged 9/11 hijackers going through surveillance. al jazeera
  • Kerry surpasses Bush in swing states "The four-term senator from Massachusetts leads Bush 47 percent to 41 percent in states where the November election is expected to be closest, the Pew organization said on its Web site without specifying the states. That compares with an 11 percentage-point lead that Bush, 58, held last month. " Bloomberg
  • Standing Tall -- A monkey at an Israeli zoo started walking like a human after recovering from a serious illness. Ananova
  • Many anti-Bush books Gazette
  • Cynthia McKinney wins primary. Looks like she has a good chance of winning back her seat in Congress, which she lost primarily for saying the Bush administration should be investigated for what happened on 9/11. Atlanta Journal Constitution
  • Kofi Annan refutes Bush's statement that world is safer now. Reuters
  • Halliburton's boss from hell: "Dick Cheney campaigned on a platform of business know-how. But his tenure as Halliburton CEO left the company mired in bad deals, investigations and lawsuits." Salon
  • Overlooked by the U.S. press is the escalating assassination of Iraqi academics, intellectuals, and lecturers. More than 250 college professors since April 30, 2003, according to the Iraqi Union of University Lecturers, have been the targets of assassination. ICAAO
  • The presidential race is essentially tied before convention -- According to Susan Page and William Risser, of USA Today, "John Kerry moves toward a triumphant Democratic National Convention next week with the rock-solid support of Democrats and a decided advantage over President Bush among voters on the issues of the economy, health care and education. But a USA TODAY/CNN/Gallup Poll finds that voters' faith in President Bush when it comes to combating terrorism is bolstering his standing in a presidential contest that remains essentially tied. Boosting Bush's prospects: The belief by most Americans that a terrorist attack on U.S. soil will occur in the next few weeks or months.
  • President Doublespeak talks of ... peace and prosperity? Mercury News
  • Bush Fantasy -- "'My opponents look at all of this progress and somehow conclude that the sky is falling,' Bush said, ticking through a list of his achievements, from tax cuts to school reform." Chicago Tribune

    July 24, 2004

  • The Rock and Roll Spirit Lives -- Check out the Mockers hit video "The Emperor Strikes Out." Have your notebooks ready to copy the inspirational Britney Spears quote at the end.
  • Now the Pentagon has changed its story and said that Bush's military records were not lost after all, or in any case, they are not lost now. A Pentagon spokesman said the earlier claim that the records were destroyed was an "inadvertent oversight." Not just an oversight, but an inadvertent oversight, a double negative, which could be a result of its being a lie. The records, like the previously released records, show no sign that Bush showed up for any kind of duty during the months of July, August and September of 1972. But the White House spokesman said he did enough training for the rest of the year so he didn't have to train for those three months. Hmmm. Never heard of that before. Usually there is a monthly requirement. If Bush manages to steal another term, one thing you can count on is his destroying the Freedom of Information Act. It's a very un-Bushy law. Associated Press
  • The 9/11 Commission report is a whitewash, a song and dance that blunts any real inquiry and helps to obscure the truth. Chairman Tom Kean gave the report to Bush practically genuflecting before him, muttering pompous absurdities about the "unprecedented access" the White House gave the commission, which is a direct contradiction of the historical record. Kean himself made several comments about how the White House was blocking access to documents and stalling and making it impossible for the commission to complete its work within its time and budget limitations. He also said at one point that the attacks "didn't have to happen," but shied away from assigning any blame or responsibility to those whose job it is to defend the country, i.e. the executive branch. Too many questions are left unanswered and unasked. And what is this recommendation to establish an "Intelligence Czar"? These closet authoritarians are really enamored with the word "czar". It's a decidedly undemocratic idea, but very popular with the corporatists, who embrace a modern version of feudalism. buzzflash
  • Nazi Tactics Resurface -- Iraqi intellectuals are being systematically assassinated according to International Coalition of Academics Against Occupation.

    July 25, 2004

    LI> Congress quietly voted to keep the School of Americas torture and terrorism training center alive. Now the world is paying attention. LA Weekly
  • The 9/11 report is "toothless," says Richard Clarke. New York Times
  • The report misses the point. Truthout
  • The Independent
  • Bush a big winner in World Stupidity Awards, O'Reilly wins Stupidest TV Show award. Canada.com
  • "Moore is merciless in his portrayal of President Bush as crass, insensitive, and, well, slow..." ABS-CBN News
  • You face blame for next attacks, Bush was told. But does he? He's slithered out of taking responsibility for everything else. Won't he just say it was Clinton's fault? Sydney Morning Herald
  • Photos of American military in Iraq. Mahablog
  • Ted Turner's beef with big media: "Today, media companies are more concentrated than at any time over the past 40 years, thanks to a continual loosening of ownership rules by Washington. The media giants now own not only broadcast networks and local stations; they also own the cable companies that pipe in the signals of their competitors and the studios that produce most of the programming. To get a flavor of how consolidated the industry has become, consider this: In 1990, the major broadcast networks--ABC, CBS, NBC, and Fox--fully or partially owned just 12.5 percent of the new series they aired. By 2000, it was 56.3 percent. Just two years later, it had surged to 77.5 percent. " Washington Monthly
  • A close analysis of the "16 words". Democratic Underground
  • The Bushies have tried to trounce the media. They do not recognize its role as political watchdog as valid. "Andrew Card, the president's chief of staff, bluntly declared to New Yorker writer Ken Auletta that members of the press 'don't represent the public any more than other people do. I don't believe you have a check-and- balance function. Auletta concluded that, in the eyes of the Bush administration, the press corps had become little more than another special-interest lobbying group. " SF Gate
  • Siegfried (Zig) Engelmann, author of "The Pet Goat" said, ""For whatever it's worth, I think Iraq is a total circle jerk," he said. "I couldn't think of how to do it worse." New Yorker
  • Halliburton reports second quarter loss!? Where did all that money it robbed from taxpayers go? Bloomberg
  • Read All About It -- The 9/11 Commission Report is available online in a searchable pdf format. Check out, for example, The System Was Blinking Red, which discusses many warnings the administration and its agencies received throughout 2001, quite specific threats, such as reports that Al Qaeda may attempt to hijack a civilian airline and try to use it to attack high profile targets in New York or Washington. Bush's August 6 Presidential Daily Briefing was titled "Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S." If Bush read it, or had it read to him, he would have seen that "FBI information since that time indicates patterns of suspicious activity in this country consistent with preparations for hijackings or other types of attacks, including recent surveillance of federal buildings in New York." It also said the FBI was investigating a report that "a group of Bin Ladin supporters was in the US planning attacks with explosives." If the average Joe was president and had heard that, would he have done nothing, as Bush did? Would he have still gone to the school photo op that morning after he heard about a plane crashing into a building in New York? Would he have continued to sit there doing nothing when he heard a second plane had hit the World Trade Center?
  • How bad is the 9/11 Report for Bush? Even though it's a whitewash, it still contains plenty that should embarrass the White house, if anyone reads it, that is. David Corn in The Nation itemizes some of the damning information that the commission could not help looking at, and it's enough to make any sane person understand that the Bushies have to be removed from power as soon as possible.
  • Not Quite Heaven and Earth -- On the day before the release of the report, Bush reiterated a pet contention of his: "Had we had any inkling, whatsoever, that terrorists were about to attack our country, we would have moved heaven and Earth to protect America." But, as Buzzflash reminds us, "On August 6, 2001 while vacationing in Crawford Texas, Bush was given a briefing titled 'Bin Ladin Determined To Strike in US.' That same summer, the intelligence community received threats such as 'There will be attacks in the near future.'"
  • Missing in Action -- What the report does not, explain, says Gail Sheehy, in Mother Jones, is that "on the morning of September 11, 2001, President Bush, Donald Rumsfeld, and other top officials were essentially missing in action."
  • AOL News, a foul propaganda machine, constantly shows pictures of Kerry in which he looks like a corpse. The AOL Time Warner machine clearly favors Bush. They don't choose those pictures at random. There are plenty to pick from. Check out today's AOL and see what I mean. But it's not just today. It's day after day.
  • Bob Woodward was son of a Naval Intelligence officer and himself a former Naval Intelligence briefer of Alexander Haig who surfaced as a journalist of sorts, whose main talent was that he had connections with the mysterious Deep Throat, who had the goods to bring down Nixon. Some say Deep Throat was Haig. The book Silent Coup suggests that the whole thing was an insider operation to bring down Nixon, not quite as it was portrayed. Woodward was never quite what he represented himself to be. He was an intelligence insider who took on the role of journalist, but still writes more as an intelligence insider than a journalist. His books must always be looked at with a skeptical eye. He began his book The Agenda about Bill Clinton with a scene in the bedroom of Bill and Hillary Clinton. He didn't bother to explain how he knew what went on in the bed of Hillary and Bill. He expected you to trust him on that. In his most recent book Path to War he describes Rumsfeld as "almost boyishly dashing," with "a large infectious smile." He saw a different Rumsfeld from the one I have seen.


    July 28, 2004

    Conventional Thinking

    I watched Teresa Heinz Kerry give her speech tonight on the Jim Lehrer news program and then when it was over before the silence had even settled, the pundits are slicing and dicing the speech, clouding the mind with their overdose of cliches and petty judgments. It was a "wonkish" speech, they said. It should have been more personal, they agreed, both "left" and "right" agreed. It was a missed opportunity to present a more personal statement. It's a weird tic tac toe game. The first one to speak issues some arbitrary pronouncement, and the other one must then come back with something that accommodates that remark, finds a compromise with it, no matter how arbitrary and empty the comment was. Immediately they settle into the familiar cliches that will soon dominate the public perception of what just happened. The next day at the office, people will be repeating the cliches, nodding in conformity just like the pundits on TV. It was "wonkish" wasn't it? Yes, it was a little wonkish. But I don't think it was quite as wonkish as you do. Still it was wonkish... The meaning of the speech is long gone by that time. The great thing about CSPAN is that it shows you a speech and lets you watch the din and the crowd dynamic when it's over, and lets you digest the experience yourself before the conformist know-it-alls contaminate your thoughts with their canned judgments.
  • Rescued from the U.S. No-Law Zone -- Le Monde: "Four of the seven Frenchmen detained on the Guantánamo American base in Cuba have, finally, left this no-law zone to return to Paris. For months the French government has been negotiating their return so that their situation may be investigated within a normal legal framework ... If they are cleared, it will be a new blow to the credibility of the 'war against terrorism' conducted by President Bush with contempt for the law- whether national or international - and for morality. From the Guantánamo no-law zone to the Baghdad prisons, the example given by the United States is no credit to the world's greatest democracy and the worldwide image of that country has suffered seriously because of it." Truthout
  • Once a Fraud -- See glcq.com for an in-depth analysis of Bush's military records that show, according to its author, that Bush defrauded the government in that instance as well. "It is likely that the White House is unaware of what the payroll records reveal, because the most damning information is buried in lines of 'incomprehensible' data found at the bottom of the payroll reports. This article breaks that code, and shows that Bush repeatedly claimed credit and pay for performing 'substitute training' for mandatory monthly drills with his unit that was well outside the time limits set for 'substitute training.' And although he was required to get advance authorization for all training, the public record shows that Bush could not have received the necessary authorizations for 'training' performed in Alabama."
  • Castro on Bush's imagination. Castro quoted "extensively" from the book Bush on the Couch CBS
  • Moore invites Bush to Crawford Freep.com
  • Bush fell off his bike again. Boston Globe
  • Ann Coulter no longer has a place in USA Today Editor & Publisher
  • Krugman: Fear of Fraud -- New York Times
  • How the Bush administration reduced protections against attacks pre-9/11. Buzzflash
  • Check out the text of Bill Clinton's speech to the Democratic convention. Truthout.org

    July 29, 2004

  • Bush on Drugs -- The ex-alcohol and cocaine abuser is now taking heavy antidepressants to control erratic behavior, according to Capitol Hill Blue. As Mark Crispin Miller figured out from a study of Bush's speech patterns that he reported in The Bush Dyslexicon, the reason Bush's handlers keep him away from protestors is because he has a violent temper. Dr. Justin Frank in his book Bush on the Couch: Inside the Mind of the President has extended these analyses of the untreated alcoholic with learning disabilities. A recent report that Bush gave the finger to some protestors lends credence to the assertion. (livejournal.com See also George W. Is High on Killing and "'Shrub' Bush's Pathological Focus On Saddam Hussein" by Alvin Wyman Walker, PhD, PD, PC) According to Capitol Hill Blue, "Although GOP loyalists dismissed the reports an anti-Bush propaganda, the reports were later confirmed by prominent George Washington University psychiatrist Dr. Justin Frank in his book Bush on the Couch: Inside the Mind of the President. Dr. Frank diagnosed the President as a 'paranoid meglomaniac' and 'untreated alcoholic' whose 'lifelong streak of sadism, ranging from childhood pranks (using firecrackers to explode frogs) to insulting journalists, gloating over state executions and pumping his hand gleefully before the bombing of Baghdad' showcase Bush’s instabilities."

  • Michael Moore in Boston -- democracynow.org
  • Twelve retired generals endorse Kerry --

    July 30, 2004

    The Man of the Hour

    So I saw John Kerry accept the nomination. I saw it myself on C-SPAN without some psychotic pundit jabbering and muddling my thoughts. And none of those freaks will be able to form or distort my vision of what happened there. If I'm lucky I will totally escape having to hear any of their inane theories. I am free.

    I think tonight might have put another gray hair or two on the head of George W. Bush, if his eyes have not totally clouded over and blocked out the world by now. The Fox scum will focus on superficialities: he's stiff, they will say. They may try to pull out "wonkish". It was a word they seemingly created just for Al Gore, just to ridicule him and destroy him. And it almost worked. It worked to the extent of putting Bush close enough to allow the Bush family's extensive web of corruption to drag the W boy into the White House.

    But this time is very different. I am getting the sense that the Americans have been christened into a wider world by the Bush catastrophes. They are a little less naive, a little less innocent. They have collided head on with the nearly absolute cynicism of a mob more ruthless in its pursuit of power than anything anyone has ever seen in America.

    I've seen it for myself tonight, so when I hear the inescapable repercussions of the right wing power media tomorrow, I'll know that Kerry didn't really give his speech with a big slime hanging from his nose, or that he wasn't really freakish looking like Herman Munster. I saw for myself Kerry hugging some of the veterans and John Edwards, and I won't be misled by some lowlife like Dennis Miller implying that they are having a homosexual affair.

    Yeah, yeah, yeah, Kerry ain't as smooth as John F. Kennedy, or as eloquent and moving an orator as Martin Luther King. Lincoln was not the prettiest thing either. I cannot see the relevance of those observations to the actual situation we are in. Obviously the very discussion of his mannerisms and all sorts of intangible qualities that the pundits banter back and forth is designed to maintain a fantasy world in which such petty concerns were really worthy of our attention.

    John Kerry is the man. He's the man whom we must unite behind to do what we must do, the most important task before us, the most important challenge in a lifetime: remove Bush.

    Actually I think he's a perfect candidate for the time. I think he may well be a man of destiny whose time has come. Never in a generation was a cause more clear for Americans. He has the necessary qualifications, as a war hero, as a senator for many years, as an intelligent person with integrity. He's worthy of the mantle of leadership, but it's the movement itself, the cause that is really important.

    I'm not -- as Fox and CNN seem to assume -- sitting here waiting to get all giddy because the great white father is here to save the world. But as the designated leader of the cause of the times, I can get behind in him and believe in him. Kerry is a mortal in an imperfect system. But can you imagine what America might be like with a guy like him as president instead of Bush? In one minute the country will change utterly.

    I know it can happen, and I think it will. I can easily imagine a movement building that will sweep these scoundrels out of office like the movement that pushed Herbert Hoover out and brought Franklin Roosevelt.

    Random Notes:

  • The whole pundit thing by now is so nauseating and utterly obsolete. Listening to those idiots blab is worse than useless. The TV coverage of the convention is completely unacceptable, distorted beyond recognition, just more of the same, full-time right wing propaganda. It seems apparent that more and more Americans are catching on to the corporate media scam. But their power remains awesome. Thank God for the occasional exception, Air America Radio, WBAI, Pacifica Radio and an occasional moment on a very few other broadcast channels...

  • How does this absurd fantasy persist that George W. Bush is somehow a strong leader that helps keep America safe? Where did this come from? The Bush period has been the least safe time in living memory. What has he done that has helped to keep America safe? He has only made it drastically worse. Iraq has become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Now Iraq really is a breeding ground for terrorists. If Bush is not pushed from power, his whole doomsday enemies vision will become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

  • Howard Stern finds a worthy target for his wrath: Bush.
  • Mocking Out -- Seth Gordon of The Mockers, the band who gave you "The Emperor Strikes Out", are getting a lot of airplay in Spain, which has a national sympatico for the cause of ridiculing George W. Bush, and is also where Mockers Seth and his partner Tony Leventhal met at an English language grade school.

    July 31, 2004

  • There are signs that the corporate media may suffer their just deserts by making themselves irrelevant. And now that alternatives are emerging and public awareness is focusing on the urgent realities beyond the media fantasyland, people may turn away from the TV News garbage en masse.
  • Networks Fading From News -- According to NPR, the networks, which carried only an hour a night of convention coverage, are down in their ratings. NPR and cable news are up.
  • Looking For Alternatives -- According to the New York Times, "On a night when every major broadcast network declined to cover even one minute of the Democratic National Convention, millions of viewers clearly went looking for alternatives - and found them in the cable news networks and one other broadcast network, PBS. The Public Broadcasting Service pulled in an unexpected horde of viewers on Tuesday, about 3 million, up from 2.5 million for Monday night and about a million more than its normal audience, for three hours of prime-time convention coverage."
  • CN8's gavel-to-gavel coverage earned it high Nielson ratings, according to a report posted on Yahoo.
  • Mixed Signals -- According to Alex Jones in The American Prospect, "The unhappy fact is that, even though the gavel-to-gavel coverage will be available, there is not a great likelihood that a huge audience will be there for it. In a recent survey for the Vanishing Voter Project, less than a third of the respondents said that they intended to watch some or most of the upcoming Democratic convention. The project found that this is about the same level of interest as existed in 2000, when there was not nearly the level of interest in the election itself as there is now."
  • Up from 2000 -- Bloomberg reports that "John Kerry's Democratic Party presidential nomination was watched by about 25.7 million television viewers, 7 percent more than tuned into coverage of Vice President Al Gore's nomination in 2000." And Gore won by half a million votes.
  • Ron Reagan: The Case Against Bush -- Surprisingly eloquent and well-thought out. Comparisons are unavoidable. He's obviously another ex-president's son, but with three times the intellect of Bush. Esquire
  • How They Could Steal the Election This Time -- This is chilling. The Nation
  • Paul Krugman: Triumph of the Trivial -- "Somewhere along the line, TV news stopped reporting on candidates' policies, and turned instead to trivia that supposedly reveal their personalities. We hear about Mr. Kerry's haircuts, not his health care proposals. We hear about George Bush's brush-cutting, not his environmental policies." New York Times
  • The Media Are Complicit -- "The current edition of Foreign Affairs has an article that raises a hot question: whether the war that was waged to disarm a dictator who was already disarmed would have happened if the media had done their job." Globe & Mail
  • What the Networks Didn't Show -- Transcripts of all the speakers at the Demo convention. dems2004.org
  • Zogby Calls Kerry -- Pre-convention Zogby poll shows Kerry leading in electoral votes by 275 to 220.
  • Sins of Omission -- Though the 9/11 commission report does not cross certain lines, there is still much damning material in it about Bush. See See the Forest for a listing.
  • Things to Know About John Kerry -- "In 1984, he was elected to the Senate, where he made his mark leading a series of congressional inquiries - into alleged drug-running by Nicaraguan Contra rebels, the fate of POWs and MIAs in Vietnam, and the corrupt Bank of Credit and Commerce International." Tallahassee

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