Watching the Train Wreck

July 21, 2007

Philip Roth on Bush -- Philip Roth interviewed in the U.K. (sorry, not for America), says though he's lived through the McCarthy period and the Vietnam period he's never seen people more dispairing. He says Hillary Clinton could lose 50 states for the Democrats, he wishes Gore would run, thinks he could win, calls the Bush administration a "catastrophe" and says this "criminal administration" has used 9/11 to bankrupt the country, to go to war needlesssly ("What could be more criminal than that?"); to destroy every social program they possibly could that gave aid and comfort to people in need, to make lying, "which is only half of politics, 90 percent"; to alienate America from the rest of the world and to utterly destroy whatever moral standing America still had... Now the president of Iran can write a letter to the president of the United States and I read it and I find myself agreeing with this monster..." See it on And read Roth's brilliant satire on Nixon, Our Gang, if you can find a copy.
  • Privatizing the Public Airways -- How a corrupt FCC gave away America's public airways, the licensing of the electromagnetic spectrum, to a handful of corporations. See the report: "The Art of Spectrum Lobbying: America's $480 Billion Spectrum Giveaway, How it Happened, and How to Prevent it from Recurring"; see more explanation here:; and check out the ars technica analysis of the report here.
  • 'Deeply Pathological' -- See the trailer for the film Giuliani Time

    July 22, 2007

  • Sarkozy to France: Stop Thinking -- The country that produced the Enlightenment, Descartes, Jean Paul Sartre and Albert Camus is now being told by the Sarkozy government to abandon its "old national habit." According to a report in the Boston Globe, Sarkozy's Finance Minister Christine Lagarde told the National Assembly, "France is a country that thinks. There is hardly an ideology that we haven't turned into a theory. We have in our libraries enough to talk about for centuries to come. This is why I would like to tell you: Enough thinking, already. Roll up your sleeves." What next? Book burnings? It's reminiscent of Hermann Goering, Hitler buddy and founder of the Gestapo, among many other dubious distinctions: "When I hear the word culture, I reach for my revolver."
  • Olbermann to Bush: "Go to Iraq and fight!" Truthout Common Sense: Outa Style -- "The Twin Towers and Common Sense" by Frank Legge.,
  • Compassion Bush Style -- Bush on a soldier who lost both legs in Iraq. "He's a good man. We're gonna get him some new legs." See it here.

    July 23, 2007

    Bomb Bomb Bomb Iran -- According to The Guardian, "The balance in the internal White House debate over Iran has shifted back in favour of military action before President George Bush leaves office in 18 months, the Guardian has learned." And get this: "The shift follows an internal review involving the White House, the Pentagon and the state department over the last month. Although the Bush administration is in deep trouble over Iraq, it remains focused on Iran. A well-placed source in Washington said: 'Bush is not going to leave office with Iran still in limbo.'" He doesn't mind leaving office with Iraq still in limbo, however. That kind of limbo is okay for Bush, chaos and bloodshed. The other kind of limbo -- Iran being defiant, not accepting the U.S. command -- he can't tolerate. The fundamentalist mind, he likes things simple, simple to him, a rich kid who's lived a life of ease, rarely cracked a book, never had to be accountable for his failures, always had Dad to bail him out. Now Cheney, who has always been wrong about virtually everything of significance, is winning out over those who would urge ... restraint? ... how about sanity?

    July 24, 2007

    Bad Bush -- Sixty-one percent of those voting in an AOL opinion poll agree with Senator Russ Feingold's call to censure Bush for his management of the Iraq war and his "assault on the Constitution."
  • Identity Theorem -- Nancy Pelosi said Congress will bring contempt charges against Harriet Miers, who defied a House Judiciary Committee subpoena to appear, but she is still holding out against calls for impeachment. According to SF Gate, she said, "I'm not unsympathetic to the concern people have -- I hear it all over the country. People here have said to me, 'Well, people on the left want the president to be impeached.' I hear it across the board across the country. It's not just the left." But, she said, "Look, it's hard enough for us to end the war. I don't know how we would be successful in impeaching the president." Hold on, Nancy! Stop right there. When you are working with an administration that is utterly defiant, completely recalcitrant and will not comply with any laws, how do you expect to end the war or anything else without impeachment. If you are really serious about ending the war, impeachment is the only realistic strategy.
  • Bush Muslim Blunders -- Thoughtful, nuanced article in the washingtonpost by Akbar Ahmed on Bush and the Muslim world. It starts with, "Here's a bit of modern-day heresy: President Bush actually has some rather sound instincts about the Muslim world. He has visited mosques more often than any of his predecessors, and he frequently talks of winning Muslim hearts and minds. So why are those hearts and minds so estranged today? What went wrong? The problem is that Bush has relied on ill-informed advisers and out-of-touch experts. By substituting their false expertise for his own sensible intuitions, he has failed to understand the Muslim world -- which means he has failed to understand the arena in which the first post-9/11 presidency will be judged. Instead of seriously explaining Muslim societies that are profoundly split in complex ways, Bush's aides have offered a fatally flawed stereotype of Islam as monolithic and violent."
  • How the U.S. Lost Its Tech Edge -- According to Princeton economist and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman, the U.S. lost its edge in Internet technology because it failed to provide the kind of regulatory environment that allows a nascent industry like the Internet industry to thrive. It's the free market religion again, the theology that says markets should be unregulated because the market always knows best and governments merely hampered business. There may have been some legitimate reason to promote private enterprise and limit government, but privatization has gone way to far, has well proven that as a religion of laissez faire it does not deliver the promise it came with. The deregulation of the airlines has produced a lousy industry, with a few tottering dinosaurs struggling just to stay out of bankruptcy and creating animosity in their customers while they do it. The deregulation of the energy industry, the bright idea of the ideological clique that brought California the bust-the-state energy game courtesy of Enron. Privatized health care versus a publicly administered healthcare system has produced the debacle that Michael Moore is now making millions telling everyone about in a humorous manner. They told us that "socialized medicine" would make it so you couldn't even choose what doctor you wanted to go to, it would be like the Soviet Union, long lines and scarcities. No freedom. The government can't administer anything, business men working with the incentive to earn a profit are always more efficient than big bureaucracy. That was the pitch as I recall it growing up. Now you can't choose your doctor, the bureaucracy and red tape is a nightmare for patients and doctors, and it's astronomically expensive, people go broke when they get sick. The government would surely not administer it any worse than the HMOs are doing, and the government would be doing it just to provide the service, not to make corporations rich. So during the Clinton years, the U.S. was way ahead of France in the Internet. French President Chirac grumbled that the Internet was an "Anglo-Saxon network". No more. The French have overtaken the U.S. Krugman: "The numbers are startling. As recently as 2001, the percentage of the population with high-speed access in Japan and Germany was only half that in the United States. In France it was less than a quarter. By the end of 2006, however, all three countries had more broadband subscribers per 100 people than we did." U.S. broadband speeds are a fraction of those in France and a tenth of those in Japan. "As a result," Krugman writes, "we’re lagging in new applications of the Internet that depend on high speed. France leads the world in the number of subscribers to Internet TV; the United States isn’t even in the top 10." The idea that the Republican party is better for business is one of those ideas that should be thoroughly discredited by now. One more note from Krugman: "What happened to America’s Internet lead? Bad policy. Specifically, the United States made the same mistake in Internet policy that California made in energy policy: it forgot — or was persuaded by special interests to ignore — the reality that sometimes you can’t have effective market competition without effective regulation."

    July 27, 2007

    Numbers -- Once upon a time AOL polls could be relied upon to reflect a very rightward, establishment view of issues, like support for Bush's war plans even though the evidence was clear that the administration was lying even in the beginning. But no more. Today an AOL poll shows a staggering 83% agreeing with having a perjury probe of Bush's atty gen and sidekick Gonzales. EVen more, 84% agree with the Senate Judiciary Committee's decision to subpoena Karl Rove . Republicans, who loved impeaching Clinton over an affair, are saying that "Democrats are playing party politics." But what we are seeing is that the general population is much more rabidly furious at the criminials in power than Congress now reflects. Congress is still a buffer between public opinion and the Bush administration. But as the number who want some accountability and some action against the administration approaches unanimity, they're dragging their feet a little more lightly.
  • Zero Popularity -- Meanwhile, according to the Washington Post, the rates of dissatisfaction with Bush have reached "rare heights". More specifically, "The latest Washington Post-ABC News survey shows that 65 percent of Americans disapprove of Bush's job performance, matching his all-time low. In polls conducted by The Post or Gallup going back to 1938, only once has a president exceeded that level of public animosity -- and that was Richard M. Nixon, who hit 66 percent four days before he resigned." Very good, George. George has been unpopular throughout his entire second term. He was already under 50% approval when he was inaugurated for his second term, which raises some interesting questions: how does a president get elected when less than half of the public say they approve of the job he's doing? But remember, exit poll numbers, unlike these kinds of telephone surveys, have historically been so dead-on accurate that they've been used by the U.S. to monitor elections in other countries. Now that the U.S. is ruled by vote fraud, exit polls no longer count, because they show that the official results are wrong, and here the official results always prevail even if they defy the most basic common sense, as in the Warren Report, the 9/11 Commission Report, and so forth. Although Bush would love to be loved, he is a true Machiavellian and cares only about power. If being feared confers more power, he would prefer it. The Post says that Bush's aides consider his toilet ratings "liberating" because, "Bush can do what he thinks is right without regard to political cost, pointing to decisions to send more U.S. troops to Iraq and to commute the sentence of I. Lewis 'Scooter' Libby, Vice President Cheney's former chief of staff." (Isn't it cute the way they put "Scooter" in quotes every time they say the name of this hardened old criminal bureaucrat? As if he were a little boy tearing around the White House on a scooter.)
  • Palast on PBS' Now -- Tonight (Friday July 27) Greg Palast will be on PBS' Now explaining that "The fix is in for 2008". For Bill Moyers' successor David Brancaccio, Palast will lay out the latest evidence never before televised at 8:30 p.m. Eastern (on New York Thirteen). Check local listings.
  • Historical Precedent (Wake Up America!) -- So much of the observation and analysis of what is going on today is enmired in conventional expectations of what is possible. So the Bushies, like Goehring and the boys, get a lot of mileage over the fact that they are willing to go far beyond convention and expectation. Every day under this administration is a test of the limits of what has ever happened in the U.S. before. So, to choose a sensitive example, while it is possible to definitively say the the WTC did not collapse into dust because of some small fires on some of the highest floors, that admission does not require one to draw any conclusion about who did planted those explosives and why. That fact does not immediately lead one to the desk of Dick Cheney. However, the fact that the administration exerted so much effort to delay any investigations into the crime, and to hamper the investigations when they finally did start does create questions. What earthly reason could a president and vice president have for resisting an investigation into 9/11? The crime of the new century, the act that allegedly changed the world and changed U.S. foreign and domestic policy drastically. For those who have a lily-white view of American history and what is possible here, take a peak at this BBC documentary about an attempted coup in the U.S. in 1933 while President Franklin D. Roosevelt was in office. The BBC describes the program in this way: "Document uncovers details of a planned coup in the USA in 1933 by right-wing American businessmen. The coup was aimed at toppling President Franklin D Roosevelt with the help of half-a-million war veterans. The plotters, who were alleged to involve some of the most famous families in America, (owners of Heinz, Birds Eye, Goodtea, Maxwell Hse & George Bush’s Grandfather, Prescott [!]) believed that their country should adopt the policies of Hitler and Mussolini to beat the Great Depression. Mike Thomson investigates why so little is known about this biggest ever peacetime threat to American democracy." General Smedley Butler, chosen by the aristocratic families to lead the military action turned on them and told Roosevelt about the plans. Listen to the fascinating radio program at BBC. One point that this incident in history establishes is that nothing that has been alleged or suspected about the Bush/Cheney mob is any more outlandish than this event, which did involve the father of George Herbert Walker Bush, Prescott Bush, a big power player in postwar America. Even the suspicions that the Bush administration had some knowledge or involvement in the 9/11 attacks, would not be more extreme than the plan his grandfather actually took part in. More on Smedley Butler here: "The Bush Family Business"

    See also:

  • "War is a Racket" -- by Smedley Butler's.
  • "Major-General Smedley Butler "
  • The Plot to Sieze the White House by Jules Archer -- A review by Dale Wharton
  • Clinton-Obama Catfight -- According to a Reuters report, "Hillary Clinton is pitting her experience against Barack Obama's desire for fundamental change." I'm wondering how well Clinton has thought out this strategy. Pitting her experience against his play to the public's need for change doesn't seem such a good match. After all, Clinton is in the early part of her second term as a U.S. Senator. Obama is one term behind her. Not too impressive. He held elective positions in the state legislature before. Did Clinton? So what is all this experience? She's older? Been around longer? Lived in the White House as the wife of the President? None of this is very impressive. There is little to definitively establish any advantage in experience.

    July 30, 2007

    Hapless Gonzo -- Kirk Caraway: "You would think that given all that, Gonzales would have been prepared to answer such simple questions. His dodgy replies made him look like a complete imbecile in front of the entire country. His testimony leaves only two possible conclusions. Either he is the most incompetent attorney to ever hold a government job, or he is hiding something so shocking and dangerous that he's willing to purposely destroy his reputation and even risk perjury charges to keep it secret. My bet's on the latter... At every turn, Bush and his associates are at war with the truth. The president's every utterance on the war in Iraq has to be sifted to remove the falsehoods. He gives Scooter Libby a get-out-of-jail-free card for his lies. Vice President Dick Cheney can't seem to pass up an open microphone without making up claims out of thin air. And the Attorney General, the person who is in charge of the department that prosecutes people for dishonesty, has become so outrageously dishonest that it's a wonder he hasn't been struck by lightning yet."
  • White House Vote Suppression -- "Was there a White House plot to illegally suppress votes in 2004? Is there a similar plan for the upcoming elections? This week NOW examines documents and evidence that points to a Republican Party plan designed to keep Democrats from voting, allegedly by targeting people based on their race and ethnicity with key battleground states like Ohio and Florida of particular interest. "It was a partisan, discriminatory attempt to challenge voters of color," Eddie Hailes, a senior attorney for The Advancement Project, a civil rights group, told NOW." PBS Now
  • Impeachment Talk Getting Louder -- seattlepi
  • Following in Grandpa's Footsteps -- George W. tries to fulfill his grandfathers dream to turn America into a fascist dictatorship. An excellent little history review by David Swanson at

    July 31, 2007

  • Wimpy Democrats -- When will the Democrats realize that the reason their collective approval rating is even lower than the White House, whom two thirds of the country now holds in steamy contempt, is that they are so spineless that they provide no alternative, no protection against the lousy Republican corporate assault on the American middle class and the constitutional system? A lone voice from the public domain who called in to the Bernie Ward Show sums up the gutless Democrats in eloquent, plain language. Check out Enjoy it.
  • Rage Against the Machine -- Cindy Sheehan hits the nail squarely and profoundly on the head at What a breath of fresh air amid the madness that engulfs this country: "I was watching NBC's "Meet the Press." Except for a brief excerpt about the Alberto Gonzales hearing this week, the entire show was about Obama vs. Hillary. Should Obama hit harder? Should Hillary ignore him since she's the frontrunner? How will this affect the primaries? Will it affect the primaries? Fox and CNN are trying to distract us from real news that affects us all by round-the-clock reporting on Lindsay Lohan; and NBC uses the shiny keys of Obama and Clinton, two people whose campaigns together have each raised enough money to pay for about five hours of the illegal and insane occupation of Iraq. I was wondering when Tim Russert would get around to talking about the refugee crisis BushCo and Congress Inc. have created in the Middle East that is rapidly destabilizing the entire region, not just Iraq. Or, how about we talk about the impending invasion of Iran that Dick Nuke'em the VP of War is jonesing for? And wouldn't it be nice if we heard some cons for an invasion of Iran instead of the neocon pro-war-all-the-time crap? There is so much heartache and violence in the world. There are too many of our brothers and sisters going without the bare necessities; and NBC wants us to care about two people who are co-opted into the power elite and are feuding over foreign policy, when they are both Senators who have power right now, and could affect the process positively if they weren't busy campaigning for elections that are months away. I was wondering when the real discussion was going to occur until I saw those five words: 'Brought to you by Boeing:' the number one aerospace/defense contractor in the world, according to the Fortune 500. The next show after "Meet the Press" is 'The McLaughlin Group', that is brought to a gullible American viewership by The Oil and Natural Gas Council." This is an amazing woman, and a great resource for a leaderless country.
  • Impeach the Snake -- Rep. Jay Inslee (D-WA) will sponsor a measure to impeach Gonzales on Tuesday, accordinhg to NBC's Mike Viqueira.
  • Roberts Falls -- In an endlessly surreal scenario, Bush's right wing Chief Justice John Roberts had a seizure and fell down at his summer home in Maine. Doctors called it a "benign idiopathic seizure," like one Roberts had in 1993. This rather high-flown phrase is short for "we don't know what caused it." How not knowing what it is somehow makes it benign is a little hard to follow. But typically no one is saying much to the peons, on principal, citing "privacy concerns". They say he fell "five to ten feet", apparently five to ten benign feet, and he's now fully recovered. Allegedly. CNN
  • More of the Same -- England's new prime minister has come to the U.S. to hobknob with Bush and is yapping the same nonsense rhetoric as his fallen predecessor about the "war on terror", which is an utterly meaningless load of crap. Oh well. LA Times
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