ABOUT THE US IN IRAQ
''Trying to eliminate Saddam ... would have incurred incalculable human and
political costs. Apprehending him was probably impossible ... We would have
been forced to occupy Baghdad and, in effect, rule Iraq ...there was no
viable "exit strategy" we could see, violating another of our principles.
Furthermore, we had been self-consciously trying to set a pattern for
handling aggression in the post-Cold War world. Going in and occupying Iraq,
thus unilaterally exceeding the United Nations' mandate, would have
destroyed the precedent of international response to aggression that we
hoped to establish. Had we gone the invasion route, the United States could
conceivably still be an occupying power in a bitterly hostile land.''
In his memoirs, A World Transformed, written more than five years ago,
George Bush, Sr. wrote the lines reprinted above to explain why he didn't go
after Saddam Hussein at the end of the Gulf War.
(Thanks to wb for sending this in to the Gristmill.)
Friday, October 31, 2003
ABOUT THE US IN IRAQ
BUSH COURT NOMINEES WOULD OVERTURN LAWRENCE v. TEXAS
"The president elected in 2004 is very likely to appoint as many as three or four Supreme Court Justices, and if that president is George W. Bush, the recent decision overturning sodomy laws, as well as Roe v. Wade, will likely be reversed."
--Chairman Terry McAuliffe-- Democratic National Committee Statement, October 24
Bush's nominees to federal courts--the most unqualified, extremist, and dangerous bunch I've ever seen--makes it clear that his attempt to hijack America the way the Islamic fundamentalists have hijacked both Islam and Islamic countries is not to be dismissed.
Reproductive rights, privacy, affirmative action, parts of the Bill of Rights like separation of church and state--all would be eliminated or marginalized as well, and abominations like the Patriot Acts (I and proposed 2) would be declared constitutional. Basically everything that has made America what it is and what it can be is threatened even more by this turn of events than it already has been or will be by any other channel.
If Bush gets the opportunity to turn the Supreme Court into a tool of his neocon agenda, the future of this country, unequivocally, is lost. Generations will suffer under the tyranny, hypocrisy and moralism of that kind of court.
During the 2000 election campaigns Nader made naive sweeping pronouncements like there is no difference between the two parties. That's ignorant and dangerous, as Nader himself sadly turned out to be. Neither party will address the problem of corporate control of the country, as Nader correctly indicated, but even a centrist Democrat will not pack the federal and Supreme courts with stooges that can be depended upon to vote solely on the basis of right wing ideology.
If there was a doubt before that election of the importance of who sits on the Supreme Court, I would hope that doubt is dispelled forever.
If Bush is reelected, resistance is futile. We will be assimilated.
Thursday, October 30, 2003
Actually, I did say some of this in a recent post, but not nearly as well as Krugman did.
A Willful Ignorance
By PAUL KRUGMAN
According to The New York Times, President Bush was genuinely surprised to learn from moderate Islamic leaders that they had become deeply distrustful of American intentions. The report on the "perception gap" suggests that the leader of the war on terror has no idea how badly that war — which must, ultimately, be a war for hearts and minds — is going.
Mr. Bush's ignorance may reflect his lack of curiosity: "The best way to get the news," he says, "is from objective sources. And the most objective sources I have are people on my staff." Two words: emperor, clothes.
But there's something broader going on: a sort of willful ignorance, supposedly driven by moral concerns but actually reflecting domestic politics. Surely it's important to understand how others see us, but a new, post 9/11 version of political correctness has made it difficult even to discuss their points of view. Any American who tries to go beyond "America good, terrorists evil," who tries to understand — not condone — the growing world backlash against the United States, faces furious attacks delivered in a tone of high moral indignation. The attackers claim to be standing up for moral clarity, and some of them may even believe it. But they are really being used in a domestic political struggle.
Last week I found myself caught up in that struggle. I wrote about why Mahathir Mohamad, Malaysia's prime minister — a clever if loathsome man who adjusts the volume of his anti-Semitism depending on circumstances — chose to include an anti-Jewish diatribe in his speech to an Islamic conference. Sure enough, I was accused in various places not just of "tolerance for anti-Semitism" (yes, I'm Jewish) but of being in Mr. Mahathir's pay. Smear tactics aside, the thrust of the attacks was that because anti-Semitism is evil, anyone who tries to understand why politicians foment anti-Semitism — and looks for ways other than military force to combat the disease — is an apologist for anti-Semitism and is complicit in evil.
Yet that moral punctiliousness is curiously selective. Last year the Bush administration, in return for a military base in Uzbekistan, gave $500 million to a government that, according to the State Department, uses torture "as a routine investigation technique," and whose president has killed opponents with boiling water. The moral clarity police were notably quiet.
Why is aiding a brutal dictator O.K., while trying to understand why others don't trust us — and doing something to create that trust — isn't? Why won't the administration mollify Muslims by firing Lt. Gen. William Boykin, whose anti-Islamic remarks have created vast ill will, from his counterterrorism position? Why won't it give moderate Muslims a better argument against the radicals by opposing Ariel Sharon's settlement policy, when a majority of Israelis think that some settlements should be abandoned, and even Israeli military officers have become bitterly critical of Mr. Sharon?
The answer is that in these cases politics takes priority over the war on terror. Moderate Muslims would have more faith in America's good intentions if there were at least the appearance of a distinction between the U.S. and the Sharon government — but the administration seeks votes from those who think that supporting Israel means supporting whatever Mr. Sharon does. It's sheer folly to keep General Boykin in his present position, but as Howard Fineman writes in a Newsweek Web-exclusive column, the administration doesn't want "to make a martyr of a man who depicts himself as a Christian Soldier, marching off to war."
Muslims are completely wrong to think that the U.S. is engaged in a war against Islam. But that misperception flourishes in part because the domestic political strategy of the Bush administration — no longer able to claim the Iraq war was a triumph, and with little but red ink to show for its economic plans — looks more and more like a crusade. "Election Boils Down to a Culture War" was the title of Mr. Fineman's column. But the analysis was all about abortion and euthanasia, and now we hear that opposition to gay marriage will be a major campaign theme. This isn't a culture war — it's a religious war.
Which brings me back to my starting point: we'll lose the fight against terror if we don't make an effort to understand how others think. Yet because of a domestic political struggle that seems ever more centered on religion, such attempts at understanding are shouted down.
IS BUSH MEAN AND STUPID?
Interesting interview with Molly Ivins today on NPR. She's one of Bush's fiercest critics, author of recent bestseller Bushwacked, and wonderful columnnist. She's a Texan, and said today that she's known Bush much of her life and he isn't mean or stupid, as is often cited, but that his policies are devastating the country.
If he isn't mean or stupid, but his policies are mean and stupid, and result in mean-spirited behavior and action, the result, seems to me, is the same. Mean and Stupid.
Wednesday, October 29, 2003
EVIL GOP BASTARDS
I may have to retire. A friend alerted me to a sight that says it all. Here's a sample:
"Since the New Deal, Republicans have been on the wrong side of every issue of concern to ordinary Americans; Social Security, the war in Vietnam, equal rights, civil liberties, church- state separation, consumer issues, public education, reproductive freedom, national health care, labor issues, gun policy, campaign-finance reform, the environment and tax fairness. No political party could remain so consistently wrong by accident. The only rational conclusion is that, despite their cynical "family values" propaganda, the Republican Party is a criminal conspiracy to betray the interests of the American people in favor of plutocratic and corporate interests, and absolutist religious groups. Why? Because they're evil GOP bastards!"
This is site rich with articles, letters, rants, and links about, well, those evil bastards.
That's where I found this great quote:
"Rush Limbaugh is full of shit."
THE WORLD IS "MORE PEACEFUL AND FREE UNDER MY LEADERSHIP" SAYS BUSH
Dubya says he's going to run for reelection on peace and security, and declared that the world is "more peaceful and more free under my leadership.
I've seen more leadership coming from Al Sharpton, or the slugs in my garden (apologies to Sharpton).
This guy really does think we are simpletons. OK, grand sweeping statements aren't limited to cerebrally-challenged presidents. But Bush has less claim to these kinds of statement than anyone since Nixon.
I think he is misunderestimating we the people.
We know, for instance, that Pakistan not only still harbors terrorists, but it's own leadership is on shaky grounds as its population becomes increasingly fundamentalist.
We know, for instance, that the Taliban are regrouping in Afghanistan, that the warlords have as much power as ever, that the opium trade is fueling both activities, and that Karzai will be lucky to survive.
We know, for instance, that North Korea is holding the region and the West hostage to its own nuclear megalomania, and this administration seems impotent.
And we know that anti-semitism is seeing the biggest revival since the pre-WW2 era, and that inevitably will lead to less peace, not more.
We know that this administration's efforts to defuse the Israeli-Palestinian mess are....well, what efforts? The Roadmap to Peace? And that took three years to introduce, and lasted how many weeks?
Iraq? Today the administration links the bombings to "an emerging alliance between remnants of the former regime and foreign fighters who came to wage a so-called holy war against US forces." This is stated as exculpatory. Oh give us a break. Is there anyone to the left of Attila the Hun who didn't foresee this, and know it was happening months ago?
Which reminds me--Osama? One gets the feeling that Bush's plan now is simply to not acknowledge his existence. When was the last time you heard Bush refer to bin Laden? Audio tapes still come regularly, and it's clear that bin Laden is still orchestrating terror and inciting hatred as strongly as ever. I've heard nothing, absolutely nothing, from this administration regarding attempts to find or disenfranchise Osama. How many of the 150 or so billions allocated to Iraq would it have taken to mount a campaign against the real threat to our security?
And we know that Bush's defacto support of General Boykin is enraging even moderate Muslims around the world. As one pundit pointed out, if Boynton had publicly criticized the administration's policies, he'd be gone in a minute. But apparently it's OK for him to make the most inflammatory and ignorant comments heard from these shores since 9/11, and the administration is effectively silent.
Thus has Bush addressed the hatred Islamic fundamentalists (among many others) feel for America. Has he even come close to acknowledging that he understands where that comes from and what needs to be done? "They hate freedom," is his mantra. That'll work.
So do you feel more secure than you did three years ago?
Canadian citizenship is becomingly increasingly attractive.
FLORIDA GOVERNOR JEB BUSH ORDERS FEEDING TUBE RE-INSERTED IN BRAIN-DAMAGED BROTHER
By Bolivar Shagnasty
TALAHASSEE, October 21 –Four days ago, President George W. Bush’s feeding tube was removed by a team of physicians headed by Senate majority leader Dr. Bill Frist, who felt it was in the best interests of the Republican Party. But today, Florida Governor Jeb Bush, citing “inviolable right-wing religious principles,” ordered that doctors reinsert a feeding tube into his brain-damaged brother.
Since January 14, 2001, when a pretzel cut off the oxygen supply to his brain, George Bush has struggled valiantly to lead the United States. But his presidency has been marred by his near- vegetative state, and has resulted in destructive, irrational and simply stupid actions. This has led many observers to conclude that a merciful death would be better both for Bush and the world.
But Governor Bush invoked his brother’s right to life and intervened. “Moreover,” said Jeb Bush, “my brother was installed as president by Florida, not the United States as a whole, and therefore it is we who get to make the decisions.”
Asked what substances would be traveling through the feeding tube, Governor Bush was at first evasive, but finally admitted that “George really likes mulched-up Little Debbie cakes. And of course, pretzels are a no-no.”
When pressed whether W., as the family calls him, was in any shape for the world’s most powerful office, Governor Bush retorted, “That’s for the Bush family and their close friend God to decide.”
--Shamelessly Lifted from DCPox, my favorite satire site: www.dcpox.com
Monday, October 27, 2003
LIBERAL TALK RADIO AND TV?
Al Franken talked about progressive talk radio at his book tour forum a few weeks ago. It's been bandied about that he would be hosting such a show soon, and he pretty much confirmed that.
Here's excerpts from an article on the subject, with a link to the whole article:
Are the U.S. Airwaves About to Lean to the Left?
By Simon Houpt, The Globe and Mail, Saturday 25 October 2003
Al Gore is reported to be exploring a purchase of Newsworld International, a U.S. cable channel formerly owned by CBC that currently airs news from Germany, the U.K., and Japan, along with CBC programs such as Hot Type and The National. During the Iraq war, many Americans turned to NWI, as it is known, for an alternative to the resolutely pro-American narrative followed by even the most skeptical U.S. broadcast networks.
Gore may be planning to offer an even stronger alternative. With Democratic fundraisers, he is exploring the possibility of purchasing NWI from Vivendi Universal SA, which just completed an agreement to merge with NBC and is looking to unload the channel. Although his partner in the venture, Joel Hyatt, refused comment on the matter, they are reported to be considering transforming the channel into either a left-wing alternative to FNC or a youth-oriented MTV-style news outlet that can tap into the inchoate liberal leanings of a large bloc of potential voters who don't usually go to the polls.
The television channel is only one element that could help shift the U.S. media landscape again.
Sheldon Drobny, a Chicago venture capitalist who calls the Clintons and Gores personal friends, says he will launch a liberal talk-radio network in January, in time to gain enough traction to affect next year's presidential election.
Stand-alone progressive talk-radio shows were attempted in the past but failed to catch fire like those hosted by right-wing firebrands Rush Limbaugh, G. Gordon Liddy and Oliver North, partly because they were out of place on stations dedicated to the conservative point of view.
Some industry analysts believe talk radio's belligerent spirit, like cable television news, simply isn't suited for a left-wing slant. Liberals are perceived to be too diverse of mind and not as passionately dogged as the more unified conservative audience. (Rush Limbaugh's listeners are known as "dittoheads" for their propensity to reflexively agree with the host.) But Drobny is convinced those assumptions are wrong. He's bet $10-million on proving that progressive talk radio can flourish.
Drobny isn't the only one who believes there's money to be made on the left. The media conglomerate Clear Channel Communications, which supported the Iraq war and is close with the Bush administration, is considering a launch of its own liberal talk network on some of its 1,200 radio stations across the U.S. Even Fox is now syndicating Alan Colmes, the mildly liberal co-host of the shoutfest Hannity & Colmes, to talk-radio stations.
He says his network will program 14 to 16 hours of talk a day, including three hours hosted by comedian-cum-political gadfly Al Franken, who incurred the wrath of FNC executives last summer when he attacked some of the channel's high-profile talent in his book Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right.
THE REAL REASON WHY THE SUN SET ON THE BRITISH EMPIRE
Sulfur Emissions tests found that 52% of Britons have breath worse than a typical dog's.
Consider the parts of the animal that Brits regulary eat. No wonder their breath smells offal.
IF TEXAS WANTS TO SECEDE, CAN WE HELP?
A Dallas couple who took snapshots of their baby breast-feeding were arrested after the photo lab called police. The parents were charged with "lewd exhibition of portion of the female breast" and inducing a child "to engage in sexual conduct." The charges were dropped, but the couple's two children were taken by child welfare officials and have not been returned home.
Ya want to have rooted for Santa Anna.
2,102,400 CHILDREN DEAD EACH YEAR
Parade magazine--yes, I know--reports that a child dies every 15 seconds from drinking contaminated water. My abacus tells me that's 2,102,400 per year. That's a staggering figure. It's clear that most of these deaths occur in Africa, Latin America, and Southeast Asia, the areas, as the article reports, with the most contaminated water.
Developing countries. And what is the source of most of the ills of developing countries?
Oh, take your pick: historical and current western political and economic imperialism; usurping of power in many of these countries by tyrants whose lust for power trumps any concern for the well being of the citizenry and the economies that sustain standards of living; support of these tyrants as proxies by developed countries; drought; racism; the continual emasculating by conservative power of international bodies that could help, like the UN; and bad luck. None but the last can be considered alone, as most are interconnected.
Take food. Please. It's pretty well known that there is plenty of food around to feed all the hungry of the world. The problem is getting the food to them. Food, and the means of distribution, are often used as pawns by warlords and tyrants. Economic policies of developed countries also contribute to poverty and starvation. Many peoples export their crops for meager returns, thanks to free trade. Similarly many turn to export crops like cotton, tobacco, or coca, rather than food for their own country or region's use.
This is all remedial, but there appears to be no international will to end these practices and policies. The World Bank and the IMF (maybe not quite as evil as the Papacy, but close enough) until very recently were hugely responsible for much of this misery in the developing world. It's only the obvious extent of their calumny and the consistent pressure from anti-globalization forces around the world that have prompted even a modicum of reform in these agencies.
It's rare that one sees good news for these parts of the world, and even then they are underreported in favor of bombast and death. But it does happen: The success of mini-loans (even a few dollars in some cases) that offers people opportunities for sustainable enterpreneurial efforts--an incredibly successful program that is finally being supported by western capitalism; the development of simple and incredibly cheap solar cookers that were in fact widely reported a few years ago (but about which little has been seen lately).
Now, that Parade article reports the discovery by a Swiss researcher that leaving a clear plastic bottle of water in bright sun for six hours killed the pathogens that cause diarrhea. The combination of UVA light and heat does those little buggers in.
What a discovery! Millions of lives can be saved at almost no cost, gobs of misery eliminated.
How many clear plastic one or two-gallon water jugs are discarded or recycled every day in America alone?
So wouldn't a simple and terrific answer be for some international agency to create a program whereby these bottles are gathered up, cleaned, and given to people in sunny climes all over the world who suffer from contaminated water?
Sure. And the Red Sox will win the World Series.
And now the irony. Of course many of these same areas that suffer from diarrheal death also suffer from lack of food, and starvation kills many kids as well. I have to wonder how many of the lives saved with pure water would in turn die from starvation.
And for the rest of us, life goes on.
Saturday, October 25, 2003
IS IT REALLY NECESSARY TO SAY ANYTHING ELSE ABOUT ANN COULTER?
No. Let's boycott any website that even mentions her name.
WHAT MAKES A POLITICAL CONSERVATIVE
I'm feeling ambivalent about this article.
Researchers help define what makes a political conservative
By Kathleen Maclay, Media Relations | 22 July 2003 (revised 7/25/03)
BERKELEY - Politically conservative agendas may range from supporting the Vietnam War to upholding traditional moral and religious values to opposing welfare. But are there consistent underlying motivations?
Four researchers who culled through 50 years of research literature about the psychology of conservatism report that at the core of political conservatism is the resistance to change and a tolerance for inequality, and that some of the common psychological factors linked to political conservatism include:
* Fear and aggression
* Dogmatism and intolerance of ambiguity
* Uncertainty avoidance
* Need for cognitive closure
* Terror management
"From our perspective, these psychological factors are capable of contributing to the adoption of conservative ideological contents, either independently or in combination," the researchers wrote in an article, "Political Conservatism as Motivated Social Cognition," recently published in the American Psychological Association's Psychological Bulletin.
Assistant Professor Jack Glaser of the University of California, Berkeley's Goldman School of Public Policy and Visiting Professor Frank Sulloway of UC Berkeley joined lead author, Associate Professor John Jost of Stanford University's Graduate School of Business, and Professor Arie Kruglanski of the University of Maryland at College Park, to analyze the literature on conservatism.
The psychologists sought patterns among 88 samples, involving 22,818 participants, taken from journal articles, books and conference papers. The material originating from 12 countries included speeches and interviews given by politicians, opinions and verdicts rendered by judges, as well as experimental, field and survey studies.
Ten meta-analytic calculations performed on the material - which included various types of literature and approaches from different countries and groups - yielded consistent, common threads, Glaser said.
The avoidance of uncertainty, for example, as well as the striving for certainty, are particularly tied to one key dimension of conservative thought - the resistance to change or hanging onto the status quo, they said.
The terror management feature of conservatism can be seen in post-Sept. 11 America, where many people appear to shun and even punish outsiders and those who threaten the status of cherished world views, they wrote.
Concerns with fear and threat, likewise, can be linked to a second key dimension of conservatism - an endorsement of inequality, a view reflected in the Indian caste system, South African apartheid and the conservative, segregationist politics of the late Sen. Strom Thurmond (R-South S.C.).
Disparate conservatives share a resistance to change and acceptance of inequality, the authors said. Hitler, Mussolini, and former President Ronald Reagan were individuals, but all were right-wing conservatives because they preached a return to an idealized past and condoned inequality in some form. Talk host Rush Limbaugh can be described the same way, the authors commented in a published reply to the article.
This research marks the first synthesis of a vast amount of information about conservatism, and the result is an "elegant and unifying explanation" for political conservatism under the rubric of motivated social cognition, said Sulloway. That entails the tendency of people's attitudinal preferences on policy matters to be explained by individual needs based on personality, social interests or existential needs.
The researchers' analytical methods allowed them to determine the effects for each class of factors and revealed "more pluralistic and nuanced understanding of the source of conservatism," Sulloway said.
While most people resist change, Glaser said, liberals appear to have a higher tolerance for change than conservatives do.
As for conservatives' penchant for accepting inequality, he said, one contemporary example is liberals' general endorsement of extending rights and liberties to disadvantaged minorities such as gays and lesbians, compared to conservatives' opposing position.
The researchers said that conservative ideologies, like virtually all belief systems, develop in part because they satisfy some psychological needs, but that "does not mean that conservatism is pathological or that conservative beliefs are necessarily false, irrational, or unprincipled."
They also stressed that their findings are not judgmental.
"In many cases, including mass politics, 'liberal' traits may be liabilities, and being intolerant of ambiguity, high on the need for closure, or low in cognitive complexity might be associated with such generally valued characteristics as personal commitment and unwavering loyalty," the researchers wrote.
This intolerance of ambiguity can lead people to cling to the familiar, to arrive at premature conclusions, and to impose simplistic cliches and stereotypes, the researchers advised.
The latest debate about the possibility that the Bush administration ignored intelligence information that discounted reports of Iraq buying nuclear material from Africa may be linked to the conservative intolerance for ambiguity and or need for closure, said Glaser.
"For a variety of psychological reasons, then, right-wing populism may have more consistent appeal than left-wing populism, especially in times of potential crisis and instability," he said.
Glaser acknowledged that the team's exclusive assessment of the psychological motivations of political conservatism might be viewed as a partisan exercise. However, he said, there is a host of information available about conservatism, but not about liberalism.
The researchers conceded cases of left-wing ideologues, such as Stalin, Khrushchev or Castro, who, once in power, steadfastly resisted change, allegedly in the name of egalitarianism.
Yet, they noted that some of these figures might be considered politically conservative in the context of the systems that they defended. The researchers noted that Stalin, for example, was concerned about defending and preserving the existing Soviet system.
Although they concluded that conservatives are less "integratively complex" than others are, Glaser said, "it doesn't mean that they're simple-minded."
Conservatives don't feel the need to jump through complex, intellectual hoops in order to understand or justify some of their positions, he said. "They are more comfortable seeing and stating things in black and white in ways that would make liberals squirm," Glaser said.
He pointed as an example to a 2001 trip to Italy, where President George W. Bush was asked to explain himself. The Republican president told assembled world leaders, "I know what I believe and I believe what I believe is right." And in 2002, Bush told a British reporter, "Look, my job isn't to nuance."
FOR RICHARD LEDERER
The Boston Pops Orchestra was in the middle of Beethoven's ninth symphony, but conductor John Williams was worried. He'd earlier found his bass section passing a bottle around, getting boozed up right before a performance! So far they were doing fine, but this particular symphony required extra effort from the basses at the end. The situation made Williams so nervous that just as he was about to cue the basses, he knocked over his music stand. The sheet music was scattered. And his worst fear was realized: It was the bottom of the 9th, no score, and the basses were loaded.
A friend just informed me of this blog:http://www.rageboy.com/blogger.html
This is the terrific blog of Christopher Locke, author of The Cluetrain Manifesto. In my early years as fish-out-of-water at Harvard Business Review, this book was the buzz. In fact, Locke was the keynote speaker at a major industry trade show in 2001. I liked his style, but I knew little about him, and really had no idea he was so, well, cool, until I saw his blog. He seems to fit in both worlds a lot better than I ever did. Of course, I'm not ultimately sure that's a plus, but the site is lots of fun regardless.
BUSH'S ANTI-CHOICE NOMINEES TO THE FEDERAL BENCH
This is not news, and that's the tragedy. The democrats have chosen to fiercely oppose a few of these nominees, but many others have been approved already.
More are being nominated right now, and they are even worse than those that are now being fought.
Even if some of the damage to the body politic that Bush has inflicted can be reversed, and that's a great "if", these appointments are lifetime. When Nader tried to tell us there was no difference between the two parties, he conveniently overlooked the appointments to the federal, and maybe the Supreme, courts--appointments that will negatively impact us all for generations.
It's one of the greatest insults to the American public to promote these incredibly unqualified people to positions of lasting influence. It's also one of the most cynical moves of this administration. Bush needs his radical right voter base, and it appears he will do anything to favor them. Of course, he himself may approve of the nominees' positions, and their injecting of radical opinion into judicial decisions. All the more obnoxious. I used to ask, which is worse, that Reagan believes what he says, or that he doesn't?
NARAL, among many other moderate and progressive organizations, is fighting these nominations. Their site is at http://www.prochoiceamerica.org. As is the case with many sites, they make it easy to send your protests to congress, or give you info to do it yourself.
Here's what they say in their newsletter about two recent nominees; first, about Janice Brown:
"Now Bush is at it again. This time, he is looking to promote Janice Rogers Brown, a radically conservative justice on the California Supreme Court. Her record makes her the perfect Bush pick: she's anti-choice and anti-privacy, and she routinely injects her extreme right-wing views into her judicial opinions.
Radically anti-choice Claude Allen will come before the Senate Judiciary Committee this Tuesday. Nominated to a lifetime seat on the powerful Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, Allen has one of the worst anti-choice records of any Bush nominee - and that's saying a lot!"
And then about Claude Allen:
"Thank you for being at the forefront of so many of our hard fought battles. I write to urge your opposition to President Bush's nomination of Claude Allen to the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals. I hope you will attend this hearing on October 28, ask about Allen's record on the right to choose, and voice your opposition.
Claude Allen has worked throughout his career to impose his own personal and political views on others, making it highly unlikely that he would be capable of fairly hearing cases involving reproductive rights. Allen's anti-choice views are not confined to the law or policy - he is also an anti-choice political activist.
Also, the White House has bypassed two Democratic Senators by nominating Allen for a seat that by tradition and population should go to a Maryland attorney. This political move demonstrates how right-wing ideology trumps all other consideration for judicial nominations by this administration
Federal judges must fairly apply the law and follow court precedents. Brown has a record of judicial activism. If confirmed to the federal courts, she's likely to disregard established precedent and rule against constitutional rights.
Brown received an "unqualified" rating for the state supreme court by the State Bar of California, particularly because of her disregard for established precedents and her record of injecting her personal views into judicial rulings."
After the passage of the recent anti-abortion bill, egregiously and knowingly erroneously framed by the control-freaks as the 'partial-birth abortion" bill*, these nominees pose another threat to constitutional rights, and will impose their own morality, like their leader, on those of us to whom that so-called morality is repugnant.
*See William Saletan's Oct 22 column "The "Partial-Birth" Myth--No, it's not a birth" at Slate: http://slate.msn.com/id/2090201/?0sl=-10
THE NEW "L" WORD
Paul Krugman, NY Times columnist and professor of Economics at Princeton, and now progressive hero, told us recently at his book tour appearance in Cambridge about the atmosphere at the times back in 2000. Krugman had been undergoing a slow radicalization, as he called it. He said he couldn't believe that the American public would accept the tax cut that Bush was proposing. As an economist, he knew the truth about that cut, and that what Bush was saying about the tax cut were very big lies. But then there was not the groundswell of protest that he expected, and the cut passed easily. It appeared to be a wake up call for Krugman, who until then, he says, had been moderate.
So he knew Bush was telling lies. But the atmosphere at the Times was such that he could not use that L word.
How Times have changed. Now the words "lies" and "liar" are not only the currency of the left, but are creeping into the center and finally into conservative circles. One would think that the neocon's betrayal of traditional conservative values and positions, and dissembling about that fact, would have aroused their ire long ago. Why didn't that happen? Britney Spears explained it all recently.
Anyway, now that the evidence of the lies is irrefutable, and everybody with any integrity is regularly using the L words, Krugman indicated that the Times has ceased its prohibition. All the news that fits, they print.
William Pitt's latest column addresses the issue of lying in the context of what he calls ABBA--this time not the much-loved Swedish meatballs, but the Anyone But Bush Association. I'm a proud member, and we also sing Dancing Queen when our branch gets together at the Paradise, because, of course, when it comes to ABBA, we can go either way.
Pitt also touches on one of the greatest obscenities of this administration and its apologists and hangers--that they are guilty of the very things they accuse everyone else of, while selfrighteously denying any such thing. Bill O'Reilly and Limbaugh are typical of the media whores who do this for a living, and the religious right, whose are as blind to their own fear-motivated hate and arrogance as could be, pick up the slack. Pitt refers to the right's criticism of opponents of Bush. The opponents "just hate Bush for the sake of simple hatred," say the Bush defenders. One word: Clinton. The fanatical, illogical, and irrational hatred of Clinton by these same people is conveniently ignored or dismissed whenever it comes up. Do we have a stronger word than hypocrite? The Great Satan? OK, that's three words. It'll do.
Here's the column:
Anyone But Bush
By William Rivers Pitt
t r u t h o u t | Perspective
Wednesday 22 October 2003
Looking at both sides of the debate over the looming 2004 Presidential campaign, one finds weirdness on both sides of the political aisle. From the mouths of those who advocate for the current administration, we find this feigned outrage directed at those who criticize George W. Bush. The critics, we are told, have no substance to them. They just hate Bush for the sake of simple hatred. Many who argue from the liberal/progressive realm, conversely, cast their eyes across the nine Democratic candidates for the office and find each and every one of them sorely wanting in one way or another.
In other words, liberals just hate Bush because they just hate Bush, and simultaneously dislike all the Democratic candidates because they do not pass the purity test. Those within the liberal realm who argue the 'ABBA' perspective ('ABBA' being the 'Anyone But Bush Association') are denounced by a segment of their fellow liberals for having no standards, no morals, no integrity.
ABBA people tend to be upfront about the fact that they would vote for a baloney sandwich before voting Bush in 2004. This does not pass the smell test for many of their fellow progressives. Has the baloney sandwich ever held office before? Does the baloney sandwich have a record it can run on? Did the baloney sandwich vote for the Iraq war? Did the baloney sandwich vote for the Patriot Act? Where does the baloney sandwich stand on the Israel/Palestine issue?
There is no doubt that these are important issues, and there is no doubt that ABBA advocates will have to swallow a degree of their liberal integrity when they stand to support whomever wins the Democratic nomination in Boston this coming summer. Yet the conservative defenses of Bush and his 'haters,' along with liberal denunciations of the ABBA perspective as being without integrity, do not pass my own personal smell test.
The thing is, the conservative White House defenders are spot-on correct about one thing. I despise George W. Bush. I despise his Vice President, his Senior Political Advisor, his Chief of Staff, his Defense Secretary, his Assistant Defense Secretary, his Attorney General, his National Security Advisor, and his chosen Ambassador to the United Nations. Those names, in case you are confused, are Cheney, Rove, Card, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, Ashcroft, Rice and Negroponte.
I despise his Congressional allies, who have shredded their constitutional duties by refusing to investigate a variety of incredible crimes. For the record, these crimes include the fabrication of Iraq war evidence, the outing of a WMD-hunting CIA agent in an act of political revenge, and the serious questions about how four commercial aircraft fooled the entire domestic defense shield and the entire intelligence community long enough to kill three thousand people.
I despise any and all of his people who fanned out two years ago to pound into the American consciousness the idea that criticizing Bush is treason. If you think that is over, take a gander at the first paragraph of an editorial entitled 'Kennedy, Other Critics, Are Traitors' that appeared today in a local Philadelphia paper called the Daily Local. The author, one Harlan "Buck" Ross, does an admirable job of describing the attitude the Bush administration has about its critics:
"According to my dictionary a 'traitor' is a person who behaves disloyally; one who betrays his country. What I hear from U.S. Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., is nothing short of traitorous. The nine (10?) would-be candidates for the presidency in 2004 are but a short distance behind him with their ranting and raving and irresponsible blaspheming of the president of the United States."
Call me old-fashioned, but I could have sworn that one can only blaspheme against God. When criticism of this President, or any President, is rhetorically raised to the level of blasphemy, we the people have an enormous problem on our hands.
Yeah, I hate them all. Do I hate for the simple sake of hatred? Do I hate Bush because he is a Republican, a Texan, a white male, a meat-eater? Certainly not. I hate George W. Bush and all of his people because they have done an incredible amount of damage to this nation I hold so dear. I hate them because they are professional liars, thieves, brigands without conscience. I hate them, fully and completely, on the record.
They lied about the need for this war. If you won't take it from me, take it from an avowed conservative and Bush voter named Paul Sperry, who wrote an editorial entitled 'Yes, Bush Lied' on October 6. This was published, if you can believe it, on the ultra-right-wing website WorldNetDaily.com, the same page that carries such luminaries as Ann Coulter. Feast:
"According to the consensus of Bush's intelligence services, there was 'low confidence' before the war in the views that 'Saddam would engage in clandestine attacks against the U.S. Homeland' or 'share chemical or biological weapons with al-Qaida.' Their message to the president was clear: Saddam wouldn't help al-Qaida unless we put his back against the wall, and even then it was a big maybe. If anything, the report was a flashing yellow light against attacking Iraq. Bush saw the warning, yet completely ignored it and barreled ahead with the war plans he'd approved a month earlier (Aug. 29), telling a completely different version of the intelligence consensus to the American people. Less than a week after the NIE was published, he warned that 'on any given day' - provoked by attack or not, sufficiently desperate or not - Saddam could team up with Osama and conduct a joint terrorist operation against America using weapons of mass destruction."
In essence, Bush used the attacks of September 11 against the American people to gin up fear and dread, which he then used to push a war which did not need to be fought. Sperry, some devastating paragraphs later, concludes:
"Forget that Bush lied about the reasons for putting our sons and daughters in harm's way in Iraq; and forget that he sent 140,000 troops there with bull's-eyes on their backs, then dared their attackers to bring it on. It was the height of irresponsibility to have done so in the middle of a war on al-Qaida, the real and proven threat to America. Bush diverted those troops and other resources - including intelligence assets, Arabic translators and hundreds of billions of tax dollars - from the hunt for Osama bin Laden and other al-Qaida leaders along the Afghan-Pakistani border. And now they've regrouped and are as threatening as ever. That's inexcusable, and Bush supporters with any intellectual honesty and concern for their own families' safety should be mad as hell about it - and that's coming from someone who voted for Bush."
Mr. Sperry, in all likelihood, will remember these gems:
"This is a man that we know has had connections with al-Qaida. This is a man who, in my judgment, would like to use al-Qaida as a forward army." - Bush, October 14, 2002
"Yes, there is a linkage between al-Qaida and Iraq." - Defense Secretary Rumsfeld, September 26, 2002
"There have been contacts between senior Iraqi officials and members of al-Qaida going back for actually quite a long time." - National Security Advisor Rice, September 25, 2002
The list of lies this administration told is long and distinguished. The number of lies told specifically about Iraq - his claim in May that "We found the weapons of mass destruction," his claim that Iraq refused to let the inspectors in when they demonstrably had, his claims about Iraq procuring uranium from Niger, his claims that Iraq was a threatening nation capable of attacking within 45 minutes, the mobile weapons labs, the aluminum tubes story, the mushroom clouds - boggle the mind. A few more to consider:
* He lied about wanting Osama bin Laden "Dead or alive" in September of 2001 because he turned around that March and claimed bin Laden was of no importance.
* His National Security Advisor, Condoleezza Rice, said, "We had no way of predicting that terrorists would hijack planes and crash them into buildings." This was a lie. I have spoken to several engineers in the building-building business. Large buildings, and especially large government buildings, are constructed with a number of potential catastrophes in mind. A purposefully crashed airplane has been on that hazard list for a very long time. This, in combination with the warnings given to this administration by foreign intelligence services that were specifically about hijacked aircraft being used as aerial bombs, makes the whole sordid excuse reek.
* He lied about making America a "humble nation," and lied about "changing the tone." America has virtually no friends left within the international community because we have been violently belligerent instead of humble. The cries of "Traitor!" against administration critics have certainly changed the tone, but for the worse.
* He said, "By far the vast majority of my tax cuts go to the bottom end of the spectrum." This was a fantastic lie. The tax cuts benefited the vast majority of very rich people across the entire spectrum of very rich people. Those truly at the bottom of the spectrum received a pittance, and have watched the social programs they depend on die from lack of funding, because said funding was squandered by the tax cuts. By the end of the decade, Bush's tax cuts will substantially increase the tax burden on middle-class families.
* He lied when he said he did not know Mr. Enron, Ken Lay, before 1996. Lay was one of Bush's most generous benefactors well before 1996. The number of lies told about the specifics of Bush's relationship to Lay and Enron, and the many ways Bush tried to rescue that criminal company, would require a list that stretches around the moon. When Bush said, "Ken who?" after being questioned by the press about his Enron connections, this stretched the definition of bold lying into impressive new shapes.
* He lied about the reasons for the attacks of September 11. It was "enemies who hate our freedom," and not a constellation of foreign policy decisions made by this administration as well as its predecessors reaching back before 1978, that caused the attack. This lie, in particular, is diabolical. An American populace who are not given the understanding that actions have consequences is an American populace that can be easily led into an unnecessary war in the Mideast.
* He lied when he took credit for a Patients Bill of Rights as Governor of Texas. In fact, he vetoed the bill. Likewise, he took credit for reforms to the Texas educational system that had been put in place by Ann Richards and Mark White, among others.
* He lied broadly and often about his military service, despite the fact that no one in his Texas Air National Guard unit can remember laying eyes on him for almost two years of his tour. "I've been to war. I've raised twins. Given a choice, I'd rather go to war," said Bush to the Houston Chronicle on January 27, 2002. Cute, George. Problem: You've never been to war. Liar. The swagger across the aircraft carrier, by default, is a nauseating lie as well.
* He lied to the entire city of New York, and to the cops, firefighters and EMTs in particular. He said the air in New York was fine after 9/11 when he knew from his EPA chief that it was poison. He promised vast new funding to the police, fire and EMT departments in New York. Not a dime has been provided. It all went to the tax cuts and the Iraq war...which means it went to Bush's wealthy allies and friends in the defense industry. Fancy that.
We would be here all day if this list were constructed to be comprehensive. The above is representative: George W. Bush has lied about September 11, the Iraq war, the economy, his record as governor of Texas, his relationship with corporate criminals, and his own military record. In short, he has lied day after day after day about all of the issues he and his administration claim to hold dear.
I do not hate George W. Bush merely for the sake of hatred, or because he is a Republican. I hate him because he is a cancer that is rotting out the guts of this country. I hate him because he would not know the truth if it crawled up his leg and grabbed him by the nose. Truth does not advance the profit motive.
For liberals who denounce the ABBA perspective as being without integrity, my response is simple. Voting for anyone who can remove Mr. Bush, his administration, and all of these deadly lies from the highest office in the land is an act of singular integrity and patriotism. All hail the baloney sandwich, and never mind the blasphemy.
William Rivers Pitt is the Managing Editor of truthout.org. He is a New York Times and international best-selling author of three books - "War On Iraq," available from Context Books, "The Greatest Sedition is Silence," available from Pluto Press, and "Our Flag, Too: The Paradox of Patriotism," available in August from Context Books.
Friday, October 24, 2003
ANOTHER BENEFIT FROM THE BUSH ADMINISTRATION
"Most Americans still rank trust high on their list of virtues,
invariable citing it as the most important quality they seek in a
relationship. Indeed, to be able to trust fully is the single most
important criterion for a lasting, deeply satisfying relationship."
"Trust is the cornerstone of every relationship we have - an unspoken
assumption about how we will behave toward, as well as be treated by
others. And because it is unspoken, we assume everyone else operates
from the same reference point that we do. We expect those we trust
to be faithful, loyal and honest. With trust comes respect, personal
safety and intimacy. When someone deceives us, when they hide parts
of themselves or their actions from us, when they tell us only what
they think we want to hear, or when they put their needs above ours,
they demolish our dignity and shatter our self-esteem. The fallout
from broken trust remains astonishingly the same: the victims are left
with a gut-wrenching emptiness and hurt. They don't feel safe any
longer - emotionally, physically, spiritually, sometimes even
financially. Many victims discover that, while they can no longer
count on those who betrayed them, neither can they trust themselves.
Their judgement is now faulty, their lives paralyzed. Whey they fail
to acknowledge is that their own goodness and intelligence cannot help
them anticipate, or protect them from, the malice and dishonesty of
From “How Could You Do This To Me?" Dr. Jane Greer.
NO DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE TWO PARTIES?
A post to one progressive list contained these words:
"Vote Greens, Vote Commies, Vote Socialists, Vote Peace and Freedom; Vote anything but Democrat or Republican or Libertarian if you really want to start the country down a new road. America is sick to the core. We need new directions. Not another Republican/Democrat. They are one and the same."
"...for me the biggest and only priority is defeating Bush.
I don't see how advocacy of supporting third parties now
will help do that.
The practical reality is that a third party presidential candidate
will only siphon votes away from the
democrats, as Nader did in 2000, and as a result we got Bush
and his evil cabal. While a viable progressive third party is
critical to the future of democracy as you and I define it, another
Bush term will do more to destroy that democracy than the lack
of that viable third party. Look at the damage so far; and with no
election to worry about, and empowered by another victory,
these evildoers will make our lives hell. You think the country is
sick now? Give them another four years. Their goal is to bring
back the "constitution in exile"--the way this country was
before the New Deal, maybe even before Teddy Roosevelt.
They want to bankrupt the govt so it cannot fund any social
programs--that's what the tax cut is all about.
The dems aren't heroes, and they won't take
us in new directions, but they'll not put another
Scalia or Thomas on the Supreme Court, or fill the federal
courts with right wing extremist scum.
They won't kill social programs,
and they won't kill the separation of church and state.
They won't pass Patriot Act 2--they wouldn't have passed #1
or Total Information Awareness,
or glibly ignore the 4th amendment and other civil protections.
They won't call you and I traitors and try to silence us because
we visibly protest their plans and policies. They won't try to
emasculate the Bill of Rights (except for 'ol #2). They won't
pass or propose a constitutional amendment banning
same-sex marriage. The won't overturn Roe vs.. Wade.
They won't allocate 50% of their promised AIDS $ for
Africa to abstinence-only programs, or withhold money from
int'l health orgs if they even mention abortion. They won't
effectively kill school health programs that advocate condom
use for all, especially LGBT teens, or organize local school
boards and bigots to squelch straight-gay alliances in high schools
They won't remove mention of condoms as a means of safe sex from the CDC
web site. They won't preemptively attack other nations, alienate most of
the world, cut the balls off the UN (another long term republican goal).
They won't kill 15,000 people for regional hegemony and control over
oil and lie in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary (well,
not as blatantly, anyway, and maybe not at all).
They certainly won't spit on international anti-nuke and environmental treaties, or propose
mini-nukes for the US as a necessary weapon. They won't kill higher CAFE standards
for automobiles, or gut the EPA and most environmental regulations like the
Clean Air act. They won't dismantle Head Start or unfund Americorp, and lots
of other proven effective programs. They won't try to gut consumer protection
They won't ignore and belittle those who disagree with them,
whether that's us or the rest of the world. Not always, anyway.
They won't behave with the most outrageous hubris I have ever seen in
The list, as you know, is very long, and grows almost weekly.
Everything--I mean everything--you and I take for granted
is at risk.
Of course, the dems won't fix a corrupt military/corporate-controlled government either,
That, they have in common with the republicans. But neither will a third party nominee
or even victor.
So to say there is no difference between the parties, especially
when it comes to things that affect our lives daily and directly
and for a long long time, is simply wrong, and these days,
I resented it when Nader tried that tactic in 2000. He was only talking about corporate
control, not most of the other issues I mentioned. His ego and arrogance
helped put Bush in power. Until that election, I had a lot of respect
for Nader. But his behavior during that campaign was execrable.
He campaigned in swing states, knowing full well that the votes
he siphoned from the dems would give the state to Bush. That
was more important to him than really helping establish that
viable third party.
Nader's personal antipathy towards the dems, who had slighted him more than once
years ago by not giving him positions of power (not a proud moment
for the dems), resulted in a grudge match. In post election interviews
he still insisted on his obfuscatory sloganeering, showed no remorse
or even self reflection on how he contributed to Bush's victory, and
still insisted there was no diff between the parties. In fact,he seemed
almost glad that the dems lost. That'll show them! His tunnelvision
and his megalomania disqualify him for any serious consideration.
If the Greens nominate him again, it is to their shame. If he finds
a way to run again, he will have to answer for his behavior to
the thousands, maybe millions who are and will suffer for his folly.
(Oh sure, Gore played the wrong cards almost all the way, even in
the Florida recount strategy, and lost what should have been an
easy victory. Without Nader, even his idiot tactics may not have
cost him the election, and I wouldn't have to write emails like this.)
It's just plain vital that Bush is defeated--more vital than anything
I can think of on the planet today. This is the most critical
election in the history of this country--that's no hyperbole.
It's too dangerous to support a third party presidential candidate
Instead, support local third party candidates. A friend wrote this to me,
and I can't say it any better:
'It seems to me that the building of a viable third-party alternative in
this country must begin at the local level, beginning with local
representatives, working slowly up to state legislative representatives,
and then to governors and Congressional leaders. What the Green Party
achieves in this manner will be slow and incremental, but infinitely more
meaningful than another empty campaign for the highest office in the land.
I think progressives need to work on both long- and short-term timescales,
but the greatest possible mistake is confusing the two.'
Right now the priority is to stop Bush. Then we can work on
the failures--and they are many, too many--of the democrats.
For now, we need them, and desperately. We all have to hold
our noses and once again vote for what could be the lesser of
two evils. We simply have no other choice if we want to save
this unfulfilled democracy, with all its flaws, and not allow to be overturned
60 years of the greatest social progress any modern nation has
If work were such a spendid thing, the rich would have kept more of it for themselves.
Back when the Constitution was being written, the weather in Philadelphia was profoundly hot and humid. The founding dads were regularly gathered to write, discuss, argue, and generally blather on in a building blessed with plenty of large windows on all sides, for cross ventilation of what little air seemed to be available.
They had been arguing about these 10 amendments for days, it seemed, and there was apparently not much hope of reaching a consensus. There were more in favor of adding them to the Constitution than not, but the nays were headstrong and would not relent.
Now this building happened to be located near a stable. With all the windows open wide, one day the dads were surrounded by swarms of horseflies. They were already wretchedly hot and tired from arguing. The horseflies were the last straw. At that point, they would have signed over their first born to get out of there. And so they did--that is, those who in air-conditioned comfort might have argued till the cows came home, gave in to the proponents just so they all could get the hell out of that building and go home.
Had the weather been more temperate, had the horseflies not filled the hall that day, we might not have had the Bill of Rights. Imagine what this country would be without it? (Not that hard--another four years of Bush and Ashcroft and we may find out).
Next time you're attacked by a horsefly during some steamy summer afternoon at the ol' swimming hole, remember its contribution to your way of life, thank it, then of course kill the goddamn thing.
I wrote this in response to a post from a fellow ranter and Vermont resident, in which he said, among other things:
"Noah, my 15 year old, made an observation that seemed so accurate to me - that Howard Dean was Bill Clinton all over again. (I would add: without any of the charisma, sleazy or otherwise.) Seems there are many folks, mostly motivated by fear, who think this is the guy to get behind, the latest lesser-of-two-evils. I am not ready yet (and wonder if I will ever be), as one person put it, to "put a clothespin on my nose and pull the lever for Mr. Dean". A couple days after the debate I came across a little local Vermont newsletter - the contents of which are reprinted below. I am passing it on to stir up thought and to share some observations I share as a 16 year resident of Vermont."
Here's my response, and the Vermont newsletter article follows that.
I've been getting a little suspicious of Dean lately, and this post adds to that. Dean's two major moves obscured for many that the guy is not very liberal at all--in the political and social senses of that word. As this post reiterates, his oppostion to the Iraq war was not based on principle but merely the fact that the US entered into it unilaterally, ignoring the UN. While that's also not an uncommon attitude among many in the center and on the moderate left, it ignores the larger issues. And on the other stanchion of his popularity--the support for gay civil unions--it's also well known that he didn't sponsor, support or work for this initiative. He merely didn't fight it. He was not the standard bearer that he is being made out to be. While he deserves credit--actually, a lot of credit-- for signing the law, I'm not sure that alone makes him the hero of the times. And even if so, can his posiiton on one, albeit important, issue, trump his conservative and sometimes even reactionary positions on so many other equally important issues? I am increasingly saying no.
There never was any doubt that Kerry is far more liberal than Dean. Given the slim odds that a progressive like Kucinich--my first choice in an ideal world-- will come even close to a nomination, no matter how hard we might work for him, I now think I will, with a little twist of the phrase in the following post, "put a clothespin on my nose and pull the lever for Mr. Kerry." The electorate, having actively or subliminally accepted the demonizing of the liberals, may go for Dean, the least liberal of all the viable candidates. I don't much like Kerry, nor his actions regarding the initial Iraq resolutions and his general wimpiness in supporting his own lifelong views, but I don't want another term run by treasonous wretches like the neocons or liberal Republicans like Clinton.
By the way, it was jarring to hear Sydney Blumenthal, in a talk during his tour promoting the publication of "The Clinton Wars", in an otherwise incredibly pithy, insightful, and no-holds-barred and undeniably well documented attack on the right's truly vast and dirty conspiracy, consistently refer to Clinton as progressive. To this day, Clinton is behind the scenes urging the DNC and others to continue to insist that the Democrats must hold on to the political center to win. Today that center is what years ago used to called moderate or liberal Republican, with a few fillips to the real liberals on social issues to shut them up.There has been no room in the Democratic party for progressives under Clinton, and true liberalism, for all its limitations, was never the basis of his presidency or career. How did Blumenthal sneak by?
So for now, I will remain skeptical of Dean's pretensions to be my standard bearer. If he wins the nomination, of course I'll vote for him. I don't agree with the comments below implying he's no better than the Bush team. But it may be with both nostrils pinched. And for me, that's a big job!
Ok, so I may change my mind tomorrow or next week. Wesley Clark was impressive on Bill Maher's show last night. I don't know enough about him yet to make a truly informed judgement, but no doubt we all will soon enough.
But I don't think Dean's going to change his views tomorrow or next week.
Howard Dean: the Progressive Anti-War Candidate?
Some Vermonters Give Their Views
By DONNA BISTER, MARC ESTRIN and RON JACOBS
(The Editorial Collective of the Old North End RAG)
Howard Dean the liberal, anti-war candidate? The laughter rings most loudly in Vermont.
As Dean's candidacy caught fire over the summer, a number of articles have appeared on the net examining his history and current stance on important national and international issues. They all point to a Clintonesque Republicrat whose stances are not far from that of the current administration.
Although he publicly opposed attacking Iraq -- a smart political move setting him apart from the other Democratic candidates -- Dean recently declared in a Washington Post interview that he is now opposed to a pullout of US troops from Iraq. According to the interview, he now feels we must stay as a matter of national security, and not allow another anti-American regime to develop. Of course, events on the ground seem to indicate that the occupation itself is what is creating anti-Americanism in Iraq, but most politicians wont acknowledge that. Deans basic objection to the war was to the Bush administrations unilateral approach, without UN approval. But what about Washington-driven wars that are not unilateral? What if the Security Council were arm-twisted into support? What about multilateral wars like the war on Iraq in 1991, or the ones on Yugoslavia and Afghanistan? Plain and simple--Dean supported them.
Although he would likely be more sparing in its application, Dean has endorsed the Bush doctrine of preventive war, saying that he would not rule out using military force to disarm either North Korea or Iran. Dean has never voiced an objection to the notion that it is Washington's prerogative to decide which countries may have nuclear weapons, or its right to forcefully disarm those who do not do so voluntarily. In addition, Dean does not support cutting the defense budget, either for routine military expenditures, now at over one billion dollars/day, nor the extra supplementary appropriations to support the Iraq occupation, currently at four billion dollars/month.
Dean's notion about the causes of anti-US belligerence echoes that of the current administration. He has gone on record saying as much: "I think our freedom is what they find so threatening, our freedom and the power that I think results from that freedom." This analysis can not honestly address the real issues behind the antagonism the United States currently incurs, and will consequently require ever greater military funding to handle the global consequences. Sounding very much like Bush, Dean has charged that Iran (along with Saudi Arabia, Syria, and Libya) are "funding Palestinian terrorists and fueling terrorism throughout the world." Do we need four more years of this?
When it comes to Israel and Palestine, Dean thinks the US should become more involved, but beyond that have no fundamental objections to the Bush administration policies in the region. He calls for an end to Palestinian violence against Israeli civilians, but not for a cessation of Israeli violence against Palestinian, nor an end to the Israeli occupation. He ignores Israeli defiance of UN Security Council resolutions and the Geneva Accords, and has been silent concerning withdrawal from Israel's illegal settlements in the occupied territories or even concerning a freeze on the new construction. His appointment of Steven Grossman, a former head of the pro-Israeli lobby AIPAC and ex-chairman of the DNC, to a top campaign fundraising post reflects his Zionist stance.
Dean the Democrat continued to pursue much of the economic agenda established by his Republican predecessor, Richard Snelling In short, this meant a tepid pro-business policy under the guise of fiscal conservatism, often at the expense of social programs serving disadvantaged populations. "One of my most persistent activities during the early 1990s was trying to fend off the more liberal wing of the Democratic Party," said Glenn Gershaneck, Dean's press secretary for nearly four years and Snelling's spokesman for seven months before that.
Conservative Vermont business leaders praised Dean's record and his constant effort to balance the budget, even though Vermont is a state in which a balanced budget is not required. While other Democrats fought against Clinton's welfare reform, Dean gave it ardent support. His commitment to a balanced budget would spare the Pentagon from any cuts. So how would he reduce the deficit? During his Vermont tenure, he tried to cut benefits for the aged, blind and disabled, spearheaded a new workfare state law requiring labor from welfare recipients, and has talked about moving the retirement age upwards -- some indication on whose backs his budgets would be balanced.
Dean has recently vocalized what seems to be politically motivated support of the death penalty. He told the press after the vents of September 11, 2001: "As governor, I came to believe that the death penalty would be a just punishment for certain, especially heinous crimes.... The events of September 11 convinced me that terrorists also deserve the ultimate punishment." In subsequent statements he even borrowed the phrasing from George Bush: "When someone gets put to death for a heinous crime, I don't feel the least bit conflicted about that."
There was a small, but telling, incident back in 1996, when anti-death penalty protesters who were in opposing (the Pennsylvania governor) Tom Ridges approval of Mumia Abu Jamals execution sprayed FREE MUMIA graffiti at the Ethan Allen Homestead. The judge ruled, over the prosecutor's objection, that the defendants could use a "necessity defense", i.e. to speak of their motivations and analysis of Mumia's situation, rather than just admit to spraying paint. Dean was disappointed with that decision. "These guys are a bunch of hoods running around our streets," Dean commented. "I don't think this has anything to do with the necessity offense --imported hoods I might add. People who spray paint and deface public property are hoodlums not protesters with some higher purpose. I have no patience for that." Reporter Peter Freyne, now one of Dean's great supporters, asked his readers at the time to "Remember [Dean's] the guy who once said 95 percent of people charged with crimes are guilty anyway so why should the state spend money on providing them with lawyers?"
As Governor, Howard Dean endorsed the National Governors Association policy opposing the Kyoto Protocol unless it included mandatory emissions cuts for developing countries, and recommending that the United States "not sign or ratify any agreement that would result in serious harm to the U.S. economy." For environmentalists, EP, under Dean's leadership, came to mean "Expedite Permits", rather than Environmental Protection. Business leaders were especially impressed with the way Dean went to bat for them against Vermont's stringent environmental regulations. For more, read Michael Colby's excellent review of Dean's environmental misbehavior .
* * *
But these are stories Counterpunch readers are likely to know. In addition, we'd like to share with you some details of Howard Dean's eleven-year governorship more familiar to Vermonters.
Under Deans leadership, Vermont started welfare reform two years before the mandatory federal program was put in place. Beginning in 1994, one-third of Vermont applicants for cash assistance were subject to work requirements similar to those eventually adopted nationally. (Another third received financial incentives for getting a paying job, and the rest received standard benefits without incentives or penalties). Was the plan a success? Well, most welfare recipients (87%) got jobs on their own during the six years of the Vermont welfare reform experiment. Cash assistance payments went down, and more people were working in the robust economy of the mid 1990s. But according to the official evaluation of the project (published by the Manpower Development Research Corporation in September 2000), total family incomes did not change -- but families worked more hours for a total earnings and cash assistance package averaging less that $12,000 annually.
Howard Dean thinks that's success -- and it fits his arrogant and ultimately unfair view of welfare recipients. What is that opinion? Well, in 1993, when defending his welfare reform proposals during a weekly press conference, Dean said: "Those recipients don't have any self-esteem. If they did, they'd be working." While he later apologized for these callous remarks, his policies remained firmly in the "they won't work unless they have to" vein. Dean also used his position as chair of the National Governor's Association to promote "flexibility" in welfare reform at the national level--a code word for removing then current federal minimum standards and protections for recipients of public assistance. In other words, states could be as mean as they wanted to be towards those out of work and without income.
Howard Dean gives passionate speeches about universal health care as a moral imperative, not just a policy initiative. Maybe, somewhere deep in his heart, he really believes that people have a right to good health care. But we sure aren't going to get there following the path he took in Vermont: tiny increments -- adding insurance coverage for kids in moderate income families one year, cutting back their benefits and increasing their co-pays and premiums the next. Adding a prescription drug benefit for low-income seniors, then cutting many of the most commonly used new drugs out of the formulary and forcing seniors back onto older medications with more side effects. His national proposal is similar--not really universal: it would extend Medicaid to people under 25, add a little prescription drug coverage to Medicare, tinker with this, adjust that, don't do anything to upset the insurance companies or big Pharmaceuticals. Then, when the bill gets big, he would make the cutbacks in the same incremental fashion. For example, began by defunding eyeglasses for kids here, dentures for seniors there. You know, just a few cuts; after all, everyone has to do his share.
Howard Dean does not like drugs. He had a bout with alcohol during his college years that seems to have left him with the impression that since he couldn't control his consumption of mood-modifying substances, then neither could anyone else. Consequently, his governorship was a campaign against reasonable approaches to substance abuse. Like much of the US political establishment, liberal and otherwise, Dean does not seem to believe that humans are capable of the discerning use of intoxicating substances. Because he does not believe in such a scenario, the only other option in his bag of tricks is tougher penalties. He has endorsed fully the National Governors Association's policy, which calls for increased involvement of law enforcement and disavows any form of legalization not only as a policy but also as a philosophy. In short, Dean not only believes in the war on drug users, but also would like to see it intensified.
Despite his background in medicine, Dean has consistently opposed the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes. Instead, he cites medical studies set up specifically with the purpose of denying any medicinal properties to marijuana. In addition, while heroin use has increased in Vermont, Dean did every thing he could to oppose the introduction of methadone treatment to the state. While there are certainly major flaws in this type of treatment, Dean's opposition to instituting any type of treatment plan into Vermont while law enforcement and the citizenry were growing ever more alarmed at the growing heroin problem illustrates an insensitivity to the very real sociological reasons why people end up on these types of drugs.
While Dean vocalized his opposition to methadone treatment clinics and decried any efforts to reduce the penalties on marijuana use -- even labeling the latter as a gateway drug (a statistically questionable claim at best) -- the population of Vermont's prisons increased to potentially dangerous levels. There is a correlation between these two phenomena. The more police go after individuals who use drugs, and the more judges are instructed to put them in jail, the more prisoners there are. Of course, Vermont is not alone in the increase in incarceration. Indeed, it still ranks among the lowest in incarceration rates per100, 000 inhabitants. However, according to the DEA, the number of drug arrests in Vermont increased under Dean's watch, peaking in the year 2001, with the imprisonment of women increasing by over 140%.
Attitudes towards Justice
Dean's approach to criminal justice is regressive and draconian. Dean the governor was no friend of the public's right to legal defense. According to various attorneys in public defender's offices around the state, Dean underfunded public defense, pouring monies into state's attorneys, police, and corrections instead. According to the Rutland, Vermont daily, The Rutland Herald, this meant that state's attorneys were able to round up ever-increasing numbers of criminal defendants, but public defenders were not given comparable resources to respond. This, too, helped to fill the prisons. Its not that crime increased, but that police had more laws that they could arrest people for (and more resources with which to do so). As an illustration of his opposition to a fair defense for all, Dean once stated at a meeting of criminal defense lawyers that he believed his job as governor was to make the defense attorneys' job as tough as possible. He also tried to block a $150,000 federal grant aimed at assisting defendants with mental disabilities.
Why would someone want to do that unless he had doubts about the validity of the 6th amendment to the US constitution? Is he motivated by a need to appear tough on crime? As Governor he claimed the legal system unfairly benefited criminals over prosecutors. According to his own words, he wanted to "quickly convict guilty criminals,"(so much for the presumption of innocence), and opined that the US needs a "re-evaluation of the importance of some of our specific civil liberties." John Ashcroft, perhaps there'd be a job for you in a Dean administration.
Native American Issues
All Vermont schoolchildren learn about Vermonts first people, the Abenakis, in their lessons about the history of Vermont. Despite this acknowledgment of the Abenakis special status, the Dean administration, released a 200-page document in 2002 that was prepared by out-of-state consultants, and without a request from the Bureau of Indian Affairs or anyone else, concerning "The State of Vermont's Response to the Petition for Federal Acknowledgment of the Abenaki Nation of Vermont." This legal opinion asserted that the tribe does not meet the criteria for recognition. The document has been criticized by local experts -- Vermont historians and anthropologists -- as being "highly biased and wildly out of date." Because the legal opinion would have raised a ruckus among many progressive Vermonters, it was released quietly in the final days of his governorship.
Contemporary Abenakis are currently petitioning the federal government for official recognition as a tribe -- which would give them legal minority status with access to relevant civil rights laws, help them with grant-writing for schools, scholarships and health care, and make available cultural grants to help preserve the language and oral traditions. As the aforementioned report indicates, Dean is opposed to this petition. This type of vehemence towards Native Peoples rights does not bode well for other First Nations within US borders. Even Vermonters are mostly unaware of this gratuitous and mean-spirited attack.
Given all the above we feel that -- except for criticizing Bush's path into war -- Howard Dean departs little, if at all, from the corporate-sponsored bipartisan doctrines that now misrepresent our lives. To see him as a potential savior from Bush & Co. is to delude ourselves, and, furthermore, those on whom many of our states residents urge him.
And here the RAG collective dis-collects. We each have different plans for activity in the 2004 election.
Those of you who feel you must go Democratic, should probably work uphill for Kucinich -- the guy who actually is what Dean is supposed to be. But I intend to work toward the longer-range goal of establishing a national political party independent of corporate control, one embracing not less-evil alternatives, but values I truly believe in: I will be working to establish the Vermont Green Party.
My thoughts about the behavior of a Democratic or Dean presidency are speculative, but I am not as convinced as Ron, that it would necessarily be an improvement over that of the current maniacs -- especially after another 9/11-like attack. Democrats have always to prove they are not soft on crime, defense, etc.: the Gore campaign proposed even higher military expenditures than Bush's. It was a Democrat that gave us welfare "reform", and suffocated habeus corpus, and wagged many dogs worth of tonnage. I won't argue this here in detail. I think the world must now get through a profound historical moment of contraction -- of imperial reach, of economic coercion, of environmental footprint -- and that the powerful of the American status quo will fight these changes tooth and nail, be they Democrat or Republican. But the changes we are experiencing -- in global consciousness, in planetary pathology -- are ineluctable. Bush & Co. are providing the clearest possible teaching moment, which, for all we know, may shorten the time needed for change. Another Clinton-like Dem, cloaking his malignancies in liberal rhetoric, may slow these changes down. Who knows? It's going to be bad, either way, for at least a generation. But if the world gets through it, the US will need a politics that speaks to a healthier future. Thus, I turn to the possibility of the Greens becoming a strong public voice. See http://www.vermontgreens.org .
I know that a lot of you are going to vote for Dean -- he talks a good game; he can be charismatic and charming. But I'm warning you. This man will tell you what you want to hear, or at least tell you something that has some little kernel of something that you can interpret as support for the things that are important to you. But when the time comes to stand up and lead on the issue, to take on the money interests and backsliders in his own party, that stiff little spine will turn into a slinky.
If you vote for him, it's your job to stand behind him with a poker and keep him headed in the right direction. Don't give him any honeymoon period, either--keep the pressure on from the second you drop that ballot in the box. The minute you relax, he's going to turn right back into what he really is...a privileged, arrogant, middle of the road republican. Put your political energy into getting some truly progressive folks into the House and Senate, and into State legislatures around the country so that there will be more pressure from more directions. We need to get together our sophisticated progressive thinkers to develop policy ideas in every area, so that we're ready with real, well-thought out counter-proposals for the incremental changes a Dean administration might put forth. If you feel you must, support Dean, do--but then go do the work necessary to make real change.
I have never voted for a presidential candidate. Indeed, the last one I even wanted to see in the White House was George McGovern, but my 18th birthday came after the 1972 election. The only candidate I have consistently supported for the presidency is the candidate managed in his first several campaigns by Wavy Gravy: NOBODY. Why? Because I honestly believe NOBODY really cares about the poor and the young, especially when they don't vote. I also am truly convinced that NOBODY will withdraw our forces from Iraq and Afghanistan unless they think they will lose the election if they don't. And, last but not least, NOBODY will legalize marijuana and cut the defense budget. Of course, as one my friends in the Hog Farm used to remind me, if NOBODY wins then nobody loses, especially the people.
Would I vote for Howard Dean if he were running against George Bush? I honestly don t know. If the election were held today, I think I would put a clothespin on my nose and pull the lever for Mr. Dean. However, if he continues to head down the path of imperial foreign policy and domestic repression, I would reserve my vote once again for NOBODY. Even if I did grudgingly vote for Dean, it would be because I believe it is essential that Rumsfeld and Ashcroft become unemployed sooner rather than later. As a resident of Vermont who has seen Howard in action ever since I moved here in 1992, I know he is not what he is claiming to be. Nuff said.
Ron Jacobs, Donna Bister and Marc Estrin comprise the OLD NORTH END RAG collective. The RAG is an agitational community newspaper serving the Old North End of Burlington, Vermont. This neighborhood is a primarily working class section of Vermonts largest city that has a history of political activism. They can be reached at: email@example.com
I wrote this post a month ago in response to some rightwing ranter on one of the thousands of progressive lists I'm on:
It's like we always said, "Lobotomies for Republicans---It's The Law!" And you know they always obey the law; especially when they become CEOs.
What's really sad about that post is that their are lots of people (and I use that term advisedly) out there like him. Now that Bush has admitted there isn't, and never was, any connection between Sadaam and 9/11, ya think the almost-70% of Americans who believed that will stop believing it? I'm not taking any bets. Since when did truth change the mind of the teeming masses? Remember that book, "Hitler's Willing Executioners?" Bush's Willing Tools. There's been ample and incontrovertible proof that this administration has lied, dissembled and used innuendo and implication (quite masterfully) to win its vainglorious causes and further its neocon Leo-Straussian effort to bring back the "constitution in exile" (get rid of the New Deal, The Great Society, and all legislation and regulation that furthers the cause of human dignity or protects the public from the worst instincts of our species, and to bankrupt the govt so it can't afford any social programs). I think they'd actually like to return America to the way it was before Teddy Roosevelt, let alone FDR.
Jeesuz, these guys are attacking Head Start! And they're open about this! Some have called it a conspiracy. Well, if by conspiracy one means a secret plot, then the neocon agenda isn't a conspiracy, since Grover Norquist, right wing lobbyist and power behind the throne, has openly admitted their plan is to "Starve the Beast"--the federal govt. The tax cuts weren't simply a money grab for the ruling class--though they were that; they were the opening salvos in the battle to bankrupt the federal govt.. And they have to a large degree succeeded.
(Remember when Hillary referred to a vast right wing conspiracy? Remember when she was asked about that comment recently? She indicated she might have chosen some other words, not because it was impolitic, but because there was no conspiracy--it was out in the open!)
If the Bill of Rights has to go, so be it. They've been after that since--well, since it was written. Except for #2, of course. We'll have to pry that one out of their cold dead hands, a plan I won't protest. BTW, did you know the only reason we have a Bill of Rights today is because of horseflies? But that's another story.
They're open about this! It's their philosophy, and they truly think it's right and a good thing! Of course, they also want all the gold and the power for themselves, but hey, ideology isn't all their is to life. No one's perfect.
And to this idiot who thinks he can get away with his vapid comments by signing his post nicely, I say, If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the problem. (Has a familiar ring, don't ya think?). I hear enough of that crap from the likes of Coulter, O'Reilly, and Spears, and all the other dead-from-the-neck-up zombies that this country has shamefully given a platform. (No just society would allow Coulter her day in the sun or O'Reilly to be on the cover of Parade magazine.) One of the ironies of our times is that these vile creatures--Bush, Ashcroft, Cheney, Perle, Wolfowitz, Norquist, Rice, Rove, and a handful of others, are pushing for a society that is just too similar to one very familiar to the whole world--The Sovet Union. So, ya see, they really all commies, and this eloquent poster is really a communist dupe. Ashcroft--head of the KGB. Could you tell the difference? So where's McCarthy when ya really need him? (oh--right, hiding out in Ann Coulter's pyongyang, where he apparently is oh-so welcome.)
And speaking of familiar slogans, Sydney Blumenthal ("The Clinton Wars") brought back another goodie: "By any means necessary." He was using that in referring to the Florida vote, when goons hired by the republicans actually were physically attacking and beating black people when they tried to vote. Didn't see that on CNN? Yes, I know, I'm shocked, shocked. But it's all documented in his book.
And remember when they removed information about condoms from the CDC website regarding STD's and AIDS? Condoms cause promiscuity and of course are not safe, they said. Remember Global Warming? Not if they can help it.
And these are the guys who promised $15 billion for fighting AIDS in Africa. Guess how much is allocated for abstinence programs.
1/3--that's right, one third. $5 Billion: "We now know what works: abstinence and marital fidelity," said Sandy Rios, president of Concerned Women for America. "The passage of this bill may prove to be one of the greatest events in the history of Africa." Well, it’s not actually that bad, not $5 billion, because this fiscal year the government is spending about $1.2 billion for international AIDS programs. Despite its support for the five-year, $15 billion plan, the administration is seeking only $1.7 billion in fiscal 2004, $2 billion if related programs for malaria and tuberculosis are included. Congressional aides said Congress would probably agree to around $2.4 billion, but finding more would be “tough in a year when the budget deficit is ballooning.” That last sentence was written before the passage of the last tax cut. Anyone think there'll be any money left to fulfill this plan in the subsequent years?
By the way, I haven't too many good things to say about most democrats, either, though they couldn't possibly reach the levels of calumny of today's republicans. They still have hearts, if not always pumping as fast as they should be. (I'm being polite to those wimps.) Can ya dig it, no dem presidential contender has the guts to say what Ted Kennedy did the other day. Maybe now they will.
It's like this: My old pappy used to say, "Son, outside of Mother Teresa, there are basically two kinds of people: those who live their lives in an essentially selfish manner and feel guilty about it. They're called liberals. And those who live their lives in an essentially selfish manner and are proud of it. They're called conservatives. The first may be capable, on occasion, of responding to an ideal higher than their own self interest; the second don't even know such things exist."
Now, having said that, let's review Mother Teresa, that dear old lady, who's unswerving opposition to abortion, birth control or any reproductive rights for women in a country where fathers will kill a daughter who was raped because she brought shame to their house--well, she was surely worthy of something. As if these poor folks didn't have enough misery, she reigns down on them all the guilt and fear of a two millennia of hypocritical arrogance, and thinks giving them some food makes it all OK. Yeh, sainthood.
Oh, y'know, I'd like to go on offending but it's time for my evening dose of fulminating acid of blistergall. I have to prepare for Rosh Hashanah. I honor this holiday by reciting a famous story about Eddie Anderson, the black actor who played Rochester the chauffeur on the Jack Benny show. (Those who don't know about his role and that show, ask your parents). During a live radio interview in the 1950's he was asked what it was like working for Jack Benny. He said, in his best Uncle Tom accent, "Well, I likes working for the Jews cause they always blows the shofar."
Oh, Ok, if you insist, one more anecdote. In the 50's America was still the land of the puritans. Four letter words could not be printed, anywhere. When Norman Mailer wrote his masterpiece "The Naked and the Dead" back then, he had to substitute the words "fug" of fugging" for the real thing. While it was surreal for soldiers in combat to be saying Fug You, that was the law. Tallulah Bankhead, actress and personality of the times, a forties style blond, as well known in her day as Madonna is now, was also being interviewed on live radio, also in the 50's. (Do you see a theme here?) She was asked what she thought of Norman Mailer. She said, "Oh you mean that man who can't spell fuck?"
Thus spake Tallulahthrustra.
The seminal 60's rock-beatnik-acid-boho group The Fugs took their name from Mailer's book.
This was written on June 3. Since I made the comparison between Clinton's and Bush's lies back then, many others have done so. But I was first, and still best.
Interestingly, since then, the formerly spineless press has discovered vestiges of a nerve network, a few more Democratics have had their mouthclamps removed, and as I predicted, more conservatives are getting concerned that W's gonna blow it.
W himself however has become even more snarky as he is pressed to explain the still-missing WsMD, and the basic failure of every initiative since 9/11. He doesn't handle criticism well when his polls are down, does he?
Here's the article:
"Below is a must-read article by Paul Krugman of the NYTimes. Thankfully, the article is shorter than what immediately follows.
I haven't ranted in a month or so, and, y'know, it gets backed up, like a Boston sewer in a heavy rain. OK, maybe that's not the best analogy, but the USA Patriot Act has imposed restrictions on analogies, and they are hard to find these days, as hard to find, in fact, as a progressive in Congress.
So, hmm, lessee, Clinton lies about sex, 0 people dead, Europe laughs at our priggishness, hypocracy, and self-righteous moral stance, and what happens? Clinton gets impeached.
Bush lies about the justification for war, 15,000 people are dead, many more maimed, Iraq is a disaster waiting to happen, the rest of the world is even more pissed off at this deceit (including supporters of the war), the world is much less safe than it was three months ago, and what happens? Well, nothing. Not a goddam thing. Except Europe is pissed of at our hypocracy, and self-righteous moral stance. At least were not priggish anymore. We would never drape a statue to cover up body parts, for instance.
Actually, Bush and his cabal have lied about every policy decision or event since he began his administration, from 9/11 itself to more recent actions--the AIDS money for Africa, both tax cuts, policies on health care, education, the environment--hell, you name it, these guys have lied about it. No child left behind? I can see how dismantling Head Start will help reach that goal, yep. (I could say he meant "No old-money white male child of Western European ancestry and Republican parents who were members of Skull & Bones except for an occasional Jew if they tow the line left behind, but that would be a cheap shot.)
The $15 billion AIDS money for Africa? Guess how much is allocated for abstinence programs?* Remember when they removed information about condoms from the CDC website regarding STD's and AIDS? Condoms cause promiscuity and of course are not safe, they said. Remember Global Warming? Not if they can help it. Santorum equates homosexuality with incest, bestiality, and child molestation, and Bush praises his record. Wonder what Mary Cheney's father thought about that.
How does he get away with these lies and distortions, and attacks on common sense, proven science and especially polysyllabic words?
Finally, much is being written about why and how they are getting away with it, some of it even in the very press that is itself complicit (except for any Rupert Murdoch entity, of course). I think it's because we aren't eating enough righteous whole grains and faith-based fruits and vegetables. You know--no moral fiber.
Regardless, it's time for everyone to follow the lead of Howard Beale in the movie "Network", lean out their windows and shout "I'm mad as hell and I'm not gonna take it anymore." Don’t lean too far. The Homeland Security people will be waiting just to push people like you all the way, since by that action you would clearly not be supporting the president and are thus of course a traitor who deserves to be splattered all over the sidewalk, like an Iraqi near a cluster bomb. Oh dammit, there go those analogies again.
Anyway, as Krugman says below, "It's long past time for this administration to be held accountable."
Even conservatives are upset about these revelations (though for ignoble reasons), and yesterday's expected FCC decision to relax major media ownership rules brought the left and the right together in an alliance to oppose the action, albeit, again, for different reasons. The NRA opposed the decision because, as Wayne R. LaPierre Jr., president of the NRA said, "If more media outlets are placed in fewer hands, "gun-hating media giants like AOL Time Warner, Viacom/CBS and Disney/ABC . . . could literally silence your NRA and prevent us from communicating with your fellow Americans by refusing to sell us television, radio or newspaper advertising at any price...I am all for citizens having the ability to express their views. Diversity is what America is all about." Or we'll shoot you. How much more frickin' weird can it get? Don’t ask, don’t tell.
As Krugman said in another article recently, "... the people now running America aren't conservatives: they're radicals who want to do away with the social and economic system we have." Hey, wait a minute--that was us in the 60's. Dammit, they co-opt everything. Oh, they're good, really good. You can hear Bush saying to the UN, "If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the problem."
So there's a possibility that the Bushies, or more accurately the Rumsfeld/Wolfowitz/Cheney's, having been emboldened by their political coup in 2000 and empowered by 9/11, the Iraq "victory", and the most complacent government any emperor could ever hope for, will in their daily outrages go too far, and dig themselves into a hole. The late great Nikita Kruschev said to our leaders once, "We will bury you!" Well, now, let's consider that as prescient good advice for us towards our current leaders.
But remember, last time we thought they were dead and buried, when Clinton beat around the Bush (developing his style early on), and the Rumsfeld/Wolfowitz/Cheney/Perle faction of the Illuminati were quiescently frozen. But in fact they, like bears, only appeared to be hibernating, while fomenting their plans to subvert democracy to their will and eat our children. They emerged more powerful than ever, with a president that was much more malleable than their last leader--an empty vessel, if you will, and of course you will; a country more easily swayed to their agenda, distracted as it was by wondering if this was their final answer; and world events that seemed to conspire to give them hegemony and a whole lot of chutzpah.
And thus the plans they hatched back in the late 90's that Bush 1 summarily rejected were seen after 9/11 by Bush 2 as his path of glory. The apple doesn't fall far from the tree? This apple, watching Poltergeist while high on blow and booze, thought he heard Zelda Rubinstein (as the exorcist Tangina) tell Carol Ann to "come to the right--Come To The Right!" It was a born-again moment.
It's time to nuke the whole cabal, before they completely destroy 60 years of the greatest progress any nation has ever seen (except maybe Vanuatu).
And while we're at it, can we do something about Simon Cowell?
*1/3--that's right, one third. $5 Billion: "We now know what works: abstinence and marital fidelity," said Sandy Rios, president of Concerned Women for America. "The passage of this bill may prove to be one of the greatest events in the history of Africa." Well, it’s not actually that bad, not $5 billion, because this fiscal year the government is spending about $1.2 billion for international AIDS programs. Despite its support for the five-year, $15 billion plan, the administration is seeking only $1.7 billion in fiscal 2004, $2 billion if related programs for malaria and tuberculosis are included. Congressional aides said Congress would probably agree to around $2.4 billion, but finding more would be “tough in a year when the budget deficit is ballooning.” That last sentence was written before the passage of the tax cut. Anyone think there'll be any money left to fulfill this plan in the subsequent years?"
On to the point, with a preface:
"I can imagine no greater breach of public trust than to mislead a country into war... When a president lies or exaggerates in making an argument for war, when he spins the facts to sell his case, he betrays his public trust, and he diminishes the credibility of his office and our country." ----Mark Bowden, celebrated author of "Black Hawk Down" and a sincere supporter of the war. The full column is at http://www.philly.com/mld/philly/news/columnists/mark_bowden/5937888.htm.
Standard Operating Procedure
By PAUL KRUGMAN (NY Times)
The mystery of Iraq's missing weapons of mass destruction has become a lot less mysterious. Recent reports in major British newspapers and three major American news magazines, based on leaks from angry intelligence officials, back up the sources who told my colleague Nicholas Kristof that the Bush administration "grossly manipulated intelligence" about W.M.D.'s.
And anyone who talks about an "intelligence failure" is missing the point. The problem lay not with intelligence professionals, but with the Bush and Blair administrations. They wanted a war, so they demanded reports supporting their case, while dismissing contrary evidence.
In Britain, the news media have not been shy about drawing the obvious implications, and the outrage has not been limited to war opponents. The Times of London was ardently pro-war; nonetheless, it ran an analysis under the headline "Lie Another Day." The paper drew parallels between the selling of the war and other misleading claims: "The government is seen as having `spun' the threat from Saddam's weapons just as it spins everything else."
Yet few have made the same argument in this country, even though "spin" is far too mild a word for what the Bush administration does, all the time. Suggestions that the public was manipulated into supporting an Iraq war gain credibility from the fact that misrepresentation and deception are standard operating procedure for this administration, which — to an extent never before seen in U.S. history — systematically and brazenly distorts the facts.
Am I exaggerating? Even as George Bush stunned reporters by declaring that we have "found the weapons of mass destruction," the Republican National Committee declared that the latest tax cut benefits "everyone who pays taxes." That is simply a lie. You've heard about those eight million children denied any tax break by a last-minute switcheroo. In total, 50 million American households — including a majority of those with members over 65 — get nothing; another 20 million receive less than $100 each. And a great majority of those left behind do pay taxes.
And the bald-faced misrepresentation of an elitist tax cut offering little or nothing to most Americans is only the latest in a long string of blatant misstatements. Misleading the public has been a consistent strategy for the Bush team on issues ranging from tax policy and Social Security reform to energy and the environment. So why should we give the administration the benefit of the doubt on foreign policy?
It's long past time for this administration to be held accountable. Over the last two years we've become accustomed to the pattern. Each time the administration comes up with another whopper, partisan supporters — a group that includes a large segment of the news media — obediently insist that black is white and up is down. Meanwhile the "liberal" media report only that some people say that black is black and up is up. And some Democratic politicians offer the administration invaluable cover by making excuses and playing down the extent of the lies.
If this same lack of accountability extends to matters of war and peace, we're in very deep trouble. The British seem to understand this: Max Hastings, the veteran war correspondent — who supported Britain's participation in the war — writes that "the prime minister committed British troops and sacrificed British lives on the basis of a deceit, and it stinks."
It's no answer to say that Saddam was a murderous tyrant. I could point out that many of the neoconservatives who fomented this war were nonchalant, or worse, about mass murders by Central American death squads in the 1980's. But the important point is that this isn't about Saddam: it's about us. The public was told that Saddam posed an imminent threat. If that claim was fraudulent, the selling of the war is arguably the worst scandal in American political history — worse than Watergate, worse than Iran-contra. Indeed, the idea that we were deceived into war makes many commentators so uncomfortable that they refuse to admit the possibility.
But here's the thought that should make those commentators really uncomfortable. Suppose that this administration did con us into war. And suppose that it is not held accountable for its deceptions, so Mr. Bush can fight what Mr. Hastings calls a "khaki election" next year. In that case, our political system has become utterly, and perhaps irrevocably, corrupted.