Sunday, July 31, 2005

It really does take a village

Perhaps it has come to your attention that Republican Senator Rick Santorum has written a right wing "answer" to Hillary Clinton's book, It Takes a Village. Santorum has called his book, It Takes a Family. Well Santorum was interviewed on the subject by George Stephanopoulos this morning and the transcript was then discussed on Eschaton, one of my favorite blogs. Here's a comment by Roddy McCorley that really got my attention:

And what does a family need, Rickster?

Lower wages, according to the Republican party. Less access to affordable health care, according to the Republican party. Fewer schools, according to the Republican party. More arsenic in drinking water, according to the Republican party. More mercury in fish, according to the Republican party. More carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, according to the Republican party. Meat that has not been checked for contaminants like Mad Cow Disease, according to the Republican party.

According to the Republican Party, these are the ingredients for a strong family. And they're working hard to make sure each and every family other than their own has these things.

So who's not in favor of strong families, anyway? But families do not exist in a vacuum. By the way, Santorum, in his book, criticizes the Supreme Court ruling legalizing birth control. That's right birth control. It just boggles the mind. So if you thought the right-wingers were just trying to take away women's abortion rights, think again. Birth control is next.

Hurricanes and global warming

The article is entitled "Study: Warming Is Intensifying Hurricanes" and here's a bit of what it says:

Is global warming making hurricanes more ferocious? New research suggests the answer is yes. Scientists call the findings both surprising and "alarming" because they suggest global warming is influencing storms now — rather than in the distant future.

However, the research doesn't suggest global warming is generating more hurricanes and typhoons.

The analysis by climatologist Kerry Emanuel of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology shows for the first time that major storms spinning in both the Atlantic and the Pacific since the 1970s have increased in duration and intensity by about 50 percent.

These trends are closely linked to increases in the average temperatures of the ocean surface and also correspond to increases in global average atmospheric temperatures during the same period.

"When I look at these results at face value, they are rather alarming," said research meteorologist Tom Knutson. "These are very big changes."

Knutson, who wasn't involved in the study, works in the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory in Princeton, N.J.

Emanuel reached his conclusions by analyzing data collected from actual storms rather than using computer models to predict future storm behavior.

I wonder how many people who "don't believe" in global warming have been or will be in the path of a hurricane. And I wonder if "not believing" in global warming prevents them from experiencing damage to life and property.

The causes of terrorism

I've admired the Toronto Star for several years now. Today I want to share with you one of its articles which is by Linda McQuaig and is entitled, "Terror Attacks are Response to Military Actions". Here are a couple of excerpts:

In the official, mainstream view of terrorism — the view trumpeted by western governments, think tanks and media commentators — terrorists are freedom-loathing zealots with an irrational hatred of our western lifestyle and culture.

But another view, polls suggest, is gaining ground with the public: Terrorism is actually a response to military interventions perpetrated by western governments.

These sharply diverging views are central to the question of how to deal with terrorism. Under the "irrational hatred" view, there's not much we can do other than ratchet up our security and hunker down for a long fight with a bunch of lunatics.

But under the second theory, some solutions may be possible. At least, it suggests we should carefully scrutinize what actions our governments are up to in the Middle East, to assess whether these actions are justified and, if not, to stop them. After all, if the actions aren't justified, we should stop them anyway. Right? Or should we continue to act unjustly — if that's what we're doing — simply so we can look firm in our opposition to terrorism?

The U.S. and British governments fear such public scrutiny of their actions in the Middle East. This isn't surprising, since any serious analysis would reveal a history of Anglo-American interventions that could best be described as imperialistic.
"(W)hat nearly all suicide terrorist attacks have in common," notes [Robert] Pape in his book, Dying to Win, "is a specific secular and strategic goal: to compel modern democracies to withdraw military forces from territory that the terrorists consider to be their homeland." Pape also observes that once a military occupation ends, the suicide terrorism tends to stop.

British Prime Minister Tony Blair went to great lengths last week to suggest that the recent London bombings weren't connected to Britain's role in the occupation of Iraq, but rather to irrational hatred of western culture.


If you attack your neighbour, kill several of his family members, ransack his house and steal his car, is it logical to conclude that your neighbour is in a rage against you because he doesn't like how you dress and what movies you enjoy watching?

It's clear that the attachment to the view of terrorism as "irrational" supports the refusal of both the U.S. and Britain to engage in appropriate self-examination. Sadly, I don't expect that to change.

Trembling for the country

I see in the near future a crisis approaching that unnerves me, and causes me to tremble for the safety of our country. Corporations have been enthroned, an era of corruption will follow, and the money power of the country will endeavor to prolong its reign by working upon the prejudices of the people, until wealth is aggregated in a few hands and the republic is destroyed.

-- Abraham Lincoln

Saturday, July 30, 2005


This comment was left on Eschaton by somebody named Luke:

It has become pretty obvious to me that Democrats are Democrats because most of them are too kind to think of keeping their fellow man without health insurance, food, jobs, education, decent wages, overtime, the right to declare bankruptcy from hard times, decent working conditions, safety rules in the work place, pensions -- decent lives, in other words.

What I don't understand is what makes people not want these things?

Climate change update

Here's an article from CBC entitled, "Scientists sound alarm on Arctic ice cap". Here's how it gets started:

Satellite data for the month of June show Arctic sea ice has shrunk to a record low, raising concerns about climate change, coastal erosion, and changes to wildlife patterns.

The National Snow and Ice Data Centre in the United States uses remote sensing imagery to survey ice cover at both poles.

The centre says 2002 was a record low year for sea ice cover in the Arctic, since satellite observations began in 1979.

There's evidence that may have been the lowest coverage in a century.

Now scientists fear this year could be worse. June readings indicate the ice is at its lowest limit ever for that time of year.

This is devastating regarding the habitat of polar bears as it shortens their feeding season. And of course, it is just more incontrovertible evidence that global warming is real.

A truly righteous society

Sometimes I wonder if the Bible-thumpers have actually ever read what it says. Karen Horst Cobb agrees and outlines what a society would really look like if it were based on biblical values. Here are some excerpts from her article which is entitled, "Ye Shall Know the Truth: Profits of the New World Order":

The cry of many Christians today is a cry to return to the teachings of the Bible and to have a society which is righteous. I am in total support of a righteous society and have tried to imagine what it would be like. One of the first changes we would need to make is at the foundation, our banking system. Exodus 22 says that if you lend money to poor people you can not extort money from them in the form of interest. In Proverbs 28:8 the message is very clear, He says that getting rich by charging interest is wrong and that God will take his wealth and give it to the poor. Psalms 15 says that Yahweh will dwell with those who are righteous and do not charge interest on their loans. In Deuteronomy 15 it describes how all debts are forgiven every 7 years in the year of Jubilee. There are 22 times in the Old Testament which speak of the sin of charging interest on a loan. The sweat of one's brow is to be the measure of one's wage.
I am surprised that so many Christians who are fighting to keep the commandments on the wall are not fighting as hard to have them implemented. It takes a lot of searching to find scriptures which relate to homosexuality and abortion but one can hardly turn a page without reading about how to be a blessing to those in need. Today’s rich young rulers preach about the advantages of usury and exploitation. While they give lip service to moral issues they are preaching from the prophets of the free market. Upon reading about their social views, it seems that Ayn Rand and Milton Friedman are the messianic visionaries who they believe will redeem the world. Self interest and compound interest are the way to salvation according to them. From Friedman, Pastor Ted says he learned that everything, including spirituality, can be understood as a commodity. And unregulated trade, he concluded, was the key to achieving worldly freedom. Is spirituality a commodity to be bought or traded? I thought that God’s love was free and his grace is unmerited favor.
God will not be mocked! His ways are not our ways! (Isaiah 55:8) we can not manipulate him into returning by fulfilling the prophesies ourselves at the direction of political think tanks. It seems that the free-market Christians are seeking to hire the masons to complete the temple. The bulldozers will crush whomever gets in the way. The water from Babylon will soon be surging through the privatized pipelines through Iran and Syria right into the promised land. The land, the air, the water and the labor will be in the hands of the ruling elite. The rich will determine how much uranium and radiation is enough. The rich will determine how gray the sky can be. The rich will determine who gets water and the rich will be the ones to discover the magical wage which allows for a laborer's maximum productivity just this side of starvation.

Let it not be followers of Christ who usher in these abuses. How far will the charlatans go to deceive. Perhaps they will project a hologram of Christ returning in the clouds to rally the Christian soldiers. Certainly the technology exists. In the last days we are told that many will be deceived. (II Tim. 3:13) There will be signs and wonders and they will do miracles in the name of Christ, but the love of Christ is not in them. I suspect many Christians are being used by the powers and principalities in high places to obtain massive resources for the rulers of an empire. So while the neo-Christians talk about decorations in our courthouses, the sexual identity of cartoon characters, and preach the good news of the free market. Let us pray that Christ will tarry until the church is no longer holding the banner of privatization and riding the beast of the free-market into the New World Order.

I've read this woman's articles before and I think she is truly prophetic in what she writes. One of her articles was entitled, No Longer a Christian. Hey, I get the title. I certainly don't want to be identified with the religious right myself.

Whatever your religious or non-religious beliefs may be, please know that the great themes of the Bible are not about selfishness and condemnation but rather are about justice, concern for the poor, radical truth-telling, and love for one's enemies. None of these is preached by the religious right today.

The complicity of the press

I stopped watching television news when we went to war against Afghanistan. It was at that time that the local news desks in Tulsa announced every program - including national news - with the slogan "America fights back" while waving flags covered the screen and patriotic music played in the background. The drumbeat to war was insidious and sickening. I remembered how I used to feel so sorry for the Soviets when I was a little girl because I had been taught that they only got propaganda for news. "Now I know what it's like," I thought.

Mike Whitney has written a penetrating article about this phenomenon called, "TV anchors: Field-marshals in the information war". Here are some excerpts:

Television news is the frontlines in the war on terror. That’s where the symbols of national pride merge with the logic of war and thrust the nation towards aggression. The same was true with Iraq. The anti-war voices were excluded, the pro-war advocates were celebrated, and the drumbeat was sounded from every corner of the country. The pre-war strategy for marshalling popular support was the most flawlessly executed public relations scheme in modern times; the thunderous music echoing in the background of carefully decorated sets, the persistent images of Saddam in the crosshairs, and a ready supply of tri-colored standards unfurling for the camera lens.

The entire campaign went forward without a glitch demonstrating the impeccable efficiency of a privately-owned information-system.
The TV news anchors play a crucial role in the media paradigm. They are the field-marshals in the information war; the face of the empire.

Is there a difference between Bin Laden and Brit Hume; between Tim Russert and Al Zarqawi?

Not a speck; they are cut from the same cloth and engaged in the same vicious blood-sport. At least al-Zarqawi can say he’s fighting to liberate his country from foreign occupation.

What does Tim Russert fight for? The unchecked power of the corporate media?
War does not materialize on its own. It requires its legions of advocates and apologists. Tom Friedman and Judith Miller are just as covered in blood as any mercenary kicking down doors in Kerbala.

The corporate boardrooms are full of murderers. They provide the imagery and lyrics for the pageantry of war. Without their skillful management the public appetite wanes and the lust for revenge vanishes. Their job is to keep the apparatus of misinformation sufficiently lubricated and chugging along at full-throttle.

The current information-system bears no resemblance to a “free press”. It is a model that has evolved from the necessities of private industry and special interest. It neither performs its mandate to inform the public nor strengthen democratic institutions. Its solitary objective is to find the balance between calculated diversion, fear mongering and patriotic claptrap.

Consider just turning off the television. Get your news from reliable sources on the internet. Or if you truly feel you must watch television news and read American newpapers, please read Media Matters every day so that you know what's being inaccurately reported or misleadingly reported. I also want to recommend the Guardian for responsible, unbiased news reporting. It is simply crucial that we take responsibility for what goes into our minds. Sadly, we cannot trust the mainstream news media to do this for us.

Friday, July 29, 2005

Great snark

The White House has now changed their slogan from the 'war on terror' to 'the global struggle against violent extremism.' That just rolls off the tongue, huh? Yeah, that's a good idea -- giving President Bush more syllables to pronounce.

-- Jay Leno

White House REQUIRES newspaper to give only one side

This is simply beyond outrageous. And we're talking about the Washington Post - that once great paper that exposed the Watergate scandal in the cause of justice. Here's what Media Matters says:

Complying with "ground rules" set by Bush administration officials, The Washington Post published a July 26 article that presented the White House's arguments for withholding documents written by Supreme Court nominee John G. Roberts Jr. during his tenure as the Justice Department's deputy solicitor general under President George H.W. Bush -- without any Democratic rebuttal.

Under a purported embargo, which the Post said prevented reporters from revealing the administration's decision until midnight -- "too late" to contact Democrats for a response -- staff writers Peter Baker and Charles Babington quoted anonymous White House officials spinning the decision regarding the documents. But while other contemporaneous print media reports noted Democrats' previously stated arguments for full disclosure of the documents, the Post omitted them for the second day in a row.

The sad thing is, I'm not surprised. Just sickened as always.

If you want to read the entire report it is here.

If you typically get your news from the mainstream media I really want to recommend that you check into Media Matters on a regular basis for reliable fact checking and bias exposure. The situation I have just shared with you reminds me to do just that. I've been remiss lately.

Revisiting Ohio

It's been a long time since I've written about the election being stolen. But Echidne of the Snakes (one of my favorite blogs) has taken another look at Ohio so I'm linking you to her posting on the issue. She quotes columnist Matt Taibbi who, himself, is finally convinced. Here's a list of some of the reasons:

• As was the case in Florida, the secretary of state (Kenneth Blackwell, in Ohio), who is in charge of elections, was also the co-chair of the state's Bush-Cheney campaign.
• In a technique reminiscent of the semantic gymnastics of pre-Civil Rights Act election officials, Blackwell replaced the word "jurisdiction" with "precinct" in an electoral directive that would ultimately result in perhaps tens of thousands of provisional ballots—votes cast mainly by low-income residents—being disallowed
• Blackwell initially rejected thousands of voter registrations because they were printed on paper that was, according to him, the wrong weight.
• In conservative, Bush-friendly Miami County, voter turnout was an Uzbekistan-esque 98.55 percent.
• In Warren county, election officials locked down the administration building and prevented reporters from observing the ballot counting, citing a "terrorist threat" (described as being a "10" on a scale of 1 to 10) that had been reported to them by the FBI. The FBI made no such report. Recounts conducted during this lockdown resulted in increased votes for Bush.
• In Franklin County, 4,258 votes were cast for Bush in a precinct where there were only 800 registered voters.

He doesn't even mention the fact that predominantly Republican areas had plenty of voting machines while Democratic areas had so few that people who had to get to work gave up and left before voting.

The corruption of this administration cannot begin to be discussed in a single article. Keep reading. Keep striving to be informed. It's important. Otherwise the administration will control your mind in addition to everything else.

Friday Cat Blogging!

Here's Leroy just being himself:

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Photo by Ellie Finlay

Women in the new Iraq

I just read an article by Andrew Greeley in the Chicago Sun-Times entitled, "Neck deep in the Big Muddy". What I want to call your attention to is just one paragraph:

In the meantime, the Iraqi parliament, working erratically on their constitution, has decided to abrogate most of the rights of women in their preliminary constitution and to subject them to "Religious Law." That means in the new "democracy" that we are supporting in Iraq women will be more subject to male oppression than they were under Saddam Hussein. This is what our young men and women are dying for in Iraq?

Of course the fundamentalists in the U.S. want to take away women's rights here as well so I'm sure this doesn't disturb them in the slightest.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Please don't shop at Walmart's - part 4

Well, it's been some time since I've blogged an anti-Walmart article so here goes. The article is by Brian Morton and it's entitled "Human capital". Here are a couple of excerpts:

Every time friends tell me they’re headed for Wal-Mart—friends who work at jobs where they tally their salary not by the year but by the hour—I have to bite my tongue to keep from asking them, “Why?”

The world’s biggest retailer is in a constant race to the bottom, moving production facilities and changing buyers from one moment to the next, trying to find the cheapest wages, the least amount of health care, the most it can eke out of every and any company, city, and nation. All in order to squeeze a few more pennies out of the costs of an item, so Wal-Mart can sell it that much cheaper.

Sure, my friends are getting a deal for that DVD, that sweater, those sneakers—but at what cost? As Americans move more jobs offshore to build stock prices and enrich the bottom line, what are we losing and why?
It was enlightening to read an article the Times published July 17 on the management and operation of Costco, one of Wal-Mart’s biggest rivals. The head of Costco, Jim Sinegal, who is reported to be worth $150 million due to his stock holdings, makes $350,000 a year (along with a $200,000 bonus last year).

While states like Maryland fight (and fail, thanks to our governor, who will whore himself for corporate money like a stripper to a C-note) to make big companies like Wal-Mart pay their fair share of health care for their workers, Costco’s employees pay 8 percent of their health-care costs, as opposed to the average 25 percent paid by most retail workers. This pisses Wall Street off. An analyst quoted by the Times says that Sinegal may be right that “a happy employee is a productive long-term employee, but he could force employees to pick up a little more of the burden.”

Stock-market analysts frown with dismay when they see Costco selling high-ticket items for lower costs, paying their employees far more money, and paying more of their workers’ health insurance. But this is a Republican-run America, where the ideal is closer to 1905 than 2005—a country where unions are emasculated or nonexistent, robber barons make giant sums of money whether or not their companies show a profit or loss, and middle- and lower-class workers are forced to scrimp by shopping in stores that drive out local businesses, cut wages, and work political systems for every tiny advantage they can get—all so some member of a mega-rich family from Arkansas can die with a more obscene sum of money in the bank than the last.

In 2005, even shopping is a political act. Remember that the next time some artificially cheery greeter tells you, “Hi, welcome to Wal-Mart.”

I wish we had Costco in Tulsa but we don't. We still have alternatives to Walmart. From what I've read, Target is more fair to its employees than Walmart so that's a possibility. Please don't support a company that exploits its employees, forces manufacturing to be outsourced to China and simply closes stores when employees vote to unionize. Know that those few extra pennies you spend elsewhere are spent in the cause of greater justice.

Yes, shopping is a profoundly political act. A moral and ethical one too.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Why the leak mattered

Here's an editorial entitled, "A dangerous leak", which was published in the Boston Globe. An excerpt explains the title:

Whenever a spy's cover is revealed, a chain of setbacks ensues. Foreign intelligence services then review everything they know about the undercover officer who was operating in their country. Such a review can lead not only to the discovery of informants who may have been recruited by the outed CIA officer but also to an understanding of the practices and techniques used by an undercover figure such as Plame, who posed as a businesswoman abroad. After one undercover CIA officer is exposed, others inevitably have a harder time persuading potential sources to pass secrets about their government's -- or their terrorist network's -- plans and capabilities.

Once before, Plame was caught up in a case illustrating how costly it can be for a CIA officer to be in danger of having her cover exposed. The agency called Plame home in 1997 in fear that Aldrich Ames, the notorious Soviet mole inside the CIA, had revealed her true identity to his KGB handlers. At least 10 people were executed by the Soviets as a consequence of Ames's disclosure of CIA identities.

I just can't say it strongly enough. Disclosure of Plame's identity was so treasonous I don't know why we're not in the streets with torches and pitchforks.

War -"an outmoded concept"

War, the desire to destroy one's enemy, is an outmoded concept, especially now, when the interest of all the world's people is so linked. If you hit antoher being, it is like hitting part of your own body.

-- the Dalai Lama

Facilitating our own downfall

I've believed for a long time now that we have reason to be seriously worried about China. Mainly because we are being so stupid regarding China. Paul Craig Roberts agrees as he explains in an article entitled, "China-Mart takes over". Here's an excerpt:

US corporations decided that the way to get rich was to destroy their American consumer base by closing their American factories, throwing their US employees out of work and hiring Chinese instead. The Chinese work for less, you see, and free trade economists say lowering costs makes us better off.

What US corporations and the free trade economists overlook is that giving Americans' jobs to foreigners raises foreign incomes and lowers American incomes. When credit cards and home equity lines are maxed out, there will be nothing to support the US consumer market. The American corporations who moved their capital and technology to China will have to find new customers.

Maybe the Chinese government will let the relocated US firms sell to Chinese customers, or maybe the Chinese government will let the US firms go bankrupt. The latter favors China's strategic interest. Chinese businessmen will purchase the bankrupt firms, and Chinese businesses will sell to Chinese customers.

Americans are pouring so much money into China that China can finance our wars while it buys up our companies.

Everyone was shocked that a Chinese company could outbid Chevron for Unocal. China has already purchased IBM's personal computer business, and is now after US appliance maker Maytag (whose appliances are made in Mexico).

The outsourcing mania has hit the Pentagon, and China will soon be supplying the ships for the US Navy. The Pentagon, seeking lowest cost, is pushing defense contractors to outsource offshore for more materials, components and systems.

This means the end of US shipbuilding capability. Component suppliers to American shipbuilding are already skeletal thin, with most components only having sole suppliers. For example, Manufacturing & Technology News (July 8) reports that 80% of the components for the Virginia Class submarine come from sole sources.

With not enough US Navy ships being built to support even an industry of sole suppliers, Asia is fast becoming the only source for US Navy ships.

You know, it doesn't take a genius to realize that being dependent on a foreign country - and one that is not our traditional ally at that - for our defense capability is not smart. And all China has to do is call in its dollars and our economy collapses. Of course it will collapse if our consumer base is destroyed too. Isn't anybody in power thinking?

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Congresswoman uses the "t" word

Of course, I'm referring to "treason". And the Congresswoman is Louise Slaughter. Click here to read her remarks during the Joint Congressional Rove/Plame Hearing. Here's an excerpt I really want you to see:

At its worst, treason was committed by high-ranking White House officials. At its best, we have witnessed a startling abuse of power by this administration, one which has seriously compromised our national security, jeopardized the war on terror and placed the lives of a covert CIA operative and her contacts in danger; all of what so far appears to be a reprehensible act of political retribution.

What we know at this point is that, on July 14th, 2003, the covert identity of a CIA agent was revealed to the American public by conservative commentator Robert Novak.

As a direct result, an entire intelligence network was destroyed, and our ability to thwart another terrorist attack was recklessly compromised.

We know that a State Department memo containing Valerie Plame’s identity was marked as classified and circulated on June 10th, 2003, under the direction of Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Marc Grossman.

We know that Secretary of State Colin Powell requested a copy of the memo the day after Ambassador Joe Wilson’s op-ed discrediting the administration’s case for the war in Iraq appeared in the New York Times.

We know that on July 7th, 2003, Secretary Powell took that memo on the Air Force One, where other senior administration officials may have had access to it. We also understand that Press Secretary Ari Fleischer may have had access to the same document.

That very day, Karl Rove, the president’s deputy chief of staff and senior political adviser, discussed the identity of Ambassador Wilson’s wife with Time reporter Matthew Cooper.

We also know that the vice president’s chief of staff Scooter Libby discussed Valerie Plame’s identity with reporters.

Despite the information we have about the leak of Valerie Plame’s identity, many questions remain.

Aside from Karl Rove, Scooter Libby, Colin Powell and Ari Fleischer, who else in the White House had access to the classified memo?

Given that so many of the president’s men had access to the memo, it is incumbent upon Congress, the special prosecutor and the American people to ask the following difficult question: What did President Bush know about the Valerie Plame leak and when did he know it?

Ah, yes. The Watergate question: What did the president know and when did he know it? And this is worse than Watergate. Much worse.

What's happened to our country and the world

I want to urge you to read the entire article by Ed Naha entitled, "Bush's legacy: A bankrupt, bombed-out world". Warning: It's cynical and depressing if you're inclined to get depressed by what's going on. Still, I think it needs to be read. Here's how it gets started:

I happened to have CNN on shortly after Bush pulled John Roberts out of his hat last week, lobbing him at the Supreme Court like a grenade. CNN's John King was shocked, SHOCKED that some pundits would think Bush's sudden move was designed to knock leaky Karl Rove off the front page of the nation's newspapers. "It is ludicrous to think that the president of the United States would rush a decision to simply change the subject," he declared without giggling. He later said that a new member of the Supreme's would be "Bush's legacy."

Personally, I don't think nominating a conservative Republican white guy to the Court is much of a legacy. Besides, Bush has already cemented his legacy.

He's ruined America.And he's on track to ruining the world.

Every decision the Bush White House had made has been based on ideology, a warped fantasy world existing in the minds of a few that demeans and ignores an entire nation of people who are struggling just to get by.

This White House has taken politics to a new low (ever think you'd be looking UP to find the gutter?) through deception, arrogance and avarice. They can't even get their lies straight. (Just ask Tom DeLay, Karl Rove or Scooter Libby.)

For instance, our tack on terrorism has just changed. I bet you didn't even notice. Yes, kids, in the wake of Bush's gasbagging about "evil doers" and "freedom haters," comes a new definition of the "war on terror." Now, it's a "war of ideas." Coming from this Administration, that term defines "irony."

Go on; read the rest of it. Then read the comments afterwards. Because it's better to know than not to know. It's better to be aware than not to be aware. And let's just hope the special prosecuter, Patrick Fitzgerald, brings this administration down.

Monday, July 25, 2005

The truth about war

War is a racket. It always has been. It is possibly the oldest, easily the most profitable, surely the most vicious. It is the only one international in scope. It is the only one in which the profits are reckoned in dollars and the losses in lives. A racket is best described, I believe, as something that is not what it seems to the majority of the people. Only a small inside group knows what it is about. It is conducted for the benefit of the very few, at the expense of the very many. Out of war a few people make huge fortunes.

I spent 33 years in the Marines. Most of my time being a high-class muscle man for Big Business, for Wall Street and the bankers. In short, I was a racketeer for capitalism.

-- USMC Major General Smedley Butler

The nature of "covert"

Well, I just can't do any better than to share with you a blog entry by John Aravosis on AMERICAblog. First of all, John quotes a New York Times article thusly:

The chairman [of the Senate Intelligence Committee], Senator Pat Roberts, Republican of Kansas, said on the CNN program "Late Edition".... "I must say from a common-sense standpoint, driving back and forth to work to the C.I.A. headquarters, I don't know if that really qualifies as being, you know, covert," Mr. Roberts said.

Then here's what John himself has to say about it:

See, now this fascinates me. Apparently, the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee is a total idiot, liar, or simply doesn't care about national security. Driving back and forth to Langley doesn't make you covert? Uh, so Roberts is suggesting that undercover CIA agents don't even visit Langley at all, because that would blow their cover? That's just bizarre thinking since Langley is where they train, and it's their HQ. Not to mention, other CIA agents have already made clear that lots of covert agents drive back and forth to Langley.

At this point Republican members of Congress are simply making shit up. And that's scary. Very scary. Our national security during war time isn't some cute political game where we bring out the top Senator on intelligence issues and have him lie publicly about what constitutes a covert CIA agent, just so he can help get the president out of a bind.

I'm still trying to figure out when did Republicans start hating national security? Can hatred of our troops be far behind?

I agree that it's very worrying for Republicans to have so little concern about security that they're willing for a covert CIA operative to be outed.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Time to post this again

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Roberts and the Geneva Conventions

I just read a disturbing article about John Roberts and a court decision he joined regarding the Geneva Conventions - that is, how, according to him, they don't apply. The article is called "Roberts' rules put U.S. at risk" and was published in the St. Petersburg Times. Here are some excerpts:

The case of Hamdan vs. Rumsfeld involves a man purported to be Osama bin Laden's personal bodyguard and driver, who was captured in Afghanistan in late 2001 by militia forces and transferred to American custody. Salim Ahmed Hamdan has been a prisoner in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, since 2002 and is now up on charges of murder and terrorism. He is being tried under a military tribunal system, established by President Bush for the express purpose of sending accused terrorists through a separate legal system.

Hamdan's guilt or innocence was not the question before Roberts and his two colleagues on the D.C. Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals. Rather, the question was whether President Bush had the authority to contravene the Geneva Conventions and establish an unreviewable regime of military tribunals to try detainees.

Together, the three Republican-appointed judges issued a resounding "yes." According to the court, no matter how little due process would be afforded the defendant or how dismissive the process was of the rules spelled out in the Conventions, the proceedings could go forward.

Welcome to Roberts' Rules of Order: Geneva Conventions = Paper Airplane.

This case is instructive on Roberts' deference toward executive power. Roberts appears willing to keep the courts out of Bush's hair while Bush unilaterally alters the rules on the civilized treatment of prisoners that the world has adopted and we have embraced for more than 50 years.
Here are some of the gaping due process problems that will cause the rest of the world to view the tribunals as show trials with preordained verdicts: First, they exist entirely within the executive branch. A detainee's final appeal is to the president or his designee, not to the civilian courts, which means the president is essentially judge, jury and executioner.

Second, the defendant may not hear all the evidence against him. If a witness against Hamdan is considered confidential, then Hamdan will never learn the identity of the witness or what was said.

It is impossible to defend adequately against this type of secret evidence. The witness might have been an old enemy or may be gaining some personal benefit by conjuring up allegations. But this will never be learned.

The administration says the president can write any rules he wants, fair or unfair. And the Conventions don't apply to Hamdan, because as a combatant, he represented a cause, not a country.
Keeping the Conventions broadly applicable to our enemies is so important to the welfare of our own troops that a group of highly distinguished retired military generals and admirals filed an amicus brief on Hamdan's behalf. In the brief, the retired officers noted that the administration's "crimped reading" of the Conventions "bears a disturbing resemblance to the interpretation of predecessor conventions adopted by Nazi Germany. Exploiting "technicalities' and "ambiguities' in the 1929 Conventions, the Nazis refused to afford POW status to soldiers of occupied countries, arguing that those prisoners were no longer soldiers of any existing state."

The brief warned that if the administration is allowed to ignore the Conventions, "tyrants will hide their oppression under U.S. precedent and our servicemen and women will pay with their lives."

Sadly, Roberts didn't seem to care. The green light he and his judicial colleagues gave to the tribunals means they are revving up again. We will undoubtedly come to regret this; and maybe, someday, Justice Roberts will, too.

Our servicemen and women who are captured in the line of duty will curse our name for allowing this to happen. And who could blame them?

Muslim condemnation of attacks

You know, I've heard many times the complaint that Muslims have not come forward and condemned the attacks of 9/11 or issued a fatwa against Bin Laden. In point of fact, they have and in great numbers. This just hasn't been adequately reported by the news media. Here's a web page that list numerous condemnations of the attacks of 9/11 called Muslims Condemn Terrorist Attacks.

And heres' a CNN article called Bin Laden fatwa as Spain remembers. Here's an excerpt:

MADRID, Spain (CNN) -- Muslim clerics in Spain have issued what they called the world's first fatwa, or Islamic edict, against Osama bin Laden as the country marked the first anniversary of the Madrid train bombings that killed 191 people.

They accused him of abandoning his religion and urged others of their faith to denounce the al Qaeda leader, who is believed to be hiding out near the Pakistan-Afghanistan border.

The ruling was issued by the Islamic Commission of Spain, the main body representing the country's 1 million-member Muslim community. The commission invited imams to condemn terrorism at Friday prayers.

The fatwa said that according to the Koran "the terrorist acts of Osama bin Laden and his organization al Qaeda ... are totally banned and must be roundly condemned as part of Islam."

The Guardian has reported that hate crimes against Muslims are way up in the UK. There needs to be a concerted effort among members of the news media to educate the public about what mainstream, moderate Muslims really believe about terrorism.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Why Republicans win elections

I just stumbled upon a very interesting article that explains how Republicans use image and emotion to win elections. It's by James J. Kroeger and is entitled, "The Republican Nemesis". Here are a some passages:

When historians look back on the current era in American politics it will likely stand out as the period when Republican cunning & marketing savvy completely dominated the political landscape. Obliging Democrats have thrown themselves into the fray with enthusiasm, armed with idealistic visions of civil “discourse”, only to be humbled repeatedly by their political masters. Republican strategists have been able to blend their astute grasp of marketing principles, human nature, & social psychology into a formula that delivers almost guaranteed success at the polls. While Democrats knock themselves out every election cycle trying to talk to Swing Voters about THE ISSUES, Republicans have calmly focused their attention on winning The Image Campaign. Quite simply: Democrats lose because they don’t understand what moves their target audience.
Republican strategists know they would rarely win if election results were always determined by a logical discussion of The Issues and nothing more (they know that most voters would benefit more from Democratic economic policies than from Republican policies). They know they must win the Image Campaign to have any chance of winning. That is why they are committed, now and forever, to negative campaigning. Republicans have never forgotten a key stratagem they perfected during the Reagan Era: DEMONIZING YOUR OPPONENTS WORKS. It works because Swing Voters are essentially “headline readers” & “sound byte nibblers.” When they see in the headlines that Candidate A accused Candidate B of having a certain personality defect, they tend to believe it. (Unless it is effectively answered.)
The most important reason why negative campaigning has worked so well for the Republicans is because their negative attacks on the Democrats create a positive impression of Republican candidates, who appear—in contrast—to be individuals who do not possess the defects that they have accused others of having. They define themselves [positively] by defining their Democratic opponents [negatively]. On a visceral level, what the Republicans actually “stand for” in the minds of Swing Voters on election day is that they are not Democrats—those defective people who seem to have been born to ruin everything. It’s simple, really. By bashing Democrats, Republicans present themselves as the desirable alternative. The negative character attacks also provide the Republicans with one more benefit. They know that the media will give priority coverage to their personal attacks and that it will distract attention away from any of the "substance" blather that Democrats always like to talk about.
What is it that the Republicans do that enables them to manipulate the images of Republican vs. Democrats in the minds of Swing Voters? George Lakoff says that the Republicans are especially talented at choosing words & associations that work for them. True as that may be, it becomes apparent with a little more reflection that it’s not really the words or value-associations that matter so much; it’s the emotions that are expressed when words are used. How is it, after all, that the word liberal acquired the negative connotation that it has today? The Republicans created that negative connotation by repeatedly expressing scorn and derision whenever they used the word to describe their Democratic opponents. They expressed disgust for anyone who would be foolish enough to be such a person. (Whenever politicians express strongly felt emotions, Swing Voters tend to grant them a greater measure of authenticity. After all, why else would they be so upset?) Think also of the times when Republicans laugh at Democrats. They don’t just laugh in a way that shows they have a good sense of humor; they laugh in a way that communicates their contempt for Democrats.
Like it or not, the only way Democrats can win against the modern Republican Party is by defining them as a group that is [morally] defective and threatening. (When the Bad Guys do this, we can accurately describe it as "demonizing" your opponent.) Swing Voters will vote for the Democrat if they end up with an image of The Republican Politician that they find threatening. Unlike the Republicans, we Democrats do not need to fabricate any Republican character flaws out of thin air in order to "define" them effectively. We simply need to point out the truth. Our goal should be to define The Republican Politician as a shrewd, cunning, deceiving, manipulative, mean-spirited, Con-Artist who willfully and gleefully assassinates the character of any innocent victim who stands in his way. We need to describe them in this way with palpable emotion. In terms of basic, overall strategy, Democrats need to constantly remind themselves that it's not the economy, stupid! It's the IMAGE CAMPAIGN!

I recommend that you read the whole article. I wish every Democratic politician would read it. Very insightful. And troubling because Democrats don't seem to understand the principles involved.

More on the Abu Ghraib photos

The New York Times has a brief article about the non-cooperation of the government with regard to the Abu Ghraib photos that were supposed to be released yesterday. It is entitled, "Bush administration defies a federal judge's order to release additional Abu Ghraib abuse photos" and is by Kate Zernike. Here are some passages:

Lawyers for the Defense Department are refusing to cooperate with a federal judge's order to release secret photographs and videotapes related to the Abu Ghraib prison abuse scandal.

The lawyers said in a letter sent to the federal court in Manhattan late Thursday that they would file a sealed brief explaining their reasons for not turning over the material, which they were to have released by yesterday.
In early June, Judge Alvin K. Hellerstein of Federal District Court in Manhattan ordered the release of the additional photographs, part of a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union to determine the extent of abuse at American military prisons in Iraq and Afghanistan and at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.
The A.C.L.U. accused the government of continuing to stonewall requests for information "of critical public interest."

"The government chose the last possible moment to raise this argument," said Amrit Singh, a staff lawyer with the A.C.L.U.

One of the commenters to this article offered the following from the Boston Herald, May 8th, 2004:

Signaling the worst revelations are yet to come, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld said the additional photos show "acts that can only be described as blatantly sadistic, cruel and inhuman." [...]

The unreleased images show American soldiers beating one prisoner almost to death, apparently raping a female prisoner, acting inappropriately with a dead body, and taping Iraqi guards raping young boys, according to NBC News.

Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina said the scandal is "going to get worse" and warned that the most "disturbing" revelations haven't yet been made public."

The American public needs to understand, we're talking about rape and murder here," he said. "We're not just talking about giving people a humiliating experience; we're talking about rape and murder and some very serious charges."

What can I say but that it's important that we know. We've got to know what is being done in our name. Because, like it or not, we're all complicit. Our tax dollars are paying for these atrocities.

Friday, July 22, 2005

Another Republican speaks out

Here's somebody with guts:

Good morning. I'm Larry Johnson, an American, a registered Republican, a former intelligence official at the CIA, and a friend of Valerie Plame.

I entered on duty at the CIA in September 1985 with Valerie. We were members of the Career Trainee Program. Senator Orin Hatch wrote the letter of recommendation for me which I believe that helped open the doors to me at the CIA.

From the first day we walked into the building, all members of my training class were undercover, including Valerie. In other words, we had to lie to our family and friends about where we worked. We could only tell those who had an absolute need to know where we worked. In my case, I told my wife.

I knew the wife of Ambassador Wilson, Valerie, as Valerie P. Even though all of us in the training class held Top Secret Clearances, we were asked to limit our knowledge of our other classmates to the first initial of their last name.

So, Larry J. knew Val P. rather than Valerie Plame. I really didn't realize what her last name was until her cover was betrayed by the Government officials who gave columnist Robert Novak her true name.

I am stunned that government officials at the highest level have such ignorance about a matter so basic to the national security structure of this nation.

Robert Novak's compromise of Valerie led to scrutiny of CIA officers that worked with her. This not only compromised her "cover" company but potentially every individual overseas who had been in contact with that company or with her.

We must put to bed the lie that she was not undercover. For starters, if she had not been undercover then the CIA would not have referred the matter to the Justice Department.

Val only told those with a need to know about her status in order to safeguard her cover, not compromise it. She was content with being known as an energy consultant married to Ambassador Joe Wilson and the mother of twins.

I voted for George Bush in November of 2000 because I was promised a President who would bring a new tone and a new ethical standard to Washington.

So where are we? The President has flip-flopped on his promise to fire anyone at the White House implicated in a leak. We now know from press reports that at least Karl Rove and "Scooter" Libby are implicated in these leaks and may have lied during the investigation.

Instead of a President concerned first and foremost with protecting this country and the intelligence officers who serve it, we are confronted with a President who is willing to sit by while political operatives savage the reputations of good Americans like Valerie and Joe Wilson.

This is wrong and this is shameful.

We deserve people who work in the White House who are committed to protecting classified information, telling the truth to the American people, and living by example the idea that a country at war with Islamic extremists cannot focus its efforts on attacking other American citizens who simply tried to tell the truth.

I am Larry Johnson.

Thank you for listening.

It occurs to me that it's not smart to mess with the CIA. Even if you work in the White House.

Breaking news on Abu Ghraib photos

Bush Administration Files 11th Hour Papers Blocking the Release of Darby CD Photos and Video Of Abu Ghraib Torture

Summary of the Rove-Plame situation

I found this comment on Eschaton. Seems to sum things up:

1) Libby said Russert told him; Timmey said Libby told him.
2) Rove said Novak told him; Novak said Rove told him.
3) Libby/Rove said they did not know memo was classified; memo said top secret and super duper top secret referring to Plame.
4) Judy sits in jail covering something major.
5) Ari caught pilfering through top secret file.
6) Colin or Rice or Bolton gave the file to Libby, Ari, or Rove.

Am I missing anything?

Good, huh?

Friday Cat Blogging!

This is the barn cat that belongs to my friends Heather and Fred Jackson in County Dublin. She doesn't have a name. She's just "the cat".
Image hosted by

Let's dare to call it treason

Here's an article by a Republican - someone who was against Clinton and who voted for Bush - who is calling the leak of Valerie Plame's identity treason. The article is by Ken Moulton and it's entitled, "Of treason and Karl Rove". Here are some excerpts:

I place national security very high on my own agenda. Over three decades ago I took a solemn oath to defend our Constitution from all enemies both foreign and domestic. Foreign enemies are easy to identify whether they be Communism from the Cold War to the terrorists of today.

Domestic enemies I define as those within our own country that would try and overthrow our democracy. Some on that list would be those involved in the 1971 bombings at the Pentagon and Capitol or the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing. I take those enemies one step further in my definition.

I consider domestic enemies to also be those in high political or appointed office that lie to us and betray our trust. The Pentagon Papers showed us the lies of several administrations concerning Viet Nam. For some, these lies continue out of a need for their own family's self-preservation and legacy.
I have a total understanding and appreciation of what national security is all about. I also fully understand what security classifications and clearances are about and for. While I was in the intelligence community for several years, I had clearances that were just below "Eyes Only President." I was told and knew that to disclose any classified information is a federal crime and can be considered treason. The Rosenbergs were executed in the 1950s for giving away classified information. Sometimes it is not the information that is so important but how or who gathered it. By giving out classified information people can be killed!
In the current case of the CIA leak that outed a CIA agent, it was done for strictly political and revenge reasons. It was an act of revenge against an ambassador that told the truth. The truth was contrary to what the Administration wanted told. It was shear bullying and intimidation. The information that was leaked came, reportedly, from a classified state department report that Colin Powell brought to the White House. These types of reports are usually very highly classified as they should be. Just because somebody works at the White House does not mean they are cleared to hear or review this type of information.

It seems that selective information from this highly classified report was knowingly, and on purpose, leaked to the media. This in itself is a Federal Crime of leaking classified information. In some cases it could be considered treason because national security interests were compromised. We know that reporter Robert Novak was leaked this information as well as other reporters. We now know that the President's political advisor, Karl Rove, was a leaker of this classified information. He knowingly violated national security by his leak. For this, he needs to be arrested and tried for possible treason.

We also know that at least one other White House official leaked this same information and possibly more. We are still waiting for that person's name to be disclosed. That person should also be charged and tried for treason along with Rove.

Of course, Mr. Moulton did not apologize in his article for voting for Bush in the first place. I guess that would be too much to hope for.

wise words

I don't really worry about being paranoid any more. I just want to be sure I'm paranoid enough.

--Jim Caddell

Thursday, July 21, 2005

London underground "exercises"

Well, this is very interesting. Seems there were crisis management bombing drills being carried out the same day as the actual bombings. Take a look at this article entitled, "London Underground bombing 'exercises' took place at same time as real attack". Same thing happened in this county on 9/11. Just seems odd, doesn't it?

Now, remember the article I showed you the other day about London investigators questioning whether the bombers really meant to commit suicide? What if the bombers were actually recruited to take part in what they thought was an exercise? Suppose they thought they were helping security rather than committing terrorism? Just a thought.

America's lost prestige

I just read an article by Byron Williams entitled, "Sadly, the United States has lost its prestige abroad". That is so true. As you know, I just got back from a trip to Ireland and England. You should have heard my mild-mannered friends mocking the president - his swagger, the way he holds his arms out when he walks saying, "Look at me; I'm so macho." We are disdained. We are a laughing stock. It grieves me so much that we have squandered the good will that was ours right after 9/11.

Here are some excerpts from the article:

What is the contemporary definition of American prestige? I know it is a term that is loosely thrown around, mostly by politicians and pundits, but what does it really mean?

I suspect that American prestige post-World War II differs from the post-Cold War period, which unquestionably differs from today. Is American prestige based on our looking out or the world looking in?

It is safe to suggest that American prestige immediately following 9/11 differs from today's global perception.
However one defines prestige, it should be clear to all that the United States no longer has the moral capital to sway governments by its word.
How could American prestige not take a global beating given certain realities? Every reason and justification the administration has provided for invading and occupying Iraq has proved to be false.
How do we reclaim that which I believe we've lost?

We must address the U.S. torture policy authentically. There is simply no excuse for what happened, given the documents that our government has released.

The voracity with which talk radio, cable television and members of Congress wrongly attacked Illinois Sen. Richard Durbin for suggesting that what went on at Guantanamo Bay was reminiscent of some of the most sadistic regimes in history, must now be matched to uncover the truth.

We must also swallow the bitter pill of reality that there are no good choices when it comes to Iraq -- only the best of a bad lot. This would suggest an immediate troop withdrawal.

We cannot continue to place our troops in harm's way for the sake of prestige. If that is the argument at this late date, then the prestige has already been lost.

These are not overnight solutions, but they begin the process to recapture what has been lost in the war on terror.

I agree that these are the ways to regain our lost prestige. Sadly, I think it is extremely unlikely that we will do them. We don't seem to care.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Abortion and the crime rate

I have just finished reading a fascinating article from Beliefnet on the correlation between the legalization of abortion and the lowered crime rate. Entitled "Where Have All the Criminals Gone?" it is written by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner and looks both at Romania and the United States in putting forth its thesis. Here are some excerpts:

What sort of woman was most likely to take advantage of Roe v. Wade? Very often she was unmarried or in her teens or poor, and sometimes all three. What sort of future might her child have had? One study has shown that the typical child who went unborn in the earliest years of legalized abortion would have been 50 percent more likely than average to live in poverty; he would have also been 60 percent more likely to grow up with just one parent. These two factors—childhood poverty and a single-parent household—are among the strongest predictors that a child will have a criminal future. Growing up in a single-parent home roughly doubles a child’s propensity to commit crime. So does having a teenage mother. Another study has shown that low maternal education is the single most powerful factor leading to criminality.

In other words, the very factors that drove millions of American women to have an abortion also seemed to predict that their children, had they been born, would have led unhappy and possibly criminal lives.
Perhaps the most dramatic effect of legalized abortion, however, and one that would take years to reveal itself, was its impact on crime. In the early 1990s, just as the first cohort of children born after Roe v. Wade was hitting its late teen years—the years during which young men enter their criminal prime—the rate of crime began to fall. What this cohort was missing, of course, were the children who stood the greatest chance of becoming criminals. And the crime rate continued to fall as an entire generation came of age minus the children whose mothers had not wanted to bring a child into the world. Legalized abortion led to less unwantedness; unwantedness leads to high crime; legalized abortion, therefore, led to less crime.
One way to test the effect of abortion on crime would be to measure crime data in the five states where abortion was made legal before the Supreme Court extended abortion rights to the rest of the country. In New York, California, Washington, Alaska, and Hawaii, a woman had been able to obtain a legal abortion for at least two years before Roe v. Wade. And indeed, those early-legalizing states saw crime begin to fall earlier than the other 45 states and the District of Columbia. Between 1988 and 1994, violent crime in the early-legalizing states fell 13 percent compared to the other states; between 1994 and 1997, their murder rates fell 23 percent more than those of the other states.

I suggest you read the whole article for more statistical analysis.

Now let me be very clear about my own position here. I think abortion is tragic. I do think it is the destruction of a human life. But I do not believe it should be illegal. I wish we had the kind of supportive society in which all babies were welcome, in which every mother had the resources for caring for every child on the way. But we do not have such a society. Until we do, abortion needs to be safe, legal and, to the extent we can make it so, rare.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Damn Liberal Media

Okay. I found this letter to the editor on All Hat No Cattle and it's too good not to share. Here goes:

We have a Republican president, a Republican Congress and a Supreme Court nominated by seven Republican nominees. The mainstream media in this country are dominated by liberals. I was informed of this fact by Rush Limbaugh. And Thomas Sowell. And Ann Coulter. And Rich Lowry. And Bill O'Reilly.

And William Safire. And Robert Novak. And William F. Buckley Jr. And George Will. And John Gibson. And Michelle Malkin. And David Brooks. And Tony Snow. And Tony Blankely. And Fred Barnes. And Britt Hume. And Larry Kudlow. And Sean Hannity.

And David Horowitz. And William Kristol. And Hugh Hewitt. And Oliver North. And Joe Scarborough. And Pat Buchanan. And John McLaughlin. And Cal Thomas. And Joe Klein. And James Kilpatrick. And Tucker Carlson. And Deroy Murdock. And Michael Savage. And Charles Krauthammer. And Stephen Moore.

And Alan Keyes. And Gary Bauer. And Mort Kondracke. And Andrew Sullivan. And Nicholas von Hoffman. And Neil Cavuto. And Mike Rosen. And Dave Kopel. And John Caldera. And Matt Drudge.

On the X-Files they used to say "The truth is out there." I'm not so sure. And with everything going on in the world today I think we’re finding out why leaning too far to the right is wrong.

Daniel Soshnik, La Crosse, Wisc., in a letter to the editor of local newspaper

Were the bombers tricked?

The London bombing might not have been of the (intentionally) suicide variety. Here's an excerpt from an article entitled, "UK bombers 'tricked' - All four paid for return train tickets", that explains why:

British police are considering the possibility that the four key suspects in the London terrorist attacks may have been tricked into triggering their bombs.

The theory comes as Scotland Yard issued chilling new images of the four terrorists setting off on their fatal journey from Luton station.

Police believe the bombers may have been tricked by a "master" who told them they would have time to escape when in fact the devices were set to explode instantly. Investigators are giving the hypothesis serious attention given the unusual behaviour of the four bombers for such a sophisticated terrorist action.

The four men are seen together on closed-circuit TV at Luton railway station at 7.20am on Thursday July 7, 90 minutes before the first bomb exploded.

Police issued the images at the weekend as they continue to seek new information. They also confirmed the names of the four bombers.

They were Muhammad Sidique Khan, 30, (believed responsible for the Edgware Road blast that killed six); Shahzad Tanweer, 22 (Aldgate, six dead); Hasib Hussain, 18 (the No30 bus, 13 dead); Germaine Lindsay, 19 (King's Cross/Russell Square, 26 dead).

All four men had paid their parking tickets before boarding a train at Luton, 40km north of London, for King's Cross station and had all bought return tickets to the capital.

"We do not have hard evidence that the men were suicide bombers," a Scotland Yard spokesman told the Sunday Telegraph newspaper.

"It is possible that they did not intend to die."

An unnamed security official said, "The bombers' masters might have thought that they couldn't risk the four men being caught and spilling everything to British interrogators."

Of course, the question is, who are the "masters"? The other question is, who benefits?

Monday, July 18, 2005

Great snark

From the Wichita Eagle:

I don't understand the British. They get bombed and rush out to arrest suspects. Don't they know that the most effective way to prevent terrorism is to attack a Middle Eastern country, preferably one that isn't the home country of the suspected bombers?

American Gestapo

I regularly admire the articles by Mike Whitney. Here's one entitled "Genesis of an American Gestapo" that demonstrates how we have become a true police state. It is very disturbing. Here are some excerpts:

Tyranny has very few indispensable parts; a compliant media, that will regulate information to meet the goals of the state; a "rubber-stamp" Parliament that will endorse the policies of the supreme leader; a judiciary that will adjust the law to serve the requirements of the ruling body, a strong military to seize the wealth of weaker nations; and a security apparatus, that will eliminate any domestic threats to the system.

On June 29 President Bush took the great-leap forward in transforming the nation's intelligence services by ordering a restructuring of the FBI and putting "a broad swath of the agency" under the direct control of the executive.

Bingo; Bush's personal secret police; an American Gestapo.

The formation of the new agency was presented as part of 74 recommendations made by the 9-11 Commission on Intelligence. Every member of the so-called "independent" panel was hand-picked by the Bush team and their proposals reflect the narrow interests of American elites. Bush loyalists and Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) members Lawrence Silberman and Charles Robb, (both of whom were directly involved in the 9-11 whitewash) chaired the committee, and provided the rationale for the dramatic changes to the existing system. Astonishingly, Bush was able to unilaterally create the National Security Service without congressional approval as part of his sweeping powers under the new anti-terror legislation.

The freshly minted National Security Service, which has been dubbed the New SS, will operate under the authority of former ambassador to Iraq, John Negroponte, whose involvement in overseeing the terrorist activities of death squads in Nicaragua will provide him with the necessary experience for his new task. Negroponte, the new Intelligence czar, will report directly to the President, who in turn will carefully monitor the violations of civil liberties that will naturally evolve from unsupervised investigations.
The National Security Service will have unlimited power to conduct the apocryphal war on terror anyway it sees fit. The agency will operate independent of congressional oversight and beyond the bothersome glare of America's permanently embedded media. It will provide the requisite muscle for maintaining America's one-party system; spying, harassing and intimidating those dissident elements who dare to challenge the status quo. We should expect to see an up tick in dirty tricks, coerced-censorship and "disappeared" persons in the wake of the new changes.
the release of a 40 page document from the Defense Dept. states the intention of the Pentagon to "expand military activity" within the United States; a practice that has been banned since 1878 under the provisions of the Posse Comitatus Act. American's would be surprised to know that the administration is maneuvering to sidestep the existing law and deploy troops inside the country on the president's orders. Consider, for a moment, the potential for disaster if Bush is allowed to use the military as his own private resource; dispatching protestors, patrolling cities and supervising elections as happens in third world nations. The Pentagon document clearly "asserts the president's authority to deploy combat forces on US territory to intercept and defeat threats." (Washington Post)

Sounds like a military dictatorship to me.

I does to me too.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Food web collapse

I just read a very alarming article about what's happening to the sea. The article is in the San Francisco Chronicle and is entitled, "Sea life in peril -- plankton vanishing: Usual seasonal influx of cold water isn't happening". Here are a couple of passages:

Oceanic plankton have largely disappeared from the waters off Northern California, Oregon and Washington, mystifying scientists, stressing fisheries and causing widespread seabird mortality.

The phenomenon could have long-term implications if it continues: a general decline in near-shore oceanic life, with far fewer fish, birds and marine mammals. No one is certain how long the condition will last. But even a short duration could severely affect seabird populations because of drastically reduced nesting success, scientists say.

The plankton disappearance is caused by a slackening of what is known as "upwelling:" the seasonal movement of cold, nutrient-rich offshore water into areas near shore.

This cold water sustains vast quantities of phytoplankton and zooplankton, which are the basis of the marine food web. During periods of vigorous upwelling and consequent plankton "blooms," everything from salmon to blue whales fattens and thrives on the continental shelf of the West Coast.

The larger fish and baleen whales eat mostly krill: free-floating, shrimp- like crustaceans ranging from one to two inches, the upper size limit of the zooplankton realm.

When the water is cold, krill swarm off the Northern California coast by the tens of thousands of tons. Now that they are largely absent, fisheries and wildlife are feeling the effects.

In perhaps the most ominous development, seabird nesting has dropped significantly on the Farallon Islands off San Francisco, the largest Pacific Coast seabird rookery south of Alaska.
In fact, say scientists, krill are the keystone forage species for almost everything that swims off Northern California.

"It's the krill that drive the food web dynamics off this coast," said Ellie Cohen, the executive director of the Point Reyes Bird Observatory. "Their absence has tremendous implications for everything out there, right up to the humpback and blue whales. We don't know if this is a result of global warming or some natural cycling, but without the krill, you could be looking at a food web collapse."

I would be very surprised if this phenomenon were not the result of global warming. It's obviously the result of some kind of warming. What is it going to take to get the folks in power to wake up to what is happening to the earth?

True tyranny

The accumulation of all powers, legislative, executive, and judiciary, in the same hands, whether of one, a few, or many, and whether hereditary, self-appointed, or elective, may justly be pronounced the very definition of tyranny.

James Madison, Federalist Papers #47

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Karl Rove and treason

Paul Krugman's latest column is worthy of attention. It's entitled "Karl Rove's America" and here is the passage that makes the critical point:

Mr. Rove also understands, better than anyone else in American politics, the power of smear tactics. Attacks on someone who contradicts the official line don't have to be true, or even plausible, to undermine that person's effectiveness. All they have to do is get a lot of media play, and they'll create the sense that there must be something wrong with the guy.

And now we know just how far he was willing to go with these smear tactics: as part of the effort to discredit Joseph Wilson IV, Mr. Rove leaked the fact that Mr. Wilson's wife worked for the C.I.A. I don't know whether Mr. Rove can be convicted of a crime, but there's no question that he damaged national security for partisan advantage. If a Democrat had done that, Republicans would call it treason.

But what we're getting, instead, is yet another impressive demonstration that these days, truth is political. One after another, prominent Republicans and conservative pundits have declared their allegiance to the party line. They haven't just gone along with the diversionary tactics, like the irrelevant questions about whether Mr. Rove used Valerie Wilson's name in identifying her (Robert Novak later identified her by her maiden name, Valerie Plame), or the false, easily refuted claim that Mr. Wilson lied about who sent him to Niger. They're now a chorus, praising Mr. Rove as a patriotic whistle-blower.

Ultimately, this isn't just about Mr. Rove. It's also about Mr. Bush, who has always known that his trusted political adviser - a disciple of the late Lee Atwater, whose smear tactics helped President Bush's father win the 1988 election - is a thug, and obviously made no attempt to find out if he was the leaker.

Most of all, it's about what has happened to America. How did our political system get to this point?

Yes, what has happened to America? Today is my first full day back in the country after spending two weeks abroad on vacation and I'm catching up on all the news I've missed. If I were the least bit surprised by what I'm reading, it would all be depressing. But I'm not surprised. No, not at all.

Come on, Bush twins: Enlist!

Well, I'm back from a wonderful vacation and I hope those of you who regularly read Child of Illusion managed to get your political fix elswhere for the two weeks I was away. The article I have for you today is a bit out of date but the point being made will never be out of date - never that is, as long as the war in Iraq is ongoing. It's a USA Today article and it's entitled, "If Uncle Sam wants you, he has to be able to find you". Now here's the pertinent passage:

Last fall, Charles Moskos of Northwestern University, a prominent expert on military manpower, asked a group of recruiters what would most help them: tripling bonuses or enlisting presidential daughter Jenna Bush.

The recruiters' choice was unanimous: Jenna Bush

Bush sure loves his war and he sure loves being a "war president" but I don't see him sending his daughters. What? War no longer entails sacrifice? Oh, silly me. Sacrifice is for lower-class poor folks who are so economically disadvantaged they have to enlist if they want a way to get an education.