Thursday, June 30, 2005


I will be away from June 30 - July 16. The blog posting will continue after I get back!

Everyone take care.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

What Would Jesus Do?

The New York Times has an article today entitled, "Christian conservatives to seek voters' support for government displays of Ten Commandments". Here's how it gets started:

Christian conservatives said they were taking their fight for government displays of the Ten Commandments to the polls, using the Supreme Court's bookend rulings on Monday for and against such exhibitions as a call to arms in the battle over judicial nominees.

Several lawyers and organizers for the Christian right said the most resonant part of the rulings was Justice Antonin Scalia's accusation, in his dissent defending one display of the Commandments, that the majority used the case to "ratchet up the court's hostility to religion."

"I am almost glad that it is so outrageous," Charles W. Colson, the evangelical Christian writer and Watergate figure, said of the ruling at a panel discussion on Tuesday on Dr. James C. Dobson's "Focus on the Family" syndicated Christian radio program. "People today now realize and can make no mistake about it that what happens in the court has profound effects upon religious liberty in America, and it comes in a week when there may be a resignation on the Supreme Court.

"People in churches across America had better get busy and demand the right kind of appointments to this court," he said. He added, "There is no bigger issue on the Christian agenda."

No bigger issue on the Christian agenda??? Funny, I don't remember Jesus saying anything about public displays of the Ten Commandments. I do remember rather a lot about feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, visiting those in prison and loving our enemies. I would think those things would be big issues on the Christian agenda. But hey, that's just me.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Eminent domain

The Supreme Court ruled that the government has the right to seize your land. And today Native Americans said, what else is new?

--Jay Leno

The polls

Well here's some more encouraging news from CNN entitled, "Poll: Disapproval of Bush at high point". Here are the highlights:

The number of Americans disapproving of President Bush's job performance has risen to the highest level of his presidency, according to the CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll released Monday.

According to the poll, 53 percent of respondents said they disapproved of Bush's performance, compared to 45 percent who approved.

The margin of error was plus or minus 3 percentage points.

The 53 percent figure was the highest disapproval rating recorded in the CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll since Bush became president in January 2001.

The approval percentage -- 45 percent -- matches a low point set in late March. The 8-point gap between those who disapproved and approved was the largest recorded during Bush's tenure.

As Bush prepares to address the nation Tuesday to defend his Iraq policy, just 40 percent of those responding to the poll said they approved of his handling of the war; 58 percent said they disapproved.

Maybe the nation is finally waking up. No wonder Bush is trying to boost his numbers by a speech tonight against a military backdrop.

Monday, June 27, 2005

"I am Karl Rove"

Here is a bitter, scathing piece by Rich Procter entitled, "I am Karl Rove". It gets started this way:

My name is Karl Rove. 100% of American taxpayers pay my salary, since I'm an Adviser to the President. Last Wednesday, I used the status of my office as a forum to tell America that the 49% of those taxpayers - the just-under-half who don't love my boss, George W. Bush -- are traitors, preferring to "understand" (i.e. coddle) the psychopathic murderer Osama bin Laden rather than making war against him. This is my trademark as a political strategist - use the tools of anger, hatred and fear to destroy anyone in my way. My goal is to get (just over) one half of the voters to hate the other half. I will do whatever it takes to create this hatred - lies, slander, defamation, drive-by smears - whatever it take to use these tools to divide the country for my purpose.

My name is Karl Rove. I planned the roll out of the Iraq War to give my boss the maximum advantage in the 2002 mid-term elections. I supervised the whole-cloth invention of the WMD "evidence" issue against Saddam Hussein so that my party could brand anyone who opposed the Republicans as dupes, appeasers and traitors. I coordinated attacks against men like war hero Max Cleland, morphing their faces into those of monsters like bin Laden so my party could win more Senate and House seats. We won. That's all that matters.

My name is Karl Rove. Like my bosses, George W. Bush and Dick Cheney, I had "other priorities" than serving my country during the Vietnam War. The 1700-plus soldiers who have died because of our little trumped-up war are a nuisance to me - that's why I insist the coffins not be shown coming home on television, and Mr. Bush never attend a soldier's funeral. It hurts my ability to market this war as a great, beneficial march to Middle East Democracy, and it takes some of the luster off the War President. Can't have that happen, can we?

It is really hard for me to imagine what could make a person so underhanded and vicious.

Click through and read the rest of the article. Then read the comments left by Smirking Chimp readers. You might want to leave a comment of your own. Just be sure to do that here on Child of Illusion!

Sunday, June 26, 2005

The president's troubles

I really think I should call your attention to a Guardian article entitled, "Battered Bush watches as support ebbs away". This is how some folks in the UK are seeing what's happening to Bush. Here's an excerpt:

The polls are brutal. A survey by Gallup last week said 59 per cent of Americans now favoured US withdrawal. Polls by Pew and Zogby International also revealed that a clear majority of Americans believed they were on the wrong track in Iraq. Bush's approval ratings collapsed to 44 per cent in general and a paltry 39 per cent on Iraq. 'Iraq is at the front of Bush's troubles. Things are not going well and the American voting public sees that,' said John Zogby, head of the pollsters Zogby.

The talk in Washington is of the dreaded 'tipping point'. This is when Iraq's insurgency deepens into uncontrollable crisis at the same time as American public opinion collapses. That could spell the unthinkable: American defeat.

The tipping point has not arrived yet, but there are many Democrats, and some Republicans, who believe it is on the way if trends continue. '[Bush's] place in history will probably rest on Iraq becoming a stable democracy. Not too many historians, presidential watchers or political science professors believe that is a good bet,' said John Orman, who is professor of politics at Fairfield University in Connecticut.

Nebraska senator Chuck Hagel, who also hails from the Republican heartland, is speaking out. He recently angrily said the US was 'losing' the war. Hagel is one of the front-runners for the Republican presidential nomination in 2008. For anyone with White House ambitions, distancing oneself from Bush is becoming a priority.

If you need a little lift, click through and read the entire article. It actually offers some evidence for a bit of optimism!

An open letter to Karl Rove

Kristen Breitweiser lost her husband in the attack on the World Trade Center on 9/11. Here is her response to Karl Rove's outrageous claim that liberals only wanted to give the perpetrators "therapy and understanding". It's entitled, "Karl Rove's 'Understanding of 9/11'". Here's an excerpt:

It has always been America's policy that you only place soldiers' lives in harm's way when it is absolutely necessary and the absolute last resort. When you send troops into combat you support those troops by providing them with proper equipment and training. Why didn't you do that with the troops that you sent into Iraq? Why weren't their vehicles armored? Why didn't they have protective vests? Why weren't they properly trained about the rules of interrogation? And Karl, when our troops come home – be it tragically in body bags or with missing limbs – you should honor and acknowledge their service to their country. You shouldn't hide them by bringing them home in the dark of night. Most importantly, you should take care of them for the long haul by giving them substantial veteran's benefits and care. To me, that is being patriotic. To me, that is how you support our troops. To me, that is how you show that you know the value of a human life given for its country.

For the record Karl, does Iraq have any connection to the 9/11 attacks? Because, you and your friends with your collective “understanding of 9/11” seem to be contradicting yourselves about the Iraq-9/11 connection, too. First, we were told that we went to war with Iraq because it was linked to the 9/11 attacks. Then, your rationale was changed to "Iraq has WMD". Then you told us that we needed to invade Iraq because Saddam was a "bad man". And now it turns out that we are in Iraq to bring them "democracy."

Of course, the Downing Street memo clarifies many of these things, but for the record Karl: Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11; there were few terrorists in Iraq before our invasion, but now Iraq is a terrorist hot-bed. America had the sympathy and support of the whole world before Iraq. Now, thanks to your actions, we find ourselves hated and alienated by the rest of the world. Al Qaeda's recruitment took a nose-dive after the 9/11 attacks, but has now skyrocketed since your invasion of Iraq; and most importantly, nearly 2,000 U.S. soldiers have been killed because of your war in Iraq. These facts speak for themselves. (And, they speak very little about effectively winning any war on terror.)

Karl, you say you “understand” 9/11. Then why did you and your friends so vehemently oppose the creation of a 9/11 Independent Commission? Once the commission was established, why did you refuse to properly fund the Commission by allotting it only a $3 million budget? Why did you refuse to allow access to documents and witnesses for the 9/11 Commissioners? Why did we have to fight so hard for an extension when the Commissioners told us that they needed more time due to your footdragging and stonewalling? Why didn't you want to cooperate so that all Americans could “understand” what happened on 9/11?

Every word of this letter is good. I recommend that you read it all.

Speaking of hatred of the United States, did you know that anti-American setiment has turned so ugly that American students studying there are being overwhelmed by the harassment to the point that they can't take it and leave? Here's an article published in Australia about the problem entitled, "Students quit over anti-US slurs". This is simply tragic. I'm about to leave for Ireland and England later this week to visit old friends and I'm really concerned about my reception when I'm in public. I just hope I can pick up my old Irish accent quickly.

Saturday, June 25, 2005

NYT editorial

I really recommend an editorial from this morning's New York Times entitled, "Three Things About Iraq". Here are the main points:

To have the sober conversation about the war in Iraq that America badly needs, it is vital to acknowledge three facts:

The war has nothing to do with Sept. 11....

The war has not made the world, or this nation, safer from terrorism....

If the war is going according to plan, someone needs to rethink the plan....

Simply put. And important.

The case for impeachment

I really recommend that you click through and read this entire article by William John Cox entitled, "Twice fooled — shame on us: The case for impeachment". I can't possibly give you excerpts that will give you the true impact of what he has to say. But I can get you started with the way Cox starts:

George W. Bush stole the 2000 election and we let him get away with it. While the Democrats cried because Al Gore had won the vote, the Republicans counted their loot and planned the next heist. Crime does pay when the justices of the Supreme Court are in on the caper, and they can't be impeached if the crooks control the Congress.

At first, most of us (irrespective of politics) thought that, even though Bush was sort of a goofy guy, Cheney, Rumsfeld and the other retainers from the reigns of Ronnie the Great and George I would be able to run things for four years. The world was at peace, the economy was good, and, much as he had done for the Rangers baseball team, Bush would play the part, lead the cheers and leave the big decisions to those better equipped to think deep thoughts. Sooner or later, the voters would catch on that they'd been had, and the doofus would be replaced with someone who could read, write and think for him (or her)self.

But, suddenly, on September 11, 2001, the game changed. At first, things appeared the same. While the president was flying around in circles, without a clue and out of touch, Cheney and the other grownups dealt with the emergency and scripted Bush's response.

It has now been proven that Bush was repeatedly warned that Osama bin Laden was planning suicide attacks on the country with hijacked commercial jets; however, we will never know if he intentionally allowed it to happen or was just too dumb and distracted to care. We do know that by 9/11 the U.S. economy was in the toilet, the Bush administration was in trouble, and all of its policies and decisions were being driven by what was best for big business, the oil industry and the Saudi sheiks. The neocons in his administration probably didn't plan the 9/11 attack; they may not have knowingly allowed it to take place, but it was certainly fortunate for their program. And, we quickly learned what that program was all about.

Within weeks, the constitutional rights of the American people were abrogated by the USA PATRIOT Act, and extraordinary powers were seized by the president, the Departments of Justice and Defense, and the CIA.

Soon, video games no longer held Bush's interest. He was given a new game and its name was war. The fight against terrorism was exciting, but, in Afghanistan, it was over all too quickly. It didn't matter that Osama got away; the new game was far too much fun to stop, and he was eager to advance to the next level.

The next step was to conquer Iraq, governed by Saddam Hussein, the ruthless dictator installed by the CIA and maintained in power by Ronnie the Great and George I. Saddam had become an embarrassment to the Bush family, and he controlled something very valuable–112 billion barrels of oil. The oil industry had bought and paid for the presidency and it wanted a return on its investment. Saddam had to go.

Cox then proceeds with a step by step account of what happened next. Do read it.

Friday, June 24, 2005

Cat blogging bonus

Today I'm "christening" my new digital camera. Here's another picture of Edgar - languishing in the heat.
Image hosted by

Friday Cat Blogging!

Here's Edgar, sitting in the sunshine!
Image hosted by
Photo by Cynthia Burgess

Karl Rove's insults

Surely by now you are aware that Karl Rove said that Democrats only wanted to give "therapy" to the people who perpetrated 9/11. Here are the quotes:

Liberals saw the savagery of the 9/11 attacks and wanted to prepare indictments and offer therapy and understanding for our attackers...Conservatives saw the savagery of 9/11 and the attacks and prepared for war.... Conservatives saw what happened to us on 9/11 and said we will defeat our enemies. Liberals saw what happened to us and said we must understand our enemies.... No more needs to be said about the motives of liberals.

Democrats are calling for Rove to apologize or resign. Right. Don't hold your breath. The White House is saying that he is only pointing out the differences in "philosophy" of the two parties. Here's a snarky delineation of those differences found here:

Believe capturing the person primarily responsible for the attack should be a top priority.

It's been four years, and Osama bin Laden is still free, even though Bush's CIA chief says he knows where he is.

Investigate the intelligence failures that led to 9/11.

Do everything in their power to block the 9/11 Commission from doing its work.

Propose creating the Department of Homeland Security.

Push tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans.

Believe we should have stayed the course in Afghanistan, not allowing the Taliban to resurge, the warlords to take power, and the opium trade to skyrocket.

Ignore Afghanistan as the situation worsens.

Believe that we should be honest with our troops about the reasons we go to war, give them everything they need to be safe, and make sure we go in with an exit plan.

Manipulate intelligence to trump up reasons to go to war, don't give our troops the support they need, constantly mislead the public about the direction the war is going, and fail to make an exit plan. And turn Iraq into the ultimate terrorist training ground.

Posted by Jesse Berney

Enough said.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Oh, the lies - part 2

Mark Morford has published a scathingly cynical article in the San Francisco Chronicle entitled, "Downing Street Is For Liars". His point is that deep down we knew Bush was lying all along. Here are some passages:

Why is the major American media not swarming all over the Downing Street Memos thing? Why is the entire nation not just appalled and disgusted and aghast at finding seemingly irrefutable proofs about what we all already knew, which is that BushCo planned to invade Iraq long before 9/11 and needed to find a way to justify it?
The majority of the nation knows Bush lied like a dog to drive us into an unwinnable (but, for his cronies, incredibly profitable) war. The rest either refuse to believe it, or they claim, with equal parts ignorance and blind jingoism, that the ends (ousting a pip-squeak dictator who was no real threat to anyone and who had been successfully contained for 20 years) justify the means ($200 billion, 1,700 dead Americans, over 10,000 wounded and disabled U.S. soldiers, countless tens of thousands of dead innocent Iraqis, staggering economic debt, the open disrespect -- if not outright contempt -- of the entire international community).

Here is the American cynic's view: It is almost too late to care about the lies. It is almost pointless to scream and rant and point fingers of blame. We all know who is to blame, and it ain't Saddam, and it ain't Osama, and it ain't "terror," and it ain't our "freedoms." Bush has driven us so deep into the Iraq hellhole it serves almost no purpose to whine about the obvious deceptions and blatant whorelike pre-9/11 machinations that got us here.

We are now, instead, focused on endurance. On gritting teeth and getting through and getting the hell out of this new Vietnam Bush has imbecilically driven us into, all while surviving 3.5 more years of one of the most abusive, secretive cadres of warmongering leadership in American history.
Let's just say it outright: Of course Bush deserves to be impeached. But of course Bush will not be impeached, because impeachment requires a massive federal investigation and an act of Congress and the support of countless senators and representatives, and right now the GOP controls Congress with a little iron penis, and therefore any sort of uprising or scandal or suggestion of punishment gets immediately slammed down or scoffed away or buried under an avalanche of shrugs and yawns and neoconservative smugness. Isn't that right, Mr. Gannon? Mr. DeLay? Abu Ghraib? Gitmo? Saddam? Et al.

BushCo survived the illegal sanctioning of inhumane torture. They survived a gay male prostitute acting as a journalist. They survived Enron and Diebold and the rigging of the first election and they will survive Downing Street simply because all the people who should be on the attack about these atrocities all work for the guys who committed them.

My only disagreement with this is that Bush rigged the second election too.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

The power of the blogs

I want to share an article with you by David Michael Green entitled, "HC-9: Where the Case for Impeachment Slipped into Gear". HC-9 refers to the room in which Congressman John Conyers chaired the hearing on the Downing Street Memo. Here's part of what Green has to say:

There, in the over-stuffed, windowless box known as HC-9, the case for impeachment slipped into second gear, and gave every indication of being a force beyond the ability of the sorcerers Rove and Cheney to control. This hearing had the distinct feel of history in the making, and I was proud and honored to attend. I went home that night more optimistic for the prospects of America and the world than I have been in a long time. Cindy Sheehan, one of the witnesses, said that Thursday was the happiest day she'd had since Mr. Bush's war of personal opportunism claimed the life of her son.

Presiding over it all was America's unlikely new hero, John Conyers. Closer to the end of his long career in American government than the beginning, the congressman from Michigan has established himself of late as a rare specimen within the hopeless and hapless party of the alleged opposition.

Green then has some harsh words for the mainstream media:

Nothing in the public life of this country has been more shocking and ominous to me in my lifetime than the complete abdication of the mainstream media in fulfilling its responsibility for covering the regressive right's exploits in government, especially all things related to the Iraq war. Bill Clinton, not even a liberal, was hounded mercilessly over bogus Whitewater allegations and a bit of oral sex on the side. George Bush tells incredible lies, makes policy choices of disastrous proportions, and produces death and destruction every chance he gets. Not only does the press give him a free pass (as some have even admitted to doing) by failing to critically assess his wild assertions, they are now willfully ignoring and distorting evidence of lies which have cost tens of thousands of lives.

For some, this will only serve as a validation of my naiveté, perhaps even -- as a political science professor -- inexcusable naiveté Still, I maintain that we've not seen in the post-WWII era abominations quite like those of the last years. It was horrendous enough that the Washington Post and New York Times both had to apologize for their complete failures to serve the American public as we were considering whether or not to go to war in Iraq. But to then, on top of that, to fail to report the atomic bomb of the Downing Street Memo (or even worse, to 'report' it snidely, loaded with bias) has taken my breath away.

Then he pays tribute to the power of the blogs:

When the story of the Downing Street scandal is written by historians, the Internet will play a crucial and indispensable role, providing the vehicle by which the political landscape was reshaped -- if it ultimately is -- particularly since the failures of other institutions left no other alternative. Twenty years ago such ominous conditions as we know today likely would have meant the death of a story like this. Today that is not happening.

The indicator which suggests this especially clearly is the bizarre anomaly of the mainstream media currently all chockablock with stories about how and supposedly) why they're not covering the DSM, while at the same time running few pieces anywhere on the actual issue. How is this to be explained? If they're not covering it, what makes the fact that they're not covering it newsworthy (as opposed to millions of other stories they also don't cover)? The answer is that the blogosphere is all over this thing, and is angrily taking the media to task for its failures. Were it not for that disconnect, it wouldn't make any sense to write stories about the absence of stories on this or any other topic.

What all this demonstrates is the nascent power of this still-youthful medium. It is a power which permits individuals to be heard like they have not otherwise been for perhaps centuries, and it is a power which gives citizens a fighting chance against the monolithic institutions that have dominated policy-making for so long. No longer do the Karl Roves or the Rupert Murdochs of the world have a monopoly on determining what is important, or what is acceptable to say or think. We are reclaiming that power for ourselves.

While acknowledging that we are still in grave danger as a nation, Green tentatively sounds a note of hope. Perhaps, given that at least one Democrat has grown some spine, things might be looking up.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Do you feel a draft?

Tom Friedman does. Or at least he's recommending one. Here's an article by Mike Whitney entitled, "The Friedman Solution: Reinstate the draft". Here's what he says:

When America's foremost political pundit and spokesman for the powerful CFR (Council on Foreign Relations), Tom Friedman, says its time to reinstate the draft, we should all pay attention. Friedman's comments appeared in his June 15 column where he reiterated his past predictions that the war in Iraq was still "winnable" if we "do it right". What's needed, Friedman postulates, is to "double the boots on the ground and redouble the diplomatic effort to bring in the Sunnis."

"Double the boots on the ground"?

Sounds like the draft to me.

Tom is no fool; he realizes he won't change the minds of Americans who've already soured on the war. A recent Gallop poll indicates that a whopping 59% of Americans are already sick of Iraq and want to see the troops withdrawn. Friedman's missive is directed to the slender 10% minority (according to Gallup) who think that we should increase the number of troops. Presumably, that figure includes a dwindling number of "die-hard" Bush loyalists as well as the .01% of elites who actually run the country behind the mask of democratic government.

Friedman's remedy is a straightforward call for a draft. He's well aware that that Iraq will not be "pacified" without a massive commitment of American troops. His logic supports the conclusions of General Shinseki who lost his job by telling Congress that America would need "several hundred thousand troops" to secure the country. Friedman's reasoning is at loggerheads with the recalcitrant Rumsfeld who admits no mistakes and is determined to continue the current policy despite its disastrous results. Embracing the idea of a draft would be an admission of failure; something that Rumsfeld's fragile vanity could never endure. This means that we should expect to see a steady decline in morale, severe recruitment problems, and the growing signs of an overextended and fractured military.
The Defense Secretary initiated what Friedman calls the "Rumsfeld Doctrine", that is, "just enough troops to lose". There's no mention of the tens of thousands of innocent Iraqis who lost their lives in a needless act of aggression, nor the 1700 servicemen who died to establish a beachhead in the Middle East for the Bush petrolocracy. Friedman's only concern is whether the boyish aspirations of global elites are carried out with some measure of success.

Friedman's article points to the cracks and fissures that are now appearing in the citadels of American power. It's clear that many in the ruling establishment no longer believe that the blundering Bush clan can win in Iraq. Friedman hasn't given up on Iraq, though. Instead, he's offering a last, desperate solution for pulling the entire debacle out of the embers; the draft.

Personally, I hope we do have a draft. Because that's when the war protests will start in earnest.

Monday, June 20, 2005

What the president said - part 2

Okay. This is just appalling. Here's what he said in a radio address:

We went to war because we were attacked, and we are at war today because there are still people out there who want to harm our country and hurt our citizens. Some may disagree with my decision to remove Saddam Hussein from power, but all of us can agree that the world's terrorists have now made Iraq a central front in the war on terror.

The people of Iraq didn't attack us! They had nothing to do with 9/11 -- even Bush admitted that when Kerry confronted him about a similar remark during the debates. And he's admitting that his unnecessary war has turned Iraq into a haven and breeding ground for terrorists. Good grief!

He also said this:

Our troops are fighting these terrorists in Iraq so you will not have to face them here at home.

The Iraqis were not going to come over here and attack us. They didn't attack us and they weren't planning to attack us so how can this statement make any sense at all? If anything, the war makes it more likely that we will be attacked in retaliation. You know, the Democrats need to take this stuff and run with it. But I'm not holding my breath.

The Iran election

President Bush criticized the election process in Iran. He said there are groups there who try and suppress the vote, power there is in the hands of the very few, and the whole thing is dominated by religion. Hey, that is our system!

--Jay Leno

While the planet burns

I wish I could somehow wave a magic wand and have George Bush read this article. It's simple enough that even he, with his limited reading ability, would be able to understand it, I think. And it let's us know that we have no time to fool around. The article - by Henry Porter - is published in the Guardian and is entitled, "Fiddling as the planet burns". Here are some pertinent passages:

The great lie in the climate debate is that there is still a debate worth having. Opponents of change insist that the human factors in global warming are not proven and that we must wait until we have hard evidence before taking drastic action, which is as about as silly as saying there are two equally valid views on the issue of whether paedophilia damages children.

What is so destructive about this stance is that it claims equal weight and equal airtime. The 'balance' in newspaper reports, especially in the United States, is, in fact, a bias against the truth and weakens the case for immediate action against emissions of C0<->2. And while we hum and haw, trying to persuade reluctant sceptics, the permafrost of the Arctic melts, sea levels inch up and the pH levels of oceans gradually drop because of the carbon that is absorbed from the atmosphere.

This has disturbed me about the mainstream press for some time now. They seem to think they're doing their job because they give time to "both sides". Their job, however, is to track down the truth. Why is it balanced to give both sides if one side is thoroughly bogus? Giving equal weight to two sides implies that the two sides in question are equally valid. If, however, one side has solid science behind it and the other is promoted by corporate profit interests, that ought to be reported as well.

Later Porter praises Tony Blair for his responsibility regarding the issue:

You have to hand it to the Prime Minister that he accepts the advice of his scientific advisers and has done all he can in Britain's presidency of the G8 to focus world leaders' attention on the problem.

But his chum Bush remains a delinquent simpleton in such matters. In the second draft of the G8 communique, the phrase 'our world is warming' has been placed in square brackets, which means that the statement is disputed by the US and is likely to be excluded from the final document. American officials also pressed negotiators to delete sections which tie global warming to human activity and emphasise the risk to economies.

Porter then continues by relating a personal experience:

Last winter, I attended the climate change conference at the new Met Office headquarters outside Exeter. In theend of the conference, there was an open session in which scientists talked about what they had heard over the previous days. I will never forget the solemn urgency of that session. Even the scientist were shocked by how advanced various manifestations of global warming were. I was sitting next to the woman who has done pioneering work on the pH levels of the oceans. Like the others, she had seen the abyss and it showed in her face.

What would happen if we all saw the abyss? Maybe we would demonstrate a willingness to make some changes. Here's how Porter concludes his article:

I wish we could all have that experience, because the conviction of the masses is the only way things will change. But here's the catch. It involves sacrifice and a loss of what we previously regarded as our rights to travel and consume freely. If I criticise the backwardness of Bush and his oil lobby, it follows that I must take action on a personal level - retire my ancient Volvo, use energy-saving light bulbs, switch off the computer at night, do away with the dishwasher, make fewer journeys by air, install solar panels, get a bicycle.

As yet, I have done none of these things.

I would add to his list to give money to environmental action groups, to lower the thermostat in the winter and raise it in the summer and simply to make fewer trips by car. Those things are relatively painless. Maybe Porter has "done none of these things" because he thinks he has to do them all at once. Why not pick one thing - just one thing - to do that will save energy. That is at least something. And then when the new behavior becomes a habit, pick one more thing. Otherwise we will all yield to inertia and just do nothing.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Mr. "I had other priorities" Cheney

This information on Cheney's draft dodging was posted in one of the comments sections on Eschaton. I thought it was interesting, to say the least:

1) Mr. Cheney enrolled in Casper Community College in January 1963; he turned 22 that month and sought his first student deferment on March 20, according to records from the Selective Service System.

2) After transferring to the University of Wyoming at Laramie, he sought his second student deferment on July 23, 1963.

3) Three weeks and a day after the Gulf of Tonkin resolution passed (giving President Johnson unlimited military force in Vietnam), Cheney married Lynn Cheney, thus qualifying for a third deferment.

4) Mr. Cheney obtained his fourth deferment when he started graduate school at the University of Wyoming on Nov. 1, 1965.

5) On Oct. 6, 1965, the Selective Service lifted its ban against drafting married men who had no children. Nine months and two days later, Mr. Cheney's first daughter, Elizabeth, was born. On Jan. 19, 1966, when his wife was about 10 weeks pregnant, Mr. Cheney applied for 3-A status, the "hardship" exemption, which excluded men with children or dependent parents. It was granted.

In January 1967, Mr. Cheney turned 26 and was no longer eligible for the draft.

On global warming

Here's another article from the Times of London - this one entitled, "Bush blows cold on global warming". It's the very last paragraph that is so disheartening:

[Sir John Houghton, a former chairman of scientific assessment for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change for the UN] told the BBC: “It is very surprising that the White House is still seemingly listening to misinformation from vested interest lobby groups, rather than to their own leading scientists, and indeed to this shouting from all the world’s leading scientists that they have got to do something.”

It's hard to know what to say. I wish I had hope that Bush will wake up on this issue. But I don't.

Another leaked memo

The Times of London has a report this morning entitled, "British bombing raids were illegal, says Foreign Office". Of course, the British and the Americans were in it together as the report states:

A SHARP increase in British and American bombing raids on Iraq in the run-up to war “to put pressure on the regime” was illegal under international law, according to leaked Foreign Office legal advice.

The advice was first provided to senior ministers in March 2002. Two months later RAF and USAF jets began “spikes of activity” designed to goad Saddam Hussein into retaliating and giving the allies a pretext for war.

The Foreign Office advice shows military action to pressurise the regime was “not consistent with” UN law, despite American claims that it was.

The decision to provoke the Iraqis emerged in leaked minutes of a meeting between Tony Blair and his most senior advisers — the so-called Downing Street memo published by The Sunday Times shortly before the general election.

Democratic congressmen claimed last week the evidence it contains is grounds for impeaching President George Bush.
The increased attacks on Iraqi installations, which senior US officers admitted were designed to “degrade” Iraqi air defences, began six months before the UN passed resolution 1441, which the allies claim authorised military action. The war finally started in March 2003.

This weekend the Liberal Democrat peer Lord Goodhart, vice-president of the International Commission of Jurists and a world authority on international law, said the intensified raids were illegal if they were meant to pressurise the regime.

Although the legality of the war has been more of an issue in Britain than in America, the revelations indicate Bush may also have acted illegally, since Congress did not authorise military action until October 11 2002.

The air war had already begun six weeks earlier and the spikes of activity had been underway for five months.

Is the president going to be held accountable for this? That is the question.

Grounds for Impeachment

I was gratified to see that the John Conyers letter to the Washington Post I blogged a few days ago was published by The Nation. A movement is underway. A movement to confront the president with his lying and then to make him face the consequences. Today I want to share with you an article by Ken Sanders entitled, "High Crimes and Misdemeanors" in which he makes the case for impeachment. Here are some passages:

Under Article II, Section 4 of the Constitution, "The President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors." Any reasonable interpretation of the Constitution's impeachment clause, and the historical application thereof, leads to the inescapable conclusion that articles of impeachment should be brought against President Bush for his commission of high crimes against the United States.

It is the consensus among legal and constitutional scholars that the phrase "other high Crimes and Misdemeanors" refers to "political crimes." While not necessarily indictable crimes, "political crimes" are great offenses against the federal government. They are abuses of power or the kinds of misconduct which can only be committed by a public official by virtue of the unique power and trust which he holds. Thus, high crimes and misdemeanors refer to major offenses against our very system of representative democracy. Likewise, high crimes and misdemeanors can be serious abuses of the governmental power with which the President has been trusted.

In the case of Iraq, it is becoming harder and harder to deny that Bush engaged in official misconduct that caused serious and likely irreparable injury to the United States.
Regardless of what Bush is scrupulously trying to conceal, during the lead up to the invasion of Iraq, Bush openly lied about Iraq's nuclear capabilities on no fewer than four separate occasions. Bush knowingly and deliberately manipulated, inflated, and "fixed" the intelligence he was given in order to inflame the nation's passions and fraudulently bolster support for his war.
Whether or not one considers the Clinton impeachment a legitimate constitutional exercise or a vindictive partisan sham, it serves as a precedent for impeachment of the President. If lying in legal proceedings regarding fellatio by a portly intern warranted articles of impeachment, then repeatedly lying to the American public and Congress, as well as fabricating intelligence -- acts of fraud which have resulted in thousands of dead and wounded Americans, and tens of billions of dollars in deficit spending -- ought to warrant the same.

I've given you the gist of what Sanders is saying. If you have time you might want to click through and read the whole article. He makes some really interesting historical points.

Saturday, June 18, 2005

What is truth?

All right. It's an article from the Washington Post on Bush's Medicare drug plan. But it's not the content of the article I'm calling to your attention but rather something Bush said in promoting his plan. See if you can take this in. He said, "This isn't political talk, this is true". So what is he saying? That political talk is untrue? And that he engages in political talk most of the time so the disclaimer is necessary? Really folks, think hard about the implications of this statement. The President is actually admitting that he lies most of the time.

Mistaken arrests

The article I have for you here is over a year old but it bears taking a look at due to the photographs of detainee abuse soon to be released. This was published by the Los Angeles Times and is entitled, "Most 'Arrested by Mistake'". Here are a couple of passages:

Coalition military intelligence officials estimated that 70% to 90% of prisoners detained in Iraq since the war began last year "had been arrested by mistake," according to a confidential Red Cross report given to the Bush administration earlier this year.

Yet the report described a wide range of prisoner mistreatment — including many new details of abusive techniques — that it said U.S. officials had failed to halt, despite repeated complaints from the International Committee of the Red Cross.

ICRC monitors saw some improvements by early this year, but the continued abuses "went beyond exceptional cases and might be considered as a practice tolerated" by coalition forces, the report concluded.

The Swiss-based ICRC, which made 29 visits to coalition-run prisons and camps between late March and November last year, said it repeatedly presented its reports of mistreatment to prison commanders, U.S. military officials in Iraq and members of the Bush administration in Washington.

The ICRC summary report, which was written in February, also said Red Cross officials had complained to senior military officials that families of Iraqi suspects usually were told so little that most arrests resulted "in the de facto 'disappearance' of the arrestee for weeks or even months."

The report also described previously undocumented forms of abuse of prisoners in U.S. custody. In October, for example, an Iraqi prisoner was "hooded, handcuffed in the back, and made to lie face down" on what investigators believe was the engine hood of a vehicle while he was being transported. He was hospitalized for three months for extensive burns to his face, abdomen, foot and hand, the report added.
The ICRC report also describes torture and other brutal practices by Iraqi police working in Baghdad under the U.S.-led occupation.

It cites cases in which suspects held by Iraqi police allegedly were beaten with cables, kicked in the testicles, burned with cigarettes and forced to sign confessions.

In June, a group of men arrested by Iraqi police "allegedly had water poured on their legs and had electrical shocks administered to them with stripped tips of electrical wires," the report notes.

One man's mother was brought in, "and the policeman threatened to mistreat her." Another detainee "was threatened with having his wife brought in and raped."

"Many persons deprived of their liberty drew parallels between police practices under the occupation with those of the former regime," the report noted.

I am horrified that anybody would be treated this way. But to realize that 70% - 90% of the detainees are there by mistake makes it even more appalling.

Friday, June 17, 2005

A chart of Bush lies about Iraq

I just discovered a very handy reference of the untruths Bush has told about Iraq. It's at BuzzFlash and it's right here.

Just sayin'

A people afraid of their government is tyranny; a government afraid of its people is a democracy.

--Thomas Jefferson

A letter by Congressman Conyers

You will remember a few days ago I mentioned watching the hearing on the Downing Street Memo chaired by Congressman Conyers on C-Span. Well, today the Washington Post published a report of that hearing that gravely misrepresented the proceedings. Conyers wrote a letter to the Post in protest. I found this on Eschaton and I think it is so important that I reproduce it in its entirety here:

Mr. Michael Abramowitz, National Editor
Mr. Michael Getler, Ombudsman
Mr. Dana Milbank
The Washington Post
1150 15th Street, NW
Washington, D.C. 20071

Dear Sirs:

I write to express my profound disappointment with Dana Milbank's June 17 report, "Democrats Play House to Rally Against the War," which purports to describe a Democratic hearing I chaired in the Capitol yesterday. In sum, the piece cherry-picks some facts, manufactures others out of whole cloth, and does a disservice to some 30 members of Congress who persevered under difficult circumstances, not of our own making, to examine a very serious subject: whether the American people were deliberately misled in the lead up to war. The fact that this was the Post's only coverage of this event makes the journalistic shortcomings in this piece even more egregious.

In an inaccurate piece of reporting that typifies the article, Milbank implies that one of the obstacles the Members in the meeting have is that "only one" member has mentioned the Downing Street Minutes on the floor of either the House or Senate. This is not only incorrect but misleading. In fact, just yesterday, the Senate Democratic Leader, Harry Reid, mentioned it on the Senate floor. Senator Boxer talked at some length about it at the recent confirmation hearing for the Ambassador to Iraq. The House Democratic Leader, Nancy Pelosi, recently signed on to my letter, along with 121 other Democrats asking for answers about the memo. This information is not difficult to find either. For example, the Reid speech was the subject of an AP wire service report posted on the Washington Post website with the headline "Democrats Cite Downing Street Memo in Bolton Fight". Other similar mistakes, mischaracterizations and cheap shots are littered throughout the article.

The article begins with an especially mean and nasty tone, claiming that House Democrats "pretended" a small conference was the Judiciary Committee hearing room and deriding the decor of the room. Milbank fails to share with his readers one essential fact: the reason the hearing was held in that room, an important piece of context. Despite the fact that a number of other suitable rooms were available in the Capitol and House office buildings, Republicans declined my request for each and every one of them. Milbank could have written about the perseverance of many of my colleagues in the face of such adverse circumstances, but declined to do so. Milbank also ignores the critical fact picked up by the AP, CNN and other newsletters that at the very moment the hearing was scheduled to begin, the Republican Leadership scheduled an almost unprecedented number of 11 consecutive floor votes, making it next to impossible for most Members to participate in the first hour and one half of the hearing.

In what can only be described as a deliberate effort to discredit the entire hearing, Milbank quotes one of the witnesses as making an anti-semitic assertion and further describes anti-semitic literature that was being handed out in the overflow room for the event. First, let me be clear: I consider myself to be friend and supporter of Israel and there were a number of other staunchly pro-Israel members who were in attendance at the hearing. I do not agree with, support, or condone any comments asserting Israeli control over U.S. policy, and I find any allegation that Israel is trying to dominate the world or had anything to do with the September 11 tragedy disgusting and offensive.

That said, to give such emphasis to 100 seconds of a 3 hour and five minute hearing that included the powerful and sad testimony (hardly mentioned by Milbank) of a woman who lost her son in the Iraq war and now feels lied to as a result of the Downing Street Minutes, is incredibly misleading. Many, many different pamphlets were being passed out at the overflow room, including pamphlets about getting out of the Iraq war and anti-Central American Free Trade Agreement, and it is puzzling why Milbank saw fit to only mention the one he did.

In a typically derisive and uninformed passage, Milbank makes much of other lawmakers calling me "Mr. Chairman" and says I liked it so much that I used "chairmanly phrases." Milbank may not know that I was the Chairman of the House Government Operations Committee from 1988 to 1994. By protocol and tradition in the House, once you have been a Chairman you are always referred to as such. Thus, there was nothing unusual about my being referred to as Mr. Chairman.

To administer his coup-de-grace, Milbank literally makes up another cheap shot that I "was having so much fun that [I] ignored aides' entreaties to end the session." This did not occur. None of my aides offered entreaties to end the session and I have no idea where Milbank gets that information. The hearing certainly ran longer than expected, but that was because so many Members of Congress persevered under very difficult circumstances to attend, and I thought - given that - the least I could do was allow them to say their piece. That is called courtesy, not "fun."

By the way, the "Downing Street Memo" is actually the minutes of a British cabinet meeting. In the meeting, British officials - having just met with their American counterparts - describe their discussions with such counterparts. I mention this because that basic piece of context, a simple description of the memo, is found nowhere in Milbank's article.

The fact that I and my fellow Democrats had to stuff a hearing into a room the size of a large closet to hold a hearing on an important issue shouldn't make us the object of ridicule. In my opinion, the ridicule should be placed in two places: first, at the feet of Republicans who are so afraid to discuss ideas and facts that they try to sabotage our efforts to do so; and second, on Dana Milbank and the Washington Post, who do not feel the need to give serious coverage on a serious hearing about a serious matter-whether more than 1700 Americans have died because of a deliberate lie. Milbank may disagree, but the Post certainly owed its readers some coverage of that viewpoint.


John Conyers, Jr.

The common belief that we have a "liberal" press is simply ludicrous. The Post's article is a deliberate attempt to discredit legitimate inquiry into the actions of this administration. If that isn't right-wing bias, I don't know what is.

The environment again

I think it's been too long since I've shared with you an article about the realities of global climate change and its consequences. So here's a piece by Caroline Arnold entitled, "Oil, CO2, Environment, Climate, War". The passages below gives you a flavor of what she has to say:

This week global warming is again in headlines. A White House aide resigned after charges that he changed federal science reports to downplay the effects of greenhouse gasses to global warming. The US contribution of CO2 was updated: each US citizen’s share of the national total CO2 releases is about 6 tons/year. For comparison, each citizen of India accounts for about 0.3 ton/year.

Dire forecasts are being made. In "The Long Emergency "James Howard Kunstler predicts that both American society and the global consumer economy will crash as cheap energy disappears, and that it is already too late to mend our ways: "It is no exaggeration to state that reliable supplies of cheap oil and natural gas underlie everything we identify as the necessities of modern life – ... central heating, air conditioning, cars, airplanes, electric lights, inexpensive clothing, recorded music, movies, hip-replacement surgery, national defense -- you name it." (read )

Jared Diamond, in "Collapse", postulates four reasons why societies or civilizations collapse: environmental destruction, climate change, increase in hostilities, and decrease in friendly relations. And he adds a fifth, overarching reason: failing to address any of the first four.
Nuclear power is no panacea for the energy-carbon crunch – it’s neither clean nor cheap, and has uncertain long-term consequences. It could help tide us over until we can cut consumption, increase efficiency, develop alternatives, and reduce transmission & transportation costs. It could buy us time to tune human fertility, human politics & economics, and personal lifestyles & habits to more renewable, sustainable, equitable and humane energy systems.

But right now we need to recognize that we can’t fuel our life-styles or cool the planet with faith-based science, marketing ideologies, or the coercion of war, terror and torture. The crunch between scarce energy and excessive CO2 will finally have to be dealt with by the crunched – us.

We need a new revolution – not an armed, adversarial revolution, but a peaceable revolution in what we buy, how we use energy, how we distribute and assess information, and in how we allow ourselves to be governed.

Needless to say, I agree. But do we have the will as a people to meet this challenge? So far, there's no real evidence that we do.

Friday Cat Blogging!

Here's Leroy in Cynthia's office chair in the old Center.
Image hosted by
Photo by Cynthia Burgess (I think!)

Please don't shop at Walmart's - part 3

Here's the latest atrocity committed by Walmart's:

Wal-Mart officials in Cross Lanes told employees on Tuesday they have to start working practically any shift, any day they're asked, even if they've built up years of seniority and can't arrange child care.

Store management said the policy change is needed to keep enough staff at the busiest hours, but some employees said it appears to be an attempt to force out longer-term, higher-paid workers."

We have many people with set schedules who aren't here when we need them for our customers," said John Knuckles, a manager at the store, which is located in the Nitro Marketplace shopping center and employs more than 400."

It is to take care of the customers, that's the only reason," he said.

Workers who have had regular shifts at the store for years now have to commit to being available for any shift from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m., seven days a week. If they can't make the commitment by the end of this week, they'll be fired."

It shouldn't cause any problem, if they [store employees] are concerned about their customers," Knuckles said.

Several single mothers working at the store have no choice now but to quit, said one employee, who would not give her name for fear of retribution."

My day care closes at 6 and my baby sitter can't work past 5," said the employee, a mother of two who has been a cashier for more than three years. Neither of the services is available over the weekends, she added. "I have to be terminated; I don't know what I'll do."

I simply cannot adequately express how appalling this is. Walmart's workers are human beings. And they have no recourse. If I have to pay double what Walmart charges in order to avoid supporting such shameful practices, I will gladly do so. Walmart's has no decency.

True freedom

If we don't believe in freedom of expression for people we despise, we don't believe in it at all.

-Noam Chomsky

Thursday, June 16, 2005


As I write, I am watching C-Span on my computer as it broadcasts the hearing chaired by Congressman Conyers on the Downing Street Memo. What I want to offer you today is the written testimony of Greg Palast who was unable to testify in person. Palast presents a time line of the lead up to war explaining what we know as a result of the various documents that have come to light. His testimony is entitled, "The Other ' Memos' from Downing Street and Pennsylvania Avenue" and it's published by Common Dreams. Here are some passages:

On May 5, "blog" site carried my story, IMPEACHMENT TIME: "FACTS WERE FIXED," bringing the London Times report of the Downing Street memo to US media which seemed to be suffering at the time from an attack of NADD - "news attention deficit disorder."

The memo, which contains the ill-making admission that "the intelligence and facts were being fixed" to match the Iraq-crazed fantasies of our President, is sufficient basis for a hearing toward impeachment of the Chief Executive. But to that we must add the other evidence and secret memos and documents still hidden from the American public.

Other foreign-based journalists could doubtless add more, including the disclosure that the key inspector of Iraq's biological weapons, the late Dr. David Kelly, found the Bush-Blair analysis of his intelligence was indeed "fixed," as the Downing Street memo puts it, around the war-hawk policy.

After that follows the time line. I urge you to click through and read the whole text of the testimony. It's not long.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Something to ponder

What good fortune for those in power that the people do not think.

-- Adolf Hitler

More on impeachment

Did you know that the merits of impeaching President Bush were actually debated on March 11, 2003?

The purpose of the meeting was to discuss and debate immediately putting into the U.S. House of Representatives Bills of Impeachment against President Bush Jr., Vice President Dick Cheney, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, and then Attorney General John Ashcroft in order to head off the impending war.

So explains Francis A. Boyle in his article, "The national campaign to impeach President George W. Bush". Interestingly, the emergency meeting was presided over by Congressman John Conyers who is now leading the efforts to get some answers regarding the Downing Street Memo. Actually, of course, the impeachment movement of 2003 went nowhere because it was judged to jeopardize the possibility of Democrats winning the presidential election of 2004. But it was debated.

Here's how Boyle concludes his article:

The Athenians lost their democracy. The Romans lost their Republic. And if we Americans did not act now we could lose our Republic! The United States of America is not immune to the laws of history!
Certainly, if the U.S. House of Representatives can impeach President Clinton for sex and lying about sex, then a fortiori the House can, should, and must impeach President Bush Jr. for war, lying about war, and threatening more wars. All that is needed is for one Member of Congress with courage, integrity, principles and a safe seat to file these currently amended draft Bills of Impeachment against Bush Jr., Cheney, Rumsfeld, and now Attorney General Albert Gonzales, who bears personal criminal responsibility for the Bush Jr. administration torture scandal. Failing this, the alternative is likely to be an American Empire abroad, a U.S. police state at home, and continuing wars of aggression to sustain both -- along the lines of George Orwell's classic novel 1984. Despite all of the serious flaws demonstrated by successive United States governments that this author has amply documented elsewhere during the past quarter century as a Professor of Law, the truth of the matter is that America is still the oldest Republic in the world today. “We the People of the United States” must fight to keep it that way!

I don't think Prof. Boyle's prediction is at all unreasonable. I do, indeed, fear for the Republic.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Point well taken

The American people will trust the Democratic Party to defend America, when they believe that Democrats will defend other Democrats.

--Wesley Clark

The Democrats

Here's an article published in the San Francisco Chronicle entitled, "Why are the Democrats such weenies?" It's a good question. Of course, Howard Dean isn't. But he's been vilified by fellow Democrats (to their everlasting shame.) The article's author, Jon Carroll, explains what Democrats should be screaming about:

Why are the Democrats such weenies? Howard Dean makes the unremarkable statement that the GOP is the party of white Christians, and other Democrats run and flee and say, "Oh no, oh no!" And a Republican yahoo accuses Dean of "political hate speech." Neither "white" nor "Christian" is an epithet. A glance at the videotape from last year's Republican convention indicates that both characterizations are entirely fair.
I think we have scandal fatigue, because some of the newer ones are just not getting any play at all. A senior Air Force procurement officer, Darleen Druyun, made a deal to lease Boeing refueling tankers for $23 billion, despite Pentagon studies showing that the tankers were unnecessary. Then Druyun quit the government and joined Boeing. Such a coincidence. Two years later, she pleaded guilty to conspiracy to defraud and was sentenced to nine months in the federal pen.

Meanwhile, the Bush administration has ignited a trade war with Europe over "illegal subsidies" to Airbus because the alleged subsidies hurt the trade position of, yes, Boeing. We'd never give illegal subsidies to Boeing, oh my no.

This is just one example of the malign effects of the revolving door between big business and the Bush administration. There's the case of Philip Cooney, a former American Petroleum Institute lobbyist who signed on as the chief of staff for the White House Council on Environmental Quality (!!). According to documents obtained by the New York Times, Cooney "repeatedly" edited official documents to eliminate or downplay the now widely accepted links between greenhouse gases and global warming.

The White House is still taking the position that global warming is a liberal conspiracy. The liberals' ability to cause a drought in Australia has amazed many.

This is merely the latest in a long series of incidents, from "abstinence only" sex education campaigns to downplayed links between smoking and heart disease, in which the administration has adjusted the facts to fit its conclusions -- and to please its corporate donors and its ultraconservative base.

Most Americans are neither ultraconservative nor superrich, and they are interested in hearing the truth. The Democrats should be interested in telling the truth, and telling it in a strong and convincing manner. They cannot flinch when the White House does one of its "gay marriage booga booga" dances. Be not afraid, Democrats. This is not an occasion in which the meek will inherit the earth. Speak for the people, because the people need you to end the madness.

I so agree. Time for true progressives with backbone to infiltrate the party.

Monday, June 13, 2005

72 percent

Did you know that 72% of Americans agree that we need government-guaranteed health insurance for all? That's a very large majority. So what's the problem. Paul Krugman takes a look at it in his latest column entitled, "One nation, uninsured". Here's part of what he says:

Let's ignore those who believe that private medical accounts - basically tax shelters for the healthy and wealthy - can solve our health care problems through the magic of the marketplace. The intellectually serious debate is between those who believe that the government should simply provide basic health insurance for everyone and those proposing a more complex, indirect approach that preserves a central role for private health insurance companies.

A system in which the government provides universal health insurance is often referred to as "single payer," but I like Ted Kennedy's slogan "Medicare for all." It reminds voters that America already has a highly successful, popular single-payer program, albeit only for the elderly. It shows that we're talking about government insurance, not government-provided health care. And it makes it clear that like Medicare (but unlike Canada's system), a U.S. national health insurance system would allow individuals with the means and inclination to buy their own medical care.

The great advantage of universal, government-provided health insurance is lower costs. Canada's government-run insurance system has much less bureaucracy and much lower administrative costs than our largely private system. Medicare has much lower administrative costs than private insurance. The reason is that single-payer systems don't devote large resources to screening out high-risk clients or charging them higher fees. The savings from a single-payer system would probably exceed $200 billion a year, far more than the cost of covering all of those now uninsured.

We are headed for a truly dangerous situation. Emergency rooms are being closed across the country because of their overuse by the uninsured. And I like the point made by a commenter to this article: those within inadequate health care fall down on basic productivity because of unattended acute and chronic illnesses. We're going to lose our competitive edge as a nation if we don't take care of the health of its people.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Another memo surfaces

All right. You simply must read this article. It's from The Times of London which is a conservative newspaper and is entitled, "Ministers were told of need for Gulf war ‘excuse’". Here's the opening:

MINISTERS were warned in July 2002 that Britain was committed to taking part in an American-led invasion of Iraq and they had no choice but to find a way of making it legal.

The warning, in a leaked Cabinet Office briefing paper, said Tony Blair had already agreed to back military action to get rid of Saddam Hussein at a summit at the Texas ranch of President George W Bush three months earlier.

The briefing paper, for participants at a meeting of Blair's inner circle on July 23, 2002, said that since regime change was illegal it was "necessary to create the conditions" which would make it legal.

This was required because, even if ministers decided Britain should not take part in an invasion, the American military would be using British bases. This would automatically make Britain complicit in any illegal US action.

Later, the article goes into the effects of the publication of the earlier memo which said that the facts and intelligence were being "fixed" to justify war against Iraq.

There has been a growing storm of protest in America, created by last month's publication of the minutes in The Sunday Times. A host of citizens, including many internet bloggers, have demanded to know why the Downing Street memo (often shortened to "the DSM" on websites) has been largely ignored by the US mainstream media.

The White House has declined to respond to a letter from 89 Democratic congressmen asking if it was true -- as Dearlove told the July meeting -- that "the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy" in Washington.

The Downing Street memo burst into the mainstream American media only last week after it was raised at a joint Bush-Blair press conference, forcing the prime minister to insist that "the facts were not fixed in any shape or form at all".

John Conyers, the Democratic congressman who drafted the letter to Bush, has now written to Dearlove asking him to say whether or not it was accurate that he believed the intelligence was being "fixed" around the policy.

He also asked the former MI6 chief precisely when Bush and Blair had agreed to invade Iraq and whether it is true they agreed to "manufacture" the UN ultimatum in order to justify the war.

He and other Democratic congressmen plan to hold their own inquiry this Thursday with witnesses including Joe Wilson, the American former ambassador who went to Niger to investigate claims that Iraq was seeking to buy uranium ore for its nuclear weapons programme.

Frustrated at the refusal by the White House to respond to their letter, the congressmen have set up a website -- -- to collect signatures on a petition demanding the same answers.

Here's another passage worthy of your attention:, another website set up as a result of the memo, is calling for a congressional committee to consider whether Bush's actions as depicted in the memo constitute grounds for impeachment.

It has been flooded with visits from people angry at what they see as media self-censorship in ignoring the memo. It claims to have attracted more than 1m hits a day.

I'll try to keep you updated on this issue. Perhaps enough noise is being made that the mainstream press will start to cover this. But I'm not holding my breath.

Dean fights back

Well, it was gratifying to learn that $100,000 was raised on line by Howard Dean supporters and given to the DNC. Dean got the message as described in this article by Will Lester entitled, "'People want us to fight': Howard Dean renews attacks on Republicans". Here's how it gets started:

Democratic Party Chairman Howard Dean said Saturday that positive responses from key supporters have reinforced his determination to keep talking tough even though some congressional Democrats have suggested he should tone down his rhetoric. "

People want us to fight," Dean told the national party's executive committee. "We are here to fight."

Addressing Iowa party activitists later Saturday in Des Moines, he added: "We need to be blunt and clear about the things we're going to fight for. I'm tired of lying down in front of the Republican machine. We need to stand up for what we believe in."

"We can use some of your passion," Rep. Leonard Boswell, D-Iowa, told Dean at the Iowa fundraiser.

We can all use some of his passion. Let's not take the Republican smears lying down!

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Dean speaks for me.

I have just read and signed the online petition:

"Howard Dean Speaks For Me"

It was created by members of the well-known and influential blog, Daily Kos, and will be sent to congressional Democrats.

I personally agree with what this petition says, and I think you might agree, too. If you can spare a moment, please take a look, and consider signing yourself.

Conyers and today's press

I want to share an article with you by Margaret Kimberly entitled, "John Conyers and Deep Throat". It's about Conyers' efforts to direct attention to the Downing Street memo and how the press is falling down on the job. Here's a pertinent passage:

An internal memo from Tony Blair's government said the following about the Bush administration argument in favor of war with Iraq: Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD. But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy.

Unlike in the early 1970s, the Washington Post didn't even have to do any work on this story. All the Post had to do was quote other newspapers. They finally did, but very late and with very little fanfare. The Post reported the story weeks after the Times of London did, and to add insult to injury placed it on page A18. The Post's own readers angrily emailed their ombudsman and demanded that their newspaper do its job, only to be scolded for daring to question that august publication.

Democratic Congressman John Conyers of Michigan isn't holding his breath waiting for the press to tell this story. He is asking at least 100,000 Americans to sign a letter demanding answers to questions on the Downing Street memo.

John Conyers sat on the House Judiciary committee that was on the verge of impeaching Richard Nixon. Conyers must be feeling a strange case of déjà vu. He has seen a corrupt White House before, but in 1974 America still had a functioning press and Democrats were the majority party in the House of Representatives.

Thanks to Democratic party incompetence, that hasn't been the case since 1994. Conyers and his colleagues have evidence of numerous impeachable offenses against George W. Bush, but they are unable to make themselves heard when their leaders won't buck the system and the media focus on missing person cases and celebrity criminal trials.

Conyers is doing his job as a member of Congress, the media's job as an investigative force, and the Democratic party's job in opposing the Republicans. Not content to wear so many hats, John Conyers ignored the right wing attack on Felt, and planned to praise him with a House resolution.

"As one who was a first hand witness to Watergate, I can only state humbly that Mr. Felt helped bring our country back from the brink of a constitutional crisis and an out-of-control White House."

He also knows that today's press is unprepared to do its job vis a vis the Bush administration. "Today it is unclear who will step up to the plate to expose the wrongdoing of the current administration."

I have signed Rep. Conyers' letter. If you haven't done so yet, you can click through using the link on his name above.

The effect of truth

I'm a great admirer of Thom Hartmann. Today I'm linking you to an article he wrote in defense of Howard Dean entitled, "Dean just told them the truth and they thought it was hell". It's a short article and so I urge you to click through and read the whole thing. Here's an excerpt, however, that articulates what I think is the most important point:

Given that this nation is only one of a half-dozen or so mature democracies still stuck with a system of government (lacking proportional representation or IRV) that requires a two-party system to operate properly, it's critical that progressives infiltrate and take over the Democratic Party. After all, it was started by radical progressives like Thomas Jefferson, and reached its greatest electoral victories in the 20th Century when Franklin D. Roosevelt promoted an unabashedly progressive agenda.

Hartmann also pointed out how important it is to put our money where our mouth is. He urged everybody to call the DNC and make a donation in support of Howard Dean. Here's how:

The website for the DNC is and their phone number is 877 336-7200. Speak out now.

It's often been said that the Democrats see politics as a debate while Republicans see politics as war. That's part of the problem. We have got to stop playing nice-nice and start fighting back.

Friday, June 10, 2005

That circular firing squad

When are Democrats going to learn some basic party loyalty? I refer, of course, to the current Dean bashing going on. Here's what happened: Howard Dean said the Republican Party is the party of white Christians. Then other prominent Democrats publically denounced him for saying that -- including Joe Lieberman, Joe Biden, Nancy Pelosi and Barack Obama. Aside from the fact that what Dean said is true, it's just plain stupid for us to attack our own. Here's a comment I found on Daily Kos with which I utterly agree:

Even if you disagree with Howard's statements, you do NOT go on TV and speak against him!!! Come on, you don't do this! The repubs would NEVER do this, NEVER. Call Dean, speak privately to him, but Biden has given Hannity and all of the other talking heads ammunition. Put on Hannity - he keeps talking about how even Biden and PELOSI don't support Dean and how he may have to resign.

I swear, if the dems don't learn to stick together, we are never going to defeat these determined, malevolent people in the White House - our only way is to hold a united front.

Of course, the Republican Party is not exactly known for diversity. Here's part of an article I found on AMERICAblog:

Wednesday, Sept. 1, 2004 Fenton Communications


One Percent of Republican Legislators in the States And Washington are African-American or Hispanic

Newspaper Ads Point to Retro Republican Reality

The uninformed viewer watching TV coverage of this week's Republican national convention in New York might come away thinking that the President's party is built upon a solid commitment to inclusion of racial minorities. Once again, as it does every four years, the Republican Party is trying to portray itself as a 'big tent,' with room for every American.

But a new book about America's political divisions notes that the 99 percent of all Republican legislators across the country and in Congress are white. The national Republican Party, whose base is in the South, the Plains and the Mountain states, looks to white men as its power base and source of leadership. Even when Republican states have significant minority populations, the elected Republican representatives rarely are drawn from those communities.

The Great Divide: Retro vs. Metro America, a new look at political divisions in America by educator-entrepreneur Dr. John Sperling, calls those states 'Retro America,' and notes: 'Its whiteness and maleness are mirrored in the Republican Party.'

So Howard Dean told the truth.

The Dean bashing has also created a distraction away from the real news: the Downing Street memo and that fact that Bush's approval rates are at an all time low. I wish I could get those self-serving, disloyal Democrats together in one room and scream at them, "What were you thinking???"

Preparing for war

While we're on the subject of impeachable offenses, take a look at this article published last year in the Sun Herald. Here's an excerpt:

Woodward said he found that the administration quietly shifted money around to pay for early preparations for war in Iraq, without the approval of Congress. He said those preparations included building landing strips and addressing other military needs in Kuwait.

The money, about $700 million, was taken in July 2002 from a budget item that had been approved for the war in Afghanistan, Woodward wrote.

"Some people are going to look at that document called the Constitution, which says that no money will be drawn from the Treasury unless appropriated by Congress,"

The hubris of this president simply defies description.

Friday Cat Blogging!

This is Jake of blessed memory. Here's what Paul Rogers wrote about Jake:

This is a picture of Jake who lived in Colorado Springs. Our friends Sara and Ed took him in when he was 14 years old, nearly toothless, and having trouble walking. For his last 8 months he got canned food mixed with water in the blender, took daily pain medication to let him walk when he wanted, and a large heated bed under the grand piano where he could over see the operation of the household. All he had to do in return was wear the fake antlers for a picture at Christmas.
Image hosted by

Dissing Amnesty International

The more I read articles by John Atcheson the more I am impressed with his analysis and his writing. Here's an article entitled, "The Disassembler in Chief and the War of Error" that takes a look at how the Amnesty International report on the Guantanamo detention center was spun by the administration. Here are some passages:

If you want to see exhibit A in how the administration and their conservative henchmen manage to spin the press, check out the imbroglio over Amnesty International’s 2005 Report, which accuses the US of "atrocious human rights violations" and says in it’s forward,"When the most powerful country in the world thumbs its nose at the rule of law and human rights, it grants a license to others to commit abuse with impunity and audacity."

A Secretary General Irene Khan, in releasing the report, referred to Guantanamo Bay as "the gulag of our times..."

Now, accusations such as these, delivered by a respected and venerable organization such as Amnesty International are serious business.

So how did the administration and the conservative spin machine respond? Call for immediate impartial investigations? Reaffirm the US commitment to the Rule of Law? Denounce practices which violate human rights?

Of course not.

As Matthew Rothschild points out, they chose to shoot the messenger and change the subject. Just as they did with Paul O’Neill, Richard Clarke, General Shinseki, General Zinni, Hans Blix, Dr. Mohamed ElBaradei, Newsweek, and anyone else that questions their misguided war of error.

Atcheson then reviews the administration's attack on Newsweek over its report about Koran desecration at Guantanamo Bay and then continues his discussion on Amnesty.

Enter the Amnesty International Report highlighting this administration’s egregious human rights violations. Within hours, conservatives worked themselves up into a patriotic lather and quickly turned the discussion into a debate about neutrality, impartiality, and a semantic argument over the use of the word "gulag."

As usual, the mainstream press took the hook and ignored the real story: the tragic metamorphosis of the US from a "shining city on a hill" – a beacon from which the light of liberty, justice, and freedom blazed out upon the world – to a country whose recent behavior places it among the world’s international thugs.

And so now, the press coverage focuses on the "gulag" statement, and not on the immoral and illegal actions of the US. It focuses on whether Amnesty International has lost it’s "neutrality," or, even more absurdly, on whether Gitmo, Bagram Air Base, and our various rendition partners actually constitute a gulag comparable to the Soviet Union’s.

Why does this keep happening with our press? The real story being lost? Once more, it's the same thing that happened with the Dan Rather report on Bush going AWOL from the National Guard. The problem with that story was not its accuracy but its sourcing. And yet the mainstream press completely ignored the content and gave Bush a pass on having simply not shown up for duty. How that could have happened continues to boggle my mind.

Atcheson continues:

Which issue is more important – whether America’s human rights record has indeed become atrocious, or whether Amnesty International is guilty of hyperbole? If the mainstream media is any guide, Amnesty’s inapt metaphor wins hands down.

But Mr. Bush's illegal activities have resulted in an exponential increase in the number of Muslims who hate America, loss of our credibility and prestige abroad, loss of potential allies in the real war on terror -- and ultimately loss of the most powerful tactic we have in that war, winning the battle for the hearts and minds of Muslims.

Meanwhile, Ms. Khan's overstatement has resulted in ... what? World-wide attention to the full scale erosion of the rule of law under the Bush administration.

The bottom line? Under Mr. Bush, the US has joined the bad guys; we've crossed a line and we are behaving like international thugs. Under Mr. Bush our shining beacon is turning into cheap and tawdry neon sign proclaiming, "We’re not the worst."

It’s all part of a continuing trend with this administration. Aside from condoning torture and committing war crimes, the President and his administration rejected the international court and the land mine treaty, dropped out of Kyoto, scuttled the ABM treaty, undermined the nuclear non-proliferation treaty, eviscerated the treaties banning biological and chemical weapons, and militarized space.

Sure, "gulag" is a loaded term, and Stalin’s crimes were far worse than ours, but why is that the story?

Rather than debating – if not celebrating – the fact that we're not the worst international thugs ever to walk the planet, while calling Ms. Khan to task over semantics, why isn’t the press drawing needed attention to the fact that we've crossed that line, extinguished our beacon and joined the dark side?

When is our press going to grow some spine and start reporting the real story? I'm sorry to say that I'm not optimistic. Fortunately there's the internet. I will continue to get my news from international sources because I simply can't trust the propaganda machine that passes for the news media in this country.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Quite a list

Rules for Being a Republican

1. You must believe that being a drug addict is a moral failing and a crime - unless you're a millionaire right wing radio gasbag; then, it's an "illness" and requires prayer for "recovery".

2. You must believe that those born to privilege achieve success all on their own, and that all of their customers are lazy and stupid.

3. You must believe that folks who work for their money should be taxed at a much higher rate than those who inherit theirs.

4. You must agree that racking up huge amounts of debt and handing it off to future generations is worth the few thousand extra in tax breaks given to your wealthy "investors."

5. You must believe that the US should pull out of the UN, but that our highest national priority is to start a war to enforce UN resolutions against Iraq. At the same time, you must believe that the perfect UN Ambassador is one that doesn't believe the UN should even exist.

6. You must believe that government should stay out of people's lives, except to make reproductive decisions for women, to punish anyone having the "wrong kind" of sex, or private sex with the "wrong" gender, or to insert themselves into a family's health care decisions when they decide the decisions being made are wrong.

7. You must believe that pollution is perfectly ok, so long as it's profitable, and that science is bunk when it cuts into profits, but wonderful when it enhances them.

8. You must support prayer in schools, as long as no one prays to Allah or Buddha.

9. You must believe that the right to exploit a brain dead woman for political gain is mo0re important than allowing people to die on their own terms, with their own dignity.

10. You must believe that "Standing Tall for America" means firing your workers and moving their jobs to India, and encouraging corporations headquartered here to move their address offshore to avoid taxes.

11. You must believe that, while a woman cannot be trusted with decisions about her own body, huge multi-national corporations can be trusted to make decisions affecting all mankind with no regulation whatsoever.

12. You must believe that Jesus loves you, but shares your hatred and distrust of the poor, homosexuals, and the Clintons.

13. You must hate the ACLU for representing people whose rights have been violated, and believe they owed it to the country to bail out Oliver North.

14. You must believe that the best way to show appreciation to the troops is to charge them to fly home for leave, serve plastic turkey and cut their VA benefits.

15. You must be willing to believe that group sex and drug use are degenerate sins that can only be purged by running for office as a Republican.

16. You must think that keeping sex education and birth control out of schools is the wisest course, because without them, teenagers will never have sex.

17. You must think that the best way to fight terrorism is to alienate our allies and piss off the rest of the world at the same time we demand their cooperation and money.

18. You must believe that single-payer health care, in which everyone pays for and receives health insurance, would be a disaster compared to the current system, in which 40 million people are forbidden from paying into the system, but still receive emergency health care. You must also believe that insurance companies only care about giving you the best darn health care there is, damn the profit. You must also believe that providing health care to Iraqis is good policy, while providing it to Americans is a "Socialist plot."

19. You must believe that forcing bankrupt people to pay their bills is a much more important problem than addressing how they got there in the first place.

20. You must agree that the link between tobacco and cancer is "dubious," that claims of global warming are "junk science" and that creationism has a sound scientific basis that should be part of all school curricula.

21. You must believe that waging war with no security or exit strategy was good for Iraq.

22. You must agree that Saddam Hussein was a good guy when Reagan was sending him arms, a bad guy when he invaded Kuwait, a good guy again when Cheney did business with him at Halliburton, and then a bad guy again when Bush decided that a war in Iraq would be a very lucrative deal for his "investors."

23. You must believe that the Bill of Rights is absolute in the case of the Second Amendment, but negotiable with regard to the rest of the document.

24. You must agree that the adulterous affairs of Democrats require public embarrassment and impeachment, while those of Republicans are a private matter, and excusable because, well, "boys will be boys" (or girls).

25. You must ascribe to the notion that the Clintons' business deals were major breaches of the public trust, while the fact that Dick Cheney is still being paid by Halliburton, which is now getting billions of your tax dollars, is no big deal.

26. You must believe that everything that Democrats do should be public knowledge, but that the public has no right to know anything that Republicans do.

27. You must always deride a Democrat's changes of mind and philosophy as a "flip-flop," while referring to those of fellow Republicans as "growth."

28. You must openly support "state rights," except when John Ashcroft wants to force local libraries to turn over their records or Tom DeLay wants to impose new districts because he doesn't like election results.

29. You must agree that the outcome of an election is always more important than making sure everyone got to vote and that all votes were counted.

30. You must agree that income tax cuts for the rich are good for the economy, while payroll tax cuts for the working class are bad. Furthermore, you must believe that making sure that the rich have a few extra dollars in their pockets is good for the economy, while raising the minimum wage is detrimental.