Friday, July 23, 2004
The Bush administration has proven rather adept at exploiting patriotism, and it is hard to think of an administration that less deserves the support it demands as a litmus test of patriotism. For it is the Bush administration itself that has proven disloyal to the values that have made America a representative government dedicated to the rule of law, individual rights, and the common good. The breaches of trust have been legion: an “election” that traduced the will of the electorate through mass minority disenfranchisement, the opaque and unaccountable exercise of power, and the evisceration of civil rights and due process.
But by far the most egregious offense against the ideals of American democracy involves the shamelessly brazen manner in which the United States was misled into an unnecessary war with Iraq that has greatly weakened America’s national security and immeasurably tarnished her image in world opinion. Americans were not told the truth about Iraq because the Neoconservative cabal surrounding the president doesn’t trust the American people; to enlist support for their anti-democratic agenda, they realized they would have to con the American people.
Poor George W. Bush.
Last week he got a lot of bad press when NAACP officials complained that he turned down their invitation to address the venerable civil rights organization.
This week it’s not likely to get much better.
In shunning the NAACP for the fourth straight year, Bush becomes the first president since Herbert Hoover, who left office in 1933, to spend a full term in the White House without addressing the group, which for many people – black and white – is the nation’s racial conscience.
Never mind that he really didn’t have anything of substance to say to the group, or that his speech likely would have generated a rash of Bronx cheers. When he entered the White House, Bush said he would be president of all of the people, not just the minority of voters who cast ballots for him in the tainted 2000 election.
Of course they don't understand - you're using logic.
Remember, Lord, back in the '00 debates when they asked me to name my favorite philosopher, and I said, "Jesus"? Remember how cheesy and obnoxious and cop-outy that was, given how Jesus was actually the Original Liberal and given how everyone knows I haven't read a single "real" philosopher of any note since they made me stand up in Philosophy 1A back at Yale and read a passage from that pagan homo Plato guy when I could barely focus due to all the gin? Wasn't that good?
We bombed them nasty Iraqis in Your name, Lord! Afghanis, too! Hell, I've even gone so far as to tell anyone who'll listen that it was your very will that we invade those countries, that you were pretty much speaking to me, through me, when I told General Whatshisname to go ahead and bomb the living crap outta them evil evildoers and never you mind the women and babies you just git me some war on terror, beeyatch! Whoops, sorry.
Oh, I know what them liberals say, that your son Jesus Christ was a card-carrying pacifist, hated war and hated bloodletting and hated hate. But damn, your boy certainly didn't know about the price of crude, you know? I mean, a Christian's gotta do what a Christian's gotta do to fuel up the SUV and keep the Saudis happy and keep the Lockheed stock from steppin' in a financial cow pie, am I right, Lord? Can I get a "Hell yeah"? Whoops, sorry again.
Lord, I just don't understand. I know I'm not much of a businessman, or a leader, or a public speaker, or a humanitarian, or a foreign-policy expert, or a lover of nuance, or a deep thinker, or much of anything positive or life affirming that anyone can name, really. But I'm a darned nice guy. A "decent man." This is what everyone says. And I thought we had a deal.
The deal's off, George. Go home. Right now.
Coming at a time when evidence is emerging daily that a combination of a blinkered, ideological administration and incompetent intelligence analysis took the US and its allies into a war in Iraq on baseless justifications, yesterday's report could trigger a crisis of faith in America's most powerful institutions.
The CIA, usually portrayed as ruthless and omniscient, turns out to have had no spies and barely any informers in the enemy camp. Against al-Qaida, it was virtually blind and its leaders were paralysed by caution. When it did chance on two of the plotters and put them under surveillance in Malaysia in 2000, it almost immediately lost track of them.
The FBI, another supposed pillar of power, had sharp and dedicated agents around the country but their warnings were ignored by time-servers in Washington.
The bureau's computers were ancient and a barrier to the sharing of information.
The Norad military command, primed to defend against nuclear missiles, had not taken seriously the possibility that a commercial plane could be turned into a missile by hijackers.
The immigration service - so vigilant in barring some migrant workers from entry - failed to spot the hijackers' bogus passports, questionable cover stories and false statements on their visa application forms.
Are we going to trust Bush, Cheney, and the others to fix all this for us?
For the first two days I was on this media marathon, the story du jour was the Senate Intelligence Committee report that concluded the CIA was just flat wrong on its pre-war calls on Iraq. Wrong abut the weapons of mass destruction, wrong about connections to Al Qaeda, wrong about Saddam Hussein having a nuclear program and so on. All of which we already knew the government had been wrong about, but this was the Official Report.
So here's the Republican reaction: "See, the CIA was wrong, so you people owe President Bush an apology." I'm sitting there, brilliantly riposting, "Huh?" Here's the chain of logic. The CIA was wrong, therefore those on the left who say President Bush lied to us are wrong because he wasn't lying, he just believed the CIA. And you people are being rude and hateful and ugly and just mean about President Bush, and we want an apology.
What I'm worried about here is the amnesia factor. Am I the only person around who distinctly remembers an entire 18 months ago? This is what happened: The CIA was wrong, but it wasn't wrong enough for the White House, which kept pushing the spies to be much wronger. The CIA's lack of sufficient wrongness was so troubling to the anxious Iraq hawks that they kept touting their own reliable sources, such as Ahmad Chalabi and his merry crew of fabulists. The neo-cons even set up their very own little intelligence shop in the Pentagon to push us into this folly in Iraq.
Those who ignore history are inclined to rewrite it.
One week after the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, White House counterterrorism director Paul Kurtz wrote in a memo to national security adviser Condoleezza Rice that no "compelling case" existed for Iraq's involvement in the attacks and that links between al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein's government were weak.
Not only did Osama bin Laden resent the Iraqi government's secularism, Kurtz's classified memo stated, but there was no confirmed information about collaboration between them on weapons of mass destruction.
Yesterday, after a lengthy investigation, the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States laid out a detailed body of evidence supporting Kurtz's view. Although recent polls have shown that more than 40 percent of the American public is still convinced that Iraq collaborated with al Qaeda and had a role in the terrorist attacks, the commission reported finding no evidence of a "collaborative operational relationship" between the two or an Iraqi role in attacking the United States.
Actually, the war in Iraq has created a sanctuary for terrorists.
Wednesday, July 21, 2004
The co-founder of Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream is on the road, towing a 12-foot-tall effigy of President Bush with fake flames shooting out of the pants.
Ben Cohen believes it is an acceptable way to point out what he calls the president's lies.
"In a polite society, you don't go up to a person and look at them in the face and say, 'You're a liar,'" Cohen said Monday in a telephone interview.
The Pants on Fire Tour rolled into Spokane on Tuesday.
"We think it's a lot more dignified and there's a lot more decorum to say, 'Excuse me sir, your pants are getting a little warm, don't you think?'" Cohen said.
The "PantsOnFire-Mobile" is a trailer pulled behind a car. The Bush character is wearing a flight suit with the words "Mission Accomplished" emblazoned on the back, a reference to the president's declaration that major hostilities had ended in Iraq. An electronic ticker on the front shows what Cohen says are Bush's lies.
The head is a rotating cylinder with various Bush facial expressions.
I wonder if they included that weird "Pet Goat" expression.
Jenna Bush, daughter of the President Bush, sticks her tongue out at the media Tuesday, July 20, 2004, as she departs Lambert International Airport in St. Louis for an appearance with her father in St. Charles, MO. The woman standing alongside of the limousine is a Secret Service agent.
[Yahoo News, 7/20/04]
Like father, like daughter. What dreadful people these Bushes are. Let's dump 'em all.
Democrats who have been hammering away at Halliburton Co. and its former chief executive Dick Cheney about the company's work in Iraq yesterday added Iran to their list of complaints.
In a conference call with reporters, Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) said he found it "unconscionable" that a Halliburton subsidiary appeared to be doing business with a country tied to terrorist activities at a time Cheney was Halliburton's chief executive.
The conference call, organized by the presidential campaign of Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.), came one day after Halliburton disclosed that a federal prosecutor had subpoenaed documents as part of an investigation of whether a Halliburton subsidiary violated anti-terror sanctions on Iran. "This is such an outrageous bit of news," Lautenberg said.
In a filing with federal regulators Monday, Halliburton disclosed that the three-year investigation had escalated from an inquiry by the Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control to a criminal investigation by the Justice Department.
Such cases are referred to Justice only when there is evidence "intentional or willful" violations have occurred, government officials said.
It appears that Vice President Dick has done business with all of America's enemies. Gosh, maybe he's the real enemy.
After launching two wars, President Bush said on Tuesday he wanted to be a "peace president" and took swipes at his Democratic rivals for being lawyers and weak on defense.
With polls showing public support for the war in Iraq in decline, Bush cast himself as a reluctant warrior and assured Americans they were "safer" as he campaigned in the battleground states of Iowa and Missouri against Democrat John Kerry and his running mate, former trial lawyer John Edwards.
"The enemy declared war on us," Bush told a re-election rally in Cedar Rapids. "Nobody wants to be the war president. I want to be the peace president... The next four years will be peaceful years." Bush used the words "peace" or "peaceful" a total of 20 times.
Bush has called himself a "war president" in leading the United States in a battle against terrorism brought about by the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on America. "I'm a war president. I make decisions here in the Oval Office in foreign policy matters with war on my mind," he said in February.
Tuesday, July 20, 2004
At no worse time in America’s history could we have been cursed with such failure, ineptitude and incompetence at leadership as we presently find ourselves infected with. The failure where the buck is supposed to stop has been monumental, deserving of an old worn down and rusted placard gracing a Hall of Shame adorned by the worst men ever to carry the purple robe of power. To this undistinguished group we therefore include the name George W. Bush, forty-third President of the United States of America, anointed by the Almighty, appointed by fraud, chosen by brand name, purveyor of cronyism and corruption, enemy of the common man and best friend to corporate interests and the elite that own them.
The latest candidate to the Hall of Shame is our very own buffoon-in-chief, a man who through the careless alignment of the stars and planets collided with the horror of 9/11. It does not take a rocket scientist to realize, through ordinary observation, the limited capacity and painful psychiatric dilemmas of the person residing in the White House. Those of us who do discern the reality of this troubled, incoherent and mentally-weak individual cringe at the realization that the world has been living the last three and a half years under the shadow of this less than able person. At no time in America’s history has a man been so unqualified for the job of “most powerful person in the world” as has good old 43.
Has America been degraded so much that its leader is George W. Bush? Is his ascendancy a symptom of our disease and the result of our dumbing down? Perhaps the answer to our problems is looking in the mirror and trying to answer these questions.
This insightful article is a good start toward figuring out how the hell this happened to us.
The Bush administration has cast itself in a new role in the Iraq fiasco: innocent victim. With Iraq expected to be key to President George Bush's re-election chances this fall, the rewriting of history has begun in earnest; events leading up to the war have been given an extensive nip and tuck, leaving them barely recognizable.
Perhaps you recall how eager the Bush administration was to invade Iraq last year?
If so, you're mistaken. Senior administration officials weren't determined to invade Iraq, they were simply the victims of faulty intelligence. There they were, just minding their own business, when incompetent underlings kept hounding them with false information showing Iraq had weapons of mass destruction and close links to Al Qaeda.
What choice did they have but to invade?
But the administration — particularly Vice-President Dick Cheney — refused to hear such talk, constantly pushing intelligence officials to accentuate the Iraqi threat.
If only Iraq had warned us of the Cheney threat instead.
Iraq was supposed to be about liberation, about a fundamental shift in human rights in the Middle East. And it was, in a sense. Billions of taxpayer dollars were liberated from our schools and economy to line the pockets of Bush supporters, and human rights did shift fundamentally... into the toilet. Otherwise, it's just another one of our colossal muck-ups where everything is in disarray but absolutely no one is to blame.
It's critical, then, that right now you see the same scenario is playing out with Iraq's neighbor, Iran. Similar ignominious rhetoric is being shouted from the highest rooftops in Washington, D.C. even as politicians attempt to deflect and whitewash their participation in the greatest foreign policy debacle of the 21st century.
For example, an unnamed government official revealed to [the] foreign press yesterday that, if re-elected in November, George W. Bush seeks to do to Iran what he did to Iraq. Promising "more intervention in the internal affairs of Iran," the official stated that any military action would be covert, roughly analogous to a spy network destabilizing the legitimate, albeit fundamentally religious government.
In other words, Bush is actively prepping to bring down another government through treachery and deception. Can you imagine if another country sidestepped our right to shape the destiny of the U.S. via infiltration and forced revolution? I doubt Americans would support it, yet that's what Bush wants to do to Iran (and what the U.S. has already done to countless other nations).
[Also check out this posting from Juan Cole regarding Mr. Bush and Iran.]
Once they returned to power, the Bush II team, dripping with contempt for Clinton and oozing with "we know best' cockiness, thought they could use the sacking of Saddam to change the way Americans saw themselves and the way America was seen in the world.
Their swaggering determination to expunge the ghosts of Vietnam and embark on a post-Cold War triumphalism has backfired, leaving the military depleted and drawn into a de facto draft, and once more leaving America bogged down halfway around the world in a hostile nation.
The Bushes and Republicans recoiled at Clinton's moral relativism about Monica, but this administration indulged in a far more dangerous relativism when it misled the American public about Iraq's WMD, and links between Saddam and al- Qaida.
Instead of Americans' changing their view of themselves, many have changed their view of Bush fearing, with the sanctioning of pre-emptive invasions, torture and restricting civil liberties, he has gone too far in distorting the principles the country was founded on.
The president did end up changing America's image in the world. Just not for the better.
Once again, moderate, rational, common-sense Americans have got to wonder why President Bush is preaching at us about a threat that really doesn't appear all that threatening.
First, it was Iraq - that we had to attack Iraq, a country that had not attacked us, because he said that the Iraqis were a threat; that they had weapons of mass destruction and intended to use them against us.
It is being generous to say that he overstated the threat.
Many would say he intentionally misled us, that he lied to us. A moderate might not go that far but would still conclude that he was wrong, that he got us into a terrible mess by making us believe that Iraq presented a serious danger to us when it did not.
Now he wants to change the Constitution of the United States to prevent people of the same sex from getting married. It may be the first time that our Constitution has ever been used to take away individual rights rather than protect them. The president believes he is protecting something far more important than individual rights - the sanctity of marriage.
It doesn't matter that no solid, logical argument can be made that marriage is threatened by gays and lesbians enjoying the same matrimonial rights as heterosexual couples. Bush, who believes homosexuality is a sin and against God's law, wants to make his religious convictions a part of the Constitution.
A federal appeals court is asking the Bush administration to defend the president's appointment of a judge to its ranks while the U.S. Senate was out of session.
The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, based in Atlanta, asked the Justice Department on Monday to intervene in a case contesting the appointment of former Alabama attorney general William Pryor to that court.
Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., and others are backing a challenge asking the court to rule that the appointment was unconstitutional.
Bush appointed Pryor in February during a one-week recess of the Senate, which must confirm judicial nominees. The Constitution gives the president the right to appoint judges directly when Congress is not in session.
But Kennedy and others argue that right is valid only at the end of a Congress or during the recess between annual sessions, not during short breaks.
"It's hard to imagine a more flagrant attempt by the president to bypass the constitutional requirement of Senate consent in appointing a federal judge," Kennedy said in a written statement.
"It's almost as if the motto of the administration in power today in Washington is not environmental protection, but polluter protection," Train said. "I find this deeply disturbing."
In 1988, Train was co-chairman of Conservationists for Bush, an organization that backed the candidacy of George W. Bush's father.
Train spoke at an event organized by Environment2004, which opposes Bush's environmental record. He accused Bush of weakening the Clean Air Act and said the president's record falls short of those set by former Republican presidents, from Theodore Roosevelt, who advocated creating national parks and forests, to George H.W. Bush, who supported revised standards for clean air.
In a hotel conference room in Tampa, Fla., on Friday, Bush told law enforcement officials that Fidel Castro was brazenly promoting sex tourism to Cuba.
"The dictator welcomes sex tourism. Here's how he bragged about the industry," Bush said. "This is his quote: 'Cuba has the cleanest and most educated prostitutes in the world.' "
Asked about the source for the quote, White House officials provided a link to a 2001 paper, written by Trumbull, on the website of the Association for the Study of the Cuban Economy.
"There are hookers, but prostitution is not allowed in our country," Castro told Cuba's National Assembly in July 1992, according to a translation by the British Broadcasting Corp. "There are no women forced to sell themselves to a man, to a foreigner, to a tourist. Those who do so do it on their own, voluntarily…. We can say that they are highly educated hookers and quite healthy, because we are the country with the lowest number of AIDS cases."
Trumbull described himself as "annoyed" by the use the White House made of his project. "It is really disheartening to see bits of my research contorted, taken out of context, and used to support conclusions that are contrary to the truth," he said.
Bush must think we are a nation of retards if he believes we will buy this language of Saddam having the "capability" to produce weapons of mass destruction. All countries have the "capability." The point is that Iraq had given up its WMD programs and destroyed the stockpiles. The US was not in any danger from Iraq, and so cannot be safer because it was invaded.
Worse, the American invasion of Iraq is a major recruitment poster for al-Qaeda. Al-Qaeda's message was that the Americans are coming to Muslim lands. 'They will invade your countries, expropriate your property, rape your women, and humiliate your men,' al-Qaeda screams. What does Bush do? He proves al-Qaeda right. More angry young Arab men are ready to fight the United States now than ever before. Bush is less popular than Bin Laden in most Muslim countries according to polls.
Not only has the Bush administration angered the Sunni Muslim world with its invasion and hamhanded occupation of Iraq, but it has managed to turn the Shiites against us too, by desecrating the holy cities of Najaf and Karbala this past spring.
The US is arguably much less safe because of the invasion of Iraq.