Friday, July 30, 2004
Americans should realize that if they vote for President Bush's re-election, they are really voting for the architects of war – Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz and the rest of that cabal of neoconservative ideologues and their corporate backers.
I have sadly come to the conclusion that President Bush is merely a frontman, an empty suit, who is manipulated by the people in his administration. Bush has the most dangerously simplistic view of the world of any president in my memory.
It's no wonder the president avoids press conferences like the plague. Take away his cue cards and he can barely talk. Americans should be embarrassed that an Arab king (Abdullah of Jordan) spoke more fluently and articulately in English than our own president at their joint press conference recently.
John Kerry is at least an educated man, well-read, who knows how to think and who knows that the world is a great deal more complex than Bush's comic-book world of American heroes and foreign evildoers. It's unfortunate that in our poorly educated country, Kerry's very intelligence and refusal to adopt simplistic slogans might doom his presidential election efforts.
But Thomas Jefferson said it well, as he did so often, when he observed that people who expect to be ignorant and free expect what never was and never will be.
It has been obvious for some time that Cheney is the real president and Bush is his puppet. And look at how the Dickster came to power. First he appointed himself to the Republican ticket, then he had the Supreme Court appoint that ticket right into the White House. Slick!
MSNBC'S CHRIS MATTHEWS: "Are you one of the anti-war candidates?"
KERRY: "I am - Yeah."
The real transcript of the interview reveals that the clip was doctored. Kerry was not trying to shift his position but actually reiterating his belief that President Bush made a mistake in the way he went to war. Here is the actual transcript:
MATTHEWS: Do you think you belong to that category of candidates who more or less are unhappy with this war, the way it's been fought...Are you one of the anti-war candidates?
KERRY: I am - Yes, in the sense that I don't believe the president took us to war as he should have, yes, absolutely.
The widow of former President, and Republican icon, Ronald Reagan has told the GOP she wants nothing to do with their upcoming national convention or the re-election campaign of President George W. Bush.
Nancy Reagan turned down numerous invitations to appear at the Republican National Convention and has warned the Bush campaign she will not tolerate any use of her or her late husbands words or images in the President’s re-election effort.
“Mrs. Reagan does not support President Bush’s re-election and neither do most members of the President’s family,” says a spokesman for the former First Lady.
Reagan’s son, Ron, spoke at the just-concluded Democratic National Convention and writes in next month’s Esquire magazine that “George W. Bush and his administration have taken normal mendacity to a startling new level far beyond lies of convenience. They traffic in big lies.”
Ron Reagan is joined by his sister Patty in opposing Bush’s re-election effort. Only [adopted] brother Michael Reagan, a conservative talk show host, supports the President and claims Ron is manipulating his mother.
It seems that having St. Ronald's entire biological family come out strongly against Bush's "re-election" should make a few conservatives think twice about their votes.
Some would-be spectators hoping to attend Vice President Dick Cheney's rally in Rio Rancho this weekend walked out of a Republican campaign office miffed and ticketless Thursday after getting this news:
Unless you sign an endorsement for President George W. Bush, you're not getting any passes.
The Albuquerque Bush-Cheney Victory office in charge of doling out the tickets to Saturday's event was requiring the endorsement forms from people it could not verify as supporters.
"I'm outraged at this. I'm being closed off by my own government. It's crazy," said East Mountains resident Pamela Random, who added that she is an unaffiliated voter.
John Wade of Albuquerque said he initially signed the endorsement but was having second thoughts before he even left the office. Wade, a Democrat, said he returned his tickets and demanded to get his endorsement form back.
"It's not right for me to have to sign an endorsement to hear (Cheney) speak," Wade said. "I'm still pissed. This just ain't right."
Thursday, July 29, 2004
The American Conservative: You've said that Iraq was the best Christmas present that Osama bin Laden could have possibly received …
Anonymous: Have you seen the movie "Christmas Story," where the boy wants a Red Rider air gun and his mom says no? Then at the end of Christmas day, when he has opened all his presents, he gets the gun and he thinks, "My God, I really got it. I never thought I'd get it." Iraq was Osama's Red Rider BB gun. It was something he always wanted, but something he never expected.
Iraq is the second holiest place in Islam. He's now got the Americans in the two holiest places in Islam, the Arabian Peninsula and Iraq, and he has the Israelis in Jerusalem. All three sanctities are now occupied by infidels, a great reality for him. He also saw the Islamic clerical community, from liberal to the most Wahhabist, issue fatwas that were more vitriolic and more demanding than the fatwas that were issued against the Soviets when they came into Afghanistan. They basically validated all of the theological arguments bin Laden has been making since 1996, that it is incumbent on all Muslims to fight the Americans because they were invading Islamic territory. Until we did that in Iraq, he really had a difficult time making that argument stick, but now there is no question.
ANON: I said that al-Qaeda itself has said that it could not wish for a better government than the one that is now governing the U.S. because, on the policies of issue to Muslims, al-Qaeda believes this government is wrong on every one and thus allows their insurgency to grow larger to incite other groups to attack Americans.
[One of the striking things about the Iraq War is the extent to which American foreign-affairs professionals - intelligence analysts, diplomats, and high-ranking military officers - recognize it is a tragically misguided venture. Among the most recent to speak out is the CIA officer formerly charged with analyzing Osama bin Laden. Known only as "Anonymous," he is the author of the new book Imperial Hubris - a scathing look at the way the United States has conducted the War on Terror thus far. American Conservative editors Philip Giraldi (a CIA veteran with extensive Mideast experience), Kara Hopkins, and Scott McConnell recently visited with the author. This article presents excerpts of the conversation.]
As always, Fox has never pretended to be anything other than fiercely biased toward the hard right, and has been not only a strident supporter and protecter of George W. Bush since his 2000 selection, but - with the help of those like Matt Drudge - continues to be his partner in crime.
Think about it. Think about the brazen Fox News attack on the Clinton administration in January 2001 as power changed hands and the feral Karl Rove "marked" his territory with the first of many vicious leaks to the media - a strategy that continues to be the modus operendi of the Bush regime today. White House offices trashed, Rove said. Air Force One stripped clean. Fox news director Brit Hume, along with anchor Tony Snow and correspondent "Campaign" Carl Cameron, worked round the clock, determined to make Bill and Hillary Clinton's legacy one of looting and vandalism - a final degradation for the man who refused to die no matter how many times they killed him.
Within two weeks, officials at Andrews Air Force Base had debunked the Air Force One charges, and the General Services Administration found that there had been no vandalism, but it would be mid-May before Snow would concede on camera that, "Rumors to the contrary, the GSA says the Clinton administration did not trash the White House or despoil Air Force One...Okay, I'm sorry..." Snow grinned, "the ex-president's pals have a legitimate beef."
Hume has yet to weigh in on the matter or apologize for falsely reporting that the Clintons had taken the plane's "porcelain, china...silverware and even the salt and pepper shakers." And Cameron stood his ground. He refused to accept the GSA investigation, calling it merely a "cursory inspection" and blustered, "As for whether or not there was vandalism, it has not been proved or, for that matter, disproven..."
This is what passes for "journalism" at the far right end of the dial.
Is that laughter I hear echoing from the mountains of Baluchistan?
The latest survey results out of the Middle East show that America's favorability rating is now, essentially, zero. That's down from as high as 75 percent in some Muslim countries just four years ago.
Two new polls of attitudes in six Arab countries by Zogby International make for pretty grim reading to us, but they're manna from Heaven for the man who, news reports claim, is now believed to be holed up in the semi-autonomous region of Northwest Pakistan.
It was bad enough in 2002, when Zogby found that an appalling 35 percent of Jordanians and 12 percent of Saudis viewed us favorably. Now those figures are 15 percent and four percent respectively. We can't even buy friends. Egypt received some $4 billion last year in U.S. aid, yet only two percent of Egyptians responded positively. In a poll with a margin of error of about four points, that doesn't even move the needle.
Arab attitudes toward pretty much all things American are in the toilet, including American freedom and democracy - something even al-Qaeda detainees at Guantanamo Bay once told interrogators that they admired. Asked to name the "best thing about America" now, most Arabs responded, "nothing." The worst things about America? "Unfair Middle East policy" and our penchant to "murder Arabs."
If, four years ago, the Bush administration had consciously set out to create the "clash of civilizations" sought by bin Laden, it is hard to believe it could have been more successful.
And yet the Republicans bellow as one, "Four more years!"
I believe we'll have the largest percentage of people voting in our lifetime come November 2! I really, really believe, you don't hear that, though. You won't see that story reported because they are just focusing on likely voters from 1992, 1996 and 2000. And it's a 50/50 country. Like if they just keep repeating it enough, it will be true. It's a 50/50 country. Put your heels together now. It's a 50/50 country.
I got to tell you, I have traveled across this country quite a bit in the last year. It ain't a 50/50 country. People are angry. They want Bush out of the White House. They want to be able to send their kids to college. (applause) They want to be able to go to the doctor. This isn't a 50/50 country. Speak the truth. Come on. Take a real poll. Take a real poll!
A few weeks ago I was flipping around on the dial and I came across a NASCAR Race on Fox and there was NASCAR champion Dale Earnhardt Jr. He said what would you do, what did you do the night before while you were getting prepared for the big race? He said, "Well, I took my crew to go see Fahrenheit 9/11." And then he said, and "I think all of America should see this movie." I fell off the couch! I said a little prayer for George W. Bush. I'm thinking oh, my God, I hope he's not watching this race now and eating pretzels!
[Moore spoke to 750 screaming fans on Tuesday, with another 700 waiting outside, at a hotel in Cambridge, Mass.]
Never before in our history has war been used as it has been by George Bush as an instrument of America's foreign policy. What made America the world's pre-eminent nation is not our military might, but that we have been looked to as the shining beacon of hope, and peace, for a troubled world.
Since Bush claims that he is a wartime president, what sacrifice has he asked the American people to make? It's as though the time-honored doctrine "you can't have both guns and butter" has been repealed. Even the butter has been sweetened by big tax cuts, skyrocketing the deficit.
My war was the "good war," thrust upon us by huge military machines built by Germany and Japan. Even before we had been directly attacked at Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, Japanese forces had ravaged neighboring nations in Asia, and Germany had overrun a half dozen nations in Europe with an invasion of Britain imminent.
All Americans during WWII, not only those of us who were in military service, were asked to sacrifice in some way. Gasoline was doled out sparingly, and commodities rationed. New automobiles were not to be bought, nor new appliances. People lined up to buy war savings bonds.
Contrast that with today when $6 billion a month is being spent on an increasingly unpopular war, using borrowed money, much of it coming from Social Security and Medicare trust funds.
In neither Vietnam, nor now in Iraq was our national security threatened. Each was a war of choice, not necessity. Vietnam spanned four national administrations, fanned in an era of anti-Communism hysteria, supposedly to stop Communist extension in Southeast Asia.
Why do we continue to allow the paranoid fantasies of right-wing extremists to get us into these expensive, deadly, unnecessary wars?
After the election of President Bush and Vice President Cheney, the Committee completely reversed course. In 2001 and 2002, the Committee refused to investigate matters that would have triggered exhaustive investigations had they occurred during the Clinton years. For example, the Committee did not examine the allegations that the Vice President's energy task force granted special access to Enron and other political contributors; that President Bush's top political advisor, Karl Rove, violated conflict of interest standards by meeting with executives of companies in which he owned stock; or that Vice President Cheney improperly used his taxpayer-funded residence for political fundraising.
Indeed, with one exception, Chairman Burton did not even respond to my written inquiries regarding whether the Committee would be investigating these and other similar matters.
[Rep. Waxman sent this letter to Committee on Government Reform Chairman Tom Davis regarding his refusal to pursue allegations of wrongdoing by the Bush Administration and his recent decision to investigate allegations of wrongdoing by former Clinton National Security Advisor "Sandy" Berger.
In the letter, Rep. Waxman raises concerns that the Committee is in danger of setting a double-standard: one for investigations of Republicans and a different one for investigations of Democrats.]
We have to decide: Are we going to go down that road these far-right Republicans have started us down? Or are we going to revert to our old American way of life, the one that's been developed over many decades?
I firmly believe that the tragedy is happening, and we need to stand up and fight to change it. And to do so, fight with the ballot, use democracy in order to take back America, and in the process, we can demonstrate what true patriotism is. We don't have to be concerned about the right-wingers labeling us un-patriotic. We just need to point out that we are American patriots, and we're going to fight for the American way of life.
One of the reasons why this Administration has, in such a short interval, made so many of these drastic changes is because they are experts at deception. They take programs that are known to be false, present them as true, and do it so effectively that what is false is widely believed as being true. And in effect they're conning the American people.
The pinnacle of this program is when they decided to go to war against Iraq and they used seven reasons for doing it. Now we know all seven were false.
They do a similar thing with the environment, labeling programs like "Healthy Forests" and "Clear Skies" in a way that people think they are pro-environment, when they are just the opposite.
[Russell Peterson was director of the Council on Environmental Quality during the Nixon and Ford administrations, and a former Republican Governor of Delaware. His book, Patriots, Stand Up! This Land Is Our Land; Fight to Take It Back, blasts the environmental record of President George W. Bush and accuses the Bush Administration of broadly deceiving the American people – not just about the environment, but about the war in Iraq, terrorism and the economy.]
In an ideal world, Americans of every political stripe would enjoy a forum to discuss the issues of the day. In an ideal world, communists and conservatives and militiamen and socialists and centrists and Christianists and atheists and libertarians and anarchists would all get the chance to express their opinions and propose changes in law and policy in the media as well as the corridors of power. In an ideal world, vigorous debate would never degenerate into name-calling or threats. In an ideal world, a losing political party would play the role of the loyal opposition as it plotted its return to power. In an ideal world, an imaginative, freewheeling, independent media would cast a wide net, broadening our national dialogue to include the previously disenfranchised.
In the real world, however, a narrow subset of right-wing conservatives controls the Supreme Court, White House, Congress and most state legislatures. In the real world, no American to the left of John McCain - including John McCain - has a chance to propose a law and see it signed into law. In the real world, newspapers, magazines, radio and television outlets are owned by a shrinking pool of conservative corporations motivated by short-term profits and cozy ties to the right-wingers who run the government. In the real world, the Democratic Party has given up hope of recapturing either the House or the Senate, and Democratic politicians vote along with the Republicans. In the real world, anyone who questions the president's justifications for starting wars, or questions whether he even has the right to call himself "president", should expect to be insulted and ridiculed, blackballed, smeared as a traitor and threatened with death by conservative commentators.
Wednesday, July 28, 2004
Tuesday, July 27, 2004
Chanting "Bush lies, millions die," protestors at the International AIDS Conference in Bangkok on July 14 shouted down Randall Tobias, the U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator and the former CEO of pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly & Co.
An estimated 1,000 activists staged a sit-down protest outside the conference. Some 30 people also stormed the main speaking area with banners that read "Patient rights, not patent rights," and stopped a speech by the head of the drug company colossus, Pfizer.
The focus of their outrage is a deadly and hypocritical U.S. AIDS policy that promises help and delivers nothing.
One-third of the 2003 U.S. funding for HIV prevention must be spent on abstinence-only programs. Bush has set the official U.S. health policy response to AIDS as an "ABC" approach. In a recent speech in a Philadelphia church, he defined this as: "Abstain, be faithful in marriage, and, when appropriate, use condoms."
But a Columbia University study of 12,000 teenagers refuted the claim that this approach can effectively stop sexually transmitted diseases. The study found that those who pledged to abstain from sex until marriage became infected at the same rate as non-pledgers.
Nice to see President W. employing the tactic Texans got so familiar with under Governor W.: the "Gee, I'm really for it, but I can't be bothered to expend one iota of political energy trying to help it pass." (He also frequently uses the reverse ploy by announcing he opposes something he can't be bothered to spend an iota of energy on.)
This is the game Bush is playing on the assault weapons ban, which he officially favors renewing (soccer mom vote there), but -- surprise! -- since he won't do anything to get it renewed it will be allowed to lapse (NRA vote there). Just what we need in this country, more automatic assault rifles.
A more subtle play is the White House decision to oppose a two-year extension of the Bush tax cuts on the grounds that it's not a five-year extension. This dubious ploy, from the right's point of view, sacrifices a tax cut in the hand for a political issue in the bush, as it were. I'm not sure they can run that one: "Those nasty Democrats would only vote for a two-year tax cut instead of a five-year tax cut," he pouted. "See, they just hate tax cuts."
Kind of hard, even in the funhouse mirrors of the campaign, to argue that Democrats in Congress have spent a lot of time successfully thwarting Bush on anything. But R's are much in the habit of seeing themselves as victims, so it will make them happy.
Busted! Like a teenager whose beer bash is interrupted by his parents' early return home, President Bush's nearly three years of bragging about his "war on terror" credentials has been exposed by the bipartisan 9/11 commission as nothing more than empty posturing.
Without dissent, five prominent Republicans joined an equal number of their Democratic Party peers in stating unequivocally that the Bush administration got it wrong, both in its lethargic response to an unprecedented level of warnings during what the commission calls the "Summer of Threat," as well as in its inclusion of Iraq in the war on terror.
Although the language of the commission's report was carefully couched to obtain a bipartisan consensus, the indictment of this administration surfaces on almost every page.
For those, like Vice President Dick Cheney, who continue to insist that the jury is still out on whether Al Qaeda and Iraq were collaborators, the commission's report should be the final word, finding after an exhaustive review that there is no evidence that any of the alleged contacts between Bin Laden and Saddam Hussein "ever developed into a collaborative operational relationship. Nor have we seen evidence indicating that Iraq cooperated with Al Qaeda in developing or carrying out any attacks against the United States."
Well, that should shut him up.
President Bush, heartless? Well, actually I think that is an understatement. Ruthless, arrogant, aimless, stupid and alone are what his foreign policy add up to.
The man should cause more fear than Saddam himself did. He has lied to the American people and the world on many occasions concerning Iraq, not to mention so many other topics involving the foreign policy of our nation. No, I stand corrected, the foreign policy of George Bush and his cronies.
I am still reluctant after three years to call him Mr. President. It was the court, not the people, that gave him that title. Let that NOT be forgotten.
Since that time, he has inflicted his will upon the world. He engaged the United States in a war in which for the first time in our history we were the aggressors. Our children, our grandkids, our future was thrust into his private family war. Nothing, and George Bush knew it was nothing, was found to justify going to war with Iraq and endangering our brave children and those of our friends and even our allies.
Monday, July 26, 2004
Failure of intelligence? What failure? Washington's spies, analysts and sundry apparatchiks were highly successful in giving their masters exactly what they wanted - an excuse to wage the war that Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and Paul Wolfowitz had been planning for years. Unsuccessful in persuading Bill Clinton to wage it, they knew they could enthuse George W. Bush.
Weapons of mass destruction were an afterthought. Wolfowitz confessed as much to Vanity Fair. "For bureaucratic reasons we settled on one issue, weapons of mass destruction, because it was the one reason everyone could agree on." Reason, Mr Wolfowitz? It wasn't a reason. It was an excuse. We not only knew that the WMD issue was being wildly exaggerated; we also knew that the connection between Baghdad and September 11, between Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden, was a furphy.
The ongoing WMD debate, the endless reports churned out by the US Senate, Britain's Lord Butler and Australia's Philip Flood, are a distraction from the central issue that the coalition of the willing waged an unjustified war. Instead of piles of WMDs, we have disinformation pouring from the mouths of presidents, prime ministers, defence secretaries, foreign ministers and anyone else who could climb on the bandwagon.
As American voters contemplate their choices in this presidential campaign year, the world's investors have been voting with their money. The early results are in -- and they don't look good for the United States.
Last month, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development released figures showing that last year for the first time, China supplanted the United States as the No. 1 destination for foreign direct investment worldwide -- that is, money that goes into factories, equipment, real estate or existing companies. And in a blow to fans of "freedom fries," No. 2 was France. Though other major economies also suffered a drop-off in this category , no nation fell as far in percentage terms as the United States.
It is hard to assess the number of ways in which this statement is wrong, but let's try.
Let's start with the biggest domestic economic problems. Almost any one of them is a greater threat to the economy than virtually any imaginable form of terrorism. There is the record-breaking budget deficit that is likely to amount to $5 trillion over the next decade. Then there's the burgeoning trade deficit. And the $72 trillion in unfunded future retirement and health care obligations to our own citizens. And a record low savings rate, which suggests that we will need even more help with retirement funding. And the hemorrhaging of manufacturing jobs and the cost of fixing our dysfunctional health care and energy systems. Every one of these is a gigantic problem on its own. Taken together, they represent a series of bombs placed at the foundations of our society, and they are capable of exploding in ways that would touch more Americans than anything even the most sophisticated terrorists could devise.
In a new book, President George Bush, his administration and the current Congress come under scathing criticism from Sen. Robert C. Byrd, one of the most respected lawmakers in the country.
The book, Losing America, accuses President Bush’s “rogue White House” of getting away with a broad assault on the constitution. He finds Congress “unwilling to assert its power, cowed, timid, and deferential toward the Bush administration, a virtual paralytic.” Congress, he writes, chooses to “just salute the emperor and then stand down.” He says Congress offered no objection to the unconstitutional actions of the Bush administration, including Guantanamo Bay. Bush’s “themeless, floundering presidency” was made into a formidable political force by the 9/11 attacks, he adds.
Mr Byrd from West Virginia, who has been in the Senate for 45 years, draws a disparaging portrait of the President. “George W. Bush, a child of wealth and privilege and heir to an American political dynasty, did not pay his dues. He did not have to. His name was Bush and he ran for President because he could and because he was tapped by Republican party poobahs … He was, and is, carefully ‘handled’ by political operatives who work hard to shield him from complicated or probing questions, and keep him to ‘bullet points’ of repetition. His major talent seems always to have been in raising money.”
Sen. Byrd writes that the President’s “raw simplicities” about Americans as a “nation of good folks” and the Islamic attackers as “flat evil” tended to “set one faith against another” which is not the “stuff of statecraft.”
[The full title of Sen. Byrd's book is Losing America: Confronting a Reckless and Arrogant Presidency.]
In trying to explain why the nation was so vulnerable on Sept 11, the leaders of the nation's law enforcement and intelligence agencies have insisted publicly that they never considered the nightmare of passenger planes being turned into guided missiles.
"I don't think anybody could have predicted that these people would take an airplane and slam it into the World Trade Center," Ms Condoleezza Rice, Mr Bush's national security adviser, said in May 2002.
As recently as this April, in testimony to the Sept 11 commission, Mr Freeh said that he "never was aware of a plan that contemplated commercial airliners being used as weapons".
But in its investigation, the commission found that an attack described as unimaginable had in fact been imagined, repeatedly. It said that several threat reports circulated within the government in the late 1990s raised the explicit possibility of an attack using airliners as missiles.
Most prominent among those reports, the commission said, was one circulated in September 1998, based on information provided by a source who walked into an American consulate in East Asia, that "mentioned a possible plot to fly an explosives-laden aircraft into a US city".
In August 1998, it said, an intelligence agency received information that a group of Libyans hoped to crash a plane into the World Trade Center.
The North American Aerospace Defence Command had gone so far as to develop exercises to counter the threat and, according to a Defence Department memorandum unearthed by the commission, planned a drill in April 2001 that would have simulated a terrorist crash into the Pentagon.
And yet Condi says nobody could have predicted it. Amazing.
In a break with past practice, the Bush administration has been using the nation's courts to try to block lawsuits by consumers who contend they have been hurt by prescription drugs and medical devices, The New York Times reported Sunday.
Administration officials are arguing that consumers can't sue for damages if the products have received U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval. The administration recently persuaded a federal appeals court in Philadelphia to dismiss a lawsuit by a woman who said her husband had died due to defects in his heart pump, the newspaper said.
Permitting consumers to sue manufacturers would "undermine public health" and interfere with federal regulation of drugs and devices, by encouraging "lay judges and juries to second-guess" experts at the FDA, the government contended in the Pennsylvania case. In addition, such lawsuits could lead to the removal of beneficial products, the government said, according to the Times.