May 31, 2005

When a Story Is Not A Story

Yesterday I reported the AP story about the arrest of Muhsin Abd al-Hamid, the leader of the (Sunni) Iraqi Islamic Party. Juan Cole's Informed Comment blog has been reporting on it, along with the DailyKos. But the AP story has not been picked up by most of the "mainstream" media. It turns out that the US military did invade his home, rifle through his belongings and throw a black hood over his head....but it was all a mistake. Us military sources said today that they are releasing him, with no explanation other than it was a "mistake."

Two questions: what adverse effect has this had on US attempts to gain cooperation from moderate Sunni forces, and since when does the USA have the right to arrest Iraqi citizens (especially without a warrant)? Great example of how to run a democracy we are setting.

Iraq's President and Prime Minister have both expressed their strong anger and disappointment to the US about this flagrant action.

I can't find this story at CBS, NBC, ABC or Fox, or even BBC(!) but I found it at China's Xinhuan News Agency.


Orwellian Pixie Dust

The American people are blinded by a blizzard of media pixie dust in the form of "news" stories about Michael Jackson, Paula Abdul, and the "runaway bride." As long as our media concentrates its focus on fluff and puff, Americans will not read about, see or hear the stories that really matter in their lives. Donald Russo shares with us three significant stories that Americans have not heard much about.


Dr. Strangelove and Mr. Bush

Star Wars is back, big time. And I am not talking about the movie series. I am talking about the space wars program of the American government. George Bush is hell bent to live out his own Strangelovian fantasies for weapons in space, in the same way he was hell bent on invading Iraq.

Despite the fact that the United States already controls virtually every category of space activity, from exploration to technology, from commercial use to military use, George Bush is pushing huge budget increases for Star Wars defensive and offensive weapons. According to the Center for Defense Policy, Pentagon and Air Force documents clearly lay out American designs for "space control."

Is there anyone, other than CEO's of space technology and defense contractors (and madhatters like Bush, Rumsfeld and Cheney), who think this is a good idea? How can a new space weapons race be in the interest of the American people, much less the rest of humanity?

Don't be fooled by Administration reassurances that we have space treaties to abide by (like the Outer Space Treaty) and we won't be putting either defensive or offensive weapons in space in violation of those treaties. These reassurances mean about as much to the Bush administration as its reassurances that invading Iraq would only be a last resort. These are true believers. American hegemony in space is a sine qua non for them.


May 30, 2005

How To Win Friends 101

Wait a minute! Just when the US government is talking about how we need to curry favor with the Sunni population in Iraq as a way to make democracy work, US troops have arrested (and, allegedly, placed a black hood over his head) the leader of the Sunni Iraqi Islamist Party and two of his sons. No charges were specified.

How does this help promote solidarity? And since when have US troops become Iraq's police force?


Veterans Are Not Worthy

As reported by Knight Ridder's Joseph L. Galloway, on the eve of Memorial Day, over 1000 veterans (average age 76 and average 23 years of service) who live at the Armed Forces Retirement Home in Washington DC have filed a class action lawsuit against Donald Rumsfeld demanding that he restore the "drastic cuts" in their medical care.

What are our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan learning from this?


May 29, 2005

Air Force Academy Sponsors Crucifixion

The Air Force Academy recently sponsored a showing of Mel Gibson's bloodily sadistic flaggelation film about Jesus Christ's "passion" (now there's a paradoxical use of that word if there ever was one) and labeled it officially sponsored by the United States Air Force Academy. Not to be outdone the Academy football coach hung a banner proclaiming himself a Christian first and last, and the Commander of the Academy sent out an email declaring that "the Lord is in control." Columnist Christopher Blauchli asks what would be expected of a cadet if an officer said "kill", but God said "don't".



May 28, 2005

Invasion By Invitation

Scott McClellan, expert at prevarication, goes head to head with Helen Thomas, expert at recognizing prevarication.


May 27, 2005

NewSpeak in Cartoon Form

And now for a little fun.....Cartoonist Mark Fiore explains all the new words being used in Iraq
and what they really mean


Rewriting the History of Arms Control

Suffice it to say that rewriting history by the Bush Administration has become commonplace. Here's another example related to arms control (two words they seem to choke on anyway). Given the runaway arms proliferation spawned by the Bushies, it's pretty funny that they even attend arms control meetings.


May 26, 2005

"The corporations have taken over the process of governing"

Here's a test. What is that quote from? George Orwell's 1984? or some sci-fi flick about fascism?

Actually, the quote is from John Kenneth Galbraith, Tuesday May 24, 2005 on the News Hour with Jim Lehrer, when (way down at the end of the story below) asked whether his "economic vision" has been eclipsed.

Here is how Benito Mussolini defined fascism: "Fascism should more properly be called corporatism because it is the merger of state and corporate power."


A Censor in Every Home

How can we pass this one up? You, too, can now have your own in-house Ministry of Truth censor that will clean your household media of all the sex, violence and other liberal filth that spews from that den of inequity, Hollywood.


Losing is Winning

Robert Kuttner reconfirms who the real winners were in the filibuster "compromise."

As Kuttner explains, the original accounts depicted a cowed, humble Frist submitting to the pressure of moderate Republicans and Democratic heroes, all the while assailed by the rightwing of his party, and the angry religious base he serves. Poor Bill Frist -- armtwisted into compromise by those unrelenting liberals.

We come back to this story because it is way far from over (see more from my 5/24/05 post). In fact, the "heroic' Democrats who did the dirty work will rue the day they ever made an agreement with the likes of Bill Frist. As we know, Frist is already backtracking, and the slow dissolution of the agreement is inevitable. In the end, it will appear as though the Democrats reneged and the Republicans were the principled compromisers. If the Democrats give the Republicans enough rope, they will always be hung by the Republicans.

This maneuver will go down into American political history as a tour de force of parliamentary sleight-of-hand -- that is if we are able to save history in a democratic society.


May 25, 2005

Molestation Scandal is Media's Fault

Robert Scheer clarifies the Roman Catholic hierarchy's response to the sex scandals that have rocked the world's largest Christian church. The head-in-the-sand, bunker mentality prevails. That there is evil in the Catholic Church is far less important, of course, than the fact that the world is awash in "evil" gay people. The new Pope, known as God's Rottweiler, has actually blamed the sex scandals on the media. Didn't something like this happen in Germany in the 1930s?

CLICK HERE,1,2760893.column?coll=la-news-comment-editorials&ctrack=1&cset=true

Rev. Moon's Ministry of Truth

Read about the new "news paradigm" being promulgated by Rev. Sun Myung Moon's Washington Times, United Press International, and The World Media Association, all of which run according to his faith-based, "moral" purpose. For him and his cohorts, reporting the facts of the news is simply not good enough, the reportage must be steeped in Rev.Moon's idea of what is truth. What this perversion of news reporting does to the truth, of course, doesn't matter.

May 24, 2005

Surrender is Compromise

"Elder" Democrats in the Senate have rolled over in a last-minute compromise on the nuclear option, which the Republicans have renamed, in fine Orwellian fashion, the "constitutional option." You can read the text of the agreement below.

The Democrats believe that allowing three right-wing judges through the Senate without being able to exercise a filibuster is a compromise. And apparently, in return, there is no commitment from the Republicans not to move ahead with the other two egregious nominees either. The agreement, signed by 14 Democrats and Republicans, is limited only to the 109th Congress (that means through next year only!). And the Democrats agree to exercise the filibuster only in "extraordinary circumstances", whatever that means. Out of 200 plus nominees, the Democrats have sought to stop only 5 of Bush's nominees. Aren't those already "extraordinary circumstances?"

So, under this so-called compromise by "elders" of both parties, the Democrats cave on 3 out of 5 of those nominees, and it is left unclear what will actually happen to the remaining two. Tell me how this is a compromise.

So what's the result of this farce? The Republicans, simply by threatening to exercise the nuclear option, get most of their way, and they set a precedent for the future. Instead of sticking to their principles, calling the Republicans bluff, and letting them face the public consequences of actually behaving blatantly like totalitarians, the Democrats let them off the hook by surrendering to their strong-arm tactics. The Republicans get their way, and the Democrats look weak again.

And don't let the right-wing objections to this "compromise" fool you. Already the righteous right (Dobson, Robertson, and company) are condemning the agreement. It serves their interests to create an illusion of weak, compromising Republican leaders that have given in to Democrats. They wouldn't want to appear to gloat now would they?



For those who would like to delve deeper into the right-wing falsehood juggernaut about the filibuster issue, read this excellent summing up of the top ten lies about the nuclear option from Media Matters for America.

May 22, 2005

Happy Meals are Healthy Meals

McDonald's, to my knowledge, has never actually said or claimed that Happy Meals are Healthy Meals, but given the success of its 25 years of promoting Happy Meals to children and their parents, the underlying message certainly isn't that Happy Meals are Unhealthy Meals. Celebrating 25 years of Happy Meals includes the fact that McDonald's now has "restuarants" in children's hospitals where doctors are stapling young stomachs of grossly obese children. As Einstein put it: "The world is a dangerous place, not because of those who do evil, but because of those who look on and do nothing." Just how much does it matter that our children's health is being destroyed?


Truth is Insanity

Rush Limbaugh, the right-wing Tasmanian Devil, has been spinning (and I use that term both literally and figuratively, as well as in its newly coined political sense) over Bill Moyer's recent speech before the National Conference for Media Reform. Limbaugh, hurt to the quick by Moyer's incisive criticism of corporate media and the degradation of public broadcasting by right-wing political interests, has been lashing out at Moyers, not on any substantive issues but rather on his mental stability. For Limbaugh, Moyers is not wrong (how could he be when Limbaugh can't think of anything wrong he said), he is just simply "unhinged" and 'literally insane." Limbaugh's Newspeak fears the truth by defining it as insanity.


America, A Land of Snitches

We really are like the frog that is slowly being boiled to death, but because the heat is being turned up so slowly, we don't feel it. This story, if told throughout mainstream media with appropriate outrage, surely would move the American people to revolt against the anti-Americanism of Republicans like James Sensenbrenner, Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee. But it won't happen, will it? Because Americans have been tranquilized by a corporate-dominated media that only sees profit in keeping Americans stupid, unmoved, and uninvolved.

Read Bill Piper's report on how the totalitarian thinking of one Republican House member wants to turn America into a land of snitches in the government's war on drugs. His legislation would require, among other things, that neighbors and family members report almost any drug violation within 24 hours to the police or face stiff jail sentences for not doing so. For instance, a mother who knew her son gave his college roommate a marijuana joint would be required to report this to police within 24 hours or be faced with prosecution and a mandatory two-year jail sentence.

Isn't it only one small step from this to reporting whether your neighbor opposes the war in Iraq, or opposes Bush's social security policies, or opposes the Patriot Act., or that your neighbor is a Jew? And just as bad perhaps, because most people would not obey such a reactionary law, it would turn millions of American mothers, fathers, brothers and sisters into criminals.

Forget Orwell's fictional Big Brother. Anyone who has read even the smallest slice of the history of the Gestapo will recognize what Sensenbrenner's legislation would create - namely, a society of fear, mistrust, and hate.

Let's not prevaricate about this, folks. This is one of the most anti-American, anti-democratic pieces of legislation to find its way into Congress, ever.


May 21, 2005

Occupation is Liberation - A "Rosetta Stone" For Our Times

Understanding what has happened to the meaning of words since 9/11 is not an easy undertaking. We all know that words we have understood all our lives have come to take on new meanings in this Bush-made Orwellian world we live in. In this excellent piece, an American ex-pat living in Halifax, Nova Scotia, asks us to think about how the meanings of words like "freedom," "justice," "democracy," "God," "torture," "liberation," "truth," and "equality" have been transformed.


Difference Between Americans and Bill O'Reilly

Bill O'Reilly has got it wrong again. While I hesitate giving him any consideration, I could not resist commenting on his latest puerile and hateful tantrum when he attacked Michael Kinsley for advocating that the men at Guantanamo be given lawyers. O'Reilly, a master of doublethink and newspeak, in turn, says that Kinsley won't "get it" until terrorists cut his head off.

Contrary to what O'Reilly says, we don't want to shut down Guantanamo and give those men lawyers so Osama will like us,; we want to shut down Guantanamo so we can call ourselves Americans who really believe in democracy and due process.

O'Reilly said it himself, these are "suspected" terrorists.

Ever since I can remember, Americans give suspects lawyers. Terrorists cut their heads off.


Why Not Just Appoint Wal-Mart as Governor?

David Sirota makes it as simple and plain as possible -- when government becomes merely a mouthpiece for corporate power, democracy is no longer "of the people." And it is all the more obvious when they don't care about appearances anymore.

May 20, 2005

GOP Rewriting History

When it comes to rewriting history, the GOP Ministry of Truth is second to none. Just one example of GOP filibustering...


Would You Like Some Ice with Your Glass of Intestinal Worms?

Perfect NEWSPEAK. The EPA (Environmental Pollution Agency) calls it "blending." The "new" Clean Water Act, now before Congress, will loosen restrictions on keeping sewage out of our waterways, major sources for our drinking water.


May 19, 2005

Chinese Cultural Revolution Redux

When I read the words and witness the actions of the right-wing-nuts, I often conjure up comparisons with other cultural and social bigots, but it's always an unsatisfying exercise. In some respects, they are beyond compare, unique in their own right (no pun intended). Their whining, their intolerance, and their uber alles thinking are fertile ground for democratic criticism. But no one has yet done better comparisons than the billmon post on his blog.


REAL I.D. -- Didn't Harry Winston Carry One of These?

It really sounds pretty silly to say this, but the scary thing is that it is coming true -- Big Brother really will be watching us.


Librarians vs. Big Brother Bush

Librarians across the country are reacting strongly against the intrusive and repressive nature of the Patriot Act. Here is one such story.


Delusion is Science in Kansas

What The Hell IS Wrong with Kansas Anyway? Read the actual words actually spoken by actual American people defending Intelligent Design as the only way we can save ourselves from the "tyrannical discipline" of science. Biblical creationism is Truth. The Grand Canyon is less than six thousand years old. The earth is flat.


May 18, 2005

Newsweek Story Is True, But You'd Never Know It

The Newsweek story was true. Molly Ivins says it was sloppily covered and sloppily sourced, but it was true!! She documents other stories that preceded Newsweek by months which claimed the exact same treatment of the Koran. "Uh, people, I hate to tell you this, but the story about Americans abusing the Koran in order to enrage prisoners has been out there for quite some time".

March 17, 2004, in the Independent of London "guard kicked a copy of the Koran."

December 2004, report by the International Red Cross concerning torture at Gitmo.

December 30, 2004, reported the Financial Times. "They watched you each time you went to the toilet; the American soldiers used to tear up copies of Koran and throw them in the toilet. ..."

Jan. 9, 2005, Andrew Sullivan, writing in The Sunday Times of London, reported horrendous abuses related to the Koran.

May 1, 2005, The New York Times reported about and interviewed a released Kuwaiti, who spoke of three major hunger strikes, one of them touched off by "guards' handling copies of the Koran, which had been tossed into a pile and stomped on.

So what is the story now? It's about bad, bad Newsweek, demands for reforms, outrage at their reporting -- more lies from the liberal media.

Of course, Orwell is not only rolling over, he is laughing loud guffaws.

Read Molly Ivins full piece here. It will be interesting to see if anyone else picks up on the truth.


Wife Abuser in Charge of Women's Health Policy

Read this story about Dr. David Hagel, newly appointed Bush FDA advisor on women's health policy issues, who, despite his Bible-thumping self-righteousness, and according to his ex-wife, forceably sodomized her for years, and generally abused her sexually and emotionally.

Orwell is rolling over......


Fox in charge of the Hen House

The man in charge of protecting Federal employees from discrimination, retaliation, political pressures, and partisan arm-twisting is a "GAY-HATING, SECRETIVE, PARTISAN, POLITICAL HACK (my empahasis)."