June 29, 2005
Bush declared: "Our mission in Iraq is clear. We're hunting down the terrorists. We're helping Iraqis build a free nation that is an ally in the war on terror. We're advancing freedom in the broader Middle East. We are removing a source of violence and instability, and laying the foundation of peace for our children and our grandchildren."
What he didn't say was that there were no terrorists to hunt down before we invaded Iraq.
What he didn't say was that only 5% to 7% of the current insurgents are foreign jihadis, that the rest are actually Iraqi citizens in rebellion against us.
What he didn't say was that freedom in the broader Middle East is far from a realization.
What he didn't say was that our children and our grandchildren are inheriting a bankrupt future created by his "war on terror."
What he didn't say was that this is a rebellion, a resistance, which is exactly what an insurgency is.
What he didn't say, and what is the Achilles heel in this entire mess, is that Iraqi soldiers are having a hard time fighting other Iraqis who are fighting against a perceived occupier, not a liberator as Bush had hoped. It's the same problem Palestinian leaders who genuinely want to put down groups like Hamas have. Using Palestinian police to quell Palestinians, who regard themselves as freedom fighters, has not worked. It will not work in Iraq. And the longer the American occupation lasts, the bigger the resistance will grow.
Bush claimed that Iraq has "160,000 security forces trained and equipped for a variety of missions...". Why is it that 160,000 Iraqi security forces are not even close to being enough and that they, apparently, are utterly ineffective? Are most of them directing traffic? How many will we need? 500,000? 1,000,000? What will it take for an Iraqi army to fight against its own people?
Public television's post-speech coverage consisted of Gwen Ifill interviewing Tom Oliphant of the Washington Post, Rich Lowry of the National Review, retired Marine General Bernard Trainor, and retired Army Colonel Douglas MacGregor. Despite the fact that a progressive voice was not included, Colonel MacGregor did his best to inject some reality into the discussion.
Contrary to the Bush administration claim that 12,000 Iraqis have been killed since the war began, Colonel MacGregor used the figure "over 111,000." He also described Iraq as a country with jails everywhere filled to capacity. He put the figure at 5% of the insurgency that is actually foreign, and the rest are fighting for their "homes, tribes, and families." MacGregor made the point that the US needs to define the conditions necessary for us to leave Iraq. Those conditions have never been clearly defined. He made the point that many Iraqis believe we will never leave.
One thing that all four of these men seemed to agree on was that we can't simply cut and run, that we must stay the course, somehow, and find a way out that is honorable. Sound familiar?
June 28, 2005
Rumsfeld says that the American military can't end the insurgency, it will be the Iraqi military that will do it. Rumsfeld does reassure us that we will be gone before the twelve years are up (don't bet on it). Does that mean eleven and half years? In the meantime, we have American military commanders telling US Senators that it will take at least another two years to train enough Iraqis to fight the insurgency.
In his Sunday interviews, Rumsfeld also supported VP Cheney's musings about the "last throes" of the insurgency, urging one interviewer to look up the meaning: "If you look up 'last throes,' it can mean a violent last throe'." Of course, the word throe has many meanings, one of which can mean attack. there is nothing inherently unsuccessful about a throe, last or otherwise.
Cheney and Rumsfeld are using language again to scam the American people. Twelve years is a long time. The networkof large American bases in Iraq are not going to be disassembled any time soon. Our presence there is too strategically important for us to cut and run. We have invested too much.
One thing for usre, Cheney and Rumsfeld probably won't be around to answer for their perfidy in twelve years.
Is it too much to expect any apologies from people like Senator Doctor Frist who diagnosed her from a thousand miles away, and ranted and raved about "saving" her life? Of course, it is. None of the self-righteous, sanctimonious, and hypocritical loud-mouths will say a thing.
But they will continue to believe they were right, and furthermore, to that end, will always wonder whether Terri Schiavo's husband really did have something to do with her injury 15 years ago. And to that end, so they can keep this self-righteousness alive and kicking, Governor Jeb Bush of Florida has asked a prosecutor to investigate.
So, no apologies, just more hatred, vile behavior, and threats against Terri's husband who endured 15 years of his wife's horrible condition, his in-laws doing battle with him for most of those 15 years, and national condemnation from gasbag, knee-jerk political leaders who, if God was really doing his job, should be struck by lightning.
June 27, 2005
"strategy for success"
"the way forward to succeeding"
"implementing that strategy"
"many challenges that lie ahead"
"not an easy task"
"peaceful and democratic future"
"powerful force for change"
"dangerous region of the world"
"ideology of oppresssion, and hatred, and tyranny"
"determined and ruthless enemy"
"no regard for human life"
"derail the transition to democracy"
"failed to stop the advance to democracy and freedom"
"those who seek to stop democracy from taking root"
"a number of our men and women who are serving in harm's way"
"we mourn and grieve when we lose our men and women"
"tremendous sacrifices in defense of freedom"
"the advance of freedom in a dangerous region of the world"
"complete the mission"
"we are making great progress"
"difficulties and dangers ahead"
"this is a very critical period"
"moving forward on drafting a constitution"
"moving forward to prepare for an election"
"a nation that is at war"
"trying to test our resolve"
"trying to shake the will of the international community"
"central front in the war on terrorism"
"it's a critical period"
"we are a nation at war"
"the progress we're making"
"the strategy we have for succeeding"
"important that the American people know the progress we are making"
"important that they understand the difficulties and dangers that lie ahead"
"this is a time when we are seeing that the enemy is determined"
"ruthless in the violence that they seek to spread to try to shake our will and shake our resolve"
"and that's why it's important to talk to the American people"
This logorrhea of jabberwocky is being fed the American press over and over and over. It is the daily bread at these press conferences. It is what is translated by the press and then fed to the American people. It is very calculated language that requires extreme repetition. It is simple, straightforward, uncomplicated by nuances or gray areas. It is delivered to highly educated men and women as if they were grammar school students and this was a civics class.
You will hear many of these phrases and words, or close variations of them, in Bush's speech this Tuesday night. Watch for him to be a bit humble in one spot when he says something like "maybe we have made mistakes", or "we have stumbled a little here and there" This will show his human side, his vulnerability, his willingness to say he made a booboo. But it will be fleeting and short.
The purpose of this speech is to rekindle support from the American people for the war in Iraq. Both he and support for the war are sinking in all the polls and this speech is the beginning of a major Karl Rove offensive to regain that support. If we were to imagine Rove's own words:
"It is a critical period for the President. Here is our strategy for the President to succeed. The Democrats are a determined and ruthless enemy. We will move forward to democracy and freedom with the President. We have a clear strategy and we are making important progress. There are dangers and difficulties lying ahead and that's why it is important for the President to talk to the American people."
It's the language that counts in all of this. At the end of eight years of a George Bush presidency, how his presidency and its successes and failures are described is what is paramount to Karl Rove. What matters most, right now, is how to pull George Bush's fat out of the current fires. And he has many fires: failures in Iraq and Afghanistan; clear and mounting evidence of his pre-war deceptions; a huge deficit, getting worse; an economy increasingly choked by high energy costs, increased pollution, and fewer good paying jobs; an international community whose respect for the United States has all but disappeared; and a citizenry that may be waking to the fact that this imperial President really doesn't have any clothes on.
How is Karl Rove going to make sure that Bush wins in Iraq, wins the war on terror, maintains his cowboy, freedom-fighting, mission-accomplished image, doesn't bankrupt the country, and doesn't get remembered as the most reviled President in American history? As George Bush goes, so goes Karl Rove. Listen to the language, it tells all.
June 25, 2005
While Rove teaches his boss how to lie with impunity, Americans continue to die.
Today, in Iraq, 4 women American Marines were killed and 11 women American Marines wounded.
Kristen Breitweister brings Rove to task and asks him questions he will never answer. Kristen, by the way, lost her husband in the World Trade Centers on 9/11.
June 24, 2005
They have nothing better to do than obsess on an issue like flag-burning. Most of them chickenhawks. Most of them heedless to the current and pressing need to provide our soldiers with better protection in Iraq. Most of them supporters of the Bush welfare programs for the rich and for tax-breaks to corporations. Most of them sinking this country into the largest deficit in our history. Most of them careless about our environment and the future health of our children.
But, by God, this witless majority has helped to protect America by fighting for a Constitutional Amendment banning flag-burning. These are the heroic members of Congress defending America.
Imagine that. Millions of pieces of red, white and blue cloth that are one of many symbols of this country threatened by waves of crazed liberals lighting matches. But have no fear, once this new Constitutional Amendment is in place, wingnut liberals can start burning copies of the Constitution itself in protest. And when they pass a Constitutional Amendment banning burning copies of the Constitution, enraged liberals can start burning copies of the Declaration of Independence in protest. And when they enact a Constitutional Amendment banning burning copies of the Declaration of Independence, traitorous liberals can start burning copies of the Republican platform. And the heroic members of Congress can fight on with more Amendments to the Constitution, defending life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
My father was a company commander (E Company, 66th Infantry, 71st Division) in France, Germany and Austria in WWII. The 71st, by the way, was the division that ended up liberating more concentration camps than any other. To make a long and very interesting story short, when my dad heard about the first flag burning amendment effort years ago, his comment to me was "My men died so that people in this country could burn the flag in protest."
If you have wondered why so many Americans would vote against their own economic self-interests, she explains it. If you have wondered so many Bush voters are threatened more by homosexuality and abortion than by loss of their jobs, lower wages, loss of health insurance, and loss of retirement benfits, she explains it. Why is it that, for so many millions of Americans, the Rapture replaces temporal concern for the poor?
It's a superb piece of analysis. I urge you to read it.
June 23, 2005
The author reviewed 603 consecutive articles and scientific presentations pertaining to adult lower extremity orthopedic research from 2 major American orthopedic journals and 2 major American orthopedic meetings. The prevalence of commercial funding in these studies was 50%. Clinical studies of total hip arthroplasty implants by American investigators were commercially sponsored in 75% of studies. Commercially funded hip research reported positive outcomes in 93% of studies, whereas independently funded researchers reported good results in only 37%. Funded clinical studies of total knee arthroplasty implants yielded good results in 75%; this is in contrast to the findings of independently funded investigators, who reported positive conclusions in only 20% of studies. Investigators receiving royalties reported no negative outcomes related to the respective devices. The source of research funding was strongly correlated with reported outcomes.
I love the way scientists are able to maintain their calm and objective perspective while at the same time reporting direct evidence that corporate money in medical studies results in huge discrepancies (inconsistencies? perversions? aberrations? irregularities?) in results. I wish I could find the right word.
Here is the entire study as reported in the Journal of Arthroplasty
Let's look at what I believe is the key paragraph of the entire article. Here it is:
"But several rank-and-file EPA employees said senior agency officials have expressed little interest in the subject. Hilary Snook, an EPA research scientist who has been analyzing pharmaceutical levels in about 45 water samples from Maine, Connecticut, New Hampshire and Vermont, said he has yet to receive funding from headquarters for the project. As a result, he said, his office lacks the money to complete the study quickly. 'I don't think there's much political will at all' to tackle the issue, Snook said. 'We should at least look at it. We shouldn't be burying our heads in the sand'."
Why did the reporter not find out and name those "senior agency officials" who have expressed "little interest in the subject." In all likelihood, there is the real story. Find out who those people are and what their background is and you will understand why there is little interest.
But The Washington Post seems to have little interest, too.
Just north of the Washington Post is the home of Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore MD. In April 2002, Johns Hopkins University announced a study "aimed at identifying the scope of the nation's prescription drug pollution problems." One of the researchers, after studying the probable environmental concentrations of the 200 most frequently sold and prescribed drugs said she has concluded that anti-depressants, anti-convulsants, anti-cancer drugs and anti-microbials are among the pharmaceuticals most likely to be found at "toxicologically significant levels" in the environment.
All the Washington Post reporter needed to have done is made an internet search using the words PRESCRIPTION DRUG POLLUTION. See what comes up.
Also see my subsequent post and you will have the reason why there is so little interest in finding out about phamaceutical pollution of of water.
June 22, 2005
In a story in the Observer, it is clear how this petri dish for anti-American hatred has resulted in increased recruitment efforts around the world. Nevermind, the ongoing recruitment efforts in the Middle East, in South Asia and in Southeast Asia among Muslim young men, this piece concentrates on efforts in Europe itself. Not only is Syria a hotbed of jumping off spots into Iraq, not only is Iran in cahoots with the anti-American Iraqi Shiites, now Europe is a major recruitment base for new fighters, suicide bombers, and money.
Peter Beaumont, foreign affairs editor, draws a stark picture of how old and dormant networks have come to life, and how new networks of recruitment have developed.
Beaumont writes: "Some intelligence sources believe that there are now up to 21 networks active in Europe, some of them linked to more than 60 groups in the Mahgreb area of north Africa, involved in training and recruitment of volunteers, many for suicide bombing missions in Iraq. "
It's as if Bush sat down with Cheney and Rumsfeld and asked how can America, in the wake of 9/11, create a situation where we are mired in a dead-end war, where we have lost most of the world's sympathy for 9/11, and where anti-American sentiment is used throughout the world to recruit against us.
This is what they came up with.
Jan Frel , in a piece for AlterNet, searches for the reasons why Jones has changed his mind. This, I believe, is the key for us all. As Americans, left or right, liberal or conservative, Democratic or Republican, most of us wanted to believe the evidence. We wanted to believe Colin Powell when he said Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. We wanted the world to be free of this threat. We wanted to believe there was no other option. We wanted a quick decisive war. And we wanted throngs of Iraqis in the streets hailing the liberators and embracing democracy, pluralism, and freedom. What we did not know, and what Walter Jones did not know, was that the entire thing was based on a series of lies. These weren't simply mistakes. Bush wasn't hoodwinked by insidious Washington insiders. He had his henchmen, like Cheney, constructing a complicated fabric of deceptions, false intelligence, and empty motivations for war. He knew what he wanted to do even before 9/11. These lies, combined with the constant death toll of people from his district, are what has moved Walter Jones to switch his position on the war in Iraq.
According to Frel: "a congressional staffer who works closely with Walter Jones' office right now told me that Jones changed his mind about Iraq after some 'difficult soul searching,'
and that the 'growing gap' between the truth about Iraq that plays out in his district and the Republican party line he's supposed to toe in committee hearings has taken a "terrible toll on him." When I asked Jones' press secretary what led to the shift, she told me it was a combination of "the top-secret briefings, researching the issues, and talking to families."
It's amazing what a little truth and reality can do for someone's perspective.
Except, of course, if you are Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, or George Bush. Their stubborn rhetoric in the face of the terrible reality of what is happening in Iraq (and in Afghanistan, too, where they have failed miserably) betrays the American people yet again. They lie going in and they lie going out. In their case, the truth will never set them free, because the cost to them is too extreme. They will, if we let them, go down with the ship, believing the iceberg they hit was some anti-American conspiracy and that people like Walter Jones were at fault.
June 20, 2005
Make up your own mind about what they mean.
But if they don't convince you that George Bush had already made up his mind to send thousands of Americans to their deaths in Iraq (and it will be thousands), just keep in mind his immortal words of March 2002 "F**K Saddam, we're taking him out."
I don't think there is anything more pithy that can express Bush's intentions than his own words.
It seems that the American government has been secretly working to undercut British Prime Minister Tony Blair's efforts to combat global warming. This story takes the Philip Cooney story (that's the White House employee who was basically an oil industry shill who rewrote science reports and edited out specific findings) a step further into a truly Orwellian world of Bush administration denials and lies.
"The documents show that Washington officials:
· Removed all reference to the fact that climate change is a 'serious threat to human health and to ecosystems';
· Deleted any suggestion that global warming has already started;
· Expunged any suggestion that human activity was to blame for climate change."
The story also outlines how "the White House has withdrawn from a crucial United Nations commitment to stabilise greenhouse gas emissions." There is no length to whcih these people seem to be able to go in denying science. Here is another sentence they removed: "Every year, it (local air pollution) causes millions of premature deaths, and suffering to millions more through respiratory disease." By doing so, Bush and his co-conspirators have condemned millions of children to suffering and dying from asthma and other lung ailments.
In the face of massive evidence to the contrary (National Academies of Science, The Pew Center, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, National Center for Atmospheric Research, National Science Foundation, National Commission on Energy Policy), Bush is denying the science, rewriting the science, or simply eliminating it. This is not incompetence. This is gross malfeasance, a high crime and misdemeanor causing great harm to the national security and welfare of the American people. This not simply a matter of one group of people disagreeing with another over policy. This is lying and falsifying evidence.
June 19, 2005
"It now appears that, far from improving the quality of life for Iraqi youngsters, the US-led military assault on Iraq has inexplicably doubled the number of children under five suffering from malnutrition. Under Saddam, about 4% of children under five were going hungry, whereas by the end of last year almost 8% were suffering."
"In the UK there may now be 3.6 million children living below the poverty line, and 12.9 million in the US, with no prospect of either government finding any cash to change that. But surely this is a price worth paying, if it means that George Bush and Tony Blair can make any amount of money available for bombs, shells and bullets to improve the lives of Iraqi kids. You know it makes sense." Terry Jones of Monty Python in The Guardian
This is not an argument for Saddam Hussein!!! This is an argument for taking some of the gadzillions in US taxpayer dollars and feeding the children! Can't we do this one simple thing right?
At the White House Press Briefing of June 16, two more questions were asked about the Downing Street memo, bringing the grand total of questions asked at White House Press briefings since May 1, 2005 (when it was first released) to four questions. These are the first since May 23.
Q Scott, on another topic, has the President or anyone else from the administration responded to the letter sent last month by Congressman John Conyers and signed by dozens of members of the House of Representatives, regarding the Downing Street memo? Has the President or anyone else responded?
MR. McCLELLAN: Not that I'm aware of.
Q Why not?
MR. McCLELLAN: Why not? Because I think that this is an individual who voted against the war in the first place and is simply trying to rehash old debates that have already been addressed. And our focus is not on the past. It's on the future and working to make sure we succeed in Iraq.
These matters have been addressed, Elaine. I think you know that very well. The press --
Q Scott, 88 members of Congress signed that letter.
MR. McCLELLAN: The press -- the press have covered it, as well.
Q What do you say about them?
Q But, Scott, don't they deserve the courtesy of a response back?
MR. McCLELLAN: Again, this has been addressed. Go ahead.
But then there was a followup by another reporter.
Q Scott, on John Conyers, John Conyers is walking here with that letter again, as you have acknowledged from Elaine's comment. But 88 leaders on Capitol Hill signed that letter. Now, I understand what you're saying about him, but what about the other 88 who signed this letter, wanting information, answers to these five questions?
MR. McCLELLAN: How did they vote on the war -- the decision to go to war in Iraq?
Q Well, you have two -- well, if that's the case, you have two Republicans who are looking for a timetable. How do you justify that?
MR. McCLELLAN: I already talked about that.
Q I understand, but let's talk about this.
MR. McCLELLAN: Like I said --
Q Well, just because -- I understand -- but wait a minute, that's not -- if leaders from Congress -- if you're talking about unifying and asking for everyone to come together, why not answer, whether they wanted the war or not, answer a letter where John Conyers wrote to the President and then 88 congressional leaders signed? Why not answer that?
MR. McCLELLAN: For the reasons I stated earlier. This is simply rehashing old debates that have already been discussed.
Another question effectively stonewalled.
The basic White House position is that anyone who voted against the war in the first place is discredited and does not deserve any response.
June 18, 2005
American generals in Iraq are saying that we cannot defeat the insurgency, while the administration continues to say otherwise. The insurgency continues unabated and more American soldiers are killed and maimed daily.
Afghanistan, the war that everyone in the world supported because we went directly after the terrorists, is a basketcase, forgotten, ignored, and increasingly under the sway of warlords and a resurgent Taliban.
American military recruiters are experiencing significant reductions in monthly recruitment targets.
The price per barrel of oil continues to leap upward, just as all the experts have said it would.
The cost of our military adventures, homeland security, and "fighting terrorism" has become such a burden that we cannot sustain it without substantial disruptions in those areas that affect Americans the most: wages, taxes, benefits, social services, travel, heating costs, and retirement benefits.
American opinion is turning against Bush and his war. The people are waking up. George Bush's legacy is on the way into the toilet, along with Karl Rove's, unless something happens. And that is what worries me most.
While no American could imagine (except for a few military and intelligence people who concentrate on this stuff all the time) that 19 men could gain control of American airliners and crash them into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, it is not difficult for me now to imagine what might happen to reinvigorate support for George Bush and help preserve his legacy.
Here is all it would take:
an eighteen-wheeler, filled with the same ingredients Timothy McVay used in Oklahoma City to blow up the federal building, driven into the middle of a crowd of July 4th fireworks spectators in Anytown USA and exploded. In hundreds and hundreds of small towns and cities across the country, on July 4, there are crowds of 3000, or 5000, or more, watching fireworks, usually in places readily accessible by truck, on streets that are blocked by flimsy wooden roadblocks and guarded by some local sheriffs or police who are watching the fireworks themselves. 5000 people might easily be killed.
I bet we can all imagine many other scenarios equally horrible.
I can also imagine some international event or crisis that would propel America into yet another situation wherein our national security was threatened and we needed to respond.
In either case, domestic or foreign, a new draft would be implemented immediately. In fact, the plans are already in place.
Bush needs something to get him off the slippery slope. Otherwise, his presidency is doomed.
"Happy Saturday" is the comment made to me by my daughter after I read this to her and my wife. She meant it sarcastically, and both of them were upset that I would write such a thing. They asked me, why can't I imagine peace, instead of something so horrible? Why is it that men have to think about and write about such terror?
They are right, of course. I wish I was imagining peace, instead of this. I wish we were living in a peaceful world, led by peaceful humans, and by an American President who cared about peace, social justice, democracy, and charity at home and abroad. But we don't live in that world. We live in a world led by American corporatist ideologues who believe in American dominion, who seek it through an imperialist military and the marriage of government and corporations. We live in world dominated by men who feed on terror and fear. I can only hope that once the American people realize what an awful world these people have built, that we can finally get rid of them and elect women and men who can build that other world that my wife and daughter want.
"Ok, listen folks, if we don't want to look pretty silly on this Downing Street thing, how can we smoke and mirror our way out of it"?
"Well, let's just say we knew about it all along, so what's the big news? Didn't everyone know"?
"That's good. Because everyone knew that Bush had already decided to go to war back then, and we all knew it, duhhhh, then this Downing thing is just fluff, right"?
"Exactly, but there is one little problem."
"Weren't we all reporting at that time that Bush was working hard on the diplomatic front, and that he was saying war is a last resort, and that we had to solve Saddam's WMD problem with the UN? I recall we were also reporting most everything the administration was giving us back then, including all that phony intelligence?"
"Yeah, someone might claim we weren't simply embedded with the administration, but that we were more like embowelled, huh?"
"Yes, but we can't let that discussion make any headway or we're sunk."
For another view on the press cover-up, whitewash and head-in-the-sand behavior, here is a piece from Joe Conason in Salon
June 17, 2005
I am talking about an essay found on the website of the Center for Christian Statesmanship, an organization dedicated to "ministering to those serving on Capitol Hill." The organization's mission urges "statesmen", in this case, those serving on Capitol Hill, to subscribe to the Center's principles by laying "aside your personal and political agenda... (and) reestablish the principles and practices of Christian statesmanship so prevalent at the birth of our nation."
In an "editorial" released by the Executive Director, George Roller, J.D., he clearly states that the Bible comes first in making legislative decisions -- and the US Constitution comes second.
"These men and women," he says, "govern by using two primary criteria in shaping their policy decisions. First and foremost, obviously, is the Bible. When a bill is up for review a statesman should ask, "Is this biblical?" If the bill passes the biblical test, the next question is "Is this constitutional?" The constitutional aspect should never supercede the biblical aspect of forming and shaping law."
This is a call to arms. Roller is essentially calling for the overthrow of civil law in our nation and replacing it with a biblical one narrowly defined by him and his organization, based on his narrow interpretation of early American history. The organization justifies its position using quotes, liberally sprinkled throughout the website, which, according to them, proves that our founding fathers actually intended that the United States be ruled by Christian law.
Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, two of our founding fathers, were among the most vocal about why church and state should be kept separate. An essay on the site of Americans United for Separation of Church and State outlines the early history of America and why that separation was needed.
While the Center for Christian Statesmanship describes itself as non-partisan, one look at the list of recipients of their Distinguished Christian Statesman Award, is a revealing who's who of the Christian right on Capitol Hill including, among others, Senator John Ashcroft (1996), Majority Leader Dick Armey (1999), Rep. Tom Delay (2002), Senator Sam Brownback(2000), and most recently Rep. Marilyn Musgrave (2005) whose drumbeat in Congress has been a constitutional amendment establishing marriage as between one man and one woman, period.
The Center for Christian Statesmanship is only one of many organizations working to destroy the separation of church and state and construct a purely Christian government in Washington DC. This large and very active movement is working to rewrite history and force all Americans to live under Christian biblical laws as written and interpreted by them.
I will be writing about more of these groups on a regular basis in this blog.
June 16, 2005
Again, thanks to ThinkProgress.org, here are the facts behind minimum wage in America:
4.3 million: Number of Americans who have fallen into poverty since President Bush took office
$5.15: Federal minimum wage
26%: How much the inflation-adjusted value of the minimum wage has eroded since 1979
0: Number of times minimum wage has increased since 1997
7: Number of times Congress has increased its own pay since 1997
$0: How much more a year people earning minimum wage earn today compared to 1997
$28,500: How much more a year members of Congress make today compared to 1997
$10,700: Amount a person making minimum wage will earn in a year
$5,000: Amount below the poverty level working 40 hours a week, 52 weeks a year at minimum wage will leave a family of three
7,300,000: Number of workers who would benefit from an increase in the minimum wage
72%: Percentage of adult workers who would benefit from an increase in the minimum wage
1,800,000: Number of parents with kids under the age of 18 who would benefit from an increase in the minimum wage
11 million: Number of jobs added to the economy in the four years after the last minimum wage hike
$8.70: Amount minimum wage would have to be today to have the same purchasing power it had in 1968
2.5 years: Amount of health care for two children which could be bought by raising the minimum wage from $5.15 to $7.25
86%: Percentage of Americans who support raising the federal minimum wage
Cooney has decided to leave the White House and, according to the New York Times, has been hired immediately by ExxonMobil.
According to Judd on ThinkProgress.org:
"The headlines will read that Cooney was hired by Exxon today. The reality is he never stopped working there. The taxpayers were just taking care of his salary for the last few years."
June 15, 2005
Now we have Tod Linberg in the Weekly Standard squirming his way through the definition of the word "fix", as used in the Downing Street Memo. He wants us to believe that the meaning implied in that memo was not as in the fix is in (as in influencing the outcome), but rather that the evidence was being fixed or solidified or made firm, an entirely different meaning.
He rhetorically asks the question why no one in the room said anything about what he calls a "bombshell." He wonders why no one was surprised that Bush would be doing such a dastardly thing. And he concludes that because no one was outraged, the meaning of the word "fix" in this case must not be the pejorative, but rather the innocent. He simply can't imagine raised eyebrows or knowing glances, or the idea that this was not news to them. He sloughs it off with a slur against British liberals.
And now that we have even further validation that the fix was in from a report about the meeting of Bush and Blair two months before the Downing Street memo, it makes Lindberg's tortured logic look even that more silly.
Linberg even lamely suggests that because the Brits invented English, he trusts them to know how they are using words better than American liberals. Impressive and vellicated logic (look it up, Tod, in the Oxford English Dictionary).
Here's the phrase in the memo: But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy. Don't you get it? Linberg has it entirely backwards. When you are planning a war, you don't fix the intelligence around the policy, you fix the policy around the intelligence!! If you fix the intelligence around the policy, you are, indeed, as the dictionary says, " influencing the outcome or actions of by improper or unlawful means ." You are fixing a decision to wage war and then "fixing" whatever evidence you need to make that war happen. The Brits clearly understood what Lindberg cannot possibly accept (his house of cards would collapse).
For Tod Lindberg, the fix has been in way before he wrote this arduous piece of irrationality. If George Bush walked up to him naked, he would continue to see Emperor Bush in his fine regalia.
Another hat tip to Rhoda
READ IT HERE
Tip 'o the Hat to a great poet and artist, Rhoda Carroll
READ IT HERE
June 13, 2005
With the Downing Street memo we had the smoke, now we have the gun (from the Times of London). Hat tip to PJB.
The Times of London has just released a story detailing how UK ministers were told that Prime Minister Blair had already promised Bush the UK would support the American drive to oust Saddam, but that an "excuse" would have to be fabricated to make it all "legal", so that the UK cooperation, in any form, would not contravene international law. "Regime change", in and of itself (in other words, simply because George Bush wanted to kick out Saddam), was not enough. In fact, it was illegal. So the US and the UK had to find some legal reason to do what they had already decided they were going to do, almost a year before they actually did it.
How is it not clear that for all those months (from April 2002 to March 2003 when the Iraqi invasion began) Bush was lying about his intentions? How is it not clear that Bush was merely using this period to fix his facts? How is it not clear that Bush was lying to the American people, lying to the Congress, and lying to the world?
Bush was lying to the men and women who would eventually be maimed and die in Iraq. Bush was lying to the tens of thousands of innocent Iraqi civilians who have been "collateral damage" in a war that was trumped up, had absolutely nothing to do with fighting the war on terror, and which has created a stinking quagmire of Vietnam proportions.
READ IT HERE
June 12, 2005
In this outstanding piece of journalism, Der Spiegel Online paints a picture of a less than innocent bin Laden family. This far-flung family, with businesses, bank accounts and internecine links throughout the world, has basically been out of bounds for investigators of 9/11. And I doubt that the reason Bush allowed so many Saudis, including many members of the bin Laden family, to leave the United States in the immediate aftermath of 9/11 will be answered any time soon.
One of the astonishing figures in this piece is the fact that Osama was his father's 17th child in 1956, but that ten year's later, his father sired his 54th child, his last. If one believes that blood is, indeed, thicker than water, it is hard to believe at the same time that the entire bin Laden family has "disowned" Osama and repudiated al-Queda.
June 11, 2005
It really is stunning how white the GOP really is.
99% of all Republican legislators across the country and in Congress are white.
Bush's home state is particularly impressive -- "Texas, with a minority population of 47 percent, has 106 Republicans in the state legislature, but there are 0 blacks and 0 Hispanics among them."
Anyone got statistics on how many of them come out of the corporate world or are born-again Christians? Now, while I have nothing against corporatists and born-again Christians (well, that's probably a little white lie), those statistics would probably be equally revealing.
READ IT HERE
In its denial, ExxonMobil is asking people to believe that it had no interest in the US rejection of the Kyoto protocols. You gotta give it to 'em, they are pretty brazen liars.
ORIGINALLY FROM OUR FRIEND MARK MILLER AT PUBLIC DOMAIN PROGRESS
READ ABOUT THE REVEALING DOCUMENTS IN TRUTHOUT
READ IT HERE
June 10, 2005
In Hoenig's answer to the question, he paints corporate corruption as a "small minority of fraudsters", and claims that "regulation punishes innocent businesses." But the clincher is his characterization of "oversight" as "Orwellian." It's always interesting when a defender of the corporatocracy uses the words of the left in describing any attempt to limit unfettered corporate control and exploitation.
Hoenig goes on, saying: "It (regulation) holds them to completely arbitrary standards, set not by the marketplace but by an unelected pseudo-lawmaker who is often totally ignorant to industry practice. And because regulators’ whims can shift like a weathervane, corporations become fearful of long-range planning and investment. Rightly so, they’re unsure if their acquisition plans or business model will be the next target of the “public servants” who are so apt at making up the rules as they go along."
Where does Hoenig draw the line on regulation? Would he oppose child labor laws? the minimum wage? the 40-hour work week? the right to strike? equal employment laws? securities regulations? unemployment compensation? workplace safety regulations? disability laws? Not surprisingly, he never mentions them.
He actually says: "Onerous government regulation, however, has lessened the need for companies to establish a sound reputation among investors and analysts. " He never points out, as Ferris does, that in an atmosphere of total non-regulation it was this kind of corporate behavior that brought us the Great Depression.
How does he explain his claim that, on the one hand, the vast majority of companies are clean, upstanding self-regulators with the best of intentions, and yet, on the other, that in the face of regulation, they lose their way, and become emboldened to cheat and lie in the face of too much regulation? Now that is Orwellian thinking.
READ HOENIG HERE
READ FERRIS HERE
For an excellent lexicon of doublespeak words, I refer you to the Sourcewatch section of the website for the Center for Media & Democracy. Knowing these words will help in deciphering what these people actually mean when they say things like "aerial ordnance", "food police", "free speech zone", and my favorite "servicing the target."
THANKS TO PROF. WILLIAM LUTZ OF RUTGERS UNIVERSITY, READ IT HERE
PERUSE THE CENTER FOR MEDIA & DEMOCRACY HERE
June 09, 2005
Well, if one Bush administration official has his way, we'll never know the facts of scientific research on this matter because he has taken it upon himself to add language more to his liking, and delete language he doesn't like. This guy happens to be Philip A. Cooney, chief of staff for the White House Council on Environmental Quality. Before that he worked as a lobbyist for the American Petroleum Institute, known throughout Washington for its environmentally friendly policies.
READ THE STORY HERE
READ IT HERE
Meanwhile, when you look at statistics from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development http://www.oecd.org/home/ , the United States trails industrialized nations when it comes to sharing its wealth with the world's poor by a large margin. As a percentage of Gross National Income (GNI), the US ranks at the bottom (0.16%), only one step up from Italy (0.15%), while the UK (0.36%), France (0.42%), Portugal (0.63%), Netherlands (0.74%), Sweden (0.77%), Denmark (0.84%), Luxembourg (0.85%), and Norway (0.87%) make us look stingy.
Special thanks to Rolling Stone and AmericaBlog.
June 08, 2005
READ THE STORY
CEO Chuck Schwab has claimed publicly: "Our corporation does not take positions on political issues." (San Francisco Chronicle, 5/1/05)
GO TO THE SITE TO TAKE ACTION
By the way, the Alliance for Worker Retirement Security is one of those Orwellian-named front groups for Bush's corporate giveaway Social Security plan. Just look at the links on the Alliance's site, which includes corporate thinktanks American Enterprise Institute, Cato Institute, Heritage Foundation, and the Concord Coalition.
KNOW THINE ENEMY
June 07, 2005
Outside of the question about whether President Bush would respond to the Congressional letter signed by 89 House Democrats which asked the President to explain himself in light of the Downing Street Memo (the answer was an emphatic "no"), only one (1) question on the Downing Street memo was asked at any White House Press briefing and that was on May 23, 2005.
Q Scott, last week you said that claims in the leaked Downing Street memo that intelligence was being fixed to support the Iraq War as early as July 2002 are flat-out wrong. According to the memo which was dated July 23, 2002, and whose authenticity has not been disputed by the British Government, both Foreign Minister Jack Straw and British Intelligence Chief Sir Richard Dearlove said that the President had already made up his mind to invade Iraq. Dearlove added that intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy. Do you think these two very senior officials of our closest ally were flat-out wrong? And if so, how could they have been so misinformed after their conversations with George Tenet and Condoleezza Rice?
MR. McCLELLAN: Let me correct you on the -- let me correct you on the characterization of the quote you attributed to me. I'm referring to some of the allegations that were made referring to a report. In terms of the intelligence, the -- if anyone wants to know how the intelligence was used by the administration, all they have to do is go back and look at all the public comments over the course of the lead-up to the war in Iraq, and that's all very public information. Everybody who was there could see how we used that intelligence.
And in terms of the intelligence, it was wrong, and we are taking steps to correct that and make sure that in the future we have the best possible intelligence, because it's critical in this post-September 11th age, that the executive branch has the best intelligence possible.
6 questions were asked about Saddam Hussein's underwear photo at the May 20, 2005 White House Press Briefing.
109 questions were asked (at the May 11, 2005 White House press briefing) about the plane incident in which a Cessna came within 10 miles of the White House. One intrepid reporter wanted to know whether there was a bathroom in the secure place that White House spokesman Scott McClellan was taken.
So, since May 1, 2005, when this story was broken in the UK, the White House Press has asked a sum total of two (2) questions about this issue at White House Press Briefings and Press Gaggles. Yes, that's the actual word used by the White House to describe officially what are, presumably, a step down from a Briefing. A gaggle is defined as a flock of geese -- how fitting. Notice how when geese get together they all sound the same?
June 06, 2005
First they came for the trade unions, and I did not speak out, because I was not a trade unionist -- Since the 1950s, trade union ranks have shrunk by two-thirds and they are targeted for extinction
And then they came for the gays and lesbians and I did not speak out, because I was not a gay man -- The religious right is waging a fervent war on gay rights and gay people with the intent of making them extinct.
Then they came for the lawyers, and I did not speak out -- because I was not a lawyer. -- The rightwing views plaintiff's attorneys as "the Devil's spawn," and lawsuits against corporations, jury awards, and bankruptcies are targeted for extinction.
Then they came for the judges, and I did not speak out, because I was not a judge. Responsible judges and independent courts are anathema to the right and are targets for extinction.
Then they came for the Congress, and I did not speak out, because I did not vote. A free and independent Congress has been buried in a mountain of money and corruption, and is already close to extinction.
Then they came for the media, and I did not speak out, because I don't read much. A free, independent, questioning press is bought and paid for. Extinct.
And then they came for me, and I didn't notice because I was watching reality TV and eating a Big Mac.
Harvey Wasserman, author of an elucidating and fascinating history of the United States (see it here http://harveywasserman.com/ ) writes about the fundamentalist attack on the separation of church and state.
READ IT HERE
June 05, 2005
Yet, given the choice of joining a union or not, 48 percent of workers in this country would join.
So, why isn't the number of unionized workers higher?
According to Peter Kellman, a member of the Program on Corporations, Law and Democracy, getting a corporation to recognize a union is neither a right nor a protected activity.
If it were, the 48 percent of the workforce would become union members, elect officers and start negotiating in a heartbeat, Kellman says.
Americans have the right to strike, true.
But under a little known 1938 Supreme Court decision (NLRB v. Mackay), corporations have the right to permanently replace those workers.
So, what right do workers have?
They have the right to quit.
The right to quit?
Well, remember slavery?
Slaves didn't have the right to quit. We do. So, it's a step up from slavery, Kellman says.
Americans have little understanding of labor history, about the Knights of Labor, about Norris-LaGuardia (labor's Magna Carta), about the "labor amendment to the Constitution" (the 13th), about how the 14th Amendment has been used to protect corporations far more than to protect African Americans.
Hoping to remedy this problem, Kellman and POCLAD have published a booklet -- Building Unions, Past, Present and Future. "
Here is the full interview with Kellman
HERE IS THE POCLAD SITE
HERE IS THE CORPORATE CRIME REPORTER SITE
H.L. Mencken (1880 - 1956)
"Kinda muddled." Even the President recognizes the chaotic and inept nature of his thinking. In the passage quoted below, he outdoes himself.
Here is George Bush explaining his plan to save Social Security, Tampa, FL Feb 4, 2005
"Because the—all which is on the table begins to address the big cost drivers. For example, how benefits are calculate, for example, is on the table; whether or not benefits rise based upon wage increases or price increases. There's a series of parts of the formula that are being considered. And when you couple that, those different cost drivers, affecting those—changing those with personal accounts, the idea is to get what has been promised more likely to be—or closer delivered to what has been promised. Does that make any sense to you? It's kind of muddled. Look, there's a series of things that cause the—like, for example, benefits are calculated based upon the increase of wages, as opposed to the increase of prices. Some have suggested that we calculate—the benefits will rise based upon inflation, as opposed to wage increases. There is a reform that would help solve the red if that were put into effect. In other words, how fast benefits grow, how fast the promised benefits grow, if those—if that growth is affected, it will help on the red."
I worry that the more Karl Rove tries to cram into this man's brain, the more he will continue to devolve. Like Reagan dozing through most of his second term, Bush will mumble through his.
For a complete list of "Bushisms",
June 04, 2005
Business Week lies, then Brit Hume at Fox picks up the lie, and then John Gibson at Fox repeats the lie. Once the lie gets told this many times, other people pick it up, and the damage is done, and then it takes ten times the effort to undo the lie, but its effects are never really completely undone. I would argue with Media Matters that this is a "baseless claim."
There is a very positive net effect for the GOP corporatocracy to be gained from telling this lie. It is not a mistake, it is a conscious fabrication. Where I come from, it is known as a lie.
READ IT HERE
Rep. Christopher Cox, as the new head of the Securities and Exchange Commission and despite all of the serious reasons why he is antithetical to the position, will keep the costs of shareholders lawsuits down and thus serves the interests of the establishment. Of course, the nation's small investors (the victims of battering?) will not be served.
Billmon shows us all the shocking evidence, highlights the lies of Rep. Cox, shows how he helped Enron's massive thievery, lists the people who own him, and generally demonstrates why this guy's greed and sleaze are such a perfect fit for Bush's idea of a great Presidential appointment. The corporatization of America's democracy proceeds unchecked.
READ IT HERE
June 03, 2005
While we are inundated with stories about howling Congresspeople indignant about all the bases closures around the country (which will have negative consequences for the local district and state economies), we hear almost no news at all about the blizzard of base openings around the world (which will have positive consequences for American corporations and the local economies of those countries).
Welcome to Pentagon World as Tom Engelhardt calls it. From Kosovo to Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar and Bahrain, from all the "Pipelinestan" countries of central Asia to Iraq, from Diego Garcia to Pakistan, the United States is constructing the largest complex of overseas military bases ever built. Unlike qualities of the British empire, as Englehardt puts it, it's all gunboat, no colonies.
If there is one book on this subject that Americans ought to read, it is Chalmers Johnson's "The Sorrows of Empire").
June 02, 2005
The world applauded and almost all Americans supported our government when we liberated Afghanistan from the Taliban and went after Al-Queda in the aftermath of 9/11. We had the world behind us.
It was especially heartening to hear initial stories about the repression of women in Afghanistan being lifted. Those early hopeful days are gone.
Amnesty International reports on the current reality.
READ IT HERE
Who would have guessed that a woman who believes the 19th amendment to the US Constitution (that's the one that gave women the vote) was a mistake, is now serving as a Kansas State Senator and wants to run for Kansas Secretary of State?
READ IT HERE
June 01, 2005
The Chicago Tribune in its report on Bush's press conference (see my earlier post today entitled Bush Doublethink) simply ignores Bush's revealing misstatement and corrects his language. Instead of reporting on Bush's using the word disassemble when he meant dissemble, and which he then goes on to define incorrectly for the press corps (how they managed not to have rolled with laughter in the aisles, I'll never know), the Tribune, acting like the Ministry of Truth, simply rewrites what happened.
FROM THE CHICAGO TRIBUNE PIECE BY MARK SILVA
"Bush said that 'it seemed like to me (Amnesty International) based some of their decisions on the word of - and the allegations - by people who were held in detention, people who hate America, people that had been trained in some instances to dissemble - that means not tell the truth. And so it was an absurd report'."
HERE IS THE CHICAGO TRIBUNE PIECE AS PRINTED IN THE KANSAS CITY STAR
It is from a transcript of Bush speaking at a high school in New York State on social security.
"See, in my line of work you got to keep repeating things over and over and over again for the truth to sink in, to kind of catapult the propaganda." (Applause.)
Miller then juxtaposes it with a similar statement from Joseph Goebbels, German Minister of Propaganda, 1933-1945
Here is Bush at his press conference on May 31, 2005:
"I'm aware of the Amnesty International report, and it's absurd. It's an absurd allegation.
The United States is a country that promotes freedom around the world. When there's accusations made about certain actions by our people, they're fully investigated in a transparent way.
It's just an absurd allegation.
In terms of, you know, the detainees, we've had thousands of people detained. We've investigated every single complaint against the detainees.
It seemed like to me they based some of their decisions on the word of and the allegations by people that were held in detention, people who hate America, people that have been trained in some instances to disassemble, that means not tell the truth.
BUSH: And so it was an absurd report. It just is."
First of all, Bush meant to say dissemble which is precisely what he is doing but he slipped and said disassemble which is precisely what the Amnesty International report is doing to his pack of lies. It's really quite funny that he then defines the word disassemble for the press corps, incorrectly.
He claims that all investigations about all allegations have been conducted and completed in a "transparent way." As far as I know Congress is still waiting for reports of hundreds of allegations, and is still ignorant of why 200 detainees have died in US run camps.
He also says that "we" have investigated every complaint against the detainees. Well if that is true then shouldn't we know whether they should be freed or prosecuted? Of course, that's not what he meant.
And finally, he gives the Amnesty International report the Bill O'Reilly treatment. If you can tar and feather an allegation as absurd and link it to "people who hate America", you have pretty much dealt with that one. Can't you just picture the image in his mind: George whips out his six-gun and shoots the rattlesnake dead. Another varmint sent to hell where it belongs!
So much for the Amnesty International Report.