Monday, May 26, 2008
While Bush Drags U.S. Back To Dark Ages, Other Nations Forge Ahead
By MARC MCDONALD
The U.S. used to be the world leader in science and technology. A lot of Americans still think it is.
But the fact is, the U.S. is no longer the leader in much of anything (except in exporting death and destruction around the world).
Over the past disastrous seven years, George W. Bush and the NeoCons have dragged the U.S. backward into a new Dark Ages. It's an era in which superstition and ignorance have replaced science and reason.
Meanwhile, other nations are forging ahead. Japan, for example, has become the world leader in a wide array of crucial advanced technologies, including cutting-edge electronics, telecommunications, supercomputers, aerospace, nuclear power, alternative energies, microengineering, exotic new materials, advanced chemicals, and more.
This video, showing Honda's amazing ASIMO robot, displays Japan's prowess in technology these days. Anyone visiting East Asia or Europe knows that the U.S. is a laggard in many areas of science and technology that it used to dominate. It doesn't take long for any American overseas to come to this realization: whether you're riding a high-speed German train, or whether you're using a state-of-the-art Japanese mobile phone.
Under Bush, the U.S. has clearly gone backwards. Our already mediocre schools have gone even further downhill. The U.S. is a distant also-ran in manufacturing. We don't make much of anything these days. Indeed, our Ponzi-scheme economy seems to be incapable to doing much, (outside of enriching a tiny super-wealthy elite). These days, the once-mighty Great American Middle Class is dead---and so is the American Dream.
What's worse is that, in Bush's America, fear and superstition has replaced science and reason. The White House embraces extremist religious fanatics while it muzzles scientists who speak out about global warming. And GOP house organs like Fox News peddle fear, superstition and ignorance as "news."
Thanks to GOP lies and White House spin, Americans remains as misinformed and ignorant as ever. (Astonishingly, over one-third of Americans still believe Saddam was behind 9/11).
And as you'd expect in a nation that is increasingly backwards, ignorant, and in decline, a growing number of our population these days is behind bars. America has the world's biggest prison population.
Incredibly, the NeoCon idiots continue to boast and brag that the U.S. is "Number One." A lot of Americans believe them---but then, our media has done a poor job keeping the American people informed about the real state of the world these days.
Smug, ignorant, self-satisfied, and arrogant: these qualities all describe America in the early 21st Century. Few Americans seem to grasp the fact that our era of dominance is over. The only thing that sustains the illusion of "prosperity" in our economy is the hundreds of billions of dollars flowing in from the central banks of China and Japan.
Monday, September 24, 2007
Jena Case Shows How Racism Is On The Rise In Bush's America
The Jena case shows how racism is alive and well and on the rise in America. And it's clear that the policies of George W. Bush are to blame.
There have been many troubling signs that racism has been rising in the past few years. It's hard to pinpoint exactly where this latest wave of bigotry emerged from----but I think one ominous sign occurred when Bush was campaigning for president in 2000.
If you recall, during the campaign, Bush made it a point to stop by Bob Jones University, where he praised the officials at that school (which incredibly still had a ban on interracial dating). This, no doubt, played real well to the "I don't want my white daughter dating a Negro" racist crowd---but the rest of us were shocked and appalled.
And although we were dismayed, we really weren't surprised. After all, anyone who has followed Bush's career certainly wasn't surprised by the Bob Jones University episode.
Those of us here in Texas remembered all too well the shocking 1998 lynching of James Byrd, Jr. which occurred when Bush was governor here.
In 1998, Byrd was chained to a pickup by three white supremacists and dragged to his death in the town of Jasper, Texas.
In the aftermath of the Jasper lynching, a grass-roots effort in Texas urged the state to pass a hate crimes act to help prevent future atrocities. However, the bill failed to pass in the Texas Legislature after Bush refused to support the bill.
Since the Supreme Court appointed Bush to the White House in 2000, he has presided over a rising wave of bigotry and racism in America.
Indeed, Bush and the rest of the NeoCons have exploited the issue of racism and turned it into a valuable wedge issue to capture the votes of millions of angry, frustrated white males in our society who feel victimized by affirmative action and "political correctness."
The fact is, bigotry sells in America today. It's the reason talk radio's Neal Boortz can have a lucrative career after saying that Rep. Cynthia McKinney "looks like a ghetto slut." It's the reason that CNN's Glenn Beck can get away with calling the predominately African-American victims of Hurricane Katrina "scumbags."
In Bush's America, African-Americans are incarcerated at vastly higher rates than whites. Studies show that black people get much harsher prison sentences than white people for doing identical crimes. Blatant racism permeates our justice system, our legal system, our schools---in fact, every American institution. And let's not forget the 2000 election, in which hundreds of thousands of black people were denied the vote.
The appalling plight of poor black people in Bush's America was briefly brought to white, middle-class America's attention during the Hurricane Katrina crisis (but I doubt it came as much of a surprise to black people across America). And I doubt
the Jena case comes as much of a surprise to any African-Americans who have lived in Bush's America the past 7 years.
Wednesday, July 04, 2007
The President Who Cried Wolf
Hey, kids! It's story time. Today's story is, "The President Who Cried Wolf," a tale about the Lewis "Scooter" Libby case, read by Steve Tatham at The Ointment Have a great Fourth of July everyone.
Tuesday, July 03, 2007
Bush Wasn't Known For Mercy Before Libby Case
George W. Bush has shown us a side we never knew he had in extending mercy to former White House aide Lewis "Scooter" Libby. Bush spared Libby from a 2 1/2-year prison term, calling his sentence "excessive."
Perhaps Bush is following the advice of Jesus, who once said, "Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy." After all, Bush once declared that Jesus was his favorite philosopher.
The fact is, if you look at Bush's political career, you'll find a man who has never cared much for mercy. Indeed, you find a cold, callous person who never blinked as people were sentenced to harsh prison terms and given the death penalty under his watch.
Take the case of Karla Faye Tucker, the first woman to be executed in Texas since the Civil War. Serving as Texas governor at the time, Bush ignored an international outcry for granting clemency for Tucker, who'd become a born-again Christian while in prison (and who, the prison warden testified, had become a model prisoner who had been reformed). Bush ignored all pleas for mercy from everyone from Pope John Paul II to the United Nations to the World Council of Churches.
Indeed, according to an account by conservative commentator Tucker Carlson, Bush showed shocking callousness in the case. Carlson described how, during an interview, Bush smirked and pursed his lips and said "Please don't kill me," as he mocked Tucker's pleas for clemency.
In fact, Bush was never a man known for mercy in death penalty cases. In his five years as governor, Texas executed 152 prisoners, by far the highest total for any state and more than any other governor in modern American history.
A number of commentators argued that Bush routinely failed to give serious consideration to clemency requests in death penalty cases. Among these critics was Sister Helen Prejean, a Roman Catholic nun and leading advocate for the abolition of the death penalty.
As CommonDreams.org pointed out Bush presided over a death penalty cases that was noted for "notorious examples of unfairness," noting cases in which lawyers were under the influence of cocaine during the trial, drunk, or even asleep.
CommonDreams.org quotes a report by The Chicago Tribune on the 152 death cases that occurred in Texas while Bush was governor:
In one-third of those cases, the report showed, the lawyer who represented the death penalty defendant at trial or on appeal had been or was later disbarred or otherwise sanctioned. In 40 cases the lawyers presented no evidence at all or only one witness at the sentencing phase of the trial.
Of course, there's a big difference between the vast majority of defendants in these death penalty cases and Lewis "Scooter" Libby. Most of those executed in Texas were poor people from destitute backgrounds. Many were minorities.
By contrast, Libby is more like Bush himself: male, white, wealthy and from a prosperous, pampered, silver-spoon background.
Wednesday, June 27, 2007
Wingnuts Denounce "Tin-Foil Hat" Liberals While Embracing Paranoid Conspiracy Theories
Browse any right-wing blog or listen to wingnut radio these days and you're confronted by a steady stream of angry voices denouncing "tin-foil hat" liberals and their "conspiracy theories."
The wingnuts are convinced that we liberal "conspiracy buffs" believe in some far-out things.
According to the wingnuts, we believe that Bush lied America into war. And we believe that the 2000 and 2004 elections weren't honest. And we suspect that maybe the White House puts the interests of Halliburton over the American people.
Pretty wacky stuff, huh?
The only problem is that a majority of the American people have similar questions these days. Which I guess means that America has become a land of tin-foil hat wearers.
However, there's a rich irony with the wingnuts denouncing conspiracy theories. After all, these people wrote the book on conspiracies. You won't find a more paranoid group of people in the nation.
The fact is, wingnuts believe that just about everything is part of a conspiracy these days.
Global warming is a liberal conspiracy. The media is a part of a liberal conspiracy. Iraq War opponents are part of a liberal conspiracy. Anyone who questions Bush is conspiring to harm America. And polling companies that show that Bush has a low approval rating are part of a liberal conspiracy.
According to the wingnuts, even the U.S. Navy was part of a liberal conspiracy, when it awarded John Kerry military honors that he didn't really deserve.
And the latest liberal conspiracy, according to the wingnuts, is that we're secretly working to shut down their beloved Rush Limbaugh, and the rest of wingnut radio.
This paranoid behavior on the part of the wingnuts is nothing new. In fact, it reached a fever pitch during the Clinton administration. Back then, talk radio and the wingnuts were constantly embracing every wacky anti-Clinton conspiracy that came down the pike.
According to them, Clinton conspired to "murder" Vince Foster. Clinton also murdered Commerce Secretary Ron Brown, who died in a "mysterious" plane crash. As Arkansas governor, he conspired to murder dozens of people who "knew too much." And when he wasn't busy murdering people, he was raping women left and right.
I rarely can bring myself to admit that the wingnuts do something better than the Dems. But in this case, I'll make an exception. Liberals' "conspiracy" theories are definitely no match for the wacky conspiracy theories on the Right.
And when the wingnuts aren't accusing us of far-out conspiracy theories, they're accusing of something called "Bush Derangement Syndrome."
Apparently, it seems, we hate Bush for no particular reason. And our hatred is therefore irrational. To dare suggest that maybe Bush had something to do with the fiasco in Iraq, we're guilty of a serious case of Bush Derangement Syndrome.
Here, again, though, the Left simply can't compare to the wingnuts, when it comes to unhinged hatred.
After all, even the fiercest progressive critics of Bush are no match for the foaming-at-the-mouth, mad-dog crazy Clinton haters of the 1990s. We're seeing a revival of these nutcases today, as they prepare to go after Hillary Clinton.
There's a big difference between the Left's hatred of Bush and the Right's hatred of Clinton, though.
We progressives hate Bush for lying America into an illegal, reckless, immoral war that has seriously damaged America's standing in the world.
By contrast, the wingnuts hated Clinton for: what, exactly? Lying about a blow job?
I mean, even the fiercest of Clinton's critics have now quietly tip-toed away from the wild charges they made against Clinton in the '90s.
Are there still wingnuts out there who really believe Clinton murdered Vince Foster? If so, they're strangely quiet about it, these days. After all, immediately after the Clinton era ended, I didn't hear another word about that crazy conspiracy from the wingnuts.
But I get the feeling that, even after the Bush era ends, there will still be many progressives who'll continue to seek answers and justice for the White House's very real crimes in the nightmarish years since 2000.
Wednesday, May 23, 2007
Latest Declassified Intelligence Weakens, Not Strengthens, Bush's Case For Iraq War
George W. Bush has long presided over the most secrecy-obsessed White House in American history. He has spent a good chunk of his time in office classifying every document in sight (and even frustrating historians by re-classifying documents that were in the public domain for decades).
So it came as a surprise when Bush decided to release formerly classified documents that purport to show that Osama bin Laden ordered a top lieutenant in early 2005 to form a terrorist unit to hit targets outside Iraq.
Clearly, Bush is making another desperate bid to try to rally a weary nation that is sick and tired of his disastrous Iraq adventure.
The only problem is that these newly declassified documents weaken, not strengthen Bush's case for war.
The declassified documents show that Iraq has been transformed into a terrorist staging ground since the 2003 invasion by the U.S. That's the same argument that critics of Bush's war have been making since Day One.
Bush may be trying to rally the nation, but in this case, he's only going to rally the dwindling wingnuts who comprise the 28 percent of the nation that still supports him. After all, these are the folks who have been convinced all along that, before the 2003 invasion, Iraq was a terrorist state with ties to 9/11.
These Kool-Aid-drinking folks are the same ones who believe Saddam did have WMDs after all, and whisked them to Syria, just before the invasion. They live off in their own little hermitically sealed world, fed a steady diet of Rush, Drudge and Fox.
But if Bush is trying to convince the rest of us that his disastrous decision to invade Iraq is somehow bolstered by this newly released intelligence, he's even more deluded that we thought previously.
Before the invasion, Bush said that his goal was to transform Iraq into a shining beacon of democracy in the Middle East. Instead, all Bush's war has done is create another Afghanistan-like terrorist staging base from which extremists will plot further 9/11 attacks.
I don't know if the latest intelligence documents released by Bush are valid or not. Ever since its colossal blunder over Iraq's non-existent WMDs, Americans have increasingly doubted the efficiency of our nation's intelligence capabilities.
But if these intelligence documents are true, all they do is demonstrate that the Iraq War has been an even bigger disaster than we previously thought.
Sunday, May 13, 2007
Good Riddance: Blair Helped Lead Anglo-American Alliance Into Disgrace
I'm convinced that history will remember Tony Blair as Bush's enabler: the ally who lent tragic "legitimacy" to rogue actions that at least temporarily destroyed both U.S. and British credibility on the world stage. After 10 years, this is his only legacy, and it has a very bitter look.
Blair has announced that he will step down as prime minister soon, leaving the Labour Party to see what can be salvaged of its damaged reputation at home. I doubt that Britons really want to go through many more rounds of Thatcherism or John Major, so someone will probably be able to resurrect Labour for a new generation.
But the harm Blair has done has been staggering on many levels. He has announced his imminent departure just as two British officials have been convicted of leaking a classified memo about a meeting between "Poodle" Blair and Il Doofus himself, in violation of something called the Official Secrets Act. (I suppose I shouldn't sound condescending here. The U.S. appears to be moving far beyond the likes of this.)
This news from The Canadian Press:
David Keogh, a cipher expert who was convicted on two counts, had admitted passing on the secret memo about April 2004 talks between the two leaders in which Bush purportedly referred to bombing Arab broadcaster Al-Jazeera.
Keogh was accused of passing the memo to co-defendant, Leo O'Connor, 44, who in turn handed it to his boss, Tony Clarke, then a legislator who voted against Britain's decision to join the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003.
Keogh, 50, told London's Central Criminal Court he felt strongly about the memo, which he had to relay to diplomats overseas using secure methods, and hoped it would come to wider attention.
"The main person in my mind was John Kerry, who at the time was American candidate for the U.S. presidential election in 2004," Keogh had testified.
He admitted holding "unfavourable" views on Bush, but said he did not think publishing the document would hurt Britain's security or international relations.
The Daily Mirror newspaper reported that the memo showed Blair arguing against Bush's suggestion of bombing Al-Jazeera's headquarters in Doha, Qatar. The Daily Mirror said its sources disagreed on whether Bush's suggestion was serious.
Yeah, so Il Doofus was just joking. I had honestly hoped that he was kidding when he started talking about invading a foreign country with no solid evidence for such an action. The problem with his jokes is that they are "practical" ones, with enormous consequences.
And, there are more problems plaguing The Poodle Dude. This from The Associated Press:
Blair's last months in office also have been overshadowed by a police investigation into claims that his party and the opposition traded political honors for cash. Senior Blair aide Ruth Turner, Blair's chief fundraiser Lord Levy and two others have been arrested during the police inquiry into claims that seats in the House of Lords and other honors were awarded in exchange for party donations. Prosecutors are considering whether anyone should be charged.
Blair was questioned twice by police as a witness, but is not considered a suspect.
Blair had a unique opportunity to have stood against a manifestly unbalanced leader of the Western world and resisted an action that has killed hundreds of thousands of innocent people; one that has seriously set back U.S.-British relations with the rest of the world for at least a generation. He chose to be led on a leash.
There are those who defend Blair based on domestic policies. He is said to have done much to help Britain's poor. Sadly, whatever he did in this regard will always be overshadowed by his decision to blindly follow the most foolish and reckless leader the U.S. has ever had. It will be his albatross for life.
Manifesto Joe Is An Underground Writer Living In Texas.
Friday, May 11, 2007
GOP Lawmakers Confronting Bush Over Iraq War--But For The Wrong Reason
The stunning development in which 11 GOP lawmakers went to the White House to confront George W. Bush over the Iraq War ought to be welcome news---except for one detail. The fact is, the GOP lawmakers are worried about the Iraq fiasco for the wrong reason.
It's refreshing that some moderate Republicans are starting to act like they put the interests of the nation above partisan politics. It's also nice to see that, for once at least, some GOP lawmakers are willing to question Bush's fiasco of a war.
But you have to wonder: why are these GOP lawmakers getting cold feet now? Is it because the war is a disaster on every level? Is it because the war was based on lies? Or that over 600,000 Iraqis have senselessly died in this fiasco?
Actually, the GOP lawmakers are questioning the war's direction purely for reasons of self-interest.
Namely, they're simply worried about the political impact that the war is having on their congressional districts.
In other words, they're simply trying to save their own hides from a drubbing by the voters in the 2008 elections. So much for the idea that the GOP lawmakers have finally developed a backbone---or a brain, for that matter.
In any case, despite all the posturing, there is no way that we're going to see any sort of real change in direction on the Iraq War on Bush's watch, short of impeachment.
The fact is, the Iraq War at this point is really only about one thing (well, besides the oil): George W. Bush's legacy.
In Bush's deluded brain, he keeps hoping that somehow Iraq will turn around and that he'll be vindicated in the end, and prove all the naysayers wrong.
Bush's Kool-Aid-drinking followers are hoping for the same thing---they've invested a great deal of their reputations in this fiasco of a war and they're hoping that somehow, it'll all turn out OK, and they'll be vindicated.
So while Bush is solely concerned about trying to salvage his legacy (and GOP lawmakers fret over their re-election prospects) our troops--and the people of Iraq--continue to die for no reason.
Monday, May 07, 2007
In Debate, Hannity Peddled Discredited Story That Sudan Offered Bin Laden To Clinton
The debate between Salt Lake City mayor Rocky Anderson and Fox News propagandist Sean Hannity was a sad commentary on the state of political discourse in America today.
During the event, Anderson politely and convincingly detailed one logical, iron-clad argument after another to demonstrate why George W. Bush should be impeached for lying the nation into war.
But someone forgot to send a memo to Hannity that this event was supposed to be a political debate of ideas. Hannity spent the entire time acting exactly the same way he does in the broadcast booth every day. He never responded to a single point that Anderson made and instead just spewed out a nauseating series of right-wing lies and talking points.
Incredibly, Hannity once again trotted out the long-discredited right-wing lie that President Clinton supposedly once turned down an offer from the Sudanese government to hand over Osama bin Laden. It's the same charge Hannity made in his 2002 book, Let Freedom Ring. It's a story that's been echoing around the right-wing noise chamber ever since.
The problem is, the story has long since been debunked. It now exists only in the same creepy parallel universe as other right-wing fantasies such as "Clinton murdered Vince Foster."
As Al Franken pointed out in his Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them book, the Sudan tale is completely bogus. The story was originally peddled by a Pakistani-American named Mansoor Ijaz, an investment banker with a big stake in Sudanese oil.
Incidentally, as Franken points out, Ijaz was later hired as a "foreign affairs analyst" for the Fox News Channel.
But it doesn't matter how many times this story is debunked as a fraud. The Great Right-Wing Noise Machine is hermetically sealed from the truth. We can expect this bogus tale to be regurgitated over and over in the future.
What's interesting is that while this bullshit story continues to be repeated years after it was debunked, few Americans today are aware that Bush actually DID turn down an offer by Afghanistan to hand over bin Laden. And what's more, Bush rejected this offer after the 9/11 attacks.
As Britain's Guardian newspaper points out, in October 2001, Bush "rejected as 'non-negotiable' an offer by the Taliban to discuss turning over Osama bin Laden if the United States ended the bombing in Afghanistan."
This incredible story was ignored at the time by the U.S. media, (which was dusting off the pompons and getting ready to play cheerleader for Bush's invasion of Afghanistan). And unlike the dogshit peddled by Hannity, this story has the advantage of actually being true.
Sunday, April 29, 2007
A Guide To Deciphering Today's GOP Vocabulary
Many commentators have lamented the widening gulf between Democrats and Republicans in recent years. Personally, I think part of the problem may be misunderstandings in communication between the two parties. Even though Right Wingers technically speak English, a lot of us on the Left often have trouble understanding what they're talking about these days. So in the interests of harmony, I'd like to present a handy guide to understanding the modern-day GOP vocabulary:
1. "The War On Terror." A widely-used term among Republicans that in reality refers to the disastrous U.S. invasion and occupation of the sovereign nation of Iraq, a nation that had nothing to do with 9/11. To Democrats, the term has a totally different meaning: namely to work to prevent terror attacks on America and pursuing members of Al-Qaeda.
2. "Capitalism." As modern-day Republicans understand it, an economic system that steals from working-class and middle-class Americans and gives billions of our tax dollars in closed, no-bid contracts to wealthy, politically connected corporations like Halliburton. The way the Democrats understand the term, capitalism refers to private corporations earning an honest profit in the private sector and competing in the marketplace like the rest of us.
3. "Christianity." You know the values that Christ talked about? Helping the poor? Compassion and love? Turning the other cheek? Blessing the peacemakers? Well, none of that has anything to do with "Christianity" as the present-day Republicans understand the term. To them, somehow Christianity has something to do with repression, hatred of gays, bigotry, ignorance, and a general distrust of anyone who isn't a white Republican Protestant.
4. "Patriotism." A great deal of confusion exists over this term these days. Democrats take the term to mean support of one's nation. Republicans interpret "patriotism" to mean blind, fanatical, unswerving loyalty to George W. Bush. Indeed, they call anyone who criticizes Bush for any reason "unpatriotic." (They also throw a temper tantrum---much the same as Bush himself does when he doesn't get his way).
5. "John Kerry." To non-Republicans, this term refers to a U.S. senator and a decorated war hero, who was wounded in action while serving in combat in the Vietnam War. To NeoCons, this term seems to refer to something entirely different: they interpret it to mean a (fictional) person who was weak, traitorous, and who faked his war wounds and then somehow conspired with none other than the United States Navy to be awarded military decorations he didn't deserve, such as the Bronze Star, the Silver Star, and three Purple Hearts.
6. "Fiscal responsibility." To Democrats, this term refers to setting taxes at a level in which the nation can afford to pay its bills. (During wartime, this also involves raising taxes in order to pay for the war effort). To Republicans, this term refers to giving away billions in tax cuts to the richest 1 percent of Americans and simply ignoring the resulting titanic wartime deficits.
7. "Family values." To Democrats, this means things like policies that actually help America's families, like decent wages, maternity leave, affordable health care, and good schools. To Republicans, the term refers to ramming their narrow, twisted interpretation of "Christianity" (See #3, above) down the throats of the rest of us.
8. "Exploitation." This term, as Democrats understand it, generally is in agreement with the Webster's dictionary interpretation: "To make unethical use of for one's profit." (Note this term is completely absent from the Republican vocabulary and they have no idea what it means).
9. "Bipartisanship." To Democrats, this means reaching across the aisle and working with the opposite party, in an effort to serve the American people (who, after all, pay the bills). To Republicans, this means that you need to agree with and rubberstamp EVERYTHING Bush wants, from legalizing torture to illegal wiretaps, or you will be branded as an anti-American traitor.
10. "Health care system." To Democrats, this refers to a system that helps keep the nation's population healthy and provides medical care to the sick. To Republicans, this refers to yet another way to make lots of money (and the fact that sick people are often desperate and have no other options just sweetens the deal).
Monday, April 23, 2007
How Bush Thugs In Armani Suits Stole Elections: Chapter 87
If there were still any doubt that the last two presidential elections were blatantly stolen, a story that was all but buried by the Mainstream Media this week should dispel that. I realize that it was a busy news week, with the horror of the Virginia Tech massacre. But this revelation should have rated lead-story treatment at least one day. As the The Sun of Baltimore reported on April 19:
WASHINGTON -- For six years, the Bush administration, aided by Justice Department political appointees, has pursued an aggressive legal effort to restrict voter turnout in key battleground states in ways that favor Republican political candidates, according to former department lawyers and a review of written records.
The administration intensified its efforts last year as President Bush's popularity and Republican support eroded heading into a midterm battle for control of Congress, which the Democrats won.
Facing nationwide voter registration drives by Democratic-leaning groups, the administration alleged widespread election fraud and endorsed proposals for tougher state and federal voter identification laws. Presidential political adviser Karl Rove alluded to the strategy in April 2006 when he railed about voter fraud in a speech to the Republican National Lawyers Association.
Questions about the administration's campaign against alleged voter fraud have helped fuel the political tempest over the firings last year of eight U.S. attorneys, several of whom were ousted in part because they failed to bring voter fraud cases important to Republican politicians. ...
Civil rights advocates contend that the administration's policies were intended to disenfranchise hundreds of thousands of poor and minority voters who tend to support Democrats, and by filing state and federal lawsuits, civil rights groups have won court rulings blocking some of its actions.
The administration ... has repeatedly invoked allegations of widespread voter fraud to justify tougher voter ID measures and other steps to restrict access to the ballot, even though research suggests that voter fraud is rare.
Since President Bush's first attorney general, John Ashcroft, a former Republican senator from Missouri, launched a "Ballot Access and Voter Integrity Initiative" in 2001, Justice Department political appointees have exhorted U.S. attorneys to prosecute voter fraud cases, and the department's Civil Rights Division has sought to roll back policies to protect minority voting rights.
On virtually every significant decision affecting election balloting since 2001, the division's Voting Rights Section has come down on the side of Republicans, notably in Florida, Michigan, Missouri, Ohio, Washington and other states where recent elections have been decided by narrow margins.
The chief of the Voting Rights Section from 1999 to 2005, Joseph D. Rich, saw the partisan pattern firsthand. Rich wrote in the March 29 edition of latimes.com:
THE SCANDAL unfolding around the firing of eight U.S. attorneys compels the conclusion that the Bush administration has rewarded loyalty over all else. A destructive pattern of partisan political actions at the Justice Department started long before this incident, however, as those of us who worked in its civil rights division can attest.
I spent more than 35 years in the department enforcing federal civil rights laws — particularly voting rights. Before leaving in 2005, I worked for attorneys general with dramatically different political philosophies — from John Mitchell to Ed Meese to Janet Reno. Regardless of the administration, the political appointees had respect for the experience and judgment of longtime civil servants.
Under the Bush administration, however, all that changed. Over the last six years, this Justice Department has ignored the advice of its staff and skewed aspects of law enforcement in ways that clearly were intended to influence the outcome of elections.
It has notably shirked its legal responsibility to protect voting rights. From 2001 to 2006, no voting discrimination cases were brought on behalf of African American or Native American voters. U.S. attorneys were told instead to give priority to voter fraud cases, which, when coupled with the strong support for voter ID laws, indicated an intent to depress voter turnout in minority and poor communities.
At least two of the recently fired U.S. attorneys, John McKay in Seattle and David C. Iglesias in New Mexico, were targeted largely because they refused to prosecute voting fraud cases that implicated Democrats or voters likely to vote for Democrats. ...
This administration is also politicizing the career staff of the Justice Department. Outright hostility to career employees who disagreed with the political appointees was evident early on. Seven career managers were removed in the civil rights division. I personally was ordered to change performance evaluations of several attorneys under my supervision. I was told to include critical comments about those whose recommendations ran counter to the political will of the administration and to improve evaluations of those who were politically favored.
Morale plummeted, resulting in an alarming exodus of career attorneys. In the last two years, 55% to 60% of attorneys in the voting section have transferred to other departments or left the Justice Department entirely.
At the same time, career staff were nearly cut out of the process of hiring lawyers. Control of hiring went to political appointees, so an applicant's fidelity to GOP interests replaced civil rights experience as the most important factor in hiring decisions. ...
The implications of the Bush hooligans' election thefts are enormous. And yet, the allegedly liberal Mainstream Media mostly gave this story passing, secondary coverage. At last count, U.S. military deaths in Iraq stood at 3,309. It is unlikely that we will ever know approximately how many Iraqis have died. British government scientists recently endorsed the validity of a study that estimated 655,000 Iraqis have been killed as the result of the U.S.-led invasion and occupation of Iraq.
And, it's even more unlikely that this needless and vastly damaging war would have occurred had just 1,000 or so legitimate voters not been disenfranchised in Florida in 2000.
Of course, this critically important story just wasn't enough to compete with, say, the real daddy of Anna Nicole's baby, as the day's lead.
And this is why our "free" press is in serious trouble -- almost as much as is our pseudo-republic.
Manifesto Joe is an underground writer living in Texas. Check out his blog at Manifesto Joe's Texas Blues.
Monday, April 16, 2007
Poll: Americans Trust Democrats Over Bush on Iraq Policy
The latest polls show that the American people strongly support the Democrats over George W. Bush on Iraq. Which begs the question: will the Democrats stand firm and make Dick Cheney eat his words?
From the Washington Post:
Congress and the White House will move this week toward a final showdown over a contested war funding bill with most Americans trusting Democrats over President Bush to set Iraq policy but with sentiment deeply divided over Congress's push to set a deadline for withdrawing U.S. forces.
Democratic leaders will formally convene House and Senate negotiators tomorrow to hammer out a final version of the war funding bill, hoping to have the compromise on Bush's desk by the end of next week. The president and Democratic leaders again exchanged verbal fire today.
Bush used a backdrop of military families to declare "we should not legislate defeat in this vital war." Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), flanked by retired Army generals, fired back, "The president and the vice president continue to desperately cling to their failed escalation strategy and attack those who disagree with them."
Democrats appear to be standing on firm political ground, as they work toward a final bill this week. A Washington Post-ABC News poll of 1,141 adults, conducted April 12-15, found that 58 percent trusted the Democrats in Congress to do a better job handling the situation in Iraq, compared to 33 percent who trusted Bush.
The president has taken advantage of the congressional spring recess to pound Democrats over their legislation, which would impose benchmarks for the Iraqi government to meet, set strict rules for resting, equipping and training combat troops, and set a 2008 date for the final withdrawal of U.S. troops. Despite those efforts, Bush has actually lost a little ground to Democrats, who were trusted by 54 percent to set Iraq policy in February.
And pessimism about the war continues to grow. For the first time, a narrow majority of Americans, 51 percent, say the United States will lose the war in Iraq, compared to 35 percent who said the United States will win. Bush continued today to say victory in Iraq is pivotal to the larger war on terrorism, but Americans are increasingly siding with the Democratic view that the issues are separate. Some 57 percent now say the United States can succeed in the war on terrorism without winning the war in Iraq, a 10-percentage point increase since January, when Americans were almost evenly divided on the question.
The percentage of Americans who favor withdrawing U.S. forces from Iraq, even if that means civil order is not restored, held steady from February at 56 percent.
Tuesday, March 27, 2007
Waxman Had Better Move Quickly: GOP Has Long History Of Destroying Evidence In Scandals
Henry Waxman is determined to find out the truth in the AttorneyGate scandal. As a result, he has directed the Republican National Committee to preserve the emails of White House officials and to investigate what steps are being taken to protect the emails from destruction.
Waxman is right to be concerned about preserving the evidence in this scandal. After all, destroying evidence is a Republican specialty---and has been a hallmark of GOP scandals over the decades.
Take the Iran-Contra affair, for example. Two decades after this shocking Reagan White House scandal, the affair remains shrouded in mystery. At the time, investigators found that uncovering the slippery truth in this scandal was as frustrating as eating soup with a fork. When pressed for details by investigators, Reagan and his collaborators repeatedly insisted that they knew nothing, or were "out of the loop."
Indeed, it was difficult for investigators to ever uncover the truth in Iran-Contra. In November, 1986, Oliver North's secretary Fawn Hall removed and shredded a large number of official Iran-Contra documents from the White House.
And the Iran-Contra affair hardly marked the first time that key evidence disappeared during a GOP scandal. I mean, who can ever forget the infamous 18 minute gap on Nixon's Watergate tapes?
George W. Bush and his friends and allies are hardly strangers to the destruction of key evidence in scandals. Take Enron, for example. This company (which was Bush's all-time biggest campaign contributor) imploded in scandal and fraud in 2001. But we'll never know the full story: Enron's accounting firm, Arthur Andersen, shredded over a ton of Enron-related documents.
Given the GOP's long history of destroying scandal evidence, Waxman had better move quickly as he tries to secure evidence, if he is ever going to uncover the truth in the AttorneyGate scandal.
Tuesday, March 20, 2007
As Iraq War Enters Year 5, Bush Cabal Is Cooking Up A New, Bigger War
There's nothing like a good old-fashioned war to divert public attention away from scandal(s).
According to some sources, the Bush administration has one planned, and it may be just a question of when: days, weeks or months.
The Times of India published this report last month:
US preparations for invading Iran are complete: Report
By Rashmee Roshan Lal
LONDON: American preparations for invading Iran are complete and a major conventional war with Teheran could begin any day, according to a chilling new report that coincides with leading US Democrat Congressmen's warning to President Bush that he does not have the authority to go to war with Iran.
The report, by authoritative defence expert Dan Plesch, says American military operations for Iran "extend far beyond targeting suspect WMD facilities and will enable President Bush to destroy Iran's military, political and economic infrastructure overnight using conventional weapons."
Plesch, who is known to be well-connected and well-networked at the very highest reaches of the trans-Atlantic political and defence establishment, quoted unnamed British military sources to say that "the US military switched its whole focus to Iran" as soon as Saddam Hussein was kicked out of Baghdad.
He said his sources added that the US has continued this target-Iran strategy ever since, even though the American infantry continues to be bogged down fighting the insurgency in Iraq.
In an assertion that has astonished European capitals, the defence guru claimed that despite the gross failure to re-build post-Saddam Iraq, American hubris extends to plans for a "peaceful" post-invasion "settlement" for Iran. This plan will seek to create a federal nation, an "Iran of the regions", he said.
With the administration embattled with yet another scandal, involving the firing of U.S. attorneys, it's such a convenient time for Big Brother to get us a new, improved enemy, one that even many liberals can hate. After all, that country's leader is a hard-liner who has even denied that the Holocaust took place. He seems more than a bit of a kook -- even more of one than we have in the White House. (You know, the fella who has lots of meaningful dialogues with God, now that he's sober.)
I won't discuss whether such a war, to be fought over Iran's apparent nuclear ambitions, would be justified. I won't go back in time, to 1953, about how the U.S. set itself up for this dilemma by engineering a coup that overthrew a legitimate nationalist government and installed the Shah in power for 25 brutal years, largely because Big Oil coveted Iran's reserves. I won't even go into the usual tedious humanitarian objections to all the civilian carnage that would surely follow such an invasion. Let us assume here as the Right does, just for the sake of argument, that U.S. moral authority is beyond question and that we would have a perfect right to lay waste to large portions of Iran and its people, unless its government backs down on the nukes.
A new military adventure of this kind by the Bush neo-con cabal would have the potential to become a far worse disaster than the Iraq war has been. The problem is, and has been for four years now, that our all-volunteer military is severely overextended. We've already got two wars going, and even the one in Afghanistan now looks far from over. This administration, with its remarkable hubris, did not pick our battles wisely.
Afghanistan, historically, is a very bad place to make war. But toppling the Taliban seemed very much the thing to do at the time, since they were harboring bin Laden and al-Qaida. But then the neo-cons soon got us into an elective war in Iraq, one that at least initially had nothing at all to do with the particular terrorists we were supposed to be hunting. Message to the Right Wing: There was no verifiable link between Saddam Hussein and al-Qaida; even the administration conceded that, albeit long after the invasion.
To be sure, Saddam was an evil dude. But he was being effectively contained; and toppling him got U.S. troops caught up in a bloody civil war, and actually opened Iraq's borders so that al-Qaida terrorists could enter the country after that.
It's hard to understand how even the most indoctrinated super-patriot fails to see that this was, at the very least, a devastating blunder. And, there's not going to be any good way out of it.
And now we're looking at the possibility of war with Iran. Certainly they don't have the military technology to win, at least not outright. Their infrastructure would likely be demolished quickly.
But consider: This is a country of 70 million, over three times the size of Iraq, with the median age of the male population being 25.4 years, according to the CIA Factbook. And, as the Israelis discovered long ago, women can shoot, too. They can be very lethal rifle soldiers.
That's an awful lot of cannon fodder. Would there be an insurgency? Imagine Iraq, times 3 or 4. And Iran is overwhelmingly Shiite. The Iranians wouldn't likely be fighting each other very much, as the Iraqis are.
It's a bigger country than Iraq in land mass, too, and there's lots of mountains. It would require a huge occupation force. (Hey, young fellas -- ready to get that draft notice from Chickenhawk George?)
And, what will the neighbors think? Iraq has Shiite militias that aren't openly fighting us now. If we invade a Shiite neighbor, do you figure they might? And what about Syria, to name only one Arab country that might be chapped?
Let's think on an even broader scale. Is there a possibility that Israel would get involved on our side, and then attacked? (Not necessarily in that order.) They have nukes, by the way. And hey, I just remembered that Russia and China have nukes, too. Lots of them. And big armies. And they've already warned the U.S. against such military action. We can only hope that they would be loath to get involved in such a bloody mess and would limit themselves to strong condemnations of U.S. actions.
We've got the potential for World War III here, with the entire Mideast as Ground Zero. Surely, one would think, our leaders would be circumspect enough not to get us involved in such a needless Armageddon.
But think again. Ray McGovern, a CIA analyst for 27 years, has written about a group of men who served during the Reagan administration in the 1980s, and also Bush the First in early '90s, as high-level, but not top-level, officials. They were often referred to (reportedly, for one, by then-General Colin Powell) as "the crazies." Name any reckless military action you can imagine from that time, and they were for it.
Guess what? These are the men who have been in charge of Bush policy in the Mideast, for over six years.
And one thing we've seen over and over is that a nasty war, with lots of burning Humvees, bodybags and gutwagons, will be Page One, at least for a good while. In that news budget meeting, the fired U.S. attorneys wouldn't stand a chance. And flag lapel pins will become mandatory. ("Hey, hippie, America's at war. Git a f***ing haircut and join the f***ing Marines!")
I'm not much of a gambler. But if I were, I would bet a modest sum that the U.S., Israel and other allies would eventually win such a protracted, epic war -- but the costs would be almost unimaginable. Envision the United Kingdom in 1946 -- victorious, but in ruins. I would wager further that the U.S. would emerge in a similar condition, and our world "hegemony" would be ceded to up-and-comers like China, Japan and India. I don't think that's what the neo-cons, or any other "cons" for that matter, had in mind. Believe it or not, Righties, that ain't even what them godless liberals wants.
And by the way, this plan for postwar Iran -- sounds mighty familiar, doesn't it? Our officials seem to be stuck in a mode of: "We're going to make all the same mistakes again. But we're going to make them better this time."
Now back to that Times of India report:
Defence experts said the revelation that America's military planning is advanced and well-calibrated to wipe out chunks of Iran's installations and infrastructure and could lay bare swathes of the country was bound to scare policy makers and diplomats on both sides of the Atlantic. ...
Plesch's report claimed the US Army, Navy, Air Force and marines have all prepared battle plans and spent four years building bases and training for "Operation Iranian Freedom". He added that Admiral Fallon, the new head of US Central Command, has inherited computerised plans under the name TIRANNT (Theatre Iran Near Term).
He chillingly claimed, "US defence establishment's programme called "Global Strike" means that, without any obvious signal, what was done to Serbia and Lebanon can be done overnight to the whole of Iran." He added saying, "We, and probably the Iranians, would not know about it until after the bombs fell. Forces that hide will suffer the fate of Saddam's armies, once their positions are known."
Semper fi, y'all.
Manifesto Joe is an underground writer living in Texas. Check out his new blog at Manifesto Joe's Texas Blues.
Monday, March 19, 2007
Bush Has Set An Appallingly Bad Example For Wartime Sacrifice
This Los Angeles Times op-ed by Kitty Kelley really says it all. The only thing I'd like to add to this piece is that during World War II, FDR set taxes at a responsible level that enabled America to (A) fight the war without racking up crushing deficits and (B) make sure that everyone contributed---even those who stayed home while our soldiers fought overseas.
By contrast, today's fratboy-in-chief doesn't call for any war-time sacrifice on the home front, least of all from his family. And while FDR's war-time inauguration balls were low-key and subdued, Bush staged one of the most expensive, lavish inaugurations in American history in 2005. And now Bush seems to just spend all his time trying to figure out how to cut Paris Hilton's taxes. I guess letting Hilton buy yet another yacht is more important than giving our troops adequate armor for combat.
Why aren't the Bush daughters in Iraq?
By Kitty Kelley
When I was a little girl in a convent school, the nuns impressed on me the power of setting a good example. These beloved teachers are no longer around to instruct the president and his family, so I recommend that the Bushes learn from Mark Twain, who said: "Always do right. This will gratify some people and astonish the rest."
My suggestion comes after the White House announcement earlier this month that Jenna Bush, one of the president's twin daughters, is writing a book on her all-expenses-paid trip to Panama, where she worked for a few weeks as an intern for UNICEF. Jenna Bush is quoted as saying she will donate her earnings from her book to UNICEF, a commendable gesture, considering her father's net worth of $20 million. But while the 25-year-old makes the rounds of TV talk shows this fall in a White House limousine, dozens of her contemporaries will be arriving home from Iraq in wooden boxes. In Britain, Prince Harry is insisting on going off to Iraq — even as his country is reducing its troop commitment.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt showed how the power of good example could also be powerfully good politics. When he led the country to sacrifice in World War II, his children enlisted and his wife traveled to military bases to counsel and comfort the families of soldiers. Newsreels showed the president's four sons fighting with the Marines in the Pacific, flying with the Army Air Forces in North Africa and landing with the Navy at Normandy. Soon other public figures followed suit — movie stars (James Stewart and Clark Gable) enlisted and sports heroes (Joe DiMaggio and Hank Greenberg) went off to war.
The contrast between FDR's good example during wartime and that of George W. Bush is stark and sad. The Bush family rallies to the political campaigns of its scions and spends months on the road raising money and shaking hands to put their men into public office. In fact, the public image of their cohesive family — the pearl-choked matriarch surrounded by progeny and springer spaniels — helped cinch more than one presidency for the Bushes. Yet now, when its legacy is most in peril, the family seems to be squandering its good will on a mess of celebridreck.
The president tells us Iraq is a "noble" war, but his wife, his children and his nieces and nephews are not listening. None has enlisted in the armed services, and none seems to be paying attention to the sacrifices of military families. Until Jenna's trip to Panama, the presidential daughters performed community service only when mandated by a court after they were cited for underage drinking. Since then they have surfaced in public during lavish presidential trips with their parents, bar-hopping outings in Georgetown and champagne-popping art openings in New York.
The first lady, so often lauded for her love of literacy, has not been seen in the reading rooms of veterans' hospitals. The president's sister, Doro, publicly picketed Al Gore's last days in the vice president's mansion as he awaited the Supreme Court's decision on the Florida recount of 2000. Yet she has been strangely absent from publicly supporting her brother's war.
The presidential nieces and nephews also have missed the memo on setting a good public example. Ashley Bush — the youngest daughter of the president's brother, Neil, and Neil's ex-wife, Sharon — was presented to Manhattan society at the 52nd Annual International Debutantes Ball at the Waldorf Astoria. Her older sister, Lauren, a runway model, told London's Evening Standard that she is a student ambassador for the United Nations World Food Program, but she would not lobby her uncle for U.S. funds. Her cousin, Billy Bush, chronicles the lives of celebrities on "Access Hollywood."
"Uncle Bucky," as William H.T. Bush is known within the family, is one presidential relative who has profited from the Iraq war. He recently sold all of his shares in Engineered Support Systems Inc. (ESSI), a St. Louis-based company that has flourished under the president's no-bid policy for military contractors. Uncle Bucky told the Los Angeles Times that he would have preferred that ESSI, on whose board he sits, was not involved in Iraq, "but, unfortunately, we live in a troubled world."
The only member of the Bush family to show the strains of our "troubled world" is former President George H.W. Bush, who shed tears recently while addressing the Florida Legislature. The elder Bush was talking about son Jeb's gubernatorial loss in 1994. Jeb, who was later elected, tried to console him. But the sobs of Bush 41 seemed to be more about his older son's "noble" war.
Perhaps the father's sadness sprang from his own experience fighting in what his parents called "Mr. Roosevelt's war" — the good war — the war that saved the world from tyranny. He enlisted at 18 to fly torpedo bombers. He flew 58 missions in two years and returned home a war hero. Since then, no one in his large family has seen fit to follow his sterling example of service and patriotism.
Friday, March 16, 2007
Rove On Dems Being Partisan? That's Like Ted Bundy Indignantly Accusing Someone Of Homicide
Are the ides of March finally arriving for Karl Rove? Bush's "turd blossom" has led a charmed life for many years. But with the U.S. attorneys scandal now exploding, can it be that Doughface is about to, at long last, face the long knives?
I will present an excerpt here from a report from the McClatchy Newspapers Washington Bureau:
"... Allen Weh, the [New Mexico Republican] party chairman, said he complained in 2005 about then-U.S. Attorney David Iglesias [for New Mexico] to a White House liaison who worked for Rove and asked that he be removed. Weh said he followed up with Rove personally in late 2006 during a visit to the White House.
" 'Is anything ever going to happen to that guy?' Weh said he asked Rove at a White House holiday event that month.
" 'He's gone,' Rove said, according to Weh.
" 'I probably said something close to 'Hallelujah,' said Weh.
"Weh's account calls into question the Justice Department's stance that the recent decision to fire Iglesias and seven U.S. attorneys in other states was a personnel matter - made without White House intervention. Justice Department officials have said the White House's involvement was limited to approving a list of the U.S. attorneys after the Justice Department made the decision to fire them.
"Rove could not be reached Saturday, and the White House and the Justice Department had no immediate response.
" 'The facts speak for themselves,' Iglesias said, when he was told of Weh's account of his conversation with Rove."
With congressional subpoenas still in the works, it remains to be seen whether anything illegal was done. But what has come out, clearly, was that Iglesias and most of the other fired U.S. attorneys had been getting good job evaluations. They were fired because they weren't being cooperative right-wing Republican political hacks.
Iglesias wasn't bringing the right cases against Democrats, as he apparently learned under pressure from the GOP's U.S. Sen. Pete Domenici and U.S. Rep. Heather Wilson, both of New Mexico. He was, he says, pressured to bring indictments against certain Democrats in time for the 2006 congressional elections. And he wasn't quite cooperating. (Our Republican moguls, of course, deny it all.)
But, back to Herr Rove. It's too bad that so many are focused on getting Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, a scummy enough right-winger himself, to step down, and not recognizing who the more experienced and enthusiastic hatchetman is here.
Herr Rove doesn't lack for chutzpah. Like other large rodents, he tries to spit like a puma when cornered. But the sound of him accusing congressional Democrats of playing partisan politics on this issue rises to a new level of absurdity. This sleazy man has built a lucrative career on character assassination, partisan dirty tricks and, arguably, electoral larceny.
Like other large rodents, Herr Rove has a talent for being able to find a secure spot in the woodpile when he needs to hide. But let's hope that this time he can't. And beyond him, the woodpile still needs plenty of cleaning. One can only hope that Scattergun Dick, and then Il Doofus himself, will be outed, too. Senator Leahy -- let's roll that wood. And get the rat poison ready.
Manifesto Joe is an underground writer living in Texas. Check out his blog at Manifesto Joe's Texas Blues.
Keith Olbermann discusses the U.S. attorneys scandal:
Thursday, February 01, 2007
Speaking Out Against Excessive CEO Pay Is Bush's Most Cynical Move Yet
No doubt, George W. Bush's handlers must have looked on with envy when Sen. Jim Webb spoke eloquently about America's increasing economic polarization in his Democratic rebuttal to Bush's tepid SOTU address.
Clearly, Webb's well-received speech struck a chord among millions of working class Americans, who are working harder than ever these days for increasingly less and less pay.
One of the key tactics in politics is to never let your opponents define an issue (and to get behind the eight-ball on any issue that strikes a chord among the people).
But when Bush's team had him speak out today about excessive CEO pay, it smacked of extreme desperation from an increasingly out-of-touch White House. Bush speaking out against spiraling CEO compensation is like Charles Manson speaking out against violence.
Bush has presided over six years of the most vicious screw-the-working-class policies in the history of this nation. Only the Ronald Reagan years would come close to the lousy deal that working people have faced under Bush.
Americans are working longer hours than ever these days. Median workers' pay continues to stagnate or decline. Worker benefits are vanishing. Unions are under assault from six years of hostile anti-labor legislation under Bush.
The only people who've benefited under Bush have been wealthy stockholders and CEOs, whose pay has soared into the stratosphere (even as their taxes have plunged under Bush).
Bush's criticism of CEO pay was, quite frankly, bizarre. For a quarter of a century, Republicans have been trying to convince America that unbridled, brutal, dog-eat-dog capitalism is the way to go. Under this logic, there is really no such thing as "excessive" CEO pay.
Surprisingly large number of Americans initially bought into this bullsh*t when Reagan first proposed it. But 25 years later, ordinary Americans have woken up to the reality that only the wealthiest 5 percent of Americans are benefiting from this concept, while the rest of us are falling further behind every year.
Webb is one of a growing number of Democratic leaders who have spoken eloquently about America's economic polarization. He's clearly struck a nerve among America's shafted working class.
But for Bush to try to pick up the ball and run with it on this issue is laughable. Even right-wing talk radio and the fascist nutcase right-wing blogosphere must be scratching their heads in puzzlement.
A decade ago, the NeoCon movement was brash, bold and arrogant. Its members were cocky and confident that they could sell ordinary voters on their vision of a new America, completely deregulated and privatized, with no cumbersome unions or labor laws (or anything else to put on crimp on corporate profits).
Nothing has demonstrated the complete and utter failure of the NeoCon movement than its own crown prince, Bush, taking aim at excessive CEO pay. (Or at least pretending to: no one in his right mind really thinks that Bush cares about how much CEOs pull down---or that he will take any action whatsoever to curb CEO pay).
Americans have finally woken up to the concept that if you let corporations run amok, with no regulation, they will screw everything in sight (from the environment to their workers) and the only people who'll benefit are CEOs and rich stockholders.
In fact, Americans are increasingly becoming aware that the Bush economic model goes beyond even screwing workers and outsourcing their jobs, even as taxes on the wealthy plummet.
The worst part of Bush's economy actually isn't economic polarization, as bad as that is. The worst part is that Bush has conspired to turn America's economy into nothing less than socialism for the rich. Halliburton is just the tip of the iceberg. In today's America, corporations pocket some $300 billion in corporate welfare annually (even as 60 percent of corporations pay zero taxes these days).
In fact, the tax burden in the U.S. over the years has been shifting from corporations to individual taxpayers. In the 1950s, corporations paid around half of all taxes. Today, their burden has shrunk to less than 10 percent (as has been documented by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalists Donald Barlett and James Steele).
So after six years of screwing the working class and taking our money and handing it over to his wealthy friends and contributors, Bush is now suddenly styling himself as a populist "man of the people"? For an administration that has long been noted for lies, deceit and corruption, this has got to be Bush's most cynical move yet.
Monday, January 29, 2007
The Real Culprit For the Iraq War Fiasco: American Hubris
Who should we blame for the Iraq War fiasco?
George W. Bush? Dick Cheney? The NeoCons in general?
Personally, I think we ought to blame the arrogance of the American nation for this fiasco.
After all, many Americans, both rich and poor, Republicans and Democrats, are some of the most arrogant people on the face of the earth.
It's an arrogance that is the result of many factors. For one thing, it stems from the fact that U.S. is widely perceived to be the world's leading economic power. And the fact that Americans regard our nation to be nothing less than God's gift to the world: a nation with the world's best political system, the best justice system, the best economic system---in fact, the best overall system of any nation.
With this sort of arrogance rampant amongst Americans, it shouldn't really be any surprise that we as a nation believe that the rest of the world hungers to live the way we do. We believe that the rest of the world these days not only seeks to model their nations after America---but that they are actively working to do so.
Such hubris led most Americans to believe that Iraqis would greet us as liberators. Such arrogance led most of us to believe that the Iraqis would shower our troops with flowers---and then busy themselves with the task of re-making their society along the lines of an American-style Jeffersonian democracy.
We were astonished when this did not in fact happen. Psychologically, we as a people simply couldn't fathom why the Iraqi people wouldn't eagerly remake their nation in our image. We were stunned when the Iraqis began a ferocious insurgency against our occupation and began killing our troops with IEDs and suicide bombers. We were even more stunned when opinion polls consistently showed that an astonishing number of ordinary Iraqis supported these attacks on U.S. troops.
It's interesting to note that Iraq has a culture that was already ancient when Christ was born. And yet for all the turmoil, war, and strife that that nation has endured over the years, there was never a recorded instance of a suicide bomber until 2003, when America invaded Iraq. For all its faults, Saddam's regime never faced a single suicide bomb. Nor did Saddam's convoys ever face a roadside bomb.
America's arrogance has resulted in disasters for our nation (and for the world at large) before. After all, it was arrogance that led the U.S. into its previous disastrous war in Vietnam. We were convinced then that the Vietnamese were eager to embrace U.S.-style capitalism (when in fact, the Communists enjoyed widespread support among the peasants in the countryside).
It is our arrogance as a nation that will almost certainly lead us into future wars.
Many Americans have a tough time comprehending that the rest of the world simply doesn't wish to live the way we do. To be sure, there may be specific aspects of our society, here and there, that other nations admire. But the rest of the world simply doesn't want to emulate our nation as a whole.
A big part of the reason we can't comprehend why the world doesn't wish to live like us is rooted in Americans' complete and total ignorance about the rest of the world. It's a state of affairs that has arisen in large part because of America's abysmal education system and our lousy corporate media.
Few Americans speak a second language. And even fewer seem to fathom that the rest of the world simply doesn't think the way that we do. Instead of accepting this basic fact of life, Americans instead tend to criticize other nations for not doing things the way we do (because, after all, we reason, the American Way is, of course the best way to get things done).
Americans never stop to consider that maybe, just maybe, other nations don't worship the American Way and have no intention of copying us.
A good example of this is the American corporate media's constant slamming of Europe's economic system these days. As a result of the U.S. media's misinformation campaign about Europe, most Americans these days are under the impression that Europe is an economic basket case, struggling with "sky-high" taxes, an "over-regulated" economic system, "out-of-control" labor unions, and "excessive" workers' rights that threaten to destroy Europe's economic competitiveness.
What's worse is that the American media would have us believe that Europeans are busy these days "deregulating" their economies and working to re-make their nations along American lines, with less regulation, weaker unions, longer working hours, etc.
It might come as a surprise to most Americans that Europe, in fact, has no intention of copying America's concept of capitalism. In fact, Europe long ago took a good, hard look at America's brutal, dog-eat-dog economic system and rejected it.
In fact, many Europeans resent the U.S. lecturing them about economics. They wonder how Americans can proclaim their nation to be the "world's most competitive" economy, when in fact the U.S. economy doesn't make much these days that the rest of the world wants to buy. (Hence, America's titanic trade deficits, the largest in world history).
Do the Europeans really need any lessons in economics from America? Through European eyes, the U.S. economy seems to be a giant Ponzi scheme: an economic system that needs trillions of dollars in foreign capital just to stay afloat.
All of this raises the question: does any nation really want to emulate the American system these days? After all, the U.S. has the worst education system in the industrialized world. We have the world's largest prison population. We have a currency that is in danger of meltdown, because of our out-of-control deficits. We have a population that is the most economically polarized in the First World. We have a crumbling infrastructure. We have 45 million people who have no health-care coverage.
Last, but not least, we have a political system that has been thoroughly corrupted by money. People in other nations look at our political system these days not with admiration, but with bafflement. They wonder how Americans can tolerate a system that produces travesties like the 2000 election, when the "losing" candidate got 549,000 more votes than George W. Bush. They also wonder how Americans can tolerate a political system that is so obviously rigged to benefit the rich, at the expense of the poor and middle class.
In George W. Bush's simplistic, black-and-white view of the Middle East, the people were hungering for American-style democracy. I'd suspect most Americans believed the same, particularly in the heady days leading up to the U.S. 2003 invasion, when Americans went through one of their periodic outbursts of jingoistic flag-waving.
Four bloody years later, we've come to learn that maybe, we never really understood Iraq, after all. In the end, we invited the current disaster, with our nation's complete ignorance of other cultures and our arrogant delusion that the people of the Middle East were eager to remake their societies along American lines.
Thursday, January 18, 2007
Did Bush's Lies To Troops Play Role In The Rape, Killing Of 14-Year-Old Iraqi Girl?
Out of the mind-numbing blizzard of horrific stories emerging from the Iraq fiasco, one particular story has haunted me over the past few months. It is a stomach-churning Associated Press story from November:
"One of four U.S. soldiers accused of raping a 14-year-old Iraqi girl last spring and killing her and her family pleaded guilty (Nov. 15) and agreed to testify against the others. Spc. James P. Barker agreed to the plea deal to avoid the death penalty, said his civilian attorney, David Sheldon."
The military judge presiding over the case asked Barker why he participated in the attack in Mahmoudiya, a village about 20 miles south of Baghdad.
"I hated Iraqis, your honor," Barker is quoted as saying in the courtroom.
And what, exactly, might have motivated this hatred for the Iraqi people?
To get the answer to this question, you need look no further than the lies that George W. Bush has been steadily feeding our troops over the years.
As Mark Crispin Miller noted in his 2004 book, Cruel and Unusual:
"Bush sent a very different message to our troops....by harping on Iraq's alleged complicity in 9/11, and by hyping the fictitious `terrorist threat' posed by that nation. Because of such inflammatory propaganda, our troops were motivated mainly by a craving for revenge, as after the destruction of Pearl Harbor. Throughout the march to war, and through the first year of the war itself, payback was on everybody's mind. `The only thing that motivates all the soldiers fighting in Iraq is payback for Sept. 11, 2001,' reported Reuters."
"That lust for righteous vengeance has helped push our troops toward barbarism---which is often frightening even to themselves."
In the aftermath of the horrific atrocities committed by our troops against the Iraqi people, the U.S. media can be counted upon to do a great deal of soul-searching, hand-wringing "how could this happen?" type stories. We've seen this happen over and over again in Iraq.
But for anyone wondering how our troops could be so savage and barbaric at times, I think the finger of blame should be pointed at the Bush White House for the steady diet of lies and misinformation it has fed to our troops.
The fact is, the Bush White House has deliberately lied to our soldiers in Iraq. By feeding them a constant stream of bullsh*t about Iraq's "ties" to 9/11, the Bush team has created a situation in which our troops are filled with rage and hell-bent on vengeance: a situation that has been directly responsible for the barbaric acts that we've seen committed by U.S. troops in Iraq.
Monday, January 15, 2007
Memo To Democrats: You Are No Longer Bush's Bitch
There was once a time when it was perhaps understandable that the Democrats cowered in fear of George W. Bush.
That would have been during the immediate aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, when Bush's approval rating soared into the stratosphere. Any Democrat who dared speak out against Bush then would have been flayed alive---not just by the right-wing propaganda attack machine, but by the mainstream media, as well.
Over five years later, how times have changed. But you wouldn't know that by taking a look at how many Democrats today still cower in fear of Bush.
Here's a memo to all the Dems who do so: you are no longer Bush's bitch.
You are no longer facing the swaggering flight-suit-wearing "warrior" who strutted across the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln, with such confidence and aplomb in May 2003.
Today, you are facing the lamest of lame duck presidents. A politician whose approval ratings are in the toilet.
I wish the Democrats would show one-thousandth the enthusiasm for impeaching Bush for his many serious crimes and acts of treason that the GOP showed for impeaching Clinton for lying about a blow job.
Perhaps the Dems believe that if they show some courtesy and restraint now, the GOP will reciprocate on down the road and stop bullying them (the way the Repukes did the entire eight years of Clinton's presidency).
If that's the case, then I think the Dems are fooling themselves. If Hillary gets elected in 2008, then we will see a repeat of the Bill Clinton years, with Rush, Fox, etc. viciously attacking Hillary every minute of every day.
Dems: you have the power these days. You control the House and Senate. What's more, America's voters sent you to Washington with a clear mandate. To end this fiasco of a war. Now.
What, exactly, are you afraid of these days, Democrats?
Bush has been exposed for what he is. A liar and a crook. A chickensh*t coward who refused to go to combat when his nation was at war in Vietnam. A spoiled, trust-fund-collecting frat boy who used his rich family's connections to get ahead.
To be sure, Bush still has appeal to the Kool-Aid drinking diehards who adore their hero and consider him a "warrior" president, bravely guiding America in the War on Terror. But the fact is, Bush really has more in common with Paris Hilton than he does with any real soldiers like John Murtha or Max Cleland.
In fact, it's not really any wonder that Bush has cut veterans' benefits, even as he's fought hard to give wealthy people like Hilton yet more tax cuts.
I really can't understand why the Dems still cower in fear of Bush these days. Maybe they're afraid of the Great Republican Slime Machine and how right-wing talk radio and Fox News will savage them if they attempt to stand up to Bush.
If that's the case, here's another memo for the Dems: the GOP propaganda machine is already attacking you, and will continue to do so, regardless of what you do. However, this isn't quite the threat that it once was. The GOP propaganda machine's diehard, fanatical base is starting to wither away these days, as ratings at Fox News continue to plummet.
Not only should you Dems stand up to Bush and end this war now, you have a duty to do so. The American people, who voted Democrats into power in November, could not have been clearer in their message.
Democrats: you have a mandate. By ending this war, not only are you doing the will of the people, you're doing the right thing for America.
Please, Dems: stop being afraid of a spoiled frat boy. Stop fearing a coward who was waving pompons as a cheerleader at Andover prep school while true heroes like John Murtha and Wesley Clark were getting shot at in the jungle by the Viet Cong.
End this evil war now.
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