Tuesday, October 31, 2006
Bush Stoops on the Stump
By Matthew Rothschild
You know Bush is getting desperate when he whips out the tattered terrorist card.
But that’s what he is doing repeatedly on the campaign trail these days.
Take a look at the campaign speech which he gave in Georgia and in Texas on October 30, and you’ll see the sleazy distortions and the sly innuendos.
Calculatedly, he mischaracterizes the position of his opponents.
On the question of his illegal NSA spying policy, he says: “I believe that if Al Qaeda or an Al Qaeda associate is making a phone call from outside the United States to inside the United States, we need to know why in order to be able to protect you.”
False implication: Democrats don’t want to know why; Democrats don’t want to protect you.
Most Democrats in the House, he says, voted against allowing the NSA to “continue to monitor terrorist communications.”
But it’s not about continuing to monitor terrorist communications or not. It’s about following the law. The Democrats, and other opponents of the Bush’s illegal spying, want the government to monitor these calls, so long as it is done legally.
They simply want him to get a warrant, as required by law. And that law, by the way, allows him a 72-hour grace period to wiretap and then retroactively get a warrant. But Bush wants unilateral, unchecked power. Anyone who opposes that, he insinuates, doesn’t want to protect Americans.
Bush similarly distorts the views of Democrats who voted against thenew Military Commissions Act. This un-American law allows the President to lock up any noncitizen for life without trial and allows the President himself to decide what is torture and what is not.
Bush says anyone who voted against it doesn’t even want the CIA to detain or question terrorists.
“When it came to vote on whether or not to allow the CIA to continue its program to detain and question captured terrorists, more than 80 percent of the House Democrats voted against it,” he said.
But that’s not the point. Everyone wants the United States to detain and question them. The question is whether the CIA can torture them.
Bush and Cheney approve of waterboarding and other torture techniques.
And they now have the authority to order up some more.
Bush also said the Democrats don’t even want to put terrorists on trial, when he knows that’s not the issue. The issue is whether those trials will meet minimal judicial standards, which they don’t, since they allow in secret evidence and evidence obtained by the very techniques of torture that Bush and Cheney so vehemently defend.
Here is Bush’s avalanche of lies:
“When it comes to listening to the terrorists, what’s the Democrats’ answer? It’s just say no. When it come to detaining terrorists, what is the Democrats’ answer Just say no. When it comes to questioning terrorists, what’s the Democrats’ answer? Just say no. When it comes to trying terrorists, what’s the Democrats’ answer. Just say no.”
On the Iraq War, Bush distills his distortions to one sentence: “The Democrat approach in Iraq comes down to this: The terrorists win, and America loses.”
Leaving aside the fact that the Iraq War is a recruiting call and a training ground for terrorists, as even the CIA admits, for Bush to imply that the Democrats intend for the terrorists to win and America to lose is about as low as Bush has gone yet.
He tries to issue a disclaimer when he adds, “I’m not saying that these Democrats are unpatriotic. I’m just saying they’re wrong.” But he knows full well that the audience will get the message that Democrats coddle terrorists, and he knows full well that the rightwing talk radio hosts he’s been feting will make the “unpatriotic” slur for him.
There is no low Bush will not stoop to.
Campaigning with California gubernatorial candidate Phil Angelides Monday, John Kerry told a crowd at Pasadena City College: "You know, education -- if you make the most of it, you study hard, you do your homework and you make an effort to be smart, you can do well. If you don't, you get stuck in Iraq."
Kerry spokesman David Wade tells us that the senator was referring to George W. Bush -- a president not exactly known for his intellectual curiosity or academic successes -- but the GOP isn't buying it. The Republican National Committee says that Kerry, who volunteered for Vietnam after graduating from Yale, was belittling U.S. troops now serving in Iraq; John McCain has declared Kerry's comments "insensitive" and "ill-considered"; and Tony Snow said today that Kerry "not only owes an apology to those who are serving, but also to the families of those who have given their lives in this." Snow said that Democratic candidates like Jim Webb and Tammy Duckworth should be asked whether they're in accord with Kerry's "absolute insult."
Kerry will hold a press conference later today. In the meantime, he has issued a statement in which he pushes back hard. "If anyone thinks a veteran would criticize the more than 140,000 heroes serving in Iraq and not the president who got us stuck there, they're crazy," Kerry said. "This is the classic G.O.P. playbook. I'm sick and tired of these despicable Republican attacks that always seem to come from those who never can be found to serve in war, but love to attack those who did."
Kerry said he won't be "lectured" by a "stuffed suit White House mouthpiece standing behind a podium" or by "doughy Rush Limbaugh," and that he's disgusted when "Republican hacks, who have never worn the uniform of our country, lie and distort so blatantly and carelessly about those who have." If anyone owes the troops an apology, he said, it's "George W. Bush and Dick Cheney, who misled America into war and have given us a Katrina foreign policy that has betrayed our ideals, killed and maimed our soldiers, and widened the terrorist threat instead of defeating it."
-- Tim Grieve
Monday, October 30, 2006
What's behind Rush Limbaugh's vicious personal attacks against Michael J. Fox as he campaigns for Democratic candidates? John Nichols reports that the GOP can't win without the unregulated cash of the anti-choice, anti-science lobbies that oppose stem cell research.
John Nichols reports that after earlier campaign fumbles, Ned Lamont has finally focused Joe Lieberman's greatest liability: his support for the war. Is it too late?
Max Blumenthal reports that GOP sleaze merchant Scott Howell--the man behind the Harold Ford attack ads--has racked up a startling Democratic body count with his singular manipulative style. Will it backfire this time?
. . . we didn't do as bad as we think we did in 2002 and 2004--we just think we did because we lost. Their magical Get Out The Vote operation is nothing but a myth. IF their GOTV was so superior, they would have gotten far far stronger results in those elections than they actually eneded up getting.
Look at these results from 2004:
Dems picked up 5 GOP seats
GOP picked up 8 Dem seats
Out of those 8 seats the picked up, 5 were from the DeLay redistricting scheme.
If there had been no redistricting, we would have actually picked up 2 seats total from the Republicans. So we need to stop looking at these results through a revisionist lense. A 2 seat pick up in 2004 would have been good considering how "strong" the Bush GOTV was.
And in 2002:
The GOP picked up 6 seats in the wake of 9/11, in the wake of 90% approval rating from Bush, in the wake of recent "success" in Afghanistan, in th wake of the Iraq run up (which was popular at the time). So you know what, 2002 was not as huge a disaster as people seem to remember. They ought to have picked up 20 seats in that environment.
The bottom line is this: we didn't do as bad as we remember doing in those last 2 elections, and we aren't doing as bad as we think we will be doing this election. I know we got stung big time in 2004, but the environment in 2004 was not like this...no one expected big Democratic gains in Congress in 2004, that was never a consideration, so the fact that we actually picked up 2 seats (minus TX redistricting) is pretty fucking good. So let's just stop this nasty pessimism that isn't based in history or reality.
Our GOTV is stronger than ever this year, and theirs is nothing but a big myth. We are very very well positioned for 2006.
"People place their hand on the Bible and swear to uphold the Constitution. They don't put their hand on the Constitution and swear to uphold the Bible." --J.R.
Rush Limbaugh, Michael J. Fox and the cruelty within
If the Mark Foley scandal has exposed some Republicans as hypocrites on family values, will the Michael J. Fox-Rush Limbaugh dust-up out some others as just being mean?
We'd like to think so. We're not much for ad hominem attacks, but it's really pretty impossible to watch Limbaugh mock Fox for his stem-cell TV spot without thinking that Rush is pretty rotten at the core.
Limbaugh didn't just suggest that Fox was faking the symptoms of Parkinson's disease in his advertisement for Claire McCaskill; he took things a step further by acting out the shaking himself -- all while saying that Fox was the one behaving in a "shameless" way.
Limbaugh says that Democrats always do this: They trot out someone who's a victim of something or other and thereby make it impossible to engage in reasoned debate. He's not the first one to make that claim; it's the same argument Ann Coulter makes about family members who lost loved ones on 9/11 and have the audacity to say that they wish the Bush administration were doing more to stop the next terrorist attack.
Is there anything to this argument? Maybe, but what's the alternative? Are Limbaugh and Coulter suggesting that we deny those most directly affected by government policies any role in debating them? Should wealthy executives be silenced during discussions of tax cuts? Should the automakers be denied a say in any debate over fuel economy standards? Did Limbaugh complain this week when George W. Bush said that the United States has to stay the course in Iraq -- well, not "stay the course, " but you know what we mean -- out of allegiance to "the husbands who have lost their partners in life ... children who won't ever see their mom and dad again ... and to the families who still have loved ones in harm's way"?
It's OK for Dick Cheney and the Republican National Committee to suggest that we'll all die at the hands of terrorists if Democrats are elected in November, but it's somehow unfair for a guy suffering from Parkinson's disease to say that he hopes Missourians elect a senator who supports stem-cell research?
A study from HCD Research and Muhlenberg College Institute of Public Opinion suggests that the Fox ad is pretty effective: Seventy-eight percent of those in the study group said they supported stem-cell research before watching the ad; 83 percent said they supported it afterward. We'd like to propose another study -- one that measures whether Americans really think Limbaugh has "talent on loan from God" after they see him flopping around in mockery of the victims of Parkinson's disease.
-- Tim Grieve
Will the GOP's Appeal to Our Lizard Brains Finally Fall Flat?
by Arianna Huffington
On "Face the Nation" this morning, Ken Mehlman summed up what the 2006 election is going to come down to: will the GOP succeed one more time in tapping into voters' lizard brains and have them once again cast their ballots based on fear rather than on a rational review of the facts?
Here are the reasons Mehlman gave for voting Republican:
"If you believe this November that it's important we have tools like the Patriot Act, like the program that has made sure there's surveillance of the enemy, like interrogation of people like Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, if you believe there ought to be missile defense. If you believe all these tools that we've had that keep us safe at a time we're at war, Republicans have been in favor of those tools. Unfortunately, most Democrats have been against them."
The Republicans' strategy was even more clearly revealed in the Republican National Committee ad called "The Stakes." The furor over the race-baiting Harold Ford ad has distracted attention from "The Stakes." But if you haven't seen it, you must.
Over a soundtrack of a ticking time-bomb we see images of Osama Bin Laden, Al Zawahiri and other terrorists, along with quotes. After a few seconds, most of the quotes disappear, leaving on the screen a few phrases, which grow larger. Here they are:
"kill the Americans"
"nothing compared to what you will see next"
All standard issue RNC fear-baiting, but what's new about this particular ad is that the dots are never connected -- Democrats aren't even mentioned, nor is there any argument about why the GOP would be better at stopping these things.
Why is this? One reason is that Republicans believe they've already connected these dots sufficiently -- that if they succeed in scaring the electorate, people will naturally vote Republican.
But another reason is that by making any sort of political connection in the ad, by making any logical appeal about what we're supposed to do with our fear, the GOP would be activating the rational part of the viewer's brain. And what's served the fear-peddlers best has been pure lizard-brained response.
That's what the "conservative revolution" has come down to. Fear is all they've got left, and they're going to ride it as far as they can. Which, hopefully, is November 6th.
So this is a watershed election. It is the last time the country will be able to cast a vote on George Bush, and on what he represents. It's not just about Iraq. It's about whether we want to live in a state of perpetual fear. But what's becoming clear is that the most overwhelming fear these days is being felt by Bush and the RNC -- they're terrified about what will happen to them if Americans decide they no longer want to live in fear.
Has the GOP's fear-mongering strategy run its course? We'll find out next week.
Sunday, October 29, 2006
U.S. Jobs Shape Condoms' Role in Foreign Aid - New York Times
The New York Times
October 29, 2006
U.S. Jobs Shape Condoms' Role in Foreign Aid
CELIA W. DUGGER
EUFAULA, Alabama - Here in this courtly, antebellum town, Alabama's condom
production has survived an onslaught of Asian competition, thanks to the
of straitlaced congressmen from this Bible Belt state.
Behind the scenes, the politicians have ensured that companies in Alabama
won federal contracts to make billions of condoms over the years for
prevention and family planning programs overseas, though Asian factories
could do the job at less than half the cost.
In recent years, the state's condom manufacturers fell hundreds of millions
of condoms behind on orders, and the federal aid agency began buying them
Asia. The use of Asian-made condoms has contributed to layoffs that are
coming next month.
But Senator Jeff Sessions, Republican of Alabama, has quietly pressed to
maintain the unqualified priority for American-made condoms and is likely to
if the past is any guide.
"What's wrong with helping the American worker at the same time we are
helping people around the world?" asked the senator's spokesman, Michael
That question goes to the heart of an intensifying debate among wealthy
nations about to what degree foreign aid is about saving jobs at home or
Britain, Ireland and Norway have all sought to make aid more cost effective
by opening contracts in their programs to fight global poverty to
competition. The United States, meanwhile, continues to restrict bidding on
billions of dollars worth of business to companies operating in America, and
not just those that make condoms.
The wheat to feed the starving must be grown in United States and shipped to
Africa, enriching agribusiness giants like Archer Daniels Midland and
The American consulting firms that carry out antipoverty programs abroad -
dubbed beltway bandits by critics - do work that some advocates say local
in developing countries could often manage at far less cost.
The history of the federal government's condom purchases embodies the
tradeoffs that characterize foreign aid American-style. Alabama's
long preserved several hundred factory jobs here by insisting that the
Agency for International Development
buy condoms made here, though, probably in a nod to their conservative
constituencies, most have typically done so discreetly.
Those who favor tying aid to domestic interests say that it not only
preserves jobs and supports American companies, but helps ensure broad
for foreign aid, which is not always popular.
On the other hand, skepticism of foreign aid is frequently rooted in the
perception that the money is not well spent. Blame often falls on corrupt
in poor countries, but aid from rich nations with restrictions requiring it
to be spent in the donor country can also reduce effectiveness.
The United States government, the world's largest donor of condoms, has
bought more than nine billion condoms over the past two decades. Under
Bush's global AIDS plan, which dedicates billions of dollars to fight the
epidemic, a third of the money for prevention must go to promoting
But that leaves two-thirds for other programs, so the federal government's
distribution of condoms has risen, to over 400 million a year.
Over the years, Usaid could have afforded even more condoms - among the most
effective methods for slowing the spread of AIDS - if it had it bought them
from the lowest bidders on the world market, as have the
United Nations Population Fund
and many other donors.
Randall L. Tobias, who heads Usaid, declined through a spokesman to be
interviewed on this topic. His predecessor, Andrew Natsios, sought to weaken
hold of what he sometimes called a cartel of domestic interest groups over
foreign aid. He tried, for example, to persuade Congress to allow the
of some African food to feed Africa's hungry. Congress killed that proposal
last year and again this year.
Hilary Benn, Britain's secretary of state for international development,
said in an interview that in 2001 his country untied its aid from
that only British firms could bid for international antipoverty work.
"If you untie aid, it's 100 percent clear you're giving aid to reduce
poverty and not to benefit your own country's commercial interests," he
In recent years, most of the low-end condom business has moved to Asia,
including Australia-based Ansell, which used to have plants in Alabama.
makers cannot compete with Asia on price - unless they have the federal
The last American factory making condoms for Usaid sits anonymously in a
pine-shaded industrial park here in Eufaula. Inside a modern, low-slung
owned by Alatech Healthcare, ingenious contraptions almost as long as a
football field repeatedly dip 16,000 phallic-shaped bulbs into vats of
the capacity to turn out a billion condoms a year.
The equation of need is never straightforward. Africa's need to forestall
its slow-motion catastrophe of AIDS deaths is vast. But there is need here,
Most of the 260 people employed at this factory and the company's packaging
plant in Slocomb are women, some the children of sharecroppers and textile
workers, many of them struggling to support families on $7 to $8 an hour.
The most vulnerable among them - single mothers and older women with scant
education - are the most fearful of foreign competition. All feel the
"It's cheaper, yeah," said Lisa Jackson, 42, a worker in the packaging
plant. "But we Americans should have first choice. We need our jobs to stay
We got to feed our families. I just wish it had never come to sending
manufacturing jobs overseas."
From 2003 to 2005, Alatech and one other company making condoms for Usaid
fell behind on their orders, agency officials said. Last year, the other
went bankrupt. So Usaid ordered condoms from Asia, the first of which were
shipped last year. With only a single American company still in line for the
federal contract, agency officials are wary of ruling out Asian suppliers.
At such moments in the past, Alabama's politicians have come to the rescue
of the state's condom industry. This time was no exception.
Richard C. Shelby,
on the Appropriations Committee, had a provision tucked into the 2004
budget bill requiring that Usaid buy only American-made condoms to the
given cost and availability. His spokeswoman, Kate Boyd, said the agency did
not tell him it was worried about the relative cost of American and
Senator Sessions wrote Usaid a letter last year saying it should purchase
condoms from foreign producers only after it had bought all the condoms
companies could make, noting it was "extremely important to jobs in my
Usaid assured the senator in writing that it "remains committed to
prioritizing domestic suppliers."
On the strength of that, Alatech bought the more modern Eufaula plant from
its bankrupt rival. Without the government contract, the company's
Larry Povlacs, said, Alatech would go out of business.
In interviews, agency officials were noncommittal about whether they would
halt all purchases in Asia. Condoms made there cost around 2 cents each,
to about 5 cents for those made here.
"At the end of the day, it's all a political process," Bob Lester, who
recently retired after 31 years as a lawyer at Usaid, said of such
foreign aid program has very few rabbis. Why make enemies when you don't
Duff Gillespie, a retired senior Usaid official who is now a professor at
the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, said that over the years
at Usaid raised the prospect of foreign competition to tamp down what he
called "the greed factor" of Alabama condom manufacturers.
But whenever the staff pushed to buy in Asia, Alabama politicians pushed
During the Reagan years, the offices of two Alabamans, Representative
William Dickinson, a Republican, and Senator Howell Heflin, a Democrat,
of one such move. Mike House, chief of staff to Senator Heflin, recalled
being tipped off by Mr. Dickinson's chief of staff.
"He says, 'Well, A.I.D. is going to buy condoms from Korea,' " Mr. House
recalled. " 'The reason is they can get three condoms for the price of one
they're paying us.' " Mr. House said he asked in amazement, "You mean we're
making rubbers in Alabama?"
The congressmen's staffs threatened to introduce amendments to require that
condoms be made in America. The agency backed off.
Further attempts to open up bidding proved fruitless. Representative Jim
McDermott, a Democrat from Washington State, had seen the devastation of
in the 1980s as a State Department medical officer in Africa. But he said he
could not break what he called the "stranglehold" of Alabama congressmen on
the condom rules.
In the mid-to-late 1990s, Representative Sonny Callahan, a Republican from
Alabama, served as chairman of the Appropriations subcommittee that shaped
budget. Brian Atwood, who headed Usaid in those years, said no administrator
"in his right mind" would have tried to cut Alabama out of the condom
at a time when many Republicans were deeply hostile to foreign aid.
Then in 2001, after decades of negotiation, the United States and other
wealthy donor nations reached a nonbinding agreement to open at least some
aid contracts to all qualified bidders. Included were those for commodities
bound for the world's poorest nations.
Usaid decided the agreement did not apply to condoms since some went to more
advanced developing countries. Alabama's manufacturers kept the condom
William Nicol, who heads the poverty reduction division of the Development
Assistance Committee at the
Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development
, a group of economically advanced countries, scoffed at Usaid's
interpretation. "That's rubbish," he said in a telephone interview.
The condom companies' inability in recent years to fulfill Usaid's orders
accomplished what the gentleman's agreement did not: the entry of Asian
Usaid has asked Alatech to make 201 million condoms next year, less than
half of this year's order, and ordered another 100 million made in Korea and
Come Nov. 15, Alatech will lay off more than half its work force. Those jobs
fell victim to Usaid's smaller orders for condoms, foreign competition and
The reactions of these workers ranged from philosophical to panicked.
One, Garry Appling, a 41-year-old single mother, has worked before as a
$6-an-hour cashier at Krystal, the fast food restaurant, and another at
hour in a chicken processing plant. She said her 10-year-old daughter,
Anterria, worries that she will have to go back to the chicken plant, a
cold and wet Ms. Appling often fell ill.
But even facing her own impending job loss, Ms. Appling took a moment to
empathize with the women making condoms on the other side of the world.
"We need a job - I guess they do, too," she said, during a brief pause from
feeding condoms into an intricate, rotating, whooshing machine that tested
for holes. "It's sad.
"At the same time, the United States can't just keep helping overseas. They've
got to help us, too."
The New York Times Company
Postedby Miriam V.
Robert Freeman:Bush's Economic Policies: Don't Look Behind the Curtain
The great escapologist used his success as a cover while he worked for Scotland Yard, claims a new biography
By Larry McShane and Jonathan Thompson
Eighty years after his death, the name Harry Houdini remains synonymous with escape under the most dire circumstances. But Houdini, the American immigrants' son whose death-defying career made him one of the world's biggest stars, was more than a mere entertainer.
A new biography of the legendary performer, who was born to a Jewish family in Budapest, Hungary, in 1874, suggests Houdini worked as a spy for Scotland Yard, monitored Russian anarchists and chased counterfeiters for the US Secret Service - all before his possible murder.
The Secret Life of Houdini: The Making of America's First Superhero will be released on Tuesday - the anniversary of Houdini's untimely death at 52, on Halloween, in 1926.
Authors William Kalush and Larry Sloman lay out a scenario where Houdini, using his career as cover, collected information for secret service agencies in the US and Britain. They made the link after reviewing a journal belonging to William Melville, a British spymaster, who mentioned Houdini.
Melville, while at Scotland Yard in the early 20th century, helped launch Houdini's European career by arranging an audition with a London theatre owner - and providing the handcuffs. The book suggests Melville's compliance was part of a quid pro quo in which Houdini worked as a spy. In Chicago, too, Houdini's career took off after a publicity stunt aided by a local police lieutenant.
"We knew there was a connection [to Melville]," said Kalush. "But finding that diary solidified a lot of other things."
Born Ehrich Weiss, the son of a Hungarian rabbi, Houdini came to the US with his family at the age of four. After becoming a professional magician in his late teens, he had his big break in 1899, off the back of a series of crowd-pleasing escape acts. He began touring and travelled to Europe to perform increasingly elaborate, death-defying tricks.
In 1913, he introduced his famous Chinese water torture cell, in which he was suspended upside down in a locked glass-and-steel cabinet full of water, holding his breath for more than three minutes, before emerging triumphant.
"We know Houdini was a hero," said Sloman. "He could get out of anything, which was a myth, of course. He's compelling because of that myth ...he became a symbol of the lone man resisting authority."
The biography's other controversial theme is the suggestion that Houdini's relentless debunking of the Spiritualist movement led to his untimely death. The group believed they could contact the dead; Houdini believed they were frauds.
Houdini, at the turn of the century, joined his wife Bess in a trumped-up act in which she worked as the medium. But he had a change of heart, and went out of his way to expose phoney mediums.
In October 1926, Houdini was punched in the stomach by a student in his dressing room, and later by a stranger in a hotel lobby. The book suggests the Spiritualists may have arranged the attacks. Houdini died days later in Room 401 at Grace Hospital in Detroit, his aura of invincibility over.
Saturday, October 28, 2006
By Joe Conason
As chairman of the Republican National Committee, Ken Mehlman bristles at accusations that his party uses racial polarization to win elections. Those were the bad old days, he insists, and those awful tactics have no place in today's shiny new, inclusive GOP or in a Bush administration that has boasted two African-American secretaries of state and the first Latino attorney general. He even went so far as to apologize, at last year's NAACP convention, for the polarizing tactics employed by his predecessors.
But whatever uplifting message he may utter when he addresses black audiences at other times, Mehlman at election time is precisely the same as the bad old party bosses who exploited race to win. He is exactly like them, too, in his desire to profit from those tactics while evading responsibility for them.
The case in point today, of course, is the obnoxious television attack ad that recently targeted Rep. Harold Ford Jr., the Democratic Senate nominee in Tennessee, who's bidding to make history as the first black senator from below the Mason-Dixon line since Reconstruction. That Republican National Committee-sponsored commercial features an apparently unclad blonde actress who says she met Ford at "the Playboy party" and ends with her beckoning to him while she winks and coos, "Harold ... call me."
How bad is it? Bad enough to provoke "Hardball" host Chris Matthews, no proponent of political correctness, to refer to the "Mehlman cesspool" at the RNC.
Taken off the air in most of the state's markets by now, that offensive ad achieved saturation in the Tennessee electorate with heavy rotation and extensive news coverage. A literally naked attempt to inflame white bigotry about interracial relationships and white fears of black male sexuality, the anti-Ford ad was certainly the most blatantly racial political spot since the infamous "Willie Horton" episode of 1988.
The Willie Horton ad was a crude production that showed an extremely menacing mug shot of a black criminal with an unruly Afro to portray Democratic presidential nominee Michael Dukakis as a soft-on-crime liberal. Horton was a convicted killer who had escaped while on furlough from a Massachusetts prison and attacked a white couple in Maryland. Although the record of Dukakis as governor, including Horton's escape, was fair game, nonpartisan observers criticized the ad for seeking to inflame racial fears.
When the Horton commercial stirred controversy, Republican nominee George H.W. Bush and his campaign team (notably including media consultant Roger Ailes, now the president of Fox News Channel) denied any connection with its production. Like the anti-Ford ad, the Horton piece was supposed to be the creation of an "independent committee." Federal law forbade any coordination between the official campaign and the group that purchased and produced the independent ad.
But in due course, certain facts about the Horton ad came to light. The adman who produced it had formerly worked for Ailes and had been in touch with him during the period when the ad was produced. The postproduction house that worked on the ad had simultaneously performed work for the Bush-Quayle campaign. The researcher who had worked on the ad had left the Bush-Quayle campaign and later turned up as a patronage employee of the first Bush administration.
All those circumstances led to suspicions and a Democratic complaint to the Federal Election Commission, which eventually shelved its investigation on a party-line vote. What remains relevant is the cynicism of Republican leaders then -- and how that cynicism is perpetuated by the likes of Mehlman now.
Back in 1988, the Bush-Quayle campaign wanted to profit from the emotions aroused by the Horton ad without suffering the taint of racism. So George H.W. Bush and his campaign manager, James Baker III, both denounced the ad, after everyone who might be interested had already seen it. They covered their butts by mailing a terse letter to the independent committee that produced it, demanding that the committee desist -- when that letter would no longer have any force.
The ever-sensitive Mehlman, who constantly boasts about his party's (mostly unsuccessful) outreach to African-Americans, isn't even as careful as the Republicans were in 1988. Disingenuously, he claims to see no racial aspect in the anti-Ford ad. Indeed, both he and White House press secretary Tony Snow have defended it.
"I think that there is nothing more repugnant in our society than people who try to divide Americans along racial lines," Mehlman told Tim Russert on NBC Tuesday. "I just happen to disagree about the characterization of this ad." Snow went much further by attempting to blame the uppity victim. "I think there is always an attempt when you have got an African-American candidate to try to attribute something to the race card," he said.
Even though the RNC paid for the ad, which carries the RNC endorsement, Mehlman claimed that he could not lawfully prevent its broadcast, which was the responsibility of the "independent" committee he appointed to spend the RNC money. Nobody should take his word for that -- nor for the supposed independence of the group behind that ad. Both should be investigated by the media and if necessary by the federal authorities.
There is simply too much history -- and too little reason to believe anything Mehlman says. Like Baker, Ailes, Bush and late political strategist Lee Atwater, he wants to win dirty without having to get dirty, and he doesn't seem to notice when the sewage is up to his neck.
By Keith Olbermann
Every night at 8 p.m. on MSNBC, Keith Olbermann awards his daily pick for "Worst Person in the World." Some contenders are lucky — or unlucky —enough to be nominated more than once.
The Bronze for Thursday is shared by the Ohio Republican Party.
It issued a news release attacking Democrat Sherrod Brown for “enlisting the help of Al Franken.”
The news release contained not only a doctored photograph, but a fabricated quote from Franken saying conservatives should take poison and die. The quote was taken from a book by Bernard Goldberg, who made it up, as part of a satirical interview with Franken.
Our runner-up is Representative Jean Schmidt of Ohio. Her campaign is upset because her opponent, Victoria Wulsin is running campaign ads including clips of the rant Schmidt unleashed last year when she called John Murtha a coward. They say that is against House rule and the opponents “continued violation will land her in serious trouble with the House Ethics Committee.” Which would imply that her opponent has already beaten Congresswoman Schmidt and replaced her in the House—she’s not in the House now.
But the winner, comedian Rush Limbaugh, having buried himself by calling Michael J. Fox a faker in those Missouri campaign ads. Having put up his own headstone by saying the symptoms a Parkinson’s suffer gets when he stops taking his medication include shaking, actually it’s immobility.
Rush has defaced his own memorial today saying of Fox, “Every one of his ads is run for the benefit of a Democrat, even in Maryland, where the Democrat beneficiary of the Michael J. Fox ad voted against exactly what Michael J. Fox advocates in the ad.”
That would be Benjamin Cardin.
Actually, Mr. Cardin voted for the stem cell bill Fox endorsed. So Rush you're 0-4, and as to the Democrats-only part, you really need to look at the ad we showed last night from 2004 with Mr. Fox endorsing Republican Senator Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania: 0-5.
Who’s off his meds and is exaggerating the effects of his illness? Comedian Rush Limbaugh, that’s who!
Thursday's “Worst Person in the World.”
So now the White House is saying that Dick Cheney wasn't really talking about water boarding when he said that water boarding is "a no-brainer" Tuesday. As Tony Snow explained, "You know as a matter of common sense that the vice president of the United States is not going to be talking about water boarding. Never would, never does, never will. You think Dick Cheney's going to slip up on something like this? No, come on."
Put aside the laughable notion that Cheney never slips up for a moment. What's Snow really saying? That we don't waterboard or we just don't talk about it? If it's the latter, does this mark the first time in six years that Cheney has leaked something the administration doesn't want the public to know about?
Meanwhile, if you're wondering what waterboarding really looks like, check out this video in which a gutsy young journalist endures 24 minutes of near-suffocation (and talking with Alan Dershowitz) to find out if it really is torture. Not easy to watch.
Posted by Dave Gilson
The GOP's Southern Strategy Updated: Winking Blonde Bimbos and the Beating of Jungle Drums
by Arianna Huffington
Call me a silver-lining kind of girl, but I see the sleaze the Republican National Committee is raining down on Tennessee as a very positive sign.
Friday, October 27, 2006
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Former Bush administration official David Safavian was sentenced to 18 months in prison on Friday for lying and obstructing justice in connection with the Jack Abramoff influence-peddling scandal that has ensnared Republicans.
Safavian, 39, who had worked at the General Services Administration and the White House budget office, was sentenced on four counts less than two weeks before elections in which the scandal and other corruptions charges have endangered Republican control of Congress
Sheriff defends investigation of Gibbons
By FRANCIS McCABE and DAVID KIHARA
Now it's up to Chrissy Mazzeo, a nonvoting single mother and cocktail waitress, to decide whether she wants police to investigate further her allegation that Rep. Jim Gibbons assaulted her in a parking garage on a rainy Friday night.
Sheriff Bill Young said as much Thursday at a news conference, where he defended the integrity of the Metropolitan Police Department, the officers who conducted the initial investigation and his own actions related to the Oct. 13 incident.
"Bring it on," Young said. "Come forward, sign the crime report, and I guarantee if you want an aggressive investigation ... you ain't seen nothing yet. We will investigate this thing every ... every nth of it. There will be no stone left unturned.
"But she's (Mazzeo) going to sign a crime report first."
Mazzeo's attorney, Richard Wright, said it was too early to say whether Mazzeo would sign a police complaint against the Republican candidate for governor, or whether that was something he wanted his client to do. Mazzeo has told police she didn't want to press charges "'cause of who he (Gibbons) is and I just don't want to go up against something like that."
Wright said he told Mazzeo, "Take time. Reflect. Think about everything. And then we'll sit down and talk about it and make a determination."
Until Mazzeo decides whether she wants to go forward, Young said, the case is in limbo.
"Without a victim, we have no case," he said.
If Mazzeo agrees to go forward, Young said, investigators will interview her again, walk the scene where she claims Gibbons attempted to sexually assault her and interview other witnesses, including those sitting at the table where Mazzeo and Gibbons first met.
"She (Mazzeo) could be 100 percent right on this," Young said. "If we find out that this was not a misdemeanor battery and that Jim Gibbons attempted to sexually assault this woman we will take it to the nth degree."
Clark County District Attorney David Roger, who also attended the news conference, said he would not speculate on any charges that could be filed in connection to the case.
"Right now Ms. Mazzeo has to make a decision on whether she wants to cooperate with the prosecution and the investigation," Roger said. "If she is willing to give us 110 percent, Metro detectives will continue working with her and fulfill their obligation to investigate the case."
Roger said he wouldn't discuss the facts of the case because the investigation is not completed. Any further investigation should include whether any coercion occurred, Roger said.
Wright didn't see the news conference and didn't want to comment on what was said. But Wright said police can investigate this case regardless of what an accuser does or doesn't do.
"Whether it's public corruption, attempted sexual assault or battery, they don't need someone to come and sign a complaint to investigate," he said.
"There are many cases that proceed forward where the witnesses and or the victims are reluctant out of fear, duress, whatever," Wright said. "The whole idea that, 'Gee, our hands are tied until somebody squeaks,' I don't know where that comes from."
Mazzeo, 32, first met Gibbons, 61, on Oct. 13 at McCormick & Schmick's restaurant, a short walk from Gibbons' room at the Residence Inn in the Hughes Center complex on Flamingo Road.
Gibbons and his campaign advisor, Sig Rogich, had been at the restaurant dining with campaign donors. They planned to leave, but returned for drinks and to wait out a rainstorm.
Mazzeo and friend Pennie Puhek were at the bar when Puhek recognized Gibbons. The two women joined the Gibbons' table, which also included two women who knew Rogich.
Mazzeo told police Gibbons flirted with her and played footsie with her under the table while they all drank. Rogich and the other women at the table have said they didn't see any inappropriate behavior from Gibbons.
Gibbons left the restaurant after 10 p.m. and has said Mazzeo exited just a few minutes later. She said she left 15 to 20 minutes later.
They crossed paths outside the restaurant and Gibbons offered to help Mazzeo find her truck, and they walked to the nearby parking garage.
Once in the garage, Mazzeo told police that Gibbons grabbed her arms, shoved her against a wall and threatened her before she ran away. Gibbons has said he grabbed Mazzeo only to keep her from falling down after she tripped.
Mazzeo called 911 three times that night, and eventually relayed her story to investigators.
The next day, Mazzeo told police she didn't want to press charges and hoped the complaint would go away.
At a news conference Wednesday, Mazzeo said she was scared because Puhek told her she could be hurt if she didn't drop the case. Mazzeo also said Puhek told her she could get paid if she recanted her story.
Puhek denied making those statements.
Wright said on Wednesday that police never bothered to interview Rogich or the two other women at the table in the restaurant, where a waitress described the atmosphere as "flirty and dirty."
Young said investigators stopped trying to contact witnesses because Mazzeo said she didn't want to go forward with the investigation.
Gibbons' lawyer has taken statements from three people at the table with Gibbons and Mazzeo. All denied anything inappropriate happened at the restaurant between Gibbons and Mazzeo.
Young assured no preferential treatment was given to Gibbons. "On the contrary, when our officers arrived on scene and realized a ranking Nevada politician and one of two people who will eventually be our next governor was involved in this situation, they did everything possible to ensure that a fair and impartial investigation was conducted."
Wright has accused Young of acting improperly by calling Gibbons to tell him of the investigation.
"As the head of Metro, I felt it was my duty to personally undertake this responsibility of calling the congressman and telling him that we needed to interview him," Young said. "Many times the head of an agency will contact a high profile individual and advise him or her that they will be contacted for an interview."
The sheriff has told the Review-Journal that during his days as a rank-and-file officer he wouldn't have waited until the next day to try to interview a suspect.
Young added Thursday that he didn't give Gibbons any information related to the investigation during their conversation other than to tell him he needed to be available for a police interview.
Also, Young said investigators repeatedly asked Mazzeo if anyone had tried to coerce her or intimidate her into not going forward, but she said no.
Wright has said the Police Department was wrong to release information about Mazzeo because she was a victim of attempted sexual assault.
But Young said, "Based on our preliminary investigation, probable cause does not exist to indicate that a sexual assault occurred." He added that the investigation instead pointed to a misdemeanor battery. As a result, releasing Mazzeo's identity, police reports and 911 tapes was allowed under Nevada law.
Wright said he did not ask for the police statements because they were already available through media sources by the time he became involved in the case.
Police spokeswoman Carla Alston told the Review-Journal that pictures of Mazzeo taken by detectives would not be released because it is considered evidence.
A police report stated that Mazzeo had "two small scratches, one on her shoulder and one on her back." Mazzeo offered no explanation to investigators about how she got those injuries, according to police reports.
Wright said he has asked police for the photographs, but had not received a response to his request.
Meanwhile, the American Civil Liberties Union of Nevada called Thursday for an outside agency to take over the investigation.
"Despite the sheriff's willingness to revisit the matter, it is impossible to unring a bell, and it is hard to imagine how Metro can now proceed with an investigation that will inspire the public's or Ms. Mazzeo's confidence," said Lee Rowland, public advocate for the organization.
Rowland criticized Young, a Republican, for not acknowledging the damage done to the investigation by his support of Gibbons' candidacy for governor. She also said Roger compromised his office's independence by appearing at the news conference.
"We believe the public and Ms. Mazzeo would be best served if the Attorney General's office or some other independent party were to look into Ms. Mazzeo's accusations," she said.
But state and federal law enforcement agencies said they don't see a need to be involved in the investigation.
Attorney General George Chanos' office released a prepared statement that said, "at this point ... he believes the primary jurisdiction to investigate and/or prosecute lies with the local police department and district attorney's office. However, if requested or if it appears necessary for us to become involved, we will consider what, if any, action may be appropriate at that time."
The FBI in Las Vegas said Thursday that it is not looking into the Gibbons incident.
Review-Journal writers Brian Haynes and Molly Ball contributed to this report.
Find this article at:
Bowing to anti-immigration hardliners in the House, President Bush today held a White House ceremony celebrating the signing of the “Secure Fence Act.” Bush told reporters, “The bill authorizes the construction of hundreds of miles of additional fencing along our southern border.”
Bush is right, the bill does “authorize” the constrution of a new fence. But that doesn’t mean the bill pays for it.
As the Washington Post reported earlier this month:
No sooner did Congress authorize construction of a 700-mile fence on the U.S.-Mexico border last week than lawmakers rushed to approve separate legislation that ensures it will never be built, at least not as advertised, according to Republican lawmakers and immigration experts.
… [S]hortly before recessing late Friday, the House and Senate gave the Bush administration leeway to distribute the money to a combination of projects — not just the physical barrier along the southern border.
The funds may also be spent on roads, technology and “tactical infrastructure” to support the Department of Homeland Security’s preferred option of a “virtual fence.”
The “Secure Fence Act” has everything to do with motivating the right-wing base, and nothing to do with securing America’s borders or passing comprehensive immigration reform.
Thursday, October 26, 2006
Wednesday, October 25, 2006
Katrina vanden Heuvel writes that the GOP has a bag of dirty electoral tricks for voters this year--with attack ads so blatantly unethical that some TV stations have refused to run them.
Voting for Science
John Nichols writes that stem cell research is gaining traction in close Congressional races--and Democratic candidates are on the side of science.
Disgusted with the leadership of the Iraq war, two retired generals say the GOP must go. Plus: More than 100 current military personnel join a campaign to get the U.S. out of Iraq -- now.
By Mark Benjamin
Oct. 25, 2006 WASHINGTON -- Two retired senior Army generals, who served in Iraq and previously voted Republican, are now openly endorsing a Democratic takeover of Congress. The generals, and an active-duty senior military official, told Salon in separate interviews that they believe a Democratic victory will help reverse course from what they consider to be a disastrous Bush administration policy in Iraq. The two retired generals, Maj. Gen. John Batiste and Maj. Gen. Paul Eaton, first openly criticized the handling of the war last spring, when they called for the resignation of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.
"The best thing that can happen right now is for one or both of our houses to go Democratic so we can have some oversight," Batiste, who led the Army's 1st Infantry Division in Iraq in 2004 and 2005, told Salon. Batiste describes himself as a "lifelong Republican." But now, he said, "It is time for a change
Tuesday, October 24, 2006
With two weeks and a day to go before the midterm elections, a new USA Today/Gallup poll is undercutting two bits of conventional wisdom about congressional races.
All politics are local: Forty-three percent of the likely voters surveyed said that "national issues" will make the biggest difference in how they vote on Nov. 7. That's the highest number Gallup has ever recorded, and it isn't good news for Republicans hoping to make the election something other than a referendum on George W. Bush.
People like their own representative even if they don't like Congress: Thirty-eight percent of Gallup's likely voters said the member of Congress from their district doesn't deserve another term in Washington -- another all-time high, and another dose of bad news for Republicans with a whole lot of nervous incumbents to defend.
The poll results aren't entirely gloomy for House Republicans. While Democrats continue to lead Republicans in Gallup's generic ballot matchups, the gap between the two has narrowed. Democrats held a 23-point advantage in the last Gallup poll, and they lead by just 13 percentage points now. "Just" is a relative word here: As USA Today notes, the Democrats' 13-point lead matches the one Gallup saw for Republicans in October 1994.
-- Tim Grieve
Television commentators compare 9/11 truth-seekers to terrorists. The 9/11 experts reject the comparison.
Madison, WI (PRWEB) October 23, 2006 --- Has the Fox television broadcasting network become an attack dog to silence critics of the Bush administration? A group of American citizens called Scholars for 9/11 Truth says yes. They charge that commentators on the Fox network, already known for its conservative bias, have maliciously compared the 9/11 scholars to terrorists and suggested that the FBI follow their members 24 hours a day, thereby contradicting the network’s motto of being “fair and balanced”.
“The Fox News Network has gone to war with Scholars for 9/11 Truth,” founder and co-chair James Fetzer said. “FOX has used ‘The O’Reilly Factor’ and ‘Hannity & Colmes’ as attack dogs against 9/11 truth-seekers. These broadcasters charge that we have supplied ‘material support’ for terrorists, which paves the way for us to be classified as ‘enemy combatants.’ That means that our members can be arrested and held indefinitely with no charges simply for questioning the government. That smacks of unAmericanism.”
“If it can happen to us, it can happen to anyone,” Fetzer said. “The situation is fraught with ironies”, he added. “The President himself has admitted that Saddam had nothing to do with 9/11. The FBI has acknowledged that it has ‘no hard evidence’ relating Osama to 9/11. But if neither Saddam nor Osama had anything to do with 9/11, then who was responsible? That’s the question that we are trying to answer. Fox treats us as terrorists for wanting to know. There’s nothing ‘fair and balanced’ about these attacks.”
Fox News as Attack Dogs
Scholars for 9/11 Truth, a non-partisan organization of students, experts, and faculty, has more than 300 members, among them physicists, engineers, and pilots who dispute the government’s account of 9/11. Supporters of the society include distinguished theologian David Ray Griffin, BYU physicist Steven Jones, former head of the U.S. “Star Wars” research program Bob Bowman, MIT engineer Jeff King, and former Bush administration chief economist Morgan Reynolds.
Fetzer charged that on October 12-13, Fox broadcasters launched “a prolonged and vindictive assault upon me, Kevin Barrett and all the members of the 9/11 truth movement.” Rich Lowry, sitting in for the absent Sean Hannity, hosted a ‘terrorism expert’ who said that the 9/11 scholars were serving as “recruiting instruments” and providing terrorists with “material support.” Fetzer found it stunning.
“This is a chillingly obvious tactic by Fox to lay the groundwork for having the 9/11 scholars and anyone labeled ‘an unlawful enemy combatant,’” Fetzer said, “because that’s one of the new technical definitions under The Military Commissions Act. ” Other critics of the government’s account of 9/11, including syndicated talk show host Alex Jones, have been outraged by Fox’s effort to identify 9/11 critics with terrorists. In his latest column, Jones observed that they are following the lead of the President himself, who suggested that 9/11 critics are “terrorist recruiters” in a recent speech.
Basic Civil Rights at Stake
Kurt Nimmo, a columnist for Counterpunch, an on-line journal of commentary and opinion, has been troubled by O’Reilly’s proposal that James Fetzer and Kevin Barrett should be followed by the FBI. “But then, as we know, or as some of us know, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights are now effectively dead,” he writes. “Increasingly, it is a crime to question the government, especially in an academic setting, just the same as it was after the Nazis took over German.”
"The problem," Barrett added, "is that our loyalty to the nation and to the Constitution overrides our loyalty to President Bush and his administration. Before being hired to teach, I signed an oath to defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic. If our research is well-founded, this administration is practicing terrorism against the American people. As Gore Vidal said, the enemy is within. It is our duty to defend this nation and its Constitution against a criminal administration."
The situation has been compounded by The New York Times’ failure to report that, under the new “Military Commissions Act”, American citizens may now be classified as “unlawful enemy combatants” at the whim of the President, Fetzer said. “I am shocked and dismayed that our nation's newspaper of record cannot even accurately report the most stunning subversion of the Constitution in our history by falsely asserting that citizens are not covered by the law” ("President Signs New Rules To Prosecute Terror Suspects", October 18, 2006).
“Perhaps the reporter, Sheryl Gay Stolberg didn't bother to read even the first few paragraphs of the Military Commissions Act,” Fetzer observed, “but when she writes that it ‘strips the federal courts of jurisdiction to hear petitions from non-citizens for writs of habeas corpus,’ she fails to reflect the language of the act. There is no provision for exceptions for American citizens!” Writs of habeas corpus require that the government provide justification for holding a person in custody, a fundamental legal right that dates from the Magna Carta.
Polls Reflect Public Skepticism
Barrett and Fetzer have been repeatedly attacked on FOX programs, including both “O’Reilly” and “Hannity & Colmes”, which came to a head on October 12-13, 2006. According to O’Reilly, for example, Barrett and Fetzer maintain that President Bush is responsible for the murder of 3,000 persons by orchestrating the events of 9/11, a charge for which they “have no evidence”. In his response, Fetzer observed that there are hundreds of studies, documents, records, and photographs archived on st911.org, which support the claim that the “official account” the government has advanced is false.
“Of course, O’Reilly gave an exaggerated version of our position. He would probably have been astonished to know that, after I appeared on The Jerry Springer Show about two months ago, he formulated a question that was clearly intended to elicit a minimal positive response. ‘Did George Bush kill 3,000 of his fellow citizens on 9/11 for political gain?’, Springer asked. 66% answered, ‘Yes!’” Although this was not a scientific poll, it suggests that O’Reilly may not be up-to-speed about public perceptions of the events of 9/11, Fetzer said.
In fact, according to a more recent New York Times/CBS poll, 53% of the American public thinks that the administration is hiding the truth from the American people and 28% believe it is lying. Only 16% believe that the administration has been telling the truth. “I’m really not surprised,” said Fetzer, “considering that they have been withholding massive quantities of evidence in 12 categories from public inspection. They clearly have a lot to hide. All we want to know is how and why 3,000 of our fellow citizens died on 9/11.”
Monday, October 23, 2006
What Republicans Will Be Voting For on November 7th
by Joseph A. Palermo
BUSH WASN'T EVEN A FIGHTING DRUNK!
by Tony Parsons
GEORGE Dubya Bush says that Iraq is just like Vietnam - but how would he know?
When he had a chance to fight for his country in Vietnam he chose to lay on the floor of a bar in Dallas sucking on a bottle of tequila instead. It was a long way from Saigon.
Bush was the right age for Vietnam, but he ducked the call to arms by signing on for the soft option of the stay-at-home National Guard. Or was it the Mouseketeers?
We are cursed by a generation of leaders who have never heard a shot fired in anger. And that, more than anything, has made Iraq possible.
Would Bush have been so gung-ho about invading Iraq if he had, seen the reality of war in Vietnam, instead of the unreality of happy hour in downtown Houston?
Would Tony Blair have been so keen on sending other people's sons off to fight if he had actually seen a man die?
My father, an old soldier, was totally against the Falklands War. My old man was no pacifist, but he had some understanding of what it would cost to get those South Atlantic rocks back.
"Let the Argentinians have the Falklands," he said. "Let them have the sheep, too, and do with them what they will."
Maggie Thatcher had no idea what the Falklands would cost. She had no concept of what it would be like when men were dying in Goose Green, or burning alive on the lower decks of HMS Sheffield.
Denis Healey could have told her. Or Ted Heath. Or my dad. They were from a generation who had fought a war. But that generation is dying out and we are all the poorer for it.
Thatcher never got closer to combat than watching The Bridge On The River Kwai on a Sunday afternoon. Like Blair and Bush, it was easy for her to send somebody else's son off to fight and maybe die because she knew not what she did.
Bush is right, of course. Iraq does resemble Vietnam in the sense that a one-sided military engagement turned into an unpopular war and then an unwinnable one.
America chose Vietnam to make a stand against Communism, and Iraq to make a stand against al-Qaeda - even though there was no link between Saddam Hussein and al-Qaeda until Bush and Blair created one.
But what do we expect? Unlike John F Kennedy, or Churchill, or indeed my old man, they have no idea of the reality of war.
Bush the drunk, Blair the lawyer - what do these pampered men know about anything apart from their own privileged little worlds?
There is no solution to the problem. For the developed world, the horrors of war are receding into the history books. My parents are dead. Their generation is almost gone. Those of us who are left have peace that they fought for, and we should always be grateful for that.
But it does mean that we have a Prime Minister who, at an age when previous generations were in uniform, was practising the chords to Honky Tonk Women.
Good luck to him. I am from that mollycoddled, born-at-the-right-time generation, too.
But how can a spoilt baby boomer like Blair make decisions about when to go to war? Little wonder he can't even look the loved ones of our dead soldiers in the eye.
And Bush is even worse. The leader of the western world had a chance to fight for his country and chose to crawl into a bottle.
Men who have known nothing but peace cannot possibly be effective war leaders.
Bush and Blair are men who never wore a uniform apart from a blue suit and tie. No wonder they got us into this mess.
Apparently, Hollywood is planning a film of Dubya's experience at the time of the Vietnam War - Full Dinner Jacket.
Sunday, October 22, 2006
Rolling Stone COVER STORY This Is the Worst Congress, Ever Lawmakers have turned Capitol Hill into a stable of thieves and perverts
Kevin Tillman Honors Late Brother's Birthday with Plea to Speak up for Democracy
by Kevin Tillman
It is Pat’s birthday on November 6, and elections are the day after. It gets me thinking about a conversation I had with Pat before we joined the military. He spoke about the risks with signing the papers. How once we committed, we were at the mercy of the American leadership and the American people. How we could be thrown in a direction not of our volition. How fighting as a soldier would leave us without a voice… until we get out.
Much has happened since we handed over our voice:
Somehow we were sent to invade a nation because it was a direct threat to the American people, or to the world, or harbored terrorists, or was involved in the September 11 attacks, or received weapons-grade uranium from Niger, or had mobile weapons labs, or WMD, or had a need to be liberated, or we needed to establish a democracy, or stop an insurgency, or stop a civil war we created that can’t be called a civil war even though it is. Something like that.
Somehow America has become a country that projects everything that it is not and condemns everything that it is.
Somehow our elected leaders were subverting international law and humanity by setting up secret prisons around the world, secretly kidnapping people, secretly holding them indefinitely, secretly not charging them with anything, secretly torturing them. Somehow that overt policy of torture became the fault of a few “bad apples” in the military.
Somehow back at home, support for the soldiers meant having a five-year-old kindergartener scribble a picture with crayons and send it overseas, or slapping stickers on cars, or lobbying Congress for an extra pad in a helmet. It’s interesting that a soldier on his third or fourth tour should care about a drawing from a five-year-old; or a faded sticker on a car as his friends die around him; or an extra pad in a helmet, as if it will protect him when an IED throws his vehicle 50 feet into the air as his body comes apart and his skin melts to the seat.
Somehow the more soldiers that die, the more legitimate the illegal invasion becomes.
Somehow American leadership, whose only credit is lying to its people and illegally invading a nation, has been allowed to steal the courage, virtue and honor of its soldiers on the ground.
Somehow those afraid to fight an illegal invasion decades ago are allowed to send soldiers to die for an illegal invasion they started.
Somehow faking character, virtue and strength is tolerated.
Somehow profiting from tragedy and horror is tolerated.
Somehow the death of tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of people is tolerated.
Somehow subversion of the Bill of Rights and The Constitution is tolerated.
Somehow suspension of Habeas Corpus is supposed to keep this country safe.
Somehow torture is tolerated.
Somehow lying is tolerated.
Somehow reason is being discarded for faith, dogma, and nonsense.
Somehow American leadership managed to create a more dangerous world.
Somehow a narrative is more important than reality.
Somehow America has become a country that projects everything that it is not and condemns everything that it is.
Somehow the most reasonable, trusted and respected country in the world has become one of the most irrational, belligerent, feared, and distrusted countries in the world.
Somehow being politically informed, diligent, and skeptical has been replaced by apathy through active ignorance.
Somehow the same incompetent, narcissistic, virtueless, vacuous, malicious criminals are still in charge of this country.
Somehow this is tolerated.
Somehow nobody is accountable for this.
In a democracy, the policy of the leaders is the policy of the people. So don’t be shocked when our grandkids bury much of this generation as traitors to the nation, to the world and to humanity. Most likely, they will come to know that “somehow” was nurtured by fear, insecurity and indifference, leaving the country vulnerable to unchecked, unchallenged parasites.
Luckily this country is still a democracy. People still have a voice. People still can take action. It can start after Pat’s birthday.
Kevin Tillman joined the Army with his brother Pat in 2002, and they served together in Iraq and Afghanistan. Pat was killed in Afghanistan on April 22, 2004. Kevin was discharged in 2005.
Saturday, October 21, 2006
Bush Betrays Democracy and Truth in Signing Military Commissions Act
By Matthew Rothschild
George Bush just signed the Military Commissions Act, the bookend to the Patriot Act on the shelf marked “Assault on Democracy.”
It allows the President himself to decide what is covered by Geneva Conventions, and what is not.
In short, it gives the President a green light to torture.
Bush, with his usual flare for falsehood, said it “will allow the Central Intelligence Agency to continue its program for questioning key terrorist leaders.”
Bush does not believe that history will be concerned with the question: Did we uphold our Constitution?But this isn’t about questioning them. It’s about torturing them. It’s about subjecting them to such things as waterboarding, a medieval instrument of sadism.
Bush repeated that “the United States does not torture. It’s against our laws, and it’s against our values.”
But he knows full well that the CIA used waterboarding against Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, and he even cited Mohammed by name to justify the continued use of the CIA “program.”
Bush also asserted, falsely, that the Military Commissions Act will enable the United States to prosecute captured terrorists “through a full and fair trial.”
It will permit secret evidence, hearsay evidence, and even coerced testimony.
With this new law, Bush can have the CIA torture someone into a confession, and then use that confession against the person at trial.
In fact, the person can be executed on the basis of testimony that was beaten out of him.
In his statement, Bush also completely avoiding mentioning one of the most egregious aspects of the Military Commissions Act: the stripping of habeas corpus protection that has been enshrined since the days of the Magna Carta and codified in the Fifth and Sixth Amendments. “What this bill will do is take our civilization back 900 years,” warned Senator Arlen Specter, when he tried to amend the bill by restoring habeas corpus. (When it failed, 51-48, Specter inexplicably turned around and voted for the bill.)
The Military Commissions Act authorizes the President of the United States to designate anyone—foreigner or citizen alike—as an “enemy combatant.” He can then detain this enemy combatant indefinitely, and if that person is not a U.S. citizen, that person has no recourse whatsoever.
“No court, justice, or judge shall have jurisdiction to hear or consider an application for a writ of habeas corpus filed by or on behalf of an alien detained by the United States who has been determined by the United States to have been properly detained as an enemy combatant or is awaiting such determination,” the new law states.
This gives the President “the privilege of kings,” as Vincent Warren, executive director of the Center for Constitutional Rights, has noted. But Bush doesn’t want you to care about such little things.
“Over the past few months, the debate over this bill has been heated, and the questions raised can seem complex,” he said, just before signing it. “Yet, with the distance of history, the questions will be narrowed and few: Did this generation of Americans take the threat seriously, and did we do what it takes to defeat that threat?”
Note that Bush does not believe that history will be concerned with the question: Did we uphold our Constitution?
Bush said the law sends a “clear message: This nation is patient and decent and fair, and we will never back down from the threats to our freedom.”
But there is nothing “decent and fair” about it, and it only increases the threats to our freedoms.
For it shows us to be hypocrites, and it makes barbarism the rule.
Now the Religious Right Has Turned Against the Republican Congress, the Great Revolution is Over
"The failure of conservative attempts at governance at home (see Katrina) and the collapse of neo-conservative foreign policy abreoad (see Iraq, if you can bear to) has lead to two reactions. First, in order to minimize losses, Bush and the GOP will push "Elect Democrats and you will die" as their only message. And more importantly, the GOP coalition will break apart into feuding tribes, each blaming the other for why they're losing. It is inevitable; it cannot be stopped.
- DemFromCT (Daily Kos)
Friday, October 20, 2006
Thursday, October 19, 2006
A Dangerous New Order - New York Times
The New York Times
October 19, 2006
A Dangerous New Order
Once President Bush signed the new law on military tribunals, administration
officials and Republican leaders in Congress wasted no time giving Americans
a taste of the new order created by this unconstitutional act.
Within hours, Justice Department lawyers notified the federal courts that
they no longer had the authority to hear pending lawsuits filed by attorneys
behalf of inmates of the penal camp at Guantánamo Bay. They cited passages
in the bill that suspend the fundamental principle of habeas corpus, making
Mr. Bush the first president since the Civil War to take that undemocratic
Not satisfied with having won the vote, Dennis Hastert, the speaker of the
House, quickly issued a statement accusing Democrats who opposed the
Commissions Act of 2006 of putting "their liberal agenda ahead of the
security of America." He said the Democrats "would gingerly pamper the
who plan to destroy innocent Americans' lives" and create "new rights for
This nonsense is part of the Republicans' scare-America-first strategy for
the elections. No Democrat advocated pampering terrorists - gingerly or
- or giving them new rights. Democratic amendments to the bill sought to
protect everyone's right to a fair trial while providing a legal way to
Americans will hear more of this ahead of the election. They also will hear
Mr. Bush say that he finally has the power to bring to justice a handful of
men behind the 9/11 attacks. The truth is that Mr. Bush could have done that
long ago, but chose to detain them illegally at hidden C.I.A. camps to
information. He sent them to Guantánamo only to stampede Congress into
passing the new law.
The 60 or so men at Guantánamo who are now facing tribunals - out of about
450 inmates - also could have been tried years ago if Mr. Bush had not
efforts by Congress to create suitable courts. He imposed a system of
kangaroo courts that was more about expanding his power than about combating
While the Republicans pretend that this bill will make America safer, let's
be clear about its real dangers. It sets up a separate system of justice for
any foreigner whom Mr. Bush chooses to designate as an "illegal enemy
combatant." It raises insurmountable obstacles for prisoners to challenge
It does not require the government to release prisoners who are not being
charged, or a prisoner who is exonerated by the tribunals.
The law does not apply to American citizens, but it does apply to other
legal United States residents. And it chips away at the foundations of the
system in ways that all Americans should find threatening. It further
damages the nation's reputation and, by repudiating key protections of the
Conventions, it needlessly increases the danger to any American soldier
captured in battle.
In the short run, voters should see through the fog created by the
Republican campaign machine. It will be up to the courts to repair the harm
has done to the Constitution.
The New York Times Company
Posted by Miriam V.
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