April 29, 2006

Recipe For A PR Disaster?

This can't be good (for Bush).

Bush is attending the White House Correspondents' Association dinner in Washington tonight. FOX says "Comedy Central's pretend pundit Stephen Colbert serves as this year's host."

Does Bush know what he is walking into?

UPDATE: Hilarious! Atrios suggests Bush (or Colbert? or Atrios?) was drunk. E&P has the details. Bottom line:
As he walked from the podium, the president and First Lady gave Colbert quick nods, unsmiling, and left immediately.
UPDATE 2: I know I am breaking my self-imposed blogging hiatus, but this is an intriguing story on various levels.

First of all, and perhaps most importantly in the long run, it suggests that Bush is now going it alone with his "let Bush be Bush" phase. Why on earth did his media minders let him walk into this embarrassing debacle? Something like that doesn't happen every day on Planet Bush. I can't help wondering if this is what happens when Bush tells Rove and Cheney to go &*%$ themselves... Does "letting Bush be Bush" mean cutting the ropes and swimming for shore?

Secondly, there is the issue of ZERO media coverage. I spent about 24 hours looking for big media coverage of this story and it just never happened, not even in the global press. That's despite the fact that Technorati's #1 and #2 search items were "Colbert" and "Stephen Colbert". By now, Colbert's performance is old news. So what happened? Here's Peter Daou's thoughts:
Colbert's performance is sidestepped and marginalized while Bush is treated as light-hearted, humble, and funny. Expect nothing less from the cowardly American media. The story could just as well have been Bush and Laura's discomfort and the crowd's semi-hostile reaction to Colbert's razor-sharp barbs. In fact, I would guess that from the perspective of newsworthiness and public interest, Bush-the-playful-president is far less compelling than a comedy sketch gone awry, a pissed-off prez, and a shell-shocked audience.

This is the power of the media to choose the news, to decide when and how to shield Bush from negative publicity. Sins of omission can be just as bad as sins of commission.
Fair enough. But consider this. I showed the video clip to my 63-year-old Mum (politically aware and a Bush-hater) and she just didn't get the jokes. Sure, the regular viewers of the Daily Show were laughing. Kos and Atrios readers were in hysterics. But would mainstream America (let alone the rest of the world) even have understood this humour, had the media had the courage to run with it?

That's not to excuse the media for failing to report this massively important story of a failed President being humiliated to his face. But it just shows what a long way we in the anti-Bush crowd still have to go. Score one for us, but Bush & Co. still hold all the cards, own the playing field, have paid off the referees, etc etc.

And once again, this story makes me wonder about the value in pursuing this blog: we anti-Bush bloggers have had a huge impact to date, but half the world still doesn't even know what we are talking about. Sure, blogs like Atrios, BradBlog and AmericaBlog do a great job chasing down the daily stories, but there needs to be a more powerful kick in the tail of these propaganda wars. Being right is one thing, getting real results from that is another.

Maybe Bush Out (by Gandhi) is past its due date? Maybe it's time to hit the streets with massive anti-Bush rallies? Or maybe the Bush team is already finished, this is just a sign of things to come, and all that's left to do is sit back and watch the Bush debacle unfold? Who knows? I blather on, you decide...

PS: I am still sick. Obviously.
Clinton Had Nothing On This Mob!

Republican Sex Scandal At The Watergate Hotel:
Is the CIA Director involved in a D.C. prostitution ring? (It's so surreal just to type that question out).

April 26, 2006

Blogging Against Bush: The Big Picture

For some months now, I have been toying with the idea of closing this blog down. Let me explain.

When I originally started the blog, it was with three main objectives.

Firstly, I wanted to explore the possibilities of online publishing. As I put it in my first post on Feb 23rd, 2003:
After centuries of disenfranchisement, subjugation and de-humanisation, the Internet promises to re-empower the individual and unite ordinary people around the globe. Personal web sites like Blogger give us a medium to make our voices heard like never before. This Blog is my voice on the Internet.
Blogs were a cool new thing at the time and - as a compulsive writer - I was excited about giving it a try. From that point of view alone, this blog has been a huge success. Sure, it would have been nice to get a hundred million readers (like Atrios), but I am not too worried about that. Self-promotion requires a degree of networking and other forms of marketing that I have never much enjoyed. If I have ended up being a lone voice crying in the wilderness of cyber-space, so be it. It's been a fun, rewarding, frustrating experience for me personally as a writer, alternately soul-destroying one day and hugely inspiring the next. I hope my readers have also benefited from the experience.

Secondly, I wanted to gain a real understanding of the external forces that control my life. It seems most of us spend our lives - wittingly or unwittingly - helping to fuel this rampaging juggernaut we call "Modern Civilisation" yet we never stop to take a really good look at it. Who built it? Who controls it? Where is it heading? Again, from that first post:
Who are we? Where are we going? What kind of world do we want to create?

We live in a world of "guided missiles and misguided men" (Martin Luther King). The industralised behommeth of 21st Century "Civilisation" races at full steam towards a destination most thinking people no longer wish to attain. As we hurtle blindly towards our materialistic, nuclear future, we leave behind untold wonders and riches, many never to be seen again. Who built this cursed machine? Who controls it? Should we be trying to stop it, destroy it or re-direct it? Or should we just be jumping off?!?
This blog has again been hugely successful in helping me understand these forces, at least minimally. Sure, they tend to be complex, interwoven and highly secretive forces, shrouded from public view and protected from accountability. Think about Skull and Bones, the Carlyle Group, the CIA, OPEC, AIPAC, and all the rest. Think globalisation, Big Money, Big Oil and the World Bank. By now I have at least developed a good, basic grasp of what is going on in this world, and I will never be able to look at things in the same way again.

They key issue is globalisation, of course, an irresistable phenomenon in this ever-shrinking world, but certainly one that doesn't NEED to be a bad thing. We must resist the corporation-dominated vision of globalized Fascism which drives the global agenda today, but we also need to imagine, create and spread a positive, alternative vision of global harmony, equality and peace. Indeed, the struggle to resist the negative global vision of today could ultimately become the unifying experience for all the world's citizens to build a better world tomorrow. Such idealism is not mis-placed in today's world.

My third and ultimate goal in setting up this blog, of course, was to get BUSH OUT. I wanted to campaign for the removal of not just George W. Bush, but also all the other pompous fools (including my own Prime Minister, John Howard) who were responsible for the outrageously undemocratic and illegal decision to go to war in Iraq (and so much more since then). I focussed on Bush because it was obvious that without him the whole thing would never have happened, and his removal from office would surely precipitate the demise of his followers.

Sadly, Bush, Blair and Howard have all won re-election since I started blogging. So my blog can be counted a failure on that basis alone. Indeed, it still makes my heart ache when I think about all the greedy, self-centered people who knew the truth but still voted for these men. And yet, and yet ... who would have imagined, back in 2003, when the "hugely popular" Mr Bush proudly declared "Mission Accomplished", that things would have turned so decisively against him? At the time, I was derided by aggressive Bush supporters as a "tin foil hat" wearer who had been "drinking the Kool Aid". I was threatened frequently with physical violence and all my arguments were dismissed as "Conspiracy Theories". Now those arguments have been proven true, and those pro-Bush cyber-thugs find themselves subjected to the very same ridicule. As I write, Bush's popularity rate in the USA is 32% and falling. Censure and impeachment, once un-thinkable fantasies, now loom large on the political horizon. It seems the Bush cabal may be battling for its very survival in the November mid-term elections.

We have come a long way indeed. And in that sense, my own journey of discovery on this blog has matched a broader public awakening across the USA and around the world. I certainly do not claim to have been a leader of the online anti-Bush movement, but nevertheless I am pleased to know that my blog has helped to light the way for some readers. A large proportion of my 65,000-plus hits (to date) have come from online searches, and some stories available here are no longer available elsewhere (or are all but impossible to find).

So what now? I am sure most readers are as frustrated as me by the relentless stream of outrage-generating stories which we continue to read, day after day after day, and by the persistent lack of public accountability for these high crimes and misdemeanours. So what to do?

Personally, I have to ask myself if this blog is still the best way for me to instigate change and drive Bush (and his cabal, and his coalition partners) from office. At the moment, I am not sure.

In the old days of printed papers, it was often said that "today's news is tomorrow's fish-wrappings". It's a truth which the Bush cabal and their spin-meisters know all too well. And it applies to online news as well as the printed page, though perhaps to a lesser extent (fish-wrappings rot to dust in the garbage, after all, while online news remains on file for search engines to rediscover).

I know that blogs like this help to maintain the rage and keep stories alive, building a community of outraged citizens around the world, all demanding real change. We have helped bring Bush to his knees, but ultimately it will not be blogs like this that finish him off.
A Snow Man

For even more Bush snow jobs...
The Washington Post said Snow decided to accept the offer after top officials assured him he would not be just a spokesman but an active participant in administration policy debates.
Well, that should be good. I mean, he can't have less experience than Bush, can he? So why not put him in charge of, say, foreign policy?

It gets better:
The Post quoted sources as saying Snow viewed himself as well-positioned to ease the tensions between the Bush White House and the press corps because he understands politics and journalism.
It's all just a problem of spin, you see? Let's all just sit down and talk about it, shall we?

McClellan's replacement may turn out to be yet another embarrassing Bush nomination. Think Progress quotes Snow previously saying Bush is ‘An Embarrassment,’ ‘Impotent,’ and ‘Doesn’t Seem To Mean What He Says’. Let's see if the White House Press Corps ask the hard questions or give him a free pass. Media Matters has framed a few good questions for starters. For example:
Do you still believe that Republicans nationwide "behave like reckless heirs to someone else's fortune"?
Meanwhile, Scott McClellan fails to explain why the (alleged: she denies it's her) leaker in the Mary McCarthy case was found so quickly, yet the leaker in the Valerie Plame case remains at large.

UPDATE: Rather late in the day, but something just occurred to me. We have become so accustomed to the Bush-FOX alliance, and to the US media's generally unhealthy relationship with the Bush administration, that nobody even expresses surprise that a FOX anchor should morph seamlessly into a White House Press Spokesman. Think about it. Given FOX's record of lies and distortions in favour of Bush, there really should be widespread howls of protest.
John Howard Is A Shameless Hypocrite

As the Australian Wheat Board scandal begins to make an impact in US news circles, PM John Howard may be about to meet his strongest opponents yet: wealthy US farmers and their strong political allies.

It was shamefully hypocritical for Howard's government to exploit the suffering of the Iraqi people by approving or (at the very least) turning a blind eye to the circumventing of international sanctions against Saddam which Australia had helped put in place.

It was even more shameful and hypocritical that Australia then invaded Iraq, in defiance of international law, domestic opinion and the UN community, because (as Howard argued) those sanctions were not working.

And it was even more shamefully hypocritical that Howard joined the Bush coalition's efforts to actively exploit people's fears by "settling on" the issue of WMDs as a justification for invasion, knowing this was a problematic excuse (at the very least) because they themselves had suppressed information to the contrary.

Now all these shameful lies are unravelling. To defend himself against allegations that the WMD lies were fabricated, Howard attacked whistle-blowers including former intelligence officer Andrew Wilkie. Now, to defend his government from charges of corruption and wilfull negligence, Howard must attack the AWB executives. How long before he starts blaming Bush and Blair for his own failures?
The Corporate Control Of Society and Human Life:
These corporations have become so large and dominant they run our lives and the world, and in a zero sum world and the chips that count most in their stack, they do it for their continuing gain and at our increasing expense. Something is way out of whack, and in this essay I'll try to explain what it is and why we better understand it.
Big Oil Profits Under Bush: $250,000,000,000.00

On the subject of Bush and oil prices, Arianna Huffington is well worth a read today:
All this huffing and puffing about manipulated markets and record gas prices scream of a blatant attempt to inoculate Republicans from consumer rage over the massive earnings oil companies are scheduled to announce this week. Industry analysts predict that ExxonMobil will report first-quarter earnings of only $9.1 billion on Thursday -- down from the record $10.7 billion posted in the fourth quarter of 2005. With profits like that, Lee Raymond’s $400 retirement package is starting to look a little stingy. Except to those paying through the nose at the pump.

The most honest comment on the gas price crisis came from Scott McClellan (freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose, eh, Scottie?) who said: “This is not something we got into overnight.” Exactly. These levels of oil company profits took years of careful lobbying and planning to orchestrate.

Our oil-man president may want us to think that he’s shocked, shocked by the “large cash flows” of the oil companies, and the sticker shock drivers are experiencing at the pump, but even before Team Bush was dreaming of toppling Saddam, it was laying the groundwork for the gargantuan windfall the oil industry is seeing -- starting with Dick Cheney’s secret Energy Task Force.

It’s not a coincidence that the oil and gas industries donated over $25 million to Congressional campaigns in 2004 (with 80% of that money going into Republican coffers), and another $7.2 million so far in the 2006 cycle (with 84% going to the GOP). They also doled out over $4.5 million to Bush’s 2000 and 2004 presidential runs.

And what did they get for their largess? According to Public Citizen, the top five oil companies have pocketed over a quarter of trillion (that’s with a “T”) in profits since Bush took office. Talk about a return on investment. That’s a gusher!
BushWorld: It's All About Me

Bush's solution to rising gas prices: plunder the reserve and "relax" environmental rules. Of course, it's all about saving his sorry GOP ass in the November elections:
Bush said the nation's strategic petroleum reserve had enough fuel to guard against any major supply disruption over the next few months.

"So, by deferring deposits until the fall, we'll leave a little more oil on the market. Every little bit helps," he said.
E.J. Dionne was right:
The administration's one and only domestic priority in 2006 is hanging on to control of Congress.
Or, as Josh put it:
Talk of impeachment, real or play-acted, is beside the point. Even having their hand pushed on Iraq is to them, I believe, a matter of far secondary importance. The key is subpoena power.

Little of what's happened in the last five years would have been possible were it not for the fact that there was no political institution with subpoena power in Washington not under the control of the White House...

The White House and the entire DC GOP for that matter is just sitting on too many secrets and bad acts. The bogus investigations of the pre-war intel is just one example, if one of the most resonant and glaring. Keeping control of the House and the Senate is less a matter of conventional ideological and partisan politics as it is a simple matter of survival.

They have too much to cover up. They could not survive sunlight.

April 24, 2006

Among The Barbarians

In 2005, at least 2,148 people were executed in 22 countries.

94% of them were killed in China, Iran, Saudi Arabia and the USA.

From The Death Penalty in 2005 by Amnesty International.
Impeach The President!

Neil Young will be giving away all tracks on his new anti-war album for free at his website: Neil's Garage
Paul Krugman calls it the great revulsion:
If we define red states as states where the public supports Bush, Red America now has a smaller population than New York City.
Bush's "Fact-Finding" Commissions: A Waste Of Time And Money

Joshua Micah Marshall is not just a blogger, he is also a journo:
Did the Robb-Silverman Commission not hear about what Drumheller had to say? What about the Roberts Committee?

I asked Drumheller just those questions when I spoke to him early this evening. He was quite clear. He was interviewed by the Robb-Silverman Commission. Three times apparently.

Did he tell them everything he revealed on tonight's 60 Minutes segment. Absolutely.

Drumheller was also interviewed twice by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (the Roberts Committee) but apparently only after they released their summer 2004 report.

Now, quite a few of us have been arguing for almost two years now that those reports were fundamentally dishonest in the story they told about why we were so badly misled in the lead up to war. The fact that none of Drumheller's story managed to find its way into those reports, I think, speaks volumes about the agenda that the writers of those reports were pursuing.

"I was stunned," Drumheller told me, when so little of the stuff he had told the commission's and the committee's investigators ended up in their reports. His colleagues, he said, were equally "in shock" that so little of what they related ended up in the reports either.

What Drumheller has to say adds quite a lot to our knowledge of what happened in the lead up to war. But what it shows even more clearly is that none of this stuff has yet been investigated by anyone whose principal goal is not covering for the White House.
All The Lies That Are Fit To Print

I have been suspecting unseen Bush Co. hands at work in the editorial revision of WaPo and NYT stories for some time. Now comes proof.

A senior editor at the NYT gets caught out falsifying a story to favour the Bush cabal. Daily Kos has all the details.

April 23, 2006

WHIG "Wasn't Interested" in Good WMD Inteligence

Tyler Drumheller, who headed CIA covert operations in Europe during the run-up to the Iraq war, says:
"The (White House) group that was dealing with preparation for the Iraq war came back and said they were no longer interested," he was quoted as saying in interview excerpts released by CBS on Friday.

"We said: 'Well, what about the intel?' And they said: 'Well, this isn't about intel anymore. This is about regime change'," added Drumheller, whose CIA operation was assigned the task of debriefing the Iraqi official...

CBS said the CIA's intelligence source was former Iraqi Foreign Minister Naji Sabri and that former CIA Director George Tenet delivered the information personally to US President George W Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney and other top White House officials in September 2002. They rebuffed the CIA three days later.

"The policy was set. The war in Iraq was coming and they were looking for intelligence to fit into the policy," the former CIA agent told CBS.
Rice Enmeshed In A Tangled Web

If she is an AIPAC "leaker" she must of course be fired:
During Friday's hearing, U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III said he is considering dismissing the entire case because the law used to prosecute Rosen and Weissman may be unconstitutionally vague and broad and may infringe on freedom of speech.

Rosen's lawyer, Abbe Lowell, said the testimony of Rice and others is needed to show that some top government officials approved of disclosing sensitive information to the defendants and that the leaks may have been authorized.

But Assistant U.S. Attorney Kevin DiGregory said Rice ''never gave national defense information to Mr. Rosen.''
An Aussie Soldier Dies A Glorious Death

He was, of course, a a hero:
"He had particularly good rifle skills," Dr Nelson said in Melbourne, adding emphatically that suicide had been ruled out.
Well, his rifle skills can't have been all that good, can they?

This comes at a time when confirmed suicides by US soldiers are on a steady rise:
In 2005, a total of 83 soldiers committed suicide, compared with 67 in 2004, and 60 in 2003 - the year U.S.-led forces invaded Iraq. Four other deaths in 2005 are being investigated as possible suicides but have not yet been confirmed.

April 22, 2006

Towards The Abyss

Mary McCarthy sacked for being a CIA leaker. Larry Johnson has more:
I am struck by the irony that Mary McCarthy may have been fired for blowing the whistle and ensuring that the truth about an abuse was told to the American people. There is something potentially honorable in that action; particularly when you consider that George Bush authorized Scooter Libby to leak misleading information for the purpose of deceiving the American people about the grounds for going to war in Iraq. While I'm neither a fan nor friend of Mary's, she may have done a service for her country. She was a lousy manager in my experience, but she is not a traitor and has not betrayed the identity of an undercover intelligence officer. That dirty work was done by the minions of George Bush and Dick Cheney. It is important to keep that fact in the forefront as the judgment on Mary McCarthy's acts is rendered.

But shit holy crap and all that, this looks serious:
Congress is going to hand the operation of the Internet over to AT&T, Verizon and Comcast. Democrats are helping. It's a shame.

Don’t look now, but the House Commerce Committee next Wednesday is likely to vote to turn control of the Internet over to AT&T, Verizon, Comcast, Time Warner and what’s left of the telecommunications industry. It will be one of those stories the MSM writes about as “little noticed” because they haven’t covered it.

And meanwhile, Nearly 30 % at Guantanamo are cleared to go home but USA still holds them:
"It's just an outrageous situation where people have gone through this system that has been established, such as it is, and the (U.S.) government itself has found there's no reason for them to be held any longer, and yet they continue to be held," said Curt Goering, a senior Amnesty International USA official.

"It makes a mockery of any kind of system of justice," Goering added.

And meanwhile meanwhile, those who live by the sword...
For some unexplained reason the firearm discharged and the bullet unfortunately entered the soldier's head.

April 21, 2006

Get Out Yer Barf Bargs... Here Comes The New Spin

"Compassionate Conservativism" morphs seamlessly into "Compassionate Colonialism". Michael Hisrsh at Newsweek frames the story perfectly, pretends to be outraged, and pretends to give a shit. Come on, you left-wing dogs - lap it up!!!
What's clear to me after two weeks here is that despite some success at handing off matters to the Iraqis, progress is so frustratingly slow that we Americans may never be able to leave. The new Iraq is growing up around our presence and is as dependent as a child...

On the ground here, you can feel this society fissuring every day, as you watch the Americans desperately try to paper over the cracks. And what the American people need to understand is that there is really only one dominant cohering force left in the country: the American presence...

The logical conclusion is that Iraq may no longer be able to exist, as Iraq, without the glue of American involvement —in politics, in security, in Iraq's very sense of national identity...

So perhaps this isn't going to be a model of democracy after all. Instead it's more likely to be—if it works out—a model for post-colonial imperialism. It's a new kind of colonialism, in other words, one that dare not speak its name. But let's give it one anyway: "compassionate colonialism."
Wipe your mouth and get out another barf bag for the sign-off:
And oil, while it was not the reason for this latest war (or perhaps only a small part of the reason), may end up being the reason we too decide to stay and force Iraq to remain Iraq. That's OK with me, I guess, as long as it's OK with Spc. Lucero and Staff Sgt. Diaz and the others who are putting their lives on the line for this cause.
Bastard. Bastard. Bastard.
Rove Is No Longer In Charge Of Policy Because He Is Going To Jail

Grand Jury Hears Evidence Against Rove:
Just as the news broke Wednesday about Scott McClellan resigning as White House press secretary and Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove shedding some of his policy duties, Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald met with the grand jury hearing evidence in the CIA leak case and introduced additional evidence against Rove, attorneys and other US officials close to the investigation said.

The grand jury session in federal court in Washington, DC, sources close to the case said, was the first time this year that Fitzgerald told the jurors that he would soon present them with a list of criminal charges he intends to file against Rove in hopes of having the grand jury return a multi-count indictment against Rove...

Fitzgerald told the grand jury that Rove lied to investigators and the prosecutor eight out of the nine times he was questioned about the leak and also tried to cover-up his role in disseminating Plame Wilson's CIA status to at least two reporters.

Additionally, an FBI investigator reread to jurors testimony from other witnesses in the case that purportedly implicates Rove in playing a role in the leak and the campaign to discredit Plame Wilson's husband, former Ambassador Joseph Wilson, whose criticism of the Bush administration's pre-war Iraq intelligence lead to his wife being unmasked as a covert CIA operative.

Luskin said Rove has not discussed any plea deal with Fitzgerald.
Just read whatever Dan Froomkin writes, OK?
Bush Loses Face

He just thinks it works the other way (and maybe it does in Texas). But when these events are reported in China, the widespread public sympathy will engender more anti-Americanism, thus bolstering support for Hu's Communist Party leadership.

This WaPo article, China and Its President Greeted by a Host of Indignities, demands a thoughtful read:
President Bush... nodded and smiled as if he understood Chinese while Hu spoke.
Or maybe that should be "as if he just didn't give a shit." After all, the White House lawn is HIS turf and he has marked every tree and bush within sight. So maybe Hu's minders should have seen what was coming...
Sure enough, 90 seconds into Hu's speech on the South Lawn, the woman started shrieking, "President Hu, your days are numbered!" and "President Bush, stop him from killing!"

Bush and Hu looked up, stunned. It took so long to silence her -- a full three minutes -- that Bush aides began to wonder if the Secret Service's strategy was to let her scream herself hoarse. The rattled Chinese president haltingly attempted to continue his speech and television coverage went to split screen.

"You're okay," Bush gently reassured Hu.

But he wasn't okay, not really. The protocol-obsessed Chinese leader suffered a day full of indignities -- some intentional, others just careless. The visit began with a slight when the official announcer said the band would play the "national anthem of the Republic of China" -- the official name of Taiwan. It continued when Vice President Cheney donned sunglasses for the ceremony, and again when Hu, attempting to leave the stage via the wrong staircase, was yanked back by his jacket. Hu looked down at his sleeve to see the president of the United States tugging at it as if redirecting an errant child.

Then there were the intentional slights...
Diplomacy or strategery? You decide.

Ironically, a woman screaming about freedom of speech in China is the first person to seriously disrupt a Bush media event in the "freedom-loving" USA for a very long time. It's all but impossible to believe it wasn't allowed to happen...
The Chinese had warned the White House to be careful about who was admitted to the ceremony. To no avail: They granted a one-day pass to Wang Wenyi of the Falun Gong publication Epoch Times. A quick Nexis search shows that in 2001, she slipped through a security cordon in Malta protecting Jiang (she had been denied media credentials) and got into an argument with him. The 47-year-old pathologist is expected to be charged today with attempting to harass a foreign official.

Bush apologized to the angry Chinese leader in the Oval Office. "Frankly, we moved on," National Security Council official Dennis Wilder told reporters later.
And thus this historic visit becomes yet another high-level failure of diplomacy, matching an all-too-familiar pattern for Bush meetings with foreign dignitaries:
In front of the cameras, Bush thanked Hu for his "frankness" -- diplomatic code for disagreement -- and Hu stood expressionless. The two unexpectedly agreed to take questions from reporters, but Bush grew impatient as Hu gave a long answer about trade, made all the longer by the translation. Bush at one point tapped his foot on the ground. "It was a very comprehensive answer," he observed when Hu finished.
If China one day takes over as the "world's only superpower" amd Communist-style "market realities" become the global norm, historians may look back at this little episode and wonder why the USA did not make more of an effort.
WaPo: Fear The Anti-War Generals!

The WaPo's bizarre defence of Donald Rumsfeld continues. Today Charles Krauthammer basically argues that:

1. Former Joint Chiefs chairman Richard Myers and retired Marine Lt. Gen. Michael DeLong were closer to Rumsfeld than his critics, and they still support him. So there.

2. If Rumsfeld didn't listen to advice, "that in itself is not necessarily a bad thing". What if the advice wasn't good? What if it wasn't "consensual"? NEver mind that it turned out to be right. Like accountability, retrospect is for losers. You can't blame Rummy if he chose the bad advice and ignored the good stuff. Besides, what about Afghanistan - "one of the more remarkable military victories in recent history" (just don't look at what is happening over there now).

3. The generals are just anti-American whiny ass tittie babies having a hissing fit anyway. In fact they are dangerous to whatever the hell we call "democracy" these days!
We've always had discontented officers in every war and in every period of our history. But they rarely coalesce into factions. That happens in places such as Hussein's Iraq, Pinochet's Chile or your run-of-the-mill banana republic. And when it does, outsiders (including the United States) do their best to exploit it, seeking out the dissident factions to either stage a coup or force the government to change policy.

That kind of dissident party within the military is alien to America.
You have been warned, damn it!
It is precisely this kind of division that our tradition of military deference to democratically elected civilian superiors was meant to prevent. Today it suits the antiwar left to applaud the rupture of that tradition. But it is a disturbing and very dangerous precedent that even the left will one day regret.
That'll learn y'all...
33 More Months Of Bush?

Bravo, Greg Mitchell. The E&P publisher says the USA now faces A Crisis Almost Without Equal but there are precious few ideas on the table:
... rather than push impeachment for partisan reasons, the Democrats will actually put it off -- for partisan reasons. An unpopular president helps their drive for votes in November, and everything else is secondary.
He quotes Thomas Friedman in the NYT:
“If ours were a parliamentary democracy, the entire Bush team would be out of office by now, and deservedly so. ... But ours is not a parliamentary system, and while some may feel as if this administration's over, it isn't. So what to do? We can't just take a foreign policy timeout.”
So what should the "World's GReatest Democracy" (self-titled, obviously) do?
I don’t have a solution myself now, although all pleas for serious probes, journalistic or official, of the many alleged White House misdeeds should be heeded. But my point here is simply to start the discussion, and urge that the media, first, recognize that the crisis—or, if you want to say, impending crisis -- exists, and begin to explore the ways to confront it.
Cheney Still Wants War With Iran

In a must-read article today, The Washington Monthly reveals how the Bush administration blew an historic opportunity to negotiate with Iran in the wake of the Baghdad invasion.

While Tehran was pulling diplomatic cables to signal a long-term compromise deal, Washington leaders were listening to war-mongering idiots like Michael Ledeen.

BuzzFlash this week suggested that Sy Hersh may have prevented WWIII with his revelations about US agitation for war in Iran.

Maybe. But this news from The Raw Story is not good at all:
The Department of Defense and Vice President Dick Cheney have retained the services of Iran-Contra arms dealer and discredited intelligence asset Manucher Ghorbanifar as their “man on the ground,” in order to report on any interaction and attempts at negotiations between Iranian officials and US ambassador to Iraq, Zelmay Khalilzad, current and former intelligence officials say.
As Ghorbanifar's Wikipedia entry shows, he is an old buddy of Michael Ledeen's. And if he is involved in negotiations with Iran, it can only mean one thing: Cheney doesn't want the negotiations to succeed.
Sources close to the UN Security Council and a former high ranking intelligence official say that this latest failed attempt to bring Iran to the table is part of an ongoing attempt by Cheney and Rumsfeld to squash diplomatic activities.

Another intelligence source confirmed the spiking of diplomatic action on Cheney’s behalf, explaining that the Bush administration sees such talks as a “sign of weakness.”

Asked if Ghorbanifar was essentially being employed as a spy, one former senior counterintelligence official said, "You could put it that way."

A former high ranking state department official, however, doubted that the Office of the Vice President would employ Ghorbanifar directly.

“In my experience it would be highly unusual and even extraordinary if the Office of the Vice President would have such activities,” the ex-State Department official said. Yet the source added that the current Vice Presidency is in itself “unusual” and “extraordinary.”

Cheney’s office did not return calls seeking comment for this article.
The full article has much more.

Not good. Not good at all.
Suffer The Children

Bellaciao reports on Iraq’s rising numbers of orphaned children:
According to a 2005 report issued by the US Agency for International Development (USAID), there were some 5,000 orphans in the capital alone, many of whom have been ostracised by society and have little hope of finding education or shelter.
Now here's a challenge for all you war-mongering chickenhawks of the Fighting 101st Keyboards. If you are not willing to enlist for service in Iraq, how about you express your solidarity with the glorious cause by going to Baghdad to adopt an orphan or two? Well???

I can just imagine how, over the years, you will gently explain to little Ahmed and Aisha how you helped "liberate" them... How the deaths of their parents were an inevitable part of the "collateral damage" your peace-loving ideology demands... How their parents were probably terrorists anyway and how very, very lucky they are to live in the good old USA now...

April 20, 2006

Fascist Bastards Clinging To Power

Given the right-wing stranglehold on global power right now, Silvio Berlusconi's refusal to concede defeat presents a dangerous precedent. The BBC explains why he is hanging on:
Until the two chambers meet on 28 April, the arithmetic of who actually controls the Senate may not become clear.

So Mr Berlusconi is lying low and biding his time for the moment.

Mr Prodi can keep on claiming his right to govern the country but cannot hope to form a new government for at least a month.

The reason is that the first business of the new parliament will be to elect a new head of state.
Worth considering: Did Rumsfeld direct torture via video-conference?
A Failed Presidency

The WaPo says Bush is shifting into Survival Mode while TIME says Bush has gone Back to the Future by re-appointing staff from his father's administration, an effort which is tantamount to an admission of failure.

This little section is interesting:
For most of the first five and a half years in office, titles notwithstanding, Bush didn't have a chief of staff. Andy Card was many things: family friend, trusted aide, personal assistant. But he was never a chief of staff in the Jim Baker/Ken Duberstein/Leon Panetta mold. Those men played a different hand: they stood at the cross section of policy and politics, managed the process beneath them and teed up the crucial decisions for their boss. Outside of national security matters, they did not share the job with anyone.

Bush opposed that model, having learned the lessons of his father's experience with John Sununu perhaps a little too well. The family lore holds that 41 was misserved by Sununu, who often took as hard a line with the President's allies as with his enemies, and many in the party believe that it was George W. Bush who fired him (both myths are a little at odds with the real story). But in any case, the strong chief model was still much in disfavor inside Bushland even by 2000. No strong chief of staff for me, said 43.
It's such a familiar bahaviour pattern, isn't it? We never make mistakes, so we have to find scapegoats. And because we always blame the scapegoats, we never learn from our mistakes.
Oh, THAT War On Terror...!

Yeah, what about Afghanistan?
The Taliban is alive, well and thriving throughout the countryside and even in much of neighboring Pakistan...
Bush Plea: Not Guilty Due To Insanity

When Phillip Adams is good, he's good:
We cannot wait any longer for the impeachment of George W. Bush. Far more efficient to have Bush certified. There is no need for further debate on his mental state. The US President is bonkers.

Having turned the White House into a madhouse, having taken more lunatic positions on more issues than any head of state since GeorgeIII (are they, perchance, related?). GWB needs a long rest and a change of medication. And it shouldn't be too hard to guide him into a padded cell. Just tell him it's the presidential bomb shelter.
Let's examine the symptoms of his mental decline. First, Bush convinced Americans that Saddam Hussein was behind 9/11. This is something the poor fool might have believed, given a tenuous grasp of geography, history and political reality. He then began to hallucinate about weapons of mass destruction, despite the evidence of Hans Blix and a multitude of others that there weren't any. And he finally organised a tatty little alliance to join him in the silliest war since Vietnam, one guaranteed to recruit terrorists in unprecedented numbers.
Fleecing the US Taxpayer

Raw Story previews Iraq War costs from the Washington Post:
$48 billion in 2003.
$59 billion in 2004.
$81 billion in 2005.
$94 billion in 2006.
Now do you understand where Bush is coming from? Where his "base" is?
Tales Of Yankee Power

Assuming Señor Dan Senor gets Scotty's old job, and since everybody is so musical today, I've prepared a little song of my own:
Señor Senor, do you know where the USA is headin'?
Tehran or Armageddon?
Seems like we've been down this road before.
Do you know the truth, Dan Senor?

Señor Senor, do you know where Cheney is hidin'?
How long can Bush keep lyin'?
How long before he shows Rumsfeld out the door?
Are you comfortable in the job yet, Dan Senor?

There's a wicked war still wagin' on that aircraft carrier deck,
There's a microphone still hanging down from around your neck.
There's a press corps still waitin' on the White House lawn
Where the lies about the Iraq War were all still-born.

Señor Senor, are they circling their wagons,
Citing WMDs and dragons?
Can't stand the hypocrisy anymore.
Can you tell me who's resigning, Dan Senor?

Well, the last thing I remember before the White House reeled
Was that roomful of neocons bogged down in a foreign field.
An ex-President from the Carlyle Group with a strange skull ring
Said, "Son, this ain't a cocaine trip now, it's the real thing."

Señor Senor, you know their heads are as thick as leather.
Well take a minute, pull yourself together.
Come on now, pick yourself up off the floor...
We're ready when you are, Dan Senor.

Señor Senor, what was written in those cables?
Show us the figures in those tables.
These lies don't make sense to us no more.
What the hell are you waiting for, Dan Senor?
I am enabling comments - let me know if you have some other good song links.
Rich Content Right Here, Folks!

Nice to know the CIA is reading this blog. They might even learn something.
Time For A New Publisher At The NYT

Arianna Huffington looks at growing pressure on the NYT's publisher, Arthur Sulzberger. She cites growing shareholder anger following the sale of Knight Ridder:
Such an outcome is extremely unlikely at the Times, which has a dual class stock structure that gives the Sulzberger family voting control over nine of the 13 seats on the company board.

But having three of the four biggest shareholders in the company withhold their votes (and one of them publicly question the performance and salaries of top management) must put extraordinary pressure on the family to consider making a change in management - i.e. finally address its Pinch problem.

Besides having to deal with unhappy shareholders, I hear the Sulzberger clan is also getting an earful from friends on the dinner party circuit from New York to Paris (where a possible contender for Sulzberger's job, Michael Golden, is now publisher of the International Herald Tribune). They are troubled by the Times Company's plummeting stock price (down 47 percent since January 2004, 11 points worse than the industry average), the ongoing problems in the Times newsroom, and the ongoing Judy Miller/Scooter Libby embarrassment.

The problems are only exacerbated by the imperiousness of Sulzberger who, sources tell me, waited months before finally deigning to listen to Morgan Stanley's concerns.

The imperiousness appears to be contagious. Seelye's story included this gem: "The Times Company declined to comment on the vote." Stonewalled by your own ownership. What next, two word "No comment" editorials?

The Times' two-tiered stock structure can only insulate the Sulzberger clan up to a point. If the 28 percent uprising becomes a 48 percent revolution, will the Times Company -- and the Sulzberger family -- still be able to remain silent?
I am the Egghead

A new song for Mr I'm The Decider:
I am me and Rummy's he, Iraq is free and we are all together
See the world run when Dick shoots his gun, see how I lie
I'm Lying...

Sitting on my own brain, waiting for the end of days
Corporation profits, Bloody oil money
I'm above the law and I'll decide what's right or wrong

I am the egg head, I'm the Commander, I'm the Decider

Baghdad city policeman sitting pretty little targets in a row
See how they die when the shrapnel flies see mothers cry
I'm Lying...I'm Ly-ing...I'm Lying...I'm Ly-ing

Yellow cake plutonium, imaginary WMD's
Declassifying facts, exposing secret agents
Tax cuts for the wealthy leaving all the poor behind


Sitting in the White house garden talking to the Lord
My thoughts would be busy busy hatching If I only had a brain


(coutesy of THE REAL BABY JESUS)
A Good Day

Any day a Bush White House figure resigns in disgrace is a good day. Today we say adios to Scotty "Boy" McLellan (did I get it right or what?) who has grown noticibly fatter since he joined the Bush team - must be all those pork pies.

It's all cosmetic, of course. Josh Marshall says the latest White House 'shake-up' has yet to see anyone actually penetrate the Bush White House bubble:
I have to imagine they'll pick someone from the outside for press secretary. But two of the three mentioned for the job are former administration press secretaries -- Dan Senor and Victoria Clark. The third, Tony Snow, is also a White House communications hand, only he's seconded to Fox News.

In all seriousness, I think the real story here continues to be that things are so bad at the White House, the level of denial and secrets to be kept, the self-bamboozlement and bad-faith so profound, that they just can't manage to bring in any new blood.

With Rumsfeld, or any other cabinet secretary, there's a related problem -- the importance of which has, I think, not been fully appreciated or aired. If Rumsfeld goes, you need to nominate someone else and get them through a senate confirmation. That means an open airing of the disaster of this administration's national security policy. Every particular; all about Iraq. Think how much they don't want that ...

Finally, can they find anyone on the outside who wants in? This, remember, seems to be the problem with Treasury Secretary Snow. He has already, in essence, been fired. But they can't come up with anyone crazy enough to take the job.
Yeah, things are bad at the White House allright.

It must really suck being George Dubya these days. You take the job of President so you can show Daddy and Mommy how clever you are, then you blow it completely and end up being the worst President in US history. You take the wheel at the helm of the "world's only superpower" then drive the ship of state straight onto the rocks. You throw international and domestic US law out the window, only to find yourself squirming under a Special Prosecutor's microscope.

George is now reading front pages, so maybe he will take a look at the latest Rolling Stone cover:
Here's the opening para:
George W. Bush's presidency appears headed for colossal historical disgrace. Barring a cataclysmic event on the order of the terrorist attacks of September 11th, after which the public might rally around the White House once again, there seems to be little the administration can do to avoid being ranked on the lowest tier of U.S. presidents. And that may be the best-case scenario. Many historians are now wondering whether Bush, in fact, will be remembered as the very worst president in all of American history...
If you think that's bad, Mark Morford in the SF Chronicle is even more scathing:
Now, here he is, sitting right next to all the other countries at the Big Table, representing America, it's little Dubya Bush, stewing in his own juices, his poll numbers hovering right near Nixon levels, mumbling to himself, smelling vaguely of sawdust and horse manure and dead Social Security overhaul plans.

He is pockmarked by scandal, buffeted by storms of disapproval and infighting and nascent impeachment. He authorized the leak of classified security information merely to smear an Iraq war critic, he lied about WMD and lied about Saddam and lied about making the United States safer and lied about, well, just about everything, on top of launching the worst and most violent and most expensive, unwinnable war since Vietnam.

His pile of betting capital is down to a tiny lump, nothing like back when he had the table rigged and all the pit bosses worked for him and the pile was as big as a roomful of Texas cow pies. But now, fortune is frowning. In fact, fortune is white-hot furious at being so viciously molested, spit upon, raped lo these many years. The truth is coming out: Bush has now lost far, far more bets than he ever won.

What's to be done? Why, do what any grumbling, furious, confused, underqualified alcoholic gambler does: reach down deep and say, "To hell with the nation and to hell with the odds and to hell with the rest of the planet," and pull out one more desperate, crumpled war from deep in your pants, slap it on the table and hear the world moan.
Josh Bolton is calling for White House resignations, George. Might be time to put your hand up?
"It's going to be hard to replace Scott, but nevertheless he made the decision and I accepted it. One of these days, he and I are going to be rocking in chairs in Texas and talking about the good old days."
Actually, George, you and Scotty might end up strapped to chairs in Texas.

UPDATE: A farewell song from Al Franken.

April 19, 2006

Reasoned Public Debate Is Pro-Terrorist!

Well, whaddaya know? After yesterday's foot-shooting idiocy, the WaPo goes one step further. Today the Washington Post, a top national newspaper, actually supports a call to shut down "reasoned public debate" on the War in Iraq.

And they wonder why newspaper sales are not all they could be??? Puh-lease!

It now looks like we are in for a showdown between the US military and the US media. Who would ever have guessed I could end up on the military's side? The thing is, the military are the people who are dying, while the media cheer on the violence. There is a civil war raging on both fronts, of course, but at this stage the military seem to be a nose ahead on the reality-based front.

Check this bizarre spectacle: two pro-Bush WaPo shrills come out screaming bloody defiance (with carefully placed legal caveats, of course):
The two of us have experienced many of the circumstances confronting Rumsfeld. Our experience and connections at the Defense Department tell us that these generals probably had numerous opportunities to advise and object while on active duty. For them to now imply otherwise is disingenuous and quite possibly harmful for our prospects in Iraq. And it misrepresents the healthy give-and-take that we are confident is widespread between the civilian leadership at the Pentagon and the capable military hierarchy.
Yeah, right, sure. Just look how other top US military personnel who spoke out against Bush have been treated. Anyone know how to spell Shinseki???

Then it's time to play the old GWB patriotic suck-hole line again:
The retired officers who have criticized Rumsfeld have served their country with distinction... But each of them speaks from his own copse of trees and may not have a view of the larger forest. In criticizing those with the broader [???] view, they should be mindful of the risks and responsibilities inherent in their acts. The average U.S. citizen has high respect for the U.S. military. That respect is a valuable national security asset. Criticism, when carried too far, risks eroding it.

We do not advocate a silencing of debate on the war in Iraq. But care must be taken by those experienced officers who had their chance to speak up while on active duty. In speaking out now, they may think they are doing a service by adding to the reasoned debate. But the enemy does not understand or appreciate reasoned public debate. It is perceived as a sign of weakness and lack of resolve.
Isn't that just precious? "The enemy does not understand or appreciate reasoned public debate", therefore reasoned public debate must be suppressed and scorned, if not totally outlawed. Brilliant!

But of course, "we do not advocate a silencing of debate on the war in Iraq" - we just want to make sure it is all one way!

The WaPo writer's names are Melvin R. Laird and Robert E. Pursley - put them in your blacklist, folks.
We still have many friends and associates in the military and the Defense Department...

Melvin R. Laird was a Republican representative from Wisconsin before serving as secretary of defense from 1969 to 1973. Robert E. Pursley, a retired lieutenant general in the Air Force, was military assistant to three secretaries of defense.
Then email the WaPo and tell the editors never to give column space to these damned idiots again.
The current Post Ombudsman is Deborah Howell . You can reach her by e-mail at ombudsman@washpost.com or by phone at 202-334-7582.
UPDATE: Weldon Berger at BTC News reveals exactly who Melvin R. Laird is and why he is supporting Rummy:
Laird presided over what are in hindsight, and were in real time as well, the worst years of the Vietnam war. It was Laird who ordered the secret bombings of Cambodia and Laos, and who later told Dan Rather in a CBS news appearance that Nixon hadn’t lied when he claimed to have respected those countries’ neutrality because Nixon had only meant that ground troops hadn’t crossed their borders. He also said that the administration’s failure to inform Congress of the bombing was “an oversight.” ...

It’s no wonder Laird is sympathetic toward Rumsfeld. The parallels between the two men and their situations are striking. Working for the crookedest, most power hungry US president of the last century, Laird orchestrated an unending stream of happy talk that was bluntly contradicted by the reality of the war. He regarded criticism of the war as unpatriotic, and he invariably dismissed reports of US atrocities as fabricated or, when the evidence was incontrovertible, as isolated from the general conduct of the war.
This illustrates yet again how the US public failed to really come to terms with what happened in Vietnam, and how they let the Nixon White House crooks (including Rumsfeld and Cheney) off the hook. If people in the USA had been brave enough and strong enough to confront the whole truth back then, we wouldn't be in this mess today. Now are we going to do the same thing again with Bush and Iraq??? Or will there be real accountability? I'm talking War Crimes trials.
Fuck Bird Flu

Bubonic plague has just been found in L.A.!
"Bubonic plague is not usually transmissible from person to person," said Jonathan Fielding, head of Los Angeles County public health.

Fielding explained the disease is not uncommon among animals such as squirrels but seldom spreads to humans.

"Fortunately, human plague infection is rare in urban environments, and this single case should not be a cause for alarm in the area where this occurred," he said.
But isn't that exactly the same story as bird flu? Hasn't all the hysteria been based on the concept that avian flu MIGHT ONE DAY become transmitted from human to human? So what's the difference????

Oh, wait! I've got it: Donald Rumsfeld doesn't own stock in Bubonic Plague antiviruses.
Oh, THAT Credibility Problem!

From Angus Reid Consultants:
Many adults in the United States no longer have confidence in their president to deal with a potential crisis, according to a poll by Bloomberg and the Los Angeles Times. 54 per cent of respondents say they do not trust George W. Bush to make the right decision about whether the country should go to war with Iran or not.
From Harris Interactive:
Thirty-five percent of 1,008 U.S. adults surveyed in the telephone poll think Mr. Bush is doing an "excellent or pretty good" job as president, down from 36% in March and significantly lower than 43% in January.
35% of US "adults" also think Australians speak German, French people are somehow untrustworthy, and burgers from McDonalds are not necessarily bad for you.
Haves V. Have-nots

WARNING: This post contains references to Australia. If you do not know the difference between Australia and Austria, skip ahead...

Rioting in the Solomon Islands cannot be disassociated from Australia's support for the Bush US corporate global fascist state. We think these island people are ignorant savages - if we think of them at all - but they have been watching carefully as we mutate into an arm of corporate global power. Now we want to impose an unpopular business-friendly regime on them? Get serious!

Today's meeting between Bush and President Hu Jintao of China poses similar questions of cultural and economic stereotypes, I recommend US readers take a look at the UK Inedependent's coverage:
Some analysts see America entering a period of "managed decline" not unlike that which Britain has experienced since the end of the Second World War and the end of empire...

More than half of all industrial goods are made in [China's] factories. The production and export of these goods, their prices kept low by Beijing's manipulation of the renminbi currency, has generated the cash behind China's growing economic power...

But this opening has been undermined before Mr Hu even arrives. The Chinese leader is being given full military honours on arrival but Mr Hu's journey is not being labelled an official "state visit" as such, but something further down the chain.

Face matters in Asia, and some are reading this as a loss of face for Mr Hu. A dangerous move perhaps, given the shape of things to come.
And just check out these stats on China:

* 1.3 billion


* World's fastest growing economy

* Economy has grown 9.5 per cent annually for 25 years

* GDP quadrupled from 1980 to 2000

* 400 million people have been lifted out of poverty in 25 years


* 30th largest US trading partner in 1977; now third

* World's second largest recipient of foreign direct investment

* US exports have grown five times faster than to rest of the world. US corporations have invested more than $50bn in China

* Worker earns 5-10 per cent of an American worker's wage

* 2004: Produced half of all digital cameras and 60 per cent of microwaves, photocopiers and DVD players in the world


* Has 16 of the world's 20 most polluted cities

* Half of the population has polluted water supply

* Produces 3.7 billion tons of sewage a day

* World's largest consumer of coal; second only to US for oil


* 2005: China says it spent $30bn on its military, the Pentagon says $90bn was spent

* 2000: Estimated size is 2.5 million personnel; 10,000 tanks; 400 nuclear warheads


* 2003: UN estimates 840,000 have HIV

* 17 per cent of people live on less than a $1 a day

* One-third of the world's cigarettes are smoked in China
The USA's reign as the "world's only superpower" was always going to be short. In the wake of the Cold War, it was indeed an historic opportunity. Sadly, it has already been squandered by loud-mouthed fools ignorant of global realities.
Oil hits a new record. Wish I had oil companies shares like all Bush's friends....
Bush Knew, Bush Lied

How many new facts does a man have to unveil before Bush apologists accept that their man is just a lying criminal? Jason Leopold reveals a newly leaked State Department Memo:
Sixteen days before President Bush's January 28, 2003, State of the Union address in which he said that the US learned from British intelligence that Iraq had attempted to acquire uranium from Africa - an explosive claim that helped pave the way to war - the State Department told the CIA that the intelligence the uranium claims were based upon were forgeries, according to a newly declassified State Department memo.

The revelation of the warning from the closely guarded State Department memo is the first piece of hard evidence and the strongest to date that the Bush administration manipulated and ignored documents information in their zeal to win public support for invading Iraq.

The memo says: "On January 12, 2003," the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research (INR) "expressed concerns to the CIA that the documents pertaining to the Iraq-Niger deal were forgeries."

Moreover, the memo says that the State Department's doubts about the veracity of the uranium claims may have been expressed to the intelligence community even earlier.
The full text of the memo is here (PDF).

Now this should finally put an end to endless, faith-based, hair-splitting crap like this and this.

The Niger documents were forged and the neo-conservatives who brought Bush to power were the people behind the forgeries. Michael Ledeen is the man with the contacts to the Italian secret service, who made it all happen for them.

Bush lied. He knew he was lying, but he lied anyway.

He is a liar and he doesn't give a shit.

Get used to it.
Bush Hears Voices

But hey! At least he has started reading newspapers. One day he might even get past the front page:
"I hear the voices and I read the front page and I know the speculation," the president told reporters in the Rose Garden. "But I'm the decider and I decide what's best. And what's best is for Don Rumsfeld to remain as the secretary of defense."
So it seems the "voices" are telling Bush that Rumsfeld must stay. Otherwise the terrorists have won, see?

Here's how Donny explained it to Rush Limbaugh:
Zarqawi and bin Laden and Zawahiri, those people have media committees.

They are actively out there trying to manipulate the press in the United States. They are very good at it. They're much better at (laughing) managing those kinds of things than we are...
So all those stories George reads on the front page have been planted by these cunning terrrrsts, see? I guess that explains why the USA has to pay for propaganda pieces in Arab newspapers, just to get some balance. So does that mean that we should all start reading the Arab media if we want to know what's really going on?

Juan Cole today takes a look at this clever media trickery:
American sources say that in the northern Baghdad district of Adhamiyah, a neighborhood militia fought a 9-hour-long pitched battle with Iraqi troops and police, with the Americans coming in to settle it.

But Arabic sources suc as Al-Zaman, al-Hayat and Aljazeera reported in such a way as to make it look like the brave stand of local (Sunni Arab) men against the predations of (Shiite) death squads masquerading as police. The latter were accused of coming into Adhamiyah in order to kidnap, kill and pillage. The special police commandos of the minstry of the interior are widely believed to comprise Shiite militiamen.
Hmmn, now I am just plain confused. Fortunately, Dahr Jamail has some eyewitness accounts from Adhamiyah. Based on these, he concludes:
Disturbingly, this obvious US-backed Shia militia invasion of a Sunni neighborhood may well be a prelude to what the US military is calling a "second liberation of Baghdad" which they will carry out with the Iraqi army when a new government is installed.
Maybe we should print that on the font page, eh?

April 18, 2006

Rumsfeld Must Go! Tell It Straight!

Yet again, the WaPo shoots itself in the foot. Today's editorial, The Generals' Revolt, correctly blames Bush for not firing Rumsfeld two years ago. It implicitly supports the US Generals' criticism of Rumsfeld and - by proxy - Bush. But then the editorial concludes with this bizzarre 90-degrees-to-the-right non-sequitur (is this another example of high-level editing?):
Anyone who protested the pushback of uniformed military against President Bill Clinton's attempt to allow gays to serve ought to also object to generals who criticize the decisions of a president and his defense secretary in wartime. If they are successful in forcing Mr. Rumsfeld's resignation, they will set an ugly precedent. Will future defense secretaries have to worry about potential rebellions by their brass, and will they start to choose commanders according to calculations of political loyalty?

In our view Mr. Rumsfeld's failures should have led to his departure long ago. But he should not be driven out by a revolt of generals, retired or not.
In other words: YES the Generals are right, YES Rumsfeld should lose his job, YES Bush is ultimately responsible, but NO Bush should not fire Rumsfeld (at least, not now, even if he should have done it earlier, and maybe he should still do it later)!

Talk about an untenable, self-defeating and contradictory position!

And BTW do they really think that current military appointees are not vetted on the basis of "political loyalty"? Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Colin Powell for starters...

Charting a strangely similar course of journalistic ambivalence, E. J. Dionne says "making Donald Rumsfeld the scapegoat for all that has gone wrong in Iraq is a way for other members of the administration to dodge responsibility for a misguided policy." Like the editors, Dionne agrees that Rumsfeld has got it all wrong. Like the editors, he cites the military's treatment of gays under Clinton as a measure of the current hypocrisy. But then - again like the editors - he lets Rumsfeld off the hook while failing to really finger Bush as the person who should bear full responsibility for Rumsfeld's failures.

Oh, he hints at it, sure...
Does anyone doubt to whom those words "casualness" and "swagger" refer?
Come on, guys! If you want to call for Bush's resignation, JUST SAY IT! But don't waffle on about Rusmfeld as if he is some pathetic "scapegoat".

Truth is, of course, Rumsfeld should resign. And if he doesn't resign, Bush should fire him. And if Bush doesn't fire him - and even if he does - Bush should still step down, or be impeached, or censured, of imprisoned, or whatever it takes to restore honour to the Oval Office.

Calling for Rumsfeld's sacking does not amount to an endorsement of Bush. To pretend that it does - and that Rusmfeld should therefore not be sacked - is just ridiculous.

The USA - and particularly the US media - has got to get over this idea that the office of US President is beyond reproach.

Bush is not Jesus. The USA is not God's own chosen land.

Get over it.
Bush's USA: Blood On Our Hands

Craig Winters puts it all in a nutshell:
This country, my country, has already become a fascist police state. Our government lies to the people, spies on citizens, kidnaps, imprisons without trial, engages in torture, and is leading the country to ruin. Incredibly, all of this is done with the support of its citizens. How is this possible? How can a democratic government abandon the people it serves and squander blood, treasure, and traditions in an irrational pursuit of global domination?

First, realize that the government no longer serves the people. It has been bought by the transnational corporate power structure and serves them, and is now simply the military arm of the corporations. Meanwhile, the corporate media fulfills the propaganda role – they control what the people experience as reality and therefore control how the people think. They have the public so filled with fear that they will agree to anything.

The ruling class knows, of course, that the USA is headed for ruin, but it does not care because it is transnational, by which I mean the corporate structure transcends the nation-state structure. The have no allegiance to any nation or people; their only allegiance is to profit and power...

On the other side of this equation is an American population that resembles spoiled rich children. They are lazy, feel entitled to whatever they want, and have no sense of responsibility to the world community. They are not evil by their own design, but are willfully blind to evil so long as it does not interfere with their comfortable existence. They do not seek out truth, but accept as truth the corporate propaganda stream because it is easy and because it tells them what they want to hear which is that they are the victims, the righteous victims of a terrible outside evil.
Rockin' In The Free World!

Neil Young records "Impeach the President" song:
Apparently it was recorded with a 100-voice choir. Rumors have circulated the past few days on the Web, but E&P has tracked down the strongest confirmation in a blog kept by Sherman Oaks, Ca. musician/singer Alicia Morgan.

Previous reports quoted hints by Young and Jonathan Demme (who directed the new documentary “Heart of Gold”) that Neil was working on a hard-rocking political or “anti-Bush” CD.

Last Friday, Morgan wrote on her LastLeftB4Hooterville blog that she had been “summoned” to a local studio to sing on the new record with 99 others. “I'm not going to give the whole thing away, but the first line of one of the songs was ‘Let's impeach the President for lyin'!’ Turns out the whole thing is a classic beautiful protest record. The session was like being at a 12-hour peace rally. Every time new lyrics would come up on the screen, there were cheers, tears and applause. It was a spiritual experience. I can't believe my good fortune at being a part of this.

“We finished the session by singing an a capella version of 'America the Beautiful' and there was not a dry eye in the house.

“Neil said it should be out in 6 to 8 weeks."
The new album will apparently be called 'Living With War'.
Bernstein Blasts Bush

Carl Bernstein, the other half of Watergate's famous reporting duo, calls for bipartisan hearings investigating the Bush presidency:
Leaders of both parties are acutely aware of the vehemence of anti-Bush sentiment in the country, expressed especially in the increasing number of Americans—nearing fifty percent in some polls—who say they would favor impeachment if the president were proved to have deliberately lied to justify going to war in Iraq...

Raising the worse-than-Watergate question and demanding unequivocally that Congress seek to answer it is, in fact, overdue and more than justified by ample evidence stacked up from Baghdad back to New Orleans and, of increasing relevance, inside a special prosecutor's office in downtown Washington.
Bernstein wants a full investigation of the conduct of the presidency of George W. Bush, along the lines of the Senate Watergate Committee's investigation during the presidency of Richard M. Nixon.
Smile, Scotty...

This should be good:
President Bush's new chief of staff said Monday it was time to "refresh and re-energize the team," and he told senior White House aides who might be thinking about quitting this year to go ahead and leave now.
Guess who is likely to go first?
McClellan would not comment on his own future at the White House.

"I never speculate about personnel measures," McClellan said, repeating his standard reply to questions about staff changes with a smile.
The Ghost Dance

Mike Whitney finds no evidence that Iraq's #1 terrrrst even exists:
In my own research, I have spend a few evenings going over hundreds of articles on Zarqawi to find anything that might confirm his existence. As noted earlier, there are no reliable eyewitness accounts. What we find instead, is sometimes as many as 2,200 articles appearing on any given day pointing to Zarqawi’s involvement in a bombing without any tangible proof of his authenticity.

The news has simply become another “faith based” operation like the Bush administration.

Zarqawi-related news is devoid of any factual content.
Mind you, if the USA is looking for an opportunity to declare victory and pull out of Iraq, here it is. You just go back to the old rationale that the war was really all about terrrrism, declare that the terrrrists have been driven out of Iraq, and then pursue the terrrrists into some other country (e.g. Iran).
Subintelligent Zionist Homeland Blues

From Eric Alterman:
If any young scholars--without the protective armor that Walt and Mearsheimer's reputations afford, to say nothing of tenured professorships--are considering research into a similar topic, well, they won't need a weatherman to know which way this (idiot) wind blows.
A Matter Of Perspective

We all know that the WaPo lies sometimes, but other times it's just a case of bending the truth. Consider this article stirring up anti-Iran sentiment:
The Iranian Government has intensified its efforts to illegally obtain weapons technology from the US, contracting with dealers across the country for spare parts to maintain its ageing US-made air force planes, its missile forces and its alleged nuclear weapons program, a senior US customs official has alleged.

Over the past two years, arms dealers have exported or tried to export to Iran experimental aircraft, assembly kits for F-14 Tomcat fighter jets, components used in missile systems and fighter-jet engines, and machines to measure the strength of steel - critical in the development of nuclear weapons.
Now take the story and give it a little journalistic twist...
US Arms Dealers Supplying Iran With Weapons

A senior US customs official claims private arms dealers across the country are illegally supplying spare parts to the Iranian Government. US dealers are supplying Iran with experimental aircraft, assembly kits for F-14 Tomcat fighter jets, components used in missile systems and fighter-jet engines, and machines to measure the strength of steel - critical in the development of nuclear weapons.
Suddenly it becomes a story about how the US military industrial complex needs to be regulated or shut down, rather than a story about how the Iranian regime needs to be bombed into oblivion.
The US Military Is Revolting!

No, seriously... What if they really did?

From an article in SMH:
The problems in Iraq are fracturing old conventions about the relationship between the US military and the civilian leadership, an extraordinary development during a war. And it has opened a public split in the military, mirroring the deep divisions in the country as a whole.
That's a pretty major issue, right there. I mean, when blogs like this are getting linked from official US military websites, you know something is up!

Newsweek calls it "the war over the war":
When does a military officer stand up to—and push back against—his civilian masters? And when does he just salute and say, "Can do, sir"?

It's a question of enormous consequence for a democracy with the world's most powerful military. The balance between the civilian and military is precarious...
Douglas Macgregor, a retired U.S. Army colonel, says recent criticism of Rusmfeld is "probably best understood as "the first salvos in the war over 'Who Lost Iraq'." So where does the buck stop? Newsweek gets it right:
The real responsibility for Iraq, of course, lies with President Bush. Together with Vice President Dick Cheney (draft-deferred in Vietnam) and Rumsfeld (Navy jet pilot who did not see combat), Bush (Texas National Guard pilot) seemed determined to brush past or roll over the cautious national-security bureaucracy. Bush made little or no effort to prod his national-security staff to ask tough questions...
Newsweek quotes a Rumsfeld source saying the Don is concerned about the damage his forced resignation might do to the military as an institution. It backs this up with a military hack claiming Bush will not suffer the public indignity of being bullied into forcing Rumsfeld out. But 82% of Newsweek readers say Rummy should resign - so it's not just a handful of retired generals who want him out, it's most of the country!

TIME suggests Rumsfeld's fate is up to Cheney:
"The possibility of Rumsfeld leaving has definitely crossed the President's mind," Time magazine quotes an unnamed former White House official as saying.

"The key to it is the relationship with Cheney, and I don't know where that is right now."
Sadly, given how tenaciously these Bush thugs cling to power, I can foresee a day when the only way to save US Democracy might be a US Army-led (or at least Army-supported) coup. If such a time does come, will they be made of the right stuff?

April 16, 2006

Wow! Intelligent Journalism

Of course, it's not from a US paper - it's the Sunday Times:
Well, imagine a scenario in which the president believes he has to bomb — maybe even with low-level nuclear warheads — the nuclear facilities in Iran. Given what we know now, it would be a very tough sell in Congress.

Without United Nations backing and solid allied support, the president would have to ask Americans to trust him — on weapons of mass destruction intelligence and on his skill in war-making. After Iraq, that’s very difficult. Americans do not listen to him any more. And they have discovered that they cannot trust him to get warfare right, or even be candid with them about it.

The president could, of course, argue that he does not need Congress’s permission to launch such a war. Good luck. A huge bombing campaign against a large sovereign country over several weeks is hard to describe by any other term than war. And the constitution clearly gives that decision to Congress. This would not be a sudden, minor mission, constitutionally permissible in emergencies. This would be the gravest decision a president could make. It would have incalculable consequences. It could unleash a wave of terrorism across Iraq and the West. It would put WMDs in the centre of a global conflict. It would alter America’s relations with all its allies and enemies. If Bush decided he could act unilaterally without congressional backing, he could prompt a constitutional crisis.

April 13, 2006

I am taking a break from blogging over the Easter period.

Best wishes to you and yours, ...
A Functional Democracy Requires Government Accountability

I want accountability and I want it now, damn it. And it's the media's job - not blogs like this - to demand that accountability. So where are they?

We now have governments in Australia, the USA and Britain which lie repeatedly, which refuse to ever admit mistakes, and which refuse to ever hold anybody accountable when things go wrong. When are the media going to call them out?

I have very, very, very little faith in government remaining in me. If everybody starts to feel like me, however, things will get very messy indeed.

So it's time for the Western media to stand up and be counted. Lloyd Garver at CBS News gets it:
What concerns me is, why didn't President Bush just come out and say that he was the leaker? Instead, when this leak first became public, the president said that anyone in his administration involved in the leak would be fired. Is he going to fire himself now?

If he didn't mislead us when he acted outraged about the leak, what was he doing? ...

President Bush has been saying that this investigation should run its course, but he's known all along who the big leaker was — him.

... But why did they leak it in the first place? If the administration really believed in the "intelligence" about weapons of mass destruction and that Saddam Hussein was seeking nuclear material from Africa, why not just say this was the case?

If it's not illegal for the President to decide to declassify something, why not just declassify it and tell everyone what's in it instead of secretly leaking it?

If they primarily wanted the threat from Iraq to appear greater than it really was, we should know about that. If they leaked the report to discredit one of their critics, Joseph Wilson, and/or his CIA wife, Valerie Plame, we should know about that. Now is not the time for more "movie acting."

Just tell us the truth.
Unfortunately, Op-Ed columns like this are not half as common as they should be right now. From E&P:
It's been about a week since the news that President Bush may have set in motion the leaking of intelligence in 2003. But, so far, few syndicated columnists have commented about Bush's apparent declassification action.
It's just not good enough. Look, here's another example. Newsweek looks at how Bush is becoming familiar with the "M Word":
In fact, it took until this week—during another speech on Iraq, this time to foreign-policy students in Washington—for the president to say this about the same topic: "We have learned from our mistakes. We've adjusted our approach to meet the changing circumstances on the ground; we've adjusted depending upon the actions of the enemy."

Earlier speeches on Iraq mentioned the M word, but always in the context of someone else...
Yet the article goes on to say that Condi Rice "took excessive heat" for admitting the US had made "a host of tactical mistakes" in Iraq. "Excessive"? A hundred thousand Iraqis are dead, damn it! Their country is in ruins! Who has ever been held accountable for these "mistakes"? Who has ever been fired? Until that happens, no criticism can be considered excessive!

Unable to take a firm and principle stance, the Newsweek article becomes a jello-like piece of waffling nonsense (I sense an editor's hand at work here):
The president's readiness to concede to a mistake—and do so explicitly—marks a watershed moment for his administration. It may be a statement of the obvious that will satisfy few of his critics and change nothing on the ground in Iraq. But it is yet another sign that the White House recognizes how its political fortunes have changed forever—and how public opinion has shifted against the war...

Perhaps, with no more elections ahead of him, Bush feels he has more leeway to speak freely. Or perhaps he feels he needs to reconnect with the public in ever-more-human ways. Either way, it's time for the press corps to demand something other than the M word. Maybe it's time to ask him to say sorry.
Maybe? Do you reckon? Duh!!!

No wonder increasing numbers of people in the West are turning to Al Jazeera for an alternative viewpoint:
To save their face, Bush and his team continue to lie. They all lied, without exception, about the Iraq War. When news broke last week that Bush personally authorized the leak of secret intelligence ahead of the Iraq War to justify the invasion, Republicans couldn’t defend their corrupt and morally-bankrupt leader, admitting privately that Bush’s Presidency will go down in history as a monumental failure. And Democrats cited Bush’s repeated denials of any knowledge of secret information leaks.
Even Google seems to be ahead of the Western media curve... Type the word “failure“ now and it returns Bush’s biography on the White House website (previously, you had to enter the complete phrase “miserable failure”). And a search for “weapons of mass destruction” lists a faux error page saying “These Weapons of Mass Destruction cannot be displayed”.

That sort of thing may be good for a laugh, but it is nothing like the kind of genuine public accountability that is needed now if anything resembling faith in government is to be preserved.


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