Friday, November 24, 2006

Falling Fast

The US dropped 9 places in the 2006 Index of Press Freedom by Reporters Without Borders issued last month...

One particularly egregious US case cited is the jailing of Josh Wolf, a freelance journalist and blogger, who has been imprisoned more than four months for refusing to hand over video tapes he filmed in San Francisco of a protest against the G8 Summit last year...

Other cases of US press intimidation include Sudanese cameraman Same al-Hajj, who works for the pan-Arab broadcaster Al-Jazzeera, who has been held without trial since June 2002 at the US military base at Guantanamo; and Associated Press photographer Bilal Hussein, who has been held by US authorities in Iraq since April. The AP has been trying to secure his release for seven months...

During the first year of the index, in 2002, the US was ranked 17th. The US has fallen...36 places since 2002.

Full Article

Sunday, November 05, 2006

During Clinton's presidency, the Republican majority in Congress spent 140 hours hearing testimony over whether Clinton had misused the White House Christmas card list to seek out potential Democratic donors. By contrast, there have been only twelve hours of testimony so far on the Abu Ghraib torture scandal.

Georg Mascolo in Washington

Saturday, October 14, 2006

What’s the Best Reasonably Realistic Scenario for the Next Six Years?

Steve Says:

I look for an end to poverty in the entire U.S. I look for the most refined and efficacious healthcare system in the world. I hope for a candidate in office who has the boldness and conviction of vision to embrace a true wed of the Socialist and Capitalist model. I hope… and dream, for November 7, 2006.
  1. Andrew Bard Schmookler of The Blinding of America

Friday, September 29, 2006

What Our Country is Coming To

With a smug stroke of his pen, President Bush is set to wipe out a safeguard against illegal imprisonment that has endured as a cornerstone of legal justice since the Magna Carta.

AUSTIN, Texas - Oh dear. I’m sure he didn’t mean it. In Illinois’ Sixth Congressional District, long represented by Henry Hyde, Republican candidate Peter Roskam accused his Democratic opponent, Tammy Duckworth, of planning to “cut and run” on Iraq.

Duckworth is a former Army major and chopper pilot who lost both legs in Iraq after her helicopter got hit by an RPG. “I just could not believe he would say that to me,” said Duckworth, who walks on artificial legs and uses a cane. Every election cycle produces some wincers, but how do you apologize for that one?

The legislative equivalent of that remark is the detainee bill now being passed by Congress. Beloveds, this is so much worse than even that pathetic deal reached last Thursday between the White House and Republican Sens. John Warner, John McCain and Lindsey Graham. The White House has since reinserted a number of “technical fixes” that were the point of the putative “compromise.” It leaves the president with the power to decide who is an enemy combatant.

This bill is not a national security issue‹-this is about torturing helpless human beings without any proof they are our enemies. Perhaps this could be considered if we knew the administration would use the power with enormous care and thoughtfulness. But of the over 700 prisoners sent to Gitmo, only 10 have ever been formally charged with anything. Among other things, this bill is a CYA for torture of the innocent that has already taken place.

Death by torture by Americans was first reported in 2003 in a New York Times article by Carlotta Gall. The military had announced the prisoner died of a heart attack, but when Gall saw the death certificate, written in English and issued by the military, it said the cause of death was homicide. The “heart attack” came after he had been beaten so often on this legs that they had “basically been pulpified,” according to the coroner.

The story of why and how it took the Times so long to print this information is in the current edition of the Columbia Journalism Review. The press in general has been late and slow in reporting torture, so very few Americans have any idea how far it has spread. As is often true in hierarchical, top-down institutions, the orders get passed on in what I call the downward communications exaggeration spiral.

For example, on a newspaper, a top editor may remark casually, “Let’s give the new mayor a chance to see what he can do before we start attacking him.”

This gets passed on as “Don’t touch the mayor unless he really screws up.”

And it ultimately arrives at the reporter level as “We can’t say anything negative about the mayor.”

The version of the detainee bill now in the Senate not only undoes much of the McCain-Warner-Graham work, but it is actually much worse than the administration’s first proposal. In one change, the original compromise language said a suspect had the right to “examine and respond to” all evidence used against him. The three senators said the clause was necessary to avoid secret trials. The bill has now dropped the word “examine” and left only “respond to.”

In another change, a clause said that evidence obtained outside the United States could be admitted in court even if it had been gathered without a search warrant. But the bill now drops the words “outside the United States,” which means prosecutors can ignore American legal standards on warrants.

The bill also expands the definition of an unlawful enemy combatant to cover anyone who has “has purposefully and materially supported hostilities against the United States.” Quick, define “purposefully and materially.” One person has already been charged with aiding terrorists because he sold a satellite TV package that includes the Hezbollah network.

The bill simply removes a suspect’s right to challenge his detention in court. This is a rule of law that goes back to the Magna Carta in 1215. That pretty much leaves the barn door open.

As Vladimir Bukovsky, the Soviet dissident, wrote, an intelligence service free to torture soon “degenerates into a playground for sadists.” But not unbridled sadism‹-you will be relieved that the compromise took out the words permitting interrogation involving “severe pain” and substituted
“serious pain,” which is defined as “bodily injury that involves extreme physical pain.”

In July 2003, George Bush said in a speech: “The United States is committed to worldwide elimination of torture, and we are leading this fight by example. Freedom from torture is an inalienable human right. Yet torture continues to be practiced around the world by rogue regimes, whose cruel methods match their determination to crush the human spirit.”

Fellow citizens, this bill throws out legal and moral restraints as the president deems it necessary‹-these are fundamental principles of basic decency, as well as law.

I’d like those supporting this evil bill to spare me one affliction: Do not, please, pretend to be shocked by the consequences of this legislation. And do not pretend to be shocked when the world seriously begins comparing us to the Nazis.


Thursday, September 28, 2006


It will not be long before persons start to disappear within the United States now that the Spector Amendment has been defeated. It may be that the votes today will ultimately result in a second civil war in the US when the people start to reassert their basic values as a free people. This process will take years, but as the infrastructure of tyranny and as the elections of 2008 fails, the die is now cast today as the protections against arbitrary government action is stripped away.

Within twenty years, America will be unrecognizable as a free society.
After today, there is no way back for the US.

First they came for the communists, and I did not speak out--
because I was not a communist;
Then they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out--
because I was not a socialist;
Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out--
because I was not a trade unionist;
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out--
because I was not a Jew;
Then they came for me--
and there was no one left to speak out for me.

Martin Niemoeller

Friday, September 22, 2006

Taking the "scenic route" to torture

The White House's Dan Bartlett put it best, and most accurately, when he said, "We proposed a more direct approach to bringing clarification. This one is more of the scenic route, but it gets us there." Only the Bush administration could speak of taking a "scenic route" to torture…

If this "compromise" legislation is enacted -- and it can now be stopped only by the invisible, impotent congressional Democrats -- the United States will be a country that has formally legalized torture, and the president's "interrogation program" will continue unimpeded, with firmer legal authorization than ever before. And the American people, through our representatives in Congress, will have embraced and approved of the use of torture. Far and away, it is the impact on our national character that will be the most significant and enduring result from this "compromise."

-- Glenn Greenwald

[reproduced from]

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Two more follow...

Due to overcrowding where I volunteer, two beautiful black/dark brown buns were euthanized yesterday. I feel privileged to have been there the 1- 1/2 hours before they were taken. They got fresh water and hay and lots of pets. I cried. Boy, I cried. When the technician came I moved them so they were in hands they trusted. I kissed them on each head and said goodbye. I hope they know they were loved. I am so sorry you had to go.

I see you.
Alice & Bill
? -- Monday, 8/21/06

I will miss you.

In Memoriam II

Beauty & Lucius

I see you.

Both were in the shelter since I started volunteering there.
A deadly bureaucratic mistake took their lives.

You are loved.
? -- Friday, 8/18/06

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

The Fear Factory

"Today's a RED and ORANGE ALERT day. How odd. They just caught the British guys with the chemistry sets. But when these guys were about to blow up airliners, the USA was on YELLOW alert. That's a 'lowered' threat notice.

"According to the press office from the Department of Homeland Security, lowered-threat Yellow means that there were no special inspections of passengers or cargo.

Isn't it nice of Mr. Bush to alert Osama when half our security forces are given the day off? Hmm. I asked an Israeli security expert why his nation doesn't use these pretty color codes.

"He asked me if, when I woke up, I checked the day's terror color.

"'I can't say I ever have. I mean, who would?'

"He smiled. 'The terrorists.'

"America is the only nation on the planet that kindly informs bombers, hijackers and berserkers the days on which they won't be monitored. You've got to get up pretty early in the morning to get a jump on George Bush's team.

"There are three possible explanations for the Administration's publishing a good-day-for-bombing color guidebook.

"1. God is on Osama's side.

"2. George is on Osama's side.

"3. Fear sells better than sex.

"A gold star if you picked #3.

"I'm going to tell you something which is straight-up heresy: America is not under attack by terrorists. There is no WAR on terror because, except for one day five years ago, al Qaeda has pretty much left us alone.

"That's because Osama got what he wanted. There's no mystery about what Al Qaeda was after. Like everyone from the Girl Scouts to Bono, Osama put his wish on his web site. He had a single demand: 'Crusaders out of the land of the two Holy Places.' To translate: get US troops out of Saudi Arabia.

"And George Bush gave it to him. On April 29, 2003, two days before landing on the aircraft carrier Lincoln, our self-described "War President" quietly put out a notice that he was withdrawing our troops from Saudi soil. In other words, our cowering cowboy gave in whimpering to Osama's demand.

"The press took no note. They were all wiggie over Bush's waddling around the carrier deck in a disco-aged jump suit announcing, 'MISSION ACCOMPLISHED.' But it wasn't America's mission that was accomplished, it was Osama's ..."

Greg Palast

Gullible Americans

by Paul Craig Roberts
"The two co-chairmen of the 9/11 Commission Report, Thomas Kean and Lee Hamilton, have just released a new book, 'Without Precedent: The Inside Story of the 9/11 Commission.' Kean and Hamilton reveal that the commission suppressed the fact that Muslim ire toward the US is due to US support for Israel's persecution and dispossession of the Palestinians, not to our 'freedom and democracy' as Bush propagandistically claims. Kean and Hamilton also reveal that the US military committed perjury and lied about its failure to intercept the hijacked airliners. The commission even debated referring the military's lies to the Justice Department for criminal investigation. Why should we assume that these admissions are the only coverups and lies in the 9/11 Commission Report?"

08/14/06 Information Clearing House

Friday, August 04, 2006

The world is a hard place...

In memoriam
of a special one-eyed bun
who took my heart and ran with it.
She crossed the rainbow bridge yesterday
due to overcrowding at the shelter
where I volunteer with the buns.
I didn't know until it was too late.
I'll miss you sweetheart.


(? -- August 3, 2006)
(definitely still adolescent!)

Friday, July 28, 2006

= The true civilization is where every man gives to every other every right that he claims for himself. ~Robert Ingersoll

The propagandist's purpose is to make one set of people forget that certain other sets of people are human. ~Aldous Huxley

= We in America do not have government by the majority. We have government by the majority who participate. ~Thomas Jefferson

The man who does not do his own thinking is a slave, and is a traitor to himself and to his fellow-men.
~ Robert Green Ingersoll

Sunday, July 23, 2006

The Resume of George W. Bush

George W. Bush

The White House, USA



I was arrested in Kennebunkport, Maine, in 1976 for driving under the influence of alcohol.

I pled guilty, paid a fine, and had my driver's license suspended for 30 days.

My Texas driving record has been "lost" and is not available.


I joined the Texas Air National Guard and went AWOL. I refused to take a drug test or answer any questions about my drug use.

By joining the Texas Air National Guard, I was able to avoid combat duty in Vietnam.

COLLEGE: I graduated from Yale University with a low C average.

I was a cheerleader.


I ran for U.S. Congress and lost.

I began my career in the oil business in Midland, Texas, in 1975.

I bought an oil company, but couldn't find any oil in Texas.

The company went bankrupt shortly after I sold all my stock.

I bought the Texas Rangers baseball team in a sweetheart deal that took land using taxpayer money.

With the help of my father and our right-wing friends in the oil industry (including Enron CEO Ken Lay), I was elected governor of Texas.


I changed Texas pollution laws to favor power and oil companies, making Texas the most polluted state in the Union.

During my tenure, Houston replaced Los Angeles as the most smog-ridden city in America.

I cut taxes and bankrupted the Texas treasury to the tune of billions in borrowed money.

I set the record for the most executions by any governor in American history.

With the help of my brother, the governor of Florida, and my father's appointments to the Supreme Court, I became President after losing by over 500,000 votes.


I am the first President in U.S. history to enter office with a criminal record.

I invaded and occupied two countries at a continuing cost of over one billion dollars per week.

I spent the U.S. surplus and effectively bankrupted the U.S. Treasury.

I shattered the record for the largest annual deficit in U.S. history.

I set an economic record for most private bankruptcies filed in any 12-month period.

I set the all-time record for most foreclosures in a 12-month period.

I set the all-time record for the biggest drop in the history of the U.S. stock market.

In my first year in office, over 2 million Americans lost their jobs and that trend continues every month.

I'm proud that the members of my cabinet are the richest of any administration in U.S. history. My "poorest millionaire," Condoleeza Rice, has a Chevron oil tanker named after her.

I set the record for most campaign fund-raising trips by a U.S. President.

I am the all-time U.S. and world record-holder for receiving the most corporate campaign donations.

My largest lifetime campaign contributor, and one of my best friends, Kenneth Lay, presided over the largest corporate bankruptcy fraud in U.S. History, Enron.

My political party used Enron private jets and corporate attorneys to assure my success with the U.S. Supreme Court during my election decision.

I have protected my friends at Enron and Halliburton against investigation or prosecution.

More time and money was spent investigating the Monica Lewinsky affair than has been spent investigating one of the biggest corporate rip-offs in history.

I presided over the biggest energy crisis in U.S. history and refused to intervene when corruption involving the oil industry was revealed.

I presided over the highest gasoline prices in U.S. history.

I changed the U.S. policy to allow convicted criminals to be awarded government contracts.

I appointed more convicted criminals to administration than any President in U.S. history.

I created the Ministry of Homeland Security, the largest bureaucracy in the history of the United States government.

I've broken more international treaties than any President in U.S. history.

I am the first President in U.S. history to have the United Nations remove the U.S. from the Human Rights Commission.

I withdrew the U.S. from the World Court of Law.

I refused to allow inspectors access to U.S. "prisoners of war" detainees and thereby have refused to abide by the Geneva Convention.

I am the first President in history to refuse United Nations election inspectors (during the 2002 U.S. election).

I set the record for fewest number of press conferences of any President since the advent of television.

I set the the all-time record for most days on vacation in any one-year period.

After taking off the entire month of August, I presided over the worst security failure in U.S. history.

I garnered the most sympathy for the U.S. after the World Trade Center attacks and less than a year later made the U.S. the most hated country in the world, the largest failure of diplomacy in world history.

I have set the all-time record for most people worldwide to simultaneously protest me in public venues (15 million people), shattering the record for protest against any person in the history of mankind.

I am the first President in U.S. history to order an unprovoked, pre-emptive attack and the military occupation of a sovereign nation. I did so against the will of the United Nations, the majority of U.S. citizens, and the world community.

I have cut health care benefits for war veterans and support a cut in duty benefits for active duty troops and their families -- in wartime.

In my State of the Union Address, I lied about our reasons for attacking Iraq, then blamed the lies on our British friends.

I am the first President in history to have a majority of Europeans (71%) view my presidency as the biggest threat to world peace and security. I am supporting development of a nuclear "Tactical bunker Buster," a WMD.

I have so far failed to fulfill my pledge to bring in Osama Bin Laden and, in fact, have called off the search.


All records of my tenure as governor of Texas are now in my father's library, sealed and unavailable for public view.

All records of SEC investigations into my insider trading and my bankrupt companies are sealed in secrecy and unavailable for public view.

All records or minutes from meetings that I, or my Vice-President, attended regarding public energy policy are sealed in secrecy and unavailable for public view.

1:16 PM
from a post by shoes of peace at Unclaimed Territory

Friday, July 21, 2006

$591 million:

Halliburton’s second-quarter profit, a 51 percent increase over the same period last year.


In addition to Israelis and Lebanese, thousands of Americans find themselves in harm's way. Fifteen thousand Americans "have registered with the State Department’s Lebanon Task Force to receive evacuation information" and at least 8,000 have indicated they want to leave. American officials were slow to respond. Only a couple thousand have been able to evacuate so far and "departed two days after the first Europeans left on ships." Denmark, for example, "evacuated more than 4,000 of its citizens" by Thursday. There are still "no plans...for the [evacuation of] several hundred Americans in southern Lebanon." For several days, Americans were told they could only evacuate the country if they paid their own way. After a rash of criticism, Rice waived the requirement.

CNN report by way of
Center for American Progress

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

"Few of us can easily surrender our belief that society must somehow make sense. The thought that the state has lost its mind and is punishing so many innocent people is intolerable. And so the evidence has to be internally denied." ~ Arthur Miller

Excerpt from the opening of an eloquent letter to an Israeli newspaper posted on TruthOut by Zaynab.

This day in history

Women's Rights Convention Opens in Seneca Falls, NY (1848)
This two-day event was the first women's rights convention held in the US and is often cited as the birthplace ofthe feminist movement. At the conference, women issued a call for the US government to grant them equal rights, including the right to vote, to own property apart from their husbands, to attend colleges or professional schools, and to maintain custody of children after divorce.

A Message from Inside Beirut

This is a verbatim copy of an email sent to my husband by a co-worker on Monday, July 17, 2006 3:11 PM. I will let the email speak for itself.

[Co-worker: ** Hello All, I e-mailed one of my friends who lives in central beirut asking if she's ok and how the situation is. This is what she wrote back. I found it very interesting and heartfelt and thought i'd share it with you. Kind of makes you see the situation from the inside**]

To tell you the truth the question "Are you okay?" is actually quite relative because it depends on where you live.

Israelies have basically demolished the south region (homes, buildings, roads, bridges, gas stations and electricity plants), this includes Soor and Nabatieh and a bit of Saida, basically the shite regions. Those living in these regions will most likely tell you that their homes are demolished or they have lost a loved one. As for the rest of Lebanon (such as Beirut, Tripoli and the mountains), they are 'only' destroying every single building, highway or bridge which is related to hezbollah. In Beirut for example, they are destroying the Shite regions which incidently will affect all those living in or near those areas. Alhamdulilah, because we live in central Beirut, all the roads in our vicinity are clear and open and we are relatively safe.

Other than their primary goal of attacking Hezbollah regions, Israel has also been shown to be keen of destroying infrastructure in Lebanon as a whole. Israel has managed to destroy almost every single standing bridge, most of the main highways and the airport. This is being done in ALL of Lebanon not just the south. They've blocked off every single road and bridge that leads to the south of Lebanon. Thus leading to isolation of the south. In the rest of the country, theyr'e also destroying all the roads and bridges. It is as if they're trying to destroy all of our means of communication. They've surrounded the entire country and theyr'e not letting us get out!! They've done a complete naval blockade on the Mediterranean so we can't leave through the sea. The airport's struck so its closed. Roads through Tripoli and the Bekaa leading to Syria are now closed so we can't even evacuate through the Syrian border!!

It can be said that everywhere except for the south is calm for the time being. But of course if your house is next to a highway or bridge, your'e most likely in danger and your home is susceptible to harm. But danger is escalating by the day. Emotionally, I don't exagerrate by saying that I have been living in terror for the past 4 days. The weather is terribly hot, there is no electricity available for the better part of the day (except for those who are well off and have generators) and we continously hear bombing throughout the day. We just sit and wait.

No arab country is helping us. I'm sick and tired of hearing Israeli statements such as "We are trying to save them from Hezbollah.......We are doing what the UN wanted Hezbollah to do...... The Lebanese people will thank us later....." and other silly comments as such. Your helping us by destroying our country??? They keep saying that they are not hitting civilians and that they are just hitting land. They are hitting civilians but its not being said. Just 2 days ago, a man and his wife and 8 eight kids were killed by a bomb that directly struck their house. Another bomb was dropped on the home of a family of 7. Just today, a pickup truck was evacuating women and children from a town that was being warned of attack. Simply, a bombshell was dropped on it, killing 20 people. In the Bekaa, a yellow taxi occupied by a family that was driving towards Syria to take shelter was bombed. Are they telling these stories?

When they kill civilians, they say that it was a mistake. When arab militias kill Israeli civilians, they claim that its on purpose, emphasizing that we are inhumane and barbaric. A statement made earlier today by Israel claims that they did not know if the truck housed militia men or civilians. So they decided to go ahead a shoot. They are killing innocent civilians and they are destroying the entire infrastructure, construction and development of a whole nation in a matter of days!!

They claim that this is retaliation because Hezbollah started this violence by capturing two of their soldiers. So Israel keeps arguing that they are defending themselves and that this is what any nation would do after attack. Their reaction isn't different to what any other nation would do if they were put in this situation. But the rest of the world fails to see that Hezbollah's actions were instigated by the fact that many Lebanese prisoners are still in Israel and that dozens of people are dying daily in Gaza. Hezbollah is retaliating to Israel's actions, not vice versa!

Everyone feels just so helpless. We can't do anything about whats happening. My life, my family's lives and the lives of the Lebanese people are in the hands of incompetent leaders. My country is being demolished by the hour, innocent lives are being killed and CNN is directing a poll asking if what Israel is doing is justified. It's currently at 60% yes and 40% no. Ignorant and selfish people are voting based on information that they are getting from bias news stations. No one has the right to make such a judgement when they are not even living and feeling this terror. In the name of human compassion and understanding why are they claiming this war is justified?

Take the above information from someone who's actually in the middle of it.

Just pray for us and pray that this demolition and killing will stop.....

[name removed]

Permission to forward received 7/19/06

Bush: Worse Than Nixon

The writer was on Richard Nixon's "enemies list," but Bush's power grab has him really worried.
By Morton H. Halperin

MORTON H. HALPERIN served in the administrations of presidents Johnson, Nixon and Clinton. He is a senior fellow of the Center for American Progress and the director of U.S. Advocacy for the Open Soci
LA Times Op Ed July 16, 2006

THE BUSH administration's warrantless wiretapping program may have shocked and surprised many Americans when it was revealed in December, but to me, it provoked a case of deja vu.

The Nixon administration bugged my home phone — without a warrant — beginning in 1973, when I was on the staff of the National Security Council, and kept the wiretap on for 21 months. Why? My boss, national security advisor Henry Kissinger, and FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover believed that I might have leaked some information to the New York Times. When I left the government a few months later and went to work on Edmund Muskie's presidential campaign (and began actively working to end the war in Vietnam), the FBI continued to listen in and made periodic reports on everything it heard
to President Nixon and his closest associates in the White House.

Recent reports that the Bush administration is monitoring political opponents who belong to antiwar groups also sounded familiar to me. I was, after all, No. 8 on Nixon's "enemies list" — a curious compilation of 20 people about whom the White House was unhappy because they had disagreed in some way with the administration.

The list, compiled by presidential aide Charles Colson, included union leaders, journalists, Democratic fundraisers and me, among others, and was part of a plan to "use the available federal machinery to screw our political enemies," as presidential counsel John Dean explained it in a 1971 memo. I always suspected that I made the list because of my active opposition to the war, though no one ever said for sure (and I never understood what led Colson to write next to my name the provocative words, "a scandal would be helpful here").

As I watch the Bush administration these days, it's hard not to notice the clear similarities between then and now. Both the Nixon and Bush presidencies rely heavily on the use of national security as a pretext for the usurpation of unprecedented executive power. Now, just as in Nixon's day, a president mired in an increasingly unpopular war is taking extreme steps, including warrantless surveillance, that many people believe threaten American civil liberties and violate the Constitution. Both administrations shroud their actions in secrecy and attack the media for publishing what they learn about those activities.

But there also are important differences, and at first blush, it is hard to say which administration's policies are worse. Much of what the Nixon administration did was clearly illegal and in violation of the Constitution. Nixon and his colleagues seemed to understand that and worked hard to keep their activities secret. On the occasions when their actions became public, administration officials tried to blame others for them.

These actions were not limited to its warrantless wiretap program and the investigation of political opponents by the IRS and other agencies. They also included, among other things, the burglary of the office of Daniel Ellsberg's psychiatrist (to find evidence discrediting Ellsberg, who had leaked the Pentagon Papers to the New York Times) and the effort to have the CIA persuade the FBI to call off the investigation of the Watergate burglary (by asserting that it threatened national security).

Although the Nixon administration did argue (like the Bush administration) that virtually anything the president did to promote national security was lawful, it never presented an argument to justify these particular transgressions.

By contrast, as far as we know, the Bush administration has not engaged in any such inherently illegal activities. Nor has it, to our knowledge, specifically targeted its political opponents (aside from the outing of Joseph Wilson's wife, CIA agent Valerie Plame).

But even though Nixon's specific actions might have been more obviously illegal and more "corrupt" (in the sense that they were designed to advance his own career over his rivals), President Bush's claim of nearly limitless power — including the ability to engage in a range of activities that pose a fundamental threat to the constitutional order and to our civil liberties — overshadows all comparisons.

Among the many such activities are the seizure of U.S. citizens and their indefinite detention without charge or access to lawyers; warrantless wiretaps of citizens in violation of procedures mandated by Congress; and the seizing of individuals in foreign countries and their movement to third countries, where they have been subjected to torture in violation of U.S. laws and treaty obligations.

When these activities have leaked out, the president has not sought to deny them but has publicly defended them (and attacked the press for printing the information). The administration has vigorously opposed all efforts to have the courts review its actions, and when the Supreme Court has overruled the president, as it has several times now, the administration has given the court holdings the narrowest possible interpretation.

Congress has been treated with equal disdain. When the Senate voted overwhelmingly to prohibit torture and cruel and degrading treatment by all agencies, including the CIA, Vice President Dick Cheney warned lawmakers that they were overstepping their bounds and threatening national security. When Congress persisted and attached the language to a defense appropriations bill, the president signed the law with an accompanying statement declaring his right to disobey the anti-torture provisions.

The administration has repeatedly failed to inform Congress or its committees of what it was doing, or has told only a few selected members in a truncated way, preventing real oversight. Even leading Republicans, such as Michigan's Rep. Peter Hoekstra, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, and Sen. Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, have voiced strong concerns.

During the Nixon years, the laws governing what the president could do and under what circumstances he needed to inform Congress were murky. There were no intelligence committees in Congress, and there was no Intelligence Oversight Act. There was no legislated prohibition on national security surveillance.

In response to Watergate and the related scandals of the Nixon years, however, Congress constructed a careful set of prohibitions, guidelines and requirements for congressional reporting.

Bush's systematic and defiant violation of these rules, as well as of the mandates of the Constitution and international law, pose a challenge to our constitutional order and civil liberties that, in the end, constitutes a far greater threat than the lawlessness of Richard Nixon.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Offering Up Our Rights

"Beware the leader who bangs the drums of war in order to whip the citizenry into a patriotic fervor, for patriotism is indeed a double-edged sword. It both emboldens the blood, just as it narrows the mind...

And when the drums of war have reached a fever pitch and the blood boils with hate and the mind has closed, the leader will have no need in seizing the rights of the citizenry. Rather, the citizenry, infused with fear and blinded with patriotism, will offer up all of their rights unto the leader, and gladly so.

How do I know? For this is what I have done. And I am Caesar."

- William Shakespeare

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Boy, we raise some bright kids...

What the American Flag Stands For
by Charlotte Aldebron

The American flag stands for the fact that cloth can be very important. It is against the law to let the flag touch the ground or to leave the flag flying when the weather is bad. The flag has to be treated with respect. You can tell just how important this cloth is because when you compare it to people, it gets much better treatment. Nobody cares if a homeless person touches the ground. A homeless person can lie all over the ground all night long without anyone picking him up, folding him neatly and sheltering him from the rain.

School children have to pledge loyalty to this piece of cloth every morning. No one has to pledge loyalty to justice and equality and human decency. No one has to promise that people will get a fair wage, or enough food to eat, or affordable medicine, or clean water, or air free of harmful chemicals. But we all have to promise to love a rectangle of red, white, and blue cloth.

Betsy Ross would be quite surprised to see how successful her creation has become. But Thomas Jefferson would be disappointed to see how little of the flag's real meaning remains.

Charlotte Aldebron, 12, wrote this essay for a competition in her 6th grade English class. She attends Cunningham Middle School in Presque Isle, Maine. Comments may be sent to her mom, Jillian Aldebron:

Published on Wednesday, April 3, 2002 by
Common Dreams

“How is one to live a moral and compassionate existence when one is fully aware of the blood, the horror inherent in life, when one finds darkness not only in one's culture but within oneself? If there is a stage at which an individual life becomes truly adult, it must be when one grasps the irony in its unfolding and accepts responsibility for a life lived in the midst of such paradox.” -- Barry Lopez

Monday, July 10, 2006

An Unimpeachable Source...

Benjamin Ferencz, a former chief prosecutor of the Nuremberg Trials who successfully convicted 22 Nazi officers for their work in orchestrating death squads that killed more than one million people in the famous Einsatzgruppen Case says there is a case for trying Bush. Ferencz believes that a "prima facie case can be made that the United States is guilty of the supreme crime against humanity, that being an illegal war of aggression against a sovereign nation."

Read this excellent summary here:

Enough of politics....

How 'bout some beauty...

and some more...

it's everywhere...

Bristle Cone Pine, White Mountains, CA

Eastern Sierras by glider...

And there's always more...amazing earth.

let him think he's in charge...

This opinion piece was posted at Google Group, State-Project California.
Sharon Andrews
Fri, Jul 7 2006 6:01 pm

FRAMING -- Bush Is Not Incompetent

They let him think he's in charge, but it's the same backroom clan that
ran the place when Reagan was in office. I can't remember which
insider/author exposed the ugly truth -- maybe O'Neil/Suskind -- that they
all jockey to be the last to talk to him on a subject because he always
goes with the last argument he hears before making a "decision."

They keep him on his meds most of the time, sometimes too much so and
it shows. Dazed look. Grossly slurred speech. Jerky movements.
Facial twitches. The author of Bush on the Couch was interviewed by Randi
Rhodes one day last week, and the guy firmed up his earlier "diagnosis"
that the man is psychotic and in other circumstances would be
institutionalized. No kidding! For all the speculation that Cheney is actually
in charge, well, Cheney is actually in charge. But even though Bush
used to acquiesce to Cheney, now he really does believe he's making the
decisions, which explains why we catch bits and pieces in the news about
a battle between their respective offices.

We all know about the documented failures of this administrations, but
my greatest worry lies in all the quiet rule changes among the various
agencies and departments. The amount of damage these amoral bastards
are causing will take decades to resolve, if ever in some cases. I
believe, and I could be wrong, that it was John Dean who stated it might
take as long as fifty years. When Republicans -- e.g., Kansas -- jump
ship,. you have to know that it's even worse than we speculate.

So framing the issues is truly critical, and all the excited talk six
to twelve months ago about framing has been forgotten by our Democratic
leaders. The latest trap was set with cut-and-run, and they obliged.
Feinstein: "It is not cut-and-run." Even in their denials, they use
the same language, and thus they reinforce the Republicans' frame.

Read Lakoff et al.'s original overview. Worth the read.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

The Cough

It was an extraordinary, virile, rich cough.

I was seated, quietly eating my hotcakes, drinking my coffee and reading my Herald when a tall young man of considerable heft started to lower his huge body into the booth opposite me. As he did so, he coughed a great cough.

It was a gargantuan cough, a CMD (Cough of Mass Destruction). At first I didn't notice it, but it rolled towards me in slow motion like the boulder rolling after Indiana Jones. For several seconds I could hear it rumbling in my direction like an invisible cabbage, leaving in its wake swirls of air that eddied out and around the family restaurant. And it hit me fair square in the face like a large-calibre dum-dum bullet.

It was a Jerry Seinfeld situation. As I cringed and tried to send the giant an askance glance (unsuccessfully, for he refused to look up), I could feel the bacterial toxins getting a toehold in my lungs.

A week later (yesterday) I found myself with sinusitis, laryngitis, tonsillitis and the worst bronchitis I have had in my life. I'm not kidding.

I don't think anybody over the age of 8 has ever coughed in my face before. And I hope it never happens again.

Postscript: Two days after the Giant Cough, I was seated in the same booth eating hotcakes and drinking coffee, when the person in the booth behind me sent a Temple of Doom boulder-cough into the back of my head, ruffling my hair and raising my ire. Is this a new craze or something?


by Pip Wilson author of my favorite newletter, Blogmanac.

Cheney really wants U.S. dictator

By Andrew Greeley

07/07/06 "
Chicago Sun Times" -- -- In the winter of 1933, before Franklin Roosevelt's first inauguration on March 4, there was a clamor in the United States for a military dictatorship. The banks were closing, a quarter of Americans were unemployed, rebellion threatened on the farms. Only drastic reforms, mandated by the president's power as commander in chief, would save the country. Something like the fascism of Mussolini's Italy -- viewed benignly by many Americans in those days because it worked (or so everyone said) -- would save the country from communist revolution.

As Jonathan Alter reminds us in The Defining Moment, his brilliant book about FDR's first 100 days, men as different as William Randolph Hearst, financier Bernard Baruch, commentator Lowell Thomas and establishment columnist Walter Lipmann argued for the necessity of dictatorship to reorganize the country's economy.

The call for a military style dictatorship is the ultimate temptation to the greatest treason of a democratic society. Fortunately for us, FDR resisted the temptation and reformed the American economy by a mix of gradualist changes (like Social Security) and magical "fireside chats." Unfortunately years later he yielded to the temptation to a military dictatorship when he interned Japanese Americans simply because they were Japanese. In the first case he resisted the demands of the American people. In the second he caved in to their racist demands.

The United States is caught up in a new campaign for a military dictatorship -- rule by a military chief with absolute power. The White House, inspired by Vice President Dick Cheney, has argued that in time of great danger, the president has unlimited powers as commander in chief. If he cites "national security" he can do whatever he wants -- ignore Congress, disobey laws, disregard the courts, override the Constitution's Bill of Rights -- without being subject to any review. Separation of powers no longer exists. The president need not consult Congress or the courts. Moreover the rights of the commander in chief to act as a military dictator lasts as long as the national emergency persists, indefinitely that is and permanently.

Many, perhaps most Americans, don't mind. The president is "tough on terrorists" and that's all that matters. What is the Bill of Rights anyway? George W. Bush, his supporters will argue, is a good man, even a godly man. He won't misuse the powers, even if the power he claims is no less than Don Hugo Chavez exercises in Venezuela.

The Supreme Court in its ruling about a Guantanamo detainee just before Independence Day was a sharp rebuke to Cheneyism. It dealt with only one case and left the president wiggle room. He could consult with Congress about new legislation that would provide more rights for the detainees in a military trial. But that violates Cheney's first principle that the commander in chief doesn't have to consult with anyone on matters of national security. If the president was consistent with the Cheney theory and the Alberto Gonzales memos, he should defy the Supreme Court and insist that he has the right to establish whatever judicial process he deems proper for these potentially dangerous people without any interference from anyone. He may still do that.

Republicans who will seek re-election in November already suggest they will run against the court's decision. The court, they will tell the American people who want the detainees to be shot at sunrise tomorrow, is soft on terror, just like Democrats in Congress. They could probably get away with this nonsense because fear will cause the voters to forget that this is the Republican court that elected Bush.

Richard Cheney is a vile, indeed evil, influence in American political life. He is a very dangerous person who would if he could destroy American freedom about which he and his mentor prate hypocritically. His long years in Washington have caused him to lose faith in the legislative and judicial processes of the government. The country, he believes, requires a much stronger executive. Such concentrated power would have been necessary even if the World Trade Center attack had not occurred. He uses the fear of terrorists as a pretext to advance his agenda of an all powerful president, a military dictator. So long, of course, as he is a Republican.
Copyright 2006, Digital Chicago Inc.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Dick Cheney does the math

Or at least his financial advisers can.

Kiplinger's, via MSN Money, are reporting that Dick Cheney is betting that the economy is going to tank. When you take a look at the numbers: the deficit, the state of the dollar, the price of energy, stagnant wages, and the way that the economy is only being propped up by consumer spending, it's hard to be optimistic about the economy. And apparently, despite what he says, Cheney's not betting his own money on the success of his and George's economic policies.

He's put at least 10 million in a municipal bonds fund that will only do really well if interest rates keep rising; at least another mil in a money market fund that also depends on rising interest rates; and at least 2 million in "inflation protected" securities. Inflation protected securities are basically bonds and bond-like securities that pay a low interest rate, but that are structured to ensure that the principal grows with inflation. They're really only a good investment if you believe that inflation is on the rise and the dollar is going to sink.

Overall, our vice president has somewhere between 13 and 40 million dollars invested in things whose performance is based on interest rates and inflation rising, and the dollar tanking.

According to the same public disclosure documents from which this information was originally taken, his net worth is somewhere between 30 and 100 million. What that means is that it looks like the majority of his fluid money is solidly bet against the success of the policies of the government he is a part of.

Not pretty. But what did you really expect from a corrupt, power-hungry asshole who considers the government to be a great big racket for rewarding his buddies?


Posted on: July 7, 2006 10:28 AM, by Mark C. Chu-Carrol
(original information from - link below)

Source article here:

Thursday, June 29, 2006

When fascism comes to America it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross.

~Sinclair Lewis

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Ah, the 'Right' Science...

An asteroid possibly as large as a half-mile or more in diameter is rapidly approaching the Earth and will make an exceptionally close approach to our planet on July 3, passing just beyond the moon's orbit.

Skywatchers with good telescopes and some experience just might be able to get a glimpse of this cosmic rock as it streaks rapidly past our planet in the wee hours of the morning.

Clem Snopes, NASA public affairs spokesman and a part-time student at Pat Robertson's Regent University, urged Americans not to panic, saying there is little risk of a collision, given the flatness of the earth's surface.

However, Snopes also urged asteroid spectators not to stray too close to the horizon in their quest for a sighting, as Republican Party science advisors have determined there is a significant risk they will stumble off the edge of the world and fall straight into the fiery pits of hell.

To help prevent such a disaster, President Bush has mobilized National Guard units from all 50 states to string plush velvet theater ropes around the entire surface of the planet, Snopes added.



Monday, June 26, 2006

Where Are We on This Scale?

“The average age of the world's great civilizations has been 200 years. These nations have progressed through this sequence: from bondage to spiritual faith; from spiritual faith to great courage; from courage to liberty; from liberty to abundance; from abundance to selfishness; from selfishness to complacency; from complacency to apathy; from apathy to dependency; from dependency back again to bondage.” -- Sir Alex Fraser

Saturday, June 24, 2006

To Whom Do We Owe Our Destiny?

"The majority, oppressing an individual, is guilty of a crime, abuses its strength, and by acting on the law of the strongest breaks up the foundations of society."
-- Thomas Jefferson to P. Dupont, 1816

"Bear in mind this sacred principle, that though the will of the majority is in all cases to prevail, that will, to be rightful,
must be reasonable; that the minority possess their equal rights, which equal laws must protect, and to violate would be oppression."
-- Thomas Jefferson: 1st Inaugural, 1801

"...There is no nation on earth powerful enough to accomplish our overthrow. ... Our destruction, should it come at all, will be from another quarter. From the inattention of the people to the concerns of their government, from their carelessness and negligence, I must confess that I do apprehend some danger. I fear that they may place too implicit a confidence in their public servants, and fail properly to scrutinize their conduct; that in this way they may be made the dupes of designing men, and become the instruments of their own undoing."
-- Daniel Webster, June 1, 1837

Read this newsletter online
...from back in 1851. In a debate over women’s suffrage, Sojourner Truth took on one of the conservative religious voices of her day in her "Ain’t I a Woman?" remarks at the Ohio Women’s Rights Convention:

Then that little man in black there [a clergyman], he says women can’t have as much rights as men, ’cause Christ wasn’t a woman! Where did your Christ come from? Where did your Christ come from? From God and a woman! Man had nothing to do with Him.

If the first woman God ever made was strong enough to turn the world upside down all alone, these women together ought to be able to turn it back, and get it right side up again! And now they is asking to do it, the men better let them.

How could anything be added?

Excerpt from

Sunday, June 18, 2006

This, is serious...

On the Effectiveness of Aluminum Foil Helmets:

An Empirical Study more tin foil hats for me!

(thanks to Lasthorseman on TruthOut)


Dubya has forgotton where his heart surprise.

Thanks to
Blogmanac for this telling pic.

Friday, June 16, 2006

A Terrible Subject Put Beautifully in a Terrible Kind of Way...

"A ban on speech and a shroud of secrecy in perpetuity are antithetical to democratic concepts and do not fit comfortably with the fundamental rights guaranteed American citizens ... Unending secrecy of actions taken by government officials may also serve as a cover for possible official misconduct and/or incompetence." - Judge Richard Cardamone, explaining his decision to uphold the unconstitutionality of the Patriot Act's National Security letters provision.

Describing James Madison's belief that an absolutely essential condition for the American republic be that "no man is allowed to be a judge in his own cause," Gary Wills writes, in Explaining America,

No king, no legislature, no body at all should be put in a situation where interest has no overseer. The virtuous man will not want to be put in that situation. He welcomes the scrutiny of fair men. His virtue is not private, but public; on display, and asking to be tested.

Could the presidency of the Bush administration possibly be further removed from that ideal of “deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed,"? Having its "virtue" displayed in public, to be judged by "the scrutiny of fair men" is the last thing that the administration wants. Indeed, since the President took office, it has been a matter of policy that this administration ask to be put in a situation where it would be a judge in its own cause, while also asking us to trust that it is privately virtuous.

The administration has claimed that neither Congress nor the Courts can review its actions. Congress doesn't seem to mind very much, and the administration avoids the courts whenever it appears that it might be challenged. It claims "state secrets" would prevent a court from judging its actions. But this administration has lost the right to the benefit of the doubt. The right to keep secret the President deciding that laws no longer apply to him, that he can be a judge in his own cause, can not be a matter of national security.

As Thomas Paine put it:

In America the law is king. For as in absolute governments the king is law, so in free countries the law ought to be king.

It has become apparent that "national security" is used by the administration as a synonym for its own private political interests, private political interests that would make George W. Bush king ... Madison's nightmare.

It is not transparency and openness that threatens our security, but obsessive and excessive secrecy. Removal of oversight of the government is a threat to our security. When our government operates in the shadows we have no idea whether or not what they are doing is in our interest. The sad, likely truth is that the events of September eleventh, 2001 could have been prevented if better analysis of the existing intelligence had taken place - intelligence that was gathered without the Patriot Act, without the NSA being authorized to spy on Americans without a warrant, without secret CIA prisons, without "enhanced interrogation tactics", without President Bush asserting the right to unilaterally decide when the Constitution is applicable.

This administration, full of ideologues, immune from consideration of reality, deliberating in secret, hiding their motives from us, is what threatens us. Look at their track record. They were warned that their abandonment of the Geneva Conventions would invite abuse, they did it anyway. They were warned invading Iraq would require more troops, they claimed otherwise and fired the general who told them that. They were warned the invasion would cost over two hundred billion dollars, they claimed otherwise and fired the person that told them that. They were warned that there was no evidence linking Iraq to WMD's or al Qaeda, they claimed it anyway. They were advised to plan for a post invasion occupation, they decided not to for ideological reasons. They were warned that an insurgency would soon grow out of control in the newly occupied Iraq, they removed the CIA agent responsible for the report. Et cetera.

Yesterday the Senate Judiciary Committee approved an amendment to prohibit flag burning. So maybe it's fitting that, if we're going to be a police state, we may as well start acting like it. After all, as Ed Brayton notes:

One of the very first things that Hitler did upon seizing power in Germany was ban the burning of the German flag; the punishment was imprisonment. In China, where we all watched the student protestors at Tiananmen Square burn the Chinese flag, their actions result in a minimum of 3 years in prison. The other two nations that punish those who burn their flag at the moment: Cuba and Iran.

Read it all here: