Saturday, November 26, 2005

Paranoia or time to defend democracy

If the righties have been good at one thing, its using the mechamicisms of an open society to undermine the very freedom which they claim to care so much about. They have succeeded in defining freedom as security. They have and continue defer the rule of law in favor of order. The Soviets had order, the Chinese have order, all authoritarian regimes do. These regimes do not have a culture of ethics or a systems of genuine social justice which the rule of law would dictate.
By way of Democratic Veteran, Welcome to Germany, 1933

The moves have taken place on several fronts. The White House is considering expanding the power of a little-known Pentagon agency called the Counterintelligence Field Activity, or CIFA, which was created three years ago. The proposal, made by a presidential commission, would transform CIFA from an office that coordinates Pentagon security efforts -- including protecting military facilities from attack -- to one that also has authority to investigate crimes within the United States such as treason, foreign or terrorist sabotage or even economic espionage.

The Pentagon has pushed legislation on Capitol Hill that would create an intelligence exception to the Privacy Act, allowing the FBI and others to share information gathered about U.S. citizens with the Pentagon, CIA and other intelligence agencies, as long as the data is deemed to be related to foreign intelligence. Backers say the measure is needed to strengthen investigations into terrorism or weapons of mass destruction.

beware, possible Godwin's Law violation ahead. Jo at DV quotes from Goering. Not an unfair comparison in my view. Let's continue the eerie comparison to our current political climate.
As the creator of the secret police, Goering, together with Himmler (q.v.) and Heydrich (q.v.), set up the early concentration camps for political opponents, showing formidable energy in terrorizing and crushing all resistance.

On 1 March 1935 he was appointed Commander-in-Chief of the Air Force and, with Udet and Milch, was responsible for organizing the rapid build-up of the aircraft industry and training of pilots. In 1936 his powers were further extended by his appointment as Plenipotentiary for the implementation of the Four Year Plan, which gave him virtually dictatorial controls to direct the German economy. The creation of the state-owned Hermann Goering Works in 1937, a gigantic industrial nexus which employed 700,000 workers and amassed a capital of 400 million marks, enabled him to accumulate a huge fortune

and let's here from an admittedly flawed man that possessed great vision.
The liberty of a democracy is not safe if the people tolerate the growth of private power to a point where it comes strong than their democratic state itself. That, in its essence, is fascism - ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or any controlling private power.

Franklin D. Roosevelt

Note the deep partnership that the current administration has with large multi-national corporation like Haliburton and the pandering to the right-wing religious extremists. When pundits from The Wall Street Journal to radio shock jock to certain facsist-lite bloggers throw out words like traitor at the mereist whim, that's not the worst of times, that's a warning of what could be. Will the John Murthas, Cindy Sheehans, Michael Moores, or Wesley Clarkes that are derided today have a dossier today and be somehow cut off from the public debate tomorrow. Yes. its easy to dismiss talk like this as being over reaction, its also easy to let small freedom after small freedom slip away until there is little left. There are no small freedoms.At the very core of liberalism is that which even contrarian liberals and progressives agree on, that whether authoritarianism comes from the far right, the far left, or radical Muslims, its always wrong.

For those that feel that its a reasonable trade-off, security at the sacrifice of civil liberties, there is no country where that formula has worked for long or worked for the betterment of that society.
"Experience should teach us to be most on our guard to protect liberty when the
government's purposes are beneficent. Men born to freedom are naturally alert to repel invasion of their liberty by evil-minded rulers. The greatest dangers to liberty lurk in insidious encroachment by men of zeal, well meaning but without understanding."

Justice Louis Brandeis, 1928

I disagree with Justice Brandeis in the sense that the leaders of the modern incarnation of the Republican Party are acting with the most malicious of intentions. Sure, there are good well meaning people that have had their patriotism exploited by these masters of modern propaganda, but people like G.W. Bush who once refered to FDR as a socialists, have only contempt for a progressive democracy that regards it as a moral obligation to take care of the poor, the aged, and the working class.

Blessings? By Cindy Sheehan
It was hard to feel blessed today as I sat at Casey's grave here in Vacaville, California. Sure, a lot of good things have happened in my sphere of influence this year, but the blessings are always hampered by the reason for the blessings.

If Casey had not been killed in Iraq in George's imperialistic war for power and wealth, I wouldn't be on this path. I wish to God I weren't on this path. But I am, so here are the blessings I am thankful for this year.

Congratulations to those in Crawford, Tx that "cut and run" from the wrath of M's Sheehan, a proud moment I'm sure.

Some worldly thoughts on Bush, Iraq, and those that sacrifice

First Bush foreign borrowing highest in US history-- record-breaking foreign debt

Bush Administration Breaks Record

Administration Borrows more from Foreign Nations than Previous 42 Presidents Combined

Washington, D.C. - President George W. Bush and the current Administration have now borrowed more money from foreign governments and banks than the previous 42 U.S. presidents combined.

Throughout the first 224 years (1776-2000) of our nation's history, 42 U.S. presidents borrowed a combined $1.01 trillion from foreign governments and financial institutions according to the U.S. Treasury Department. In the past four years alone (2001-2005), the Bush Administration has borrowed a staggering $1.05 trillion. "The seriousness of this rapid and increasing financial vulnerability of our country can hardly be overstated," said Rep. John Tanner (D-TN)...

Next New World Order Redux, Part I from Jeff Huber at Pen and Sword, with a series related to the utter mismanagement of our economy and what's around the corner, and lurch at Main and Central, Two Writers on Iraq
or why Ann Coulter and Michelle Malkin should be allowed to have their say, but a little tar and feathering is called for.
Sue's voice rises in indignation above the noise of the New York diner, angry and brave and drowning out the joshing of two vets at the other end of the table. "I remember very clearly my son's last words before he went back after his two weeks' vacation. "I don't know who my enemy is,' he said. "It's a worthless, senseless war, a war of religion. We'll never win it.' He wasn't killed. He was murdered. He was murdered by the U.S. administration. He was out looking for IEDs. He found one, stopped his convoy and was blown up. I regard it as a suicide mission."

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Iraq's oil: The spoils of war

Conservative incest: Satan's minion Cheney to raise money for Satan's cousin, Delay.

Cheney to Headline DeLay Fundraiser
"Congressman Tom DeLay has been an exceptional leader on Capitol Hill and Vice President Cheney looks forward to helping his re-election effort," said Lee Anne McBride, a Cheney spokeswoman in Washington.

No hyperbole used to describe this would go far enough. Criminals that hide behind what ever is handy: the Bible, the flag, the constitution refer to each other in glowing hypocrisy.
Nov 2000:
Delay Tries to Intimidate Supreme Court Judges to Fix Election Outcome

"Those who cherish the idea of judicial independence can only be chilled by Mr. DeLay's utter contempt for it. Listen to him, as quoted in The Washington Post in September 1997: "The judges need to be intimidated. They need to uphold the Constitution." If they don't behave, he said, "we're going to go after them in a big way." --Bob Herbert, NYT

Nov 28 2000:
Tom Delay Finances Trip of 'Rioters' to Florida to Disrupt the Presidential Election Recount

The Miami-Dade thugs included 200 Capitol Hill aides rounded up by Tom DeLay's staff and sent on an all-expenses paid trip, paid for by the Bush campaign. Right up front on television images were Thomas Pyle, an aide DeLay, and Michael Murphy, who works for a DeLay fund-raising committee. That evening, the vigilantes received a congratulatory call from George W. Bush and Dick Cheney, who joked about the riot. Then Wayne Newton sang to them - unbelievably - in German.

Should we mention that many of these rioters flew down on Enron company jets.

Bush crony gets new job

Brown to start emergency planning consulting business
"Hurricane Katrina showed how bad disasters can be, and there's an incredible need for individuals and businesses to understand how important preparedness is," he said.

I guess I'm supposed to be shocked, remember Brownie belongs to the delsional political party that makes up its own reality.
In the summer of 2002, after I had written an article in Esquire that the White House didn't like about Bush's former communications director, Karen Hughes, I had a meeting with a senior adviser to Bush. He expressed the White House's displeasure, and then he told me something that at the time I didn't fully comprehend -- but which I now believe gets to the very heart of the Bush presidency.

The aide said that guys like me were ''in what we call the reality-based community,'' which he defined as people who ''believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality.'' I nodded and murmured something about enlightenment principles and empiricism. He cut me off. ''That's not the way the world really works anymore,'' he continued. ''We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality -- judiciously, as you will -- we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors . . . and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.''
from an article in The New York Times by Ron Susking

Brown isn't the least phased by reality, that he is an utter complete failure, that his incompetence costs lives and property. Nope, that would require an honest self assessment and the kool-kids don't do anything like that.

More on Bush, Blair and the leak about al-Jazeera

By way of Informed Comment, a time table of Bush al-Jazeera. While I withhold judgement for now ( there's a lot to digest ) it does make for an interesting read. Especially since Qatar is a pro western ally. The Whitehouse denials, after so many untruths are certainly up for close scrutiny. If this all turns out to be true, more damage to our international credibility.

From Booman Tribune Bush V Al-Jazeera: Fact or Fancy?
Al-Jazeera's HQ is in the business district of Qatar's capital, Doha.

Its single-storey buildings would have made an easy target for bombers. As it is sited away from residential areas, and more than 10 miles from the US's desert base in Qatar, there would have been no danger of "collateral damage".

Dozens of al-Jazeera staff at the HQ are not, as many believe, Islamic fanatics. Instead, most are respected and highly trained technicians and journalists.

To have wiped them out would have been equivalent to bombing the BBC in London and the most spectacular foreign policy disaster since the Iraq War itself.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Bush's Ownership Society: Why No One's Buying


A little late, but I did remember.
John Fitzgerald Kennedy, the 35th president of the United States, is assassinated while traveling through Dallas, Texas, in an open-top convertible.

First lady Jacqueline Kennedy rarely accompanied her husband on political outings, but she was beside him, along with Texas Governor John Connally and his wife, for a 10-mile motorcade through the streets of downtown Dallas on November 22. Sitting in a Lincoln convertible, the Kennedys and Connallys waved at the large and enthusiastic crowds gathered along the parade route. As their vehicle passed the Texas School Book Depository Building at 12:30 p.m., Lee Harvey Oswald allegedly fired three shots from the sixth floor, fatally wounding President Kennedy and seriously injuring Governor Connally. Kennedy was pronounced dead 30 minutes later at Dallas' Parkland Hospital. He was 46.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Its lonely in right-wing world

Those flaming america hating liberals at the Pentagon are investigating former U.S. defense undersecretary Douglas Feith.
What for?
The inspector general's office informed the Senate on October 19 that it would undertake a review after receiving separate requests from the Republican chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and the ranking Democrat on the Senate Committee on Armed Services, officials said.

Congressional officials expect the review to look at whether Feith and his staff bypassed the CIA by giving the White House uncorroborated intelligence that sought to make a case for war in the months leading up to the 2003 Iraq invasion.

and where's the love from the Iraqi's they placed in power ? Iraqi leaders adopt Murtha proposal for withdrawal
Leaders of Iraq's sharply divided Shiites, Kurds and Sunnis called Monday for a timetable for the withdrawal of U.S.-led forces in the country and said Iraq's opposition had a ``legitimate right'' of resistance.

As the right was getting all geared up to Swift-boat John Murtha for proposing a drawdown of troops the Pentagon had John's back. Considering Murtha's close ties to the military, it wouldn't surprise me if he had some inkling of this when he made his proposal last week. Must be a huge liberal conspiracy, the Democrats, the Pentagon, and the CIA on one side. Bush and his shrill supporters on the other. We played by the rules, didn't Swift-boat anyone. The wombats cheated, lied, and smeared, and constanly turned up the right-wing noise machine and according to the polls they still lost.

Pentagon plans for troop drawdown in Iraq
Pentagon and U.S. military officials tell NBC News the plan calls for the substantial withdrawal of more than 60,000 troops from Iraq. The plan was drafted by Gen. John Abizaid and Gen. George Casey, the two top U.S. commanders of the war.

If Iraqi elections are successful in December and a new parliament seated by January, withdrawal could begin almost immediately. Military officials say it would be an incremental or phased withdrawal — beginning slowly at first, with one or two battalions — up to 2,000 troops at a time.

We keep calling Bush a liar for a reason

Bush used Veterans Day to restart his smear of Democrats. In Con-World this is acceptable behavior. A day created to honor vets by all americans used for partisan puposes by a chickenhawk. Instead of engaging in the current concerns of the american public he decided to lie. His base gets upset, saying that we hate Bush and are just name calling. No, that is not the case for most of us. We don't dislike Bush and then retroactinely find reasons to justify that dislike. He lies, exploits tragedy, governs badly and for that we have no respect for him.
In his speech today, President Bush claimed that members of Congress who voted for the 2002 Iraq war resolution “had access to the same intelligence” as his administration. This is patently false.

Rather talk about our lack of respect for Bush, let's talk about the lack of respect that Bush has for america and its institutions. The Constitution provides for checks and balances on the various branches of government. While the president is considered the commander-in-chief, only Congress decided if we go to war, except under the most extraordinary circumstances. For Congress to carry out its side of the bargain in terms of distribution of responsibility and powers, the executive branch can't withhold information that is vital to making an informed decision. A president that respects America and the whole concept of a democratic republic would take it as a matter of personal integrity and good governance to adhere to those principles. Bush has lied to and hiddden vital information from the elected representatives of the american people.

Key Bush Intelligence Briefing Kept From Hill Panel
The Senate Intelligence Committee has asked the White House for the CIA assessment, the PDB of September 21, 2001, and dozens of other PDBs as part of the committee's ongoing investigation into whether the Bush administration misrepresented intelligence information in the run-up to war with Iraq. The Bush administration has refused to turn over these documents.

Indeed, the existence of the September 21 PDB was not disclosed to the Intelligence Committee until the summer of 2004, according to congressional sources. Both Republicans and Democrats requested then that it be turned over. The administration has refused to provide it, even on a classified basis, and won't say anything more about it other than to acknowledge that it exists.

For almost five years Bush has treated this democratic republic with contempt, there's no reason that we the people shouldn't treat him in the same manner.

God ?

There is No God
Believing there's no God means I can't really be forgiven except by kindness and faulty memories. That's good; it makes me want to be more thoughtful. I have to try to treat people right the first time around.

Besides being a good personal essay, I link to this piece by Penn Jillette because we share a common concern about censorship. Censorship is that never ending life long battle. You find yourself defending some people's right to speak that you find personally despicable. Life is strange.

But it does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods or no God. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.

-Thomas Jefferson, Notes on Virginia, 1782

Right-wing blogs want to discuss Cheney's X rather then Scanlon's corruption

With tin-foil firmly in place the Cheney X conpiracy switch is in the on position , while the port that requires them to deal with the deep moral bankruptcy that pervades their party is blocked out.

Scanlon Sentencing Deferred Until Cooperation Over
Former DeLay aide and Abramoff associate Michael Scanlon pleaded guilty today to a five year count of conspiracy that included bribery of public officials and devising a scheme to defraud his firm's lobbying clients.

Its the usual tactic. When things are going terribily wrong, change the subject. The corruption of all things good and american continues, with wombats leading the charge.

An enemy generally says and believes what he wishes. -Thomas Jefferson

Monday, November 21, 2005

Exploiting 9-11 doesn't work anymore, White Phos update, Cons suck at Intelligence, torture is the low road

Many have asked, how long can Bush exploit 9-11 and the fears of the average american for political gain ? It appears that he and Cheney can keep trying, but the majority of americans aren't buying: He’s Done by Laura Rozen
Things change fast, when they finally do. For more than two years, the daily reports of American casualties and car bombs in Iraq, questions about how the White House had led the country into the Iraq War, and the torture memos and “extraordinary renditions” -- with their subterranean narrative of an almost wholly undebated U.S. policy to commit torture -- had bounced off the Teflon presidency of George W. Bush. The media had decided after September 11 that Bush was America’s Churchill. That was the story line -- and for endless and maddening months, there was no dislodging it.

These posts about white phosphorus may seem to cancel each other out, but I think they compliment my previous post about an independent investigation and the need for the Pentagon to get its story together. There are those of us that want very much to believe the best. I'm certainly enough of a nationalists to want to think the best of our armed forces, but anyone that has ever been in the military knows that its not unlike a large corporation, with the executives at the top frequently engaging in double talk and living by the save your own ass first rule. This isn't an ideological rut thats exclusive to one group of people or institution, its just human nature. Its at times like this that the unvarnished truth is the only moral course, and apologies, if required.

Lies, damned lies, and the... BBC?
This story makes it sound like the US is defending its right to use white phosphorus against civilians. That is not the case. The US is reiterating what is a legal and known fact - that WP is not a "chemical weapon" and that it is not a "banned" weapon. It is a conventional weapon like high explosive, bullets, bayonets, or hand grenades. The only restrictions on its use are those that apply to all other weapons - you don't target civilians.

and this

Pentagon has called WP a "chemical weapon"

Its like an echo at this point, torture just doesn't work. Torture dehumanizes both the victim and the perpetrator. In the war for hearts and minds we lose. Over the past few days I've ventured over to the moon-batty right side of the blogosphere. On every page was some remark about beheadings. The repulsion that people feel over that barbaric practice is well founded. The repulsion over torture is just as well founded. Are we to be the knights in shining armour or thejust the distorted mirror image of the barberians we're supposed to be fighting. We're supposed to fighting them because we're more moral then them, not just more moral by one or two degrees. Do we really want to take the position that ,yeah we torture, but hey we don't behead people. That's the kind of argument you would expect two inmates at an asylum for the criminally insane.

CIA Veterans Condemn Torture
Among the fundamental conceits of the architects of the Bush administration's war on terrorism is that heavy-handed interrogation is useful, even necessary, to get any information that will protect the American people, and that such interrogation techniques are devoid of negative consequences in dealing with real or suspected terrorists. One way this notion has played out in practice is the CIA's use of "extraordinary rendition," in which terror suspects overseas are kidnapped and delivered to third-party countries for interrogation -- which, not uncharacteristically, includes some measure of torture, and sometimes fatal torture.

Curt Weldon and Porter Goss are two very good reasons not to let cons anywhere our national intelligence apparatus.
In the Valerie Plame case months earlier, Goss told the Herald Tribune of Florida that the uproar over allegations that someone in the White House purposely identified a covert CIA agent appeared largely political and didn't yet merit an investigation by the House Select Committee on Intelligence. Goss said he would act if he did have evidence and said, "Somebody sends me a blue dress and some DNA, I'll have an investigation."

Senator John Rockefeller, the vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, which will hold hearings on the nomination, declared that it was a mistake to select "any politician, from either party." Former CIA Director Stansfield Turner, who served in the Carter administration, called the nomination "the worst appointment that's ever been made."

Orcinus takes on the Unhinged Michelle Malkin

David does a thorough job reality checking Malkin, and lets forget that the right dominates both TV and radio punditry. If Fox trimed out all the extreme right opinion it would only have about a half hour of programming a day. While moderates play catch-up, the right runs everything. In my area I get an average of 70+ hours a day of right-wing pretend preachers a day, over 60% of our nations judges are "conservative" activists. Moderates have George Soros, while the right has sugar-daddies out the wahoo. They control every branch of federal government - anyone noticed how big, bloated, corrupt, and ineffective its become. Yet the Malkins, Robertsons, Frists, and O'Reillys run around crying about how "libruls" have ruined the country. They own the candy store, if the candys' rotten they have only themselves to blame.

Indeed, for all the left-wing wackery out there -- and there's no doubt plenty of it -- what you don't see is this kind of eliminationist rhetoric.

After all, Michelle, it wasn't a prominent Democrat who publicly hypothesized about what would happen to the crime rate if all black babies were aborted. It wasn't a prominent Democratic radio talk-show host in Seattle who said of a U.S. Senator -- yes, the same Dick Durbin whose remarks you find completely out of line: "This man is simply a piece of excrement, a piece of waste that needs to be scraped off the sidewalk and eliminated."

It isn't the most prominent liberal talk-show host in the country who jokes that we shouldn't "kill all the liberals" -- instead, we should "leave enough so we can have two on every campus -- living fossils -- so we will never forget what these people stood for."

It wasn't a prominent member of the "liberal" media who opined that we ought to incarcerate everyone who works for Air America.

It wasn't a Democratic congressman who opined that we ought to ship liberal dissenters to Iraq to serve as "human shields."

It wasn't left-wing letter writers who attacked former USA Today editor Al Neuharth and recommended he face execution for treason. Al Neuharth, mind you -- not exactly Mr. Liberal.

And kooky theories? Well, Michelle, what about the forthcoming tome from a well-known conservative postulating -- against all known historical fact -- that fascism is a liberal phenomenon. Of course, you know all about ignoring the weight of historical evidence, don't you?

It isn't liberal bloggers, Michelle, who have waxed wroth at the General Ripperesque notion that the Flight 94 memorial is actually a tribute to the terrorists, or who have whipped up groundless fears about Islamist terrorists in Oklahoma and elsewhere; no left-wing moonbats groundlessly attacked the Pulitzer winner in photography or attacked USA Today with conspiratorial accusations for a badly retouched photo.

No, Michelle, that would be you and yours. Moonbats, wingnuts, take your pick: The shoe fits -- you.

another day another guess on Woodward's source

Iskikoff: Novak and Woodward's Source May Be the Same
Michael Isikoff and Evan Thomas, writing for Newsweek, suggest that Novak's source and Woodward's source are the same, and that former Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage is the likely suspect.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Defense of Phosphorus Use Turns Into Damage Control

Defense of Phosphorus Use Turns Into Damage Control
"It's discredited the American military without any basis in fact," said John E. Pike, an expert on weapons who runs, an independent clearinghouse for military information. He said the "stupidity and incompetence" of official comments had fueled suspicions of a cover-up.

"The story most people around the world have is that the Americans are up to their old tricks - committing atrocities and lying about it," Mr. Pike said. "And that's completely incorrect."

Daryl G. Kimball, director of the Arms Control Association, a nonprofit organization that researches nuclear issues, was more cautious. In light of the issues raised since the film was shown, he said, the Defense Department, and perhaps an independent body, should review whether American use of white phosphorus had been consistent with international weapons conventions.

"There are legitimate questions that need to be asked," Mr. Kimball said. Given the history of Saddam Hussein's use of chemical weapons in Iraq, he said, "we have to be extremely careful" to comply with treaties and the rules of war.

I agree on two points made here. One, WP should not be called a chemical weapon. Two, it looks like an investigation with unbiased principles, be made. The Pentagon should have gotten iys act together, said they wouldn't make any comments until they did at least some fact finding. Now, they've given the most radical elements of the middle-east another propaganda tool.
As others have said, what is needed most now in Iraq is a poloitical win, a political solution. To get that solution means not giving the insurgents or terrorists more horrific pictures to use to win converts. Those , like the Bushies that think Iraq can be won with a strictly military victory are kidding themselves. Wars are ended by treaty. A military win means you're killed every last person that might fight; if this is the case, drop the Big Bomb now. Go ahead and turn Iraq into what the freepers call "a big sand pile". So what then? Well Juan Cole and John Murtha have already given us a reasonable option. As for this garbage going around the right-wings nuthouse that we would be cuttting and running I offer this. What explains the unshakable committment that Democrats have to finishing the job in Afghanistan? Could it be that Afghanistan and about thirty other palces around the globe is where Al-Queda is.
But hey all is not lost, we'll be getting progress reports. Democrats keep pressure on Bush over progress in Iraq
"It's time to take the training wheels off the Iraqi government," said Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid of Nevada. "Iraqis must begin to run their own country."

Its really time to take the kids out of Congress and the Whitehouse and let some adults like Murtha and Reid start the tedious process of cleaning up the mess the kool-kids made.

Finally. What Juan Cole said about that childisn stunt the Republi-pathetics pulled last week:
Well, this stupid resolution is not what Murtha was saying, and the vote on it is meaningless. It is worse than meaningless. It is political clowning.

Indeed, given the GIs being blown up on a daily basis, the Republican phony resolution was the equivalent of trying to do a stand-up comedy routine at the funeral of someone's beloved son who had died at age 20.

I don't think the American people will find it amusing. We'll see in 2006 whether they did.


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