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Saundra Hummer
February 8th, 2006, 12:32 PM

Russian Ultranationalist Leader Expects U.S. to Attack Iran in Late March

02/07/06 "Moscow News" -- -- A senior Russian parliamentary official and leader of the ultranationalist Liberal Democratic Vladimir Zhirinovsky believes that a US attack on Iran is inevitable, he has told Ekho Moskvy radio station.

“The war is inevitable because the Americans want this war,” he said. “Any country claiming a leading position in the world will need to wage wars. Otherwise it will simply not be able to retain its leading position. The date for the strike is already known — it is the election day in Israel (March 28). It is also known how much that war will cost,” Zhirinovsky said.

He went on to add that the publication of Prophet Muhammad cartoons in the European press was a planned action by the U.S. whose aim is “to provoke a row between Europe and the Islamic world”. “It will all end with European countries thanking the United States and paying, and giving soldiers,” he said. Russia should “choose a position of non-interference and express minimal solidarity with the Islamic world”, Zhirinovsky added.

For his part, the head of the Centre for Strategic Studies of Religions and Modern World Politics, Maxim Shevchenko, also believes that a U.S. attack on Iran is very likely although he sees no preconditions for this war. “Iran does not threaten anyone, is not pointing its missiles at anyone. No Iranian leader has ever threatened to carry out a strike against the U.S. Therefore preparations for a war against Iran appear to be a global act of provocation,” he said.

In Shevchenko’s opinion, the reason behind “this barefaced promotion of a world war lies not in a conflict between the West and the Islamic World but in a fight for power in the world between US and European elites”. “The fate of humanity will be decided between a saber-rattling America and an allegedly democratic Europe,” Shevchenko concluded.

Whereas a senior research associate of the World Economy and International Relations Institute, Georgy Mirsky, is confident that “there will be no war”.

“The Americans got so very much stuck in Afghanistan and Iraq that they will not start a new war without definite proof of the fact that Iran poses a threat to the world. Besides, the U.S. has mid-term elections this year and the Republicans, who have suffered a severe blow to their trust, will not be able to win these elections if they drag the country into a new hazardous escapade.

”As for Israel, it can carry out a strike against Iran but only when it knows for certain that only one step remains before an Iranian atomic bomb is created. But that time has not come yet,“ Mirsky said.

Copyright © 2006 MOSNEWS.COM


Let's just hope that this is another politico just shoving out propaganda. Let's hope this is all it is. Others are thinking this way too, however. and it worries me as well after having read about "The Plan". It seems as though things are going on as mapped out, although obstacles such as roadside bombs, etc., have been put in their path; but all in all they are sitting in Iraq as they had hoped, so this article does give one some deep seated worries about these thoughts, and how retaliations will be carried out. They are bound to happen. We don't seem to be ready for such events. We sure aren't wanting them. We don't want these wars, or at least a lot of us don't. SRH

Saundra Hummer
February 8th, 2006, 12:57 PM

National Parks Need Our Help

Dear Saundra R.:

Psalm 19:1 declares that "the heavens are telling the glory of God and the firmament proclaims his handiwork." For many, our National Parks offer some of the best escapes for prayer, spiritual discernment, undisrupted family time, and reconnecting with the Creator.

But the National Park Service is in the process of changing the rules governing the parks, and the new changes could mean increased commercialization as well as more air pollution, haze, noise, and damage from off-road vehicles and livestock.

It is NOT too late to prevent this from happening. The National Park Service is receiving comments from citizens now through February 18. Please use this opportunity to voice your opinion. Please feel free to use the language of your faith as you communicate.

Blessings to you as ever,

Vince Isner and your FaithfulAmerica.org Team

Send a letter to the following decision maker(s):
Mr. Bernard Fagan

Below is the sample letter:

Subject: Protect our National Parks[/B]
Dear [decision maker name automatically inserted here],

As a person of faith, I view caring for God's creation and protecting the natural blessings bestowed upon us by the Creator as an important moral and religious responsibility.

In many ways, the National Park System is a model for just, thoughtful interaction with creation. The parks embody important ideals, including equitable sharing of the blessings of the earth, consideration of the common good over greed and exploitation, and prudent conservation of both the material resources and the intangible qualities that make these wild lands extraordinary. That is why I am submitting this comment on the proposed changes to the park Management Policies.

I applaud the Park Service for dropping many of the most egregious changes proposed by deputy assistant secretary of the Interior, Paul Hoffman, in the draft released last summer. However, I am still concerned that the current draft would weaken the conservation mission of the National Park Service and open the door for increased air pollution, haze, noise, and damage from off-road vehicles and livestock in the parks. In particular, I am concerned by the deletion of key phrases from section 1.4.3 of the Management Policies, which prioritize "conservation," "resource protection," and "preservation."

I believe that the current Management Policies, updated only four years ago, are serving the parks well. I see no reason - nor has the Department of Interior offered the public a good reason - to revise them now, particularly when the process will place an additional burden on the already-tight Park Service budget. The last time the management policies were revised, it was a thorough, collaborative, seven-year process. The haste in which this rewrite is being conducted is both rash and unprecedented.

As the book of Leviticus reminds us, we are "tenants" on the land (25:23-24) and caretakers of the wildlife and ecosystems it sustains. We do injustice to our neighbors, future generations, and the rest of God's creation when we do not take this responsibility seriously and allow damage to the land, water, air, and web of life. I hope and pray that the National Park Service will rethink these modifications and any proposed changes that would weaken the spirit of stewardship and conservation in the National Parks.


Saundra R. Hummer

Take Action!
Click here to take action on this issue:


Visit the web address below to tell your friends about this.

What's At Stake:

Campaign Expiration Date:
April 10, 2006

If you received this message from a friend, you can sign up for FaithfulAmerica.

Sign Up Here:
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This isn't a radical organization, they send out very few emails, but the ones they do are for the most part newsletters and requests for backing policies and issues which will benefit us all, programs and policies which will protect us all.

Saundra Hummer
February 8th, 2006, 02:33 PM
February 8, 2006

Dear Saundra R.,

I am writing to relay some shocking news. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has announced that it is ignoring Congress and thumbing its nose at all of your hard work to save American horses from slaughter for human consumption. In light of today's outrageous action, the horses need you now, more than ever.


As you know, we had a remarkable year for horses during 2005, winning two bipartisan, landslide votes in the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate to prevent the use of tax dollars to fund horse slaughter inspections. President Bush signed the final ban on November 10, 2005, and it is scheduled to take effect on March 10, just a short month away. This was a huge victory for America's horses and those of us who want to protect them from cruelty and abuse. The law meant that horse slaughter would be prohibited for the rest of the year.

People like you across the nation were with us each step of the way during this legislative battle. Your hard work carried the day for horses, and the will of the people prevailed in Congress. Unbelievably, the USDA, with its ties to the livestock industry, says it will not implement this Congressional mandate. These bureaucrats are hell-bent on allowing the slaughter of America's horses!

Tell the USDA to respect the will of Congress and enforce the horse slaughter ban.

It's not every day that animal advocates win a landslide vote in Congress to stop a cruel practice. We are disgusted that this victory is being stolen. This new development means that the tens of thousands of horses -- who were to be spared from slaughter -- may face a grim and bitter passage to slaughter this year, despite Congress's efforts to save them. Take action today to stop the USDA from betraying the horses and subverting the will of Congress and the American people.

1. Take action. Contact the USDA and urge the agency to shut down this illegal and undemocratic scheme to slaughter horses. We need a permanent ban now more than ever. After you contact USDA, you will be prompted to contact your lawmakers so they know we have no time to waste -- we must pass permanent legislation to protect our horses from slaughter. Members of Congress should be as angry as we are that the USDA is circumventing their clear directive. Click here to contact USDA and Congress now.

2. Spread the word. Congress needs to hear about USDA's outrageous actions from as many Americans as possible. Ask your friends and family to contact their elected lawmakers as well. Click here to tell five friends to take action now.

Americans don't eat horsemeat -- there is no domestic demand for it. But last year, more than 90,000 American horses were either killed in one of three foreign-owned slaughterhouses in the United States or shipped to Canada or Mexico for slaughter. Our thoroughbreds, show horses, mustangs, carriage horses, and family ponies are shipped in inhumane conditions and butchered.

Knowing that hundreds of thousands of our loyal companions have already been slaughtered is simply devastating. Please stand with us and do everything you can to spare the lives of our horses. Together, we will stop this horrible practice. I know we can prevail, but all of us must take action.


Wayne Pacelle
President & CEO
The Humane Society of the United States

Copyright ©2006 The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) | All Rights Reserved.

The Humane Society of the United States | 2100 L Street, NW | Washington, DC 20037
humanesociety@hsus.org | 202-452-1100 | www.hsus.org

158 and the Senate voted 69-28 to amend the Agriculture Appropriations bill to halt horse slaughter in 2006. I am outraged that this victory may slip away, simply because administrative bureaucrats are openly betraying the American people, scheming to continue horse slaughter inspections, and catering to a cruel and un-American industry.


Saundra Hummer
February 8th, 2006, 05:23 PM

Visitor trips over shoelace at British museum, shatters Chinese vases

CAMBRIDGE, England (AP) — A visitor to a British museum tripped on his shoelace, stumbled down a stairway and fell into a display of centuries-old Chinese vases, shattering them into "very small pieces," officials said Monday.
The three Qing dynasty vases, dating from the late 17th or early 18th century, had been donated to the Fitzwilliam Museum in the university city of Cambridge in 1948 and were among its best-known artifacts. They sat on the window sill beside the staircase for 40 years.

"It was a most unfortunate and regrettable accident, but we are glad that the visitor involved was able to leave the museum unharmed," museum director Duncan Robinson said.

The museum declined to identify the man who tripped on a loose shoelace Wednesday.

Asked about the porcelain vases, Margaret Greeves, the museum's assistant director, said: "They are in very, very small pieces, but we are determined to put them back together."

The museum declined to say what the vases were worth.


I heard on television news that he hit one vase and it in turn toppled the others one by one, and that the worth of these vases is in the vicinity of $50 million dollars. Ouch! SRH


Saundra Hummer
February 9th, 2006, 01:39 PM


What if....

AT&T and Verizon blocked you from viewing your favorite podcasts and blogs? BellSouth cut off your net phone because you weren't using their service?

Comcast forced you to download MP#s from their store while slowing other music sites?

This threat is more real than you might think. Right now, the major communications companies are planning to discriminate against the online content and services that they don’t yet control.

Their executives are already on the record:

AT&T’s Ed Whitacre wants consumers and content providers to pay for use of his network. “The Internet can’t be free … for a Google or Yahoo or Vonage or anybody to expect to use these pipes free is nuts.”

BellSouth’s William Smith told reporters that he would like to turn the Internet into a “pay-for-performance marketplace” where his company could charge for the “right” to have certain services load faster than others.

Verizon CEO Ivan Seidenberg says that Web applications need to “share the cost” of the broadband services already paid for by consumers. “We need to pay for the pipe.”

They want to boost profits by playing gatekeeper to the applications we use and the content we create. They want to give preferential treatment to their own high-end services while blocking or slowing access to everyone else’s.

STOP THEM NOW. Send your letter to the CEOs and Congress.

This broadband assault would reduce your choices and stifle the spread of innovative and independent ideas that we’ve come to expect online. It would shift the digital revolution into reverse.

Internet gatekeepers have already:]Blocked services: In 2004, North Carolina ISP Madison River blocked their DSL customers from using any rival Web-based phone service.

Blocked content: In 2005, Canada’s telephone giant Telus blocked customers from visiting a Web site sympathetic to the Telecommunications Workers Union during a contentious labor dispute.

If these media giants get their way, they’ll shut down the free flow of information and dictate how you use the Internet forever.

Legislation to kill Net freedom is being drafted right now in Congress. MAKE YOUR VOICE HEARD.

The Internet is the future of all media. It must continue to be governed by the principle of “network neutrality.” The network’s only job should be to move data between users regardless of where it comes from or what it contains. This fundamental principle has allowed independent voices — like dot-com entrepreneurs, bloggers and open-source programmers — to try out new ideas without having to pay extra or ask for permission.

As tech guru David Eisenberg explains: “A hobbyist collecting Pez dispensers could develop the idea to become E-bay. A couple of Stanford students could start Google and build a better search engine. Two guys in Europe could assemble a handful of programmers to invent Skype and threaten the trillion-dollar annual global tel-economy.”

But now, the cable and telco giants want to eliminate this open road in favor of a tollway that protects their status quo while stifling innovation.

Learn more at www.freepress.net.
We'll deliver this letter.
Dear CEO (copy to Congress):

I strongly urge you to cease all plans to violate the principle of "network neutrality." Your control of the "pipes" on which information travels does not give you the right to dictate what I can do online.

As a defender of an open and independent Internet, I demand that you guarantee all users of your company's services are entitled to:

1. Access the Internet content of their choice;

2. Run online applications and services of their choice;

3. Connect their choice of devices; and

4. Have fair competition among network, application, service and content providers.

From its beginnings, the Internet was built on a cooperative, democratic ideal. Your only job as a network provider is to move data between users. You must not block or discriminate against any of the legal content and services available online.

A copy of this letter has been sent to my elected representatives in Washington to ensure that Congress and the FCC work to put enforceable network neutrality principles into our telecommunications laws and regulations.

[your name]
[your address]

...to these CEOs:

Brian Roberts, Comcast
Edward Whitacre, AT&T
Ivan Seidenberg, Verizon
Duane Ackerman, BellSouth
Glenn Britt, Time Warner Cable
James Robbins, Cox Communications
Neil Smit, Charter
James Dolan, Cablevision/Optimum Online
Richard Notebaert, Qwest

...plus your members of Congress! Net Freedom Now! is a Free Press campaign.



Saundra Hummer
February 9th, 2006, 01:48 PM


.....Posted by Danny @11:59 pm:NEWS DISSECTOR


Posted in the Midnight Hour--Thursday, February 9 2004
I am a city boy. You can take me out of the city but you can’t take the city out of me. Perhaps that’s why the plight of New Orleans touched me so deeply. (I have been there a few times!)
grew up in The Bronx so I know how an urban area can be wrecked.

In Louisiana, it was the big flood that wiped out the Big Easy, that fearsome category 5 hurricane Katrina that did it with not a little help from the incompetence of agencies like FEMA and the Bush Administration which ignored the warnings and had not prepared for the break in the levees or the disaster that followed. In the Bronx, it was landlord driven arson and urban renewal that tore stable neighborhoods apart back in the late 60’s and early 1970s.

As for the Gulf Coast. we have all heard the promises. And the pledges to rebuild. We saw the President’s photo ops and his recent visit to the Garden District which he was pleased to see had recovered without apparently knowing it had escaped most of the devastation that destroyed the lower 9th ward and other parts of the Crescent City.


”New Orleans - They might have been mourners in a hearse, so somber were the passengers in the small bus on Mirabeau Avenue.

Theresa Sandifer shook her head sadly as the bus crawled along. House after ruined house was spray-painted with an "X" and numbers denoting how many people had been found there, dead or alive, after Hurricane Katrina. Sue Stein stifled a gasp at floodwater marks that grazed the roofs of a block of one-story homes. William Thompson glued his gaze to a trim beige house impaled by an oak tree.

No one spoke until the bus rounded a corner onto St. Bernard Avenue, in the Gentilly area. The roof of a wood-frame house from the 1960s sat askew, as if it had been picked up and tossed down at all the wrong angles. The chimney was missing; the doors and windows were blown out. A plywood sign carried a message from a family who had left for good.

"Goodbye, N'awlins, We'll Miss You," read Brad Dupuy, the guide on this city's newest bus excursion.

The "devastation tour," as the three-hour outing is popularly known, brings visitors to some of this city's most heavily damaged areas, though it skips the almost obliterated Lower 9th Ward. Even in a city that loves to test the limits on tastefulness - a city, after all, that made an industry out of cemetery tours - the idea caused consternation when it was proposed in late December.”

I am thinking ‘bout New Orleans today because I think about New Orleans every day. Show me someone who wasn’t shocked by the suffering and and I will show you someone who is not all there or is callous and desensitized beyond redemption.

I have been writing about it and helped launch Mediachannel’s “Keep the Light on Injustice Campaign" as a way to encourage all of us to press the press and move the media to follow up on the story, the suffering, the corruption, the incompetence as well as the struggle of city to come back.

BBC: New Orleans 'risks extinction'

”In the chaos that followed the worst natural disaster in American history, a forensic investigation has been taking place to find out what went wrong and why.

The BBC's Horizon programme has spoken to the scientists who are now confronting the real possibility that New Orleans may be the first of many cities worldwide to face extinction.

Modern day New Orleans was a city that defied the odds. Built on a mosquito-infested swamp squashed between two vast bodies of water in what is essentially a bowl, its very existence seemed proof of the triumph of engineering over nature."

For the most part, the media focus has been on what wrong and what the government is and isn’t doing to fix it. We know there’s a major controversy about what to rebuild and how to rebuild. Can the poor neighborhoods and working class homes come back? Are there special interests trying to remake the city from one housing what is largely a black community to a retirement community and tourist mecca for the middle class? Who will benefit, and who will be left behind>

We know there is anger there and frustration and that many of the town’s known and unknown residents have fled for dryer ground and new lives. We have never seen an "urban" removal of an American city like this before in our lives.

Yet there are folks in the Big Easy who have vowed to stay and fight the new battle of New Orleans and stay and rebuild. And some of them were in New York last night at a function at the 21 club put on by the New Orleans Tourism Marketing Corporation (NOMC) to bring visitors back for the 150th annual Mardi Gras on February 18-28 and to pump all the town has to offer. There were folks from hotels, casinos, museums, music festivals, theaters, the Tennessee Williams’ Literary Festival. They are trying to bring the minions and the money back to the pride of Louisiana.

There was a taste the city’s great food as prepared by one of its greatest chefs. Paul Prudhomme was on hand with some food to die for. Paul told me about his new love of poker. I am betting that his restaurant—one of the first to reopen of the 800 that have now done so will still pack them in. For more on all of this, visit:



BBC: “Some 70,000 people in Louisiana and Mississippi are now living in trailer parks, three months after Hurricane Katrina forced them to abandon their homes.

The cheap, makeshift abodes are synonymous with poverty in the US.

Yet for many storm victims they are the only option for the next 18 months at least, while the slow process of rebuilding winds on. For some they are a new beginning, a step up from sharing a motel room.

But there are fears for the long-term social consequences of the wave of construction that has seen "trailer towns" springing up all along the Gulf Coast.”

But most moving as aways was the music, the city’s signature, America’s classical music, jazz which came up the river from New Orleans into a welcoming world. On hand to tell us about it and tell us about it was Irvin Mayfield who plays with the New Orleans Jazz All Stars. He spoke of New Orleans as the capital of our nation’s musical heritage. He explained how jazz funerals and processionals became an institution reflecting the community’s compassion and commitment to building community. They found a way to turn their sorrow into a celebration of the departed.

He then introduced some major players—also, he noted, playing for free-- launching into with a slow dirge version of the emancipation anthem, the Battle Hymn of a Republic then morphing into a march which got half the room waving white handkerchiefs and dancing around the room. It was far more moving than the upbeat we can do it, yes we can big star salute at the Grammy where nary a word was said about the context of all of this. Why were usually outspoken artists like Bonnie, James, Bruce, and U2 silent on the issues of the day? Was that a CBS dictate or is it now just considered unfashionable to use platforms like this to express deeper dissents?)

In fact, nary a word was said about anything of political importance except perhaps the brief tribute-award to the Weavers, sans Peter Seeger, who have been a voice for people's music for generations despite blacklisting and and a lack of support by the recording industry.

What a contrast they are to the overly commercialized star-studded spectacle of celebrity worship that defines music today. I am sick at heart about the "Did you see her beautiful dress culture" that is has more to sell than tell. Yes it was fitting if overdue to hear that appeal from Neil Portnow, the president of the Recording Academy, for continued contributions to Hurricane Katrina relief, but so much more could have been done and still should be done.

That’s the power to the New Orleans vibe, as well as its passion. Irvin should have been there to be as eloquent in challenging the country to support New Orleans as he was in that restaurant last night in New York and later on his horn.

He told us how he had searched for his own father who had been missing for three months until he finally discovered he had drowned. He couldn’t save him, he said, but he could with our help, save the spirit and soul of his city. Those divas and preeners at the Grammys should have seen and heard him. He moved me to tears.

LA Times. “As the tour got underway, Dupuy, 31, offered a dedication to the "1,000 men, women and children who lost their lives on account of Katrina." He asked everyone to turn off their cellphones, and said: "We are not here simply to point and gawk at people who lost their property." And, he said: "We will not be seeing dead bodies on this tour."

“On Canal Street, Dupuy gave a quick lesson in how to spot a floodwater line - "yellowish brown horizontal bands" on the buildings. He noted the many boarded-up buildings and businesses closed five months after the storm.

"Is this where they had all the looting?" asked Thompson, 59, of Mobile, Ala. In a sad voice, Dupuy said yes.

“Three days before Katrina hit, he said, "not too many people were concerned" about the hurricane. Many in his native city had been through so many storms that they were casual about it, the way Californians yawn about earthquakes, Dupuy said. He and his roommate rode out Katrina in their apartment on Esplanade, not far from downtown, where the flooding was less severe than in many other parts of the city.

“His narrative balanced the glories of New Orleans' past against the misery of its present. Consulting a spiral notebook filled with handwritten notes, Dupuy told passengers that the city has three times as many canals as Venice, Italy, and its leading industry before Katrina was not tourism, but shipping.”

Irvin Mayfield's rap and his music gave me an idea. I broached it to him. Why not have processionals and New Orleans musical marches/funerals in every city worldwide on the first day of Spring, the day that marks the season of renewal? I suggested we appeal to musicians, music schools, local bands and big stars aline to take an hour –perhaps noon to one—and play for New Orleans out in the streets like they do there.

.Journalist Tania Grossinger who was there suggested we call it “New Orleans Springs Back” or “Hope Springs Eternal.” I tried the idea out on Irvin, the tourist folks, a rep of Orient Express Hotels, Chef Paul and they all loved it. So who knows, it could happen?

What do you think? Can it happen? Can we make something more participatory as opposed to a superstar session happen? Why not? I have had a little experience with musical events like No Nukes l979, Sun City 1985, Give Peace a Chance 1991 and We Are Family 2001. I am willing to invest some time but I can’t do it myself.

Who is willing to stand up, put up some funds, do some organizing, make some noise as LL Cool Jay put it on the Grammys. Let's take it to the streets.

Lets all make some noise.

If you want to help or contribute to making this happen to celebrate and save the culture and the city that cannot be allowed to drown, let me know. I am sure that if this happens on a voluntary and decentralized basis, it can be done. Artists will get involved; people will respond. Its not enough for the "big names" to sing commercial songs even if written by the great Alan Toussaint.

We need the American people getting up and getting down, and getting involved.

In the spirit of Satchmo and Fats Domino and everyone who has ever been thrilled by the magic of No’awleans, make this a spring of hope. Thanks to the Grammys for featuring music from New Orleans and supporting the preservation of this tradition. They too appealed for people to go New Orleans. We can all do that and more.

See Grammy.yahoo.com for their site.

Jim Santella says what should have been said last night on TV:

“Ravaged by storms and sharing a tragic fate with neighboring communities last year, New Orleans doesn't have much to celebrate as Mardi Gras approaches. It hurts to think about the lives lost and the traditions that have been broken. Keepsake treasures have disappeared; a huge void has been left behind.

“However, we all know that the city will rebuild. This year’s Mardi Gras will usher in a long celebration in the streets, just as it has for many years. Hurricanes have ravaged the Gulf Coast before. New Orleans will come back, and we know that the changes will not diminish its music.

“Memories of Louis Armstrong, Jelly Roll Morton, Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown and Al Hirt do not fade. Their music lives on forever. Dr. John continues to remind us of today’s vibrant music that’s alive and well. Organizations such as Preservation Hall, the Neville Brothers, the Wild Magnolias and the Dukes of Dixieland offer us different variations on the same theme: New Orleans is a city that will rebuild and continue to give us great music."


To connect to the city’s musical life, tune in to WWOZ www.wwoz.org

The Neville Brothers website:


“The Open Society Institute ( www.soros.org ) has announced a fellowship competition in response to critical issues exposed by Hurricane Katrina. By supporting in-depth journalism and media projects, OSI aims to stimulate and sustain a national conversation on these issues.

The Katrina Media Fellowships will support dynamic print and radio journalists, photographers, and documentary filmmakers in the creation, and improvement, of media coverage of issues exposed by Katrina. Applicants should propose projects that will expand and deepen the public's understanding of race and class inequalities in the United States….”


Nice to see posts picked up from AAJ and put out in other newsletters don't you think? SRH__________________

the magnificent goldberg
February 9th, 2006, 02:18 PM


What if....

AT&T and Verizon blocked you from viewing your favorite podcasts and blogs? BellSouth cut off your net phone because you weren't using their service?

Comcast forced you to download MP#s from their store while slowing other music sites?This threat is more real than you might think. Right now, the major communications companies are planning to discriminate against the online content and services that they don’t yet control.

Their executives are already on the record:
AT&T’s Ed Whitacre wants consumers and content providers to pay for use of his network. “The Internet can’t be free … for a Google or Yahoo or Vonage or anybody to expect to use these pipes free is nuts.”

BellSouth’s William Smith told reporters that he would like to turn the Internet into a “pay-for-performance marketplace” where his company could charge for the “right” to have certain services load faster than others.

Verizon CEO Ivan Seidenberg says that Web applications need to “share the cost” of the broadband services already paid for by consumers. “We need to pay for the pipe.”

They want to boost profits by playing gatekeeper to the applications we use and the content we create. They want to give preferential treatment to their own high-end services while blocking or slowing access to everyone else’s.

STOP THEM NOW. Send your letter to the CEOs and Congress. This broadband assault would reduce your choices and stifle the spread of innovative and independent ideas that we’ve come to expect online. It would shift the digital revolution into reverse.

Internet gatekeepers have already: Blocked services: In 2004, North Carolina ISP Madison River blocked their DSL customers from using any rival Web-based phone service.

Blocked content: In 2005, Canada’s telephone giant Telus blocked customers from visiting a Web site sympathetic to the Telecommunications Workers Union during a contentious labor dispute.

If these media giants get their way, they’ll shut down the free flow of information and dictate how you use the Internet forever.

Legislation to kill Net freedom is being drafted right now in Congress. MAKE YOUR VOICE HEARD.

The Internet is the future of all media. It must continue to be governed by the principle of “network neutrality.” The network’s only job should be to move data between users regardless of where it comes from or what it contains. This fundamental principle has allowed independent voices — like dot-com entrepreneurs, bloggers and open-source programmers — to try out new ideas without having to pay extra or ask for permission.

As tech guru David Eisenberg explains: “A hobbyist collecting Pez dispensers could develop the idea to become E-bay. A couple of Stanford students could start Google and build a better search engine. Two guys in Europe could assemble a handful of programmers to invent Skype and threaten the trillion-dollar annual global tel-economy.”

But now, the cable and telco giants want to eliminate this open road in favor of a tollway that protects their status quo while stifling innovation.

Learn more at www.freepress.net.

We'll deliver this letter...

Dear CEO (copy to Congress):

I strongly urge you to cease all plans to violate the principle of "network neutrality." Your control of the "pipes" on which information travels does not give you the right to dictate what I can do online.

As a defender of an open and independent Internet, I demand that you guarantee all users of your company's services are entitled to:

1. Access the Internet content of their choice;

2. Run online applications and services of their choice;

3. Connect their choice of devices; and

4. Have fair competition among network, application, service and content providers.

From its beginnings, the Internet was built on a cooperative, democratic ideal. Your only job as a network provider is to move data between users. You must not block or discriminate against any of the legal content and services available online.

A copy of this letter has been sent to my elected representatives in Washington to ensure that Congress and the FCC work to put enforceable network neutrality principles into our telecommunications laws and regulations.

[your name]
[your address]

...to these CEOs:

Brian Roberts, Comcast
Edward Whitacre, AT&T
Ivan Seidenberg, Verizon
Duane Ackerman, BellSouth
Glenn Britt, Time Warner Cable
James Robbins, Cox Communications
Neil Smit, Charter
James Dolan, Cablevision/Optimum Online
Richard Notebaert, Qwest

...plus your members of Congress! Net Freedom Now! is a Free Press campaign.



Could such legislation affect the way internet services are provided in other countries? If so, we "foreigners" need to alert our own Governments. If not, then aren't the US businesses proposing the legislation likely to be cutting their own throats, as foreign competitors find ways to take their business?

How can we tell which is the case?


Saundra Hummer
February 9th, 2006, 02:47 PM

Bush details Qaeda plot to hit LA By Tabassum Zakaria

1 hour, 23 minutes ago

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -
President George W. Bush on Thursday disclosed new details of a thwarted al Qaeda plot to use shoe bombs to hijack a plane and fly it into a Los Angeles building, as he sought to justify his tactics in Washington's war on terrorism.

With critics questioning the legality of his authorization of a domestic spying program, Bush used newly declassified details of a previously disclosed plot to show that the threat of terrorism has not abated.

Bush said that in early 2002 the United States and its allies thwarted a plot to use bombs hidden in shoes to breach the cockpit door of an airplane and fly it into the tallest building in Los Angeles.

But he named the wrong building. "We believe the intended target was Liberty Tower in Los Angeles, California," Bush said. White House aides later said he meant Library Tower.

Library Tower is now known as US Bank Tower, but locally it is still mostly called by the former name because of its proximity to the city's central library. At 1,017 feet (310 metres) tall, it is the tallest building in the United States west of the Mississippi River.

Last October, the Bush administration had disclosed the plot to attack targets on the West Coast using hijacked planes, saying this was among 10 disrupted al Qaeda plots.

Bush said on Thursday that in October 2001, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the operational mastermind of the September 11 attacks that year, had set in motion a plot for another attack inside the United States using shoe bombs to hijack an airplane and fly it into the tallest building on the U.S. West Coast.

"Rather than use Arab hijackers as he had on September 11, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed sought out young men from Southeast Asia whom he believed would not arouse as much suspicion," Bush said.

Mohammed was captured in Pakistan in March 2003 and has since been held at an undisclosed location. In his speech, Bush praised the efforts of Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf in fighting terrorism.

Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden and his deputy Ayman al-Zawahri, believed by U.S. officials to be hiding in the border region of Afghanistan and Pakistan, have so far eluded the U.S. manhunt.

Bush said Mohammed tapped a leader of an al Qaeda-affiliated group in Southeast Asia named Hambali, who recruited several operatives with training in Afghanistan. Hambali was later caught.

"Once the operatives were recruited, they met with Osama bin Laden, and then began preparations for the West Coast attack," Bush said.

"Their plot was derailed in early 2002 when a Southeast Asian nation arrested a key al Qaeda operative," he said.

In another plot, "shoebomber" Richard Reid failed in an attempt to blow up an American Airlines plane from Paris to Miami in December 2001 after passengers and crew tackled him as he tried to ignite explosives in his shoe. Reid was sentenced to life imprisonment by a U.S. court in January 2003.

Bush has been fighting criticism of his decision to authorize the National Security Agency to eavesdrop without court warrants inside the United States on international emails and phone calls placed to and from people with suspected ties to terrorism.

He has said that it was a necessary tool for fighting terrorism and preventing another attack on America.

"There's a law which says with respect to electronic surveillance within America, it has to be with warrants. It cannot be warrantless," Sen. Dianne Feinstein (news, bio, voting record), the California Democrat, told reporters before entering a closed Senate intelligence committee hearing to discuss Bush's NSA program.

Asked if she was concerned about the selective release of classified information by the White House, Feinstein said:

"The president is entitled to release whatever he wants to release. He owns the intelligence. The president is the owner of intelligence and then he makes the decision of what to share."

(Additional reporting by Patricia Wilson and David Morgan)


Saundra Hummer
February 9th, 2006, 03:00 PM
Could such legislation affect the way internet services are provided in other countries? If so, we "foreigners" need to alert our own Governments. If not, then aren't the US businesses proposing the legislation likely to be cutting their own throats, as foreign competitors find ways to take their business?

How can we tell which is the case?


I really have no idea. I know that this is all pretty new, and the WWW took off, as did computers, like no one ever dreamed, or that's how it looks to me. Information is now so readily available to us that it's just boggling my mind. Such a great thing for all of us, that is if we don't get into so much that is detrimental.

I don't know how controls will be worked or abused, but they are bound to happen. Even now, China's trying to stop such free flowing information, and ideas from ever reaching peoples minds. They can't stand the thought that something they didn't plant could be entering into China's everyday diet, and they want it stopped. Much like France not wanting McDonalds having any influence on how food is prepared and eaten there, ha. (Good for them by the way!). China isn't the only country which can't bear the thought of free flowing information and freedom from constraints.

I wish I knew more about it, but I don't. I just hope it never has the chance to happen. I hope that those of us who are into all of this will raise one heck of a hullabalou.

Saundra Hummer
February 9th, 2006, 08:07 PM

Associated Press Writer
30 minutes agoWASHINGTON - A former top aide to Vice President Dick Cheney told a federal grand jury that his superiors authorized him to give secret information to reporters as part of the Bush administration's defense of intelligence used to justify invading Iraq, according to court papers.

Special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald said in documents filed last month that he plans to introduce evidence that I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Cheney's former chief of staff, disclosed to reporters the contents of a classified National Intelligence Estimate in the summer of 2003.

The NIE is a report prepared by the head of the nation's intelligence operations for high-level government officials, up to and including the president. Portions of NIEs are sometimes declassified and made public. It is unclear whether that happened in this instance.

In a Jan. 23 letter to Libby's lawyers, Fitzgerald said Libby also testified before the grand jury that he caused at least one other government official to discuss an intelligence estimate with reporters in July 2003.

"We also note that it is our understanding that Mr. Libby testified that he was authorized to disclose information about the NIE to the press by his superiors," Fitzgerald wrote.

White House spokesman Scott McClellan refused to comment. "Our policy is that we are not going to discuss this when it's an ongoing legal proceeding," he said.

William Jeffress, Libby's lawyer, said, "There is no truth at all" to suggestions that Libby would try to shift blame to his superiors as a defense against the charges.

Libby, 55, was indicted late last year on charges that he lied to FBI agents and the grand jury about how he learned CIA operative Valerie Plame's identity and when he subsequently told reporters. He is not charged with leaking classified information from an intelligence estimate report.

Plame's identity was published in July 2003 by columnist Robert Novak after her husband, former U.S. Ambassador Joseph Wilson, accused the administration of twisting intelligence about Iraq's efforts to buy uranium in Niger. The year before, the CIA had sent Wilson to Niger to determine the accuracy of the uranium reports.

Wilson's revelations cast doubt on President Bush's claim in his 2003 State of the Union address that Niger had sold uranium to Iraq to develop a nuclear weapon as one of the administration's key justifications for going to war in Iraq.

On Thursday, Sen. Edward Kennedy (news, bio, voting record), D-Mass., said Cheney should take responsibility if he authorized Libby to share classified information with reporters.

"These charges, if true, represent a new low in the already sordid case of partisan interests being placed above national security," Kennedy said. "The vice president's vindictiveness in defending the misguided war in Iraq is obvious. If he used classified information to defend it, he should be prepared to take full responsibility."

In the summer of 2003, White House officials — including Libby — were frustrated that the media were incorrectly reporting that Cheney had sent Wilson to Niger and had received a report of his findings in Africa before the war in Iraq had begun.

In an effort to counter those reports, Libby and other White House officials sought information from the CIA regarding Wilson and how his trip to Niger came about, according to court records.

Fitzgerald, in his letter to Libby's lawyers, said he plans to use Libby's grand jury testimony to support evidence pertaining to the White House aide's meeting with former New York Times reporter Judith Miller.

During the meeting with Miller on July 8, Libby also discussed Plame, Fitzgerald said. "Our anticipated basis for offering such evidence is that such facts are inextricably intertwined with the narrative of the events of spring 2003, as Libby's testimony itself makes plain," the prosecutor wrote.

Miller spent 85 days in jail for refusing to discuss her source.

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/cia_leak;_ylt=Aq9emJ2p2hKj.nOtmEBhqP6s0NUE;_ylu=X3 oDMTA2Z2szazkxBHNlYwN0bQ--

FINALLY! I thought Scooter Libby seemed too bright to be falling on swords, regardless of who handed them to him. Too bad he was so caught up in the moment, however, Scooter Libby, a seemingly good man and a seemingly decent man has sullied his own legacy. Then there's the Judith Miller thing. His letters to her are so intimate sounding, really quite nice sounding, beautiful ones, so much so that his relationship with her smacks of something we might associate with President Clinton. Another man, who in all other aspects, is so likeable. SRH

Saundra Hummer
February 9th, 2006, 08:45 PM
Bucking Bush on Spying

By David S. Broder
Thursday, February 9, 2006; Page A23

No member of the Senate is more conservative than Sam Brownback of Kansas -- a loyal Republican, an ardent opponent of abortion and, not coincidentally, a presidential hopeful for 2008.

As a member of the Judiciary Committee, he has supported President Bush on every one of his court appointments. He is not one to find fault with the administration.

And that is why the misgivings he expressed Monday about the surveillance policies Bush has employed in the war on terrorism are so striking. Along with three other Republicans and all eight of the committee Democrats, Brownback emerged as part of a potential majority that could insist that Bush come back to Congress for authority to continue the wiretaps -- but under court supervision.

In questioning Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, Brownback said, "It strikes me that we're going to be in this war on terrorism possibly for decades . . . [and] to have another set of eyes also looking at this surveillance technique is an important thing in maintaining the public's support for this."

What Brownback put in gentle terms is exactly the issue that clearly troubled all but six of the 18 senators in the hearing -- the absence of any external checks on the secret wiretapping the president ordered after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

Gonzales, in his testimony, made an effective rhetorical point by citing examples going back to Washington, Lincoln, Wilson and Franklin D. Roosevelt of presidents ordering interception of wartime communications -- on their own authority. But as several senators pointed out, those actions all came before the Supreme Court applied the Fourth Amendment ban on "unreasonable searches" to telephone calls and before Congress in 1978 responded to the scandals of secret FBI wiretapping by enacting the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), declaring such intercepts illegal except as approved by a specially constituted court.

Gonzales argued that the FISA process is too slow and cumbersome to cope with al Qaeda, but he was noncommittal or chilly to the many suggestions that the administration ask Congress for changes that would facilitate its use. When Brownback pointed out that after Sept. 11, Congress had extended the "grace period" for the government coming back to the FISA court for retroactive authorization of a wiretap from 24 hours to 72 hours and asked Gonzales whether he would like an even longer time, he replied, "It's hard to say" whether that would help.

The obduracy of the administration in continuing to refuse such open invitations to seek a clear statutory authority for this electronic monitoring is almost impossible to understand -- unless Bush and Vice President Cheney are simply trying to establish the precedent that they can wage this war on terrorism without any recourse to Congress.

Every Democrat on the committee signaled in the hearing a readiness to make needed adjustments in the FISA statute, as Congress has done five times since 2001 to provide more flexibility. The Democrats clearly had heeded Karl Rove's recent speech to the Republican National Committee, signaling an intention to tag them -- once again -- in the 2006 campaign as being soft on terrorism.

They went out of their way to avoid that charge, with Ted Kennedy even applying some reverse English to the argument, by suggesting that al Qaeda suspects might beat the rap in court by their lawyers' successfully challenging evidence obtained through surveillance conducted under questionable legal authority.

And the authority Bush is using is, in the judgment of Republicans as well as Democrats, highly questionable. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, a military lawyer before he came to Congress, said that when he voted to authorize the use of force against the perpetrators of the Sept. 11 attacks, "I never envisioned that I was giving to this president or any other president the ability to go around FISA carte blanche."

As for the administration's contention that Bush has "inherent power" as chief executive to order warrantless wiretaps, Graham said, "Its application, to me, seems to have no boundaries when it comes to executive decisions in a time of war. It deals the Congress out. It deals the courts out."

CONTINUED 1 2 Next >

Page 2 of 2 < Back

Bucking Bush on Spying
With two other Republicans, Chairman Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania and Mike DeWine of Ohio, and all the Democrats agreeing with Graham's view, the president has been given a clear signal to get off his high horse and come to Congress for statutory authority and court supervision of the surveillance program.

Yesterday, the White House offered further briefings but not legislation. If Bush won't do so, Congress needs to assert its responsibility by moving that legislation on its own.
~~~~~~~~~The Politics of Science
» Editorial | Every administration tries to spin the news to make the president look good. This one is trying to spin scientific data and muzzle scientists to that end.
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Last week, in quoting my old friend Scott Lilly on congressional reform, I typed his name as Scott Libby. My apologies. I had Scooter on my brain.



Go on-site to see everything, sometimes the comments and related articles are interesting as well.

Saundra Hummer
February 9th, 2006, 09:05 PM

"The trouble with most folks isn't so much their ignorance, as knowing so many things that ain't so." : Josh Billings - [Henry Wheeler Shaw] (1818-1885) American humorist and lecturer

"Our government has kept us in a perpetual state of fear -* kept us in a continuous stampede of patriotic fervour *- with the cry of grave national emergency. Always, there has been some terrible evil at home, or some monstrous foreign power that was going to gobble us up if we did not blindly rally behind it.": General Douglas MacArthur - (1880-1964) WWII Supreme Allied Commander of the Southwest Pacific, Supreme United Nations Commander 1957

"What happened here was the gradual habituation of the people, little by little, to being governed by surprise; to receiving decisions deliberated in secret; to believing that the situation was so complicated that the government had to act on information which the people could not understand, or so dangerous that, even if the people could not understand it, it could not be released because of national security. And their sense of identification with Hitler, their trust in him, made it easier to widen this gap and reassured those who would otherwise have worried about it: Milton Mayer - Excerpt from pages 166-73 of "They Thought They Were Free" First published in 1955

"A radical is one who speaks the truth." : Charles A. Lindbergh, Sr. - Congressman, father of famous aviator - June 15, 1957


Saundra Hummer
February 9th, 2006, 09:12 PM
Life in the USA

By James Rothenberg

02/09/06 "ICH" -- -- The political system has not been corrupted. It is working effectively, like always. The backbone is the patronage system. Politicians have wonderful memories. They know who they owe. Prostitution is a profession, allegorically the oldest one. Politics is a business. At one time it was popular to think that if someone rich enough were to get elected, he (at that time it would surely be a he) would be immune, but who can owe as much as the rich?

We could try term limits, a single term. In and out. Make room for the next bright face. What do politicians do during the summer? They give college commencement speeches til hoarse, all the same speech… “You are our country’s future leaders”. Meanwhile 50 years pass, the college kid is gray and that politician still has his ass on his seat. A single term would not fundamentally change the patronage system, but it would devalue it. You’re not worth as much.

Also sensible would be a switch to runoff elections, or at least instant runoff elections. But as the snide commandant in Stalag 17 told the feisty boys in Barracks 4, “Curtains vud do vunders for this barracks. You veel not get them!” Democrats and Republicans staunchly unite in opposition to such extreme measures. Why take poison unless you are trying to commit suicide?

There were no intelligence failures concerning Iraq. The invasion was not a mistake. Neither was the torture. Instead, bright, rational people acted in the best tradition of U.S. foreign policy since the birth of our great nation, the redskins being the first foreigners. Try telling Americans that their country uses violent force without moral compunction in wresting from weaker countries just what it wants from them and the air will suddenly get chillier around you. However, there is a record. Like Casey Stengel used to say, “You could look it up.”

It would take more than a cell block of arrests from the president on down to make America the Beautiful’s dress pretty enough to party again, but who will arrest the arrestors? For the future we could require political office holders to speak their own words, that is, write their own speeches. That shouldn’t be too much to ask of a leader.

Americans are well trained in how to think. It occurs so naturally from birth that we are unaware of the training. The basic idea is that your country knows better than you do. The most thoroughly educated Americans treat it as undying dogma that our country is always and everywhere a force for good in the world. Those who have been deprived of formal education rely more on their nose, an organ of exceptional trustworthiness.

The primary writer of the Constitution, James Madison, stressed that the government must be set up in such a way so as “to protect the minority of the opulent from the majority”, such protection of the rich becoming axiomatic. Good Americans seem very comfortable with the great wealth and income divide in their country. Another founding father, first Chief Justice John Jay, felt that those who owned the country should run it. Good Americans are comfortable with that also.

In election year 2000, Al Gore claimed that the greatest beneficiaries of Bush’s proposed tax cuts would be the richest 1% of Americans, but sufficient voters, ever mindful of longstanding tradition, protected that minority.

We are not a nation of laws, despite the priestly incantations. There are plenty of people who are above and beyond the law. We say we are a nation of laws but for that statement to have the intended, hallowed effect it has to mean more than hauling some vagrant off the street. It has to mean that the punishments meted out to the weak and poor will in identical measure be meted out to the rich and powerful. We could try, Stengel-like, to look it up, but for that the record is meager.

Declaring war is a popular tactic. Thanks to modern technology we have a handy measure of its permeability throughout our culture. Googling the term “war on hunger” yields some 21,900 references. The “war on poverty” yields 646,000 references, and the “war on drugs” yields 4,310,000. Then there is the “war on terror” with 25,100,000.

We are supposed to accept the sincerity of these wars with all the seriousness that the naming is intended to imply. Looking to actual practice the war on hunger more closely resembles a war on the hungry, the war on poverty a war on poor people, and the war on drugs a war on the people who use them. Now comes the punch line, only it isn’t funny. The war on terror more closely resembles a war to terrorize (intimidate) we the people.

First, if we wanted to reduce terror, we could stop harboring terrorists, stop supporting them, stop paying them, and stop doing it ourselves. There are a couple of reasons why Americans are slow in coming to this conclusion. One is that we only acknowledge the terrorism of others, never our own. Ours is always precautionary action or legitimate self-defense. The second reason is ironclad; the State Department confines its definition of terrorism to that which is carried out by “subnational groups or clandestine agents”, so acts carried out by the United States of America are conveniently exempt.

Countries, even countries with armies so mighty they encircle the globe, cannot commit terrorism, by official decree. They do it unofficially. But they can do a lot more. They can plan and initiate a war of aggression, the “supreme international crime” as adjudged at Nuremberg, “differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole”. One of those other war crimes is Art. 6 (c) Crimes against Humanity, meaning civilians, meaning terrorism.

Americans learn early on about the unmatched freedoms we enjoy. What is all the fanfare about if these freedoms are only granted on a tentative basis? What does it mean to be free from surveillance when the government finds no pressing reason to surveil, but subject to surveillance when the government claims the need? Or to have the right to dissent when it does not greatly worry the government, only to have dissent stifled when it poses serious problems? These freedoms that our leaders boast about to succeeding generations are surely more than fair-weather freedoms. That would be bad enough but it goes one step deeper. Freedom is expressly for the bad weather, or it never really was.

The “war on terror” is our national slogan. It went into the shop for a nomenclature change last year, but emerged intact. For awhile we didn’t want to seem too warlike. Better to stress promotion of freedom and democracy, freshen up the old image. But the war on terror says it all, and it is oh so useful. The other day the man with the worst job in America, Scott McClellan, landed a blow for freedom with his retort to a questioner, “Are we a nation at war?” Of course there is an answer besides the dutiful yes but to voice it may affect your ability to continue roaming without a straitjacket.

The President must have the war because the war makes it possible to do all the things he could never do if there wasn’t a war. Ask his cover, Attorney General Gonzales, who informs the Judiciary Committee that there is no such thing as a bad inherent power. One of the senators asked Gonzales a very improper question. “How will we know when the war is over?” Gonzales could only smile at the suggestion that between these two learned men there could be any general disagreement about the usefulness of war to a country intent on dominating the world with military force.

War is not inevitable but there is something innate in our species that prepares us to march to the beat of the drum. Our primitive herd instinct makes us vulnerable to exploitation. When everybody is taught precisely the same thing, it no longer matters what is taught. The result is always orthodoxy. The military teaches a valuable strategy. After being captured, the best time to escape is as soon as you can. Of course you have to realize you are a captive.

A million men frozen at attention waiting for the signal of another to act as one. Is this not true ugliness? Ugliness is not deformity but its opposite; it is any multitude of people in constant agreement.

War as a tool of control relies on the glorification of battle and death. Humans are the only of earth’s creatures that cherish life. This is because they know it will end. This is why they invented god. But what is the historical record of the god concept? Is it used more effectively to save or take life? We could look it up. ]
James Rothenberg, dissident writer/activist - jrothenberg@taconic.net

http://informationclearinghouse.info/article11846.htm [/INDENT][/SIZE]

Saundra Hummer
February 9th, 2006, 09:29 PM

Tomgram: Michael Klare, Just How Addicted to Oil Are We?

On a recent sunny San Francisco Bay Area Saturday, having walked the beach at Limantour Spit and seen nature red in tooth and claw -- actually, an Osprey flying overhead, a large fish in its talons -- I paid the price for visiting the wilds. It turned out to be $2.53 a gallon for unleaded regular on my trip back to reality -- and that was by no means the worst price I saw that day.
For anyone who slips into the driver's seat of a car -- and except for those who live in cities like New York with full-scale public transport systems, that's most of America most of the time -- life is already a permanent energy crisis. No wonder the President stumbled across reality this year and declared before the nation that we were all oil addicts in a hooked homeland and it was time to rid ourselves of our "dependence" on Middle Eastern oil (a region where, as it turns out, oil use is surging). You know -- that horribly "unstable" part of the world the President personally destabilized with his invasion of choice.

The Saudis were mildly insulted by the presidential speech (especially since they sell us their oil at relatively cut-rate prices while energy-hungry Asian powers pay top Euro for it); the big oil execs, knowing the truth of the situation, were unflustered ("No combination of conservation measures, alternative energy sources and technological advances could realistically and economically provide a way to completely replace those imports in the short or medium term," said Exxon Mobil senior vice president Stuart McGill); and the President, it turned out, had his facts upside down. It's true that we now import 60% of our oil from elsewhere, but because it's cheaper to transport energy from relatively close at hand, our one-two punch in imported oil turns out to be neighbors Canada and Mexico. (The Saudis only place, and right behind the top three comes not, say, Kuwait, but... gulp... Hugo Chavez's Venezuela.) To add insult to injury, just this week, the government's Energy Information Administration announced that "U.S. and world oil demand growth in the second quarter [of 2006] is expected to be stronger than previously forecast."

From the beginning, the Bush administration has been an all-oil-all-the-time regime. Chevron even dubbed one of its double-hulled tankers the Condoleezza Rice because she was on the company board. (The name was changed when she became Bush's national security adviser.) Our President and Vice President were, of course, in the business and the government has since been Halliburtonized; Zalmay Khalilzad, our ambassador first to Afghanistan and now to Iraq, was once an advisor to Unocal, the energy company that tried to negotiate the running of a natural-gas pipeline through the Taliban's Afghanistan... and so on.

Though various neocons and top administration officials dreamed of a Pax Americana in the Middle East, they certainly never meant to take those heartland energy reserves for the United States. Settling permanently into bases in Iraq was to be the royal way to global dominance over other energy-desperate powers. (Imagine the frustration, then, that Iraq can now hardly get its oil out of the ground!)

Still, the President had a point. We do have a problem. Of course, problem number one was how little lay behind Bush's words. As Valerie Marcel, energy expert at the Royal Institute of International Affairs in London commented, "Bush was playing to a very, very domestic agenda. It's just rhetoric."

What's the point, after all, in announcing that we're a nation of addicts, if you're not only not planning to put money into treatment centers, but cutting funds for them? As Michael Klare so vividly points out below, we are entering what is, in essence, a permanent global state of energy crisis without significant thought or planning.

The Bush administration largely rejects the very idea of climate change -- only the Pentagon and NASA seem to take it seriously -- and the main form of alternative energy that really interests them right now, nuclear energy, is essentially another form of addiction. Elsewhere in the world, there are people putting some thought into the onrushing crisis we face, but not us. The Chinese, worried about their energy future, have not only been stomping the planet from Sudan and Iran to Venezuela looking to nail down their long-term fossil-fuel fixes, but have been putting some time, energy, and thought into renewables. Sweden has, remarkably enough, just launched a fifteen-year plan to make itself the first advanced industrial country to go permanently off oil. (Already, 26% of the energy consumed there comes from renewables.) But not us.

This is, of course, painfully shortsighted. After all, there's the Swedish government working closely with Saab and Volvo to produce cars and trucks that will work off biofuels -- and where is our government? (Note to GM: How long will you really sell those monsters of yours in a $4 or $5 a gallon world?) So, with Michael Klare, author of the (sadly) ever more indispensable book, Blood and Oil: The Dangers and Consequences of America's Growing Dependence on Imported Petroleum, at your side, consider our predicament in the new world of eternally tight energy. Tom

The Permanent Energy Crisis

By Michael T. Klare
President Bush's State of the Union comment that the United States is "addicted to oil" can be read as pure political opportunism. With ever more Americans expressing anxiety about high oil prices, freakish weather patterns, and abiding American ties to unsavory foreign oil potentates, it is hardly surprising that Bush sought to portray himself as an advocate of the development of alternative energy systems. But there is another, more ominous way to read his comments: that top officials have come to realize that the United States and the rest of the world face a new and growing danger – a permanent energy crisis that imperils the health and well-being of every society on earth.

To be sure, the United States has experienced severe energy crises before: the 1973-74 "oil shock" with its mile-long gas lines; the 1979-80 crisis following the fall of the Shah of Iran; the 2000-01 electricity blackouts in California, among others. But the crisis taking shape in 2006 has a new look to it. First of all, it is likely to last for decades, not just months or a handful of years; second, it will engulf the entire planet, not just a few countries; and finally, it will do more than just cripple the global economy -- its political, military, and environmental effects will be equally severe.

If you had to date it, you could say that our permanent energy crisis began, appropriately enough, on New Year's Day, 2006, when Russia's state-owned natural gas monopoly, Gazprom, cut off gas deliveries to Ukraine in punishment for that country's pro-Western leanings. Although Gazprom has since resumed some deliveries, it is now evident that Moscow is fully prepared to employ its abundant energy reserves as a political weapon at a time of looming natural gas shortages worldwide. It won't be the last country to do so in the years to come. In just the few weeks since then, the world has experienced a series of similar energy-related disturbances:

* The sabotage of natural gas pipelines to the former Soviet republic of Georgia, producing widespread public discomfort at a time of unusually frigid temperatures;

* An eruption of oil-related ethnic violence in Nigeria, resulting in a sharp reduction in that country's petroleum output;

* Threats by Iran to cut off exports of oil and gas in retaliation for any sanctions imposed by the U.N. Security Council over its suspect nuclear enrichment activities;

* And as result of such developments, a series of mini-spikes in crude oil prices as well as reports in the business press that, if this pattern of instability continues, such prices could easily rise beyond $80 per barrel to hit the once unimaginable $100 per barrel range.

Vectors of Crisis

Events like these will certainly spread economic pain and hardship globally, especially to those who cannot afford higher transportation and heating-fuel costs. As it happens, though, these are not isolated, unrelated events. Think of them as expressions of a deeper crisis. Like the tremors before a major earthquake, they suggest the dangerous accumulation of powerful energy forces that will roil the planet for years to come.

Although we cannot hope to foresee all the ways such forces will affect the global human community, the primary vectors of the permanent energy crisis can be identified and charted. Three such vectors, in particular, demand attention: a slowing in the growth of energy supplies at a time of accelerating worldwide demand; rising political instability provoked by geopolitical competition for those supplies; and mounting environmental woes produced by our continuing addiction to oil, natural gas, and coal. Each of these would be cause enough for worry, but it is their intersection that we need to fear above all.

Energy experts have long warned that global oil and gas supplies are not likely to be sufficiently expandable to meet anticipated demand. As far back as the mid-1990s, peak-oil theorists like Kenneth Deffeyes of Princeton University and Colin Campbell of the Association for the Study of Peak Oil (ASPO) insisted that the world was heading for a peak-oil moment and would soon face declining petroleum output. At first, most mainstream experts dismissed these claims as simplistic and erroneous, while government officials and representatives of the big oil companies derided them. Recently, however, a sea-change in elite opinion has been evident. First Matthew Simmons, the chairman of Simmons and Company International of Houston, America's leading energy-industry investment bank, and then David O'Reilly, CEO of Chevron, the country's second largest oil firm, broke ranks with their fellow oil magnates and embraced the peak-oil thesis. O'Reilly has been particularly outspoken, taking full-page ads in the New York Times and other papers to declare, "One thing is clear: the era of easy oil is over."

The exact moment of peak oil's arrival is not as important as the fact that world oil output will almost certainly fall short of global demand, given the fossil-fuel voraciousness of the older industrialized nations, especially the United States, and soaring demand from China, India, and other rapidly growing countries. The U.S. Department of Energy (DoE) projects global oil demand to grow by 35% between 2004 and 2025 -- from 82 million to 111 million barrels per day. The DoE predicts that daily oil output will rise by a conveniently similar amount -- from 83 million to 111 million barrels. Voilá! -- the problem of oil sufficiency disappears. But even a cursory glance at the calculations made by the DoE's experts is enough to raise suspicions: Behind such estimates lies the assumption that key oil producers like Iran, Iraq, Nigeria, and Saudi Arabia can double or triple their oil production -- unlikely in the extreme, according to most sober analysts. On top of this, the DoE has been lowering its own oil-production estimates: In 2003, it predicted that global oil output would reach 123 million barrels per day by 2025; by the end of 2005, that number had already dropped by12 million barrels, reflecting a growing pessimism even among the globe's great oil optimists.

This is not to say that oil will disappear in the years ahead: There will still be adequate supplies for well-heeled consumers who can afford higher fuel bills. But much of the world's easy-to-acquire petroleum has already been extracted and significant portions of what remains can only be found in places that present significant drilling challenges like the hurricane-prone Gulf of Mexico or the iceberg-infested waters of the North Atlantic -- or in perennially conflict-ridden and sabotage-vulnerable areas of Africa, Central Asia, and the Middle East.

No Escape from Scarcity

To make the energy picture grimmer, "spare" or "surge" capacity seems to be disappearing in the major oil-producing regions. At one time, key producers like Saudi Arabia retained an excess production capacity, allowing them to rapidly boost their output in times of potential energy crisis like the 1990-91 Gulf War. But Saudi Arabia, like the other big suppliers, is now producing at full tilt and so possesses zero capacity to increase output. In other words, any politically inspired (or sabotage related) cutoff in oil exports from countries like Russia or Iran will produce instant energy shock on a global scale and send oil prices soaring to, or through, that $100 a barrel barrier.

A chronic shortage of oil would be hard enough for the world community to cope with even if other sources of energy were in great supply. But this is not the case. Natural gas -- the world's second leading source of energy -- is also at risk of future shortages. While there are still major deposits of gas in Russia and Iran (potentially the world's number one and two suppliers) waiting to be tapped, obstacles to their exploitation loom large. The United States is doing everything it can to prevent Iran from exporting its gas (for example, by strong-arming India into abandoning a proposed gas pipeline from Iran), while Moscow has actively discouraged Europe from increasing its reliance on Russian gas through its recent cutoff of supplies to Ukraine and other worrisome actions.

In North America, the supply of natural gas is rapidly disappearing. In a reflection of our desperate (and demented) condition, Canada is now starting to divert some of its remaining natural gas to the manufacture of synthetic oil from tar sands, so as to ease the pressure on supplies of conventional petroleum. Given the prohibitive cost of building gas pipelines from Asia and Africa, the only practical way to get more gas supplies to North America would be to spend several hundred billion dollars (or more) on facilities for converting foreign sources of gas into liquified natural gas (LNG), shipping the LNG in giant doubled-hulled vessels across the Atlantic and Pacific, and then converting it back into a gas in "regasification" plants in American harbors. Although favored by the Bush administration, plans to construct such plants have provoked opposition in many coastal communities because of the risk of accidental explosion as well as the potential for inviting terrorist attacks.

As for renewables -- wind, solar, and biomass -- these are still at a relatively early stage of development. With a trillion dollars or so of added investment they could indeed ease some of the strain on fossil fuels in decades to come; however, at present rates of investment, this is not likely to occur. The same can be said of "safe" nuclear power and "clean" coal -- even if the severe problems associated with both of these energy options could be overcome, it would take several decades and a few trillion dollars before they could possibly replace existing energy systems. The only source of energy that can compensate for a shortage of oil and gas at this time is conventional (unclean) coal, and a rise in its consumption would increase the risk of catastrophic climate change.

The New "Great Game"

With looming energy shortages, the risk of conflict over energy access (and the wealth fossil fuels generate) is certain to grow. Throughout history, competition over the control of key supplies of vital raw materials has been a source of friction between major powers and there is every reason to assume that this will continue to be the case. "Just at it did when the Great Game was played out in the decades leading up to the First World War, ongoing industrialization is setting off a scramble for natural resources," John Gray of the London School of Economics observed in a recent article in the New York Review of Books. "The coming century could be marked by recurrent resource wars, as the great powers struggle for control of the world's hydrocarbons."

As in the Great Game, such conflicts most likely would not arise from head-on clashes between the great powers, but rather through the escalation of local conflicts sustained by great power involvement, as was the case in the Balkans prior to World War I. In their competitive pursuit of assured energy supplies, today's great powers -- led by the United States and China -- are developing or cementing close ties with favored suppliers in the Middle East, Central Asia, and Africa. In many cases, this entails the delivery of large quantities of advanced weaponry, advisors, and military technology -- as the United States has long been doing with Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and the United Arab Emirates, and China is now doing with Iran and Sudan.

Nor should the possibility of a direct clash over oil and gas between great powers be ruled out. In the East China Sea, for example, China and Japan have both laid claim to an undersea natural gas field that lies in an offshore area also claimed by both of them. In recent months, Chinese and Japanese combat ships and planes deployed in the area have made threatening moves toward one another; so far no shots have been fired, but neither Beijing nor Tokyo have displayed any willingness to compromise on the matter and the risk of escalation is growing with each new encounter.

The likelihood of internal conflict in oil-producing countries is also destined to grow in tandem with the steady rise of energy prices. The higher the price of petroleum, the greater the potential to reap mammoth profits from control of a nation's oil exports -- and so the greater the incentive to seize power in such states or, for those already in power, to prevent the loss of control to a rival clique by any means necessary. Hence the rise of authoritarian petro-regimes in many of the oil-producing countries and the persistence of ethnic conflict between various groups seeking control over state-oil revenues -- a phenomenon notable today in Iraq (where Shiites, Sunnis, and Kurds are battling over the allocation of future oil revenues) and in Nigeria (where competing tribes in the oil-rich Delta region are fighting over measly "development grants" handed out by the major foreign oil firms).

"Up to this point," Senator Richard G. Lugar told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on November 16, "the main issues surrounding oil have been how much we have to pay for it and whether we will experience supply disruptions. But in the decades to come, the issue may be whether the world's supply of oil is abundant and accessible enough to support continued economic growth…. When we reach the point where the world's oil-hungry economies are competing for insufficient supplies of energy, oil will become an even stronger magnet for conflict than it already is."

Averting Environmental Catastrophe

In addition to this danger, we face the entire range of environmental perils associated with our continuing reliance on fossil fuels. Consider this: The DoE predicted in July 2005 that worldwide emissions of carbon dioxide (the principal source of the "greenhouse gases" responsible for global warming) will rise by nearly 60% between 2002 and 2025 -- with virtually all of this increase, about 15 billion metric tons of CO2, coming from the consumption of oil, gas, and coal. If this projection proves accurate, the world will probably pass the threshold at which it will be possible to avert significant global heating, a substantial rise in sea-levels, and all the resulting environmental damage.

The surest way to slow the increase in global carbon emissions is to reduce our consumption of fossil fuels and accelerate the transition to alternative forms of energy. But because such alternatives are not currently capable of replacing oil, gas, and coal on a significant scale (and won't be, at present rates of investment, for another few decades), the temptation to increase reliance on fossil fuels is likely to remain strong. We are, in fact, caught in a conundrum: the world needs more energy to satisfy rising global demand, and the only way to accomplish this at present is to squeeze out more oil, gas, and coal from the Earth, thereby hastening the onset of catastrophic climate change. In turn, the only way to avert such change is to consume less oil, gas, and coal, which would involve severe economic costs of a sort that most national leaders would be reluctant to consider. Hence, we will be trapped in a permanent crisis brought on by our collective addiction to cheap energy.

The sole way out of this trap is to bite the bullet and adopt heroic measures to curb our fossil-fuel consumption while embarking upon a massive program to develop alternative energy systems – an effort comparable to, and in some sense a reversal of, the coal-and-oil-fueled industrial revolution of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. In the United States, this would, at an utter minimum, entail the imposition of a hefty tax on gasoline consumption, with the resulting proceeds used to fund the rapid development of renewable energy systems. All funds now slated for highway construction should instead be devoted to public transit and high-speed inter-city rail lines and all new cars sold in America after 2010 should have minimum average fuel efficiencies of 50 MPG or higher. This will prove costly and disruptive -- but what other choice is there if we want to have some hope of exiting the permanent global energy crisis before the global economy collapses or the planet becomes uninhabitable by humans.

Michael T. Klare is the Professor of Peace and World Security Studies at Hampshire College and the author, most recently, of Blood and Oil: The Dangers and Consequences of America's Growing Dependence on Imported Petroleum (Owl Books) as well as Resource Wars, The New Landscape of Global Conflict.

Copyright 2006 Michael T. Klare


Saundra Hummer
February 9th, 2006, 11:44 PM


For Immediate Release
Contact: Beth Daley, beth@pogo.org, 202-347-1122

In a growing culture of caution and fear of dissent, a Congressional research agency has warned a senior analyst to avoid describing his research findings. The analyst specializes in separation of powers issues for the Congressional Research Service (CRS) and has frequently authored reports which encourage the Congress to assert its Constitutional oversight authority over the Executive Branch.

The analyst was criticized over a report and comments he made concerning the plight of national security whistleblowers. "It is undeniable that unprecedented numbers of government whistleblowers face retaliation with no adequate protections. We are stunned that the Congress is offended to hear the truth about its failure to help whistleblowers and are even punishing their own seasoned researchers for talking about it," said Danielle Brian, Executive Director, Project On Government Oversight (POGO).

Today's Washington Times attacks the author of another controversial report which found that the National Security Agency's domestic spying program was illegal. The article criticizes the CRS staff member for making political donations to Democrats. In recent months, POGO has heard that phone calls and letters from Republican Members of Congress to the CRS have created a chilling effect on the agency.

A January 18, 2006 memo from Louis Fisher, a Senior Specialist in Separation of Powers, describes a culture of fear and retaliation for CRS staff. Fisher states that "Congressional research arms cannot function if they fear criticism. Disagreement--strong disagreement--is a natural condition on Capitol Hill." Fisher has been with the CRS for three decades. According the memo, Fisher's supervisor wrote: "Care must be taken to avoid compromising the Service's mission by providing the impression that we as an agency, or the analyst as an individual, have taken a position on an issue before the Congress, or that we are not impartial and objective when researching those issues. Unfortunately, the comments attributed to you in this article clearly leave the impression with the reader that CRS has taken a position on this issue." The supervisor took issue with Fisher's comments in a Government Executive article.

In the memo, Fisher responds to the criticism: "What position? What issue? What are we talking about? In the article I was quoted as saying that agency managers can abuse their powers when punishing whistleblowers and are seldom held to account. That is the record. No one who follows this area would question that." Whistleblower and open government advocates across the political spectrum have expressed concern about this problem, particularly since the creation of the National Security Whistleblowers Coalition (http://www.nswbc.org). Recently, conservative organizations including Americans for Tax Reform and the American Conservative Union wrote to House Government Reform Chairman Tom Davis expressing concern that whistleblower legislation did not go far enough in protecting national security employees (click here).

Founded in 1981, the Project On Government Oversight (POGO) is an independent nonprofit that investigates and exposes corruption in order to achieve a more accountable federal government.



Saundra Hummer
February 10th, 2006, 02:24 PM

Hastert, Frist Said to Rig Bill for Drug Firms

By Bill Theobald
The Gannett News Service

Thursday 09 February 2006

Frist denies protection was added in secret.

Washington - Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist and House Speaker Dennis Hastert engineered a backroom legislative maneuver to protect pharmaceutical companies from lawsuits, say witnesses to the pre-Christmas power play.

The language was tucked into a Defense Department appropriations bill at the last minute without the approval of members of a House-Senate conference committee, say several witnesses, including a top Republican staff member.

In an interview, Frist, a doctor and Tennessee Republican, denied that the wording was added that way.

Trial lawyers and other groups condemn the law, saying it could make it nearly impossible for people harmed by a vaccine to force the drug maker to pay for their injuries.

Many in health care counter that the protection is needed to help build up the vaccine industry in the United States, especially in light of a possible avian flu pandemic.

The legislation, called the Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness Act, allows the secretary of Health and Human Services to declare a public health emergency, which then provides immunity for companies that develop vaccines and other "countermeasures."

Beyond the issue of vaccine liability protection, some say going around the longstanding practice of bipartisan House-Senate conference committees' working out compromises on legislation is a dangerous power grab by Republican congressional leaders that subverts democracy.

"It is a travesty of the legislative process," said Thomas Mann, senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, a Washington think tank.

"It vests enormous power in the hands of congressional leaders and private interests, minimizes transparency and denies legitimate opportunities for all interested parties, in Congress and outside, to weigh in on important policy questions."

At issue is what happened Dec. 18 as Congress scrambled to finish its business and head home for the Christmas holiday.

That day, a conference committee made up of 38 senators and House members met several times to work out differences on the 2006 Defense Department appropriations bill.

Rep. David Obey, D-Wis., the ranking minority House member on the conference committee, said he asked Sen. Ted Stevens, R-Alaska, the conference chairman, whether the vaccine liability language was in the massive bill or would be placed in it.

Obey and four others at the meeting said Stevens told him no. Committee members signed off on the bill and the conference broke up.

A spokeswoman for Stevens, Courtney Boone, said last week that the vaccine liability language was in the bill when conferees approved it. Stevens was not made available for comment.

During a January interview, Frist agreed. Asked about the claim that the vaccine language was inserted after the conference members signed off on the bill, he replied: "To my knowledge, that is incorrect. It was my understanding, you'd have to sort of confirm, that the vaccine liability which had been signed off by leaders of the conference, signed off by the leadership in the United States Senate, signed off by the leadership of the House, it was my understanding throughout that that was part of that conference report."

But Keith Kennedy, who works for Sen. Thad Cochran, R-Miss., as staff director for the Senate Appropriations Committee, said at a seminar for reporters last month that the language was inserted by Frist and Hastert, R-Ill., after the conference committee ended its work.

"There should be no dispute. That was an absolute travesty," Kennedy said at a videotaped Washington, D.C., forum sponsored by the Center on Congress at Indiana University.

"It was added after the conference had concluded. It was added at the specific direction of the speaker of the House and the majority leader of the Senate. The conferees did not vote on it. It's a true travesty of the process."

After the conference committee broke up, a meeting was called in Hastert's office, Kennedy said. Also at the meeting, according to a congressional staffer, were Frist, Stevens and House Majority Whip Roy Blunt, R-Mo.

"They (committee staff members) were given the language and then it was put in the document," Kennedy said.

About 10 or 10:30 p.m., Democratic staff members were handed the language and told it was now in the bill, Obey said.

He took to the House floor in a rage. He called Frist and Hastert "a couple of musclemen in Congress who think they have a right to tell everybody else that they have to do their bidding."

Rep. Dan Burton, R-Ind., also was critical of inserting the vaccine language after the conference committee had adjourned.

"It sucks," he told Congress Daily that night.

Rep. Jim Moran, D-Va., another member of the conference committee, was upset, too, a staff member said, because he didn't have enough time to read the language. The final bill was filed in the House at 11:54 p.m. and passed 308-102 at 5:02 the next morning.

The Senate unanimously approved the legislation Dec. 21, but not before Senate Democrats, including several members of the conference committee, bashed the way the vaccine language was inserted.

"What an insult to the legislative process," said Sen. Robert Byrd, D-W.Va., a member of the conference committee. Byrd is considered the authority on legislative rules and tradition.

President Bush signed the legislation into law Dec. 30.

When asked about Frist's earlier denial, spokeswoman Amy Call said: "Bill Frist has fought hard to protect the people of Tennessee and the people of the United States from a bioterror emergency and that's what he did throughout this process."

Hastert's office did not provide a response.

Not against the Rules

The practice of adding to a compromise bill worked out by bipartisan House-Senate conference committees, while highly unusual, is not thought to violate congressional rules.

Some Senate and House Democrats have proposed banning the practice as part of broader attempts at ethics reform in Congress.

They, consumer groups and others with concerns about possible harm caused by vaccines charge that the move was a gift by Frist to the pharmaceutical industry, which they point out has given a lot of campaign cash to the Nashville doctor through the years.

"The senator should be working to ensure there are safe vaccines to protect American families rather than protecting the drug industry's pocketbooks," Pamela Gilbert, president of Protect American Families, said in a statement. The group is an alliance of consumer, labor and advocacy organizations.

Frist has received $271,523 in campaign donations from the pharmaceutical and health products industry since 1989, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, a watchdog group.

He is also a possible candidate for president in 2008.

In the interview, Frist reiterated how important he thinks the vaccine protections are.

"The United States of America, if a pandemic occurs, is totally unprepared," he said. "And the only way we are going to be prepared is rebuilding our manufacturing base to build a vaccine infrastructure that can be timely and responsive. We don't have it today."

Frist has long advocated liability protection for vaccine makers, and it was widely reported that he would attempt to attach the legislation to the Defense Appropriations bill because it is considered must-pass legislation.

Ken Johnson, senior vice president of the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, said that, while the group favors liability protection, it did not take a position nor did it lobby on behalf of the law that passed.


Saundra Hummer
February 10th, 2006, 02:48 PM

E.J. Dionne, Jr.
Washington Post Writers Group
Fri, 2.10.06

The winds are changing

Cheney to Congress: Buzz off. Congress to Cheney: Not so fast

WASHINGTON -- This week the Bush administration was finally forced out of its own pre-9/11 worldview -- and yes you read that right. It happened because some brave Republicans stared the president down and said: Stop.
Of course, it is the administration that is always accusing its opponents of pre-9/11 thinking. But for the last five years, President Bush, Vice President Cheney and Karl Rove have been willing to put the national unity required to fight terrorism in second place behind their goals of aggrandizing presidential power and winning elections. Can you get more pre-9/11 than that?

Instead of seeking broad agreement on the measures required for our nation's safety, they preferred to pick fights designed to make the Democrats look soft and to claim the president could do pretty much anything he wanted.

That's why the White House made sure that Rove trumpeted the surveillance issue before the Republican National Committee last month. A president who cared more about national security than politics wouldn't send out his top political lieutenant to make sure everyone knew that the GOP planned to use a matter of such grave importance to bash Democrats.

And it's why Vice President Cheney, when asked this week by Jim Lehrer if Bush were willing to work with Congress on the issue, barely entertained the question. "We believe, Jim, that we have all the legal authority we need," Cheney replied immediately. Congress could make any suggestions it wanted, but -- I add the italics to underscore the point -- the White House would ignore whatever it chose to ignore. "We'd have to make a decision as an administration whether or not we think it would help and would enhance our capabilities."

Translation -- Cheney to Congress: Buzz off.

But this time, some important members of the president's own party -- led by Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter -- decided that enough is enough. As stewards of Congress' constitutional authority, they could not stand by while the president claimed the power to decide for himself what the law said and whether he needed to follow it without any concern for what those meddlesome members of Congress or judges might say.

And it's wonderful to see what a few brave politicians can achieve. On Thursday, the administration agreed to brief the Senate Intelligence Committee on the program after having offered a similar briefing to the comparable House committee the day before.

It was a small crack in the wall, and Specter and his allies will have to remain vigilant. Still, until this week, the White House had flatly refused to offer such briefings. The winds are changing.

What's heartening is how broad the Republican dissent from the administration has been -- a sign that many Republicans have calculated that they'll be better off in this fall's elections if they do their jobs, even if this means challenging Bush and Cheney.

Rep. Heather Wilson, R-N.M., who faces a tough re-election battle and has shown streaks of independence in the past, demanded the briefings for reasons straight out of a good civics textbook. "The checks and balances in our system of government are very important," she said, noting that our "constitutional structure has kept us safe and free and the strongest country in the world for a very long time." Yes, let's wave a flag for this Air Force veteran.

Sen. Mike DeWine, R-Ohio, who also is up for re-election, said the "this country would be stronger and the president would be stronger" if Bush accepted the idea that Congress might actually have a role in lawmaking on the surveillance issue.

And Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said the administration was making a "very dangerous" argument in claiming that it got the authority to wiretap without supervision when Congress passed its use-of-force resolution against terrorism. Graham said he never envisioned that he was giving Bush -- or "any other president" -- "carte blanche" on surveillance.

Focus for a moment on Graham's reference to "any other president." It's instructive to imagine what Republicans in Congress (let alone Rush Limbaugh or Bill O'Reilly) would say if a President Hillary Rodham Clinton were to claim the sweeping authority Bush and Cheney say they have. Is there any doubt that the entire Republican Party would -- to cite a recent comment by Republican National Chairman Ken Mehlman -- "have a lot of anger" and denounce Clinton for arrogance, overreaching and power lust?

"The president should have all the tools he needs to fight terrorism," Specter said, "but we also want to maintain our civil liberties." Now there is a perfect expression of patriotic, post-9/11 thinking.

For more, please visit the E.J. Dionne, Jr. archives.

It was a small crack in the wall, and Specter and his allies will have to remain vigilant.


Saundra Hummer
February 10th, 2006, 03:05 PM

Molly Ivins
Creators Syndicate
Fri, 2.10.06

The destruction of the Constitution

Pathetic pipsqueak Al Gonzales snows Judiciary committee on domestic spying

AUSTIN, Texas -- Once upon a time, in the middle of a nasty constitutional crisis in Washington, a most unlikely hero emerged -- a Texas lawyer from one of our state's notoriously discriminated-against racial minorities. Think how lucky we were.

It is one of the most famous sentences in all of American rhetoric: "My faith in the Constitution is whole, it is complete, it is total." But what catches the eye today is the sentence that followed that famous declaration, the sentence that makes one so ashamed for Al Gonzales. Barbara Jordan's great, deep voice brought the impeachment hearings against Richard Nixon to an awed silence when she vowed, "And I am not going to sit here and be an idle spectator to the diminution, the subversion, the destruction of the Constitution."

Thirty years ago, this state could produce Barbara Jordan -- and now we send that pathetic pipsqueak Al Gonzales. Enough to provoke a wailing cry of "O tempera, O mores!" even from the depths of Lubbock.

As a New York Times editorial succinctly put it, Attorney General Gonzales' Judiciary Committee appearance was a "daylong display of cynical hair-splitting, obfuscation, disinformation and stonewalling."

How fortunate that Republicans running the committee did not insist the chief law enforcement officer of the United States take an oath before testifying. God forbid that he should actually be held to the truth.

I realize it's a cliché for those of us who remember the Beach Boys to mourn the days when giants roamed the Earth and all was on a grander and finer scale. But I knew Barbara Jordan, and I know Al Gonzales, and it is damned depressing -- he's too lightweight to even be a mediocrity.

It seems to me the trumpery excuse for a hearing raised graver issues than those of 30 years ago. Gonzales kept trying to frame the issue as a question of whether or not a domestic spying program without warrants is illegal -- in fact, it is against the law.

Gonzales maintained the law is superseded by some unwritten constitutional power due the president during time of war and further that Congress had authorized warrantless spying when giving the president the authority to invade Afghanistan. Strange, so few who voted for invading Afghanistan recall having warrantless spying in mind.

One problem of legal logic is to "define war." We have not been attacked by another nation -- in fact, we were clearly the aggressors against Iraq. We were attacked by a private group of ideological zealots led by a Saudi millionaire. This war -- against no nation, flag or territory -- can presumably last indefinitely, like our wars against drugs and crime.

Barbara Jordan observed: "(Impeachment) is designed to 'bridle' the executive if he engages in excesses. ... The Framers confined in the Congress the power, if need be, to remove the president in order to strike a delicate balance between a president swollen with power and grown tyrannical, and preservation of the independence of the executive. ... 'A president is impeachable if he attempts to subvert the Constitution.'"

Nixon was accused, among other things, of misuse of the CIA. I highly recommend James Risen's new book, "State of War: The Secret History of the CIA and the Bush Administration." Risen is the New York Times reporter who broke the story of the National Security Agency spying scandal.

Thomas Powers, an authority on American intelligence, reviewed the Risen book for The New York Review of Books and notes: "If the Constitution forbids a president anything, it forbids war on his say-so, and if it insists on anything, it insists that presidents are not above the law. In plain terms, this means that presidents cannot enact laws on their own, or ignore laws that have been enacted by Congress. ...

"In public life, as in kindergarten, the all-important word is no. We are living with the consequences of the inability to say no to the president's war of choice with Iraq, and we shall soon see how Congress and the courts will respond to the latest challenge from the White House -- the claim by President Bush that he has the right to ignore FISA's prohibition of government intrusion on the private communications of Americans without a court order and his repeated statements that he intends to go right on doing it."

The time is coming when someone will have to say no. Sadly, I have a vision of the impeachment panel, and I see Tom DeLay in the seat once occupied by the great Barbara Jordan. Read more in the Molly Ivins archive .

God forbid that Gonzales should actually be held to the truth

Molly Ivins is the former editor of the liberal monthly The Texas Observer. She is the bestselling author of several books including Who Let the Dogs In? .


Saundra Hummer
February 10th, 2006, 06:29 PM

Thu Jan 26 2006 15:42:32 2006

President Bush today again avoided taking a question from White House doyenne Helen Thomas during his 45-minute press conference, even though he took questions from every reporter around her front-row, center seat.

"He's a coward," Thomas said afterward. "He's supposed to be this macho guy. He'll take on Osama bin Laden, but he won't take me on."
Thomas, who worked as the UPI White House reporter for 57 years and is now a columnist, raised her hand every time the president was concluding an answer to a reporter's question, but he never called on her.

She had a few questions in mind, though. "I wanted to ask about Iraq: 'You said you didn't go in for oil or for Israel or for WMDs. so why did you go in?' "

She also had another question at the ready, just in case, this one about the president's contention that a 28-year-old wiretapping law known as FISA is out of date, which prompted him to order the National Security Agency to conduct a secret electronic surveillance program that Democrats contend is illegal.

"You keep saying it's a 1978 law, but the Constitution 200 years old. Is that out of date, too?"

Afterward, Thomas sat sullenly in her chair in the White House press work area, huddled in her leopard-print winter coat.

But as she left, she made a prediction: "He came on to my turf. I'll bet the next press conference will be in Room 450 of the EEOB," a theater-style room in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, where she would not be in the front row.



The dogs have been let out and they're on the attack, and (I'm wondering when Drudge will let it be known he's in the pack?), they're going after her as if she will be their last meal. Like sharks after the trophy fish. Amazing, it really is. Every president I recall had the nerve to allow her questions, and as tough as they oftentimes were, and as much as they didn't want to have to answer her, they stood up, and did, and graceously for the most part, so I have to agree with Helen, GW Bush was cowardly and again he thought nothing of going against protacol, ignoring her once again. He's good at his little snide ways. Well, Helen will be the one who will be vindicated in the end, I would imagine, as she knows how to be honest and how to turn a clever straight-forward-phrase while being her stand up self in front of such an onslaught; all brought on by this quirky, less than stellar, corrupt administration. SRH

Saundra Hummer
February 10th, 2006, 06:49 PM

The President, the Stripper and the Attorney General

By Sidney Blumenthal,
The Guardian.
Posted February 10, 2006.

The extraordinary legal defense of George Bush's domestic spying reads like a blend of Kafka, Le Carré and Mel Brooks. Tools

In 1996, Texas Gov. George W. Bush received a summons to serve on a jury, which would have required admission that 20 years earlier he had been arrested for drunken driving. Already planning his presidential campaign, he did not want this biographical information to be known to the public. His lawyer at the time made the novel argument to the judge that Bush should not have to serve because "he would not, as governor, be able to pardon the defendant in the future." (The defendant was a stripper accused of drunken driving.) The judge agreed, and it was not until the closing days of the 2000 campaign that Bush's record surfaced. On Monday, the same lawyer, Alberto Gonzales, now U.S. attorney general, appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee to defend "the client," as he called the president.

Gonzales was the sole witness called to explain Bush's warrantless domestic spying in obvious violation of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and circumvention of the special court created to administer it. The scene at the Senate was acted as though scripted partly by Kafka, partly by Mel Brooks and partly by John le Carre. After not being sworn in, the absence of oath taking having been insisted upon by the Republicans, Gonzales offered legal reasoning even more imaginative than he had used to get Bush out of jury duty, a melange of mendacity, absurdity and mystery.

The attorney general argued that the FISA law did and did not apply, that the administration was operating within it, while flouting it, and that it didn't matter. The president's "inherent" power, after all, allowed him to do whatever he wants. It was all, Gonzales said, "totally consistent." But his explanation, observed Sen. Arlen Specter, the Republican chairman of the Judiciary Committee, "defies logic and plain English."

Congress, Gonzales elaborated, had no proper constitutional role, but in any case had already approved the president's secret program by voting for the authorization for the use of military force in Afghanistan, even if members didn't know it or, when informed years later that they had done so, objected that they hadn't. The law that was ignored, Gonzales declared, shouldn't be amended to bring this domestic spying under the law because the secret program is already legal, or might be legal, and anyway it doesn't matter whether Congress says it's legal. The all-powerful president should be trusted, but when Bush states wrongly that he goes to court for warrants, it's all right that he doesn't know what he is talking about. "As you know," Gonzales said, "the president is not a lawyer."

Who was or wasn't being spied on couldn't and wouldn't be explained. When Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., asked whether the program could be used to "influence United States political processes, public opinion, policies or media," Gonzales replied, "Those are very, very difficult questions, and for me to answer those questions sort of off the cuff, I think would not be responsible." When Sen. Joseph Biden, D-Del., asked for assurances that only al Qaida or suspected terrorists are subject to surveillance, Gonzales answered, "Sir, I can't give you absolute assurance."

Nor would he say what the program really is. "I am not comfortable going down the road of saying yes or no as to what the president has or has not authorized," Gonzales said. "I'm not going to respond to that," he said. "I'm not going to answer," he said.

Gonzales' ultimate argument was an appeal to history. George Washington, he pointed out in a display of erudition, "intercepted British mail," footnoting a 1997 CIA report on the subject. In the Civil War, the telegraph was wiretapped. And during World War I and II, communications were intercepted, too. Gonzales' ahistoricism about technology aside (Washington had no cell phones to tap, no computers to hack), Washington, Lincoln and Roosevelt could not break a law that did not exist.

Through his convoluted testimony, Gonzales represented "the client" as a useful factotum again. But in his tour of history, he neglected the disclosure by the Associated Press on Feb. 3 of about 200 pages of documents from the White House of President Gerald Ford. These papers highlighted the objections of Ford's secretary of defense, Donald Rumsfeld, and chief of staff, Dick Cheney, to getting court warrants for domestic surveillance. It was partly to thwart such unaccountable executive power that Congress enacted the FISA in 1978. Once again the power behind the throne, Cheney has found a way to relieve the frustrations of the past. But he is fulfilling more than the curdled dreams of the Ford and Nixon era. The Bush presidency is straining to realize a pre-Washington ideal -- unconstitutional monarchy.

Sidney Blumenthal, author of "The Clinton Wars," writes a column for Salon and the London Guardian.


Saundra Hummer
February 10th, 2006, 07:32 PM
The President, the Stripper and the Attorney General

By Sidney Blumenthal, The Guardian. Posted February 10, 2006.

Here's some reader comments from the earlier post concerning the Attorney General
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the Circus
Posted by: decembrist on Feb 10, 2006 2:27 AM [Report this comment]

"totally consistent."
"defies logic and plain English."

"Sir, I can't give you absolute assurance."
"As you know, the president is not a lawyer."

"I'm not going to respond to that"
"influence United States political processes, public opinion, policies or media"
"I am not comfortable going down the road of saying yes or no as to what the president has or has not authorized"

"Those are very, very difficult questions, and for me to answer those questions sort of off the cuff, I think would not be responsible."

"intercepted British mail"
"I'm not going to answer"

"he would not, as governor, be able to pardon the defendant in the future."

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» RE: the Circus Posted by: adp3d

» And he wasn't under oath for what he "didn't say". Wow, what ..... Posted by: Prophit

Posted by: IanA on Feb 10, 2006 4:08 AM [Report this comment]

Those Americans who still think that they are carry the shining torches of freedom and democracy to the rest of the world better wake up and realise that they really are living in a presidential dictatorship, with the backing of the military and a rubber stamp legislature. Your elections are rigged and your papers are bought and your fellow citizens are either scared or stupid or will be taken care of in due course....

The U.S. of A is a slightly bigger and more imposing version of the type of dictatorships it used to promote for its own interests and easy manipulation and management in Central and South America.

The next phase I suspect will be a ramping up of the fear factor, another terrorist event for good measure, is the likely direction given the timely Ben Laden tape. I still cant«t figure what stretch of the imagination they will somehow use it to justify aggression on Iran this time. But they didn't need real facts the last time either.

The consequent security clampdown should also show the need for hire vigilance and detainment of suspected collaborator U.S. citizens who are in opposition to freedom and fair "government" and are aiding and abating the activities of enemy "terrorists" planning ever more threats to American security and jeopardizing American values.

Having some knowledge of Chile, it's kind of ironic that the USA has put itself into the same mould as the Pinochet type junta. It sort of proves that what goes around, comes around.

Viva el Presidente! Adios liberdad.

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» RE: Touché Posted by: mountainmama

BOOSH eats democracy for fun and profit
Posted by: Michiganman on Feb 10, 2006 4:55 AM [Report this comment]

I find myself constantly turning my head in disgust at the reports of the bushies newest adventures in subterfuge. The only thing that makes me feel a little better is booshies dismal performance appraisal in the polls. What a load of crap comes out of the mouths of these far right pretend fundamentalists!

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"Report this comment"
Posted by: douglashoyt on Feb 10, 2006 5:51 AM [Report this comment]

The up side is that no one has to click the "report this comment" link. NSA has it already.

good luck and go night.

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» RE: "Report this comment" Posted by: JSquercia

Gonzales' clown-speak
Posted by: TheJamea on Feb 10, 2006 7:20 AM [Report this comment]

I ran past a text of Gonzales' incredible circumlocution earlier, and now have lost it. Would someone post a link to a location with that awesome paragraph of idiocy?
My problem with the possible impeachment of the Clown-in-Chief, is the fact that it would leave the rest of these criminals running the show without a puppet in front. Obviously, we don't want Cheney as President. Can't we indict the whole crew with a charge of running a continuing criminal enterprise? Criminal incompetence? I mean, really, what happened when the whole Congress got so busy impeaching Clinton, that literally nothing else was happening on The Hill. The country got on with its business and there was a period of enormous economic vigor. Wasn't that substantially when the surplus was run up? Really, empty the Executive branch and all its present crony/appointees, and get the legislative group busy trying to figure out how to deal with it so we can then get on with dealing directly with the corporate oligarchy. Everybody got your torches and pitchforks gathered up? By the way, if you need any help getting through the gates at their compound, ask your local pizza delivery guy or woman, they have the codes, if 911 doesn't work. False security, anyone?

[« Reply to this comment] [Post a new comment »]

» RE: Gonzales' clown-speak -No worries, Impeachment is always a two-fer Posted by: doinaheckuvajob

Bush's Personal Lawyer?
Posted by: asque on Feb 10, 2006 8:40 AM [Report this comment]

I was under the false empression that he was Attorney General of the United States, not Bush's personal lawyer. Since he can't do both, it would be proper for him to resign so he can represent his "client" without conflict.

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Posted by: Ming on Feb 10, 2006 9:10 AM [Report this comment]

The fact that the AG was evasive is not news. That is his job. To protect his client. What astonishes me is that we the people and our elected represenatives continue to allow this behavior from the Executive Branch. Shame on us. We are getting what we deserve and no amount of discourse will change that fact.

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Speedy Gonzales is just another bush lap dog
Posted by: katrin on Feb 10, 2006 10:18 AM [Report this comment]

in fact, in photos Gonzales looks at bush with an obvious adoring crush.

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Targeting political opponents using vacuum cleaner methods
Posted by: thoughtcriminal on Feb 10, 2006 11:45 AM [Report this comment]

It is painfully obvious what is going on to anyone who has even a glimmer of technical knowledge regarding the internet and cell phones. Every router in this country must have a back door that the NSA and other agencies use to copy every single piece of data that passes through it. This then is loaded into NSA computer banks, and subjected to searches using google-type software. Imagine if you did a google search, and every single email, every single phone call, was rummaged through - business transcations, medical records, you name it. Who exactly is doing this rummaging? Maybe they are looking for insider stock news as well - who would be surprised? Of course any terrorist would be well aware of this! The fact that the President had to reauthorize this program every thirty days? or so tells you something about the size of the NSA computer system - every time the president authorizes this, I imagine the data is dumped (except for the juicy tidbits) and the process starts over. This is all as obvious as shit on the windshield, especially to foreign government agencies. Needless to say, the legitimate functions of NSA are being damaged due to this political Nixon-style snooping.

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Well this is expected
Posted by: Freedom84 on Feb 10, 2006 12:35 PM [Report this comment]

Did anyone believe he would say anything meaningful?
There is no justification for what they are doing, they have been caught redhanded and are now trying to concoct some justification for blatantly violating Law. His testimony is proof that they are severely struggling, circumventing the questions, with laughbale anwser is always the clear cut sign of a liar. This matter is pure and simple the Administratrion has been spying on the American people without authority.
They have openly violated the Law.
Now there are consequences for violating the law and our civil liberties.

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Are Bush & Gonzales in a threesome with Gannon/Guckert?
Posted by: doinaheckuvajob on Feb 10, 2006 1:25 PM [Report this comment]

I've noticed Gonzales' creepy love looks at Bush. Also, his voice is rather effeminate to my hearing. I'd like to know what some gay folks think according to their gay-dar on this trivial point. Does he or doesn't he? Only his hairdresser knows for sure. But I know one thing for sure: listening to the hearings a bit, I became convinced that Gonzales will squeal big time like a pig telling all if/when he gets his trial and his long list of indictments. Gonzales better play the Bush love card as much as possible so they don't kill him, as Gonzales will be the one to tell all. You heard it hear first.

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********************ALL HAIL!!!!!!!!!!!!!******************
Posted by: krose on Feb 10, 2006 4:14 PM [Report this comment]


[« Reply to this comment] [Post a new comment »]

Incredible null-speak
Posted by: TheJamea on Feb 10, 2006 4:26 PM [Report this comment]

I ran past a text of Gonzales' incredible circumlocution earlier, and now have lost it. Would someone post a link to a location with that awesome paragraph of idiocy?

[« Reply to this comment] [Post a new comment »]

Saundra Hummer
February 10th, 2006, 08:03 PM
Key States Miss Reform Deadline
Two years after the 2000 presidential election was determined by a mere 537 votes (and the Supreme Court), Congress passed the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) to solve many of the problems that arose that year. HAVA aimed to make state electoral practices more consistent by developing statewide voter databases and addressing each component of the voting process: registration, identification, ballots and machines. The deadline for these changes was supposed to be January 1, 2006, so as to allow enough time for these upgrades to be fully integrated by the midterms this year.

But according to a new report from electionline.org, approximately half of the states, including California, Florida, New York and Ohio have failed to meet that deadline. Doug Chapin, the president of electionline.org, acknowledges the concerted efforts made by many states, but is concerned about widespread distrust towards the system if these faulty electoral systems are not rectified. "The possibility for error, and the willingness of people to challenge those errors, are both growing every day. And that could have tremendous impact on elections in 2006 and beyond,” he said.

Among the report's findings:

In Ohio, the state legislature is still fighting over voter identification requirements

In California, concerns about voting machines have left some counties with warehouses full of new e-voting machines deemed unsuitable for elections.

In New York, continued inaction has left localities scrambling to replace lever machines on a short timetable. And the required statewide database has yet to be implemented – with no contract to a vendor even awarded yet.

Colorado cancelled its $10 million dollar contact in December 2005, leaving the state unable to meet the federal deadline.
If the November 2006 Congressional elections come down to the wire, we could be putting our faith in what Chapin refers to as "19th century election machines." And that could very well be how majorities in the House and Senate are won.

Posted by Juliana Bunim on 02/09/06 at 06:27 PM



Saundra Hummer
February 10th, 2006, 10:04 PM

Intel pros say Bush is lying about foiling 2002 terror attack

Feb 10, 2006, 07:43

Outraged intelligence professionals say President George W. Bush is "cheapening" and "politicizing" their work with claims the United States foiled a planned terrorist attack against Los Angeles in 2002.
"The President has cheapened the entire intelligence community by dragging us into his fantasy world," says a longtime field operative of the Central Intelligence Agency. "He is basing this absurd claim on the same discredited informant who told us Al Qaeda would attack selected financial institutions in New York and Washington."

Within hours of the President’s speech Thursday claiming his administration had prevented a major attack, sources who said they were current and retired intelligence pros from the CIA, NSA, FBI and military contacted Capitol Hill Blue with angry comments disputing the President’s remarks.

“He’s full of shit,” said one sharply-worded email.

Although none were willing to allow use of their names, saying doing so would place them in legal jeopardy, we were able to confirm that at least four of the 23 who contacted us currently work, or had worked, within the U.S. intelligence community.

But Los Angeles Mayor Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa is willing to go on the record, claiming Bush blind-sided his city with the claims.

"I'm amazed that the president would make this (announcement) on national TV and not inform us of these details through the appropriate channels," the mayor says. "I don't expect a call from the president — but somebody." Villaraigosa also said he has twice requested meetings with Bush to discuss security issues for Los Angeles and was turned down both times.

Intelligence pros say much of the information used by Bush in an attempt to justify his increased spying on Americans by the National Security Agency, trampling of civil rights under the USA Patriot Act, and massive buildup of the Department of Homeland Security, now the nation’s largest federal bureaucracy, was “worthless intel that was discarded long ago.”

“A lot of buzz circulated in the months following the September 11, 2001, attacks,” says an NSA operative. “Snippets here and there were true but most was just random information that could never be confirmed. One thing we do know about al Qaeda is that they seldom use the same technique twice. They tried a car bomb to bring down the World Trade Center and it failed. Then they went to planes. The next time will be something different because we’ve geared up to prevent hijacking planes and using them as flying bombs.”

In August 2004, just as the Presidential campaign was about to heat up, the Bush White House raised the terror alert, claiming attacks were imminent on major financial institutions. The alert, apparently timed to steal thunder from Democrat John Kerry’s nomination for President, was withdrawn after administration officials admitted it was based on old information from a discredited informant.

The discredited information dated back to the same period when intelligence agencies began receiving reports of a planned attack against Los Angeles.

Former DHS secretary Tom Ridge admits the U.S. raised terror alerts for the wrong reasons and now says he often disagreed with the timing of such alerts but was overruled by the White House.

"More often than not we were the least inclined to raise it," Ridge says. "Sometimes we disagreed with the intelligence assessment. Sometimes we thought even if the intelligence was good, you don't necessarily put the country on alert, There were times when the White House was really aggressive about raising it, and we said, 'For that?' We often lost the argument."

Ridge left DHS in February 2005 and replaced him with Michael Chertoff who agrees with the “cry wolf” strategy of the White House.

“Chertoff is a lackey,” says Kevin Riley, a retired New York City Detective who knew Chertoff during his days as a U.S. Attorney in New York. “He’ll do whatever Bush tells him to do.”

Intelligence pros at established Washington agencies laugh at DHS operatives, calling them “Keystone Kops” and “overpaid rent-a-cops,” saying they lack any real expertise in dealing with terrorism.

“DHS is a political police force,” says a retired CIA agent. “They exist to enforce the political propaganda program of George W. Bush. That’s all they’re good for and they’re not very good at that.”

© Copyright 2006 by Capitol Hill Blue

I guess there are swear words or names which are not being shown, and instead they've put in it's place, some gobbledy-goop.

Who the hell is this Thompson guy anyway?

Go on-site to see the article and to check everything out.


Saundra Hummer
February 10th, 2006, 10:12 PM

Mounting evidence proves White House lied about relationship with corrupt lobbyist
Capitol Hill Blue
Jan 19, 2006, 00:00

White House claims that President George W. Bush doesn’t know corrupt lobbyist Jack Abramoff may soon rank up there with “I did not have sex with that woman, Ms. Lewinsky” as a blatant public lie destroyed by mounting evidence.

Abramoff, the GOP loyalist who White House spokesman Scott McClellan claims Bush doesn’t know, was a key player in Bush’s transition team after the disputed 2000 Presidential election. Abramoff, working on Interior Department transition issues, attended a number of meetings with Bush during the transition.

“Bush tapped Abramoff as member of his Presidential Transition Team, advising the administration on policy and hiring at the Interior Department, which oversees Native American issues,” writes Richard Wolfe and Holly Baily in Newsweek. “That level of close access to Bush, DeLay and other GOP leaders has been cited by many of the Indian tribes who hired Abramoff with hopes of gaining greater influence with the administration and Congress on gaming issues.”

Although McClellan claims Bush did not meet with Abramoff, another White House spokesman, Erin Healy, said last year that "they may have met on occasion. After the Abramoff scandal broke, Healy amended her statement to add that the President “did not consider him a close friend” and claimed the White House had limited contact with the lobbyist. McClellan Tuesday claimed he could find only two contacts between the White House and Abramoff.

Yet public lobbying records filed by Abramoff’s firm show the lobbyist made 195 lobbying contacts with the administration on issues for the Marianas islands alone during Bush’s first 10 months in office. Abramoff lobbied to preserve the American territorial islands -- notorious for their "Made in the USA" sweatshops -- as exempt from federal minimum wage standards.

Two key players on Abramoff's lobbying team wound up with Bush administration jobs: Patrick Pizzella, named an assistant secretary of labor by Bush; and David Safavian, chosen by Bush to oversee federal procurement policy in the Office of Management and Budget.

In fact, Abramoff’s close ties with Bush go back to 1997 when the then Governor of Texas wrote a letter on the lobbyist’s behalf supporting his Marianas island client’s school choice proposal.

“I hope you will keep my office informed on the progress of this initiative,” Bush said in the July 18, 1997, letter, which included a CC to an Abramoff deputy.

Although they now try to distance themselves from the disgraced lobbyists, key Bush allies once openly embraced Abramoff as one of their own.

“What the Republicans need is 50 Jack Abramoffs," Grover Norquist, another Bush confidant, told The National Journal in 1995.

“I know Jack Abramoff,” admitted former National Republican Committee chairman Ed Gillespie, who adds that lobbyists like Abramoff “are Republicans; they were Republicans before they were lobbyists.”

In April 2002, The National Journal reported: "Last summer, in an effort to raise the visibility of his Indian clients, Abramoff helped arrange a White House get-together on tax issues with President Bush for top Indian leaders, including Lovelin Poncho, the chairman of the Coushattas." Poncho first denied the meeting took place, but later changed his story in an interview with the Texas Observer. He now confirms Abramoff attended the meeting with Bush and says Bush greeted the lobbyist warmly “like an old friend.”

Poncho says his tribe paid Abramoff $25,000 to arrange the May 2002 meeting with Bush.

Abramoff came up through GOP ranks with Norquist and conservative Christian leader Ralph Reed. All enjoyed unfettered access to Bush and worked closely with Bush’s Machiavellian political advisor Karl Rove.

In 2001, Abramoff recommended one of his key assistants, Susan Ralston, to Rove, who was looking for a new key advisor. She is still with Rove.

In 2003, Rabbi Daniel Lapin, a Seattle radio host and activist, urged friends and colleagues to send campaign contributions to Bush via Abramoff, often praising the lobbyist on his show as “a good and personal friend of the President.”

“While White House aides now speak privately (and anonymously) about the need to clean up Congress in the wake of lobbyist Jack Abramoff’s guilty pleas in an influence-peddling scandal, there’s no sense of them taking the lead on what used to be a signature issue—before they came to Washington,” writes Wolfe and Bailey. “One reason may be their own reluctance to acknowledge their own ties to Abramoff, the one-time master of the lobbying universe.”


Saundra Hummer
February 10th, 2006, 10:24 PM

Powell, Tenet, others told Bush he was breaking the law by ordering NSA spying

Publisher, Capitol Hill Blue
Jan 31, 2006, 09:06

Top-level administration officials four years ago told President George W. Bush he as “breaking the law” by ordering the National Security Agency to spy on Americans and warned the President that his actions could bring his administration down.

Former Secretary of State Colin Powell, former Central Intelligence Agency director George Tenet and others begged Bush to reconsider his executive order giving the NSA authority to wiretap phone calls and monitor emails of American citizens but their pleas fell on deaf ears.

“Mr. President, I fear you are heading down a course that could doom your administration,” Powell told Bush in a meeting in early 2002. “I urge you to reconsider.” Powell also argued against Bush’s plans to turn Pentagon spies loose on American antiwar groups, saying “such actions don’t belong in America.”

Powell wasn’t the only one worried about the legality of wiretaps. Then deputy attorney general James D. Comey, acting as attorney general while John Ashcroft was hospitalized, refused to sign off on Bush’s executive order, prompting then White House Counsel, and now attorney general, Alberto Gonzales, to visit Ashcroft at his hospital bed in a failed attempt to get the AG to overturn his deputy.

Ashcroft, however, stood by Comey and told Gonzales that he could not condone the spying, even though he had authored the controversial, and rights-robbing, USA Patriot Act.

“This is not legal and the President is exceeding his authority,” Ashcroft said. “Jim (Comey) is right to oppose it.”

Then CIA director George Tenet, in a stormy meeting with Bush, told the President that use of the NSA to spy on Americans was a direct violation of the agency’s charter.

“This is illegal and a flagrant misuse of the agency and its technology,” Tenet said.

Those who opposed Bush on his actions, which the President claimed were justified under his powers as a “wartime commander-in-chief,” are no longer part of the administration. Bush fired Tenet (publicly, the CIA direction was allowed to resign). Powell and Ashcroft resigned shortly after Bush began his second term. Comey quit in disgust.

Those privy to the contentious White House meetings where all tried in vain to talk Bush out of his reckless course of action say the President’s allies in using the NSA to spy on Americans were Vice President Dick Cheney and White House counsel Alberto Gonzales, the man Bush tapped to replace Ashcroft.

Powell, top aides say privately, considering resigning early in Bush’s first term because of what he considered the President’s “reckless and irresponsible actions,” but stayed on because he still felt he could play a moderating role with the extremists in the administration.

“As a career soldier, Gen. Powell felt a duty to serve is country even when that service meant answering to those he considered wrong,” says a longtime aide who served with the general at the State Department as well as when Powell chaired the Joint Chiefs of Staff. “He was a moral man trapped in an immoral nest of vipers.”

© Copyright 2006 by Capitol Hill Blue

Who the hell is this Thompson guy anyway?


See the following stories on-site on:

The Rant

Intel pros say Bush is lying about foiling 2002 terror attack
John Boehner is just another Tom DeLay
They came to praise King and bury Bush
Standing down
Bush approved multi-agency program to spy on Americans
One con too many
Powell, Tenet, others told Bush he was breaking the law by ordering NSA spying
Bush's lies can't hide the truth about relationship with Jack Abramoff
A clear and present danger to America
A watched America is not a free America
The criminal conspiracy that destroys America
Grounded along with other fellow terrorists
An American Hitler and his Gestapo
Mounting evidence proves White House lied about relationship with corrupt lobbyist
Bush often met with, and praised, corrupt lobbyist
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Saundra Hummer
February 10th, 2006, 11:33 PM

“Bush launched Iraq war by cherry-picking intelligence“

2/10/2006 2:00:00 PM GMT

Today's developments deal a major blow to the Bush Administration
A former CIA official who coordinated U.S. intelligence on the Middle East accused the BUSH Administration of “cherry-picking” intelligence to launch war against IRAQ to justify a decision it had already made, The Washington Post reported.

The newspaper said that Paul Pillar, who was the national intelligence officer for the Near East and South Asia from 2000 to 2005, also accused the BUSH Administration of ignoring several warnings that IRAQ could easily fall into violence and chaos after the overthrow of SADDAM HUSSEIN.

Pillar acknowledges that the U.S. intelligence agencies were wrong about SADDAM’s alleged Weapons of Mass Destruction, but said that this wasn’t the reason behind the U.S.‘s decision to invade IRAQ. "Official intelligence on Iraqi weapons programs was flawed, but even with its flaws, it was not what led to the WAR," Pillar wrote in the upcoming issue of the journal Foreign Affairs.

Instead, he asserted, the Administration "went to WAR without requesting -- and evidently without being influenced by -- any strategic-level intelligence assessments on any aspect of IRAQ."

"It has become clear that official intelligence was not relied on in making even the most significant national security decisions, that intelligence was misused publicly to justify decisions already made, that damaging ill will developed between policymakers and intelligence officers, and that the intelligence community's own work was politicized," Pillar wrote.

He also said that the White House affected intelligence results by repeatedly posing questions aimed at bolstering its case for WAR, including information on the "supposed connection" between SADDAM and AL-QAEDA network, which analysts had discounted. "Feeding the Administration's voracious appetite for material on the SADDAM-AL-QAEDA link consumed an enormous amount of time and attention,” Pillar wrote.

He also described for the first time that the intelligence community did assessments before the INVASION that indicated that postwar IRAQ "would not provide fertile ground for democracy" and would need "a Marshall Plan-type effort" to restore its economy despite its oil revenue. It also predicted that Sunnis and Shias would fight for power and that foreign occupation forces would bear the brunt of the violence “unless it established security and put IRAQ on the road to prosperity in the first few weeks or months after the fall of SADDAM."

According to The Post, Pillar was an influential behind-the-scenes player and was considered the CIA’s leading counterterrorism analyst. His accusations mark the first time that a top CIA official directly and publicly condemns the BUSH Administration’s handling of intelligence and its decision to invade IRAQ. REPUBLICANS and DEMOCRATS continue to argue over whether, or how, to probe accusations that the Administration manipulated prewar intelligence.

Libby: White House superiors authorized leaks

In a another development that deals a blow to the White House, VICE PRESIDENT DICK CHENEY’s former chief of staff, I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, told a federal grand jury that he was “authorized by his superiors” to disclose classified information to the media as part of the BUSH Administration’s plan to justify the IRAQ WAR, CNN reported, quoting court papers.

The special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald sent a letter to Libby’s lawyers saying that he testified he was “authorized to disclose information about the National Intelligence Estimate to the press by his superiors."

According to CNN, the letter doesn’t include the names of those superiors. but the National Journal, which first reported on the story, named CHENEY and other White House officials.

On the other hand, a legal source involved in the case told CNN that Libby didn’t testify to and has never suggested that anyone in the BUSH Administration -- including CHENEY -- approved disclosing the name of CIA agent Valerie Plame.

Libby, 55, was indicted last year on charges of perjury, obstruction of justice and making false statements to investigators looking into the July 2003 exposure of Plame. He has pleaded not guilty, and a judge has set a trial date for January 2007.



Saundra Hummer
February 11th, 2006, 02:51 PM

Bill Berkowitz

The powerful Koch boys from Kansas

Patron saints of several right wing think tanks now control the country's largest privately held company

Last year, in a move that does not bode well for the nation's forests, the Koch brothers of Kansas engineered a $13.2 billion buyout of forest products producer Georgia Pacific Corporation, making their company, Koch Industries, the nation's largest privately held company.
According to the Toronto Globe and Mail, Koch's purchase of Georgia Pacific would vault Koch past food producer Cargill Inc. as the largest privately held company in the United States, with $80-billion in revenue and 85,000 employees in 50 countries.

The Koch Boys from Kansas are smart, focused, and incredibly wealthy. For years they've been pushing both a libertarian and free-market agenda through tens of millions of dollars in contributions to conservative causes, candidates and organizations.

In a way, the Georgia Pacific acquisition "completes the circle" for Koch, Scott Silver told me in an e-mail interview. "The ideologues running the land management agencies are the product of the think tanks created by, and funded by, the Koch family," Silver, the executive director of the environmental group Wild Wilderness, pointed out.

"Those ideologues are now in a position to permit Koch's newest acquisition, Georgia-Pacific, to further rape and pillage the public's lands. These think tanks promote the Free-Market ideal when it serves their interests to do so, but in reality, they are firmly committed to the ideal of enriching private interests at enormous direct cost to the American taxpayer."

The Koch (pronounced "coke") brothers, Charles, David, William and Frederick are sons of Kansas. Thirty-eight years ago, Charles took over the company from his father, company founder Fred Koch. According to a recent piece in Business Week, Charles, 70, and David, 65, now "own the bulk of the company after elbowing out their other brothers ... in 1983," buying out William and Frederick for $470 million and $320 million, respectively. In 1998, in a chilling display of family disunity, "the two sets of brothers walked silently past one another in court as William and Frederick lost a lawsuit to extract more money from Charles and David."

In 1940, Fred Koch founded the company as an oil refiner. A graduate of MIT, he was an original member of the anticommunist ultra-conservative John Birch Society, founded in 1958. The sons did not fall far from the tree: Both Charles and David graduated from MIT and have been deeply involved in conservative politics.

According to "Axis of Ideology," a 2004 report by the National Committee on Responsive Philanthropy, the two dominant Koch boys have "a combined net worth of approximately $4 billion, placing them among the top 50 wealthiest individuals in the country and among the top 100 wealthiest individuals in the world in 2003, according to Forbes."

Between 1999 and 2001, they gave more than $20 million to a host of conservative organizations; "most of their contributions go[ing] to support organizations and groups advancing libertarian theory, privatization, entrepreneurship and free enterprise," "Axis of Ideology" pointed out.

"David, who is executive vice-president and a board member, ran for Vice-President on the Libertarian Party ticket in 1980 and both Charles and David are directors of the free-market advocating Cato Institute and Reason Foundation," Business Week recently pointed out. In an interview with National Journal, David Koch described his philosophy this way: "My overall concept is to minimize the role of government and to maximize the role of the private economy to maximize personal freedoms."

According to SourceWatch, a project of the Center for Media & Democracy, the brothers are "leading contributors to the Koch family foundations, which supports a network of Conservative organizations and think tanks, including Citizens for a Sound Economy, the Manhattan Institute the Heartland Institute, and the Democratic Leadership Council."

Charles Koch co-founded the Cato Institute in 1977, while David helped launch Citizens for a Sound Economy [now FreedomWorks] in 1986. Over the years, they have given more than $12 million to each, according to the NCRP report. George Mason University is also a well-funded recipient of Koch largesse; receiving more than $23 million from the family's foundations between 1985 and 2002, according to the NCRP.

Charles and David Koch control several family foundations including the Charles G. Koch Foundation, the David H. Koch Foundation and the Claude R. Lambe Foundation. Koch money also flows through Triad Management Services, "an advisory service to conservative donors on groups and candidates to support." Put more precisely, SourceWatch notes that Triad "is a Tom Delay-affiliated organization that launders money from large corporations into congressional campaigns."

Originally, and perhaps not surprisingly given their libertarian bent, the brothers were not aficionados of former Republican Kansas Senator Bob Dole. Some reports have it that they considered him more or less as just another spineless politician. In 1986, however, "the Kochs' disdain for Dole began to dissipate when Koch Industries sought financial advantage under 'technical corrections' to a tax revision act," veteran reporter Robert Parry wrote in an extensive investigative report for The Nation magazine. "The Washington Post," Parry noted, "reported that Koch Industries approached Dole and secured the Senator's aid in inserting an exemption from a new real-estate depreciation schedule, a change that was worth several million dollars to the company."

"As a Senate leader ... [Dole] appeared willing to trade his influence for the keys to the Koch political money vault," Parry pointed out in "D(OIL)E: What Wouldn't Bob Do For Koch Oil?" David Koch became "a national vice chairman of the Dole presidential campaign's finance committee ... [and] lin[ed] up deep-pocket contributors for his candidate and the G.O.P." Koch "also helped Dole achieve majority leader status through his checkbook, contributed mightily to a Dole foundation and even turned his Gatsbyish estate in Southampton, New York, into the site for celebrating Dole's 72nd birthday in July 1995, raising $150,000 for his campaign."

One of the strangest aspects of the Koch story is how little the general public knows about the brothers or the company. "Koch is a huge company -- bigger than Microsoft, but few people have heard of it," said Bob Williams, a project manager at the Center for Public Integrity, and the co-author of the report "Koch's Low Profile Belies Political Power: Private Oil Company Does Both Business and Politics With the Shades Drawn."

"Despite its size and political largesse, Koch is able to dodge the limelight because it is privately-held, meaning that nearly all of its business dealings are known primarily only by the company and the Internal Revenue Service," Williams and Kevin Bogardus, co-author of the report, wrote. The company "has spent nearly $4 million on direct lobbying on more than 50 pieces of legislation before Congress, helping shape the debate on everything from limiting class action lawsuits to repealing the estate tax," William and Bogardus pointed out.

In a November 15 News Release issued by the Institute for Public Accuracy, Williams pointed out that the company is "politically active, in campaign contributions, lobbying and, probably most importantly, founding and funding right-leaning libertarian think tanks." The acquisition could have profound effects since both the oil and lumber industries have significant environmental ramifications. "Koch is very solicitous of its many friends in Washington; and when it gets in an environmental bind, it is not shy about calling on those friends in Washington," Williams added.

Williams' 2004 "Koch's Low Profile Belies Political Power" noted that:

• "Despite its size and political largess, Koch is able to dodge the limelight because it is privately held, meaning that nearly all of its business dealings are known primarily only by the company and the Internal Revenue Service."
• "Although it is both a top campaign contributor and spends millions on direct lobbying, Koch's chief political influence tool is a web of interconnected, right-wing think tanks and advocacy groups funded by foundations controlled and supported by the two Koch brothers."

• "Koch has had plenty of run-ins with government regulators and other legal problems in recent years. Through it all, the company has shown a remarkable knack for getting criminal charges dropped and huge potential penalties knocked down."

• "Koch has also shown a remarkable ability to get rid of or modify environmental policies and other government rules it doesn't like."

"Amongst the most important, visible and powerful proponents of public lands privatization are the Cato Institute, the Property and Environment Research Center (formerly known as Political Economy Research Center) and the Reason Institute," said Scott Silver. "Koch funds have played a major role in the operation of each of these organizations."
The Koch family "is amongst the most powerful and influential movers and shakers promoting privatization in America," Silver added. Over the past several decades, "their money created an extensive infrastructure of Libertarian and Free-Market think tanks from which President Bush has drawn to staff the highest rungs of the land management agencies."

The acquisition of Georgia-Pacific, which "does extensive logging on public lands" and "is a heavily subsidized form of corporate welfare," could accelerate the trend toward the privatization of our national forests Silver argued. "Logging companies such as Georgia-Pacific strip lands bare, destroy vast acreages and pay only a small fee to the federal government in proportion to what they take from the public. They do not operate in the Free-Market when they log public forests."

Over the years, Koch has been "a major polluter," SourceWatch reported. "During the 1990s, its faulty pipelines were responsible for more than 300 oil spills in five states, prompting a landmark penalty of $35 million from Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). In Minnesota, it was fined an additional $8 million for discharging oil into streams. During the months leading up to the 2000 presidential elections, the company faced even more liability, in the form of a 97-count federal indictment charging it with concealing illegal releases of 91 metric tons of benzene, a known carcinogen, from its refinery in Corpus Christi, Texas."

After Bush took office in 2000, the 97-count indictment was reduced by 88. The balance was then settled when, "two days before the trial" then-Attorney General John Ashcroft "settled for a plea bargain in which Koch pled guilty to falsifying documents. All major charges were dropped, and Koch and Ashcroft settled the lawsuit for a fraction" of the possible $350 million in fines. (According to SourceWatch, Koch had contributed $800,000 to the Bush election campaign and other Republican candidates.)

That did not stop the company from polluting: In 2003, Koch bought Invista, the world's largest fibers company (which owns brands such as Lycra and Teflon) from DuPont for more than $4 billion in cash. According to a November 11 report in The News Virginian -- a newspaper serving Waynesboro, Staunton and Augusta County, Va. -- "the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality log[ed] 16 spills by the textiles plant this year [and] warned Invista in a Nov. 9 violation notice that 'civil charges' and 'corrective action' might be on the way."

A follow-up editorial two days later pointed out that Dupont, which previously owned the plant, used "the South River as a toilet for nearly 75 years," but when the operation "employed 4,000-plus locals in high-paying jobs, the powers-that-be here seemed to ignore the mercury the plant dumped into our river." Before the acquisition by Koch, the plant employed about 1,000 workers; now the workforce numbers about 700.

The Koch Boys from Kansas are major financial backers of Sam Brownback, the state's ultra-conservative Senator who has higher political aspirations. For more please see the Bill Berkowitz archive.

Bill Berkowitz is a longtime observer of the conservative movement. His WorkingForChange column Conservative Watch documents the strategies, players, institutions, victories and defeats of the American Right.


There was a timber/lumber company here in Central Oregon, which had, for a short period of time, all of their log decks filled with logs which were never branded, acres and acres of logs stacked high. The fellows who worked for the company said there were probably over $27 million dollars in unbranded trees. Branded, weighed and measured means taxes for the US Govenment. Not being branded meant no taxes would need to be paid to the government at all. This happening must have meant there were several US Government agencies whose men and women oversee these things. acting illegally - the Forest Service, and whichever agencey oversees these things, Weights and Measures, (?) who tag the logs which were being turned into lumber or plywood. The trees were from private land, but they were still supposed to be subject to branding, weights and measures and any number of laws regarding them. Many of the people who were working there when this was going on, had fears of reporting it, afraid that their safety would be jeopardized.

the magnificent goldberg
February 11th, 2006, 03:10 PM
David Koch described his philosophy this way: "My overall concept is to minimize the role of government and to maximize the role of the private economy to maximize personal freedoms."

A true anarchist!


Saundra Hummer
February 11th, 2006, 03:41 PM
A true anarchist!


It seems that anytime someone in government espouses smaller government, such as Reagan did and as the current administration has at times, all we get is more.

They say Clinton made government smaller, while at the same time he was putting the government in a good place.

The people in government who cry the blues over large government just give us bigger and bigger each and everytime they're put into office; putting more constraints on the American citizen all the while. Control freaks that they are - as well as being greed motivated - or so it seems - we are just having more and more controls on our lives put into place by those who promise smaller government, thrusting their control and greed oriented laws upon us. Imminant domain anyone?

Saundra Hummer
February 11th, 2006, 04:35 PM
Bottled water, a natural resource taxing the world's ecosystem

Fri Feb 10, 10:10 AM ET

WASHINGTON (AFP) - Bottled water consumption, which has more than doubled globally in the last six years, is a natural resource that is heavily taxing the world's ecosystem, according to a new US study.
"Even in areas where tap water is safe to drink, demand for bottled water is increasing, producing unnecessary garbage and consuming vast quantities of energy," according to Emily Arnold, author of the study published by the Earth Policy Institute, a Washington-based environmental group.

Arnold said although in the industrial world bottled water is often no healthier than tap water, it can end up costing 10,000 times more.

"At as much as 2.50 dollars per liter (10 dollars per gallon), bottled water costs more than gasoline," the study says.

It added that the United States was the largest consumer of bottled water, with Americans drinking 26 billion liters in 2004, or about one eight-ounce (25 cl) glass per person every day.

Mexico was the second largest consumer at 18 billion liters followed by China and Brazil at 12 billion liters each.

In terms of consumption per person, Italians came first at nearly 184 liters, or more than two glasses a day, followed by Mexico and the United Arab Emirates with 169 and 164 liters per person respectively.

Belgium and France follow close behind and Spain ranks sixth.

The study said that demand for bottled water soared in developing countries between 1999 and 2004 with consumption tripling in India and more than doubling in China during that period.

That has translated into massive costs in packaging the water, usually in plastic bottles made of polyethylene terephthalate (PET) which is derived from crude oil, and then transporting it by boat, train or on land.

"Making bottles to meet Americans' demand for bottled water requires more than 1.5 million barrels of oil annually, enough to fuel some 100,000 US cars for a year," according to the study. "Worldwide, some 2.7 million tons of plastic are used to bottle water each year."

Once the water is consumed, disposing the plastic bottles poses an environmental risk.

The study, citing the Container Recycling Institute, said that 86 percent of plastic water bottles in the United States end up as garbage and those buried can take up to 1,000 years to biodegrade.

In addition, some 40 percent of the PET bottles deposited for recycling in the United States in 2004 ended up being shipped to China.

The study warned that the rapid growth in the industry has also ironically led to water shortages in some areas, including India where bottling of Dasani water and other drinks by the Coca-Cola company has caused shortages in more than 50 villages.

It said that while consumers tend to link bottled water with healthy living, tap water can be just as healthy and is subject to more stringent regulations than bottled water in many regions, including Europe and the United States.

"In fact, roughly 40 percent of bottled water begins as tap water," the study says. "Often the only difference is added minerals that have no marked health benefits.


The water being delivered to you from municipal water systems is often times just fine, and in some cases better than water being sold in bottles, however, it is the pipes, the plumbing, it goes through that adds contaminants, often times in your own home. Too much lead, etc.

Saundra Hummer
February 11th, 2006, 04:51 PM
Ind. House Wrongly Valued at $400 Million
Fri Feb 10, 10:53 PM ET

VALPARAISO, Ind. - A house erroneously valued at $400 million is being blamed for budget shortfalls and possible layoffs in municipalities and school districts in northwest Indiana.

An outside user of Porter County's computer system may have triggered the mess by accidentally changing the value of the Valparaiso house, said Sharon Lippens, director of the county's information technologies and service department. The house had been valued at $121,900 before the glitch.

County Treasurer Jim Murphy said the home usually carried about $1,500 in property taxes; this year, it was billed $8 million.

The homeowner, Dennis Charnetzky, declined to comment about the situation to The Associated Press on Friday.

Lippens said her agency identified the mistake and told the county auditor's office how to correct it. But the $400 million value ended up on documents that were used to calculate tax rates.

Most local officials did not learn about the mistake until Tuesday, when 18 government taxing units were asked to return a total of $3.1 million of tax money. The city of Valparaiso and the Valparaiso Community School Corp. were asked to return $2.7 million. As a result, the school system has a $200,000 budget shortfall, and the city loses $900,000.

Officials struggled to figure out how the mistake got into the system and how it could have been prevented. City leaders said Thursday the error could cause layoffs and cost-cutting measures.

Lippens said the outside user changed the property value, most likely while trying to access another program while using the county's enhanced access system, which charges users a fee for access to public records that are not otherwise available on the Internet.

Lippens said the user probably tried to access a real estate record display by pressing R-E-D, but accidentally typed R-E-R, which brought up an assessment program written in 1995. The program is no longer in use, and technology officials did not know it could be accessed.

The county treasurer said his office spotted the $400 million error after it caused an improper billing, but apparently it wasn't corrected elsewhere.

"It didn't get fixed all the way," Murphy said.


Saundra Hummer
February 11th, 2006, 05:01 PM

"Occupants of public offices love power and are prone to abuse it.": George Washington , Farewell Address

"Law is often the tyrant's will, and always so when it violates the right of an individual.": Thomas Jefferson to I. Tiffany, 1819

"As nightfall does not come at once, neither does oppression. In both instances, there is a twilight when everything remains seemingly unchanged. And it is in such twilight that we all must be most aware of change in the air -- however slight -- lest we become unwitting victims of the darkness." : William O Douglas

"Good intentions will always be pleaded for every assumption of authority. It is hardly too strong to say that the Constitution was made to guard the people against the dangers of good intentions. There are men in all ages who mean to govern well, but they mean to govern. They promise to be good masters, but they mean to be masters." : Daniel Webster

"If you will not fight for the right when you can easily win without bloodshed; if you will not fight when your victory will be sure and not too costly; you may come to the moment when you will have to fight with all the odds against you and only a small chance of survival. There may even be a worse case: you may have to fight when there is no hope of victory, because it is better to perish than to live as slaves." : Winston Churchill


the magnificent goldberg
February 11th, 2006, 05:33 PM
"If you will not fight for the right when you can easily win without bloodshed; if you will not fight when your victory will be sure and not too costly; you may come to the moment when you will have to fight with all the odds against you and only a small chance of survival. There may even be a worse case: you may have to fight when there is no hope of victory, because it is better to perish than to live as slaves." : Winston Churchill[/INDENT][/I]


And Churchill was the last Home Secretary to turn the troops out to quell a riot in Britain, just up the road from me (course, I wasn't here in 1910). He's still not well thought of here.


All depends on your perspective.


Saundra Hummer
February 11th, 2006, 05:45 PM

Like in the Timber Industry, who Lets this happen in the world of oil profits? SRH
Press Release
For Immediate ReleaseJanuary 23, 2006
Contact: Afshin Mohamadi (Maloney)
Karen Lightfoot (Waxman)
Andrea Purse (Miller)
Tara McGuinness (Markey)
Oil and Gas Companies Shortchanging Taxpayers
by Hundreds of Millions of Dollars -
Where is Congress?
Members of Congress demand investigation and hearings

WASHINGTON, DC - The New York Times reported today that oil and gas companies shortchanged the government and American taxpayers last year by as much as $700 million in royalty payments due for extracting natural gas from public land. In response, high-ranking Members of Congress are demanding hearings on the matter.

Though market prices for natural gas have ballooned recently, royalty payments are essentially the same as they were five years ago. The Times reported that the oil and gas companies used a “byzantine set of federal regulations” to report to the government lower sales than they report to their shareholders. This allowed the companies pay less in royalties than market prices would suggest.

Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), a member of the House Government Reform Committee, Rep. Henry A. Waxman (D-CA), Ranking Member of the Government Reform Committee, Rep. George Miller (D-CA), a member of the Resources Committee, and Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA), a member of the Resources Committee, and Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-IL) today urged the Chairmen of the Resources Committee and the Government Reform Committee to arrange the hearings to investigate the matter (http://www.house.gov/maloney/issues/oil/012306RoyaltiesHearings.pdf).

“As Americans pay huge gas bills this winter to heat their homes, they are going to be furious that the oil and gas companies are skipping out on paying the bill they owe the American taxpayer,” said Maloney. “These companies are making billions upon billions off of land that belongs to the American taxpayers, and it’s sickening that they would cheat the taxpayers. It’s time that Congress brings the oil companies in for real hearings - and this time, they need to be sworn in.”

“These giveaways to the oil and gas companies are stupefying in their magnitude and inexcusable in their impact on the budget,” said Waxman.

“This is exactly what we mean when we describe the Republican Culture of Corruption - it is about one party running Washington for the benefit of the wealthy few at the expense of the rest of America,” said Miller. “Because Congress has granted the President unchecked power, there is no oversight and no accountability. That’s why we are calling for hearings now and why we need to end the culture of corruption.”

“Thanks to the Republican leadership, the big oil companies are drowning in record profits and the American people are paying the price twice - consumers are socked with astronomical bills at the pump and are subsidizing big industry through the tax giveaways that the Republican leadership dished up for energy companies,” said Markey. “I have introduced a bill that would impose a 50 percent tax on oil companies for oil sold at prices above $40 a barrel and return half of the generated revenue to consumers who have been bearing the brunt of high gas prices by giving an income tax rebate.”

Rep. Markey is the author of the Windfall Profit and Consumer Assistance Act of 2005 which would also exempt profits that are reinvested by oil companies to increase refinery capacity or invest in new production.

According to the Times, prices for natural gas were almost twice as much in 2005 as they were in 2001, but the federal government collected only $5.15 billion in gas royalties in 2005, compared to $5.35 billion in 2001.

Last year, according to the New York Times, Burlington Resources admitted that it had underpaid approximately $76 million in royalties during the 1990s. In 2003, an Alabama jury determined that Exxon had failed to pay $63.6 million in royalties from gas wells. In the late 1990s, Congress led investigations into companies who were cheating the government out of oil royalties. Yet since 2000, Congress has failed to provide sufficient oversight of this program despite two General Accountability Office (GAO) studies.

According to Resources Committee staff, the committee has conducted no oversight on oil and gas auditing and compliance of royalty payments since 2001, when it did a hearing on the RIK (Royalty in Kind) program. In 2000, Chairman Don Young did hold a hearing on the subject, but the purpose was to investigate POGO (Project on Government Oversight) and attempt to hold them in contempt of Congress.]



Saundra Hummer
February 11th, 2006, 06:15 PM
And Churchill was the last Home Secretary to turn the troops out to quell a riot in Britain, just up the road from me (course, I wasn't here in 1910). He's still not well thought of here.


All depends on your perspective.


From what we learned of Winston Churchill here in the states, we just loved him. When I heard how disliked he had become in Britain, I was amazed, it just stunned me, but then I only remember him from early news clips, and other media stories, and bio's on him, or about certain battles and doings, where he was rallying against the Nazi's and Facists. We saw him doing a bang up job of it; it were as if he were willing all of us to win the war. At least that is how it seemed to all of us, how he was believed to be by just about everyone here in the states. He, to us, was a hero of the highest rank, and we loved his stubborn and belligerent ways. We knew him we thought, we knew of his funny mannerisms, his love of painting, of his wife Clementine, and his family. We really did pretty much idolize him, or that is how it looked to me growing up.

It wasn't until much later on that I learned of his mother being American, and being part American Indian as well. I was stunned by that, especially knowing the little I've read and heard of the British class system. I was surprised that he was ever accepted at all. Other than the war, we really didn't know much about his poltical beliefs, or his actions in them.

He, I believe, was the man for his time, the man to help win WWII. Without him, many of us here in the states believe Hitler would have had a much greater chance of making us suffer more from that war; some believe he would have even won it.

Churchill after the war, if not before, made errors in governing that just didn't seem like what we thought he would do. We here in the U.S. were't capable of thinking he would do anything but great things, not the so unwise incident you talk about. He wasn't governing like we thought he would, or should have, in our own minds. We learned little of his politics post WWII, it wasn't a matter which was being taught in my school, not that we coudn't have kept up with him better, but we had our own interests going on. For the war, we felt he was perfect, that is how we perceived him. We really did think he was the greatest. Almost a minor god in the scheme of things. We've since heard he would have been wiser just to know when to stop, to quit, and just go into private life.

Have you read the books about his mother "Jennie"? They are interesting, and I have a couple of ones on Winstons life as well. Such an interesting man and his mother was as well.

Saundra Hummer
February 11th, 2006, 06:39 PM

The Urgency of Now: Stopping the War on Iran
We have…come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of Now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism.” - Martin Luther King Jr., Aug. 28, 1963

By Mike Kress

02/10/06 "ICH" -- -- “Last winter, former UN weapons inspector Scott Ritter revealed that George Bush asked for an Iran war plan ready to use by June of 2005. Seymour Hersh, writing for the New Yorker, has reported for some time about US covert operations in Iran. Today we are told that war in Iran is inevitable by the same observers who warned us about the cooked-up war in Iraq.
Evidently, the neo-conservatives who control the US government decided to wage war against Iran long ago.

Now that International Atomic Energy Agency chief Mohamed El Baradei says that Iran isn’t cooperating fully with IAEA inspectors, the neo-cons will use their tool at the UN, Ambassador John Bolton, to help create an international crisis and thereby justify attacks on Iran. Though there’s no evidence to prove that Iran has a nuclear weapons program, Iran’s refusal to halt its lawful nuclear programs will become the pretext for America’s next unnecessary war.

Again, the mainstream sources that most Americans use to get their information will not investigate the facts or give equal time to critics, and the smoke and mirrors of the Bush administration will dominate the debate. To paraphrase Noam Chomsky, in the absence of just cause the consent for war will be manufactured.

It now falls upon people of conscience to create and organize a mass movement of nationwide non-violent resistance – in the spirit of Dr. King and Mohandas K. Gandhi – that will stop the war before it starts. At the rate the White House rhetoric is beginning to boil, this movement must start now and swing into full action by the early days of March.

The only way to stop another senseless and unnecessary war is with a mass movement rooted in a moral strategy that brings people together. This movement must also earn the sympathy and trust of those who are undecided about the necessity of another Middle East war. Forget traditional protest rallies – 200,000 people crowding the Capitol Mall make no difference. Large marches that don’t influence the nation’s decision makers will only increase people’s cynicism, as well as the atmosphere of inevitability that the neo-cons wish to create.

Without a moral and unifying strategy that spells out specific non-violent tactics to achieve our goal, the power elite and the corporate media will ignore or marginalize our efforts. Remember the moral claims for justice and the appeals to America’s founding ideals during the civil rights movement, and you’ll understand the type of strategy we need today. Think of the Montgomery bus boycott, the Freedom Rides, and Gandhi’s march to the sea for salt, and you will have inspiration for the actions necessary to stop the march to war.

The leaders of every organization that opposed the Iraq war must reconnect today and formulate a sustained campaign of militant non-violent action that everyone can follow tomorrow. Peace, justice, religious, and human rights leaders must gather and articulate a path to preventing war that people believe is effective – not because that path is safe, but because that path is righteous and they are inspired to overcome their fears.

This path must be part of a moral vision that appeals to the emotions and values of every citizen. Using communication techniques put forth by thinkers such as George Lakoff, we must revive the “revolution of values” that Dr. King called for in his 1967 speech at Riverside Church. In the words of King: “When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights, are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, extreme materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered.” Simply debating facts will not prevent war.

People for peace must speak with their mouths, pens, keyboards, and bodies against another war for empire. We must push our peace and justice leaders to act. We must work around the corporate media to spread our message. We must tell our elected officials that they will not receive money or votes if they sell their souls for the neo-conservative agenda. We must take risks, and we must welcome the metaphorical stones and arrows of the warmongers, knowing in our hearts that we were right about the last war and that we act today with our consciences clear.

Innocent Iranians, our children, our military, and all the world waits for us to wrest America’s destiny from the hands of the warlords. There is no time to waste. Gradualism is a luxury we cannot afford. The architects of the war against Iran have a head start – but we can prevail if we put our demands for peace into action.

Mike Kress is a Persian Gulf veteran who left the Air Force as a conscientious objector. He served as vice-chair of the Spokane Human Rights Commission and is a member of the Peace and Justice Action League of Spokane (www.pjals.org). He also produces and hosts “Take The Power Back” for KYRS FM www.kyrs.org Comments welcome at takethepowerback@kyrs.org

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If this is the case, then the Bush/Cheney men must be in 7th. heaven. Just listen to the president of Iran; just listen to this man's rhetoric. It's as if he's on the Bush/Cheney/Bolton payroll. He is saying and doing everything they could wish for, as he's turning the American public against him with every word he speaks. He's giving creedence to what the Bush/Cheney/Bolton group's been telling us. He couldn't be doing it much better. Maybe we'll be seeing him in a white lab coat wearing protective gear handing the uranium we are all not wanting him to have. No, even without his doing that, he has turned a whole country, ours, against him.

Saundra Hummer
February 11th, 2006, 07:02 PM
Gingrich Cheers Frustrated Conservatives By WILL LESTER,
Associated Press Writer
1 minute ago
WASHINGTON - Newt Gingrich, who led the Republican Party to power a dozen years ago, told cheering conservatives Saturday it is time to overhaul a balky, slow-moving government locked in the last century.
Citing multiple government failures after Hurricane Katrina, the former House speaker said the government meltdown at all levels illustrated how badly government needs to be updated in all of its operations.

"The system failed, the city of New Orleans failed, the state of Louisiana failed and the government of the United States failed," Gingrich said. "When you see an American body on an American street sitting there for three days on television because the government can't collect the dead, something has failed.

"Where are the proposals for dramatic, bold, large change that everytime something fails in New Orleans during the reconstruction, we don't defend it ... we fix it?"

Gingrich's appearance at the Conservative Political Action Conference was scripted like a presidential campaign stop, with young supporters in red T-shirts passing out buttons and pamphlets.

"We clearly need the Republican Party to reacquire a movement that designs a 21st century Contract with America," Gingrich said, recalling the set of proposals at the heart of his successful 1994 strategy to win congressional races.

Gingrich, who has been on a promotional book tour, said he isn't currently running for president, though he hasn't ruled it out.

"Ideas precede reform," Gingrich said. "If you can't think it, you can't say it and you can't do it."

The former lawmaker from Georgia was accorded "rock star" treatment by those in the crowded hotel ballroom. He was interrupted frequently by standing ovations, hailed with cries of "Newt, Newt, Newt and besieged by young fans eager for a photo with Gingrich.

Conservatives at this conference expressed mounting frustration with the expansion of government and increased spending in the last five years, even with Republicans in control of the White House and Congress.

While the conservatives credit President Bush's leadership in the war against terror and for naming conservatives to the Supreme Court, they're starting now to consider the next wave of conservative leaders, said David Keene, chairman of the American Conservative Union.

In a straw vote for presidential favorites in 2008, Virginia Sen. George Allen (news, bio, voting record) received 22 percent of the vote of conference participants. Arizona Sen. John McCain (news, bio, voting record) garnered 20 percent, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani 12 percent and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice 10 percent, according to results from Fabrizio, McLaughlin and Associates. Gingrich was at 5 percent.

Gingrich indirectly criticized McCain by attacking the campaign finance law McCain sponsored along with Sen. Russ Feingold (news, bio, voting record), D-Wis., calling it "an assault on the First Amendment."

The law places limits on how much money can be raised by candidates and campaigns, and limits on how that money can be used.


On the Net:
Conservative Political Action Conference:

Saundra Hummer
February 11th, 2006, 08:23 PM
Reflections on Both Political Parties

Episcopal minister, former Senator, former UN Ambassador, and the man who came in second in the VP search in 2000 has written an op-ed piece in the NYTimes complaining about the current state of the GOP. Here is an excerpt:

But in recent times, we Republicans have allowed this shared agenda to become secondary to the agenda of Christian conservatives. As a senator, I worried every day about the size of the federal deficit. I did not spend a single minute worrying about the effect of gays on the institution of marriage. Today it seems to be the other way around.
The historic principles of the Republican Party offer America its best hope for a prosperous and secure future. Our current fixation on a religious agenda has turned us in the wrong direction. It is time for Republicans to rediscover our roots.
Former Senator and presidential candidate Bill Bradley also wrote a NYTimes op-ed. This one lays out a long-term strategy for the Democrats and criticizes their reliance on charismatic leaders instead of having a long term strategy. Here's an excerpt:

A party based on charisma has no long-term impact. Think of our last charismatic leader, Bill Clinton. He was president for eight years. He was the first Democrat to be re-elected since Franklin Roosevelt. He was smart, skilled and possessed great energy. But what happened? At the end of his tenure in the most powerful office in the world, there were fewer Democratic governors, fewer Democratic senators, members of Congress and state legislators and a national party that was deep in debt. The president did well. The party did not. Charisma didn't translate into structure.
If Democrats are serious about preparing for the next election or the next election after that, some influential Democrats will have to resist entrusting their dreams to individual candidates and instead make a commitment to build a stable pyramid from the base up. It will take at least a decade's commitment, and it won't come cheap. But there really is no other choice.
Posted by Scott Jones on March 30, 2005 at 02:02 PM | Permalink | Comments (3)


I caught part of former Senator and current Episcopal minister Danforth's interview on television tonight and he spoke what I considered to be truths about politics and the Christian right. It was his belief, that they're influencing too much in politics, which isn't always good for the country - that politicians are pandering to them - going against beliefs for power, and, that it's working. We here in the U.S. can see that it's getting them elected, and oftentimes keeping them there regardless of the harm they are bringing about, the corruption they have been and are involved in, allowing them to make and implement policies which are, as we've seen, harmful. Pity, but just look at who is doing what, and why, and it's not a pretty picture.

It seems that there are several influential men and women and those of us out here in everyday land; those in politics and those in religion who need to get real - exercise some logic - and quit being so self seeking in all that they do. Some may not even realize that is how it is with them, but they need to think about what it is they are wishing for and why, before it's too late and they get what they want, and are sorry for it. SRH

Saundra Hummer
February 11th, 2006, 09:27 PM


Go on site to see the photos.

Saundra Hummer
February 11th, 2006, 09:40 PM

The Boncuk protects from Evil Eye

The Boncuk, and there is more
you should know about Turkey

Atatürk, a very short but important note:
The history of modern Turkey starts with Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, President of the Turkish Republic from 1923 until his death in 1938.
Dramatic steps were taken by Atatürk, Father of the Turks, this title was officially given to him during his presidency.
In his program of modernization, secular government and education played a major role. Making religious faith a matter of individual conscience, he created a truly secular system in Turkey, where the vast Moslem majority and the small Christian and Jewish minorities are free to practice their faith. As a result of Atatürk's reforms, Turkey -unlike scores of other countries- has fully secular institutions.
These are his main reforms
*the Latin alphabet
*the introduction of the surname
*voting rights for women
and it was he, who made the 23. of April World *Children's Day
Atatürk still nowadays is highly admired. That's why you see his picture everywhere

Balik Express
Nazar Boncuk,
that is the Little Magic Stone that protects one from the *Evil Eye*
This is a typical item, a specialty of this region you should take home as a souvenir, it's called the Boncuk, the Little Magic Stone that protects one from the *Evil Eye* (pronounced 'bon-dschuk'), you will see this blue glass piece everywhere here on the Aegean Coast.
But what is behind this superstition? In a shortened version we will try to explain.

Once upon a time (yes, it starts like in a fairy tale) there was a rock by the sea which, even with the force of a hundred men and a lot of dynamite, couldn't be moved or cracked. And there was also a man in this town by the sea, who was known to carry the evil eye (Nazar). After much effort and endeavor, the town people brought the man to the rock, and the man, upon looking at the rock said, "My! What a big rock this is." The instant he said this, there was a rip and roar and crack and instantly the immense and impossible rock was found to be cracked in two.

The force of the evil eye (or Nazar) is a widely accepted and feared random element in Turkish daily life. The word *Nazar* denotes seeing or looking and is often used in literally translated phrases such as "Nazar touched her", in reference to a young woman, for example, who mysteriously goes blind.

Another typical scenario. A woman gives birth to a healthy child with pink cheeks, all the neighbors come and see the baby. They shower the baby with compliments, commentating especially on how healthy and chubby the baby is. After getting so much attention weeks later the baby is found dead in his crib. No explanation can be found for the death. It is ascribed to Nazar. Compliments made to a specific body part can result in Nazar.
That's why nearly every Turkish mother fixes with a safety pin a small Boncuk on the child's clothes. Once a Boncuk is found cracked, it means it has done his job and immediately a new one has to replace it

From a site dedicated to tourism, history, etc, the photographer's page is from this site as well, the one for jazz photographers.


Saundra Hummer
February 11th, 2006, 10:59 PM

Why would Iran start an arms race in the Middle East?

2/11/2006 5:00:00 PM GMT

Iran has repeatedly explained that its nuclear program is solely intended at peaceful purposes

The Iranian government has repeatedly stated that its NUCLEAR PROGRAME is solely intended at peaceful purposes, simply generating electricity, not warheads. But the West, lead by Washington’s efforts, claim, although they fail to put too fine a point on it, that these are not the true intentions of Tehran, viewed as a security challenge for Western powers.

"Iran poses the single largest foreign policy challenge," said Ilan Berman, the vice president for policy at the American Foreign Policy Council and an expert on regional security in the Middle East, Central Asia, and the Russian Federation, arguing "they pose a direct challenge to our goals in the WAR ON TERRORISM."

Also in a private meeting with European diplomats that was held last week, a former senior U.S. official suggested launching a dozen B2 bombers in an air raid aimed at a key Iranian nuclear facilities.

But the official’s suggestion comes in contradiction with what the U.S. and the European Union keep boasting about; using diplomacy to resolve the world’s standoff over Iran’s nukes.

"Iran's radical president has said he would spread this technology as far as he can,"

"It would be a tragedy if we prolonged the life of this regime unnecessarily. Iran acquiring a nuclear bomb would do that," Berman added.

But Phil Giraldi, a former CIA staff officer, disagrees with Berman’s shallow warning of Iran’s alleged threat to the world.

"I do not believe it constitutes a major threat to the U.S. specifically. Last year, undoubtedly, speakers here (at the Conservative Political Action Conference) promoted the war in Iraq," Giraldi said. "All were wrong. Iraq was no threat ... Now we're hearing the same things about Iran."

Giraldi, who served 16 years as staff officer before becoming the chief of base in Barcelona, Spain, was also involved in gathering intelligence across the Middle East and Europe.

"If Iran used the bomb, they would face hundreds of Israeli NUCLEAR WARHEADS, and thousands in the U.S.," Giraldi, who writes for The American Conservative, a print magazine that contends the conservative movement, further states.

"Iran would be annihilated and would cease to exist. They know this."

Prior to Iraq war, Giraldi said, he warned that attacking the country was “neither realistic nor practical”, and could eventually lead to major unintended consequences.

However, the former CIA officer warned that Iran could make the situation in Iraq "untenable" for the Americans and that by aiding the Shia fighters there. to Iran, Giraldi said

He also suggests that Tehran might consider transferring cruise missiles obtained from Ukraine and Shahab missiles with biological and chemical payloads, targeting the U.S. occupation bases in Iraq, Israel, Qatar, Bahrain and elsewhere.

At the same time Giraldi said that shutting down the Strait of Hormuz could send oil skyrocketing to as much as $300 a barrel.

Giraldi says: "is this all worth it? No".

"It's not good policy to go to war on a basis of a 'what if' situation," he said.

"The Soviet Union was contained for 40 years."

"Ronald Reagan was able to destroy it without firing a single shot."

In 2002, the U.S. PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH delivered his State of the Union address, announcing his intention to initiate unilateral preemptive wars against any nation he sees as a potential threat, defying almost universal world laws and opinions.

He started IRAQ WAR, and now considers a similar action again the Islamic Republic.

Iran, a signatory of the NUCLEAR NON-PROLIFERATION TREATY, doesn’t wish for a direct military confrontation with the U.S., but it can aspire to deter what seems to be an imminent threat to its military and nuclear facilities, should the U.S. or any of its allies decide to attack it.

The options Iran would consider to fulfill its goals and protect itself is developing the capability to inflict unacceptable catastrophic damage on American interests or military forces, on the American fleet in the Persian Gulf, or even on the American homeland itself.

However, numerous analysts have stated that the possibility of an American strike on Iran have become weaker than it was in 2002 and 2003, knowing the suffering and continuous catastrophes inflicted upon the American troops in Iraq. But Tehran doesn’t believe that that shift in geostrategic dynamics will be permanent.

Iran doesn’t seek starting a nuclear arms race in the Middle East region, as it will pose a threat to its lands and facilities as well. The only country that stands as a threat to the Middle East security and stability is Israel, believed to possess about 300 NUCLEAR WARHEADS and refuses to sign the NPT.

The Islamic Republic seeks developing nuclear technology to meet the rising demand for energy on one hand and to protect any future military attack by the U.S. or Israel on the other.

The problem is, doesn't this man who is running Iran (can't seem to get his name straight) realize that this administration is for real with their plans for the oil lands, that the Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld team are right on track with what they have planned for his region? He's playing right into their hands. His rhetoric is all they need it seems. They, in all likelyhood are jumping up and down for joy at his shortsightedness. He's given, and is still giving them all they need to strike him down and be in the catbird seat. But here's the catch, will other countries stand by, just watching, while we take control of the middle east?

the magnificent goldberg
February 12th, 2006, 04:28 AM
From what we learned of Winston Churchill here in the states, we just loved him. When I heard how disliked he had become in Britain, I was amazed, it just stunned me, but then I only remember him from early news clips, and other media stories, and bio's on him, or about certain battles and doings, where he was rallying against the Nazi's and Facists. We saw him doing a bang up job of it; it were as if he were willing all of us to win the war. At least that is how it seemed to all of us, how he was believed to be by just about everyone here in the states. He, to us, was a hero of the highest rank, and we loved his stubborn and belligerent ways. We knew him we thought, we knew of his funny mannerisms, his love of painting, of his wife Clementine, and his family. We really did pretty much idolize him, or that is how it looked to me growing up.

It wasn't until much later on that I learned of his mother being American, and being part American Indian as well. I was stunned by that, especially knowing the little I've read and heard of the British class system. I was surprised that he was ever accepted at all. Other than the war, we really didn't know much about his poltical beliefs, or his actions in them.

He, I believe, was the man for his time, the man to help win WWII. Without him, many of us here in the states believe Hitler would have had a much greater chance of making us suffer more from that war; some believe he would have even won it.

Churchill after the war, if not before, made errors in governing that just didn't seem like what we thought he would do. We here in the U.S. were't capable of thinking he would do anything but great things, not the so unwise incident you talk about. He wasn't governing like we thought he would, or should have, in our own minds. We learned little of his politics post WWII, it wasn't a matter which was being taught in my school, not that we coudn't have kept up with him better, but we had our own interests going on. For the war, we felt he was perfect, that is how we perceived him. We really did think he was the greatest. Almost a minor god in the scheme of things. We've since heard he would have been wiser just to know when to stop, to quit, and just go into private life.

Have you read the books about his mother "Jennie"? They are interesting, and I have a couple of ones on Winstons life as well. Such an interesting man and his mother was as well.

He was certainly the right man for the job in WWII; absolutely. In 1910 however, he was a member of Asquith's Liberal Government; changed sides to the Conservatives in the 1920s sometime, I think. Whether as Liberal or Conservative, he was always very much against the working class. He was kicked out after the war; people - THE people, that is - wanted the benefits of defeating Hitler and knew that most of the reforms that had been put in place during the war (Education Act etc) had been inspired by the Labour members of Churchill's Coalition Government. So we had the first true Labour Government which created the National Health Service, a decent social security system and nationalised many industries (which they probably shouldn't have). Churchill only secured the popular vote in 1951 because, while doing all this, the Labour Government couldn't organise removing food rationing, which was vastly unpopular.


Saundra Hummer
February 12th, 2006, 03:07 PM

Vice President Dick Cheney accidentally shot and injured a man during a hunting trip in Texas, The Associated Press reports.

the magnificent goldberg
February 12th, 2006, 03:13 PM

Vice President Dick Cheney accidentally shot and injured a man during a hunting trip in Texas, The Associated Press reports.

Is he President now?


February 12th, 2006, 03:16 PM

Vice President Dick Cheney accidentally shot and injured a man during a hunting trip in Texas, The Associated Press reports.

There's no such thing as an accident.

Saundra Hummer
February 12th, 2006, 03:39 PM
This should all be posted in the "Good Jokes" thread.

Too funny.:)

the magnificent goldberg
February 12th, 2006, 03:49 PM
This should all be posted in the "Good Jokes" thread.

Too funny.:)

If he ain't Prez now, it's a BAD joke.

And if he is....


February 12th, 2006, 06:08 PM
[QUOTE=Saundra Hummer]

A bit more on Molly Ivins. Remember this about Molly, on newscasts, on talkshows, or in print, there are no disguises in her makeup. She makes no pretense, nor apologies, that is unless she mistates or makes a mistake in an article, and then it is she who jumps in first to set the record straight. How refreshing! It really is. Sure, she is biased and like me, I feel she has good reason to be.

I know there are those who are turned off by her homey, down Texas way of using the local colloquialisms - but remember - all countries, as well as regions have them and using them as she does, doesn't make her take on the business of state any less true. Just not so dull Her way of telling us what is happening gives us a break from the stuffiness of acadamia, she makes it all so much easier to learn. No dryness with her, except an acerbic and dry wit at times. There's no pretending by her that she's something she isn't. Straight forward humorous reporting, telling it like it is. Gotta Love Her.

By Truthseeker: Kool-Aid drinking moonbat......

Saundra Hummer
February 12th, 2006, 07:07 PM

Robert Scheer
Creators Syndicate

Terrorism: a president's best friend

Bush morphs 'War on Terror' into war on common sense.

Where would the Bush administration be without terrorism? Like the Cold War before it, the "war on terror" is a conveniently sweeping rationale for all manner of irrational governance, such as the outrageous $2.77 trillion budget the president proposed to Congress on Monday.

Without terrorism, how could Bush justify to fiscal conservatives the whopping budget deficits that he has ballooned via his tax cuts for the wealthy that he now seeks to make permanent? Without terrorism, how could he convince government corruption watchdogs that the huge increases in military and homeland security -- 7 percent and 8 percent, respectively -- aren't simply payback to the defense contractors who so heavily support the Republicans every election cycle? Without terrorism, how could the president get away with blindly dumping another $120 billion into the war in Afghanistan and the bungled occupation of Iraq that the Bush administration had once promised would be financed by Iraqi oil sales?

In order to pay for the money pit that is Iraq, the Bush budget demands draconian cuts in 141 domestic programs, led by a $36 billion cut in Medicare spending for the elderly over the next five years. This from a president re-elected after promising to expand, rather than curtail health-care services to seniors.

Many of the other proposed cuts are equally obscene, such as the termination of $1 billion in child-care funds over five years and the complete elimination of the Commodity Supplemental Food Program, which provides food assistance to low-income seniors, needy pregnant women and children.

These attacks on the social safety net for the most vulnerable members of our society are not only patently unfair, in light of Bush's tax cuts for the wealthy, but the simultaneous blank check for the Pentagon cannot be honestly justified by the fight against terrorism. And although the president insists that it is unpatriotic to question his strategies in fighting terrorism, let me risk his opprobrium, and that of the pseudo-conservative bully boys that shill for him in the media, by doing just that.

To begin with, we must remember that this "war" was launched against an enemy, still mostly at large, who on Sept. 11 accomplished phenomenal destruction and suffering with armaments no fiercer or costly than some box-cutters. Their key weapon, in fact, was suicidal fanaticism.

Yet, rather than sensibly investing in aggressive global detective work, collaborating with our European allies, engaging meaningfully with an independent and skeptical Arab world, and working to protect vulnerable U.S. sites such as nuclear-power plants, our leaders decided to turn logic on its head and make ignorance about the enemy into a virtue, slash civil liberties and recklessly invade a major Muslim country that had no connection to the attacks.

In other words, our response to Sept. 11 has been almost completely military in nature, granting the Defense Department an excuse to increase spending by 48 percent in just four years. Yet, despite all this spending, and the loss of life that has accompanied it, our standing in the Muslim world has been in freefall since we invaded Iraq, we have never captured or killed Osama bin Laden or his top strongman, we don't know how to "fix" Iraq or Afghanistan and we have greatly strengthened the hand of our rivals in Iran.

We don't even know, as the Sept. 11 commission report revealed, much of anything about the 15 Saudi hijackers and their four leaders from other parts of the Arab world who committed the Sept. 11 attacks. We do know, however, that they weren't from Iraq, weren't funded by Iraq and weren't trained by or in Iraq. Nevertheless, the huge elephant in the Bush budget is the war and occupation of Iraq, now approaching its third anniversary, not the effort to dismantle al-Qaida.

"Since 2001, the administration ... liberated nearly 50 million people in Iraq and Afghanistan," boasts the Bush budget document. Ah, but if they have been liberated, then why the need for an additional $50 billion emergency "bridge funding" in 2007, itself coming on the heels of a supplementary $70 billion budget request last week? The answer provided by the report is that Iraq is far from being stabilized and that in Afghanistan "enemy activity has increased over the past year."

Unfortunately, the Democratic leadership in Congress is still unwilling to challenge the necessity of "winning" the war in Iraq, and as a result, its complaints about cutting needed domestic programs are framed exclusively as an argument against making Bush's tax cuts permanent. It is a losing argument, because it leaves Bush as both the big spender and the big tax-cutter once again, posturing as the savior of the taxpayer when he is in fact quite the opposite for all but the wealthiest Americans. For more, please see the Robert Scheer archive.

Our standing in the Muslim world has been in freefall since we invaded Iraq.


(c) 2006 Creators Syndicate


Saundra Hummer
February 12th, 2006, 08:34 PM

The war against Iraq is as disastrous as it is unnecessary; perhaps in terms of its wisdom, purpose and motives, the worst war in American history…. Our military men and women…were not called to defend America but rather to attack Iraq. They were not called to die for, but rather to kill for, their country. What more unpatriotic thing could we have asked of our sons and daughters…?”: William Sloane Coffin Biography - Clergyman, Social Activist 1924-

“After the invasion of Iraq, I again heard from Vietnamese the excuse that Americans were good people who happened to have bad leaders. I wondered how long we can get away with that one. My fear is that we are no longer a nation at war but have become a nation of war. My hope is that we will pull back from empire and once again embrace our republic.”: Peter Davis Biography - Filmmaker, Journalist, Writer, 1937-

“Part of the main plan of imperialism… is that we will give you your history, we will write it for you, we will re-order the past…What’s more truly frightening is the defacement, the mutilation, and ultimately the eradication of history in order to create…an order that is favorable to the United States.” : Edward Said Biography - Palestinian Activist, Literary Critic, Writer, Musician, 1935-2003

“Kids don’t have a little brother working in the coal mine, they don’t have a little sister coughing her lungs out in the looms of the big mill towns of the Northeast. Why? Because we organized; we broke the back of the sweatshops in this country; we have child labor laws. Those were not benevolent gifts from enlightened management. They were fought for, they were bled for, they were died for by working people, by people like us. Kids ought to know that. ”: Bruce “Utah” Phillips Biography - Songwriter, Storyteller, Humorist, Philosopher, 1935


Saundra Hummer
February 12th, 2006, 08:43 PM

CIA chief sacked for opposing torture
By Sarah Baxter and Michael Smith


"The Times" -- -- Washington -- The CIA’s top counter-terrorism official was fired last week because he opposed detaining Al-Qaeda suspects in secret prisons abroad, sending them to other countries for interrogation and using forms of torture such as “water boarding”, intelligence sources have claimed.

Robert Grenier, head of the CIA counter-terrorism centre, was relieved of his post after a year in the job. One intelligence official said he was “not quite as aggressive as he might have been” in pursuing Al-Qaeda leaders and networks.

Vincent Cannistraro, a former head of counter-terrorism at the agency, said: “It is not that Grenier wasn’t aggressive enough, it is that he wasn’t ‘with the programme’. He expressed misgivings about the secret prisons in Europe and the rendition of terrorists.”

Grenier also opposed “excessive” interrogation, such as strapping suspects to boards and dunking them in water, according to Cannistraro.

Porter Goss, who was appointed head of the CIA in August 2004 with a mission to “clean house”, has been angered by a series of leaks from CIA insiders, including revelations about “black sites” in Europe where top Al-Qaeda detainees were said to have been held.

In last Friday’s New York Times, Goss wrote that leakers within the CIA were damaging the agency’s ability to fight terrorism and causing foreign intelligence organisations to lose confidence. “Too many of my counterparts from other countries have told me, ‘You Americans can’t keep a secret’.”

Goss is believed to have blamed Grenier for allowing leaks to occur on his watch.

Since the appointment of Goss, the CIA has lost almost all its high-level directors amid considerable turmoil.

AB “Buzzy” Krongard, a former executive director of the CIA who resigned shortly after Goss’s arrival, said the leaks were unlikely to stop soon, despite proposals to subject officers to more lie detector tests.

Krongard said it was up to President George Bush to stop the rot. “The agency has only one client: the president of the United States,” he said. “The reorganisation is the way this president wanted it. If he is unwilling to reform it, the agency will go on as it is.”

“History will judge how good an idea it was to destroy the teams and the programmes that were in place.”


Saundra Hummer
February 12th, 2006, 11:51 PM

Cheney Accidentally Shoots Fellow Hunter

Associated Press Writers
54 minutes ago

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas - Vice President Dick Cheney accidentally shot and wounded a companion during a weekend quail hunting trip in Texas, spraying the fellow hunter in the face and chest with shotgun pellets.

Harry Whittington, a millionaire attorney from Austin, was in stable condition in the intensive care unit of a Corpus Christi hospital Sunday.

"He is stable and doing well. It was almost like he was spending time with me in my living room," said hospital administrator Peter Banko, who visited Whittington.

Banko said Whittington was in the intensive care unit because his condition warranted it, but he didn't elaborate. Whittington sent word through a hospital official that he would have no comment on the incident out of respect for Cheney.

The accident occurred Saturday at a ranch in south Texas where the vice president and several companions were hunting quail. It was not reported publicly by the vice president's office for nearly 24 hours, and then only after it was reported locally by the Corpus Christi Caller-Times on its Web site Sunday.

Katharine Armstrong, the ranch's owner, said Sunday that Cheney was using a 28-gauge shotgun and that Whittington was about 30 yards away when he was hit in the cheek, neck and chest.

Each of the hunters was wearing a bright orange vest at the time, Armstrong told reporters at the ranch about 60 miles southwest of Corpus Christi. She said Whittington was "alert and doing fine."

"He is very, very lucky that nothing seriously was injured," Sally Whittington said in a story in Sunday's online edition of The Dallas Morning News. She said her father was being observed because of swelling from some of the welts on his neck.

"It looks like chicken pox, kind of," she said of her father's face.

Armstrong told The Associated Press emergency personnel traveling with Cheney tended to Whittington before an ambulance — routinely on call because of the vice president's presence — took him to a hospital in Kingsville. From there, Whittington was flown by helicopter to Corpus Christi about 40 miles away.

Cheney's spokeswoman, Lea Anne McBride, said the vice president met with Whittington at the hospital on Sunday. Cheney "was pleased to see that he's doing fine and in good spirits," she said.

Armstrong said she was watching from a car while Cheney, Whittington and another hunter got out of the vehicle to shoot at a covey of quail.

Whittington shot a bird and went to retrieve it in the tall grass, while Cheney and the third hunter walked to another spot and discovered a second covey.

Whittington "came up from behind the vice president and the other hunter and didn't signal them or indicate to them or announce himself," Armstrong said.

"The vice president didn't see him," she continued. "The covey flushed and the vice president picked out a bird and was following it and shot. And by god, Harry was in the line of fire and got peppered pretty good."

Whittington has been a private practice attorney in Austin since 1950 and has long been active in Texas Republican politics. He's been appointed to several state boards, including when then-Gov. George W. Bush named him to the Texas Funeral Service Commission.

McBride said the vice president's office did not tell reporters about the accident Saturday because they were deferring to Armstrong to handle the announcement of what happened on her property. Armstrong called the local paper about the incident on Sunday.

Armstrong, owner of the Armstrong Ranch where the accident occurred, said Whittington was bleeding after he was shot and Cheney was very apologetic.

"It broke the skin," she said of the shotgun pellets. "It knocked him silly. But he was fine. He was talking. His eyes were open. It didn't get in his eyes or anything like that.

"Fortunately, the vice president has got a lot of medical people around him and so they were right there and probably more cautious than we would have been," she said. "The vice president has got an ambulance on call, so the ambulance came."

Cheney is an avid hunter who makes annual trips to South Dakota to hunt pheasants. He also travels frequently to Arkansas to hunt ducks, among other places.

Armstrong said Cheney is a longtime friend who comes to the ranch to hunt about once a year and is "a very safe sportsman." She said Whittington is a regular, too, but she thought it was the first time the two men hunted together.

"This is something that happens from time to time. You know, I've been peppered pretty well myself," said Armstrong.

The 50,000-acre Armstrong ranch has been in the influential south Texas family since the turn of the last century. Katharine is the daughter of Tobin Armstrong, a politically connected rancher who has been a guest at the White House and spent 48 years as director of the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association. He died in October. Cheney was among the dignitaries who attended his funeral.

Cheney was legally hunting with a license he purchased in November, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department spokesman Steve Lightfoot said. The vice president flew back to Washington on Sunday evening, according to his office.

Nedra Pickler reported from Washington. Associated Press writer Paul J. Weber in Dallas contributed to this report.


the magnificent goldberg
February 13th, 2006, 04:31 AM
I hope the radio stations throughout the USA have been continually following the news by playing Tom Lehrer's "The hunting song":

People ask me how I do it
And I say there's nothing to it.
You just stand there looking cute
And, when something moves, you shoot.
And there's ten stuffed heads in my trophy room right now:
Two game wardens;
Seven hunters;
And a pure bred Guernsey cow.


February 13th, 2006, 04:08 PM
John Nichols

Sure, it's been fun joking about the fact that Dick Cheney obtained five -- count them, five -- deferments to avoid serving in the military during the Vietnam War. Sure, its been amusing to recount his limp claim that the man who served as George Bush I's Secretary of Defense had "other priorities" than taking up arms in defense of his country. Sure, it was a laugh when the chief cheerleader for the war in Iraq mocked John Kerry for having actually carried a weapon in a time of war.

But it is time to stop laughing at Dick Cheney's expense.

Now that the vice president has accidentally shot and wounded a companion on a quail hunt at the elite Texas ranch where rich men play with guns -- spraying his 78-year-old victim, er, friend, in the face and chest with shotgun pellets and sending the man to the intensive care unit of a Corpus Christi hospital -- it has become clear that Cheney was doing the country a service when he avoided service.

Despite the best efforts of Cheney's apologists to have it otherwise, the man the vice president misstook for a quail, millionaire attorney Harry Whittington, was in plain sight, wearing a bright orange vest at the time the vice president blasted him.

U.S. troops had enough problems in Vietnam without letting a trigger-happy incompetent like Dick Cheney start shooting things up from behind the lines.

Those deferments were well and wisely issued.


Saundra Hummer
February 13th, 2006, 04:15 PM

Isn't it odd how things work? How things turn out?

The shot man is being reported as the one who hired on Dick Cheney with Halliburton in the first place. Some are saying it is ironic, and a just reward.

the magnificent goldberg
February 13th, 2006, 04:16 PM

Pardon my ignorance but, if Cheney's military service was only deferred, does that mean he could be called to the colours now?


Saundra Hummer
February 13th, 2006, 04:25 PM

Here's the comments from the site which jazz_man posted:

Some are juvinile, just silly, while others are somewhat of a kick

Now the question is whether Cheney will start to act all macho, talking about "how he shot a man". Will he mention that it was during QUAIL hunting? Doubt it!

Posted by JKBRISCOE 02/12/2006 @ 10:28pm | ignore this person

quail are bright orange... right?

Posted by WILL C. 02/12/2006 @ 10:33pm | ignore this person


terribly sad event, i hope the poor man recovers with minimal visible scarring, and yes, this is the closest Mighty Dick will ever come in his life to first-hand comprehension of the experience he has inflicted many times worse on so many people in this stupid war

someone should say: "See, Diamond Dick? When one man shoots another it looks like this, only a lot worse when we aren't using toy bird guns but rather military hardware. This is what it looks like, what it feels like. Do you feel proud? Strong?"

Posted by ZERO 02/12/2006 @ 10:34pm | ignore this person

Harry Whittington...

obviously not for us

Posted by WILL C. 02/12/2006 @ 10:38pm | ignore this person


Cheney feels very badly, I'm sure. A 78 yo friend? In the ICU. I oppose all of what he is politically, I hate what he stands for and what he has done to our once great nation but he has likely shortened the life of someone that is counting their time in years not decades.

Too many metaphors for this failed misadministration. Add this one to the list. The VP should not be handling a shotgun let alone an army, literally.

Posted by CAPT 02/13/2006 @ 12:05am | ignore this person

I hope Cheney invites some wack job liberals on his next hunting expedition!

Posted by BUSH MAN 02/13/2006 @ 12:13am | ignore this person


I hope Cheney invites some wack job liberals on his next hunting expedition!

Posted by BUSH MAN 02/13/2006 @ 12:14am | ignore this person

Yo' Capt, you don't like it, move to France, Canada or Germany! I'm sure you'll find it easy getting a job in the lands of double-digit unemployment!

Posted by BUSH MAN 02/13/2006 @ 12:16am | ignore this person


Bob Cesca: EXCLUSIVE: First Photo of Cheney Shooting Victim [news.yahoo.com]

The above photo shows Vice President Dick Cheney speaking to reporters at the bedside of the man who he "accidentally" shot this weekend while on a hunting trip in Texas (full story).

A spokesman for the vice president identified the shooting victim as Harry Whittington, but sources close to the incident suggest "Harry Whittington" is a Secret Service code name for Cheney's indicted former chief of staff, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby.

"Honestly, I didn't mean to shoot Scoot-- I mean, Harry Whittington," the vice president told reporters in "Mr. Whittington's" hospital recovery room.

The shooting occurred several days after it was revealed that Mr. Libby told special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald he was ordered by Vice President Cheney to leak classified national security documents to the press. The revelation could cost Cheney his job and whatever remains of his reputation amongst both Democrats and Republicans.

An EMT who attended to "Mr. Whittington" told the Huffington Post that, during the ambulance ride, he overheard Cheney mumbling, "Who's leaking now, f***ker?" and, "F***ker survived. Gotta work on my aim."

The EMT later remarked to the vice president, "Harry Whittington? That sounds like a made-up name." When contacted for clarification on Cheney's reply, the Huffington Post has learned the emergency worker has disappeared.

*****end of clip*****
Talk about coincidence?


Posted by CAPT 02/13/2006 @ 12:38am | ignore this person

February 13th, 2006, 04:27 PM
Pardon my ignorance but, if Cheney's military service was only deferred, does that mean he could be called to the colours now?


You're kiddin' right? To answer your question seriously though, once the draft ended, deferments were no longer necessary. Should the draft ever be re-instituted, there are also age limits, medical limitations, and family/political connections (see dubya's Texas National Guard "service"), all of which would preclude him from being called to the colours.

Nice thought though...would probably result in the withdrawal from Iraq in a matter of a nanosecond or two.

the magnificent goldberg
February 13th, 2006, 04:29 PM
You're kiddin' right? To answer your question seriously though, once the draft ended, deferments were no longer necessary. Should the draft ever be re-instituted, there are also age limits, medical limitations, and family/political connections (see dubya's Texas National Guard "service"), all of which would preclude him from being called to the colours.

Nice thought though...would probably result in the withdrawal from Iraq in a matter of a nanosecond or two.

Yes, I was kidding, but I had no idea that the draft had ended. Yer learn summat every day.


Saundra Hummer
February 13th, 2006, 06:25 PM

Fast Facts About Love

Scientists Say We Don't Control Love

Our Body Chemistry Does

The National Geographic Channel examines the science of love in 'What's Sexy?', Feb. 13 at 9PM ET/PT. The show repeats Feb. 19 at 7PM ET/PT.
Watch Video:
Preview of 'What's Sexy?'
Learn More:

(Feb. 8) - The National Geographic Society has gone head over heels for love this year with a cover story in the February issue of 'National Geographic' and a TV special called 'What's Sexy?' airing Feb. 13 and 19 on the National Geographic Channel.

They've taken the scientific angle to reveal what turns men and women on, how people fall in love and why many couples stay together for decades. Here are some tidbits I gleaned from the magazine article and an advance copy of the TV show.


1. Follow your nose (sweat is important): A Swiss scientist did an experiment in which he asked 49 women to smell sweaty T-shirts previously worn by unidentified men. The women rated the shirts from best-smelling to worst-smelling. The result: Women preferred the scent of a T-shirt worn by a man whose genotype was most different from hers. The underlying reason could be that women who mate with men with different genes from hers will produce offspring with stronger immune systems.

2. Riding a roller coaster on a first date is more likely to lead to a second date: Scary or new situations can help attract people to each other, because those situations trigger a chemical in the brain -- dopamine -- that can stimulate feelings of attraction.

3. A candlelight dinner really works: In low light, your pupils dilate and can make you more attractive to your dinner date. Consciously or subconsciously, people find large pupils attractive -- the bigger the better.

4. Love and mental illness have some things in common: Well, love and obssessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) could have a similar chemical profile. One study showed that people in love and people with OCD both had low levels of serotonin, an important neurotransmitter.

5. Yes, you can go to kissing school: Writer Lauren Slater attended a seven-hour course at The Kissing School, where she learned the importance of foreplay -- foot rubs, eye contact and the like -- before kissing.

Slater, Lauren. "So What, Really, Is This Thing Called Love." National Geographic Magazine. February 2006. National Geographic Society. http://www7.nationalgeographic.com/ngm/0602/feature2/index.html
"What's Sexy?"National Geographic Channel. Airs Feb. 13 and 19, 2006. National Geographic Society.



If someone is attracted to you without aftershaves, perfumes, or colognes, then they're attracted to you for you, not a made up person. Remember, they will get a whiff of the real you one day, and maybe they'll just take off. Funny.

Saundra Hummer
February 13th, 2006, 07:32 PM


To initiate a war of aggression, therefore, is not only an international crime; it is the supreme international crime differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole: Nuremburg War Tribunal regarding wars of aggression

"A Society that is in its higher circles and middle levels widely believed to be a network of smart rackets does not produce men with an inner moral sense; a society that is merely expedient does not produce men of conscience. A society that narrows the meaning of "success" to the big money and in its terms condemns failure as the chief vice, raising money to the plane of absolute value, will produce the sharp operator and the shady deal. Blessed are the cynical, for only they have what it takes to succeed." --- The Power Elite by C. Wright Mills

"Few are willing to brave the disapproval of their fellows, the censure of the colleagues, the wrath of their society. Moral courage is a rarer commodity than bravery in battle or great intelligence. Yet it is the one essential, vital quality for those who seek to change a world that yields most painfully to change. Each time a person stands up for an idea, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, (s)he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring, those ripples build a current that can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance." -- Robert F. Kennedy


Saundra Hummer
February 13th, 2006, 07:46 PM
I hope the radio stations throughout the USA have been continually following the news by playing Tom Lehrer's "The hunting song":

People ask me how I do it
And I say there's nothing to it.
You just stand there looking cute
And, when something moves, you shoot.
And there's ten stuffed heads in my trophy room right now:
Two game wardens;
Seven hunters;
And a pure bred Guernsey cow.

Sunday, February 12, 2006
You just stand there looking cute, And when something moves, you shoot

Lech Walesa suggests to Cuban exiles in Florida that they should prepare for what happens after Castro dies. Yeah, they should really do that instead of whatever it is they’ve been doing for the last 50 years.

Cheney exercised one of the little-known “inherent rights of the vice presidency,” and shot a 78-year old man.

Harry Whittington, who has just found his way into history trivia quizzes for decades to come, may have been a Republican, a lawyer and a hunter, but he also campaigned for better treatment of retarded prisoners, including not, you know, executing them.

They didn’t make an announcement until the local press got hold of the story over a day later. Say, do you think they reported the shooting to the police? Oh, and despite the fact that Cheney has his own personal ambulance, which did take Whittington to the hospital (insert your own ambulance-chaser joke here), it didn’t do so until nearly 3 hours after he was shot. What’s that about?

I’m gonna have that Tom Lehrer song – you know the one I mean – going through my head the rest of the day.

The United Arab Emirates sentences 26 men who attended a gay wedding (!) to 5 years each for being gay.
posted by WIIIAI at 2/12/2006 06:43:00 PM

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Whateveritisimagainstit at gmail dot com


Search “Whatever It Is, I’m Against It”

Previous Posts
But I sure as H.E. double hockey sticks believe in something for victims of rape
That’s what friends do -- they share information and share strategic thoughts
It’s like a padded cell – on wheels!
If we didn’t build on former cemeteries, we would never build
And the world ought to call them on it
Give the customers what they want
Actually, “bling handler” sounds kind of dirty
The short answer is, we didn’t think we needed to
Bringing more transparency to this relationship



Same words to the song you posted MG, must be it.

Saundra Hummer
February 13th, 2006, 08:20 PM

The Pentagon’s War on the Internet

By Mike Whitney

02/13/06 "ICH' -- -- The Pentagon has developed a comprehensive strategy for taking over the internet and controlling the free flow of information. The plan appears in a recently declassified document, “The Information Operations Roadmap”, which was provided under the FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) and revealed in an article by the BBC.
The Pentagon sees the internet in terms of a military adversary that poses a vital threat to its stated mission of global domination. This explains the confrontational language in the document which speaks of “fighting the net”; implying that the internet is the equivalent of “an enemy weapons system."

The Defense Dept. places a high-value on controlling information. The new program illustrates their determination to establish the parameters of free speech.

The Pentagon sees information as essential in manipulating public perceptions and, thus, a crucial tool in eliciting support for unpopular policies. The recent revelations of the military placing propaganda in the foreign press demonstrate the importance that is given to co-opting public opinion.

Information-warfare is used to create an impenetrable cloud around the activities of government so that decisions can be made without dissent. The smokescreen of deception that encompasses the Bush administration has less to do with prevaricating politicians than it does with a clearly articulated policy of obfuscation. “The Information Operations Roadmap” is solely intended to undermine the principle of an informed citizenry.

The Pentagon’s focus on the internet tells us a great deal about the mainstream media and its connection to the political establishment.

Why, for example, would the Pentagon see the internet as a greater threat than the mainstream media, where an estimated 75% of Americans get their news?

The reason is clear; because the MSM is already a fully-integrated part of the corporate-system providing a 24 hour per day streaming of business-friendly news. Today’s MSM operates as a de-facto franchise of the Pentagon, a reliable and sophisticated propagandist for Washington’s wars of aggression and political subterfuge.

The internet, on the other hand, is the last bastion of American democracy; a virtual world where reliable information moves instantly from person to person without passing through the corporate filter. Online visitors can get a clear picture of their governments’ depredations with a click of the mouse. This is the liberalization of the news, an open source of mind-expanding information that elevates citizen awareness of complex issues and threatens the status quo.

The Pentagon program is just one facet of a broader culture of deception; a pervasive ethos of dishonesty that envelopes all aspects of the Bush White House. The “Strategic Intelligence” Dept is a division of the Defense establishment that is entirely devoted to concealing, distorting, omitting and manipulating the truth.

In what way is “strategic intelligence” different from plain intelligence?

It is information that is shaped in a way that meets the needs of a particular group. In other words, it is not the truth at all, but a fabrication, a fiction, a lie.

Strategic intelligence is an oxymoron; a tidy bit of Orwellian doublespeak that reflects the deeply rooted cynicism of its authors.

The internet is a logical target for the Pentagon’s electronic warfare. Already the Downing Street memos, Bush’s bombing-threats against Al Jazeera, the fraudulent 2004 elections, and the leveling of Falluja, have disrupted the smooth execution of Bush’s wars. It is understandable that Rumsfeld and Co. would seek to transform this potential enemy into an ally, much as it has done with the MSM.

The Pentagon’s plans for engaging in “virtual warfare” are impressive. As BBC notes: “The operations described in the document include a surprising range of military activities: public affairs officers who brief journalists, psychological operations troops who try to manipulate the thoughts and beliefs of an enemy, computer network attack specialists who seek to destroy enemy networks.” (BBC)

The enemy, of course, is you, dear reader, or anyone who refuses to accept their role as a witless-cog in new world order. Seizing the internet is a prudent way of controlling every piece of information that one experiences from cradle to grave; all necessary for an orderly police-state.

The Information Operations Roadmap (IOR) recommends that psychological operations (Psyops) “should consider a range of technologies to disseminate propaganda in enemy territory: unmanned aerial vehicles, "miniaturized, scatterable public address systems", wireless devices, cellular phones and the internet.” No idea is too costly or too far-fetched that it escapes the serious consideration of the Pentagon chieftains.

The War Dept. is planning to insert itself into every area of the internet from blogs to chat rooms, from leftist web sites to editorial commentary. The objective is to challenge any tidbit of information that appears on the web that may counter the official narrative; the fairytale of benign American intervention to promote democracy and human rights across the planet.

The IOR aspires to "provide maximum control of the entire electromagnetic spectrum" and develop the capability to "disrupt or destroy the full spectrum of globally emerging communications systems, sensors, and weapons systems dependent on the electromagnetic spectrum". (BBC)

Full spectrum dominance.

The ultimate goal of the Pentagon is to create an internet-paradigm that corresponds to the corporate mainstream model, devoid of imagination or divergent points of view. They envision an internet that is increasingly restricted by the gluttonous influence of industry and its vast “tapestry of lies”.

The internet is the modern-day marketplace of ideas, an invaluable resource for human curiosity and organized resistance. It provides a direct link between the explosive power of ideas and engaged citizen involvement. (aka; participatory democracy)

The Pentagon is laying the groundwork for privatizing the internet so the information-revolution can be transformed into an information-tyranny, extending to all areas of communications and serving the exclusive interests of a few well-heeled American plutocrats.




Saundra Hummer
February 13th, 2006, 11:41 PM

White House under gun for Cheney shooting mishap

By Patricia Wilson
Mon Feb 13, 8:11 PM ET

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The White House was bombarded with questions on Monday about why it failed to go public with news that Vice President Dick Cheney shot a fellow quail hunter until the day after the accident.

The victim, Harry Whittington, 78, took pellets in his cheek, neck and chest when Cheney fired his shotgun while aiming for a bird during a hunt in southern Texas on Saturday, and was in stable condition at a Corpus Christi hospital.

Whittington was moved out of intensive care on Monday afternoon but Peter Banko, administrator of Christus Spohn Hospital, said he did not know when Whittington would be discharged.

"His condition continues to be stable ... it's not critical, it's not serious. He's in stable condition, doing extremely well," Banko said.

The accident happened about 5:30 p.m. on a private ranch about 200 miles south of San Antonio, where the vice president has hunted previously. Whittington was treated on the scene by Cheney's traveling medical detail before being taken by helicopter to the hospital.

The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department said on Monday that Cheney would receive a warning citation for not having a special bird-hunting stamp on a Texas hunting license he bought earlier.

Cheney's office said in the only statement it has issued on the shooting that his staff had purchased the license thinking it covered quail hunting, but had not been told about the stamp.

"The Vice President has sent a $7 check to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, which is the cost of an upland game bird stamp," the statement said.


The accident was not reported publicly by the vice president's office until Sunday afternoon and then only after an account provided by the ranch's owner appeared on the Web site of the local newspaper, the Corpus Christi Caller-Times.

In a testy exchange with reporters on Monday, White House spokesman Scott McClellan faced dozens of questions about the propriety of a private citizen making public a shooting incident involving the vice president and whether Cheney had followed White House protocol.

McClellan said President George W. Bush and senior aides were first told by staff in the Situation Room that there had been an accident in Cheney's hunting party and that the president learned later on Saturday night that the vice president had been the shooter.

"I think he was informed in a relatively reasonable time," McClellan said at the news briefing.

McClellan said the vice president's staff did not tell reporters about the accident on Saturday because they were concerned about getting Whittington medical attention and were still gathering facts.

Cheney and the owner of the property, Katharine Armstrong, then agreed that she should provide the information to the public about an accident that happened on her ranch.

"The vice president spoke with Mrs. Katharine Armstrong, and they agreed that she should make that information public," McClellan said. "She was an eyewitness. She saw what occurred and she called her local paper to provide those facts."


Armstrong said it wasn't until Sunday that she telephoned the Caller-Times. She did not notify the national media or the White House press corps.

McClellan declined to say if he was satisfied with the way it was handled.

"You can always look back at these issues and look at how to do a better job," he said.

McClellan said he found out that Cheney was involved at 6 a.m. on Sunday and urged that information be made available as quickly as possible.

According to Armstrong's account, she saw the incident from a car while Cheney, Whittington and another hunter, identified by the Caller-Times on Monday as Pam Willeford, the U.S. Ambassador to Switzerland and Liechtenstein, got out of the vehicle to shoot at a covey of quail.

As Whittington went to retrieve a bird he had shot, Cheney and Willeford spotted a second covey.

Whittington came up behind and failed to signal that he was there or announce himself, which is proper protocol for hunters. Cheney, an experienced hunter, fired his shotgun without realizing that Whittington had approached the group.

A statement from the Kennedy County Sheriff's department said an investigation, though somewhat delayed because of communication problems at the ranch, had found "there was no alcohol or misconduct involved in the incident."


Saundra Hummer
February 13th, 2006, 11:56 PM


Cheney Apparently Breaks Key Hunting Rule

Associated Press Writer
1 hour, 33 minutes ago

WASHINGTON - Vice President Dick Cheney apparently broke the No. 1 rule of hunting: Be sure of what you're shooting at. He also violated Texas game law by failing to buy a hunting stamp.

Cheney wounded fellow hunter Harry Whittington in the face, neck and chest Saturday, apparently because he didn't see Whittington approaching as he fired on a covey of quail in Texas.

Hunting safety experts interviewed Monday agreed it would have been a good idea for Whittington to announce himself — something he apparently didn't do, according to a witness. But they stressed that the shooter is responsible for avoiding other people.

"It's incumbent upon the shooter to assess the situation and make sure it's a safe shot," said Mark Birkhauser, president-elect of the International Hunter Education Association and hunter education coordinator in New Mexico. "Once you squeeze that trigger, you can't bring that shot back."

The Parks and Wildlife Department said Cheney and Whittington will be given warning citations for violating game law by not having an upland game bird stamp, a requirement that went into effect in September. Cheney had a $125 nonresident hunting license, the vice president's office said Monday night in a statement, and has sent a $7 check to cover the cost of the stamp.

Cheney, an experienced hunter, has not commented publicly about the accident. He avoided reporters by leaving an Oval Office meeting with United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan before the press was escorted in.

President Bush was told about Cheney's involvement in the accident shortly before 8 p.m. Saturday — about an hour after it occurred — but the White House did not disclose the accident until Sunday afternoon, and then only in response to press questions. Press secretary Scott McClellan said he did not know until Sunday morning that Cheney had shot someone.

Facing a press corps upset that news had been withheld, McClellan said, "I think you can always look back at these issues and look at how to do a better job."

Katharine Armstrong, the owner of the ranch where the shooting occurred, said she told Cheney on Sunday morning that she was going to inform the local paper, the Corpus Christi Caller-Times. She said he agreed, and the newspaper reported it on its Web site Sunday afternoon.

Secret Service spokesman Eric Zahren said that about an hour after Cheney shot Whittington, the head of the Secret Service's local office called the Kenedy County sheriff to report the accident. "They made arrangements at the sheriff's request to have deputies come out and interview the vice president the following morning at 8 a.m. and that indeed did happen," Zahren said.

At least one deputy showed up at the ranch's front gate later in the evening and asked to speak to Cheney but was turned away by the Secret Service, Zahren said. There was some miscommunication that arrangements had already been made to interview the vice president, he said.

Gilbert San Miguel, chief deputy sheriff for Kenedy County, said the report had not been completed Monday and that it was being handled as a hunting accident, although he would not comment about what that meant they were investigating.

He said his department's investigation had found that alcohol was not a factor in the shooting, but he would not elaborate about how that had been determined. The Texas Parks and Wildlife hunting accident report also said neither Cheney nor Whittington appeared to be under the influence of intoxicants or drugs.

Whittington, a prominent Republican attorney in the Texas capital of Austin, was in stable condition at Christus Spohn Hospital Corpus Christi-Memorial and was moved from intensive care to a "step-down unit" Monday. Doctors decided to leave several birdshot pellets lodged in his skin rather than try to remove them.

Armstrong said the accident occurred toward the end of the hunt, as darkness was encroaching and they were preparing to go inside. Whittington was retrieving from tall grass a bird he had shot.

Cheney and another hunter, Pamela Willeford, the U.S. ambassador to Switzerland, moved on to another covey of quail — Armstrong estimated it was roughly 100-150 yards away — and Cheney fired on a bird just as Whittington rejoined them. She said Whittington was in tall grass and thick brush about 30 yards away, which made it difficult for Cheney to see him, although both men were wearing bright-orange safety vests. She said Whittington made a mistake by not vocally announcing that he had walked up to rejoin the hunting line.

Armstrong said she saw Cheney's security detail running toward the scene. "The first thing that crossed my mind was he had a heart problem," she told The Associated Press.

She said Cheney stayed "close but cool" while the agents and medical personnel treated Whittington, then took him away via ambulance to the hospital. Later, the hunting group sat down for dinner while Whittington was being treated, receiving updates from a family member at the hospital. Armstrong described Cheney's demeanor during dinner as "very worried" about Whittington.

Willeford told The Dallas Morning News in a story for Tuesday editions that she had hunted with Cheney before and would do so again. "He's a great shot. He's very safety conscious. This is something that unfortunately was a bad accident and when you're with a group like that, he's safe or safer than all the rest of us," she said.

Duane Harvey, president of the Wisconsin Hunter Education Instructors Association, said if Whittington had made his presence known "that would have been a polite thing to do." But, he added, "it's still the fault upon the shooter to identify his target and what is beyond it."

Despite all the safety tips and training, hunting accidents are an unfortunate part of the sport. In Texas, there were 30 accidents and two hunting deaths last year, according to the state Parks and Wildlife Department. National figures kept by the International Hunter Education Association show 744 shooting accidents, with 74 deaths, in 2002, the last year for which figures were available. Twenty-six accidents involving quail hunting were reported.

The association estimates there are 15.7 million hunters who will spend about 250 million days hunting in the United States this year.

Wyoming Gov. Dave Freudenthal, a Democrat, said the accident wouldn't keep him from going on a bipartisan hunt with Cheney. "I would be proud to hunt with the vice president — cautious, but proud," he told reporters.


Associated Press writers Elizabeth White in Washington, T.A. Badger in Sarita, Texas, Jim Vertuno in Austin, Lynn Brezosky in Corpus Christi and Dan Lewerenz in Cheyenne, Wyo., contributed to this report.


On the Net:

The White House: [url]http://www.whitehouse.gov


Saundra Hummer
February 14th, 2006, 01:48 AM
Medicine Recall.....Please Read

All drugs containing PHENYLPROPANOLAMINE are being recalled.
You may want to try calling the 800 number listed on most
drug boxes and inquire about a REFUND. Please read this
CAREFULLY. Also, please pass this on to everyone you know.

STOP TAKING anything containing this ingredient. It has been
linked to increased hemorrhagic stroke (bleeding in brain)
among women ages 18-49 in the three days after starting use
of medication. Problems were not found in men, but the FDA
recommended that everyone (even children) seek alternative

The following medications contain Phenylpropanolamine:

Acutrim Diet Gum Appetite Suppressant
Acutrim Plus Dietary Supplements
Acutrim Maximum Strength Appetite Control
Alka-Seltzer Plus Children's Cold Medicine Effervescent
Alka-Seltzer Plus Cold medicine (cherry or orange)
Alka-Seltzer Plus Cold Medicine Original
Alka-Seltzer Plus Cold & Cough Medicine Effervescent
Alka-Seltzer Plus Cold & Flu Medicine
Alka-Seltzer Plus Cold & Sinus Effervescent
Alka Seltzer Plus Night-Time Cold Medicine
BC Allergy Sinus Cold Powder
BC Sinus Cold Powder
Comtrex Flu Therapy & Fever Relief
Day & Night Contac 12-Hour Cold Capsules
Contac 12 Hour Caplets
Coricidin D Cold, Flu & Sinus
Dexatrim Caffeine Free
Dexatrim Extended Duration
Dexatrim Gelcaps
Dexatrim Vitamin C/Caffeine Free
Dimetapp Cold & Allergy Chewable Tablets
Dimetapp Cold & Cough Liqui-Gels
Dimetapp DM Cold & Cough Elixir
Dimetapp Elixir
Dimetapp 4 Hour Liquid Gels
Dimetapp 4 Hour Tablets
Dimetapp 12 Hour Extentabs Tablets
Naldecon DX Pediatric Drops
Permathene Mega-16
Robitussin CF
Tavist-D 12 Hour Relief of Sinus & Nasal
Triaminic DM Cough Rel! ief
Triaminic Expectorant Chest & Head
Triaminic Syrup Cold & ! Allergy Triaminic Triaminicol Cold & Cough .

I just found out and called the 800# on the container
for Triaminic and they informed me that they are voluntarily
recalling the following medicines because of a certain
ingredient that is causing strokes and seizures in children:

Orange 3D Cold & Allergy Cherry (Pink)
3D Cold & Cough Berry
3D Cough Relief Yellow 3D Expectorant

They are asking you to call them at 800-548-3708 with
the lot number on the box so they can send you postage for you
to send it back to them, and they will also issue you a
refund. If you know of anyone else with small children,

informed. They can then pass it along to their families.

To confirm these findings please take time to check the



Sounds important if it isn't some sort of hoax, but it does sound real. I'll check it out tomorrow, or you can tonight with the link up above. SRH

the magnificent goldberg
February 14th, 2006, 04:30 AM
Sunday, February 12, 2006
You just stand there looking cute, And when something moves, you shoot

I’m gonna have that Tom Lehrer song – you know the one I mean – going through my head the rest of the day.

Same words to the song you posted MG, must be it.

Can it be, Sandi, that you're not familiar with the work of Tom Lehrer?

Try this -



It's a bit expensive, but contains everything or almost everything he recorded, from 1953 to 1999.


Saundra Hummer
February 14th, 2006, 11:18 AM

One of too many

Posted at February 13,
2006 07:54 PM in FUBAR .

In Washington these days there is great speculation about exactly how intimately President Bush and super-lobbyist Jack Abramoff were acquainted.

According to the Associated Press, Abramoff and his associates logged almost 200 White House contacts during Bush's first 10 months in office. Reportedly, Abramoff's personal assistant became a senior adviser to Bush adviser Karl Rove. And Time magazine claims to have seen five photos of Bush and Abramoff that "suggest a level of contact between them that Bush's aides have downplayed."

Not surprisingly, White House spokesman Scott McClellan has pooh-poohed the Bush-Abramoff relationship as nonexistent. "The president does not know him," says McClellan, "nor does the president recall ever meeting him. What we're not going to do is engage in a fishing expedition that has nothing to do with the investigation."

Many people in Washington _ Democrats and Republicans _ are dissatisfied with McClellan's evasions. Calls for fuller disclosure on White House contacts with Abramoff are now coming from both sides of the aisle. Many Democrats see this as a great opportunity for guilt by association, and many Republicans are sure that a little honesty would clear up the misunderstanding and speculation that always surround such scandals.

Yet while I want to know as much as anyone else exactly how involved Jack Abramoff was in formulating White House policy, I am also somewhat sympathetic to McClellan's warnings of a "fishing expedition" _ although for very different reasons. The danger in focusing too much on Abramoff's progress is that it turns this into a scandal about one very bad lobbyist, instead of a scandal about the thousands of lobbyists who spend their days prancing around the White House, sprinkling generous cash donations in choice places, and then making not-so-subtle hints about tax loopholes and energy policy _ mostly perfectly legally.

According to the Center for Public Integrity, over the last six years more than 1,300 registered lobbyists have given more than $1.8 million to Bush. Fifty-two of them were major fundraisers for the Bush campaign. When Bush was first elected, he placed 92 lobbyists on his transition advisory team.

Since 1998, 273 former White House staffers have registered as lobbyists, representing more than 3,000 companies and interest groups (and charging more than $1 billion for their collective time). Since 1998, more than 4,600 companies, trade associations, and interest groups have directly lobbied the White House.

And so on.

What these numbers should tell us is that even if Jack Abramoff is the frowning face of capital corruption, he is really only a bit player in a larger drama of moneyed special interests buying their way into policymaking pre-eminence.

It may be that we will soon see photos of Bush and Abramoff shaking hands, smiling, looking like the best of friends. But if so, the real scandal is that every time Bush and Abramoff posed for the camera, another hundred lobbyists were probably waiting in the wings for their turn at the very same photograph.

(Lee Drutman, a frequent contributor, is co-author of "The People's Business: Controlling Corporations and Restoring Democracy.")


The ONLY way to break up the Corruption and gridlock in congress is to elect about one third Independent Candidates in both houses of congress...making a Three Party System...then and only then can the lobbying mess be controled and require that all elected officils write their own bills and accept no money from outside their own district...and all donations liminted to $250.

Posted by chiefh at February 14, 2006 10:53 AM

« Is the President above the law? | Main | Just one screwup after another »


Saundra Hummer
February 14th, 2006, 12:12 PM

U.S. Moves to Fight Internet Censorship

40 minutes ago
WASHINGTON - The State Department announced plans Tuesday to step up a campaign to combat efforts by foreign governments to restrict use of the Internet.

At a news conference, Josette Shiner, a top State Department trade expert, called the Internet "the greatest purveyor of news and information in history" but said too often the flow is blocked by government censors.

Shiner announced the formation of a task force that will consider, among other issues, the foreign policy aspects of Internet freedom, including the use of technology to restrict access to political content.

She said it is a top U.S. government priority "to do all we can to ensure maximum access to information over the Internet."

The United States, she said, has "very serious concerns" about the protection of privacy and data throughout the Internet globally, and in particular, some of the recent cases raised in China.

Under Secretary of State Paula Dobriansky said a U.S. team was en route to China on Monday to discuss the issue with Chinese authorities.

Separately, Graham characterized China's use of U.S. Internet companies to abuse its citizens' rights "chilling and outrageous." He mentioned Yahoo! Inc (Nasdaq:YHOO - news)., which has been accused of helping Chinese police identify and convict a journalist who criticized human rights abuses in China.

U.S. lawmakers have criticized China's use of U.S. Internet companies to abuse its citizens' rights. Yahoo! Inc. has been accused of helping Chinese police identify and convict a journalist who criticized human rights abuses in China.


All of this while our own Pentagon is said to be working to curtail information on the web as well as the Chinese and other goverments.

Saundra Hummer
February 14th, 2006, 12:37 PM

Scalia Dismisses 'Living Constitution'

Associated Press Writer
Tue Feb 14, 10:25 AM ET

PONCE, Puerto Rico - People who believe the Constitution would break if it didn't change with society are "idiots," U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia says.

In a speech Monday sponsored by the conservative Federalist Society, Scalia defended his long-held belief in sticking to the plain text of the Constitution "as it was originally written and intended."

"Scalia does have a philosophy, it's called originalism," he said. "That's what prevents him from doing the things he would like to do," he told more than 100 politicians and lawyers from this U.S. island territory.

According to his judicial philosophy, he said, there can be no room for personal, political or religious beliefs.

Scalia criticized those who believe in what he called the "living Constitution."

"That's the argument of flexibility and it goes something like this: The Constitution is over 200 years old and societies change. It has to change with society, like a living organism, or it will become brittle and break."

"But you would have to be an idiot to believe that," Scalia said. "The Constitution is not a living organism, it is a legal document. It says something and doesn't say other things."

Proponents of the living constitution want matters to be decided "not by the people, but by the justices of the Supreme Court."

"They are not looking for legal flexibility, they are looking for rigidity, whether it's the right to abortion or the right to homosexual activity, they want that right to be embedded from coast to coast and to be unchangeable," he said.

Scalia was invited to Puerto Rico by the Federalist Society for Law and Public Policy Studies. The organization was founded in 1982 as a debating society by students who believed professors at the top law schools were too liberal. Conservatives and libertarians mainly make up the 35,000 members.
On the Net:
Supreme Court: http://www.supremecourtus.gov/

Federalist Society: http://www.fed-soc.org/


Saundra Hummer
February 14th, 2006, 12:56 PM


Devise system to return confiscated items Tue Feb 14, 7:09 AM ET
couldn't help but be disgusted at the cover story that detailed how local governments, companies and individuals are profiting on the goods confiscated from the traveling public (Airports' bountiful booty, Money, Feb. 7).
But rather then criticize, here is a suggestion: Have all the confiscated goods available in a bin with a sign that reads, "Take only one."

As passengers deplane, they can get back their scissors, knives and nail clippers. This would apply only at their final destination. It would also work on the "honor system," so if your nail clippers were confiscated, then you should grab only one nail clipper from the bin.

Allowing individuals and companies to profit from our confiscated goods only enhances the public's distrust of government - and the people who decided to "sell" our stuff.

Brian Porter
Ypsilanti, Mich.

'How can this be allowed?'

I enjoyed reading the article about sales of confiscated items. I wonder how much the city of Detroit made from the items that were not allowed into the stadium for the Super Bowl.

I have a husband and son lucky enough to have attended. They were told they couldn't take in a backpack and a long camera lens, among other things. We didn't see anything on the Web or on the tickets explaining the limits. An Oakley-brand backpack was taken and was not found after the game.

The game cost many people camcorders, bags, cameras, clothes and other such items. A person is left to hand over whatever article the security deems "unacceptable," and a patron is left to make a tough decision. How can this be allowed?

Marjorie Peterson

Chattanooga, Tenn.


Saundra Hummer
February 14th, 2006, 01:09 PM

February 13 »
February 14, 2006

The Hunter Is Captured By the Game

Posted by Danny @ 6:51 am |

I was back in the evil empire last night on the air on Fox News with Hannity and Colmes “discussing” Cheney the Quail hunter who missed the bird and hit a rich lawyer friend.

Before my short segment of on-air “fame," I was in the "green room" where I watched Bill O'Reilly trash women who trash men bemoaning female desires for sensitive companionship with a female psychiatrist pumping her book in a red leather outfit. Maybe she was trying to out Coulter Anne. O’Reilly also took a crack at the San Francisco Board of Supervisors for calling for the president’s impeachment. As always, he was on the attack, on message exposing the world's hypocrisy until he promoted the new hats for spring that his website is selling.

H&C's big guest was to be my former Ramparts colleague David Horrorwitz who is out with a new book denouncing l00 professors whose politics he deplores. David has come full circle from being party of a family attacked by McCarthy to a McCarthy wannabe. I was out of there before he remoted in to play right-wing smarmy. I can't bear to be reminded of his decline into the gutter. Its amazing how with right-wing funding, he's gone from none entity to big macher. Shonda!

My segment was nominally a debate with conservative media watcher Brent Bozell who basically agreed that the Cheney people were remiss in waiting a full day before disclosing that a lawyer was shot by the Veep. Sean Hannity made fun of the reporters who grilled Scott McClellan at the White House but then I made fun of Cheney. It was a bizarre exchange on a bizarre incident featuring one of the last of the great white hunters.

I never had the time to talk about the crime scene—a FIFTY THOUSAND acre ranch owned by a member of the Halliburton board that turned Mr. Cheney from low paid Congressman to multi-millionaire virtually overnight.


That may have been the greater crime. Various Hunter groups are challenging the Veep for not following protocol:

”We always stress to anybody that before you make any kind of a shot, it's incumbent upon the shooter to assess the situation and make sure it's a safe shot," said Mark Birkhauser, president-elect of the International Hunter Education Association and hunter education coordinator in New Mexico. "Once you squeeze that trigger, you can't bring that shot back."

From a newletter, here's a link to see their archives, and to subscribe if you would like.. There is just so much more in each mailing, it is a good one to be in on.


Saundra Hummer
February 14th, 2006, 01:17 PM
Hunter Shot by Cheney Has Heart Attack
5 minutes ago

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas - The 78-year-old lawyer who was shot by Vice President Dick Cheney in a hunting accident has some birdshot lodged in his heart and he had "a minor heart attack" Tuesday morning, hospital officials said.
The victim, Harry Whittington, was immediately moved back to the intensive care unit for further treatment, said Peter Banko, the administrator at Christus Spohn Hospital Corpus Christi-Memorial in Texas.

Banko said there was an irregularity in the heartbeat caused by a pellet, and doctors performed a cardiac catheterization. Whittington expressed a desire to leave the hospital, but Banko said he would probably stay for another week to make sure more shot doesn't move to other organs or to other part of his body.

"Some of the birdshot appears to have moved and lodged into part of his heart in what we would say is a minor heart attack," Banko said in a news conference outside the hospital.

David Blanchard, chief of emergency care, called it "a silent heart attack, an asymptomatic heart attack. He's not had a heart attack in the traditional sense."

The doctors said Whittington did not experience symptoms of a heart attack or any other problems. They left the birdshot in place and said he could live a healthy life with it there.

White House physicians who attended to Whittington at the scene after Cheney accidentally shot him were involved in the treatment, the officials said.

Whittington had initially been placed in intensive care after the accident Saturday evening. He had been moved to a "step-down unit" Monday after doctors decided to leave several birdshot pellets lodged in his skin rather than try to remove them.

A Texas Parks and Wildlife Department report issued Monday said Whittington was retrieving a downed bird and stepped out of the hunting line he was sharing with Cheney. "Another covey was flushed and Cheney swung on a bird and fired, striking Whittington in the face, neck and chest at approximately 30 yards," the report said.

The department found the main factor contributing to the accident was a "hunter's judgment factor." No other secondary factors were found to have played a role.

The department gave Cheney and Whittington warning citations for breaking Texas hunting law by failing to buy a $7 stamp allowing them to shoot upland game birds. A department spokesman said warnings are being issued in most cases because the stamp requirement only went into effect five months ago and many hunters weren't aware of it.

Cheney's office said Monday night in a statement that Cheney had a $125 nonresident hunting license and has sent a $7 check to cover the cost of the stamp. "The staff asked for all permits needed, but was not informed of the $7 upland game bird stamp requirement," the statement said.

Cheney, an experienced hunter, has not said anything publicly about the accident. It was fodder for jokes on late night TV and early Tuesday at the White House, before news surfaced about problems with Whittington's heart.

Hospital officials said they notified the White House of the change in Whittington's condition late in the morning. McClellan's mood was much more serious in an afternoon press briefing shortly before the hospital publicly updated Whittington's condition.

Katharine Armstrong, owner of the ranch where the shooting occurred, said Whittington made a mistake by not announcing that he had walked up to rejoin the hunting line after going to retrieve his bird, and Cheney didn't see him as he tried to down a bird.

The accident raised questions about Cheney's adherence to hunting safety practices and the White House's failure to disclose the accident in a timely way.

Several hunting safety experts agreed in interviews that it would have been a good idea for Whittington to announce himself. But every expert stressed that the shooter is responsible for avoiding other people.

Bush was told about Cheney's involvement in the accident shortly before 8 p.m. Saturday — about an hour after it occurred — but the White House did not disclose the accident until Sunday afternoon, and then only in response to press questions.

On the Net:

White House:



Saundra Hummer
February 14th, 2006, 01:44 PM


Net Freedom Under Fire: Act Now

The CEOs of the largest cable and telephone companies are hatching a scheme that would give them control over what content you can view and what services you can use on the Internet.

Their plan would do away with the principle of "network neutrality" and shut down the open roadway we've come to expect on the Internet.

If big media companies are allowed to limit the fastest services to those who can pay their toll, upstart Web services, consumers, bloggers and new media makers alike all could be cut off from digital revolution.

When large media companies are left to their own devices, the result is always content and services that serve no one but themselves. An open and independent Internet is the antidote to these predatory practices.

Join tens of thousands of Media for Democracy and Free Press activists who are standing up to protect our Net freedoms. Tell the CEO's to stop treating our Internet as their fiefdom.

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Dear (Company CEO):

I strongly urge you to cease all plans to violate the principle of network neutrality. Your control of the "pipes" on which information travels does not give you the right to dictate what I can do online.
As a subscriber to your service, I demand that your company guarantee that all Internet users are entitled to:

1. Access the Internet content of our choice;

2. Run online applications and services of our choice;

3. Connect our choice of devices; and

4. Have fair competition among network, application, service and content providers.

From its beginnings, the Internet was built on a cooperative, democratic ideal. Your only job as a network provider is to move data between users. You must not block or discriminate against any of the legal content and services available online.

A copy of this letter has been sent to my elected representatives in Washington to ensure that Congress and the FCC work to put enforceable network neutrality principles into our telecommunications laws and regulations.

(Your comment here)


(Your name)
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Go on-site to sign on to this iniative. There are other articles of interest here as well. Check this site out and see if there are other petitions to sign.

Saundra Hummer
February 14th, 2006, 03:53 PM

Molly Ivins
02.14.06 Creators Syndicate

Dick Cheney goes hunting
Accident or not, Cheney's responsible

AUSTIN, Texas — Of course the jokes are flying all over Texas — what's the fine for shooting a lawyer? — and so forth. Dick-Cheney-shooting-Harry-Whittington is fraught, as they say, with irony. It's not as though the ground in Texas is littered with liberal Republicans. I think the vice president winged the only one we've got.
Not that I accuse Harry Whittington of being an actual liberal — only by Texas Republican standards, and that sets the bar about the height of a matchbook. Nevertheless, Whittington is seriously civilized, particularly on the issues of crime, punishment and prisons. He served on both the Texas Board of Corrections and on the bonding authority that builds prisons. As he has often said, prisons do not curb crime, they are hothouses for crime: "Prisons are to crime what greenhouses are to plants."

In the day, whenever there was an especially bad case of new-ignoramus-in-the-legislature — a "lock 'em all up and throw away the key" type — the senior members used to send the prison-happy, tuff-on-crime neophyte to see Harry Whittington, a Republican after all, for a little basic education on the cost of prisons.

When Whittington was the chairman of Texas Public Finance Authority, he had a devastating set of numbers on the demand for more, more, more prison beds. As Whittington was wont to point out, the only thing prisons are good for is segregating violent people from the rest of society, and most of them belong in psychiatric hospitals to begin with. The severity of sentences has no effect on crime.

Texas still keeps the nonviolent, the retarded, senior citizens, etc. locked up for ridiculous periods — all at taxpayer expense. If we could ever get to where we spend as much per pupil on education as we do per prisoner, this state would take off like a rocket. In 2003, we spend nearly $15,000 per prisoner, while average per-pupil spending was just over $8,000.

I am not trying to make a big deal out of a simple hunting accident for partisan purposes — just thought it was a good chance to pay tribute to old Harry, a thoroughly decent man. However, I was offended by the never-our-fault White House spin team. Cheney adviser Mary Matalin said of her boss, "He was not careless or incautious (and did not) violate any of the (rules). He didn't do anything he wasn't supposed to do." Of course he did, Ms. Matalin, he shot Harry Whittington.

Which brings us to one of the many paradoxes of the Bush administration, which claims to be creating "the responsibility society." It's hard to think of a crowd less likely to take responsibility for anything they have done or not done than this bunch. They're certainly good at preaching responsibility to others — and blaming other people for everything that goes wrong on their watch.

Of course the Cheney shooting was an accident.

But is it an accident if your home and your life are destroyed by the flood following a hurricane? Especially if the flood was caused by failed levees, a government responsibility?

Is it an accident if you are born with a clubfoot and your parents are too poor to pay for the operation to fix it? Is there any societal responsibility in such a case?

Is it an accident when your manufacturing job gets shipped overseas and all you can find to replace it is a low- wage job at the big-box store with no health insurance, and your kid breaks his leg, and you can't pay the bill, so you have to declare bankruptcy under a new law that leaves you broke for good, with no chance of ever getting out of debt? Or was all of that caused by deliberate government policy?

Cheney is much given to lecturing us about taking responsibility. When and where does societal responsibility come in?

Cheney has a curious, shifting history on issues of blame and responsibility. He was vice chair of the congressional committee that spent 11 months investigating the Iran-Contra affair and author of its minority report. As John W. Dean highlights in a recent essay, the 500-page majority report concluded the entire affair "was characterized by pervasive dishonesty and inordinate secrecy." But Cheney's report said the Reagan administration's repeated breaking of the law were "mistakes ... were just that — mistakes in judgment and nothing more."

Those of you who saw Cheney's interview with Jim Lehrer last week may recall the passage on Darfur that ended with this:

Lehrer: "It's still happening. There are now 2 million people homeless."

Cheney: "Still happening, correct."

Lehrer: "Hundreds of thousands of people have died, and — so you're satisfied the U.S. is doing everything it can do?"

Cheney: "I am satisfied we're doing everything we can do."

His head still tilts over more to the right when he lies. Read more in the Molly Ivins archive .

Molly Ivins is the former editor of the liberal monthly The Texas Observer. She is the bestselling author of several books including Who Let the Dogs In


Saundra Hummer
February 14th, 2006, 05:07 PM
Tomgram: A Permanent Basis for Withdrawal?

Can You Say "Permanent Bases"?
The American Press Can't

By Tom Engelhardt

We're in a new period in the war in Iraq -- one that brings to mind the Nixonian era of "Vietnamization": A President presiding over an increasingly unpopular war that won't end; an election bearing down; the need to placate a restive American public; and an army under so much strain that it seems to be running off the rails. So it's not surprising that the media is now reporting on administration plans for, or "speculation" about, or "signs of," or "hints" of "major draw-downs" or withdrawals of American troops. The figure regularly cited these days is less than 100,000 troops in Iraq by the end of 2006. With about 136,000 American troops there now, that figure would represent just over one-quarter of all in-country U.S. forces, which means, of course, that the term "major" certainly rests in the eye of the beholder.

In addition, these withdrawals are -- we know this thanks to a Seymour Hersh piece, Up in the Air, in the December 5th New Yorker -- to be accompanied, as in South Vietnam in the Nixon era, by an unleashing of the U.S. Air Force. The added air power is meant to compensate for any lost punch on the ground (and will undoubtedly lead to more "collateral damage" -- that is, Iraqi deaths).

It is important to note that all promises of drawdowns or withdrawals are invariably linked to the dubious proposition that the Bush administration can "stand up" an effective Iraqi army and police force (think "Vietnamization" again), capable of circumscribing the Sunni insurgency and so allowing American troops to pull back to bases outside major urban areas, as well as to Kuwait and points as far west as the United States. Further, all administration or military withdrawal promises prove to be well hedged with caveats and obvious loopholes, phrases like "if all goes according to plan and security improves..." or "it also depends on the ability of the Iraqis to..."

Since guerrilla attacks have actually been on the rise and the delivery of the basic amenities of modern civilization (electrical power, potable water, gas for cars, functional sewage systems, working traffic lights, and so on) on the decline, since the very establishment of a government inside the heavily fortified Green Zone has proved immensely difficult, and since U.S. reconstruction funds (those that haven't already disappeared down one clogged drain or another) are drying up, such partial withdrawals may prove more complicated to pull off than imagined. It's clear, nonetheless, that "withdrawal" is on the propaganda agenda of an administration heading into mid-term elections with an increasingly skittish Republican Party in tow and congressional candidates worried about defending the President's mission-unaccomplished war of choice. Under the circumstances, we can expect more hints of, followed by promises of, followed by announcements of "major" withdrawals, possibly including news in the fall election season of even more "massive" withdrawals slated for the end of 2006 or early 2007, all hedged with conditional clauses and "only ifs" -- withdrawal promises that, once the election is over, this administration would undoubtedly feel under no particular obligation to fulfill.

Assuming, then, a near year to come of withdrawal buzz, speculation, and even a media blitz of withdrawal announcements, the question is: How can anybody tell if the Bush administration is actually withdrawing from Iraq or not? Sometimes, when trying to cut through a veritable fog of misinformation and disinformation, it helps to focus on something concrete. In the case of Iraq, nothing could be more concrete -- though less generally discussed in our media -- than the set of enormous bases the Pentagon has long been building in that country. Quite literally multi-billions of dollars have gone into them. In a prestigious engineering magazine in late 2003, Lt. Col. David Holt, the Army engineer "tasked with facilities development" in Iraq, was already speaking proudly of several billion dollars being sunk into base construction ("the numbers are staggering"). Since then, the base-building has been massive and ongoing.

In a country in such startling disarray, these bases, with some of the most expensive and advanced communications systems on the planet, are like vast spaceships that have landed from another solar system. Representing a staggering investment of resources, effort, and geostrategic dreaming, they are the unlikeliest places for the Bush administration to hand over willingly to even the friendliest of Iraqi governments.

If, as just about every expert agrees, Bush-style reconstruction has failed dismally in Iraq, thanks to thievery, knavery, and sheer incompetence, and is now essentially ending, it has been a raging success in Iraq's "Little America." For the first time, we have actual descriptions of a couple of the "super-bases" built in Iraq in the last two and a half years and, despite being written by reporters under Pentagon information restrictions, they are sobering. Thomas Ricks of the Washington Post paid a visit to Balad Air Base, the largest American base in the country, 68 kilometers north of Baghdad and "smack in the middle of the most hostile part of Iraq." In a piece entitled Biggest Base in Iraq Has Small-Town Feel, Ricks paints a striking portrait:

The base is sizeable enough to have its own "neighborhoods" including "KBR-land" (in honor of the Halliburton subsidiary that has done most of the base-construction work in Iraq); "CJSOTF" ("home to a special operations unit," the Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force, surrounded by "especially high walls," and so secretive that even the base Army public affairs chief has never been inside); and a junkyard for bombed out Army Humvees. There is as well a Subway, a Pizza Hut, a Popeye's, "an ersatz Starbucks," a 24-hour Burger King, two post exchanges where TVs, iPods, and the like can be purchased, four mess halls, a hospital, a strictly enforced on-base speed limit of 10 MPH, a huge airstrip, 250 aircraft (helicopters and predator drones included), air-traffic pile-ups of a sort you would see over Chicago's O'Hare airport, and "a miniature golf course, which mimics a battlefield with its baby sandbags, little Jersey barriers, strands of concertina wire and, down at the end of the course, what appears to be a tiny detainee cage."

Ricks reports that the 20,000 troops stationed at Balad live in "air-conditioned containers" which will, in the future -- and yes, for those building these bases, there still is a future -- be wired "to bring the troops Internet, cable television and overseas telephone access." He points out as well that, of the troops at Balad, "only several hundred have jobs that take them off base. Most Americans posted here never interact with an Iraqi."

Recently, Oliver Poole, a British reporter, visited another of the American "super-bases," the still-under-construction al-Asad Airbase (Football and pizza point to US staying for long haul). He observes, of "the biggest Marine camp in western Anbar province," that "this stretch of desert increasingly resembles a slice of US suburbia." In addition to the requisite Subway and pizza outlets, there is a football field, a Hertz rent-a-car office, a swimming pool, and a movie theater showing the latest flicks. Al-Asad is so large -- such bases may cover 15-20 square miles -- that it has two bus routes and, if not traffic lights, at least red stop signs at all intersections.

There are at least four such "super-bases" in Iraq, none of which have anything to do with "withdrawal" from that country. Quite the contrary, these bases are being constructed as little American islands of eternal order in an anarchic sea. Whatever top administration officials and military commanders say -- and they always deny that we seek "permanent" bases in Iraq -– facts-on-the-ground speak with another voice entirely. These bases practically scream "permanency."

Unfortunately, there's a problem here. American reporters adhere to a simple rule: The words "permanent," "bases," and "Iraq" should never be placed in the same sentence, not even in the same paragraph; in fact, not even in the same news report. While a LexisNexis search of the last 90 days of press coverage of Iraq produced a number of examples of the use of those three words in the British press, the only U.S. examples that could be found occurred when 80% of Iraqis (obviously somewhat unhinged by their difficult lives) insisted in a poll that the United States might indeed desire to establish bases and remain permanently in their country; or when "no" or "not" was added to the mix via any American official denial. (It's strange, isn't it, that such bases, imposing as they are, generally only exist in our papers in the negative.) Three examples will do:

The Secretary of Defense: ""During a visit with U.S. troops in Fallujah on Christmas Day, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said ‘at the moment there are no plans for permanent bases' in Iraq. ‘It is a subject that has not even been discussed with the Iraqi government.'"

Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmett, the Central Command deputy commander for planning and strategy in Iraq: "We already have handed over significant chunks of territory to the Iraqis. Those are not simply plans to do so; they are being executed right now. It is not only our plan but our policy that we do not intend to have any permanent bases in Iraq."

Karen Hughes on the Charlie Rose Show: "CHARLIE ROSE: …they think we are still there for the oil, or they think the United States wants permanent bases. Does the United States want permanent bases in Iraq? KAREN HUGHES: We want nothing more than to bring our men and women in uniform home. As soon as possible, but not before they finish the job. CHARLIE ROSE: And do not want to keep bases there? KAREN HUGHES: No, we want to bring our people home as soon as possible."

Still, for a period, the Pentagon practiced something closer to truth in advertising than did our major papers. At least, they called the big bases in Iraq "enduring camps," a label which had a certain charm and reeked of permanency. (Later, they were later relabeled, far less romantically, "contingency operating bases.")

One of the enduring mysteries of this war is that reporting on our bases in Iraq has been almost nonexistent these last years, especially given an administration so weighted toward military solutions to global problems; especially given the heft of some of the bases; especially given the fact that the Pentagon was mothballing our bases in Saudi Arabia and saw these as long-term substitutes; especially given the fact that the neocons and other top administration officials were so focused on controlling the so-called arc of instability (basically, the energy heartlands of the planet) at whose center was Iraq; and especially given the fact that Pentagon pre-war planning for such "enduring camps" was, briefly, a front-page story in a major newspaper.

A little history may be in order here:

On April 19, 2003, soon after Baghdad fell to American troops, reporters Thom Shanker and Eric Schmitt wrote a front-page piece for the New York Times indicating that the Pentagon was planning to "maintain" four bases in Iraq for the long haul, though "there will probably never be an announcement of permanent stationing of troops." Rather than speak of "permanent bases," the military preferred then to speak coyly of "permanent access" to Iraq. The bases, however, fit snugly with other Pentagon plans, already on the drawing boards. For instance, Saddam's 400,000 man military was to be replaced by only a 40,000 man, lightly armed military without significant armor or an air force. (In an otherwise heavily armed region, this insured that any Iraqi government would be almost totally reliant on the American military and that the U.S. Air Force would, by default, be the Iraqi Air Force for years to come.) While much space in our papers has, of late, been devoted to the administration's lack of postwar planning, next to no interest has been shown in the planning that did take place.

At a press conference a few days after the Shanker and Schmitt piece appeared, Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld insisted that the U.S. was "unlikely to seek any permanent or ‘long-term' bases in Iraq" -- and that was that. The Times' piece was essentially sent down the memory hole. While scads of bases were being built -- including four huge ones whose geographic placement correlated fairly strikingly with the four mentioned in the Times article -- reports about U.S. bases in Iraq, or any Pentagon planning in relation to them, largely disappeared from the American media. (With rare exceptions, you could only find discussions of "permanent bases" in these last years at Internet sites like Tomdispatch or Global Security.org.)

In May 2005, however, Bradley Graham of the Washington Post reported that we had 106 bases, ranging from mega to micro in Iraq. Most of these were to be given back to the Iraqi military, now being "stood up" as a far larger force than originally imagined by Pentagon planners, leaving the U.S. with, Graham reported, just the number of bases -- 4 -- that the Times first mentioned over two years earlier, including Balad Air Base and the base Poole visited in western Anbar Province. This reduction was presented not as a fulfillment of original Pentagon thinking, but as a "withdrawal plan." (A modest number of these bases have since been turned over to the Iraqis, including one in Tikrit transferred to Iraqi military units which, according to Poole, promptly stripped it to the bone.)

The future of a fifth base -- the enormous Camp Victory at Baghdad International Airport -- remains, as far as we know, "unresolved"; and there is a sixth possible "permanent super-base" being built in that country, though never presented as such. The Bush administration is sinking between $600 million and $1 billion in construction funds into a new U.S. embassy. It is to arise in Baghdad's Green Zone on a plot of land along the Tigris River that is reportedly two-thirds the area of the National Mall in Washington, DC. The plans for this "embassy" are almost mythic in nature. A high-tech complex, it is to have "15ft blast walls and ground-to-air missiles" for protection as well as bunkers to guard against air attacks. It will, according to Chris Hughes, security correspondent for the British Daily Mirror, include "as many as 300 houses for consular and military officials" and a "large-scale barracks" for Marines. The "compound" will be a cluster of at least 21 buildings, assumedly nearly self-sufficient, including "a gym, swimming pool, barber and beauty shops, a food court and a commissary. Water, electricity and sewage treatment plants will all be independent from Baghdad's city utilities." It is being billed as "more secure than the Pentagon" (not, perhaps, the most reassuring tagline in the post-9/11 world). If not quite a city-state, on completion it will resemble an embassy-state. In essence, inside Baghdad's Green Zone, we will be building another more heavily fortified little Green Zone.

Even Tony Blair's Brits, part of our unraveling, ever-shrinking "coalition of the willing" in Iraq, are reported by Brian Brady of the Scotsman (Revealed: secret plan to keep UK troops permanently in Iraq) to be bargaining for a tiny permanent base -- sorry a base "for years to come" -- near Basra in southern Iraq, thus mimicking American "withdrawal" strategy on the micro-scale that befits a junior partner.

As Juan Cole has pointed out at his Informed Comment blog, the Pentagon can plan for "endurance" in Iraq forever and a day, while top Bush officials and neocons, some now in exile, can continue to dream of a permanent set of bases in the deserts of Iraq that would control the energy heartlands of the planet. None of that will, however, make such bases any more "permanent" than their enormous Vietnam-era predecessors at places like Danang and Cam Rahn Bay proved to be -- not certainly if the Shiites decide they want us gone or Ayatollah Sistani (as Cole points out) were to issue a fatwa against such bases.

Nonetheless, the thought of permanency matters. Since the invasion of Saddam's Iraq, those bases -- call them what you will -- have been at the heart of the Bush administration's "reconstruction" of the country. To this day, those Little Americas, with their KBR-lands, their Pizza Huts, their stop signs, and their miniature golf courses remain at the secret heart of Bush administration "reconstruction" policy. As long as KBR keeps building them, making their facilities ever more enduring (and ever more valuable), there can be no genuine "withdrawal" from Iraq, nor even an intention of doing so. Right now, despite the recent visits of a couple of reporters, those super-bases remain enswathed in a kind of policy silence. The Bush administration does not discuss them (other than to deny their permanency from time to time). No presidential speeches deal with them. No plans for them are debated in Congress. The opposition Democrats generally ignore them and the press -- with the exception of the odd columnist -- won't even put the words "base," "permanent," and "Iraq" in the same paragraph.

It may be hard to do, given the skimpy coverage, but keep your eyes directed at our "super-bases." Until the administration blinks on them, there will be no withdrawal from Iraq.

Tom Engelhardt, who runs the Nation Institute's Tomdispatch.com ("a regular antidote to the mainstream media"), is the co-founder of the American Empire Project and the author of The End of Victory Culture, a history of American triumphalism in the Cold War. His novel, The Last Days of Publishing, has recently come out in paperback.

Copyright 2006 Tom Engelhardt



This lets us know a lot, and it is how it is.

I remember last week hearing about how so many men and women in the service were being brought home, however, but, and you just have to know, that National Guard Units from here in the Pacific Northwest are being sent over, even public school principals are being sent. That used to be a deferral, wasn't it? No, there will be no abandoment of the PNAC, it's right on track all but for the insurgency, and with that, regardless of the job having been so bungled, GW is standing firm, Dick Cheney has his jaw set, and the trio of he, Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz are seeing that GW "Stays the Course." Such a deal!

Saundra Hummer
February 14th, 2006, 05:50 PM


Weldon: 'Able Danger' ID'd 9/ll Ringleader

Associated Press Writer
58 minutes ago

WASHINGTON - Pre-Sept. 11 intelligence conducted by a secret military unit identified terrorist ringleader Mohamed Atta 13 different times, a congressman said Tuesday.

During a Capitol Hill news conference, Rep. Curt Weldon (news, bio, voting record), R-Pa., said the unit — code-named "Able Danger" — also identified "a problem" in Yemen two weeks before the attack on the USS Cole. It knew the problem was tied into the port of Aden and involved a U.S. platform, but the ship commander was not made aware of it, Weldon said.

The suicide bombing of the Cole killed 17 sailors on Oct. 12, 2000.

If anyone had told the Cole's commander that there was any indication of a problem in Aden, "he would not have gone there," Weldon told reporters. "He had no clue."

Weldon would not say who provided evidence of such intelligence to him.

Since August, Weldon, vice chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, has pushed Congress and the Pentagon to investigate the workings of Able Danger, which used data mining to identify links that might indicate the workings of terrorists. If he is correct, it would change the timeline for when government officials first became aware of Atta's links to al-Qaida.

Former members of the Sept. 11 commission have dismissed Weldon's findings.

Cmdr. Greg Hicks, a Pentagon spokesman, released a statement saying that Pentagon officials welcome the opportunity to address these issues during a hearing scheduled Wednesday before a subcommittee of the House


Saundra Hummer
February 14th, 2006, 05:56 PM
Irresponsible Rhetoric, Again

Sunday, February 12, 2006;
Page B06

AMERICANS, OFTEN cynical about their political institutions and often for good reason, had cause last week to feel pretty good about their national legislature. On some tough policy challenges, Congress debated with seriousness, patriotism and some measure of bipartisanship. Senators came up with a compromise on the USA Patriot Act that, while not entirely satisfying to most, preserved the police powers the government says it needs while extending a bit more protection to civil liberties. They turned back an early effort to quash an asbestos relief bill that would replace a dysfunctional court process with a system designed to give sufferers of asbestos-related disease a real chance at relief. And senators and House members alike began exploring ways to evaluate President Bush's extralegal program of domestic surveillance and preserve the useful parts of it in a defensible legal framework.

So you might think this was what Vice President Cheney had in mind when he told a Republican crowd on Thursday night, in reference to the surveillance program, that "a debate is now underway. At the very least, this debate has clarified where all of us stand on the issue."

Unfortunately, though, Mr. Cheney wasn't celebrating the reasoned process that Congress belatedly has embarked on. Instead he was engaging in the administration's tired practice of trying to choke off debate by suggesting that anyone who disagrees with President Bush basically doesn't want to fight the war on terrorism. Some Democrats have their own brand of irresponsible rhetoric when it comes to criticizing the president's policies. But the administration has patented the practice of taking a complicated policy issue and turning it into a club for the coming campaign: "And with an important election coming up, people need to know just how we view the most critical questions of national security, and how we propose to defend the nation that all of us, Republicans and Democrats, love and are privileged to serve," Mr. Cheney told a cheering crowd at the Conservative Political Action Conference. "As always, the president has made his thinking absolutely clear to the citizens of this land: If there are people inside our country talking with al Qaeda, we want to know about it, because we will not sit back and wait to be hit again."

This might be a fair gibe if Mr. Cheney's political opponents were against knowing who's talking with al Qaeda. But they're not. Both the Democrats whom the vice president caricatures, and the Republicans who he does not acknowledge also have doubts about the program, support responsible surveillance policies. They are looking for ways to allow surveillance to take place within the boundaries of the Constitution -- which ultimately would strengthen the defense and law enforcement value of any overheard conversations. They may not succeed, and the bipartisan good sense in evidence this week may not last. But we hope they won't be deterred by the vice president's mischaracterization of what's happening.



Saundra Hummer
February 14th, 2006, 07:23 PM
" The purpose of commercial [media] is to induce mass sales. For mass sales there must be a mass norm ... By suppressing the individual, the unique, the industry ... assures itself a standard product for mass consumption.": John Whiting, writer, commenting on the homogenization of corporate media program content

"One of the intentions of corporate-controlled media is to instill in people a sense of disempowerment, of immobilization and paralysis. Its outcome is to turn you into good consumers. It is to keep people isolated, to feel that there is no possibility for social change.": David Barsamian, journalist and publisher

" When everyone is thinking the same, no one is thinking.": John Wooden


Saundra Hummer
February 14th, 2006, 07:52 PM

Americans think Iran may use nukes
By United Press International

02/14/06 (UPI) -- A USA Today-CNN-Gallup Poll says Americans not only think Iran will develop nuclear weapons but also use them against the United States.

The poll done over the last weekend also says Americans fear the Bush administration will be "too quick" to order military action against Iran, USA Today reported Tuesday.

The poll said eight out of 10 respondents predicted Iran would provide a nuclear weapon to terrorists to attack the United States or Israel. Six out of 10 respondents said Iran itself would deploy nuclear weapons against the United States.

On Prophet Mohammed cartoons, six out of 10 said the European newspapers that published them acted irresponsibly. But, by a 3-to-1 margin, they blamed the resulting furor on Muslims' intolerance of different points of views, the newspaper said.

The poll said 55 percent showed lack of confidence in the administration's ability to handle the situation in Iran.

President Bush's approval rating dipped to 39 percent, showing the State of the Union address and other subsequent speeches did not help lift the president's ratings.

The majority of the respondents (55 percent) also said the war in Iraq was a mistake. Only 31 percent, the lowest so far, believed the United States and its allies are winning in Iraq.]

© Copyright 2006 United Press International, Inc


Saundra Hummer
February 14th, 2006, 08:04 PM



The American Turkey Is Dead

By Mary Pitt

02/14/06 "ICH" -- -- That's right, Buster, I said dead. Our national symbol of peace, prosperity, and plentitude has been slaughtered, cooked and the multi-national ghouls are fighting for the rights to pick its bones! When the rank-and-file American voter rubs the propaganda-induced sleep from his eyes, he will realize that his freedoms are gone, his patriotism is misplaced, and the two buzzards, Democrat and Republican, are picking the lint from his empty pockets. After bellying up to the bar, buying rounds for our Fearless Leaders, and cheering as our children marched off to their death and dismemberment, we are awaking to find that we have been duped, raped, rolled, and left for dead by both political parties in an act of shameful betrayal that will equal the Fall of Rome in its historical aspect.

Think about it. If you aren't mad as hell, you have not yet opened your eyes. Not only has this administration sold you out to the multi-national corporations with their mantra of, "They hate us! They want to kill us!", but they have given lip service to the cause of "democracy" for the Middle East, whether they want it or not, while they cannot accept true democracy when it rears its head, but must pounce upon and destroy it in its nest. At long last, after too many years of the iron-fisted control of Yasser Arafat, the Palestinian people have exercised their inherent rights to self-determination and held a truly democratic election under international supervision. However, their choice is not sitting well with the powers-that-be in Washington and Jerusalem. They have determined that the Palestinian people do not really deserve democracy and their choices must be negated by withholding of funds necessary to rule that beleaguered land.

On the same day we learn of this, news comes out of Ohio that the Dread "Democratic Leadership Council" has again denied the people the right to vote for the candidate of their choice. Many of us are still smarting over the debacle of 2004 when "the people" found several of the political candidates in the field who would satisfy our purpose of supporting someone who would be concerned for our welfare and for whom enough of us could in good conscience assist in their task of booting Bush & Co, out of our once-revered White House. This was not to be, as the DLC and other power groups designated the nomination of John Kerry as "their" candidate, causing many disillusioned Americans to stay away from the polls in droves.

The story of the day which may be enough to cause the long-awaited uprising of the American voters just may be the betrayal of a returned veteran of the War of Choice, Paul Hackett. In 2004, he scared hell out of the Republicans with his campaign of the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. His exposure of the lies of the Bush cabal led the people of his district in Ohio, a traditionally strong Republican district, to vote "across party lines" in numbers that almost unseated the entrenched Republican. This year he was attempting to gain the Democratic mandate and to unseat "good Republican" Senator Mike DeWine, and his chances looked good. But no! As usual the Democratic Party could not stand even the faint scent of victory! They went to Ohio and asked Paul Hackett to abandon his cause and step out of the race so that their hand-picked candidate could have a clear field against the senator!

Thus end the political efforts of a true American who would represent The People and tell the voters the naked truth, that THE EMPEROR HAS NO CLOTHES! We should be forewarned that this will be the fate of any honest person who tries to run for office within the two-party system in our nation, to be dumped by the very people who claim to represent us and to exemplify our needs and our desires. They are as power-hungry if not as dishonest as their counterparts in the other party and their watchword is to WIN, by whatever method they think may succeed and the people be damned.

What are we who really care about true democracy and have not given up the hope of reinstituting the system in our beloved nation to do? We must cast aside the worn-out mantle of political designation and vote together as Americans, voting in-party, out-of- party, and without regard to party, banding together in support of truth-seekers and truth-tellers, regardless of party, solidifying our support into the juggernaut that will be needed to remove the corruption at the heads of both parties before they totally destroy us. Stop the splintering of effort through numerous third parties with minor agenda and vote for those who seek a true mandate of the people and promise to truly represent the poor, the ill, the elderly. and the middle-class working people who carry the burden of supporting the rest. Failure to do so will bring down our own democracy and destroy any opportunity to construct another, following the Roman Empire into the dust of history.

If we do not have the intestinal fortitude to abandon our old habits and stand up for our rights as American citizens, the most important of which is the right to choose our own leaders, we may as well simply continue to blind ourselves with the idle chatter of the news headlines. "Did you hear that Dick Cheney shot a guy Saturday and nobody knew it until Monday?" "So what? That's what they do! They lie! They cheat! They cover up!" "So who ate the last of the turkey?"

Mary Pitt - - Email mpitt @ cox.net



Saundra Hummer
February 15th, 2006, 12:56 PM

Horrific New Torture Pictures ReleasedMORE photographs have been leaked of Iraqi citizens tortured by US soldiers at the notorious Abu Ghraib prison on the outskirts of Baghdad.


The pictures below should only be viewed by a mature AUDIENCE
See Also

The photos America doesn't want seen: : MORE photographs have been leaked of Iraqi citizens tortured by US soldiers at the notorious Abu Ghraib prison on the outskirts of Baghdad.

Go onsite to view, and to see other articles about this shameful torture situation. The British are also in a fix over a video which has be released of their troops beating teenage boys. I wonder if they are getting their troops from the ones who are into starting riots at soccer matches, it seems they relish in such behavior. What is our excuse for this sickness? SRH

There are two pages of photo's posted by Information Clearing House.info.


Saundra Hummer
February 15th, 2006, 01:07 PM

Hurricane Katrina; “National Failure” or Criminal Negligence

By Mike Whitney

02/14/06 "ICH" -- -- “I don’t think anyone anticipated the breach in the levees.” George Bush

The senate investigation of Hurricane Katrina is turning out to be another White House whitewash. The senate strategy has been to characterize the Bush administration’s response as “a national failure” or “bureaucratic bungling” when in fact the evidence proves that the top officials in the administration, including George Bush himself, are responsible for the deaths of hundreds of New Orleans residents.

Most of the relevant facts are not in dispute. Bush was advised by experts before the hurricane touched ground that even a Force-4 storm would breach the levees. He knew, as the New York Times says, “If the levies breached and flooded a large portion of the city, then the flooded city would have to be completely evacuated….Any delay in confirming the breaches would result in a delay in the post-landfall evacuation of the city”. Clearly, the evacuation should have been ordered, unless there was some hidden motive for leaving the city’s people in imminent danger.

We know now that Bush was told on Aug 29, the day the storm hit, that “a major section of the 17th Street Canal levee had collapsed” and was flooding the city, although, at the same time, he was still misleading reporters that the levees had held. (“We dodged a bullet”)

The media has papered-over Bush’s refusal to respond to the disaster by implying the administration was merely “slow to react” or “in a fog” or “not fully involved”. But how likely are these assertions?

Bush and his FEMA director, Michael Chertoff, completely grasped the urgency of the catastrophe, and yet, stubbornly refused to disperse funds, deploy troops, or call for an immediate evacuation.


That may be an impossible question to answer without engaging in unproductive conspiracy theories. But, we know that the administration was still pleading ignorance about the broken levees while an 8 ft river was coursing through New Orleans.

The senate investigation attempts to spread the blame equally to state and local officials and excuse the conduct of the Bush administration as a “litany of mistakes, misjudgments, lapses, and absurdities.” This theory, of course, conflicts with everything that people remember about the withholding of aid, the willful obstruction of the relief effort, and the racist imprisoning of poor black residents in the squalid-confines of the Superdome.

Once again, we see that the media narrative closely matches the political agenda of the Bush White House obfuscating the widely-acknowledged facts. Katrina was not “a failure of imagination” as the media would have us believe. Rather, it was a blatant act of criminal negligence.

How could it be otherwise?

“FEMA was warned that a hurricane striking New Orleans was one of the three most likely disasters in the US (in a 2001 report But the Bush administration cut New Orleans flood control by 44%”. (Sidney Blumenthal: “No one Can Say they didn’t see it coming”)

Bush consistently chopped funding to the Army Corps of Engineers as well as Federal Flood Control even though he was warned repeatedly that the levees were sinking. As Paul Krugman notes, “In 2002 the Army Corps of Engineers chief resigned, reportedly under threat of being fired, after he criticized the administration’s proposed cuts in the corps’ budget, including flood-control spending”.

FEMA Blocks Relief Effort

The media’s “failure of imagination” theory is an interesting bit of revisionism which conflicts with eyewitness testimony. Consider the comments of Mitchel Cohen in “People of the Dome”:

“The government, which could have and should have provided water and food to residents of New Orleans, has not done so intentionally to force people to evacuate by staring them out. This is a crime of the gravest sort.

We need to understand that the capability has been there from the start to drive water and food right up to the convention center, as those roads have been clear. It’s how the National Guard drove into the city.

On Wednesday a number of Greens tried to bring a large amount of water to the Superdome. They were prevented from doing so, as have many others. Why have food and water been blocked from reaching tens of thousands of poor people?

They even refused to allow voluntary workers who had rescued over 1,000 people in boats over the previous days to continue on Thursday….and had to be “convinced” at gunpoint to “cease and desist”. There is something sinister going down….its not just incompetence or negligence.”

Cohen’s reflections are undoubtedly closer to what most people remember of those first few days following the hurricane than those of the senate. The fantastic claim that the Bush administration was simply “slow to respond” was effectively challenged by Aaron Broussard, President of Jefferson Parish LA in his Sept 4, testimony on Meet the Press:

“We have been abandoned by our own country. Hurricane Katrina will go down in history as one of the worst storms to ever hit an American coast, but the aftermath of Katrina will go down as one of the worst abandonments of Americans on American soil ever in US history.

We had Wal-Mart deliver 3 trucks of water, trailer trucks of water. FEMA turned them back. They said we didn’t need them. FEMA had 1,000 gallons of diesel fuel on a Coast Guard vessel docked in my parish. The Coast Guard said, “Come and get the fuel right away.” When we got there with our trucks, they got a word. “FEMA says don’t give you the fuel”. Yesterday…yesterday…FEMA comes in and cuts all of our emergency communication lines. They cut them without notice. Our sheriff, Harry Lee, goes back in, he reconnects the line. He posts armed guards on our line and says, “No one is getting near those lines.”

Still think that Katrina was “a failure of imagination”?

Farhad Manjoo of Salon.com reported, “Citing security concerns, the Department of Homeland Security barred the American Red Cross from entering New Orleans with food. 500 Floridian air-boaters were ready to rescue people stranded in inundated homes, but FEMA turned them down”.

Still not convinced?

“The Homeland security Department has requested and continues to request that the Red Cross not come back to New Orleans,” said Renita Hosler, spokeswoman for the Red Cross. “Right now access is controlled by the National Guard and local authorities. We have been at the table every single day. We cannot get into New Orleans against their orders.” (Homeland Security won’t let Red Cross deliver Food, Ann Rogers, Pittsburg Post-Gazette)

Bush was not “misinformed” nor was the “White House in a fog” as the media insists. The evidence clearly demonstrates that the warnings were deliberately delayed, aid was deliberately obstructed, rescue-efforts were deliberately sabotaged, and the entire action was part of a broader government operation to achieve an “unknown” objective.

Some have suggested that FEMA has been transformed under Homeland Security and operates as a secret government “spending 12 times more for ‘black operations’ than for disaster relief. It spent $1.3 billion building secret bunkers throughout the United States in anticipation of government disruption by foreign or domestic upheaval.” (FEMA-The Secret Government, by Harry V. Martin)

Under executive orders, in the event of a national emergency, FEMA now has the ability to suspend the constitution, detain American citizens, and declare martial law. It is therefore entirely possible that FEMA no longer functions as a disaster-relief agency at all, but, has been recalibrated to address the problems that may arise from massive civil unrest following a terrorist attack or (more likely) an economic meltdown. (Note: A contract was just issued by Homeland Security to Halliburton subsidiary, KBR, for $385 million to build detention Centers within the United States. Someone in the Bush administration is definitely expecting trouble.)

Whatever the reasons may have been for obstructing the relief-effort, the results are painfully obvious. The unprepared were left to die in the flood, the poor and black were shunted into filthy detention centers, and the city was transformed into a war-zone replete with armored vehicles and 70,000 military personnel roaming the streets.

The men and women who lost their lives in New Orleans were not the victims of a “dysfunctional reaction to the storm” (NY Times) or of a “sluggish response” (Wa Post) from the administration. Rather, they are the blameless victims of a government strategy that is as abstruse as it is lethal.

Many of the facts for this article were found at “BushCo. Nukes New Orleans” http://crimesofthestate.blogspot.com/2005/09/bushco-nukes-new-orleans.html a great resource for details on Katrina



Saundra Hummer
February 15th, 2006, 01:18 PM

Who Will Blow the Whistle Before We Attack Iran?
By Ray McGovern

02/14/06 "ICH" -- -- The question looms large against the backdrop of the hearing on whistle blowing scheduled for the afternoon of Feb. 14 by Christopher Shays, chair of the House Subcommittee on National Security, Emerging Threats and International Relations. Among those testifying are Russell Tice, one of the sources who exposed illegal eavesdropping by the National Security Agency, and Army Sgt. Sam Provance, who told his superiors of the torture he witnessed at Abu Graib, got no satisfaction, and felt it his duty to go public. It will not be your usual hearing.

I had the privilege of being present at the creation of the international Truth-Telling Coalition on Sept. 9, 2004 and of working with Daniel Ellsberg in drafting the coalition’s Appeal to Current Government Officials [ http://tompaine.com/Archive/others/appeal_for_truth_telling.php to put loyalty to the Constitution above career and to expose dishonesty leading to misadventures like the wars in Vietnam and Iraq. Whether or not encouragement from the Coalition played any role in subsequent disclosures, we are grateful for those responsible for the recent hemorrhaging of important information—from the “Downing Street Minutes” showing that by summer 2002 the Bush administration had decided to “fix” intelligence to “justify” war on Iraq, to disclosures regarding CIA kidnappings, secret prisons, and state-sponsored torture.

As former FBI translator Sibel Edmonds, who leads the National Security Whistleblowers Coalition, keeps reminding us, “Information is the oxygen of democracy.” And with this administration’s fetish for secrecy and our somnolent Fourth Estate, we would likely all suffocate without patriotic truth-tellers (aka whistleblowers).

Whistle Blowing and Vietnam
There are several times as many potential whistleblowers as there are actual ones. I regret that I never got out of the former category during the early stages of the Vietnam War, when I had a chance to try to stop it. I used to lunch periodically with my colleague Sam Adams, with whom I trained as a CIA analyst and who was given the task of assessing Vietnamese Communist strength early in the war. Sam proved himself the consummate analyst. Relying largely on captured documents, he concluded that there were twice as many Communists (about 600,000) under arms in the South as the US military there would admit to.

Adams learned from Army analysts that Gen. William Westmoreland had placed an artificial cap on the official Army count rather than risk questions regarding the prospects for “staying the course” (sound familiar?). It was a clash of cultures, with Army intelligence analysts following politically dictated orders, and Sam Adams aghast. In a cable dated Aug. 20, 1967 Westmoreland’s deputy, Gen. Creighton Abrams, set forth the rationale for the deception. The new, higher numbers, he said “were in sharp contrast to the current overall strength figure of about 299,000 given to the press.” Noting that, “We have been projecting an image of success over recent months,” Abrams cautioned that if the higher figures became public, “all available caveats and explanations will not prevent the press from drawing an erroneous and gloomy conclusion.”

When Sam’s superiors decided to acquiesce in the Army’s figures, Sam was livid. He told me the whole story over lunch, and I remember a long silence as each of us ruminated on what might be done. I recall thinking to myself, someone should take the Abrams cable down to the New York Times (at the time an independent newspaper). The only reason for the cable’s “SECRET EYES ONLY” classification was to hide the deception.

I adduced a slew of reasons why I ought not to: a plum overseas assignment for which I was in the final stages of language training; a mortgage; the ethos of secrecy; and, not least, the analytic work (which was important, exciting work, and which Sam and I both thrived on). One can, I suppose, always find reasons for not sticking one’s neck out. For the neck, after all, is a convenient connection between head and torso. But if there is nothing for which you would risk your neck, it has become your idol, and necks are not worthy of that. I much regret giving such worship to my own neck.

As for Sam, he chose to go through grievance channels and got the royal run-around, even after the Communist countrywide offensive at Tet in Jan.-Feb. 1968 proved beyond any doubt that his count of Communist forces was correct. When the offensive began, as a way of keeping his sanity, Adams drafted a cable saying, “It is something of anomaly to be taking so much punishment from Communist soldiers whose existence is not officially acknowledged.” But he did not think the situation at all funny.

Dan Ellsberg Steps In

Sam kept playing by the rules, but it happened that—unbeknownst to Sam—Dan Ellsberg gave Sam’s figures on enemy strength to the (then independent) New York Times, which published them on March 19, 1968. Dan had learned that President Lyndon Johnson was about to bow to Pentagon pressure to widen the war into Cambodia, Laos, and up to the Chinese border—perhaps even beyond. Later, it became clear that his timely leak—together with another unauthorized disclosure to the Times that the Pentagon had requested 206,000 more troops—prevented a wider war. On March 25, Johnson complained to a small gathering, “The leaks to the New York Times hurt us...We have no support for the war...I would have given Westy the 206,000 men.”

Ironically, Sam himself played by the rules; that is, until he learned that Dan Ellsberg was on trial for releasing the Pentagon Papers and was being charged with endangering national security by revealing figures on enemy strength. Which figures? The same old faked numbers from 1967! “Imagine,” said Adams, “hanging a man for leaking faked numbers,” as he hustled off to testify on Dan’s behalf.

Ellsberg, who copied and gave the Pentagon Papers—the 7,000-page top secret history of US decision making on Vietnam—to the New York Times and Washington Post, has had difficulty shaking off the thought that, had he released them in 1964 or 1965, war might have been averted.

“Like so many others, I put personal loyalty to the president above all else—above loyalty to the Constitution and above obligation to the law, to truth, to Americans, and to humankind. I was wrong.

And so was I, it now seems, in not asking Sam for that cable from Gen. Abrams. Sam, too, eventually had strong regrets. When the war drew down, he was tormented by the thought that, had he not let himself be diddled by the system, the left half of the Vietnam Memorial wall would not be there, for there would be no names to chisel into such a wall. Sam Adams died prematurely at age 55 with nagging remorse that he had not done enough.

In a letter appearing in the (then independent) New York Times on Oct. 18, 1975, John T. Moore, a CIA analyst who worked in Saigon and the Pentagon from 1965 to 1970, confirmed Adam’s story after Sam told it in detail in the May 1975 issue of Harper’s magazine:

“My only regret is that I did not have Sam’s courage...The record is clear. It speaks of misfeasance, nonfeasance and malfeasance, of outright dishonesty and professional cowardice. It reflects an intelligence community captured by an aging bureaucracy, which too often placed institutional self-interest or personal advancement before the national interest. It is a page of shame in the history of American intelligence.”

Next Challenge: Iran

Anyone who has been near a TV in recent weeks has heard the drumbeat for war on Iran. The best guess for timing is next month.

Let’s see if we cannot do better this time than we did on Iraq. Patriotic truth tellers, we need you! In an interview last year with US News and World Report, Republican Senator Chuck Hagel said that on Iraq, “The White House is completely disconnected from reality...It’s like they’re just making it up as they go along.”

Ditto for an adventure against Iran. But the juggernaut has begun to roll; the White House/FOX News/Washington Times spin machine is at full tilt. This is where whistleblowers come in. Some of you will have the equivalent of the Gen. Abrams cable, shedding light on what the Bush administration is up to beneath the spin. Those of you clued into Israeli plans and US intelligence support for them, might clue us in too. Don’t bother this time with the once-independent congressional oversight committees; you will have no protection, in any case, if you choose that route—CIA Director Porter Goss’ recent claims to the contrary notwithstanding. Nor should you bother with the once-independent New York Times. Find some other way; just be sure you get the truth out—information that will provide the oxygen for democracy.

Better Late Than Never?

Don’t wait until it’s too late—as Dan Ellsberg and Sam Adams did on Vietnam. Any number of people would have had a good chance of stopping the Iraq war, had they the courage to disclose publicly what they knew BEFORE it was launched.

One of them, Paul Pillar, was National Intelligence Officer for the Middle East from 2000 to 2005, and has just published an article in Foreign Affairs titled “Intelligence, Policy, and the War in Iraq.” It is an insider’s account of his tenure and the “disturbing developments” he witnessed on the job. In substance it tells us little more than what we have long since pieced together ourselves, but it provides welcome confirmation.

Sadly, Pillar speaks of the politicization of intelligence as though it were a bothersome headache rather than the debilitating cancer it is. Interviewed on NPR, he conceded without any evident embarrassment that, with respect to Iraq, “intelligence was not playing into a decision to be made. It was part of the effort to build support for the operation.” So, in the vernacular of Watergate, Pillar’s article is a “modified limited hangout,” in which he pulls many punches. Nowhere in Pillar’s 4,450 words, for example, appears the name of former CIA director George Tenet, whom he now joins at Georgetown University.

It should qualify as another “disturbing development” that Pillar parrots the administration’s default explanation for what drove it’s decision to topple Saddam; “namely, the desire to shake up the sclerotic power structures in the Middle East and hasten the spread of more liberal politics and economics in the region.” The word “oil” appears only once in Pillar’s article: “military bases” and “Israel” not at all. He splits hairs to be overly kind to former Secretary of State Colin Powell. “To be fair,” writes Pillar, “Secretary Powell’s presentation at the UN never explicitly asserted that there was a cooperative relationship between Saddam and al-Qaeda.” Pillar seem to have forgotten how Powell used that speech to play up “the potentially more sinister nexus between Iraq and the al-Qaeda terrorist network, a nexus that combines classic terrorist organizations and modern methods of murder,” and spoke of a “Saddam-bin Laden understanding going back to the early and mid-1990s.”

Truly Disturbing

Generally absent is any sense of the enormity of what the Bush administration has done and the urgent imperative to prevent a repeat performance. With no perceptible demurral from inside the government, George W. Bush launched a war of aggression, defined by the Nuremberg Tribunal as “the supreme international crime, differing from other war crimes only in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole”—like torture, for example.

If this doesn’t qualify for whistle blowing, what does? Let us hope that administration officials, or analysts—or both—will find the courage to speak out loudly, and early enough to prevent the “disconnected-from-reality” cabal in the Bush administration from getting us into an unnecessary war with Iran.

Ray McGovern works with Tell the Word, the publishing arm of the ecumenical Church of the Saviour in Washington, DC. A veteran of 27 years in the analysis division of the CIA, he now serves on the Steering Group of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS).

This article appeared first on Truthout.com.


Saundra Hummer
February 15th, 2006, 01:36 PM
Cheney's hunting host lobbied White House

Ranch owner who divulged accident earned $160,000 for work in 2004

By Aram Roston

NBC Investigative Unit02/14/06 "MSNBC" -- -- Katharine Armstrong, who's family owns the ranch where Vice President Dick Cheney accidentally shot a hunting partner, is a registered lobbyist who has been paid to lobby the White House, according to records.

Armstrong told NBC News in a telephone interview that she has never directly lobbied Cheney as far as she remembers.

"Never!" she said. And she says she does not remember directly lobbying the president himself either.
Armstrong was playing host to Cheney and to attorney Harry Whittington at her 50,000-acre spread 60 miles south of Corpus Christi when Cheney accidentally shot Whittington on Saturday. The White House did not immediately release news of the incident, but Armstrong said she told Cheney on Sunday morning that she was going to inform the local paper, the Corpus Christi Caller-Times. She said he agreed, and the newspaper reported it on its Web site Sunday afternoon.

Armstrong was paid $160,000 in 2004 by the powerful legal firm Baker Botts to lobby the White House, according to records she filed with the U.S. Senate as required by lobbying disclosure rules. The records indicate she was paid the money after she "communicated with the White House on behalf of Baker Botts clients."

Won't reveal client's name
In a phone interview, she told NBC News that in return for the money in one case, she set up a meeting at the White House for a Baker Botts client, although she said she felt she could not release the client’s name.

"A meeting for doing something with one of their clients," she said, describing the event. "I’m not at liberty to say which." She says she cannot remember which White House official the meeting was with. She also said that during the inauguration proceedings, she got Karl Rove to speak at a Baker Botts function. "I got them Karl Rove," she said.

Records indicate that early in 2005 she ended her dealings with Baker Botts.

In a subsequent interview, Armstrong told NBC News that Baker Botts asked her not to discuss what she did for the firm. Reached late Tuesday afternoon, Baker Botts had no comment on the story.

Records also indicate that early the same year she ended her lobbying relationship with another firm, Prionics, which had paid her to "work with the administration," on issues related to mad cow disease.

Bush shot at ranch while governor
Armstrong also told NBC News that while George W. Bush did shoot at her ranch while he was Texas governor, she has never hosted him while he was president.

Armstrong said the shooting accident happened toward the end of the hunt on Saturday, when it was still sunny but as darkness was encroaching and they were preparing to go inside. She said Whittington made a mistake by not announcing that he had walked up to rejoin the hunting line, and Cheney didn’t see him as he tried to down a bird.

Armstrong said she saw Cheney’s security detail running toward the scene. "The first thing that crossed my mind was he had a heart problem," she told The Associated Press.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


Saundra Hummer
February 15th, 2006, 02:11 PM
The Crucible of Censorship
February 14, 2006

When Fulton, Missouri school superintendent Dr. Mark Enderle recently decided to ban Arthur Miller’s “The Crucible,” which had been scheduled as Fulton High School’s spring play, he reminded me of the scared and dishonest executives at most major American media outlets (including NBC, CBS, NPR, CNN, USA Today, the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times and the Associated Press) and their collective decision to censor the controversial cartoon depictions of Mohammed.

Superintendent Enderle told the New York Times that “The Crucible” is “a fine play,” but he was nonetheless dropping it to keep the school from being “mired in controversy” all spring. “That was me in my worst Joe McCarthy moment, to some,” Dr. Enderle said.

You got that much right, Doc!

Dr. Enderle’s excuse was the small town culture war that erupted over the high school’s previous staging of the musical “Grease.” Despite script changes that eliminated profanity and any reference to something called “weed,” three people (all members of the same Christian congregation) wrote letters complaining about scenes in the play of drinking, smoking and kissing. One critic who hadn’t seen the show still criticized its “immoral behavior veiled behind the excuse of acting out a play.”

Canceling “The Crucible” was “entirely a preventative maintenance issue,” Dr. Enderle explained. “I can’t do anything about what’s already happened, but do I want to spend the spring saying, ‘Yeah, we crossed the line again’?”

To his credit, the superintendent admitted he was “not 100 percent comfortable” with his decision to censor. That’s a lot more than any of our major media gatekeepers are willing to admit. Instead, they are trumpeting their decisions not to show the cartoon images as if they find censorship something to be proud of. Check out their rationales:

• CNN “is not showing the negative caricatures of the likeness of the Prophet Mohammed” because the network “believes its role is to cover the events surrounding the publication of the cartoons while not unnecessarily adding fuel to the controversy itself.”

• USA Today editors “concluded that we could cover the issue comprehensively without republishing the cartoon, something clearly offensive to many Muslims.” Deputy world editor Jim Michaels declared, “It’s not censorship, self or otherwise.”

• New York Times editor Bill Keller said he and his staff concluded after “long and vigorous debate” that publishing the cartoons would be “perceived as a particularly deliberate insult” by Muslims. “Like any decision to withhold elements of a story, this was neither easy nor entirely satisfying, but it feels like the right thing to do,” Keller concluded.

• CBS Evening News producer Rome Hartman said refusing to run the cartoons “should not be seen as somehow sanctioning or kowtowing to a violent minority” since the vast majority of Muslims would find the depictions of Mohammed inherently offensive. (So CBS is kowtowing to all Muslims, not just the violent minority?)

• The Oregonian’s managing editor Therese Bottomly equated not running Muhammad cartoons with “avoiding the n-word… We have every right and an ability to publish the cartoons. But that doesn’t mean it’s the right thing to do.”

• Boston Globe executives announced they had “exercised an uncomfortable but necessary restraint;” the Washington Post’s ombudsman declared valid the paper’s decision “that publishing these cartoons would violate our standards;” the Seattle Times cited its “responsibility to be sensitive to people;” the Orlando Sentinel determined that “newspapers serve their communities by exercising restraint;” and the Minneapolis Star-Tribune’s reader representative summed it all up by invoking the hoary “Running the cartoons now is like shouting ‘fire’ in a theater” argument.

And so on…literally ad nauseum, because as a practicing journalist those apologias make me sick. At least Boston Phoenix editors were honest enough to admit that they were terrorized and feared “retaliation from the international brotherhood of radical and bloodthirsty Islamists who seek to impose their will on those who do not believe as they do.” Noting that they “believe in the principles of free speech and a free press,” they declined to “place the men and women who work at the Phoenix and its related companies in physical jeopardy” – one of the few worthy explanations among those who refused to show the cartoons.

The cartoon flap is admittedly among the most controversial and divisive ‘culture war’ issues since…what? Andres Serrano’s “Piss Christ"? The regular appearance in the Arab press of anti-Semitic caricatures of Jews with large hooked noses? Chris Ofili’s painting of the Virgin Mary smeared with elephant dung? Kanye West in a crown of thorns on the cover of Rolling Stone? Dan Brown’s virulently anti-Catholic novel “The Da Vinci Code” – soon to be a major motion picture?

Clearly the Mohammed cartoons draw immediate and highly emotional responses across a wide political and cultural spectrum. One piece I recently posted elicited hundreds of comments, most of which alternated between excessive praise:

“I want to bow down to you. I want to fucking worship you. With all the whining and spinelessness over this Mohammed drawing issue, I can’t tell you how happy I am to see (you) come down on the side of free speech”

and equally excessive calumny:

“I found your liberal comments disgusting and outrageous…How dare you say that depicting a creed in such a racist manner is acceptable? You are a sick and twisted neo liberal who is heartless and has no decency… YOU PHONEY FAKEY, OFFENSIVE LIBER-SHITHEAD!”

Perhaps this sort of passion from the masses frightens our news gatekeepers so much they feel the need to shelter themselves from their audience by sheltering their audience from the news. But once you begin down censorship’s slippery slope – feeble protests aside, let’s call it what it is –it’s difficult to keep from sliding ever further into an abyss.

Just look at what has happened back at Fulton High.

Both “Grease” and “The Crucible,” the second-most-frequently-performed musical and drama on school stages, are now verboten. Why? Jarryd Lapp, a junior who was a light technician on Fulton High’s production of “Grease,” has a theory on the cancellation of “The Crucible.” “The show itself is graphic,” he said. “People get hung; there’s death in it. It’s not appropriate.” And drama teacher Wendy DeVore believes the play was canceled because it portrays “a time in history that makes Christians look bad. In a Bible Belt community,” she added, “it makes people nervous.”

Where will it end? As the Times reported, teachers and students at Fulton High have already begun self-censoring, ruling out future productions of other plays, like ‘Little Shop of Horrors,’ the musical that features a cannibalistic plant. Other commonly performed high school plays are now equally deemed “potentially offensive:” “Bye Bye Birdie” shows smoking and drinking; “Oklahoma,” a scene of near-rape. “Diary of Anne Frank” has still more graphic scenes of death – even genocide – so let’s not go there… As for Shakespeare? Even “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” as Superintendent Enderle noted, is “not a totally vanilla play.”

Nor are all the Mohammed cartoons totally inoffensive – although many are just plain silly. But, as Tim Rutten asked in a recent Los Angeles Times media column, “If the images first published in Jyllands-Posten last September are so inherently offensive that they cannot be viewed in any context, why did Danish Muslims distribute them across an Islamic world that seldom looks at Copenhagen newspapers?” And why was there no reaction when one of Egypt’s largest newspapers published these cartoons on its front page in October? “Apparently its editor isn’t as sensitive as his American colleagues.”

Meanwhile, as Rutten notes, the New York Times saw fit to illustrate an essay by the paper’s art critic with a reproduction of Ofili’s painting of the Virgin Mary smeared with elephant dung. And CNN illustrated a story on those anti-Semitic caricatures in the Arab press by showing… virulently anti-Semitic cartoons. Wolf Blitzer explained that while CNN had decided as a matter of policy not to broadcast any image of Muhammad, but telling the story of anti-Semitism in the Arab press required showing those caricatures!

“Those of us who inhabit this real world will continue to believe that the American news media’s current exercise in mass self-censorship has nothing to do with either sensitivity or restraint and everything to do with timidity and expediency,” Rutten concluded.

And executives at the American-Statesman newspaper (out of Austin, Texas) said all but one of the readers who respond on the paper’s website supported their decision to publish the cartoons. “It is one thing to respect other people’s faiths and religion, but it goes beyond where I would go to accept their taboos in the context of our freedoms and our society,” the paper’s editor, Rich Oppell, told Editor & Publisher.

The alternative is simply to surrender our ideals and our freedom. At Fulton High School, they apparently already have. According to the Times, students there have learned their lesson – there’s just no use fighting City Hall.

“It’s over,” said fifteen year old Emily Swenson. “We can’t do anything about it. We just have to obey.”

|"You are making a difference. Don't give up! Neoconservatives see kindness and forgiveness as weaknesses. 'We are different, the rules cannot apply to us.' George W. Bush. No, Mr. Bush. The rules do apply and even more so to those who champion democracy." -Bob Miller



February 15th, 2006, 03:12 PM



The American Turkey Is Dead

By Mary Pitt

02/14/06 "ICH" -- -- That's right, Buster, I said dead. Our national symbol of peace, prosperity, and plentitude has been slaughtered, cooked and the multi-national ghouls are fighting for the rights to pick its bones! When the rank-and-file American voter rubs the propaganda-induced sleep from his eyes, he will realize that his freedoms are gone, his patriotism is misplaced, and the two buzzards, Democrat and Republican, are picking the lint from his empty pockets. After bellying up to the bar, buying rounds for our Fearless Leaders, and cheering as our children marched off to their death and dismemberment, we are awaking to find that we have been duped, raped, rolled, and left for dead by both political parties in an act of shameful betrayal that will equal the Fall of Rome in its historical aspect.

Think about it. If you aren't mad as hell, you have not yet opened your eyes. Not only has this administration sold you out to the multi-national corporations with their mantra of, "They hate us! They want to kill us!", but they have given lip service to the cause of "democracy" for the Middle East, whether they want it or not, while they cannot accept true democracy when it rears its head, but must pounce upon and destroy it in its nest. At long last, after too many years of the iron-fisted control of Yasser Arafat, the Palestinian people have exercised their inherent rights to self-determination and held a truly democratic election under international supervision. However, their choice is not sitting well with the powers-that-be in Washington and Jerusalem. They have determined that the Palestinian people do not really deserve democracy and their choices must be negated by withholding of funds necessary to rule that beleaguered land.

On the same day we learn of this, news comes out of Ohio that the Dread "Democratic Leadership Council" has again denied the people the right to vote for the candidate of their choice. Many of us are still smarting over the debacle of 2004 when "the people" found several of the political candidates in the field who would satisfy our purpose of supporting someone who would be concerned for our welfare and for whom enough of us could in good conscience assist in their task of booting Bush & Co, out of our once-revered White House. This was not to be, as the DLC and other power groups designated the nomination of John Kerry as "their" candidate, causing many disillusioned Americans to stay away from the polls in droves.

The story of the day which may be enough to cause the long-awaited uprising of the American voters just may be the betrayal of a returned veteran of the War of Choice, Paul Hackett. In 2004, he scared hell out of the Republicans with his campaign of the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. His exposure of the lies of the Bush cabal led the people of his district in Ohio, a traditionally strong Republican district, to vote "across party lines" in numbers that almost unseated the entrenched Republican. This year he was attempting to gain the Democratic mandate and to unseat "good Republican" Senator Mike DeWine, and his chances looked good. But no! As usual the Democratic Party could not stand even the faint scent of victory! They went to Ohio and asked Paul Hackett to abandon his cause and step out of the race so that their hand-picked candidate could have a clear field against the senator!
Thus end the political efforts of a true American who would represent The People and tell the voters the naked truth, that THE EMPEROR HAS NO CLOTHES! We should be forewarned that this will be the fate of any honest person who tries to run for office within the two-party system in our nation, to be dumped by the very people who claim to represent us and to exemplify our needs and our desires. They are as power-hungry if not as dishonest as their counterparts in the other party and their watchword is to WIN, by whatever method they think may succeed and the people be damned.

What are we who really care about true democracy and have not given up the hope of reinstituting the system in our beloved nation to do? We must cast aside the worn-out mantle of political designation and vote together as Americans, voting in-party, out-of- party, and without regard to party, banding together in support of truth-seekers and truth-tellers, regardless of party, solidifying our support into the juggernaut that will be needed to remove the corruption at the heads of both parties before they totally destroy us. Stop the splintering of effort through numerous third parties with minor agenda and vote for those who seek a true mandate of the people and promise to truly represent the poor, the ill, the elderly. and the middle-class working people who carry the burden of supporting the rest. Failure to do so will bring down our own democracy and destroy any opportunity to construct another, following the Roman Empire into the dust of history.

If we do not have the intestinal fortitude to abandon our old habits and stand up for our rights as American citizens, the most important of which is the right to choose our own leaders, we may as well simply continue to blind ourselves with the idle chatter of the news headlines. "Did you hear that Dick Cheney shot a guy Saturday and nobody knew it until Monday?" "So what? That's what they do! They lie! They cheat! They cover up!" "So who ate the last of the turkey?"

Mary Pitt - - Email mpitt @ cox.net


The Paul Hackett story is one of the most disturbing pieces of news coming out of the Democratic party in a long, long time. He is the sort of politician that the left needs desperately, but Hackett has decided to exit his political career. The spine-less DLC once again fails its constituents in its quest to gain control of the middle of the road. Must they again be reminded that the only thing in the middle of the road is a thin yellow line and some dead snakes.

This is a perfect example of why a viable third party - a party representing the people, not lobbyists and corporations - is necessary in today's world.

Saundra Hummer
February 15th, 2006, 03:49 PM
The Paul Hackett story is one of the most disturbing pieces of news coming out of the Democratic party in a long, long time. He is the sort of politician that the left needs desperately, but Hackett has decided to exit his political career. The spine-less DLC once again fails its constituents in its quest to gain control of the middle of the road. Must they again be reminded that the only thing in the middle of the road is a thin yellow line and some dead snakes.

This is a perfect example of why a viable third party - a party representing the people, not lobbyists and corporations - is necessary in today's world.

There's still a lot of debate as to how the state of Ohio ran the elections and how the state abused the process. Perhaps Paul Hackett did win? So he shouldn't say he's cutting his losses and that he won't run again, that he's not interested in running. He should go for it, and in doing so, he'll be showing his critics, and opponents that he isn't the coward everyone is pointing him out to be. There are those who are ridiculing him and looking down on him saying he couldn't take the heat of politics, and therefore we are lucky to have found this out, that men of his demenor, and actions aren't suited for political office.

It seems the ones who they are saying can take it, aren't principled, and aren't what we as a nation are needing. They're just destroying us. With them, these men and women who're suited for the job, it is ("me, me, my, my"), themselves they're catering to first, corporations and lobbyists second, the party third, and if they aren't too beholden to all other entities, then they just might do something good for the country.

Do we ever need change.

Saundra Hummer
February 15th, 2006, 04:59 PM

Cheney Breaks Silence on Shooting in Interview

Accepts Responsibility, Defends Delayed Release to News Media

WASHINGTON (Feb. 15) - Vice President Dick Cheney on Wednesday accepted full blame for shooting a fellow hunter and defended his decision to not publicly disclose the accident until the following day. He called it "one of the worst days of my life."[

"I'm the guy who pulled the trigger that fired the round that hit Harry," Cheney told Fox News Channel in his first public comments since the shooting Saturday in south Texas.

Cheney described seeing 78-year-old Harry Whittington fall to the ground after he pulled the trigger while aiming at a covey of quail.

"The image of him falling is something I'll never ever be able to get out of my mind," Cheney said. "I fired, and there's Harry falling. It was, I'd have to say, one of the worst days of my life at that moment."

Cheney has been under intense political pressure to speak out about the shooting incident, which has become a public relations embarrassment and potential political liability for the White House. Until Wednesday, Cheney had refused to comment on why he withheld information about the shooting, which prolonged the controversy and made him the butt of jokes.

"I said, `Harry, I had no idea you were there.' He didn't respond.'"
-Vice President Dick Cheney, in Fox News interview

Cheney was soft-spoken and somber during the interview with Fox's Brit Hume.

"You can talk about all of the other conditions that exist at the time but that's the bottom line and - it was not Harry's fault," he said. "You can't blame anybody else. I'm the guy who pulled the trigger and shot my friend."

Cheney said he had had a beer at lunch that day, but nobody was drinking when they went back out to hunt several hours later.

Texas officials said the shooting was an accident, and no charges have been brought against the vice president.

A report that the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department issued Monday said Whittington was retrieving a downed bird and stepped out of the hunting line he was sharing with Cheney .

"Another covey was flushed and Cheney swung on a bird and fired, striking Whittington in the face, neck and chest at approximately 30 yards," the report said.

"I ran over to him," Cheney said. "He was laying there on his back, obviously, bleeding. You could see where the shot struck him."

He said he has no idea if he hit a bird because he was focused on Whittington.

"I said, `Harry, I had no idea you were there.' He didn't respond," Cheney said.

Whittington was reported doing well at a Texas hospital Wednesday, a day after doctors said that a pellet entered his heart and he had what they called "a mild heart attack."

Hospital officials said the Texan, though still listed in intensive care, had a normal heart rhythm again Wednesday afternoon and was sitting up in a chair, eating and planning to do some legal work in his room.

Cheney has been roundly criticized for failing to tell the public about the accident until the next day. He said he thought it made sense to let the owner of the ranch where it happened reveal the accident on the local newspaper's Web site Sunday morning.

"I thought that was the right call," Cheney said. "I still do."

Cheney said he agreed that ranch owner Katharine Armstrong should make the story public, because she was an eyewitness, because she grew up on the ranch and because she is "an acknowledged expert in all of this" as a past head of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. He also agreed with her decision to choose the local newspaper as the way to get the news out.

"I thought that made good sense because you can get as accurate a story as possible from somebody who knew and understood hunting and then it would immediately go up to the wires and be posted on the Web site, which is the way it went out and I thought that was the right call," Cheney said.

"What do you think now?" he was asked.

"I still do," Cheney responded. "The accuracy was enormously important. I had no press person with me."

Armstrong told reporters that Whittington made a mistake by not announcing himself as he returned to the hunting line after breaking off to retrieve a downed bird. But Cheney , an avid and longtime hunter, said Whittington was not to blame.

Through hospital officials, Whittington has declined to comment.

"He still kind of wonders what all the hoopla is about," said Peter Banko, administrator of Christus Spohn Hospital Corpus Christi-Memorial.

Cheney was using No. 71/2 shot from a 28-gauge shotgun. Shotgun pellets typically are made of steel or lead; the pellets in No. 71/2 shot are just under one-tenth of an inch in diameter.

The pellet that traveled to Whittington's heart was either touching or embedded in the heart muscle near the top chambers, called the atria, officials said.

Lynn Brezosky contributed to this report from Corpus Christi, Texas.

AP-NY-02-15-06 1634EST

That would just take ten years off ones own life to do something like that. How awful to have had happen.

My step dad worked for a company which had several trips they took each year as a group - MagnaFlux Corp.- and one of these trips was deer hunting, and, as a rule, he always went. It was a small company, even though internationally known, and used, there were few employees, so everyone was close to everyone and knew each other really well. They were good friends, each and everyone of them. My dad just went for the trip and being with the guys, why I don't know as one would think they would be tired of one-another. Anyway, he didn't even have a gun.

One year, for whatever reason, he decided not to go, which was a surprise to everyone. That was the year Joe Riley walked down by the lake, all bundled up in his cold weather gear, sat down on a bolder waiting for the sun to come up. Everyone could see him way off in the distance. Then the shot rang out and then they heard the most god awful screaming and wailing. A young man thought he was seeing a bear and shot him. Upon realizing he had shot a man, he begain to scream, and so did his wife. Everyone went running as fast as they could down to where Joe lie on the ground, and a few words were coming from him, but mostly gurgling, and he died. The poor fellow who shot him had just been released from a mental facility and had major mental problems, and that just drove him over the top. I don't recall all of the outcome, but what a tragedy. All of this happened in Colorado in the 1960's, if I'm remembering correctly. There or Idaho, and I'm pretty sure it was Colorado.

Joe was from back in Boston, a young fellow who was the soul support for his ailing and elderly mother, so it was just the worst. I don't believe there were any more deer hunting trips for the fellows at MagnaFlux.

I'll tell you what, you wouldn't get me out in any of these woods or mountains when it's hunting season, there are just too many careless screwballs armed to the hilt who have no business ever handling a gun.

Every year here where we live there are deaths during hunting season for deer and for elk as well. Even here where we live which is a small farming community, we have bullets killing livestock, and bouncing off our house and rock house, this by people who have grown up around guns and are good shots, so you can imagine the danger with first time and other novice gun toting fools.

Saundra Hummer
February 15th, 2006, 06:34 PM

Katrina: After the Storm

By Christopher Hayes
In These Times
Tuesday 14 February 2006

Historian Karen Sawislak talks about what's old in New Orleans.
When New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin assured the city's black residents that New Orleans would remain a "chocolate city," he was roundly ridiculed by everyone from late-night talk show hosts to local politicians. But clumsy as the rhetoric might have been, it's hard not to sympathize with the excruciatingly difficult balancing act he's now trying to pull off: The city can't rebuild without residents, but residents don't want to move back until it's at least partially rebuilt. With an amputated polity, New Orleanians now face a daunting project: figuring out an efficient, yet just, approach to rebuilding a city that was the site of terrible inefficiency and injustice before the flood.

But as catastrophic as Katrina was, it isn't the first time a major American city has faced these kinds of questions: The much mythologized Chicago Fire of 1871, which destroyed the entirety of the city's downtown and left about 100,000 homeless, also set off heated debate about how to rebuild. The social tensions and conflicts that came to a head in the fire's wake are particularly salient today. In order to get some historical perspective, In These Times spoke with author Karen Sawislak, whose 1995 book, Smoldering City: Chicagoans and the Great Fire 1871-1874, recounts how Chicagoans grappled with some of the same challenges now facing the residents of New Orleans.

One of the most interesting things in the book is the disproportionate effect of the fire along class lines.

Yes. It's a pretty exact parallel in terms of the poor, low-lying neighborhoods in New Orleans. In Chicago in the 1870s, slums and poor neighborhoods were poorly regulated in terms of construction and sanitation and didn't have the kind of infrastructure you'd expect in a modern city. Fire codes were very lax or non-existent. Fire protection services were privately financed through neighborhood taxation, which left poor neighborhoods unprotected. Workers and the poor weren't property owners, so there was no incentive to make improvements. So when the fire came to those neighborhoods, it happened very fast and there was nowhere to go. People in wealthier neighborhoods had access to better roads, or could hire people to help them or had their own means of transportation.

The most striking historical parallel for me was the way these lurid tales of looting and depravity by the city's hordes circulated through the press. But once the fire had died down, and the panic was gone, it became clear that almost all of it was false: People had actually behaved incredibly civilly to each other. How is it that 140 years later, with a press corps with helicopters and cameras, we're still making the same mistakes?

It gets to some of the essential issues about cities. One of the key characteristics of urban life is that you have a place with a mixing of people-different classes, different races. In a disaster you have a breakdown of the barriers that usually exist and a loss of control. I think these fears of the urban underclass are always present, but they're usually managed by the ordinary structures of residential segregation and policing and the like. In a disaster, these things go out the window and those fears surface immediately. The kinds of narratives that are told and are ultimately debunked-it happened in Chicago and again in New Orleans-reveal the constant deep bias that people of means feel toward the urban underclass.

It seems that the approach to relief grew out of the dominant ideology of the time of a kind of laissez-faire, up-by-your-bootstraps fetishization of the individual economic actor-which is, of course, pretty similar to what we have now.

Yeah, it's the root of everything. One of the key points in my book is that it's critical to understand how this ideology affected people's perception of class difference and what the role of government should be.

In terms of relief, there was great concern to make sure people got no more than they had before the fire. It was less about charity in the broad humanistic sense and more about controlled social reconstruction in the Republican, current-day, mean-spirited sense. There was a deep hostility towards any sort of "handout" or uncontrolled government largesse that would corrode an individual's ability to fend for himself.

When different groups made efforts to help with the relief by offering food, transport and the like, it proved very troubling for the business elite in Chicago. So the Chicago Relief and Aid Society essentially took over the relief process. Basically, the board of directors of the Society, which was a "Who's Who" of Chicago's major business leaders, told the city's politicians: "We need to take control to prevent the danger of dependency." They advocated a philosophy of "scientific charity," which was just then becoming popular.

They proceeded to do things like shutting down a soup kitchen established by the city of Cincinnati, because the idea that you could go to a facility if you were hungry and get a bowl of soup didn't square with "scientific charity." Instead, they set up a bureaucracy that differed depending on the targeted clientele. There was "basic relief" for workers and immigrants. It required filling out forms, providing a character witness, and going through an interview process before you could even get emergency cash assistance. Then there was something called "special relief," which was targeted toward middle class and business people. These folks could get straight-up cash grants to restart businesses. They were not required to have the same kind of character checks or witnesses, because the Society felt it would be too embarrassing for them.

There was this hilarious sort of inversion. By seeking relief, you demonstrated that you were unworthy of it. Whereas if you didn't seek relief, it showed you were so proud…

… that you were worthy. The fact that you were willing to stand in a long line showed that you were suspect on some level.

After the relief effort petered out, how did Chicago get rebuilt? Who paid for it?

It was pretty much a private deal at this point. Investors were able to see an opportunity there, particularly in a more defined downtown commercial district. This is probably the biggest difference between what Chicago faced in rebuilding and New Orleans is facing: Chicago was an incredible boom town at this point in time. It hadn't gotten to its fastest point of growth, which happened in the 1880s and '90s, but it was growing hugely fast and was becoming the key commercial nexus of the whole country. I think it was clear to investors in the East and in Europe that the city would rebuild. Although there was spectacular destruction and a lot of famous commercial buildings were destroyed, a lot of the most important places, from an economic standpoint, weren't touched: the stockyards, the lumberyards, the shipping facilities, the train depots, etc.

So the market forces, in terms of investment opportunity, were very positive. And whatever initial exodus there was was easily replaced with the labor influx coming in to rebuild. I tried very hard in this book to de-mythologize the fire and what it means in the city's history by looking at how it really showed the divisions and differences in the city, but I did come away impressed, I have to say, by how quickly things got going again.

Now contrast that to New Orleans. Even prior to Katrina, it was becoming depopulated. In recent years it was, as far as I understand, built on a tourist economy and there were lots and lots of poor people without opportunity. This makes it a completely different scenario in terms of the market incentive to fund rebuilding. It is not at all the same as Chicago in the 1870s.

What do you see as the chief lessons from the rebuilding after the Chicago fire?

For me, when looking at the great fire, the ultimate question is: What are communities' or governments' or even an entire nation's responsibilities to less-advantaged citizens when they are facing this kind of utter destruction of the world that they've known. I think you can see from the book, that some of the same kind of knee-jerk responses of "Well, we can't help too much," or that people are where they deserve to be, is a huge part of our political culture and our history.

In New Orleans right now, you have many experts who say the lower Ninth Ward and other low-lying areas shouldn't be rebuilt because they're just going to get flooded again. But these are the neighborhoods that poor people lived in and feel they have a right to return to. The issues here are strikingly similar to the controversy about whether Chicago was going to allow wood as a building material after the fire.

Yeah, there was a post-fire analysis to see what could be done to make sure this doesn't happen again-much as the people reconstructing New Orleans are thinking about how to prevent future flooding. The proposed solution was citywide fire limit. Fire limits were an early form of zoning. Cities would say that within certain boundaries you can only build with fireproof materials, brick or stone at the time, and they outlawed other materials, like tar for roofs that are flammable but were cheaper.

After the fire, a new mayor came in, Joseph Medill, who was a classic 19th century Republican reformer devoted to the notion of the broader public good. His platform was a citywide fire limit, which was very troubling for people of lesser means who had just been whacked by the fire itself. You had a lot of Germans and Scandinavians, in particular on the North side, whose neighborhoods were devastated. They were now being told they had to use fireproof materials, not wood, to rebuild, which made it prohibitively expensive for working-class homeowners. So it touched off a political battle.

One of the things that struck me in the book is the degree of social capital these immigrant communities had prior to the fire in terms of ethnic associations or newspapers and such, and it allowed them to do relatively well after the fire in these battles over policies.

At the time local communities, especially the German-American politicians, were able to mobilize quite effectively in their own neighborhoods to defeat the notion of fire limits. It was portrayed as elitist, which in many ways it was, and this was a huge defeat for Joseph Medill. And there is an argument that this was an example of democracy working. You have these ward-based politicians who were able to represent the interests of their particular neighborhood and defeat a citywide policy.

So if there's a hopeful lesson to draw, it's that there is an opportunity to organize locally and make a case for having your home back.]

Christopher Hayes is a Senior Editor of In These Times.


I believe it is going to take those of us who have the time and where-with-all to help out with this this organization theory, as look at how many are scattered about, how many displaced are not anywhere near the 9th Ward. Not even close. Somehow this problem needs to be recognized and remedied.
It will probably take those out and about the country with more resources than the displaced have at the ready, to take up this fight for them, as I don't see how they will be able to manage with how things are at this time. SRH

Saundra Hummer
February 15th, 2006, 06:56 PM

Bust Big Radio Payola


Ever wonder why commercial radio has become a mind-numbing repetition of the same songs by Jessica Simpson and Celine Dion? It's not just you. Corporate radio in every town has become a wasteland. And in many cases, it's a crime.

An investigation airing tonight on ABC News "Primetime" exposes illegal payola across the radio dial. Radio conglomerates that control hundreds of local stations are taking bribes to endlessly spin major label acts, keeping independent artists off the air.

FCC Commissioner Jonathan Adlestein calls big radio payola "potentially the most widespread and flagrant violation of FCC rules in the history of American broadcasting." But the FCC's Republican leadership remains reluctant to crack down against the corporate radio giants that have sold off our airwaves.

Tell the FCC to Bust Corporate Radio Payola

This new age of payola is the product of consolidated radio ownership. Several of the largest radio conglomerates in America -- including Clear Channel, Viacom/CBS radio and Cumulus -- are among those now under subpoena in a criminal investigation by the New York State Attorney General Eliot Spitzer.

Spitzer has exposed a shadowy network of promoters hired by the recording industry to launder hundreds of millions in cash and prizes each year, lining the pockets of big radio broadcasters who agree to spin corporate acts nationwide.

"They thought the FCC was asleep, and they shot someone in front of the policeman," Adelstein tells ABC News. "The policeman is obligated to act when evidence is so clear."

Tell the FCC to Stop the Abuse of Our Airwaves

The airwaves belong to the public -- not the media companies with the fattest wallets. Any broadcaster in violation of payola statutes could face severe FCC sanctions and even the loss of their broadcast licenses.

But the FCC won't act unless they feel pressure from you. Please take action today.


Timothy Karr
Campaign Director
Free Press

P.S. Activists, musicians, students and independent broadcasters are joining with Free Press to stop payola and reclaim the public airwaves. Learn more at www.freepress.net/payola.

P.P.S. Want to do more? Wisconsin Sen. Russ Feingold has introduced a bill to stop record labels from paying off radio stations in exchange for airplay. Urge your senators to co-sponsor the "Radio and Concert Disclosure and Competition Act" (S. 2058).

Send a letter to the following decision maker(s):
Deborah Tate
Jonathan Adelstein
Kevin Martin
Michael Copps

Below is the sample letter:

Subject: Bust Big Radio Payola

Dear [decision maker name automatically inserted here],

Recent investigations by the New York State Attorney General's office have revealed widespread violations of laws against radio payola.

Nearly 200 stations were implicated. Many are owned by the handful of radio conglomerates that have risen to prominence since the industry was deregulated in 1996.

The investigation alleges that the stations in question accepted cash and prizes to play artists that were hand-picked by major recording labels. The radio stations aired these without disclosing to listeners the shadowy record deals that pushed the performers to the top of playlists.

This practice is not only dishonest, it's against the law. The airwaves belong to the public, and since 1927, the federal government has required broadcasters who use them to serve the public interest. You owe it to the American public to put a stop to this deception.

Please launch a full and thorough investigation into all allegations of payola in the commercial radio industry and hold bad actors accountable.


From a newsletter I receive. OK, here's a chance to voice your ire at the state of where music has ended up, and this letter sure isn't full of any big surprises is it?

Go on-site to sign the petition and to sign up for a subscription to this news letter:


Saundra Hummer
February 15th, 2006, 08:38 PM
"It is from numberless diverse acts of courage and belief that human history is shaped. Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring, those ripples build a current that can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance." Robert F. Kennedy
US Attorney General 1961-64, assassinated in Los Angeles while campaigning

"Individualism, as a definition of holding to personal ideals, is classed as obstinacy and anti-social. Inevitably we run point blank into the evils of compromise. When compromise enters our moral fibre, it spreads like a cancerous growth. We think we plan adequate safeguards around areas in which we contemplate yielding our standards, but once we lower the fence and break our strong will to do right, come what may, we expose ourselves to forces that spread beyond control. Compromise always starts on some rather insignificant principle. The dangers of yielding seem negligible and we usually risk those things first where observation and detection by others is difficult. We thus seek to avoid censure and discipline. In a short time we find ourselves trading our principles for false values and doing it in the black market of human relationships. . . ." Ralph W. Hardy

"If it were proved to me that in making war, my ideal had a chance of being realized, I would still say "No" to war. For one does not create human society on mounds of corpses." Louis Lecoin - French pacifist leader

Saundra Hummer
February 15th, 2006, 08:53 PM


Cheney's Chappaquiddick
The Real Story Emerges By RJ Eskow

02/15/06 "Yahoo" -- -- The real story is already emerging, if you're willing to do a little digging. Cheney and Whittington went hunting with two women (not their wives), there was some drinking, and Whittington wound up shot. Armstrong didn't see the incident but claimed she had, Cheney refused to be questioned by the Sheriff until the next morning, and a born-again evangelical physician has been downplaying Whittington's injuries since they occurred. Neither the press nor law enforcement seems inclined to investigate.

Before the right-wing commenters howl - there's documentation for all of these statements. Let's take them one by one: In addition to Cheney and Whittington, the hunting party included Katherine Armstrong (who was in the car at the time of the shooting: more on that later). After lots of evasive comments that only referred to a "third hunter," we now know her identity: Pamela Willeford, the US Ambassador to Switzerland.
Then there was this Armstrong quote on MSNBC and picked up by Firedoglake (later dutifully scrubbed, but preserved on Google cache): "There may be a beer or two in there," (Armstrong) said, 'but remember not everyone in the party was shooting.'"

Interestingly, Armstrong's playing with words here. She later said that she (Armstrong) hadn't had anything to drink, so at least one of the other three must have been drinking - and the other three were shooting. So while her statement was literally correct ("not everyone ... was shooting"), it gives the false impression that nobody drank and shot.

Then there was this item (courtesy kos):

Armstrong said she saw Cheney's security detail running toward the scene. "The first thing that crossed my mind was he had a heart problem," she told The Associated Press.
In other words, she didn't see the accident. All of her statements, replete with colorful sidebars about getting "peppered pretty good," gave the false impression she was an eyewitness. She wasn't.
And what about Dr. David Blanchard, who made such light of Whittington's injuries? Before the heart attack occurred, Blanchard gave no indication that pellets had entered Whittington's torso or major organs (we now know that at least one other pellet entered his liver). I found an interesting quote. After asserting that spiritual beliefs help people recover more quickly (which studies have suggested may be true), Blanchard said this of people with out of body and near death experiences:

"These people do quite well in their disease processes," he said. "The Lord wasn't quite ready for them yet . . . It makes believers out of them."
It's likely that Blanchard is also the same "Dr. David Blanchard" who is listed as Vice Chairperson of World Hope International, a Christian evangelical aid group.

Blanchard's certainly entitled to his own beliefs, and World Hope International (if he's the same Blanchard) has done some good work, albeit with a proselytizing bent. But most evangelicals in this country are ardent supporters of the Bush/Cheney Administration. This may explain the otherwize puzzling word choices Dr. Blanchard made to play down Whittington's injuries, especially before the heart attack made that more difficult to do.

So was Cheney drinking, and was there anything inappropriate about this hunting party? We don't know, and nobody's investigating. There's reason to be suspicious. We do have the suggestion that drinking was taking place, we have inconsistencies and a pattern of deception in Armstrong's statements, we have a shooting injury that's far more serious than originally claimed ... and a Sheriff's Department and national press that have already proclaimed the VP innocent of all wrongdoing.

I was right to call this Cheney's Chappaquiddick. The parallels get stronger every day. Of course, Chappaquiddick happened almost forty years ago, and Ted Kennedy's turned his personal life around. Cheney's actions happened this weekend. There's reason to be suspicious of the Vice President's behavior, starting with the cover-up itself.

They're trying to spin it as just a badly handled case of press relations, but it's could be a whole lot more than that.

Copyright © 2006 HuffingtonPost.com

Saundra Hummer
February 16th, 2006, 12:14 AM


It's the deed, not the creed, as "The President of Good and Evil" illustrates.

Never has there been a nation held so hostage to a fiction of character and policy that is so publicly contradicted by the harmful reality of the very same.

The President of Good and Evil: The Ethics of George W.Bush



Saundra Hummer
February 16th, 2006, 12:59 PM
News of the movement for February 16, 2006

Ever wonder why commercial radio always plays the same songs by Jessica Simpson and Celine Dion? Corporate radio in every town has become a wasteland. And in many cases, it's a crime.
FCC Commissioner Jonathan Adelstein calls big radio payola "potentially the most widespread and flagrant violation of FCC rules in the history of American broadcasting." But the FCC's Republican leadership remains reluctant to crack down against the corporate radio giants.

Take action: Tell the FCC to stop the abuse of our airwaves.

Telecoms, Cable Firms Take Franchise Fight to D.C.

Executives on both sides of the debate testified before the Senate Commerce Committee to explain their positions on changing the current rules, which require video service providers to negotiate franchise agreements with local communities.
Marguerite Reardon, CNet News.com
Seidenberg, Whitacre Pledge to Match Cable Fees

The CEOs of Verizon and AT&T pledged to the Senate Commerce Committee that their companies were prepared to pay "the same franchise fees cable pays" if the government streamlines the franchise process.
John Eggerton, Broadcasting & Cable
Sen. Stevens Sees Tough Road for Deal on Video Law

Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Ted Stevens on Wednesday acknowledged difficulties reaching agreement among lawmakers for legislation that would help telephone carriers more quickly enter the subscription television business.
Jeremy Pelofsky, Reuters
Cable Industry Ads Target Phone Firms' Push Into TV

A simmering battle between the cable TV industry and major phone companies is about to boil over as big cable rolls out ads accusing the phone companies of lying to seek changes in franchising rules to enter local markets more quickly.
James S. Granelli, Los Angeles Times
Microsoft Backs AT&T on Franchising

In comments filed at the FCC, Microsoft said Internet-protocol networks planned by AT&T should be regulated at the federal level, and that local franchising should be eliminated.
Ted Hearn, Multichannel News

Guild Signs Up First Investment Firm In KR Purchase Plan

The Newspaper Guild's effort to buy nine of Knight Ridder's newspapers moved a step closer to possible reality as the first major investment firm has signed on as a potential partner, the union announced.
Joe Strupp, Editor & Publisher
Dick Cheney's Assault on the Public's Right to Know

The Bush administration's assault on the public's right to know reached the proportions of parody last weekend, when the White House chose to reveal nothing about Dick Cheney's hunting accident.
Jacob Weisberg, Slate
Court Upholds Ban on Talking to Reporters

A federal court ruled that the Maryland Governor did not violate the First Amendment rights of two Baltimore Sun reporters by prohibiting state employees from talking to them.
Adam Liptak, New York Times
Media Watchdog Urges U.S. to Free Two Journalists

An international media watchdog urged the United States on Tuesday to free two journalists held separately at a U.S. prison in Iraq and at a military base in Guantanamo Bay in Cuba, saying they had been detained unfairly.
Anna Willard, Reuters

Poll Ranks PBS Leader in Public Trust for 3rd Straight Year

For the third consecutive year, a Roper Public Affairs & Media poll shows Americans consider PBS the nation's most trusted institution among nationally known organizations.
CPB Staffing New Accountability Committees

The Corporation for Public Broadcasting will hold a phone-in board meeting Feb. 21 to make assignments for new committees created in the wake of the inspector general's report which found "serious weaknesses in corporate governance."
John Eggerton, Broadcasting & Cable
PBS Gets Complaints About Genocide Panel

PBS has received a number of complaints about their planned panel discussion following the airing of a documentary, "The Armenian Genocide"; the complaints are due to the presence of two "genocide deniers" among the panelists.
John Eggerton, Broadcasting & Cable
Registration is now open for ACME's third media education summit, "Facing the Media Crisis: Media Education for Reform, Justice and Democracy." Register and find out more.

FCC Payola Investigations Urged by Future of Music Coalition
FMQB Bush Plans Huge Propaganda Campaign in Iran
The Guardian Don't Let Phone Giants ‘Ctrl' What You Get on the 'Net
USA Today Stevens Questions Fairness of City Broadband Involvement
National Journal Web Firms Are Grilled on Dealings in China
New York Times FCC Rules on More Kids Ad Overages
Broadcasting & Cable A Far Wider Reach for Web Advertising
Media Life Mainstream Media an Instrument of U.S. Foreign Policy
Colombia Journal Online The Slippery Slope of Self-Censorship

Feb 22
Public Symposium on the Proposed “Webcasting Treaty”
Washington, DC
Feb 23
Unplug Clear Channel, Broadcast Justice: Town Hall and Artist Showcase
Oakland, CA

Complete Calendar »

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About Net Freedom, that is for keeping the internet open to all postings, no control given to anyone, where our government wants to control things, much as China and other countries are doing, the one about music is Radio Payola, that thread, sign a petition to have it stopped, and read up on it. Greedy, money hungry control freaks, this is what drives the crummy sounding music business once again.


Saundra Hummer
February 16th, 2006, 03:09 PM

Just part of an email from MoveOn.org It is a letter backing those who don't fall into line with the Bush/Cheney administration, against those Democrats who are part and parcel of the GOP, and their "Corporate" backers. I've left out parts concerning their fund raising appeal, but this was the main gist of the letter:

Earlier this week 84% of us agreed we should challenge some right-wing incumbent Democrats in primary elections. Now, we're announcing our first MoveOn-member endorsement in a primary.

Ciro Rodriguez is running for Congress in the 28th District in Texas. Rodriguez opposed the war in Iraq and has championed health care, education and veteran benefits. In the words of Marta from San Antonio, "Rodriguez is a true Democrat and would stand up to the Bush administration in Washington."

Ciro Rodriguez' opponent, Rep. Henry Cuellar, is a symbol of the sort of Democrat we need to replace. He supports the war and the Bush Medicare drug debacle. He votes one out of three times with the Republicans. It isn't a surprise that Bush and Cuellar were excited to see each other last month (photo).

In the words of a MoveOn member in the district, "The Republicans don't need anybody running in District 28, they have Henry Cuellar."

Dear MoveOn member,

Earlier this week 84% of us agreed we should challenge some right-wing incumbent Democrats in primary elections. Now, we're announcing our first MoveOn-member endorsement in a primary.

Ciro Rodriguez is running for Congress in the 28th District in Texas. Rodriguez opposed the war in Iraq and has championed health care, education and veteran benefits. In the words of Marta from San Antonio, "Rodriguez is a true Democrat and would stand up to the Bush administration in Washington."

But Rodriguez is up against an incumbent—Henry Cuellar—who consistently voted against Democrats on important issues and literally campaigned for Bush in 2000. With a sprint to the March 7th finish we can put Rodriguez over the top with our support.


The really good news about this primary is that there is no Republican in the race. If Rodriguez wins in three weeks it will be a big progressive win.

Electing Rodriguez is one part of our two-part candidate strategy—taking back the House and supporting the more progressive Democrat in primaries.

We also have another candidate you can support today—Francine Busby (D) who is the MoveOn-member endorsed candidate in California's 50th district. She is running in a special election to replace Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham (R) who left Congress after pleading guilty to accepting bribes.

And like Rodriguez, the special election is coming right up—on April 11th. Every minute is urgent for these candidates. Together we can put them over the top


Saundra Hummer
February 16th, 2006, 05:23 PM


Karachi, 16 Feb. (AKI) - (Syed Saleem Shahzad) - While the Pakistani president Pervez Musharraf and his team this week blamed 'hidden hands' for cartoon-related violence, the local media is asking just how the protests - which had been peaceful for the last two weeks - could have turned violent. Some suggest that the administration is providing the adequate security, while others point the finger at Pakistan's powerful intelligence agencies, blaming them for stoking the violence.

At least five people have been killed this week in protests against the Danish cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohammed, in what many have called the country's worst incidents of violence in many years. On Thursday, protests continued for a fourth day, with several thousand people taking to the streets in the southern port city of Karachi. All schools had been closed and examinations cancelled in Karachi.

The Urdu daily newspaper Khabrain, published in Lahore where the first deaths occured on Tuesday, described the protests as the worst in the history of the city. Dozens of public sector buildings - including the provincial assembly - as well as many private properties, commercial banks and offices were set on fire.

However, the paper noted that, in many instances, security forces simply ignored what was happening. It cited the example of a group of 40 youths who rampaged through the Hotel Embassy in the city. A mobile police unit was reported to have passed the site of the hotel three times but took no action to stop the destruction.

Reknowned journalist and television anchor Talat Hussain also made a similar observation about the protests in the capital Islamabad, where college students managed to cross into high-security diplomatic area in the capital and went on a rampage.

Talat asked how this was possible when, on any ordinary day, it is hard to access the high security diplomatic enclave. Yet a rally of 6000 students (which was massive by Islamabad standards) was allowed to come near the diplomatic area.

Other Pakistani newspapers and TV channels also raised the same points.

A senior leader of six-party religious alliance MMA and a member of parliament, Hafiz Hussain Ahmed, told the media that the intelligence agencies were behind the violence.

Professor Khurshid Ahmed, former federal minister, economist and senior leader of Pakistan's biggest Islamic party, Jamaat-i-Islami, also asked why the police were not at the scene in Islamabad for more than 30 minutes during the protests.

What marks these protests as different from other demonstrations - often organised as a show of strength and bargaining tool by the religious political parties is the motivation of the protestors, many of who seem to have taken to the streets spontaneously.

Tuesday's rally in Lahore was called by the Anjuman-i-Tahfuz-i-Namoos-i-Naboowat, and various religious and political parties were supposed to have led the rally. However, from the morning of the protests, the entire city of Lahore was closed and the protestors took to the streets without carrying any party flags.

According to an eye witness account, all of Lahore’s major streets were crowded and the demonstrations started before they were scheduled to start, even without the presence of the political leaders.

Even though the six-party religious alliance, MMA, has called for a nation-wide strike on 3 March and a 'million man march' two days later in Karachi, the situation appears to be heating up well before that date. Little-known organizations at the district level are already giving calls for rallies and strikes and the people seem to be responding to these calls.

The wave of mass protests has been so strong that even liberal, secular and pro-western parties like the Pakistan Peoples Party, led by by former prime minister Benazir Bhutto, and Muttahida Quami Movement, led by Altaf Hussain, have announced big rallies to protest against the cartoons.

(Syed Saleem Shahzad/AkiFeb-16-06 10:09)


Saundra Hummer
February 16th, 2006, 06:07 PM

Blackhawk Gone: Why wasn't Whittington airlifted?

Here's just one more unanswered question about Dick Cheney's shooting of his 78-year-old friend last Saturday.

Numerous news accounts in recent years suggest that the vice president, with his history of four heart attacks, is almost always accompanied by a medical team and by Blackhawk helicopters, even when he is hunting in remote rural locations, as he all too frequently does.

Cheney has apparently never needed that type of medical evacuation. But on Saturday, his hunting pal Harry Whittington did. Indeed, news accounts say that Cheney's full-time medical team was on the scene and aided the seriously wounded man.

But where were the Blackhawks? If they were on the Armstrong Ranch, why were they not used for this type of emergency operation that they had long rehearsed? If the Blackhawks were not there, why not, considering they've reportedly been there for his other trips?

Instead, the splayed and profusely bleeding Whittington was driven to a small rural hospital -- even though when he got there, doctors then realized his condition was critical enough to airlift him, by a private helicopter, to the bigger medical center in Corpus Christi.

The bottom line is that it took almost two-and-a-half hours and probably more to get this wounded man to the best trauma center in South Texas. Whittington, of course, is a private citizen. Do you think it would have taken that long if Cheney had been wounded or stricken. It seems like either a case of unequal treatment, or incompetency.

We've been meaning to look into this all week. In August of 2004, we took our annual family vacation in the Jackson Hole area, coincidentally while the vice president was also there. And during our stay, all the locals were buzzing about this incident, which actually involved buzzing...buzzing helicopters. Cheney's helicopters:

Still, nothing quite prepared people for the brazen invasion earlier this month atop the normally bucolic Snake River in Grand Teton National Park. In full view of rafters, tourists and residents, two Black Hawk helicopters skimmed the river.

Angry river users shook their fists. Wildlife tumbled over from the choppers' downdraft, witnesses said. Plants were rippling in the high winds, they said.

"They were at tree-top levels," said Martin Hagen, a captain who navigates the river for a rafting company. "Here you go out for a quiet day along the river and suddenly comes this great noise. It was a big, big disturbance."

Another boat captain, Reed Finley, had just dropped passengers ashore when the choppers buzzed three times.

"They sent an osprey into a tailspin, flipping it over," he said. "It was obnoxious."

The park rangers at Grand Teton National Park were flooded with complaints. The lead ranger called the Secret Service detail guarding Cheney to complain because he had no other number: The National Park Service has no way to communicate with military aircraft. The choppers were violating park service rules not to fly lower than 2,000 feet.

What were the helicopters doing? You guessed it.

Kim Tisor, a spokeswoman at Ft. Carson, Colo., where the helicopters are based, said the Black Hawks were practicing medical evacuation. As she put it, "a high-security mission" in the area (that is, Cheney) means that the helicopters need to practice nearby.

Helicopters are never far from Cheney when he hunts. Like in 2003 in Wyoming:

A trio of Blackhawk helicopters carrying Vice President Dick Cheney used protected land in Puzzleface Ranch as a landing and launching pad Sunday, witnesses reported.

The administration's mechanical birds buzzed Skyline Pond, which is osprey and trumpeter swan habitat, 18 times through three landings and takeoffs, neighbor J.C. Whitfield said Tuesday.

Or last year in Montana:

Whether because of security concerns or because Vice President Dick Cheney is trying to protect a favorite fishing hole, few details about his visit to the Bighorn River were being released publicly.

Cheney flew into Billings early Monday morning and headed down to Fort Smith to do some fishing. His plane, Air Force Two, was accompanied by a C-17 cargo jet, two Chinook helicopters and two Blackhawk helicopters. Beyond that, mum has been the word on the vice president's visit.

And remember his famous hunting trip with Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia?

Two military Black Hawk helicopters were brought in and hovered nearby as Cheney and Scalia were whisked away in a heavily guarded motorcade to a secluded, private hunting camp owned by an oil industry businessman.

Now, after all that, here's what happened when there was an actual medical emergency. The Corpus Christi Caller-Times (has that paper put itself on the map, or what?) had an outstanding medical timeline yesterday. We'll summarize the highlights:

5:30 to 5:50 p.m. Saturday: Whittington is shot.
6 p.m. Cheney's medical team makes two decisions. They alert an outside helicopter service (where were those Blackhawks?), but they decided to drive Whittington to the small, closer (but not that close) hospital in Kingsville, Tex.
6:20 p.m. (20 minutes later!) Ambulance arrives.
6:45-6:50 p.m. Whittington arrives at the first hospital, after a 25-30 minute drive.
7:07 p.m. Doctors immediately realize that Whittington needs to go to the trauma center. The outside helicopter service is called a second time.
7:29 p.m. Air ambulance arrives at Kingsville.
8:19 p.m. Whittington finally arrives at the Corpus Christi hospital.

That's anywhere from two hours and 49 minutes to 2 hours and 29 minutes, for an elderly man who's been blasted in his face and torso with birdshot, with fragments in his heart and possibly other vital organs.

We'll ask again one more time. Would it have taken that long for Cheney, a vice president who's known to live in the style of a monarch? Something doesn't add up here.

Posted on February 16, 2006 01:02 PM
personally I don't see how someone, republican or democrat, can serve as "vice" president when he's in such dire health that he needs a personal medical team and blackhawk helicopters to follow him around the world.

Posted by: LP at February 16, 2006 02:24 PM
"Numerous news accounts in recent years suggest that the vice president, with his history of four heart attacks, is almost always accompanied by a medical team and by Blackhawk helicopters,"

Will, there is plenty to get after Cheney and the White House regarding this story without making this kind of a stretch.

First of all, I have seen nothing that there was any kind of government helicopter present. And even if a Black Hawk were present, they are typically not equipped for medical transport the way the average ambulance is.

And there was an ambulance and medical staff at the ranch because Cheney was there. Whittington got prompt medical attention, far more prompt than the average hunter in the field would have gotten.

Here is a medical timeline from the Corpus Christi Caller:http://www.caller.com/ccct/local_news/article/0,1641,CCCT_811_4471799,00.html
- snip -
Whittington, 78, was struck on the face, neck and chest between 5:30 and 5:50 p.m. Saturday while quail hunting at the 50,000-acre Armstrong Ranch in Kenedy County.
- snip -
The Secret Service notified HALO-Flight dispatch about 6 p.m., putting the air ambulance service on standby in case Whittington needed to be flown to Christus Spohn Hospital Memorial, the area's trauma center, said HALO-Flight executive director Randy Rowe. Minutes later, Christus Spohn Hospital Kleberg in Kingsville was notified that Whittington was en route.

Both Cheney's office and the Secret Service have said the decision to take Whittington to Kingsville first was made by medical personnel who travel with Cheney, who has a history of heart problems.

"I can't comment to why he wasn't flown," Zahren said. "The medical folks that were there would have weighed more into that than our people on the scene. Decisions were made on their advice at that point."

Whittington was taken by ambulance to the Kingsville hospital about 6:20 p.m., Zahren said.

"It was an ambulance on standby for the vice president's visit," Zahren said. "It had been dedicated and it was given up to treat the victim."

The ambulance arrived at the Kingsville hospital between 6:45 and 6:50 p.m., Christus Spohn spokeswoman Yvonne Wheeler said.

HALO-Flight was called again at 7:07 p.m. after Spohn Kleberg medical personnel decided Whittington needed more advanced treatment.

"Typically, why we get calls for transfers is for a higher level of care or a doctor preference," Rowe said.

The air ambulance arrived at the Kingsville hospital at 7:29 p.m. and landed at the Corpus Christi trauma center at 8:19 p.m., Rowe said. Whittington was awake and talking during the flight, he said.


I would imagine, Will, that since there was an ambulance on-site, the medical staffers figured that it was quicker to get him in the ambulance and en route to the closest hospital. Normally there is not an ambulance right there at the accident scene - so the normal aspect of getting an ambulance to the victim was not a factor here.

Note that 20 minutes elapsed between notifying the helicopter and the departure of the ambulance for Kleburg. Which means the Corpus Medivac helicoper would still have been a ways out from the ranch (it's about 90-100 crows flight miles from Corpus to the Armstrong Ranch). Taking Whittington by ambulance probably got him to a hospital quicker in this one particular, rare instance.

And there are other factors involved here. First of all, a medivac copter allows bypassing of traffic. There is no traffic in Kenedy County - it's all ranchland.

A helicopter's forward speed is typically about 120 mph or so. The road through Kenedy County (yes, there is just one main road)
is flat and straight (I've been on it), so the ambulance was probably able to go at least 90 mph once it got out to the main road. So an ambulance in this case wasn't much slower than a copter - and it was already there.

So your statement:

"It seems like either a case of unequal treatment, or incompetency."

Really doesn't fit the facts on the ground.

Posted by: db_cooper at February 16, 2006 02:30 PM
Will, you screwed up your version of the timeline:

"6:20 p.m. (20 minutes later!) Ambulance arrives."

That should be ambulance departs. It was Cheney's ambulance that had been there all along.

Posted by: db_cooper at February 16, 2006 02:35 PM
Oh, and one other normal advantage of a helicopter over an ambulance is that the helicopter can take a crow's flight path and the car has to follow roads. But south of Kingsville, there is very little difference - there is hardly a curve in that road.

Posted by: db_cooper at February 16, 2006 02:41 PM
"First of all, I have seen nothing that there was any kind of government helicopter present. And even if a Black Hawk were present, they are typically not equipped for medical transport the way the average ambulance is"

db, this doesn't square with your arguments that the ranch is a desolate middle-of-nowhere place. Because it is, I'm sure they'd never let Cheney get that far away from medical treatment were he to need it.

I can, however, see them making the argument that private citizens would not be allowed aboard Cheney's government aircraft. Particularly if Cheney either wasn't the shooter, or if they were going to cover up that he was. (If they were going to be upfront about the whole situation I would see no problem with the Secret Service saying that the veep shot a man, let's get him in the most efficient manner possible.)

Posted by: Jess Wundrun at February 16, 2006 02:53 PM
yes, i think its pretty clear. DC just wanted this man to die. this way, they could have just buried the dude right there on the ranch and these meddlesome media-types would have never known about the whole deal.

/moonbat off

let it die already will. c'mon - lets talk about more important things. like Seidel's rug.

Posted by: SBVFT contributor - best $25 - well, u know the rest at February 16, 2006 02:56 PM
"db, this doesn't square with your arguments that the ranch is a desolate middle-of-nowhere place. Because it is, I'm sure they'd never let Cheney get that far away from medical treatment were he to need it."

I've been down there, Jess. It's so empty that a Cat 4 hurricane can blow through and cause hardly any damage (Bret in 1999).

" can, however, see them making the argument that private citizens would not be allowed aboard Cheney's government aircraft. "

As I have shown, an ambulance, already on site, was able to travel almost as fast as a helicopter on the road down there - I've been on that road, and it is one of the most straight-line, flat and boring roads in the country. Nothing but scrub, windmills, fences, cattle and an occasional outbuilding.

Posted by: db_cooper at February 16, 2006 02:57 PM
I wonder if Cheney gets the helicopter pilot to play 'die valkyrie' for him?

(I love the smell of birdshot in the evening)

Posted by: Jess Wundrun at February 16, 2006 03:19 PM
You know, Swiftie, I think it might be coming down to this: our constitution does not allow the president or vice president to receive oral sex with a woman other than his wife while in office. (FDR may have had a mistress, but she did not fellate him, wheelchair issues). Constitutional scholar that he is, Dick Cheney knew he needed to cover for being out in the weeds with Pamela.

(Dear oc. I am making this up)

Posted by: Jess Wundrun at February 16, 2006 03:27 PM
Jess...I was told that Dick and Pamela were in the grass alone,and Dick saw movement in that gulley... and not knowing who it was.... he fired a shot in that direction, and.... it was Harry who had not told them he was in the area. There were no other birds involved.

Posted by: Bill at February 16, 2006 04:17 PM
No (snigger) game cocks?

Posted by: Jess Wundrun at February 16, 2006 04:25 PM
The reason the Blackhawks weren't used? Probably the same reason that prompted Cheney to leave out the most salient detail of the accidental shooting, that he was the shooter, when he contacted the WH. He was attempting to cover it up.

Anybody who believes he approved that call to the local paper next morning, please contact me. I have beachfront property in Kansas to sell you.

Posted by: Gloria at February 16, 2006 04:41 PM
Jess - you're wrong. FDR was getting some, he was just better at hiding it than Caligula. FDR had that the luxury of that long dark cape he could just drape over whoevever was doing the servicing.

Posted by: SBVFT contributor - best $25 - well, u know the rest at February 16, 2006 04:48 PM
Because I personally find the topic of this thread pretty boring and largely irrelevant given the relative significance of Cheney's mis-service as our vice-president....

I'd like to offer a challenge to any self-respecting Bush supporter:

Read Paul Pilar's article in Foreign Affairs, and/or, read what Larry Wilkerson has to say about the handling of intelligence in the run up to the Iraqi invasion, and/or, link to websites where you can hear interviews with either or both of them.

Then show that you have the wherewithall (balls) to come back to this site and offer a legitimate counter-argument (or even lame attempt to do such)to what they have to say about the role of our VICE (nice word play, Jess) president in the Bush misadministration's use of intelligence in development of Middle East foreign policy.








Posted by: Talking point detective at February 16, 2006 04:49 PM
Who cares how long it took to get Whittington some medical attention? Let the Neocons all kill each other...just one less we have to deal with. Cheney would have done us all a big favor if he would have next turned the gun on himself.

Posted by: Lou at February 16, 2006 04:53 PM
Dear TPD,

How quaint of you to suggest real discourse based on facts - from Bushcultists, yet!

None of that, they only call names and impugn characters, with a side dish of smear tactics.

Posted by: roooth at February 16, 2006 05:11 PM
Geeeeeee, I wonder if it was because the intention was to keep this a secret all along. Hmmm, I really wonder about that. People in power will never learn. They really never will. After Clinton, you'd think the lesson would have hit home, but no.

Posted by: park at February 16, 2006 05:14 PM

I'm trying to find out if there is such thing as "self-respecting Bush supporters," or whether everyone who defends Bush's policies (specifically Middle East policies) is, in fact, a Bushcultist.

Gee, I wonder if anyone will respond to the challenge. While I appreciate the intent of your comment, I have to say it is the first time anyone on this site has called me "quaint" (well, maybe Arn kind of did one time when he called me a "baby.")

Posted by: Talking point detective at February 16, 2006 05:17 PM
"yes, i think its pretty clear. DC just wanted this man to die. this way, they could have just buried the dude right there on the ranch and these meddlesome media-types would have never known about the whole deal."

That's my boy! You tell em bout dat librul media!

Posted by: Slow Brain Veterans for Thugs at February 16, 2006 05:17 PM
Boy, you must've hit a real sore spot, Will Bunch. Just LOOKIE at all the trolls coming out of the woodwork trying to "yawn" in various different ways.

Nice try, tools.

Attytood has always been spot-on excellent commentary. Keep up the brilliant work. Top headline at Buzzflash and well-warranted.

Posted by: R at February 16, 2006 05:22 PM
"Boy, you must've hit a real sore spot, Will Bunch."

Nah, he fired blanks on this one.

Posted by: db_cooper at February 16, 2006 05:24 PM
Da women, da beer, .... damn, Harry got shot!

Posted by: Old Boy at February 16, 2006 05:26 PM
Right you are,TPD.This is the media distracting from the real crimes and issues that NEED to be focused upon.It was pretty good for a few jokes,not at Mr.Whittington's expense(except for the lawyer ones)but there are more important issues more serious than a heart attack.Get back to leaks and spying and killing innocents and agitating Muslims and nookular options and torturing prisoners.Those are the crimes we must stay focused on.

Posted by: tired of this too at February 16, 2006 05:27 PM
PS - Bushie's little tramp daughter used the secret service to spring one of her underaged-drinking friend-with-benefits from jail, so Cheney could've spared a helicopter for the man he shot. Maybe part of the untold story includes Cheney's heart having a little scare of its own after what he did, so they had to reserve emergency treatment for HIM.

The fact that they lied about the time of the shooting, they lied about the distance, they lied about the severity of the shooting, they lied about the drinking and the reason for keeping Cheney under wraps for a day before allowing local authorities to interview Dick, not to mention many other unanswered questions, such as just why that lady ambassador was "hunting" with them, proves this is a story that bears ALL the scrutiny being paid to it.

Anyone who is NOT a troll and a tool who questions otherwise apparently never got the lessons learned about Clinton's blowjob. You need a story like this to reach the bonehead fundie Nascar masses.

Posted by: R at February 16, 2006 05:31 PM
And they stick to their posts, just like they're PAID to do. Opposite ends of the spectrum, I'm SO sure. How transparent can you get?

Say, tools, do they pay for your gym time, too, to counteract the ENDLESS HOURS you glue your widening butts to the chair breathing down Attytood's neck?

Posted by: R at February 16, 2006 05:34 PM
Actually, I'm sure it's the same troll with different nyms. Will, you should check it out.

Posted by: R at February 16, 2006 05:36 PM
How about just releasing the Secret Service voice chatter recordings during the incident?

I don't think it would be too hard to believe that Cheney actually accidentally shot the guy in the SUV.

Posted by: "un"common sense at February 16, 2006 05:37 PM
i don'tsee what all the fuss is about just one lying corrupt vile dickhead cheny shooting life long insider repug. bottom feeder for bushco last 18 years.maybe next time he can return the pleasure,just kidding.

Posted by: hobojo at February 16, 2006 05:38 PM
Interesting juxtapostion between the last two posts. One says we should stick to discussing the real issues. The next says we should play the Rove game and stick to sensationalism over relatively insignificant issues to reach the NASCAR masses.

I have to say, exposing the ineptitude, dissembling, corruption, manipulation, counter-productivity, etc., etc., seems to have less affect on the polls than when Cheney shoots someone - but maybe a two-pronged attack might be best?

Posted by: Talking point detective at February 16, 2006 05:38 PM
The Democrats and Independents can do much better for more people in this country because we now have a truly stark example by the G.O.P. of what NOT to do to a democracy: let it be hijacked by zealots.And incompetent zealots at that!

Posted by: Lyn at February 16, 2006 05:38 PM
The Democrats and Independents can do much better for more people in this country because we now have a truly stark example by the G.O.P. of what NOT to do to a democracy: let it be hijacked by zealots.And incompetent zealots at that!

Posted by: Lyn at February 16, 2006 05:40 PM
"And they stick to their posts, just like they're PAID to do. "

Gawd, you're dense.

Talking Point Detective has been here for some time. So have I. We're not paid to post here. He's pretty far left if you bothered to read any of his posts instead of just launching into moronic, fact-free tirades.

Hey, TPD, maybe this is POA's couzin. He used to think we were the same poster.

This earthshattering post about helicopters is nothing of the sort, for reasons I documented. If you disagree, why don't you pick apart my statements instead of just flinging baseless charges that you can't substantiate?

Posted by: db_cooper at February 16, 2006 05:41 PM
No Blackhawks were around.. Just chickenhawks.

Posted by: Paul3 at February 16, 2006 05:45 PM
"The fact that they lied about the time of the shooting,"

No evidence of that.

"they lied about the distance,"

No evidence of that. The injuries are consistent with 8 shot at 30 yards.

"they lied about the severity of the shooting,"

Uh, no, they had no idea as to the severity until he got to a hospital.

"they lied about the drinking"

Haven't seen that.

"and the reason for keeping Cheney under wraps for a day before allowing local authorities to interview Dick,"

No evidence of that, either.

"not to mention many other unanswered questions, such as just why that lady ambassador was "hunting" with them"

Gee, do you suppose she was hunting with them because it was HER RANCH?

What a maroon. The truth does just fine, but you just can't resist making stuff up, can you?

Posted by: db_cooper at February 16, 2006 05:47 PM
Yeah, POA called me a "tool" also.

""and the reason for keeping Cheney under wraps for a day before allowing local authorities to interview Dick,""

As I heard it, the SS refused to let the local authorities to interview Cheney until the next morning. Why?

"Gee, do you suppose she was hunting with them because it was HER RANCH?"

Not that our friend needs to be defended, but there was a (Swedish?) ambassador in the group. I didn't realize that she also owned the ranch.

Posted by: Talking point detective at February 16, 2006 05:53 PM
thats some history,I dont think there are enough blackhawks to haul all that hubris.

Hopefully this will be the incident that brings the bush junta down,maybe the house and senate democrats are letting them getting away with their corrupt actions and their nauseating cronyism so they all will crash and burn together.wishful thinking

WHittington must have said something to offend dick.This just reeks of a premeditated accident gone awry.I never hunted,but you just dont turn around and shoot blindly like that,especially an experienced hunter.

where the hell is karma gonna show up?

Posted by: J at February 16, 2006 06:05 PM
thats some history,I dont think there are enough blackhawks to haul all that hubris.

Hopefully this will be the incident that brings the bush junta down,maybe the house and senate democrats are letting them getting away with their corrupt actions and their nauseating cronyism so they all will crash and burn together.wishful thinking

WHittington must have said something to offend dick.This just reeks of a premeditated accident gone awry.I never hunted,but you just dont turn around and shoot blindly like that,especially an experienced hunter.

where the hell is karma gonna show up?

Posted by: J at February 16, 2006 06:06 PM
thats some history,I dont think there are enough blackhawks to haul all that hubris.

Hopefully this will be the incident that brings the bush junta down,maybe the house and senate democrats are letting them getting away with their corrupt actions and their nauseating cronyism so they all will crash and burn together.wishful thinking

WHittington must have said something to offend dick.This just reeks of a premeditated accident gone awry.I never hunted,but you just dont turn around and shoot blindly like that,especially an experienced hunter.

where the hell is karma gonna show up?

Posted by: J at February 16, 2006 06:06 PM
Also, db.
"No evidence of that. The injuries are consistent with 8 shot at 30 yards."

Curious, then, to hear your response to this comment on another thread from Charlie L.

"It will take a CSI-like effort with models and dressed cadavers to determine if a 7.5 pellet can get through clothes, skin, and body to the heart if shot from 30 yards away. I'm not a hunter, but I'm going to guess the answer is: "not F&#$ing likely." More possible is that the vic was shot from 15 to 20 FEET away rather than the 90 feet claimed. This difference is too large to be a "mistake of memory" but would have to be a LIE."

Posted by: Talking point detective at February 16, 2006 06:06 PM
thats some history,I dont think there are enough blackhawks to haul all that hubris.

Hopefully this will be the incident that brings the bush junta down,maybe the house and senate democrats are letting them getting away with their corrupt actions and their nauseating cronyism so they all will crash and burn together.wishful thinking

WHittington must have said something to offend dick.This just reeks of a premeditated accident gone awry.I never hunted,but you just dont turn around and shoot blindly like that,especially an experienced hunter.

where the hell is karma gonna show up?

Posted by: J at February 16, 2006 06:08 PM
thats some history,I dont think there are enough blackhawks to haul all that hubris.

Hopefully this will be the incident that brings the bush junta down,maybe the house and senate democrats are letting them getting away with their corrupt actions and their nauseating cronyism so they all will crash and burn together.wishful thinking

WHittington must have said something to offend dick.This just reeks of a premeditated accident gone awry.I never hunted,but you just dont turn around and shoot blindly like that,especially an experienced hunter.

where the hell is karma gonna show up?

Posted by: J at February 16, 2006 06:08 PM
I'm getting the distinct impression that Will is behind all this multiple posting of the same comments: maybe he can justify asking for a raise based on the total number?

Posted by: Talking point detective at February 16, 2006 06:13 PM
Forget about the shooting incident for one moment please.

It occurs to me that it must be costing the tax-payers a veritable fortune every time Cheney takes a notion to blast a few birds: good god all mighty; ambulances, Black Hawks, C-130s and a medical team? Damn!

Of course, I remember the G-8 in S.E. Gerogia and Junior's portable police state that made life a living burning hell for everyone down here, especially the Vietnam Vets, like me, for three months before His Royal Hind-end even arrived.

Nothing like those war-choppers to take ya back, several decades, when they damn near land on your roof at midnight.

Lucky for me, I have a psychiatrist friend who was also in Nam. Handy when you find yourself not sleeping and, when you do sleep, having nightmares, again.

Thought I had finally beaten those demons after about 20 years of hard work. Well, I guess some demons never go away, especially when the same old crowd is always around to re-energize them.

Why can't Junior and the Dick just stay home, for chrissake? They keep telling us that we are at war; a criminal war, which they have screwed up 40 ways from Sunday. Seems to me they ought to be working 24/7 to make up for all they have screwed up.

I am however curious as to where Lynne was. If this had been Clinton, drinking and shooting (pun intended) with another woman, not Hill, the morality police would already be holding hearings.

Posted by: Tram at February 16, 2006 06:19 PM
Is it possible that Mr. Cheney had a few more than 1 (ONE) beer and the 24 hour period was used for sobering up ?? Just asking.

Posted by: EDJ at February 16, 2006 06:28 PM
I don't believe there was any conspiracy here. I think that Medivac could've gotten Whittington to the hospital sooner than the way they did it,no doubt; and I've seen medical personnel on scene numerous times who have made the call to go to a trauma unit at a hospital further than the closest hospital, & the severity of the injuries were much less than Whittington received. Whittington should have been Medivacked to Chorpus Christi trauma unit.
Q - Were all these people untrained & incompetent? or, just stupid?
Something smells here, I just can't place the odor.
"No Charges Against Cheney". "no alcohol involved". says who?

Q - Were all these people just stupid?

Posted by: MickeyG at February 16, 2006 06:47 PM
Check this out: (from Editor and Publisher)

The sheriff, in that article, had explained why he did not rush to the ranch that night. "We've known these people (witnesses) for years. They are honest and wouldn't call us, telling us a lie," Salinas said. "I talked to an eyewitness who said it was a definite accident. We knew Mr. Whittington was being cared for.


So, when they say alcohol was not a factor in the accident, the sheriff has essentially admitted that he was going only on the say-so of the perpetrator. Gotta love Texas justice.

Posted by: Jess Wundrun at February 16, 2006 06:50 PM
Bookmark Attytood

Saundra Hummer
February 16th, 2006, 06:36 PM

A great war leaves the country with three armies - an army of cripples, an army of mourners, and an army of thieves. German Proverb


Setting a good example is a far better way to spread ideals than through force of arms: Congressman Ron Paul


"If these precedents are to stand unimpeached, and to provide sanctions for the continued conduct of America affairs -- the Constitution may be nullified by the President and officers who have taken the oath and are under moral obligation to uphold it….they may substitute personal and arbitrary government -- the first principle of the totalitarian system against which it has been alleged that World War II was waged -- while giving lip service to the principle of constitutional government." : Professor Charles Beard - President Roosevelt and the Coming of the War 1941, 1948.

Saundra Hummer
February 16th, 2006, 09:35 PM
Here's a list of stories on the torture this administration is advocating, there are links to video's, a new set of pictures and articles.

By Olivia Rousset
Broadcast By SBS - Australia - Dateline - 02/15/06These are the photos the American Government doesn't want you to see. While researching a story on guards at Abu Ghraib, I obtained a copy of the unreleased photographs and videos. Taken at the same time as the photos released in 2004 and often of the same abuses, this is the first time they have been shown to the public. Click here to watch the video: GO ON-SITE TO VIEW, ADDRESS TO LINK AT BOTTOM OF PAGE


IRAQ: HORRIFIC NEW TORTURE PICTURES RELEASEDMORE photographs have been leaked of Iraqi citizens tortured by US soldiers at the notorious Abu Ghraib prison on the outskirts of Baghdad.


These pictures should only be viewed by a mature AUDIENCE



More Photos; More War Crimes

By Mike Whitney
The photographs illustrate in excruciating detail the commitment to physical coercion that the Bush administration has vigorously defended in its legal memoranda and justified in terms of its war on terrorism. The battered faces and hooded victims of American brutality attest to the shocking inhumanity of the present campaign. Continued


Eyes Wide Open
By Chris Floyd

What shall we say when history asks how such crimes came to be committed in the name of America? Will we say that we stood silently by, shrugging our shoulders, filling our bellies, closing our eyes? Or will we be able to say: We saw. We dissented. We resisted. We condemned.



Saundra Hummer
February 17th, 2006, 01:21 AM

White House Ordered to Release Spy Papers
Associated Press Writer
46 minutes ago

WASHINGTON - A federal judge ordered the Bush administration on Thursday to release documents about its warrantless surveillance program or spell out what it is withholding, a setback to efforts to keep the program under wraps.

At the same time, the Republican chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee said he had worked out an agreement with the White House to consider legislation and provide more information to Congress on the eavesdropping program. The panel's top Democrat, who has requested a full-scale investigation, immediately objected to what he called an abdication of the committee's responsibilities.

U.S. District Judge Henry Kennedy ruled that a private group, the Electronic Privacy Information Center, will suffer irreparable harm if the documents it has been seeking since December are not processed promptly under the Freedom of Information Act. He gave the Justice Department 20 days to respond to the group's request.

" President Bush has invited meaningful debate about the wireless surveillance program," Kennedy said. "That can only occur if DOJ processes its FOIA requests in a timely fashion and releases the information sought."

Justice Department spokeswoman Tasia Scolinos said the department has been "extremely forthcoming" with information and "will continue to meet its obligations under FOIA."

On Capitol Hill, lawmakers also have been seeking more information about Bush's program that allowed the National Security Agency to eavesdrop — without court warrants — on Americans whose international calls and e-mails it believed might be linked to al-Qaida.

After a two-hour closed-door session, Senate Intelligence Chairman Pat Roberts, R-Kan., said the committee adjourned without voting on whether to open an investigation. Instead, he and the White House confirmed that they had an agreement to give lawmakers more information on the nature of the program. The White House also has committed to make changes to the current law, according to Roberts and White House deputy press secretary Dana Perino.

"I believe that such an investigation at this point ... would be detrimental to this highly classified program and efforts to reach some accommodation with the administration," Roberts said.

Still, he promised to consider the Democratic request for a vote in a March 7 meeting.

Earlier, Bush spokesman Scott McClellan reiterated that Bush does not need Congress' approval to authorize the warrantless eavesdropping and that the president would resist any legislation that might compromise the program.

Later Thursday, Bush adviser Karl Rove told at the University of Central Arkansas: "The purpose of the terrorist-surveillance program is to protect lives. The president's actions were legal and fully consistent with the 4th Amendment and the protection of our civil liberties under the constitution."

West Virginia Sen. Jay Rockefeller, the Intelligence Committee's top Democrat, said the White House had applied heavy pressure to Republicans to prevent them from conducting thorough oversight. He complained that Roberts didn't even allow a vote on a proposal for a 13-point investigation that would include the program's origin and operation, technical aspects and questions raised by federal judges.

Rockefeller said the Senate cannot consider legislation because lawmakers don't have enough information. "No member of the Senate can cast an informed vote on legislation authorizing or conversely restricting the NSA's warrantless surveillance program, when they fundamentally do not know what they are authorizing or restricting," he said.

It remains unclear what changes in law may look like. Roberts indicated it may be possible "to fix" the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act to authorize the president's program. Perino said the White House considers suggestions put forward by Sen. Mike DeWine (news, bio, voting record), R-Ohio, the starting point, particularly his proposal to create a special subcommittee on Capitol Hill that would regularly review the program.

DeWine's proposal would exempt Bush's program from FISA. That law set up a special court to approve warrants for monitoring inside the United States for national security investigations.

Yet Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John Warner, R-Va., left the closed hearing saying he has been working on a different legislative change to FISA. "It seems that's a logical place to start, to upgrade FISA given the extraordinary expanse of technology in the 30 years that have lapsed," he said.

Senate Judiciary Chairman Arlen Specter, R-Pa., told a forum at Georgetown University Law School Thursday night, "You cannot have domestic search and seizure without a warrant." He is drafting legislation to require the foreign surveillance court to review Bush's program and determine if it is constitutional.

California Rep. Jane Harman (news, bio, voting record), ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, told the Georgetown audience the surveillance "can and must comply" with the law requiring warrants from the special court. However, she supported the need to conduct electronic eavesdropping to combat terrorism.

Specter's committee will continue to probe the program's legality at a Feb. 28 hearing. The Justice Department strongly discouraged him from calling former Attorney General John Ashcroft and his deputy, James Comey, to testify about the surveillance program.

Just as Attorney General Alberto Gonzales could not talk about the administration's internal deliberations when he appeared before the committee earlier this month, neither can Ashcroft nor Comey, Assistant Attorney General William Moschella said in a letter to Specter.


Associated Press writers Jennifer Loven, Mark Sherman and Larry Margasak contributed to this report.


Saundra Hummer
February 17th, 2006, 01:28 AM


Gonzales Also Ends Up Defending His Credibility

Senate Democrats accuse the attorney general of previously misleading them on the domestic surveillance program.

By Richard B. Schmitt, Times Staff Writer

WASHINGTON — A year ago, even Democrats in Congress viewed newly minted Atty. Gen. Alberto R. Gonzales as a breath of fresh air. After years of battling his hard-edged predecessor, John Ashcroft, the quiet, self-effacing former judge was seen as marking a new era of open and harmonious relationsGonzales' appearance Monday before the Senate Judiciary Committee showed what a difference a year can make..
Testifying about the domestic spying program that President Bush secretly approved after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, Gonzales found himself defending not only the legal rationale of the program but also his own credibility.

Before Gonzales could utter a word of his opening statement, members of the panel wrangled over whether he should have to swear to tell the truth to the committee. Democrats were armed with a DVD that they said featured misleading statements by Gonzales and Bush about the program before its existence was disclosed in December by the New York Times.

"This is really not a very good way to begin this hearing," said the Judiciary Committee chairman, Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.).

The panel voted along party lines to give Gonzales a pass on the oath, even though he said he would take one.

The Democrats were forced to show their video to reporters outside the hearing room after Specter ruled that reading a transcript of the tape was adequate.

Still, Gonzales found himself repeatedly on the defensive, having to justify what Democrats alleged were evasions.

Sen. Russell D. Feingold (D-Wis.) accused him of giving a misleading answer to a question about the scope of presidential power — the linchpin of the debate over the eavesdropping program — during his confirmation hearing last January.

At the time, Feingold asked Gonzales a question that seemed to touch on the then-secret program — whether he believed that Bush had the power to authorize warrantless wiretaps of Americans "in violation of the criminal and foreign intelligence surveillance statutes of this country."

Gonzales responded that the question was hypothetical, but added that it was "not the policy or the agenda of this president to authorize actions that would be in contravention of our criminal statutes."

On Monday, Feingold said that answer was misleading. Gonzales said the earlier response was accurate because the administration had always believed that the eavesdropping program was legal and authorized by Congress.

"Senator, I've told the truth then; I'm telling the truth now," Gonzales said.

"Mr. Chairman, I think the witness has taken mincing words to a new high," Feingold said.

Sen. Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.) cited another exchange during the confirmation hearing, when Gonzales declared that Bush had never exercised his authority to conclude that a law was unconstitutional and refused to comply with it.

Durbin said Monday that the administration was doing just that in the domestic spying program, and was skirting a 1978 law — the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act — that established procedures for a court to consider the sorts of domestic eavesdropping that the administration undertook.

"So how can your response be valid today in light of what we now know?" Durbin asked.

"Oh, it's absolutely valid, senator," Gonzales replied.

Gonzales said the administration believed a joint congressional resolution after the Sept. 11 attacks effectively supplemented the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act by giving Bush the power to take all necessary action to protect the country — implicitly including electronic surveillance without warrants.

The credibility attacks left Gonzales acting as defender-in-chief for the president.

Page 2 of 2 << back 1 2

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) said Bush had misled the public during a 2004 speech in Buffalo, N.Y., in which he sought to ease fears about the Patriot Act by stressing the role that courts played in authorizing wiretaps.

" 'Any time you hear the United States government talking about wiretap, it requires — a wiretap requires a court order,' " Feinstein quoted Bush as saying. " 'Nothing has changed, by the way. When we're talking about chasing down terrorists, we're talking about getting a court order before we do so.' "

"Mr. Attorney General, in light of what you and the president have said in the past month, this statement appears to be false," Feinstein said. "Do you agree?"

Gonzales said the statement was taken out of context, and that Bush was addressing a particular kind of wiretap.

"I take great issue with your suggestion that somehow the president of the United States was not being totally forthcoming with the American people," he responded.

Feinstein asked Gonzales whether the administration believed that the post-Sept. 11 congressional resolution was so all-encompassing that it gave officials the authority to give "false or misleading answers" if the president thought the truth might hinder his ability to function as commander in chief.

"Absolutely not, senator," Gonzales replied. "Of course not."

The parrying goes to a major concern about Gonzales, who has been part of the Bush inner circle since Bush's days as governor of Texas.

His defenders say he is conscientiously doing all he can to protect the country from attack. Gonzales stressed during his confirmation hearing last year that he recognized he would have a broader constituency as attorney general, compared to his job as White House counsel, serving the nation rather than just Bush.

"Atty. Gen. Gonzales is candid and honest when giving legal advice — as every good and capable lawyer should be with their client," said Justice Department spokeswoman Tasia Scolinos. "If anything, the level of trust and respect that comes from years of working together allows him to be exceptionally forthcoming when giving advice."

Critics still perceive him as insufficiently independent of his old boss.

"It is sort of startling. Here is a very mild-mannered guy, a very nice person, who has, on virtually every issue in the war on terror, told the president what he wants to hear," said David Cole, a law professor at Georgetown University. "The constant theme is that the president, as commander in chief, is essentially above the law."


Saundra Hummer
February 17th, 2006, 10:45 AM

Three Journalists Face Jail For Revealing Existence Of CIA Prisons In Europe

Submitted by editor4 on February 16, 2006 - 3:51pm.
Source: Reporters Without Borders (via Guerilla News Network)

Three journalists face prison for revealing existence of secret CIA prisons in EuropeReporters Without Borders has appealed to the Swiss justice and defence ministers to drop complaints against three journalists who revealed the existence of secret CIA prisons in Europe.
In letters to the federal councillors, Justice Minister Christoph Blocher and Defence Minister Samuel Schmid, it has pointed out that the journalists only fulfilled their duty to report on a case of public interest.

Zurich-based weekly SonntagsBlick on 8 January this year reproduced a fax from the Egyptian foreign minister to his embassy in London, referring to the existence of secret CIA detention centres in Kosovo, Macedonia, Ukraine, Rumania and Bulgaria.

The case produced an outcry in Switzerland and worldwide and the country’s secret services were implicated in the leak of the confidential document. Romania and Bulgaria denied the allegations. The United States admitted the existence of flights chartered by the CIA over numerous European countries but not the existence of prisons.

A damning report from the Council of Europe condemned abuses committed by the US administration in its fight against terrorism and its recourse to torture, comparing the camps to one in Guantanamo Bay.

The Swiss authorities, fearing a deterioration in their diplomatic relations with the US, with whom they are in the process of negotiating a free-exchange agreement, have sought to defuse the crisis by opening two investigations, one criminal, one military, to track down who was behind the leak. The journalists on SonntagsBlick face prison sentences under the terms of both investigations


Saundra Hummer
February 17th, 2006, 11:42 AM

Fueled by arrogance, Bush White House ignores the rules

By David Ignatius

There is a temptation that seeps into the souls of even the most righteous politicians and leads them to bend the rules, and eventually the truth, to suit the political needs of the moment. That arrogance of power is now on display with the Bush administration.

The most vivid example is the long delay in informing the country that Vice President Cheney had accidentally shot a man last Saturday while hunting in Texas. For a White House that informs us about the smallest bumps and scrapes suffered by the president and vice president, the lag is inexplicable.
But let us assume the obvious: It was an attempt to delay and perhaps suppress embarrassing news. We will never know if the vice president's office would have announced the incident at all if the host of the hunting party, Katharine Armstrong, hadn't made her own decision Sunday morning to inform her local paper.

Nobody died at the Armstrong Ranch, but this incident reminds me a bit of Sen. Edward Kennedy's delay in informing Massachusetts authorities about his role in the fatal automobile accident at Chappaquiddick in 1969. That story, and dozens of others about the Kennedy family, illustrates how wealthy, powerful people can behave as if they are above the law. For my generation, the fall of Richard Nixon is the ultimate allegory about how power can corrupt and destroy. It begins, not with venality, but with a sense of God-given mission.

I would be inclined to leave Cheney to the mercy of Jon Stewart and Jay Leno, if it weren't for other signs that this administration has jumped the tracks. What worries me most is the administration's misuse of intelligence information to advance its political agenda. For a country at war, this is truly dangerous.

The most recent example of politicized intelligence was President Bush's statement on Feb. 9 that the United States had ''derailed'' a 2002 plot to fly a plane into the U.S. Bank Tower in Los Angeles. Bush spoke about four al-Qaida plotters who had planned to use shoe bombs to blow open the cockpit door. But a foreign official with detailed knowledge of the intelligence scoffed at Bush's account, saying that the information obtained from Khalid Sheik Mohammed and an Indonesian operative known as Hambali was not an operational plan so much as an aspiration to destroy the tallest building on the West Coast. When I asked a former high-level U.S. intelligence official about Bush's comment, he agreed that Bush had overstated the intelligence.

Perhaps the most outrageous example of misusing intelligence has been the administration's attempt to undercut Paul Pillar and other former CIA officials who tried to warn about the dangers ahead in Iraq. I'm not talking about the agency's botch job on weapons of mass destruction, but about their warnings that post-war Iraq would be chaotic and dangerous. Pillar said so privately before the war, and he helped draft an August 2004 national intelligence estimate warning, correctly, that the situation in Iraq was deteriorating and heading for ''tenuous stability,'' at best.

Bush was unhappy at this naysaying, just as he has grumbled about pessimistic reports from the CIA station in Baghdad. When Pillar made similar warnings about Iraq at a private dinner in September 2004, the White House went ballistic - seeing Pillar as part of a CIA conspiracy to undermine the president's policies. Soon after, Bush installed a former Republican congressman, Porter Goss, who began a purge at the agency that has now driven out a generation of senior managers. Pillar and many, many others have retired - leaving the nation without some of its best intelligence officers when we need them most.

Bush and Cheney are in the bunker. That's the only way I can make sense of their actions. They are steaming in a broth of daily intelligence reports that highlight the grim terrorist threats facing America. They have sworn blood oaths that they will defend America from its adversaries - o matter what. They have blown past the usual rules and restraints into territory where few presidents have ventured - a region where the president conducts warrantless wiretaps against Americans in violation of a federal statute, where he authorizes harsh interrogation methods that amount to torture.

When critics question the legality of the administration's actions, Bush and Cheney assert the commander-in-chief power under Article II of the Constitution. When Congress passes a law forbidding torture, the White House appends a signing statement insisting that Article II - the power of commander in chief - trumps everything else. When the administration's Republican friends suggest amending the wiretapping law to make their program legal, they refuse. Let's say it plainly: This is the arrogance of power, and it has gone too far in the Bush White House.

Contact David Ignatius at davidignatius@washpost.com.

Originally published February 15, 2006



Saundra Hummer
February 17th, 2006, 12:30 PM

Iraq: How The Corporate Media Promotes War

From Green Left Weekly,
February 16, 2006
By Rohan Pearce

On January 24, Iraqi reporter Mahmoud Zaal was killed during a shoot-out between US occupation forces and Iraqi rebels in the city of Ramadi. He was the second Iraqi journalist to have been killed this year; 35 reporters and other media workers died in Iraq in 2005.
Given the grisly toll that post-9/11 reporting has taken on journalists like Zaal, it’s ironic that the greatest threat to providing accurate news coverage of the different fronts of Washington’s “war on terror” has not come from without, in the form of bullets and bombs, but from within the corporate media, in the form of the slavish accommodation to the disinformation programs of the White House and its allies.

When, for example, media magnate Rupert Murdoch came out in favour of “regime change” in Iraq, his vast empire of media outlets predictably parroted him. “You have got to admit that Rupert Murdoch is one canny press tycoon because he has an unerring ability to choose editors across the world who think just like him”, Roy Greenslade wryly noted in a February 17, 2003, op-ed for the British Guardian. “How else can we explain the extraordinary unity of thought in his newspaper empire about the need to make war on Iraq?”

However, this was not just true of the Murdoch media. Nearly all of the corporate media in the “coalition of the willing” countries — Australia, Britain and the US — acted as propaganda outlets for their governments, uncritically reporting these governmenta’ claims that Iraq had an arsenal of weapons of mass destruction that threatened “international peace and security”.

The gaping holes in these claims were papered over with shoddy journalism. When, for example, Hans Blix, head of UN weapons inspections in Iraq, gave a report to a January 27, 2003, meeting of the UN Security Council, Murdoch’s Australian editorialised that Blix had provided “ample evidence that Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein remains committed to weapons of mass destruction”. Murdoch’s Australian “flagship” argued that the “case to disarm Iraq, by military force if necessary, is now made”.

Little attention was paid to central features of Blix’s report: That UN weapons inspectors had found no evidence that Iraq possessed WMD stockpiles or manufacturing facilities and that, despite hollow anti-Iraq rhetoric by Blix, an extraordinary degree of cooperation had been provided by Iraqi authorities.

Blix did claim that “Iraq appears not to have come to a genuine acceptance … of the disarmament which was demanded of it and which it needs to carry out to win the confidence of the world and to live in peace.” But this nod to the frenzied anti-Iraqi tirade coming from the White House was contradicted later in his report: “The most important point to make is that access has been provided to all sites we have wanted to inspect and with one exception it has been prompt.”

The exception had been detailed by Blix the previous year — “Some sites were inspected last Friday — the Muslim day of rest. In one of them, the Iraqi staff were absent and a number of doors inside locked, with no keys available. The Iraqi side offered to break the doors open — while videotaping the event. However, they agreed with a suggestion that the doors in question could be [sealed] overnight and the offices inspected the next morning.”

Of course details like this, if reported at all, rarely made a dent in the overall impression given by pro-war reporting: That Iraq had massive (hidden) stockpiles of WMDs just waiting to be unleashed.

Embedded with the Pentagon
Imperial cheerleading-as-reporting continued once the “coalition of the willing” launched their invasion.

The Pentagon’s program of “embedding” journalists in military units took the quality of war reporting to a new low. “Embedding” gave the impression of a new level of immediacy in reporting on the war, while it really took the military’s manipulation of journalists to a new high, making the much-vaunted “free press” of the West look like a bad joke.

Editor and Publisher reported on January 27 that the Pentagon’s Institute for Defense Analyses had conducted an analysis of the program and found that it was “an almost unqualified success”. A workshop held by the US Army’s War College on September 3-5, 2003, involving military personnel, academics and journalists who had been “embedded” with military units during the invasion of Iraq, also hailed the “success” of the embed program.

A panel at the War College workshop was “almost in universal agreement that the embedded reporter model is the way to cover future conflicts”. Despite this, a paper produced by the Center for Strategic Leadership summarising the workshop’s conclusions noted that “the military and media participants failed to come to a consensus as to whether an embedded reporter can report about a unit with complete objectivity”.

The CSL summary of discussion reported that “Military leaders were very candid in detailing how they used the media present to help dominate the information battle. A number of media players accepted this as a reality in modern warfare.” Similarly, E&P reported: “One of the surprises in the report is that it reveals that commanders were ‘often asked’ by embeds to review a story or look at a video before it was transmitted, to guarantee ‘accuracy.’ But no claims of censorship were raised.” When journalists self-censor, overt censorship is rendered redundant.

A study by the University of Maryland’s Program on International Policy Attitudes, released on October 2, 2003, based on a series of US-wide polls, revealed just how “successful” reporting of the war had been. It concluded that “a majority of Americans have had significant misperceptions [about the Iraq war] and these are highly related to support for the war with Iraq”.

According to PIPA, 57% of poll participants believed that Iraq was either directly involved in the 9/11 attacks or “gave substantial support to al Qaeda”. Twenty-two per cent believed weapons of mass destruction have been found in Iraq and 25% thought that world public opinion had favoured the US going to war with Iraq. Sixty per cent had at least one of these three misconceptions.

The PIPA poll found a correlation between participants’ primary source of news and their ignorance about the war. Viewers of Murdoch’s high-rating and hysterically pro-invasion Fox News were the most likely to have been sucked in by the White House’s propaganda campaign.

Iran rerun

History is now in the process of being repeated, with Iran being successfully presented as an imminent “threat” to Western “democracies”. An Opinion Dynamics poll conducted in late October 2003 revealed that 57% of people in the US believed that Iran “currently [had] a nuclear weapons program”. By the time of a January 24-25 poll this year, the percentage had jumped to 68%.

Predictably the corporate media has barely bothered to question Washington’s claims about Iran’s nuclear programs and has been all too ready to overlook the hypocrisy of the US, the only nation to have used an atomic bomb in war, threatening war against Iran for allegedly developing nuclear weapons.

A woeful example of what passes for “analysis” was printed in the February 8 Australian (reprinted from the London Times; also a Murdoch-owned paper). Richard Beeston wrote that “with diplomacy nearly exhausted, the use of military force to destroy Iran’s nuclear program is being actively considered by those grappling with one of the world’s most pressing security problems.

“For five years, the West has used every diplomatic device at its disposal to entice Iran into complying with strict conditions that would prevent its nuclear program being diverted to produce an atomic bomb. Those efforts, however, are now faltering.”

It’s clear what a reader is supposed to take away from Beeston’s article: Iran is unquestionably engaged in developing nuclear weapons, that this is “one of the world’s most pressing security problems”, and that “diplomacy” has been unable to stop diverting its “nuclear program to produce an atomic bomb”.

One would scarcely suspect from reading Beeston’s article that in a March 31, 2005, letter to US President George Bush, the White House-established “WMD commission” admitted that US intelligence knew “disturbingly little about the weapons programs and even less about the intentions of many of our most dangerous adversaries”, a reference widely acknowledged to refer at least in part to Iran.

Nor would a reader suspect that a November 15, 2004, report by the UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency revealed that, “All the declared nuclear material in Iran has been accounted for, and therefore such material is not diverted to prohibited activities”.

Beeston also ignored a report in the August 2 Washington Post that revealed that the latest US National Intelligence Estimate “projected that Iran is at least a decade away from manufacturing the key ingredient for a nuclear weapon” — highly enriched uranium.

Of course this hasn’t stopped the Washington Post publishing belligerent and misleading anti-Iran articles. For example an article in the paper’s February 8 edition reported: “In the three years since Iran acknowledged having a secret uranium enrichment program, Western governments and the International Atomic Energy Agency, have gathered evidence to test the Tehran government’s assertion that it plans to build nothing more than peaceful nuclear power plants.”

In reality, three years ago, in accordance with its decision to voluntarily abide by an IAEA-recommended additional protocol to its nuclear safeguards agreement with the IAEA, Iran disclosed that it had conducted lab research into enriching uranium. It was not required to do so under its normal safeguards agreement, so claiming that not revealing this research was a violation of Iran’s legal obligations is completely disingenuous.

In repeatedly peddling this sort of disinformation, the corporate media is only taking its cue from US imperialism’s commander-in-chief. In a May 24, 2005, speech, George Bush explained: “See, in my line of work you got to keep repeating things over and over and over again for the truth to sink in, to kind of catapult the propaganda.”

This article is from Green Left Weekly. If you found it informative and valuable, we strongly encourage you to visit their website and register an account to view all their articles on the web. Support quality journalism.

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Saundra Hummer
February 17th, 2006, 03:24 PM

Humane Society of the United States"

Dear J.D.,

I have distressing news: Late this March, Canada will again proceed with the largest commercial slaughter of marine mammals on the planet. During last year’s hunt, nearly 318,000 seals were killed on Canadian ice. A shocking 98.5% were just two months of age or younger -- many of them were probably skinned while still conscious and able to feel pain.

You stood with The Humane Society of the United States in 2005 as we mobilized thousands of supporters to send a clear message to the Canadian government and the fishing industry it tacitly supports: We will not tolerate the cruel slaughter of more than 300,000 seals every year, and we will do whatever it takes to stop it.

Once again, The HSUS will be on the front lines in Canada, fighting this atrocity. You've already signed our pledge to boycott Canadian seafood, and today we need your help to spread the word. Please take just a minute to send a message to your friends and family, asking them to sign the pledge to boycott Canadian seafood.

Don't Buy While Seals Die: Boycott Canadian Seafood.

Help save the baby seals by asking your friends to sign the pledge to boycott Canadian seafood. Your simple act could help end the seal hunt forever.

Every person who signs the pledge adds to the growing number of concerned and outraged individuals worldwide who want this hunt stopped forever. Their collective power is already having an impact. Consider what’s happened since last year’s hunt:

The number of restaurants and seafood businesses who have pledged to limit or eliminate their purchases of Canadian seafood has grown to more than 400. They are joined by more than 140,000 individuals.

The value of Canadian snow crab exports to the United States has plummeted by more than $160 million -- nearly ten times the value of the seal hunt and a 34% drop since the seafood boycott began.

Since the boycott was announced, some of Canada's largest fishing companies have released financial reports revealing drops in profits. Fisheries Products International, Newfoundland's largest fishing company, is losing so much money that it is considering selling off most of its fishing rights.

In Europe, where almost all Canadian seal skins are shipped for processing and resale, several nations are taking steps to ban those shipments. At the forefront is Belgium, which has already banned the import of all seal products.

Just 23 hours after The HSUS’s 2005 seal hunt footage was aired on national TV, Greenland’s government announced it would stop imports of Canadian seal skins. Canada has exported more than 90,000 seal skins to Greenland over the past two years.
Canada is sensitive to world opinion, and its fishing industry -- which hunts seals in its off-season -- is vulnerable to the choice of hundreds of thousands of people to boycott Canadian seafood. Although we've made progress, our work is clearly not finished. Taking the pledge is simple and effective. The more people who participate, the better chance we have of ending this slaughter once and for all. Click here to urge your friends to sign the pledge!

The first stage of the hunt, set to start in late March, will unfold quickly. Once again, The HSUS will be there with our cameras, showing the world the ugly truth of what happens on the ice. We hope that the newly elected Conservative Party government in Canada will work with us to stop the hunt of hundreds of thousands of baby seals.

You can stay in touch with one of our major animal protection campaigns of the year at www.ProtectSeals.org. There you'll find up-to-the-minute news, videos, and actions throughout the hunt.

I know that it's painful to think about this awful abuse, but your involvement and action are critical to ending it. Thank you for joining us today in our fight to abolish the cruel seal hunt forever.


Wayne Pacelle
President & CEO
The Humane Society of the United States

P.S. During the hunt, you can get frequent updates from Rebecca Aldworth, our Director of Canadian Wildlife Issues, who will be on the ice to witness and report on the slaughter. Click here to subscribe to Seal Watch.


Saundra Hummer
February 17th, 2006, 03:54 PM

Morocco's capital Rabat.


Rabat, 17 Feb. (AKI) - The leader of Morocco's journalists union believes an Arab Observatory for Press Freedom to open in Rabat in May will create a network supporting colleagues at home and in other Arab countries in their quest for more freedom. The observatory created by the Arab journalists union "will help us monitor the situation in the entire Arab region, from Algeria to Yemen, as reporters will write periodic dossiers on their own countries and then compare notes at annual meetings," Younes Moujahid, who heads the national union of the Moroccan press, told Adnkronos International (AKI).

"Our effort is to centralise all the data through national unions so that we can publicly compare what is going on," said Moujahid in a phone interview from Rabat.

The decision to create an observatory was taken at the 10th congress of the Arab Journalists' Union (AJU) in Cairo on October 2004.

Organisers, including AJU president Ibrahim Nafea, swear the body will be "fully independent." This claim is also endorsed by the Brussels-based International Journalists Federation (IJF), which is helping set up the initiative, which says the choice of venue is key. The IJF is the world's largest organisation of journalists which, among other things, helps out press and media unions in countries where undemocratic regimes are in place.

Bertrand Ginet, project manager of the Mediterranean area for IJF, told AKI he was confident the observatory would contribute to some progress by creating stronger links between various Arab media unions and would be given a certain degree of freedom, because it is based in Morocco.

"The situation there is moving swiftly and, unless journalists investigate hot topics such as religion and territorial integrity, they are granted a certain amount of freedom," Ginet said.

The media in Morocco has become freer since Mohammed VI became king in 2000 and media reforms were pushed through in 2002.

Nevertheless, the law imposes major restrictions on press freedom and journalists are still arrested and jailed on libel and slander charges.

The situation is further complicated by the fact that certain offences - such as criticism of Islam, the monarchy or territorial integrity - are not clearly defined.

"Yet media freedom in Morocco is so much better than in any other country in the area, except Lebanon," Ginet said.

Progress is also being made after a bill on the liberalisation of the audiovisual media was passed in 2004 to make the industry more dynamic.

There are currently two state-owned Moroccan television channels and a very limited number of radio stations. The situation is about to evolve with approximately ten new radios and three new television broadcasters about to open.

"There is an atmosphere of great change now," explained Moujahid, adding that the first media outlets are expected to start operating during the course of 2006 and 2007.

Despite the planned emergence of many new media outlets Ginet said, "there is still a lot of pressure on single journalists in Morocco."

"The hope is that reporters will be less alone thanks to institutions such as the new observatory," the IJF member said.


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Feb-17-06 15:42










Saundra Hummer
February 17th, 2006, 06:27 PM

From an email newsletter:

"What could be the biggest scandal of our lifetime."
-- Lou Dobbs, CNN

Dear Media For Democracy Activist:
The House Armed Services Committee recently held a hearing about the controversial Able Danger data-mining program. The secret intelligence program, which used advanced computerized link and pattern analysis techniques, purportedly identified four 9/11 hijackers a year before the worst terror attacks on American soil.

Analysts associated with the secretive Able Danger program, including Army Reserve Lieutenant Colonel Anthony Shaffer and Navy Captain Scott Phillpott also say their team passed on warnings to high officials at both Special Operations Command (SOCOM) and Central Command (CENTCOM) about al Qaeda activity in Aden, Yemen before the October 2000 attack there on the USS Cole. Seventeen US military personnel were killed and thirty-nine wounded in the terror attack.

Republican Congressman Curt Weldon believes that the National Commission's work investigating the 9/11 attacks has proven “to be a disappointment and a failure, especially as it pertains to Able Danger.” Possible explanations for this, says Weldon, include “gross incompetence either on the part of the Commissioners or the Commission staff, or both,” or more alarmingly, “a deliberate cover-up that would make the Watergate scandal pale in comparison.”
“The origin of the plot is the key to the 9/11 Commission investigation,” says journalist Peter Lance, who wrote the best seller Cover Up. "I believe the Commission fix was in, however, and that a decision and a deal was made to limit the damage across three administrations to avoid blame and obscure accountability for massive intelligence failures…. The 9/11 Commission is looking more and more like the Warren Commission of our time—an official body that purposely limited the scope of its investigation, cherry-picked evidence, and allowed political considerations on the left and the right to influence its final conclusions."
Up until this point CNN's Lou Dobbs is one of the few in the mainstream media to cover this issue! Click below to send a message to the major news networks demanding that they cover "What could be the biggest scandal of our lifetime."
Send the network news companies a message demanding that they cover Able Danger!
Take Action: Demand Coverage of Able Danger
David DeGraw
Executive Director

P.S. Please forward this e-mail to everyone you know >>
P.P.S. Check out MediaChannel.org's Able Danger Media Monitoring report. [/SIZE]

Take Action: Demand Coverage of Able Danger
"What could be the biggest scandal of our lifetime." -- Lou Dobbs, CNN

The House Armed Services Committee recently held a hearing about the controversial Able Danger data-mining program. The secret intelligence program, which used advanced computerized link and pattern analysis techniques, purportedly identified four 9/11 hijackers a year before the worst terror attacks on American soil.

Analysts associated with the secretive Able Danger program, including Army Reserve Lieutenant Colonel Anthony Shaffer and Navy Captain Scott Phillpott also say their team passed on warnings to high officials at both Special Operations Command (SOCOM) and Central Command (CENTCOM) about al Qaeda activity in Aden, Yemen before the October 2000 attack there on the USS Cole. Seventeen US military personnel were killed and thirty-nine wounded in the terror attack.

Republican Congressman Curt Weldon believes that the National Commission's work investigating the 9/11 attacks has proven “to be a disappointment and a failure, especially as it pertains to Able Danger.” Possible explanations for this, says Weldon, include “gross incompetence either on the part of the Commissioners or the Commission staff, or both,” or more alarmingly, “a deliberate cover-up that would make the Watergate scandal pale in comparison.”

“The origin of the plot is the key to the 9/11 Commission investigation,” says journalist Peter Lance, who wrote the best seller Cover Up. "I believe the Commission fix was in, however, and that a decision and a deal was made to limit the damage across three administrations to avoid blame and obscure accountability for massive intelligence failures…. The 9/11 Commission is looking more and more like the Warren Commission of our time—an official body that purposely limited the scope of its investigation, cherry-picked evidence, and allowed political considerations on the left and the right to influence its final conclusions."

Up until this point CNN's Lou Dobbs is one of the few in the mainstream media to cover this issue! Click below to send a message to the major news networks demanding that they cover "What could be the biggest scandal of our lifetime." (Go on-site to sign the petitions and to learn more, by clicking on the following links at the bottom of this post.)

February 17, 2006


I am disappointed that you did not give coverage to the Able Danger hearings.

Analysts associated with the secretive Able Danger program, including Army Reserve Lieutenant Colonel Anthony Shaffer and Navy Captain Scott Phillpott, say they identified Mohamed Atta and three other 9/11 hijackers a year before the Al Qaeda-connected terror attacks on America. They also say their team passed on warnings to high officials at both Special Operations Command (SOCOM) and Central Command (CENTCOM).
about al Qaeda activity in Aden before the attack on the USS Cole, which killed seventeen and injured thirty nine. Congressman Curt Weldon says, "At a minimum, this is a case of gross incompetence. At maximum, it's a cover up bigger than Watergate. And this doesn't concern some third-rate burglary. It's about the biggest attack against this country in history, one that killed nearly three thousand people!"

Former FBI Director Louis Freeh stated: "We have now very honorable military officers telling the United States, that in 2000, not only had Mohamed Atta had been identified by photo and name but was earmarked as an al-Qa’ida operative in the United States. Apparently this information was brought to the 9/11 Commission prior to their report. There's no reference to it. That's the kind of tactical intelligence that would make a difference in stopping a hijacking... We're very interested in what the 9/11 Commission didn't do with respect to Able Danger."

Please explain to me how these hearings did not warrant your coverage.
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Saundra Hummer
February 17th, 2006, 07:28 PM
~ ~ ~ ~ ~

The propagandist's purpose is to make one set of people forget that certain other sets of people are human.": Aldous Huxley -(1894-1963) Author


“Through clever and constant application of propaganda, people can be made to see paradise as hell, and also the other way round, to consider the most wretched sort of life as paradise” : Adolf Hitler - German Chancellor, leader of the Nazi party


“See, in my line of work you got to keep repeating things over and over and over again for the truth to sink in, to kind of catapult the propaganda."—” : George W. Bush - 43rd US President


Laws just or unjust may govern men's actions. Tyrannies may restrain or regulate their words. The machinery of propaganda may pack their minds with falsehood and deny them truth for many generations of time. But the soul of man thus held in trance or frozen in a long night can be awakened by a spark coming from God knows where and in a moment the whole structure of lies and oppression is on trial for its life.: Sir Winston Churchill


Saundra Hummer
February 17th, 2006, 07:45 PM

Simple is as simple does

Will Durst

Bush flips off the Founding Fathers with refusal to get warrants
Your calls are important to us. For quality control and training purposes the rest of your life will be monitored.
While we were all distracted by Scooter and the Shooter, big time Conservatives tried to sweep this whole warrantless wiretapping thing under a rug of complications. First they claimed its a matter of the President's prerogative. "He wants to bug somebody. He bugs them. That's what a Commander-In-Chief does." Then they applied a legal paint job. "Congress said he could when they authorized his use of force against terrorism." Then they hammered it down with the big gun. The golden oldie. Their game saving Hail Mary: National security. "If you disagree with listening in on Al Qaeda, you're endangering the troops and giving the terrorists a back rub." Next they'll tell us he was just assuaging Democratic concerns that he never listens to them.

Its not complicated at all. He broke the law. Peed on the Constitution. Flipped off the Founding Fathers. Nobody knows why. All he had to do was notify the FISA court within 3 days of when he started eavesdropping. In previous trips to the court, 18,000 wiretaps were okayed and five turned down. Eighteen thousand out of eighteen thousand and five. Not a bad return. We're talking a .999 batting average here. As an old baseball man, he should know they keep you in the bigs with that.

I don't know why he didn't go to the court. Maybe he worried they wouldn't buy these specific warrants. Maybe he stretched the definition of terrorist to include Michael Moore's dog walker. Maybe he suspects David Gregory has a mole in the Justice Department. Or maybe he just really believes he is above the law. I know he claims during wartime to possess special powers. Special powers: I love that. He can't even ride a bicycle without falling off. I don't want a president with special powers, I want a President who upholds the laws he swore to protect. I never knew King George the Third. I only read about King George the Third. But you, sir, are no King George the Third.

He's starting to make less sense than a polar bear sipping a sloe gin fizz on an escalator. Said he didn't want any interval standing in the way of fighting terrorism. Hello! George! Tutor Time! The law is wiretaps first, then get the warrants. Go ask Condoleezza; she went to school and actually studied. Have her tell you about the whole space-time continuum deal. How what happens afterwards doesn't affect the speed of what went on before. In other words if you kill a chicken, it does not alter how many eggs it has laid in its lifetime. Might put a slight crimp in the number to be laid in the future, but the past tense is finite. Hell, you said it yourself. "The past is over." It's a reality thing. They may not have lived in the real world at Yale, but I'm pretty sure they talked about it.

And stop with the silly charge that the person who told the press about the program is the real bad guy. That they brought the plan to the attention of Al Qaeda. Any terrorist who doesn't avoid talking on Open, unencrypted lines is on a fast track to 72 perfumed virgins and probably not trusted by the big turbans to do anything more important than run out to get the scorched coffee and day old baklava. Kind of what you'd be doing, George, if your dad hadn't make his bones with Reagan. Besides, we're never going to understand the mind of Al Qaeda. These guys spell their name with a "Q," its not followed by a "U;" they play by rules we don't even understand. That's a grammar thing.

Political Comic Will Durst thinks they probably talked about that at Yale too.


Don't forget the Will & Willie Show. Monday through Friday. 7- 10am. PST. On KQKE. 960 AM. The QUAKE. San Francisco. Or listen long distance @ quakeradio.com.

And oh yeah. Catch Durst at 142 Throckmorton in Mill Valley on Saturday February 18th. And all next week at the Punch Line in San Francisco. 415.397.4337. To read more Will Durst satire, see the Will Durst archive



Saundra Hummer
February 18th, 2006, 04:41 PM
. . . . . . . . . .
Bill Would Stop Sale of Port Operations to Arabs

By Nicholas Johnston
Bloomberg News
Saturday 18 February 2006

Democratic senators cite security issue.
Washington - Democratic Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York and Robert Menendez of New Jersey have introduced legislation to prohibit companies owned or controlled by foreign governments from buying U.S. port operations.

The measure is intended to block the $6.8 billion sale of a company that operates six U.S. ports to a firm controlled by the United Arab Emirates.

"Our port security is too important to place in the hands of foreign governments," Clinton said in a statement Friday.

A bipartisan group of U.S. lawmakers on Thursday called for hearings on the purchase of London-based Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Co., the U.K.'s largest port operator, by DP World, Dubai's port company. With the acquisition, DP World would gain control over most operations at ports in New York, New Jersey, Philadelphia, Miami, Baltimore and New Orleans.

"Ports are the front lines of the war on terrorism," Menendez said. "We wouldn't turn the Border Patrol or the Customs Service over to a foreign government, and we can't afford to turn our ports over to one either."

Lawmakers have also asked the Bush administration to conduct a more thorough review of the purchase. Seven lawmakers sent a letter Thursday to Treasury Secretary John Snow asking a government panel known as the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States to look into the purchase.

Snow said Friday that while he had not seen the congressional requests for an additional review, the committee was "thorough, and carefully considered the issue of national security in that acquisition."

"The process worked as it is intended to work," Snow told reporters in Carol Stream, Ill., a western suburb of Chicago. The Departments of Defense and Homeland Security are part of the process, he said.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said the administration continued to support the sale and would brief members of Congress on its decision.

"It's the considered opinion of the U.S. government that this can go forward," Rice told a roundtable of Arab journalists Friday at the State Department in Washington. Rice, who will visit the UAE next week as part of a three-country Middle East tour, said there had been a "thorough review" of the sale and "it was decided that this could be done and done safely."

Rice described Abu Dhabi as "a very good friend" of the United States.

Two of the Sept. 11 attackers in 2001 were citizens of the United Arab Emirates and the country's banking system helped transfer money to the plotters, according to Sen. Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y. He was one of the signatories to the letter. "I approach this with a great deal of dubiousness," Schumer told reporters in Washington. "The chances for infiltration are just too great."

Jarrod Agen, a spokesman for the Homeland Security Department, said Thursday that the U.S. government would still control the ports.

. . . . . . . . . . . .


It seems I remember reading where the Chinese are buying or leasing the Port of Los Angeles, Los Angeles Harbor. I may be mistaken, but, if so, how is this? This sounds unwise to me, but this is just how I see it, not really knowing anything about it at all. I know that the up-keep, insurance and all must be enormously expensive, and perhaps they are wanting out from under the headaches and such, but to me, this doesn't sound like a good idea. SRH

the magnificent goldberg
February 18th, 2006, 05:13 PM
. . . . . . . . . .
Bill Would Stop Sale of Port Operations to Arabs

By Nicholas Johnston
Bloomberg News
Saturday 18 February 2006

Democratic senators cite security issue.
Washington - Democratic Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York and Robert Menendez of New Jersey have introduced legislation to prohibit companies owned or controlled by foreign governments from buying U.S. port operations.

The measure is intended to block the $6.8 billion sale of a company that operates six U.S. ports to a firm controlled by the United Arab Emirates.

"Our port security is too important to place in the hands of foreign governments," Clinton said in a statement Friday.

A bipartisan group of U.S. lawmakers on Thursday called for hearings on the purchase of London-based Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Co., the U.K.'s largest port operator, by DP World, Dubai's port company. With the acquisition, DP World would gain control over most operations at ports in New York, New Jersey, Philadelphia, Miami, Baltimore and New Orleans.

"Ports are the front lines of the war on terrorism," Menendez said. "We wouldn't turn the Border Patrol or the Customs Service over to a foreign government, and we can't afford to turn our ports over to one either."

Lawmakers have also asked the Bush administration to conduct a more thorough review of the purchase. Seven lawmakers sent a letter Thursday to Treasury Secretary John Snow asking a government panel known as the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States to look into the purchase.

Snow said Friday that while he had not seen the congressional requests for an additional review, the committee was "thorough, and carefully considered the issue of national security in that acquisition."

"The process worked as it is intended to work," Snow told reporters in Carol Stream, Ill., a western suburb of Chicago. The Departments of Defense and Homeland Security are part of the process, he said.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said the administration continued to support the sale and would brief members of Congress on its decision.

"It's the considered opinion of the U.S. government that this can go forward," Rice told a roundtable of Arab journalists Friday at the State Department in Washington. Rice, who will visit the UAE next week as part of a three-country Middle East tour, said there had been a "thorough review" of the sale and "it was decided that this could be done and done safely."

Rice described Abu Dhabi as "a very good friend" of the United States.

Two of the Sept. 11 attackers in 2001 were citizens of the United Arab Emirates and the country's banking system helped transfer money to the plotters, according to Sen. Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y. He was one of the signatories to the letter. "I approach this with a great deal of dubiousness," Schumer told reporters in Washington. "The chances for infiltration are just too great."

Jarrod Agen, a spokesman for the Homeland Security Department, said Thursday that the U.S. government would still control the ports.

. . . . . . . . . . . .


It seems I remember reading where the Chinese are buying or leasing the Port of Los Angeles, Los Angeles Harbor. I may be mistaken, but, if so, how is this? This sounds unwise to me, but this is just how I see it, not really knowing anything about it at all. I know that the up-keep, insurance and all must be enormously expensive, and perhaps they are wanting out from under the headaches and such, but to me, this doesn't sound like a good idea. SRH

Those who buy items of strategic infrastructure do so in the full knowledge that they can, and may in emergency, be expropriated without compensation at a stroke (don't forget Suez). Ownership is less important in these cases than operational ability, which resides with those who work the ports, who don't change with ownership (well, maybe at the top).

It is necessary for the oil sheikhs to chuck money at America because of the petro-dollar situation.


Saundra Hummer
February 18th, 2006, 05:40 PM
Those who buy items of strategic infrastructure do so in the full knowledge that they can, and may in emergency, be expropriated without compensation at a stroke (don't forget Suez). Ownership is less important in these cases than operational ability, which resides with those who work the ports, who don't change with ownership (well, maybe at the top).

It is necessary for the oil sheikhs to chuck money at America because of the petro-dollar situation.


I know that when countries "Nationalize", like Mexico did with their oil fields, other countries back off and leave you in a mess and won't deal with you as before, but of course, we are in a much better position than Mexico ever was. As a country, we have more leverage to prevent too much from happening to us should the need ever arise to take the ports from them. Mexico had the screws put to it/them by us and others, and they just never recovered. Of course corruption in their political and corporate world didn't help them one bit.

I remember flying over Mexico when I was 12 and the pilot pointing out a forest fire in their mountains and him telling us they "used to notify the Mexican officials of it, but that they never saw fit to fight the fire, so we quit reporting them". Now we know that their not responding was the best policy, it made for healthier forests, however, when he was telling us about it no one thought that way. He was telling us about Mexico's natural resources and of their potential, saying they were a "sleeping giant." He was amazed that they were doing little to nothing to take advantage of their bounty. They never have awakened. Corruption just put them in a stupor.

Saundra Hummer
February 18th, 2006, 07:09 PM
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Tomgram: Rebecca Solnit on Wal-Mart Art

As many of you read this, I'll be on a plane from San Diego back to New York City, flying over more Wal-Marts than I care to imagine. If you were to line up the approximately 3,700 giant, windowless Wal-Marts in the United States, you would undoubtedly have one of those Believe-It-Or-Not facts. The resulting giant Wal might be the only human-made structure visible from the moon -- it's an urban legend that you can see the Great Wall of China from there -- or maybe even from Mars. Add in the 1,500 Wal-Marts overseas, including the almost 700 in Mexico (even the Aztecs would be envious), and probably no alien civilization in the Milky Way could miss them.

Rebecca Solnit must have been flying over the country too, because she noticed that Wal-Mart money, generated in part by paving Mexico, was now heading out of those cubes and into the rarified atmosphere of the finest of arts. What does it mean, she wonders, when the heiress to a fortune earned savaging local cultures and one-of-a-kind arts and crafts purchases a one-of-a-kind object for the one-of-a-kind museum of American art she is building in Bentonville, Arkansas? Her exploration of Wal-Mart art, in her usual striking style, is worth the price of admission -- even if, at Tomdispatch, that price is free.

Solnit's Hope in the Dark, the first Tomdispatch-generated book, has just come out in a new, updated -- partially thanks to a couple of her more recent Tomdispatches -- edition. In its explanation of how history works (like a crab scuttling sideways), it remains a beacon for all of us in our moment of murk. If you despair, rush to your nearest independent bookstore and pick up a copy, then consider what a Wal-Mart biennale might really be like. Tom

. . .

The Wal-Mart Biennale

By Rebecca Solnit It isn't that, when Wal-Mart heiress Alice Walton purchased Asher B. Durand's 1849 painting Kindred Spirits last year, she got the state of Arkansas to pass legislation specifically to save her taxes -- in this case, about $3 million on a purchase price of $35 million. It isn't that the world's second richest woman and ninth richest person (according to a Forbes magazine 2005 estimate) scooped the painting out from under the National Gallery and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, which had banded together to try to keep it in a public collection when the New York Public Library decided to sell it off. It isn't that Walton will eventually stick this talisman of New England cultural life and a lot of other old American paintings in the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, the Walton family museum she's building in Bentonville, Arkansas, the site of Wal-Mart's corporate headquarters -- after all people in the middle of the country should get to see some good art too. It might not even be, as Wal-MartWatch.com points out, that the price of the painting equals what the state of Arkansas spends every two years providing for Wal-Mart's 3,971 employees on public assistance; or that the average Wal-Mart cashier makes $7.92 an hour and, since Wal Mart likes to keep people on less than full-time schedules, works only 29 hours a week for an annual income of $11,948--so a Wal-Mart cashier would have to work a little under 3,000 years to earn the price of the painting without taking any salary out for food, housing, or other expenses (and a few hundred more years to pay the taxes, if the state legislature didn't exempt our semi-immortal worker).

The trouble lies in what the painting means and what Alice Walton and her $18 billion mean. Art patronage has always been a kind of money-laundering, a pretty public face for fortunes made in uglier ways. The superb Rockefeller folk art collections in several American museums don't include paintings of the 1914 Ludlow Massacre of miners in Colorado, carried out by Rockefeller goons, and the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles doesn't say a thing about oil. But something about Wal-Mart and Kindred Spirits is more peculiar than all the robber barons and their chapels, galleries, and collections ever were, perhaps because, more than most works of art, Durand's painting is a touchstone for a set of American ideals that Wal-Mart has been savaging.

It may be true that, in an era when oil companies regularly take out advertisements proclaiming their commitment to environmentalism, halting global warming, promoting petroleum alternatives, and conservation measures, while many of them also fund arguments against climate change's very existence, nothing is too contrary to embrace. But Kindred Spirits is older, more idealistic, and more openly at odds with this age than most hostages to multinational image-making.

Kindred Spirits portrays Durand's friend, the great American landscape painter Thomas Cole, with his friend, the poet and editor William Cullen Bryant. The two stand on a projecting rock above a cataract in the Catskills, bathed like all the trees and air around them in golden light. The painting is about friendship freely given, including a sense of friendship, even passion, for the American landscape itself. In the work of Cole, Durand, and Bryant, as in the writing of Henry David Thoreau and Walt Whitman, you can see an emerging belief that the love of nature, beauty, truth, and freedom are naturally allied, a romantic vision that still lingers as one of the most idealistic versions of what it might mean to be an American.

Cole was almost the first American painter to see the possibilities in American landscapes, to see that meaning could grow rather than lessen in a place not yet full of ruins and historical associations, and so he became an advocate for wilderness nearly half a century before California rhapsodist and eventual Sierra Club cofounder John Muir took up the calling. Bryant had gained a reputation as a poet before he became editor-in-chief of the New York Evening Post and thereby a pivotal figure in the culture of the day. He defended a group of striking tailors in 1836, long before there was a union movement, and was ever after a champion of freedom and human rights, turning his newspaper into an antislavery mouthpiece and eventually becoming a founder of the Republican Party (back when that was the more progressive and less beholden of the two parties). He was an early supporter of Abraham Lincoln and of the projects that resulted in New York's Central Park and the Metropolitan Museum -- of a democratic urban culture that believed in the uplifting power of nature and of free access. Maybe the mutation of the Republican Party from Bryant's to Walton's time is measure enough of American weirdness; or maybe the details matter, of what the painting is and what Wal-Mart and its heiress are.

Kindred Spirits was commissioned by the wealthy dry-goods merchant Jonathan Sturges as a gift for Bryant in commemoration of his beautiful eulogy for Cole, who died suddenly in 1848. Bryant left it to his daughter Julia, who gave it in 1904 to what became the New York Public Library. It was never a commodity exchanged between strangers until the Library, claiming financial need, put it and other works of art up for sale. So now a portrait of antislavery and wilderness advocates belongs to a woman whose profits came from degrading working conditions in the U.S. and abroad and from ravaging the North American landscape.

Maybe the problem is that the Crystal Bridges museum seems like a false front for Wal-Mart, a made-in-America handicrafted artifact of idealism for a corporation that is none of the above. The museum will, as such institutions do, attempt to associate the Wal-Mart billionaires with high culture, American history, beautifully crafted objects -- a host of ideals and pleasures a long way from what you find inside the blank, slabby box of a Wal-Mart. One of the privileges of wealth is buying yourself out of the situation you help to make, so that the wealthy, who advocate for deregulation, install water purifiers and stock up on cases of Perrier, or advocate for small government and then hire their own security forces and educators.

Walton, it seems safe to assume, lives surrounded by nicer objects, likely made under nicer conditions, than she sells the rest of us. I have always believed that museums love artists the way taxidermists love deer. Perhaps Alice Walton is, in some sense, stuffing and mounting what is best about American culture -- best and fading. Perhaps Crystal Bridges will become one of the places we can go to revisit the long history that precedes industrialization and globalization, when creation and execution were not so savagely sundered, when you might know the maker of your everyday goods, and making was a skilled and meaningful act. One of the pleasures of most visual art is exactly that linkage between mind and hand, lost elsewhere as acts of making are divided among many and broken down into multiple repetitive tasks.

Perhaps she could build us the Museum of When Americans Made Stuff Locally by Hand for People They Knew or perhaps that's what Crystal Bridges, along with the rest of such institutions, will become. Or Walton could just plan to open the Museum of When Americans Made Stuff at some more distant date, though less than half of what's in Wal-Mart, sources inform me, is still actually made here -- for now. The world's richest woman, however, seems more interested in archaic images of America than in the artisanry behind them.

Walton has already scooped up a portrait of George Washington by Charles Wilson Peale and paintings by Winslow Homer and Edward Hopper for her museum. That museum, reports say, will feature many, many nineteenth-century portraits of Native Americans -- but it would be hard to see her as a champion of the indigenous history of the Americas. The Wal-Mart that opened last November in Teotihuacan, near Mexico City, is built so close to the Aztec's Pyramid of the Sun that many consider the site desecrated. The Wal-Mart parking lot actually eradicated the site of a smaller temple. "This is the flag of conquest by global interests, the symbol of the destruction of our culture," said a local schoolteacher. Thanks to free-trade measures like NAFTA, Wal-Mart has become Mexico's biggest retailer and private-sector employer.

Imagine if Walton were more like Sturges, supporting the art of her time. Imagine if she were supporting artists who actually had something to say about Wal-Mart and America (and Mexico, and China). Imagine if, in the mode of the Venice Biennale or the Sao Paolo Biennale, there was a Wal-Mart biennale. After all, Wal-Mart is itself China's seventh-largest trading partner, ahead of Germany and Russia and Italy; if it were a nation, it would be the world's nineteenth biggest economy. If it's on the same scale as those countries, why shouldn't it have its own contemporary art shows? But what would the Wal-Mart nation and its artists look like?

Rather than the open, luminous, intelligent architecture Moshe Safde will probably bestow on Bentonville, Arkansas, imagine a shuttered Wal-Mart big box (of which there are so many, often shut down simply to stop employees from unionizing) turned into a MOCA, a museum of contemporary art, or better yet a MOCWA, a Museum of Contemporary Wal-Mart Art. Or Wal-Art. After all, Los Angeles's MOCA was originally sited in a defunct warehouse. You could set the artists free to make art entirely out of materials available at Wal-Mart, or to make art about the global politics of Wal-Mart in our time -- poverty, consumerism, sprawl, racism, gender discrimination, exploitation of undocumented workers.

Imagine a contemporary artist, maybe with Adobe Photoshop, reworking Kindred Spirits again and again. Imagine that Cole and Bryant are, this time, standing not on a rocky outcropping but in, say, one of the puzzle and art-supply aisles of a Wal-Mart somewhere in the Catskills, dazed and depressed. Or imagine instead that it's some sweatshop workers, a little hunched and hungry, on that magnificent perch amid the foliage and the golden light, invited at last into some sense of democratic community. Imagine paintings of Edward Hopper's old downtowns, boarded up because all the sad and lonely people are shopping at Wal-Mart and even having their coffee and hot dogs there. Imagine video-portraits of the people who actually make the stuff you can buy at Wal-Mart, or of the African-American truck-drivers suing the corporation for racism or of the women who are lead plaintiffs in the nation's largest class-action suit for discrimination. Against Wal-Mart, naturally.

Imagine if Alice Walton decided to follow the route of Target with architect Michael Graves and commissioned some cutting-edge contemporary art about these issues: videos and DVDs you could buy, prints for your walls, performance art in the aisles, art that maybe even her workers could afford. Imagine if Wal-Mart would acknowledge what Wal-Mart is rather than turning hallowed American art into a fig leaf to paste over naked greed and raw exploitation. But really, it's up to the rest of us to make the Museum of Wal-Mart, one way or another, in our heads, on our websites, or in our reading of everyday life everywhere.

Rebecca Solnit's Tomdispatch-generated Hope in the Dark: Untold Histories, Wild Possibilities is out in a new and expanded edition. Her other recent books include A Field Guide to Getting Lost and, with Mark Klett and Byron Wolfe, Yosemite in Time: Ice Ages, Tree Clocks, Ghost Rivers.
Copyright 2005 Rebecca Solnit


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Saundra Hummer
February 18th, 2006, 08:02 PM
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The Cheney shooting: Revising history in real time

Posted at February 18, 2006 05:52 AM in FUBAR .
Vice President Dick Cheney said he didn't immediately disclose his hunting accident because he wanted the confusing details to come out right. Instead, authorized accounts came out slowly -- and often still wrong.
The result: a week of shifting blame, belatedly acknowledged beer consumption (not "zero" drinking after all) and evolving discrepancies in how the shooting happened, its aftermath and the way it was told to the nation.

"There's a reason they call this crisis management," said corporate damage-control specialist Eric Dezenhall, "and that's because it's a mess."

. . . . .


In the first days after the vice president wounded attorney Harry Whittington while shooting at quail last Saturday in Texas, blame was placed on the victim for not announcing his presence to fellow hunter Cheney.

"The vice president did everything right," Katharine Armstrong, the ranch owner approved by Cheney to disclose the accident, said Monday. Whittington, 78, should have shouted that he was rejoining the hunting group after drifting off to retrieve a downed bird. "The mistake exposed him to getting shot," she said. "It's incumbent on him. He did not do that."

The White House picked up on that theme the same day in attempting to deflect any responsibility from the vice president. "If I recall," Bush spokesman Scott McClellan said of Armstrong, "she pointed out that the protocol was not followed by Mr. Whittington, when it came to notifying the others that he was there."

The about-face came Wednesday when Cheney made his first public comment on the accident.

"It was not Harry's fault," he said. "You can't blame anybody else. I'm the guy who pulled the trigger and shot my friend."

. . . . .


Although there is no evidence that beer impaired Cheney's judgment, initial denials that he had consumed alcohol were wrong.

"No one was drinking," Armstrong said at the outset. "No, zero, zippo." She said the hunters washed down lunch with Dr Pepper. Later, she qualified her comments and said beer might have been in the cooler but she did not think anyone drank any.

The investigating officer from the Kenedy County sheriff's department, after interviewing Whittington in the hospital, reported that the victim "explained foremost there was no alcohol during the hunt."

Authorities did not investigate the accident until the next day. The Texas Parks and Wildlife accident report, dated two days after the shooting, checked "No" on the question of whether Cheney appeared under the influence of intoxicants. It did not address whether the hunters had been drinking at all. (The report also included a diagram depicting Whittington's wounds on the wrong side of his body.)

Cheney acknowledged Wednesday, "I had a beer at lunch" several hours before the group's afternoon hunt, asserting "nobody was under the influence."

. . . . .


In the rush to assure everyone Whittington was "just fine," some important details were left out.

Initial reports had him treated at the scene, then taken by ambulance to the hospital, where in no time he was cracking jokes with the nurses. It turned out that after being taken to the emergency room of a local, small hospital, he was flown by helicopter to the intensive care unit of the larger hospital in Corpus Christi.

According to Armstrong's initial account of the accident scene: "He was talking. His eyes were open." Later, Cheney said that when he rushed up to the stricken man and talked to him, Whittington had one eye open and did not respond. He was, however, conscious.

Doctors said Tuesday that Whittington suffered a mild heart attack while in the hospital when one of the pellets migrated to his heart. He was released Friday.

. . . . .


Cheney did not have all his hunting papers in order, as suggested by the White House and initially stated by Texas authorities.

On Sunday, a spokesman for the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department said Cheney was legally hunting with a license he bought in November. While that was true, the department's accident report the next day stated that he was in violation of a law requiring him to have an upland game bird stamp.

. . . . .


The accident raised questions about the flow of information into and out of the White House communications apparatus.

Asked why no one released news of the shooting on Saturday night, McClellan said "the vice president's office was working to make sure information got out" but that details were slow to reach Washington that evening.

Armstrong, for her part, said no one at the ranch even discussed releasing the news on Saturday.

She said her family realized Sunday morning that it would be a story and decided to call the local newspaper, the Corpus Christi Caller-Times. She said she then discussed news coverage with Cheney for the first time.

"I said, 'Mr. Vice President, this is going to be public, and I'm comfortable going to the hometown newspaper,'" she told The Associated Press. "And he said, 'You go ahead and do whatever you are comfortable doing.'"

. . . . .


McClellan said President Bush was told shortly before 8 p.m. EST Saturday that Cheney had shot Whittington, less than half an hour after Bush first heard there had a been an accident of some sort involving Cheney's hunting party. Confirmation that Cheney was the shooter was obtained when deputy chief of staff Karl Rove called Armstrong, McClellan said.

However, McClellan said he didn't personally know Cheney was the shooter until the next morning, about 6 a.m. EST Sunday, when he was awakened with the news.

He said he only knew the previous evening that someone in Cheney's party had been involved in a hunting accident.

© 2006 The Associated Press

© Copyright 2006 by Capitol Hill Blue

The comments about this article, other people's views, is what can be interesting, (Go on-site to see them) as this story is old news, but the viewpoints of some of the people who've read it are the interesting thing at this point, especially when it comes to the stated distance. Now 15' feet, I think much more damage would have been done in that close, and on a thin frail man with little muscle or fat covering, pellets could penetrate much easier than some would believe, not that he is frail, but at his age, it could be that there isn't the density that you would find on a much younger person. The pellet pattern, I'm not sure, but there are bound to be variables. and powder load is another factor, and bird shot is less damaging than buck shot, that's for sure.

February 19th, 2006, 07:13 AM
February 7, 2006
The Democrats' Own History With Race
By Bruce Bartlett

NAACP Chairman Julian Bond probably spoke for most blacks and liberals last week when he said the Republican Party is equivalent to the Nazi Party.

"The Republican Party would have the American flag and the swastika flying side by side," he told an audience at Fayetteville State University.

Also last week, a new "scientific study" was released showing that Republicans are racist by nature. "The study found that supporters of President Bush and other conservatives had stronger self-admitted and implicit biases against blacks than liberals did," The Washington Post reported.

For decades, it has been a template of the major media that Republicans are the party of racism. It repeats uncritically any charges of Republican racism, no matter how unfounded. Democrats, on the other hand, are always given a pass whenever they commit racist offenses. Even a cursory review, however, will show that the media template is totally contrary to history.

Slavery is the greatest evil ever to beset black people in this country. In the decades leading up to the Civil War, there was intense political debate on what to do about it. The Republican Party was founded in 1854 for the express purpose of ending slavery. The Democratic Party, by contrast, defended it to the bitter end.

Just to show how far Democrats would go to defend slavery, it's worth remembering what happened to Sen. Charles Sumner, Republican of Massachusetts. After giving a speech denouncing slavery in 1856, he was viciously beaten by Rep. Preston Brooks, Democrat of South Carolina, for daring to question the right to own slaves. Being a coward, Brooks waited until the elderly Sumner was seated alone at his desk in the Senate and, without warning, struck him repeatedly with a cane. It took months for Sumner to recover.

In 1858, Sen. Stephen A. Douglas, Democrat of Illinois, debated Republican Abraham Lincoln on the question of slavery. Said Douglas during one of those debates: "For one, I am opposed to negro citizenship in any and every form. I believe this government was made on the white basis. I believe it was made by white men for the benefit of white men and their posterity forever, and I am in favor of confining citizenship to white men, men of European birth and descent, instead of conferring it upon negroes, Indians and other inferior races."

So prevalent were these views in the Democratic Party that Douglas was named its presidential candidate in 1860. Amazingly, Southerners actually viewed Douglas as being too moderate on the slavery issue and instead voted for Vice President John C. Breckinridge, a slave-owner who also ran as a Democrat, thus splitting the pro-slavery vote and allowing Lincoln to win.

After the war, the Democratic Party held a lock on the South for more than 100 years. All of the "Jim Crow" laws that prevented blacks from voting and kept them down were enacted by Democratic governors and Democratic legislatures. The Ku Klux Klan was virtually an auxiliary arm of the Democratic Party, and any black (or white) who threatened the party's domination was liable to be beaten or lynched. Democrats enacted the first gun-control laws in order to prevent blacks from defending themselves against Ku Klux Klan violence. Chain gangs were developed by Democrats to bring back de facto slave labor.

President Woodrow Wilson, the second Democrat to serve since the Civil War, reintroduced segregation throughout the federal government immediately upon taking office in 1913. Avowed racists such as Josephus Daniels and Albert Burleson were named Cabinet secretaries. Black leaders like W.E.B. DuBois, who had strongly supported Wilson, were bitterly disappointed, but shouldn't have been surprised. As president of Princeton University, Wilson refused to admit blacks and as governor of New Jersey ignored blacks' requests for state jobs, even though their votes had provided his margin of victory.

When Franklin D. Roosevelt had his first opportunity to name a member of the Supreme Court, he appointed a life member of the Ku Klux Klan, Sen. Hugo Black, Democrat of Alabama. In 1944, FDR chose as his vice president Harry Truman, who had joined the Ku Klux Klan in Kansas City in 1922. Throughout his presidency, Roosevelt resisted Republican efforts to pass a federal law against lynching, and he opposed integration of the armed forces.

Another Ku Klux Klan member, Sen. Robert C. Byrd, Democrat of West Virginia, personally filibustered the Civil Rights Act of 1964 for 14 straight hours to keep it from passage. He is still a member of the U.S. Senate today. As recently as the 1980s, Sen. Ernest Hollings, Democrat of South Carolina, publicly referred to blacks as "darkies" and Hispanics as "wetbacks" without suffering any punishment from his party.

In short, the historical record clearly shows that Democrats, not Republicans, have been the party of racism in this country.


Saundra Hummer
February 19th, 2006, 04:36 PM

Thursday, February 09, 2006

A Catch-22 for the Administration

About Me

Name:Glenn Greenwald

For the past 10 years, I was a litigator in NYC specializing in First Amendment challenges (including some of the highest-profile free speech cases over the past few years), civil rights cases, and corporate and security fraud matters.

This article by The Washington Post's Dan Eggen (who, as I've said before, has been one of the best journalists by far covering this story) analyzes one of the truly inexplicable aspects of the Administration's rationale for its warrantless eavesdropping program -- namely, why the program is limited only to international calls.
If, as the Administration claims, FISA is too stringent and burdensome to enable the "speed and agility" we need to keep up with the lightning-fast communications of Al Qaeda, and if (as the Administration constantly claims) Al Qaeda has sleeper cells within the U.S. similar to those which perpetrated the September 11 attacks, what possible excuse could there be for applying the FISA-bypass program only to international calls while allowing Al Qaeda to communicate freely within our country?

Here is what Gonzales said about this on Monday when questioned by Sen. Kohl:

KOHL: Just to go back to what Senator Biden and then Senator Kyl referred to about Al Qaida-to-Al Qaida within the country, you're saying we do not get involved in those calls...

GONZALES: Not under the program in which I'm testifying, that's right.


KOHL: It seems to me that you need to tell us a little bit more because to those of us who are listening, that's incomprehensible. If you would go Al Qaida-to-Al Qaida outside the country -- domestic- outside the country but you would not intrude into Al Qaida-to-Al Qaida within the country -- you are very smart, so are we, and to those of us who are interacting here today, there's something that unfathomable about that remark.

GONZALES: Well, Senator, we certainly endeavor to try to get that information in other ways if we can. But that is not what the president...

KOHL: No, but isn't -- we need to have some logic, some sense, some clarity to this discussion this morning.

GONZALES: Senator, think about the reaction, the public reaction that has arisen in some quarters about this program. If the president had authorized domestic surveillance, as well, even though we're talking about Al Qaida-to-Al Qaida, I think the reaction would have been twice as great.

And so there was a judgment made that this was the appropriate line to draw in ensuring the security of our country and the protection of the privacy interests of Americans.

KOHL: I appreciate that. And before I turn it back to the -- but yet the president has said with great justification, he's going to protect the American people regardless.

KOHL: And if there's some criticism, he'll take the criticism.And yet you're saying Al Qaida-to-Al Qaida within the country is beyond the bounds?

GONZALES: Sir, it is beyond the bound of the program which I'm testifying about today.

This exchange can mean only one of two things: either (1) the President decided not to pursue measures (i.e., FISA-bypass eavesdropping on domestic communications) which he believes are vital to our national security because doing so would have subjected him to criticism from "some quarters," or (2) the Administration, contrary to the repeated and unequivocal assurances from the President, is engaging in warrantless eavesdropping on purely domestic communications as part of some eavesdropping program other than the one disclosed by The New York Times.

In a separate article published the day after the hearings, Eggen reported this:

Gonzales chose his words carefully, frequently limiting his answers to "this program" or to "the program the president has confirmed." At one point he said senior Justice Department officials, whose concerns about the program contributed to a temporary halt in surveillance in 2004, did not raise objections to the program he was discussing.

A department official said after the testimony that Gonzales was not implying that any other program existed.

When the Justice Department says that "Gonzales was not implying that any other program existed," that is not, of course, tantamount to stating that no other program exists. As I've noted before, every time Gonzales or the DoJ has issued assurances that eavesdropping is confined only to international calls where one of the parties is an Al Qaeda affiliate, the assurance is always limited by the conspicuous and intentional limitation: "under the program described by the President." Gonzales used that same phrase repeatedly when testifying, and there is simply no doubt that this phrase is carefully crafted and deliberately invoked. There is some reason why they are limiting their assurances in that fashion.

This should be a very difficult corner for the Administration to get out of. Both options are unattractive. It is self-evidently inexcusable for the President to forego measures he believes are vital to the protection of Americans simply because (as Gonzales said Monday) pursuing those measures would provoke some criticism. But it would be equally damaging to the Administration, at least, if it turns out that there are programs which entail warrantless eavesdropping on the domestic communications of Americans.

If there is one thing which Americans likely have ingested from the Administration's defense of itself in this scandal, it is that the only calls subject to warrantless surveillance are international. It would be a huge blow to the Administration if it turns out, as Gonzales is clearly implying, that there are other programs which entail warrantless surveillance of purely domestic communications.

Either the Administration is purposely allowing Al Qaeda to communicate freely within the U.S. without meaningful surveillance (i.e. surveillance that is not bogged down by those obstructionist, cumbersome FISA requirements) , or the President repeatedly lied when he assured Americans that no domestic communications were being listened to without warrants. A third option doesn't appear to exist for the Administration.

UPDATE: Although there are multiple times when Gonzales strongly implied that there were other eavesdropping programs beyond what "the President confirmed," the following exchange between Gonzales and Sen. Schumer provides an almost absolute assurance from Gonzales that there is no warrantless eavesdropping program for domestic communications:

SCHUMER: Would he engage in electronic surveillance when the phone calls both originated and ended in the United States if there were Al Qaida suspects?

GONZALES: I think that question was asked earlier. I've said that I don't believe that we've done the analysis on that.

SCHUMER: I asked what do you think the theory is?

GONZALES: That's a different situation, Senator. And, again, these kind of constitutional questions -- I could offer up a guess, but these are hard questions.

SCHUMER: Has this come up? Has it happened?

GONZALES: Sir, what the president has authorized is only international phone calls.

SCHUMER: I understand.

Gonzales' unambiguous claim here that the Justice Department has not conducted a legal analysis as to whether the Administration could engage in warrantless eavesdropping on purely domestic communications certainly would seem to preclude the existence of a domestic eavesdropping program. Particularly since Gonazles acknowledged that domestic eavesdropping is a "different situation" which presents "hard questions," a pre-requisite to the commencement of such a program would be for the DoJ to opine that such surveillance was legal and constitutional.

Gonzales' denial that the DoJ has ever engaged in such a legal analysis is tantamount to an unambiguous denial that there are eavesdropping programs which entail warrantless surveillance on domestic communications. That fact leads back to the question as to why the President, who believes that we cannot engage in adequate surveillance if we stay within FISA, would leave Americans vulnerable and unprotected by restricting his FISA-bypass program only to international calls, thereby handing Al Qaeda the ability to communicate freely and undetected within our borders. What kind of President would fail to take measures vital to our national security simply because -- as Gonazles claimed when asked why there was no domestic surveillance -- he would be subject to criticism from "some quarters."

Asking this question is not a coy tactic. If the President really believes that we can't engage in effective surveillance of Al Qaeda under FISA, isn't it a profound dereliction of his responsibilities not to extend the FISA-bypass program to domestic communications? There is no theoretical or legal difference between international calls and domestic calls in this context, so it seems that the only possible explanation for his failure to do this is exactly what Gonzales said - he was afraid to be criticized for doing it, so he opted instead to allow Al Qaeda to communicate within the U.S. without detection.

posted by Glenn Greenwald | 2:59 PM

Dan said...
Many long-distance domestic calls are routed through satellites. Technically, do the calls become "international" under this program?

4:02 PM
Eric in Ottawa said...
Wow, that's a take I haven't seen yet... a powerful one at that.

And dan that's an excellent observation as well.

I do find Gozales constant qualification of his statements ("the program I am discussing today", etc) to be fascinating. People don't do that unless they have something to hide.

4:04 PM
Glenn Greenwald said...
Technically, do the calls become "international" under this program?

Their claim is that the only conversations they eavesdrop on without warrants is where one of the parties is outside the U.S. Their phraseology on that issue has been clear enough that it unquestionably does not include calls between two people in the U.S. who happen to have their call routed internationally.

4:05 PM
mainsailset said...
I notice that 2004 was also the year that the the DOJ lawyer advised FISA judges that 2 times the warrantless wiretaps had been misued for FISA warrants, thus rendering useless a federal screening system that the FISA judges had imposed. As I understand it, that info caused the FISA judge(s) to temporarily suspend the program ... about the time that Comey got involved. The weight of the discussion is leaning toward more than one NSA wiretap program ... no wonder the FBI has been struggling to keep up with all the data. I would bet the backlog today makes mincemeat out of the one pre 9-11.

4:25 PM
Anonymous said...
Glenn and company,

Seen this article in the Washington Times magazine, Insight?

This article (from Dec '05, admittedly) says that law enforcement sources say the extra-FISA surveillance was also taking place within the US (domestic conversations).

If true, that would change things, and would make Abu a big fat liar, yes?

4:38 PM
Steve said...
There is a point earlier in the testimony where Gonzales declares that the decision to draw the line at purely domestic wiretapping was not made for any sort of "PR reason."

Go on site to see the complete article and several comments, most of which are reasonable and lucid. SRH


Saundra Hummer
February 19th, 2006, 07:13 PM
~ . ~ . ~

"The form of law which I propose would be as follows: In a state which is desirous of being saved from the greatest of all plagues -- not faction, but rather distraction -- there should exist among the citizens neither extreme poverty nor, again, excessive wealth, for both are productive of great evil . . . Now the legislator should determine what is to be the limit of poverty or of wealth.": Plato (427-347 B.C.):


"The greatest country, the richest country, is not that which has the most capitalists, monopolists, immense grabbings, vast fortunes, with its sad, sad soil of extreme, degrading, damning poverty, but the land in which there are the most homesteads, freeholds-where wealth does not show such contrasts high and low, where all men have enough-a modest living-and no man is made possessor beyond the sane and beautiful necessities.": Walt Whitman (1819-1892):


"A State divided into a small number of rich and a large number of poor will always develop a government manipulated by the rich to protect the amenities represented by their property.": Harold Laski (1930):


“Of all the enemies to public liberty, war is, perhaps, the most to be dreaded because it comprises and develops the germ of every other. War is the parent of armies; from these proceed debts and taxes. And armies, and debts, and taxes are the known instruments for bringing the many under the domination of the few. “In war, too, the discretionary power of the Executive is extended. Its influence in dealing out offices, honors, and emoluments is multiplied; and all the means of seducing the minds, are added to those of subduing the force of the people. “The same malignant aspect in republicanism may be traced in the inequality of fortunes, and the opportunities of fraud, growing out of a state of war… and in the degeneracy of manners and morals, engendered by both. No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare.” : James Madison, April 20, 1795


Saundra Hummer
February 19th, 2006, 07:25 PM

37 million poor hidden in the land of plenty

Americans have always believed that hard work will bring rewards, but vast numbers now cannot meet their bills even with two or three jobs. More than one in 10 citizens live below the poverty line, and the gap between the haves and have-nots is widening

By Paul Harris in Kentucky

02/19/06 "The Observer" -- -- The flickering television in Candy Lumpkins's trailer blared out The Bold and the Beautiful. It was a fantasy daytime soap vision of American life with little relevance to the reality of this impoverished corner of Kentucky.[/B]

[INDENT]The Lumpkins live at the definition of the back of beyond, in a hollow at the top of a valley at the end of a long and muddy dirt road. It is strewn with litter. Packs of stray dogs prowl around, barking at strangers. There is no telephone and since their pump broke two weeks ago Candy has collected water from nearby springs. Oblivious to it all, her five-year-old daughter Amy runs barefoot on a wooden porch frozen by a midwinter chill.

It is a vision of deep and abiding poverty. Yet the Lumpkins are not alone in their plight. They are just the negative side of the American equation. America does have vast, wealthy suburbs, huge shopping malls and a busy middle class, but it also has vast numbers of poor, struggling to make it in a low-wage economy with minimal government help.

A shocking 37 million Americans live in poverty. That is 12.7 per cent of the population - the highest percentage in the developed world. They are found from the hills of Kentucky to Detroit's streets, from the Deep South of Louisiana to the heartland of Oklahoma. Each year since 2001 their number has grown.

Under President George W Bush an extra 5.4 million have slipped below the poverty line. Yet they are not a story of the unemployed or the destitute. Most have jobs. Many have two. Amos Lumpkins has work and his children go to school. But the economy, stripped of worker benefits like healthcare, is having trouble providing good wages.

Even families with two working parents are often one slice of bad luck - a medical bill or factory closure - away from disaster. The minimum wage of $5.15 (Ł2.95) an hour has not risen since 1997 and, adjusted for inflation, is at its lowest since 1956. The gap between the haves and the have-nots looms wider than ever. Faced with rising poverty rates, Bush's trillion-dollar federal budget recently raised massive amounts of defence spending for the war in Iraq and slashed billions from welfare programmes.

For a brief moment last year in New Orleans, Hurricane Katrina brought America's poor into the spotlight. Poverty seemed on the government's agenda. That spotlight has now been turned off. 'I had hoped Katrina would have changed things more. It hasn't,' says Cynthia Duncan, a sociology professor at the University of New Hampshire.

Oklahoma is in America's heartland. Tulsa looks like picture-book Middle America. Yet there is hunger here. When it comes to the most malnourished poor in America, Oklahoma is ahead of any other state. It should be impossible to go hungry here. But it is not. Just ask those gathered at a food handout last week. They are a cross section of society: black, white, young couples, pensioners and the middle-aged. A few are out of work or retired, everyone else has jobs.

They are people like Freda Lee, 33, who has two jobs, as a marketer and a cashier. She has come to the nondescript Loaves and Fishes building - flanked ironically by a Burger King and a McDonald's - to collect food for herself and three sons. 'America is meant to be free. What's free?' she laughs. 'All we can do is pay off the basics.'

Or they are people like Tammy Reinbold, 37. She works part-time and her husband works full-time. They have two children yet rely on the food handouts. 'The church is all we have to fall back on,' she says. She is right. When government help is being cut and wages are insufficient, churches often fill the gap. The needy gather to receive food boxes. They listen to a preacher for half an hour on the literal truth of the Bible. Then he asks them if they want to be born again. Three women put up their hands.

But why are some Tulsans hungry?
Many believe it is the changing face of the US economy. Tulsa has been devastated by job losses. Big-name firms like WorldCom, Williams Energy and CitGo have closed or moved, costing the city about 24,000 jobs. Now Wal-Mart embodies the new American job market: low wages, few benefits.

Well-paid work only goes to the university-educated. Many others who just complete high school face a bleak future. In Texas more than a third of students entering public high schools now drop out. These people are entering the fragile world of the working poor, where each day is a mere step away from tragedy. Some of those tragedies in Tulsa end up in the care of Steve Whitaker, a pastor who runs a homeless mission in the shadow of a freeway overpass.

Each day the homeless and the drug addicted gather here, looking for a bed for the night. Some also want a fresh chance. They are men like Mark Schloss whose disaster was being left by his first wife. The former Wal-Mart manager entered a world of drug addiction and alcoholism until he wound up with Whitaker. Now he is back on track, sporting a silver ring that says Faith, Hope, Love. 'Without this place I would be in prison or dead,' he says. But Whitaker equates saving lives with saving souls. Those entering the mission's rehabilitation programme are drilled in Bible studies and Christianity. At 6ft 5in and with a black belt in karate, Whitaker's Christianity is muscular both literally and figuratively. 'People need God in their lives,' he says.

These are mean streets. Tulsa is a city divided like the country. Inside a building run by Whitaker's staff in northern Tulsa a group of 'latch-key kids' are taking Bible classes after school while they wait for parents to pick them up. One of them is Taylor Finley, aged nine. Wearing a T-shirt with an American flag on the front, she dreams of travel. 'I want to have fun in a new place, a new country,' she says. Taylor wants to see the world outside Oklahoma. But at the moment she cannot even see her own neighbourhood. The centre in which she waits for mom was built without windows on its ground floor. It was the only way to keep out bullets from the gangs outside.

During the 2004 election the only politician to address poverty directly was John Edwards, whose campaign theme was 'Two Americas'. He was derided by Republicans for doing down the country and - after John Kerry picked him as his Democratic running mate - the rhetoric softened in the heat of the campaign.

But, in fact, Edwards was right. While 45.8 million Americans lack any health insurance, the top 20 per cent of earners take over half the national income. At the same time the bottom 20 per cent took home just 3.4 per cent. Whitaker put the figures into simple English. 'The poor have got poorer and the rich have got richer,' he said.

Dealing with poverty is not a viable political issue in America. It jars with a cultural sense that the poor bring things upon themselves and that every American is born with the same chances in life. It also runs counter to the strong anti-government current in modern American politics. Yet the problem will not disappear. 'There is a real sense of impending crisis, but political leaders have little motivation to address this growing divide,' Cynthia Duncan says.

There is little doubt which side of America's divide the hills of east Kentucky fall on. Driving through the wooded Appalachian valleys is a lesson in poverty. The mountains have never been rich. Times now are as tough as they have ever been. Trailer homes are the norm. Every so often a lofty mansion looms into view, a sign of prosperity linked to the coal mines or the logging firms that are the only industries in the region. Everyone else lives on the margins, grabbing work where they can. The biggest cash crop is illicitly grown marijuana.

Save The Children works here. Though the charity is usually associated with earthquakes in Pakistan or famine in Africa, it runs an extensive programme in east Kentucky. It includes a novel scheme enlisting teams of 'foster grandparents' to tackle the shocking child illiteracy rates and thus eventually hit poverty itself.

The problem is acute. At Jone's Fork school, a team of indomitable grannies arrive each day to read with the children. The scheme has two benefits: it helps the children struggle out of poverty and pays the pensioners a small wage. 'This has been a lifesaver for me and I feel as if the children would just fall through the cracks without us,' says Erma Owens. It has offered dramatic help to some. One group of children are doing so well in the scheme that their teacher, Loretta Shepherd, has postponed retirement in order to stand by them. 'It renewed me to have these kids,' she said.

Certainly Renae Sturgill sees the changes in her children. She too lives in deep poverty. Though she attends college and her husband has a job, the Sturgill trailer sits amid a clutter of abandoned cars. Money is scarce. But now her kids are in the reading scheme and she has seen how they have changed. Especially eight-year-old Zach. He's hard to control at times, but he has come to love school. 'Zach likes reading now. I know it's going to be real important for him,' Renae says. Zach is shy and won't speak much about his achievements. But Genny Waddell, who co-ordinates family welfare at Jone's Fork, is immensely proud. 'Now Zach reads because he wants to. He really fought to get where he is,' she says.

In America, to be poor is a stigma. In a country which celebrates individuality and the goal of giving everyone an equal opportunity to make it big, those in poverty are often blamed for their own situation. Experience on the ground does little to bear that out. When people are working two jobs at a time and still failing to earn enough to feed their families, it seems impossible to call them lazy or selfish. There seems to be a failure in the system, not the poor themselves.

It is an impression backed up by many of those mired in poverty in Oklahoma and Kentucky. Few asked for handouts. Many asked for decent wages. 'It is unfair. I am working all the time and so what have I done wrong?' says Freda Lee. But the economy does not seem to be allowing people to make a decent living. It condemns the poor to stay put, fighting against seemingly impossible odds or to pull up sticks and try somewhere else.

In Tulsa, Tammy Reinbold and her family are moving to Texas as soon as they save the money for enough petrol. It could take several months. 'I've been in Tulsa 12 years and I just gotta try somewhere else,' she says.

From Tom Joad to Roseanne
In a country that prides itself on a culture of rugged individualism, hard work and self-sufficiency, it is no surprise that poverty and the poor do not have a central place in America's cultural psyche.

But in art, films and books American poverty has sometimes been portrayed with searing honesty. John Steinbeck's novel The Grapes of Wrath, which was made into a John Ford movie, is the most famous example. It was an unflinching account of the travails of a poor Oklahoma family forced to flee the Dust Bowl during the 1930s Depression. Its portrait of Tom Joad and his family's life on the road as they sought work was a nod to wider issues of social justice in America.

Another ground-breaking work of that time was John Agee's Let Us Now Praise Famous Men, a non-fiction book about time spent among poor white farmers in the Deep South. It practically disappeared upon its first publication in 1940 but in the Sixties was hailed as a masterpiece. In mainstream American culture, poverty often lurks in the background. Or it is portrayed - as in Sergio Leone's crime epic Once Upon A Time In America - as the basis for a tale of rags to riches.

One notable, yet often overlooked, exception was the great success of the sitcom Roseanne. The show depicted the realities of working-class Middle American life with a grit and humour that is a world away from the usual sitcom settings in a sunlit suburbia, most often in New York or California. The biggest sitcoms of the past decade - Friends, Frasier or Will and Grace - all deal with aspirational middle-class foibles that have little relevance to America's millions of working poor.

An America divided

[I]· There are 37 million Americans living below the poverty line. That figure has increased by five million since President George W. Bush came to power.

· The United States has 269 billionaires, the highest number in the world.

· Almost a quarter of all black Americans live below the poverty line; 22 per cent of Hispanics fall below it. But for whites the figure is just 8.6 per cent.

· There are 46 million Americans without health insurance.

· There are 82,000 homeless people in Los Angeles alone.

· In 2004 the poorest community in America was Pine Ridge Indian reservation. Unemployment is over 80 per cent, 69 per cent of people live in poverty and male life expectancy is 57 years. In the Western hemisphere only Haiti has a lower number.

· The richest town in America is Rancho Santa Fe in California. Average incomes are more than $100,000 a year; the average house price is $1.7m.

© Guardian Newspapers Limited 2006


Saundra Hummer
February 19th, 2006, 07:40 PM

What Happened To My Country?

Steve Osborn

02/19/06 "ICH" -- -- I grew up an American, and proud of it. I was taught in school about the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution and Bill of Rights. My brother was a Merchant Marine Officer during the war and had three ships sunk beneath him. We beat the Nazis, the Fascists and the Japanese and made the world safe for democracy. After the war came Nuremberg and the assurance that things like the holocaust could never happen again. The Marshal Plan helped to rebuild the shattered portions of the world. America, Democracy, compassion and help. It was good to be an American. Hiroshima and Nagasaki were sad, but necessary to end the war and save lives, we were told.

We read George Orwell’s 1984, which could happen in Nazi Germany or the Soviet Union, but we could never have thought police and endless war here in the United States. Then came the Cold War, McCarthy, Korea, and later on Vietnam. My service time crossed those wars, but I thanked my stars I didn’t have to fight in them. I was at Bikini for the Hydrogen Bomb tests in 1956, which taught me the the unthinkable horror of nuclear war.

Vietnam taught us the danger and folly of going to war on a false pretext. Tonkin Gulf was to be a lesson to us all, as was the intended impeachment of Nixon for violating the law and the Constitution. We wouldn’t let that happen again; no president was ever going to spy on his own people again, or persecute people who didn’t agree with him or his policies.

Yes, the United States was a nation of great wealth. A nation that took care to see to the freedom and well being of its citizens, and welcomed the downtrodden foreigner to the new land. It was a nation that pioneered the exploration of space and gloried in the advance of science. I was proud to be an American!

My God! What has happened to my nation? My nation that no longer pays more than lip service to its Constitution and Bill of Rights, which have been a beacon to the world for over two centuries. My nation that unilaterally discards treaties that were the hope of a world of peace, guided by law and diplomacy. My nation that will wage a war of aggression against a far off nation that was no threat to it, but that has lots of oil. My nation that gives all of its wealth to the rich and is satisfied to leave its citizens to starve, homeless, unemployed and sickly.

What happened to that Constitution that so wisely divided the government into three separate units, to provide a system of checks and balances against any one branch usurping power? How did we wind up with a President that refers to the Constitution that he swore to protect and defend as “just a goddamned piece of paper,” and a Congress that seems willing to rubber stamp any giveaway the President demands? How did we find ourselves with a Supreme Court that will set aside the Constitution in favor of unlimited presidential power for the duration?

Now I live in an America I don’t dare leave for fear of being spat upon, shot, bombed or kidnaped. I am looked upon as a citizen of a rogue nation that has no concept or respect for any law except bullying and strength. I need a passport even to visit Canada, which was to be our sister nation with open borders forever. I must expect to be required to show my “papers” at any time, to any official. I must accept that the government can break into my house and rifle my belongings and papers any time it wishes on the thinnest of excuses and it is not even required to let me know it has violated my home and my privacy. I must accept the fact that the government can listen in to my private conversations, my phone, my e-mail, can probably read my snail mail if they wish and can put a gag order on anyone who has information on me so I may not even be made aware that I am being spied upon. George Orwell’s absolute dictatorship has crept in to my home and my life and thrown out my beloved Constitution and Bill of Rights. The difference between the United States, Soviet Russia, Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy is steadily and inexorably diminishing and the people are letting it happen while they remain paralyzed with fear. Fear incited by the gang that runs the White House and their cronies in the propaganda ministry that used to be our last bulwark against tyranny; our once free press.

So now my pride in America is for our past; my sadness for our present; my fear for our future. I am no longer proud to be an American, but I have no place to go.

Stephen M. Osborn (theplace@whidbey.net) is a freelance writer living on Camano Island in the Pacific Northwest. He is an "Atomic Vet." (Operation Redwing, Bikini Atoll 1956, ) who has been very active working and writing for nuclear disarmament and world peace. He is a retired Fire Battalion Chief, lifelong sailor, writer, poet, philosopher, historian and former newspaper columnist.

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I had a friend who was also at Bikini, and he suffered terrible radiation poisoning from that bomb. His name is Ish Sandoval, probably Isadore. A 6'+ tall, handsome Mexican kid from Santa Monica. Kid? Well he was in his late twenties. He had health issues during the 50's from that experience. The last I saw of him he was designing shoes, and Saks was buying them. I've done a couple of searches for him, and for Lenny Aguilar who was from Torrance CA, he or Jerry Armstrong who was from El Segundo, who was a good friend of Lenny's. who also might know him, and just to see if any of them are still around. Would love to see everyone one of these days and hear what they did with their lives. who they married, how many kids, if any, they might have, and by now there have to be grand kids. Maybe they'll see their names in this post, sure do hope so. I know one thing, time sure has flown by.


Saundra Hummer
February 20th, 2006, 12:22 AM
. . . . . . .

Propaganda: America's Psychological Warriors

Published on Sunday, February 19, 2006
by the Seattle Times
by Floyd J. McKay

Aficionados of the movie "Casablanca" will recall the roguishly corrupt police inspector Louis Renault, played by Claude Rains, who upon "discovering" that gambling was taking place at Rick's club, proclaimed that he was "shocked, shocked."

You had to think of that when the White House announced that it, too, was "shocked" that a Pentagon contractor was bribing Iraqi journalists and posting propaganda in Iraqi newspapers without identifying the source.

The people "shocked, just shocked" were the same people who paid at least two American journalists to write pro-administration columns and produced for compliant local television stations so-called "news reports" that were nothing more than propaganda.

Nor, for that matter, should Congress or the nation's media be "shocked" by the employment of propaganda techniques that are at least as old as World War I, and have been employed by this and other governments since the advent of modern mass media.

This foolishness is small peanuts compared with torture of prisoners or unauthorized eavesdropping, abuses of power that this nation should really worry about.

The major problem with our clumsy propaganda efforts in Iraq is that they are not working, even in a part of the world where journalists are accustomed to being bullied or bought by those in authority.

In this climate, one can hardly blame American military commanders for trying to play by the same rules. Winning hearts and minds works better with a compliant press. But, to a remarkable degree, propaganda methods that have worked in the past have failed in Iraq. Ironically, the Bush administration has been more successful with propaganda aimed at the American people than against Arabs.

Propaganda on a massive, organized scale dates to World War I, and the lessons learned in the often-crude application of WWI propaganda are ingrained in the spin doctors of the electronic world.

At its root, propaganda plays on emotions, often defying reason and facts in order to reach into the psyche of the audience. Propaganda is a mind game — the skillful propagandist plays with your deepest emotions, exploiting your greatest fears and prejudices.

Propaganda researchers Anthony Pratkanis and Elliot Aronson define modern propaganda as "mass 'suggestion' or 'influence' through the manipulation of symbols and the psychology of the individual. Propaganda involves the dexterous use of images, slogans and symbols that play on our prejudices and emotions; it is the communication of a point of view with the ultimate goal of having the recipient of the appeal come to 'voluntarily' accept this position as if it were his or her own."

Fear is the best weapon of the propagandist. Fear of another 9/11 attack is stated or embedded into nearly every message produced by the White House. Labeling is another weapon of choice for the propagandist. In World War I, Germans were Huns, Krauts and Boche. World War II produced Japs and Nips, and Vietnam brought us Gooks. Today's label, "terrorist," is seldom missing from White House speeches.

In World War I, German Americans were demonized and in World War II, Japanese Americans were placed in concentration camps. Islamic Americans often feel they are now in the propaganda bull's-eye.

Wartime propaganda inevitably plays on powerful symbols and images. The flag is unfurled, battlefield heroism extolled, and critics reviled as people who hate their country and its troops. Religion is frequently called upon — amazingly, God is always on our side.

Successful propaganda uses elementary tools such as labeling and fear-mongering and repeats a simple message over and over, until it is drilled into the heads of the audience. Once embedded, it often remains long after evidence has discredited it — witness the fact that millions of Americans still believe that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, that Saddam Hussein and al-Qaida were connected, and an Iraqi was among the 9/11 terrorists.

Wartime propaganda is necessary to keep the home front involved and also to assure young men and women that killing is all right in a proper cause. We teach our children "Thou shalt not kill," but soldiers are trained to kill. Even professional soldiers must be helped to overcome their reluctance to kill. Propaganda reassures them and their families.

Is this wrong? Can propaganda ever be right or is it always a psychological force of evil? Call someone a propagandist, and images of Hitler and Goebbels appear. Yet, during World War II, which nearly every American supported, we used propaganda heavily at home and abroad and it helped the survival of freedom.

Today's conflicts are not always as clear-cut as Western democracy vs. Nazi genocide and Japanese militarism. A war on terror (a sure-fire label) is launched against an amorphous enemy of shadowy characters without a nation or an army. This war will never end (pity the president who announces victory the day before a bomb goes off). A nation constantly on edge will continue to believe much of what it is told, until and unless wolf is cried too many times, or the bearer of the warnings is found to be telling lies or half-truths — which are the marks of much propaganda.

Psychologists Pratkanis and Aronson suggest four stratagem of successful propaganda: 1) pre-persuasion, establishing a climate in which the message will be believed; 2) source credibility, a likable or authoritative communicator; 3) a message focused on simple, achievable goals; and 4) arousing emotions and providing a targeted response.

These stratagem worked for the Bush administration in America through the 2004 election, but the president's credibility is declining as Iraq drags on through its third year.

In Iraq, however, the four stratagems never worked.

Shortly after 9/11 but well before we invaded Iraq, the administration embarked on a "brand America" campaign in the Middle East. Leading advertising agencies were consulted and Charlotte Beers, a legendary Madison Avenue ad executive, was named undersecretary of state for public diplomacy.

Beers was only the latest propagandist attempting to penetrate the region. Our efforts date to at least the Truman and Eisenhower administrations, at the height of the Cold War, and they include secret funding of Arabic-language publications and bribery of journalists, basic tactics employed today in Iraq by a new generation of psychological warriors.

Beers relied on her experience in corporate public relations, in which a "brand identity" is selected and relentlessly pursued with attractive, simplistic messages that do not invite feedback. Americans are accustomed to this tactic. It works in the corporate world and all too often in politics.

Prior to the invasion of Iraq, a massive campaign to sell America was launched, particularly targeting young Arabs. Feel-good images of Arab Americans and the widespread use of American pop music and MTV-style videos were broadcast while we were preparing to invade an Arab country.

But polling in the region showed U.S. standing at all-time lows. A frustrated Beers told Congress, "We only have one choice in the world of the Middle East and Southeast. We have to buy the media itself." We tried that, too, and polls showed no U.S. gains.

American propagandists were encouraged by some success in Afghanistan, where the lack of any real indigenous media gave the U.S. an open playing field, which it filled with American-subsidized media. The U.S. role was not disclosed. "We have no requirements to adhere to journalistic principles of objectivity," the Army's top psychological operations officer told The New York Times. In Afghanistan, the lack of competition helps American-subsidized media sell the U.S.'s messages.

But Afghanistan is not an Arab state. In mid-December, the State Department ceased publication of the Arabic-language youth magazine "Hi," which had, like subsidized television, radio and newspapers, failed to attract a large Arab audience.

The unlucky Beers has been replaced by Karen Hughes, one of the president's closest confidantes. The Pentagon continues to spend millions on old, failed techniques. In the more-competitive media environment of post-Saddam Iraq, the U.S. has been unable to penetrate with a pro-democracy, good-news message. The Pentagon — after awarding tens of millions of dollars for a private contractor, Lincoln Group, to place pro-American propaganda — has now launched two investigations of the contractor.

Former Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmad Mahir last April described "a broader picture that makes it clear that the problem that the United States faces in the Arab and Muslim world cannot be tackled by exercises in public relations. It can only be addressed by a genuine change in policies and stands... ."

American propaganda in Iraq and the Middle East fails all of the four stratagem, most particularly that of credibility. We profess human rights but torture Islamic prisoners or imprison them for years in secret locations without charge. We talk democracy but support authoritarian rulers in Egypt and Saudi Arabia. Our thirst for oil raises suspicions of motive, as does our construction of huge military bases in Iraq. Most of all, Arabs see the U.S. as staunchly supportive of Israel's four-decade occupation of the West Bank Palestinian territories.

Even the most skillful propagandists in the world are working against what the Israelis call "facts on the ground." Our actions negate our words and feed the propaganda machines of those who would do us harm. In the Middle East it is they and not we who have credibility.



Saundra Hummer
February 20th, 2006, 12:39 AM

Why the Quail Was the Only One Not Hit by Cheney
The Texas hunting accident proved that the Bush Administration is a lame duck

by Michael Gawenda
Published on Sunday, February 19, 2006
by the Sydney Morning Herald

For those who like metaphors, Dick Cheney shooting this old guy who may or may not be his friend is irresistible. In the space of 15 minutes during his exclusive interview on Fox News, Cheney described 78-year-old Harry Whittington, who was released over the weekend from hospital where he had spent a week, mainly in intensive care, as a good friend, a friend and finally, OK, an acquaintance.

So here's Cheney's week as a metaphor for the Bush Administration: he shoots a guy he either does or doesn't know well. The shooting is based on bad intelligence - Cheney was sure there was a quail behind him rather than Whittington. Then he tries to cover up the mistake. He doesn't even call Bush and tell him what has happened. Bush may be the president, but what he doesn't know can't hurt him. After all, isn't Cheney the most powerful vice-president ever?

And when Bush does find out, several hours after the shooting, he is told by his political svengali Karl Rove, who has heard from one of the owners of the ranch where Cheney shot Whittington. Rove tells Bush that maybe it's best for the President to leave the mess to Cheney and go to bed.

So the President of the most powerful country in the world goes to sleep without calling the second-most powerful man in the world to ask him what the hell happened.

Cheney shot a good friend or an acquaintance or a total stranger ... whatever ... by mistake? Based on bad intelligence? Heck, that's a big problem. Better stay away from that one.

This isn't a metaphor at all. It's what happened. More or less. Actually no one knows what happened at the White House or out there on the ranch on that fateful Saturday night because Bush, except for saying that Cheney is a great guy and so is Whittington, won't say anything else, and Cheney can't even say whether he knows Whittington well or hardly at all.

No one in the US has suggested that Cheney shouldn't go hunting. In the US having a gun and shooting it is a vote winner. Handled properly, the fact Cheney shot someone would have improved his poll ratings among some Americans. And no one is suggesting Cheney shot Whittington on purpose, or that Cheney was drunk, or even that he was negligent.

It should have been relatively simple to handle this for any reasonably competent administration, and this one isn't exactly new to the job given that it's into its sixth year and most White House officials are long-serving, the recipients of extraordinary presidential loyalty. But the way the shooting has been handled with obfuscations, lies and half-arsed attempts to blame Whittington for being a guest of the intensive care unit in a Texas hospital has been pathetic. For four days, neither Cheney nor Bush talked about what happened. Instead, anonymous supporters were enlisted to do the spinning. They did a great job.

For instance, to prove that birdshot "peppering" of hunters by their fellow hunters is common and nothing to be exercised about, Cheney supporters pointed to a survey of 883 South Dakota bird hunters which revealed that 484 of them had been "peppered with birdshot".

When Cheney finally was pushed by White House staff - but not by Bush - to do something, say something, anything, he gave a long, mawkish and friendly interview to the fearless critics of the Bush Administration over at the Fox cable news network.

And, would you believe it, he admitted he had shot poor old Whittington and that he felt terrible about it. Would he in hindsight have done anything different? Like be forthright about what happened and not allow others to take the heat for him? Well, of course not.

Here's what's important about this incident. Some people close to the Bush Administration, such as the former Ronald Reagan speech writer Peggy Noonan, are saying Cheney should step down, that he has done his job as a "hate magnet" for the Administration, but that now he's toxic politically.

Some Republicans, with mid-term elections looming, are saying the Administration is dysfunctional and inept, and that if they want to hold their seats in Congress, they will have to stay as far away from Bush and his team as possible.

While the media was obsessing over Cheney's shooting woes, a Republican congressional committee delivered a devastating 500-page report into Hurricane Katrina's aftermath. The report is critical of every level of government but is most critical of the Federal Government, from Bush down, for its appallingly inept response to America's greatest natural disaster.

In light of the way Bush handled the Cheney shooting, this conclusion in the report stands out: that Bush seemed not to have been briefed about what was happening as New Orleans was drowned by floodwaters.

Michael Gawenda is the Herald's Washington correspondent.

© 2006 Sydney Morning Herald

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Saundra Hummer
February 20th, 2006, 12:44 PM
Real-world wisdom from outside the beltway.


Who is really "weak" on national security?

Karl Rove has made no secret of his desire to try to ramrod the 2006 elections into a debate over who is "tough" on national security. And it seems more and more Democrats are frightened to actually have the debate. Oh sure, these Democrats wouldn't tell you that - in fact, many are posturing as tough guys even as they cower in fear of Rove. A few weeks back, it was Sen. Evan Bayh (D-IN), self-servingly reinforcing Rove's dishonest storyline of Democrats as "afraid" (read: weak) on national security. And now today in the Toledo Blade, it's failed Ohio Senate candidate Paul Hackett's campaign.
Yes, you read that correctly. A week after Hackett got out of the race, Hackett's campaign - now in the process of closing down - leaked all of its "opposition research" on Rep. Sherrod Brown (D) to the Toledo Blade - opposition research that regurgitates the same Karl-Rove-esque "weak on national security" lies that have eroded Democrats' image over the years.

Clearly, the Hackett campaign's move is disgusting on many levels. First and foremost, is the sheer pathetic, sore-loserish quality of it. A week ago, it was Hackett who appeared on Air America radio saying: "I’d rather see Sherrod Brown as my next Senator [than Republican Mike DeWine]…Why do I want to hurt him if we can get him elected...I’m proud to say that I’m a team player...Everybody who is upset about this, get over it now and let’s work hard to get Democrats on the ticket elected." Now, this "team player" is out spreading dishonest GOP propaganda. Classy.

But the shameless disloyalty of Hackett's campaign isn't really what's interesting. The broader attempt by the right to create a storyline about "weakness" and "strength" on national security is. So let's just look at the Toledo Blade story and what it represents at a deeper level. Hackett's campaign tries to attack Brown for voting against the Patriot Act - even though polls show the public has serious reservations about the law, and want it to be changed (see question 19 of this USA Today/CNN poll from last month for reference).

But beyond the hyperbole on the Patriot Act - which lawmakers in both parties have now raised objections to - is the more pressing attack on Brown's votes to slightly reduce spending for intelligence in the 1990s. Like an obedient appendage of Rove's smear machine, Hackett's campaign says the votes essentially mean Brown is "weak" on national security. But let's just think about how truly ridiculous that line of reasoning is. The intelligence bills passed, the funding went through, and we still got hit on 9/11, even though we had overt warnings.

That makes something very clear: our intelligence apparatus in the 1990s was focused on outdated Cold War priorities - not on the new threats to America. Brown's votes were a courageous attempt to force reform - instead of simply throwing more money at an outdated apparatus that ultimately failed us on 9/11 because it hadn't been reformed earlier. If anyone is "weak" on national security, it is the people who blindly voted for these bills - not those who tried to force a debate that may have sharpened our intelligence system's focus on the real threats to America BEFORE they materialized.

Fortunately, the American public - who clearly wants its security protected - seems to innately understand that the national security spending decisions by the establishment need re-focusing. Take a look at the University of Maryland's poll from a year ago:

"A majority rejects the idea that net increases in the defense budget as a whole are necessary to fight terrorism...When presented most of the major items in the discretionary federal budget and given the opportunity to modify it, Americans make some dramatic changes. The largest cut by far is to defense spending, which is reduced by nearly one-third ($133 billion), followed by spending on Iraq and Afghanistan."

In other words, Americans don't buy the Rove-Hackett storyline. They get that the defense/intelligence budget has, for years, been increasingly corrupted by bought-off politicians who have used it to enrich their defense industry campaign contributors. You have to look no further than the shenanigans of Reps. Duke Cunningham (R-CA) or Jerry Lewis (R-CA) on the Defense Appropriations Committee to know why Americans see the truth on this. In fact, it was none other than Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld who tacitly acknowledged this reality when he recently advocated for military "transformation" - a program that included major defense spending cuts to outdated weapons systems that contractors were getting fat off of, but that weren't targeted to the War on Terror. And throughout the 1980s it was Dick Cheney who pushed repeatedly to cut defense spending, again citing the wastefulness of outdated programs. These two are clearly "weak" on national security because of their decisions to send us into a war that diverted resources from pursuing the perpetrators of 9/11 - but they are not "weak" on national security because of their previous (and now abandoned) efforts to refocus national security spending.

In a previous post, I wrote about how this country desperately needs to have the debate over national security spending that Brown clearly supported in voting the way he did in the 1990s. As former Reagan Assistant Secretary of Defense Larry Korb recently noted:

"Over $40 billion in savings from wasteful Pentagon programs could be achieved quickly – by cutting only the most egregious examples of misplaced priorities. These programs include the F-22 Raptor fighter jet and Virginia Class submarines, designed to achieve superiority over Soviet jets and submarines that were never built; missile defense, proposed when terrorists were not our primary enemy; bases in Asia, Europe and here at home that are irrelevant in today's geopolitical reality."

Sherrod Brown and the courageous lawmakers who voted with him in the 1990s were trying to bring this debate to the forefront. And had they been successful in forcing reform, our defenses against the real terrorist threats may have been stronger when we were ultimately attacked. This is why, instead of running scared from Rove like Evan Bayh, or reinforcing Rove's talking points as Hackett did, Democrats must go right at the Republicans on this issue. They must forcefully remind the public that progressives were trying to reform and refocus national security spending on the real threats to America in the lead up to 9/11, and that they are continuing to try to reform and refocus that spending today.

The public would clearly be receptive to this message. Americans are waiting for party to articulate this reality - they know that our national security resources aren't being spent properly. Whether we are diverting resources from the War on Terror in Iraq, or outsourcing port security to firms owned by countries with connections to terrorists - Americans see what's going on. And they are sick of dishonest opportunists like Rove using the veil of "national security" as a way to perpetuate budget policies that have weakened U.S. national security by blindly handing over billions of dollars to defense contractor campaign donors, regardless of whether those contracts will actually protect America against the threats we now face.

Posted by David Sirota at 8:19 AM | Link | Discuss (1)

categories: Dishonestly Reinforcing Lies, National Insecurity


Saundra Hummer
February 20th, 2006, 12:50 PM
The stealth agenda of Congress's earmark "reform" zealots

This week, PBS Now this week aired a long piece on Congress's pork barrel spending habits. aired a long piece on Congress's pork barrel spending habits. The piece did a great job of detailing the explosion of congressional "earmarks" under Republican control of Congress, which is clearly a problem. However, one key issue was left unexplained. The piece quoted self-righteous zealots like Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) offering their moral indignation at the entire concept of congressional earmarking. However, the same people like Coburn who are calling to eliminate Congress's power to earmark are not telling us what the actual alternative to congressional earmarking is. And that's not by accident.
Think about what a congressional earmark is: it's a line in a big spending bill, inserted by a member of Congress, to direct federal funds to a specific project. If you entirely ban earmarking, as many of these earmark "reformers" like Coburn seem to desire, you delegate the responsibility of directing that spending to the executive branch. And that begs the question: why is it better for unelected appointees in the executive branch to decide how federal money is spend than having your elected officials decide? It isn't - and that's the part of the story that's not being discussed. Earmark "reform," if done overzealously, is just one huge power grab by the executive branch over the last true power that Congress still retains: the power of the purse.

A Boston Globe article from 2005 gives us a frightening glimpse of what such a power grab might mean in the future. Usurping Congress's power of the purse would give presidents - especially aggressively partisan ones like George W. Bush - even more ability than described by this article to target federal funds on the basis of their political ambitions.

To be sure, the effort to usurp Congress's power of the purse by totally eliminating earmarking is part of the Republican Party's bigger effort to strengthen executive power in all arenas. Such a power grab both improves the GOP's ability to use public policy for their partisan goals right now, and more broadly, centralizing power in the executive branch is inherently less (small "d") democratic by virtue of the fact that it is a branch run by appointees, and not elected officials. The less democratic government decisions are, the more power Big Money interests have, and the less power the general public has over decisions being made in its name and with its hard earned taxpayer dollars. We can see this power grab and subsequent assault on democracy in the GOP's recent efforts to politicize foreign aid, in its defense of the President's illegal wiretapping program, in its quest for a new Patriot Act, in its penchant for secrecy, and now, in its backdoor attempt to usurp Congress's power of the purse through earmarking "reform" (a topic that also, not coincidentally, distracts from the bigger problem of a campaign finance system that encourages pay-to-play shenanigans).

It is true, the rise of earmarking is a problem, and has fueled some of the corruption scandals as lobbyists use campaign cash to essentially buy earmarks from corrupt lawmakers. But the question should not be whether to ban earmarking or not - it should be how to make sure earmarking doesn't get out of control. Because again, the question of earmarking is really a question of who should get to decide how federal money is spent - Congress, or unelected appointees in the executive branch? There's a lot of talk in the PBS piece about the supposed outrage that congressional spending bills allocate money to different lawmakers, who get to direct that spending within their district. But there's no discussion of why that is so bad? Why, for instance, should we trust a bureaucrat - or worse, a political operative - at the transportation department to know what a congressional district's transportation needs are and not the elected Congressman who is supposed to be an expert on the needs of his/her district?

You might say that well, a lawmaker is going to direct that spending with their own partisan political agenda. And you are absolutely right - but again, why is a lawmakers' partisan political agenda any better or worse than the executive branch's? Because if you think the executive branch won't use earmarking "reform" to politicize spending on its own, then I have some real estate to sell you...

Solving the earmarking problem is indeed difficult, but not impossible. We have to explore what really is at the heart of the problem, and then go after the specifics. Having worked on the Appropriations Committee, I'll try to explain what I think are the two main problems, and note some sensible solutions that are out there:

PROBLEM - The spenders are also the directors: The first key problem in today's system is that the lawmakers directing the money through earmarking are also often the lawmakers deciding the overall spending levels. That means currently, the rise of earmarking naturally leads to an unbridled and intensified pressure to spend more taxpayer dollars. It would be one thing if the size of overall pots of money were set by one group of lawmakers, and another group of lawmakers got to decide the specific projects that money could be spent on. And remember, that's technically how it is supposed to work in Congress - there are authorizing committees that set the maximum amounts allowable to spend on given programs, and then there is the appropriations committee that actually decides how federal dollars are spent on a year-by-year basis. But the process has broken down, and "unauthorized" spending now regularly happens to the tune of billions of dollars. As just one example, this 1998 report by the Congressional Budget Office showed $25 billion in unauthorized spending in NASA and the Justice Department alone. To be sure, much of this unauthorized spending is on very important priorities. But the fact that so much unauthorized spending goes on shows the system has broken down. Thus, setting new rules to make the authorization and appropriations process actually work would be a solid step.

PROBLEM - No disclosure allows abuse: In the PBS piece, some lawmakers do hit on an important point: many congressional earmarks - and especially some of the most egregious ones - are inserted into bills at the very last minute, with no disclosure of which Member of Congress authored them. Thus, we need new rules that would force the public disclosure of earmark authors and that would force Congress to provide enough time for the public (and other lawmakers) to read these massive bills. That would go a long way to creating some accountability, and bringing the system back under control. Lawmakers would be less likely to try to sneak in the most wasteful pork or most narrowly targeted special interest provisions if they knew their names would be publicly attached to it. Similarly, budget hawks in Congress would have a new tool to force a debate on egregious earmarks, and try to eliminate them through amendments (which, even in the dictatorial House, are still allowed on appropriations bills). That would be a lot more accountability than simply handing over all spending control to the executive branch, which already tries to hide many of its key spending decisions.

Remember - I am not defending the current abuse of earmarking in general, nor am I endorsing the specific - and truly ridiculous - "bridge to nowhere" projects that have come from earmarking. I've seen up close the abuse of this system when I worked on the Appropriations Committee and there is absolutely no doubt that the system that is supposed to provide some checks on earmarking has clearly broken down, and needs a fix.

But we shouldn't let the out of control abuse of earmarking by the GOP to become an excuse to pursue a truly dangerous goal of handing over more power to the executive branch. We cannot forget that earmarking as a concept is both value-neutral and inherently political. The term is really just a euphemism for "deciding how money is spent." Making those decisions is why we have a government, and because our government is elected through a political process, those decisions are always going to have some politics surrounding them. The question is whether you have congressional earmarking whereby elected officials get to decide how money is spent, or you have executive branch earmarking whereby unelected appointees get to decide how money is spent? There is going to be politicization in both - the question is who should be vested with that political power?

As a small "d" democrat, I (like the Founding Fathers who originally gave Congress the power of the purse) would prefer elected officials to choose, especially if we can fix the system in pretty straightforward, sensible ways previously mentioned. Put those earmark reforms with a publicly financed system of elections that controls the pay-to-play nature of congressional politics these days, and we will have gone a long way to cleaning up Washington.

Posted by David Sirota at 8:05 AM | Link | Discuss (5)
categories: Politics


Saundra Hummer
February 20th, 2006, 12:57 PM
Ohio's largest paper tells the real story about Hackett


With the Paul Hackett story all over the blogs this week, I wanted to point out this story from the Cleveland Plain Dealer. It is a full post-mortem on Hackett's failed candidacy for U.S. Senate, and the piece confirms what I've written about this over the last few days. The story makes clear what should be obvious: Hackett was not "forced out" - he was outworked and outorganized by a better, harder working, more progressive candidate, Sherrod Brown. It seems like Hackett thought he should be able to walk to the nomination and not have to do the grueling, unglamorous work that it takes to be a candidate in a major statewide race - and when he found out that it wasn't going to be a cakewalk for him, he bailed.
Here are some key excerpts:

"Former Hackett aides say the biggest problem facing his campaign at the end was insufficient money. Hackett cited the problem himself in an interview with The Plain Dealer earlier this week. Despite his initial rant on party leaders, he said, the overriding reason for his exit was a realization that he couldn't raise the $3 million he thought he needed to win the primary...One of [the Hackett campaign's] biggest obstacles to banking that money, they said, was that Hackett hated fund raising. While most candidates share that feeling, people familiar with Hackett's campaign say he was especially resistant to efforts by aides to get him to use one of the most efficient but unpleasant fund raising techniques: sitting at the phone for hours, calling friends, relatives, and strangers to ask for money. Tension over the problem led in January to the departure of his finance director...Hackett, who prized his independent streak and proudly called it a family trait - he voted twice for Ross Perot for president and championed gun rights as well as gay rights - also chafed at having his schedule set by aides. On the weekend before he bowed out, aides say, he stunned his staff by refusing at the last minute to attend certain events - including appearances at several black churches - that had apparently been put on his schedule over his objections."

In other words, this had nothing to do with Hackett being "forced out" and everything to do with him not wanting to work. The piece also quotes former consultants to the Hackett campaign who tell it like it is:

"It's a very hard thing to make the jump to running for U.S. Senate," said Mark Blumenthal, a pollster who worked for Hackett's campaign. "There's a reason why people who have done it a lot of times are better at it - because you learn the hard way how hard is it to raise that money and how important it is to have experienced people around and to trust them."

Chris Cooper, a direct mail consultant who worked for Hackett's campaign, said he too has little doubt that internal pressures played a role.

"I thought and I still think that Paul Hackett had the right message at the right place at the right time. I looked at him as 180 pounds of pure potential," said Cooper. "But the reality of running a statewide campaign in a state like Ohio didn't quite match up to the potential because it's . . . a much bigger, more complicated affair."

Cooper really had it right - Hackett had a lot of potential that could have been maximized in a different, smaller race. I wrote that previously and hope at some point he loses the sour grapes attitude and gets back into politics. Because it really is a disappointment to see a guy with obviously natural talent leave politics altogether. It's a waste. But as Ohio's Mansfield Journal noted in an editorial, successful politics requires a lot more than just talent - it requires a persistence and tenacity that Sherrod Brown has shown throughout his career, and which Hackett just did not display in this campaign:

"Paul Hackett, the rookie Democratic politician from Cincinnati who dropped out of the U.S. Senate race earlier this week, would do well to read the works of Irish-American journalist Finley Peter Dunne. If he did, perhaps Hackett would stop sounding like a whiner. In 1895, Chicago pub owner Martin Dooley, one of Dunne's literary creations, said, 'Polytics ain't bean bag. 'Tis a man's game; and women an' childer, and prohybitionists'd do well to stay out iv it.'...It came as no surprise to anyone paying attention to politics that support for Brown among party leaders would far outweigh support for Hackett. Brown is considered much more electable. Period. That's the goal of politics -- winning. When Hackett dropped from the race he complained with some immature bitterness that the pressure from party leaders had injured his fund-raising efforts and forced him out. But Hackett's own polls showed him trailing Brown by almost a 2-to-1 margin among Ohio Democrats. It should have been clear even to him that the party to which he often voices his loyalty is better served with Brown on the ballot...Now is the time for Hackett to stop complaining, throw his support to Brown and do all he can to help the Democrats defeat DeWine in November. Along the way, Hackett should look for new political opportunities of his own...And when he does, he would be well served to remember Dunne's words. Politics ain't bean bag. It's a contact sport that can only be played successfully one way - to win."

That's exactly what I've been saying - and if Hackett decides to abandon his sour grapes martyr routine and get back into politics at some point, he better learn these lessons, or he'll face a similar fate. As for the upcoming Senate race, after reading the Plain Dealer article, and after knowing what we all know about Sherrod Brown's stellar progressive record, it becomes very clear that Brown is the better nominee.

Posted by David Sirota at 10:34 AM | Link | Discuss (10)
categories: Politics


Saundra Hummer
February 20th, 2006, 01:05 PM
New GOP Fed Chair admits conservatives lie about the minimum wage

Conservatives have long claimed that having a minimum wage supposedly reduces employment. They argue this even though statistics have long shown that's simply not true. And this week, under intense questioning, new Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke appears to have admitted that conservatives are lying (see the update at the bottom for a controversy that has arisen about his remarks).
That's right, in his testimony to the House Financial Services Committee, Bernanke had an exchange with Independent Congressman Bernie Sanders (VT) where he admitted as much. Here's the exchange:

SANDERS: Chairman Bernanke, should the Congress raise the minimum wage so that every worker in America who works 40 hours a week escapes from poverty? A very simple question, sir.

BERNANKE: I'm going to be an economist and give you the one hand, the other hand. On the minimum wage, it's actually a very controversial issue among economists. Clearly, if you raise the minimum wage, then those workers who retain their jobs will get higher income and therefore it helps them. The concerns that some economists have raised about the minimum wage are first, is it as well targeted as it could be? That is, how much of the increase is going to the teenage children of suburban families, for example? And secondly, does it have any employment effects? That is, do higher wages lower employment of low-wage workers?

SANDERS: And your response is?

BERNANKE: My response is that I think it doesn't lower employment.

So there we have it folks - a conservative Republican Federal Reserve Chairman, nominated by a conservative Republican president, acknowledges that the right-wing's rhetoric about minimum wage is a lie. Enough said.

UPDATE: FYI - per the last note I sent out, there is now some controversy as to whether Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke said the minimum wage "doesn't" or "does" lower employment. The transcript from Congressional Quarterly on Lexis-Nexis - widely relied on as the official transcript of such hearings - says, as I reported, that Bernanke said the minimum wage "doesn't lower employment." However, Reuters has reported it differently, saying he said he believes the minimum wage "does lower employment." From the context of the quote, it's seems possible that the official transcript is wrong, as Bernanke goes on to say "However" and then cite experts who have, in fact, argued that the minimum wage does not hurt employment. Still, though, that alone does not validate whether the transcript has an error or not. In the interest of accuracy (which I pride myself on) - I wanted to flag this for readers. If you have access to Lexis-Nexis, you can validate this yourself. The transcript is from CQ Transcriptions from the House Financial Services Committee hearing on February 15th, 2006.

Posted by David Sirota at 12:37 PM | Link | Discuss (19)
categories: War on the Middle Class


Saundra Hummer
February 20th, 2006, 01:09 PM
Fox News says oil profiteers are being persecuted

Sometimes Fox News can't hide its total disdain for ordinary Americans and their basic economic concerns. One of those times was yesterday, when Fox's Neil Cavuto actually claimed the oil companies who are making record profits off high energy prices are being persecuted.
"The oil companies need no lobby," Cavuto said. "Sometimes I just wonder if they need something else: a fair shake."

Right, Neil. Because ExxonMobil making more money than any corporation in U.S. history is proof that oil companies aren't getting "a fair shake."

Posted by David Sirota at 10:55 AM | Link | Discuss (2)

categories: Energy, Media Bias/Idiocy

Go on-site to see much, much more and check out their archives and other articles by their regular commentators such as Will Durst, and Molly Ivins.


Saundra Hummer
February 20th, 2006, 01:13 PM
The questions no one wants to ask
It strikes me that as all the whining and crying by supporters of Paul Hackett continues, there are a few questions that no one is asking - likely because no one wants to face the hard truth. So I'm just going to ask them.
So let's say it actually is true that Sens. Harry Reid and Chuck Schumer called a couple of big donors to tell them not to give any more money to Hackett and instead give money to Brown. Remember, they have denied doing that - but let's just take Hackett's conspiracy theory as fact for a moment. Here's a question: if Hackett was such a strong candidate building such a national movement with such devoted supporters as he purports - why would those donors listen?

I mean, come on folks - the idea that these Senators have that much control is terribly naive, especially at a time when most people admit that one of the big problems plaguing the party is not enough unity. Sure, they might have some sway - but again, if Hackett was such a strong candidate with such a fervent national following as people purport - why would those donors listen to a call from Schumer or Reid? The answer, as anyone who has ever worked in the political fundraising world, is that they wouldn't listen. And that means what really happened was Hackett didn't have the fundraising base he would need to begin with.

Second question: if people are angry about there now not being a primary, and thus voters aren't going to make the decision between Hackett and Brown, why are people upset with everyone other than Paul Hackett for that reality? Last I checked, he was the one who decided not to take the question to voters. So if people are going to be mad at anyone about the "let the people decide" issue, shouldn't they be mad at Hackett?

What I find particularly disgusting about all of the attention Hackett's decision got is the utter lack of issues being discussed. Its just disgustingly pathetic. There is no discussion of the two candidates' differing positions on Iraq, no discussion of the candidates records on issues that would be voted on in Congress - nothing. It's all horse race crap - and it is a sad, sad commentary that such a loud part of the supposedly progressive "base" is so comfortable following cults of personality, and appearing not even interested in the actual issues. For me, that's what this has always been about - issues. Here we have an extremely rare chance to put a proven progressive champion into U.S. Senate - Sherrod Brown, a guy who has championed the progressive agenda in Congress for years. And yet here we have many people in the blogosphere - people who purport to be part of a progressive base - simply uninterested in that. It is, in a word, pathetic.

Here's the cold, hard truth: Paul Hackett was going to get crushed by Sherrod Brown. Paul Hackett's internal polls showed Paul Hackett that right before Paul Hacket decided to leave the race.

Those poll numbers were not surprising - Sherrod Brown has been a progressive champion building grassroots support around Ohio for years, while Paul Hackett had been on the political stage for less than a year. That doesn't mean Paul Hackett isn't a good guy, with a lot of potential - it's just political reality.

Paul Hackett saw those poll numbers, didn't want to get embarrassed on election day, and bailed out. People shouldn't be bitter about that, and they shouldn't be sore losers. And Hackett supporters fueling a false media story about Democratic leaders "forcing out" Hackett do nothing but undermine a good, solid progressive who is still in this race against Mike DeWine.

Paul Hackett got beat, and he got beat badly by a better candidate and a more proven progressive who had far stronger statewide support and appeal. You can cry, whine, and make up conspiracy theories all you like. You can throw a temper tantrum, stomping your feet, screaming that "it's unfair!" It's a claim I used to make when I was 12 years old playing Nintendo against my brothers and they would beat me. I would claim the game was "unfair" - when in fact it wasn't - I just lost.

I sincerely wish Paul Hackett had decided not to get out of politics altogether so quickly - I honestly thought he had more mettle than that. I thought he would lose the primary, and then go on to run again. But he didn't and that's really sad. The the facts about why he decided to get out are the facts. They are reality. And you either come back to reality and we win this Senate seat, or you continue living in a fantasy world of your own creation. [/B]

Posted by David Sirota at 8:29 AM | Link | Discuss (12)

categories: Politics


Saundra Hummer
February 20th, 2006, 02:24 PM
Bush is unpopular across the entire country
One of the most under-discussed and under-appreciated political facts is the depth and intensity of George Bush's unpopularity in this country. It isn't just that his approval ratings have fallen into the 30's again, although that is significant. More significant still is the fact that Americans disapprove of his performance in every region in the country, and in almost every state.

This 50-state polling chart compiled by USA Survey is quite telling. Bush's approval rating is above 50% in only 6 states in the entire country, and Texas is not one of them. In 40 out of 50 states -- 80% of the country -- more people disapprove of Bush than approve of him.

Most revealing is Bush's intense and pervasive unpopularity in Ohio, the state which swung the election in his favor. People in Ohio disapprove of Bush's performance by an amazingly lopsided margin of 37-60%. Apparently, they're not happy that they have no jobs, their kids have no health insurance, their neighbors have been stuck and are being killed in an increasingly unpopular, endless and senseless war in Iraq, and the President is surrounded by cronyism and corruption and thinks he has the power to break the law. But at least gay couples can't get married, so that's good.

While large numbers of Ohioans became convinced in 2004 that the all-consuming, paramount gay marriage issue compensated for all of the corruption and ineptitude of the Administration, it looks like they -- along with the rest of the country -- have changed their minds and have realized that this Presidency is a disaster for our country in every way that matters.

Posted by Glenn Greenwald


Saundra Hummer
February 20th, 2006, 02:41 PM
Hotline's William Beutler Dissembles and Smears Liberal Blogs

by Matt Stoller,
Sat Feb 18, 2006
at 11:39:46 AM EST
The Hotline is the trade political publication for insider staffers in DC. It fancies itself the arbiter of conventional wisdom, and has a lot of really good content, as well as quips and useful information. But like The Note, the Hotline has an institutional tendency to hew to right-wing talking points. For instance, William Beutler, who writes Hotline's 'Blogometer', has this piece out in the right-wing Washington Examiner. It's an examination of the liberal blogosphere, or rather, an attack on us with approximately zero reporting thrown in. Keep in mind that the guy who writes this also writes the Blogometer, which quotes hundreds of blogs a day. That he includes no quotes and cites no almost blogs should strike you as very weird.

It starts:

A few weeks after the confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito, the unsuccessful filibuster attempt led by John Kerry is already ancient history in Washington. But for the left-wing bloggers who had strongly urged Democrats to support the filibuster, it remains a singular moment. Many of these Internet grassroots activists -- the "netroots," as they call themselves -- had already supported primary challenges to the Democratic establishment's favored candidates. But in the wake of that loss, there is a renewed determination to oust party moderates, known to many of these bloggers as "Vichy Democrats."

Notice how he doesn't name one single blogger. It's just 'liberal bloggers'. There was in fact a fair amount of heterodoxy on Alito, from me to Chris Bowers to Kos to Steve Clemons to Jane Hamsher to John Aravosis to Booman to Effect Measure to etc.... All of us agreed Alito was bad for America, but Chris Bowers, John Aravosis, and I overtly rejected the last-minute filibuster call as cynical pandering. At no point did 'Vichy Democrats' come up in a serious discussion of the filibuster. Beutler knows this, he was covering us.

He continues:

A major reason why many Democrats actively court liberal bloggers is their ability to raise money. When a photograph surfaced of conservative Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Texas, getting chummy with President Bush earlier this month, bloggers raised, in less than a week, more than $75,000 for his primary opponent, ex-Rep. Ciro Rodriguez. They are both competing for a safe Democratic district, but a Rodriguez win could be a big boost to bloggers' perceived clout.

Um, a bit more money at this point. Whatever. But Beutler is ignoring an important side effect; we unlocked money from Moveon, we piled on with unions, and the League of Conservation Voters endorsed. We created 'buzz', but we weren't alone. Lots of Texas Dems and Congressional Dems do not like Cuellar, and know he is a closet Republican.

He continues:

There are existing or likely challenges from the left to Sens. Joe Lieberman, Maria Cantwell and Hillary Clinton, and there are blogger-backed challenges to several of the national party's favored Senate candidates, including Bob Casey (Penn.), Harold Ford (Tenn.), Sheldon Whitehouse (R.I.) and John Morrison (Mont.). And the bloggers are pushing hard even though each of those non-incumbents stands a good chance of wresting a seat from the Republicans.

Once again, this is unsourced and attributed to 'bloggers'. I'm not backing Tasini in NY, or Pennachio in PA. I am backing Matt Brown, Tester, and Ned Lamont. But come on, like Matt Brown was created by the blogs? The guy is already Secretary of State of RI. This is bad journalism. And Beutler knows better.

He continues:

Only a few of the standard-bearers' opponents pose legitimate threats, but a primary defeat is the least of their worries. Online activists such as Markos Moulitsas, founder of the influential Daily Kos Web site, argue that primaries increase name recognition and the blogs will then simply raise more money.

Where does he argue this? Kos maintains that blogs are not about raising money. And I find it hard to argue with the notion that primaries raise name ID.

He continues:

But primary fights leave bruises, money is stubbornly finite, primary campaigns need time (and more money) to regroup for the general election and the Republicans will be ready to outspend them when they do.

Conventional wisdom, conventional wisdom, conventional wisdom. Was the long Presidential primary in 2004 bad for the party? No. It allowed Dean to figure out the internet, Kerry to refine his message, and four months of national Bush-bashing. It was good for the party. That's not really the point; Beutler is just echoing things he isn't proving.

He continues:

For months, Moulitsas and others have been calling for the Democratic campaign committees to challenge every Republican-held House and Senate seat. But the money just isn't there. Bloggers could help raise some of the money toward this goal, but they don't trust the party committees, and won't help them do so.

Evidence please?

Instead, they back feel-good candidates who will call Republicans "chickenhawks," yet don't have the organizational wherewithal to run effective campaigns. To wit: No candidate supported by Moulitsas has yet won a seat in Congress.

Um, Stephanie Herseth? Ben Chandler? This is absurd, and dishonest. It's also ripped directly from Redstate, which conveniently overlooks those special election victories.

He continues:

What's ironic is that those targeting Cuellar are mimicking the anti-heretic tactics of the Republican-oriented Club for Growth -- which made Cuellar its first Democratic endorsement in late January. If the Club for Growth is the Republican Party's tax-cut enforcer, the liberal netroots are enforcers of a similar kind for the Democrats. Yet it's harder to know what they're enforcing, and woe to the politician who tries to guess the netroots' preferred position on Issue X -- and guesses wrong.

Just because Beutler don't understand what being progressive means doesn't mean that it's some random magical angry beast that slashes out randomly. Social Security, the war, health care, wiretapping - these kinds of things concern us. It's not rocket science.

There is another key difference between them: As a well-organized outfit, the Club raises and spends its own money and makes its own mistakes. The loosely confederated netroots mostly direct donations to campaigns. This is an improvement insofar as the candidate knows the district best, but if Rodriguez or other liberal challengers lose and the netroots don't feel responsible, they won't learn from their mistakes. The result could be greater resentment, to say nothing of another revolt in the next campaign cycle.

Let's rephrase this, and replace some key words.

The loosely confederated party insiders mostly direct donations to campaigns. This is an improvement insofar as the candidate knows the district best, but if Brad Carson or other conservative challengers lose and the insiders don't feel responsible, they won't learn from their mistakes.

See how easy it is to create Beltway wisdom? Beutler continues:

Unsurprisingly, this anti-establishment project is one no national Democratic group has endorsed. Even for a governing party, trying to pick off your own members is a risky strategy. Republicans have seats to lose, albeit fewer than in the past -- and the Club just might help liberal Sen. Lincoln Chafee, R-R.I., lose his. But if Democrats want to regain control of Congress, there is little margin for error. And if it's the Republicans who pick up seats in November, the Internet battle against the "Vichy Democrats" will share some of the blame.

Yes, we will share some of the blame, because we're Democrats. All Democrats will share some of the blame. But if we win, it goes the other way.

Look at the end of the day, this is a smear job masquerading as journalism. It's the worst sort of grade level college essay that names no specific bloggers, quotes no one, and echoes an easily manipulated conventional wisdom.

And this is who Hotline put in charge of their blog coverage? Beutler needs to be reprimanded for this fact-free screed in an obscure right-wing rag, and the Blogometer should now be taken with a massive grain of salt.


We Like The Phrase Just Fine Over At MLW (3.00 / 1)

But this time even Matt missed the real problem with this part of the story:

But in the wake of that loss, there is a renewed determination to oust party moderates, known to many of these bloggers as "Vichy Democrats."
It's not moderates who are called "Vichy Democrats," it's collaborators like Lieberman and Cuellar.

Markos may not like the term, but those of us who do are--for the most part--taking aim at the same folks he sees as directly damaging to the party, not moderates from conservative districts or states who sometimes don't vote the way we'd like, but are proud Democrats none-the-less.

Now, I agree that there are some folks who are letting their frustrations overwhelm their better judgment. But this is hardly a major sentiment at this point. Nor is it surprising, given the magnitude of the Alito nomination, and the ineptitude of the Dem response. If Bush's approval rating was in the 60s, we could understand it, but.... But I digress.

The point is, sure there are differences among us. And there are certainly some legitimate criticisms to be made. But this criticism, like virtually everything else in the article, utterly misses the mark. And I say that as a practicing journalist myself. If someone applied for a job at our paper, and included this as one of their sample clips, they wouldn't even get an interview, much less get hired.

by Paul Rosenberg on Sun Feb 19, 20

This subject has much more in additional posts onsite.

February 20th, 2006, 03:19 PM
. . . . . . .

New GOP Fed Chair admits conservatives lie about the minimum wage

Conservatives have long claimed that having a minimum wage supposedly reduces employment. They argue this even though statistics have long shown that's simply not true. And this week, under intense questioning, new Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke appears to have admitted that conservatives are lying (see the update at the bottom for a controversy that has arisen about his remarks).
That's right, in his testimony to the House Financial Services Committee, Bernanke had an exchange with Independent Congressman Bernie Sanders (VT) where he admitted as much. Here's the exchange:

SANDERS: Chairman Bernanke, should the Congress raise the minimum wage so that every worker in America who works 40 hours a week escapes from poverty? A very simple question, sir.

BERNANKE: I'm going to be an economist and give you the one hand, the other hand. On the minimum wage, it's actually a very controversial issue among economists. Clearly, if you raise the minimum wage, then those workers who retain their jobs will get higher income and therefore it helps them. The concerns that some economists have raised about the minimum wage are first, is it as well targeted as it could be? That is, how much of the increase is going to the teenage children of suburban families, for example? And secondly, does it have any employment effects? That is, do higher wages lower employment of low-wage workers?

SANDERS: And your response is?

BERNANKE: My response is that I think it doesn't lower employment.

So there we have it folks - a conservative Republican Federal Reserve Chairman, nominated by a conservative Republican president, acknowledges that the right-wing's rhetoric about minimum wage is a lie. Enough said.

UPDATE: FYI - per the last note I sent out, there is now some controversy as to whether Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke said the minimum wage "doesn't" or "does" lower employment. The transcript from Congressional Quarterly on Lexis-Nexis - widely relied on as the official transcript of such hearings - says, as I reported, that Bernanke said the minimum wage "doesn't lower employment." However, Reuters has reported it differently, saying he said he believes the minimum wage "does lower employment." From the context of the quote, it's seems possible that the official transcript is wrong, as Bernanke goes on to say "However" and then cite experts who have, in fact, argued that the minimum wage does not hurt employment. Still, though, that alone does not validate whether the transcript has an error or not. In the interest of accuracy (which I pride myself on) - I wanted to flag this for readers. If you have access to Lexis-Nexis, you can validate this yourself. The transcript is from CQ Transcriptions from the House Financial Services Committee hearing on February 15th, 2006.

Posted by David Sirota at 12:37 PM | Link | Discuss (19)
categories: War on the Middle Class


Nice (but typical) spin!!

Saundra Hummer
February 20th, 2006, 03:48 PM
Resurrecting Dick Cheney's Image
(Scroll down or read on down on your way to the article on Cheney.)


February 20, 2006
Posted by Danny
@ 6:26 am


[SIZE]Bruce Whitehead was for a time Mediachannel’s news editor out of London. He is touring Saudia Arabia and sent a letter around with some observations:

"So now we are back at the hotel which is like Donald Trump's living room - all gold plated and plush carpets and huge toilets with wcs like small swimming pools and chintz everywhere. The films were censored on the way out so you couldn’t see ladies legs or hear swearywords.

“They even censored the cross on the vicar's door in Wallace and Gromit - in the shape of a blurred cross!! But frightening to think 25m people live under these conditions. no alcohol, no women on the streets, no music, no bacon sarnies, police checkpoints everywhere. 1984. this message will self immolate in 90 seconds (Mecca time)


Arnie Arneson, long time NH politico writes Ilene Proctor:

“As per our conversation I am writing to inform you that as of Jan 1, 2006, I, Arnie Arnesen, the ONLY progressive voice on radio in NH, was removed from the airwaves. Why should anyone give a shit??? Because the conservative Republican party looks to NH to regroup and rebuild in anticipation of the 2008 election. Now, unlike the 2000 and 2004 presidential primary campaigns, there is no one on the NH landscape that can or will test the message, challenge the factless rhetoric and explore the personalities of both republican and democratic candidates.

“Why was I removed? Lack of audience? No talent? An inability to be fair? Hardly. They claimed that I was removed because I was too controversial for radio advertisers, horse manure, I was removed because I was effective. NH was the only state to go from red to blue in 2004 and we removed a one term (multimillionaire Republican) governor for the first time since 1926. If one looks at the geographic footprint of my radio program, you will notice a remarkable nexus between my voice and overwhelming numbers against the incumbent Governor and President.


”How the BBC and the Guardian transform torture into bad PR and "history" for the occupiers.



“The US military has funded a computer game to teach its troops how touse and decipher Iraqi body language. The purpose is to teach soldiers that using the wrong gestures can potentially cause offense and escalate already tense situations.

In the program known as Tactical Iraqi and developed at the University of Southern California, users must build trust with local people through verbal communication and gestures. The system teaches troops not to automatically interpret close physical proximity in an exchange as a threat. It also teaches them Arabic language skills and that pointing the finger at a person can be considered aggressive in Arab cultures.”


The Borowitz report offers this satire—or is it?

While Halliburton has been known for massive reconstruction projects in such war-torn nations as Iraq, the $42 billion contract represents the first time that the company has been employed to put its reconstruction expertise to work on one embattled human being.

“At the White House, spokesman Scott McClellan defended the $42 billion price tag for the reconstruction effort, telling reporters, "Given how much work Dick Cheney's reputation is going to take to rebuild, at the end of the day that $42 billion contract is going to look like a bargain."

Mr. McClellan likened the state of Mr. Cheney's reputation to conditions on the ground in Iraq, "only worse."

Arianna Huffington writes:

”Go to Google and type "Cheney quail hunt". Then press "I'm Feeling Lucky" to see the result. I guess Google has a sense of humor!

I got back late from Boston so will have to keep this all short today.
Keep your comments coming to dissector@mediachannel.org[/B]



A newsletter from News DissectorNEWS DISSECTOR February 20, 2006From MediaChannel.org's Executive Editor, Danny Schechter...

"Bring Me To Your Campus"--Puhleeze

Happy Presidents Day!


Have you ever been to a meat market? How about a meet market?

I was this past weekend as I sought to persuade college lecture bookers to consider bringing your news dissector to campus. The bookers are part of student activities groups who are part of an association called NACA (National Association of Campus Activities) having its annual conference in my old stomping grounds in Boston, at the Hines Convention Center attached to the Prudential Center.

This expanded humongous and soul-less center came after my time. It was at the top of "the Pru" where I dissected news for years when WBCN radio had its studios adjacent to the Skywalk with its great views of the city and environs. It was there that we went on strike (and won) in 1979 when what was to become Infinity Broadcasting bought the station and arbitrarily fired 19 staffers. (We won the strike but lost the spirit of an independent and oppositional station to the relentless pressures of market logic, media consolidation and cultural corporate conformity.)

The building is now surrounded by malls.

I was there to present a fifteen minute “showcase” of my lecturing/speaking ability thanks to the efforts of my new lecture agents Kevin and Jayne Moore who run the Contemporary Issues Agency
—acronym CIA, out of Wisconsin.

(Kevin told me that he has had emails from people who want to join the other CIA. “Didn’t they read our website,” he asked with bemusement. My bet is that his CIA could do a better job than the one we have!)

Having been spied on by that other CIA, I can only hope this one will be more helpful and come through with some speaking dates. I need the income and Mediachannel needs more students to know about our work.

I came to Boston to find a new platform for my critique of the trivialization and show biz dominance in the news world only to find that those same values are also dominant on campus. The students deciding on what to bring to campus are offered one or two people like me who are passionate about changing things and hundreds of acts, actors, and activities designed to entertain—“have fun”—and a good laugh as if that is not what most of media does most of the time. The Daily Show’s Lewis Black gave the keynote. One comedy booker told me that his rant was too political and sailed over their heads. I had been warned...)

We seem to be more in the era of campus distractions than campus attractions.

So there I was on a freezing Saturday night in a vast exhibition hall, a Boston scrod out of water, huckstering myself and my Sunday “showcase” as students streamed by to other booths to pick up posters, get free CDs, and gawk at pictures of superstars they have heard of.

I felt politically and generationally isolated in this crowd but I am told auditioning like this is the only way to snag invites. I hung in, smiling and not wanting to be perceived as "Mr. Earnest."

My little WMD poster and collection of book titles seemed hardly competitive in this hyped up environment although a few students did agree the subject was important and promised to be there. There was genuine interest. (Later, I got a strong hand from about 1500 people)

It was hard to decide what to say in that quickie “lecture.” I had two books and one film worth of information on the subject to compress. As I was asking myself what was the best way to hook them, right next to me was a funny man giving out Ramen noodles to “starving students” as a way to generate interest for a totally unrelated lecture on money management.

“Chicken or beef, “ he asks, “What food group is Ramen part of?”

One kid responds that he is a vegan, so no thanks. The chicken noodles went fast.

Another lecturer who does what seems a more popular “lecture” on the art of kissing was surrounded on all sides. He takes an interactive approach and uses kids recruited on campus as his test subjects.

“My contract forbids me from taking part,” he assures me.

The lecture business is segmented like many others. “The Big Names” command the big bucks, especially from corporations, upscale organizations and conventions. Folks like Colin Powell cash in with top fees on the lecture circuit. People with something more controversial to say have to settle for much less —unless you are in the center of a hot controversy.

When Bush ordered Saddam out of Iraq, he should have gone on a campus tour. Imagine the fees he would have wracked up? If only…..


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The News We Need To Know


So much for a people’s right to elect their own representatives. CNN reports:

"Acting Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said Sunday that his government will not hold contacts with any Palestinian government in which Hamas plays a role. Israel's Cabinet Sunday immediately froze funds to the Palestinian Authority. Given Hamas' recent parliamentary election victory, "the Palestinian Authority is, in effect, becoming a terrorist authority. ..."

Ha’aretz the Israeli newspaper reports on a new US demand:

”WASHINGTON - The United States has asked the Palestinian Authority to return $50 million in U.S. aid because Washington does not want a Hamas-led government to have the funds, the State Department said on Friday.

"The money is being demanded as part of a review of all U.S. aid for the Palestinians which began soon after the militant group Hamas' surprise win in elections last month. The State Department expects to finish the review in the next few weeks.

"State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said the caretaker government of PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas had agreed to return the $50 million, which was given to the PA last year for infrastructure projects after Israel's withdrawal from Gaza and parts of the West Bank.


The Providence Journal reports:

”The White House staff members who are trying to prevent Iran from developing its own nuclear-energy capacity, and who refuse to take military action against Iran "off the table," have conveniently forgotten that the United States was the midwife to the Iranian nuclear program 30 years ago.

“Every aspect of Iran's current nuclear development was approved and encouraged by Washington in the 1970s. President Gerald Ford offered Iran a full nuclear cycle in 1976. Moreover, the only Iranian reactor currently] about to become operative - the reactor in Bushiren (also known as Bushehr) - was started before the Iranian revolution with U.S. approval, and cannot produce weapons-grade plutonium.”..



"A 50-state polling chart compiled by USA Survey is quite telling. Bush's approval rating is above 50% in only 6 states in the entire country, and Texas is not one of them. In 40 out of 50 states -- 80% of the country -- more people disapprove of Bush than approve of him.

"Most revealing is Bush's intense and pervasive unpopularity in Ohio, the state which swung the election in his favor. People in Ohio disapprove of Bush's performance by an amazingly lopsided margin of 37-60%.

"Apparently, they're not happy that they have no jobs, their kids have no health insurance, their neighbors have been stuck and are being killed in an increasingly unpopular, endless and senseless war in Iraq, and the President is surrounded by cronyism and corruption and thinks he has the power to break the law. But at least gay couples can't get married, so that's good."...



The Guardian reports:

Abu Ghraib leaked report reveals full extent of abuses:

· 1,325 images of suspected detainee abuse
· 93 video files of suspected detainee abuse
· 660 images of adult pornography
· 546 images of suspected dead Iraqi detainees
· 29 images of soldiers in simulated sexual acts




The Washington Post reports:

WASHINGTON — Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld on Friday called for the U.S. military and other government agencies to mount a far more aggressive, faster and nontraditional information campaign to counter messages of extremist and terrorist groups in the world media. Rumsfeld criticized the absence in the U.S. government of a "strategic communications framework" for fighting terrorism. He also lashed out at the U.S. media, whose coverage he blamed for effectively halting recent military information initiatives, such as paying to place articles in Iraqi newspapers.”


The Post reports: “The rush to revise ethics laws in the wake of the Jack Abramoff political corruption scandal has turned into more of a saunter.”

Also in the Post:



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Resurrecting Dick Cheney's Image


Bruce Whitehead was for a time Mediachannel’s news editor out of London. He is touring Saudia Arabia and sent a letter around with some observations:

"So now we are back at the hotel which is like Donald Trump's living room - all gold plated and plush carpets and huge toilets with wcs like small swimming pools and chintz everywhere. The films were censored on the way out so you couldn’t see ladies legs or hear swearywords.

“They even censored the cross on the vicar's door in Wallace and Gromit - in the shape of a blurred cross!! But frightening to think 25m people live under these conditions. no alcohol, no women on the streets, no music, no bacon sarnies, police checkpoints everywhere. 1984. this message will self immolate in 90 seconds (Mecca time)


Arnie Arneson, long time NH politico writes Ilene Proctor:

“As per our conversation I am writing to inform you that as of Jan 1, 2006, I, Arnie Arnesen, the ONLY progressive voice on radio in NH, was removed from the airwaves. Why should anyone give a shit??? Because the conservative Republican party looks to NH to regroup and rebuild in anticipation of the 2008 election. Now, unlike the 2000 and 2004 presidential primary campaigns, there is no one on the NH landscape that can or will test the message, challenge the factless rhetoric and explore the personalities of both republican and democratic candidates.

“Why was I removed? Lack of audience? No talent? An inability to be fair? Hardly. They claimed that I was removed because I was too controversial for radio advertisers, horse manure, I was removed because I was effective. NH was the only state to go from red to blue in 2004 and we removed a one term (multimillionaire Republican) governor for the first time since 1926. If one looks at the geographic footprint of my radio program, you will notice a remarkable nexus between my voice and overwhelming numbers against the incumbent Governor and President.


”How the BBC and the Guardian transform torture into bad PR and "history" for the occupiers.



“The US military has funded a computer game to teach its troops how touse and decipher Iraqi body language. The purpose is to teach soldiers that using the wrong gestures can potentially cause offense and escalate already tense situations.

In the program known as Tactical Iraqi and developed at the University of Southern California, users must build trust with local people through verbal communication and gestures. The system teaches troops not to automatically interpret close physical proximity in an exchange as a threat. It also teaches them Arabic language skills and that pointing the finger at a person can be considered aggressive in Arab cultures.”


The Borowitz report offers this satire—or is it?

While Halliburton has been known for massive reconstruction projects in such war-torn nations as Iraq, the $42 billion contract represents the first time that the company has been employed to put its reconstruction expertise to work on one embattled human being.

“At the White House, spokesman Scott McClellan defended the $42 billion price tag for the reconstruction effort, telling reporters, "Given how much work Dick Cheney's reputation is going to take to rebuild, at the end of the day that $42 billion contract is going to look like a bargain."

Mr. McClellan likened the state of Mr. Cheney's reputation to conditions on the ground in Iraq, "only worse."

Arianna Huffington writes:

”Go to Google and type "Cheney quail hunt". Then press "I'm Feeling Lucky" to see the result. I guess Google has a sense of humor!

I got back late from Boston so will have to keep this all short today.
Keep your comments coming to dissector@mediachannel.org

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Saundra Hummer
February 20th, 2006, 05:00 PM
Too quick on the draw, Cheney ducks for cover
Administration shoots first, asks questions later

Joe Conason
The New York Observer

For the unfortunate victim of Dick Cheney's quail-shooting misadventure, the experience of being blasted with birdshot and almost killed was all too real. For those of us lucky enough to be out of range, however, that incident may serve as a metaphor for the Vice President's troubled tenure.

Withholding word of the shooting accident for as long as possible was, of course, all too typical of Mr. Cheney's attitude toward the press. His preoccupation with secrecy and his contempt for the public right to information has been plain from the beginning, when he fought to hide the names of the oil executives who wrote the White House energy bill. (He still refuses to reveal their names and affiliations.)

In this case, he apparently decided to "privatize" the release of the embarrassing news by encouraging his hostess to leak it to a local newspaper in Corpus Christi, Tex., instead of informing the White House press office. Unorthodox to the point of weirdness, that choice may yet have been an innocent mistake made in the midst of panic. But given the Vice President's record of self-serving concealment of facts, such efforts to manage information inevitably look like attempts to cover up.

He had ample reason to delay press attention to the accident on the Armstrong ranch, again for reasons that echo a larger theme. According to news reports, he failed to obtain the stamp required to shoot "upland birds" on his hunting license. So he was engaged in an illegal activity when he pumped a round of birdshot, which can be quite lethal, into the face and torso of Austin attorney Henry Whittington.

While persons who commit this violation of Texas law can be subject to substantial fines and revocation of their hunting license, the Vice President was let off with a warning.

Observing this darkly comical interlude, it is impossible not to wonder how such news would be treated if it had occurred during one of John Kerry's hunting trips during the last Presidential campaign. What if Mr. Kerry had fired his shotgun into the hide of a fellow hunter instead of hitting the birds overhead? What if he had then withheld the news from the reporters covering him, and let his host tell the local paper instead? And what if the privileged, wealthy Senator had neglected to get the proper license, and been let off with a warning? How loudly would the cable commentators have shrieked?

In short, Mr. Kerry would have been held responsible in the most humiliating fashion. He would have been mocked and scorned. Yet so far, Mr. Cheney has not taken public responsibility for this accident. All we have heard are the encomiums and excuses proffered by the lady lobbyist who hosted him and the wealthy Republican contributor whom the President appointed as our ambassador to Switzerland. They have assured us that the Vice President is a great hunter, a stickler for safety and a dead shot. They have suggested that the fault lies with Mr. Whittington.

Whatever fawning tales his friends may tell, it seems clear enough that Mr. Cheney's hunting skills are less than advertised and that he is not as careful as he ought to be. He shot before he knew where he was aiming, and the consequences of his actions were rather different than he anticipated. This is the Dick Cheney that Americans have come to know in office: an arrogant man with an undeserved reputation for competence, whose inclination to fire at will can be quite dangerous to those around him.

The suffering of poor Mr. Whittington -- and the embarrassment of Mr. Cheney -- may not be completely in vain. For as James Carville has noted, this accident provided a timely distraction from more concrete and important examples of the incompetence that plagues the Bush-Cheney administration. The more coverage that is devoted to the shooting, the less attention will be paid to the latest disasters at home and abroad.

In our own country, the details of the federal government's failure to respond to Hurricane Katrina continue to emerge. The latest report prepared by Republican members of Congress lambastes the President for the disaster's aftermath.

In Iraq, the results of shooting first and asking questions later are once more on display. The post-election power struggle in the Iraqi Parliament has empowered the most extreme Islamists in the Shiite community, notably Muqtada al-Sadr, whose renewed influence can only please the Iranian mullahs. How this advances American interests or the rise of democracy in the region has yet to be explained.

In the courts, the facts are emerging about White House manipulation of intelligence to promote a foolish war. The National Journal has reported testimony by Mr. Cheney's indicted former chief of staff, Lewis (Scooter) Libby, which strongly suggests that the Vice President misused classified material for partisan advantage.

Let us hope that Mr. Whittington recovers more swiftly and fully than Mr. Cheney's reputation ever will. Joe Conason writes for the New York Observer and Salon.com.

For more Conason columns, see his archive.

E-mail Conason at jconason@observer.com.

He shot before he knew where he was aiming.


Saundra Hummer
February 20th, 2006, 06:17 PM
Swiftly Defending DeLay

A somewhat misleading pro-DeLay ad is funded by $200,000 from a donor who also bankrolled the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth.

February 20, 2006

A newly formed conservative group is running a TV ad in Houston implying that liberal billionaire George Soros is "the source" of an earlier anti-DeLay ad by liberal groups. The pro-DeLay ad is somewhat misleading. Soros gave the liberal groups early funding two years ago, but there's no evidence he funded the anti-DeLay ad.

However, the source of the pro-DeLay ad turns out to be a Houston homebuilder who gave $200,000 to air it, and who also was an early financier of the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth in the 2004 presidential campaign.


An ad running in Houston defends Republican Congressman Tom DeLay from Texas, the former majority leader of the House, by attacking George Soros. It implies that he is "the source" of an earlier TV ad that attacked DeLay (and which we discussed in an earlier article.) That earlier ad called for DeLay to resign, citing his dealings with convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff.

Free Enterprise Committee Ad:
"Meet George Soros"
Announcer: George Soros. Full of money, and liberal ideas. Like legalizing drugs, letting felons vote and keeping the Death Tax
Soros spent 25 million dollars against President Bush. He also bankrolled the liberals linked to attacks on Tom DeLay.
(On Screen: Soros picture disappears and a color picture of Tom DeLay appears on the left.)
Announcer: Maybe that’s because Tom DeLay fights for lower taxes and economic freedom.
(Text: Lower Taxes, Economic Freedom)
Announcer: So when you see attacks on Tom DeLay consider the source.
(On Screen: Black and white picture of Soros.)
Announcer: And tell Tom DeLay to keep fighting for your conservative values. The Free Enterprise Committee is responsible for the content of this advertising.

Soros "the source?"

The ad says Soros, chairman of Soros Fund Management, LLC, is "full of money and liberal ideas" such as legalizing drugs and letting felons vote. It says Soros "bankrolled the liberals linked to attacks on Tom DeLay," and it concludes: "So when you see attacks on Tom DeLay consider the source," while a photograph of Soros is displayed on screen.

It's certainly true that Soros is a wealthy liberal who spent millions opposing President Bush's re-election. Soros also favors legalizing "medical marijuana" (not exactly the same thing as legalizing all drugs), restoring voting rights to persons who have completed their prison terms after being convicted of felonies, and keeping some version of the federal tax on large estates.

However, the claim that Soros is "the source" of the earlier ad attacking DeLay is without support. The only evidence offered by the ad or its sponsor is a Jan. 26 Houston Chronicle article which says that Soros in January 2004 gave $300,000 to the Campaign For America’s Future CC-Fund, a group directly related to Campaign for America’s Future (CFAF), one of the earlier ad's two sponsors. Toby Chaudhury, spokesman for CFAF, confirms that Soros made the donation but says CFAF has received nothing from him since. "George Soros didn't pay for the ads," Chaudhury said.

We also checked with a representative of the anti-DeLay ad's other sponsor, the Public Campaign Action Fund, who said Soros had made a donation in 2004, but nothing since. So the current ad is correct to say that Soros "bankrolled the liberals" behind the ad – but money given two years ago doesn't make Soros "the source" of an ad run in 2006. That money came from other sources, according to both spokesmen.

The Swift Boat Connection

Tracking down the source of this ad was something of a chore. The sponsor is the Free Enterprise Committee, a new group formed about the time the anti-DeLay ad hit the air in Texas. It is a so-called "527" political committee based in Washington, DC. It first registered with the Internal Revenue Service on Jan. 31 of this year. Its current registration form lists it as "connected" to the Free Enterprise Fund, an anti-tax group headed by New York merchant banker Mallory Factor. Its policy council is co-chaired by supply-side guru Arthur Laffer, former Republican vice presidential candidate Jack Kemp, and MSNBC's pro-business crusader Lawrence Kudlow. The new committee has yet to file any disclosure of its income or expenses, and a spokesman for the Free Enterprise Fund declined to say who had paid for the DeLay ad.

However, as the Houston Chronicle was first to report over the weekend, we were able to confirm that the ad is being financed by a $200,000 donation from Houston homebuilder Bob Perry. As we reported in 2004, Perry was the main source of initial funding for Swift Boat Veterans for Truth at the time they launched their attack on the Vietnam War record of Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry.

Perry gave $100,000 of the first $158,750 received by the Swift Boat group, according to its first disclosure report. Perry is probably the biggest campaign donor in Texas. He and his wife Doylene gave more than $3 million to Texas Republicans during the 2002 elections and more than $2 million during the 2004 elections, according to a database maintained by the Institute on Money in StatePolitics .

In addition, the Perrys have given $564,200 in donations to federal candidates and federal political committees since 1999, according to a search of records at the Center for Responsive Politics. That includes $8,000 given directly to DeLay's current re-election effort on April 17, 2005.

"Mr. Perry felt the truth needed to be told and this was the best vehicle to do so," Perry spokesman Anthony Holm told the Chronicle. "Mr. Perry believes Tom DeLay has done an excellent job protecting jobs, NASA, and our borders. He spent it as the result of the several unjustified attacks on Tom DeLay."

--By Brooks Jackson and Emi Kolawole
“Free Enterprise Fund Announces New Chairman: Investment Leader and Noted Fundraiser Mallory Factor to Replace Outgoing President Stephen Moore,” Free Enterprise Fund. NewsRelease . 25 May 2005.

Levine, Samantha. “2 groups that bough anti-DeLay TV ads able to shield donors ,” The Houston Chronicle. 26 Jan 2006.

Levine, Samantha and Kristen Mack. “DeLay ad challenges anti-Bush billionaire; Area builder paid entire cost of TV attack on Dem financier Soros ,” The Houston Chronicle. 17 Feb 2006. B, Pg. 1.

This message was sent from FactCheck.org to %Member:Email% . It was sent from: FactCheck.org, 320 National Press Building, Washington, DC 20045. You can modify/update your subscription via the link below.


Related Articles
Defaming DeLay?
Houston TV stations refuse to run a liberal TV ad accusing DeLay of "corruption" after his lawyer threatens to sue. We look at the facts.

Republican-funded Group Attacks Kerry's War Record
Ad features vets who claim Kerry "lied" to get Vietnam medals. But other witnesses disagree -- and so do Navy records.

There's link after link on-site, so go to the original and then check out other articles for their truthfulness, and for other facts.

Saundra Hummer
February 20th, 2006, 06:36 PM
New Group, Old Habits

A liberal group re-names itself and launches a $1-million ad campaign making dubious claims.

January 27, 2006
Modified: January 27, 2006


A liberal, labor-funded group calling itself Americans United for Change (previously Americans United to Protect Social Security) is running a $1-million national advertising campaign that makes some dubious claims and tries to imply more than it can prove.

The one-minute ad attempts to link Bush's recently signed energy legislation with high gasoline prices, and implies that former FEMA director Michael Brown was somehow linked to the Abramoff and DeLay scandals. It also assails Republicans for "cutting healthcare for our seniors," ignoring the fact that Medicare is undergoing its largest expansion since it was enacted.

In fact, the new prescription drug benefit will provide an average, net benefit this year of $465 per person, according to an independent estimate by the Kaiser Family Foundation. The cuts the ad refers to will amount to less than a penny of every $3 over the next five years, according to projections by the Congressional Budget Office.



Jump down to continue this article. It follows the TV Ad "Time" article. BETTER YET, GO ON-SITE TO SEE STORY AND NOT BE CONFUSED BY HOW I'VE ENTERED IT.

Americans United for Change announced a new 60-second television ad called "Time," set to premier Jan. 26 on CNN and FOX News Channel nationwide. The entire campaign is slated to cost $1 million. It attacks President Bush and the Republicans, calls for enactment of reform measures and a change in "the state of our leadership."

Americans United for Change TV Ad: "Time"

(On Screen text: "What time is it?")
Narrator: What time is it in America?
(On Screen: a tractor being driven through fields, the sun rising and setting over a cityscape, a picture of a family standing in front of a house.)
(On Screen text: "What time is it?")
Narrator: What time is it when oil company lobbyists sit at the White House helping write their own tax breaks…while you stand at the gas pump paying forty dollars to fill your tank?
(On Screen: The screen switches rapidly from an oil tanker truck, to footage of a Congressional Hearing, to a photo of The White House, to individuals standing in a congressional hallway, to footage of an individual filling up his car and paying for gasoline.)
(On Screen text: "What time is it?")
Narrator: What time is it when Republican leaders are indicted for money laundering, bribery and obstruction of justice…while political friends get appointed to run life-or-death agencies?
(On Screen: The screen switches rapidly from from footage of Tom DeLay, to photos of DeLay with his wife Christine and separate photos of Jack Abramoff and I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, to footage of the President with former FEMA Director Michael Brown, to footage of flooding in New Orleans and Katrina evacuees in a stadium.)
(On Screen text: "What time is it?")
Narrator: What time is it when the President gives away billions to the drug companies…while cutting healthcare for our seniors?
(On Screen: the screen switches rapidly from footage of President Bush in The White House, to stock footage of pill bottles on shelves and being stocked, to footage of an elderly man taking his pills. )
(On Screen text: "What time is it?")
Narrator: What time is it? Time for a change.
(On Screen text: "Time for a change.")
Narrator: The Honest Leadership Act.
(On Screen text: "Honest Leadership Act")
(On Screen: footage of the Congressional Building.)
Narrator:To stop the abuse of power.
(On Screen: A photo of Bush and Cheney sitting next to each other. The footage pauses and a rectangular piece flies away revealing the text, "Stop the abuse of power")
Narrator: End secret meetings with lobbyists.
(On Screen: footage of people walking through the halls of Congress. A rectangular piece of the screen flies away revealing the text, "End secret lobbyist meetings")
Narrator: Ban gifts and trips for Congress
(On Screen: A photo of a Halliburton building. A rectangular piece of the screen flies away revealing the text, "Ban gifts and trips")
Narrator: To improve the state of our nation, we must improve the state of our leadership.
(On Screen: photos of farmland, a family, cars traveling on a bridge, a woman talking to a child, a man with a baby)
(On Screen text: "Pass the Honest Leadership Act; Paid for by Americans United")
Narrator:The Honest Leadership Act. Commonsense reforms.
Because it’s time for a change.
(On Screen: Footage of the Congressional Building.)
(On Screen text: "Join Us: AmericansUnitedforChange.org " )

*Continuation of article*
According to a Jan. 24 Associated Press story, the group has received $500,000 from the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, a large labor union representing government workers. The AP also quote unnamed officials of Americans United as saying "Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid of Nevada and House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi of California met with potential donors in Los Angeles earlier this month, underscoring their personal interest in the group's efforts ." The group's executive director Karen Olick had been chief of staff to Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer of California. For the record, Americans United spokesman Brad Woodhouse told FactCheck.org: "We are not advocating for or promoting the Democratic party agenda - we are promoting progressive issues." The group does not formally disclose its donors.

We make no comment on the ad's call for "commonsense reforms" or a change in "the state of our leadership." These are clear statements of opinion, not fact. However, the ad makes misleading statements about President Bush's record on Medicare, invites viewers to blame the President for high gasoline prices without offering any relevant evidence, and suggests that Bush's appointment of Michael D. Brown to head the Federal Emergency Management Agency had something to do with the crimes of convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff, which isn't true.

Gasoline Prices

The ad begins by stating that "oil company lobbyists sit at the White House helping write their own tax breaks…while you stand at the gas pump paying forty dollars to fill your tank." This implies a connection that isn't supported by evidence.

It's true enough that the Bush administration consulted oil-company lobbyists when drafting its proposed energy legislation in 2001, and also true that the legislation that Bush finally signed into law four years later – on Aug 8, 2005 – contained tax breaks for oil companies (and also for buyers of high-mileage "hybrid" vehicles and builders of energy-efficient homes.) But these tax breaks have nothing to do with current gasoline prices. In fact, one of the incentives would allow an immediate write-off of 50 percent of the cost to increase the capacity of an existing refinery by at least five percent, or to increase the output of qualified fuels by at least 25 percent. That is aimed at increasing the supply of refined gasoline, diesel fuel and home heating oil, which would tend to hold down their prices, not increase them.

What is keeping gasoline prices higher than they were a year or two ago, economists generally agree, is a rising worldwide demand for all petroleum products. As the nonpartisan Energy Information Administration puts it: "Crude oil prices rose throughout 2004 and 2005, as global oil demand increased dramatically, stretching capacity along the entire oil market system, from crude oil production to transportation (tankers and pipelines) to refinery capacity, nearly to its limits."

Another factor is the continuing effect of Hurricane Katrina, which damaged drilling platforms, refineries and pipelines along the Gulf Coast. The national average for gasoline prices hit a high of $3.07 per gallon on Sept. 5, 2005, and most recently was $2.34 per gallon as of Jan. 23, 2006, nearly 49 cents higher than a year earlier. The EIA said "retail prices are likely to remain elevated as long as some refineries remain shut down and the U.S. gasoline market continues to stretch supplies to their limit."

Abramoff & FEMA?

The ad also invites a false inference by visually suggesting that the appointment of Michael Brown to head the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) had something to do with convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff. It shows photos of Abramoff, former House Republican Leader Tom DeLay and former vice presidential chief of staff I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, and then a photo of Brown. Meanwhile the narrator says: "Republican leaders are indicted for money laundering, bribery and obstruction of justice…while political friends get appointed to run life-or-death agencies."

It is of course true that DeLay and Libby have been indicted. They say they are innocent and face trial on multiple charges. It is also true that Abramoff pleaded guilty to fraud and other charges and is said to be cooperating with prosecutors in a wider probe.

It is also true that Brown qualified as a "political friend" of the Bush administration, and left his job after widespread complaints that he was unqualified and had mishandled federal relief efforts during the Katrina disaster.

But the ad implies a connection that isn't evident. We find no evidence of Brown owing his appointment to Abramoff, DeLay or Libby. It is true that a one-time Abramoff associate, David Safavian, was the top administrator at the federal procurement office in the White House Office of Management and Budget until he was arrested Sept. 19, 2005 and charged with obstructing the Abramoff investigation. But Safavian isn't mentioned in the ad and Safavian is not Brown. And while it is true that Safavian also worked on Katrina relief efforts, he worked on procurement policy, not "life or death" decisions.

Cutting Healthcare for Seniors?

Another distortion in the ad is a statement that "the President gives away billions to the drug companies…while cutting healthcare for our seniors." In fact, Bush signed the biggest expansion of Medicare since its enactment, adding a prescription drug benefit that took effect this month.

Far from "cutting healthcare," the new drug benefit is estimated to reduce out-of-pocket spending for prescription drugs by an average of 37 percent – or $465 – for the 29 million seniors expected to enroll. That estimate comes from a study by the nonpartisan Actuarial Research Corp. and the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation, and is the most recent and authoritative estimate available.

To be sure, not all seniors will benefit. The Kaiser study estimates that one in four seniors will pay more for drugs, including retirees who may be dropped from more generous plans sponsored by the companies that once employed them. It is also true that Democrats had proposed a more generous and more expensive prescription drug benefit for Medicare, but could not get it through the Republican-controlled House. And as widely publicized, the transition to the very complicated new benefit program is causing widespread confusion in its first weeks. Nevertheless, the large majority of seniors are predicted to benefit substantially from the Bush drug benefit.

The cuts the ad refers to – according to a fact sheet provided by Americans United – are in the Deficit Reduction Act passed Dec. 19, 2005. That does indeed set targets for trimming nearly $11.2 billion from projected Medicare and Medicaid spending over the next five years. To put that into perspective, the reduction amounts to just under one-third of one percent of the nearly $3.5 trillion that the Congressional Budget Office projects that those two federal programs will cost over the five-year period (fiscal years 2006 through 2010). That's less than one penny of every $3.

Billions to Drug Companies?

The ad's claim that Bush "gives away billions to the drug companies" is also contentious. In fact, no taxpayer money goes to drug companies under the new Medicaid benefit. The ad fails to make clear that it is referring to what Democrats like to call a "windfall" for pharmaceutical companies from a provision in the new law that prevents the federal government from requiring the companies to discount their prices. That is based on a disputed study, often cited by Democrats, authored by two Bush critics who once wrote that Bush's prescription drug bill is "breathtaking in its recklessness." The study was published in 2003 by Boston University researchers Alan Sager and Deborah Socolar, who concluded that $139 billion would go as "windfall profits" to drug companies. Their findings are contradicted by a study in March 2004 commissioned by the Pacific Research Institute, which describes itself as a "free-market think tank." They hired the accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers, which estimated that drug company profits would be much lower – from an increase of only 3.2% to a possible decline of 1%. The two studies make starkly different assumptions about whether the new drug benefit will cause seniors to buy a lot more medication thereby increasing sales, and also about the extent to which competition among different drug plans will force drug companies to offer rebates and discounts to get the business. We can't say which of these contradictory studies might eventually be proven correct, or if either of them will be.

In summary, this ad is a partisan attack that attempts to insinuate more than it can support with facts.

-by Brooks Jackson


United States Senate Committee on Finance, "Summary of the conference agreement of H.R. 6, Title XIII, the Energy Tax IncentivesAct of 2005," 27 July 2005

Energy Information Administration, "A Primer on Gasoline Prices," undated.

Karen Tumulty; Mark Thompson; Mike Allen, "How Many More Mike Browns Are Out There?" Time Magazine 3 Oct 2005: 49.

Jim Mays, Monica Brenner, Tricia Neuman, Juliette Cubanski, and Gary Claxton, "Estimates of Medicare Beneficiaries' Out-of-pocket Drug Spending in 2006: Modeling the Impact of the MMA" Actuarial Research Corporation & The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, November 2004.

R. Jeffrey Smith and Susan Schmidt, " Bush Official Arrested in Corruption Probe," Washington Post 20 Sept 2005: A1.

House Committee on the Budget, "Summary, the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005," 19 Dec 2005.

Congressional Budget Office, "The Budget and Economic Outlook," 26 Jan 2006, pp 11,52.

Alan Sager and Deborah Socolar, Boston University School of Public Health, "61 Percent Of Medicare's New Prescription Drug Subsidy Is Windfall Profit To Drug Makers," 31 Oct. 2003.

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Saundra Hummer
February 20th, 2006, 07:53 PM

The problem with American power is not that it is American. The problem is simply the power. It would be dangerous even for an archangel to wield so much power.: Timothy Garton Ash, Oxford historian, New York Times, April 9, 2002


Today the world faces a single man armed with weapons of mass destruction, manifesting an aggressive, bullying attitude, who may well plunge the world into chaos and bloodshed if he miscalculates. This person, belligerent, arrogant, and sure of himself, truly is the most dangerous person on Earth. The problem is that his name is George W. Bush, and he is our president: Jack M. Balkin, Knight Professor of Constitutional Law and the First Ammendment, Yale Law School, September 22, 2002

To plunder, to slaughter, to steal, these things they misname empire; and where they make a desert, they call it peace: Calgacus

"There is a wonderful mythical law of nature that the three things we crave most in life -- happiness, freedom, and peace of mind -- are always attained by giving them to someone else.": Peyton Conway March (1864-1955) US Army General, US Army Chief of Staff during the final year of WWI


Saundra Hummer
February 20th, 2006, 08:00 PM
Silence the War Drums

Before the US House of RepresentativesFebruary 16, 2006
By Ron Paul ,

02/20/06 "ICH" -- -- Mr. Speaker, I rise in strong opposition to this very dangerous legislation. My colleagues would do well to understand that this legislation is leading us toward war against Iran.
Those reading this bill may find themselves feeling a sense of déjŕ vu. In many cases one can just substitute "Iraq" for "Iran" in this bill and we could be back in the pre-2003 run up to war with Iraq. And the logic of this current push for war is much the same as was the logic used in the argument for war on Iraq. As earlier with Iraq, this resolution demands that Iran perform the impossible task of proving a negative – in this case that Iran does not have plans to build a nuclear weapon.

There are a few things we need to remember when thinking about Iran and this legislation. First, Iran has never been ruled in violation of its international nuclear non-proliferation obligations.

Second, Iran concluded a Safeguards Agreement more than 30 years ago that provides for the verification of Iran's fulfillment of its obligation to not divert nuclear energy programs to nuclear weapons development. Since this agreement was reached, the International Atomic Energy Agency has never found any indication that Iran has diverted or attempted to divert source or special nuclear materials from a peaceful purpose to a military purpose.

But, this does not stop those eager for conflict with Iran from stating otherwise. As the Washington Post reported last year, "U.S. officials, eager to move the Iran issue to the U.N. Security Council – which has the authority to impose sanctions – have begun a new round of briefings for allies designed to convince them that Iran's real intention is to use its energy program as a cover for bomb building. The briefings will focus on the White House's belief that a country with as much oil as Iran would not need an energy program on the scale it is planning, according to two officials."

This reminds us of the quick move to justify the invasion of Iraq by citing Iraq's "intentions" when actual weapons of mass destruction could not be found.

The resolution's second resolved clause is a real misrepresentation of the Iran/EU3 talks. The "efforts of France, Germany, and the United Kingdom" were not "to seek...suspension of enrichment and reprocessing related activities..." As the EU3-Iran Paris Agreement makes very clear, the suspension of enrichment is a purely voluntary measure taken by Iran and is "not a legal obligation."

This is similar to the situation with Iran's voluntarily observation of the Additional Protocols (allowing unannounced inspections) without legally being bound to do so. Suspending voluntary observance of the Additional Protocols is not a violation of the NPT. But, those seeking to push us toward war with Iran are purposely trying to connect the two – to confuse voluntary "confidence building" measures taken by Iran with the legally-binding Treaty itself.

Resolved clause four of this legislation is the most inflammatory and objectionable part of the legislation. It lowers the bar to initiating war on Iran. This clause anticipates that the US may not be successful in getting the Security Council to pass a Resolution because of the potential of a Russian or Chinese veto, so it "calls upon" Russia and China to "take action" in response to "any report" of "Iran's noncompliance. That is right: any report.

Mr. Speaker, this resolution is a drumbeat for war with Iran. Its logic is faulty, its premises are flawed, and its conclusions are dangerous. I urge my colleagues to stop for a moment and ponder the wisdom of starting yet another war in the Middle East.

Dr. Ron Paul is a Republican member of Congress from Texas. http://www.house.gov/paul/


Saundra Hummer
February 20th, 2006, 08:22 PM
Churchill, Hitler, and Newt

By Patrick J. Buchanan

02/20/06 "WND" -- -- You can always tell when the War Party wants a new war. They will invariably trot out the Argumentum ad Hitlerum.

Before the 1991 Gulf War, Saddam had become "the Hitler of Arabia," though he had only conquered a sandbox half the size of Denmark. Milosevic then became the "Hitler of the Balkans," though he had lost Slovenia, Croatia and Macedonia, was struggling to hold Bosnia and Kosovo, and had defeated no one.

Comes now the new Hitler.

"This is 1935, and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is as close to Adolf Hitler as we've seen," said Newt Gingrich to a startled editor at Human Events.

"We now know who they are – the question is who are we. Are we Baldwin or Churchill?"

"In 1935 ... Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini intimidated the democracies," Newt plunged ahead. "The question is who is going to intimidate who." Yes, a little learning can be a dangerous thing.

A few facts. First, when Hitler violated the Versailles Treaty by announcing rearmament in March 1935, Baldwin was not in power. Second, Prime Minister Ramsay MacDonald quickly met with Il Duce to form the Stresa Front – against Hitler. Third, when Mussolini invaded Abyssinia in October 1935, Baldwin imposed sanctions.

But Churchill did not wholly approve.
Abyssinia, said Churchill, is a "wild land of tyranny, slavery and tribal war. ... No one can keep up the pretense that Abyssinia is a fit, worthy and equal member of a league of civilized nations."

As late as 1938, Churchill was still proclaiming the greatness of Il Duce: "It would be a dangerous folly for the British people to underrate the enduring position in world history which Mussolini will hold; or the amazing qualities of courage, comprehension, self-control and perseverance which he exemplifies."

But back to the new Hitler.

The Iranians, said Newt, "have been proactively at war with us since 1979." We must now prepare to invade and occupy Iran, and identify a "network of Iranians prepared to run their ... country" after we take the place over.

"I wake up every morning thinking we could lose two major cities today and have the equivalent of the second Holocaust by nuclear weapons – this morning."

What about diplomacy?

"We should say to the Europeans that there is no diplomatic solution that is imaginable that is going to solve this problem." Newt's reasoning: War is inevitable – the longer we wait, the graver the risk. Let's get it over with. Bismarck called this committing suicide out of fear of death.

My own sense of this astonishing interview is that Newt is trying to get to the right of John McCain on Iran and cast himself – drum roll, please – as the Churchill of our generation.

But are the comparisons of Ahmadinejad with Hitler and Iran with the Third Reich, let alone Newt with Churchill, instructive? Or are they ludicrous? Again, a few facts.

In 1942, Hitler's armies dominated Europe from the Pyrenees to the Urals. Ahmadinejad is the president of a nation whose air and naval forces would be toasted in hours by the United States. Iran has missiles that can hit Israel, but no nuclear warheads. Israel could put scores of atom bombs on Iran. The United States, without losing a plane, could make the country uninhabitable with one B-2 flyover and a few MX and Trident missiles.

Why would Ayatollah Khameinei, who has far more power than Ahmadinejad, permit him to ignite a war that could mean the end of their revolution and country? And if we were not intimidated by a USSR with thousands of nuclear warheads targeted on us, why should Ahmadinejad cause Newt to break out in cold sweats at night?

Currently, the "nuclear program" of Iran consists of trying to run uranium hexafluoride gas through a few centrifuges. There is no hard evidence Iran is within three years of producing enough highly enriched uranium for one bomb.

And if Iran has been at war with us since 1979, why has it done so much less damage than Khadafi, who blew up that discotheque in Berlin with our soldiers inside and massacred those American kids on Pan Am 103? Diplomacy worked with Khadafi. Why not try it with Iran?

Yet, Newt and the War Party appear to be pushing against an open door. A Fox News poll finds Iran has replaced North Korea as the nation Americans believe is our greatest immediate danger. And a Washington Post polls finds 56 percent of Americans backing military action to ensure Iran does not acquire a nuclear weapon.

Instead of whining about how they were misled into Iraq, why don't Democrats try to stop this new war before it starts? They can begin by introducing a resolution in Congress denying Bush authority to launch any preventive war on Iran, unless Congress first declares war on Iran.

Isn't that what the Constitution says?

Before we go to war, let's have a debate of whether we need to go to war.


Saundra Hummer
February 20th, 2006, 08:33 PM
US Asks Georgia to Use Bases and Airfields for Attacks on Iran — Paper

By MosNews

02/20/06 "Moscow News" -- -- American officials are probing whether Georgia, situated just northwest of Iran, will allow Washington to use its military bases and airfields in the event of a military conflict with Teheran, The Jerusalem Post reported Monday citing an unnamed Georgian official.

The Americans have been putting out feelers, the source, a high-ranking Georgian government foreign affairs official said, in advance of a possible military strike to prevent Iran from achieving nuclear weapons capability.

American reports in recent months, speculating about the possibility of a campaign against Iran because of the failure of diplomatic efforts to thwart a potential nuclear weapons program, have suggested that sustained military action, rather than a single strike, may be required given the number of Iranian nuclear facilities, their divergent locations and Iranian defenses.

Georgian government officials said that Tbilisi fears harsh Iranian military retaliation against the Georgian republic if U.S. forces were to use its territory as a base for strikes against Iran, but nonetheless may feel obligated to accede to such a request, given the country’s heavy reliance on US aid and support. The US maintains its own military bases in Georgia.

While Americans have been testing the waters lately in this direction, the source indicated, no official request of this kind has yet been made.

Georgia is also worried about the possibility of civil unrest, citing the strong opposition by its Muslim minority to the country’s participation in the war in Iraq, where there is a limited Georgian military contingent.

Military collaboration with the U.S. would also have “a most negative effect” on relations between Moscow and Tbilisi, which remains strained since the election of Georgia’s U.S.-educated president, Mikhail Saakashvili, in 2004.

Saakashvili is considered one of the most consistent U.S. supporters in the post-Soviet bloc and enjoys solid American backing. Indeed, Saakashvili is often accused by Moscow of maintaining an “American outpost in the region.”

The Georgian source added that a similar US request might be made to Azerbaijan, an immediate neighbor of Iran and another close American ally.

The close proximity of both countries to Iran makes Tbilisi and Baku desirable partners in a potential alliance against Iran.


Saundra Hummer
February 20th, 2006, 10:40 PM
A call for moderation

Scripps Howard News Service

WASHINGTON -- The question from NBC's Tom Brokaw to Pakistan's president, Pervez Musharraf went right to the heart of the matter. Why, Brokaw asked in an interview with the general, is there such violent reaction to a handful of innocuous newspaper cartoons depicting the prophet Muhammad and none when radical Muslims blow up mosques and kill women and children of their own faith?

Musharraf's reply was couched in the cautious rhetoric of a politician who is beset by his own religious-driven problems. He said that of course no one could condone bombing and killings but that the reaction was because the cartoons violated the Koran's ban on depicting the image of the founder of Islam. In other words, he really didn't or couldn't answer the question.

But that is exactly what puzzles most non-Muslims as they watch in dismay the continuing deadly riots over cartoons originally published in an obscure Danish newspaper. Distilled to its basic element, the answer actually would seem to be that radical Islamic preachers use any excuse whatsoever to encourage violence, particularly against societies that cherish freedom. Taken a step further, the implication is that Islam itself is a religion built on violence and not on free expression.

Certainly, that is the impression and it is one that moderate, God-fearing Muslims the world over need to correct quickly if the millions of them who live in open societies around the globe are to fit into the polyglot religious cultures of the modern world. If they are citizens of democracies then they must respect those institutions without violent disagreement.

In a recent commentary published here, the editor of the Danish newspaper said he printed the cartoons against the air of intimidation that had begun to pervade his country's dealings with Muslims. He cited a number of examples where Muslims were given deference not afforded other religions because of fear of retribution and violence. The death and destruction that followed his decision was ample proof that the fears were warranted.

Religious textbooks generally are filled with examples of man's inhumanity to man, page after page certifying the perverse nature of human beings. It is also true that more barbaric acts have been committed in the name of religion than any single thing. The Bible and the Koran are not that different in many respects and both religions stem from the same figure, Abraham. The difference, of course, comes in the interpretation of the teachings and the strictness of adherence demanded by those doing the teaching. Yet the one overriding theme of both books is peace.

Whatever the extremes there can be no excuse for not respecting the sanctity of those who believe otherwise or conversely for deferring to one over the other out of fear of reprisal. Maligning someone else's faith needlessly is not good business and Americans who originally settled this country to escape religious persecution understand this as well as anyone. But they also demand the right of fair comment without the threat of drastic, deadly response.

The Italian minister who displayed a depiction of the profit on his T-shirt for political reasons clearly showed bad judgment and lost his job. On the other hand one can seriously question the decision of the publishers of the University of Illinois "independent" daily newspaper to suspend its editor for reprinting some of the cartoons as a means of stimulating a debate among its readers. A good case could be made that the paper's operators succumbed to just what the Danish editor was trying to highlight in the first place _ a growing tendency to cave in to intimidation aimed at repressing open discourse and comment.

There are religions being practiced in this country that do the same thing, just without the violence. They sue or call for boycotts or conduct campaigns to badger anyone who might criticize their activities. Fortunately, except for a few "stars," they are of small influence. Unfortunately, they have succeeded sometimes in quashing legitimate observation and investigation.

Muslims could do their religion and themselves a great deal of good by demanding an end to the violence that is so damning to them personally. Without some moderating influences within their own ranks, the confrontation between the followers of Muhammad and the rest of the world can only get worse. American Muslims should lead the way in disavowing this behavior. Otherwise Muslim and violence become synonymous whether it is a fact or not.

(Dan K. Thomasson is former editor of the Scripps Howard News Service.)

(Distributed by Scripps Howard News Service, http://www.shns.com)


Saundra Hummer
February 20th, 2006, 10:46 PM
Disgrace no barrier to reward by House GOP

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

After a spate of corruption scandals snared several House Republicans, the party declared its sincere intention to reform politics as usual on Capitol Hill. That they could make such declarations with a straight face is remarkable.

In the days since they have made abundantly clear that they like politics as usual just fine. They picked a politician with strong ties to lobbyists _ he even rents his apartment from one _ as majority leader.

Now Rep. Tom DeLay, the indicted lawmaker whom Rep. John Boehner of Ohio replaces, has been rewarded as well by supportive colleagues with coveted legislative positions. DeLay will wield considerable power in the House again from a seat on the Appropriations Committee while he awaits trial in Texas on charges of illegally laundering corporate campaign donations.

Ironically, DeLay fills a committee vacancy left by Randy "Duke" Cunningham of California, who resigned from Congress after pleading guilty to accepting $2.4 million in bribes for government business and other favors.

And so it goes.

Even richer than rejoining the powerful appropriations panel is DeLay's appointment to a subcommittee overseeing the Justice Department, which is examining the influence-peddling scandal involving ex-lobbyist Jack Abramoff and a group of obliging politicians that includes DeLay.

The disgraced lobbyist was a close pal of the Texas Republican. An added bonus to DeLay's subcommittee seat will be overseeing NASA, a choice subject for the former majority leader since the Johnson Space Center is in his Houston-area district.

"Allowing Tom DeLay to sit on a committee in charge of giving out money is like putting Michael Brown back in charge of FEMA," said Bill Burton of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. "Republicans in Congress just can't seem to resist standing by their man."

Just like old times.

(Distributed by Scripps Howard News Service, www.shns.com.)


Saundra Hummer
February 20th, 2006, 11:09 PM
Did first Americans float here or walk?

Scripps Howard News Service

ST. LOUIS -- Generations of schoolbooks have portrayed the arrival of the first modern humans to America as an epic ice-age hike across a land bridge from Siberia to Alaska, then a dash between glaciers covering the west and east of Canada.

But scientists who have devoted much of their careers over the past several decades to better understanding of the peopling of the Americas are increasingly doubtful that the first arrivals only walked into the hemisphere, if they walked at all. Instead, evidence is growing that they paddled, or floated, much of the way, perhaps via the Atlantic as well as the Pacific.

"The coastal-migration theory has yet to be proven with hard evidence, but we have been finding earlier and more widespread evidence for coastal settlement around the Pacific Rim," said Jon Erlandson, an anthropologist at the University of Oregon who spoke during the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science here over the weekend.

In particular, his team shows how migration routes may have followed giant kelp forests growing along Pacific Rim coastlines even in the deepest freeze of the last ice age more than 20,000 years ago.

On the other side of the continent, Dennis Stanford of the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of Natural History in Washington over the past decade or so has seen a growing list of archaeological sites from Spain and Britain and from Florida to Virginia to Wisconsin lend support to his theory that bands of sea-mammal hunters living on the edge of Europe reached the New World in numbers sufficient to found colonies 5,000 years or more before any land bridge might have been available.

"The objection has been that people living in the far north couldn't have gotten across the Atlantic because they didn't have boats; that they didn't venture out into the ocean ice. But they did have boats, and if they were anything like those the Eskimos have been using for thousands of years, some of the boats could carry 18-20 adults hundreds of miles," Stanford said.

The discoveries reflect change in the way researchers are going about studying prehistoric culture, turning to colleagues who have expertise in everything from ancient climate and prehistoric animals to ecologists.

Paleoanthropology has traditionally been mostly about stone tools, particularly blades more or less skillfully flaked into knives, spear points and axes. How a tool was made, and from what sort of material, tells experts a lot about who made it; a little radiocarbon dating of organic material, often charcoal, found around the tools, tells them when they were made, usually within a few hundred years each way.

Until recently, most of the older stone implements found in North and Central America seemed to have been made with the same technique by people dubbed the Clovis culture, for the first material found in New Mexico during the 1930s, and dated back to no more than about 11,500 years ago.

A few sites in Virginia, Pennsylvania and elsewhere that held tools of different styles that seemed to be as much as 10,000 years older had been largely written off, until more old tools coming from layers dating back 14,000, 17,000, even 50,000 years ago started turning up along the East Coast. And diverse sites in South America have yielded artifacts dating to 33,000 years ago, although controversies about methods used to date sites are a staple of the field.

Stanford, who has spent much of his career studying cultures around the Arctic, was among the first to note that spear points and other tools found on the East Coast have a lot in common with points made by a Stone Age culture known as Solutrean, centered in what's now Southwestern France.

In recent years, he and colleagues have found strong evidence in the form of bones, paintings and other items in coastal caves of Spain that Solutreans used harpoons and boats to go out into icy waters and hunt seals, walrus and auks. And they've worked with ancient-climate specialists to establish that sea icepack extended that far south in the Atlantic during the last ice age.

One of the problems in proving this frozen-highway theory in the Atlantic has been that any coastal camps the hunters may have used now lie submerged well out on the continental shelf due to rising sea level. However, Stanford noted that some promising artifacts _ along with walrus bones _ have turned up recently at new sites around the Chesapeake Bay, for instance.

In the Pacific, Erlandson and many other paleoanthropologists have found and excavated camps of marine hunters at many spots along the coast, particularly offshore islands. What's been missing is something to connect them as a migration route.

It is known that seafaring people lived at least as far north as Japan at the height of the last glacial period, but a team of marine biologists and other specialists helped Erlandson demonstrate how the fish- and mammal-rich kelp forests ran in an arch all the way from the Kurile Islands to Alaska and along all or most of the Pacific Coast. The kelp beds not only ensured food, but also could have helped protect small boats from big waves and served as mooring points.

"The fact that these productive kelp forests are found adjacent to some of the earliest coastal archaeological sites in the Americas really enhances the argument that the first Americans didn't walk here, they floated. In essence, they may have utilized a sort of kelp highway," Erlandson said.

On the Net: www.aaas.org

(Contact Lee Bowman at BowmanL(at)shns.com)


Saundra Hummer
February 21st, 2006, 12:37 PM
Anti-Muslim Riot in Nigeria Turns Deadly

Associated Press Writer
Tue Feb 21, 9:49 AM ET

LAGOS, Nigeria - Christian mobs rampaged through a southern Nigerian city Tuesday, burning mosques and killing several people in an outbreak of anti-Muslim violence that followed deadly protests against caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad over the weekend.
Residents and witnesses in the southern, predominantly Christian city of Onitsha said several Muslims with origins in the north were beaten to death by mobs which also burned two mosques there.

"The mosque at the main market has been burnt and I've counted at least six dead bodies on the streets," Izzy Uzor, an Onitsha resident and businessman, told The Associated Press by telephone. "The whole town is in a frenzy and people are running in all directions."

The violence appeared to be in reprisal for anti-Christian violence Saturday in the mostly Muslim northern city of Maiduguri in which thousands of Muslims protesting caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad attacked Christians and burned churches, killing at least 18 people.

Another Onitsha resident, Isotonu Achor, said one badly beaten Muslim man ran into his office from the streets to escape the violence.

"There is blood all over him and I'm scared they'll come for him here. If he doesn't get urgent treatment he will die," Achor said.

Police and government officials were not immediately available for comment.

Nigeria, Africa's most populous country of more than 130 million people, is roughly divided between a predominantly Muslim north and a mainly Christian south. Thousands of people have died in religious violence in Nigeria since 2000.

Saturday's protest over the cartoons of Prophet Muhammad in Maiduguri marked the first violent demonstrations over the issue in Nigeria. Police say at least 18 people, most of them Christians, died, and 30 churches were burned down. The Christian Association of Nigeria said at least 50 people were killed in the violence.

The cartoons, which first appeared in a Danish newspaper in September, have set off sometimes violent protests around the world. One caricature shows Muhammad wearing a bomb-shaped turban with an ignited fuse.

Islam widely holds that representations of Muhammad are banned for fear they could lead to idolatry.

A Danish newspaper first printed the caricatures in September. Other newspapers, mostly in Europe, have reprinted the pictures, asserting their news value and the right to freedom of expression.
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Saundra Hummer
February 21st, 2006, 12:57 PM
Government Secrecy Inspires
Conspiracy, Paranoia and Rumors.

By Nicholas von Hoffman[/I]

Other than a possible hiccup in the volume of telephone sex, did the revelation that the National Security Agency is bugging our phones pack much of a wallop? It did among civil libertarians and privacy fetishists, but it appears that perhaps 150 million citizens of the United States face the possibility of being tapped without a court order with flaccid equanimity. They couldn’t care less.

They are of the “I don’t have anything to hide” school of opinion—and if you complain that the government is bruising your private space, they take this as evidence that you’re entertaining unwholesome political thoughts. You may even be one of those loathsome Americans who hate their own country.

It’s not surprising: For 50 years now, polling on the subject of the Bill of Rights has shown that most people can take it or leave it—that is, if they know what it is in the first place. Whether they have it or don’t isn’t of much concern to them. When these people get into a loud fight in a restaurant and are told to stuff it, they have been known to flare up and ask, with alcoholic belligerence: “It’s a free country, isn’t it?” But that doesn’t make them civil libertarians.

Regardless of the guff coming out of the mouths of politicians of both parties, history teaches us that liberty is a cause upheld by minorities. Majorities have no interest in it. Whatever stuff is said at the graveside of fallen soldiers about freedom and such, majorities do not bother themselves about the subject. If majorities cared about freedom, the black man would not have spent 200 years first in slavery and then in legal peonage.

In the American mind—assuming there is one—freedom and patriotism are conflated. Standing at the ballpark with hand over heart listening to yet one more ear-splitting rendition of the National Anthem is freedom. Should a person choose to sit and chomp on a hotdog during this tediously empty exercise, said person would get one helluva dose of freedom dumped on him.

So let us not expect help in the defense of liberty from the goofy S.U.V.-driving public. These people can’t stand up to their credit-card or insurance companies. They are cheated by their banks, hornswoggled by their cell-phone providers, swindled by their stockbrokers, imposed upon by Microsoft, and all with seldom more than a grumble of complaint. A people lacking the spine to defend day-to-day material interests are not going to put themselves out to protect intangible assets such as liberty. Freedom for the members of this herd means being able to pick their vacation dates.

The N.S.A. telephone-tapping story was broken by The New York Times, which had held it for a year before publication. Because it was held for so long, the credit accorded The Times for breaking it was diminished in a puff of controversy.

The story itself may not have gotten the scrutiny it ought to have had. Beyond the announcement that this quasi-police/quasi-military agency was tapping phones—apparently on a large scale and without the appropriate court orders—there were no hard facts: no names, no attributions, no nothing much in the piece. It was so devoid of solid information that, had it run in a less-prestigious publication, one would guess that little attention would have been paid to it.

But The Times is The Times, and the story set off a storm in the media and among the politicians—even though, when closely examined, it was little more than the publication of a rumor. Then the White House was obliging enough to confirm the rumor, in a vague way: It affirmed that telephone tapping without authorization by a judge was taking place—and little else. Ever since, more rumors and speculations have filled the public space and private conversation.

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(PAGE 2 OF 2)

One of the salient characteristics of an authoritarian or a totalitarian society is the part played by rumors, whispers, speculation, tattle-tales, and the sly humor of cynical people accustomed to a civic and political life in which lies alternate with silence. Such a society is hallmarked by the prevalence of conspiracy theories and conspiracy thinking. Dating from the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in 1963, conspiracy thinking has, year by year, become more prevalent even as the government has become more secretive, contradictory and unreliable.

A case in point is the secret meetings that Vice President Dick Cheney held with oil-company executives to discuss the administration’s energy policy. The failure to make the contents of those meetings public far outweighs any legalistic arguments against doing so. Whatever the truth, the President has never been able to shake the conviction held by many that he went to war in Iraq at the bidding of oil-industry interests. As gasoline and heating-oil prices have risen, so has the talk that the government arranged it that way.

The administration won’t make public what went on inside its offices leading up to and during the collapse of its Hurricane Katrina relief efforts. Given the role that the federal government has in every part of daily life, when Washington shrouds itself in secrecy, people will supply their own facts and build their conclusions on them.

There are people (and seemingly lots of them) who believe that the government connived at or arranged for the 9/11 attacks—proof that conspiracy thinking thrives when public debate is deprived of reliable, factual information.

When it leaks out that the government is noting what sites we go to on our computers but providing no details about the whys and hows, details of one kind or another will be found and published on the Internet. Not that an Internet is needed to have a public life redolent of rumor, leak, conspiracy and a general sense of persecution. There was plenty of the same in the old Internet-less Soviet Union, but without a doubt the Internet accelerates misinformation, distortion, paranoia and the other unhappy offspring of a government which, out of policy and habit, hides not only what it is doing now, but even the history of what it did long ago. How can there be a free marketplace of ideas when there is no factual foundation to put it on?

In authoritarian societies, the government knows everything about the citizen and the citizen knows little or nothing about the government. Where knowledge and information on every kind of topic is withheld, where the news from nowhere leaks out in strange, twisted and incomplete forms from mysterious sources, where so little of political moment can be tested against any standard of veracity, the individual—already reduced by the gigantic institutions surrounding him—is in a situation not so different from the communist-capitalist authoritarianism of China.

Rumor, fear and confusion taint ordinary public life when a sphinx-like government is reported to be carrying out abductions, assassinations, clandestine imprisonments, secret trials and torture. Americans debate in the darkness about how much pain you can inflict before it’s torture—an argument over hypothetical situations, since no one knows what’s going on. Heretofore, such deeds have been associated with authoritarian or totalitarian societies. Now rumor has it that the world’s loudest democracy may be doing the same.

Nobody knows. Secrecy and supposition permeate the discourse. When explanations are offered by officials standing at lecterns draped with the seal and emblem of their agencies, they say it’s the war. And whom are we fighting? That’s a secret. What are the names of our enemies? That’s a secret, too. Why are we fighting? Classified. When will the war be over? We can’t tell you. What’s happening? You don’t need to know … but there is a rumor it might end soon.

You may reach Nicholas von Hoffman via email at: nvonhoffman@observer.com .

This column ran on page 4 in the 2/20/2006 edition of The New York Observer.

http://www.newyorkobserver.com/20060220/20060220_Nicholas_von_Hoffman_politics_nicholasvon hoffman-2.asp

Saundra Hummer
February 21st, 2006, 01:55 PM
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Corruption goes unchecked
Congress in need of real reform

Molly Ivins
Creators Syndicate

AUSTIN, Texas — Cynics are fond of meditating on the evil done in the name of reform. I'm a great believer in perpetual reform myself, on the theory that political systems, like houses, are always in want of some fixing. However, I have seen some pluperfect doozies passed off as reform in recent years, starting with "Social Security reform."
Conservatives used to oppose reform on principle, correctly regarding it as a vile plot by goo-goo good government forces to snatch away their perks. This once led to a colorful scene in the Texas legislature in which the letters R*E*F*O*R*M appeared on the rear ends of six female members of a baton drill team, who turned and perched their derrieres pertly on the brass rail of the House gallery.

[B]Reform follows scandal as night the day, except in these sorry times when it appears we may not get a nickel's worth of reform out of the entire Jack Abramoff saga. Sickening. A real waste of a splendid scandal. When else do politicians ever get around to fixing huge ethical holes in the roof except when they're caught red- handed? Do not let this mess go to waste! Call now, and demand reform!

Sheesh. Tom DeLay gets indicted, and all the Republicans can think of is a $20 gift ban. Forget the people talking about "lobby reform." The lobby does not need to be reformed, the Congress needs to be reformed. This is about congressional corruption, and it is not limited to the surface stuff like taking free meals, hotels and trips. This is about corruption that bites deep into the process of making laws in the public interest. The root of the rot is money (surprise!), and the only way to get control of the money is through public campaign financing.

As long as the special interests pay to elect the pols, we will have government of the special interests, by the special interests and for the special interests. Pols will always dance with them what brung them. We have to fix the system so that when they are elected, they got no one to dance with but us, the people — we don't want them owing anyone but the public. So the most useful reform bill is being offered by Rep. David Obey, D-Wis., and Rep. Barney Frank, D- Mass. — public campaign financing. We, the citizens, put up the money to elect the pols. This bill won't cost us money, the savings will be staggering.

We're also looking for a way to control the system of earmarks, which has gotten completely out of hand. "The rush to revise ethics laws in the wake of the Jack Abramoff political corruption scandal has turned into more of a saunter," reports The Washington Post. The Republicans keep dicking around with the gift ban idea (opposed by those stalwarts who claim "you couldn't accept a t-shirt from your local high school"). But the best anti-reformer is Rep. John Boehner, R- Ohio, the new House majority leader, elected as a "reformer" (puh- leeze), a man after Tom DeLay's heart. Boehner argues that gift and travel bans would amount to members of Congress being "treated like children." (Actually, children are seldom offered golfing vacations.)

The lobbyists, of course, have pulled together to work against efforts to control them. Fish gotta swim, birds gotta fly. Tom Susman, chair of the ethics committee of the American League of Lobbyists (it is a concept), is reported in Legal Times as saying a gift ban would lead to "unnecessarily awkward dividing lines between lobbyists and members." God forbid.

The House Democratic leadership has proposed reinforcing a gift and travel ban with an attempt to control earmarks by prohibiting "dead of night" provisions — inserting language into a law without a chance for review. Members would be given 24 hours to read bills (which they don't, but their staffs can).

The cosmetic fixes — gift ban, travel ban, disclosure and slowing the revolving door between staff, Congress and the lobby — cannot stop the effects of the K Street Project. That's the cozy arrangement whereby lobbyists are Republican activists and Republican activists are lobbyists, and they underwrite campaigns in return for special privileges under the law — tax exemptions, regulatory relief, tariff dispositions, etc.

One of the most dangerous things about this whole corrupt system is that people who are given special privileges inevitably come to regard them not as special but as natural and right, and will fight furiously if you try to take them away.

It is this endless series of earmarks — special little set-asides for one special interest, one home district after another — that is behind the hemorrhaging in the federal budget. Those who remember when conservatives called for fiscal restraint may get sour amusement from the situation. But what is truly not funny is the pathetic spectacle of the United States of America, a nation with the greatest political legacy the world has ever known, letting itself be gnawed to death by the greed in a corrupt system that can be so easily fixed. Read more in the Molly Ivins archive .

Molly Ivins is the former editor of the liberal monthly The Texas Observer. She is the bestselling author of several books including Who Let the Dogs In?


Saundra Hummer
February 21st, 2006, 02:51 PM
What Makes Up This Type Of Hunter?

I Know I Have A Low Opinion Of Anyone Who Hunts Planted Game And An Even Lower Opinion Of War Mongers And Those Who Capitalize On Our Fears. SRH


Tomgram: Shining a Quailish Light on a Cakewalk

War of the Quailhawks

By Tom Engelhardt

Over a week ago, Vice President Cheney managed to put a couple of hundred pellets of birdshot into his 78 year-old friend and Texas Republican Party builder, Harry Whittington. As the event turned into a national joke, edged with anger, and a late night spectacle, it was natural that the subject of Iraq would arise. After all, given the sorry state of affairs in that country, the thought that the Bush administration (like the Vice President in Texas) shot first and looked only later came quite naturally to mind; but there are other ways in which Dick Cheney's strange encounter of a quail kind on the 50,000 acre Armstrong ranch in Texas might help put the invasion of Iraq in a new light.
Let's start with the quail on what the New York Times calls that "game rich property." (How could it be otherwise when so much of the "game" is raised and released there?) Fragile looking little birds, usually with ET-like plumes dangling off their tiny heads, they hang out in flocks -- coveys, to be exact -- and, unlike the Republicans who bag them at the Armstrong ranch, aren't high fliers. Now, hunting is generally a highly ritualized activity, no small part of which should be consumed with finding your prey or waiting (sometimes fruitlessly) for it to appear -- but this doesn't apply to the fair-weather version of fowl hunting the Vice President tends to practice, as he did to a storm of criticism in December 2003 at a private game club in Pennsylvania. There, "more than 500 farm-raised ring-necked pheasants were released for the vice-president and companions. Cheney shot 70 of the birds, plus some mallard ducks and had them plucked and vacuum-packed before returning to work in Washington." A companion that day, Texas Senator John Cornyn described it as more "Tyson's" than hunt -- that is, a slaughter.

Due to the accident at the Armstrong ranch, a mecca for top Republicans including the President ("rivaling Hyannisport, Kennebunkport, and the Hamptons as a setting where important relationships [among the corporate and power elite] have been nurtured"), we know a good deal about what this kind of hunting entails. The ritual seems to be that you spend your time with high-toned, well-connected friends (in Cheney's case, Party-builder Whittington, ranch owner and lobbyist Katherine Armstrong, a Bush-Cheney "Pioneer," which means she raised $100,000 for the last presidential campaign, and ambassador to Switzerland and Liechtenstein Pamela Pitzer Willeford, old Bush family friend and a somewhat more modest contributor to Republican campaigns); you're served a catered lunch (sweetbreads, "charbroiled nilgai, an Asian antelope... raised and shot on the Armstrong spread," and jicama salad); you kick back with a beer or two, "freshen up" back at the ranch house, climb into a jeep or SUV, drive across the fields to the spot where you already know the birds will be located -- and you know because you're on a ranch that raises just these birds for you to kill and has two groups of "outriders on horseback" and "about a dozen American pointers and Labrador retrievers" already locating them for you. Some of the hunters remain in the vehicles; others step out for the "hunt." Eventually, the dogs flush the quail. They panic and fly -- not very high or very far -- and you blast away with your fancy gun (in Cheney's case, an Italian 28-gauge Perazzi shotgun). In fishing terms, imagine that someone put a bluefish on your hook just before you dropped your line over the side.

The Cheney threesome had already bagged some 40 of the 45 quail allowed by 5:30. They were following their final covey when the accident occurred. Normally, according to Richard Serrano of the Los Angeles Times, hired crews would then be "paid to clean the dead birds and pack them in dry ice for the flight back to Washington." This experience, we're told, gives the Vice President his major release in life. In hunting terms, if you don't happen to shoot your friend instead of a quail, you might even think about calling this experience a "cakewalk" -- the term that some neocons used when describing what an invasion of Iraq might be like.

Let's also remember that among the earliest images to come out of George Bush's mouth after the 9/11 attacks -- along with his Wild West, vigilante-style, Osama "wanted, dead or alive" pronouncement -- were those of the hunt. He said repeatedly that we would "hunt down" the terrorists, that we were going to "smoke them out." And soon enough, the Vice President himself was out there (along with other top officials), vigorously and repeatedly connecting Saddam Hussein to the 9/11 killers, while pumping up his imminent threat to America, and next thing you know, in March 2003, the "hunt" switched to Iraq -- and, of course, we invaded.


Fighting a War against Sheep, Turkey, Fish, and Deer

Here's the thing: Don't imagine for a second that there's anything idle or far-fetched about connecting the shooting at the Armstrong ranch to the invasion of Iraq: Militarily speaking, top Bush administration officials considered a war against Saddam's Iraq the equivalent of the sort of farm-raised "hunt" that Cheney (and, among others, Vice-Presidential pal and "cabal" partner Donald Rumsfeld) have engaged in for years.

Let's recall the basics here. In 1991, after Saddam had sent his army into Kuwait (possibly believing that the U.S. had given him the green light to do so), George H.W. Bush formed a large coalition of nations and launched Operation Desert Storm against Saddam's forces at a time when they were assumed to be reasonably formidable. In the brief conflict that followed, however, the American military (with its coalition of largely paying, rather than fighting, allies in tow) proved that assessment blindingly wrong by obliterating significant portions of the Iraqi military, while losing hardly a soldier in battle.

Desert Storm was, in truth, less a war than a mass execution (as, historically, colonial wars often were). If Vietnam was America's first "living-room war," this was the first screen war at the front. Cameras shooting through the night-vision gun sights of Apache AH-64 attack helicopters, for instance, caught graphic scenes of confused and helpless Iraqi soldiers being blown to bits by unseen attackers. "The Iraqi soldiers looked like ghostly sheep flushed from a pen -- bewildered and terrified, jarred from sleep and fleeing their bunkers under a hellish fire," wrote the Los Angeles Times' John Balzar, who viewed the film with officers of the 18th Airborne Corps at a briefing tent on the Saudi border. Most of the killing took place this way, from the air or long distance (with the exception of a moment when American troops in bulldozers ploughed-in Iraqi trenches at the Kuwaiti border, burying Iraqi conscripts alive).

The final act of this "war" involved an out-and-out slaughter of Iraqi troops (and the wholesale destruction of their vehicles) as they fled Kuwait City on what came to be known as "the highway of death." American pilots over that highway famously referred to the battle as "a turkey shoot" or as "shooting fish in a barrel," though (had they been rich enough) they might, even then, have said, "Like quail at the Armstrong ranch." Later, Desert Storm Commander Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf would complain that the President had cut off the "turkey shoot" and ended the war too quickly.

The comparisons of Iraqi enemies to various prey animals certainly indicated that the military had its share of hunters and fishermen, but these were also classic denigrating images of battle in which the enemy loses his humanity altogether, becoming in flight nothing more than a hunted animal. (This language remains a commonplace of American-style war. Just the other day, Knight Ridder reporter Tom Lasseter, laying out the dicey security situation in the Iraqi city of Samarra, described the aftermath of an ambush of an American patrol by Iraqi guerrillas, two of whom were killed, this way: "Five other soldiers from the 101st Airborne Division scrambled down [from their Humvee], pulled two of the insurgents' bodies from the reeds and dragged them through the mud. 'Strap those motherf-----s to the hood like a deer,' said Staff Sgt. James Robinson, 25, of Hughes, Ark. The soldiers heaved the two bodies onto the hood… and tied them down with a cord. The dead insurgents' legs and arms flapped in the air as the Humvee rumbled along. Iraqi families stood in front of the surrounding houses. They watched the corpses ride by and glared at the American soldiers.")


The Easiest Mark

Back in 1991, Saddam held some of his best units out of battle -- he would use them later to put down a Shiite uprising -- and the Bush administration of that moment, less hubristically inclined, decided to stop well short of taking Baghdad, leaving the dictator in power. Between February 1991 and March 2003, it was hardly a secret, however, that the state of Iraq's military health had declined further. By 2002, in fact, the top officials of the younger Bush's administration and key neocons, who had for years been promoting a war to destroy Saddam's Iraq, knew perfectly well that the country was in dreadful shape.

Iraq was undoubtedly targeted for a number of reasons: The administration had energy on the brain. Cheney, among others, was looking at the globe and its energy flows in the largest of geopolitical ways. Access to and use of bases in "holy" Saudi Arabia was already in question, and Iraq, with untold, untapped oil reserves, was an obvious alternate basing spot, sitting as it did right in the heart of what the neocons were then calling the planet's "arc of instability." (Think: oil lands). There was also a Bush-family grudge match with Saddam to attend to. But perhaps most important of all, Saddam's Iraq looked like such an easy mark.

It was the most obvious regime-change target of convenience in a region administration officials were eager to dominate and it had just the sort of cruel ruler you loved to hate. (Hardly less hated Axis of Evil member Iran was far more formidable. Sclerotic Syria, trapped between a future American Iraq and Israel, would be easy prey once Saddam was gone and his country occupied.) And let's not forget that the neocons were already in full dreaming mode when it came to rolling up the Middle East and refashioning it in our image -- the image of (as in those heady days they and their supporters in the press never failed to remind us) a global Pax Americana. No vast coalition of forces would be required for Iraq; nor, they believed, would any sizeable commitment of American troops be necessary -- a distinct benefit, given Donald Rumsfeld's ever more high-tech, ever more stripped-down and Halliburtonized forces.

Saddam's Iraq, they were quite sure, would go down like any punch-drunk pug put in the ring with the world's heavyweight champ. It would take no time at all. With a little luck, the first "shock and awe" display might even "decapitate" the regime and do the trick. So, off they headed across the desert in their imperial SUV. Iraq would be but the first stop on a long day's safari into night. They would roll the Iraqi military up. They would bag some Iraqi quail and leave the rest of the game-rich ranch to Ahmed Chalabi, their Scheherazade who had already told them 1001 Arabian tales. In fact, one of their first acts, while the invasion was still underway, was to fly Chalabi and hundreds of his lightly armed supporters ("vanguard elements of what a high-ranking Pentagon officer said would form the basis of a new Iraqi army") to a camp on the outskirts of Nasiriyah ahead of any other Iraqi exiles or American occupation authorities.

They were fully prepared to enjoy the flower-strewn path that grateful (Shiite) natives would ready for them. Then they would begin to build those preplanned military bases and quickly turn their attention elsewhere in a cowed neighborhood. It would be, if no one minds mixing a few metaphors, a "slam dunk."


A Cakewalk Invasion

Richard Serrano of the LA Times reports that our Vice President likes to say: "I take my hunting seriously, in part because I think [my wife] Lynne expects me to bring dinner home once in a while." This is part of the fiction of the eat-African-antelope and blow-‘em-away crowd. Cheney also likes to speak of the birds shot down at places like the Armstrong ranch as "wild quail."

In a similar fashion, he and other administration officials built up the "threat" of Saddam Hussein in 2002 -- and that was no easy task. By then, Saddam had a fifth-rate military, hopelessly out of the league of the globe's sole "hyperpower." This was why it became so crucial for the dictator's nonexistent nuclear program -- and nobody believed then that he had a serious one underway, no less a bomb in the offing -- to gain such attention; for Condoleezza Rice to put mushroom clouds over American cities; for the President, Vice President, and CIA Director George Tenet to claim that (nonexistent) Iraqi unmanned aerial vehicles might actually be capable of spraying chemical and biological weapons over our East coast; for those devilish sixteen words on African yellowcake to creep into the President's 2003 State of the Union Address, for al-Qaeda (which had struck hard at the U.S. in a way Saddam couldn't) to be closely tied to the Iraqi regime; and for the Vice President and pals to lean so heavily on the CIA to keep its mouth shut, while they cherry-picked what tidbits of mis- and disinformation were useful to them.

After all, the Bush administration needed a genuine hunt, if not a war, worthy of the name. No tame quail allowed. Okay, there was one real danger. Who knew if the dictator still had some degraded, left-over chemical weapons in his possession? Nonetheless, they expected their second war against Saddam to be as easy as shooting fish in a barrel. After all, like the rest of the Iraqi infrastructure, under the pressure of a decade of sanctions and years of low-level U.S. and British air attacks (officially referred to as "defending the no-fly zones"), Saddam's 1990-style air defenses had largely been destroyed; his military, its weaponry old, was thoroughly degraded; and much of his air force still sat on Iranian runways (where he had flown the planes as American Gulf War I approached). If 1991 was a "turkey shoot," 2003 was going to be the quail shoot of all times, though the term popularized for it was actually "cakewalk."

Early in 2002, Kenneth Adelman, a Washington mover and shaker, who had worked in the Reagan administration, had been active in the Project for the New American Century (PNAC), and was a member of the Pentagon's Defense Policy Board, popularized that term in an op-ed in the Washington Post (Cakewalk in Iraq) in which he dubbed Saddam "the number one threat against American security and civilization" and publicly called for the President to take him down, something PNAC had been lobbying for since the 1990s. He couldn't have been blunter about the thinking of those who then held such influence in the Bush administration (and the Iraqi exiles who were reassuring them that they would be the liberators of all time). He wrote:

"I believe demolishing Hussein's military power and liberating Iraq would be a cakewalk. Let me give simple, responsible reasons: (1) It was a cakewalk last time; (2) they've become much weaker; (3) we've become much stronger; and (4) now we're playing for keeps… Saddam's army is one-third its size then, in both manpower and number of divisions. It still relies on obsolete Soviet tanks, which military analyst Eliot Cohen calls ‘death traps.' The Iraqi air force, never much, is half its former size. Iraqi forces have received scant spare parts and no weapons upgrades. They have undertaken little operational training since Desert Storm. Meanwhile, American power is much fiercer."

So, cakewalk reentered the modern lexicon, thanks to Adelman, and it was a curious but oddly appropriate image to have chosen. After all, the original cakewalk was a slave dance that came off the plantations and is described in The Reader's Companion to American History this way: "In its characteristic high-kneed strut walk, it was meant to parody the solemn decorum of the white masters as they promenaded, two by two, in the formal marches that opened their balls." It later became part of minstrelsy and then an all-American dance craze. And how appropriate the image was. After all, our second war in the Gulf was to be as highly choreographed as Cheney's "wild" hunt on the game-rich Armstrong ranch -- in other words, it was to be a high-stepping parody of a war.


Comedy Central

The military largely agreed with this assessment of Iraqi military power. When General Eric Shinseki famously testified before Congress, what worried him wasn't the invasion-to-come, but the occupation to follow. That was why he emphasized that "several hundred thousand" troops that would be needed -- not to take Iraq, but to hold it. The neocons, Rumsfeld, and the Vice President, in a way that's so completely human, had come to believe some of their own fictions meant to manipulate others (or those of the Iraqi exiles who had their ear) and so were convinced that Shinseki was a fool and that no such force levels would be needed.

Their priorities were clear indeed. Send in troops to guard the oil ministry in Baghdad as well as the oilfields; dole out an open-ended contract to Halliburton to protect those fields in case Saddam's men set them alight (as they had in 1991), and then let -- as our Secretary of Defense so famously put it -- stuff happen.

So they shocked and awed Baghdad, blasted Iraq, let its cities (and cultural patrimony) be looted, let the Iraqi military dissolve (and good riddance), handed out contracts to their corporate pals, sent the dismantlers in, set Halliburton's KBR to building bases, and looked elsewhere for some more of that game-rich action.

And let's remember as well that, at the time, it wasn't Dave Letterman or Jay Leno making all the jokes; it was, not surprisingly, top officials of this administration. Secretary of State Donald Rumsfeld in his post-invasion press conferences gained a certain renown as the Pentagon's equivalent of a stand-up comic. Like our warrior President, he was clearly having the time of his life. He had the press in stitches for months. Even when things started to go wrong, when, for instance, no one could find Saddam's threatening weapons of mass destruction and his unmanned aerial vehicles turned out to be constructed of toothpicks, the President's response as late as March 2004 was a comedy routine. He gave it at the Radio and Television Correspondents Association Dinner, to much laughter and applause from the assembled journalists and media execs. Photos were shown of the President looking under Oval Office furniture for the missing WMD while he said, "Those weapons of mass destruction have got to be somewhere."

Of course, all of this turned out to be the administration's collective version of shooting Harry Whittington in the face. If the Vice President's recent quail hunt has been farce (though not, obviously to Whittington), in Iraq the equivalent was pure tragedy. Here in the U.S., Cheney's story proved to be -- as all Bush administration stories are -- riddled with ludicrous holes and anomalies (including that beer -- imported for sure -- that suddenly popped up to replace the Dr. Peppers in the initial descriptions of lunch that day). In Iraq, of course, you had the vast list of lies, manipulations, false stories, discrepancies, and disinformation that made up the American side of the ongoing war.

Here, you had the unexpected, farcical uprising of a long-frustrated and sidelined Washington press corps not over secret prisons, or torture, or NSA spying, or the most recent revelations that the Vice President and others had cooked the books before the invasion of Iraq, but over the fact that they were not informed about the shooting of Whittington. In Iraq, there was nothing farcical about the unexpected, largely Sunni insurgency that has bedeviled this administration since soon after major combat operations supposedly ended in early May 2003.

George, Dick, and the rest of them are remarkably consistent in their modus operandi. Whether on a quail farm, in the White House, or in Iraq, they pump themselves up as hunters or warriors, while the catering goes on and the "outriders" flush the birds for them. They create fictional worlds, impose them on the rest of us, and, at least to some degree, come to believe in them themselves – and they take ultimate responsibility for nothing whatsoever. They are, in short, the quailhawks and, in the larger drama, we, I fear, are Whittington.

Tom Engelhardt, who runs the Nation Institute's Tomdispatch.com ("a regular antidote to the mainstream media"), is the co-founder of the American Empire Project and the author of The End of Victory Culture, a history of American triumphalism in the Cold War. His novel, The Last Days of Publishing, has recently come out in paperback.

Copyright 2006 Tom Engelhardt


Saundra Hummer
February 21st, 2006, 03:41 PM
. . . . . . .

Backroom Battles

News: Economic sabotage, whisper campaigns, and threats: How the Democrats took Paul Hackett out.

By David Goodman
February 16, 2006

The Ohio Insurgency

Major Paul Hackett came home from Iraq to launch an assault on a GOP stronghold. Can Democrats follow his lead?

Democratic Senate candidate and Marine Corps Major Paul Hackett is accustomed to waging quixotic battles and taking his hits. He just didn’t expect the lowest—and fatal—blows to come from his own party.In an announcement that stunned many in Washington and even some in his campaign staff, Hackett declared on February 13, 2006, that he was dropping his bid for U.S. Senate in Ohio, ending his 11 month political career. “I made this decision reluctantly, only after repeated requests by party leaders, as well as behind-the-scenes machinations, that were intended to hurt my campaign,” he said, only hinting at what had gone down. The day after his withdrawal from the race, he told me about the backroom battles that forced him out.

Hackett was running against seven-term Akron Democrat Rep. Sherrod Brown in a May primary, with the winner going on to face two-term Republican Sen. Mike DeWine in November (assuming DeWine wins his own primary against a longshot Republican challenger). DeWine is considered one of the most vulnerable incumbent Republicans, and the national Democratic Party is pulling out the stops to defeat him.

But first, the Democrats had to get Hackett out of the way. The weapons used in the rubout included economic sabotage, whisper campaigns, and threats.

Hackett, an Iraq War combat veteran, was hailed last summer as just the kind of “fighting Democrat” the party needed to reinvigorate its base and end its years in the congressional wilderness. After narrowly losing a race for Congress in a lopsidedly Republican district outside Cincinnati last August, the telegenic veteran—famous for dissing President Bush as a “chickenhawk” and “sonuvabitch” while on the stump—was courted heavily by Democratic leaders, including Sens. Charles Schumer and Harry Reid, to take on DeWine. But no sooner did Hackett enter the Senate race last October than Brown announced his candidacy for Senate, reversing an earlier decision he had made to stay out of the race.

With Brown, a party insider, on board, the Democratic establishment quickly began pulling away from the fiery Hackett. Schumer, after having wooed him in August, called again in October. “Schumer didn’t tell me anything definitive,” Hackett told me at the time. “But I’m not a dumb ass, and I know what he wanted me to do.” Hackett, a maverick who relishes the fight, decided to buck the Beltway insiders, and stay in the race.

Hackett’s scorching rhetoric earned him notoriety and cash on the campaign trail. He declared that people who opposed gay marriage were “un-American.” He said the Republican party had been hijacked by religious extremists who he said “aren’t a whole lot different than Osama bin Laden.” Bloggers loved him, donors ponied up, while Democratic Party insiders grumbled that he wasn’t "senatorial."

Swift boats soon appeared on the horizon. A whisper campaign started: Hackett committed war crimes in Iraq—and there were photos. “The first rumor that I heard was probably a month and a half ago,” Dave Lane, chair of the Clermont County Democratic Party, told me the day after Hackett pulled out of the race. “I heard it more than once that someone was distributing photos of Paul in Iraq with Iraqi war casualties with captions or suggestions that Paul had committed some sort of atrocities. Who did it? I have no idea. It sounds like a Republican M.O. to me, but I have no proof of that. But if it was someone on my side of the fence, I have a real problem with that. I have a hard time believing that a Democrat would do that to another Democrat.”

In late November, Hackett got a call from Sen. Harry Reid. “I hear there’s a photo of you mistreating bodies in Iraq. Is it true?” demanded the Senate minority leader. “No sir,” replied Hackett. To drive home his point, Hackett traveled to Washington to show Reid’s staff the photo in question. Hackett declined to send me the photo, but he insists that it shows another Marine—not Hackett—unloading a sealed body bag from a truck. “There was nothing disrespectful or unprofessional,” he insists. “That was a photo of a Marine doing his job. If you don’t like what they’re doing, don’t send Marines into war.”

A staffer in Reid’s office confirmed that Hackett had showed them several photos. “The ones I saw were part of a diary he kept while serving in Iraq and were in no way compromising. The one picture in question depicted Marines doing their work on what looked like a scorching day in Iraq,” said the aide.

But the whispering continued, and Hackett was troubled. “It creates doubt and suspicion,” Hackett told me, saying his close supporters were asking him privately about the rumors. “It tarnishes my very strength as a candidate, my military service. It’s like you take a handful of seeds, throw them up in the wind, and they blow all around and start growing. It really bothered me.”

Hackett backers suspected the smear was being floated by Sherrod Brown’s campaign. A senior Brown staffer angrily dismissed the charge this week as “ridiculous.”

Brown campaign spokesperson Joanna Kuebler declined to respond to the rumors. She offered this prepared statement: “This campaign has never been about Paul Hackett or about Sherrod Brown. This campaign is about the hard working people of Ohio, and what Republican corruption has done to them.”

Hackett wanted to fight to the finish. He raised nearly a half-million dollars in the last quarter of 2005, matching Brown’s fundraising. But Brown entered the Senate race with $2 million in the bank, a strategic cushion. Early polls show both Brown and Hackett running in a dead heat against DeWine. An internal poll done in February for the Hackett campaign that was obtained by the Cleveland Plain Dealer showed Brown leading Hackett by 20 points, but Hackett took the lead if voters simply heard both candidates' bios. The analysis concluded, “If Paul Hackett can raise the funds necessary to communicate his message to the voters of Ohio, he will present Sherrod Brown with a formidable challenge in May.”

With the very real prospect of a smear against him going public late in the campaign—a la the Swift Boating of John Kerry—Hackett knew that dollars would be especially important for him. “If I don’t have the $2 million or $3 million it would take to respond in the final weeks, to influence the battlefield with my message, then I would just be reacting and I’ll get trounced,” said Hackett.

Hackett had demonstrated his ability to shake money from donors during a January fundraising roadshow in California and New York. But he soon discovered that top Democrats were attempting to cut off his money. The hosts of a Beverly Hills fundraiser for Hackett received an e-mail from the political action committee of Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) that concluded, “I hope you will re-consider your efforts on behalf of Hackett and give your support to Sherrod.” Waxman’s chief of staff, Phil Schiliro, said the e-mail was only sent to a handful of people and that “it probably came from a suggestion from the Sherrod Brown campaign.”

Michael Fleming, who manages Internet millionaire David Bohnett’s political and charitable giving, was one of the recipients of the Waxman email. Bohnett has given to hundreds of progressive candidates, but Fleming says, “This was the first time I had ever gotten an email or communication like that. I find it discouraging and disheartening. It’s unfortunate that the powers that be didn’t let the people of Ohio figure this out. We should be in the business of encouraging people like Paul Hackett and viable progressive candidates like him to run. The message instead is don’t bother, it’s not worth your time.”

Sen. Schumer was also reported to be trying to turn off Hackett’s cash spigots. No one would confirm this to me on the record. But veteran political activist David Mixner, who described himself as “a fanatically strong supporter” of Hackett and who helped sponsor a New York fundraiser, confirmed that he “received calls from a couple people in Congress urging Paul Hackett to withdraw or not to contribute money to his campaign. The reasons ranged from he can’t win, to he’s too controversial, Brown has more money, is more centrist, and more appealing. It was that inner beltway circle crap,” said Mixner. “They are people who have no idea what’s going on in the country but believe they know everything.”

Mixner added, “I don’t think it’s inappropriate to call me. What’s inappropriate is that the people calling me were the same people who asked him to run, and now they wanted to push him out. That's what made this unique.”

Hackett was infuriated by the subterfuge. “I felt like I got fucked by the Democratic Party because they enticed me in and then they pulled the rug out from beneath me. It sounds eerily familiar to sending in the military to Iraq, which was a misuse of the military, and then not giving them what they need to fight.”

In what is being called the Valentine’s Day Massacre, Paul Hackett threw in the towel, and insisted he would not be running for elected office anytime soon. He declined requests to switch races and run again in the Ohio Second Congressional District against Rep. Jean Schmidt, saying he had promised the candidates currently in that race that he wouldn’t run. “My word is my bond and I will take it to my grave,” he declared.

As word spread about the intra-party intrigue that helped bring down Hackett, supporters have reacted angrily. “If the Democratic Party continues with these suicidal decisions, we will continue to defeat ourselves,” declared Yolanda Parker, who recently attended a California fundraiser for Hackett. “The only strategy the Republicans need to stay in power is patience. They just need to wait while our party self-implodes through idiotic decisions such as the one to pressure an articulate Iraqi war veteran to pull out of the race.”

Party officials have tried to tamp down the anger. Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) spokesman Phil Singer stated, “Neither the DSCC nor Senator Schumer reached out to donors to ask them to take sides in this race. Paul Hackett’s statesman-like decision will help us win one of the most important Senate races in the nation.”

Hackett, who says he would still like to help “retool” the Democratic Party, ends his meteoric political career with some advice for other maverick candidates. “They simply can’t rely on any of the party infrastructure to help them, and they must assume that people at high levels will work against them. These guys,” he says of the party insiders, “view the Senate as a club. They’re not gonna welcome you if one day they turn the key on the clubhouse door and you are sitting there with your feet on the table flippin’ them the middle finger. I understand that from their perspective. It works for them, but not for the rest of us out here.”

David Goodman is a Mother Jones contributing writer and co-author of The Exception to the Rulers.


Saundra Hummer
February 21st, 2006, 05:23 PM

The American society heading towards Animal Farm

2/21/2006 4:00:00 PM GMT

The U.S. detention camp at Guantanamo should not exist at all

Dr John Sentamu, the Archbishop of York, launched recently a new attack on the American President George W. Bush, denouncing the administration’s persistent refusal to shut down Guantanamo jail, despite numerous international calls to shut down the notorious detention facility in Cuba.

Guantanamo Bay camp reflected "a society that is heading towards George Orwell's Animal Farm", Dr John said.

Last month, Amnesty International launched its "Tell the Truth about Torture, Mr. President " campaign where it enlisted thousands of people who urge the president to be honest with all Americans about the U.S. government's use of torture in the so-called "war on terror."

"The White House has dodged the truth about torture for too long," said Dr. William F. Schulz, Amnesty International's Executive Director. "With reports of torture in the news virtually every day, it is imperative the president and all in his administration end the secrecy and end the torture. This campaign will allow thousands of Americans to demand that torture in our names is not committed again and insist that the president speak the truth in his State of the Union address about this heinous crime."

Following the latest report compiled by 5 UN inspectors on the horrific treatment and harsh conditions detainees face at Guantanamo jail, Dr Sentamu called on the UN Human Rights Commission (UNHRC) to immediately take a strong action against the U.S. - through the U.S. courts or the International Court of Justice at The Hague.

Remarks made by Sentamu, the Church of England's second in command, are expected to boost the international, unprecedented united and strong stance against the U.S. government’s insistence not to close its torture camp in Cuba.

"The American Government is breaking international law,"

"The U.S. should try all 500 detainees at Guantanamo , who still include eight British residents, or free them without further delay. To hold someone for up to four years without charge clearly indicates a society that is heading towards George Orwell's Animal Farm," Dr. Sentamu told The Independent.

"The main building block of a democratic society is that everyone is equal before the law, innocent until proved otherwise, and has the right to legal representation. If the guilt of the prisoners in Guantanamo Bay is beyond doubt, why are the Americans afraid to bring them to trial? Transparency and accountability are the other side of the coin of freedom and responsibility. We are all accountable for our actions in spite of circumstances. The events of 9/11 cannot erase the rule of law and international obligations. The Government has already managed to secure the release, in March 2004, of the four British nationals who were detained at Guantanamo, Moazzam Begg, Feroz Abbasi, Martin Mubanga and Richard Belmar- although only after guarantees they would be constantly monitored and face an investigation to ascertain whether they can be charged in this country.

"Washington had claimed all four were 'enemy combatants who trained at camps run by Al Qaeda. But they were released after UK police concluded there was not enough evidence to charge them with any offence. The men said they had been tortured at Guantanamo, allegations the U.S. denied. So far the Prime Minister appears unmoved by the growing sense of indignation brought on by the UNHRC report. He reiterated a statement first made a year ago that the base in Cuba was "an anomaly".

"This is not an anomaly which needs to be sorted sooner or later. This is an outrage that needs to be sorted out now. Guantanamo Bay has damaged the reputation of the U.S. and its allies across the globe and particularly in the Middle East," Sir Menzies Campbell, the acting Liberal Democrat leader, said.

Shortly after the release of the UN report, a British High Court judge declared that the U.S. definition of torture is "not the same as ours and doesn't appear to coincide with that of most civilized countries."

Even if those suspects held at Guantanamo are being handled with the utmost care and consideration, the fact remains that the detention camp at Guantanamo should not exist at all, as it was set up offshore at the U.S. naval base in Guantanamo to hold people captured during the war in Afghanistan to be out of range of U.S. and international laws.


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Saundra Hummer
February 21st, 2006, 06:45 PM
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The dirty little secret behind the UAE port security flap

We Turn Our Ports Over To a People, To A Country Which We Aren't Welcome In? To A Country Which Doesn't Allow Us To Travel Freely To, & In? How Is This? If They Are To Be Running Our Ports, We In Turn Should Have The Same Freedoms In Their Country As They Have In Ours, Freedom To Travel To & Fro, & All About. Just Basic Rights.
Real-world wisdom from outside the beltway.

Politicians and the media are loudly decrying the Bush administration's proposal to turn over port security to a firm owned by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) - a country with ties to terrorists. They are talking tough about national security - but almost no one is talking about what may have fueled the administration's decision to push forward with this deal: the desire to move forward Big Money's "free" trade agenda.
How much does "free" trade have to do with this? How about a lot. The Bush administration is in the middle of a two-year push to ink a corporate-backed "free" trade accord with the UAE. At the end of 2004, in fact, it was Bush Trade Representative Robert Zoellick who proudly boasted of his trip to the UAE to begin negotiating the trade accord. Rejecting this port security deal might have set back that trade pact. Accepting the port security deal - regardless of the security consequences - likely greases the wheels for the pact. That's probably why instead of backing off the deal, President Bush - supposedly Mr. Tough on National Secuirty - took the extraordinary step of threatening to use the first veto of his entire presidency to protect the UAE's interests. Because he knows protecting those interetsts - regardless of the security implications for America - is integral to the "free" trade agenda all of his corporate supporters are demanding.

The Inter Press Service highlights exactly what's at stake, quoting a conservative activists who admits that this is all about trade:
"The United States' trade relationship with the UAE is the third largest in the Middle East, after Israel and Saudi Arabia. The two nations are engaged in bilateral free talks that would liberalise trade between the two countries and would, in theory at least, allow companies to own and operate businesses in both nations. 'There are legitimate security questions to be asked but it would be a mistake and really an insult to one of our leading trading partners in that region to reject this commercial transaction out of hand,' said Daniel T. Griswold, who directs the Center for Trade Policy Studies at the Cato Institute, a Washington-based libertarian think tank."

Look, we've seen this before. Just last year, Congress approved a U.S. taxpayer-funded loan by the Bush administration to a British company to help build nuclear technology in Communist China. Despite major security concerns raised - and a legislative effort to block the loan - Congress's "free traders" (many of whom talk so tough on security) made sure the loan went through so as to preserve the U.S.-China free trade relationship that is allowing lawmakers' corporate campaign contributors export so many U.S. jobs.

There is no better proof that our government takes its orders from corporate interests than these kinds of moves. That's what this is all about - making sure Tom-Friedman-style "free" trade orthodoxy supercedes everything. This is where the culture of corruption meets national security policy - and, more specifically, where the unbridled corruption of on-the-take politicians are weakening America's security.

The fact that no politicians and almost no media wants to even explore this simple fact is telling. Here we have a major U.S. security scandal with the same country we are simultaneously negotiating a free trade pact with, and no one in Washington is saying a thing. The silence tells you all you need to know about a political/media establishment that is so totally owned by Big Money interests they won't even talk about what's potentially at the heart of a burgeoning scandal.

Posted by David Sirota at 3:53 PM | Link | Discuss

categories: "Free" Trade, National Insecurity


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Saundra Hummer
February 21st, 2006, 07:13 PM
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Islamabad, 21 Feb. (AKI) - Pakistan has asked that the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC) convene an extraordinary summit to discuss the ongoing crisis triggered by the publication of cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed. Prime minister Shaukat Aziz made the request to the secretary general of the OIC, Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, who was visiting Pakistan on Tuesday. '"Islam is a religion of peace and harmony" declared Aziz, adding that "we condemn and deplore the use of force or violence during protests."

Ihsanoglu also condemned the violence as a sign of 'weakness' and revealed that the OIC had activated contacts with the EU and with the UN to resolve the crisis. Next week he is due to meet UN secretary general Kofi Annan and EU foreign policy chief.

"It is outrageous to burn buildings, kill and use any other form of violence " he added, underlining that such actions are not in line with the teaching of the Prophet"

The secretary general of the 57-member Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC) will travel to Pakistan on Wednesday to work out a common strategy against the publication of blasphemous caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad, a news reports said.

Ihsanoghu will meet Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz to discuss the situation in the wake of worldwide outrage over the issue, the private news agency Online reported.

Pakistan’s envoy in Denmark, who has been recalled by the government for “consultations” will also attend the meeting with OIC chief.

The cartoons first appeared in Danish newspapers in last September and were reprinted in the European media, triggering the worldwide uproar by Muslims.

The OIC chief’s visit to Pakistan follows remarks by Pakistani president General Pervez Musharraf to an American television network on Friday that it was high time for the OIC and the European Union (EU) to seriously look at the issue to defuse growing tension over the publication of the cartoons.

A report by English language daily Dawn said the OIC handed over a five-point agenda to EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana during his recent visit to the group’s headquarters in Jeddah to address the situation and prevent recurrence of a similar crisis.

The agenda adopted at an extraordinary meeting of the permanent representatives of the member states in Jeddah urged the EU to adopt necessary legislative measures against “Islamophobia”.

It also called on the EU states to work with OIC in adopting a UN resolution aimed at prohibiting defamation of prophets and faiths, the report said.


Saundra Hummer
February 21st, 2006, 07:17 PM


Karachi, 21 Feb (AKI) - (Syed Saleem Shahzad) - There have been suggestions that the current protests in Pakistan against the Danish cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohammed have been sponsored behind-the-scenes by the government itself, to justify the need to maintain a military government. However, the protests appear to have swiftly escalated into an anti-Musharraf campaign. Sources suggest the present Shah-i-Mustafa (in the respect of Prophet Mohammed) rallies have already turned into a growing Tehrik-i-Nizam-i-Mustafa, a movement to enforce Mohammed’s way of life, including Sharia law, which would imply an end to Musharraf's rule.

Qazi Hussain Ahmed, the leader of Pakistan's six-party religious alliance, MMA, who was briefly detained over the weekend, has given a deadline of 23 March to depose Pakistani president Pervez Musharraf.

On top of that, Pakistan's hardcore religious elements, through the madrassas or Islamic seminaries and the sermons delivered in mosques, have taken on the preparations of Tehrik-i-Nizam-i-Mustafa and as a consequence have called for the removal of Musharraf from power.

On Friday, after a call by Maulana Abdul Aziz of the mosque in Islamabad, around 5000 people pledge their allegiance to Aziz and said that they would sacrifice their lives for the cause of a jihad against the pro-US government of president Musharraf.

Maulana Abdul Aziz and his brother, Ghazi Abdul Rasheed are the sons of the slain Maulana Abdullah. The government of Pakistan has said that it has tried on many occasions to arrest both brothers but they have not succeed because the two brother command great respect not only in the civilian population but also in the army. Top ranking army officials come to them every day so that Abdul Aziz can heal them through his prayers. This despite the fact that both brothers have been labeled wanter criminals by Pakistan's interior ministry. So, although both brothers live right next to the Lal Masjid in the capital, Islamabad Pakistan's security agencies have failed to arrest them.

Abdul Aziz's call for a jihad against the present government was echoed in many mosques in Islamabad, Rawalpindi and Lahore.

For the first time, white flags in which Kalma (No God but one God. Mohammed is the messenger of God) was inscribed in black appeared in sizeable numbers in the demonstrations. These special flags are similar to those used by Prophet Mohammed 1400 years ago.

This current situation has parallels in Pakistan's history, when in 1977 when the Pakistan National Alliance, in which left- and right-wing parties were grouped, launched a Tehrik-i-Nizam-i-Mustafa that paved the way for the an army coup in which General Zia ul-Haq removed Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto and imposed martial law.

A senior Pakistani bureaucrat, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that that anti-traditionalism had reached a climax in mid-1970s when drinking alcohol had become part of the social culture in Pakistan. A leading US-based magazine at the time even ran a cover story entitled, “Pakistan: A country ruled by Pimps and Prostitutes”.

"In fact, Tehrik-i-Nizam-i-Mustafa was a mass rebellion against the establishment when it tried to take on the social norms," said the bureaucrat.

While in 2006 the reason for their opposition to the government is its pro-American stance, it's the madrassas and mosques, the jihadis as well as religious and opposition parties that have again come together in this movement against the government.

The opposition parties have called for a countrywide demonstration on Friday, 24 February, while on 26 February the opposition parties have decided once again to defy the ban on rallies against the Danish cartoons. The tense situation is expected to reach a climax at a rally in Lahore scheduled for 26 February.

(Syed Saleem Shahzad/Aki)

Feb-21-06 15:10


Saundra Hummer
February 21st, 2006, 07:43 PM
~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Jim Crow and the Indians
"Freedmen," blacks whose ancestors were enslaved by Cherokee and other tribes, are suing to become tribal citizens. But the tribes say they are ineligible because they don't have Indian blood.

By Claudio Saunt

Pages 1 2 3

Feb. 21, 2006 | Last August in Tahlequah, Okla., Lucy Allen appeared before the Judicial Appeals Tribunal, a three-person court that hears constitutional questions in the Cherokee Nation. Allen is suing to become a Cherokee citizen. Born in Vinita, Okla., within the boundaries of the Cherokee Nation, she is far from your typical Indian wannabe. She has nothing in common with the Virginia town-and-country crowd who claim descent from Pocahontas, nor does she subscribe to the Shaman's Drum or share sweat lodges with New Agers who seek enlightenment and Kokopelli souvenirs in the Southwest.
Allen, 73 years old, is descended from African slaves who for generations lived in the Cherokee Nation and labored for Cherokee masters. She is attempting to overturn a 1987 Cherokee law that makes the descendants of these slaves ineligible for Cherokee citizenship. Depending on the Tribunal's forthcoming decision, her case could reverse years of legalized discrimination against freedmen, as men and women descended from Indian-owned slaves are collectively known today. Allen v. Ummerteskee could become the Cherokee Nation's own Brown v. Board of Education.

If Allen wins her case, the impact would be enormous. There are today about 250,000 Cherokee citizens, and by one conservative estimate, Allen v. Ummerteskee would overnight make 130,000 freedmen and their descendants eligible for citizenship. Although most of them long ago cut their ties to the Cherokee Nation, perhaps 38,000 interested persons could be expected to submit a citizenship application to the Cherokee registrar. A comparable situation in the United States would add 45 million citizens.

The potential impact on the tribal budget is less clear. Freedmen citizens would have access to healthcare through the Indian Health Service, tuition support for higher education, mortgage assistance, and other benefits. Most of these services are financed through the Cherokee Nation by the federal government on a need-based formula, so funding could be expected to rise accordingly. But fully 25 percent of the Cherokee national budget comes from other sources (gaming and other tribal enterprises), and this inelastic revenue would have to be shared by a larger population.

The neighboring Creek Nation also excludes its freedmen, and although a decision by Cherokee courts would have no legal consequences for the Creeks, it is difficult to imagine that they would not soon follow suit. So too might the Seminole Nation, which currently grants freedmen partial citizenship. And perhaps even the Choctaw and Chickasaw nations, whose rejection of the freedmen is longer standing and more deeply rooted, would eventually yield to the trend. All told, well over 300,000 freedmen could be affected. What this amounts to is that the Five Tribes -- or Five Civilized Tribes, as the Cherokees, Creeks, Seminoles, Choctaws and Chickasaws were called in the 19th century -- face a social revolution as powerful as America's in the civil rights era.

Not surprisingly, freedmen are driving the movement. In the last few years, they have founded the Descendants of Freedmen of the Five Civilized Tribes as well as a rival organization, the Freedmen Descendants of the Five Civilized Tribes. They hold monthly and annual meetings, and they daily discuss affairs on AfriGeneas.com in the African-Native American forum. One man, Napoleon Davis, even built a shrine to his freedmen ancestors, a cavernous concrete and wood museum inspired by the shape of a tepee. It sits in a field, just off South 74th Street in Muskogee, Okla.

They have also filed lawsuits. In addition to Allen, Marilyn Vann, a Cherokee freedwoman, is suing the Department of the Interior in federal court for allowing the Cherokee Nation to disenfranchise her. And freedmen Ron Graham and Fred Johnson are suing the Creek Nation in tribal court.

Graham recalls the moment he decided to dedicate himself to the freedmen cause. Several years ago, when he tried to file for citizenship, the registrar for the Creek Nation told him, "Your father wasn't Indian. He wasn't nothing but a slave." "That hurt me until today," Graham remembers. "When she told me that, oh boy, I was hurt," he recalls. Sylvia Davis and others have undertaken similar initiatives against the Seminole Nation.

Slavery and its legacy lie at the heart of the current unrest, as the discussants on AfriGeneas.com reveal. One writer charges a historian and citizen of the Seminole Nation, Susan A. Miller, with "Afri-phobism." Another invokes the "sordid, racist history" of the Five Tribes. A third accuses the Cherokee Nation of sponsoring "Apartheid in America."

Their frustration and anger has its roots in the early 19th century, when the Five Tribes adopted race slavery as their own. Although some slaves toiled on sprawling plantations while their masters relaxed on distant verandas, many others labored alongside their owners. Living and working in close quarters, they inevitably became family, marrying Indians and fathering or bearing their children. Intermarriage blurred racial boundaries and sometimes made it difficult to separate family slaves from family members. By the outbreak of the Civil War, the proportion of slaves in these nations ranged from a low of 10 percent in the Creek Nation to a high of 18 percent in the Chickasaw Nation. Numbering as many as 10,000, these slaves were freed by treaty with the United States in 1866. The same treaties stipulated that the Cherokees, Creeks and Seminoles adopt their ex-slaves as citizens. (The Choctaw and Chickasaw treaties had escape clauses that Indians invoked to avoid naturalizing their freedmen.)

Following the war, racism was widespread in the Five Tribes but never inspired the level of violence found in the Southern states. In fact, in the Cherokee, Creek and Seminole nations, ex-slaves served as legislators, judges and emissaries until the turn of the century, when the United States violated its treaty obligations and unilaterally dissolved the governments of the Five Tribes. Not until the 1970s were these nations formally reconstituted.

At that point, they ignored the 1866 treaties and expelled freedmen from their nations. The particulars differ from tribe to tribe. The Creeks did so by passing a new constitution in 1979. Buddy Cox, a close relative of the principal chief at the time, Claude Cox, frankly recalls that the motives for the disenfranchisement were racist. "Claude Cox did not have as much Creek blood as I have," Chester Adams, an elderly freedman, complained to me in 2000.

Next page: Some older freedmen still remember attending stomp dances and Indian churches
The Cherokees did so by law in the 1980s, largely to ensure the election of Ross O. Swimmer, later a high-level Reagan and Bush I appointee and now a special trustee for American Indians in Bush II's Department of the Interior. "They're entitled to some benefits, but not to register to vote," Swimmer said in 1983. "They're not members of the tribe by blood." But Marilyn Vann, one of the plaintiffs in the federal lawsuit against the Cherokees, argues that freedmen "paid their dues" by clearing fields and building houses for their masters. "Is this now the deal, now that they're no longer useful?" she asks. "It is repugnant to me."

The Seminoles took action in 2000, when it came time to distribute a $56 million payout from the federal government. They first tried to expel freedmen, and then, in 2003, after a failed fight with the Department of the Interior, denied them educational and social services. The 1866 treaties, says the Seminole scholar Susan A. Miller, were imposed by the United States and are "hardly ethical legal standards for us to be following."

Why are freedmen so interested in reclaiming their tribal citizenship? If you ask, they will say they want to recover what is theirs, to rectify an injustice. Few will speak about gaming money, healthcare or college scholarships, although these resources (scanty as they are in most tribes) surely drive some people, black and white, to pursue Indian citizenship.

Yet financial motivations are only a part of the story behind the freedmen lawsuits. Many freedmen have intensely personal motivations, rooted in memories of their parents and grandparents. They recall hearing their older relatives speak Cherokee, Creek or Seminole. Rudy Hutton, a Creek freedmen, remembered one such occasion when I met him a few years ago. During his father Pilot's final illness, Rudy drove him to the site of his childhood home in Huttonville, Okla., an all-black town that vanished long ago. Pilot began speaking Creek, although he always maintained he had forgotten the language. "Those SOBs at Okmulgee," Rudy says of the officers at the Creek capital, "they won't give you nothing unless you're a white guy."

Some older freedmen even remember attending stomp dances and Indian churches as small children. Even if now alienated from this part of their past, they know well that their families' roots are in the Cherokee, Creek or Seminole nations.

You do not have to dig too deeply to uncover these roots. I realized this in 1999, when I visited Henry Durant in Wetumka, Okla., a dusty crossroads of little more than 1,000 people about 70 miles due south of Tulsa. Durant, a former farm laborer and Negro League baseball player, then age 89, was raised by his grandfather, John Grayson. Grayson, who spoke Creek, was born a slave in the Creek Nation in 1852.

Depending on whom you ask, freedmen such as Hutton and Durant are either interlopers, with no real claim to tribal citizenship, or disowned kin, rejected because of the color of their skin. To liberal-minded Americans, the answer may appear obvious, but Indian officials say that the expulsion of freedmen isn't driven by racial bigotry. "It's not a matter of skin color, it's a matter of citizenship," said Mike Miller, a spokesman for the Cherokee Nation, during a disputed election in 2003. "If you don't have Indian blood, then you are not eligible for membership, regardless of what other ethnicity you may be."

But as it turns out, it is not so easy to determine who is an Indian. The Five Tribes rely on the Dawes rolls, a census produced by U.S. officials at the end of the 19th century. The census, named after Massachusetts Sen. Henry Dawes, is divided by tribe and further divided into Indians by blood and freedmen.

In theory, the by-blood rolls list Indians and others who had been adopted by the tribe, while the freedmen rolls list ex-slaves. With the exception of the Seminole Nation (which grants limited citizenship to freedmen), the Five Tribes restrict citizenship to individuals who have an ancestor on the Dawes by-blood rolls.

In many ways, these requirements for citizenship are generous, allowing thousands of people in California's sprawling suburbs and cul-de-sacs to file for citizenship even though some have only a single great-grandparent on the Dawes by-blood rolls. Other nations, by contrast, have a blood quantum requirement. You must be one-quarter Prairie Band Potawatomi to become a citizen of the Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation, for example. A lone great-grandparent would not be enough to qualify.

Nevertheless, Lucy Allen, Marilyn Vann and thousands of others who can trace their ancestors to the Dawes freedmen rolls are out of luck, even if they are lifelong Oklahoma residents with closer ties to the Cherokee Nation than tribal citizens who live in other states. Today, one-third of the Cherokee Nation's 250,000 citizens live outside of Oklahoma. It is impossible to say how many freedmen live elsewhere, but when you travel Oklahoma's dirt and gravel roads, which partition the state into square-mile sections, you still encounter poor freedmen communities whose roots stretch back to the 19th century.

And at some traditional stomp dances, it is possible to find participants of various mixtures of Indian and African ancestry sharing the floor. Many people believe that freedmen have more connections to Africa than to the Five Tribes, Marilyn Vann observes, but they "know a lot more about a stomp dance, hog fry, and wild onion dinner than anything about Africa."

Next page: Should Congress use its plenary power to force tribes to admit freedmen?
Critics of the current citizenship policy point out that it is foolish to tie citizenship to the Dawes by-blood rolls. Not only was there a good deal of marriage between Indians and their slaves, but confused U.S. officials sometimes distinguished between the two merely by skin color. The line of inquiry pursued by Dawes commissioners could be both comical and disturbing. When Liza Parker applied to the Creek Nation in 1902, they questioned a freedman about Parker's appearance:

Q. What is the color of Liza?

A. She -- there she is.

Q. What blood?

A. Well, she shows some mixed.

Q. Mixed with colored?

A. Yes sir.

Q. Right much so, isn't it?

A. Well --

Q. More colored than Indian, ain't it?

A. No sir; more Indian than it is colored, if I have the say so.

Her application was denied.

Genealogists have even uncovered instances of siblings appearing on different Dawes rolls. Today, their descendants are distinguished as Indians or freedmen merely because of the capricious decision of a government agent in 1900. Despite these inconsistencies, in Allen v. Ummerteskee, the Cherokee Nation stands by its policy of discrimination, arguing that it has sovereign immunity, that stare decisis should prevent the Judicial Appeals Tribunal from overturning established precedent, that as a sovereign nation it can define citizenship as it sees fit.

Advocates for freedmen counter that this legal position obscures a serious injustice: the Cherokee Nation appears to be perpetuating the badge of slavery and denying the right to vote "on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude," thereby violating both the 13th and 15th amendments. Surely, they argue, such egregious violations of dearly held principles cannot exist in the heart of the United States.

Cherokees reject this argument. The discrimination against Allen exists not in the United States but in the Cherokee Nation, they rightly observe, where the U.S. Constitution has no bearing, except when Congress says otherwise.

Congress, in fact, could remedy the situation using its plenary power, or absolute and exclusive authority, over Indian nations. Established in the 1880s when the United States openly aspired to be a colonial empire, plenary power is rooted in the belief that white Americans have a moral obligation to civilize the world's darker races. Despite its objectionable origins, some scholars suggest that since Congress used plenary power to establish the Dawes Commission in the first place, it ought to use the same power to fix the mess it created a century ago.

Indian nations defend their sovereignty fiercely, however, and are understandably wary of even the slightest intrusion. When a regional officer with the Bureau of Indian Affairs asked the Cherokee Nation to explain why it barred freedmen from participating in a 2003 election, Principal Chief Chad Smith fired off an angry letter. "In this age of self-determination and self governance," he wrote, "I am shocked to find the contents and tone of your letter to be both patronizing and very paternalistic." If Congress wields its plenary power to extend tribal citizenship to freedmen, it would represent a frontal assault on Indian sovereignty.

To mount such an assault in the name of civil rights, using powers inherited from the golden age of colonialism, would be inconsistent, if not downright dishonest. History suggests that it would be safer to bet on the latter. When Congress broke up the Cherokees' communally owned land in the 1890s and distributed tracts to individual Cherokee citizens -- the better to teach them the value of private property -- freedmen received a share of the national domain along with everyone else. Because the land belonged to Indians, Congress was happy to offer freedmen the proverbial "forty acres and a mule"; it proved less generous when the land in question was owned by whites. Given this history, what right does Congress have to demand more of Indians today?

Moreover, by pitting African-Americans against Indians, Congress might even be accused of the bureaucratic equivalent of arming blacks to march against Indian towns, as colonists and federal officials did in the 18th and 19th centuries. (Completing the circle, colonists then paid Indians to hunt down fugitive slaves.)

The solution to this dilemma perhaps rests within the Cherokee Nation itself. Cherokee activist David Cornsilk, who drafted Allen's legal briefs, recognizes that Cherokees have a history of enslaving and segregating people of African descent. Yet he looks not to the United States for redress but to the Cherokee Nation. In a series of carefully crafted arguments in favor of enfranchising freedmen, Cornsilk invokes Cherokee history, Cherokee common law and the Cherokee Constitution.

The Cherokee tribal attorney, in his defense of the status quo, compares the Cherokee Nation to the United States in the Jim Crow era. "Social, economic, and moral changes" might allow for an eventual rethinking of legal precedent, he admits. "One has only to look at the evil of slavery and segregation and eventual Court reversals of some of the earlier oppressive decisions concerning the treatments of African Americans in the United States Courts. However, those changes have been made over time as the United States as a government, courts, and as the people changed."

But further inaction, Cornsilk argues, will only perpetuate injustice. "The racists in the United States and the Cherokee Nation have relied upon the passage of time, not to soften their views or accept as equals their Freedmen brothers and sisters," he observes, "but have instead calcified their resistance, passed oppressive laws and girded their forces against the citizenship rights of the black Cherokees."

"The sins of our dark past continue to haunt us," Cornsilk concludes, "and it is time for the Cherokee people to take the path we were intended and do what is right."

In the meantime, freedmen and Indians anxiously await a decision on Allen v. Ummerteskee. The Tribunal has considered and rejected other freedmen petitions in the past. What the future holds is anyone's guess.


About the writer
Claudio Saunt is an associate professor of history at the University of Georgia and the author of "Black, White, and Indian: Race and the Unmaking of an American Family," published in 2005 by Oxford University Press.

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By Peter Byrne


Saundra Hummer
February 21st, 2006, 09:18 PM
. . . . . . .

Older Population Could Force Retirement Age to 85

Bjorn Carey
LiveScience Staff Writer
Tue Feb 21, 10:00 AM ET

ST. LOUIS—A person entering the workforce today in America might face a much longer career than Mom and Dad.
Life expectancy in the United States is now around 78 years. But if anti-aging therapies prove to work as well for humans as they have for worms, flies, and mice in laboratories, by the year 2050 people might routinely reach the ripe old age of 120.

That could place a tremendous burden on the economy if people continue retiring at 65 or earlier.

The retirement age might have to be boosted to 85 to prevent economic collapse, figures Shripad Tuljapurkar of Stanford University.

Do the math

There are 285 million people in the United States, with the median age around 36. Every two people over the age of 65 depend on money garnered from the wages of 10 working people age 20 to 65.

If current trends continue, by 2050 the population will be 368 million, the median age will be 43, and there will be 3.6 people over 65 per 10 workers, Tuljapurkar explained here last week at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Those are the conservative estimates based on data from the last 50 years, when life expectancy increased by one-fifth of a year per year in industrialized countries.

What if ...

Scientists around the globe are racing to find aging cures. Some of the work on lab animals has shown great promise. One researcher envisions therapies will be developed over the next 25 years to extend life hundreds of years. Other scientists imagine more modest gains. Gradually, however, aging is being viewed by many as something that can be largely treated.

If anti-aging therapies come into play around 2010—and no one can accurately predict if they will—Tuljapurkar estimates that the U.S. population will run to 440 million people, a median age of 47, and 6.6 persons over 65 will rely on 10 workers.

"What you would need to do is have people retire somewhere between age 75 and 85," Tuljapurkar said.

Increasing the retirement age to 75 would still yield four retired persons per 10 workers in this scenario. A better solution, Tuljapurkar said, would be to have people retire at 85.

Ray Kurzweil Aims to Live Forever
Aging Cause Found in Mice, Could Help Humans
Life Expectancy in America Hits Record High
Hang in There: The 25-Year Wait for Immortality
Anti-Aging Prize Tops $1 Million

Visit LiveScience.com for more daily news, views and scientific inquiry with an original, provocative point of view. LiveScience reports amazing, real world breakthroughs, made simple and stimulating for people on the go. Check out our collection of Amazing Images, Image Galleries, Interactive Features, Trivia and more. Get cool gadgets at the new LiveScience Store, sign up for our free daily email newsletter and check out our RSS feeds today!


. . .

Saundra Hummer
February 21st, 2006, 09:53 PM

A popular Government, without popular information, or the means of acquiring it, is but a Prologue to a Farce or a Tragedy; or, perhaps both. Knowledge will forever govern ignorance: And a people who mean to be their own Governors, must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives. -- James Madison, letter to W.T. Barry 4 August 1822

Today the world is the victim of propaganda because people are not intellectually competent. More than anything the United States needs effective citizens competent to do their own thinking. -- William Mather Lewis - President ,George Washington University 1923 -1927

Enlighten the people generally, and tyranny and oppressions of body and mind will vanish like the evil spirits at the dawn of day. -- Thomas Jefferson, letter to Pierre S. du Pont de Nemours, 24 April 1816

Fortunately, many people would prefer to live a simple life in a good society than a life of riches and power in a horrible society. -- Randy Schutt, Inciting Democracy


Saundra Hummer
February 21st, 2006, 10:02 PM
. . .

Neocon architect says: 'Pull it down'

By Alex Massie

02/21/06 "The Scotsman" -- -- NEOCONSERVATISM has failed the United States and needs to be replaced by a more realistic foreign policy agenda, according to one of its prime architects.

Francis Fukuyama, who wrote the best-selling book The End of History and was a member of the neoconservative project, now says that, both as a political symbol and a body of thought, it has "evolved into something I can no longer support". He says it should be discarded on to history's pile of discredited ideologies.

In an extract from his forthcoming book, America at the Crossroads, Mr Fukuyama declares that the doctrine "is now in shambles" and that its failure has demonstrated "the danger of good intentions carried to extremes".

In its narrowest form, neoconservatism advocates the use of military force, unilaterally if necessary, to replace autocratic regimes with democratic ones.

Mr Fukuyama once supported regime change in Iraq and was a signatory to a 1998 letter sent by the Project for a New American Century to the then president, Bill Clinton, urging the US to step up its efforts to remove Saddam Hussein from power. It was also signed by neoconservative intellectuals, such as Bill Kristol and Robert Kagan, and political figures Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Perle and the current defence secretary, Donald Rumsfeld.

However, Mr Fukuyama now thinks the war in Iraq is the wrong sort of war, in the wrong place, at the wrong time.

"The most basic misjudgment was an overestimation of the threat facing the United States from radical Islamism," he argues.

"Although the new and ominous possibility of undeterrable terrorists armed with weapons of mass destruction did indeed present itself, advocates of the war wrongly conflated this with the threat presented by Iraq and with the rogue state/proliferation problem more generally."

Mr Fukuyama, one of the US's most influential public intellectuals, concludes that "it seems very unlikely that history will judge either the intervention [in Iraq] itself or the ideas animating it kindly".

Going further, he says the movements' advocates are Leninists who "believed that history can be pushed along with the right application of power and will. Leninism was a tragedy in its Bolshevik version, and it has returned as farce when practised by the United States".

Although Mr Fukuyama still supports the idea of democratic reform - complete with establishing the institutions of liberal modernity - in the Middle East, he warns that this process alone will not immediately reduce the threats and dangers the US faces. "Radical Islamism is a by-product of modernisation itself, arising from the loss of identity that accompanies the transition to a modern, pluralist society. More democracy will mean more alienation, radicalisation and - yes, unfortunately - terrorism," he says.

"By definition, outsiders can't 'impose' democracy on a country that doesn't want it; demand for democracy and reform must be domestic. Democracy promotion is therefore a long-term and opportunistic process that has to await the gradual ripening of political and economic conditions to be effective."


©2006 Scotsman.com

Saundra Hummer
February 22nd, 2006, 10:31 AM
. . . . . . .


Feb 22, 2006, 07:35

A written report from Secret Service agents guarding Vice President Dick Cheney when he shot Texas lawyer Harry Whittington on a hunting outing two weeks ago says Cheney was "clearly inebriated" at the time of the shooting.
Agents observed several members of the hunting party, including the Vice President, consuming alcohol before and during the hunting expedition, the report notes, and Cheney exhibited "visible signs" of impairment, including slurred speech and erratic actions, the report said.

According to those who have read the report and talked with others present at the outing, Cheney was drunk when he gunned down his friend and the day-and-a-half delay in allowing Texas law enforcement officials on the ranch where the shooting occurred gave all members of the hunting party time to sober up.

We talked with a number of administration officials who are privy to inside information on the Vice President's shooting "accident" and all admit Secret Service agents and others saw Cheney consume far more than the "one beer' he claimed he drank at lunch earlier that day.

"This was a South Texas hunt," says one White House aide. "Of course there was drinking. There's always drinking. Lots of it."

Cheney has a long history of alcohol abuse, including two convictions of driving under the influence when he was younger. Doctors tell me that someone like Cheney, who is taking blood thinners because of his history of heart attacks, could get legally drunk now after consuming just one drink.

If Cheney was legally drunk at the time of the shooting, he could be guilty of a felony under Texas law and the shooting, ruled an accident by a compliant Kenedy County Sheriff, would be a prosecutable offense.

But we will never know for sure because the owners of the Armstrong Ranch, where the shooting occurred, barred the sheriff's department from the property on the day of the shooting and Kenedy County Sheriff Ramon Salinas III agreed to wait until the next day to send deputies in to talk to those involved.

Sheriff's Captain Charles Kirk says he went to the Armstrong Ranch immediately after the shooting was reported on Saturday, February 11 but both he and a game warden were not allowed on the 50,000-acre property. He called Salinas who told him to forget about it and return to the station.

"I told him don't worry about it. I'll make a call," Salinas said. The sheriff claims he called another deputy who moonlights at the Armstrong ranch, said he was told it was "just an accident" and made the decision to wait until Sunday to investigate.

"We've known these people for years. They are honest and wouldn't call us, telling us a lie," Salinas said.

Like all elected officials in Kenedy County, Salinas owes his job to the backing and financial support of Katherine Armstrong, owner of the ranch and the county's largest employer.

"The Armstrongs rule Kenedy County like a fiefdom," says a former employee.

Secret Service officials also took possession of all tests on Whittington's blood at the hospitals where he was treated for his wounds. When asked if a blood alcohol test had been performed on Whittington, the doctors who treated him at Christus Spohn Hospital Memorial in Corpus Christi or the hospital in Kingsville refused to answer. One admits privately he was ordered by the Secret Service to "never discuss the case with the press."

It's a sure bet that is a private doctor who treated the victim of Cheney's reckless and drunken actions can't talk to the public then the memo that shows the Vice President was drunk as a skunk will never see the light of day.

© Copyright 2006 by Capitol Hill Blue


Saundra Hummer
February 22nd, 2006, 10:41 AM

Is the President above the law?

Feb 13, 2006, 07:33

Most of the news stories about the Meet the Press debate Sunday on President George W. Bush's domestic spying program centers on comments that both Democrats and Republicans now feel the program is useless because al Qaeda knows the NSA is listening and they won't use cell phones to discuss their plans.

But that's not the real story that came out of the Sunday's political circle jerk. The real story is that Pat Roberts, the arrogant Republican chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, told show host Tim Russert that he believes the President of the United States is above the law and can do whatever he damn well pleases.

Roberts, a staunch defender of Bush's right to spy on who he wants, whenever he wants and however he wants, told Russert that Bush can, and should, ignore the law when he feels it is in the best interest of national security.

That prompted Russert to ask:

"Senator Roberts, let me ask you a very serious question. Do you believe that the Constitution gives the President of the United States the authority to do anything he believes is necessary to protect the country?"

To which Roberts replied: "Yes."

Roberts later said he believed the President's authority was "above laws passed by Congress." In other words, George W. Bush is a dictator with absolute authority and no one, not the law and certainly not Congress, has the power to question or override that authority.

Stop for a second and think about this. The Senate Intelligence Committee, and its counterpart in the House, are the only Congressional bodies that are told -- and in most cases only in part -- what the White House is up to when it comes to spying on Americans, ripping the Constitution to shreds or trampling on the rights of this nation's citizens. And the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee believes the President has absolute power to do whatever he pleases with no Congressional oversight.

That smoke you smell is the Bill of Rights of the Constitution going up in flames. That pounding you may soon hear on your door is George W. Bush's Gestapo, the so-called Department of Homeland Security, demanding your papers and hauling you away because you dared speak out about der Fuhrer's policies.

If the rubber-stampers who are supposed to run things in Congress believe Bush is all powerful and his actions beyond reproach then America as a free nation ceased to exist the day these madmen took control of our government.

Roberts, like the other lemmings who appeared with him on Sunday, believes Bush's spying program is useless now not because it was illegal and questionable in value. He and other blame the press for making the program public.

In other words, we're the terrorists who threaten the absolute rule of their President, the man Roberts says is above the law.

As one of those who broke the story about Bush using the government to spy on Americans, I sincerely hope I did my part in undermining the program. And, until Dubya's goose-stepping goons haul me away I will continue to do whatever I can to undermine Bush's actions and authority.

Why? Because I'm an American -- or at least I was when there was still an America left to defend.


. . . . . . .

Saundra Hummer
February 22nd, 2006, 11:05 AM
. . . . . . .
Bush Unaware of Ports Deal Before Approval

Associated Press Writer
32 minutes ago

WASHINGTON - President Bush was unaware of the pending sale of shipping operations at six major U.S. seaports to a state-owned business in the United Arab Emirates until the deal already had been approved by his administration, the White House said Wednesday.

Defending the deal anew, the administration also said that it should have briefed Congress sooner about the transaction, which has triggered a major political backlash among both Republicans and Democrats.

Bush on Tuesday brushed aside objections by leaders in the Senate and House that the $6.8 billion sale could raise risks of terrorism at American ports. In a forceful defense of his administration's earlier approval of the deal, he pledged to veto any bill Congress might approve to block the agreement involving the sale of a British company to the Arab firm.

Bush faces a rebellion from leaders of his own party, as well as from Democrats, about the deal that would put Dubai Ports in charge of major shipping operations in New York, New Jersey, Baltimore, New Orleans, Miami and Philadelphia.

While Bush has adamantly defended the deal, the White House acknowledged that he did not know about it until recently.

"He became aware of it over the last several days," McClellan said. Asked if Bush did not know about it until it was a done deal, McClellan said, "That's correct." He said the matter did not rise to the presidential level, but went through a congressionally-mandated review process and was determined not to pose a national security threat.

"The president made sure to check with all the Cabinet secretaries that are part of this process, or whose agencies or departments are part of this process," the spokesman said. "He made sure to check with them — even after this got more attention in the press, to make sure that they were comfortable with the decision that was made."

"And every one of the Cabinet secretaries expressed that they were comfortable with this transaction being approved," he said.

Commerce Secretary Carlos Guiterrez, told The Associated Press in an interview: "They are not in charge of security. We are not turning over the security of our ports. When people make statements like that you get an instant emotional reaction."

The sale's harshest critics were not appeased.

"I will fight harder than ever for this legislation, and if it is vetoed I will fight as hard as I can to override it," said Rep. Pete King, R-N.Y., chairman of the Homeland Security Committee. King and Democratic Sen. Charles Schumer (news, bio, voting record) of New York said they will introduce emergency legislation to suspend the ports deal.

Another Democrat, Sen. Bob Menendez of New Jersey, urged his colleagues to force Bush to wield his veto, which Bush — in his sixth year in office — has never done. "We should really test the resolve of the president on this one because what we're really doing is securing the safety of our people."

McClellan dismissed any connection between the deal and David Sanborn of Virginia, a former senior DP World executive whom the White House appointed last month to be the new administrator of the Maritime Administration of the Transportation Department. Sanborn worked as DP World's director of operations for Europe and Latin America.

"My understanding is that he has assured us that he was not involved in the negotiations to purchase this British company," McClellan added.

"In terms of David Sanborn, he was nominated to run the Maritime Administration because of his experience and expertise," the spokesman said. Sanborn is a graduate of the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy. He is an operations professional.

Earlier, several lawmakers determined to capsize the pending sale said they would not be deterred by Bush's veto threat.

Sen. Joseph Biden (news, bio, voting record), D-Del., said the bipartisan opposition to the deal indicated "a lack of confidence in the administration" on both sides. "Sure, we have to link up with our Arab friends but ... we want to see and those in Congress want to know what ... safeguards are built in," Biden said on ABC's "Good Morning America."

Bush's veto threat sought to quiet a political storm that has united Republican governors and Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist of Tennessee with liberal Democrats, including New York Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton and Schumer.

To assuage concerns, the administration disclosed some assurances it negotiated with Dubai Ports. It required mandatory participation in U.S. security programs to stop smuggling and detect illegal shipments of nuclear materials; roughly 33 other port companies participate in these voluntarily. The Coast Guard also said it was nearly finished inspecting Dubai Ports' facilities in the United States.

Frist said Tuesday, before Bush's comments, that he would introduce legislation to put the sale on hold if the White House did not delay the takeover. He said the deal raised "serious questions regarding the safety and security of our homeland.

House Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., asked the president for a moratorium on the sale until it could be studied further. "We must not allow the possibility of compromising our national security due to lack of review or oversight by the federal government," Hastert said.

Bush took the rare step of calling reporters to his conference room on Air Force One after returning from a speech in Colorado. He also stopped to talk before television cameras after he returned to the White House.

He said that members of Congress "need to know that our government has looked at this issue and looked at it carefully."

A senior executive from Dubai Ports World pledged the company would agree to whatever security precautions the U.S. government demanded to salvage the deal. Chief operating officer Edward "Ted" H. Bilkey promised Dubai Ports "will fully cooperate in putting into place whatever is necessary to protect the terminals."

Lawmakers from both parties have noted that some of the Sept. 11 hijackers used the United Arab Emirates as an operational and financial base. In addition, critics contend the UAE was an important transfer point for shipments of smuggled nuclear components sent to Iran, North Korea and Libya by a Pakistani scientist.

. . . . . . .

Associated Press writers Ben Feller, Will Lester, Terence Hunt, and Devlin Barrett in Washington, Matthew Verrinder in Newark, N.J., and Tom Stuckey in Annapolis, Md., contributed to this report.


Go on-site to view links, etc.

Saundra Hummer
February 22nd, 2006, 11:53 AM
. . . . . . .

When stamping 'secret' goes too far

Commentary > Opinion
from the February 22, 2006 edition

If too little information is shared or made public, no one can make informed decisions.
By Lee H. Hamilton

WASHINGTON – It has been over one year since Congress passed the Intelligence Reform Act, the largest restructuring of our national security agencies in half a century. As the law is implemented, we must overcome entrenched bureaucratic trends. Perhaps most entrenched is our tendency toward secrecy and overclassification.
Estimates of classified documents reach into the trillions, and the trends are toward more - not less - secrecy. In 1994, there were 4 million national security classification decisions made; in 2003, there were 15 million. The Information Security Oversight Office declassified 100 million pages of documents in 2001, but only 28 million in 2004. Requests filed by the media and the public under the Freedom of Information Act are routinely rejected or mysteriously delayed. Although the law calls for FOIA requests to receive a response within 20 days, the norm is significantly higher. Several senior officials have estimated that 50 percent of classified information does not need to remain secret. During our work on the 9/11 Commission, chairman Tom Kean - not accustomed to dealing with classified material - asked me scores of times: Why is this material classified? I never had a satisfactory answer.

Why is this the case? Our government has always adhered to a "need to know" principle when dealing with information, compartmentalizing who is permitted to see what, and what information will be made available to the public. Some of this is for good reason - sources and methods of collection, for instance, must be protected. But all the incentives run toward secrecy: You can get in trouble for mistakenly disseminating information, but you cannot get in trouble for stamping something secret. You might say the motto is: When in doubt, classify.

Why is this a problem? To begin with, as we suggested on the 9/11 Commission, the "need to know" principle must be balanced against a "need to share" principle. A post-9/11 reality should not simply mean classifying more information; the lesson of 9/11 is that we must share more information, because the American people can be as hurt by the failure to share information as they can by the disclosure of secrets. That does not mean doing away with "need to know." It means recalibrating the balance between secrecy and sharing.

To make full use of the information we collect, information must be shared horizontally, across intelligence agencies; vertically, within each agency; and, when possible, outwardly, to the American public. Of what use is a piece of intelligence collected by the FBI if it cannot be fitted with another piece of the puzzle within the CIA or Department of Homeland Security, or from another FBI Field Office? Of what use is a warning of an attack if it does not reach the public?

Second, by classifying less information, we can focus resources on the secrets that must be kept. To paraphrase the late Justice Potter Stewart, when everything is classified, nothing is classified. If everything has a "Secret" stamp on it, the value of that stamp is debased, people become less careful in their handling of information, and more secrets are leaked. At our current rate, secrecy has too high a price: It has cost the public $7 billion since 2001 alone.

Third, overclassification harms public debate. The 9/11 Commission Report's impact is in part attributable to its unique level of declassification; without that full, unvarnished story of 9/11, the American people would not have been galvanized for reform, and the Intelligence Reform Act would likely not have taken place. Conversely, when too little information is made public, the public lacks the facts for informed judgment, and support for policies is shallow. Those controlling information are tempted to use it to control the debate. Malfeasance in the shadows of government is not ferreted out, and constructive input - from the media, academia, and citizens - is less probable.

In short, secrecy leaves us less prepared to face the great challenges of the day. What if, before 9/11, information about Al Qaeda was more widely shared within the government? What if, before 9/11, the public was more informed of the warnings of terrorist attacks within the government? Armed with information, people might have been more alert.

The government must conduct some work in the shadows; paradoxically in a democratic society, some secrets must be kept to protect democracy. But we need more incentives for information sharing, more rapid systems of declassification, and more public understanding of what our government does and does not do. That is the core of representative democracy and good government. We need that national security official to pause before stamping something secret, and to consider the ramifications of not disseminating information.

• Lee H. Hamilton, who spent 34 years in Congress and was chairman of the then House Committee on Foreign Affairs, was vice chairman of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States - the 9/11 Commission. He is currently president and director of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.

from the February 22, 2006 edition
Also, go on-site to CSM to read about the united vigil and works to free CSM journalist Jill Carroll. Read the thread about her here on AAJ, and write and call in to anyone you believe can help in gaining her release. I've furnished two sites addresses, both of which are in the Middle East. Thankfully Muslim and Arab countries are asking she be freed unharmed as well.


Saundra Hummer
February 22nd, 2006, 01:12 PM
* * * * * * *

Rumsfeld Declares War on Bad Press
From Inter Press Service,
February 22, 2006
By Emad Mekay
Pentagon chief Donald Rumsfeld has signaled that he plans to intensify a campaign to influence global media coverage of the United States, a move that is likely to heighten the debate over press freedom and propaganda-free reporting.

Speaking at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York last week, Rumsfeld said that Washington will launch a new drive to spread and defend U.S. views, especially in the so-called war on terror.
He cited the Cold War-era initiatives of the U.S. Information Agency and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, widely viewed outside the United States as sophisticated propaganda outlets, as a model for the new offensive.

If similar efforts over the past five years are any example, the campaign is likely to take place in two main areas — the U.S. media and the press in the Arab and Muslim worlds, where Washington sees its strategic influence as pivotal.

On Tuesday, Rumsfeld also said that the Pentagon is “reviewing” its practice of paying to plant good news stories in the Iraqi news media, contradicting a previous assertion that the controversial propaganda programme had been halted.

Critics here say the new media blitz joins a long list of decisions by the George W. Bush administration, such as ordering the National Security Agency to spy on U.S. citizens without warrants, monitoring library records, and compiling databases on U.S. citizens who disagree with the administration’s policies, that are leading the country down an authoritarian path — ironically, one that is not far from those Middle Eastern regimes that have long clamped down on freedom of expression and independent journalism.

And they note that the U.S. mainstream media already tends towards a conservative interpretation of events, with scant regard for opposing views.

According to a study released this month by the U.S.-based media organisation Media Matters for America, conservative voices have considerably outnumbered liberal voices for the past nine years on the Sunday morning television news shows, considered among the pinnacles of U.S. journalism.

The report analysed the content of influential shows such as NBC’s Meet the Press, CBS’ Face the Nation, and ABC’s This Week. It classified each of the nearly 7,000 guests who appeared during the 1997-2005 period as either Democrat, Republican, conservative, progressive, or neutral.

It found that guests opposing the Bush administration’s policies, during both terms, were given only enough space to maintain a veneer of fairness and accuracy. Congressional opponents of the Iraq war, for example, were mostly missing from the Sunday shows, particularly during the period just before the war began in March 2003.

“If conservative dominance in this major arena of (U.S.) public opinion-making continues as it has in the past nine years, it may have serious consequences for future policy debates and elections,” said David Brock, president of the Washington-based NGO Media Matters for America.

“This study should serve as a wake-up call to anyone who thinks they are seeing balanced discourse on Sunday mornings — and to those responsible for producing this imbalanced programming,” he said.

Rumsfeld’s plan would almost certainly seek to bolster such sympathetic reporting. In his speech, the U.S. military chief used war terminology to refer to the media.

He said that “some of the most critical battles may not be in the mountains of Afghanistan or the streets of Iraq, but in newsrooms — in places like New York, London, Cairo, and elsewhere.”

According to Jim Naureckas, editor of Extra!, a magazine put out by the media watchdog group Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR), “They see the mutilation of information that reaches the public as a key part of their war strategy, and I think that is a very dangerous way for the military to be looking at their job in a democracy.”

“When people talk about the ‘home front’ they do not realise what sinister implications that has. The public is seen as another front that the military is fighting out.”

Rumsfeld recommended that the media be part of every move in the so-called war on terror, including an increase in Internet operations, the establishment of 24-hour press operations centres, and training military personnel in other channels of communication.

He said the government would work to hire more media experts from the private sector and that there will be less emphasis on the print press.

The State Department, under Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, is also stepping up its propaganda efforts. Last week, Rice asked for 74 million dollars to expand broadcasting and internet campaigns in Iran, as well as to promote student exchanges, in order to destabilise the regime there.

But to many independent media analysts, the Bush administration has too often confused propaganda with facts and information.

“I think that in the Pentagon world view, facts become instrumentalised,” Naureckas said. “The point of putting out information is to achieve your military objectives. It’s not to serve truth in some kind of abstract sense. And once you start looking at it this way, the difference between a true statement and false statement really becomes very little.”

The Bush administration has had some success in influencing the media at home in the United States, a country with generally sophisticated and discerning media operations.

Last week, U.S. lawmaker Henry Waxman and other senior Democratic leaders released a new study by the Government Accountability Office, a Congressional oversight body, which found that the Bush administration spent a whopping 1.6 billion dollars in public relations and media over the last two and a half years to sway public opinion.

“The government is spending over a billion dollars per year on PR and advertising,” said Congressman Waxman. “Careful oversight of this spending is essential given the track record of the Bush administration, which has used taxpayer dollars to fund covert propaganda within the United States.”

The opposition Democrats had asked the GAO to conduct that study after evidence emerged last year that the Bush administration had commissioned “covert propaganda” from public relations firms that pushed video news releases that appeared to regular viewers as independent newscasts.

The report found that the administration’s public relations and advertising contracts spanned a wide range of issues, including message development presenting “the Army’s strategic perspective in the Global War on Terrorism”.

The study found that the Pentagon spent the most on media contracts, with contracts worth 1.1 billion dollars. And all that money was before the new Rumsfeld plan.

This article is from Inter Press Service. If you found it informative and valuable, we strongly encourage you to visit their website and register an account to view all their articles on the web. Support quality journalism.

This article relates to: Issues Campaigns
Stop News Fraud
Taxpayer-funded propaganda must be stopped.
War on the Press
War on the Press


. . . . .

Saundra Hummer
February 22nd, 2006, 01:18 PM
. . . . . . .

The Devil Is in the Lack of Details: The Defense Department’s Media Contracts

From Center for Media and Democracy,
February 22, 2006
By Diane Farsetta

Although they’ve done their best to keep their spinning from public scrutiny, several major incidents have exposed the Bush administration’s manipulation of news media: The “sell job” for the invasion of Iraq.

Payola pundits Armstrong Williams, Maggie Gallagher and Michael McManus. Stooge “reporter” Jeff Gannon / James Guckert. Video news releases determined to be covert propaganda by the nonpartisan Government Accountability Office (GAO).

Each time, concerned citizens, media critics and watchdog groups like the Center for Media and Democracy have called for a full accounting of the government’s use (and misuse) of public relations techniques and contractors. And, slowly, more information has surfaced — though nothing approaching the transparency a healthy democracy requires.

On February 13, the GAO released a 160-page report on the recent media contracts of seven federal departments. The data on government contracts with private PR firms, ad agencies, media companies and individual reporters is another piece in the propaganda puzzle.

However, the GAO report should be read with several caveats in mind. It is based on self-reporting by the departments, and their information was not independently verified. The private contractors are not named, and whether they had subcontractors is not indicated. Contract descriptions are brief and often vague. The products generated under the contracts — the “deliverables” — are not listed. The PR activities of government employees are not included. And what about the eight other cabinet-level departments and the independent federal agencies?

Still, the report provides the first serious narrative of government media activities since the U.S. House Committee on Government Reform detailed federal PR spending in January 2005. Taken together, these two accounts make clear that the amount of taxpayer dollars going to private PR firms has increased significantly over the last several years.

The Wages of Spin

During the second Clinton term (calendar years 1997 through the end of 2000), government PR contracts averaged $32 million per year. Over the first Bush term (calendar years 2001 through 2004), PR spending averaged $62.5 million annually. From fiscal year 2003 to mid-fiscal year 2005, an average of $78.8 million went to private PR firms per year — from just seven federal departments.

In short, Bush not only doubled PR spending relative to Clinton, but he keeps increasing the size of the propaganda pot. As the House Committee on Government Reform report concluded last year, “While not all public relations spending is illegal or inappropriate, this rapid rise in public relations contracts at a time of growing budget deficits raises questions about the priorities of the Administration.”
U.S. Government PR Spending, 1997 — 2004

During this steady expansion of PR budgets, there have been two spikes, according to data from the House Government Reform Committee .

In 1999, several agencies, including the U.S. Mint, Transportation, and Health and Human Services Departments, saw a one-year boost in PR spending. In contrast, the 2003 to 2004 surge was almost totally fueled by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). CMS’s contracts with private PR firms ballooned from $2.5 million in 2002, to $31.2 million in 2003, to $55.9 million in 2004. Judged by the ongoing, widespread confusion and frustration with the new Medicare drug plan, these tens of millions of dollars weren’t well spent.

According to the House committee data, the Defense Department, Army and Navy are almost reticent in their PR activities, together spending $10.8 million from 2001 through 2004. However, the GAO paints a very different picture of the big media spenders. The Pentagon is the media fiend, according to the GAO report, responsible for $1.1 billion of the $1.6 billion in federal media contracts over 30 months.

This discrepancy is mostly due to the GAO’s inclusion of all media contracts — not just for PR, but also for advertising, media buys, website development, press releases and the like. But several big-ticket Pentagon media contracts listed in the GAO report that read like classic PR jobs are “missing firm data” — and therefore not classified according to contractor type. These include training Army Public Affairs Officers, developing “briefing products and input documents,” and conducting “message development” and “news story development.”

If even some of these unclassified contracts were with PR firms, then the GAO report underestimates the Pentagon’s PR spending, perhaps significantly. And there are other reasons why the Defense Department’s media contracts warrant closer scrutiny.

Major Information Operations

News accounts of the GAO report, as well as a press release put out by the members of Congress who requested the study, mentioned some of the smaller Pentagon contracts. It is easy to understand why an Air Force-sponsored “Stars and Strikes” bowling tournament, Coca-Cola branded “victory T-shirts,” NASCAR promotion ads, or embroidered golf towels for youth tournaments might catch a reporter’s eye. But among the sea of small and carefully detailed contracts are a few major efforts described just well enough to raise eyebrows.

One such contract — unclassified as to contractor type — entailed “extensive research … for message development that presents the Army’s strategic perspective in the Global War on Terrorism.” Worth $2.5 million from 2003 to 2005, the contract included “developing communications plans … and conducting analysis regarding the most effective way to respond to issues raised by the key stakeholders and by influencers.” A similar $1.1 million PR contract in 2005 involved “media pitches, speakers service and bureau, and news story development in support of Soldiers in the Global War on Terror.”

Another contract — again “missing firm data” — was for “a senior analyst to analyze the perceptions, activities, and events surrounding the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation and assist in developing public affairs plans for other Army personnel issues.” The Army paid nearly $300,000 for this analyst, between 2004 and 2005.

The analyst’s work appears to be part of the “Strategic Communications Campaign Plan” drawn up in mid-2002 for the Army’s Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (WHINSEC, formerly called the School of the Americas). The WHINSEC PR plan (available via our SourceWatch article on the Institute) budgeted $246,000 for one contractor, one webmaster, media monitoring software, transport and printing.

As I reported previously, after three years of WHINSEC’s “consistent, programmed, proactive public affairs effort in direct support of the Institute,” the Army could claim partial success. Media coverage of WHINSEC did not improve, and Congressional attempts to close the Institute actually gained support. But attempts to build “third-party (non-Army) public support” bore fruit, as exemplified by Human Rights Watch giving its first-ever WHINSEC lecture during the Institute’s August 2005 “Human Rights Week.”

Also listed in the new GAO report is the Defense Department’s “Mullen Advertising Contract,” worth $47.6 million from 2003 to 2005. That work included direct mail, “media relation services” and websites associated with JAMRS, the Joint Advertising Market Research and Studies program. JAMRS uses polls, surveys, campus campaigns, marketing data and analyses to increase recruiting and retention rates for all branches of the military.

One JAMRS website contains a presentation explaining how to use “marketing segmentation capabilities” to “understand and improve military recruiting efforts.” According to the presentation, the “lifestyle characteristics of the high performing segments” — that is, the people most likely to join the military — include buying fishing equipment, hunting and reading Car Craft. They do not make a “conscious effort to recycle,” “contribute to PBS,” or read the Wall Street Journal.

Other military recruiting contracts listed in the GAO report include “traditional and nontraditional media” outreach for the Marines, “prospect relationship management” for the Navy, and promotional videos, books and calendars for the Air Force. Rounding out the more expensive, more involved and more provocative Pentagon media contracts are those supporting two major outreach efforts, America Supports You and Operation Tribute to Freedom.

As Laura Miller reported previously for PR Watch, the AmericaSupportsYou.mil website was launched in November 2004 and mentioned by President Bush during a June 2005 national address at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. After examining the website, Miller asked, “Could the site be nothing more than another Pentagon attempt to boost public support for war and distract the public’s attention away from criticisms?”

The GAO report’s revelation that the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense paid a PR firm more than $1.3 million between 2004 and 2005 to design and execute “America Supports You” suggests that the answer to Miller’s question is yes. The America Supports You contract included “planning, branding development and message promotion,” “outreach events and partnership development” and “design and implementation of media, marketing, and advertising programs, including related collateral material.”

Operation Tribute to Freedom (OTF), according to its website, “refuses to leave a Soldier’s story untold. By working with Army Public Affairs Offices … OTF identifies ongoing media, speaking, and recognition opportunities to ensure that homecomings last longer than one day and that American Soldiers stay connected with the American public. … Operation Tribute to Freedom will help the American people better understand the Global War on Terrorism — one Soldier’s story at a time.”

With its Soldiers News Service, Speakers Service, Recognition Events, and Soldier Homecomings, OTF parallels the U.S. Committee on Public Information’s (CPI) propaganda efforts during World War I. CPI recruited “Four-Minute Men” — volunteers who gave brief pro-war speeches “wherever they could get an audience — in movie theaters, churches, synagogues, and labor union, lodge, and grange halls.”

Like the Four-Minute Men, veterans of the current wars in Iraq and Afghanistan who register on the OTF website are provided with suggested scripts for their talks. OTF’s Black History Month Speech begins, “I’m honored to be speaking here at [name of event] and to have a chance to reflect on the rich heritage of African Americans.” Ignoring the civil rights leader’s anti-war stance, the OTF speech includes a quote from the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.: “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”

According to the GAO report, the Army gave private media firms more than $1.4 million in 2004 to get Operation Tribute to Freedom off the ground. A PR firm was paid $1.1 million, to “augment the Army Public Affairs, Outreach Division, staff in the execution and support of the program Operation Tribute to Freedom.” Another contract, worth more than $292,000, involved constructing websites for OTF and for “an internal Army command information Web site.”

Propaganda, Propaganda Everywhere

The United States is facing not only “growing budget deficits,” as the House committee report noted, but also multiple wars overseas, natural disasters at home, a shaky economy, and shrinking resources for such basic infrastructure as education and health care. It is against this background — and, likely, because of it — that federal spending on PR firms and other media contractors is increasing.

Are these expenditures warranted? Are they in keeping with existing U.S. laws against domestic “publicity or propaganda” campaigns? The Bush administration’s record of dealing with these questions does not inspire confidence.

With regard to video news releases, the GAO ruled repeatedly that segments not announcing their government source to viewers are illegal covert propaganda. “The publicity or propaganda restriction helps to mark the boundary between an agency making information available to the public and agencies creating news reports unbeknownst to the receiving audience,” the GAO wrote. The administration, through the Justice Department and the Office of Management and Budget, directed federal agencies to ignore the GAO rulings.

The Bush administration has also eroded once-sacrosanct prohibitions against exposing domestic audiences to propaganda intended for foreign audiences. In December 2005, the Pentagon’s inspector general ruled that news websites run by U.S. military regional commands in Southeastern Europe and North Africa do not violate U.S. law — though their content is readily available to U.S. web surfers. In January 2006, the National Security Archive declassified the Defense Department’s 2003 “Information Operations Roadmap.” The heavily-redacted document admits, “Information intended for foreign audiences, including public diplomacy and PSYOP, increasingly is consumed by our domestic audience and vice-versa.” However, the roadmap asserts that propagandizing U.S. audiences is permissible, as long as that was not the government’s intent.

Intent is notoriously hard to prove, and propaganda is propaganda. News media are not playthings to be shaped for political gain, but bedrocks of democracy. The U.S. government must make public detailed information on all its PR and other media work, and Congress must revisit the “publicity or propaganda” restrictions in light of the modern information environment. Otherwise, the U.S. public will find itself in a similar situation as the Iraqi public — discounting news items favorable to the U.S. government as likely products of propaganda campaigns.

This article is from Center for Media and Democracy. If you found it informative and valuable, we strongly encourage you to visit their website and register an account to view all their articles on the web. Support quality journalism.


. . .

Saundra Hummer
February 22nd, 2006, 01:26 PM
. . . . . . .

U.S. Intelligence Agencies Reclassify Many Documents in Secret Review

From Free Internet Press,
February 22, 2006

In a seven-year-old secret program at the National Archives, intelligence agencies have been removing from public access thousands of historical documents that were available for years, including some already published by the State Department and others photocopied years ago by private historians.

The restoration of classified status to more than 55,000 previously declassified pages began in 1999, when the Central Intelligence Agency and five other agencies objected to what they saw as a hasty release of sensitive information after a 1995 declassification order signed by President Bill Clinton. It accelerated after the Bush administration took office and especially after the 2001 terrorist attacks, according to archives records.

Because the reclassification program is itself shrouded in secrecy — governed by a still-classified memorandum that prohibits the National Archives even from saying which agencies are involved — it continued virtually without outside notice until December. That was when an intelligence historian, Matthew M. Aid, noticed that dozens of documents he had copied years ago had been withdrawn from the archives’ open shelves.

Aid was struck by what seemed to him the innocuous contents of the documents — mostly decades-old State Department reports from the Korean War and the early cold war. He found that eight reclassified documents had been previously published in the State Department’s history series, “Foreign Relations of the United States.”

“The stuff they pulled should never have been removed,” he said. “Some of it is mundane, and some of it is outright ridiculous.”

After Aid and other historians complained, the archives’ Information Security Oversight Office, which oversees government classification, began an audit of the reclassification program, said J. William Leonard, director of the office.

Leonard said he ordered the audit after reviewing 16 withdrawn documents and concluding that none should be secret.

“If those sample records were removed because somebody thought they were classified, I’m shocked and disappointed,” Leonard said in an interview. “It just boggles the mind.”

If Leonard finds that documents are being wrongly reclassified, his office could not unilaterally release them. But as the chief adviser to the White House on classification, he could urge a reversal or a revision of the reclassification program.

A group of historians, including representatives of the National Coalition for History and the Society of Historians of American Foreign Relations, wrote to Leonard on Friday to express concern about the reclassification program, which they believe has blocked access to some material at the presidential libraries as well as at the archives.

Among the 50 withdrawn documents that Aid found in his own files is a 1948 memorandum on a C.I.A. scheme to float balloons over countries behind the Iron Curtain and drop propaganda leaflets. It was reclassified in 2001 even though it had been published by the State Department in 1996.

Another historian, William Burr, found a dozen documents he had copied years ago whose reclassification he considers “silly,” including a 1962 telegram from George F. Kennan, then ambassador to Yugoslavia, containing an English translation of a Belgrade newspaper article on China’s nuclear weapons program.

Under existing guidelines, government documents are supposed to be declassified after 25 years unless there is particular reason to keep them secret. While some of the choices made by the security reviewers at the archives are baffling, others seem guided by an old bureaucratic reflex: to cover up embarrassments, even if they occurred a half-century ago.

One reclassified document in Aid’s files, for instance, gives the C.I.A.’s assessment on Oct. 12, 1950, that Chinese intervention in the Korean War was “not probable in 1950.” Just two weeks later, on Oct. 27, some 300,000 Chinese troops crossed into Korea.

Aid said he believed that because of the reclassification program, some of the contents of his 22 file cabinets might technically place him in violation of the Espionage Act, a circumstance that could be shared by scores of other historians. But no effort has been made to retrieve copies of reclassified documents, and it is not clear how they all could even be located.

“It doesn’t make sense to create a category of documents that are classified but that everyone already has,” said Meredith Fuchs, general counsel of the National Security Archive, a research group at George Washington University. “These documents were on open shelves for years.”

The group plans to post Aid’s reclassified documents and his account of the secret program on its Website, which can be found here, on Tuesday.

The program’s critics do not question the notion that wrongly declassified material should be withdrawn. Aid said he had been dismayed to see “scary” documents in open files at the National Archives, including detailed instructions on the use of high explosives.

But the historians say the program is removing material that can do no conceivable harm to national security. They say it is part of a marked trend toward greater secrecy under the Bush administration, which has increased the pace of classifying documents, slowed declassification and discouraged the release of some material under the Freedom of Information Act.

Experts on government secrecy believe the C.I.A. and other spy agencies, not the White House, are the driving force behind the reclassification program.

“I think it’s driven by the individual agencies, which have bureaucratic sensitivities to protect,” said Steven Aftergood of the Federation of American Scientists, editor of the online weekly Secrecy News. “But it was clearly encouraged by the administration’s overall embrace of secrecy.”

National Archives officials said the program had revoked access to 9,500 documents, more than 8,000 of them since President Bush took office. About 30 reviewers — employees and contractors of the intelligence and defense agencies — are at work each weekday at the archives complex in College Park, Md., the officials said.

Archives officials could not provide a cost for the program but said it was certainly in the millions of dollars, including more than $1 million to build and equip a secure room where the reviewers work.

Michael J. Kurtz, assistant archivist for record services, said the National Archives sought to expand public access to documents whenever possible but had no power over the reclassifications. “The decisions agencies make are those agencies’ decisions,” Kurtz said.

Though the National Archives are not allowed to reveal which agencies are involved in the reclassification, one archivist said on condition of anonymity that the C.I.A. and the Defense Intelligence Agency were major participants.

A spokesman for the C.I.A., Paul Gimigliano, said that the agency had released 26 million pages of documents to the National Archives since 1998 and that it was “committed to the highest quality process” for deciding what should be secret.

“Though the process typically works well, there will always be the anomaly, given the tremendous amount of material and multiple players involved,” Gimigliano said.

A spokesman for the Defense Intelligence Agency said he was unable to comment on whether his agency was involved in the program.

Anna K. Nelson, a foreign policy historian at American University, said she and other researchers had been puzzled in recent years by the number of documents pulled from the archives with little explanation.

“I think this is a travesty,” said Dr. Nelson, who said she believed that some reclassified material was in her files. “I think the public is being deprived of what history is really about: facts.”

The document removals have not been reported to the Information Security Oversight Office, as the law has required for formal reclassifications since 2003.

The explanation, said Leonard, the head of the office, is a bureaucratic quirk. The intelligence agencies take the position that the reclassified documents were never properly declassified, even though they were reviewed, stamped “declassified,” freely given to researchers and even published, he said.

Thus, the agencies argue, the documents remain classified — and pulling them from public access is not really reclassification.

Leonard said he believed that while that logic might seem strained, the agencies are technically correct, but he said the complaints about the secret program, which prompted his decision to conduct an audit, showed that the government’s system for deciding what should be secret is deeply flawed.

“This is not a very efficient way of doing business,” Leonard said. “There’s got to be a better way.”.

This article is from Free Internet Press. If you found it informative and valuable, we strongly encourage you to visit their website and register an account to view all their articles on the web. Support quality journalism


. . . . . . .

Saundra Hummer
February 22nd, 2006, 01:53 PM
. . . . . . .

Watchdogs Urge Full Probe of Bush Propaganda Spending

From OneWorld U.S.,
February 21, 2006
By Niko Kyriakou

Media reform groups are calling for a deeper investigation of Bush administration advertising and propaganda efforts following the release of a report that concludes the White House has spun a web of public relations (PR) contracts larger than previously thought.

At issue are agreements to produce everything from advertisements to video news releases—government-vetted spots designed to air alongside and to be indistinguishable from regular televised news reports.

Critics of the state-sponsored content said it constitutes part of a broader government attack on press freedom and that it amounts to a subversion of democracy.

”When elected public servants use taxpayer dollars to manipulate or deceive the very people whose consent they require for their legitimacy, our public servants then become our masters,” said Sanho Tree, a fellow at the Washington, D.C.-based Institute for Policy Studies.

The official Government Accountability Office (GAO) reported last week that government agencies have spent about $1.6 billion over the past 30 months on PR and advertising contracts. Investigators said they found no breach of the law and added that all spent funds came from the agencies’ budgets.

The document overlooked considerable government spending to cast President George W. Bush’s policies in a favorable light, media reformists said, because it covered neither all types of PR spending nor all federal agencies.

”We need a full accounting of the Bush administration’s spending on advertising, PR, and fake news,” said Craig Aaron of advocacy group Free Press. ”It’s time for Congress to reclaim its constitutional role as a counterweight to the executive branch and permanently cut off funding for covert propaganda. We must ensure that taxpayer money isn’t being spent by the White House to secretly manipulate the American public.”

The administration’s drive to shore up popular support for its self-styled ”war on terror” and to keep up armed forces recruitment appears to have fuelled the spending, according to Diane Farsetta of the Center for Media and Democracy, publisher of the quarterly PR Watch.

Of the $1.6 billion total outlined in the GAO report, the Pentagon spent $1.1 billion—much of it on recruitment, Farsetta said.

The U.S. Army has failed to meet recruiting targets despite increasing the proportion of those accepted with problems in their background, the Baltimore Sun newspaper reported last week.

In all, 73,000 men and women joined the Army last year, down from 77,000 in 2004, the daily said, adding that the Army reached its recruiting goal in 2004 but fell about 7,000 recruits short last year.

To be sure, there is nothing new or unique about the Bush administration spending money to recruit warriors, said propaganda expert and author Nancy Snow.

”Historically, propaganda has always merged with recruitment because people must first be conditioned to become soldiers and fight strangers in distant lands,” Snow said. ”It’s not a natural condition but must be manipulated to get people to join unpopular realities.”

That kind of spending likely will remain largely hidden and is unlikely to shrink without public pressure for transparency and budget cuts, she said.

”The activities of these groups [contracted companies] should be out in the open, but unless and until the public clamors for hearings on the subject, we’ll have to settle for occasional op-eds and white papers that have a short shelf life.”

For its report last week, the GAO surveyed seven of 15 government agencies and relied on self-reported information from them, critics said. The GAO did not mention task orders on existing contracts, subcontracts, or PR work done by government staffers without the use of outside contractors, and failed to investigate those agencies responsible for scandals that initially sparked the investigation, they added.

But the Interior Department, the only one to respond to the report, said the GAO incorrectly flagged a number of legitimate contracts, for example ones covering the production of brochures and exhibits for National Parks.

Congressional Democrats requested the GAO study last year after two scandals emerged.

The first involved several government departments issuing illegal video news releases produced by outside firms to promote department initiatives. The second involved revelations, followed by an official acknowledgement, that the Bush administration had paid journalists Armstrong Williams and Maggie Gallagher to promote administration proposals.

The GAO did not say whether government spending on PR had risen but earlier studies suggest they have.

The U.S. House of Representatives’ Committee on Government Reform Minority Office, in a report last year, said the Bush administration unloaded twice as much on PR in its first term as did the Clinton administration in its second term, with payments jumping from $128 million to $250 million.

Conservative media watchdog Accuracy in Media faulted the report as based on an incomplete accounting of Clinton PR spending. The GAO would never undertake a more thorough study because the three-year statute of limitations governing such reviews has passed, the group said, adding that the democratic legislators had this fact in mind when they commissioned their study.

This article is from OneWorld U.S.. If you found it informative and valuable, we strongly encourage you to visit their website and register an account to view all their articles on the web. Support quality journalism.

This article relates to: Issues Campaigns
Stop News Fraud
Taxpayer-funded propaganda must be stopped.

. . . . .

Saundra Hummer
February 22nd, 2006, 02:00 PM
. * . * . * . * .


In a major new report released today:

House Democrats meticulously explore how congressional corruption is costing
average Americans living outside the beltway bubble. The report is
entitled "America for Sale: The Cost of Republican Corruption" and
was released by Rep. Louise Slaugher (D-NY). You can download it here


. . . . .

Saundra Hummer
February 22nd, 2006, 02:05 PM
In the 2/22/06 edition of The Corruption Digest, find out about a
major new report being released today that shows how Congress's
corruption affects Americans' daily life. Also, see a study on how
lawmakers who provided the deciding votes for the corporate-written
Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) have since been
showered in cash by Big Business. And find out which Republican
Senator is supporting public financing of elections - and which
Republican Senator has gone back on supporting that concept.

For the full Corruption Digest, go to



For a direct link, click here:







Saundra Hummer
February 22nd, 2006, 03:00 PM

Protests Planned Against Media War Coverage
Submitted by editor on February 21, 2006 - 7:21pm.
By Danny Schechter
Source: MediaChannel.org


Last week, new photographs of detainees abused by US soldiers in the infamous Abu Ghraib gulag in Iraq surfaced. They were discovered by the American Civil Liberties Union. The story was covered on TV… in Australia!

The most elaborate statistics on the abuse scandal appeared in the press.

· 1,325 images of suspected detainee abuse
· 93 video files of suspected detainee abuse
· 660 images of adult pornography
· 546 images of suspected dead Iraqi detainees
· 29 images of soldiers in simulated sexual acts This information made headlines in the Guardian newspaper… in England!

Meanwhile, in the United States, all of the networks covered a speech by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, the man who once famously said, “As we know, there are known knowns. There are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns. That is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns, the ones we don't know we don't know."

Now, the Pentagon’s Rumsfeld is declaring a new war — on the press. The Washington Post reports:

“Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld on Friday called for the U.S. military and other government agencies to mount a far more aggressive, faster and nontraditional information campaign to counter messages of extremist and terrorist groups in the world media. Rumsfeld … lashed out at the U.S. media, whose coverage he blamed for effectively halting recent military information initiatives, such as paying to place articles in Iraqi newspapers.”

Rumsfeld’s attack on the media for mildly questioning propaganda posing as news is consistent with the Administration’s management of war news through a billion dollar “information warfare” program that engineered positive media coverage for the invasion.

That continuing coverage documented by critics, including in my own new book, "When News Lies: Media Complicity and the Iraq War,” is on its way from being a public complaint to becoming a political issue.

America’s largest anti-war coalition, United For Peace and Justice, is broadening its anti-war protest to include targeting a US media system that has largely substituted jingoism for journalism and backed the war — often in the name of supporting the troops.

UFPJ Coordinator Leslie Kagan announced her organization is partnering with MediaChannel.org and other media groups to organize a Media Day of War Coverage Protest on March 21, 2006. It takes part during a week of organizing and activism marking the third anniversary of the war. Plans are also underway for forums and film screenings on March 20th.

“We are thrilled that anti-war activists will now be connecting with media reform activists to challenge mainstream media 'coverage' that has underreported civilian casualties and much of the costs of the war,” says MediaChannel Director David DeGraw.

“Sadly, the media helped make the war possible, and despite mea culpas about flawed pre-war coverage, the coverage has basically not changed, an approach which treats every Administration claim seriously, while marginalizing the anti-war movement.”

Even as public opinion shifted against the war — only 37% of the American people are said to still back the war - most of the media downplay reporting on demands for troop withdrawal.

Focusing on the media role is a departure for the anti-war movement that helped organize the protests that brought 30 million people to the streets on March 15, 2003. Until now, protesters have focused almost entirely on government policies and practices.

Recognizing the media role indicts a corporate America that has, in some cases, profited from the war with rises in ratings and revenues. This includes General Electric (GE), owner of NBC-Universal, who received $600,000 in Iraq reconstruction contracts.

Before the war began broadcast networks lobbied the FCC for rule changes to allow them to buy more stations. At the time, Washington insiders spoke of a quid pro-quo with the networks asking the FCC to waive their rules while their news shows waved the flag. In that period, then FCC Commissioner Michael Powell justified a need for more media concentration with the claim that “only big companies can cover a war like the one in Iraq.”

Many journalists and media organizations have since blasted one-sided coverage. Editor & Publisher, a media industry trade magazine, has consistently documented and criticized pervasive media practices that boosted the war with more "selling than telling."

Mediachannel.org launched a “Tell the Truth About the War” campaign months ago, calling for better and more consistent coverage. Thousands of emails from readers have gone to media executives.

If the war is to end, the coverage has to change, I wrote in a call to action.

We need to press the press and move the media.

Now MediaChannel plans to organize meetings between critics and media companies. Planning for protests and panels is underway - not only in New York, but at local newspapers, radio and TV stations across the nation as part of a national effort. A national email campaign will be launched as well.

If you would like to endorse or participate in this effort, or help in your community by organizing meetings, house parties - including screenings of WMD (Weapons of Mass Deception) and other films critical of the war media coverage - contact Priya@mediachannel.org

-- “News Dissector” Danny Schechter edits MediaChannel.org. For more on the protest: www.UFPJ.org. For information on his book, “When News Lies” and "WMD," see www.wmdthefilm.com. Comments to Dissector@mediachannel.org

* If you would like to get MediaChannel's FREE daily Media Savvy newsletter, click here to subscribe.


Saundra Hummer
February 22nd, 2006, 04:28 PM



News for the Media Savvy
February 22, 2006

AlterNet's PEEK is your daily cheeky -- and serious -- peek into the progressive blogosphere. Written by AlterNet associate editor Evan Derkacz, PEEK dives into the morass and emerges with the best commentary, analysis and satire so you don't have to. Celebrating its first birthday in February '06, PEEK boasts top-50 traffic and climbing. To stay on top of the progressive blogosphere, subscribe today for free!: http://www.alternet.org/subscribe/ (check the PEEK box).


Press to be targeted in national media protest on March 20th. United For Peace and Justice is partnering with MediaChannel.org to focus attention on media complicity in the Iraq war.



Please join Gabriela Network – the largest and oldest US-Philippine Women’s solidarity organization – for a film screening of a documentary depicting what is a controversial aspect of human trafficking: the mail order bride industry. The Imaginasian Theater, 23 February 2006, 6:30 pm.http://mediachannel.org/blog/node/3401


Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said Tuesday that the Pentagon is reviewing its practice of paying to plant stories in the Iraqi news media, withdrawing his earlier claim that it had been stopped.
By Robert Burns, Associated Press




Pentagon chief Donald Rumsfeld has signaled that he plans to intensify a campaign to influence global media coverage of the United States, a move that is likely to heighten the debate over press freedom and propaganda-free reporting.
By Emad Mekay, Inter Press Service


Although they've done their best to keep their spinning from public scrutiny, several major incidents have exposed the Bush administration's manipulation of news media: The "sell job" for the invasion of Iraq. Payola pundits Armstrong Williams, Maggie Gallagher and Michael McManus. Stooge "reporter" Jeff Gannon / James Guckert. Video news releases determined to be covert propaganda by the nonpartisan Government Accountability Office (GAO).
By Diane Farsetta , Center for Media and Democracy




Find illegal activity in the U.S. national security agency you work for. Report it to your superiors. Get rewarded by being demoted or having your security clearance revoked -- tantamount to losing your career – while those whose conduct you’ve reported get promoted.
By William Fisher, MediaChannel



The Bush administration obviously cannot be trusted to portray events in Iraq in an honest way to the public. That leaves the mass media, and the mass media is doing a lousy job.
By Peter Beinart, The New Republic



When the UN Human Rights Commission last Thursday released its report on the conditions at the U.S. detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, alleging that "torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment" was taking place and that the camp should be shut down, the news was met with a chorus of yawns.
By Gal Beckerman, CJR Daily




The gravest indictment of the American news media is that George W. Bush has gutted the U.S. Constitution, the Bill of Rights, the Geneva Conventions and the United Nations Charter – yet this extraordinary story does not lead the nation’s newspapers and the evening news every day.
By Robert Parry, The Consortium News




Propaganda campaign portrays Iran as a pariah state
By Ghali Hassan, Center for Research on Globalization




A side of the cartoon conflict little discussed is the intra-Muslim side.
By Michael Slackman and Hassan M. Fattah, NY Times



A Turkish movie, "Valley of the Wolves: Iraq,” based in part on a popular TV series, has ignited a global controversy with supporters suggesting it is a “Rambo in Reverse.” The action movie shows US soldiers committing war crimes.



The tightening of repressive media laws and the failure to solve the December 2004 murder of veteran journalist Deyda Hydara added to the climate of violence and intimidation faced by private media in 2005 in The Gambia.
The Independent (via AllAfrica.com)




Last minute lobbying by the Packer and Murdoch interests has halted government plans to deregulate Australia media ownership. The communications minister, Helen Coonan, was due to unveil the blueprint for media reform this month.
By Cosima Marriner, The Guardian



The trial of a Chinese researcher charged with revealing state secrets while working for the New York Times is expected to take place before the end of March, following a one-month delay.
By Julia Day and agencies, The Guardian




The greatest threat to America's democracy is not terrorism but governmental secrecy, said Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Bob Woodward, whose reporting 35 years ago pierced the veil of secrecy behind Richard Nixon's presidency.
By Tracy Idell Hamilton, Express-News




2006 is an election year and already we can detect the rustle of reporters converging on what conventional wisdom tells them is the hot storyline of the campaign: In congressional districts across the country, veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are running for Congress -- as Democrats!
By Paul McLeary, CJR Daily




Scooter has come to Web, with the launch of a new site, the Libby Legal Defense Trust.
By E&P Staff, Editor & Publisher




If you think there's something new or unique about Google censoring its Chinese website or Websense helping Yemen filter the Net — well, I hate to disappoint you. Those congressmen acting surprised about this stuff are either grandstanding or ignorant, or maybe both. To varying degrees, U.S. tech companies help repressive regimes around the world sift, block and censor the Net. They've been doing it for years.
USA Today



Yahoo! is banning the use of allah in email names - even if the letters are included within another name, like Callahan.
By John Oates, The Register



"Cheney's Got a Gun" has been blanketing the airwaves coast to coast and is being downloaded around the world! Now you can watch the new music video to the funny song parody of Aerosmith's "Janie’s Got a Gun.”
The Bob River’s Show (via Political Humor)



Press to be targeted in national media protest on March 20th. United For Peace and Justice is partnering with MediaChannel.org to focus attention on media complicity in the Iraq war.


Yahoo! is banning the use of allah in email names - even if the letters are included within another name, like Callahan.
By John Oates, The Registerhttp://mediachannel.org/blog/node/3399



Cheney's Got a Gun" has been blanketing the airwaves coast to coast and is being downloaded around the world! Now you can watch the new music video to the funny song parody of Aerosmith's "Janie’s Got a Gun.”
The Bob River’s Show (via Political Humor



Go on-site to see more

Saundra Hummer
February 22nd, 2006, 05:45 PM
Daily Times
Your right to know.....A new voice for a new Pakistan
Thursday, February 23, 2006

Cleric says suicide bombers poised to kill cartoonists

PESHAWAR: A local cleric who offered $1 million and a car for the death of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) cartoonists said on Wednesday that suicide bombers had volunteered to “kill the blasphemers”. Yousaf Qureshi, the imam, or prayer leader, at the 300-year-old Mohabat Khan mosque in Peshawar, announced the reward on Friday. “The Prophet Muhammad’s blasphemers will not live and there are mujahideen who visited me to assure that such people will not be allowed to live for their unpardonable act,” the cleric told a news conference. “Mujahedin suicide bombers have contacted us and they are ready for this mission. They are college and university students.” Qureshi is considered close to the Jamaat-e-Islami party, which is at the forefront of the ongoing campaign against the cartoons in Pakistan. The imam also hit back at criticism from both Danish Foreign Minister Per Stig Moeller and the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC) chief Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu that rewards for murder were forbidden by the Quran. “The OIC secretary-general is ignorant of Islamic teachings,” he said. “There are instances when the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) ordered the killing of persons who were degrading or insulting him. So the Quran has not forbidden murder of someone who is involved in blasphemous acts against the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh),” he said. He said the Danish foreign minister “lost sense” after he realised the strength of the Muslim world’s reaction to the cartoons. The only solution to the crisis was the trial of the blasphemers under Islamic laws, Qureshi said. “Nothing else is acceptable other than capital punishment under Islamic laws to the cartoonists,” he said. staff report


Saundra Hummer
February 22nd, 2006, 09:51 PM

"Against the insidious wiles of foreign influence (I conjure you to believe me, fellow-citizens,) the jealousy of a free people ought to be constantly awake; since history and experience prove, that foreign influence is one of the most baneful foes of Republican Government. But that jealousy, to be useful, must be impartial; else it becomes the instrument of the very influence to be avoided, instead of a defence against it.

Excessive partiality for one foreign nation, and excessive dislike of another, cause those whom they actuate to see danger only on one side, and serve to veil and even second the arts of influence on the other. Real patriots, who may resist the intrigues of the favorite, are liable to become suspected and odious; while its tools and dupes usurp the applause and confidence of the people, to surrender their interests.": George Washington (1732-1799) Founding Father, 1st US President, 'Father of the Country' -Source: Farewell Address, September 17, 1796, Ref: George Washington: A Collection, W.B. Allen, ed. (521)

"The spirit of encroachment tends to consolidate the powers of all the departments in one, and thus to create whatever the form of government, a real despotism. A just estimate of that love of power, and proneness to abuse it, which predominates in the human heart is sufficient to satisfy us of the truth of this position.": George Washington - (1732-1799) Founding Father, 1st US President, 'Father of the Country' - Source: Farewell Address, September 17, 1796, Ref: George Washington: A Collection, W.B. Allen, ed. (521)


Saundra Hummer
February 22nd, 2006, 09:58 PM

Slicing Away Liberty: 1933 Germany, 2006 America

By Bernard Weiner
Co-Editor, The Crisis Papers

02/22/06 "ICH" -- -- I must confess that I'm utterly baffled by the lack of sustained, organized outrage and opposition from Democratic officials and ordinary citizens at the Bush Administration's never-ending scandals, corruptions, war-initiations, and the amassing of more and more police-state power into their hands.

And so, facing little effective opposition, the Bush juggernaut continues on its rampage. How to explain this? Certainly, one could point to a deficient mass-media, to the soporific drug of TV, to having to work so hard that for many there's no time for activism, to education aimed at taking tests and not how to think, to the residual fear-fallout from 9/11, to a penchant for fantasy over reality, to the timid and unimaginative Democratic leadership, to scandal-fatigue, etc. But I would suggest that even more disturbing answers can be found by examining recent history.

Just so nobody misunderstands what follows: I am not saying that George W. Bush is Adolf Hitler, or that the rest of his Administration crew are Nazis. What I am saying is that since history often is opaque (making it difficult to figure out the contemporary parallels), when the past does offer a clear lesson for those of us living today, we should pay special attention.

What happened in Germany in the 1920s and '30s can teach us much about how a nation in a few years can lose its freedom in incremental slices as a result of a drumbeat of never-ceasing propaganda, strong-arm tactics, government snooping and harassment, manufactured fear of "the other," and wars begun abroad with the accompanying rally-'round-the-flag patriotism.

In America of the 1980s and '90s, it was extremists on the far-right fringes who believed the country was moving toward "black helicopter" authoritarian rule in Washington, and often blamed big-government liberal Democrats. Now, as a result of just four-plus years of the Bush Administration (supposedly anti-big government, conservative Republicans), huge segments of American society, including many in the mainstream middle, wonder what has happened to our democratic republic, our civil liberties, our time-honored system of government.


The Busheviks defend the Administration's harsh, sweeping actions as necessary in a "time of war." The U.S. was attacked by forces representing fanatical Islam, this reasoning goes, and the old rules and systems simply don't apply anymore -- they are old-fashioned, "quaint." Instead, we are expected to inculcate the "everything-changed-on-9/11" mantra, the effect of which is to excuse and justify all. Defense of the fatherland comes first and foremost, trumping all other considerations, including the Constitution, checks-and-balances in the three branches of government, separation of powers, the Geneva Conventions, international law, etc. etc. (The Busheviks refuse to believe that one can be muscular in going after terrorists and do so within the law and with proper respect for the Bill of Rights and Constitutional protections of due process.)

Not only do the Busheviks pay no attention to modern history, but they seem to have forgotten how our very nation came into existence and why: Our Founding Fathers rebelled against a despotic British monarch, a George who ran roughshod over their rights and privacy and religious beliefs. Learning that hard lesson, they established a system of government that scattered power so that no person or party or religion could easily reinstate authoritarian rule. Politicians and citizens would have to compromise and cooperate in order to get anything done. It's a slow, cumbersome system ("Democracy," said Churchill, "is the worst form of government ever invented, except for all the others"), but the system they devised served this nation well for more than two centuries, making American government a model for much of the rest of the world.

And now, using the fear of terrorism as justification for all their actions, the Bush-Rove-Cheney-Rumsfeld crew within just a few years have moved America closer to a militarist, one-party state, led by a ruler in whom virtually all power is vested. In '30s Germany, this was called the Fuhrer Principe, the principle of blind obedience to the wise, all-powerful Supreme Leader. We've seen other such examples in Stalin's Soviet Union, Kim's North Korea, Mao's China, Saddam's Iraq, etc.


To the Busheviks, there is pure Evil and pure Good, and because we Americans are pure Good, especially blessed by God, we can do anything in the service of fulfilling God's plan, which only we understand. If you're not with us, you're against us; get on board or get out of the way.

And so, under BushCheney, we've become an America that has codified torture in official state policy, that admits it went into a war under false premises but continues to keep our targeted troops there anyway, that spies on its citizens without court orders, that is willing to out a covert CIA agent (one who was probing the extent of Iran's nuclear program) for reasons of political retaliation, that "disappears" American citizens into military jails and doesn't permit them any contact with the outside world, that flies suspects in its care to secret prisons abroad and "renders" others to countries that use even more extreme torture measures, that passes laws permitting police agents to "sneak and peek" into citizens' homes, phone records, computer databases, library requests, e-mails and medical records without permission or even informing those whose privacy had been violated, that neuters the Congress by saying it will listen to "suggestions" but that the ultimate decisions are to be made by the Chief Executive, that emasculates the political opposition in Congress by cutting them out of the key decision-making processes, that declares the president has the right to violate the law whenever he so chooses and Congress and the courts have no role to play in reining in that power-grab, that keeps America on a permanent war footing in a never-ending battle against a tactic (terrorism), and on and on.

Even though much of the above transpired in secret and is only now being revealed, not all of this desecration of the American ideal happened overnight. As in Germany in the 1930s, the extremists placed in charge of the government said one thing in public and did another in private, slowly slicing away at rights of the citizenry, to avoid triggering a popular uprising.


In the beginning of their rule, the Nazis would announce restrictive policies aimed at marginalized citizens (the mentally handicapped, for example), and if no great uproar of objection came from any power centers such as the churches or hospitals or political parties, the Nazis would proceed to the next slice aimed, say, at Communists or homosexuals or Jews or Gypsies. All of these moves were carefully couched in terms of saving the "national security" of the Reich or purging the country of "non-productive" or "destructive/dangerous" elements in society. The Nazi propaganda machine was clever, intense and all-pervasive, using the Big Lie technique masterfully -- endlessly repeating its falsehoods until the drummed-upon populace came to accept them as truths.

Many ordinary "good Germans" and moral arbiters went along with these violations of civil rights and liberties either because they inwardly agreed with the propagandists or because they were afraid to disagree in public. Those few leaders in academia, the church and the press who courageously or even tentatively demurred or asked too many questions tended to be punished -- demoted, fired, their honors revoked, etc. -- and so more and more citizens got the message to "watch what you say." The Nazi juggernaut pushed on, widening its list of what was forbidden, issuing harsher and harsher edicts, and treating any dissidents roughly.

Hitler, leader of the rabidly rightwing Nazi party, was installed as Chancellor in 1933, even though his party was not in the majority, in the hope that he could bring some order and stability to a society still reeling from the horrendous economic/social Great Depression that had devastated the country during the '20s and early-'30s. Given the reins of power, Hitler felt free to unleash policies that most citizens earlier had rejected as way too extreme. He had written about them in his book "Mein Kampf," but many thought he would modify his demented views once he was inside the establishment corridors.

The "Enabling Act" that gave Hitler total control of the organs of power in Germany was passed in 1933, following the burning of the German Reichstag (Parliament), an arson that was blamed on Communist "terrorists." Hitler "temporarily" suspended civil liberties during this "national emergency," which of course never ended. Hitler lied to the Reichstag about his true intentions in order to obtain approval of the Enabling Act. Shortly after its passage, Hitler began rounding up tens of thousands of political enemies and sending them to concentration camps. Democracy was dead in Hitler's Germany.

The corporate titans, seeing that there might be profit to be gained from Nazi economic and military policies, supported Hitler's rise and rule; those who had objections to what he was doing thought they could tame his passions through their immense influence. But slowly, and then quickly, the Nazis took over one institution after another; totalitarianism was in full force. To stamp out any hint of dissent, all citizens were to spy on each other --"each one of us the Gestapo of the others," to use Sebastian Haffner's scary phrase -- and the security forces arrested and tortured at will. (To learn more from Haffner's contemporaneous account, see "Germany in 1933: The Easy Slide Into Fascism").

Arming itself to the teeth, Hitler's military forces carried out lighting-quick wars of conquest ("Blitzkrieg") on weaker nations and the fascist German empire spread over Europe and, in alliance with Japan, in Asia as well. More than 40 million human beings would die in the resulting World War II. Hitler's arrogant belief in his own intuition and infallibility led to his downfall, as, against all common sense and advice and military history, he invaded the Soviet Union and wound up in a destructive quagmire of the worst sort.


Again, what follows here is not to allege one-for-one comparisons to Nazism, but to note certain parallel events and tactics that require special consideration if we are to avoid imitating disastrous history even more fully.

In our time, a Leader (who, we later learned, probably lost the 2000 election) was installed in the White House by a far-right majority faction of the Supreme Court. The HardRight had been laying plans for a restoration of Republican rule after Clinton won re-election; first they made sure Clinton would be unable to concentrate on his political agenda by constant iterations of supposed scandals that, as various probes demonstrated, revealed no illegality. When Clinton handed the Republicans an opening by engaging in a sexual dalliance in the White House, they engineered an impeachment and trial by the Senate; it didn't really matter that Clinton was not convicted, as the requisite damage had been done, with a side benefit -- his Vice President and presumable successor, Al Gore, was tainted by being close to Clinton and thus weakened politically.

The point of all this is that the HardRight restoration forces were planning for a Bush administration far in advance of the actual 2000 election. There was no one person's "Mein Kampf," but other writings had laid out in stark terms what this neo-conservative cabal had in mind for the country's foreign/military policy should they return to power, especially in the reports of The Project for The New American Century: "pre-emptive" wars of conquest, permitting no rivals for influence, control of energy sources, etc. (See "How We Got Into This Imperial Pickle: A PNAC Primer", where PNAC lays out the sole-Superpower strategy for achieving "benevolent hegemony" around the globe.)

Some of that planning included an invasion of Iraq. Even though Cheney still won't reveal which oil executives were part of his secret energy task-force, we do know that at least part of that panel's meetings in early 2001 involved the question of Iraq, with discussion and a map of which companies might get exploration blocks after Saddam was removed from power. Further, former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill revealed how astonished he was that at the first meetings of the Bush Cabinet in early-2001, much time was spent on the need to invade Iraq.

The terror attacks of 9/11/2001 served as the equivalent of the "Reichstag Fire" -- or, seen another way, as a "new Pearl Harbor," the phrase lifted from a 2000 PNAC document. The Bush Administration's "Enabling Act" came in several key bills passed by Congress: the unread and barely-debated Patriot Act, which gave virtually unlimited police powers to the government in rooting out "terrorism," and the Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF), written so broadly as to give the "commander in chief" authority to take whatever unspecified actions he considered necessary against those responsible for 9/11. Attorney General Gonzales recently claimed that the AUMF, in conjunction with Article 2 of the Constitution, permits Bush to authorize both the torture of prisoners and spying on American citizens, without the need to seek any court warrants, thus over-riding the Fourth Amendment and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act that states in no uncertain terms that ALL such eavesdropping requires court permission.


Even though the mainstream, corporate-owned media by and large does the bidding of the Bush Administration, ignoring and playing down bad news and hyping the Administration's spin points, full control of the mass media is still not complete -- even with the Bush Administration spending $1.6 billion tax dollars last year on its own public-relations spin. The few insurgent media outlets and reporters, and the unruly analysts on the internet, are still to be dealt with. (FEMA has contracted with Halliburton and others to build several hundred detention camps around the country, ostensibly to house illegal immigrants but easily convertible for malcontents of one sort or another. See Maureen Farrell's "Detention Camp Jitters".

Likewise, the Judiciary. Bush&Co. have placed nearly two hundred of its HardRight jurists on the federal appeals courts, and got its new Federalist Society justices onto the Supreme Court -- presumably tipping the balance in favor of more rightwing decisions -- but more work needs to be done to lock down total control of the Judiciary.

The democratic institutions that possibly could still backfire on the Bush agenda are approaching terminal weakness: the Republican-controlled Congress has become a rubber-stamp appendage of Karl Rove's political office; the Democrats are essentially marginalized with no real power except to whine and complain and embarrass.

Plus, and most importantly, election votes are counted by the same GOP-friendly corporations that controlled (and appear to have manipulated) the vote-tabulations in 2002 and 2004, that manufacture the computer-voting machines, and that own the secret, proprietary software.

The one dangerous element that cannot be fully controlled are the human beings who are the public face of the HardRight elite. Bush is a simpleton who often says more than he should, giving away the game; Cheney is a callous Rasputin whose penchant for secrecy and power-lust as he runs the government constantly gets the group into hot water; Rumsfeld is a media-savvy incompetent whose dirty fingerprints are all over the Iraq disaster and the torture scandal; Rove, a brilliant dirty-pool tactician (his grandfather reportedly was an active Nazi Party supporter in Germany), is likely to be indicted in the Plamegate scandal. Others Administration heavies, such as Condoleezza Rice and Alberto Gonzales are little more than toadies for the big boys.


So, let's see: a Supreme Leader who has taken his country into blitzkrieg ("shock & awe") attacks on foreign nations, bogging down in an ill-advised invasion quagmire in Iraq; who has traded historic civil rights and liberties for defense of the fatherland; who has destroyed or rendered toothless his nominal opposition party; who has wrapped himself in the flag and questioned the patriotism of those who raise questions about his policies; who has engaged in a Big Lie propaganda strategy to move his agenda; who has demonized internal enemies; who violates the law to get what he wants and claims that he serves a higher power in doing so; who has marginalized the other two branches of government; who effectively controls the voting process; and so on.

What's scary is that it didn't take much verbal stretching to come up with those parallels, even admitting that life in Bush's U.S.A., however comparable in many areas, can scarcely be equated to life in Hitler's Germany.

Even so, history has presented its warnings to us. Will we understand and act in time to return our country to a more moderate balancing point, thus making us better protected in terms of national security? It's up to each of us.

This bungling Bush crew seems to have a reverse Midas touch; virtually everything they touch turns not to gold but to foul-smelling waste matter. They are so out of touch with the American mainstream that they've brought their own poll numbers down into the 30s, and key Republicans in self-defense are racing to separate themselves from BushCheney before the November elections. Bush&Co. may be reckless bumblers, endangering America's national security and economy and environment, but they still wield the levers of power and they're not about to give them up; indeed, it appears they are willing to take us all down with them as they fall.

That's our challenge, to get rid of them as quickly as possible -- by agitating for impeachment hearings now, or moving for impeachment and a Senate trial after taking back the House in November -- and help bring America out from its current dark cave to the bright light of hope and civility and reality-based governance.

Bernard Weiner, Ph.D. in government & international relations, has taught at various universities, worked as a writer/editor for the San Francisco Chronicle, and currently co-edits The Crisis Papers (www.crisispapers.org). To comment, write crisispapers@comcast.net .

Copyright 2006, by Bernard Weiner


. . .

Saundra Hummer
February 22nd, 2006, 10:06 PM
War Corporatism: The New Fascism

A Video by Simon Robson

A look at War Corporatism, unleashed upon the world by Bush and the PNAC as stated in the September 2000 document Rebuilding America's Defenses.

Click here to view : Flash presentation



Saundra Hummer
February 22nd, 2006, 10:14 PM

It’s Munich In America. There Will Be No Normandy.

By David Michael Green

2/22/06 "ICH" -- -- This is it, folks. This is the scenario our Founders lost sleep over. This is the day they prepared us for.

Outside the Philadelphia convention Benjamin Franklin was asked what sort of government he and his colleagues were crafting. His reply? “A republic. If you can keep it.” And that is just the question at issue today. Can we keep it?
Sure, it can sound melodramatic to use the f-word (no, not the one Churlish Cheney hurled at Patrick Leahy), and I have mostly avoided doing so for just that reason. Especially where the politically less informed are concerned, arguing that America is slipping into fascism can be the first and last point they’ll hear you make.

But, nowadays, even George F. Will is worried. You know you’re in a seriously bad place when that happens.

America may not be a fascist country today, but it’s not for want of trying. I have no question but that through Dick Cheney’s dark heart courses the blood of Mussolini. No wonder the damn thing’s so diseased. And I have no doubt that Karl Rove has only admiration and envy for Joseph Goebbels. Hey, why can’t we do that here? (Hint: We are.)

America is not a fascist country (if it was, you wouldn’t be reading this), but pardon me if I don’t defer to Bush defenders and ringside Democrats who consider me hysterical for worrying about the direction in which we’re heading.

These are the same people who’ve spent the last two decades denying the existence of global warming, while we now learn with each passing week how much worse than we had ever imagined is that environmental wreckage. These are the same people who said Iraq would be a cakewalk, and planned accordingly. These are the same people who prepared us for 9/11, the Iraq occupation, Hurricane Katrina and the prescription drug plan, and who have set new records for ineptitude in responding to those crises. These are the people who can’t get body armor on our troops, three years after launching the war, and who are getting flunking grades in terrorism preparation from the 9/11 Commission four years after that attack. These are the same people who have turned a massive surplus into a record-setting debt, and coupled it with equally breathtaking trade deficits. And now they want to cut federal tax revenue even more.

Yes, he is the president, but golly gee, Sargent Carter, he sure seems to make an awful lot of mistakes!

So forgive me if I don’t trust their judgement on matters of rather serious importance. Forgive me if I don’t stand by hoping they’re right as the two hundred year-old experiment in American democracy goes down the toilet. Besides, I thought being a conservative meant taking the prudent course, anyhow. Even if there was only a one in a hundred chance that a grenade was live, would you play with it? Wouldn’t it have been better to have acted ‘conservatively’ with the fate of the planet at stake, and assumed that global warming might be real? And, likewise, shouldn’t we worry about what is happening to American democracy now, while we still can?

The truth is, there is a government in office which seeks such complete power and dominance that even some conservatives have started to notice. Too blind to see the true intentions of this bunch, they can at least figure out that an imperial presidency created by George Bush might one day be inherited by Hillary Clinton (complete with her plans for a revolutionary dope-smoking lesbian Marxist state and global UN domination, enforced by an armada of black helicopters), so now even these fools are getting nervous about where this goes. They know that the only difference between the monarchism our Founders so reviled and contemporary Cheneyism is that the technology of our time allows George Bush to turn George III into George Orwell.

It’s Munich in America, people. We can dream the pleasant dream that if we just stand by quietly while the Boy King gobbles up some of our liberties, he won’t want any more, but that would be a lot like Chamberlain dreaming that a chunk of Czechoslovakia would be enough to appease Hitler. It wasn’t, and it won’t be.

Do I overstate the concern? The New York Times recently editorialized “We can't think of a president who has gone to the American people more often than George W. Bush has to ask them to forget about things like democracy, judicial process and the balance of powers – and just trust him. We also can't think of a president who has deserved that trust less.” The Times should know. Between rah-rah’ing the war for Bush, sitting on the Downing Street Memos as if they were banana import trade policy documents, and covering for Judith Miller while she covered for The Cheney Gang, they have about as much blood on their hands as does Donald Rumsfeld. But if even the Times can work up the concern to print a line like that, we’re in a world of hurt.

And we are, in fact, in a world of hurt. Those shreds of parchment on the floor of the National Archives aren’t from Mrs. Washington’s shopping list, I’m afraid to say.

It is true, of course, that other presidents – even the best of them – have taken enormous liberties with the Constitution, especially during wartime. Lincoln suspended habeas corpus, FDR jailed Americans on the West Coast for the crime of having Japanese ancestry, Truman and Eisenhower stood by while McCarthyism ripped a gaping hole through American civil liberties, and Nixon and his plumbers went to work on his political enemies in the name of national security. Of course, we now look back on those episodes as among the most shameful in American history. But the present crew is even more dangerous for their intentions of creating permanent war to justify permanent repression.

Already they’ve torn large chunks out of the Constitution.

Article One creates the legislative branch, that which the Founders intended to be the most powerful and consequential. Today, we have a president who makes the stunning assertion that he is the “sole organ for the nation in foreign affairs”. This Congress seems mostly to agree, even though the Founders gave them the power to declare war, to fund all governmental activities, to ratify treaties and to oversee the executive. Who, us? Bye-bye Article One.

Article Three creates a Supreme Court to adjudicate disputes (especially over governmental powers) and to protect the Constitution. But BushCo can’t be bothered to follow even the Court’s tentative interventions into due process concerning Guantánamo and beyond. And why should it? By the time they get done with loading the damn thing up with ‘unitary executive’ fifth-column shills like Roberts and Alito, it will be a moot court, just like the ones in law school. Once the Supreme Court becomes a wholly-owned subsidiary of the executive branch (about one vote from now), it’s bye-bye Article Three.

The First Amendment guarantees the freedom to assemble in protest. But protest is a joke in Bush’s America. People are kenneled off into pens so far from the president he is never confronted with any contrary views at all, apart from the odd funeral he has to show up at but Rove can’t script. The halls of Congress are ground zero for American democracy, much boasted about at home and jammed down the throat of the world (except when the results don’t favor American corporate or strategic interests). But go there and sit in the balcony wearing a t-shirt with the number of dead soldiers in Iraq printed on it and see how fast you get a lesson in Bush’s interpretation of the Bill of Rights. And that little display at the state of the union address was no freak event, either. That kind of thing happened all the time during the 2004 campaign. At Bush rallies, people were getting arrested for the bumper-stickers on their cars.

The First Amendment also protects freedom of the press. That freedom has not been eliminated, per se, but it has been effectively neutered beyond effectiveness. Between the White House intimidating most of the press, coopting the rest, stonewalling information requests, planting stories in the American and foreign media, and buying off journalists, today’s mainstream media has too often become a pathetic megaphone for White House lies, and that includes those supposed bastions of liberalism, the New York Times and the Washington Post. Bye-bye First Amendment.

The Fourth Amendment guarantees “against unreasonable searches and seizures” and requires that “no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation”. Can you say “NSA”? “Guantánamo”? “Abu Ghraib”? It’s bad enough that Bush has authorized himself to bug anybody, arrest anybody, convict anybody and silence anybody, but his NSA chief doesn’t even appear to have read the Fourth Amendment. That whole thing about probable cause was lost on him, as he and his president simultaneously trampled the separation of powers and checks and balances doctrines by eliminating two out of three branches of government from their little surveillance loop.

Meanwhile, informed estimates repeatedly assert that the majority of detainees rotting away in Guantánamo are there either because they were standing in the wrong place at the wrong time simply and got swept away like so much garbage into a dustpan, or were reported as al Qaeda so that one Afghan clan could use the US military to burn another. And so there they sit, unable to be charged, to be tried, to exercise habeas corpus, to have representation, to confront witnesses – unable now even to starve themselves to death in protest. If this wasn’t precisely the fear of the Founders when they put this language into the Constitution, then Dick Cheney is a poster boy for the ACLU. Strike the Fourth Amendment.

And take with it the Fifth (no one shall “be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law”), the Sixth (“the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury”, the right “to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the assistance of counsel for his defense”), and the Eighth, providing against “cruel and unusual punishments”). Boom, boom, boom.

In a disgusting display of legal sophistry, the administration would argue that these provisions don’t apply because of jurisdiction, which of course was the entire purpose for putting their gulag in Guantánamo in the first place. As if it is not American territory since we ‘lease’ it from Cuba. As if Castro could send in the police to clean up the open sore of Bush’s human rights travesty there, and the US could do nothing about it, since it is Cuban land. Right.

But even if Fun With Domestic Jurisprudence is to be their game, the actions of the administration also represent a massive breach of international law, since the Geneva Conventions prohibit precisely these sorts of horrors which the Creature from Crawford has visited upon the poor SOBs caught in his dragnet.

Your scissors are probably getting a bit dull by now, but this means that not only is international law in scraps, but you can also go ahead and cut out Article Six of the Constitution as well, which provides that “all treaties made, or which shall be made, under the authority of the United States, shall be the supreme law of the land”. Ah, how ‘quaint’. How very ‘obsolete’.

Such treaties may be the supreme law in some land, but apparently not in Bush Land. Or, at least not if you don’t mind another cute legal charade, in which a new category of POWs called “unlawful combatants” is fabricated with the intention of rendering – with disingenuousness extraordinaire – the detainees as falling outside the Geneva provisions.

That’s precious, as if a ‘lawful’ Bush all of a sudden got religion for the fine points of international jurisprudence. Except, of course, when it came to the need for obtaining a Security Council resolution to invade Iraq. Except when it comes to the International Criminal Court, which the Bush junta has been desperately trying to undermine at every opportunity (gee, I wonder why, given the Court’s mandate to prosecute war criminals). Except for nuclear nonproliferation. Except for the use of white phosphorus in Falluja. Apparently the only legal distinctions these guys follow are the ones Bush orders Alberto Gonzales, that paragon of legal independence and the rule of law, to create for him out of whole cloth. That international law.

There’s not much left of the Constitution now that these guys have tortured it as if it were some personal project in Lynndie England’s basement. Of course, they’ve made damn sure that the Second Amendment is fully protected, to the point where John Ashcroft wouldn’t investigate the gun purchase records of the 9/11 hijackers. You gotta love that. I wish they gave the rest of the Bill of Rights a tenth of the attention the Second Amendment gets. Heck, for that matter, I wish they’d even interpret the Second Amendment properly. Maybe in my next lifetime.

Meanwhile, arguably the three most brilliant inventions of the Constitution are separation of powers, the guarantee of civil liberties, and federalism. Even the latter – which has least to do with foreign affairs or checking executive power, and therefore has been least assaulted – is under duress as the Bush Gang attack state power any time it strays from their regressive political agenda, for instance with respect to euthanasia, medical marijuana or affirmative action.

In fact, all three of these key constitutional doctrines are suffering under a brutal assault from a regime which finds democracy and liberty fundamentally inconvenient to their aspirations for unlimited power. The administration absurdly claims to be bringing democracy to the Mid-East. (After that whole WMD thing went MIA, and Saddam’s links to al Qaeda proved equally credible, what the hell else were they going to say?). But far from the ludicrous claims that they are agents for the spread of democracy abroad, they are busy unraveling it with furious industry here at home.

It is, I’m afraid, Munich in America, and now we must decide whether to appease the bullies and pray for happy endings, or fight back to preserve a two hundred year-old experiment in democracy. Despite all its flaws and failures, Churchill was still right about it: Democracy is the worst system of governance except for all the others. And that makes it worth fighting for.

But the spot we’re in now is actually worse than Munich, because there will be no Normandy in this war, and no Stalingrad. No country with the deterrent threat of a nuclear arsenal can ever be invaded by another country or group of countries, regardless of the magnitude of the latter’s own military power.

That means we’re on our own, folks. If we flip completely over to the dark side, nobody will be storming our beaches and scrambling up our cliffs to liberate us from our own folly. Hell, if they weren’t so worried about the international menace we represent, they’d probably be laughing at us, anyhow, thinking how richly we deserved the government we got.

But there’s nothing funny about this situation. Hitler dreamed of a thousand year reich, but didn’t count on the resilience of an endless army of Slavs, or the technological prowess of a nation of shopkeepers’ great-grandchildren hammering his would-be millennium down to a decade. If the US goes authoritarian (or worse), on the other hand, who will play Russia or America to our Germany? The answer is no one, and it is not apocalyptic paranoia to fear a very, very long period of unrelenting political darkness, once the curtain comes down.

Is this the beginning of the end for American democracy? Maybe. I have no doubt that unchecked Cheneyism intends precisely that. It’s therefore up to the rest of us to stop it. It’s up to us to say yes to Philadelphia, and no to Munich. Because there will be no Normandy.

Now we find out if we can keep Mr. Franklin’s republic, after all.

David Michael Green is a professor of political science at Hofstra University in New York. He is delighted to receive readers' reactions to his articles (pscdmg@hofstra.edu), but regrets that time constraints do not always allow him to respond.


Saundra Hummer
February 22nd, 2006, 10:31 PM

Interview with Gore Vidal

I would say that, in the long run,
the world will be saved American despotism by the
coming bankruptcy of the country. Now, that will have
awful fallout for everybody. I don't even want to look
into that crystal ball.

Reporter: Tony Jones

Broadcast: 04/11/05 Lateline - Australia

Click Here To Watch In Windows Mediahttp://informationclearinghouse.info/article12030

You may need to update / download Free Real Player to view
this video. Click on this link to download.


TONY JONES: The foreword to Gore Vidal's latest book,
Inventing a Nation, is penned by an Australian politician.
The writer is none other than New South Wales Premier
Bob Carr, a lifetime enthusiast for American history and
longtime friend of Gore Vidal. Springing to his mate's
defence, Mr Carr says that blundering neocons and
ultra-nationalists have tried to impugn his patriotism.
But Carr, too, has differences with the man he calls
"a lonely genius". Bob Carr paints Gore Vidal as a
committed isolationist who believes that projecting
American power will always make a situation worse.
The vehicle for Vidal's latest assault on the Bush
administration is a tract devoted to examining the
lives and motives of America's founding fathers.
His treatise appears to be that today's America
and its foreign policy would be unrecognisable to
them and betrays many of their ideals. I spoke to
Gore Vidal in California earlier today.

TONY JONES: Gore Vidal, thank you for joining us.

you for inviting me.

TONY JONES: Now, your inspiration for writing this
book came from a question President Kennedy put
to you at Hiannas back in 1961. Could you start by
recalling that conversation for us?

GORE VIDAL: We were sitting out overlooking the cold
Atlantic Sea in the Kennedy compound - they have
about four or five white-frame houses on the beach -
and we were playing backgammon, and as usual I was
winning and as usual he was swearing, and then he said,
"You know, your Uncle Lefty was here a day or two ago,
and he said, 'Why is it that the United States, this little
backward agrarian country with 3 million people, should
have produced, in the 18th century, three of the great i
ntellectual geniuses of the 18th century: Benjamin Franklin,
Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson?'" Needless to
say, I did not provide him with a satisfactory answer,
because I still don't have one, other than it was a throw
of the dice, as so many things are in life, and a throw of
the dice it was that we had three exceptional men, and
when it came to inventing a nation, I started to think
about them, so I decided to put together a book in which
you can actually hear the real conversations that went on,
preserved in letters and diaries and so on, between the
founders, James Madison in particular, the great friend
of Jefferson - he is called the father of our constitution -
\and you hear the other voices of the very wise Benjamin
Franklin, who didn't much care for the handiwork of the
Constitutional Convention, which was held in 1789.

TONY JONES: Could I just pick you up there? You mentioned
one of those exceptional men was Benjamin Franklin, and as
you say, he seems to have been rather pessimistic about
the constitution and, indeed, the future of the republic.
Tell us why and what he actually said when he signed off
on the constitution.

GORE VIDAL: He said, "Well, I say 'yes' to this constitution,
with all its faults. We need good governance for a while,
and this constitution will assure us of good governance for
a number of years." Then he said, "This constitution will fail,
as others have before it, and that will be due to the
corruption of the people, for whom in the end only despotism
will serve." This was a famous speech in its day. I went
through a dozen high school history books of the United
States. Part of the speech is given; what I just quoted is
never quoted. So that was the first "nay" vote to the
constitution, which I think most thoughtful people - the good
thing about it is the Bill of Rights, which guarantees us
freedom of speech and so on. The bad things are the powers
given to the President, which have now been absolutely
inflated out of control, where the President is almost a
permanent dictator with the power to declare pre-emptive
war any time he likes. Now, George Washington would be out
of his mind, and he was the first President. He didn't want
powers to say, "I think terrorists might be livin' over there.
I think we better hit Denmark. Denmark's a good place to hit.
We'll hit 'em because there could be terrorists there." This is
the rationale of the so-called Bush doctrine, and it is insane.

TONY JONES: If I could just interrupt you there again.
Looking at the dark prophecy of Benjamin Franklin is where
you book verges off into suggesting that America has actually
already moved towards despotism. It's a pretty longbow,
though, isn't it?

GORE VIDAL: Well, of course. We've visited despotism many
times before - never to the extent that we have now.
We've never before gone in on two countries which had
done us no harm, were friendly to the United States -
Afghanistan and Iraq - and knocked them to bits. We
spent a lot of money on the armaments to do that, and
now we're spending a big fortune, through the Vice
President's company, Halliburton, to repair what we just
knocked down. So two sets of money have been burnt
up in destroying two countries which had done us no harm
and were in no position to do us any harm, despite the
numerous lies told about weapons of mass destruction.
There weren't any in Iraq, and presumably nobody said that
about Afghanistan, and now they're starting to mutter about
Iran. This is where what I call isolationism - which Bob Carr
and I did not finish talking about the other day on the radio
- this is where we come in, which is: you do not interfere in
a predatory way in the affairs of sovereign nations because
you think they might one day get atomic weapons and blow
us up in the night. We ascribe to everybody else our own
motives. Why should they do it? What would be the motivation?
What's the provocation? So we, the isolationists, are the
peacekeepers and, I thought, should be properly valued.

TONY JONES: Isolationism is a bit of a moveable feast,
though. I mean, American power was used to defeat Hitler
and imperial Japan and, more recently, for example, to
force Slobodan Milosevic out of power in Serbia. Do you
see a use for American power against despotism?

GORE VIDAL: I don't think arbitrarily or pre-emptively -
which is the key adverb here - no, I don't. I think in union,
as we behaved in the Balkans - that was essentially a
coalition of nations, United Nations amongst others - yes,
of course; we belong to a certain world. Listen, remember,
when you hear the word "isolationist" said by an American
right-wing politician, he's sneering: "And they say they
believe in a flat Earth and no relations with foreign countries
because we're protected by two oceans." Nonsense.
That was true 200 years ago, but in today's misuse of the
word, it simply means those who object to our forcing
ourselves upon other countries; going into the Middle East
not to bring liberty and justice to the Iraqis - we didn't
even know who they were, we don't even know where
the country is, most Americans; we're there for the oilfields.

TONY JONES: Let's leap forward to the latest or the last
State of the Union address and President Bush, in a way,
rewriting the guiding principles of foreign policy. In his
recent address, he said the ultimate goal now was to end
tyranny in the world.

GORE VIDAL: (chuckles).

TONY JONES: Tell us what you make of that.

GORE VIDAL: I think he believes that we can eliminate
tyranny everywhere on earth if we allow it in our own
country first. We will then provide a model. He is a tyrant,
as much as he can be under our system, and our system
in many ways is crumbling, so it's open season on the
republic that Benjamin Franklin feared for.

TONY JONES: Despotism, though, and tyranny implies a
suppression of dissent. I mean, there's no bar to open
dissent in the United States; just simply whether you
can get on to the corporate media.

GORE VIDAL: (chuckles) Well, isn't that - that is how it's
controlled. The great networks are owned by the great
corporations. Sometimes a corporation - why, there's a
native of your country who's come to join us who's
buying up all sorts of radio stations, TV stations,
newspapers, in a conglomerate, which was not allowed
under our laws, but somehow they've all been bent, and
doing very well with it. That is how you control what the
people know. It's beyond anything Orwell dreamed of.

TONY JONES: Isn't it the case, though, that fewer and
fewer people in fact are actually getting their information
from the corporate-owned media?

GORE VIDAL: Where do you think they're getting it?

TONY JONES: That's a very good question. I mean, partly
from the Internet, but they seem to be drawing information
from all sorts of areas now. Is the power of the corporate
media waning, do you think?

GORE VIDAL: It's absolute. Is its credibility waning? Yes, of
course it is. Prime-time television is nothing but propaganda,
and almost everything said contradicts itself, because they
don't bother to sound logical in what they say. They say
the message very loud. That is what the people around
Bush have discovered: you repeat the lie, and if people
look slightly doubtful, you repeat it again more loudly, and
you go on and on. Bush went on for about three years
getting ready for the Iraq war, saying that Osama bin
Laden, responsible for the 9/11 attacks on New York and
Washington, was working hand in glove with Saddam
Hussein, who was equally guilty; therefore, we were
going to remove Saddam Hussein, because he was so
vicious. Well, he would have been very vicious had he
been responsible for any of the attacks on the United
States, but he wasn't.

TONY JONES: Let me ask you this, though, if I can:
when you see the majority of people in Iraq, particularly
the Kurds and the Shi'ites, expressing their will for the
first time in an election and beginning to form a
government in much the same way that the founding
fathers formed a government in the United States,
does it not give you some pause as to whether perhaps
that is the right thing?

GORE VIDAL: Well, the founding fathers did not form
the government of the Republic of the United States
while occupied by France. We did it on our own, having
invited the British to go home, which they had done.
So it's not comparable at all. We are an invading power.
We have fixed an election, which I think in due course,
the press will say, "Well, I guess we got that one wrong,
too. It was corrupt", and so on. I notice that today's
press, Shalabi - who has been totally discredited; he was
a refugee to the United States, in various troubles around
the world for banking and so on - but he's back and he's
standing up and they say he's going to be the next Prime
Minister. Well, if he is, they're going to have a revolution.
What are we doing interfering - we with our disastrous
elections in the last 20, 30 years, what are we doing
prescribing elections in a country and a culture that we
know nothing about? This is beyond hubris; this is just
crazy time.

TONY JONES: It's true, though, that neoconservatives
might point out that one of the principals in your book,
Thomas Jefferson, observed just before his own death -
and you quote these observations at the end of your
book - talking about his Declaration of Independence, he
says, "May it be to the world what I believe it will be:
the signal of arousing men to burst their chains." Now,
based on those kind of comments, he might well have
endorsed a war to bring democratic principles to another

GORE VIDAL: Well, he never showed any sign of wanting
to do any such thing. He was not one for foreign wars.
He was rather opposed to having a standing army.
Most of the founders didn't want a standing army, on
the sensible ground that we would use it, and we'd use
it for dark ends, like stealing other people's property, as
we did in Mexico, as we did in the war against Spain,
which we picked in order to grab not only Cuba and
Puerto Rico but, more importantly, the Philippines,
which made us a Pacific power.

TONY JONES: We were talking about dissenting voices a s
hort time ago and the importance of dissent. Can I just
ask your thoughts on the passing of one of the great
dissenters of recent American history, Arthur Miller, a man
brave enough in his day to stand against the despotism
of Senator McCarthy.

GORE VIDAL: We always have these treacherous figures
in society who are there to denounce others as traitors,
heretics - all sort of false religious language they use.
No, Arthur Miller had the virtue of being an honest man,
not easily intimidated. It came naturally to him to write
plays about those like himself or perhaps like the way
he would have wanted to be. None of us is as brave
as he wants to be, but some get closer to it than others.

TONY JONES: Is there the like of Arthur Miller in today's America?

GORE VIDAL: No. There are voices that speak out, writers
that write out. The problem is, the media will not let them
on. People ask me, "If you end up with such boring
candidates as Mr Kerry and Mr Bush - are there no
Americans in public life who might be more useful, more
representative of the people, the best elements of our
nature?" I say, "Yes, there are, but the New York Times
will not report their speeches. Television will not let them
on unless they're surrounded by eight neoconservatives
who all talk at once and shout and howl." It's like a
menagerie. There is no political debate because it's not
allowed; it's not commercial television. So the result is
there are many great voices - if I may paraphrase Grey
- that are muted across the land. They are there.

TONY JONES: Gore Vidal, finally, can I ask you to
engage in prophecy just for a moment? Look down the
track. Four more years of George Bush. What will
America and what will the world look like, in your opinion?

GORE VIDAL: Well, an unholy mess. The dollar declines in
value. There is no way that you can up it. There's nothing
you can do. The wars will continue. There will be an
attempt made in Iran and Syria, other places that look
exciting. The United States will go broke; it's as simple
as that. That's what ended the British Empire. One of
the reasons we got into World War I was that in 1914,
under the Asquith Government, the government fecklessly
ran out of money, and here they were, supposed to be
fighting the central powers, Germany and so on. The same
thing is happening to us. We don't have the money to pay
the debts. Now, great nations that are rich in a sense
don't go bankrupt the way individuals do, 'cause you can't
put a valuation on them, but you can certainly show lack
of confidence in their currency if it goes down, down,
down, which it is now doing, and interest rates go up, up,
up. As the interest rates go up, then we have the
problem of inflation, which will give social insecurity to
everybody, because the price of bread will suddenly get
very high, which it has never been in the United States
since the early '30s. So I would say that, in the long run,
the world will be saved American despotism by the coming
bankruptcy of the country. Now, that will have awful
fallout for everybody. I don't even want to look into
that crystal ball.

TONY JONES: Gore Vidal, I think you are living proof,
however, that dissent is still living in the United States.
We thank you very much for taking the time to come
on Lateline.

GORE VIDAL: Thank you.

Saundra Hummer
February 23rd, 2006, 01:15 PM
NEWS DISSECTOR February 23, 2006
From MediaChannel.org's Executive Editor, Danny Schechter...

The Great Dubai Debate Festers On

NEW VIDEO FROM CURRENTLike the Cheney shoot-athon, the Dubai company buying into US ports is on its way to becoming a joke. The Onion is out with some fictionalized person in the street interview comments responding to this question: “Many are voicing concern over Bush’s recent approval of a deal allowing a company based in the United Arab Emirates, who had ties to the Sept. 11 hijackers, to monitor security of select U.S. ports. What do you think?” (Note: no one has actually claims the UAE government had ties to 911 hijackers.)

"Blake Greenberg, Teaching Assistant "Great. We'll be the laughingstock of the Muslim world once they get word of how many tons of flax we import each year."

P.R. Williams, Dental Hygienist "I think that we should have a little faith in these people. I mean, they were gracious enough to take Michael Jackson off our hands."


Even as I still believe the security concerns on this issue are exaggerated, the deal itself should be scrutinized because it illustrates the sleazy way the Bush White House does business.

First, there was the report that Bush himself didn’t even know the deal had gone down but was already defending it. Typical. But that’s on the surface. What went deeper was an earlier Executive Order mandating that publicly owned infrastructure projects be privatized. That has yet to be discussed.

I have heard some wild rumors like the deal is really about Washington using the UAE to invade Iraq before that country shifts from a dollar based oil economy to a Euro one. Evidence. None.

The conspiracy crowd is out with a flurry of suggestions that Dubai and the UAE are tied to bin Laden.

James Ridgeway offers this view in the Village Voice:

" WASHINGTON, D.C.-No matter what Bush and his supporters say, there is indisputable evidence of tight connections between the United Arab Emirates and leadership of both the Taliban and Al Qaeda. The country is the center of financial activity in the Persian Gulf, and has next to no laws controlling money laundering.Two of the hijackers came from the UAE and hijacker money was laundered through the UAE. The details are spelled out in documents in the government's case against Moussaoui.

"The ties with bin Laden and the Taliban reach far back into the '90s.
Prominent Persian Gulf officials, including members of the UAE royal
family, and businessmen would fly to Kandahar on UAE and private jets for
hunting expeditions, the Los Angeles Times reported in 2001. In addition
to ranking UAE ministers, these parties included Saudi big wigs like
Prince Turki, the former Saudi intelligence minister who now is ambassador to the U.S...."

See VillageVoice.com

Alleged hunting trips in the 90's do not prove evil intent in 2006. do they?
The people who run the ports company say the UAE government has nothing to do with their company. One and two do not necessarily add up to five!


As we go deeper into this morass we learn also of secret deals as reported by AP:

WASHINGTON - The Bush administration secretly required a company http://www.gulfnews.com/home/index.htmlin the United Arab Emirates to cooperate with future U.S. investigations before approving its takeover of operations at six American ports, according to documents obtained by The Associated Press.

“As part of the $6.8 billion purchase, state-owned Dubai Ports World agreed to reveal records on demand about "foreign operational direction" of its business at U.S. ports, the documents said. Those records broadly include details about the design, maintenance or operation of ports and equipment.

“The administration did not require Dubai Ports to keep copies of business records on U.S. soil, where they would be subject to court orders. It also did not require the company to designate an American citizen to accommodate U.S. government requests. Outside legal experts said such obligations are routinely attached to U.S. approvals of foreign sales in other industries.”


The criticism of deal shifted yesterday from an almost exclusive focus on threats to national security to concerns about Presidential decision making and sanity. Maureen Dowd wrote: “Same old pattern: a stupid national security decision is made in secret, blowing off checks and balances, and the president' s out of the loop.”


As for security, Forbes interviewed the westerner who runs the Dubai based company:

”A top executive of Dubai Ports World said concerns that his company would help terrorists enter the US are 'nonsense' as he defended its deal to assume management of six US ports.

“Ted Bilkey, chief operating officer of Dubai Ports, told CNN television that his company is already working closely with US security and military officials around the world, and that the United Arab Emirates government, which owns the company, has 'nothing to do' with its operations.”


The New York Times now seems to agree on its front page today: “Most experts seem to agree that the gaping holes in security at ports have little to do with the nationality of who is running them.”

Gulf News in Dubai quotes Scott McClellan at the White House as saying that the intelligence community had looked at the deal, which allows DP World to manage six US ports, and saw no national security threat. McClellan said Bush believes approving the deal was right.

"We shouldn't be holding a Middle Eastern company to a different standard than a British company," said McClellan, adding that a cancellation of the deal would send "a terrible message" to US allies in the Arab world."

I have no confidence necessarily in the intelligence of US intelligence but, so far, I have seen little evidence aside from guilt by possible association that the Dubai company will compromise security any more than the British company did.


That’s the way many in the Middle East see the US reaction to the deal. Rashid Saleh Al Oraimy writes in Gulf News”

”Even since Islamophobia became the active currency in the hands of US rightists, who invent a new bogus enemy every new day, the symptoms of such a syndrome (Islamophobia) have begun appearing in various segments in the West, whether open-minded or narrow-minded, liberal or fanatic.

“Islamophobia is rising and has become like an infectious disease that spreads amidst political and media circles in the West. In its editorial on Thursday, February 16, The New York Times, which prides itself as the first newspaper that speaks of US liberalism, called on the US administration to reconsider the decision that gives Dubai Ports World control over London-based P&O, which operates the Port of New York, and other US ports….

“Discrepancy and bad faith in the editorial can come under the famous saying: "Explaining an obvious matter makes it more complicated."



Not to be outdone by demagoguery on the liberal side of the spectrum, the right-wing Accuracy in Media is demanding an investigation of Arab investors in US media companies. Oddly, this release came to me via a progressive PR firm.

”With the media raising a hue and cry about an Arab company managing U.S. ports, Accuracy in Media (AIM) editor Cliff Kincaid today urged a congressional inquiry into how Arabs are buying into major U.S. media companies.

"Shares in Time Warner and News Corporation (parent of Fox News) are being sold to powerful Arab investors without any national controversy," Kincaid noted. "But with the media being a critical battlefield in the war on terror, Arab financial ties to Western news organizations must be thoroughly examined."

"Kincaid said that he found it strange that the U.S. media have buried the news that Istithmar, an investment company based in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), the same country involved in the port controversy, recently acquired a stake in Time Warner.”

Have these guys ever heard of globalization—the contemporary economic order in which US companies buy into companies elsewhere and they do the same in the West? Are they aware that News Corp was a FOREIGN Australian company financed by 256 banks worldwide, including money from Saudi investors?

They repeat the charge that a Saudi prince who is a News Corp investor "boasted" of controlling Fox News content at a Dubai Media conference. I was there and he did no such thing. He was complaining that the riots in Paris was being described as "Muslim Riots" when they were not religious but protests against police abuse and economic discrimination. He called Rupert Murdoch to complain. Murdoch agreed with him, and had the graphics used in the coverage corrected.


Da’ud Mohammed sends along this related item:

”From Lou Dobbs: Michael Kreitzer says, "This is the first time since the 1800s that a foreign government, as compared with a foreign company, has actually tried to take control of the security at our ports."

“One of the participants in the Lou Dobbs "ports story" was neocon Frank Gaffney, president of the Center for Security Policy, signer of the Project for a New American Century doc, and author of War Footing: 10 Steps America Must Take to Prevail in the War for the Free World.”


MAPUTO, Mozambique -(wires) A powerful earthquake struck Mozambique early Thursday morning, shaking buildings and forcing people from hundreds of miles around to dash into the streets for safety. There were no immediate reports of injuries.


Bill Quigley writes: “Six Months after Katrina: Who Was Left Behind
The people left behind in the evacuation of New Orleans after Katrina are the same people left behind in rebuilding of New Orleans - the poor, the sick, the elderly, the disabled and children - mostly African-American.’


The hip-hop coalition announces: ”On March 1st, this country is going to put mothers and children, Katrina Survivors into the streets to become Americas new homeless, while trailers sink in the ground in Hope, Arkansas. President Bush promised to spend whatever it takes to ensure the recovery of the Gulf Coast region. He promised to ensure that the displaced would be able to return home. He has broken his promise to Katrina survivors and to this nation.

"We need you to come to Washington DC on February 28, 2006 to demand a stop to evictions, demand trailers for survivors and demand the passing of H.R. 4197.”

Regional Context from Institute of Southern Studies:
”SOUTH LEADS IN INCOME INEQUALITY: A recent study finds that income inequality has grown nationally over the last two decades. Six of the 10 states with the most inequality are in the South, and of the 10 states where inequality grew fastest over the last decade, five are in the South. (Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, February 2006).”

How Original! Israeli minister calls Palestinians “axis of evil”


”Indian Scientist's Visa Denial Sparks Outrage"A decision two weeks ago by a U.S. consulate in India to refuse a visa to a prominent Indian scientist has triggered heated protests in that country and set off a major diplomatic flap on the eve of President Bush's first visit to India."

Washington Press.com
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*This Media Moment
Epoch Times highlights a new study from the World Association of Christian Communications showing that women are barely present in the news worldwide.


Linda, a reader sent me ”an interesting comparison of press coverage that provides an interesting model for individuals and groups concerned about media coverage to use in their own blogs/writing. I learned of this through the blog umbrella Global Voices On Line:

”Rami writes a comparative study, which looks into how different online mediums covered the Israeli force raid on Balata refugee camp, near Nablus, Palestine. The criteria for choosing the websites under study were based on the largest readership: The two largest Israeli online news services, the two largest Palestinian online news services, and the two largest sources for neighboring Jordanian readers, being the Jordan Times newspaper and Aljazeera TV channel.

Rami concludes that Al Jazeera TV (in English) was the most balanced coverage on this news item.


Yesterday, I shared a memo from veteran AP correspondent and bureau chief Mort Rosenbllum to the head of the vast news organization's board. Here’s more on his concerns

"The point is: what is the AP? I worked for six executive editors, four head guys, and a zillion Board members. In a non-profit cooperative, these jobs amount to temporary public trusts. AP is that network of people out where it counts, the bylines you know; the young hopefuls; and all those invaluable “locals” you’ve never heard of who are your strongest link to reality. “AP” stands for reliable news, however difficult it may be to gather and whomever it may irritate. After air, water and food, it is the most basic of human needs.

“Recently in Buenos Aires where I was bureau chief from 1973 to 1976, I reread your new editors’ statement of principles. It stresses what won’t go on the wire, with emphasis on anonymous sources. But any reporter knows that what is not said is often far more important than what is. Sources who risk dismissal or death for telling the truth depend on anonymity.

“AP broke the news of how the Argentine military was “disappearing” many thousands because a troubled U.S. embassy spook told me about it on very deep background. We defied death squads to take the story to the wire, step by step, with our editors’ support in a way that would be impossible today. Back then, a bureau chief, a news editor, and three English-language writers worked with a sizable Argentine staff. This allowed us to go find news, not merely react to it in case it wandered across our desk.

“This time, the only English-language writer – the bureau chief – was on a well-earned vacation. His backup had been let go. I know him to be a good hand, eager to get out more. But like all bureau chiefs, he is tied down with daily planning schedules and time-wasting process generated by distant bureaucrats….

"The new buzzword is profitability. But AP is a .org, not a .com, with a nobler purpose. The “essential global news” whatever, your new branders’ slogan, has been reality since 1848, when editors formed a cooperative to cover stories beyond their own reach. The more newspapers and broadcasters – AP’s collective owners -- slash staffs and have to guess at the news from a distance, the more AP is vital to sane, safe life on earth.

God knows the old AP had its failings. But when you boast of Mark Twain’s and Gandhi’s encomiums, you mean AP’s endangered spirit. The historic role is to report the world, not to enrich shareholders. With technology and security, the price of foreign news is rising fast. Publishers who seek 25 to 30 percent profits can fill their papers with AP copy at a fraction of what staff writers cost. But can they then insist that AP dues increase at less than inflation?,…

Jason Salzman writes: Denver Post's early poll a disservice: Candidates slighted in shallow, nearly meaningless endeavor

”A newspaper should conduct a poll to reflect public opinion, not formulate it.

"But that's what the The Denver Post did by publishing a front-page poll last week - fully eight months prior to the November election - creating a perception of public opinion that's shallow at best, meaningless at worst, and certainly a disservice to the public and campaigns of all political stripes.”


” Five successive poll findings by Pew Research Center in the US show that President George W Bush’s poll ratings were in steady decline throughout 2005. These findings were predictable by results obtained from international media research institute Media Tenor which has analyzed media coverage of President Bush in US media outlets.

“Media Tenor’s findings showed month by month increasingly negative media ratings of the President’s performance throughout 2005, once again re-enforcing the conviction that media plays a major role in shaping public perceptions. The findings come at a sensitive time for the Republicans as they gear up for midterm elections. Plagued at home by budget deficits, the interminable Iraq war and a failure to woe support for policies like spreading democracy around the world, the beleaguered US President is getting an equally hard time in media coverage abroad.

“Media Tenor’s analysis of selected media in Europe, the Middle and Asia show as well negative ratings for the President throughout 2005. International conflicts top the themes involving the President, with Middle East media giving this theme significantly more coverage than its counterparts in Europe and Asia. Media ratings regarding the President’s handling of conflicts, terrorism and of foreign affairs in general were predominantly negative in all the media analysed.

“President Bush’s ability to govern and his handling of home affairs and domestic security were equally negatively rated. European media was the most critical of the President followed by the Middle East and Asia medias. Negative ratings reached their highest in the wake of Hurricane Katrina and took another dive when stories involving the rendition of terrorist suspects to other countries by the CIA began to emerge.

Comment on this post...

Your Voices, Your Views
Jess Stanley writes:

”You so kindly helped me with my school media project a few years ago bu letting me ask you some questions about media coverage of September 11th and I got a fantastic mark for it! Well now I am at University studying journalism and writing my thesis about Western news coverage of Africa and the developing world. This is an issue very close to my heart as my father makes documentaries for Unicef etc and I am able to accompany him on trips sometimes and what life is really like in some of these places. I personally feel it to be nothing like the Africa we see represented (is we ever see it!) on our television screens. This is essentially the discussion of my thesis.

“I have read your book the more you watch the less you know...and i really enjoyed it. I would be so so grateful if you might answer a few questions for me about your views regarding Western media. It would just be a few so we could do it via email..or phone, however you wish.

“Of course, no worries if not...and thanks again for having helped me in the past!

“Best wishes and hope to hear back from you,

Thelma Butzlaff writes:

”I appreciate your website and I have already sent in a donation to you... but will do again in the near future. I am an unemployed, single (divorced ) older woman, so I donate as I can. But I send info to your email to lots of different folks.. and I am going to be urging them to subscribe to you...

“I really like the videos that you have put out on your website. The one of security people in Iraq shooting civilians was very disturbing... and important for others to see.. Keep up the good work...”


Eugene Duran is not amused:

”First the media says bush will veto any efforts to ban foreign ownership of our ports then he himself says “to ban foreign ownership would send a bad message” only to later the Whitehouse says he was unaware? Please.”

Peter Rosko asks:

"Please explain why our ports are not managed ENTIRELY by Americans. Wouldn't that be safer and employ more Americans?

Virginia Weldon writes:

"When dealing with the Bush administration, as they throw a rock into the seeming calm waters of our lives, it behooves us to look under the boulder positioned off the shoreline. We have to ask, noting their insatiable proclivity for secrecy and greed, whether privatization, globalization, corporatism, "free-trade" or just plain cronyism isn't under that shoreline boulder. All this flack from a group who never admits anything until their hands are caught in the till, and who today admits they had "blundered" by not getting the facts out earlier is a difficult pill to swallow. They add that they are "confident" that the truth will out. Really?

"There's certainly more here than meets the eye. One has only to consider the vehement threat of veto from a president who has just as vehemently not used the veto in five years.

"So, they have thrown their rock and drawn us into the water. The point is, what have they diverted our attention from? Well, for starters, there's the Libby (Cheney) Abramoff scandal; there's the Able Danger/911 investigation?; there's the NSA secret/domestic wiretapping revelations (no investigation); there's the Katrina disgrace (continuing); there's an unCivil War rioting in Iraq and the building of permanent airfields (we'll never leave there there's the buildup for an attack on Iran in March or whenever (threatening Global nuclear fallout). The list goes on and on. Pick any of the above or shudder to think of what we don't even have a hint about. Why slap such a gauntlet across everyone's face at this time? As the emperor of Homeland Security and utterer of the continuing statement, "I will protect you come what may", this move is like thrusting the Royal hand as a fist into a hornets nest and declaring, I will never pull it out even though I didn't know anything about this situation until a few days ago. Oh, really? Why not?

Tom Nusbaumer of Intervention Magazine: “Good!”


Is it true that there never have been such images? Not according to Afshin who send this along:


Finally have you been watching the new CURRENT channel? They have their own “super news”feature. Check it out:

Thanks for joining us today, Please tell your friends that they can subscribe to the blog for free. Comments: write: dissector@mediachannel.org
For info on my new books: www.newsdissector,org/.store.htm

Check out Mediachannel for more on the March 21th Day of Media War Protests. We are hoping Mediachannel readers will respond this call to action.

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This is most of a newsletter I receive, and it has interesting topics and comments which members submit. Lots of interesting subjects and thoughts. SRH

Saundra Hummer
February 23rd, 2006, 02:46 PM
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