Saturday, September 30, 2006
Habeas Corpus, R.I.P. (1215 - 2006)
The Senate has agreed to give President Bush extraordinary power to detain and try prisoners in the so-called war on terror. The legislation strips detainees of the right to challenge their own detention and gives the President the power to detain them indefinitely.
"Just so long as I'm the dictator . . ."
President Bush is absolutely certain that he has the U.S. and Iraq on the right course, says Woodward. So certain is the president on this matter, Woodward says, that when Mr. Bush had key Republicans to the White House to discuss Iraq, he told them, “I will not withdraw, even if Laura and Barney are the only ones supporting me.”
He's going to be taking advice from his horse next. If Bush playing his gee-tar while New Orleans was drowning didn't remind you of Nero . . .
Isn't that pretty much the definition of a dictatorship -- I will do whatever I want no matter what anyone else says? Maybe it's not control/rule by force, but at the very least it is the OPPOSITE of democracy.
Bush says the Iraqis want us there. This poll demonstrates that the opposite is true :
Most Iraqis Want US Troops Out Within a Year
Say US Presence Provoking More Conflict Than it is Preventing
Approval of Attacks on US-led Forces Rises to 6 in 10
A new WPO poll of the Iraqi public finds that seven in ten Iraqis want US-led forces to commit to withdraw within a year. An overwhelming majority believes that the US military presence in Iraq is provoking more conflict than it is preventing and there is growing confidence in the Iraqi army. If the US made a commitment to withdraw, a majority believes that this would strengthen the Iraqi government. Support for attacks on US-led forces has grown to a majority position—now six in ten. Support appears to be related to a widespread perception, held by all ethnic groups, that the US government plans to have permanent military bases in Iraq.
. . . . . . . .
Bush says everything in Iraq is going just fine. "See, I just listen ta the folks on the ground. Them generals tell me ain't no 'civil war' goin on over thar."
I hate cliches, but seriously: "Who are you going to believe? Me, or your lying eyes?"
More on Woodward's new book at ThinkProgress: New Woodward Book Details Multiple Bush Cover-Ups Over Iraq
Bush: "I don't know Jack"
Abromoff scandal officially hovering over the White House:
And as some have pointed out, it's important to realize that the 10 meetings with Rove are only those SPECIFICALLY SCHEDULED for one-on-one meetings; with almost 500 White House visits, it's very probable that there were countless others; and once he's admitted into the White House, who knows how many people he met with how many times?
And I have not seen this reported lately, but we should recall that this was known before yesterday's new revelations:
Jack Abramoff was a member of the Bush Administration's 2001 Transition Advisory Team assigned to the Department of the Interior. Abramoff befriended the incoming Deputy Secretary of the Interior, J. Steven Griles. In the first 10 months of 2001, the Abramoff lobbying team logged almost 200 contacts with the new Administration.
[ source: Wikipedia ]
On the media in general . . .
I'm pleased that the media is starting to actually do their job, to an extent. But the problem is, it's not because they're courageous or because they have integrity or anything of the sort; in my view, it's apparent that they're actually still taking the easy route -- that is, NOW it's o.k. to criticize the government, because about 75% of the population disapproves of the president and Congress. It still seems like they're putting ratings and "giving people what they want" comes before true investigative journalism. (Probably I'm stating the obvious here -- but it's worth repeating, I think.) And they're STILL going along with this march-to-war-with-Iran rubbish -- which is completely unfathomable to me.
Monday, September 25, 2006
But anyway, here's a sort of wrap-up of recent events and my take on them.
1.) Bush now admits that indeed we DO have secret CIA prisons. After blatantly lying about this previously, and calling any such suggestions "absurd." Is this a major scandal? Apparently not, in the era of Bush. NOTHING is a fucking scandal, apparently.
It's now official: The Republicans are the Party of Torture. (Vote Torture in '06!). What the HELL is wrong with John McCain? Sometimes I like the guy, but this is truly outrageous.
A good post here: Unclaimed Territory - by Glenn Greenwald: Everyone -- including Democrats -- agrees to pretend that Bush "compromised" on torture
I don't have any new insight into this, but I think it's worth repeating what every sane person with a conscience has said: it doesn't matter whether torture "works" or not -- don't fucking torture people. After we murdered 2 or 3 million Vietnamese (we seem not to know, nor to care much), it's easy to see how they might hate us (the "savage enemy") enough to want to torture John McCain to get information about what other villages we planned to bomb in the near future; does that JUSTIFY it? Beyond that, it DOESN'T work; it provides BAD intelligence. It's part of the reason we mistakenly invaded Iraq: we tortured some guy until he told us what we wanted to hear (that Saddam supported and trained Al Qaeda), which we now know is completely false (and the guy, of course, later recanted and explained that he'd made it all up simply to make the pain stop). This is now public record. There are numerous cases like this. The only way it's usefull is if your goal is not the truth (or actual "intelligence") but forced confessions that you can use for political ends and propaganda -- which is about as "EVIL" as anything I can think of.
Just recently a Canadian was finally released after being unjustly imprisoned for something like five years, "rendered" to Syria where he was tortured, and then found to be completely innocent by a Canadian investigation. Alberto Gonzales' response? : Lie, deny, dismiss. Not even an apology.
So after almost 60 years, suddenly the Geneva Conventions have become "vague" and "ambiguous." Whaa??? "What does 'degrading' mean? What does 'dignity' mean? What does 'human' mean? It's just so VAGUE!" As a Christian, Bush should maybe simply apply the Golden Rule? What would I consider degrading or dehumanizing if was done to me? It's not that hard. And in any case, as signatories to the Geneva Conventions, they are the SUPREME LAW; neither the President of a country nor the Congress has the right to "re-interpret" them -- this is ludicrous. The fact is -- and it's clear for everyone to see -- all they're doing is covering their asses, and trying to make the war crimes they've committed legal -- even retroactively.
And when that argument doesn't work, they say "well, these aren't 'soldiers,' these are 'terrorists' -- 'unlawful enemy combatants' -- so the Geneva Accords don't apply to them anyway. That logic is faulty for a number of reasons. 1.) it doesn't matter; the Geneva Accords apply to ANY PERSON who is captured. 2.) in the case of Iraq, we're not fighting a nation's military (there isn't one); we're fighting an insurgency; the fact that they don't wear a uniform is neither surprising nor relevant. Civilians don't wear uniforms -- does that mean they have no rights? By this logic, the Jews who in Warsaw who fought the Nazis would have no rights either, and could justifiable by tortured. Which brings me to the MAIN point: when you illegally invade and occupy another country, it is YOU who have NO RIGHTS; having already committed a grave breach of the UN Charter, you are in no position to be re-interpreting the Geneva Accords on a whim; you have ONLY OBLIGATIONS AND RESPONSIBILITIES.
It's not just about how we treat our prisoners; it's also about the standard -- which must be UNIVERSALLY APPLIED and adhered to -- which affects how OUR soldiers must be treated if captured. Bush has been asked on several occasions about this, directly, and he always evades the questions, calls it "purely hypothetical," then he gets real mad and shouts at the reporter about something tangential. (If you caught his press conference at the Rose Garden last week -- have you ever seen this sick bastard so rude, arrogant and hostile to every reporter who asked him a polite question? It was a new low -- even for him -- and literally made me want to strangle him to death with my bare hands.)
Audio: Sam Seder -
"They cut off heads, we should be able to cut off heads, too!" That's the moral logic of these sick bastards?
I've said before, there are people in this world who could be tortured to death and I really couldn't care less. (Zarqawi, for example.) But these pro-torture Republicans are LYING when they say that all of our prisoners are evil terrorists, or "unlawful enemy combatants" (whatever that means -- apparently anyone Bush declares to be one -- but if we're to take the words serious it would apply to every U.S. soldier in Iraq, since they are fighting an "unlawful" war). We're always forced to accept the absurd premise that every single detainee is somehow sub-human, the worst of the worst, people who would cut your throat just as soon as look at you, pure evil. What we know -- which isn't a lot, I grant you -- is that most of them appear to be completely innocent. Most of them were NOT captured "on the battlefield in Afghanistan" as we're told. There were sweeps, people get caught up in them, many are simply people who were in the wrong place at the wrong time. Victims. By-standers. Civilians. We paid out huge sums of money to the Northern Alliance and others for intelligence -- name someone you don't like or have a grudge against, or even some random person, get paid a bunch of money. LOTS of innocent people.
But again: it's the PRINCIPLE which is so crucial. "Rough interrogation techniques" aside, we're throwing out Habeas Corpus, here. These psychos are pushing for the ability to kidnap people at random, hodl them indefinitely without a lawyer or any formal charges or any judicial review or oversight, without the ability to speak to their families or to the press, to torture people, try them in secret military tribunals with secret evidence that the accused is never entitled to see and thus cannot possibly rebut, evidence gained through COERSION, and then execute people if they are in fact convicted based on the secret and coerced "evidence" against them. Can you think of ANYTHING that more aptly defines that term "Un-American"??
2.) A few words in defense of Hugo Chavez: yes, his rhetoric is over-the-top at times. Yes, he is too eager to befriend the leaders of certain nations (apparently adopting the logic that "the enemy of my enemy is my friend"). But let's be honest here. First off, he was being playful and joking around -- if you watch the video of his remarks at the U.N. you can see that, and people LAUGHED -- why? Because it was a joke. But more importantly, I think he gives Bush too much credit: he is a demon, or minion at best. Secondly, you can call him "rude" all you want -- big fuckin deal, he was "rude." If you're George Bush -- or ANY American -- you should be thanking your lucky stars that Chavez is as NICE as he is. We tried to overthrow his twice-democratically-elected popular government with a violent COUP. If Chavez had reacted in the way that Bush would have -- had there been a coup against the Bush regime orchestrated by a foreign power -- Bush would be in a coffin right now, and the U.S. would likely have been bombed into the stone age. In short, I think he's more than entitled to make a few "rude" remarks. (Same goes for Castro, and many others in Central and South America.)
3.) This Just In! Iraq War leads to increase in terrorism! Shocking! Who could have foreseen this? . . . What? . . . Oh, pretty much everyone not only could have but did? . . . Oh. Well. Ummm . . . Never mind, then.
4.) We Are Conducting Military Operations Inside Iran Right Now. The Evidence Is Overwhelming. What hippie commy pinko conspiracy nut is saying this nonsense, anyway? . . . What? . . . It's retired Air Force Col. Sam Gardiner? . . . Oh. Damn. Umm . . . Guess he's another one who's "drunk the Kool-Aid" of the crazy moon bat lefty conspiracy nuts, then. Just like Scott Ritter.
5.) A Senate report confirms conclusively what every thinking person already knows: that Saddam had NO links with Al Qaeda; and that rather than being in league with Zarqawi, as the Bush Administration claimed, Saddam considered him an enemy and a threat and tried to capture him (not to mention the fact that Zarqawi was in northern Kurdistan -- an area NOT in Saddam's control and indeed part of the "no-fly zone" in which Saddam's forces could not step foot without being attacked by either the Kurdish forces or U.S. war planes. Why didn't we blame the Kurds -- our good pals -- for "supporting" and "harboring" Zarqawi?)
And the Bush Mafia's response to this report? The usual. Lies, lies, and more lies. Cheney (who admitted he hadn't even bothered to read the report) repeated the same lies; Bush repeated the same lies; Condi repeated the same lies. The people are pathological and have absolutely no shame. None.
Audio: another good clip from the Sam Seder show, in which he smacks down a caller desperately clinging to belief in the lies of Bush Co.
6.) Bush Co. is now QUOTING BIN LADEN! What is going on here? The Republicans have been trying to justify the Iraq War by again calling it "the Central Front in the War On Terror" -- and to prove it, they quote Bin Laden! Apparently they now take him at his word, believe everything he says, and agree with him.
That aside, the premise is meaningless. Not only did they help Bin Laden exponentially in recruiting by fulfilling his prediction that the U.S. would invade Iraq, but ANY muslim country in the Middle East that we invaded and occupied in this way would of course be considered by Bin Laden as the "Central Front" in his Holy War against us -- Egypt, Pakistan, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Iran, etc. etc. The fact that Al Qaeda is fighting us in Iraq (and by all accounts they're a small faction -- probably less than 5% of fighters) only goes to show that we have turned Iraq into a training ground and rallying cry for terrorists, radicalized and united Muslims against us.
7.) Chris Wallace has his smug smirking ass handed to him by Bill Clinton on FOX "News". There are many things I dislike strongly about Clinton, but I cannot stomach these fucking right-wing bastards -- who WILL NOT TOLERATE any SUGGESTION that Bush dropped the ball before 9/11 -- trying to blame Clinton for it.
He might be slightly disingenous when he says that "no one had ever heard of Al Qaeda" in 1993 (it's somewhat hard to say now exactly what was known then -- here's a timeline that sheds SOME light. But by most accounts I've read, Al Qaeda (as an enemy of the U.S. -- as opposed to the friendly Al Qaeda forces in the form of the Mujahideen which was Reagan's darling group of allies, trained, funded and organized by the Reagan Administration to fight the Russians in Afghanistan) didn't really exist until after the Gulf War (when Bin Laden WANTED TO FIGHT AND DRIVE SADDAM OUT OF KUWAIT, which is when he turned against both the Saudi Royalty and the U.S. So it's not clear whether or not two years later anyone really understood what this group was thinking, what threat they posed, etc.
In any case, 99% of what Clinton says is right, and while I (like many on the left) get tired of being an apologist for Clinton, nothing gives me more pleasure than seeing a FOX "News" pimp or whore getting bitch-slapped -- they deserve it, and then some. (How much you want to bet you won't be seeing Richard Clarke on FOX any time soon?)
And here's a revealing test for you -- a challenge that I hereby issue to anyone who supports Bush and yet blames Clinton for being "soft on terror": name me 3 Republicans -- JUST THREE -- who consistently spoke out about terrorism during the '90s; who brought up the name "Osama Bin Laden" more than once during that decade; who criticized Clinton for NOT invading/bombing/attacking terrorists enough, etc. Please, please: to quote the words of an Honorable and Distinguished Statesman: "Bring It On." (You're right, I mis-quoted him; it should be "Bring 'EM on." I totally took his words out of context and distorted their meaning, for which I apologize sincerely.)
7.) Bush continues to Flip Flop on Bin Laden. After saying "I don't really care where he is" -- on SEVERAL occasions -- and then lying and denying it in the 2004 presidential debates, he says AGAIN that he's not concerned about Bin Laden.
Last link (I've been listening to Sam Seder a lot again lately . . .) : Number of subpoenas issued to the White House - Clinton vs. Bush. If this doesn't make it sink in how crucial it is for SOME OVERSIGHT of this Republican-controlled government, probably nothing will.
Sunday, September 03, 2006
Ethnically Cleansing the Entire Middle East
In a little-noted article printed in early August in the Armed Forces Journal, a monthly magazine for officers and leaders in the United States military community, early retired Major Ralph Peters sets out the latest ideas in current US strategic thinking. And they are extremely disturbing.
Ethnically Cleansing the Entire Middle East
Maj. Peters, formerly assigned to the Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Intelligence where he was responsible for future warfare, candidly outlines how the map of the Middle East should be fundamentally re-drawn, in a new imperial endeavour designed to correct past errors. "Without such major boundary revisions, we shall never see a more peaceful Middle East," he observes, but then adds wryly: "Oh, and one other dirty little secret from 5,000 years of history: Ethnic cleansing works."
. . . . . . . .
He chastises the United States and its coalition partners for missing "a glorious chance" to fracture Iraq, which "should have been divided into three smaller states immediately."
. . . . . . . .
"We are entering a new American century", he says, in a veiled reference to the Bush administration Project of the same name founded in the same year he was writing. In the new century, "we will become still wealthier, culturally more lethal, and increasingly powerful. We will excite hatreds without precedent."
. . . . . . . .
"There will be no peace. At any given moment for the rest of our lifetimes, there will be multiple conflicts in mutating forms around the globe. Violent conflict will dominate the headlines, but cultural and economic struggles will be steadier and ultimately more decisive. The de facto role of the US armed forces will be to keep the world safe for our economy and open to our cultural assault. To those ends, we will do a fair amount of killing."
. . . . . . . .
US generals had repeatedly war-gamed a prospective conflict with Iran, but consistently found that the simulations predicted "an absolute nuclear disaster", from which no clear winner would emerge. The scenarios gamed were so dismal, he said, that the generals briefed administration officials to avoid such a war at all costs. However, the source said that the Bush administration is ignoring the fears of the US military.
Friday, September 01, 2006
Real Wages Fail to Match a Rise in Productivity - New York Times
With the economy beginning to slow, the current expansion has a chance to become the first sustained period of economic growth since World War II that fails to offer a prolonged increase in real wages for most workers.
. . . . . . . .