Friday, May 11, 2007

A Defeat for Bush

I don't usually post press releases from advocacy groups, but last night the House--in a bipartisan jab--defeated Bush on a significant front, and the action happened too late to make the morning papers. Here's the ACLU crowing about it:

WASHINGTON, DC -The American Civil Liberties Union today cheered an amendment to the House Intelligence Reauthorization Bill that would prevent illegal domestic wiretapping by the government. The amendment, by Representatives Adam Schiff (D-CA) and Jeff Flake (R-AZ), will reaffirm the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) as the only legal means of collecting electronic intelligence surveillance. The amendment was passed late last night by a vote of 245-178.

"Congress has signaled that it will not allow the president to continue the National Security Agency's illegal eavesdropping," said Caroline Fredrickson, Director of the ACLU's Washington Legislative Office. "Passage of the Schiff/Flake amendment is Congress drawing a line in the sand. This amendment reaffirms that FISA is the law and it needs to be followed."

Congress originally passed FISA to provide the exclusive authority for the wiretapping of people in the United States in foreign intelligence investigations to protect national security. As the Senate Report noted, FISA "was curb the practice by which the Executive Branch may conduct warrantless electronic surveillance on its own unilateral determination that national security justifies it."

Passage of this amendment makes clear that the House will not capitulate to separate legislative proposals by the Administration that would give the NSA the freedom to snoop into innocent Americans lives. While the Administration claims that its proposed FISA changes would "modernize" the law, in truth they would gut the judicial oversight mechanisms carefully crafted to prevent abuse, while expanding the scope of communications that can be intercepted under FISA. The ACLU noted that, despite many recent hearings about "modernization" and "technology neutrality," the administration has not publicly provided Congress with a single example of how current FISA standards have either prevented the intelligence community from using new technologies, or proven unworkable for the agents tasked with following them.

Here's how CQ Today described the action:

Lawmakers adopted a major amendment to the legislation reaffirming that the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA, PL 95-511) should govern any domestic electronic surveillance used to collect foreign intelligence. The 245-178 vote to adopt the amendment, which was offered by Reps. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., and Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., represented a setback for the Bush administration. It has recently renewed its lobbying effort to convince Congress to expand surveillance authority beyond FISA's current boundaries.

Note that Flake, a conservative, libertarian-ish Republican, cosponsored the amendment and that a band of privacy-respecting GOPers voted with him. And recall that Vice President Dick Cheney used to decry critics of beyond-FISA wiretapping (such as the NSA program that eavesdropped, without a warrant, on international phone calls involving American citizens and residents within the United States) as people who were not serious about stopping terrorists. That demagogic scare tactic didn't work, and House members are exerting (finally?) their legislative prerogative to keep executive power in check.

IT'S BLOGGINGHEADS TIME, AGAIN. Once more, Jim Pinkerton and I wrestle with the vexing issues of the day, such as this question: was Pinkerton's crush on former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee diminished after Huckabee, a back-of-the-pack GOP presidential candidate, declared his belief in creationism? After all, Pinkerton is a man of science and technology. Click here to see the entire diavlog. Or if you just want to know my suggestion for how Paul Wolfowitz can cover his legal fees, click here.

MORE ME. Also up is the latest installment of the "Corn & Miniter Show" on Each week, Richard Miniter, a conservative journalist, and I discuss and debate the recent hijinks in the presidential race. Watch it here.

Posted by David Corn at May 11, 2007 11:31 AM


Mookie said...

Are they growing spines?


" "Would you favor or oppose the impeachment by Congress of President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney?"

Favor: 39 percent.

Oppose: 55 percent.

Undecided/Don't Know: 6 percent.

The survey of 621 registered voters has been weighted for age, race, gender and political affiliation. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percent. "

Almost there.

capt said...

"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

"The country is headed toward a single and splendid government of an aristocracy founded on banking institutions and monied corporations, and if this tendency continues it will be the end of freedom and democracy, the few will be ruling and riding over the plundered plowman and the beggar.... Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826)

In the 435-member House of Representatives, 123 elected officials earned at least one million dollars last year, according to recently released financial records made public each year. Next door in the ornate Senate, whose blue-blooded pedigree includes a Kennedy and a Rockefeller, one in three people are millionaires. By comparison, less than one percent of Americans make seven-figure incomes.: Source: Millionaires Fill US Congress Halls, Agence France Press, June 30, 2004

Democracy [is] when the indigent, and not the men of property, are the rulers: Aristotle

"Let no man turn aside, ever so slightly, from the broad path of honour, on the plausible pretence that he is justified by the goodness of his end. All good ends can be worked out by good means." : Charles Dickens


Thanks ICH Newsletter!

David B. Benson said...

Is that a veto proof margin?

What about the Senate?

capt said...

Nothing is easier than self-deceit. For what each man wishes, that he also believes to be true: Demosthenes

As long as people believe in absurdities, they will continue to commit atrocities: Voltaire

The tale of the slaughter at Wounded Knee in South Dakota is [an] example too well known to require detailed repeating here, but what is less well known about that massacre is that, a week and a half before it happened, the editor of the South Dakota's Aberdeen Saturday Pioneer -- a gentle soul named L. Frank Baum, who later became famous as the author of The Wizard of Oz -- urged the wholesale extermination of all America's native peoples: "The nobility of the Redskin is extinguished, and what few are left are a pack of whining curs who lick the hand that smites them. The Whites, by law of conquest, by justice of civilization, are masters of the American continent, and the best safety of the frontier settlements will be secured by the total annihilation of the few remaining Indians. Why not annihilation? Their glory has fled, their spirit broken, their manhood effaced; better that they should die than live the miserable wretches that they are.": David E. Stannard

"We used to have a War Office, but now we have a Ministry of Defence, nuclear bombs are now described as deterrents, innocent civilians killed in war are now described as collateral damage and military incompetence leading to US bombers killing British soldiers is cosily described as friendly fire. Those who are in favour of peace are described as mavericks and troublemakers, whereas the real militants are those who want the war. Tony Benn


Thanks ICH Newsletter!

capt said...

The Case For Defeatism

"No one in the Administration has ever said what victory would actually look like [in Iraq]," neoconservative pundit Shelby Steele claimed on The Wall Street Journal’s hawkish editorial page. "Without a description of victory, a war has no goal." On the other hand, a war without a purpose can’t be lost.

The trouble is, Bush did define what victory in Iraq would look like. By Bush’s standards, we lost.

"[Iraq] possesses and produces chemical and biological weapons," he told a crowd in Cincinnati four months before the war. "It is seeking nuclear weapons…If we know Saddam Hussein has dangerous weapons today–and we do [sic]–does it make any sense for the world to wait to confront him as he grows even stronger and develops even more dangerous weapons?"

If the U.S. invasion force had found stockpiles of biological, chemical or nuclear weapons in Iraq, we could have claimed victory. Although critics would have remained disgusted with the sleazy origins of this roll-the-dice war, we would have been forced to concede that Bush had validated his policy of preemption.

If throngs of grateful Iraqis had greeted our troops as liberators (the staged psy-ops downing of the Saddam statue by U.S. marines and 150 of Ahmed Chalabi’s goons doesn’t count), the war would have ended in a victory, albeit not the one we were promised.

By late 2003 it had become clear that neither of Bush’s war aims would be achieved. Iraq was, by definition, lost. Only one option remained to slap a good face on a debacle that had already killed several hundred thousand Iraqis: take credit for getting rid of Saddam and get out.

"The United States has removed a tyrant it helped to install and maintained in power for decades," Bush would have said, had I written his "Mission Accomplished" speech. "Now we will withdraw our forces and allow the sovereign and free people of Iraq to build their future without foreign interference. We ask nothing for ourselves, but we stand ready to help them–no matter what form of government they ultimately choose–if they ask. We offer our deepest apologies and our best wishes."


capt said...

Poll shows Congress’s approval is dropping

Voters are growing more skeptical of the Democratic-led Congress, according to a new AP-Ipsos poll released Friday.
The number of adults approving how Congress does its job fell five percent over the past month to 35 percent. It is now at the same level as President Bush’s approval rating, according to the poll.

An even sharper drop occurred among Democrats. While 55 percent last month had approved of the job Congress is doing, the number dropped to 48 percent this month. The reason for the decline is a 12-percent plunge of support from Democratic women, according to the poll.

A bright spot for Democrats is that Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) continues to be seen in a more favorable light than Bush.

According to the survey, 45 percent approve of the job she is doing.

The poll used telephone interviews with 1,000 adults and has a margin of error of three percent.


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We aren't stupid - we Americans. People know darn good and well we need an impeachment. The Democratic majority doesn't have the stomach for impeachment and "we the people" see that as spineless and lacking certain lower circular male anatomy.

I have predicted that no impeachment spells big time trouble for the next stolen election.


capt said...

Fluorescent Nanoparticles Serve As Flashlights In Living Cells

Scientists from the University of Twente, The Netherlands, have successfully exploited the optical properties of fluorescent nanoparticles to broaden the scope of single-cell microscopy. By using nanoparticles, they succeeded in combining two different optical microscopy techniques on the same cell. This opens exciting new possibilities for cellular imaging. Henk-Jan van Manen and Cees Otto from the Biophysical Engineering Group of the MESA+ Institute for Nanotechnology describe their results in Nano Letters.

The ‘quantum dot’ nanoparticles used by Van Manen and Otto replace existing fluorescent labels that are employed to enable the cell’s biomolecules to light up under the microscope. While fluorescence microscopy continues to be instrumental in unraveling the intricate biological processes that take place inside living cells, it would be even more informative to combine it with the intracellular chemical analysis capabilities of vibrational spectroscopy techniques such as Raman microscopy. Common fluorescent labels are not suitable for this combination, however, because the much stronger fluorescence overshadows the intrinsic weak Raman signals coming from cells. By taking fluorescent quantum dots that emit light in a wavelength region that is well-separated from Raman signals, the Dutch researchers now show that fluorescence microscopy can indeed be combined with Raman microscopy on the same cell.


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The Fluorescent Nanoparticles use about a third of the energy of the incandescent nanoparticles . . .


capt said...

My Lingering Doubts about Obama's Foreign Policy

From his uncritical stance of Israel's treatment of Palestinians to his statements about Iran, Barack Obama seems to be trying to prove his hawkish credentials.

Senator Barack Obama has become a major celebrity, a truth that is now almost a cliché. His campaign has raised massive amounts of funding. He draws large and enthusiastic crowds when he appears. Often described as charismatic, he is more importantly smart and well spoken.

Yet before I jump into his campaign, I have a few questions that I first want to share with you and which I hope he will address in the not-too-distant future.

There is a way in which I cannot tell who is the real Senator Obama. For one, he has not carved out -- at least as of this writing -- any cutting edge issues where he is taking the lead and defining the terrain. Second, and to some extent more troubling, he permits people to see and assume in him what they want to see and assume. I have said to many of my friends that this situation reminds me of an episode from the original Star Trek series where there was a creature that appears to the viewer the way the viewer would like to see it.

I am, to add to this, very uneasy about some of the Senator's foreign policy pronouncements, particularly with regard to the Middle East. To his credit, he opposed the Iraq invasion and had the courage to say so. Yet over the last year, he has displayed a peculiarly uncritical stance when it comes to Israel and has all-but-ignored the plight of the Palestinians. This past summer, when Israel launched its massive and deadly assault on Lebanon, the Senator was quite vocal in his support. He seemed to miss the Israeli use of illegal cluster bombs and the lies the Israelis offered for their unapologetic destruction of entire Lebanese civilian communities.


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There will come a day that a kinder and gentler outlook will win.

Who isn't already sick and tired of the "quién es más macho" sandbox play kings?

It is that kind of mentality that has brought us here and into wars.


Ivory Bill Woodpecker said...

Uh, before we cuss the Dems too heartily, we need to remember what happened about 40 years ago, when the Democrats [along with some honorable Republicans--yes, once such people existed] DID show courage and did the right thing in passing the Civil Rights legislation.

My fellow white USAmericans lost little time in punishing the Democrats for that, as the DIShonorable faction of the GOP--which now IS the GOP--used barely-encoded bigotry to become the majority party and remain so until very recently.

Mencken said something to the effect that "Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it, good and hard."

Too many of my fellow palefaces chose their asinine prejudices over THEIR OWN SELF-INTEREST, and they are now getting the government they deserve, good and hard.

I don't blame the Democrats for fearing to go out on a limb again after the way We The People treated them last time they did something brave.

Do not blame the Democrats. Blame Mr. and Ms. Average White Trash American Dumbass. Selah.

From the Arkanshire, IBW

micki said...

Well said, Ivory Bill.

David B. Benson said...

Andrew J. Bacevich writes a reivew of several books in an article entitled The Semiwarriors in the 2007 Apr 25 issue of The Nation. Here is the list of books discussed in the essay:

COMMANDER IN CHIEF: How Truman, Johnson, and Bush Turned a Presidential Power into a Threat to America's Future by Geoffrey Perret.

ARE WE ROME? The Fall of an Empire and the Fate of America by Cullen Murphy

PRESIDENTIAL POWER: Unchecked and Unbalanced by Matthew Crenson & Benjamin Ginsberg

UNCHECKED AND UNBALANCED: Presidential Power in a Time of Terror by Frederick A.O. Schwarz Fr. & Aziz Z. Huq

THE MATADOR'S CAPE: Americca's Reckless Response to Terror by Stephen Holmes

Three excerpts:

Crenson and Ginsberg point out that the problem is not so much President's seizing power as having it handed to them.

Will the errors and excesses of the Bush Administration spell the demise of the imperial presidency? Don't count on it.

In an age of the citizen as consumer-spectator, Americans care enough to complain, but not nearly enough to act. Long live the emperor.

capt said...

President George Washington's Farewell Address September 19, 1796


I have already intimated to you the danger of Parties in the State, with particular reference to the founding of them on Geographical discriminations. Let me now take a more comprehensive view, & warn you in the most solemn manner against the baneful effects of the Spirit of Party, generally.

This Spirit, unfortunately, is inseperable from our nature, having its root in the strongest passions of the human Mind. It exists under different shapes in all Governments, more or less stifled, controuled, or repressed; but in those of the popular form it is seen in its greatest rankness and is truly their worst enemy.

The alternate domination of one faction over another, sharpened by the spirit of revenge natural to party dissention, which in different ages & countries has perpetrated the most horrid enormities, is itself a frightful despotism. But this leads at length to a more formal and permanent despotism. The disorders & miseries, which result, gradually incline the minds of men to seek security & repose in the absolute power of an Individual: and sooner or later the chief of some prevailing faction more able or more fortunate than his competitors, turns this disposition to the purposes of his own elevation, on the ruins of Public Liberty.

Without looking forward to an extremity of this kind (which nevertheless ought not to be entirely out of sight) the common & continual mischiefs of the spirit of Party are sufficient to make it the interest and the duty of a wise People to discourage and restrain it.

It serves always to distract the Public Councils and enfeeble the Public Administration. It agitates the Community with ill founded Jealousies and false alarms, kindles the animosity of one part against another, foments occasionally riot & insurrection. It opens the door to foreign influence & corruption, which find a facilitated access to the government itself through the channels of party passions. Thus the policy and the will of one country, are subjected to the policy and will of another.


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I will never understand the partisan perspective. It simply makes no sense to me. Nobody explains it better than the original GW. Read the whole farewell address. It could increase perspective.


capt said...

The partisan, when he is engaged in a dispute, cares nothing about the rights of the question, but is anxious only to convince his hearers of his own assertions.
~ Plato (427 BC - 347 BC), Dialogues, Phaedo

capt said...

"before we cuss the Dems too heartily"

Cuss the dem's? Nobody deserves a break to offer poor leadership.

Should we not cuss Joe Lieberman? Should we not cuss Zell Miller? How about Diane Fienstein? How about . . . .

Sure - give them all a pass because it is so hard to truly be a dem?

Give them a pass because the history of dem's? You are on your own on that.

I have ALWAYS judged each politician by their actions and NEVER by their words or their party. Take Mr. Jim Webb (among many others) he was GOP until recently, do we give him a break because he is now a dem or do we dis him because he used to be GOP?

How do we partisan(ize) the Indy's? Half and half?

Face the honest truth that some politicians stink regardless of their party affiliation.

The history of the party in general has nothing to do with the politicians today. Hold their feet to the fire and issue no reprieve, they are suppose represent all Americans, period - and if they do not represent "we the people" it is up to us to tell them not "give them a break" because of anything historical. That seems on its face farcical. Partisan GOP or partisan Dem is the same insult to me. Party before common sense.

Makes zero sense to me but what do I know, eh?


capt said...

"Men by their constitutions are naturally divided into two parties: 1. Those who fear and distrust the people and wish to draw all powers from them into the hands of the higher classes. 2. Those who identify themselves with the people, have confidence in them.... In every country these two parties exist.... Call them, therefore, liberals and serviles, Jacobins and Ultras, Whigs and Tories, republicans and federalists, aristocrats and democrats, or by whatever name you please, they are the same party still and pursue the same object."

Thomas Jefferson, 1743-1826
3rd President of the United States
(Democratic Republican, VA)
Letter to Henry Lee, 1824

" Courtesy: Eigen's Political & Historical Quotations."

micki said...

I wonder how well you'd operate in a hostile environment, Capt.

Some are so quick to villify the Dems (or whomever else doesn't rise to their Pecksniffian standards), but the reality is that the Repugs are working night and day to find ANY way they can to take away the Democratic majority in Congress.

There is great risk that if the Dems, for instance, zero in on impeachment, without having ALL their ducks in a row (meaning impeachment in the House and ABSOLUTELY ASSURED conviction in the Senate), the Rovian propaganda machine will focus on Nancy Pelosi -- is she a fit leader? Is she nuts? Is she vindictive? Is this all about getting even for Clinton's impeachment? They will ignore the crimes of bush and cheney. The REAL ISSUES will take a back seat. The responsilbe media will be out-shouted by the Rovian spinmeisters.

And what do we end up with? The Repugs making a clean sweep in '08!

Contrary to what you think, risks have to be carefully evaluated. It can always get worse. You can go jump from the frying pan into the fire. But, some of us would rather not.

The Repugs -- as a party -- haven't done jackshit for me. What have they done for you?

capt said...

Markets: Brace for a China-led chill

Eighteen years ago, Chinese students and intellectuals massed in Tiananmen Square to push through their vision of democratic reforms, egged on by an apparently conflicted central government, where the forces loyal to Deng Xiaoping were seemingly marginalized by those loyal to Zhao Ziyang initially, with tragic results for both the students and China in general.

While the comparison of the events of June 4, 1989, to today's stock markets appears overly sensational at first, the thrust of recent articles on China, including my previous one, [1] has been on the apparent loss of policy efficacy by the central People's Bank of China (PBoC) in recent months.

Six months ago, total transaction volumes on the Shanghai and Shenzhen exchanges were less than US$5 billion per day. That figure now stands 10 times as high, at $50 billion per day. This volume is something China can be proud of, barring one minor detail, namely that the central bank and various policymakers would much rather not see it happening.

Even as central bankers exhort the country's citizens to beware of bubble-like conditions in the stock markets, investors appear unruffled, reversing the policy impact of any announcement. Be they students, farmers or construction workers, every Chinese living in the two big cities of Shanghai and Shenzhen appears now to have a brokerage account. Conversations in the normally noisy dai pai dongs [2] in Guangdong province and Hong Kong drop to a quick hush whenever the subject of stock tips comes up. In short, the stock market today represents a revolution against the diktat of the PBoC, questioning its very authority.


*****end of clip*****

Tiny bubbles?


capt said...

Happy Mothers day to all of the mothers!

My mother buried three husbands, and two of them were just napping.
Rita Rudner

My mother used to say that there are no strangers, only friends you haven't met yet. She's now in a maximum security twilight home in Australia.
Dame Edna Everage (1934 - )

My mother loved children -- she would have given anything if I had been one.
Groucho Marx (1890 - 1977)

Neurotics build castles in the air, psychotics live in them. My mother cleans them.
Rita Rudner

My grandmother started walking five miles a day when she was sixty. She's ninety-seven now, and we don't know where the hell she is.
Ellen DeGeneres

Most turkeys taste better the day after; my mother's tasted better the day before.
Rita Rudner

His mother should have thrown him away and kept the stork.
Mae West (1892 - 1980)

My Grandmother is over eighty and still doesn't need glasses. Drinks right out of the bottle.
Henny Youngman (1906 - 1998)

capt said...

General David Petraeus


Insurgents, as has been the case historically, will simply go to ground while American forces are around and will cause mischief in other places. So when you hear Petraeus or the Bush administration brag about the surge strategy working, just remember the one question they've never answered is, "What happens when the U.S. forces leave?" The other unanswered question is, "How long do you intend to keep combat soldiers in Baghdad?"

In short, Petraeus' counterinsurgency strategy is the same one we used in Vietnam, where it failed miserably. The only counterinsurgency campaign that I can recall being successful was one carried out by the British in Malaysia. That took about 10 years, and the British were aided by the fact that most of the insurgents were Chinese, who were not especially liked by the other citizens.

The insurgents in Iraq are mainly Iraqis. We are viewed as a foreign occupational army. The Iraqis want us out. Every time our guys kick in a door, shoot somebody or arrest a "suspect," we simply create more enemies. Polls taken by the University of Maryland consistently show that regardless of what sectarian or ethnic group is polled, a majority wants us out.

Interestingly enough, 144 members of the Iraqi parliament signed a petition demanding that the U.S. set a timetable for withdrawal. For some reason, American news organizations paid little attention to it. The man who made the announcement said that it will be presented to the speaker and then will be put up for a vote.

It also appears that conflict, at least within the parliament, is not between Shi'ites and Sunnis but between separatists, backed by the U.S., and nationalists, who want a strong central government in charge of Iraq's plentiful oil supply. The separatists want us to stay, of course, while the nationalists want us out.

We should back the nationalists and get out.


capt said...

A Mother’s Day Message to George!

Hey, George! While Laura and Mama Bush are opening their Mother’s Day cards, just take a minute to think about the mothers you’ve sent to fight your freaking wars. And take a nanosecond to think about the mothers of all the troops you’ve used as fodder for your dreams of empire. Yeah, like you give a tinker’s damn….

I doubt that you’re even capable of imagining the kind of Mother’s Day they’re having, George. Life in your sociopathic bubble doesn’t allow for any reality or empathy, so let me clue you in.

Here are some of the numbers, George, if you can handle the math:

- Right now there are 24, 475 women deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan, and close to FORTY PERCENT of these women are mothers. To make it easier for you, - that comes to more than NINE THOUSAND women celebrating a dangerous and miserable Mother’s Day in your illegal and immoral debacle.

- For the record, as of April of this year, 85 women have lost their lives in your bloody quest for empire. It figures that some of them were, or might one day have become mothers. Surely most of them had mothers. Thanks to you, they won’t be celebrating any Mother’s Days ever again. Doesn’t that make you proud?

- And, again for the record, 474 women have been wounded in Iraq as of April, 2007. You don’t dare show us the severity of their wounds, but we can guess that many of these women have been left with massive wounds and missing limbs and emotional scars that they will last for many Mother’s Days to come. Doesn’t that bother you, even a little?

I’ll bet you didn’t know this about military mothers either, George:

According to a report today from the bi-partisan Joint Economic Committee, you’re short about 35,000 child care centers for military families. Nice going, George. You’ve also run short on resources for mental health service to help military mothers and their children. Isn’t that just special?

I suppose you were too busy planning your celebrations with Laura and Mama Bush to do anything about this, George. I know, you’ve had a rough couple of months and just couldn’t get around to it. Never mind, there’s always next year.

But, for just a second, George, imagine what today must be like for Cindy Sheehan and the other mothers who won’t get Mother’s Day cards from the sons and daughters who never came back from your horrible war. Can you do that?

There’s something so wrong with this picture, George. I haven’t even brought up the mothers in Iraq. That’s a whole other story that I’ll talk to you about another time. Right now, it’s Mother’s Day in the USA, George, and you’ve made it a tragic and devastating day for so many American mothers. I hope Laura and Mama Bush have as good a day as the other women I’ve told you about, George. It’s the least they can do.

After all, it’s been four Mother’s Days since you and your PNAC buddies lied us into this mess, George, and you’re all still clueless.


*****end of clip*****

Sadly, Dumya couldn't care less. Just like his mama he is not bothered by the body count or the body bags.


capt said...

The New Emperor's New Clothes

In 2000 I lost my Dutch citizenship to become a God-fearing and patriotic American. This was never much of a moral dilemma as Lady Liberty had been a shining beacon throughout my life in The Netherlands.

Americans had liberated Holland when my parents were still teenagers: conversations around the dinner table sometimes went back to that moment of liberation when my parents had been dancing in the streets, decked out in red, white and blue, smoking American cigarettes and eating chocolate handed out by good-looking GIs.

After their landings on French beaches, they went on to liberate the concentration camps where 80 per cent of Dutch Jews had perished.

America could do no wrong.

Stories of the Allied Liberation and U.S. Marshall Aid to Holland were repeated so often that they became a little stale in the context of postwar boredom and indifference. It was not until I saw Saving Private Ryan’s gruesome opening sequence of American soldiers being shot to pieces on Normandy’s beaches that I began to realize the power of my parents’ stories and the sacrifices of America’s WWII generation.

America could do no wrong.

Whether my parents’ pro-American stance pushed me in the direction of finding an American husband, I cannot tell but when I brought Jonathan home for the first time, my mother played Glenn Miller and embraced my Yankee fiancé as if he were the same GI who entered her street on top of a tank, decades earlier.

In case I had not noticed yet, in my family America could do no wrong.


*****end of clip*****

A very good essay.


Robert S said...

From Friday's Democracy Now!

JUAN GONZALEZ: We want to end with a Mother's Day special. Filmmaker Robert Greenwald has just produced a short film titled Mother's Day for Peace. It features a dramatic reading of Julia Ward Howe's Mother's Day Proclamation by Felicity Huffman, Christine Lahti, Fatma Saleh, Ashraf Salimian, Vanessa Williams and Alfre Woodard. This excerpt begins with Gloria Steinem.

GLORIA STEINEM: Mother's Day really was in its origin an antiwar day, an antiwar statement. Julia Ward Howe was sickened by what had happened during the Civil War, the loss of life, the carnage, and she created Mother's Day as a call for women all over the world to come together and create ways of protesting war, of making a kind of alternate government that could finally do away with war as an acceptable way of solving conflict.

VANESSA WILLIAMS: Arise then...women of this day!
Arise, all women who have hearts!
Whether your baptism be of water or of tears!

"We will not have questions answered by irrelevant agencies,
Our husbands will not come to us, reeking of carnage,
For caresses and applause.

FATMA SALEH: Our sons shall not be taken from us to unlearn
All that we have been able to teach them of charity, mercy and patience.


ALFRE WOODARD: We, the women of one country,
Are too tender of those of another country
To allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs."
From the bosom of the devastated Earth a voice goes up with
Our own. It says: "Disarm!


The sword of murder is not the balance of justice."

ASHRAF SALIMIAN: Blood does not wipe out dishonor,
Nor violence indicate possession.

CHRISTINE LAHTI: As men have often forsaken the plough and the anvil
At the summons of war,
Let women now leave all that may be left of home
For a great and earnest day of counsel.

FELICITY HUFFMAN: Let them meet first, as women, to bewail and commemorate the dead.

ALFRE WOODARD: Let them solemnly take counsel with each other as to the means
Whereby the great human family can live in peace...

FATMA SALEH: Each bearing after his own time the sacred impress, not of Caesar,

In the name of womanhood and humanity,

ASHRAF SALIMIAN: I earnestly ask
That a general congress of women without limit of nationality,

ALFRE WOODARD: May be appointed and held at someplace deemed most convenient

FELICITY HUFFMAN: And at the earliest period consistent with its objects,

VANESSA WILLIAMS: To promote the alliance of the different nationalities,

CHRISTINE LAHTI: The amicable settlement of international questions,

FATMA SALEH: The great and general interests of peace.

AMY GOOODMAN: The full movie can be seen at Mothers Day For Peace. Robert Greenwald produced the film to raise money for the group No More Victims.


There are, it seems to me to be two separate issues which confront us which we ignore at our peril.

We should allow that the levers of power in our system are faulty at best; only participating by voting in elections is a minuscule effort and the philosophical difference between D v. R is often too nuanced to be of much comfort to many of us.

We should also allow that within the political/economic system under which we suffer voting is the first mechanism we have at out disposal to make any effect, at all.

So, where I agree with Micki that, "The Repugs -- as a party -- haven't done jackshit for me." and I never expect anything from that quarter with which I can support, that does not give the Democrats any shield against my venom when they become complicit in the militaristic bent of the nation. This defines as even talking about success in Iraq, when the whole misadventure is a profiteering gambit. The so-called benchmarks, (which include the Iraqi Oil-Theft Law, sometimes misnamed the Oil-Revenue Sharing agreement, which leaves only 30% of the revenue for them to share, the rest being left for the multi-national oil giants) being called for by the Democrats to secure further funding are simply unconscionable, and need to be condemned.

Stop the Funding - Out Now - Impeachment! - War Crimes Trials!

No Compromise!

capt said...

In "Spying on the Home Front" this Tuesday, correspondent Hedrick Smith and producer Rick Young investigate what the new 'prevention' paradigm means to civil liberties here at home. In one case, the FBI conducted a data sweep on 250,000 Las Vegas vacationers after receiving a non specific threat that Al Qaeda was interested in Vegas as a target.

In another case, a curious employee at AT&T in San Francisco learned that the whole flow of internet traffic in that office was being diverted to the National Security Agency which had installed a 'black box' in a super secret room. One expert says that it appears NASA set up these boxes in 10-15 AT&T sites across the country with the ability to intercept about 10 per cent of all internet traffic.

There's much more. The Government Accounting Office found 50 government agencies with nearly 200 data mining projects underway. In the age of the super computer, private companies are amassing vast amounts of data about all of us. From home mortgages to spending habits, virtual digital dossiers are being created every day. Correspondent Smith wonders what happens when the government does this kind of data mining, moving from our tradition of individualized suspicion, to checking out everybody to find who are the bad guys.

The former head of counter terrorism for the FBI, Larry Mefford, told FRONTLINE: "I can give you more security, but I've got to take away some rights. And so there's a balance." For a look at how the balance is being struck today, we hope you will be able to join us Tuesday, but if not, "Spying on the Home Front" will be up and streaming the day after broadcast on our Web site, where you'll also find more background on this story and the opportunity to express your opinion about the report at


- This Week: "Spying on the Home Front" (60 minutes),
Tuesday, May. 15 at 9pm on PBS (check local listings)

Robert S said...

US hunts for missing soldiers as Iraq bombs kill at least 60
Published: Sunday May 13, 2007

Four thousand US soldiers scoured insurgent territory in central Iraq on Sunday for three comrades, while Al-Qaeda boasted that it had captured the missing troops in a deadly pre-dawn ambush.

Backed by jets and helicopters, the US force threw up checkpoints among palm groves and farmsteads in rural areas south of the Iraqi capital, one day after the attack killed four US soldiers and an Iraqi interpreter.

Meanwhile, insurgent bombers carried out two more deadly assaults, killing at least 50 people in a suicide attack on administrative offices in a northern town and 10 more as they spread carnage in a crowded Baghdad market.

"In the United States military we have a thing called the soldier's creed, and it says 'I will never leave a fallen comrade'," US spokesman Major General William Caldwell told reporters in Baghdad.

"We believe in this deeply and therefore will make every effort available to find the three missing soldiers," he vowed.

A coalition of militant groups led by Al-Qaeda in Iraq posted a statement on the Internet claiming the attack on the soldiers.

The self-proclaimed "Islamic State in Iraq" said its men clashed "with a crusader patrol in the Mahmudiyah area in the south of Baghdad province, leading to the killing and capture of a number of them."

The eight-strong patrol was attacked on Saturday, 20 kilometres (12 miles) west of Mahmudiyah, a restive town just south of the capital, leaving behind five bodies in a state that initially made them difficult to identify.

Caldwell said on Sunday that all but one of the dead had been identified, and that the Iraqi translator was among those killed, leaving three US soldiers still missing in an area known for its insurgent kidnap gangs.

Moad al-Amiri, the mayor of Mahmudiyah, told AFP that a large force of US ground troops backed by helicopters and low-flying jets had descended on Shwaisha, 20 kilometres (12 miles) west of his town.

"They've surrounded all this area and they've captured 43 suspects and there's still an operation going on," he said. "The Iraqi army is not taking part in the operation, just the Americans."

Amiri -- citing his police chief -- said a second raid was also under way in Haswa, south of Mahmudiyah, again involving US troops and helicopters. "There were several arrests there too," he added.

US military spokesmen could not confirm this, but Caldwell said the military would mobilise "every asset" to find the missing soldiers, whose duty status is listed as "whereabouts unknown."

Mahmudiyah lies in an area of farmland and orchards known as a Sunni insurgent stronghold. After the US-led invasion of March 2003 the region was nicknamed the "Triangle of Death."

Elsewhere in the country, a suicide car bomber killed at least 50 people when he ploughed an SUV packed with explosives into a government compound in the northern Iraqi town of Mahmur, police said.

"All the dead are men, but there are women and children among the 115 wounded, and 10 of those are seriously wounded," Kurdish regional health minister Zirian Abdel Rahman told reporters.

The mixed town of Makhmur lies on the border between the Kurdish region and Iraq's Nineveh province. The attack targeted a compound housing the local administration and the offices of two Kurdish political parties.

A few hours later an explosion ripped through the crowded Sadriyya market in the heart of Baghdad, sending a billowing cloud of white smoke and dust into the hazy blue sky over the capital.

Defence and security officials put the initial death toll from the blast at 10 dead and 45 wounded, but this was expected to rise.

The market, a popular commercial centre for east Baghdad's mainly Shiite population, has been the sight of some of Iraq's most devastating attacks, including one last month that left 140 people dead.

Both bombings bore the hallmarks of Sunni Arab extremists, who have launched suicide attacks across the country in recent weeks despite a surge of US forces in the capital.


It is not hard to imagine a plausible scene going on now. There is likely torture being used on both sides; US Service Members searching for their own, in no doubt brutal fashion, as they go from building to building methodically in grid-like precision. And equally appalling, the detained US personnel, can predictably be expected to suffer, at the easiest, execution by bullet, and at the extreme, well, I'll let your own imagination provide the details.

We are very vocal about Iran arming the Iraqi Insurgency. Are we to believe that Iran is the impetus for this Sunni group to attack us? Of course not. So, who is the major Sunni benefactor in the neighborhood? Saudi Arabia. Hear any comments about the Saudi's? Nah, I didn't either.

Happy mother's day...

capt said...

I am a registered Democrat and vote as such. That does not mean I think the Democratic party is anything for anybody to be in "lock-step" with.

We have many DINO's voting for such crud as the "Patriot Act" (never even reading the darn bill), we have D's voting to give Bunnypants the authority to attack Iraq while the truth was known and fully ignored or traded for some political pander.

Every piece of crud legislation and every confirmation of Robert, Alito, Gonzales, etc. is something that can reference and we know who voted for what and for whom.

The incumbents (both parties) have some 'splaining to do.

To give any politician a pass or a break because of "party" affiliation is just silly. Party is just a label.

All politicians suck (very few exceptions) IMHO.

Partisan whining will never make for good governance from either party. George Washington's farewell address spoke to the issue very clearly. There were no democrats then but the dynamics are the same and partisan perspective from any side is part of the problem not part of the solution.

Hold your representatives feet to the fire, hold them to account on campaign promises. Never give them any slack or even the smallest break. Certainly not for the sake of the party they claim at the moment. That makes zero sense to me.

But I must be crazy.


Robert S said...

Two Hearings, One Reality
By William Rivers Pitt
t r u t h o u t | Columnist
Friday 11 May 2007

The fur was most definitely flying in Washington, DC yesterday. Newspaper reports revealed a White House meeting between several GOP House members and Mr. Bush. Those congressmen, according to the stories, read the riot act to Bush regarding the situation in Iraq, and further warned him that the Republican support he has enjoyed to date will fall to dust if progress isn't made soon. Several reporters and pundits were reminded, by this, of that "Long Walk" to the Nixon White House taken by GOP senators seeking his resignation.

The main event on Thursday, however, was a House Judiciary oversight hearing chaired by Representative John Conyers (D-Michigan) and starring Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. The hearing was a reprise of the Senate Judiciary grilling Gonzales endured back in April, during which he deployed dozens of "I don't recall" replies to his questioners and essentially debased the entire concept of public testimony itself.

Thursday's hearing wasn't much different. Despite the best efforts of Conyers and his fellow committee members, the hearing became, for the most part, another empty exercise. House member after House member attempted to pin Gonzales down on some basic details surrounding the firing of several US attorneys, but had little success in the endeavor. "You can answer these questions in three sentences," Chairman Conyers noted at one point, but to no avail. The "I don't recall" answers from Gonzales were so thickly applied once again that, by mid-afternoon, most of the committee members began to preface their questions with, "You may not be able to answer this, but ..." More often than not, they were correct in that assumption.

Another hearing took place on Capitol Hill yesterday that was truly chilling to observe. Representative John Murtha's (D-Pennsylvania) Subcommittee on Appropriations heard testimony from two investigators whose work has been focused on the phenomenon of private military contractors in Iraq. The first to give testimony was Jeremy Scahill, author of "Blackwater: Rise of the World's Most Powerful Mercenary Army." The second witness was Robert Greenwald, a documentary filmmaker who recently released a new film titled "Iraq for Sale: The War Profiteers."

Both men painted a stark picture of reality in Iraq. According to Scahill, there are tens of thousands of private military contractors - a kind euphemism for mercenaries - operating today in Iraq. They are paid with American tax revenues to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars, while operating with virtually no oversight and free from the strictures of the Uniform Code of Military Justice. Dozens of acts of brutality and murder reportedly committed by these contractors have been alleged, but almost no contractor has been punished, sanctioned or even investigated for these acts. Because the Iraqi population does not make the distinction between American soldiers and these private contractors, the questionable activities of these contractors are blamed on US troops, further fanning the flames of outrage and vengeance.

Even more disturbing was the testimony offered by Greenwald. Some excerpts:

I remember clearly my interview with Stewart Scott, a former Halliburton employee. With pain and rage in his voice, he asked how dare Halliburton put its people up at five-star hotels while the soldiers, who he was there to help, were sleeping on the ground. I did not believe him at first, but then he began naming the hotels and the locations. It was all true.

I also spoke with Shane Ratliff, a truck driver from Ruby, South Carolina. He saw Halliburton advertising a job for truck drivers in Iraq and he signed up. When Shane started telling me that empty trucks were being driven across dangerous stretches of desert, I assumed he was mistaken. Why would they do that? Then he explained that Halliburton got paid for the number of trips they took, regardless of whether they were carrying anything. These unnecessary trips where putting the lives of truckers at risk, exposing drivers and co-workers to attack. This was the result of cost-plus, no-bid contracts.

Another young Halliburton worker named James Logsdon told me about the burn pits. Burn pits are large dumps near military stations where they would burn equipment, trucks, trash, etc. If they ordered the wrong item, they'd throw it in the burn pit. If a tire blew on a piece of equipment, they'd throw the whole thing into the burn pit. The burn pits had so much equipment they even gave them a nickname: "Home Depot."

The trucker said he would get us some photos. And I naively asked, how big are they, the size of a backyard swimming pool? He laughed and referred to one that he had seen that was 15 football fields large and burned around the clock! It infuriated him to have to burn stuff rather then give it to the Iraqis or to the military. Yet Halliburton was being rewarded each time they billed the government for a new truck or new piece of equipment. With a cost-plus contract, the contractors receive a percentage of the money they spend. As Shane told me, "It's a legal way of stealing from the government or the taxpayers' money." These costs eat up the money that could be used for other supplies.

Cost-plus, no-bid contracts are hopelessly undermining our efforts and costing the taxpayers billions. They do not operate within a free-market system and have no competition, but instead create a Stalinist system of rewarding cronies. In a letter from Sgt. Jon Lacore talking about the enormous amount of waste, he said, "I just can't believe that no one at all is going to jail for this or even being fired or forced to resign."

The information put forth in this second hearing is placed in better context when held up to the debate over the supplemental Iraq war funding bill recently vetoed by Mr. Bush, who, along with his allies, have accused the Democrats of abandoning the troops during war by playing politics with the funding for their operations. One is forced to wonder, however, how much of the funding already allocated was frivolously wasted by profiteering military contractors who burn perfectly serviceable vehicles and make fake supply runs, all to cash in on the endless river of money flowing into the Iraqi sand.

Dina Rasor, author of the recently released book "Betraying Our Troops: The Destructive Results of Privatizing War," offered further insight into the private contractor phenomenon in a Huffington Post story on Wednesday. "There is also evidence that these contractor billings are sucking up the supplemental money and making other logistical areas suffer," wrote Rasor. "The supplemental money is flexible so that the Army can use it where they need it, but there is evidence that the contractor over-billings are taking away much needed money for replacing basic fighting equipment such as night vision goggles, workable radios and armored vehicles. The most common email that I get from Iraq makes the point that while troops can get luxury items at the large bases, such as soft-serve ice cream and plasma televisions, they can't get enough equipment needed to save their lives when they leave the cushy bases and go out into hostile areas. There is real resentment among the troops that KBR makes life very nice for the military brass and others at the base, but will not go out of the gate, as required, to make sure that they have the basics that they need."

Beyond this is one central point hammered home by Scahill and Greenwald: How can we justify the usage of private armies that profit from this war, and thus have a financial interest in continuing and expanding this war? Is this not a recipe for endless conflict and bottomless profiteering?

Two hearings took place on Thursday, both of which served to reveal one absolute and unavoidable reality: Oversight of and investigations into the activities of the Bush administration, especially regarding Iraq, could not have come soon enough. It was a day of many questions, a few answers, and plenty of truth for all to see.

Robert S said...

Journalism Becomes Stenography: From NAFTA to Iraq to The Secret Trade Deal
by David Sirota

This is the third in a series of posts following the announcement of a secret free trade deal this past week between a handful of senior Democrats and the Bush administration.

The weekend in Washington is traditionally reserved for the media royalty to put its mark on public policy, and in the wake of the secret trade deal agreed on by a handful of senior Democratic lawmakers and the Bush administration, the propaganda system is working overtime, both to downplay any concerns and to trumpet the deal without any scrutiny at all. Most stories include none of the many voices - both on Capitol Hill and among the grassroots of the country - who are raising questions about a far-reaching trade agreement ironed out in complete secrecy. Those stories that do include any voices of concern bury those voices, and lead with triumphalist Bush officials and K Street lobbyists cheering from the office suites of Washington. Meanwhile, the pundit class is on the offensive, pushing this deal in as aggressive and as fact-deprived a way as it pushed the Iraq War and NAFTA.

Leading the way is Newsweek's Fareed Zakaria, who is treated with near Tom-Friedman-esque reverence by Beltway power worshipers. Predictably, Zakaria applauds the deal and attacks Democrats for ever trying to "load trade pacts with environmental and labor standards" (how awful). Meanwhile, Fortune Magazine's Nina Easton (married to the media adviser of longtime free trader John McCain) pens a breathless article also praising the deal as a "breakthrough...thanks to a handful of men, and one woman, determined to move past the poisonous atmosphere that still stews between the two parties."

Of course, none of the reporters covering the deal on Thursday has actually seen the language of the agreement they are now praising because the specific legislative language is still being kept secret (MyDD's Matt Stoller just got his hands on a copy of a more detailed summary and thankfully posted it here - but it is only a summary and not the actual legislative language that will be included in the Peru, Panama, Colombia and South Korea trade deals, and as we know, legislative language is where the rubber hits the road in trade deals. See the addendum at the bottom for more). All they saw at the press conference were press releases and summaries, and yet they dutifully transcribed those press releases and summaries to report as ironclad fact that this deal means pending trade deals will definitely include strong, enforceable labor and environmental protections.

No reporter, rank-and-file Member of Congress or member of the public has seen the final language of any new trade pact that this deal purports to represent. Put another way, in reporting that this deal definitely means strong labor/environmental standards without actually seeing the legislative language, Beltway journalists are behaving just like their idol Friedman, who admitted on national television that he used his newspaper columns and television appearances to champion the job-destroying Central American Free Trade Agreement even though "I didn't even know what was in it."

The omission of the now-simmering opposition to this secret deal and the unabashed cheerleading of the deal without seeing the actual language is the definition of journalistic irresponsibility that we've become used to in the modern era - and I'm not just talking about these same reporters dutifully presenting as fact the Bush administration's pre-war "proof" of WMD in Iraq. We can actually look back to an even more applicable example: The debate in 1993 over the North American Free Trade Agreement, where the media showed that its dishonesty is entirely deliberate - a calculated and well-practiced routine to deliberately lay down cover fire for the Big Money interests waging a war on the middle class.

As you may recall, the Beltway media in 1993 did its best to pretend that there was no opposition to NAFTA at all. The Washington Post's Howard Kurtz reported back then that "from George Will and Rush Limbaugh on the right to Anthony Lewis and Michael Kinsley on the left, most of the nation's brand-name commentators led the cheerleading for NAFTA." When economist Jeff Faux pointed out that polls showed the public opposed the deal and that such opposition should at least be given some space in the Washington Post, the Post's editor responded by saying "I don't believe it is right to create an artificial balance where none exists."

The 1993 media portrayals of NAFTA made the very same declarative-yet-dishonest statements that we are now being treated to in the wake of the secret trade deal. Under NAFTA, "Mexico promises major improvements in the enforcement of environmental and labor standards," wrote the Washington Post on 9/14/93. "If NAFTA is defeated, all those benefits vanish." The Post followed this up by declaring on 11/2/03 that "Many congressmen are deeply interested in labor standards and deplore the poor conditions along the Mexican border. Defeating NAFTA won't improve those conditions. But enacting it can make a difference." Meanwhile, the Financial Times - the international Establishment paper of record - declared on 11/10/93 that "President Clinton negotiated environmental and labor protection safeguards to add to the basic pact."

But perhaps the most egregious example came from the Gray Lady (which, true to form, has an editorial today endorsing this week's secret trade deal, even though its editors, like the rest of the public, have not seen the actual legislative language). In a scathing editorial on the eve of the NAFTA vote, the New York Times attacked environmental groups for raising concerns about the pact's utter lack of enforceable environmental protections. The editorial declared as fact that NAFTA "includes numerous environmental protections"; that "Mexico is more likely to become a cleaner nation with NAFTA"; and that NAFTA was specifically designed not to allow corporations to extract profits from the desperately low-wage, environmentally hazardous conditions in the country to our south, but instead "to protect the environment against the economic explosion" of natural cross border commerce. The editorial further claimed that environmental advocates were factually wrong for asserting that NAFTA would allow foreign corporations to use international courts to sue American local, state and federal governments in an effort to overturn those government's environmental protection laws.

We all know the real story, just as any objective observer knew it at the time. NAFTA's labor and environmental "protections" were a sham. As critics made clear at the time - and as the media utterly ignored - these "protections" were deliberately made unenforceable at the request of K Street. And the results are, thus, not surprising.

"Statistics from Mexico's National Institute for Statistics, Geography, and Information Systems document how environmental degradation has overwhelmed any benefits from trade-led economic growth" in the wake of NAFTA, wrote trade experts in a recent report by Tufts University and the non-partisan International Relations Center.

Similarly, Human Rights Watch has shown that Mexican workers now "face unacceptable obstacles to exercising their rights to join independent unions, bargain collectively, and strike" - a key factor in Mexico's wages stagnating and poverty rates increasing in the wake of NAFTA. Meanwhile, multinational corporations like Methanex now brag on their corporate websites about the suits they are now permitted to file under NAFTA - suits predicted by the critics the New York Times attacked, suits that allow foreign corporations to overturn basic environmental protection laws passed by sovereign local, state and federal governments here in the United States.

Incredibly (or, perhaps predictably) the media doesn't seem to have learned any lessons from the travesty that the coverage of NAFTA proved to be. We are seeing almost exactly the same kind of propagandistic stenography and omission, but maybe even more intense. After all, at the very time the entire media Establishment is claiming that this week's secret deal definitely means new, enforceable labor protections in U.S. trade deals, just one major American media outlet - the Wall Street Journal - has even bothered to mention that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is out bragging that it received "assurances that the labor provisions cannot be read to require compliance" - and of course, the Journal then ignores that statement entirely by declaring as fact that the deal "opens the door to more protections for workers and communities that are adversely affected by trade."

But again, mere pro-free-trade bias is not the only way the media dishonesty seems to have intensified since NAFTA. Remember, during NAFTA, at least the legislative language of what was being reported on were public and available for scrutiny by American citizens, reporters and lawmakers. The media spin machine was operating then, but at least the public could dig into the text of NAFTA to see what was really going on. Today, that's not so. In the case of the secret trade deal announced last week, reporters are aggressively applauding a legislative agreement neither they - nor the public - has even seen. For his part, Rep. Charlie Rangel (D), the Democrat who orchestrated the deal, is pulling his best Tom DeLay, hide-the-bill-until-the-very-last-second impression, bragging that he is going to leverage his seniority to arm-twist a little less than half of the House Democrats into voting for the deal - even though he is hiding the legislative language of the deal from the public. On top of this, reporters aren't even bothering to ask the politicians they are covering why those politicians kept the long negotiations secret in the first place, and why they continue to refuse to release the actual legislative language of the trade deals in question.

In journalism school, you are taught early on not to publish any assertion of fact unless you can prove it and have evidence in hand. Yet here we had a Beltway media making all sorts of assertions about "enforceable labor and environmental standards" in what could be the most important economic decisions in a generation - all while no Washington reporter, rank-and-file Democratic lawmaker or member of the general public has actually seen the legislative language of the deal being "reported" on. The only actual objective evidence we have is White House-connected K Street lobbyists like the Chamber of Commerce's Tom Donohue saying that, actually, he's been given "assurances" that these supposedly "enforceable" standards will not be enforceable at all in the actual legislation.

But, as Ringling Brothers circus emcees say, the show must go on, and so the Beltway myth-making continues - all while the war on the middle class lays waste to Election 2006's fair trade mandate and the economic future of the country.

ADDENDUM: In the interest of full transparency, let's remember: It's not totally clear who has seen the actual legislative language of this deal as of now. What we do know is that while many "summaries" have been released, the actual language of the supposedly "reformed" Peru, Panama, South Korea and Colombia Free Trade Agreements have not been made public. We also know that the websites of the U.S. Trade Representative, the Senate Finance Committee and the House Ways and Means Committee only posted summaries of the deal 24 hours after the press conference, not the actual legislative language. Additionally, we know that the ongoing negotiations in pursuit of this deal were kept 100 percent concealed from rank and file members of Congress (including Congress's most veteran fair traders), reporters and the public, meaning the entire process has been shrouded in secrecy. Public Citizen's Todd Tucker has more on how the press summaries being released by congressional Democratic leaders and the Bush administration deliberately refuse to include the actual legislative language of the trade deals in question, and that these summaries could very easily be very different from the final language - as they were during NAFTA.

micki said...

My avocation is holding my elected reps feet to the fire. I do it frequently. I also let them know when I agree with their decisions.

Right now, I have three Dems as my reps in the U.S. Congress. One reason I generally feel more favorable to Dems than I do to Repubs, is that the Dems, as a party, have a better record and a stronger commitment to social services and the common good.

I would rather work on strengthening the Democratic Party, though if a viable third party emerged with great strength and enough support to make a difference, I'd gladly take a look at them.

I also believe that there are some politicians who are quite effective in the art/science of good government and conduct themselves accordingly. To say that all politicians are rotten is a naive notion.

In politics, as in policy, perspective is everything.

This constant need to habitually tear apart, rather than look for ways to rebuild and repair is counterproductive and a total waste of time.

Gerald said...

Brief News for the Week

Brief News for the Week of May 7, 2007

Gas at the pump will reach $4 per gallon but the Nazi American Party (aka GOP) says that the increase in gas prices will not affect the economy.
The surge in the killing of human lives in Iraq continues.
The Kansas tornado disaster was horrific and prayers should go out to the people.
With all the problems in Nazi America taxes should be looked upon as an investment in human lives and in the quality of human life. But, greed is the American way and so the rich will continue to grab money and dole out baked dong to the poor and the middle class.
McCain’s solution for the Middle East is a nuclear war with Iran.
National ID card is a disaster in the making.
Tenet’s book revealed another Nazi hypocrite in power at the CIA.
Nazi American government rejected millions of dollars in foreign aid for the Katrina damage.
Nazi American Party is a perpetual hate machine.
Nazi American foreign policy is to create more death and destruction upon the world population.
Injured American soldiers are still denied medical benefits.
Project for a New American Century is elated. Food danger grows in Nazi America to kill off the human population.
There is growing numbers of Nazi Americans who believe that churches should not be tax exempt for their involvement in politics.
Seattle University in Seattle, Washington will host the annual Pax Christi USA conference, August 10, 11, and 12, 2007. The two of six speakers include Ray McGovern and Camilio Mejia. This should be a great conference. Pax Christi USA is much more than a protest movement. While it offers witness in the streets, it is also working to build bridges of peace and to educate members and the public at large about the necessary conditions for a just and peaceful world. For further information: Pax Christi USA, attn: 2007 conference, 532 W. 8th St., Erie, Pa 16502
Nazi America has finalized plans for a nuclear attack on Iran. A third or fourth aircraft carrier will be in the Gulf by the end of May. Nazi America’s military bases in central Asia will lead the nuclear attack. Nazi Americans are excited and joyful about the imminent nuclear attack on Iran. On a whole Nazi Americans lust for and thrive on the killing of human beings. That is the Nazi American way. I have known for a generation that Nazi America is an evil, a vile, and a wicked empire and now the world will know. May God have mercy on our souls.
Are the Democrats reluctant to lead America? It seems that way because they removed a key sentence in the bill on funding that would require Bush to come before Congress to start a war with Iran.
The American Chesterton Society presents its annual conference June 14, 15, and 16, 2007. It’s at the Brady Education Center on the campus of the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota. All sessions are free. Food and lodging are extra. For further information:
Carey, a force in the blog system, has lost her husband suddenly. Words are probably difficult to comfort the emotions and feelings at the loss of a loved one.
David Corn’s articles on Alternative Reality have been more informative and to me the way a columnist should report. We depend greatly on the integrity of reporters to help us discern the information. is falling way short of its goal to keep operating. The website is on its deathbed and it will be greatly missed. Thank you for your dedication and work toward justice and peace!
Nazi America is an empire that continues to wallow in the abyss of hell in search of a soul.
From listening to NOW oil companies are failing to pay oil royalties. The Bush regime protects these oil companies fro paying millions of dollars in royalties and the American taxpayer is picking up the tab. Nazi America is synonymous with a totally rotten empire. Nazi America is an evil, a vile, and a wicked empire.
The poodle is leaving office the end of June. Tony Blair’s legacy will be that he was Bush’s poodle. Good riddance! Now if we could get rid of that garbage in the WH through impeachment, we could eventually smell the flowers and not the burning of human flesh.

Gerald said...


Welcome to The Weekly Sunday Section by Gerald

Personal stress must be reduced to control the heart arrhythmia that increases the heartbeat to a dangerous level and placing my life in grave jeopardy. For this reason I need to reduce my postings and I need to develop a carefree attitude about Nazi America and her imminent demise.

The Weekly Sunday Section by Gerald will begin with certain blogs, blogspots, and websites. Plus, I may try to add some additional information on justice and peace.

John 31:34-35
A new commandment I give you, that you love one another as I have loved you, so you also love one another. By this will all men know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.

Psalm 51:1
Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy loving kindness: according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions.

Love and mercy are essential behaviors for a better world and for all of God’s children.

Prayer for Peace – John Paul II
O God, Creator of the universe, who extends your paternal concern over every creature and guides the events of history to the goal of salvation, we acknowledge your fatherly love when you break the resistance of mankind and, in a world torn by strife and discord, you make us ready for reconciliation. Renew for us the wonders of your mercy; send forth your Spirit that he may work on the intimacy of hearts, that enemies may begin to dialogue, that adversaries may shake hands and peoples may encounter one another in harmony. May all commit themselves to the sincere search for true peace that will extinguish all arguments, for charity that overcomes hatred, for pardon that disarms revenge!

May God bless and keep you in the palm of His hand!

Illegal immigrants can voice their concerns but nonviolent protesters against the Iraq war are arrested. There is something wrong in Nazi America.

Gerald said...

How Geat Thou Art

Gerald said...

On Eagles Wings

Gerald said...

Serenity Prayer

Gerald said...

The Demise of Iran

Gerald said...

One Day You're Gonna Wake Up

Gerald said...

Where is a Christian alternative

Gerald said...

You can't win a crime

Gerald said...

"A hermit was asked why we are troubled by demons and he answered, 'Because we throw away our armour, that is, humility, poverty, patience and men's scorn.'"

This scorn is the price of resisting our soul's decomposition. The growth of the spirit is found by extending the circle of love, to one's enemies, to those far off, to members of alien religions and foreign cultures, until the whole of God's world is embraced.

David B. Benson said...

The BBC today has an article about the, unfortunately successful, attempts to weaken the G8 draft on climate change.

I guess they don't care what sort of world their gradchildren will inherit...

micki said...

Draft Al Gore for President -- he speaks the truth on the environment, global warming, bush's Iraq War of Choice, the Patriot Act, etc.

Please consider signing the petition at


No, Dr. B....they are incapable of caring about the future of their grandchildren. They don't "think" that far ahead. As long as they are in command and making the rules, nothing else matters.

micki said...

Oh, as I was saying...Dr. B -- Many of those who deny global warming live in a fantasy world, clinging to primitive superstitions, with no interest in caring for the health of Mother Earth, because they have their eye on 'life after death.' To them death = heaven.

No wonder they don't care about what kind of world they are passing on to their grandchildren!

capt said...

Department Of Evil: 'All Of You Must Die'

WASHINGTON, DC—In the latest in a long series of ominous public pronouncements, the Department of Evil released a statement Monday demanding that all residents of the United States must die.

"Yes, all must die," Dread Secretary of Evil Hammond S. Reynolds said during a press conference in Room 1228 of Washington's Robert C. Weaver Federal Building. "There shall soon come an accounting in which all will fall before the Grim Reaper as wheat in winter, as lambs under the knife. Soon all necks will feel the steely bite of our soul- thirsting axe, wielded by the unforgiving iron hand of the Department of Evil. Thus spake I, Dread Secretary Reynolds."

The dread secretary then took questions from the assembled reporters.

Although the Department of Evil has not yet announced the exact timetable for the death of all, it recommends citizens make their peace with doomed relatives and spouses immediately, as the hour of their ending draws ever nigh and will be upon them as soon as the necessary funding has been authorized by the House Appropriations Committee.

"This budget approval is merely a pitiful, niggling formality, for soon we'll be free to swarm across the land draining the life-pus out of all you quivering mortal worms," Reynolds said. "Doubt us not: Come the wintertide, you all shall die, and die you will. Sorry, I meant 'must.' Die you must!"


Gerald said...

Mothers' Peace Day

capt said...

New Thread

WTF said...

As I watch the news on a daily front I am amused, appalled and the disgusted by the media and just about everything that this administration tries to do, capped off with the Iraq debacle. It all seems that there is nothing to stop this juggernaut and seemingly powerless to divert it from some as yet unknown goal. Are these politicians blind? I cannot call them leaders, no they merely occupy the office of leader but show no qualities of leadership. Combined with the other tragedies and issues facing the human race on this planet it sure seems to be that we are on the last of the ride. It will be interesting to watch. I don't feel that I can stop any of this and am just waiting for the next, and the next, and the next. When one of these occurences trigger the big ending I hope I have plenty of beer, a good spot to observe and some chips. That way it will at last be entertaining.