Sunday, February 26, 2006

Is the glass half full? What glass?

Lewis Lapham measures Bush for an orange jumpsuit

If you don't subscribe to Harper's, go to the library and read "The Case for Impeachment" in the March , 2006 issue. here's a taste:

" . . . I don't know why we would run the risk of not impeaching the man. We have before us in the White House a thief who steals the country's good name and reputation for his private interest and personal use; a liar who seeks to instill in the American people a state of fear; a televangelist who engages the United States in a never-ending crusade against all the world's evil, a wastrel who squanders a vast sum of the nation's wealth on what turns out to be a recruiting drive certain to multiply the host of our enemies. In a word, a criminal -- known to be armed and shown to be dangerous. Under the three-strike rule available to the courts in California, judges sentence people to life in jail for having stolen from Wal-Mart a set of golf clubs or a child's tricycle. Who then calls strike on President Bush, and how many more does he get before being sent down on waivers to one of the Texas Prison Leagues?"

The impetus for Lapham's article comes from the John Conyer's report: "The Constitution in Crisis; The Downing Street Minutes and Deception, Manipulation, Torture, Retribution, and Coverups in the Iraq War" ( pdf or html ). This report would be an excellent American history text. Lapham says it best of the report, " . . . the Conyers report examines the administration's chronic abuse of power from more angles than can be explored within the compass of a single essay. The nature of the administration's criminal DNA and modus operandi, however, shows up in a usefully robust specimen of its characteristic dishonesty."

George Bush has indeed set a new tone for 'Merica; criminal behavior is a virtue. The Bush Crime Family has placed its imprimatur on evil doing, establishing the lowest form of behavioral standards.

My Canadian friend, Ian, recently wrote this while in a state of self reflection: "When we were travelling in SA someone we ran into told us that one of his operating principles is that you should allow each of your friends to have three faults before jettisoning them. It sounded wise at the time but I have no idea in hindsight what it means." Having been friends with Ian for nearly 41 years, if I may speak for him, it means, I believe, having the grace to overlook the sins and omissions of another, especially when the upside negates the downside.

Ian went on to speak of his state of angst, something he and I share at the moment, and he said, in part, "Or it could be about the dismal state of the world and our lemming like stampede as a culture to end it all." I responded to Ian about how his views resonated for me, and I gave a short, and inadequate, description of a troubling moment I had while waiting for a friend in a clinic.

I was thumbing through a National Geographic and came upon a disturbingly vivid photo of a life and death struggle. A lion had surprised a hyena at a waterhole. The hyena was covered in mud but on its feet and defiant. Its eyes glistened and its teeth were bared in perhaps the most menacing way I've seen. The hyena knew it was going to die, and the lion knew it would win.

The image stayed with me through that day and into the next. It's obviously with me now. This segue may be weak, but for me it's valid. We all cope. Things may be going to hell in Iraq, Darfur, Louisiana, next door, but we adjust our focus and live out the day. But if you're someone like Ian, who once risked his life to get school equipment and supplies to El Salvador, you have a sense about the pulse of the planet. You're the kind of person who, like Einstein, believes the most important question to be answered is, "Is the universe a friendly place?" Is it? Well, the soon to pass hyena wouldn't think so. Nor would the tame quail The Dick likes to gun down for sport and amusement.

Years ago, I reviewed a book by the nun featured in the film, The Nun's Story. I can't remember the nun's name or the name of the book I reviewed. And I didn't connect with the book, but one sentence has stayed with me. The sister was on a photo safari in Africa, and she had a close (benign) encounter with a lion. As she looked into the eyes of the lion, she was reminded of something the mystic Gurdjief had said. She felt the lion was communicating it to her at some primal level, "The animals are waiting for us to move up." They are waiting for us to evolve.

I don't know if I speak for Ian, but with the likes of BushCo, quite a lid has been placed upon human progress. At the present rate of decline, how long will it be before we're all in the mud again, snarling at one another?

Bush's house of cards is collapsing

"Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney were not only aware that the identity of an undercover CIA operative was leaked, we now are learning they ordered the treasonous deed themselves. Oh, yes, another eyewitness account provides the testimony."

An upside-down media

"The gravest indictment of the American news media is that George W. Bush has gutted the U.S. Constitution, the Bill of Rights, the Geneva Conventions and the United Nations Charter – yet this extraordinary story does not lead the nation’s newspapers and the evening news every day."

Bush's house of cards may be collapsing, but how many people realize it?

America abandoned

"These obvious falsehoods are directed to the administration’s political base, which either doesn't realize this, or doesn’t care. A few examples of very significant deceptions are in order."

US Congress prepares legal sanction for spying program

"Among the various proposals that are being put forward in the Senate and House, no major figure in either political party is calling for an end to the National Security Agency program, the existence of which was first revealed in December. Rather, the discussion is over what mechanism would be best suited to give it a greater legal sanction. The acceptance that the program is necessary and must continue comes in spite of the fact that the White House has refused to reveal any details about what exactly the program is and what information is being collected."

Why the government spying is illegal: a reply to the US Department of Justice

"Government spying on US citizens and legal residents violates the constitutional right of free speech enshrined in the First Amendment, because it involves the intercept of private communications between people who wish to engage in protected free speech. The spying program authorises the NSA to intercept the private communications of whomever the government decides to spy upon, without first obtaining a warrant or any prior judicial approval. Journalists, scholars, lawyers and cultural and political organisations have all undoubtedly been subject to government surveillance. Furthermore, the operation has clearly been so massive that it has had a chilling effect on people’s right to communicate freely."

Privacy guardian is still a paper tiger

"On Thursday, after months of delay, the Senate Judiciary Committee took a first step toward standing up the fledgling watchdog, approving the two lawyers Bush nominated to lead the panel. But it may take months before the board is up and running and doing much serious work."

Rumsfeld's pet tyrants

"But a closer look at how North African regimes have dealt with Islamic fundamentalism gives pause for thought. Long before the Al Qaeda attacks of 9/11 alerted the Bush administration to the political advantages of declaring a global war on terrorism, North African governments had discovered that they could use the struggle against terrorism and Islamic extremism as a pretext to justify cancelling elections, neutering opposition, locking up political opponents, closing down political debate, and securing Western economic and military assistance."

NSC, Cheney aides conspired to out CIA operative

"The investigation into the leak of covert CIA operative Valerie Plame Wilson is heating up. Evidence is mounting that senior officials in the office of Vice President Dick Cheney and the National Security Council conspired to unmask Plame Wilson's identity to reporters in an effort to stop her husband from publicly criticizing the administration's pre-war Iraq intelligence, according to sources close to the two-year-old probe."

White House 'discovers' 250 emails related to Plame leak

"The emails are said to be explosive, and may prove that Cheney played an active role in the effort to discredit Plame Wilson’s husband, former Ambassador Joseph Wilson, a vocal critic of the Bush administration’s prewar Iraq intelligence, sources close to the investigation said."

VP accident tale filled with discrepancies

"Initial reports had him treated at the scene, then taken by ambulance to the hospital, where in no time he was cracking jokes with the nurses. It turned out that after being taken to the emergency room of a local, small hospital, he was flown by helicopter to the intensive care unit of the larger hospital in Corpus Christi."

Silence the war drums

"Mr. Speaker, I rise in strong opposition to this very dangerous legislation. My colleagues would do well to understand that this legislation is leading us toward war against Iran.

"Those reading this bill may find themselves feeling a sense of déjà vu. In many cases one can just substitute 'Iraq' for 'Iran' in this bill and we could be back in the pre-2003 run up to war with Iraq. And the logic of this current push for war is much the same as was the logic used in the argument for war on Iraq. As earlier with Iraq, this resolution demands that Iran perform the impossible task of proving a negative – in this case that Iran does not have plans to build a nuclear weapon."

It didn't work by William F. Buckley

"The Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, elucidates on the complaint against Americans. It is not only that the invaders are American, it is that they are 'Zionists.' It would not be surprising to learn from an anonymously cited American soldier that he can understand why Saddam Hussein was needed to keep the Sunnis and the Shiites from each others' throats."

Influential Iraqi cleric Sadr rejects constitution

"Influential Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr said he rejects the Iraqi constitution backed by his partners in the biggest parliamentary bloc, threatening to reignite one of the country's most explosive issues."

Civil war in Iraq: Murtha told us so

"He's a truthteller. He wasn't reading the political tea leaves, he was reading the facts on the ground (and listening to what his wide range of military sources were telling him)."

On the brink in Iraq

"With Iraq perched at the very precipice of an ethnic and sectarian holocaust, the utter failure of the Bush administration’s policy is revealed with starkest clarity. Iraq may or may not fall into the abyss in the next few days and weeks, but what is no longer in doubt is who is to blame: If Iraq is engulfed in civil war then Americans, Iraqis and the international community must hold President Bush and Vice President Cheney responsible for the destruction of Iraq."

Sectarian violence stalks Iraq on holy day

"The United States joined Iraqi leaders in urging calm, and despite Sunni Arabs boycotting talks on a new unity government, an American envoy said he is confident the tensions will pass."

Put on a happy face!

Memos detail 74 CIA landings in Canada

"CIA planes have landed in Canada 74 times since the 9/11 terror attacks, underscoring fears that the United States is ferrying suspected terrorists through its neighboring country en route to foreign prisons for torture, according to newly declassified government documents."

Shame on Canada

Death in US custody

"A major human rights advocacy group is charging that of the 98 detainees who have died in US custody in Iraq and Afghanistan since August 2002, 34 are suspected or confirmed homicides, another 11 suggest that death was a result of physical abuse or harsh conditions, but only 12 deaths have resulted in punishment of any kind for any US official."

Bush's mysterious 'new programs'

"But recent developments suggest that the Bush administration may already be contemplating what to do with Americans who are deemed insufficiently loyal or who disseminate information that may be considered helpful to the enemy."

What sort of national emergency requires detention centers?

"What sort of national emergency requires detention centers? America has plenty of prisons. More of our population is behind bars than in any country on earth. There are detention centers for immigration in existence already. As for helping in case of a natural disaster, hurricane Katrina proved that saving American lives is not on the Bush agenda."

IRS finds sharp increase in illegal political activity

"The I.R.S. said yesterday that it saw a sharp increase in prohibited political activity by charities and churches in the last election cycle, a trend that it aims to reverse as the country heads into the midterm elections."

Someone accessed 40 Palm Beach County voting machines Nov 2004

"After investing over $7,000 and waiting nine months for the records, Black Box Voting discovered that the voting machine logs contained approximately 100,000 errors. According to voting machine assignment logs, Palm Beach County used 4,313 machines in the Nov. 2004 election. During election day, 1,475 voting system calibrations were performed while the polls were open, providing documentation to substantiate reports from citizens indicating the wrong candidate was selected when they tried to vote."

Imminent failure for US's campaign to isolate Hamas

"But what Rice fails to recognise is that the Arabs view their support for the Palestinians as a major regional cause. Her efforts to persuade governments to support Washington’s campaign aimed at isolating the new PA will be considered hurting their neighbors in the occupied territories."

Saudis reject US request to cut off aid to Hamas

"Saudi Arabia on Wednesday joined the list of Arab countries that said they were unwilling to cut off money to Hamas, as the United States has requested."

UAE gave $1 million to Bush library

"A sheik from the United Arab Emirates contributed at least $1 million to the Bush Library Foundation, which established the George Bush Presidential Library at Texas A&M University in College Station."

A Bush library? Oxymoronic, so to speak.

UAE terminal takeover extends to 21 ports

"A United Arab Emirates government-owned company is poised to take over port terminal operations in 21 American ports, far more than the six widely reported."

It's the corporation stupid: The government is willing to outsource American jobs for the holy grail of free trade. Why is it surprising that national security is ditto?

"'Balance' is the arresting word here -- keep your eye on 'balance.' We have an administration that is absolutely wedded to corporate interests, both American and global. It honestly believes that 'free trade' is more important than the environment and more important than the people. It has repeatedly demonstrated it is willing to let both go in order to foster free trade."

Heard a great line from Howard Fineman on Countdown. It went something like this, for the president to say he didn't know what was going on re: the port deal will work, because for the president, "ignorance is a credible defense."

A half-dozen questions about 9/11 they don't want you to ask

"The anthrax attacks were the most anomalous terrorist attacks in history: clever, successful, unpunished, causing five deaths and a billion dollars' damage. Yet never repeated. This alone makes them remarkable in the annals of criminal activity, but there is more--the intended victims (at least those with an official position) were warned in writing of their peril in sufficient detail that they could take steps to administer an antidote. Is this characteristic of terrorist attacks by 'al Qaeda,' or by any known Middle Eastern terrorist group?"

Tollbooths on the Internet highway

When you use the Internet today, your browser glides from one Web site to another, accessing all destinations with equal ease. That could change dramatically, however, if Internet service providers are allowed to tilt the playing field, giving preference to sites that pay them extra and penalizing those that don't.

US concludes 'Cyber Storm' mock attacks

"The government concluded its 'Cyber Storm' wargame Friday, its biggest-ever exercise to test how it would respond to devastating attacks over the Internet from anti-globalization activists, underground hackers and bloggers.


Justice Dept rejects Google's privacy issues

"Google Inc.'s concerns that a Bush administration demand to examine millions of its users' Internet search requests would violate privacy rights are unwarranted, the Justice Department said Friday in a court filing."

A Goebels moment.

Orders to US factories for manufactured goods fall by largest amount in 5.5 years

"Orders to U.S. factories for big-ticket manufactured goods fell by the largest amount in 5.5 years in January as demand for commercial aircraft suffered the biggest setback in seven years, the government reported today."

5.5 years, what does that coincide with? Hmmmm?

Norwegian bourse director wants oil bourse priced in euros
"'We have performed market studies and both Russia, which is a large oil exporter, as well as the countries of the Middle East have large parts of their economies in Euros. They would be able to view such a bourse as a contribution to balancing their economies in a better manner than at present, where their products are traded solely in dollars,' says Andersen."

Quotes from and others:

"We shouldn't be discouraged about setbacks, short term setbacks, or the enemy's capacity to take innocent life, because we've seen democracy change the world in the past."
-- Monkey, who has no idea what he's saying, speaking to another private audience, Link

"Mr. Bush spoke before a friendly audience and took questions after his prepared remarks. The first questioner said the nation was blessed to have Bush as president. The next questioner referred to Jeb as 'your great brother.'"
-- AWP, Link

"They will come up with excuse after excuse as to how and why he did not know me. I could have spent four months alone with him in Bolivia and he would not know me."
-- Jack Abramoff, on Dubya, Link

"Who needs sophomoric cartoons to inflame the Muslim world when you've got Bush's prison system? One reason the White House is so helpless against the violence spawned by those Danish cartoons is that it has squandered so much of its moral standing at Guantánamo Bay and Abu Ghraib."
-- NYW Times Editorial, in a rare critical look at their Boy George, Link

"I look at the assets Hillary brings to bear, and the conventional wisdom. Do I need $40 million, like they're saying? How do I get there? And if the mood of the party is so far left, then possibly that's death for me."
-- Bush's best friend (behind Joe Lieberman) Joe Biden in the upcoming GQ.

"Cheney is violating the basic "first do no harm" commandment for Vice Presidents. This shooting incident, the Libby indictment, and the Libby admission that he leaked classified documents at the VP's instructions are all unnecessarily embarrassing to Bush. Cheney is getting to be a liability."
-- Dick Morris, sucker of prostitutes' toes, Link

"I have to admit that I turned away from the Olympics yesterday. Fox had a more exciting event: Softball with Dick Cheney and Britt Hume. I don't want to say Fox News was lenient, but the first question they asked was, 'Who do you like on American Idol?'"
-- Jay Leno
"Cheney sat down for a one-on-one with Fox News. Very bold. Cheney sitting down with Fox News is like Mrs. Butterworth sitting down with the Pancake Channel."
-- Jimmy Kimmel

"On Meet the Whore, Mary Matalin claimed that the public should be "presuming what we all know, that Cheney doesn’t drink." I don't think we should presume that about anyone who has already admitted to drinking before the hunting accident in question. Plus, Cheney has been convicted twice of drinking and driving."
-- David Sirota, Link

"Bush hasn't vetoed a bill in five years. Turns out his line in the sand can be found in the deserts of the UAE."
-- Arianna Huffington, on his veto threat, Link

"Bush is now saying he'll veto any legislation that stops the UAE from taking over US seaports. Bush is choosing sides, and he's choosing an Arab oil country over our national security interests."
-- John Aravosis, Link

"We now have Bob Dole being hired as a lobbyist to influence - who? - HIS OWN WIFE. Yes, Bob Dole's wife, the Bag O' Hairspray is a senator from Carolina. How much sleazier can you get than Dole being paid by a foreign government to lobby his own wife?"
-- John Aravosis, Link

"Expecting politically smart, brave behavior from Democrats could easily be classified as aneurosis, even a psychosis. There is no depth to which Demcorats will plummet a soul into screaming horror as their manifest incompetence trashes the republic. Biden? Bayh? Lieberman? Rockefeller? I'm surprised these guys can find their dicks in the morning, let alone show up for work."
--paradox, speaking the plain truth, Link

"If the United States wants to survive as a country - $450 billion mistakes like Iraq and obviating the rule of law will take anyone down - Bush, Cheney and the Republicans have to be stopped in 2006 by Democrats taking Congress. Our elected Democrats have a unique, historical duty to save the country or be forever, irrevocably known as the clueless clowns who stood there and let it happen."
-- paradox, Link


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