Thursday, June 30, 2005

Spielberg, Munich: a Lesson for Us

"Viewing Israel's response to Munich through the eyes of the men who were sent to avenge that tragedy adds a human dimension to a horrific episode that we usually think about only in political or military terms," he [Spielberg] said. "By experiencing how the implacable resolve of these men to succeed in their mission slowly gave way to troubling doubts about what they were doing, I think we can learn something important about the tragic standoff we find ourselves in today."—“Next: Spielberg's Biggest Gamble” NY Times

11 Israeli athletes were murdered in a botched attempt to take them hostage by PLO terrorists during the Olympic games at Munich in 1972. I remember Jim McKay on the radio as I drove home from a late graduate class in film school in Boston, “They’re all gone.”

I felt a personal connection because on a trip to Europe the previous summer, backpacking with a friend from high school, we stopped in Munich of all places, and as young American Jewish students traveling through Europe, we were surprised at the friendship of the people we met in Munich. Capitol of Bavaria, Munich harbored the high echalon of Germany's Nazi War criminals during WWII, 30 years prior to our visit. My friend and I had a grand time in 1971, drinking famed Bavarian beer and enjoying the friendly surroundings.

We also went on a tour of the facilities that were to be used in the coming 1972 Summer Olympics. When the Israeli athletes were kidnapped and killed, I was listening on my car radio driving down Commonwealth Avenue to my apartment in Brighton, part of Boston. I heard Jim McKay's voice, "they're all gone," and I felt a devastation that came through again during the events of 9/11—terrorists taking away my memories and invading my life with some ultimate pollution, not just academic sorrow, but real outright sadness and tragedy—Now we have to live in this world…

We tell our children that “it’s only a movie” in the most frightening sequences. When I was at overnight summer camp, in 1960, and a counselor came into our cabin after midnight, screaming and trying to catch his breath, and he woke 10 of us campers up, it was all because he had just seen a movie about a serial killer who stabs a pretty girl in a shower. That was my initiation into the power of a movie—“Psycho”—shot in black and white and on a low budget by the great director, Alfred Hitchcock. In the late 1960’s Hitchcock made a movie “Topaz,” about a book that intrigued me very much. Leon Uris, author of Exodus, wrote the book, “Topaz,” about a French intelligence mole who got wind of inside information that the Russians were putting missile bases on Cuba, with warheads capable of hitting American cities with nuclear weapons.

That movie pretty much stunk. The issue was old—the Cuban missile crisis, which ridded the island under Castro of Russian ICBMs—was over in 1963. The movie came out in 1968, just when the Vietnam War truly heated up, the Tet offensive made US military intervention nominal, and Hitchcock was way past his prime.

Steven Spielberg is in the prime of his prime. He wants to tackle this momentous issue of Palestinian terrorism and Israeli response 33 years after the fact. An HBO movie was made in the 1980’s about this issue—Israeli retaliation against the terrorists who killed the Munich athletes.

The key point of the story, and of the description of Spielberg’s quandary, is that the Israeli hit men have second thoughts about their mission. There is even criticism that only Jews would be portrayed as having doubts about a mission like this:

It's become a stereotype, the guilt-ridden Mossad hit man. You never see guilt-ridden hit men in any other ethnicity. Somehow it's only the Jews. I don't see Dirty Harry feeling guilt-ridden. It's the flip side of the rationally motivated Palestinian terrorist: you can't have a Jew going to exact vengeance and not feel guilt-ridden about it, and you can't have a Palestinian who's operating out of pure evil - it's got to be the result of some trauma."
In fact, that is the best reason to make this film. Vengeance is so obvious a great motive under the circumstance of the killing of innocents, and yet the question remains about whether killing is a right motive. “Do the right thing” we always say—under what circumstances and for whose benefit? The lesson for us is that there is no black and white, and we really need to ponder the grey areas. I look forward to Spielberg’s movie—it will offer us a lesson in these times as well.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

The Truth is, Bush and Cheney are Still Lying

This is how illogical it gets:

Appearing on CNN's "Larry King Live" program, McCain said that those spreading violence in Iraq "are the same guys who would be in New York if we don't win in Iraq."--Yahoo News
After Bush’s Iraq speech the comments were flying. But Senator John McCain’s remark stands out because of two things. If the terrorists causing havoc in Iraq wanted to come to New York, whether or not the US military was in Iraq, they would. Not fighting a war in Iraq would not make it somehow easier for terrorists to wreak havoc somewhere else. This thinking is dangerous and counter-productive.

The second reason McCain’s statement is problematical, is that the Iraqis are no happier that their country is occupied and insurgents are killing Iraqis everyday, than if the US military were not there and the insurgency wound down, even if it makes McCain and his fellow Americans more comfortable.

What else is illogical, is that impeachment hearings have not been scheduled yet, when the case of “high crimes and misdemeanors” required by the Constitution clearly has been met. Short of treason and bribery which are the obvious reasons to impeach an official, Bush and Cheney have lied to congress about reasons for the Iraq invasion, and these lies by themselves meet two out of three of the

schools of thought about the appropriate definition: (1) serious criminality evidenced by breaking existing law; (2) an abuse of office, and (3) the Alexander Hamilton standard (Federalist 65) of "violation of public trust."--CSPAN

The generality of examples 2 and 3 above still require that at least the House Judiciary Committee initiate impeachment hearings against Bush and Cheney. We the people are entitled to a debate when so much in blood and money is at stake. Ridding this country of its corrupt leadership would open the door for an abrupt change in Iraq policy, getting our troops home and ending the senseless bloodshed and waste of money.

The beginning of truth and justice requires the foresight of the American people to stop seeing the war in Iraq as somehow tied to security against terrorism. The Bush/Cheney lie of connecting Iraq to the events of 9/11 needs to be hammered down until the light pours in and the US gets its priorities back in order of fixing the healthcare morass and aiding the poor and hungry of the world. Terrorists will find it difficult to find new recruits among people whose standard of living provides enough to eat and a secure home. All the money wasted in the futile Iraq occupation could be going toward tangible positive goals.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Ooops—Oh CRAP I did NOT Mean to DO THAT!

AP reports today that Merck considered changing Vioxx in 2000 in order to dilute its cardiovascular effects even while playing down its possible increased cause of heart attacks.

But behind the scenes, company scientists were considering combining Vioxx with another agent to reduce the risk of heart attacks and strokes, according to a document that was mistakenly provided by Merck to plaintiff lawyers as part of the evidence-gathering process in one of the hundreds of Vioxx lawsuits around
the country.[emphasis added]--AP: Merck Tried to Alter Vioxx in 2000 By THERESA AGOVINO, AP Business Writer
The cover-up of the potential of a widely-used and money-making drug to cause death is astounding enough in all its immoral and unethical implications. The addition of incompetence by attorneys in handing over the incriminating “goods” that a cover-up took place—makes me want to go back to natural foods and spring water.

I had to give up grapefruit juice because it interfered with the statin drug I take to lower my cholesterol, and despite a kick-up in my sciatica, I can’t take ibuprofen for the same reason as the grapefruit juice—plus, Motrin also increases my risk of heart-attack. I got a headache reading about the Merck nonsense because their big business is vaccine manufacturing, and vaccines cause autism and all sorts of brain disorders.

According to the Smirnoff Company of Stamford, CT, their vodka is “Triple Distilled.” It’s also “Ten Times Filtered in a Unique Process for Ultimate Clarity.” I’m assuming that’s the clarity of the hooch, not necessarily of the imbiber. That’s good enough for me—couldn’t fuss up my heart too much to swallow 2 ounces, and it doesn't inhibit the lovastatin working on my cholesterol. Then I'll Watch the DVD of Grease with my daughter. You remember Grease, the show about the good old 1950’s when we didn’t know all the stuff we ate, drank, and did back then was really bad for us.

Rove: Iraq Means NOT Having to say You're Sorry!

Bush's Crony Rove tell's 'em off

Bush's chief political adviser, Rove said in a speech Wednesday that "liberals saw the savagery of the 9/11 attacks and wanted to prepare indictments and offer therapy and understanding for our attackers." Conservatives, he told the New York state Conservative Party just a few miles north of Ground Zero, "saw the savagery of 9/11 and the attacks and prepared for war."
In a well-meaning, unified attempt to vilify Carl Rove, Bush puppeteer and number 1 in line for the ear of the president, the democrats have followed the parallel path of reality and missed the real target—the misbegotten Iraq War.

Rove made some demeaning remarks about liberals’ reaction to the events of 9/11 being inadequate vs. the rallying war cry of the right-wing Bush base. Democrats from hither and yon have come forth in a display of displeasure, asking for responses from mere retraction to Rove’s resignation.

The larger reality that’s been missed here is this: in an op-ed piece in today’s Los Angeles Times, The Real News in the Downing Street Memos, by Michael Smith, who writes on defense issues for the Sunday Times of London, the description of how Bush and Blair took the US and Britain willy-nilly to war in Iraq without popular authorization—that’s the issue of importance to attack, not presidential mouthpiece Carl Rove.

Describing his research into the various releases of the “Downing Street Memo,” Smith writes

But another part of the memo is arguably more important. It quotes British Defense Secretary Geoff Hoon as saying that "the U.S. had already begun 'spikes of activity' to put pressure on the regime." This we now realize was Plan B.

Put simply, U.S. aircraft patrolling the southern no-fly zone were dropping a lot more bombs in the hope of provoking a reaction that would give the allies an excuse to carry out a full-scale bombing campaign, an air war, the first stage of the conflict.

British government figures for the number of bombs dropped on southern Iraq in 2002 show that although virtually none were used in March and April, an average of 10 tons a month were dropped between May and August.

But these initial "spikes of activity" didn't have the desired effect. The Iraqis didn't retaliate. They didn't provide the excuse Bush and Blair needed. So at the end of August, the allies dramatically intensified the bombing into what was effectively the initial air war.

The number of bombs dropped on southern Iraq by allied aircraft shot up to 54.6 tons in September alone, with the increased rates continuing into 2003.

In other words, Bush and Blair began their war not in March 2003, as everyone believed, but at the end of August 2002, six weeks before Congress approved military action against Iraq.

The way in which the intelligence was "fixed" to justify war is old news.

The real news is the shady April 2002 deal to go to war, the cynical use of the U.N. to provide an excuse, and the secret, illegal air war without the backing of Congress. [emphasis added]

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Anthrax, Goss, Osama, Bush and the Painting and ...Oprah

I barely arrived at full consciousness today when I realized the enormous coincidence of intersecting stories which are all unbelievable but true. There are no coincidences, of course, so there must be some reason behind this confluence of jumbled jargon and events—so I think. What could that rationale be?

Here’s what has happened:

1. Porter Goss knows where Osama Bin Laden is but doesn’t wanna rush right in where fools fear to tread, and git’im.

PORTER: In the chain that you need to successfully wrap up the war on terror, we have some weak links. And I find that until we strengthen all the links, we're probably not going to be able to bring Mr. bin Laden to justice. We are making very good progress on it. But when you go to the very difficult question of dealing with sanctuaries in sovereign states, you're dealing with a problem of our sense of international obligation, fair play…


PORTER: I have an excellent idea of where he is. What's the next question?--From the TIME Magazine Interview "10 Questions for Porter Goss" By TIMOTHY J. BURGER
OK now what the f--- does THAT mean? 3,000 Americans were killed September 11, 2001, by a group headed by “Mr. Bin Laden” but we don’t want to step on any people’s toes, or nation’s for that matter, who provide sanctuary for the number 1 criminal? This, according to Goss, head of the CIA, who said in an interview on the DVD of “Fahrenheit 911,” that he was NOT qualified to be head of the CIA. The whole story is outrageously incredible, and I haven’t had a second cup of coffee yet.

And anyway, what would happen to Bush’s program of fear mongering, his unfocussed and 1984’ish unending “War on Terror” if Bin Laden actually got caught? Look at Saddam--in jail fussing about Doritos and Reagan and appearing all but a cartoon-ish buffoon—his removal as dictator of Iraq has cost upwards of hundreds of thousands of lives, Iraqi, American and others—would a thoughtless frightening killer like Osama be worth a continuing “War on Terror” if he were in a similar situation? Do you really think Bush wants to leave Iraq now that he’s got a foothold where all the oil is?

2. Then the email comes from the National Vaccine Information Center:

More than 1,200 military personnel who received the anthrax vaccine before going to Iraq have developed serious illnesses, according to an Army report released last month, though local military officials contend the shots still are safe and necessary.

… "We've really not seen a big problem with anthrax -- nothing outside of the normal range of side effects," Blalock said.

… But the illnesses reported by the Army have been more severe. Initial symptoms of the reported cases included minor diarrhea, cramping and fever to more intense problems like sleep and memory loss, chronic fatigue, headaches and chest pains.

...The hospital contends anthrax vaccinations are safe and more necessary than ever, especially considering the threat of anthrax contamination that hit several post offices and office buildings following Sept. 11.

"We're living in a completely different era. There are terrorists who are intent on using biological agents and there are countries that certainly have the capability," Blalock said.

While the debate about the seriousness of anthrax-related illnesses is likely to get bogged down in the same discussion over such war-related illnesses as Gulf War Syndrome, Blalock is among those who believe the benefits far outweigh the cost. "There are a lot of diseases out there -- very lethal, very deadly," Blalock said. "It really comes down to people making the best choice." --"More than 1,200 who had anthrax vaccine now sick," By Jeff Donaldson LAS VEGAS SUN

My choice, if I had to make it?—no! Based on the number of anthrax attacks lately--none. I live in Southern California—there’s no vaccine for unforeseen earthquakes or mudslides. Now THAT might be something to sell…

3. I’ve had two cups of coffee, feeling wide awake, here comes the good story:

"The 1923 painting by Joseph Kleitsch, titled Evening Shadows, is worth an estimated $500,000, the expert said."

It took a landslide for Albert Trevino to learn that he had a treasure on his wall, one that could help him rebuild the wreckage of his $1.8-million Laguna Beach house.

The painting of Mission San Juan Capistrano had been hanging on Trevino's living room wall for 20 years. He thinks he bought it at a garage sale. Now Trevino, a former Irvine Co. planner, believes the painting is worth as much as $500,000 — thanks to an artist friend who spotted it this month after Trevino was given 15 minutes to clear out the house.

"My wife and children said this is a miracle," said Trevino, 74. "It's an unbelievable set of events."[emphasis added]-- "Slide Victim's Painting Offers Off-the-Wall Help," By Jeff Gottlieb Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

Why is this piece of local news included here? It is unbelievable, yet, like the Goss and Anthrax vaccine tales, totally believable and understandable.

Fate, if that’s what you want to call it, works in strange ways, certainly not at random, and definitely with direction and meaning. For instance, Trevino moved the painting in order to project videos for his 50th wedding anniversary, or it would not have been able to be retrieved where it normally hung. The friend, whose house he stored the painting at since the mudslide, knew about the artist and the painting style, notified another friend who had it appraised.

If Trevino’s wife, her mother, and her grandmother, had not all been baptized at the Mission, they wouldn’t have scarfed up the painting from an inconsequential garage sale 20 years ago. They happened to like paintings of the Mission, and the garage sale “sellers” had no idea of the treasure with which they were parting.

Some things, as Raymond’s brother Robert would say, are “meant to be.” There are no coincidences.

4. Thus culminates my morning of the confluence of my confrontation of unbelievable, but absolutely believable, news items. So I thought—then I got this email from my dad, which is so ridiculous, that I actually had to check and double check for its veracity. Turns out it’s not only for real, it’s from the White House itself! Considering the source, once again it fits the “absolutely believable” category:

Q -- …really understand how is it the new plan is going to fix that problem?

THE PRESIDENT: Because the -- all which is on the table begins to address the big cost drivers. For example, how benefits are calculate, for example, is on the table; whether or not benefits rise based upon wage increases or price increases. There's a series of parts of the formula that are being considered. And when you couple that, those different cost drivers, affecting those -- changing those with personal accounts, the idea is to get what has been promised more likely to be -- or closer delivered to what has been promised. Does that make any sense to you? It's kind of muddled. Look, there's a series of things that cause the -- like, for example, benefits are calculated based upon the increase of wages, as opposed to the increase of prices. Some have suggested that we calculate -- the benefits will rise based upon inflation, as opposed to wage increases. There is a reform that would help solve the red if that were put into effect. In other words, how fast benefits grow, how fast the promised benefits grow, if those -- if that growth is affected, it will help on the red. Okay, better? I'll keep working on it. (Laughter.) Yes, sir.

Q How do you like these hard questions?

THE PRESIDENT: You know. You watch my press conferences? (Laughter.) Please don't encourage him. (Laughter.) –-White House Web Site

That’s true arrogance—to be so inarticulate and speaking garbled unintelligible nonsense, and then publicize it on the presidential web site for reproduction. In case you thought your president cares what you think—he doesn’t.

5. I was going to discuss the Oprah Winfrey Show “Atrocities Against Children,” in this grouping of entries that are absolutely true, yet unbelievable. But the incidences and human depravity are too hard to ponder, as they were so difficult to view.

I could say, “I’m mad as hell, and I’m not going to take this anymore!” That wouldn’t fix anything, although when enough of “we, the people” take interest and want change, it will happen. There are no coincidences. And we are all in this together.

Today, we know there is love in our hearts, but we have only begun to scratch the surface of how we can use it to restore and transform our world…Most of us don’t lack compassion so much as we avoid it.—

Everyday Grace, Marianne Williamson. Riverhead Books 2002. p. 194

Monday, June 20, 2005

Government PR for Corporate Scandals

“This is a tragedy lacking in heroes,” the judge said.
Quote from the Hollywood blacklist red-scare days? Watergate? Vietnam? Nope—

John Rigas, who turned a $300 investment a half-century ago into cable behemoth Adelphia Communications Corp., was sentenced to 15 years in prison Monday for his role in the looting and debt-hiding scandal that pummeled the company into bankruptcy.—MSNBC

Rigas is 80 years old. This amounts to a life sentence.

As the Superman Comics I read as a kid used to say, through a “strange quirk of fate,” there I was at a moderated lecture at the Cable TV Expo Convention in late fall 2001. The moderator was interviewing one of the heavyweights of all time in Cable TV entrepreneurial accomplishment, John Rigas. I remember specifically Rigas answering the question of why Adelphia had acquired the huge debt of $12 billion (no misprint) in order to “expand” etc in the burgeoning cable TV growth throughout the US. He said something to the effect of the cable business being a wonderful opportunity and nothing but shiny prognoses for future growth in the entire cable TV industry.

The friend who invited me to this symposium, owner of a major cable TV business in Pennsylvania, wanted to hear the guru Rigas speak because at the time, shortly after 9/11, Cable TV was in a state of flux: a few major players in the country were gobbling up the rest of the independents in an effort to control the board. The astronomical expense of maintaining the “plant”--cable-ese for the wires and electronics that get the signal from the headquarters to your house or business most efficiently—was making the future of the field look palatable for only the biggest conglomerates, not the family-owned and operated indy’s, of which my friend’s company was one.

So we wanted to hear what the most successful independent cable TV founder had to say about the future of ownership in the cable TV/internet/phone arena. A kindly older gentleman, with a countryish manner about him, Rigas only spoke positively about his experiences in the small town of Coudersport, PA where he got his start with a meager $300 loan, and now headed an empire that could manage a debt of 12 billion dollars.

Looks like we wasted our hour and 20 minutes listening to this now convicted criminal. John Rigas and family are not even the biggest players in the realm of Enron-like corporate stealers. But they are the latest hot “get” by the government trying to make a show to the public that ”things are getting back in order” by weeding out some bad guys in public.

Spare me the headlines—The indigenous nature of corporate greed in these United States makes these show trials nothing more than they are—a drop in the cesspool bucket. Have you ever talked with a CEO about what he thinks about his fellow Americans, politics, or just trivial stuff like their wive’s mindset, or anyone’s minor needs and wants? That’s an education all by itself in racism, rationalization, and justification.

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Bush: Abuse of Power and Then Some

Since Sept. 11, the U.S. government has secretly transported dozens of people suspected of links to terrorists to countries other than the United States, bypassing extradition procedures and legal formalities, according to Western diplomats and intelligence sources. The suspects have been taken to countries, including Egypt and Jordan, whose intelligence services have close ties to the CIA and where they can be subjected to interrogation tactics -- including torture and threats to families -- that are illegal in the United States, the sources said. In some cases, U.S. intelligence agents remain closely involved in the interrogation, the sources said.--Washington Post March 11, 2002

The Guantanamo abuses by American guards has overshadowed the world of CIA tactics as reported over 2 years ago. In January of this year, a Newsweek report indicated the possibility of reviving the old “Salvador Option” of using death squads recruited within Iraq to help quell the insurgency. Pentagon proposal would send Special Forces teams to advise, support and possibly train Iraqi squads, most likely hand-picked Kurdish Peshmerga fighters and Shiite militiamen, to target Sunni insurgents and their sympathizers, even across the border into Syria, according to military insiders familiar with the discussions. It remains unclear, however, whether this would be a policy of assassination or so-called "snatch" operations, in which the targets are sent to secret facilities for interrogation. The current thinking is that while U.S. Special Forces would lead operations in, say, Syria, activities inside Iraq itself would be carried out by Iraqi paramilitaries, officials tell NEWSWEEK.

Of course we haven’t had a follow-up on these stories—until now that is. In a show of virtuoso investigative reporting, using hundreds of pages of Italian documents and major shoe leather, Newsweek Paris Bureau Chief Christopher Dickey has brought to the surface the possibility that the US helped to kidnap an Imam off An Italian street.

So whoever snatched an Egyptian-born imam known as Abu Omar off Via Guerzoni in broad daylight on Feb. 17, 2003, had planned well. And if their tradecraft had been a little bit better, the incident could have been kept very quiet and forgotten quickly. But they screwed up, and soon, possibly as early as next week, you can look for the abduction of Abu Omar to emerge as a major embarrassment to President George W. Bush and Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi.—“The Road to Rendition” Newsweek, Christopher Dickey
Let’s hope Dickey is right about the timing. The more that evidence that is compounded against Bush and his outlaw regime, and the strange willful acts of abuse of power that come to light, the sooner we, the people, can get back our government.

Friday, June 17, 2005

Impeachable Offenses are Here Again

"Quite frankly, evidence that appears to be building up points to whether or not the president has deliberately misled Congress to make the most important decision a president has to make, going to war," Rep. Charles Rangel of New York, senior Democrat on the House Ways and Means Committee, said earlier at the event on Capitol Hill.

Misleading Congress is an impeachable offense, a point that Rangel underscored by saying he's already been through two impeachments. --PETE YOST, Associated Press Writer

Impeachment talk making the press--It’s about time. It appears to be OK to lie to the American people and the UN about reasons to invade Iraq, but lying to congress becomes an impeachable offense. Nixon was not forced to resign from office under threat of impeachment for all the unconstitutional acts he and his cronies committed--articles of impeachment were reported from the House Juidiary Committee because of the smoking gun tape, that Nixon lied about covering up the other acts. Clinton was impeached for lying to a grand jury about getting a blow-job in the Oval Office, not for actually “having sex with that woman.”

It doesn’t matter why Bush gets impeached. The matter is that we the people need to tell a leader heading down the unbridled path toward dictatorship that we won’t stand for that in these United States. And don’t worry that Cheney will become president when Bush is convicted of the impeachable offenses, because he’ll be in on the indictment as well. Then we can get out of Iraq and spend the war fund money on saving lives instead of ending them.

Now, more than 26 months after the invasion, 100,000 Iraqis have been killed (according to the British medical journal The Lancet) and Iraq is in chaos. Over 1,700 U.S. troops have been killed and tens of thousands have been maimed, suffering from serious wounds, injuries and illnesses, including enormous psychological trauma.

All this killing, dying and suffering is the result of a war justified by a deliberate campaign of unmitigated lies and deception knowingly carried out by Bush and his top associates - Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rice,
Powell, Wolfowitz, et. al. All who remain in office should be removed and face trial for their war crimes. It is worth noting that the most serious category of war crimes is the Crime Against Peace; that is, planning and carrying out a war of aggression against another state which poses no threat to the aggressor state.—

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Big Pharma's Tentacles Reach into Back Pockets

I don't generally like or promote stories about thimerasol in vaccines as a cause of autism. Vaccines cause autism because they contain the toxins to supposedly get the immune system to activate, but these toxins also screw up the immune system and affect brain development which causes all sorts of developmental disorders, of which autism is just one. Don't get me wrong, I know thimerasol, a form of mercury used as a preservative in vaccines, is highly lethal to brain tissue and can be a cause of many nervous system disorders, but vaccines that are free of thimerasol, especially the MMR shot, can still cause autism.

Here is the exception to my rule about discussing thimerasol--Robert F. Kennedy Jr. wrote a piece in Salon today, "Deadly Immunity," that cuts to the quick about big pharma's coverup of thimerasol in vaccines, and the corruption beyond that. The article has been quoted in several news services and blogs today, including the Huffington Post.

The reason I am sighting the article here is that also noted, in screaming big lead headlines, in the Huffington Post tonight, is the following:

ABC Bosses Tell ABC News Kill The Interviews With Robert Kennedy Jr.

…Mr. Kennedy's interviews were slated for prime shows ABC World News Tonight, 20/20, and Good Morning America.
and Rolling Stone Magazine have exclusive rights to Mr. Kennedy’s article and they embargoed his story on other networks because of his arrangement with ABC.

Rather than keep you, the reader, from exploring this outrage further, let me just ask the begging question:
Who got to whom with what threat, bribe, or promise that got this story taken off ABC??

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

“Headlines Torn from Today’s News”

“Bombs kill 33 Iraqi soldiers, police”
This story is from MSNBC this minute as I write this: it’s getting to be a familiar story, almost daily, just like in the days of the Vietnam War. When the US ends its occupation of Iraq, the insurgency will wither and die due to lack of interest. While the press coverage of 150,000 troops ensconced in the Middle East continues, so will the renegades who need media coverage for their “cause.”

“Democrats split on setting timetable for pulling US troops from Iraq”

Senator Russ Feingold introduced a resolution calling on the George W. Bush administration to give the US Congress a timetable for reaching its military objectives in Iraq and withdrawing American troops.

Another story from today--Feingold wants the “brave servicemen and women” to have an idea what’s going to happen in their future. If Bush actually wanted to extricate the US from Iraq, the discussion of timetables would be a productive start and present an appropriate public relations front, especially to those who would complicate the issue, like Iraqi insurgents. Our president most certainly does not want to give up the beach head he and his team of Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, and Rice worked so hard to establish. The US bastion in Iraq allows for ultimate control of the flow of oil in the region, and of course the easier access to future incursions into bordering territories such as Iran, Syria, and other oil-rich areas.

An intelligent leader, Congressman Dennis Kucinich, depicts on his web site important proposals for getting the US out of Iraq. He sights the problems involved with arguments for and against, leading toward a conclusion of how to approach the issue of withdrawal. Kucinich openly asks for anyone reading his ideas to respond with options to help move the issue forward. Some of them make good sense:

· The Administration has made several predictions related to the actions of the insurgents over the course of the war:
1. The insurgency would die down once Saddam is captured. It didn't.
2. The insurgency would die down once an interim Iraqi governing board is put in place. It didn't.
3. The Insurgency would die down after the Iraqi elections. It didn't.

· It's great that they would reduce the attacks and let us bring the troops home without our casualties increasing too much. What happens later is up to the Iraqi people as it should have been from the start.

“Kennedy Lays Out Plan for Withdrawal from Iraq”

"We must learn from our mistakes in Vietnam and in Iraq…We must recognize what a large and growing number of Iraqis now believe the war in Iraq has become a war against the American occupation."

"We thought in those early days in Vietnam that we were winning. We thought the skill and courage of our troops was enough. We thought that victory on the battlefield would lead to victory in war, and peace and democracy for the people of Vietnam," Kennedy said."In the name of a misguided cause, we continued in a war too long. We failed to comprehend the events around us. We did not understand that our very presence was creating new enemies and defeating the very goals we set out to achieve."

I included Kennedy’s remarks even though they are not current. They are from a speech he gave in January, 5 months ago. The point is that it’s getting late and action must take place in a hurry. The majority of Americans who believe we do not belong in Iraq must speak out loudly. If Bush is allowed to be complacent about the US position in Iraq, America’s future security and prosperity remain at stake. Money and blood will be spent when they could have been saved. The responsibility and the task, as always, are ours.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

911 Conspiracy not so Secret

Four planes were piloted by terrorists trained by Osama Bin Laden to fly into buildings on September 11, 2005. Two flew into the World Trade Center towers, one into the Pentagon, and one crashed in Pennsylvania. That’s what you think, isn’t it? If you look for it, you can find theories by the hundreds all over the internet that say the above description is not what happened. There are books for sale on that draw immense conspiracies totally aside from the common-held memory of reported events of 911. Enter “911 conspiracy” in the Google search box and you won’t have time to read all the results that come up.

Conspiracies are fun to contemplate, but they have their dark side. Wacko theories of an alternate explanation of an event, from something personal that happens to an individual, to a collective version that affects millions of people like the Kennedy Assassination, can put a haze over the truth and cause disruption of preparations for a similar calamity.

If the World Trade Center buildings collapsed because of fire and heat, and the official explanation is accepted, the design of construction of other edifices can take this tragedy into account and the next building can be made to avoid the same disaster.

Conspiracy theories can be informative. They can also be bizarre ruminations from the mind of anyone who wants to write down some ideas and have them looked at.

This is not the case with Morgan Reynolds, chief economist for the Department of Labor during President George W. Bush's first term. Dated June 9, 2005, Reynolds has put forth a lengthy, coherent description of what exactly happened, from an engineering standpoint, to the buildings that collapsed at ground zero on 911, titled, “Why Did the Trade Center Skyscrapers Collapse?”

The government’s collapse theory is highly vulnerable on its own terms, but its blinkered narrowness and lack of breadth is the paramount defect unshared by its principal scientific rival – controlled demolition. Only professional demolition appears to account for the full range of facts associated with the collapses of WTC 1 (North Tower), WTC 2 (South Tower), and the much-overlooked collapse of the 47-story WTC building 7 at 5:21 pm on that fateful day.
The entire piece is worth reading, if not for the convincing discussion that what we all thought we saw and heard the morning of 911 on TV was not at all what happened, but for the implicit accusation that a “government” had to be behind the plan, not just, as Reynolds says,

the fantastic conspiracy theory that "19 young Arabs acting at the behest of Islamist extremists headquartered in distant Afghanistan" caused 9/11.
The ramifications of Reynolds's position are clear: nothing about our government is as it seems, and there is a powder keg of options for each coming day that we as a nation are facing. We must constantly remain vigilant, and be aware of our elected officials and their policies. It’s really the responsibility of each and every one of us.

Monday, June 13, 2005

Alger Hiss, Michael Jackson, and Criminal Justice

Alger Hiss believed in the criminal justice system. Rather, he believed in the system of justice in the United States of America as set forth in the Constitution. I know this--because 22 years after he was convicted on two counts of perjury on trumped up charges by the government in a case spearheaded by then-congressman Nixon to discredit high-ranking democrats in the Truman administration as being so left-wing oriented that they would sell out to the Russians—I asked him how he felt about the American system of justice. He answered plainly that it “usually worked.”

Despite the outcome of his trials--the first which ended in a hung jury and the second which ended convicting him and sending him to jail for four years—Hiss was adamant, from his legal training (he was clerk to Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes), and in practice through the years, that trial by a jury of one’s peers was the finest way to approach justice in any society.

In Hiss’s case, he claimed evidence was constructed by the prosecution and FBI—forgery by typewriter—to show that he had actually copied documents in order to give them to a courier who would then send them on to Russia in an effort somehow to bolster that country’s pre-WWII efforts against Nazi Germany. So he couldn’t fight that aspect of forgery in court. Presumption of innocence got thrown out the window because the newspapers said they had the goods on Hiss in hand, and that was good enough for their readers.

Hiss wrote about his case in the famous book In the Court of Public Opinion, in which he describes being convicted in the press and media long before his trials ever came up. But still, in a regular, non-“celebrity” case, Hiss assured me that the justice system would prevail in getting at the truth! I wasn’t about to question the passionate certainty of an ex-con in this matter.

Trial by jury, presumption of innocence until proven guilty, and the legal necessity to prove guilt “beyond a reasonable doubt,” may ultimately free some criminals, while incarcerating some innocent people as well. All in all, the system of English jurisprudence developed in the middle ages, and practiced through down to today in this country, tends to lean toward allowing innocent subjects to go free, moreso than letting society’s misfits and abject bad guys get off easily. Otherwise, we’d invent a better system after 1,000 plus years of this one.

Michael Jackson was acquitted today, by a jury of his peers, of ten counts and sub-counts of misdemeanors and felony behavior having to do with cavorting with children in a manner of pederasty, one of the most agreed upon abhorrent acts in our civilization. The interviews with actual members of the jury panel provide the amazing insight, after all these months, that in fact the mother of the main accuser might have been obnoxious in her testimony; and there was no “smoking gun” to provide jurors the satisfying sigh to say “Oh, THAT’S what happened—let’s convict the bastard.”

If anything is true, it’s that these jurors diligently followed their instructions from the judge, and closely examined the evidence, whether or not wholly corroborated, in order to decide if Michael Jackson was “guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.” Well folks, that’s a tough one to prove without something beyond a boy’s statement and a mother’s outrage. You really need a video, or a confession, or whatever it takes when you’re going to convict the biggest pop star of the 1970’s and 80’s. And you need a sympathetic victim, not some kid of whom every parent in America, including me, says “what parent would knowingly let his or her child sleep in a strange adult’s bed?” If I’m on that jury, and I think there’s an inkling of a doubt, I vote to acquit. That didn’t mean I found Michael Jackson innocent—just “not guilty.” I could think he “might have or possibly could have” committed the acts, but I’m not SURE beyond a reasonable doubt. So Michael goes back to Neverland, and I can still sleep at night—if I’m one of the jurors.

But I’m out here in “reality-land,” and there are enough real pederasts out here, and they are sick and need help, and so do our kids need protection—let’s get onto the important issues here and do what we need to do--and let’s put the Michael Jackson case where it belongs once and for all—behind us.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

All on a Sunday Morning

The millions of Africans who die young and the hundreds of millions going hungry are not victims of fate. They are the consequences of U.S. policy.—Jeffrey D. Sachs,”Africa’s Suffering is Bush’s Shame,” Los Angeles Times June 12, 2005

There is evil in the world. I have seen it up close. But nothing, nothing, comes close to Rwanda. –Leroy Sievers, former executive producer of “Nightline.”

It is criminally obscene for us to let one child go hungry for even one night in our country. Surely in an era when we have multiple bidders for million-dollar homes, we can figure out how to feed a malnourished child.--Douglas MacKinnon, Los Angeles Times June 12,2005

These young homeless just don’t want to work—Rush Limbaugh

(Toying with his car keys)
I can't enjoy anything unless I ... unless
everybody is. I-you know, if one guy is
starving someplace, that's ... you know,
I-I ... it puts a crimp in my evening.

--“Annie Hall” by Woody Allen and Marshall Brickman

My friend from Pennsylvania, who has access to the inner halls of government workings through his business, once told me the United States could feed the entire world. He said the financial and technical means to do it exists, just not the intent.

I used to think that the complaint in Annie Hall about somebody starving putting a crimp in Alvy’s evening was sarcastic and not sincere. Now I realize it was defensively apologetic.

The embarrassment of the homeless in America is compounded by the percentage who served their country in the military:

…the VA estimates that more than 299,321 veterans are homeless on any given night. And, more than half a million experience homelessness over the course of a year. Conservatively, one out of every four homeless males who is sleeping in a doorway, alley, or box in our cities and rural communities has put on a uniform and served our country—The National Coalition of Homeless Veterans

All these hungry groups have one thing in common, as MacKinnon says in his op-ed piece about the homeless: “…virtually nobody really cares about them. Nobody.” When Don Cheadle’s character solicits help in the movie Hotel Rwanda, he is informed that the entire world will turn its back on Africans because they are Africans. The frustration lies in the fact that solutions are abundant and available, and these remedies are not being ignored or overlooked. The biggest institution or bank with the most money in the world, that could do the most to alleviate hunger on planet earth, the United States Government, spends its precious giant resources on wars and military extravagances.

But the suffering referred to by Sachs as Bush’s shame is more than that—it is the shame of us all for not plunging in head first to insist that our tax money be spent on saving lives around the world, and in our own backyard. If enough voices spoke out, those who want to remain in power via the almighty ballot, regardless of the special interests lining their back pockets, would listen.

No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main… any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.-- From "Devotions upon Emergent Occasions" (1623), XVII: Nunc Lento Sonitu
Dicunt, Morieris. John Donne

John Donne wrote that he was involved in mankind 382 years ago, before TV, the internet, and satellite communications. He was intuitive and eloquent, and we have no excuse for not getting the message.

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Rich, the Truth, and US

The main difference is that in the Nixon White House, the president's men plotted behind closed doors. The current administration is now so brazen it does its dirty work in plain sight. NY Times

I bow to Frank Rich's column which says it all. I thought Nixon was an aberration--he's got nothing on Bush.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Go Suck a Camel

“I am deeply troubled by the appearance that Bush administration political appointees pressured career Justice Department attorneys to protect tobacco companies," said Rep. Martin T. Meehan (D-Mass.), who also signed one of two letters to Fine.—Los Angeles Times: “Shift in Tobacco Suit Is Assailed” June 9, 2005
We all know “Bush administration political appointees pressure” people all the time. How else does Bush get his policies in place? Everyone pressures everyone else in D.C. The problem in this one is, it’s way too obvious. It’s on the front page of the L.A. Times “Business” section today, and it has gotten several high-ranking democratic senators in an uproar.
At least eight Senate and House Democrats — including Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.) and Rep. Henry A. Waxman (D-Los Angeles) — asked the Justice Department inspector general to investigate why senior officials apparently ordered the department's trial team to cut their most costly demand against the industry by more than 90%.Without explanation, government lawyers late Tuesday asked U.S. District Judge Gladys Kessler to order an industry-funded five-Year, $10-billion smoking-cessation program — instead of the 25-year, $130-billion program they had outlined previously.
I stopped smoking 20 years ago. I loved it. I still miss it. It is so deadly, as far as I know, that the very act of inhaling from a cigarette terrified me so much I finally quit in order to avoid the terror. Since statistics show only 3% of those who try to quit smoking every year are successful, the addiction must be enormous. Mark Twain famously said that quitting smoking was easy—he’d done it thousands of times.

But this is not about smoking or addiction or the jerks who sell us on this shit. It’s about lying, fraud, and contempt of morality in the name of almighty money. I have a friend, who as a head executive some years back in the Phillip Morris conglomerate, told me that at company get-togethers, as the powers-that-be would hack and cough and try to get a breath of air, they would look him in the eye and tell him that cigarettes didn’t cause any harm. My friend sold cheese so smoke wasn’t an issue with him.

At least this story is there for anyone to read and get the news—Bush cares about a few people—his family and friends, and that’s about it. Don’t be fooled into this government of the people, by the people and for… etc etc—that’s a Henry Fonda movie, not reality in these United States of America.


Here's a letter from Senator Feinstein to me about my request that impeachment of the president be considered, and following that is my letter back to her:

June 9, 2005

Thank you for your letter about removing the President from office because of intelligence failures prior to the invasion of Iraq. I appreciate you taking the time to write and I welcome the opportunity to respond. I regret that we disagree on this issue since I do not support the impeachment of the President on these
First, the Constitution details that the President may be
removed from office if he is impeached and convicted of treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors, which, leaves the basis for impeachment open to some interpretation. The actual process for impeaching a president involves the House of
Representatives acting as the prosecutor and bringing relevant charges against the President. The Senate then acts as the jury and the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court acts as the judge, together responsible for trying the President.
Second, the Senate vote on the resolution to authorize the
use of force in Iraq was difficult and consequential based on hours of intelligence briefings from Administration and intelligence officials, as well as the classified and unclassified versions of an important National Intelligence Estimate that comprehensively assessed Iraqi's WMD program. It was based on trust that this
intelligence was the best our Nation's intelligence services could offer, untainted by bias, and fairly presented. In this case it was not.
The bottom line is that Iraq did not possess nuclear, chemical or biological weapons in 2003 when the war began. Saddam Hussein did not have an active nuclear, chemical or biological weapons program. Considering the statements that were
being made by the Administration, and the intelligence that was presented to Congress which said otherwise, this is quite disturbing and points once again to failures in the analysis, collection and use of intelligence. In order to address these intelligence failures, Congress passed the Intelligence Reform bill, which I voted for. This law will make consequential changes to the structure and organization of the 15 agencies which make up our intelligence capabilities.
Please know that as a member of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, I will be sure to continue to monitor this issue closely.
Again, thank you for taking the time to write. If you have any further questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact my Washington, D.C. office at (202) 224-3841, or visit my website at

Sincerely yours,

Dianne Feinstein
United States Senator


Dear Senator Feinstein:
Thank you for responding to me about impeachment of President Bush. However, I find your attempt to lecture and/or educate me about the impeachment process both annoying and condescending. For my Master's thesis at Boston University I wrote about the Hiss case, during the Watergate business, in which elements of his prosecution paralleled the shenanigans that Nixon's Justice Dept was using to obstruct justice and protect him from exposure. I know about impeachment, and the reasons for and why--did Clinton's obfuscation before the grand jury constitute Treason...etc etc? I think not, and so do you.

When a President of the United States knowingly lies to his electorate about reasons to go to war, and conducts the manner of decision-making to go to war surreptitiously, and under false pretenses, that to me constitutes high crimes and misdemeanors at least. This all goes above and beyond politics. Congress was misled into voting for the Iraq War resolution by a knowing executive branch. The need to examine all of this in congressional hearings and/or a grand jury is very clear to me. You and your Democrat colleagues could bring this about. But you are too busy, too lazy, or too entangled, to tackle this important task.

Nixon was going to be impeached for obstruction of justice, despite his wanton disregard for congressional approval and widening the Vietnam War into Cambodia. Clinton was impeached for improprieties in the White House, and acquitted appropriately. How about you starting a new era of accountability, where a Commander in Chief has to be honest with those whose blood, money, and honor he wants to spend on a phony war to gain a threshold on the oil market, not to mention the racist nature of "Crusading" once again against the Muslim infidels.

I don't know who or if anyone will read this, but spare me your prosaic didactic responses to a real concern of mine. I have a 16 year old son who I do not want to ever see military duty in a misbegotten war for nothing.

Yours Truly,

David Goldenberg

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

1984 in 2005

I guess every so often I will have to quote the same section from Martin Niemöller, a pastor in Berlin who opposed Hitler’s actions.

In Germany they came first for the Communists and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Communist. Then they came for the Jews and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Jew. Then they came for the trade unionists and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a trade unionist. Then they came for the Catholics and I didn't speak up because I was a Protestant. Then they came for me--and by that time no one was left to speak up.

Today the Senate Intelligence Committee voted to expand the powers of the Patriot Act, an already dangerous affront to civil liberties.

The FBI would get expanded powers to subpoena records without the approval of a judge or grand jury in terrorism investigations under Patriot Act revisions…Committee Chairman Pat Roberts, R-Kan., said the bill places new checks and balances on the powers it would grant, such as new procedures that would allow people to challenge such administrative orders. He called the Patriot Act "a vital tool in the war on terror" and lauded the Democrats who voted for it in spite of misgivings.-- Senate Gives FBI More Patriot Act Power
Oh now I feel much better and less threatened because some legislators in Washington are setting specific limits of how far and how fast the FBI can move against a perceived potential terrorist. I just hope they don’t “come for me” by mistake.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

There’s no Vaccine for Greed

Barbara Loe Fisher, president of another parent-led group, the National Vaccine Information Center, said Wyeth should have removed thimerosal from its vaccines when it reformulated Dristan…Prudence "would dictate that if they were to take it out of over-the-counter products, that they would take it out of every product that was consumed or injected into humans," she said.— “Firm Removed Mercury From Nasal Spray, Not Infant Shots” Los Angeles Times June 7, 2005
In yet another blazing display of unremorseful lack of ethics, drug giant Wyeth is caught in the act of using a known neurotoxin, thimerosal, as a preservative in their infant vaccines while removing it to avoid a warning label on Dristan, the nasal spray. Proposition 65 in California requires a warning label for dangerous substances, including ethyl mercury in thimerosal.

Because prescription drugs approved by the Food and Drug Administration are exempt from Proposition 65, vaccine makers had not been forced to choose between using warning labels in California or reformulating their products, as Wyeth was with Dristan.
Just in case you thought Wyeth had a conscience, Dristan that was sold outside of California still had thimerosal in it since the non-thimerosal version tended to be more irritating to the nasal membranes.

Wyeth attorney Daniel J. Thomasch said "there was no inconsistency whatsoever" in the company's decisions regarding Dristan and pediatric vaccines."There was no safety concern about thimerosal in either Dristan or vaccines," Thomasch said, adding that the change in Dristan was triggered solely by Proposition 65, not health considerations.
There’s another reason my wife quit law school—who wants to be that removed from morality?

Did Wyeth have a clue about the dangers of thimerosal in the first place? Who knows—they are not releasing any internal discussions about the issue.

But a 1991 Merck memo previously disclosed by The Times reflected concern within the company's vaccine division. In the memo, a former top Merck scientist calculated that 6-month-old infants who got all their shots on time could get a mercury dose as much as 87 times higher than the guideline for maximum consumption of mercury from fish."When viewed in this way, the mercury load
appears rather large," the memo said.
Doesn’t matter about the mercury anyway, because that is a real red herring. The problem with vaccines lies in the toxins they are made out of—the germs that supposedly will fool your body into manufacturing antibodies against—that’s what causes autism and all the other related auto-immune deficient syndromes. When the drug companies finally take out the mercury from vaccines, and there is still autism et al, will the powers-that-be claim that vaccines don’t cause autism? Or will there be enough research to show that indeed they do?

Monday, June 06, 2005

To be Human Again

Pope Benedict XVI condemned same-sex unions as anarchic "pseudo-matrimony" Monday and reaffirmed the Roman Catholic Church's opposition to abortion.-AP June 6, 2005

This announcement is no surprise, and the harping on same-sex unions which is no one's business, but probably makes gays and lesbians quite self-conscious, and the Catholic Church's heads make it their business as well.
He said matrimony was not just a "casual sociological construction" that changed in certain times in history but rather an institution that had its roots "in the most profound essence of the human being."
Catholic Church dogma insists that the natural essence of humanity includes the responsibility to procreate, which implies the need for marriage between a man and a woman. If the heads of the Catholic Church, who made up this dogma and have been following it for two millennia, are so smart and consistent, why are they celibate? The Gospels do not demand that, nor was Jesus a proponent of a-sexuality, according to the New Testament. Don’t tell me that’s "in the most profound essence of the human being." I’m convinced it’s more natural to be sexual, with a member of any adult human gender, than not at all.

Saturday, June 04, 2005

Third Rate Burglary = Isolated Incidents

The continued response of the Bush regime to abuses at Gitmo--"isolated incidents"--and to the press reporting--"absurd,"--has a familiar ring. Nixon's press secretary called the Watergate break-in a "third rate burglary," and his regime put out the notion that press reports were "inoperative." Use whatever language you want, a lie is a lie, and a cover-up is a cover-up. The responsibility of the American people to make their government accountable is what's on the line. The elected representatives are only as good or as bad as the people who elected them are, according to Will Rogers.

Friday, June 03, 2005

Nixon : Cambodia = Bush : Iraq

They can't impeach me for bombing Cambodia. The president can bomb anybody he likes.--Richard M. Nixon
Cable news says that the bloggers are flooding the internet about the revelation of Deep Throat. The “Nixon apologizers” are having their say, Woodward and Bernstein are actually sitting together for interviews, Ben Bradlee says he was smart and lucky, his boss Katherine Graham, who owned the Washington Post and backed the decision to run the stories on Watergate, well, she’s dead.

I have a question. This has been bothering me since the first scent was in the air 32 years ago that Nixon, the President, might be in trouble for the same shit he had been pulling for 30 years prior to Watergate—smearing his opponents, the democrats, as “pinko commies” in order to assure election and/or re-election as a republican patriot.

Here’s my question: at the time of the Watergate debacle, the United States was engaged in a huge incursion in a very small Southeast Asian country, Vietnam. Today, there are 150,000 troops in Iraq. The US had 500,000 troops in Vietnam. The US has lost roughly 1600 Gi’s in Iraq. American deaths numbered over 50,000 over the course of the Vietnam War. Nixon was elected in 1968 the first time. When he took office in 1969, he said he would work for an “honorable peace,” kind of like Bush saying we’ll get out of Iraq when the Iraqis can govern themselves. By 1972, when Nixon was re-elected over George McGovern, the Vietnam War waged on, and there was no end in sight. Walter Cronkite listed the war dead every week, around 100 or so GI’s, and there were “peace talks” in Paris in order to forge a deal. But the war waged on, and the American people had no idea what the fight was about anymore. The so-called anti-war movement, which was actually a ground swell of sentiment against the war while the Nixon people tried to paint it as a hippie nuisance—VP Agnew called the war protesters who numbered in the millions “an elite corps of impudent snobs,” right before he was indicted and had to quit as VP because of improprieties he was involved with when he was governor of Maryland—the anti-war movement wanted American military out of Vietnam at all costs.

Through a series of press reports and other substantiation, the news became prevalent that US forces had invaded Cambodia, a neighboring country to Vietnam which harbored anti-US forces and, along with the unmitigated might and the presence of communist China, was causing interference with US forces in Vietnam.

The US incursion into Vietnam was “OK’d” by a congressional resolution known as the “Gulf of Tonkin Resolution,” which said that US gunboats were fired upon in the mid 1960’s by the North Vietnamese communists, so it was OK for the President, then President Johnson, to retaliate against hostile acts with any military intervention necessary—against North Vietnam. It didn’t matter, and wasn’t known at the time, that the “Incident” of the Gulf of Tonkin was made up in order to get that congressional OK-- that was the authorization from congress for the Vietnam incursion—not a real “declaration of war,” like the US Constitution stipulates is the sole power of congress to do, but nonetheless a “permit” for Johnson to start bombing the hell out of North Vietnam.

The subsequent invasion of Cambodia, under Nixon, with a very heavy impetus by Henry Kissinger--security adviser to Nixon and number one reason for the Watergate debacle because he told Nixon he wanted the “press leaks plugged up” i.e. the infamous “plumbers unit”—The Cambodia invasion was 1. secret; 2. without congressional authorization or knowledge; 3. illegal and unconstitutional.

I was VERY disappointed that Nixon was not impeached for high crimes and misdemeanors relating to this action--his “widening” of the Vietnam War into Cambodia, in secret, without appropriate authority from congress, AKA “we the people.”

My question: Bush and his group—Cheney, Rumsfeld, and Wolfowitz—have taken the United States into a felonious war in Iraq. The real problem was renegade fanatic terrorists influenced or controlled by Osama Bin Laden. The reasons for the invasion and occupation of Iraq have been proven to be phony, as phony as any reason to invade Cambodia under President Nixon. Nixon was charged with impeachable offenses for covering up a “third rate burglary,” the Watergate caper. His conduct of the Vietnam War was never an issue with the House Judiciary Committee, for which he should have had to answer.

So--Can’t we nail Bush on some charge for showing favoritism or whatever, or kissing Saudis on the mouth, or an inability to speak English?--so we can impeach his ass too, like we did Nixon over Watergate, even though at that time it was for all the wrong reasons?

Can’t we get Bush for some reason other than sending our troops off to fight a war for no reason, which doesn’t seem to be an impeachable offense based on the lack of action from congress?—We couldn’t impeach Nixon for a bad war, how are we gonna get Bush for a fake war? We’ve got to catch him having sex with someone—other than Laura, that is.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Felt who? Watergate What?

Slate: What led you to leave the CIA?

Hunt: I found out the CIA was just infested with Democrats. I retired in '70. I got out as soon as I could. I wrote several books immediately thereafter.

Slate: I still don't understand how you get involved in Watergate later. Through the CIA?

Hunt: I had been a consultant to the White House. I greatly respected Nixon. When Chuck Colson [special counsel to Nixon] asked me to work for the administration, I said yes. Colson phoned one day and said, "I have a job you might be interested in." This was before Colson got religion.

Slate: How long were you in prison for the Watergate break-in?

Hunt: All told, 33 months.

Slate: That's a lot of time.

Hunt: It's a lot of time. And I've often said, what did I do?

Slate: Did you get a pardon?

Hunt: No. Never did. I'd applied for one, and there was no action taken, and I thought I'd just humiliate myself if I asked for a pardon.
--Howard Hunt Interview—Slate October 6, 2004

Jeff Wells’s always-intriguing blog Rigorous Intuition notes the Hunt interview as part of a description of why Watergate happened. His post gets somewhat convoluted about a hooker spy ring that needed to be covered up with the Watergate break-in as part of a CIA plot to side-track the powers-that-be. It’s another in a series of theories coming out since the confession by Mark Felt that he was the Deep Throat of Woodward and Bernstein’s All the President’s Men.

What was Watergate about, and why did “it” happen? Seems simple enough to answer. A president resigned to avoid impeachment—it must have been pretty important and a big deal. Then why are so many “experts” and “pundits” coming out with so many different reasons in the last few days, from mistrust of various intelligence agencies of each other, to over weaning power hunger by the administration, to greed and money? Or was it about all of this, and more?

The crimes committed under the umbrella of the term “Watergate” were re-directing huge sums of money into a coffer to provide an unbeatable machine to re-elect Nixon and company with absolute certainty. In fact, Nixon won every single state’s electoral votes except for Massachusetts in an utter landslide, so the machine worked very well after all.

But the sideline issues that permeated the senate hearings at the time, the press stories, and the strange cast of characters, including Howard Hunt and a bunch of expatriate anti-Castro Cubans, make Watergate a dilemma of an enigma that unlike the revelation of Felt as Deep Throat, will never be completely solved.

For instance, Nixon referred to “bay of Pigs” to Haldeman in Oval Office conversations that were infamously tape recorded and made part of the Watergate record. “Bay of Pigs,” the failed attempt to overthrow Castro under the Kennedy administration, was Nixon’s code name for the Kennedy assassination, according to Haldeman writing later in a book about Watergate. Nixon wanted the FBI to back off investigating Watergate because it might reveal more about the “Bay of Pigs,” or Kennedy assassination, one theory goes.

Howard Hunt is said to have been in Dallas the day Kennedy was shot, although he doesn’t want to admit it.

Nixon definitely was in Dallas that day. Could be a coincidence.

George Bush 41 was head of the Republican National Committee during the Watergate period and was one of the first cabinet officials to call for Nixon’s resignation. Then he was made head of the CIA under Ford. Is there a meaning to be found in this lineage?

The point is, what was Watergate, what has changed because of it, and is it important? Clearly Americans trust their government less since Watergate. That may be the only difference and it may be a good thing. It’s also possible that what was Watergate actually began years prior to Nixon, and continues to this day—the ambition for some to gain power and to keep it, and the corruption that great power generates.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Nixon or Bush: McGovern

In light of yesterday’s revelation of the identity of Woodward and Bernstein’s background source, “Deep Throat,” former senator and presidential candidate George McGovern was interviewed on the MSNBC TV show, “Connected: Coast to Coast.” Monica Crowley, host of the show and author of books on Richard Nixon, asked McGovern what he thought was learned from the tragedy of the events known as “Watergate.” McGovern’s conclusion was that not much of a lesson has been learned.

The reason, McGovern explained, surrounds the current Bush administration’s fabrication of grounds for invading Iraq, including stating a connection between Iraq and the 9/11 terrorists, which was not true. McGovern went on to say that until the US Army arrived in Iraq, there was no threat of terrorism from that country. He said the Bush administration lied to the American people and thus the surveillance capabilities of having a government accountable to the people has not improved as it might have had there been a lesson learned from Watergate.

McGovern concluded by saying that, even though it might sound shocking, he would prefer Nixon and his people to be in today’s White House instead of Bush and his administration. That’s not a great choice, but the point is well made: as soon as a majority of Americans agrees with what George McGovern said, and wakes up to how utterly duplicitous Bush and company are, then we will have learned one lesson from Watergate.