Sunday, July 31, 2005

Oceania is at War With…China?

[click on photo to enlarge]

“If the Americans draw their missiles and position-guided ammunition into the target zone on China’s territory, I think we will have to respond with nuclear weapons,” Maj. Gen. Zhu Chenghu, a dean at China’s National Defense University, told visiting Hong Kong-based reporters…

…If the Americans are determined to interfere ... we will be determined to respond, and we Chinese will prepare ourselves for the destruction of all cities east of Xi’an,” a major city in central China, Zhu said.

“Of course the Americans will have to be prepared that hundreds of, or two hundreds of, (or) even more cities will be destroyed by the Chinese,” he said.[emphasis added]-- Chinese Nuclear Comments Prove
MSNBC July 15, 2005

Here’s "Modern China course 101" in a nutshell: the country is run by a dictatorship, the economy is expanding extremely fast, and with a policy that harbors little regard for human rights, it is willing to do international business with other countries which also have no regard in this area.

Because China's record on human rights is so unacceptable, President Bush has already imposed sanctions on Chinese companies 62 times. By comparison, President Clinton – who also held China's record on human rights to be unacceptable – imposed sanctions on Chinese companies on only eight occasions in eight years.

Of course, many Chinese companies are not private sector companies at all. Many are owned or controlled by elements of the People's Liberation Army. Unnamed US officials charge that many of these same companies have re-exported imported technology – that could conceivably be used to make "weapons of mass destruction" – to such nations as Pakistan, Iran, and Libya.

Chinese exports to Iran are certainly understandable. Once a net exporter of oil, China now imports 60 percent of its needs. Its oil imports have more than doubled over the past five years, growing by 7.5 percent per year, seven times faster than the US.

China's increasing reliance on Iranian energy – including a recent zillion-dollar oil and gas co-development deal – has certainly put a hitch in the neo-crazies'[neo-cons] plan to destabilize – much
less invade and occupy – Iran.—Condi Desperate to Stop EU-China-Iran Chain Reaction by Gordon Prather

China needs to import huge amounts of oil to support an expanding manufacturing base gone wild. The effect of the use of energy on the environment has also become monumentally overlooked.

China first became an oil importing country in 1993. Its insatiable hunger for oil has since been an important factor in driving up world oil prices. China must create some 24 million jobs a year to absorb Fresh labor…According to British Petroleum (BP) statistics, in 2003 China's total energy demand leaped by 13.8% following its GDP Growth of 9.1%.[US GDP GROWTH STEADY AT 3%] China alone
accounted for 41% of the growth of the total world oil demand, its oil imports rising 32% to 2.6 million bpd.—Energy Bulletin Sept 23, 3004

Myanmar, the former Burma, is a military-run government notorious for its complete lack of consideration of human rights.

Myanmar government is run by military. US sanctions against the military government have been largely ineffective, due to loopholes in the sanctions and the willingness of mainly Asian business to continue investing in Myanmar and to initiate new investments, particularly in natural resource extraction.--Wikipedia

Booming China, with its voracious appetite for oil and urgent need for oil security, is considering a China-Myanmar oil pipeline and one through Thailand. Energy Bulletin Sept 23, 3004

A Chinese oil company, CNOOC, 70%-owned by the Chinese government, tried to buy UNOCAL this month:

CNOOC Ltd, China's third-largest oil producer, plans to scuttle its bid for Unocal Corp as early as next week because political pressure from Washington has made the deal impossible, a Hong Kong newspaper reported Friday citing unidentified sources. Report:--CNOOC set to scuttle bid, CNN Thursday, July 28, 2005

This is just the beginning. China has a population of 1,306,313,812 according to the CIA. US consumers reap the discount benefits of cheap Chinese manufacturing all through retail goods from Wal-Mart, Target and others from children’s back-to-school clothes to garden accessories to…whatever. But the US company outsourcing of manufacturing is costing more than we save in discounts at the cash register, in wages, benefits, taxes.

The metastasizing out-of-control manufacturing sector in China is practically a modern version of post-industrial-revolution Europe, with all of its associated problems of pollution and human abuse. Meanwhile the rest of the world's advanced economies move into technology and look for alternative energy.

While cooler heads in the Chinese government hierarchy try to dispel the doomsday talk of Gen. Zhu, Condi, Dick, and George W would be well-advised to focus more attention on the far-East, and get out of the middle.

Let’s not bury our heads in the sand, again. We, the people, were not prepared for the events of 9/11. Let’s not be unprepared for the real threats we face, and the great solutions that can be offered. By extending hands across the Pacific, and working with the Asian governments to help us all, our government could set a new standard of international cooperation and profit.

Americans fret about open borders, immigrants, and terrorists. They reflect, and react to, the MSM which report the “party line.” The real costs, and the ultimate source of harm, are not in the aims of terrorists or the aspirations of an enormous foreign country—they lay right in the midst of our fellow citizens’ greed.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Iraq Quagmire: Democrats Offer No Way Out

Senator Boxer After Hearings on Rice Nomination Feb 2005

…20, 50, even 100 years from now, another group will gather in this spot to discuss issues of war and peace. And,when they do, I hope they look back and say that the summer of 2005 is when Americans brought credibility, accountability, and responsibility to a very tough situation.

I hope they say that we finally began to level with the American people. That we articulated a winnable mission and adetailed plan to fulfill it. And that we gave our troops the support they needed and deserved in Iraq and upon their returnto our beloved shores.—Senator Barbara Boxer email "major speech to the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco about Iraq."

Why such ambiguity from a liberal senator with a broad mandate to lead on issues of peace?

Having just returned from DC, it is clear to me that the culture of the Senate Democrats is a factor. With presidential candidates like Senators Clinton and Biden pushing for more US troops in Iraq, the Senate Democratic caucus is stuck in militaristic thinking and options, and unable to unify around an anti-war position. –Tom Hayden on Boxer email exchange, Huffington Post, July 26, 2005

“Anti-War” position! “More US troops in Iraq?” Ahhh the good old days—unpopular, immoral, incomprehensible Vietnam War. Hayden, the radicals, the anti-war “movement.” We were scoffed at, and we were right, and everyone knows it now. There weren’t the “homeland” terror events in the heady days of the late 1960’s and early 1970’s. Nixon and Watergate were our terror, and that was bad enough.

Now we’ve seen middle-American apple-pie Timothy McVeigh blow up the
Federal Building as a statement of anti-government and anti-America bias. And the terrorism of Israel and the Middle East came home to Manhattan and took away our sense of isolation and security from the lesser-fortunate of the world.

Where’s that anti-war movement now? Are we too afraid to mount one? Where are the 500,000 strong flocking to the Washington Monument to let George W and his cronies know they're on the wrong track? The US incursion into Iraq is growing more unpopular, and it has no more real basis than the baseless Vietnam War. But Americans are still not that sure that Iraq is like Vietnam—there’s still not that huge commitment of ½ million troops, and ten years. And there’s those terrorists—they come from the Iraq area, don’t they?

The common man—everyday American average guy/gal—they’re not paying THAT close attention to all this news. They’re not selfish, just not that personally affected yet. The majority may be skeptical of the Iraq business, but they don’t want, as George Carlin explains in one of his best anti-immigrant routines, any of this stuff in THEIR BACKYARD!

I was a young, 19-year old idealistic college kid, with a lot better to do on a hot May afternoon than put on a jacket and tie and knock with shaky knees on the big forbidding doors of my congressman’s office in Washington DC. But I was on a mission. I had been told, and believed, that one man could make a difference, and that every major accomplishment started with the first small step. So 35 years ago I hesitantly called on my representatives in Washington to sign their guest book and to leave the message that the Vietnam War was wrong—it was immoral, the worst thing I could imagine.

The legislative aide who greeted me was in fact an upperclassman from my high school days in Connecticut. He said in a friendly way, “What message do you have for the congressman?” I thought, “Isn’t this obvious?” Tens of thousands of college kids like me have been massing here on Capitol Hill with the same message about the stupid War in Vietnam—“what do you think I want to tell him?” I thought?

“Tell him the War in Vietnam is an immoral war, and the US needs to get out right away.” I was serious! I remembered from some high school English course on essays to get to the point, let all the bullshit flowery speech come later. I was kind of embarrassed because I thought what I said was obvious and my upper-class chum would just nod, toss it off and say, “Yeah, OK I’ll let him know…”

I’m writing 35 years later to tell you that what this fellow who worked in my congressman-from-Connecticut’s office had to say was jarring to me then, if not just as obvious in hindsight:

“You can’t talk about morality here—this is Capitol Hill.”

He must have seen my quizzical look—the one that dogs get when they tilt their heads due to a high-pitched sound. He elaborated, “If you have an argument about money, expenses, votes, that kind of thing—these people will listen. But they don’t talk, legislate, or vote about morality. It’s not an issue.” I was put in my place. Oh, these guys were the adults, and I was still a child of hope and love and what--freedom from pain? I was a sheltered, insulated, untutored college kid who didn't understand reality--politics or otherwise.

I figured I blew it, but I still felt good about signing the guest book. I hoped that numbers mattered, and that there were enough of “me” to make a point. Five years later, the US slid out of Vietnam with no change in its government, and leaving behind a decimated country.

Recently sent a survey feeler about how its membership felt about what to focus on about the Iraq War:

Should we work together to begin bringing the troops home, by supporting the Jones-Abercrombie resolution? (The resolution would require the president to put together a plan by the end of the year for bringing home all U.S. forces from Iraq with troop withdrawal beginning no later than October 1, 2006.) –

I voted no—October 2006 is over a year from now. Blood and money, and policy, are at stake.

Last month, I co-sponsored Senator Feingold’s resolution asking the President to submit to Congress the remaining mission in Iraq, the time frame needed to achieve that mission, and a timeframe for the subsequent withdrawal of our troops. Why?

Because after two and a half years at war, the American people finally need to hear what our mission is and a detailed plan to accomplish it. That will give our soldiers and citizens hopeand confidence.—Boxer email major speech to the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco about Iraq.

At the risk of sounding trite, Barbara—Spare me the platitudes. Senator Boxer, you are a beacon of truth amidst the darkness of churning Washington politics. You must not drop the torch. Where is my Barbara Boxer who got all those bouquets for fighting the good fight and asking the tough questions for Condi’s nomination in February?

Tom Hayden—you are erudite, intelligent, and very unfortunately, right. Leadership is missing; opposition to the party line is not there. Hayden, you write well, and you leave us really frustrated.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Rick Santorum, Jon Stewart and Oscar Levant

There are two sides to every question: my side and the wrong side—Oscar Levant

Oscar Levant would have loved Rick Santorum. Not on a personal level, but for the product that would have supplied Levant’s wit. The Junior Senator from PA has a childlike idealistic world view with which Jesus himself would have been awed. Santorum has written a book, It Takes a Family: Conservatism and the Common Good, which he publicized in an appearance as a guest on last night’s Daily Show with Jon Stewart.

Children need a mom and a dad. There are differences between mothers and fathers. And young girls and young boys need both.—Santorum, Daily Show Transcript, July 25, 2005

I’m a big fan of Jon Stewart; I believe that through his comedy, and his satire, he approaches the truth about society, culture, and current events more closely than most of the sound-byte media blaring at us. I looked forward to how he would interview Santorum, the arch-right-wing poster-boy for platonic virtuousness. I hoped he would ask the “good” question and follow the "true path" to show this jerk up for what he is—a jerk.

Nope. In fact, in hindsight, I don’t see how Stewart could have ridiculed Santorum if he wanted to have any kind of substantive interview that was not cut short due to bias on either side. Perhaps letting the senator speak for himself was the best method of getting the message out. A good cross-section of other opinion is in the comments on Americablog’s discussion of the show.

While we recall that roughly half the voters in this country voted for Kerry, so did the other half vote for Bush. And a lot of the sentiment, prior to 9/11 and the wake-up call to terrorism and Iraqi intervention, was on the side of the element to which Santorum panders. This is the country in which we live.

Every society in the history of man has upheld the institution of marriage as a bond between a man and a woman. Why? Because society is based on one thing: that society is based on the future of the society. And that's what? Children. Monogamous relationships. In every society, the definition of marriage has not ever to my knowledge included homosexuality. That's not to pick on homosexuality. It's not, you know, man on child, man on dog, or whatever the case may be. It is one thing. And when you destroy that you have a dramatic impact on the quality —

AP: I'm sorry, I didn't think I was going to talk about "man on dog" with a United States senator, it's sort of freaking me out. –AP Interview with Senator Santorum April 22, 2003

The Christian Right is neither. ~Author Unknown

Monday, July 25, 2005

We’re Waiting for Fitzgerald

[Special Counsel Patrick] Fitzgerald may be looking at other laws barring the disclosure of classified info or the possibility that current or former White House aides made false statements or obstructed justice.-- Leak Investigation: The Russert Deal—What It Reveals, Michael Isikoff,Newsweek, Aug 1 issue

The press argues these days why or why not the Rove-leak story is on top or not. The blame goes back and forth as to who indeed among the media is looking after the interests of “we the people.” Then again, the most important news has become back ground noise:

As the blanket coverage of the Rove scandal gave way to the blanket coverage of the Roberts nomination last week, I couldn’t help but wonder: Why do the mainstream media seem capable of fixating on only one big story at a time, while never fixating on the biggest story of our time -- the disastrous war in Iraq and the impact it’s having on our national security?—Arianna Huffington July 25, 2005

My question regarding the prosecutor, Fitzgerald, on the Rove/Plame leak case, and indictments and hearings to come—maybe it’s too hot this summer and I’ve been around my children a lot compared to when they’re in school-- but “WHAT IS TAKING SO LONG?” By the time the press dropped the ball on Watergate in 1972, Nixon got re-elected and had to be threatened with impeachment to be gotten rid of. If Fitzgerald lolligags around long enough, it’ll be 2008 and the issue of Bush crony felony indictments will be moot. He’s gonna pardon ‘em all anyway, but at least we should get the truth OUT while there is still a truth to be had.

I’m waiting…! We all are.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Johnny Carson, Al Gore, and Abu Ghraib

There’s word on the web that unreleased Abu Ghraib photos are so stomach-churning--some speculation is that they show the rape of young children--that their publication would cause political upheaval in the US and abroad.

So what is shown on the 87 photographs and four videos from Abu Ghraib prison that the Pentagon, in an eleventh hour move, blocked from release this weekend? One clue: Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld told Congress last year, after viewing a large cache of unreleased images: "I mean, I looked at them last night, and they're hard to believe.” They show acts "that can only be described as blatantly sadistic, cruel and inhumane," he added.—Huffington Post July 24, 2005

I always check Drudge for scoops and stories of interest, despite his right-wing inclination. What’s Drudge say about the Abu Ghraib photos?

ACLU Blames Gov't for Abu Ghraib Delay...

How about his #1 story this Sunday evening:

FLASH: Al Gore now says he received occasional joke tutoring from Johnny Carson: 'He let me call him up and bounce jokes off him and he would give me advice on the presentation of gags' ... Developing...

Now it may be true that one man’s outlook is not another’s. But isn’t it safe to speculate that the Bush White House sees the world through the same tinted glasses as Drudge? And doesn’t that mean that enough is enough? I look forward to the impeachment hearings for all the facts to come out.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

“Welcome Condoleeza!” Welcome to Darfur!

Rice was greeted by a group of children who were clapping and chanting “Welcome, Condoleezza.” That was very touching, and then at the same time, the physical conditions at this refugee camp here in the desert are very tough.—MSNBC Andrea Mitchell July 21, 2005

MSNBC correspondent Andrea Mitchell was interviewed about being “roughed up” by Sudanese security guards who didn’t like her asking about conditions in Darfur.

When Mitchell asked, "Why should the U.S. believe the Sudanese government will stop the killing when the government is still supporting the militia?" Sudanese security guards grabbed her and muscled her out of the room while State Department officials shouted at them to leave her alone.--Huffington Post

Outraged, Condoleeza Rice was. The Secretary of State is touring Sudan trying to get a handle on how to get the government military to stop killing in Darfur—millions dead and homeless. Makes Hotel Rwanda look like a travel ad. Rice was sympathetic to the stories of the women, several of whom confided to her about their conditions, even though they were afraid of retaliation.

I quoted several stories and editorials in this blog on July 10 regarding the Darfur conflict.[Darfur: And the Money Goes to...] Andrea Mitchell press stories are not telling about the duplicitous action of the US government, represented in the Sudan today by Bush’s Secretary of State Rice, regarding the fighting in the Sudan: last year the US doubled the outlay of cash to the corrupt Sudanese leaders in order to guarantee that they won’t harbor terrorists anymore, like they used to in the 1990’s. Then Condy goes there to let them know they better shape up regarding human rights or else.

Or else what? Andrea Mitchell will say bad things about them?

Terrorists—It’s Them or Us

Blasts Hit Three London Subway Stations, One Bus...--AP, Huffington Post July 21, 2005
The real conspiratorial-minded among us see this as a Blair/Bush plot to once again bump the Rove issue off the main headlines. Since terrorist plans tend to be formulated months, if not years, ahead of the event, the Rove issue as an incentive is doubtful.

However there are real considerations of terrorists and their overall similar mindset. My friend Christopher Dickey, brilliant terrorist analyst and Newsweek reporter, described this psychology yesterday in his latest post to his Shadowland column. But even more telling is how we--the potential and actual victims—tend to react to terrorist activity:

Any effort to understand the enemy or his motivations is treated as an apology for what he does. At times we seem to be infected by the very pathology we are fighting against.—Untrue Believers, Christopher Dickey, Newsweek July 20, 2005

In light of the attempt to bomb London’s tube again today, Chris’s description, yesterday, of the enormous wrong detour that Bush and Blair have taken into Iraq is worth dwelling on, today:

...since the detour into Iraq it seems the intellectual compass of those who led us there has gotten lost in a fog of moral pieties, and sweet reason has surrendered to missionary zeal. To be a true believer in the Global War on Terror you are supposed to believe that we are fighting terrorists in Iraq, but that they would never think of fighting back outside of Iraq.--Untrue Believers

The only question remaining, after all the recent events of terrorists, war, and Bush White-House deceit, is why is what Chris has written so hard to understand? Who can really believe that our occupation of Iraq is going to help anything in a positive way—Iraq is on the verge of a civil war, US ground commanders complain about the huge shortage of troops to quell the insurgency, terrorist cells are growing world wide without a major intelligence effort to stop it—all due to the bleeding of resources to support US presence in Iraq.

People lack confidence in the credibility of our government…It’s a difficult thing today to be informed about our government even without all the secrecy…With the secrecy, it’s impossible. The American people will do what’s right when they have the information they need.—Donald Rumsfeld, Chicago Tribune, 4/13/66

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Bob Newhart and Bush's Downfall

I remember Bob Newhart’s album The Button-Down Mind from 1960 like I remember a lot of comedy record albums of my childhood. I would get an “A+” if tested on any of them. I was watching American Masters on PBS with my wife, about the life and comedy of Bob Newhart, when we took a break at 10:25 PM (PT) and I checked the latest from the world wide web news:

Iraqis not Ready to Fight Rebels on Own, US SaysNY Times

Iraqis Vow to Meet Constitution deadlineOrange County Register

Briton Tied to London Attacks Held in Pakistan Los Angeles Times

Senate moderates cast doubt on court showdown-CNN

Clearly a secret
Washington Post: Key memo in CIA leak probe spelled out Plame’s status, sources say.--MSNBC

Wait a minute—you mean only MSNBC has not forgotten about Karl Rove after the one-day reprieve from headlines because of Bush’s well-timed (for him) announcement of a new Supreme Court Justice? I better check Drudge because that’s where the scoop on this “key memo” will be spelled out for sure!


Nope—Heat wave gets headlines. Nothing on the new Rove memo at Drudge.

One more chance—Huffington Post:

"(S)" Is For Secret: Memo Identifying Plame Clearly Marked

...I knew Arianna wouldn’t let me down!

A classified State Department memorandum central to a federal leak investigation contained information about CIA officer Valerie Plame in a paragraph marked "(S)" for secret, a clear indication that any Bush administration official who read it should have been aware the information was classified, according to current and former government officials.—Huffington Post July 20, 2005

For a moment, I thought I was going to have to go thirsty into the night—but no, I am saved, as the Rove/leaking-Bush nightmare is renewed, hopefully with a new energy and light.

I am gratified to go back and watch the end of the Newhart special without worrying that all the distracting extraneous news of Iraq, London Bombings, and Supreme Court nominee will somehow drown out the story that could bring down the Bush regime at last—if only the media will stay focused.

The consequences of not paying attention are as drastic for this republic as if Woodward and Bernstein decided not to follow up on the story of a third-rate burglary!

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Swami Uptown Beats W and Thimerosol By a Mile

I’m still dipping--like a kid who has eaten one too many doughnuts and can’t stop—into the comments on the July 13 blog entry by David Kirby at the Huffington Post. He writes about mercury preservative in vaccines and its possible deleterious effect on children. I have written about vaccines causing autism, and that thimerosol, the mercury-based preservative, may add to the problem, but that the injury comes from the toxin inherent in the vaccine itself—the germ that is supposed to immunize us actually harms our nervous systems.

I am drawn to the comments because of my fascination with the vitriol that comes from both sides of the argument—vaccines are harmful vs. vaccines are good for us. I entered this fray myself and got blistered by some attacks which I consider to come from something beyond simple “interest in getting to the truth.” I prefer to bow to Jeff at today’s Rigorous Intuition blog for his depiction of this feeling:

Once you begin to smell something fishy, it's hard to smell anything else. And as soon as you start grasping the semiotics of conspiracy, you see tells, like inside jokes shared with the doomed, made on the dual assumptions that nobody is going to believe you and there's nothing you can do about it. Or at least I see them. (Hey, call me paranoid.)—Rigorous Intuition July 19, 2005

The odor this time comes from the vehemence with which the pro-vaccine writers push their agenda. I can understand why a parent of a vaccine-injured child has a fire lit under them from the passion of tragedy up close. But what’s the big deal for a blog commenter to spend lots of time and energy to knock down the position of a sincere skeptic? Unless they represent higher or deeper interests, which in this case would be the money-mongering pharmaceutical companies. Otherwise these writers’ zeal to make an impersonal point seems incredibly ambitious. Some samples:

…Please, David. Tell us what specifically is fallacious or incorrect about Autism Diva's or Kev's arguments. Try to tell us without resorting to the "big pharma shill" tactic or, even worse, the "autism holocaust denier" gambit. And, please, give us some actual data to back up your opinion, given that you seem to think that, in contrast to Kev and Autism Diva, you're so "well informed" about "vaccines and the mechanism of the immune system."

…Also, note that, in response to a request for some actual data to
back up his statements, David just links to an anti-vac website, as if that answers the request for more data. It doesn't.-- Posted by: Orac at July 15, 2005

…Autism Diva wants to ask Mr. Goldenberg (sp?) how does a "big pharma shill" sound?

Do they refer to themselves in the third person like Autism Diva? Do they have British accents like Kev?

Autism Diva likes another carnival reference better than "shill", she likes, "shell game". Watch the thimerosal science "pea".
It's here, it's there,

it's in 7 places at once, and can never be pinned down. It's as hard to constrain as mercury is to pick up with one's fingers. .. Posted by: Autism Diva at July 15, 2005

Vaccines cause autism because of a totally different immune-system-toxicity mechanism, on which ground breaking studies are now being conducted by dedicated pioneers in the field, including Dr. Andrew Wakefield among others-- Posted by: David Goldenberg
at July 15, 2005

…Ah yes, my dear fellow Brit Dr Wakefield. If I may quote myself?
"Andrew Wakefield was one of 13 authors of a paper published in The Lancet all edging a connection between MMR and autism. In fact, there were only 12 people studied, 9 of whom were autistic – it seemed Wakefield made the schoolboy error of deciding on his conclusions and working backwards to find his ‘culprit’… Posted by: Kev at July 17, 2005

And the most rational response of all, as usual, from the parent of a vaccine injured child:

…Dr. Wakefield's clinical findings have been replicated by more than one group of scientists. Although those clinical studies do not necessarily prove a causal link, they do suggest enough of a connection that further study is necessary. The science in the question of links between either live-virus vaccines or thimerosal is still emerging. Until further clinical and laboratory studies either definitively prove or disprove a causal link -- including the combined impact of thimerosal-containing vaccines and live-virus vaccines -- it is premature for any of us to state an opinion with certainty.

The only things I can state with certainty comprise anecdotal evidence: i.e., my observations of my son's regression after vaccinations, and my observations of dramatic improvement after biomedical treatments designed to counteract the damage. You may not consider those observations to be reliable in a scientific sense, but it has certainly opened the mind of this former skeptic.-- Posted by: Wade Rankin at July 18, 2005

I was thinking about conspiracies and hidden agendas and the parallel world of what’s really happening compared to what we the people think is really happening. And suddenly the news popped up that Bush would announce his Supreme Court nominee tonight. Huffington Post took the words right out of my keyboard:

How Do You Spell Relief For Rove?



I watched the puditry punditing on cable news, and a little voice told me to go check out Jesse Kornbluth’s latest entry on his Swami Uptown blog. Here’s what I wrote to him after reading it: “Beautiful post this week. I enjoyed every word!” Here’s partly why:

The good news is that it's summer. And hot pretty much everywhere. You wanna get hotter? Go ahead. But it might be smarter to grab a book. Soak in cool water. Brew a pitcher of tea.

"Only connect," said. E.M. Forster. Wrong. Only disconnect. The jokers in Washington will bring themselves down without you. There's nothing you can do for the kids in Iraq. If the Democrats in the Senate can't find their spines, we'll get some yutz of a Justice no matter how many emails you send.

So hug the one you're with. Read to a child. Rent an old movie. Read a real book. Have a pint of ice cream and call it dinner. Go to bed at nine. Life is hard and often mean, and it's up to you to keep your sanity and grab the beauty and make the peace.

Ignore politics and the idiots who make their living off lobbyists. Snap off all television news. Avoid pundits of every stripe, including fakirs/fakers like yours truly. Get outta here, already. And have a blast.—Swami Uptown July 18. 2005

If the last 4 paragraphs are all you read all day today, you’ve read enough. I have.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Lies: Watergate, Kissinger and Rove

President Bush might want to take a lesson from another liar who had his job:

I can see clearly now... that I was wrong in not acting more decisively and more forthrightly in dealing with Watergate.--Richard M. Nixon

I was not lying. I said things that later on seemed to be untrue--Nixon

A simple reason for the problems of Watergate could be traced to a request by Nixon’s Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger. The press was getting inside information through leaks, regarding the conduct of the War in Vietnam, and policies Kissinger was working on that he did not want publicized. In order to stop the leaks to the press, Kissinger asked Nixon for help. So Nixon and his team set up a special unit called “plumbers,” which was a euphemism for illegal bugging and wiretapping in order to “plug the leaks” of information.

This activity in itself was not responsible for the downfall of a president. Ultimately, the lies and attempts to cover up this activity became the “smoking gun” in the form of taped private conversations revealing Nixon’s deceit.

The lying by Scott McLellan, Bush’s press spokesman, and of course Karl Rove himself--that Rove had nothing to do with the leaking of Ambassador Wilson’s wife, as a CIA agent, to the press--is turning into a very similar round of events to Watergate.

Watergate had become the center of the media's universe, and during the remaining year of my presidency the media tried to force everything else to revolve around it.—Nixon

Today Bush said the following regarding Rove’s involvement in the leak:

We have a serious ongoing investigation here and it's being played out in the press," Bush said at an East Room news conference.--Huffington Post

Probably the best discussion to cut through to the core issue of the complexities of who leaked what to whom, and where fault lies regarding Bush or his inner circle, was Jon Stewart on his “Daily Show.”

It seems to me that whether or not this is a crime is a moot point. It seems to me that whether or not what Karl Rove was doing is a moot point. What seems like the real issue to this is simple: when it first came out that her name was released and people started wondering, 'was that a leak of a CIA operative?' the White House pretended they didn't know anything about it. And Karl Rove pretended he didn't know anything about it. To me that is so far, the only issue.

There are several problems with jailing journalists unwilling to reveal sources, not the least of which is how free a free press is. Obfuscation by national leaders over the Rove leaks may not hold a candle to lying about why the US started the war in Iraq. The handling of the Rove situation by the media and its importance is questionable as well.

But when it comes to intent, morality, and leadership ethics, Jon Stewart hit the nail on the head when he said, “To me that is so far, the only issue.”

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Chris Dickey Knew And Told Us

...Much is made of guerrilla ideologies—communist, or Islamist, or
Baathist. But the driving force in most guerrilla movements is simply dignity. Throughout history, long before any “-isms” were known, men fought against conquerors and occupiers because they found the presence of the foreigners humiliating. They used any means at their disposal to strike back, and as often as not they were denounced by the occupiers as bandits, savages and, yes, terrorists for doing so.

...But democracy doesn’t beat an insurgency, which is what we’re looking at right now. I’ve been covering guerrilla wars for almost 25 years, and in every case I’ve been convinced that the only way to defeat committed insurgents fighting on their home ground, in the short and medium term, is with ferocious, unrelenting repression. Afterward, compromise with the insurgents can help finish the job for good, and the democratic process can be part of that. But first: force.

The journey from despotism to democracy in the Middle East is going to take us down a bloody, thankless road and, the truth is, it’s a trip that could put America’s own democracy in danger.—Christopher Dickey, Lessons of History, Newsweek, December 10, 2003

Today suicide bombings in Iraq are wreaking incredible disaster, even compared to the daily toll we at home are getting used to.

New suicide bombings killed at least 22 people in the Baghdad area on Sunday, while relatives struggled to identify charred bodies from a fiery suicide attack near a Shiite mosque in Musayyib that killed more than 90 people.—Associated Press

Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz—all had access to the same expertise as represented by reporter Christopher Dickey. Chris has been involved in the middle east mentality and aspiration for 2 decades. He has examined terrorists and their back grounds and motives on a microscopic level. When he reacts to events in his regular Shadowland column, he writes from a perspective of utter symbiotic knowledge of his subject—middle east nationalism, terrorism, Islamic roots and drives—and his journalism has been prescient, especially in his forecasts of the disastrous result of the Iraq incursion.

I know Chris so well, it’s easier for me to describe his work and intentions than that of others in the media. But others have taken similar stances regarding the Iraq War, and the Bush administration. The fact that people like Colin Powell and Condoleeza Rice had access to the same expertise as Chris Dickey’s, and that they either ignored it, or had other motives and agendas to exercise—that is why we are in the quagmire now, and why Iraqi people suffer in a tenuous environment at least as unsafe as the one prior to the deposing of Saddam.

The solution is to extricate US forces from Iraq as soon as possible. Even this obvious answer to the problems Chris and others have described, due to occupation of a foreign land, is not embraced by those who are unhappy with our involvement in Iraq. According to Tom Hayden, Senator Barbara Boxer is hedging in her latest emails by using the term “success strategy” relating to Iraq:

The phrase is cute - "success strategy" - rhymes with exit strategy, sounds more Californian than "military victory strategy". The only promise she makes is that there is no deadline for withdrawal.--Hayden Blog Huffington Post

It doesn’t really matter how the verbiage is couched—Bush isn’t even discussing leaving Iraq, except for vague references in leaked British memos to a possible program of removing a substantial number of troops next year. And that is probably a PR feeler due to his crummy showing in the latest polls.

Past articles of Christopher Dickey make one thing very clear—it pays to pay attention. Let’s not be like an acquaintance of mine who, when I complained that people are either ignorant or apathetic about Iraq, said, “I don’t know and I don’t care!”

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Arnold Knows His Stupid Voters

Here is the pattern in how our political leaders perceive us. They think we are stupid. In fact, people just may be too busy to pay close attention to all the prevarications from politicians every day.

The short memories of American voters is what keeps our politicians in office--Will Rogers

Bush and his team lied about the reasons for invading Iraq—that Saddam had ties to Bin Laden and the 9/11 events, that there were weapons of mass destruction ready to do harm to US citizens—and now they lie about the lies which were proven lies, and they assume we are all too busy to pay close attention so we don’t do anything about it.

Now it has come to light that major body-builder, movie star, and replacement Governor of California Arnold Schwarzenegger thinks we are stupid too. As reported over the last few days, the governor was enmeshed in a stunning conflict of interest deal, and now that he got caught, he claims that his “stance has nothing to do with my connection to a fitness magazine. It has to do with me, Arnold." He could have added, "You dumb bastards."

Two days prior to his inauguration as governor, Arnold closed a contract with American Media Inc.The company publishes Muscle & Fitness and Flex magazines, as well as the tabloids National Enquirer and the Globe.

The pact, formalized two days before the governor was sworn
into office in November 2003, guaranteed, over five years, a minimum of $5 million, though the company estimated that the figure probably would be more than $8 million. He also received an equity stake in the publishing firm, granting him a 1% portion from any sale of the company, or about $5.2 million under an estimate in the contract.The conflict-of-interest concerns arose because Schwarzenegger vetoed a bill last year that would have imposed
regulations on the nutritional supplement industry.--Gov. Cancels Magazine Contract, L.A. Times July 16, 2005
The point is obvious, and the partisans have taken sides with the predictable excuses to justify Arnold’s ridiculous position as not being at cross purposes with his public service. Then Arnold cancelled the contract just to prove he wants to be perceived as an honest guy, if not a little arrogant. I would like to be perceived as an intelligent voter, but in Arnold’s eyes, I am stupid. Must be, or why would he take part in such a transparent case of duplicity and open himself wide to charges of bias and recklessness? One comment on the Huffington Post about this story may explain more than meets the eye:

I was informed a few years ago when Arnold Schwarzenegger first signed this magazine deal with these two fitness magazines (sister magazines to "The Star Magazine," and " The National Inquirer") That it was to stop the publications of articles on all the many women that he had sexually assaulted, and were coming forward, and, also to stop his on going sexually harassment lawsuit in court, in the UK right now being covered here in the USA.--Posted by: J. Silver at July 16, 2005 12:20 AM

Evidently commenter J. Silver doesn’t think I—a reader of the Huffington Post blogs—am stupid.

Some politicians in California are very forgiving, and applaud Arnold for canceling the contract:

The cancellation of the pact — two days after the contract amounts were reported by the Los Angeles Times and the Sacramento Bee — brought praise from lawmakers and other critics who saw a link between vetoing the nutritional supplement legislation and Schwarzenegger's American Media paycheck.

"It had to happen. I applaud the governor for doing the right thing," said state Sen. Jackie Speier (D-Hillsborough), author of the 2004 legislation and a critic of the nutritional supplement industry…

…Assemblyman Ray Haynes (R-Murrieta) said he didn't think Schwarzenegger's magazine deal constituted a conflict, but he understood why the governor extricated himself."I think it's a
noble thing to do," Haynes said. "Noble but unnecessary. To remove any question is a good thing to do. It's a lot to do, but if anybody had any concerns, then it's settled."--Gov. Cancels Magazine Contract, L.A. Times July 16, 2005

Rather than describing a contest in nobility, I tend to side with the mother who lost her son who had been ingesting “supplements:”

"I think it's what he should have done a year ago," said Denise Garibaldi, a Petaluma psychologist who testified at a hearing led by Speier last year. Garibaldi's 24-year old son, a USC baseball player, killed himself in 2002, and she blamed the suicide on his use of steroids, which have long been illegal.Schwarzenegger has opposed taking steroids but has actively promoted the use of nutritional supplements.An advocate for Speier's legislation to regulate supplement use among high school athletes, Garibaldi said she thought Schwarzenegger's financial ties to the fitness magazines prompted his veto last year.--Gov. Cancels Magazine Contract, L.A. Times July 16, 2005

Least noble of all, are the California voters who recalled an ineffective governor in a costly election and substituted a multi-national celebrity icon to do the same job, just as ineffectively, but with a lot more gloss. Maybe the politicians are right, we voters are stupid, or really busy. Or maybe Will Rogers asked the right question years ago:

If Stupidity got us into this mess, then why can't it get us out?

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

The Last Bush Straw

…the latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll finds that Bush’s overall job rating has slipped and that his rating for being “honest and straightforward” has dropped to its lowest point.—MSNBC July 13, 2005
Let’s see—

The US and British are fighting in Iraq in order not to have to fight the terrorists on home ground. The terrorists bomb the London tube which might as well be our home ground…

Bush adamantly tells his fellow citizens that Social Security needs an overhaul, and his fellow citizens ignore him and bitch and moan about health care costs…

He proclaims his tax cuts for the rich have boosted the economy while huge rising crude oil prices bring the specter of a blunted boom and inflation on the horizon…

Bush champions the values of the right-wing Christian evangelists, yet that base only represents 1/5 or less of the president’s constituency…

He claimed re-election on a mandate, but with a slim popular vote lead, and the unchallenged and still contentious enormous vote-count fraud in Ohio, an objective person would ask, “what mandate?”

And the squeaky-clean corruption less-perceived lily-White House inhabited by the judgmental, finger-pointing holier-than-thou Bushies—they lied about Rove and his involvement, legal or illegal, in the Novak/Wilson/Plame leak affair, and all of their knowledge of it.

Now Bush and his team don’t want to discuss it due to the ongoing (for two years now) criminal investigation, so they say. But they did repeatedly comment on it before the truth about Rove’s involvement surfaced.

Tonight NBC reports Bush’s honesty rating is dropping to its lowest point.

So you see it isn’t just Rove, and it isn’t just one thing. It’s the whole package. It’s seeping out now, and it will turn to a flood soon. Don’t be afraid. Only good can come from this.

Monday, July 11, 2005

The Vietnamization of Iraq

Nixon compounded the Vietnam War but didn't start it. The war in Iraq, by contrast, is Mr. Bush's invention.Frank Rich, “We’re Not in Watergate Anymore” NY Times 7/10/05

There were 500,000 US troops in Vietnam when the the Vietnam War was at its height. There are 175,000 US troops in Iraq now, which is pretty much it’s height. 50,000 US servicemen were killed in the Vietnam War. 1,700 have lost their lives directly in Iraq—not including of course peripheral deaths from wounds, disease, or accidents that happen outside of, but due to, the Iraq occupation. Even adding those in, the total is roughly 9,000 deaths. Vietnam still wins the numbers game.

Nixon “widened” the Vietnam War by bombing the border of Cambodia, because supply lines for the North Vietnamese were aggravating the US actions there. When Nixon OK’d the incursion into Cambodia, it was the first time he acted without consent, or even the knowledge, of congress. The Gulf of Tonkin Resolution--specious as it turned out to be, based on the non-event of the shelling of US gunboats by the North Vietnamese Communists—at least gave a quasi-legal backing to continue Johnson’s and Macnamara’s misbegotten idea of keeping the Commies out of Southeast Asia. The Nixon action in Cambodia was “high crime and misdemeanored” enough to call for his impeachment.

As John Belushi would say, “But Nooooo….!!” This was not the reason for the downfall of the landslide-elected President Nixon. His faults lay in the covering up of the break-ins and buggings of political opponents and document-leakers. Nixon was going to be impeached because he offered bribes and aid and comfort to those who to this day, we don’t even know if they were doing his personal bidding, or just his underlings were.

In my lifetime, they’ve impeached one president for lying under oath, about having sex in his office when he should have been paying attention to the important affairs of the country. And if Nixon had not resigned before he was impeached, his conduct was impeachable because of dirty tricks and misuse of money in order to make sure he was re-elected by a landslide, which he was.

Here’s George W. Bush, who started a war to protect his fellow citizens from terrorists. Fanatics attacked the US by hijacking airplanes. So Bush sent the most resources of the military he could muster for a conventional campaign to Iraq, to topple the evil dictator, Saddam Hussein. Saddam lorded over the huge oil resources of the region and was ensconced, not coincidentally, by the good graces of the same guys, Rumsfeld and Cheney back in the 1980’s, who now advise Gearge W and his legions about how to maintain the status quo, if there is such a thing. Thar’s oil in that-thar desert.

The Iraq incursion and occupation is barking up the wrong tree in order to thwart terrorism of the kind we saw on 9/11/01. The reasons for going to war in Iraq are already under tremendous fire because there are no WMD, and there is a British memo (“Downing Street”) out that says Bush wanted to go to War in Iraq way before there was any reason. So the impeach-Bush crowd says here’s a good reason to impeach him—big war, major expense, lots of deaths, no apparent reason. Bush lied to congress about why we needed to go to war—let’s impeach him and teach him a lesson.

Nothing—polls keep dropping, Bush/Cheney/Rice/Rumsfeld keep lying—no impeachment.

All is not lost! Nixon resigned because he tried to cover up leaks—if Karl Rove outted CIA employee Valerie Plame, wife of thorn-in-the-side-of-Bush Ambassador Wilson, which may or may not have been illegal to do—and Bush and his people are covering up for Rove’s big mouthedness—that’s big trouble and could be an impeachable offense. It seems pretty bad, at least because those are the huge headlines at Drudge and Huffington tonight. Bigger than the $5 bil dent of hurricane Dennis and the terrorist bombings in London and the possible leaked (again!) info from a new British memo of removal of 2/3 of the US and British soldiers from Iraq within a year. Rove gets more press than these three put together!

That the Bush administration would risk breaking the law with an act as self-destructive to American interests as revealing a C.I.A. officer's identity smacks of desperation. It makes you wonder just what else might have been done to suppress embarrassing election-season questions about the war that has mired us in Iraq even as the true perpetrators of 9/11 resurface in Madrid, London and who knows where else. [emphasis added]--Frank Rich, “We’re Not in Watergate Anymore” NY Times 7/10/05

It makes me wonder if I’m going to be proven right again about impeachment (I said Nixon would be impeached when he was re-elected), but for the wrong reasons—that Bush will be impeached, and just like Nixon, not for ridiculous waste of military action, but for political misjudgement of hubris and arrogance.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Darfur: And the Money Goes to...

The Darfur conflict is an ongoing conflict in the Darfur region of western Sudan, mainly between the Janjaweed, a government-supported militia recruited from local Arab tribes, and the non-Arab
peoples of the region. Note that both sides are largely black in skin tone, and the distinction between "Arab" and "non-Arab" common in western media is heavily disputed by many people, including the Sudanese government. Moreover, these labels have been criticized for sensationalizing the conflict into one of racial motivations, when in fact the causes have more to do with competition between tribes for scarce resources.—Wikipedia
The nations attending the G8 Conference, expressing concern about Darfur and the killings and displacement of people from their homes (more than 1.8 million), still leave the area to its own fate. According to an article highlighted in the Huffington Post today, U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Robert Zoellick says there will be no troops sent to the region to aid in stabilizing a truce.

Zoellick said he was happy with a 3,000-strong African Union force monitoring a shaky ceasefire in Darfur, and saw no need for Western troops to deploy there.

"The role of NATO is one of transportation and logistics (in Darfur)," he told reporters in Khartoum. "There's been no interest in NATO and no interest in my country of having Western forces on the ground."—Yahoo News July 9, 2005

Further, Zoellick says that even with a new “unity” government in Sudan, he does not see any lifting of sanctions which are in place due to Sudan’s past ties with terrorists, specifically Osama Bin Laden.

Zoellick attended the swearing in on Saturday of former southern rebel chief John Garang as first vice president, marking a new era after two decades of north-south civil war.

But he said a southern peace deal signed in January needed to extend to a separate conflict in the western region of Darfur.
Yahoo News July 9, 2005

The Bush administration begins to sound truly concerned and humanitarian considering this revelation of aid manipulation based on human rights issues. That is, if you don’t know the whole story, and there is a missing piece that isn’t told in the Reuters article. In the Newsweek issue that comes out tomorrow, Christopher Dickey and Michael Hirsch discuss plans of western nations to put together resources to add to intelligence on terrorists. Certain measures the Bush administration uses to promote an unfriendly soil in other countries for terrorists to gain footholds include the following about Sudan and the Darfur region:

Today, in dealing with Iran and Syria, Washington often seems to teeter between impotence and escalation. But in less-publicized areas it has found quieter means of encouraging governments to turn their backs on terrorists. Sudan was a major haven for Osama bin Laden in the early 1990s and was attacked with cruise missiles by the Clinton administration in 1998. This year, however, despite its crimes in Darfur, the Sudanese government saw American aid rise from $630
million to $1 billion. And Al Qaeda is no longer welcome there.[emphasis added]--Christopher Dickey and Michael Hirsch, Newsweek, July 18, 2005

Zoellick says for the record the US won’t lower sanctions on Sudan until they clean up their act, while the Bush administration—using quieter means--gives double the amount of money, in the hundreds of millions of dollars, to the Sudan government so they won’t harbor Bin Laden or his ilk anymore.

Who is suffering from the sanctions, and who is getting the inflow of US cash? While Bush and his team claim they are protecting American citizens, they are squandering taxpayer money without helping Africans build a better life, which ultimately could benefit all of us.

Jeffrey D. Sachs wrote in the L. A. Times June 12 about this very issue, and was quoted in this blog. According to Sachs, the argument for not providing US monetary aid to Africa--that the money will wind up in the wrong hands, and not where it will benefit the poor and sick—is self-defeating:

If the administration were more than modestly interested in helping Africa, it could learn about the huge gains made possible by Blair's plan to provide about $50 billion a year to Africa by 2010 — with the U.S. kicking in $15 billion to $20 billion. With that money, Africa could control killer diseases, triple food production and cut hunger, and improve transportation and communications.

These steps, incidentally, would accelerate the continent's transition to lower fertility rates and slower population growth because they would contribute to a lower child mortality rate and economic gains, which would help persuade couples to have fewer children.--Jeffrey D. Sachs, L. A. Times June 12, 2005

That which benefits millions of Africans in turn benefits us at home in America. The international intertwining of economics, politics, and even the spread of disease, actually makes US policy of bearing the responsibility of helping others a self-interested motive. And this road will lead more surely to diminishing terrorism than any so-called “War on...”

Saturday, July 09, 2005

Over the Top with FOX NEWS

…John Gibson, said before the blasts that the International Olympic Committee "missed a golden opportunity" by not awarding the 2012 games to France. "If they had picked France instead of London to hold the Olympics, it would have been the one time we could look forward to where we didn't worry about terrorism. They'd blow up Paris, and who cares?" He added: "This is why I thought the Brits should let the French have the Olympics - let somebody else be worried about guys with backpack bombs for a while."-- Julian Borger in WashingtonSaturday July 9, 2005 The Guardian
Brit Hume and Brian Kilmeade also had choice remarks, but not quite as bloodthirsty as the irresponsible Gibson. The word is that these guys get their marching orders from the top every day—Fox owner Rupert Murdoch. So the question is, where is Homeland Security when you need it—isn't this kind of non-journalistic rhetoric aid and comfort for the enemy? “We report, you decide…” they must be preaching to the deaf and blind.

Meanwhile, Rigorous Intuition blog has major doubts regarding the timing of the London bombs and the press reporting:

In the confusion, early reports detailing warnings of the attacks are being scrubbed from wire services, while security agencies are going into safe mode. An original story remains posted on Arutz Sheva, which quotes Israeli Army Radio as saying "Scotland Yard had intelligence warnings of the attacks a short time before they occurred. The Israeli Embassy in London was notified in advance, resulting in Finance Minister Binyamin Netanyahu remaining in his hotel room rather than make his way to the hotel adjacent to the site of the first explosion, a Liverpool Street train station, where he was to address and economic summit.

"Earliest reports spoke of six bombs. There only four detonations. Much later, two unexploded devices were found. A question: what was the media's original source for there being six bombs?

It’s hard to believe there would be British or American complicity in these events just for the sake of politics, but then I wouldn’t have thought the Fox talking heads would ever say such disgusting remarks either.

Friday, July 08, 2005

Iraq: Were We Warned? We Were Warned!

The Chris Matthews Show

Oppose this war because it will create a millennium of hatred and the suicidal terrorism that comes with it.Chris Matthews, San Francisco Chronicle Sunday September 1, 2002

Let’s recap very quickly: US invaded Iraq March 2003. 2 years later the outcry of the disenchanted with this great war is, “Why weren’t we told by the press? Why has Mainstream Media let us down?”

Remember “Shock and awe?” That was pretty exciting, even for me, the anti-war anti-middle-east incursion songster of all time. I was ready to watch the whole spectacle on TV. No, I didn’t think invading Iraq was going to save us from the terrorists, and deposing Saddam wasn’t going to end the struggle against dictatorships. I believed the entire escapade was to enrich the super-rich American companies and individuals whose ultimate lives of luxury and benevolence depended on the regular, unobstructed flow of oil.

I was definitely informed about the harebrained, wayward attempt this unbelievable expense of armaments and personnel would be. I read the newspapers, then internet, and watched cable news. It was all there—not hidden or disguised as many of our left- and right-wing friends would have us believe. The commentary from readers of this blog consistently calls out the MSM, or mainstream media, for not following through on important stories of concentrating too much on celebrity rather than substance. But the MSM does tell us the truth. It’s just mixed in with a lot of gossip.

I’m a sucker for a good gossip story too. When I saw Zsa Zsa’s image on MSNBC the other night, I wondered immediately, “did she die?” In fact, she had a stroke and at 88, she might not pull through. She was a cast member in the John Huston movie of Toulouse-Lautrec, Moulin Rouge from 1952, which is a film classic, one of my personal favorites. Despite her horrific scandal-ridden bio-details, the film remains a monument to the French artist, as well as to actor Jose Ferrer and director Huston. And Zsa Zsa's performance was, well...great! So much for gossip.

I am also interested in the news stories that will become history, maybe. I will share two telling quotes here that have stayed with me since I read them, just prior to the Iraq war. The proof lies in the fact that yes, we WERE warned. And yes, we did not listen. And yes, the infamous MSM is still talking to those who will hear!

Chris Matthews, of MSNBC’s Hardball, wrote his last column in the San Francisco Chronicle September 1, 2002, claiming he could not adequately produce both a weekly column and Hardball anymore. Here is his last remark in closing:

I hate this war that's coming in Iraq. I don't think we'll be proud of it. Oppose this war because it will create a millennium of hatred and the suicidal terrorism that comes with it. You talk about Bush trying to avenge his father. What about the tens of millions of Arab sons who will want to finish a fight we start next spring in Baghdad?Well, that's it for now. You know where I stand.

Then there’s my friend and reporter, Christopher Dickey of Newsweek, who is an expert on the middle east and terrorism for over a quarter of a century. His many articles prior to the start of the US-led incursion into Iraq gave plenty of warning about the Pandora’s Box that was opening. And not just the paranoiac, “what-if” scenarios of anything that can go wrong will go wrong. Chris gave his studied and experienced insight into the mind of the Muslim world, their views on history, their place in it, and their attitudes on America, and clued us into all of it.
Here is a Chris Dickey (and Evan Thomas) quote from September 23, 2002, in Newsweek, on the escalation to invasion of Iraq:

It is far from clear that America will be able to control the next leader of Iraq, even if he is not as diabolical as Saddam. Any leader of Iraq will look around him and see that Israel and Pakistan have nuclear weapons and that Iran may soon. Just as England and France opted to build their own bombs in the cold war, and not depend on the U.S. nuclear umbrella, the next president of Iraq may want to have his own bomb. He may want to, but he can’t be allowed to says a Bush official. But what is to guarantee that a newly rich Iraqi strongman won’t buy one with his nation’s vast oil wealth? In some ways, Iraq is to the Middle East as Germany was to Europe in the 20th century, too large, too militaristic and too competent to coexist peaceably with neighbors. It took two world wars and millions of lives to solve the German problem. Getting rid of Saddam may be essential to creating a stable, democratic Iraq. But it may be only a first step on a long and dangerous march.

Keep vigilant, dear readers. We are, in fact, informed when we are not asleep.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

London Bombings Possible Perpetrators

Senator John McCain said on this morning's NBC TODAY show that he thinks the proper response to the London bombings is to continue our war in Iraq. His rationale is that he would rather be fighting in Baghdad than on the streets of Arizona. Well, Senator, US and British occupation of Iraq, with all of the monetary expense and bloodshed that entails, didn't keep fanatics from wreaking havoc in the tubes of London.

If US forces pulled out of Iraq, and the money spent on endless killing and military build-up was spent instead on feeding and educating the downtrodden in the region, plus those people in other third-world hotbeds of disease and hunger, terrorists would find less recruits willing to join their empty cause. And Senator McCain knows the US is tactically and economically capable of waging this effort, just as it is capable of sending enormous military might overseas.

In case Senator McCain, or anyone else for that matter, is interested in who the killers were behind today's bombings, check out Christopher Dickey, Newsweek Paris Bureau Chief, in his video report on line.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Bush (and pals) Cover Up for Rove (and the CIA)

Am I missing something here? Reporter Miller is going to jail for not divulging her source who leaked Plame’s name as a CIA operative. Providing the name of a CIA agent can be a crime. Miller’s leaker may have put lives in danger committing a crime, and all in retribution for Plame’s husband Wilson’s editorial criticizing Bush’s State of the Union speech using faulty intelligence:

Wilson was sent to Africa by the Bush administration to investigate an intelligence claim that Saddam Hussein may have purchased yellowcake uranium from Niger in the late 1990s for use in nuclear weapons. Wilson said he could not verify the claim and criticized the administration for manipulating the intelligence to "exaggerate the Iraqi threat."--By PETE YOST, Associated Press Writer

Meanwhile, Robert Novak walks around scott free in a state of semi-shock that there is such a fuss over doing what reporters do—quoting unnamed sources.

Novak, whose column cited as sources two unidentified senior Bush administration officials, has refused to say whether he has testified before the grand jury or been subpoenaed. Novak has said he "will reveal all" after the matter is resolved and that it is wrong for the government to jail journalists.–YOST, AP

Anonymous sources are the backbone of political reporting. Without those White House leaks, how would the press get wind of the gist of upcoming speeches, let alone major policy announcements etc. Life or death matters usually aren’t involved in these leaks, but in the case of the wanton release of classified information regarding an individual’s position who secretly gathers intelligence for the ultimate protection of American citizens—maybe that crosses the line of whether to keep quiet and follow the journalistic dictum of not revealing your source, lest you not be able to go to that source, or any other for that matter, again for inside info. Maybe in the case of whoever blew Plame’s cover, regardless of the baseless motivation, the blower should be acknowledged. Who cares if anonymous sources remain anonymous if they are jeopardizing our lives?

But beyond all of this, is that once again the smoke and mirrors of beltway shenanigans are providing enough media distraction to shield more important stories, including ones that are just developing momentum.

Much of the commentary on the press lately says the “mainstream media” (MSM) are not interested in relevance, only sensation, and that the investigative reporting success of Woodward and Bernstein on Watergate could not happen in today’s climate of celebrity awe.

Christopher Dickey, award-winning reporter and Newsweek Bureau Chief in Paris, who also happens to be my good friend, is certainly an example of the best of “MSM,” and he is also a great investigative reporter. His latest chase is on to the recent Italian indictments of several CIA agents in Milan relating to their abduction of a Muslim cleric. This Imam was a major terrorist suspect of Italian justice, which was thwarted by the CIA kidnapping.[see The Road to Rendition, Christopher Dickey, Newsweek]

Chris’s latest entry of his Shadowland” column follows up on his original story of the removal of the Imam to Egypt for questioning, and probably torture, with Chris’s burrowing into the movements of the various CIA operatives as they moved toward the day of the abduction.

The good news about this story is that it reads like a fictional spy novel.

Who doesn’t love a good spy story? Shadowy operatives, evil terrorists, dangerous betrayals and the future of the free world hanging in the balance. Throw in the suggestion of sinister conspiracies at the very top of government—and some sex, of course—and you’ve got a pretty good book to take to the beach.—Dickey

The bad news is the consequence of thoughtless action on the part of our government, even to the point of reckless war.

But when real U.S. officials start acting like they’re living a Robert Ludlum saga, then you’ve got problems. And the more documentation that surfaces about the mysterious abduction of a suspected Al Qaeda figure from the streets of Italy in February 2003, the more it looks like whoever in the administration ordered the snatch got carried away with the dangerous glamour of the moment.—Dickey

After reading “Bourne Again?” one may come to the conclusion that the real smoking gun at the Bush/Cheney impeachment hearings will be about planted intelligence prior to the Iraq invasion, and not the comings and goings of the likes of Robert Novak and Karl Rove.

Saturday, July 02, 2005

Bush Covers Up for Rove

“Deputy Chief of Staff” in the Bush White House is Karl Rove’s recently-acquired new title. Andrew Card is Bush’s “Chief of Staff.” Under Nixon, Haldeman was “Personal Chief of Staff.” Ehrlichman was Nixon’s top security adviser. Haldeman and Ehrlichman both resigned when Nixon asked them to, in order to take the fall for the crimes of Watergate, including improper use of campaign funds and unauthorized bugging and break-ins of individuals.

Nixon was caught on a tape recording he himself made, assisting in the cover-up of these offenses through bribery and intimidation. When the House Judiciary Committee reported articles of Impeachment against Nixon due to the cover-up, which was illegal obstruction of Justice, he resigned the Presidency rather than go through the impeachment trial.

According to Lawrence O’Donnell, Executive Producer "The West Wing,” Panelist "The McLaughlin Group,” and Former Chief of Staff, U.S. Senate Committee on Finance, Karl Rove is the administration insider who leaked to the press the name of Valerie Plame as a CIA employee. Divulging the name of classified CIA personnel is against the law.

At issue is the story of a CIA-sponsored trip taken by former ambassador (and White House critic) Joseph Wilson to investigate reports that Iraq was seeking to buy uranium from the African country of Niger. "Some government officials have noted to Time in interviews... that Wilson's wife, Valerie Plame, is a CIA official who monitors the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction," said
Cooper's July 2003 Time online article.--Isikoff-Newsweek July 11 Issue

The outing of Plame was considered to be retribution for Wilson’s editorial accusing Bush of lying in his State of the Union message that Iraq had plans for getting uranium from Niger, which Bush used as one of the reasons for the Iraq invasion.

At the time of the original story, there was speculation as to what Bush would do to help the investigation into finding out who leaked Plame’s name to the press. Since the source was admitted by reporters to have been someone in the White House administration, some legal experts claimed Bush could have required a sworn affidavit from all suspects in order to smoke out the guilty party. But he didn’t.

At a White House press briefing on February 10, 2004, Scott McClellan, press spokesman, said this

…The president has made it clear that he wants to get to the bottom of this investigation. The leaking of classified information is a very serious matter. The president directed everybody at the White House to cooperate fully in the investigation.
Rove is Bush’s Svengali. All policy comes through Bush from Rove. Inside the Beltway, it must be clear how huge the presence of Rove is in the presidency. Therefore, it must be just as clear that Bush knew Rove leaked the information on Valerie Plame. Bush is guilty of obstruction of justice in this case, and hearings need to be commenced regarding his impeachment for this illegal activity, among others, including lying to congress about the reason to invade Iraq.

The day Rove resigns over this transgression, and Bush calls him “one of the finest public servants I have ever known,” in his goodbye speech—as Nixon said of Haldeman and Ehrlichman when they resigned—that will be the beginning of the end of the tyranny of the Bush regime. It’s all unfolding as I write this and as you read it. The sooner the truth comes to the surface, the better. Don’t be afraid. The best is yet to come.