Saturday, July 09, 2005

The View From Canada 

Really, I think it's too soon for me to start presuming to speak for Canadians, after living here all of 2 weeks (though it would be an exceedingly American thing to do). From what I've observed, however, Deanna presents her countrymen's case pretty accurately.

Bush's War On American Soldiers 

From Ronald Glasser's article in the July Harper's (only available in print), A War Of Disabilities:
"Some 12,500 American G.I.s have been wounded in Iraq. Eight soldiers have been wounded for every one killed, about double the rate for Korea, Vietnam, and the Gulf War. The percentage of soldiers who have undergone amputations is about twice that of any of our past military conflicts; nearly a quarter of all the wounded suffer from traumatic head injuries, far more than in our other recent wars...The true legacy of this war will be seen not in the memorials to those lost forever but in the cabinets of files in the neurosurgical and orthopedic wards at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, in the backlog of cases at Veterans Affairs."
Advances in combat medicine and protective armor mean more and more soldiers avoid lethal injuries and are kept alive at the site and the field hospital, while the nature of the conflicts and weapons being used lend to particularly scattered impacts. Ceramic plates inside Kevlar have been a resounding success:
"This body armor protects the chest, back, and upper abdomen, preventing damage to the torso and allowing many soldiers to survive other serious injuries."
But the trade-off is a questionable blessing:
"Saving more soldiers also means higher numbers of amputees and of those blinded and brain-damaged."
Our soldiers have never fought a war like this. As Glasser notes, almost 70% of injuries have been caused by roadside IEDs. Unlike in previous wars, where soldiers were usually attacked and hit from the front or above, this particular kind of combat means they are often hit while riding in vehicles ("...that are not as well armored as their own chests"), and struck from below, beside, or behind:
"Nearly half of all U.S. troops wounded in Iraq since the fall of Saddam have been hit in the lower extremities; 25% have been injured in the hand or arm...Body armor protects a soldier's 'center mass', but the explosions shatter and shred arms and legs."
The high number of soldiers who have lost upper extremities means a high number of expensive prostheses (much more expensive than those for lower extremities) Simply being close to blast sites when IEDs go off can result in internal brain damage--the victims remain functional for the most part, but suffer significant lifelong disability. The number of soldiers with brain injuries, including those life-changing concussions that are often under-diagnosed and are "notorious for their delayed onset", is extremely high. And aside from the destructive effects these injuries will have on the returning vets, their families and their communities, there is a staggering cost to be paid economically:
"The three types of upper-extremity prostheses offered by the military range in price from $5000 to $100,000; patients are given one of each, in order to use them in different situations, In the past two years, there ahve been numerous multiple amputees who have need double and triple prostheses.
Traumatic brain injuries will also create long-term economic problems...
Right now the majority of casualties, including amputees, are kept within the Dept. of Defense's military-hospital system--embedding the costs in a mammoth military budget of some $600 billion annually...
But the wounded stay within the DOD health-care system only as long as they remain on active duty. Every wounded soldier will soon become a veteran and will...be forced to receive any ongoing care through Veterans Affairs. There is little to suggest that the VA--an overburdened and underfunded system--can handle the wounded from Iraq once they are released from Department of Defense care."
The VA is one the place in the DOD that, for all his overheated rhetoric, Bush has failed to adequately fund, in part thanks to his appointee, VA head James Nicholson, who failed to ask for money he knew the agency needed. In fact, the treatment of returning injured soldiers has been one of the great shameful chapters of the horror novel that has been the Bush administration. Most interesting, Democrats in Congress saw the shortfalls coming this past spring and tried to get additional funding included, which Bush and the Republicans both refused to pass. Now we have this:
"The average wait for a VA decision on an initial claim for disability benefits is 165 days; to rule on an appeal of one of its decisions, the VA takes, on average, 3 years. (...some 13,700 veterans have dies as they were waiting for their cases to be resolved.) In Minneapolis the waiting period for an orthopedic appointment at a VA hospital can be more than six months, and patients there have been told to expect a further decrease in services over the next budget period...Hundreds of billions have been given to the Pentagon to pay for this war; to pay for the war's aftermath, VA discretionary funding for 2006 is to be increased by only one-third of 1%."
He ends with a statement from Max Cleland, former head of the VA under Carter, and himself a triple amputee Vietnam vet:
"The VA can't handle what they have to do now; how are they going to handle the flood of physical and emotional casualties, many of whom will be the responsibility of the VA for the rest of their lives?" (Emphasis mine.)
In conjunction with the extensive cuts Bush has made in social programs and medical care, can anyone say the local communities will be able to pick up the crucial care being lost to the crippled VA?

UPDATE: For more info on the plight of returning servicepeople and what you can do to ease it, go here and explore the links.

Coatlique, Meet Darwin 

ancientofdays Sweet Jesus:
"An influential cardinal in the Roman Catholic Church, which has long been regarded as an ally of the theory of evolution, is now suggesting that belief in evolution as accepted by science today may be incompatible with Catholic faith.
The cardinal, Christoph Schönborn, archbishop of Vienna, a theologian who is close to Pope Benedict XVI, staked out his position in an Op-Ed article in The New York Times on Thursday, writing, "Evolution in the sense of common ancestry might be true, but evolution in the neo-Darwinian sense - an unguided, unplanned process of random variation and natural selection - is not."
Intelligent design, anyone? Noting that the cardinal is "close" to The Former Inquisitor Now Known As Pope makes me curious as to what TFINKAP may have said to this "ally of the theory of evolution" to make him back down so far. The cardinal himself claims his feelings toward evolution have been "mis-interpreted" for years and this is simply a clarification--which just happens to come on the heels of the installation of a pope so reactionary he makes John Paul seem almost anarchist.

But have no fear, young charges:
"Cardinal Schönborn, who is on the Vatican's Congregation for Catholic Education, said the office had no plans to issue new guidance to teachers in Catholic schools on evolution. But he said he believed students in Catholic schools, and all schools, should be taught that evolution is just one of many theories."
Whew! Dodged a bullet on that one, eh? Now they can just put evolution on the shelf with the other creation myth specimens and teach it alongside the theory of Genesis, the theory of Shu and Tefnut, the theory of the giant frost ogre Ymir, and the theory of Pele and the fire god.

The Bablylonians have a pretty lengthy one--better set aside a separate class for that.

UPDATE: I see that the Op-Ed page of the NYTimes sees it my way, too.

Friday, July 08, 2005

SCOTUS Watch: LA Times gets it, on Gonzales 

Too bad WaPo doesn't seem to. Oh well, they all go the same parties....

add our vote to the chorus of social conservative groups clamoring against a possible nomination of Alberto R. Gonzales to the Supreme Court. Because of his central role in decisions taken by the administration to flout international law in pursuing the war on terrorism, Gonzales was a poor choice for the attorney general's office — as we stated earlier this year — and he would certainly be a disastrous choice for the Supreme Court.

As White House counsel, Gonzales, a longtime friend of President Bush, wrote a memo in early 2002 arguing that detainees in Afghanistan and in other war-on-terrorism theaters were not subject to Geneva Convention protections, which he shrugged off as "quaint."

Had he been a responsible counselor to his client, Gonzales would have urged Bush not to take the expedient shortcuts that led to the scandals at Abu Ghraib and elsewhere, and the unlawful detention of U.S. citizens denied access to counsel.

Even Justice Antonin Scalia, among the most conservative of jurists, was outraged by the White House's assertion, built on Gonzales' advice, that the executive branch could suspend the rule of law to fight terrorism. "The very core of liberty secured by our Anglo-Saxon system of separated powers has been the freedom from indefinite imprisonment at the will of the executive branch," wrote Scalia.

But where are the liberal advocates and Democratic senators who opposed Gonzales' nomination as attorney general? Is a torture-supporting nominee to the court really an acceptable lesser-of-evils these days?
(via LA Times)

I would rather have an honest reactionary on the Court than a torture-enabling weasel like Gonzales; enabling torture—and destroying the rule of law into the bargain—is about as close to raw evil as it's possible to come.

NOTE I'm willing to give Reid a pass on saying Gonzales is acceptable; to me, that's a pretty good sign that it will never happen, because the wingers won't permit it. So, Reid can sound the note of sweet reason in complete safety.

Enlightenment values win again! 

Though, God knows, it took long enough:

Gov. Bush, brother of President Bush and a devout Catholic convert, said there were indications of a 40- to 70-minute gap between the time Michael Schiavo discovered his wife after she collapsed 15 years ago and the time he called for medical assistance.

But Pinellas County State Attorney Bernie McCabe, who conducted the probe, wrote Bush on June 30 that there were explanations "far more likely and logical than any involving criminal wrongdoing" surrounding Schiavo's collapse.

In a reply to McCabe dated July 7, Bush said he would stop the investigation. "Based on your conclusions, I will follow your recommendation that the inquiry by the state be closed," Bush wrote. The letter was distributed on Friday.
(via Reuters)

Yep. Evidence and reasoning. What concepts. I know it's hard for wingers and Self-Identified Christians to get their heads around, but maybe if they give the matter prayerful consideration....

Throwing Down The Gauntlet To The Right 

BBC World Service said early this a.m. that more credence was being given to the Islamic jihadist website claiming responsibility for yesterday's London blasts, but nothing conclusive has yet been learned. For all the discussion over how coordinated the attacks were, I can't help note that the destruction was actually miniscule compared to what it could have been, and because of that, I'm tempted to think the people who did it might be pretty rank amateurs, thank God.

But, ah, back to where we were so rudely interrupted...
So this much we all should know by now:

1.) Revealing the identity of a CIA covert operative is a crime under the Espionage Act of 1917 and the Intelligence Identities and Protection Act.

2.) Karl Rove was one of the the persons who gave this prohibited information to Matthew Cooper.

3.) Robert Novak published this information as a blatantly political favor to Rove and consequently assisted in a crime.

4.) Judith Miller, who published nothing, went to jail.

5.) Rove, who committed a treasonous crime, and Novak, who aided and abetted him, remain free and face no charges, and in fact continue to pull hefty paychecks, get plenty of face time, and retain some semblance of respectability.

6.) Bush promised back in September 2003 to take action against anyone found to have leaked the info.

7.) Until Miller and Cooper entered the picture, the entire Plame case had obligingly dropped off the radar so far as Bush and his promises were concerned.

So where are all you patriots now, you fighters of wars and defenders of flags? What have you done to attend to this this underhanded attack on the nation's intelligence capabilities? When can I expect to see Karl Rove "frog-marched" off to jail, as Joe Wilson once so colorfully put it? And what charges will you make against a president who so obviously covered for his consigliere all this time?

(Graphic via Screw The Government.)

Forsook: Saint Stephen and Pastor Jeb 

Club for Greed
Stephen Moore, one of the dumbest guppies ever hatched from a think tank, gets flushed down his own "fabulous" gilded toilet:

Club for Growth beats on its own meat (via NYT - login not required)
Published: July 8, 2005
WASHINGTON, July 7 - A rift among the handful of millionaires behind the Club for Growth, a conservative fund-raising powerhouse, has degenerated into accusations of stolen donor lists and betrayed principles.

The dispute began in December when Stephen Moore, the organization's president, was privately ousted by the group's board and publicly announced his resignation. But as the disagreement becomes public, it threatens to confuse or divide other supporters of the group.


The dispute spilled out into the group's broader membership in late May, when Mr. Moore sent many of the club's members a fund-raising letter for his new group. "As you may have heard, I left the Club for Growth after I lost control of a board fight and was forced to resign as president and C.E.O. - despite our fabulous electoral successes in 2004," Mr. Moore wrote in the letter.


Some faulted what they called Mr. Moore's disorganized management in part for the narrow defeat of Representative Pat Toomey, one of the candidates the club backed most heavily, in his Republican primary challenge to Senator Arlen Specter in Pennsylvania.


Schiavo fiasco
Jeb Bu$h (R- the "In God We Trust" state) blows through the toll booth and scurries back down his damp hidey-hole before the Talibornagain can snatch him up by the tail and roast him over a slow fire:

Florida Closes Schiavo Freak Show (via NYT - login not required)
TALLAHASSEE, Fla., July 7 (AP) - A state attorney has found no evidence that Terri Schiavo's collapse 15 years ago involved criminal activity, and Gov. Jeb Bush on Thursday declared an end to Florida's involvement in the matter.

"Based on your conclusions, I will follow your recommendation that the inquiry by the state be closed," Mr. Bush said in a two-sentence letter to the prosecutor, Bernie McCabe of Pinellas and Pasco Counties.

Thank God for hurricanes.


"God's Vengeance" with a vengeance 

theocracy rising...

International Herald Tribune
Shiite theocracy takes hold in Iraqi oil city
By Edward Wong The New York Times | FRIDAY, JULY 8, 2005:

[...] The men here, just a block from the Ministry of Religious Affairs, sell instruments by day and perform at weddings in the evening.

"They say it's forbidden by Islam," Ali, 18, said as he went back to his own shop, its shelves stocked with drums. "We're afraid of everything. I'm afraid of it all. I'm afraid even when I'm talking to you."

The once-libertine oil port of Basra, 560 kilometers, or 350 miles, south of the capital and far from the insurgency raging in much of Iraq, is steadily being transformed into a mini-theocracy under Shiite rule.

There is perhaps no better indication of the possible flash points in a Shiite-dominated Iraq, because the political parties that hold sway here also wield significant influence in the central government in Baghdad and are backed by the country's top clerics.

Efforts to impose strict Shiite religious rule across Iraq would almost certainly spur resistance from Sunni Arabs and the more secular Kurds. But here in Basra, the changes have accelerated since the January elections, which enabled religious parties to put more radical politicians into office.

Small parties with names like God's Vengeance and Master of Martyrs have emerged. They work under the umbrella of more established Shiite groups, but many Iraqis suspect them of being agents of the Iranian government. One of the leading parties was formed in Iran by an Iraqi cleric living in exile during the reign of Saddam Hussein.

The growing ties with Iran are evident. Posters of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the leader of the 1979 Iranian revolution, are plastered along streets and even at the provincial government center.


Few women walk around without a head scarf and full-length black robe. A young woman who gave her name as Layla said she could wear jeans without a robe a year ago. But seven months ago, as she strode from her house, a group of men came up to her and warned her that she was improperly dressed. She says she no longer goes out in public without a robe.

Religious Shiites do not have to legally enshrine Shariah, Islam's version of divine law, to exercise their will. Enforcement of Islamic practices is done on the streets, in the shadows.

"We're trying to do it culturally, rather than impose it by law," said Furat al-Shara, a representative for the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, a Shiite political party that holds powerful positions in the national government.

Sheik Abdul Sattar al-Bahadli, a top official in the Sadr movement prominent in the National Assembly, summed up the conservative view: "If Shariah exists everywhere in the world, in China, Korea or Japan, for example, and not just in Iraq, everyone will be happy."


Thursday, July 07, 2005

IraqIran: brotherhood blooms 

Via the BBC:
Iranians to train Iraq's military

Mr Dulaimi is on his first official visit to the Islamic Republic
Former enemies Iran and Iraq say they will launch broad military co-operation including training Iraqi armed forces. "It's a new chapter in our relations with Iraq," said Iranian Defence Minister Admiral Ali Shamkhani.

He was speaking at a joint news conference in Tehran with his Iraqi counterpart Saadoun al-Dulaimi.

Relations between the neighbours - who fought a bitter war from 1980 to 1988 - have improved greatly since the overthrow of Saddam Hussein in 2003.


This is the first visit to Iran by an Iraqi military delegation since the war, in which a million people died, started.

The promise of co-operation comes despite repeated accusations by the US - which has about 140,000 troops in Iraq - that Iran has been undermining security there.

"No one can prevent us from reaching an agreement," Mr Shamkhani said when asked about possible US opposition.


Sensitive issues

Among other areas of co-operation, Mr Shamkhani listed mine clearance, anti-terrorism, identifying those still missing from the Iran-Iraq war and training and re-equipping the Iraqi army.

"We have come to our Iranian brothers to ask them for help and we have not yet started on the more sensitive issues," Mr Dulaimi said.

I hope none of the stunted growth in The NRO Corner was damaged when Michael Ledeen's head exploded. Meanwhile, from across the big pond, via Avedon Carol at The Sideshow:
Remember that story last week about how the newly-elected president of Iran was one of the captors in the Iranian hostage crisis during the Carter administration? Well, it wasn't true - so who was responsible for this interesting lie? And why? ~ more: News and Stuff

Also via The Sideshow:
The evening of a long day
The view from my back door looks like Maxfield Parrish did the lighting.

I see Gene Lyons agrees with me about how dumb it is to ask Rove for an apology for his creepy remarks: "Apologies are appropriate for foolish remarks made in the heat of argument. Rove read from a script. The White House handed out copies. Besides, what would an apology from that flabby little apparatchik be worth? He's the human equivalent of a fear-biting dog: His Master's Voice." (And in case you missed her response to Rove, she said, My name is Molly Ivins and I speak for myself.")

More from London: The Sideshow


London Explodes 

Tony Blair is talking as if he believes it was anti-globalization people who set off the bombs this morning in London. It seems too soon to call. There have been strangely few casualties reported: 2 dead so far despite the fact that one person "said his friend had seen 'the bus ripped open like a can of sardines and bodies everywhere'". Eyewitness accounts here.

We can hope that the surprising calm in the city reported by a BBC manager on NPR is indicative of a lack of damage, rather than shock. My heart goes out to them.

UPDATE: Local NPR station WHYY is saying latest reports from ITN are that 50 are dead, hundreds injured, though ITN's site hasn't caught up, evidently.

In PA, NJ, DC and NY (and probably elsewhere) the law is bearing down on transportation centers to be ready for any potential attacks, a hint of which I got this a.m when disembarking from my commuter train in downtown Philly only to be met by a clutch of dark-clad cops in unfamiliar uniforms, who watched us as we passed by.

BBC World Service reported that a "jihadist website" claimed responsibility, but then had Mideast expert on who raised doubts as to the authenticity of the source.

Bush is babbling his usual buzzwords.

UPDATE: Excerpts from Ken Livingstone's statement here:
"I wish to speak through you directly, to those who came to London to claim lives, nothing you do, how many of us you kill will stop that flight to our cities where freedom is strong and where people can live in harmony with one another, whatever you do, how many you kill, you will fail."

UPDATE: That flypaper theory isn't looking so good now, is it? And, what is it, $200 billion and counting? Expensive flypaper. And thank God only conventional weapons were used. Feeling safer now?—Lambert

UPDATE: Figures on the deaths have been revised downward to 33, with the caveat that they are expected to rise as information comes in. In the meantime, the received wisdom is quickly congealing around al-Qaida or something like them as the source of these attacks, partly based on the similarity to the Madrid bombings. Personally, I'm waiting to pass judgement, simply because everything at this point is simply guesswork. What is definite, though, is that the transportation situation in London is a horror, with the entire subway network shut down, one of the rails, and all the buses in central city. (Anyone who has ever lived or spent time there knows what this means.) The story on this from BBC makes it sound as though bomb scares are continuing to stream in, complicating matters further.---Riggsveda

UPDATE: More than 1000 injured so far. Transit is gearing back up--buses starting to run, rails back on with continuous disruptions. They currently anticipate having the Tube back up tomorrow.---Riggsveda

UPDATE: Finally, after being shut out all morning, I got through to Reuters, which is noting that Chertoff has ordered an orange ("high") alert for U.S. trains and subways. Oh, goody, an interesting ride home. In Philly, SEPTA has put extra security on at the stations. And Bush has instructed Homeland Security to be "extra vigilant". I feel better now.---Riggsveda

UPDATE: Latest figures indicate 37 dead. People are amazingly calm there, and holding up with bravery and mutual kindness, despite some horrendous injuries.

A lot of world leaders, including Blair, are making assumptions as to who did this and what motivation they had. It's estimated that at least 24 people had to have been involved to carry it out. Since none of us can say one way or the other, and recalling the quickness with which people were ready to lay the blame for the Oklahoma bombing at the foot of Muslims, I think it might be a good idea to retain a healthy skepticism about all possible scenarios, at least for now. It could indeed be some mutation of al-Qaida, or it could just as well be some obscure group of nobodies bent on some strange mission no one ever heard of before. What's certain is that there is so much anger, hurt, and horror seeking an outlet--any outlet--that it's important to ensure such a release doesn't end up causing more pain and horror. Or, as I wrote elsewhere, let's hope that crazy assholes in and out of government office can refrain from witch hunts and panicked and/or exploitative law-making (in spite of all previous evidence that renders such hopes unlikely).---Riggsveda

UPDATE The BBC has a map of where the explosions occurred:
Damn, Russell Square, right near where I stayed the last time I was in London, and where Virgina Woolf (nee Stephens) lived. Fuckheads. —Lambert.

UPDATE: It chills me when people say the targets of a terrorist attack deserve what they get. The truth is that violence in response to injustice always creates a spiral of endless retaliation that lives on through generations and, even when it appears to have been put to rest, has a tendency to re-surface much later (see Yugoslavia). Nothing feels quite as good as a good grudge.

No matter what the history, no matter how understandable, no matter whose ancestors and predecessors did however much dirt, there can never, never, never be a reason to kill people one doesn't know for a principle one may think is sacrosanct.

And I don't want to hear that old serenade about how there are no "innocents" and how so-and-so have blood on their hands and sins of the fathers, blah, blah, blah. People have been justifying their most ghastly crimes throughout the millenia using one high-talk bullshit principle or other, whether it was based on theology, philosophy, or political theory. None of it matters. Living things matter. And until we start placing living things above intellectual masturbation, we'll keep picking these old scabs, re-opening these old wounds, and bleeding all over each other like mutual Aztec sacrifices. And not one goddamned thing will ever change.---Riggsveda

UPDATE: So now it begins---
"I say, first Declare War on Syria with our Coalition (Brits, Japanese, Baltic Nations, Israel, Australia) with a tactical approach to moving into Iran."
"Muslims everywhere, this is what your religion has brought to this world: murder, torture, honor killings, kidnappings, bombings, rape, medievalism and mayhem.
You must be so proud of your crusade to bring mankind back to your century, the 7th."
"If you were Blair, what would you do?
My suggestion: 1000 bombers from all non Islamic countries would fly over Mecca. Drop leaflets saying 'next time...'.
And then the next time, well that's war, isn't it?"
Oh, enough, you get the idea. Conservative bloggers like Michelle Malkin are babbling paranoid scenarios about the left blaming Israel for trying to subversively start a war, but it looks to me as though it's the right that's spoiling for one. Now that so many of them are already busy in Iraq, I wonder where they'll find more poor and minority kids to fight one?---Riggsveda

UPDATE Even though the flypaper theory is now inoperative, here's a theory that's coming true: The blowback from Iraq is going to be a lot worse than the blowback from Afghanistan I (which produced AQ, if you recall).

Although the Afghan war against the Soviets was largely fought on a rural battlefield, the CIA report said, Iraq is providing extremists with more comprehensive skills including training in operations devised for populated urban areas.

Say, does a coordinated attack on London's mass transit system sound like an "operation devised for [a] populated urban area"? The blowback from Iraq is already happening, isn't it?—Lambert

UPDATE I really have to apologize. Sometimes my zeal runs away from me, and I say things that just aren't fair to the weasels apologists advocates of the Iraq war. Take the flypaper theory. The whole idea is to fight the terrorists, but not on American soil, so Americans don't get killed. And the fact that the latest bombing took place in London doesn't disprove the theory at all: In fact it proves it! After all, the attack still wasn't on American soil, was it? And a tip of the Ol' Corrente Hat goes to whoever finds me a winger blog that makes that argument, but without irony.—Lambert

FINAL UPDATE FROM RIGGSVEDA: Death toll is up to 38, but probably won't stay there, and the hunt is on for the killers, who are now believed to be al-Qaida or al-Qaidaesque. It's been a heartsickening day. I understand the anger and bitterness being expressed here and elsewhere, but I don't have the heart to deal with it anymore. Hold the people you love close tonight, and be grateful for every moment you get with them--they're all that matter in the end, and you don't know how much more time you may get.

From Gandhi, but the contexts are mine---

For those on the right who believe only war will succeed in spreading freedom:
"What difference does it make to the dead, the orphans and the homeless, whether the mad destruction is wrought under the name of totalitarianism or the holy name of liberty or democracy?"
For those on the left who believe violence may be the only solution for the disenfranchised of the world:
"Victory attained by violence is tantamount to a defeat, for it is momentary."

"What America needs is a Walter Cronkite" 

wrote Al Neuharth, publisher of USA Today, the nation's largest daily newspaper.

"Al, I knew Walter Cronkite, and you're no Walter Cronkite!"

Snark from Corrente? No, Al Neuharth looking in the mirror!

Skippy the Bush kangaroo:

dear mr. neuharth:

we read your op-ed piece of june 30 titled "what iraq needs is a walter cronkite," in which you bemoan the lack of a national figure that america trusts to tell the truth about that war.

we can only assume you were writing with irony, mr. neuharth. it's certainly too bad you don't know anybody who runs a national newspaper that all of america reads, because then you could get them to publish the truth about the iraq war.

you could get your friend to continually run stories about the downing street memos, which the international press has been writing about for over two months, and which prove that the british government knew that george bush had plans as early as july of 2002 to invade iraq , but wanted to frame the reasons for the war in a way that the american public would accept (in other words, lies about weapons of mass destruction).
(via Skippy the Bush Kangaroo)

I found this at Oliver Willis... It's a measure of how jaded I've become that I read Neuharth's editorial when it came out, and the ironies and incongruities never crossed my mind. "Of course we don't have a Walter Cronkite. What a shame!" Sometimes, the enemy gets inside your own head, starts making your assumptions for you, and you don't even notice...

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Bush runs down a cop and falls off his bike (again) 

Well, this time, it was raining (unlike the last time, when they lied and said it was, back).

President Bush collided with a local police officer and fell during a bike ride on the grounds of the Gleneagles golf resort while attending a meeting of world leaders Wednesday.

Bush suffered scrapes on his hands and arms that required bandages by the White House physician, said White House spokesman Scott McClellan.

The police officer was taken to a local hospital as a precaution, McClellan said. Police said the officer suffered a "very minor" ankle injury.

It was raining lightly at the time.
(via AP)

But still, isn't it pretty hard to run into a cop on your bike, even in the rain?

Scotch whiskey at the nineteenth hole? Heavy tranks before dinner with the Queen?

UPDATE Oh,and [cough] President Bush? Happy Birthday.

UPDATE Scott "Sucka MC" McClellan says Bush was going at a "pretty good speed" when he crashed.

Not too smart in the rain, eh?

Kinda like a metaphor in miniature for the whole Bush presidency, isn't it? Bush acts out his risk-taking behavior thing, pushing too hard as usual, nobody bothers to talk him out of it anymore because he's too stubborn to listen, somebody innocent gets hurt, and Bush would look like an idiot if all his enablers didn't immediately conspire to minimize the episode. Beyond disgusting. Good thing He was wearing a helmet; we wouldn't want him to suffer any more brain damage....

Squeal Like A Pig 

Well, this should prove entertaining as hell.

Going Native 

So I'm listening to CBC Radio just now, where they were carrying listener reaction to an earlier interview with Canada's New York Times correspondent, some guy named Krause. He had opined that the level of public discussion was higher in the United States. This is too stupid to merit refutation (though a number of Canadian listeners did just that). Aside from the fact that, for this to be true, Canadians would have to be flinging feces at one another on "The National," it also demonstrated perfectly that, to work in the US media, you first have to drink the jingo Kool-Aid.

Again, what liberal media?

So, if a blowjob is good for impeachment, why not a war based on lies? 

Froomkin points out what everyone else ignores:

More than four in 10 Americans, according to a recent Zogby poll, say that if President Bush did not tell the truth about his reasons for going to war with Iraq, Congress should consider holding him accountable through impeachment.

But you wouldn't know it from following the news. Only three mainstream outlets that I can find made even cursory mention of the poll last week when it came out.

Could there by anything that 42 percent of Americans agree on that the media cares about so little?
(via WaPo)

Note that when we in the reality-based community uncover more and more of how Bush "catapulted the propaganda" to get us into the war (Towards a Grand Unified Theory of Republican Governance, back), we will be tapping deeply into this sentiment.

Dean tells the truth, and it feels like Hell 

Go Howard:

"We have not spoken about moral values in this party for a long time," Dean said. "The truth is, we're Democrats because of our moral values. It's a moral value to make sure that kids don't go to bed hungry at night. ... It is a moral value not to go out on golf trips paid for by lobbyists."
(via AJC)

And the Beltway Dems who are Delay Lite? Well, confession is good for the soul....

Goebbels Watch: Towards a Grand Unified Theory of Republican Governance (cont.) 

Following up on my earlier post on Colonel Gardiner's research:

Yes, I'm quite taken with the idea that the right model for Republican governance is strategic Information Warfare against the American People (IWAAP) (thanks, farmer, for that meme) (or those, at least, who are "oppositional" or presumed to be—i.e., about half the country).

I'm hoping that building this model can become the story of 2006, which it can be, if we work it. On a purely sense-making level, the story is appealing because it explains so much; IWAAP really is a Grand Unified Theory (wait for the first and predictable denunciations to use the words "conspiracy theory"). Further, it Roves the Rovians, by turning their greatest strength, the ability to stay on message, into a weakness ("they'll say anything to hold onto power"). Finally, it re-frames and leverages the hard work we've done over the last year on Republican lying. But lying is something a six year old does, or an average politician; a carefully planned and extra-constitutional campaign of strategic deception, directed against the very people who must support—and fight and die in—the war... Well, if we can make that stick, and there are free and fair elections in 2006 and 2008 (I know, a big assumption), and the Dem regulars don't screw the pooch (another big assumption), the nation's experiment in Constitutional government may have another 200-year run.

Republicans identify governance, politics, and war
We've always known that the Republicans identify governance, politics, and war; in their minds, there really is no difference between (say) an Iraqi suicide bomber and a Democrat trying to get into a Bush rally wearing a Kerry t-shirt; both are "oppositional" and to be dealt with by any means necessary. (It's too bad for the country, and for the dead, that the Republicans, though brilliant at political warfare, are appallingly bad at the real thing—probably because they have no skin in that game.) Another way of putting this is that Limbaugh and the rest of the VWRC aren't engaging in rhetorical flights, or entertainment, when they call anyone who opposes them a traitor; it's what they really believe, and we should take them at their word. It's the same with the 101st Fighting Keyboarders; they too, really believe they are fighting the same war that the troops are fighting.

How are the Republicans using Information Warfare against the American people?
So the question becomes: How does IWAAP work? Obviously—on the theory of "know your your enemy"—research and study (and experimentation and new tactics and new language) are needed; but Colonel Gardiner's thinking is a good place to start.

One aside: We know from the Howler that the SCLM "Doesn't do self-critique". That means that not only is there no coverage of the IWAAP story, there isn't even a language to discuss it! (As Orwell knew well, you can't think the thoughts if you don't the words.) So I've had to invent the words—and lots of times I wish the words could be improved—after all, in Information Warfare, words are weapons! "IWAAP" is awkward; "Goebbels Watch" should be replaced; and so on. Alert readers, please help!

So let's start with Colonel Gardiner's key use case:

From my research, the most profound thread is that WMD was only a very small part of the strategic influence, information operations and marketing campaign conducted on both sides of the Atlantic. These are the stories on which I ended up doing detailed research. In each case, I attempted to find when and where the story originated, which officials made statements related to the story and then look at how it came out. Obviously, I am reporting on those where the outcome differed from the story. My research suggests there were over 50 stories manufactured or at least engineered that distorted the picture of Gulf II for the American and British people. I'll cover most in this report. At the end, I will also describe some stories that seem as if they were part of the strategic influence campaign although the evidence is only circumstantial. What becomes important is not each story taken individually. If that were the case, it would probably seem only more of the same. If you were to look at them one at a time, you could conclude, Okay we sort of knew that was happening. It is the pattern that becomes important. It's the summary of everything. To use a phrase often heard during the war, it's the mosaic.

And now let's assume that Colonel Gardiner's use case is true (as I believe it to be). What are the logical consequences? What institutional structures would need to be in place in order to plant 50 false stories about Iraq in our "free" press?

1. What is the terrain on which IWAAP is being fought? The SCLM (right there, it looks like we need a better name. MSM doesn't cut it, either). Note that in order to "plant" stories, you must have a writer's active cooperation, but you may need an editor's, since a story must pass an editor to get into print. (Most leftish vituperation focuses on "name" writers like Judy "Kneepads" Miller and not, oddly, on management.) It would be interesting to know if any editors are on the IWAAP payroll; see "Six Bush media whores down. 194 to go. Who are they?".

2. Any war has to be run by somebody, so Who is the IWAAP high command? Well, there's that vocabulary thing again. "High command" is the wrong word, because the IWAAP is obviously extra-constitutional. So let's call the high command the IWAAP Junta, and ask ourselves who would be in it? [NOTE: Alert readers, please suggest better words for this. "Junta" connotes the extra-constitutional nature of the Bush regime, and will be all-too familiar to Latin American voters, but perhaps is too close to the F word to be persuasive.] Short answer: Bush, Rove, Cheney, and anyone else who got promoted after election (or, if you will, "election") 2004. Poor old Colin Powell, obviously, was not part of it. However, Rice is; as is Karen Hughes. Some heads of private corporations are, as well. After the election, we all wrote "Look how all the liars got promoted!" That was true; but what we should have written was that Bush was using a performance-based metric: Those who successfully planned and executed a successful IWAAP campaign were promoted.

3. A war takes money to fight, and cost is generally no object, so What about the money? As we know from previous Republican attempts to set up extra-Constitutional forms of government (Nixon's plumbers and Reagan's Iran-Contra "off-the-shelf" program of covert operations), IWAAP needs a slush fund. Off the top of my head, I can think of three sources of slush fund money available to the Information Warfare Junta: (1) The $9 billion that is mysteriously missing (Chump Change) in Iraq (here one recalls that the Coalition Provisional Authority was infested with Republican operatives (back), and that the entire effort was rife with possibilities for money laundering; (2) the $200 million or so that Bush is using for PR; and (3) laundered campaign contributions, as in Coingate (a story which died down awfully suddenly, didn't it?)

4. Warfighters are organized into a chain of command, so What is the IWAAP order of battle? I suggest that there are two main components: Call them IWWAP Grey and IWAAP Black (as in black operations; obviously (?), there is no IWAAP white; IWAAP is, by definition, covert).

Planting the 50 pro-Iraq war stories in the MSM would fall under the heading of IWAAP Grey (what Colonel Gardiner calls "Strategic Influence"). So would PR stunts like "saving" Jessica Lynch, or concealing the fact that Pat Tilman was killed by friendly fire. So would the administration's "public diplomacy" efforts (example) Karen Hughes would be the obvious candidate to run IWWAP Grey for Bush.

But Republican history with the extra-constitutional structures they set up is that they always slip into illegal campaigns, financed by slush funds, to destroy "opposition"—including domestic, political opposition. (In the Republican mindset, or at least the mindset of those Republicans who enable the Informational Warfare Junta, there is no such thing as a loyal opposition, since opposition is by definition disloyal; hence, it's not merely morally justified, but necessary, to use the weapons of information warfare domestically. So this behavior is to be expected.) Let's call these efforts IWAAP Black; Karl Rove would be the obvious candidate to run IWAAP Black.

5. So, Are there dots to connect in the domestic operations of IWAAP Black? I think there are. Off the top of my head, here are the names of some stories that, though they are treated as separate, are all starting to look like skirmishes in the same big war, IWAAP. the Plame Affair (what did Rove know and when did he know it?); Guckert/"Gannon" (Ol' Eight-inch, cut was an IWAAPS foot-soldier, since he was planting stories. But who gave him his White House pass?); Killian Memos (Who was the woman who gave Killian the memos? Or was Killian himself the cutout?); Coingate (Noe's "missing" coins and campaign contributions are an obvious slush fund; what was it used for?); The Denver Three (the Secret Service didn't throw the Denver three out of a Bush rally, but someone impersonating the Secret Service did; but how did this someone get Presidential access?) The dots common to all of them are: planted stories; slush funds; IWAAP foot-soldiers with mysterious access; Karl Rove. Not all stories have all dots; as Colonel Gardiner says, "It's the mosaic."

6. And Are there dots to connect in the PsyOps of IWAAP Grey? I'm sure there are, but the research is harder to do. It might be useful to take Colonel Gardiner's work as a starting point, see who the reporters with whom the stories were planted were, then see who their editors were, and look for correlations with other administration actions. That would probably take a LexisNexis account, though. Would anyone like to donate one to Corrente, so that we can conduct a program of research?

I'd like to sum up... But right now I feel this is too big to sum up. Readers?

Opposition To What, Exactly? 

I've nearly given up on trying to understand how logic informs anything said or done by these people we have allowed to infest our government, most especially the so-called "opposition party". First, they evidently think we have so many Franklin Roosevelts currently at loose that getting rid of term limits is simply a capital idea, and that the wisdom of the "people" and the infallibility of our vote-counting system is so great (as evidenced by, say, the last 5 years) that we shouldn't hesitate to let a president serve an open-ended term whenever Diebold, Scaife, and The American Enterprise Institute deem it suitable.

And then there is the question as to how even individuals as brain-damaged as the Dems Mary Landrieu (La.), Joe Lieberman (Conn.), Ben Nelson (Neb.), Bill Nelson (Fla.), Mark Pryor (Ark.) and Ken Salazar (Colo.) could believe, after all we know, that Alberto Gonzales would make a great Supreme Court justice; and how a man who wrote some of the great legal quibbling of our time, that enabled us to become equated with hypocrisy and torture on a global scale, could possibly be considered "a good man" and "a terrific human being".

Based on his track record, this is a man who would most likely pick and choose only the most expedient parts of the Constitution to uphold, and probably after redefining the word "citizen" to apply only to those his masters would prefer. Oddly, the possiblility has put the Reactionary Right's wingnuts on alert, and the grumblings from Outer Slobbovia on Gonzales' lack of street cred have forced the Bushco dog-handlers out into the light to whip them back in line:
"The White House and the Senate Republican leadership are pushing back against pressure from some of their conservative allies about the coming Supreme Court nomination, urging them to stop attacking Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales as a potential nominee and to tone down their talk of a culture war.
In a series of conference calls on Tuesday and over the last several days, Republican Senate aides encouraged conservative groups to avoid emphasizing the searing cultural issues that social conservatives see at the heart of the court fight, subjects like abortion, public support for religion and same-sex marriage, participants said.
Instead, these participants, who insisted on anonymity to avoid exclusion from future calls, said the aides - including Barbara Ledeen of the Senate Republican Conference and Eric Ueland, chief of staff to Senator Bill Frist, the majority leader - emphasized themes that had been tested in polls, including a need for a fair and dignified confirmation process.
Mr. Ueland acknowledged that he and others had been working almost since the vacancy occurred last Friday with Justice Sandra Day O'Connor's resignation to persuade conservative activists to steer clear of divisive language.
"Every contact we have with these folks is 'stay on message, stay on purpose,' " Mr. Ueland said. "The extremism of language, if there is to be any, should be demonstrably on the other side. The hysteria and the foaming at the mouth ought to come from the left."
But all this is still speculation, And as for those Dems who might ask troubling questions of the once and future King George during the "advise and consent" consultation specified by said Constitution--such as exactly who he has in mind to nominate--don't trouble your pretty little heads, darlings:
"Consultation is in the eye of the beholder,” said Amy Call, a spokeswoman for Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.), who is traveling in Africa. “The president can choose whatever level of consultation he thinks is appropriate. The Constitution doesn’t lay out any specifics for that. It’s up to the president what he wants to accomplish in this meeting."
See there? What do you know? Just shut up and let the grown-ups handle it. And if that means whatever Georgie wants, Georgie gets, why, I'm sure Gonzales will be able to backtrack through the Constitution and find some obscure clause for mangling that will justify it.

Strategic Information Warfare 

"...the strategy paper recommended ways to influence various groups of Americans to "correct" the impressions..., what another planning document would call "perceptional obstacles." "Themes will obviously have to be tailored to the target audience," the strategy paper said." ~ Robert Parry / 1996.

Then and Now:
Office of Public Diplomacy | From SourceWatch

The Office of Public Diplomacy, officially known as the Office of Public Diplomacy for Latin America and the Caribbean, was part of a White House ordered PR plan in the 1980s to provide cover for the secret CIA war in Nicaragua. CIA director William J. Casey initiated the propaganda campaign after meeting with private sector PR men. Walter Raymond, Jr., a CIA propaganda expert, moved over to the National Security Council to get the program up and running. Raymond is reported to have instructed his OPD subordinates to "concentrate on gluing black hats on the Sandinistas and white hats on UNO [the contras' United Nicaraguan Opposition]."[1] (http://www.consortiumnews.com/archive/lost12.html) Raymond picked Otto Reich to run the new OPD, which was housed in the State Department. Despite the unraveling of the Iran-Contra scandal, the full story of the OPD -- a covert, illegal, inter-agency propaganda campaign aimed at US citizens and Congress -- never received full public scrutiny.

"prohibited, covert propaganda activities"

[Excerpts follow] See all documents: National Security Archive / GWU.edu / Public Diplomacy and Cover Propaganda The Declassified Record of Ambassador Otto Juan Reich / A National Security Archive / Electronic Briefing Book / Edited by Thomas Blanton / March 2, 2001:
The Bush administration has floated the name of Otto Juan Reich for possible nomination as Assistant Secretary of State for Latin American Affairs (see Al Kamen, “In the Loop,” The Washington Post, 15 February 2001). Mr. Reich served in the Reagan administration as assistant administrator of the Agency for International Development (AID) from 1981 to 1983, then as the first director of the State Department’s Office of Public Diplomacy for Latin America and the Caribbean (S/LPD) from 1983 to 1986, and finally as ambassador to Venezuela.

Mr. Reich’s tenure at the Office of Public Diplomacy generated major controversy during the exposure of the Iran-contra scandal and left an extensive document trail, some of the highlights of which are included in this Briefing Book. For example:

* The Comptroller-General of the U.S., a Republican appointee, found that some of the efforts of Mr. Reich’s public diplomacy office were “prohibited, covert propaganda activities,” “beyond the range of acceptable agency public information activities….” The same September 30, 1987 letter concluded that Mr. Reich’s office had violated “a restriction on the State Department’s annual appropriations prohibiting the use of federal funds for publicity or propaganda purposes not authorized by Congress.” [...]

Edited for length. Due to additional quoted material entire post can be found here: farm runoff

Related - see Lambert's post below:
...Towards a Grand Unified Theory of Republican Governance


Tuesday, July 05, 2005

So, why the big skirt? To give Cheney's hand plenty of room? 


Goebbels Watch: Towards a Grand Unified Theory of Republican Governance 

Farmer made a great call with that Goebbels quote in the epigraph at right. Sounds awfully familiar, doesn't it?

Anyhow, at the urging of Pansypoo and other alert readers, I looked at the research Col. Sam Gardiner (USAF, retired) did. It's interesting. The title really got me thinking: Summary of a Study of Strategic Influence, Perception Management, Strategic Information Warfare and Strategic Psychological Operations in Gulf II. Here's a quick excerpt from it:

It was not bad intelligence. It was much more. It was an orchestrated effort. It began before the war, was a major effort during the war and continues as post-conflict distortions.

what has happened is that information warfare, strategic influence, strategic psychological operations pushed their way into the important process of informing the peoples of our two democracies. The United States and the UK got too good at the concepts they had been developing for future warfare.

They told us what they were going to do. The Department of Defense created a rather significant press storm early in 2002 when it was revealed that there were plans to create an office to do strategic influence. Efforts to create the office were brought to a halt with White House agreement. In November, the Secretary of Defense announced in a press conference on board an aircraft on the way to South America that he was just kidding when he said he would not do strategic influence. The White House gave a similar warning. Andrew Card, the President s Chief of Staff told us they would do a major campaign to sell the war. Alastair Campbell, Tony Blair s just-resigned Strategy (and communications) Director, was orchestrating the same on the other side of the Atlantic. The research then was to discover what they did and how they did what they said they were going to do.
(the PDFs are here)

I like the notion of a concerted disinformation operation being run from the West Wing to sell the Iraq War. (Gardiner details, but, frustratingly, does not link to, numerous stories that, to the informed eye, look like they were planted in support of this information.) I also like the notion that Bush is, in essence, treating all opposition as an act of war, and using psyops techniques against it. Black operations too, probably. (The division of the country into those who can get tickets to Bush events, and those who cannot, should have given us the heads-up that this would happening. "If you're not with us, you're against us.")

I'd want to go further and ask the question; Now that this enormous disinformation apparatus is in place, is selling the Iraq war the only purpose it's been used for? The history of past Republican administrations is not encouraging in this regard.

It would be nice if Paul Lukasiak and Colonel Gardiner could get together on this....

NOTE I think this story has legs. It's the mechanics of how "the facts and the intelligence were fixed around the policy." Not only is it the how, it's the who.

So, a couple of questions. First, does anyone know of a PDF to HTML converter that works under Linux? I'd like to convert Col. Gardiner's research into HTML so that people could link to it. Second, I'm trying to think of a good name/meme for this topic—better than "Goebbels Watch." InfoFascism? DataFascism? Maybe something without the F word, which, though correct, may not propagate as we would wish?

The Republic under the Republicans 


What do you call a country where a friend of El Presidente is immune from criticism?

How about a banana republic?

NOTE As regular readers of Corrente will be aware, this post is "toning down" my rhetoric. In fact, all the writers at Corrente work tirelessly to bring a new civility to our political discourse. We thoroughly debunk all vile rumors, especially those that would scandalize the faithful; to take one of many examples, that Bush fucks goats.

CREDIT Image in the public domain from Adrian Pingstone at Wikipedia.

Department of the Past Is Not Dead (It Isn't Even Past): Christians and Empire 

Yes, a little beach reading: The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. And if your reading diet isn't rich enough in irony, try a little Gibbon:

The Christians were not less averse to the business than to the pleasures of this world. The defense of our persons and property they knew not how to reconcile with the patient doctrine which enjoined an unlimited forgiveness of past injuries, and commanded them to invite the repetition of fresh insults. Their simplicity was offended by the use of oaths, by the pomp of magistracy, and by the active contention of public life, nor could their humane ignorance be convinced, that it was lawful on any occasion to shed the blood of our fellow creatures, either by the sword of justice, or by that of war; even though their criminal or hostile attempts should threaten the peace and safety of the whole community...

The Christians felt and confessed, that such institutions might be necessary for the present system of the world, and they cheerfully submitted to the authority of their Pagan governors. But while they inculcated the maxims of passive obedience, they refused to take any part in the civil administration or the military defense of the empire. Some indulgence might perhaps be allowed to those persons who, before their conversion, were already engaged in such violent and sanguinary occupations; but it was impossible that Christians, without renouncing a more sacred duty, could assume the character of soldiers, of magistrates, or of princes.

This indolent, even criminal disregard for the public welfare, exposed them to the contempt and reproaches of the Pagans, who very frequently asked, what must be the fate of the empire, attacked on all sides by the barbarians, if all mankind should adopt the pusillanimous sentiments of the new sect?

To this insulting question the Christian apologists returned obscure and ambiguous answers, as they were unwilling to reveal the secret cause of their security; the expectation that, before the conversion of mankind was accomplished, war, government, the Roman Empire, and the world itself, would be no more.

It may be observed, that, in this instance likewise, the situation of the first Christians coincided very happily with their religious scruples, and that their aversion to an active life contributed rather to excuse them from the service, than to exclude them from the honours,of the state and army.
(The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, "The Christians and the Fall of Rome", 1776

Yet how different matters are today, when we see the pastors of suburban megachurches, exhorted by wise and discerning leaders like Doctor James Dobson, signing up the young men and women in their flocks for service in Iraq!

Oh,wait... The pastors aren't doing that? I wonder why?

NOTE In the interests of basic fairness, I should note that "Christians" cadres in the Air Force, by giving proselytization official sanction, and harassing "filthy jews," are doing their part. But then, that's all about giving the theocrats control over nuclear weapons, isn't it? (I mean, another set of theocrats besides the Pakistanis....)

Made There, Assembled in America 

Had a lovely trip to Mexico again. It’s nice to be there where the whole mood is different, and over the years I’ve really grown fond of the markets and outdoor bars and food vendors and sad abuelas selling rosaries by the church and soccer games that are like huge outdoor parties. All that said, the downer is the grinding poverty caused by a line in the sand and a trickle of a river, the ease with which one can cross into Mexico from Fortress America and the difficulty one has getting back in, and the presidential campaign coming up over there. But, hey, I only got shaken down twice by the Border Patrol this time, and I can understand—the DHS sign said “Terror Threat: ELEVATED.” Apparently the polls dropped more while I was gone. I spent my money on things I didn’t need or want and then left them where someone else could find them and sell them again. I drank copious beer and liquors and fruit drinks—one guy claimed that his juice drink would make me handsome and young. It didn’t work, at least yet (Although I did bring home a nice blanket and two bottles of El Presidente. Planning ahead for winter, y’know.)

I read an article in the The Progressive before I left about the challenge Vicente “Big Business Bush Tool” Fox and the PRI face from Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (AMLO, for short), whose slogan is “Los Pobres Primero!” (the poor first!). I had my eyes open for signs of discontent. And I can see that, in spite of the intimidation his supporters face, there’s a real grassroots movement to get him on the ballot and in office. He’s running anywhere from 15-20 points ahead in the polls say the papers. The people getting rich in the NAFTA factories hate him, you can bet that Bu$hCo hates him, and yet there he is. You won’t see it so much in the border towns, where the powers that be are getting fat off NAFTA, but even there, in Juarez and Nuevo Laredo, the poor are somehow sporting buttons. (Although I know Lula has been a disappointment in Brazil somewhat, and Hugo Chavez still has promises to keep to the people, it’s a good trend.)

Coming back and looking at the steel walls and cyclone-wire topped fences and guard towers, I began dreaming of the day when some Mexican president would visit, say, Juarez or Tijuana and make a speech, something to the effect of “Mr. Bush, tear down this wall!” Or for a set of circumstances to occur that would cause a reverse migration from north to south.

The scenes in the little villages farther in, at least as far as I could go without papers or hefty bribe money, is like The Grapes of Wrath come alive again. And in the cities like the Okies who made it to California broke.

And I come home to annoying patriotic displays that ignore the real consequences of Fortress America and imperial expansion and economic domination. At least the local paper was kind enough to include a big paper flag insert. Those burn so much easier than cloth, eh?

Ah, well. The revolt of the cockroach people, as Oscar Zeta Acosta put it, cannot be far away. One day the halogen lamps will be turned on, and we won’t scurry to the hidey-holes no more. And with Hiroshima Day coming up on August 6th, there are plans to be made to raise nuclear consciousness right out in the daylight.

Deep in my heart, I do believe
We shall overcome someday.


Is there a bigger ass in print than Nick Kristof? Claims Kistrof:
But the fact is that Mr. Bush has done much more for Africa than Bill Clinton ever did, increasing the money actually spent for aid there by two-thirds so far, and setting in motion an eventual tripling of aid for Africa. Mr. Bush's crowning achievement was ending one war in Sudan, between north and south. And while Mr. Bush has done shamefully little to stop Sudan's other conflict - the genocide in Darfur - that's more than Mr. Clinton's response to genocide in Rwanda (which was to issue a magnificent apology afterward).
The liberal approach to helping the poor is sometimes to sponsor a U.N. conference and give ringing speeches calling for changed laws and more international assistance.

In contrast, a standard conservative approach is to sponsor a missionary hospital or school. One magnificent example is the Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital, where missionary doctors repair obstetric injuries that have left Ethiopian women incontinent.

...Nobody gets more bang for the buck than missionary schools and clinics, and Christian aid groups like World Vision and Samaritan's Purse save lives at bargain-basement prices.

Unsurprisingly for someone who tries to favorably contrast this Administration's inaction in the face of the ongoing genocide in Darfur with the Clinton Administration in Rwanda (did I hear you volunteer to peacekeep in either case, Nick? Then why not STFU up about that too?), Kristof neatly fixes up the Bush Administration's lie that is has already already tripled aid to Africa, turning it now into something he's "set in motion." Yes, and I set in motion an end to world hunger when I sent $50 to Doctors Without Borders yesterday. In fact, according to the figures that Kristof appears to be using, the Adminstration has increased aid to Africa by 56%, not "two thirds", and that figure only comes by including emergency food and security assistance; exclude this, and the figure drops to 33% .

Jeffrey Sachs, formerly of the World Bank, and hence someone, unlike Kristof, who knows what he's talking about, puts the Administration's achievements in perspective:
Total annual U.S. aid for all of Africa is about $3 billion, equivalent to about two days of Pentagon spending. About $1 billion pays for emergency food aid, of which half is for transport. About $1.5 billion is for "technical cooperation," essentially salaries of U.S. consultants. Only about $500 million a year — less than $1 per African — finances clinics, schools, food production, roads, power, Internet connectivity, safe drinking water, sanitation, family planning and lifesaving health interventions to fight malaria, AIDS and other diseases.

Besides his slightly creepy Third World gynomania, no Kristof column would be complete without an implied indictment of alleged liberal hostility to religion. What is the Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital? A neo-con showcase for how World Vision and Franklin Graham's Samaritan's Purse are doing God's work free from hamfisted liberal atheistic government do-gooders? In fact, the project began in the 60s, became a hospital in the 70s, is Australian in origin, has a no discernible missionary purpose, and has has it principal US sponsor the Fistula Project--formerly the American Friends Foundation for Childbirth Injuries, a Quaker project.

Meanwhile, Samaritan's Purse is quite reticent about its support, if any, for the hospital.

As for Kristof's apologetics on behalf of "Bush's signature foreign aid program", the Millennium Challenge Account, well:
[T]he MCA has so far failed to gain any traction and now faces sharp budget cuts by Congress precisely because it has been so slow in disbursing aid.
While Congress has appropriated 2.5 billion dollars for the MCA over the past two years, the new agency has so far approved just four projects, in Honduras (215 million dollars), Nicaragua (175 million dollars), Cape Verde (110 million dollars) and Madagascar (108 million dollars), as well as 400,000 dollars for administrative expenses.

”The MCA exists in name only,” according to [Center for American Progress' Susan] Rice, who stressed that the agency, whose director, Paul Applegarth, announced his resignation earlier this month, illustrated the gap between the administration's rhetoric and what it was actually doing.

Oh, and Bob Geldof and Bono? Tell me the sudden drop in aid to Africa under Clinton in 1995 didn't have anything to do with the Republican takeover of Congress. No? Then you can STFU, too.

Funk of July 

Saw the Neville Brothers do a transcendant version of Sam Cooke's A Change is Gonna come. here are the lyrics:

A Change Is Gonna Come
(Sam Cooke)
As Performed Sam Cooke (1964)

I was born by the river in a little tent
And just like the river, I've been running ever since
It's been a long time coming
But I know a change is gonna come

It's been too hard living, but I'm afraid to die
I don't know what's up there beyond the sky
It's been a long time coming
But I know a change is gonna come

I go to the movie, and I go downtown
Somebody keep telling me "Don't hang around"
It's been a long time coming
But I know a change is gonna come

Then I go to my brother and I say, "Brother, help me please"
But he winds up knocking me back down on my knees

There've been times that I've thought I couldn't last for long
But now I think I'm able to carry on
It's been a long time coming
But I know a change is gonna come

Kinda like the Dem's theme song. The real ones, not the DINOs....

Monday, July 04, 2005

The China In The Bull Shop; The First In A Series 

In honor of the Fourth, our nation's birthday:

First, let us define our terms.

What is the Bull Shop? Why, our present political discourse of course, and the lack of the genuine article. Think of the Bull Shop as a travelling road show: Its outlets can be found through-out the SCLM: The Bull Shop has been franchised by Rightwing talk radio, and made into a home office of sorts for the Republican Party, the conservative movement, and the religious right.

In addition, the shopping of bull is now almost synonymous with politics.

It shouldn't be.

That view, that politics is inherently corrupt, that the single identifying characteristic of a democracy is elections, and that elections are primarily a matter of perceptions, slogans, and being on message, and that candidates and their campaigns are rightly judged on their skills at presenting a simple, understandable argument, however lacking in facts, truth, or even logic, are among the outstanding products of the Bull Shop.

Politics ought to be understood as the way a democracy works, as the means by which the government governs with the consent of the governed.

What is The China? Why our beloved democratic republic, of course. And all that those words entail - the land itself, its history and ours, the people who were here and the people who came here, and have continued to come, that ever enriching flow of immigrants from everywhere, our founding documents, our arts and letters, that epic story, tragic and inspiring, by which we understand ourselves to be Americans.

The china are the common denominator that one would have thought unite all Americans. Not so, say the rightwing. I won't bore you with even a thumbnail account of the charges laid against us.

In response, there has been much lively discussion of how the left might better craft its messages. I think these discussions are useful; I think George Lakoff has something to contribute; I think thinking about memes and framing is okay.

What I'm more skeptical of is the notion that we have to find some liberal equivalent of rightwing rhetoric. Bull is the enemy of democracy. We don't need to refine our own version of it. Not with all that wonderful china that is only waiting to be taken out, dusted off, and made new again.

Recently, Farmer reminded us, by way of Lauren Bacall, that liberals can lay claim to their fair share of American icons.

Inspired by that post, Corrente is undertaking an on-going series which will attempt to browse among that endless variety of American china to find and mine those liberal elements that we feel speak to all Americans, (actually, most, or the majority will do). This project will also involve correcting, when necessary, some of that rampant rightwing historical revisionism that has so distorted the American story.

What better day than the Fourth of July to present for your re-evaluation, George McGovern. No, not the George McGovern of today, that charming, eighty-year old, still vital ex-Senator whom everybody now likes.

Imagine it's 1972; I know, many of you weren't born then, but neither were you around for most of American history. George McGovern, a soft-spoken Senator from a small western state, (or is South Dakota, mid-western?), challenges the entire Democratic power structure, insisting that a presidential candidate should be chosen by the people, not by party operatives and office holders. Not only does he win, he changes the nominating process permanently.

Candidate McGovern then proceeds to rack up one of the more complete defeats in American presidential history. He only wins two states, Nixon, 48, including, significantly, all of the South.

Three years later, when Richard Nixon was exposed in the various scandals gathered under the Watergate label as the corrupt, criminal, Tricky Dick he was in 1972, there was almost no discussion of McGovern having been vindicated, and almost no re-evaluation of the way Nixon won - branding McGovern as unAmerican, as lacking in patriotism, as not tough enough to guide the ship of state, as anti-main street America and anti-military, despite McGovern's history as a war hero who piloted 35 missions over Germany in WW2, an accomplishment, along with his Distinguished Flying Cross, which McGovern refused to mention during his campaign. Nixon, and his henchman, Spiro Agnew waged one of the dirtier campaigns in presidential annals, with the complete support of mainstream media.

Since then, McGovern has continued to be judged almost solely by his loss to Nixon, and the McGovern campaign has become the benchmark from which can be measured the slow decline of the Democratic party as a vital political force, able to articulate and speak to the aspirations of mainstream Americans, and that crucial moment when the Scoop Jackson Democrats were defeated by a coalition of flower power students and peacenik academics. McGovern, we're often told, made the Democratic party into a dovish, extreme, out-of-touch, losing party. Even his democratizing of the nomination process has continued to be seen as a negative achievement; nothing more dangerous than too much democracy.

Here's Howard Fineman playing historian in a column occasioned by the Rathergate memo scandal:
The crusades of Vietnam and Watergate seemed like a good idea at the time, even a noble one, not only to the press but perhaps to a majority of Americans. The problem was that, once the AMMP declared its existence by taking sides, there was no going back. A party was born.

It was not an accident that the birth coincided with an identity crisis in the Democratic Party. The ideological energy of the New Deal had faded; Vietnam and various social revolutions of the '60s were tearing it apart. Into the vacuum came the AMMP, which became the new forum for choosing Democratic candidates. A "reform" movement opened up the nominating process, taking it out of the smoke-filled backrooms and onto television and into the newsrooms. The key to winning the nomination and, occasionally, the presidency, became expertise at riding the media wave. McGovern did it, Gary Hart almost did (until he fell off his surfboard); Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton rode it all the way.
"AMMP" stands for American Mainstream Media Party, Fineman's invented concept for what he takes to have been some sort of alliance between the Democratic Party of McGovern and the press.

Think for a moment; is it conceivable that McGovern could have lost forty-eight states if he'd had a mainstream national press trying to get him elected? Nor did McGovern win the nomination because he'd wowed the media with his slick operation. Fineman's entire column is, well, bullshit, not to put too fine a point on it.

So just how extreme were the ideas of George McGovern in 1972?

How out of touch? How dovish? How bluestate?

Here's your oppotunity to judge for yourself, as we proudly present McGovern's 1972 acceptance speech, delivered at the Democratic convention in Miami, unfortunately, around three o'clock in the morning. Almost no one saw it, or paid attention to it. The delay was caused by complications in choosing a vice-presidential running mate, and that disorganization was indicative of problems to come.

I remember hearing that speech and thinking to myself, my God, if people will just listen to him, this man could win. The speech was as simple, eloquent, straightforward and sensible as any presidential speech you've ever heard.

I've been looking for a copy of it for about a year. Re-reading it, I remain as impressed, and it occurred to me that an awful lot of younger liberals have never read it and might be astonished to see how un-extreme were McGovern's ideas. (I'm unable to give you a URL, because when I found it I copied it to my hard drive, and the url disappeared.) What follows is a slightly edited (to take out salutations, etc) version. We'd love to hear your reactions to reading it.

Miami Beach, Florida

July 14, 1972

Chairman O'Brien, Chairwoman Burke, Senator Kennedy, Senator Eagleton and my fellow citizens, I a’m happy to join us for this benediction of our Friday sunrise service.

I assume that everyone here is impressed with my control of this Convention in that my choice for Vice President was challenged by only 39 other nominees


So tonight I accept your nomination with a full and grateful heart.

This afternoon I crossed the wide Missouri to recommend a running mate of wide vision and deep compassion, Senator Tom Eagleton.

I'm proud to have him at my side, and I’m proud to have been introduced a moment ago by one of the most eloquent and courageous voices in this land Senator Ted Kennedy.

My nomination is all the more precious in that it is a gift of the most open political process in all of our political history.

It is the sweet harvest of the work of tens of thousands of tireless volunteers, young and old alike, funded by literally hundreds of thousands of small contributors in every part of this nation.

Those who lingered on the brink of despair only a short time ago have been brought into this campaign, heart, hand, head and soul, and I have been the beneficiary of the most remarkable political organization in the history of this country.

It is an organization that gives dramatic proof to the power of love and to a faith that can literally move mountains.

As Yeats put it, "Count where man's glory most begins and ends, and say: My glory was I had such friends."

This is the people’s nomination and next January we will restore the government to the people of this country.

I believe that American politics will never be quite the same again.

We are entering a new period of important and hopeful change in America, a period comparable to those eras that unleashed such remarkable ferment in the period of Jefferson and Jackson and Roosevelt.

Let the opposition collect their $10 million in secret money from the privileged few and let us find one million ordinary Americans who will contribute $25 each to this campaign, a Million Member Club with members who will not expect special favors for themselves but a better land for us all.

In the literature and music of our children we are told, to everything there is a season and a time to every purpose under heaven. And for America, the time has come at last.

This is the time for truth, not falsehood. In a Democratic nation, no one likes to say that his inspiration came from secret arrangements by closed doors, but in the sense that is how my candidacy began. I am here as your candidate tonight in large part because during four administrations of both parties, a terrible war has been chartered behind closed doors.

I want those doors opened and I want that war closed. And I make these pledges above all others: the doors of government will be opened, and that war will be closed.

Truth is a habit of integrity, not a strategy of politics, and if we nurture the habit of truth in this campaign, we will continue to be truthful once we are in the White House.

Let us say to Americans, as Woodrow Wilson said in his first campaign of 1912, "Let me inside the government and I will tell you what is going on there."

Wilson believed, and I believe, that the destiny of America is always safer in the hands of the people then in the conference rooms of any elite.

So let us give your country the chance to elect a Government that will seek and speak the truth, for this is the time for the truth in the life of this country.

And this is also a time, not for death, but for life. In 1968 many Americans thought they were voting to bring our sons home from Vietnam in peace, and since then 20,000 of our sons have come home in coffins.

I have no secret plan for peace. I have a public plan. And as one whose heart has ached for the past ten years over the agony of Vietnam, I will halt a senseless bombing of Indochina on Inaugural Day.

There will be no more Asian children running ablaze from bombed-out schools. There will be no more talk of bombing the dikes or the cities of the North.

And within 90 days of my inauguration, every American soldier and every American prisoner will be out of the jungle and out of their cells and then home in America where they belong.

And then let us resolve that never again will we send the precious young blood of this country to die trying to prop up a corrupt military dictatorship abroad.

This is also the time to turn away from excessive preoccupation overseas to the rebuilding of our own nation. America must be restored to a proper role in the world. But we can do that only through the recovery of confidence in ourselves.

I treasure this nomination, especially because it comes after vigorous competition with the ablest men and women our party has to offer.

-- my old and treasured friend and neighbor, Hubert Humphrey;

-- a gracious and a good man from the state of Maine, Ed Muskie;

-- a tough fighter for his own convictions, Scoop Jackson of Washington;

-- and a brave and spirited woman, Shirley Chisholm;

-- a wise and effective lawmaker from Arkansas, Wilbur Mills;

-- And the man from North Carolina who over the years has opened new vistas in education and public excellence, Terry Sanford;

-- the leader who in 1968 combined both the travail and the hope of the American spirit, Senator Eugene McCarthy;

-- And I was as moved as well by the appearance in the Convention Hall of the Governor of Alabama, George Wallace. His votes in the primaries showed clearly the depth of discontent in this country, and his courage in the face of pain and adversity is the mark of a man of boundless will, despite the senseless act that disrupted his campaign. And, Governor, we pray for your full recovery so you can stnd up and speak out for all of those who see you as their champion.

Now, in the months ahead I deeply covet the help of every Democrat, of every Republican, of every Independent who wants this country to be a great and good land that it can be.

This is going to be a national campaign, carried to every part of the nation -- North, South, East and West. We’re not conceding a single state to Richard Nixon.

I should like to say to my friend, Frank King, that Ohio may have passed a few times in this convention, but Tom Eagleton and I are not going to pass Ohio.

I shall say to Governor Gilligan, Ohio is sometimes a little slow in counting the votes, but when those votes are counted next November, Ohio will be in the Democratic victory column.

Now, to anyone in this hall or beyond who doubts the ability of Democrats to join together in common cause, I say never underestimate the power of Richard Nixon to bring harmony to Democratic ranks. He is the unwitting unifier and the fundamental issue of this national campaign and all of us are going to help him redeem a pledge made ten years ago -- that next year you won't have Richard Nixon to kick around anymore.

We have had our fury and our frustrations in these past months and at this Convention, but frankly, I welcome the contrast with the smug and dull and empty event which will doubtless take place here in Miami next month.

We chose this struggle, we reformed our Party, and we let the people in. So we stand today not as a collection of backroom strategies, not as a tool of ITT or any other special interest. So let our opponents stand on the status quo while we seek to refresh the American spirit.

I believe that the greatest contribution America can now make to our fellow mortals is to heal our own great but very deeply troubled land. We must respond -- we must respond to that ancient command: "Physician, heal thyself."

Now, it is necessary in an age of nuclear power and hostile forces that we’ll be militarily strong. America must never become a second-rate nation. As one who has tasted the bitter fruits of our weakness before Pearl Harbor in 1941, I give you my pledge that if I become the President of the United States, America will keep its defenses alert and fully sufficient to meet any danger.

We will do that not only for ourselves, but for those who deserve and need the shield of our strength -- our old allies in Europe and elsewhere, including the people of Israel who will always have our help to hold their Promised Land.

Yet I believe that every man and woman in this Convention Hall knows that for 30 years we have been so absorbed with fear and danger from abroad that we have permitted our own house to fall into disarray.

We must now show that peace and prosperity can exist side by side. Indeed, each now depends on the existence of the other. National strength includes the credibility of our system in the eyes of our own people as well as the credibility of our deterrent in the eyes of others abroad.

National security includes schools for our children as well as silos for our missiles.

It includes the health of our families as much as the size of our bombs, the safety of our streets, and the condition of our cities, and not just the engines of war.

If we some day choke on the pollution of our own air, there will be little consolation in leaving behind a dying continent ringed with steel.

So while protecting ourselves abroad, let us form a more perfect union here at home. And this is the time for that task.

We must also make this a time of justice and jobs for all our people. For more than three and half years we have tolerated stagnation and a rising level of joblessness, with more than five million of our best workers unemployed at this very moment. Surely, this is the most false and wasteful economics of all.

Our deep need is not for idleness but for new housing and hospitals, for facilities to combat pollution and take us home from work, for better products able to compete on vigorous world markets.

The highest single domestic priority of the next administration will be to ensure that every American able to work has a job to.

That job guarantee will and must depend on a reinvigorated private economy, freed at last from the uncertainties and burdens of war, but it is our firm commitment that whatever employment the private sector does not provide, the Federal government will either stimulate or provide itself.

Whatever it takes, this country is going back to work. America cannot exist with most of our people working and paying taxes to support too many others mired in a demeaning and hopeless welfare mess.

Therefore, we intend to begin by putting millions back to work and after that is done, we will assure to those unable to work an income fully adequate to a decent life.

Now beyond this, a program to put America back to work demands that work be properly rewarded. That means the end of a system of economic controls in which labor is depressed, but prices and corporate profit run sky-high.

It means a system of national health insurance so that a worker can afford decent health care for himself and his family.

It means real enforcement of the laws so that the drug racketeers are put behind bars and our streets are once again safe for our families.

And above all, above all, honest work must be rewarded by a fair and just tax system.

The tax system today does not reward hard work: it’s penalizes it. Inherited or invested wealth frequently multiplies itself while paying no taxes at all. But wages on the assembly line or in farming the land, these hard – earned dollars are taxed to the very last penny.

There is a depletion allowance for oil wells, but no depletion for the farmer who feeds us, or the worker who serves as all.

The administration tells us that we should not discuss tax reform and the election year. They would prefer to keep all discussion of the tax laws in closed rooms where the administration, its powerful friends, and their paid lobbyists, can turn every effort at reform into a new loophole for the rich and powerful.

But an election year is the people’s year to speak, and this year, the people are going to ensure that the tax system is changed so that work is rewarded and so that those who derive the highest benefits will pay their fair share rather than slipping through the loopholes at the expense of the rest of us.

So let us stand for justice and jobs and against special privilege.

And this is the time to stand for those things that are close to the American spirit. We are not content with things as they are. We reject the view of those who say, "America -- love it or leave it. " We reply, "Let us change it so we may love it the more."

And this is the time. It is the time for this land to become again a witness to the world for what is just and noble in human affairs. It is time to live more with faith and less with fear, with an abiding confidence that can sweep away the strongest barriers between us and teach us that we are truly brothers and sisters.

So join with me in this campaign. Lend Senator Eagleton and me your strength and your support, and together we will call America home to the ideals that nourished us from the beginning.

From secrecy and deception in high places; come home, America

From military spending so wasteful that it weakens our nation; come home, America.

From the entrenchment of special privileges in tax favoritism; from the waste of idle lands to the joy of useful labor; from the prejudice based on race and sex; from the loneliness of the aging poor and the despair of the neglected sick -- come home, America.

Come home to the affirmation that we have a dream. Come home to the conviction that we can move our country forward.

Come home to the belief that we can seek a newer world, and let us be joyful in that homecoming, for this "is your land, this land is my land -- from California to New York island, from the redwood forest to the gulf stream waters -- this land was made for you and me."

So let us close on this note: May God grant each one of us the wisdom to cherish this good land and to meet the great challenge that beckons us home.

And now is the time to meet that challenge.

Good night, and Godspeed to you all.

corrente SBL - New Location
~ Since April 2010 ~

~ Since 2003 ~

The Washington Chestnut
~ current ~

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