27 February 2006

The Case for Impeachment

Why we can no longer afford George W. Bush
Posted on Monday, February 27, 2006. An excerpt from an essay in the March 2006 Harper's Magazine. By Lewis H. Lapham.
...In time of war few propositions would seem as futile as the attempt to impeach a president whose political party controls the Congress; as the ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee stationed on Capitol Hill for the last forty years, Representative Conyers presumably knew that to expect the Republican caucus in the House to take note of his invitation, much less arm it with the power of subpoena, was to expect a miracle of democratic transformation and rebirth not unlike the one looked for by President Bush under the prayer rugs in Baghdad. Unless the congressman intended some sort of symbolic gesture, self-serving and harmless, what did he hope to prove or to gain? He answered the question in early January, on the phone from Detroit during the congressional winter recess.

“To take away the excuse,” he said, “that we didn't know.” So that two or four or ten years from now, if somebody should ask, “Where were you, Conyers, and where was the United States Congress?” when the Bush Administration declared the Constitution inoperative and revoked the license of parliamentary government, none of the company now present can plead ignorance or temporary insanity, can say that “somehow it escaped our notice” that the President was setting himself up as a supreme leader exempt from the rule of law.


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

Time to Renew Democracy

By Stephen Crockett
February 27, 2006
In the aftermath of 9-11, American politics and government went slightly insane. America turned its collective back on 200-plus years of successful democratic government and turned toward its dark side.

The national security state began to be seen as needed and desirable. This insane model of government always puts the State over the Individual and becomes both corrupt and dictatorial. Examples in history are numerous.

The United States of America began as a reaction to corrupt, dictatorial rule from the English monarchy. In modern times, the world has seen “national security” states arise in Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy, the Soviet Union, Pinochet Chile, and Franco Spain.


26 February 2006

250 secret emails discovered!

By Jason Leopold
t r u t h o u t | Report
Friday 24 February 2006

The White House turned over last week 250 pages of emails from Vice President Dick Cheney’s office. Senior aides had sent the emails in the spring of 2003 related to the leak of covert CIA operative Valerie Plame Wilson, Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald revealed during a federal court hearing Friday.

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

Sources close to the probe said the White House “discovered” the emails two weeks ago and turned them over to Fitzgerald last week. The sources added that the emails could prove that Cheney lied to FBI investigators when he was interviewed about the leak in early 2004. Cheney said that he was unaware of any effort to discredit Wilson or unmask his wife’s undercover status to reporters.


25 February 2006

Bush Administration to Acknowledge Error, or Tighten Authoritarian Control

Bush, Rats & a Sinking Ship
By Robert Parry
February 25, 2006
In just this past week, conservative legend William F. Buckley Jr. and neoconservative icon Francis Fukuyama have joined the swelling ranks of Americans judging George W. Bush’s invasion of Iraq a disaster.

“One can’t doubt that the American objective in Iraq has failed,” Buckley wrote at National Review Online on Feb. 24, adding that the challenge now facing Bush and his top advisers is how to cope with the reality of that failure.

“Within their own counsels, different plans have to be made,” Buckley wrote after a week of bloody sectarian violence in Iraq. “And the kernel here is the acknowledgement of defeat.”

Fukuyama, a leading neoconservative theorist, went further citing not just the disaster in Iraq but the catastrophe enveloping Bush’s broader strategy of preemptive military American interventions, waged unilaterally when necessary.

“The so-called Bush Doctrine that set the framework for the administration’s first term is now in shambles,” Fukuyama wrote Feb. 19 in The New York Times Magazine.

“Successful preemption depends on the ability to predict the future accurately and on good intelligence, which was not forthcoming, while America’s perceived unilateralism has isolated it as never before,” Fukuyama wrote.
Bush picked his belligerent course in the days after the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks on New York and Washington. Though the world had rallied to America’s side – offering both sympathy and cooperation in fighting terrorism – Bush chose to issue ultimatums.

Bush famously told other nations that they were either “with us, or you are with the terrorists.” Vowing to “rid the world of evil,” he made clear he would brush aside any restrictions on his actions, including the United Nations Charter and the Geneva Conventions.

Europeans were soon protesting Bush’s treatment of detainees at Guantanamo Bay and Muslims were voicing growing hatred for the United States. Though Bush's tough actions were popular with his base, they played poorly abroad.

“It annoys your allies in the war against terrorism, and it creates problems for our Muslim allies, too,” one West European ambassador said in 2002. “It puts at stake the moral credibility of the war against terrorism.”
Iraq War

On March 19, 2003, Bush took another fateful step, ordering the invasion of Iraq despite being denied authority from the U.N. Security Council.

After ousting Saddam Hussein’s regime three weeks later, Bush basked in popular acclaim from many Americans. He even donned a flight suit for a “Mission Accomplished” aircraft-carrier celebration on May 1, 2003.

During those heady days, Bush and his neoconservative advisers dreamed of remaking the entire Middle East with pro-U.S. leaders chosen through elections and Arab nations ending their hostility toward Israel.

But Bush’s wishful thinking began to run into trouble. A fierce resistance emerged in Iraq, claiming the lives of hundreds – and then thousands – of U.S. soldiers who couldn’t quell the violence. Instead of contributing to peace, the Iraqi elections deepened the country’s sectarian divisions – empowering the Shiite majority while alienating the Sunni minority.
The latest defectors – Buckley and Fukuyama – threaten to pull away even members of Bush’s political base. Buckley is the godfather of conservative punditry, while Fukuyama has been a bright light among neocon theorists.

Now, Bush must decide what to do – admit mistakes and heed the advice of critics – or circle the wagons even tighter and lash out at the growing majority of Americans who think the war in Iraq was a deadly mistake.

link to original

24 February 2006

Watching the Dissolution of Palestine

February 24, 2006
For Those Who Haven't Noticed
Oxford, England.
For those who haven't noticed, Israel opposes a two-state solution. It has been doing everything in its power to prevent a Palestinian state from emerging and will continue to do so as long as it can count on the complicity of its powerful friends and on abundant popular indifference. Under such circumstances, it is incumbent upon ourselves to ask why Hamas has therefore been ordered - by Israel and its same powerful friends --to accept "the two-state solution" especially when, unlike Israel, it has stated clearly and repeatedly that it would accept a Palestinian state on the lands occupied by Israel in the 1967 war, the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem. Indeed, all of its key spokespeople have said this:Zahar, Haniye, Meshal, and Yassin and Rantisi before they were murdered.

Judea and Samaria which are, or were, the northern and southern West Bank, have been subdivided and parceled out over decades to hundreds of thousands of Jewish settlers for their houses and orchards and gardens. They have been crisscrossed and circled with Jewish-only roads that bind the land, the houses and orchards and gardens, to Israel. They have been manned with guards and gunmen and tanks and blue and white Israeli flags that defend, protect and assure the settlers, their houses and orchards and gardens, that they are in fact Israelis belonging to a single Jewish state.
Israel allots to itself first use of the natural resources, especially water, from the territory it has appropriated or surrounded. An army of thieves and wreckers has turned the remainder-- the pot-holed roads, the untended groves, the homes, the schools, the mosques and churches, the hospitals, universities, shops and remaining civil institutions -- into a series of impassable mazes, a legal no-man's-land, where travel restrictions, permits, coded IDs, passes, random searches, incursions and arbitrary accusations reduce the inhabitants into suspicious beings without names, faces, addresses or rights; a collective villain to be de-educated and de-nationalized and, one day perhaps, deported for the sake of the Israeli raison d'etre. It is becoming as difficult for travelers from abroad to visit the occupied territories as it is for the rightful inhabitants to move freely among them. It is therefore more difficult for outsiders to corroborate that the dangers they are warned against come directly from Israel, not the hapless people they have besieged. The daily threat to life and property is growing not abating.

23 February 2006

Governments Need Enemies

In order to rally people, governments need enemies...if they do not have a real enemy, they will invent one in order to mobilize us.
– Thich Nhat Hanh, Vietnamese Buddhist monk

22 February 2006

Olympia Pictures

Louis Comfort Tiffany Fixture in State Capitol Building (5,000 lb)

A Budd Bay Sunset, (picture taken February 5th.)

Flatulent Right Wing Fills Radio with Hate

Published on Wednesday, February 22, 2006 by the Capital Times (Madison, Wisconsin)
Flatulent Right Wing Fills Radio with Hate
by Bill Berry

The man who does my parents' taxes in Green Bay seemed nice enough. He shook our hands and greeted us with small talk as we sat down to go over papers.

But the acrid sounds coming from a stereo tuner near his ancient desk filled the office like dirty smoke. It was right-wing radio, an angry white man on his afternoon shift. I was amazed that this accountant was taking my parents' money and making us listen to this to boot, but I reminded myself I was there to help them.

On this day, the topic was poor Dick Cheney and how the liberal media wouldn't leave him alone after his little hunting mishap.

Soon the accountant was trying to wrench my 80-year-old mother into this angry world. He asked her if she thought such a trifling matter was grounds for Cheney's resignation. She snapped back, saying that she didn't think the hunting incident merited Cheney's resignation but that there were plenty of other reasons for it. She added that the two men with her felt just as she did. The accountant curled his lip in Cheney-esque fashion and went back to work.

My skinny little mother won that battle, but the drone of the angry white men goes on day after day, and they still cling to the myth of the liberal media as some sort of overpowering beast. Robert F. Kennedy Jr., who spoke at last year's Fighting Bob Fest in Baraboo, has been keeping a close watch on this. In a speech in San Francisco late last year, he noted that the notion of a liberal media is a right-wing ruse.


21 February 2006

Israel's Policies are Feeding the Cancer of Anti-Semitism

Here's a perspective on the Israel / Palestine conflict, which you would be hard pressed to find in the American mainstream press:

by Paul Oestreicher
The Guardian
The chief rabbi, Sir Jonathan Sacks, is right. His reaction to the Anglican synod's call for sanctions against Israel is understandable. Hatred of Judaism - now commonly called anti-semitism - is a virus that has infected Christendom for two millennia. It continues to stalk the world despite its most virulent outbreak in Nazi Germany. It should not be left untreated. For too many it remains the unlearned lesson of the Holocaust. It should haunt decent Christians for generations to come.
If I feel all that in my guts and know it in my head, I cannot stand by and watch the Israeli-Palestinian conflict - one of the world's most dangerous outbreaks of collective hatred - as a dispassionate onlooker. I cannot listen calmly when an Iranian president talks of wiping out Israel. Jewish fears go deep. They are not irrational. But I cannot listen calmly either when a great many citizens of Israel think and speak of Palestinians in the way a great many Germans thought and spoke about Jews when I was one of them and had to flee.

If the Christian in me has good reason to be ashamed, so now does the Jew in me. I passionately believe that Israel has the right, and its people have the right, to live in peace and in secure borders. But I know too that modern Israel was born in terror and made possible in its present Zionist form by killing and a measure of ethnic cleansing. That is history. Tell me of a nation with an innocent history. But the Zionism at the heart of Israeli politics is about the present and the future. It makes me fear for the soul of Israel today and the survival of its children tomorrow.
But the main objective of my writing today, is to nail the lie that to reject Zionism as it practised today is in effect to be anti-semitic, to be an inheritor of Hitler's racism. That argument, with the Holocaust in the background, is nothing other than moral blackmail. It is highly effective. It condemns many to silence who fear to be thought anti-semitic. They are often the very opposite. They are often people whose heart bleeds at Israel's betrayal of its true heritage.

I began with the recognition that the cancer of anti-semitism has not been cured. Tragically, Israel's policies feed it - and when world Jewry defends Israeli policies right or wrong, then anger turns not only against Israel, but against all Jews. I wish it were mere rhetoric to say that Israeli politics today make a holocaust the day after tomorrow credible. If the whole Muslim world hates Israel, that is no idle speculation. To count on Arab disunity and Muslim sectarian conflict and a permanent American shield is no recipe for long-term security.

There are Israelis who know all that, and there are Jews around the world who know it. In Britain, Jews for Justice for Palestinians organises to give Jewishness a human face. Tell them they are anti-semites and they will laugh bitterly, for the charge hurts deeply and is a lie. Prophets such as Uri Avnery give all this eloquent expression, but are heard by only a few. The media are afraid of a lobby that is quite prepared to do them serious damage.

Yes, of course, there are many who express their solidarity with the Palestinian people. Some are Christians. They deserve respect. If, whether wisely or not, they call for sanctions, that does not make them Jew-haters - not in theory and not in practice. My concern, however, is to express solidarity with the Israel that is not represented by its leaders or popular opinion. Once, in the days of Hitler, there was another Germany represented by those in concentration camps alongside Jews and Gypsies, the martyrs who are celebrated today. There is such an Israel too. Its voices are still free to speak, though often reviled and misunderstood. That Israel has my solidarity, as all Jews have my love and prayers.

Paul Oestreicher was a member of the Church of England's general synod and director of the Centre for International Reconciliation, Coventry Cathedral; he is now a chaplain at the University of Sussex.

link to article

20 February 2006

Bush Adminstration Threat to Democracy

The Bush Administration is a threat to democracy.

Here's a BBC article about Cesár Chavez, president of Venezuela, and his "War of Words" with the Bush Administration.
Mr Chavez continued a war of words with the Bush administration, which has described him as a challenge to democracy.

In a mock address to US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice he warned her not to "mess with me, girl!"

Last week, Ms Rice warned that Mr Chavez was one of the biggest dangers facing Latin America.

She said the Venezuelan president was trying to influence others away from democracy, and called for a united front against him.

Mr Chavez responded by accusing the US of aggression, adding that "world opinion is with Venezuela".

19 February 2006

Upon a Visit to McLane Creek

Today was an excellent day to go for a stroll along the trail at one of the area's most beautiful parks.

How to De-Stabilize a Fragile Relationship and Weaken Security:

Israel Freezes Palestinian Payments
By Scott Wilson
Washington Post Foreign Service
Sunday, February 19, 2006; 4:30 PM
JERUSALEM, Feb. 19 -- The Israeli cabinet agreed Sunday to freeze monthly tax and customs payments to the Palestinian Authority a day after the radical Islamic group Hamas took control of parliament, drawing dire warnings from Palestinian officials who said the government will likely not be able to pay salaries to thousands of employees at the end of the month.

18 February 2006

Operation Cyber Storm

Is this why my Internet connection was like molasses on a cold cloudy afternoon?
Cyber Storm tests US infrastructure defences
The operation, codenamed Cyber Storm, was carried out by the US Department of Homeland Security, and received assistance from the UK’s Ministry of Defence and the National Infrastructure Security Co-ordination Centre (NISCC), which works to prevent similar attacks in the UK.

Some 115 federal and state agencies, private sector organisations and other foreign governments took part in the week-long US operation.
The exercise also looked at how blogging web sites could be used by protesters or terrorist groups to spread misinformation.
I think the government was running the risk of being forced to be accountable for takings when I was about to quit certain email accounts due to extremely slow page download time. Maybe they're covered under the new eminent domain legislation. Could this possibly also account for why I couldn't publish on my blog for several extended periods of time during the past week? Big brother is taking steps to prohibit freedom of speech and expression! The police state encroacheth, evolveth and further manifesteth.

Ah, it's so nice to know that I am a marked blogger.

Everything is back to "normal" tonight though. Have a good weekend.

With that said, I would like to humbly re-request your resignations from the executive administration, Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney.

17 February 2006

Ronald Reagan R.I.P.

We must realize that no arsenal, or no weapon in the arsenals of the world, is so formidable as the will and moral courage of free men and women.
– Ronald Reagan

16 February 2006

Torture at Guantanamo

The UN has made a forceful public announcement regarding the status of the US operated Guantanamo Bay (Cuba) detention center. Here are some highlights from the Reuters article:

UN alleges torture at Guantanamo
Thu Feb 16, 2006 10:31 AM ET
By Richard Waddington
GENEVA (Reuters) - The United States on Thursday faced mounting international calls to close its Guantanamo prison camp with U.N. investigators saying detainees there faced treatment amounting to torture.

In a 40-page report, which had been largely leaked, five United Nations special envoys said the United States was violating a host of human rights, including a ban on torture, arbitrary detention and the right to a fair trial.

The report is likely to fuel new Arab anger over the treatment of Iraqi inmates at Baghdad's U.S.-run Abu Ghraib prison after Australian TV broadcast more images of abuse there.

"The United States government should close the Guantanamo Bay detention facilities without further delay," the human rights' rapporteurs declared.

Until that happened, the U.S. government should "refrain from any practice amounting to torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment", they added.
Adding to pressure on Washington, the European Parliament was expected to back a call later on Thursday for Guantanamo to be closed and all prisoners to be treated in full accordance with international humanitarian law.

13 February 2006

Have a Good Week

"Where is the Justice?"

"Where is the justice of political power if it...marches upon neighboring lands, killing thousands and pillaging the very hills?"
Kahlil Gibran

11 February 2006

Free Kevin Benderman!

This image is from a vigil and rally to free Kevin Benderman from imprisonment in the Ft. Lewis Brig. Benderman is a conscientious objector to the illegal war in Iraq.

White House given early warning of Katrina fury

By Lara Jakes Jordan
February 12, 2006
FORMER US federal disaster chief Michael Brown has testified that he told top White House and Homeland Security officials on the day Hurricane Katrina roared ashore that "we were realising our worst nightmare" and New Orleans was seriously flooding.

He dismissed as "just baloney" and "a little disingenuous" claims by agency officials that they didn't know about the severity of the damage until the next day.

Testifying before a Senate committee on Friday, Mr Brown said he agreed with members who characterised him as a scapegoat. "I feel somewhat abandoned," said Mr Brown, who quit under fire as chief of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) just days after the storm hit.

10 February 2006

Lurking Illness Under Supposedly Health Economy

Trade Gap Hits Record For 4th Year In a Row
By Paul Blustein
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, February 11, 2006; Page A01
The U.S. trade deficit soared to a record in 2005 for the fourth year in a row, according to a government report released yesterday that provided a reminder of the dangers hovering over a generally robust economy.

The United States imported $725.8 billion more in goods and services than it exported last year, the Commerce Department said. That is up 17.5 percent from last year, and it is an all-time high not only in dollar terms but as a proportion of the economy; the figure is equal to 5.8 percent of gross domestic product.
If the indicators point to a massive economic collapse, the question is: What action is being taken to prevent, or prepare for this?

09 February 2006

White House Misused Intelligence to Justify Iraq War

I would like to draw your attention to this Washington Post article:

Ex-CIA Official Faults Use of Data on Iraq
Intelligence 'Misused' to Justify War, He Says
By Walter Pincus
Washington Post Staff Writer
The former CIA official who coordinated U.S. intelligence on the Middle East until last year has accused the Bush administration of "cherry-picking" intelligence on Iraq to justify a decision it had already reached to go to war, and of ignoring warnings that the country could easily fall into violence and chaos after an invasion to overthrow Saddam Hussein.

Paul R. Pillar, who was the national intelligence officer for the Near East and South Asia from 2000 to 2005, acknowledges the U.S. intelligence agencies' mistakes in concluding that Hussein's government possessed weapons of mass destruction. But he said those misjudgments did not drive the administration's decision to invade.

"Official intelligence on Iraqi weapons programs was flawed, but even with its flaws, it was not what led to the war," Pillar wrote in the upcoming issue of the journal Foreign Affairs. Instead, he asserted, the administration "went to war without requesting -- and evidently without being influenced by -- any strategic-level intelligence assessments on any aspect of Iraq."

[update: 2/11/06] From the CSM:

The Washington Post quotes Mr. Pillar as saying the US intelligence community made mistakes in concluding that Mr. Hussein's government possessed weapons of mass destruction. But he said those misjudgments did not play a major role in the Bush administration's decision to go to war in Iraq.
"It has become clear that official intelligence was not relied on in making even the most significant national security decisions, that intelligence was misused publicly to justify decisions already made, that damaging ill will developed between [Bush] policymakers and intelligence officers, and that the intelligence community's own work was politicized," Pillar wrote.

08 February 2006

Paul Ford's Weekly Review [Harper's]

The Weekly Review is worth reading on a weekly basis. Ford's insights and juxtapositioning are always relevant and involving.
"In Iraq a car bomb killed 16 people and wounded 90, 14 bodies were found stacked in a hole, 5 U.S. troops were killed, and Saddam Hussein was boycotting his own trial. Professor Philippe Sands of University College, London, said he had seen a secret memo that details a January 2003 meeting between British Prime Minister Tony Blair and U.S. President George W. Bush. According to Sands' account of the memo, Blair offered Bush full British support for an invasion of Iraq regardless of whether U.N. inspectors found evidence of weapons of mass destruction. Bush also told Blair that he was thinking of having U-2 reconnaissance planes painted with U.N. colors and then flown over Iraq in order to provoke Saddam Hussein into firing upon the planes.

07 February 2006

Federal Budget Ridiculousness

By Jonathan Weisman
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, February 7, 2006; Page A10
President Bush's budget blueprint would bring the federal government's budget deficit under control by decade's end. But to do that without raising taxes, the White House would need a sweeping tax reform that it has avoided proposing and a swift end to the war in Iraq.

The budget plan for fiscal 2007 underscores what budget analysts of all political stripes have been saying for years: The goals of balancing the budget, waging a global fight against terrorism and making Bush's first-term tax cuts permanent may be fundamentally at odds.

"...may be fundamentally at odds." ???

Come on please, don't treat me like a jerk man! Instead, try: definitely! The Bush administration appears to be hell-bent on bankrupting America, having taken up full scale war-fare against anyone who isn't in the top 20% income bracket!

06 February 2006

Priest Point Park

These pictures were taken yesterday, Sunday, February 5th.

Ability to Wage 'Long War' Is Key To Pentagon Plan

Conventional Tactics De-Emphasized
By Ann Scott Tyson
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, February 4, 2006; Page A01
The Pentagon, readying for what it calls a "long war," yesterday laid out a new 20-year defense strategy that envisions U.S. troops deployed, often clandestinely, in dozens of countries at once to fight terrorism and other nontraditional threats.

Major initiatives include a 15 percent boost in the number of elite U.S. troops known as Special Operations Forces, a near-doubling of the capacity of unmanned aerial drones to gather intelligence, a $1.5 billion investment to counter a biological attack, and the creation of special teams to find, track and defuse nuclear bombs and other catastrophic weapons.

China is singled out as having "the greatest potential to compete militarily with the United States," and the strategy in response calls for accelerating the fielding of a new Air Force long-range strike force, as well as for building undersea warfare capabilities.

05 February 2006

Rove v. Fitzgerald

from tomdispatch.com
by Elizabeth de la Vega
Although it is astounding that Rove would blatantly describe such a despicable ethos (if you can call it that), it should not have been unexpected. In the world of campaign politics that Rove has so long inhabited, smears and personal attacks are designed to seem as if they were spontaneously generated. They can then wander around, undirected, until they finally curl up in America's living rooms like so many mysterious, uninvited guests. These intruders may be rude and destructive, but no one is supposed to be able to get rid of them, in part because no one is supposed to be able to sort out or pinpoint how they got there in the first place. Thus, although Karl Rove has lurked in the background of an unprecedented number of whisper and smear campaigns -- that, for instance, John McCain had an illegitimate child (a rumor spread during the Republican primaries that preceded the 2000 election), or that former Texas Governor Ann Richards was a lesbian (a persistent rumor that was spread during Bush's Texas gubernatorial campaign) -- he has never been held accountable. And that is a state of affairs to which Rove became accustomed.

Rove has escaped responsibility for his sneaky campaign tricks because the candidates for whom he has worked -- most prominently, George Bush -- have had a stunning ability to accept, unquestioningly, the miraculous appearance of information that takes down their opponents. They had no problem about endorsing brazen dishonesty or the least interest in ferreting out bad actors in their camps. At the same time, opposing candidates have had neither the resources, nor the time to fully investigate the attacks before plummeting in the polls. Afterwards, of course, it was already far too late.

Unlike Rove's former adversaries in the political world, however, Fitzgerald has both the time and investigative resources. When Fitzgerald was appointed special prosecutor, all the known facts on the outing of Valerie Wilson indicated that government officials had broken the rules, if not the law. It's no surprise then that Fitzgerald has pursued the matter vigorously; nor should it be a surprise that Rove's statement to the FBI on October 8 would have raised some obvious red flags and caused Fitzgerald to become skeptical. Rove deliberately omitted key information about conversations with reporters that he could not possibly have forgotten; he claimed to have heard classified government information only from a reporter -- despite the fact that he himself was one of the highest government officials in the nation; and then he admitted that he had no qualms about enlisting surrogates to betray government employees in order to achieve political gain.

The Cost of Corruption

The GOP's Pre-owned New Leader
by Robert L. Borosage
Boehner personifies how the cost of corruption in Washington gets passed on to ordinary Americans. As chair of the Education and Workforce Committee, he is known as the “representative from Sallie Mae.” Sallie Mae is the leading provider of loans to college students and their parents, and Boehner has consolidated his leadership by dispensing big bucks raised from lenders in campaign and party contributions. In fact, the Center for Responsive Politics reports that Sallie Mae is the biggest donor to Boehner's political action committee, called Freedom Project.

In return, he protects their interest. Most recently, he helped develop and push through legislation that may weaken the loan industry’s competition — the Direct Student Loan program, where students bypass Sallie Mae and others and borrow directly from the government. While taking it to their competition, Boehner openly reassured bankers that they would not be harmed greatly by this legislation — as reported in the Chronicle of Education — he informed a group of bankers that they could rest easy in his “trusted hands.”

Iran To Face Security Council

Let's all take a lesson from Nancy Reagan, "Just Say NO! to War With Iran!

Tehran Defiant On IAEA Vote
By John Ward Anderson
Washington Post Foreign Service
Sunday, February 5, 2006; Page A01
VIENNA, Feb. 4 -- Members of the International Atomic Energy Agency voted Saturday to report Iran to the U.N. Security Council over concerns that the country is trying to develop nuclear weapons, decisively ending Iran's years-long effort to forestall action that could lead to further pressure on Tehran.

[update] from reuters: TEHRAN (Reuters) - A defiant Iran on Sunday ended snap UN checks of its nuclear sites and said it was resuming uranium enrichment, a day after being reported to the Security Council over concerns it is building nuclear weapons.

04 February 2006

Rally for Leonard Peltier's Freedom

This photo is from today's march from East Tacoma to the U.S. Court House on the North side of downtown. A large crowd gathered, marched and rallied despite the weather.

Sidewalk in the Rain

02 February 2006

Bush: Don’t expect price breaks from oil companies

The Associated Press
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — President Bush defended the huge profits of Exxon Mobil Corp. Wednesday, saying they are simply the result of the marketplace and that consumers socked with soaring energy costs should not expect price breaks.
Early this week, Exxon reported record profits of $10.71 billion for the fourth quarter and $36.13 billion for the year — the largest of any U.S. company. While some politicians raised furious objections, Bush had a different reaction.

“There is a marketplace in American society,” he said.
Bush was the first U.S. president to espouse a Palestinian state living side by side in peace with Israel. Those prospects have dimmed with the triumph of Hamas in Palestinian parliamentary elections last week.

“I made the position of this government very clear,” Bush said. “Hamas must renounce its desire to destroy Israel; it must recognize Israel’s right to exist and it must get rid of the armed wing of its party.”

“In order for there to be democracy and in order for there to be two states living side by side with peace, you can’t have the party of one state intending to destroy the other state,” he said.
comment: (Why exactly is it that Hamas must disarm, and Israel isn't required the same? Israel isn't trying to destroy Hamas?)
On other subjects:
— The president appeared untroubled by the outbursts and chaos surrounding the trial of former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein.
“Saddam Hussein was the person who made a mockery of justice,” Bush said. “He never gave his victims any chance for trial. This fledgling democracy is working through the issues of its Justice Department.”

— Bush dismissed the idea of increasing fuel efficiency standards for cars, trucks and SUVs as a way of curbing foreign oil dependence. “My plan is to diversify away from oil. ... You’re asking questions about how you deal with cars running on gasoline made from oil, I’m telling you let’s get some cars running on fuel other than oil.”

— He rejected calls from some Republicans for the White House to disclose all its contacts with disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff. Bush said there was an investigation of Abramoff’s activities and “to the extent they ask for information, they’ll get it.”

Boehner and Boners: Is the US a Doner?

I couldn't resist posting this after I saw both of these articles! Here are two articles whose juxtaposition is all too intriguing:

Reuters: House Republicans elect Boehner as leader
Thu Feb 2, 2006 5:20 PM ET
By Richard Cowan and Thomas Ferraro
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Rep. John Boehner of Ohio upset a former deputy to indicted Texan Tom DeLay on Thursday to become majority leader of the scandal-rocked House of Representatives.

With this party leadership election, House Republicans hoped to begin to move beyond ethics problems, tied to lobbyists, that threaten their control of the Congress in the November election.

Rep. Roy Blunt of Missouri had appeared to be the front-runner, based on a long list of public commitments. But Boehner, who campaigned on a vow to seek to renew the party's "spirit and vision," defeated Blunt and Rep. John Shadegg of Arizona in a secret-ballot election by fellow Republicans.
The Big One

Posted on Thursday, February 2, 2006. From one of the fifty winning entries in a contest to design a warning sign for a planned nuclear dumping site at Yucca Mountain, Nevada. The contest, sponsored by the Nevada Desert Space Foundation, aimed to find a symbol whose meaning would outlast the projected life span of contemporary language and culture, as the nuclear waste will remain dangerously radioactive for more than ten thousand years. The proposal, by Paul Schollmeier, was accompanied by a line drawing of an erect penis. Greenpeace, Zurich, will exhibit the winning entries later this year. Originally from Harper's Magazine, April 2004.

My proposal is to mark the nuclear repository with a phallic symbol to warn against transgression and trespass, especially if, as seems very likely, our culture should perish. The human phallus presents an immediately and universally recognizable symbol which transcends language and culture. Humans thus ought to have the ability to recognize this symbol as long as we retain our present anatomy. That our anatomy might change drastically in the next ten thousand years appears very unlikely, and if mutations become prevalent, a nuclear disaster of some sort must surely have taken place, and warning signs of any sort would serve no purpose.

I take the phallus to symbolize at once hierarchical and territorial dominance. Of course, some feminists would have much to say about phallocentric folly, but this behavior is a fact of life even in the most enlightened times. The phallus, therefore, presents an image which, for the foreseeable future of our species, should occasion attitudes of respect and circumspection in its beholder. This image ought to cause respect for possible hierarchies represented and circumspection for possible territories defended. Indeed, the very fact that I am using erudite euphemisms to refer to this portion of the human anatomy, not to mention the fact that many, if not most, people will initially react with unease and even aversion to a mere proposal to use the image of an erect penis as a warning sign, attests to the deterrent power this symbol will have on future generations.
The question: is there a subtle message, based on Schollmeier's vision, in the Republicans' elevation of Mr. Boehner to the leadership position?