It isn't enough that states like Florida have systems in place to bring about another possible theft of the election. Now, the Defense Department is getting into the business of collecting votes via non-secure e-mail.
States a New York Times editorial:
Earlier this year the Defense Department scrapped a pilot program to allow the military to vote over the Internet, after concluding that it could not 'assure the legitimacy of votes' cast online.
There is more cause for concern after the ballots arrive at the Pentagon. E-mail voters will be required to sign a release acknowledging that their votes may not be kept secret. When the people handling ballots know who they are cast for, it is not hard to imagine that ballots for disfavored candidates could accidentally be "lost." And because the e-mailed ballots arrive as computer documents, it is possible to cut off the voter's digitized signature, attach it to a ballot supporting another candidate, and send that ballot on to the state to be counted.
Military dictatorships in Third-World can only dream of possessing the vote-fixing prowess of Diebold, Bush operatives and other Republican cronies.
Never mind Osama, where's the outrage?
Glancing quicky at The New York Times headline, I read it as "For G.O.P., Another Night of Lies Ahead."
Tonight, we'll hear from Gov. Arnold "The Gropernator" Schwarzenegger and first Stepford wife Laura Bush heap praise on the feckless Dubya and his war on terrorism.
But not once, will the words "Osama bin Laden" be uttered for fear of bringing to light this administrations biggest failure and that is to bring to justice the leader of 15 Saudis and four others in carrying out the deadliest act of terrorism on American soil.
In its profile of a delegate from Alaska, The New York Times describes Doug Isaacson's first trip to the Big Apple.
The delegate kept in the spirit of a T-shirt seen during Sunday's anti-Bush protest that read, "Intolerance is a beautiful thing."
Mr. Isaacson found out they were going to see a Broadway show, "Bombay Dreams," last night. "Why not 'Beauty and the Beast'?" he asked. "I want an American slice of pie." ...
And then ...
On the way to lunch, Mr. Isaacson and his daughter stopped to have their picture taken with a Statue of Liberty mime. They stood with the mime, looking happy for the camera.
Then someone informed the mime they were Republicans and slowly, even as the camera clicked, the mime unfurled the middle digit of his right hand.
The Arizona senator who took the stage last night to sing the praises of that miserable failure some people call president, had quite a different take during the last campaign.
Senator John McCain, in a provocative and politically risky speech, sharply criticized leaders of the religious right on Monday as ''agents of intolerance'' allied to his rival, Governor George W. Bush, and denounced what he said were the tactics of ''division and slander.''
Specifically, Mr. McCain singled out the evangelists Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell as ''corrupting influences on religion and politics'' and said parts of the religious right were divisive and even un-American.
The only difference this time around is that the Trojan horse of the extreme, right-wing reactionary Republican rhetoric is being kept at bay.
And as they look court the Catholic vote, the media seem to forget that Bush was forced to apologize for the clearly anti-Catholic overtures he made last time around.
The Texas governor sent the letter Friday after being confronted by continuing criticism from the McCain camp that he appeared at Bob Jones University on Feb. 2 without speaking out against prejudice. The university, a conservative Christian institution in Greenville, South Carolina, bans interracial dating, and its officials have derided the Catholic faith.
The media also seem to forget that although McCain took the high road in his address to convention delegates in New York, his place in history is substantially tarnished for being part of the Keating Five and the savings and loan debacle that cost taxpayers $2.6 billion.
"Seeing celebrities on television or in movies tricks your brain into believing, on some level, that they are members of your social group," according to an article in Psychology Today.
Forwarded by my friend Andrea (Andy), the piece explains why celebrities matter to us, and why we pay attention, from product endorsements to tabloid gossip.
The brain simply doesn’t realize that it’s being fooled by TV and movies, says sociologist Satoshi Kanazawa, lecturer at the London School of Economics. "Hundreds of thousands of years ago, it was impossible for someone not to know you if you knew them. And if they didn’t kill you, they were probably your friend."
Kanazawa’s research has shown that this feeling of friendship has other repercussions: People who watch more TV are more satisfied with their friendships, just as if they had more friends and socialized more frequently. Another study found that teens who keep up to date on celebrity gossip are popular, with strong social networks—the interest in pop culture indicates a healthy drive for independence from parents.
Funny, yes. Sad, definitely.
I'm no different. "Friends" starts in 90 minutes.
A day after saying the so-called war on terror couldn't be won, our illiterate deserter-in-chief now does a 180-degree turn, telling a group of real veterans: "We may never sit down at a peace table, but make no mistake about it, we are winning and we will win."
Kerry spokesman Phil Singer weighed in.
"The president has gone from mission accomplished to mission miscalculated to mission impossible on the war on terror," Singer said. "George Bush might be able to read a speech saying we can win the war on terror, but as we saw (Monday), he's clearly got real doubts about his ability to do so, and with good reason."
Thankfully, McCain understands Bushisms.
"What he meant was, we're never going to have a peace signing on the Missouri, we're never going to have a signing at Panmunjom," he said.
Bush himself said in a radio interview with talk show host Rush Limbaugh, "I probably needed to be more articulate."
That's a start.
Someone took issue with the report of an Iraqi Olympic soccer player's comments that if he weren't competing he would "for sure" be fighting U.S. forces in Iraq.
Do you honestly believe American soldiers walked up to this guy's cousin, unprovoked, and shot him and his friends for no reason? The article says it itself:
To a man, members of the Iraqi Olympic delegation say they are glad that former Olympic committee head Uday Hussein, who was responsible for the serial torture of Iraqi athletes and was killed four months after the U.S.-led coalition invaded Iraq in March 2003, is no longer in power.
Let's see here ... he doesn't want the Americans to be in Iraq and try to restore peace in the Sunni Triangle but would he rather be tortured by Uday Hussein? He is looking for publicity, and the liberal mdeia publishes it every time. It is slander against America.
I don't have the slightest idea about the circumstances surrounding those deaths. I personally can't imaging shooting someone for no reason, but innocent Iraqis do get killed as a result of military actions "collateral damage," it's called.
It's perfectly reasonable to be upset that people you care about were killed. As you're a believer in the death penalty, I don't think you have a problem with the idea that when someone commits a capital offense, they deserve to die. The problem appears to be when others apply that same idea under circumstances that you personally oppose.
Slander against America? Do you honestly believe that Sports Illustrated writer hates America? Reporting what people think and feel as well as reporting facts and figures is the idea our Founding Fathers had in mind when they established the First Amendment the right to criticize the government is a liberty enjoyed first by us and at one time most extensively by us, too.
I have to say I find it a little bewildering that you find a criticism I forwarded you of Reagan's policies "disrespectful," while letting Rush Limbaugh's slander of President Clinton slide as "funny." (For the record, I can laugh at jokes about Clinton, as well as anyone who deserves lambasting.)
An ad campaign in the New York subway implores passengers to be vigilant about potential threats in our midst. "If you see something, say something," the ad line goes.
But what happens when the authorities themselves fail us?
The following is a letter my friend Ellen wrote to The New York Times, alerting them of an alarming situation she encountered not so much because of the actual incident, but the official response.
Last night, as I was about to ascend the stairs at the 14th st. stop on the F/V subway line, I noticed a very large suitcase unattended, rougly 10 feet away from the token booth. I asked two girls purchasing metrocards at the booth if the suitcase belonged to them, and they replied "no." I then asked the booth operator if she was aware of the unattended bag, and to my utter amazement, she replied "Yes, I am aware. A gentleman left it there for a minute while he went down to the Path train to get change. It's ok." I then turned to a policeman and asked him if he found the bag suspicious. His reply: "Yes, it's ok. A gentleman left it for a minute to get change."
The complete naivety and ignorance I encountered leaves me to believe that we have created a facade of protection. Is our police force really trained to think critically, and are the employees of the MTA given basic training on how to suspect and report suspicious activity?
Perhaps the gentleman who left the bag was wearing RNC credentials, which would be how a would-be terrorist might think to get past our last line of defense.
After being fed the fallacy that only Republicans can win the war in terror, the miserable failiure concedes — in another flip-flop moment — that he believes the undertaking impossible.
Asked "Can we win?" Bush said, "I don't think you can win it. But I think you can create conditions so that the — those who use terror as a tool are less acceptable in parts of the world."
Hence, the argument for unlimited power of the executive branch, an unchecked and unilateral global power and the re-election of a draft-dodging, coke-snorting dimwit.
Rampant Speculations reposts a Times of London artist's rendition of Osama bin Laden's Mountain Fortress, billing it as "James Bond meets M.C. Escher."
Does anyone else think it really looks like a "Planet of the Apes" playset from our youth?
BusinessWeek interviews Barry Ritholtz, chief market strategist at New York investment firm Maxim Group, whose analyses come up with a variable-laden prediction for the 2004 election based on four factors.
I'm a numbers geek at heart, so I watch four quantitative factors that have had a strong historical correlation with incumbent electoral victory, regardless of party. The first is job creation, second is Presidential approval rating, third is percentage saying the country is going in the right or wrong direction, and the fourth is the Dow Jones industrial average performance in the first half of the election year.
The polls are saying this is a very close race, but all four of the above data points suggest the incumbent is in deep trouble. Over a four-year term, when job creation is less than 5%, studies have shown it's a huge negative for the occupant in the White House. As of last month, we were at a negative 0.8%. ...
Ideally, the Street prefers a divided government: The best stock markets of the past three decades have been under Presidents Reagan and Clinton. Reagan was a Republican with a Democratic Congress, while Clinton was a Democrat with a Republican Congress.
Gridlock works because it forces both sides to the middle. Pragmatic moderation is an effective economic policy. Hard-core ideological approaches tend to be disastrous.
The New York Observer points out that dim-witted Jessica Simpson and white-trash rapper Kid Rock support the re-appointment of Bush.
Neither is surprising.
I don't listen to either of them, mostly because I find them and their music unimaginative and boorish, appealing more to the aural palattes of 12-year-olds than those with high school diplomas.
Simpson, if you recall, didn't know whether Chicken of the Sea was poultry or fish and during a Washington, D.C., reception told Interior Secretary Gale Norton, "You've done a nice job decorating the White House."
The Observer also provides us the public service of quoting some Kid Rock lyrics, the least offensive of which are included below.
Well guess who’s back, with a big fat cock
It’s the kid motherfucker with the classic rock
Like wax that booty, yodeleyeho, punk
Slappin you hoes with dick when I get drunk.
From Alabama to Texarkana
Bend over bitch and let me slam her ….
Playin shows, fuckin hoes
Got the dope in my veins and up my nose.
Yep, it sure does sound like Dubya's kinda man.
It was quite an experience to be in the midst of a demonstration in protest of the extreme radical right-wing reactionary Republican platform in New York yesterday. For a couple of hours, I felt hope for the future of our country, hope that perhaps voters wouldn't fall for a moderate face on a fundamentalist, ideological agenda. In other words, I felt as if a majority of the electorate would again vote for the Democrat.
Estimates put the crowd size at 100,000 to 500,000, though The New York Times quoted an unnamed police source putting the figure close to a half million.
One of the things that struck me was the restraint of the NYPD. Only a couple of times did individual officers seem excitable or ordering reporters and photographers to move and shove non-credentialed folks off the street. But civil-rights attorney Ron Kuby credited the protesters themselves:
"They were the ones who kept the peace. They were the ones who were well behaved. So this notion that the police did a good job is true only to the extent that the demonstrators themselves had a powerful commitment to keep this demonstration peaceful and legal."
Dumbya graced us with another cherished Bushism, this time calling U.S. military action in Iraq a "catastrophic success."
We couldn't have said it better ourselves.
In today's column, Jimmy Breslin profiled one of the protesters in yesterday's demonstrations who carried the mock coffins in showing the human toll of the misguided (and illegal) war in Iraq. He also cited one of my favorite quotes:
"To announce that there should be no criticism of the president, or that we are to stand by the president, right or wrong, it is not only unpatriotic and servile, but it is morally treasonable to the American people." Theodore Roosevelt (Kansas City Star, May 7, 1918)
"Belief and seeing are both often wrong," says former Defense Secretary Robert McNamara, who served for 7 years under the Kennedy and Johnson administrations, in the documentary, "The Fog of War."
I just finished watching the film at work, while waiting to head to the demonstration in protest of the Bush agenda in an hour, and it frightens me that some of the same short-sightedness has possessed our country.
These things were clear to me long ago, and I recall reading a New York Times editorial a few years ago about admissions McNamara made in his book.
[O]nly one argument could be advanced to clear President Johnson and Mr. McNamara ... of the charge of wasting lives atrociously. That was the theory that they possessed superior knowledge, not available to the public, that the collapse of South Vietnam would lead to regional and perhaps world domination by the Communists; and moreover, that their superior knowledge was so compelling it rendered unreliable and untrue the apparent facts available to even the most expert opponents of the war.
Of course, there were no such facts much like reputed weapons of mass destruction and McNamara even admits, "We never stopped to explore fully whether there were other routes to our destination."
Both Johnson and McNamara, writes Howell Raines, ignored good advice, "logical warning or ethical appeal."
When senior figures talked sense to Mr. Johnson and Mr. McNamara, they were ignored or dismissed from government. When young people in the ranks brought that message, they were court-martialed. When young people in the streets shouted, they were hounded from the country.
It is important to remember how fate dispensed rewards and punishment for Mr. McNamara’s thousands of days of error. Three million Vietnamese died. Fifty-eight thousand Americans got to come home in body bags. Mr. McNamara, while tormented by his role in the war, got a sinecure at the World Bank and summers at the Vineyard.
The editorial resounded within me that day, and I regret not cutting it out of the paper. But I remembered it well enough to find it again.
Before I make my way to 14th Street and Seventh Avenue, I want to share one of the movie's quotes that sent a shudder through me moments ago. It's by President Johnson, delivered in a slight Texas twang, making the feeble case for continued U.S. military involvement in Vietnam:
"America wins the wars she undertakes, make no mistake about it. We have declared war on tyranny and aggression. ... If this little nation goes down the drain and can't maintain independence, ask yourself what's going to happen to all the other little nations."
We lost, and the nightmare scenario never materialized. For this, more than 58,000 Americans lost their lives.
Two months after Austin for Kerry/Edwards posted a video of former Lt. Gov. Ben Barnes of Texas, the media finally caught on. (That includes The New York Times story, followed by The Associated Press version.)
The video is mirrored at Greater Democracy: Democracy for a connected world:
"I walked through the Vietnam Memorial the other day and I looked at the names of the people who died in Vietnam, and I became more ashamed of myself than I've ever been because it the worst thing I did was help a lot of wealthy supporters and a lot of people who had family names of importance get in the National Guard."
Sen. Zell Miller, a Democratic turncoat and a staunch Bush supporter, criticized Kerry for supposedly flip-flopping on the issue, but it seems the Georgia lawmaker can't throw too many stones in his glass house.
In 1992, Miller told the Democrats: "For 12 dark years the Republicans have dealt in cynicism and skepticism. They've mastered the art of division and diversion, and they have robbed us of our hope."
He said repeatedly that the first President Bush "doesn't get it," and concluded, "And so the choice in this election is clear — we've got a race between an aristocrat, an autocrat and a Democrat. I know who I'm for."
Nothing has changed, Zell except common sense has apparently left you.
"Everybody," the new ad by MoveOn PAC, aims to stir the masses into exercising the right to vote among African-Americans, disenfranchised in the 2000 election.
The media has continued to provide our deserter-in-chief a free ride while propagating the scurrilous attacks on Kerry by a group of discredited fabricators.
Media Matters takes a look at some of the allegations, distortions and manipulations. Among the more horrifying ones came after Michael Moore, at a Wesley Clarke rally, called Dubya a "deserter," which he most certainly was:
During a Democratic primary debate, moderator and ABC News anchor Peter Jennings even suggested that Clark's failure to contradict Moore was an example of poor "ethical behavior."
The media continues to fail us.
Men and women in black are being urged to turn out for a demonstration protesting the RNC's attempt to claim Johnny Cash as one of their heroes.
And, as John Nichols wrote in his Nation weblog after Cash's death last year, "Though he was not known as an expressly political artist, Cash waded into the controversies of his times with a passion. Like the US troops in Vietnam who idolized him, he questioned the wisdom of that war. And in the mid-1960s, at the height of his success, he released an album that challenged his country's treatment of Native Americans."
If you'd like to defend Johnny Cash and his legacy, strut on over to Sotheby's at 1334 York Ave. at 4 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 31.
The FBI issued another B.S. terror alert today, this time claiming that al-Qaida might be targeing veterans hospitals.
Although U.S. authorities say there is no credible intelligence about a specific threat against such hospitals, the bulletin said there have been persistent reports of suspicious activity at medical facilities throughout the United States.
"No credible intelligence"? Yeah, right.
USA Today has hired Michael Moore to write four op-ed articles during the Republican National Convention in New York next week. Some delegates, naturally, were peeved at the idea of the filmmaker lurking around Madison Square Garden with media credentials.
Lloyd Grove of the New York Daily News shares the following tidbit:
Alabama delegate Terry Butts: "I'm from South Alabama, and we're used to dealing with jackasses, and so I look forward to making his acquaintance. In Alabama, there are probably a few good ol' boys who would know how to put a good knot on his head."
It figures. When someone doesn't agree with them, violence becomes the answer. That just feels enlightened, doesn't it?
In another blow to Bush's gossamer-thin argument of an economic recovery (think WMD), the Census Bureau reveals that the number of Americans living in poverty increased by 1.3 million last year, the third straight increase.
Health Secretary Tommy Thompson's comment might be laughable if it weren't so perverted:
"The big failure is not what is happening in the administration. Individuals in the Senate have failed to adopt the president's health care plan."
A FATHER'S GRIEF
I had read this story last night, of a man learning his U.S. Marine son had been killed in Iraq, and I thought I would feel the same rage at paying such a price for such a senseless war. After being informed of the death of his only son, the father took his grief out on the nearest symbol of those responsible: The Marines' van.
The father then walked into the garage, picking up a propane tank, a can of gasoline and a lighting device, police Capt. Tony Rode said. He smashed the van's window, got inside and set it ablaze, despite attempts by the Marines to stop him, Rode said.
I saw the video footage on TV today, and the man also suffered burns, placed on a stretcher, twitching, by emergency workers who responded to the call.
The 20-year-old Alexander Arredondo a boy, really died because Bush lied. If there is a higher deity, Bush will have to answer for his actions.
Another story includes the following paragraph:
With the number of U.S. casualties expected to reach 1,000 well before the election, Bush said, "The president has to make hard decisions. My job is to confront problems not pass them on. ..."
Yeah, right, Dumbya. Just like you confronted the problem of how to get out of serving you country during Vietnam?
BUSH'S WAR ON VETS
Paul Krugman of The New York Times today zeroes in on the hypocrisy of "Rambo patriotism" and why the Bush campaign has employed the desperate and despicable tactics of smearing Kerry.
Yet his inner circle cannot afford to see him lose: if he does, the shroud of secrecy will be lifted, and the public will learn the truth about cooked intelligence, profiteering, politicization of homeland security and more. ...
All the credible evidence, from military records to the testimony of those who served with Mr. Kerry, confirms his wartime heroism. Why, then, are some veterans willing to join the smear campaign? Because they are angry about his later statements against the war. Yet making those statements was itself a heroic act - and what he said then rings truer than ever.
The young John Kerry spoke of leaders who sent others to their deaths because they wanted to seem tough, then "left all the casualties and retreated behind a pious shield of public rectitude." Fifteen months after George Bush strutted around in his flight suit, more and more Americans are echoing Gen. Anthony Zinni, who received a standing ovation from an audience of Marine and Navy officers when he talked about the debacle in Iraq and said of those who served in Vietnam: "We heard the garbage and the lies, and we saw the sacrifice. I ask you, is it happening again?"
On the same page, an op-ed piece by a woman who lost a father in Vietnam recounts the difficulties of finding out the truth amid the fog of war and concludes:
"So, then, what about John Kerry and the Swift boat crew?
Enough already. There are some things we'll never know. But
there are also some things that are beyond dispute - even
in the chaos of war. Mr. Kerry went. He served. Lucky for
him, he got to come home and raise his daughters."
The Kerry campaign is in danger of letting a picture-perfect point of attack pass in Marine Gen. Anthony Zinni.
A former commander of U.S. forces in the Middle East and a onetime Bush supporter, Zinni casts doubt on our actions in Iraq.
In an impassioned speech to several hundred Marine and Navy officers and others, Zinni invoked the U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War in the 1960s and '70s. "My contemporaries, our feelings and sensitivities were forged on the battlefields of Vietnam, where we heard the garbage and the lies, and we saw the sacrifice," said Zinni, who was severely wounded while serving as an infantry officer in that conflict. "I ask you, is it happening again?"
While Bush asks the question, "Is our children learning?" we wonder the same about the commander-in-thief.
McCAIN RIPS BUSH
Kerry's newest ad features footage of Sen. John McCain describing candidate Bush's negative attacks using veterans in 2000.
"You should be ashamed," McCain tells the dumbfounded-looking Dumbya.
Those words ring as true today as they did four years ago.
How the draft-dodging Bush -- or deserter, if you will -- can criticize a decorated war veteran who volunteered to join the military as being dishonest or incapable of leading and get away with it, is beyond me.
Especially when the issue is little more than a smokescreen to keep from discussing the dismal failure of this administration.
But the best quote I've heard in a few days came from John Podesta, former chief of staff in the Clinton White House:
"Senator Kerry carries shrapnel in his thigh as distinct from President Bush who carries two fillings in his teeth from his service in the Alabama National Guard, which seems to be his only time that he showed up."
Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., unveiled a plan to dismantle the CIA and reorganize the majority of its functions under a new management structure.
It's about time.
The bloated, impotent and political bureaucracy of the Department of Homeland Security does little to fix the serious flaws exposed in the Sept. 11 Commission report.
Few have yet to see the plan, of course, but this is the first right idea that's come out of Capitol Hill in a long time with regard to national security.
I just found this on The Angry Liberal:
"Clinton Inhales, Bush Sucks."
It's no surprise where news organizations get their inherent bias, as suggested by a survey of CEO salaries that finds Gannett's chief executive pulling in a cool $3.85 million.
That means a CEO-to-reporter ratio of 36 to 1.
Back to work!
Sen. Ted Kennedy, D-Mass., told congressional colleagues that agents stopped him from boarding airline flights five times in less than two months because his name resembled an alias used by someone on a "watch list."
The New York Times writes:
Instead of acknowledging the craggy-faced, silver-haired septuagenarian as the Congressional leader whose face has flashed across the nation's television sets for decades, the airline agents acted as if they had stumbled across a fanatic who might blow up an American airplane.
The matter was cleared up by the Department of Homeland Security -- weeks later.
If there's better evidence that the Department of Homeland Security is a feckless federal bureaucracy, I've yet to see it.
In fact, the department is little more than window dressing, as evidenced by it's "groundbreaking" announcement that al-Qaeda was casing financial centers in U.S. cities around the country -- FOUR YEARS after the fact (and conveniently as Kerry was getting relatively positive press coverage). DHS is also another bloated, slow-moving bureaucracy that has done little to effect change in either intelligence gathering or sharing.
Thankfully, the American Civil Liberties Union is suing to demand disclosure of how travelers wrongling included on the list can remove their names.
FEDERAL BUREAU OF INCOMPETENCE
The FBI, under John Ashcroft's incompetent stewardship of the Justice Department (remember he decided to eliminate all antiterrorism funding in 2000 and 2001), has apparently either made no gains in its intelligence capabilities, or has become a political tool to the detriment of the American public.
In a groundbreaking announcement, the bureau said it "expects violent protests at the upcoming Republican National Convention in New York but does not have enough evidence to move against any group or person," according to The Associated Press.
U.S. protesters are far less able to plan disruptions than religiously motivated terrorists, yet the FBI can't find them, either.
Do you feel safe?
STRANGE BEDFELLOWS, INDEED
Bet you haven't heard: Rep. Porter Goss, R-Fla., Bush's nominee to head the CIA, was having breakfast with Pakistani intelligence chief Lt. Gen. Mahmoud Ahmad on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001.
Why should we care?
Ahmad was later revealed to have wired $100,000 to al-Qaeda and/or Osama bin Laden.
So far, the only mention of this in the mainstream media has been far down in Washington Post piece on Goss.
LIES AND A LYING LIAR
Rolling Stone's profile of reactionary right-wing commentator Bill O'Reilly includes one humorous nugget of flat-out untruth.
While verbally abusing a Canadian journalist who praised two Americans who fled north of the border to avoid military service in Iraq, O'Reilly threatens a U.S. boycott of her country.
"They've lost billions of dollars in France, according to the Paris Business Review!" he thunders.
Of course, there is no such publication. (Although there are now two enterprising Web sites with the same name.)
FBI TARGETING AMERICANS
The same FBI that failed to act on suspicions that Islamic radicals were trying to learn how to fly -- but not take off or land -- jumbo jets is now targeting Americans bent on exercising their Consitutional right to free speech.
Agents have subpoenaed political activists in Kansas and Missouri in the days and weeks before the Democratic National Convention.
Intimidation and other actions that violate the spirit of democracy, the First Amendment right to "peaceably assemble" to redress grievances, are the last refuge of an illegal government and an administration that values winning above American ideals.
BANDAR BUSH & CO.
I don't read Christian Broadcasting News often. But one article about the home country of Bandar Bush, supposed ally of the United States, deserves notice.
The cradle of violent Islamic fundamentalism and one of the largest funders of hate-centered madrassas, Saudi Arabia would rather launch a public relations campaign in 19 U.S. cities rather than actually address the problems they helped cause. (Remember: Fifteen of the 19 hijackers in the Sept. 11 attacks were Saudis.)
There is, of course, no mention of the findings of the Sept. 11 commission that "Saudi Arabia is a problematic ally in combating Islamic terrorism," says the BBC.
The CBN article states:
Journalist and author Stephen Schwartz echoes that, saying, "They are lying to everybody." He says the Saudis believe they can continue fooling the Christian West into thinking they have changed.
Schwartz says,"You know what the Wahhabis say? The Wahhabis say, "The Jews are as clever as Satan, but the Christians are just stupid. They continue to use Wahhabism as a control device, as a control ideology, to indoctrinate and control their people, while whispering in our ears that they're our best friends."
For instance, in a June 15th press release, the Saudi Ambassador to the United States, Prince Bandar said, "Senior religious scholars in Saudi Arabia have continually and unequivocally condemned terrorism. In our war against terrorism, these condemnations are a powerful weapon."
But just two weeks before, a Muslim professor on Saudi State TV, Sheik Dr. Ahmad Abd Al-Latif, said, "Cursing the oppressing Jews and the oppressing and plundering Christians, and the prayer that Allah will annihilate them, is permitted."
That sounds a little like radical religious right-wing fanatic rhetoric.
UNWILLING BUSH SUPPORTER?
The Bush campaign overstepped its boundaries yet again. This time, it used the Iraqi Olympic team in one of its new ads -- a move decried by several of the athletes themselves.
The Sports Illustrated story also mentions that Bush touted Iraqi soccer players at the Olympics during speech in Beaverton, Ore., on Friday.
"The image of the Iraqi soccer team playing in this Olympics, it's fantastic, isn't it?" he said. "It wouldn't have been free if the United States had not acted."
Iraqi midfielder Salih Sadir, a former pro player in embattled Najaf, might have surprised Bush.
"I want the violence and the war to go away from the city," says Sadir, 21. "We don't wish for the presence of Americans in our country. We want them to go away."
[Ahmed] Manajid, 22, who nearly scored his own goal with a driven header on Wednesday, hails from the city of Fallujah. He says coalition forces killed Manajid's cousin, Omar Jabbar al-Aziz, who was fighting as an insurgent, and several of his friends. In fact, Manajid says, if he were not playing soccer he would "for sure" be fighting as part of the resistance.
"I want to defend my home. If a stranger invades America and the people resist, does that mean they are terrorists?" Manajid says.
Although it makes sense to someone who went to Catholic school for 13 years that Jesus would likely not become involved in politics of an earthly nature, something rang true about a few interpretations from clergy persons.
James C. Moore, co-author of "Bush's Brain: How Karl Rove Made George Bush Presidential," said, "If ever there were a bleeding-heart liberal, it was Jesus Christ. I think the carpenter from Galilee was the original Democrat."
OH, THAT HELEN
Legendary White House correspondent Helen Thomas recently gave the staff of a small weekly newspaper an earful on the Bush presidency at a social event recently.
And she added, "apropos of nothing," that when Al Neuharth, founder of USA Today, interviewed Fidel Castro a couple of years ago, he asked Castro, "What's the difference between your democracy and ours?" and Castro replied, "I don't have to answer questions from Helen Thomas."
KRUGMAN SPOTLIGHTS O'REILLY TACTIC
Liberal Oasis interviews New York Times columnist Paul Krugman, accidental media critic, which provides the glare of the spotlight on a right-wing tactic.
LO: You just had a raucous encounter with Bill O'Reilly on CNBC's Tim Russert. What did you learn from that experience?
PK: What I learned is how hard it is to argue with a pathological liar.
Because the problem is in real time, as it's happening, you can't fact check everything.
We now know, a couple of people have checked it, in talking about the war, he talked at length about what Hans Blix told him on his program before the war, except Hans Blix never was on his program before the war.
So what do you do? Somebody just makes shit up, how do you deal with it?
So it was an interesting experience.
Katarina vanden Heuvel, in her blog on The Nation's Web site, Editor's Cut, tallies the number of anti-Bush books on the market and lists some of her favorite political buttons.
THE SMOKESCREEN OF 'WAR'
The Bush administration handout of favors to big business at the expense of consumers, workers, motorists, medical patients and the elderly, among others, continues nearly unfettered as the so-called war on terror distracts American voters from domestic issues with tangible effects.
Writes The New York Times:
Allies and critics of the Bush administration agree that the Sept. 11 attacks, the war in Afghanistan and the war in Iraq have preoccupied the public, overshadowing an important element of the president's agenda: new regulatory initiatives. Health rules, environmental regulations, energy initiatives, worker-safety standards and product-safety disclosure policies have been modified in ways that often please business and industry leaders while dismaying interest groups representing consumers, workers, drivers, medical patients, the elderly and many others.
And most of it was done through regulation, not law - lowering the profile of the actions. The administration can write or revise regulations largely on its own, while Congress must pass laws. For that reason, most modern-day presidents have pursued much of their agendas through regulation. But administration officials acknowledge that Mr. Bush has been particularly aggressive in using this strategy.
All this hasn't escaped the notice of Rep. David Obey, Democrat of Wisconsin, who tells the Times:
"Most people are busy just trying to make a living. And with all the focus on Iraq and bin Laden, it gives the administration an opportunity to take a lot of loot out the back door without anybody noticing."
Yes, war is good for business, especially if one is in the business of subverting democracy and the good of the American public in the interest of boosting big business.
JOURNALISTS DISSING BUSH
Ruben Navarrette Jr. of the Dallas Morning News laments the reaction Bush received while addressing the Unity conference of minority journalists last week.
The following is the essence of a letter sent him via e-mail.
"At times, I felt I was attending a political rally rather than a meeting of professionals in a news-gathering business that stresses the need for impartiality and objectivity," Navarrette writes.
On its face, the criticism appears to fall flat because newspapers and TV news channels are neither impartial nor objective, though the least I imagine the media could hope to accomplish was fairness and accuracy.
It does poorly at that, as well.
News reports from major outlets often merely repeat what government officials say -- without independent verification of facts or proper context.
It's a challenge, to be sure, but the age of sound bites does little to change that -- a trend in which the media itself is complicit in propagating.
The president's jokes fell flat. The folksy Texas banter wore thin. And most of what Bush said the audience seemed to dismiss without a hearing.
Bush didn't help matters by appearing to be on the defensive. His presentation was clumsy, and he was obviously under-prepared. As when, searching for a way to tout his education reform efforts, Bush noted: "You can't read a newspaper if you can't read."
Anyone who has gone out of his way to alienate a good deal of journalists by saying he doesn't read newspapers, as well as by doing everything beyond its power to restrict the media at every turn -- including the ban on photographing coffins of U.S. soldiers, for one -- cannot expect the alienation will or should continued unopposed.
For a good deal of journalists, who are well-read those "folksy" ways seem simple-minded and perhaps mildly horrifying.
It was disrespectful – and distasteful. It was also dumb. Things like this help set back the larger cause of bringing racial and ethnic diversity to journalism.
"Respect," first and foremost, is earned. A majority of American voters did not cast their ballots for Bush and instead watched as the political legacy inheirited the goodwill and the maneuvering in subverting the democratic process in the 2000 election.
Follow this with one failed policy after another, and it becomes clear that respect beyond a civil demeanor is unwarranted.
"Respect" is likely why the media -- as seen in such stunning mea culpas by The New York Times and The Washington Post -- went along so uncritically with the Bush administration's unfounded and indefensible assertions on the need for war. Perhaps it was "respect" for the presidency that led to the media's own betrayal of the public trust and the unique role it holds, enshrined in the U.S. Constitution.
Lastly, those who would deny the need for diversity in newsrooms would jump at any excuse to do so. It takes little help from columnists who would help add credence to the right-wing message that the media is the enemy.
GOSS KNOWS WHO'S BOSS
Is Republican apologist Rep. Porter Goss of Florida really the right man to lead the CIA? The Bush administration certainly thinks so, and with good reason.
Goss, a former CIA agent during the late 1960s and early 1970s, doesn't think the leak of operative Valerie Plame deserves attention, saying the incident is part of "wild and unsubstantiated allegations."
Yet he telegraphs in clearly partisan language exactly where his allegiances lie.
"Somebody sends me a blue dress and some DNA, I'll have an investigation," he said.
HAWKISH POST STILL GETS IT WRONG
In its feeble mea culpa, Washington Post editors look back at its lack of critical reporting in the months leading up to the invasion of Iraq and still manage to miss what its role should've been.
The Post story recalls:
From August 2002 through the March 19, 2003, launch of the war, The Post ran more than 140 front-page stories that focused heavily on administration rhetoric against Iraq. Some examples: "Cheney Says Iraqi Strike Is Justified"; "War Cabinet Argues for Iraq Attack"; "Bush Tells United Nations It Must Stand Up to Hussein or U.S. Will"; "Bush Cites Urgent Iraqi Threat"; "Bush Tells Troops: Prepare for War."
Reporter Karen DeYoung, a former assistant managing editor who covered the prewar diplomacy, said contrary information sometimes got lost.
"If there's something I would do differently -- and it's always easy in hindsight -- the top of the story would say, 'We're going to war, we're going to war against evil.' But later down it would say, 'But some people are questioning it.' The caution and the questioning was buried underneath the drumbeat. . . . The hugeness of the war preparation story tended to drown out a lot of that stuff."
In other words, the media functioned EXACTLY as the Bush administration wanted: Concerned not with balance, fairness or a critical eye but with parroting the White House's insupportable assertions.
As Americans, we should be horrified at such an idea, yet it doesn't stop there.
Bush, Vice President Cheney and other administration officials had no problem commanding prime real estate in the paper, even when their warnings were repetitive. "We are inevitably the mouthpiece for whatever administration is in power," DeYoung said. "If the president stands up and says something, we report what the president said." And if contrary arguments are put "in the eighth paragraph, where they're not on the front page, a lot of people don't read that far."
Ultimately, it was a betrayal of the public trust on behalf of both the government and its chief watchdog, and the public deserves an apology.
Executive Editor Leonard Downie Jr. also "misunderestimates" -- to use a Bushism -- opposition to the so-called war.
Across the country, "the voices raising questions about the war were lonely ones," Downie said. "We didn't pay enough attention to the minority."
No, Len. You didn't pay enough attention to the FACTS.
"People who were opposed to the war from the beginning and have been critical of the media's coverage in the period before the war have this belief that somehow the media should have crusaded against the war," Downie said. "They have the mistaken impression that somehow if the media's coverage had been different, there wouldn't have been a war."
How convenient it is for him to brush aside the idea that the media matters. But perhaps if the media's coverage had been PRESENT, there might not have been a protracted military action in Iraq today.
RON REAGAN OUTFOXES FOX
The list of facts one-time first son Ron Reagan lays out in his Esquire piece reads like a catalog of well-documented failings of the Bush administration (which are handily spun by the fanatic neocons).
In the process, he suggests the question Kerry should be asking: Where's Osama?
The real—but elusive—prime mover behind the 9/11 attacks, Osama bin Laden, was quickly relegated to a back burner (a staff member at Fox News—the cable-TV outlet of the Bush White House—told me a year ago that mere mention of bin Laden's name was forbidden within the company, lest we be reminded that the actual bad guy remained at large) while Saddam's Iraq became International Enemy Number One.
DOWNTURN AROUND THE CORNER?
Thank goodness for the likes of economist and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman, who seems to be one of the very few experts who casts a skeptic's eye among Big Media outlets.
If I have $100 and gain $1, that's a 1 percent increase.
If I have $10 and gain that same $1, now it's a 10 percent increase.
This essentially underscores Krugman's debunking of Bush apologists' spin.
First, they talk about recent increases in the number of jobs, not the fact that payroll employment is still far below its previous peak, and even further below anything one could call full employment. Because job growth has finally turned positive, some economists (who probably know better) claim that prosperity has returned - and some partisans have even claimed that we have the best economy in 20 years.
But job growth, by itself, says nothing about prosperity: growth can be higher in a bad year than a good year, if the bad year follows a terrible year while the good year follows another good year. I've drawn a chart of job growth for the 1930's; there was rapid nonfarm job growth (8.1 percent) in 1934, a year of mass unemployment and widespread misery - but that year was slightly less terrible than 1933. ...
Second, the apologists give numbers without context. President Bush boasts about 1.5 million new jobs over the past 11 months. Yet this was barely enough to keep up with population growth, and it's worse than any 11-month stretch during the Clinton years.
Third, they cherry-pick any good numbers they can find.
There's plenty more to quote, but you get the idea.
OUR ACCIDENTAL COMEDIAN-IN-CHIEF
Appearing in front of a group other than tightly controlled supporters last week, Bush found journalists somewhat less than taken at his "folksy" ways.
Two highlights include the following winners, culled from the official White House transcript.
We actually misnamed the war on terror, it ought to be the struggle against ideological extremists who do not believe in free societies who happen to use terror as a weapon to try to shake the conscience of the free world. (Laughter.)
No, that's what they do.
Bush's second comment at the Unity convention of minority journalists drew stunned silence instead of laughter.
Tribal sovereignty means that, it's sovereign. You're a -- you've been given sovereignty, and you're viewed as a sovereign entity.
Between Bush and Will Ferrell's impersonation for America Coming Together, it's tough to decide who's funnier, unless you factor in who has control of the White House.
IT COULD HAPPEN TO YOU
Wayne Madsen, whom the Village Voice identifies as a former National Security Agency employee during the Reagan administration and currently a journalist, sketches a scenario about possibly postponing the vote if there is a "terrorist attack."
Easily dismissed out of hand as the stuff that happens in Third World nations, I might have thought the same of our 2000 election.
BUSH TELLS TRUTH ABOUT HARM TO U.S.
At a signing ceremony for a $417 billion defense appropriations bill, Bush said the following:
"Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we. They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we."
Truer words were never spoken by this administration, although they were inadvertant. On some level, he must know they're accurate.
WEAPONS OF MASS STARVATION
While evidence that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction was skimpy at best, evidence is mounting that the Sudanese government is allowing the starvation of millions of its citizens.
Yet the Bush administration does nothing.
Even the U.S. Congress has passed a resolution calling the killings and displacement of people in the Darfur region "genocide." (http://www.washtimes.com/upi-breaking/20040805-050221-4633r.htm)
This week, Secretary of State Colin Powell said an official determination will come within a few weeks, according to UPI.
"I have to gather data from people I have in the field now, who are interviewing people, to reach the legal definition of genocide," he said at the 2004 UNITY convention in Washington. "And I'll make a judgment in the next couple of weeks as to whether it does or does not meet that test."
That's almost as ridiculous as former President Clinton's hair-splitting on what "the definition of 'is' is."
Except in Powell's case, people's lives and not a blue Gap dress are at stake.
State Department has gone so far as to deny visas to experts who could have testified before Congress, prompting TrueMajority.org to launch an effort to take documentary filmmakers there to gather the evidence.
'THINGS ARE, YOU KNOW, SERIOUS'
In another feeble attempt at projecting the image that his administration was on top of things, Bush told reporters the following, according to a Washington Post story that doesn't clean up the quote (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A35466-2004Aug2.html):
"It's serious business," Bush said. "I mean, we wouldn't be, you know, contacting authorities at the local level unless something was real."
That's what people sound like when they either don't know what they're talking about or are lying.
Later in the same story, the Post quotes an unnamed official.
"There is nothing right now that we're hearing that is new," said one senior law enforcement official who was briefed on the alert. "Why did we go to this level? ... I still don't know that."
Unnamed sources are often met with a little more skepticism, understandably. But the New York Times story (http://www.nytimes.com/2004/08/03/politics/03intel.html?hp) does one better in quoting White House homeland security adviser Frances Fragos Townsend that the surveillance data al-Qaida gathered had been "gathered in 2000 and 2001."
The comments of government officials on Monday seemed softer in tone than the warning issued the day before. On Sunday, officials were circumspect in discussing when the surveillance of the financial institutions had occurred, and Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge cited the quantity of intelligence from "multiple reporting streams" that he said was "alarming in both the amount and specificity of the information."
Perhaps after the election, the Bush administration -- which had never held a single meeting on counterrorism prior to Sept. 11 -- will tell us the World Trade Center is in danger.
One-time Democratic presidential hopeful Howard Dean appropriately called B.S. on the convenience of the administration's sky-is-falling tactics, calling it Bush's "trump card." (http://www.wrgb.com/news/regional/regional.asp?selection=article_18202)