Archive for July 13th, 2007

Peggy Noonan, columnist for The Wall Street Journal and Special Assistant had this to say today about BDS – “Bush Derangement Syndrome”:

American Grit
We can’t fire the president right now, so we’re waiting it out.

Friday, July 13, 2007 12:01 a.m. EDT
It’s been a slow week in a hot era. I found myself Thursday watching President Bush’s news conference and thinking about what it is about him, real or perceived, that makes people who used to smile at the mention of his name now grit their teeth. I mean what it is apart from the huge and obvious issues on which they might disagree with him.

I’m not referring to what used to be called Bush Derangement Syndrome. That phrase suggested that to passionately dislike the president was to be somewhat unhinged. No one thinks that anymore. I received an email before the news conference from as rock-ribbed a Republican as you can find, a Georgia woman (middle-aged, entrepreneurial) who’d previously supported him. She said she’d had it. “I don’t believe a word that comes out of his mouth.” I was startled by her vehemence only because she is, as I said, rock-ribbed. Her email reminded me of another, one a friend received some months ago: “I took the W off my car today,” it said on the subject line. It sounded like a country western song, like a great lament.

To read the rest of her column, click here.

Yes folks – W now stands for “When.

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No End in Sight – winner of the Special Jury Prize – Documentary – Sundance Film Festival – 2007

Opens July 27 in Washington, D.C. and New York; August 10 in San Francisco, Chicago, Minneapolis, Portland, and Seattle; August 31 in Austin, TX; September 7 in Durango, CO; and October 13 in Boulder, CO.

We’re All Gonna Die
By William Rivers Pitt
t r u t h o u t | Columnist
Friday 13 July 2007

We are all wired into a survival trip now.

– Hunter S. Thompson

Who can forget the incredible scandal that erupted back in May of 2002? Around about the middle of that month, details began to emerge about the August 6, 2001 Presidential Daily Briefing that specifically warned Bush about Osama bin Laden’s determination to strike the United States.

Wait. Actually, everyone forgot, because two days later, the Bush administration unleashed a blizzard of dire warnings about impending terrorist attacks. FBI Director Robert Mueller intoned such attacks were “inevitable,” and the Department of Homeland Security announced the imminent, explosive destruction of all American railroads, along with the Brooklyn Bridge and the Statue of Liberty.

Who can forget the incredible scandal that erupted back in June of 2003? Over the course of two days, reports emerged about serious doubts held by the CIA regarding the credibility of the administration’s claim Iraq tried to buy uranium from Niger. On the heels of this, Congress unfurled its 9/11 report, which criticized all levels of the Bush administration for its performance before and during the attacks.

Wait. Actually, everyone forgot, because the Bush administration unleashed another blizzard of warnings about impending terrorist attacks. Specifically, the Department of Homeland Security warned terrorists were, once again, preparing to attack the United States with suicide missions using commercial airliners as bombs.

Who can forget the incredible scandal that erupted back in December of 2003? 9/11 Commission chairman Thomas Keane declared the attacks of 9/11 should have been prevented. The next day, a Federal appeals court ruled against the administration on the case of suspected terrorist Jose Padilla, stating Padilla could not be held indefinitely without being charged.

Wait. Actually, everyone forgot, because the Bush administration increased the terrorism threat level to Orange and claimed more suicide planes were about to come zooming out of the sky. Six international flights were diverted due to potential terrorist actions of some passengers who were later identified as an insurance salesman, an elderly Chinese woman and a five-year-old boy.

Who can forget the incredible scandal that erupted back in May of 2004? Secretary of State Colin Powell appeared on Meet the Press and stated the intelligence on Iraqi WMD he’d been given for his UN presentation had been “inaccurate and wrong and, in some cases, deliberately misleading.” Horrifying new pictures of the torture, rape and murder of prisoners by Americans at Abu Ghraib prison became public. The American military accidentally bombed a wedding party in Iraq, killing 40 civilians.

Wait. Actually, everyone forgot, because FBI Director Mueller and Attorney General John Ashcroft announced they had reports from multiple sources of al Qaeda’s “specific intention to hit the United States hard.” The threat levels were not raised, but dire warnings of impending catastrophe were offered by the administration for the next several days.

The recipe is simple, like the directions on the back of a shampoo bottle. Damaging reports of Bush administration malfeasance emerge. Warnings of imminent terrorist-borne doom immediately follow, all spread far and wide by said Bush administration. Lather, rinse, repeat.

There are many more instances of this curious timing to be found, but apparently, no one in the administration is concerned this dubious pattern – spreading fear among the populace to change the subject, an act of terrorism itself – might start to wear thin.

Who is going to forget the incredible scandals of June and July of 2007? The Bush administration leaves Nixon in the dust by commuting the prison sentence of I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby. This action strongly suggests the existence of a quid pro quo between Libby and Bush’s people to cover up the criminal activities of powerful officials like Vice President Dick Cheney, who had recently claimed his office wasn’t part of the executive branch to avoid handing papers over to the National Archives.

The administration deploys spurious claims of Executive Privilege to avoid subpoenas regarding the patently illegal NSA wiretapping of American citizens. That privilege is extended to deny Congressional access to Harriet Miers, former White House counsel, regarding the issue of fired US attorneys. Contempt charges are threatened against Miers, and the NSA subpoena stonewall comes closer to getting openly challenged in court. Alberto Gonzales is exposed as having lied to the Senate in his testimony about FBI abuses of the Patriot Act.

Few of the benchmarks for success in Iraq are met. Desperate to halt a tide of GOP defections from his Iraq policy, Bush again coughs up the totally discredited link between 9/11 and Iraq, saying, “The same people that attacked us on September the 11th is a crowd that is now bombing people, killing innocent men, women and children.” The House again votes to withdraw American troops from Iraq. A new Harris poll on Bush’s approval rating is published. The number reads 26 percent.

Wait.

Homeland Security chief Michael Chertoff all but guarantees devastating new terror attacks against the United States this summer. He bases this warning on a “gut feeling.” White House spokesman Tony Snow threatens that withdrawal from Iraq would bring terrorism “to a shopping mall near you.”

Meanwhile, al Qaeda is alleged to be as secure in Pakistan and Afghanistan as they were before 9/11, yet no one in the administration connects this new security to the drain of resources happening in Iraq. Additionally, no one in the administration points out the fact that, if Chertoff’s gut is indeed correct, and we are indeed attacked again, responsibility for that attack will fall upon those who manufactured war in Iraq. Never mind the fact that if an attack is allowed to happen, even a minor one, more of our constitutional rights and protections will be eviscerated by the very same people who failed to stop it again.

Will everyone forget about the scandals of June and July 2007 amid these deadly warnings of coming death?

Lather, rinse, repeat.


William Rivers Pitt is a New York Times and internationally bestselling author of two books: War on Iraq: What Team Bush Doesn’t Want You to Know andThe Greatest Sedition Is Silence.” His newest book, House of Ill Repute: Reflections on War, Lies, and America’s Ravaged Reputation,” is now available from PoliPointPress.

The Iraq Debate That Wasn’t

By MASSIMO CALABRESI/WASHINGTON

Americans would be forgiven for thinking there’s a major debate underway in Washington over whether or not the U.S. should leave Iraq. The Senate is halfway through two weeks of fierce fighting over setting timelines, enforcing benchmarks and generally trying to pressure the White House to reduce the number of American troops there. President Bush held a lengthy press conference, Thursday, in which he hinted he might change course on the war after his generals report to him in September. Once they’ve done so, he said, “We’ll use that data… to, you know, make another decision, if need be.”

Whether or not Bush finds it necessary to “make another decision” probably won’t be known until September. But ask senior White House staffers involved in Iraq planning what they imagine such a course shift would mean for troop levels, and you get a range just under 100,000. And what would these troops be doing? Bush himself laid it out today. “There’s a lot of discussion about a scenario in which our troop posture would be to guard the territorial integrity of — of the country of Iraq, to embed and train, to help the Iraqi security forces deal with violent elements in their society, as well as keep enough Special Forces there to chase down al-Qaeda. As a matter of fact, that is something that I’ve spoken publicly about, so that’s — that’s the position I would like to see us in.”

The prospect of 100,000 troops doing all of that in the middle of sectarian fighting, and under continued attack from suicide bombers, doesn’t sound much like what most Americans would imagine as the end of the war in Iraq. True, it would mean removing the combat forces that go head-to-head with insurgents on the ground because they are patrolling to provide security — a responsibility that would pass to Iraqi forces, such as they are. That, in turn, would mean a drop in casualties. But short of the outbreak of peace in Iraq — not likely — White House planners don’t foresee even a majority of American forces coming out anytime soon.

So what’s with all the end-the-war talk? The impression being created by the debate in Washington is more about politics than anything else. For starters, Democrats are playing to their base: Though most Senate Democrats support a redeployment along the lines that Bush is describing, they are keen to give voters the impression that they are all for getting the U.S. out of Iraq. And they are, but not yet. They, too, recognize a need for a strong, interim force in country to offset the threat of mass killing, secure the borders, chase al-Qaeda and deter Iranian meddling in the country.

As for the Republicans, they too are playing to core supporters. They know that, in theory at least, Bush wants a smaller role for U.S. troops; he’s been trying to get there for years, now. But their interest is to cast the political battle with Democrats as one of strength vs. defeatism. So, even if the Democrats’ position is not in fact that far from where the President claims to be headed, both sides are portraying the gap between them as unbridgeable. Which, in turn, leaves the impression that the debate is between those who want to escalate the war and those who want to withdraw U.S. forces entirely.

One way or another, something along the lines the President is describing will likely occur in 2008, if not sooner. And then, regardless of the situation on the ground, Bush will say he moved the right number of troops at the right time. The Democrats will say they forced him to do so, and will find new ways to keep the mess in Iraq front and center in the national debate — without necessarily pushing to bring all the troops home right away. If you’re looking for someone who will lead a speedy withdrawal from Iraq, you’ll have to go to the extreme left or right of the parties. Nobody in the mainstream is looking to get out soon.

From Time

Say “When.”

The Roman Empire was strong for a time. It was founded on geography, family values, military strength, and wise leadership. It flourished because of social, economic, political, military and religious strengths. However, when the very things that make a civilization flourish start to decline, the civilization will also lead to a downfall.

The first reason for the fall was economic decay. The rulers of Rome had expensive lifestyles. To aid their image, they needed money. They gained money through taxation on the poor….The government decreased the silver content in money. The value of the money also decreased….Labor was cheap and worthless. Upper-class Romans were content with what they had become. Federal minimum wage, July 2007: $5.15/hr ($10, 712/yr) Congress salaries, 2007: Representatives – $168,000/yr, Leaders – $186,000/yr, Speaker – $215,700/yr. Senate salaries, 2006: $165,200 President’s salary: “The compensation of the President is controlled by law, specifically 3 USC 102. The most recent salary increase, from $200,000/year to $400,000/year took effect when George W. Bush became President. The President also receives a $50,000 non-taxable expense account.” from the Internet Public Library

Another reason for the fall of Rome was political issues. Citizens no longer displayed patriotism, they were indifferent. Only the rich ran for office. Only the rich could run for office. It had become too expensive to hold office….The army had proven itself to produce many leaders. The army needed to be maintained. Again, taxes were forced mainly on the poor or made more people impoverished. Number of people eligible to vote in the U.S.: 202.7 million Number of people who voted in the Presidential elections of 2004: 123.5 million from It’s Your Times Cost of running for President: $75 – 100 million per candidate from “The High Cost of Running for President

The third and final reason reason for the decline of Rome was religion. Rome religion deteriorated because of conflicts between Christianity and Pagan gods. Constantine recognized Christianity as a religion. Because of him Christians wouldn’t suffer persecutions for their beliefs. Rather ironically, later Christians would persecute Pagans. In the eyes of public opinion, possessing a “just cause” for waging war is central. A war is said to be Just if it is waged on moral, religious or ethical grounds. From Global Research

Roman Empire information from 123HelpMe.com

Say “When.”

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Published on Thursday, July 12, 2007.

By Phil Rockstroh – BLN Contributing Writer

At present, George W. Bush is unpopular with the majority of the American public not because of the murderous mayhem he has unloosed in Iraq; rather, his standing has plummeted, due to the fact, he didn’t deliver the goods. Americans are fine with fueling our republic of road rage using the blood of Iraqis (or any other distant and darker people) as long as “the mission” doesn’t drag on too long or reveal too much about ourselves.

How did we come to be a nation of vampires who live by sustaining ourselves on the blood of others? Is our mode of collective being so toxic in the United States that a writer must bandy about metaphors culled from Gothic horror fiction to describe it?

I’m afraid it’s come to that: We are a people whose psyches have grown monstrously distorted from an addiction to imperial power and personal entitlement. (Imagery of Smurfs and Teletubbies won’t rise to the analogy, albeit as terrifying as those demons of hell-bound cuteness are.)

The corporate culture of exploitation has begot a hellscape of narcissists. It is an authoritarian culture riddled in kitsch and cruelty, in nationalistic hagiography and displaced rage — all the distortions of national character inherent to privileged grotesques and ordinary monsters.

A narcissist’s actions are monstrous because his only love is the image of himself wielding control and power. (Does this remind you of anyone, perhaps someone who struts about in a flightsuit — someone prone to proclaiming himself “the decider” — someone who grows intoxicated to the point becoming insensate from a whiff of his own pheromones as he swoons in macho-narcissistic self-worship?)

And what about the everyday monsters, those who feel nothing — not outrage, not remorse, nor sorrow — by the conscience-devoid attempt made by our vampiric leaders to sustain “our way of life” on Iraqi blood? Are you not a monster as well when you feel nothing before immense human suffering? If you are impervious to, grown inured of, or have chosen to remain ignorant of the agony of the Iraqi people, then you might as well join the ranks of the undead — because the distant landscape of corpses in Iraq and Afghanistan matches your internal deathscape.

In short, our empire’s dependence on the resources (the life’s blood) of others renders us a nation of vampires. Moreover, the corporatist character (our national character) is defined by the vampire’s trait of taking, never giving. Accordingly, what do the big monsters at the top take from us, the little monsters?

To name one: our time, the precious hours of our finite lives. The corporatists are Time Vampires: For a moment, reflect on all the hours of life you’ve wasted away — in office cubicles, in commuter traffic jams, in the addictive pursuit of consumer dreck, or simply numbed-out and exhausted, rendered inert from the incessant, soul-sucking stress of the corporate state.

The corporacracy devours our time and, like the charges of a vampire, has made us dependent and slavish in return. In our bloodless enslavement, we lose the vitality borne of existing within life’s inherent mysteries and grow estranged from the deep resonances of participation mystique.

How does one begin to take back one’s soul from these elitist usurpers? Start with this: The ebullient skepticism engendered from calling out soul-numbing, self-serving authoritarian lies.

In an era as perilous as ours, it’s imperative we act with utmost urgency. Yet, tragically, the exigencies of our age are being played out against a panorama of longer, more stressful work hours, superficially ameliorated by a mass media culture comprised of ceaseless trivia and mindless distraction.

This pathology began years ago when our ancestors offered up their life’s blood to the early corporatists of the Industrial Age. Henry Ford was a gray ghoul who measured out our flesh with his productivity-measuring stopwatch; he was a cunning practitioner of the black art of convincing human beings they’re mere cogs in an inhuman machine. It was only a short trudge from there through history’s slaughterhouse to Adolf Eichmann, insulated within his vampire’s coffin of cold calculations that shielded him from the horrific implications of the system of mechanized extermination he devised.

The corporate vampire’s creed is defined by ruthless efficiency; the fear of a “loss of productivity” is the driving force of the death machine. The system is so ruthless and inhuman that it must conceal its true face, hence the rise of the telegenic undead known as the corporate media. Do not look to them to report the facts of our condition: After all, a mirror can’t reflect the image of a vampire. A vampire is empty to the core; therefore, there is nothing to reflect.

Furthermore, his emptiness is the progenitor of his destructive nature. Rather than face himself, his appetite for death will devour all in its path: rain forests, Arctic glaziers, the people of Iraq, the hours of your life, as well as your inner being.

It is the force that holds Democratic politicians in the thrall of their own fecklessness, because they answer to the same blood-sucking, corporate masters as the rest of us. Quite simply, they’re afraid of their bosses too. The Washington Beltway is a version, in miniature, of the entire soul-dead, American corporacracy. The careerist politicians within the Beltway are afflicted with the same diminution of choice — the same hyper-attenuation of the will to freedom — as the rest of us.

And what remains for us: an existence (or lack thereof) within this hierarchical hellscape of narcissists. What sort of a pathetic mode of being is this, a life shackled to the service of a monstrous system wherein one must evince the obsequies of a vampire’s bloodless lackeys?

To reverse this situation: Now is the time to drag the lies of the corporate state into the sunshine where they will writher to dust. We are not powerless: We live in a world where our collective, hidden intentions are made manifest by our outward actions. This is why Gothic — even b-movie — metaphors are not an overwrought description of our present condition. Ergo, by the vehicle of cultural collaboration, we are a nation of world-destroying, b-movie monsters — we are a hack-scripted, second-billed feature at the drive-in movie of existence — a laughed-off-the-big-screen of the cosmos, box-office poison of a people.

We are soul-sucking creatures of kitsch. Flesh-eating zombies of conformity. Road-rage werewolves. Right-wing, talk show demons whose wrathful voices rage into empty air. Hungry ghosts wandering the aisles of supermarkets, convenience stores, restaurant chains and the food courts of shopping malls. We are: The Fat, Mindless Blobs That Ate the Planet.

To survive, first, we must find the monster within, then drive a stake through its heart.

Phil Rockstroh, a self-described, auto-didactic, gasbag monologist, is a poet, lyricist and philosopher bard living in New York City. He may be contacted at: philangie2000@yahoo.com

From Black Listed News

Say “When.”

Sen. Barbara Boxer (D- CA) on the Ed Schultz Show:

SCHULTZ: They’re throwing down the gauntlet. They’re just declaring that they’re not going to change anything — the President in Cleveland yesterday saying, we’re just getting started. So in the meantime, the frustration of the American people continues to build, and I have to tell you Senator, I’m not trying to rope you into a conversation one way or another or where you’re at on this, but I want to say this for our listeners: they want impeachment put back on the table. They want impeachment on the table as a bargaining chip. Because for instance, Scooter Libby, commuting the sentence, what happened today with Sarah Taylor saying she’d been instructed by the president not to say anything, Alberto Gonzales, the story today about how he was briefed over the Patriot Act and then lied a week later in front of the Senate Intelligence Committee. I mean, when is enough is enough?

BOXER: Yeah. I mean, you left out a bunch of things — spying on citizens without a warrant, going around FISA, on and on. Look, I have always said it should be on the table. Ed, I’ve always said it. I was on a book tour and I ran into John Dean of Watergate fame. He was on the book tour that I was on, for his book. And it was right after we discovered that the administration was spying on our people without a warrant. And he just said, he looked at me and basically just said, as far as he could see, unless there was some explanation for this, this was impeachable. I’ve always said that you need to keep it on the table, and you need to look at these things, because now people are dying because of this administration. That’s the truth. And they won’t change course. They are ignoring the Congress. They keep signing these signing statements which mean that he’s decided not to enforce the law. This is as close as we’ve ever come to a dictatorship. When you have a situation where Congress is stepped on, that means the American people are stepped on. So I don’t think you can take anything off the table. Because in fact the Constitution doesn’t permit us to take these things off the table.

SCHULTZ: Would you counsel Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid to put it on the table and make a statement before everybody goes home in August. Because they’re going to get an earful from the American people when they go home.

BOXER: Well, I don’t presume to tell people what to do. I have made my statements. And of course if asked I will say. I’ve been out there, I’m out here again today. I think, John Conyers is — this is where impeachment starts. When Alberto Gonzales, when it came out that he fired these U.S. attorneys, that it was politics being played with it, I thought then that we should look into impeachment hearings. So I don’t think it should be taken off the table.

On the other hand, we’ve got a war to end. We’ve got things that we’ve got to keep on doing. So if we do this right, we should give it to the appropriate committees, let them do the hard work that it entails, but we have to do something about health insurance. We have to do something about global warming. We have to end this war. We have to do something about education. And all these other things. About the budget deficit. You have to walk and chew gum at the same. And I know Nancy’s point was, we have to reverse about seven years of this horrific administration’s policies, and she’s fearful of losing steam on that, in that regard.

From After Downing Street (the orange emphasis is ours)

Say “When.”

This is a long, difficult article – and we won’t do it, or those interviewed, the injustice of printing a teaser.

Please take the time and read the entire piece at The Nation.

Say “When.”

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SEATTLE POST-INTELLIGENCER EDITORIAL BOARD

Time to freak out, America: U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff’s got a “gut feeling” that you’ll be facing a possible terrorist attack this summer.

In his comments, made Tuesday, he included an observation that there wasn’t really much in the way of evidence pointing to an imminent plot. But hey, who needs evidence when you have a gut with feelings? Does this vague comment seem like the sort of thing a security official should share with the general public? Does it seem like a good idea to spread fear and panic among the population without a sound reason?

Forgive us for saying so — actually don’t — but we, too, have a gut feeling. With Republican senators withdrawing their support for the Iraq war and a president practically besieged by scandal (a botched war, the firing of eight U.S. attorneys, a CIA leak case, warrantless wiretapping, operating foreign prisons and torture camps, etc.), could it be that Chertoff is trying to scare the bejeezus out of Americans to rally support for the president and the war?

We base our gut feelings on the past behavior of this administration (such as scaring the country into going to war against Iraq by telling us they had mobile bio-weapons labs).

Furthermore, we base our doubts of Chertoff’s gut feelings on the fact that he didn’t seem to have any when it came to Hurricane Katrina.

His Spidey senses weren’t tingling even after he knew — thanks to damage forecasts gathered by his own agency — that the storm would destroy the levees in New Orleans. How did that one get away from Chertoff?

If we’re about to be attacked — by terrorists or storms — his job is to keep us safe and informed, not scare us silly based on his gut’s rumblings.

From the Seattle Post-Intelligencer

Say “When.”